Sunday, October 31, 2010
I have a confession before I even start typing - I did not take this picture today. I did, however, scan it today so I am using it as my picture of the day. Scanning the pictures I did today really brought back some really good memories of days gone by. The pictures I posted on Facebook were of Chandra and me back the "first" time we were together.
At the time we felt like we were going to be together forever. A little into our relationship we had Matthew and our relationship began to break down. We later split up, but remained friends through the years. Plus we had a child together, which is kind of a good reason to stay friendly. It wasn't a stretch to be friends though as I still had emotions for Chandra throughout the years. We also weren't aware that God was in direction of things either. We thought we were making our paths.
Years later we ended up getting back together and got married, something we did not do the first time we were together. I believe God knew that if we did get married it would have ended in divorce rather quickly. So, I had lived my life as a professing Christian because of a prayer I said at 8 years old and she was raised a Catholic and didn't really know anything spiritual other than what the Catholic church told her. Actually we were probably on level ground spiritually since everything I was told I have had to question over the years too. I knew the Christianese, but I was definitely not a Christian.
About 4 years into our marriage God did a work in me and actually did save me, by His grace. It was a couple of years later and a few prayer incidences of her own and God saved Chandra as well. We have both grown a lot since our conversions. The greatest part to see God work in is our marriage. We have learned through some difficult issues what an actual marriage is and how it is a reflection of the love that Christ has for His church. I was failing miserably at being a husband and father and of course I was laying all the blame on my wife. Oh, how wrong was I.
Through some time in counseling with Brother Michael and Miss Karen, we started to learn the real meaning of marriage. As we were progressing in our marriage and our individual walks with God Chandra had to have some fairly extensive surgery done. This was, to me, the time that God really solidified our marriage. He used this time, that would have normally been seen as "bad" to use it for our good. I will never forget the lives that were touched in the hospital those few weeks. God is simply amazing.
I wrote a daily journal of the time Chandra was in the hospital. It was to keep everyone updated and informed ass to what was going on. It actually ended up being a testimony to God's power as we saw miracle after miracle take place within the confines of a hospital room. None greater though than God restoring our marriage and breathing life into our relationship and understanding of one another.
There have been some really amazing turns in the past few months for us as well. None that required a hospital stay, but God has done further transformational work in both of us. So, from Chandra's 80's big hair and my 80's mullet, to the gray hair I have today, God has been active in our lives separately and also planning the convergence of our lives into one almost 8 years ago. I love Chandra more than anyone. She was given to me by God and I will never take her for granted. She means the world to me and I can't even fathom living without her. Ephesians 5:25 may be a long way off for me, but by His grace I will keep striving to love my wife as Christ loves His church.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Zombies invaded Paducah again this year, the second year in a row. Last year I did not venture out to see what was going on, but this year I decided to go see what the big deal was all about.
I arrived a little early, so the zombies were still being "zombified", getting last minute instructions and just hanging out. It seemed like a "normal" gathering, if you ignored the fake blood and various stages of decomposition. People were standing around talking, kids were playing and there was a lot of picture taking and even more laughing. These people were really enjoying the festivities focused on death or quasi-death.
Christians will beg to say how wrong these people were for glorifying death or partaking in a event that was obviously Halloween related. I'd say these folks were doing what is natural to them, finding pleasure in places other than God. I do not point a condemning finger their way, nor would I join in what they were doing either. Just as I will not try to clean up the lost people that I work with or others that I know. Then we'd have a lot (more) self- righteous people that think they are good enough on their own merits to enter the Kingdom of God.
Were there Christians participating in this zombie walk? Not sure, but here in the bible belt I bet about 80% of these people claim to be Christians. So, how does a truly born again Christian handle events like this? No differently than you would people that walk through your mall, work at the hospital or attend the Friday night football game. If you feel compelled to share with a zombie, then do it. If someone participating were truly a Christian then I think they would be in one of two classes - either babes/ newly converted and just beginning the sanctification process or are very mature Christians that have the liberty to partake in such events. Me, I am neither a babe nor firm enough in my walk to even think about something like this.
I will not turn this into a gripe session about Halloween as I am still processing what is biblically acceptable for a Christian. I choose currently to not participate in Halloween, but maybe one day God will grant me the liberty to participate. I do know that if God ever does give me a clean conscience of celebrating Halloween I will not mask it (no pun intended) as a "harvest celebration", "fall festival" or "trunk or treating" all of which are made up terms by folks to say, "Nope, don't celebrate Halloween, but my church does have a fall festival where kids can dress up. It's much safer than celebrating Halloween." Uh, yeah, right.
Halloween does have roots in evil and is still full of evil. But I will not condemn a brother or sister that participates in the holiday. To me it is one of those gray areas that Paul covers in 1 Cor. 8 and Romans 14. I would just as soon sit at home on October 31st than to cause a brother to stumble. The world watches Christians to see how they react and see how the function in the world and I believe it is noticed when someone takes a stand against celebrating Halloween. But that's not the only thing they pay attention to either. That is why we must continually examine ourselves and not become complacent with what we do. We should continually evaluate and pray over things in our life to see what God wants us to do. Search scripture and see where God leads you in your walk with Him. Study His Word, use godly men and their research to help you. Stay away from questionable teachers that say some truth, but also mix some heresy in there. There is no such thing as partial truth, a half truth is still a lie. Make sure that your teachers are solid in the Word and they openly take council with others to help their own faith. A godly man will always receive godly council.
So zombies, schmombies. I couldn't care less that Paducah hosted this event. It did not impact society any more than it has been affected. It did not glorify God, but nothing a lost person does can. So, there ya go, it is a moot point and a Christian shouldn't feel threatened that sinners sin, they glorify their sin and they relish in their sin. That's what they do and that is why God told you, Christian, to "GO" and make disciples. Go out into your city and use events like this to talk to people and pass out tracts.
Friday, October 29, 2010
I knew it, Barak Obama is an evil Sith. Well, actually, my Twitter app has issue from time to time with pictures of those I am following. To be more specific with just the supposed Darth Vader persona that I follow.
Other than you now, at this moment, are calling me a geek you can also probably see the second tweet from Darth Vader has a picture of Rick Warren. So, yes I also follow Rick Warren, "America's pastor". I will confess that the reason is the same for boh Warren and Obama - so I can reply back to their tweets with some truth, because they obviously do not get it from those around them. Not to say they actually are in charge of their Twitter postings or would even look to see what they have in their inbox.
I do not endorse either Obama or Warren for similar reasons. Namely that their theology is not accurate. Obama is probably more easily seen as a false convert, but what about Warren? Is Warren a true Christian or does he promote a false idol of a god? I do know that he likes to twist scriptures to fit what he says instead of the opposite. He also has a very man centered message and is the most pragmatic "pastor" of late. I will not go into details, but he is probably more dangerous than Obama.
These guys just go to show that you have to always measure a man's profession against scripture. Obama more blatant false in his religion, Warren saying some truths but also scattered with lies, twists and omissions. I implore you to always check what someone says about God to what the Word says, even if it is what you've always heard at church. You may just be on the road to having some scales removed from your eyes and having you own personal awakening.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The new Challengers are some really cool cars. Matter of fact, if I was going to buy a new car one of these just might be the choice. I've always had an affinity for muscle cars and seeing how the Big 3 all have some retro/ muscle car looking offerings I am liking at least 2/3 of the choices. I really, really like the Challenger, then the Camaro and still kind of "iffy" on the Mustang. I do like how the Mustang takes its cues from the late 60's instead of the mid 70's, seeing how I once owned a 1969 Mustang Grande' that looks very similar looking straight at each one.
I guess reminiscing about the past can be a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing too. For example, music that once was listened to by me 10 years ago is not something that I even desire any more. I will from time to time at work make small talk about the bands I saw in concert, but it is in hopes to open doors to show the redemptive work that God has done to me.
Actually, looking back to some of the things I did once upon a time seem like dreams, like I would never even be capable of doing those things. That is because I am a new creation in Christ. I can't even imagine smoking like I did for 24 +/- years of my life or drinking alcohol. Just some of the things I can honestly say that God has gloriously taken away from me to further conform me to the image of Christ. I am still a work in progress, but oh so different than before He saved me. I still may appear to look the same way or have some of the similar characteristics, but like the new Challenger vs. the old Challengers the insides are all totally different, new and better than ever. Also like the Challenger - I did not do it myself. I am not, nor ever was, capable of making myself anew. Only God can change someone, give them new desires, new internal workings and make them a new creation.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
What a beautiful sunrise we had this morning. Since the extended darkness in the morning has been creeping up I have been witness to some pretty amazing paintings from God as He twists the light of the sun through the Earth's atmosphere to create the most wonderful looking sunrises I have ever seen. It may be I just notice them more now that I see and seek out God in my everyday life. I am becoming more lucid in my thoughts of God.
An area that I have found to be a huge blessing is my daily communing with the Lord. I constantly talk to Him throughout the day. Some days more than others, but still on a daily basis. It is more of the conversational type of communing, not so much as a structured prayer or anything. Don't get me wrong, I am far from where I need to be in actually being on the spiritual plane I should be, but thank God for the grace to be farther along than I have ever been.
I am also blessed with a job that allows me to work on an assembly line from time to time, as opposed to my normal office duties. My office work takes a lot of mental strain and detracts from my communing with the Lord. When I do get the opportunity to work on the assembly line I take full advantage of it. Out comes the iPhone loaded with great, God honoring music that probably gets the ire of most of those I am working around, connected to my Phillips boom box. I also am able to concentrate more pointedly on my communion with God. The work is repetitive, so it comes to someone like a second nature, especially after 15 years of doing those jobs. I also have more opportunities to interact with my coworkers. Conversations usually take a spiritual turn, probably because I try to be aware of the opportunities God lays before me to speak about Him and share the gospel.
Sharing about God used to come difficult to me, but as I seek God and a more intimate relationship with Him, He is allowing me to speak more freely. How can someone keep His goodness bottled up inside? I don't think it is possible for a true child of God. Maybe that's what Romans 10:9 means about confessing that Jesus is Lord, it is the every day conversations that confesses Jesus is Lord.
I do realize that I still need to seek God daily for my daily walk. I really think that the closer we get to the Lord, the further we feel, which is our way of sensing His holiness. We feel more terrible about our sinfulness, so we feel less worthy to be in His presence. But then I remember the cross that Jesus died upon that through Him we have full access to the throne of the Father. Children of God are hidden in Christ, so the Father sees Christ's righteousness when we do enter the throne room. It is almost unfathomable to think that the Creator of all allows us to have court with Him and to bring our requests to Him. What a mighty God we serve.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Tonight I had to go pick up my sons truck. This would not have been a big ordeal except for the fact that a) he was not with me b) the emergency brake was engaged and the release was broken c) the driver side door does not open d) I'm not the small wasted whipper snapper I once was. So, I had to wedge my self sideways between the non-factory bucket seat that was 4 inches away from the steering wheel, the steering wheel itself and the manual shifter. Needless to say I was in a pickle and was not getting out without a struggle. I couldn't even tell you how I gashed my right elbow and scraped the skin off of my left. All I know is that they are smarting a little right now.
I'm not going into detail at this moment of why I went to pick his truck up, but will at a later date when I know more info. I will say that Matt needs some prayers right now, not that he has never needed them, but now would be a good time for God to really work on him. So please add Matt to your prayer list if you wouldn't mind.
Back to my elbow. I'm going to be feeling a little pain from them for a few days until they heal up some. After that it still may be a few weeks before they are completely healed and not tender. I'm sure that the one on the right elbow (pictured) will leave a scar and 20 years down the road I will be able to look at that scar and remember exactly how it got there and why it got there. That's how physical scars are, they actually remind us of a hurt that once was, that healed, but left it's mark on our body. I've got them all over my body, even some self inflicted ones with ink in them (not actually self inflicted, but I paid for them to be inflicted). I can tell you the same things about my tattoos as I can the other scars on my body. The scars and tattoos are the road map to my life, as I had injury and was then healed.
The same goes for the scars of sin in our life. We may have done something years ago, but the scar can come back at anytime. We can be reminded of our past sins from just a certain smell, song or seeing a person we went to school with. The scars of our past run deep sometimes, which is why you need the Physician to heal the wounds and take away the scars of sin. Christ is that Physician as referenced in Matthew 9:12-13 and He said He came to not call the sick, but to call sinners to repentance. So, that is How Jesus is the Great Physician, He actually heals people of their sinfulness.
Have you been healed? Do you even realize that you are sick? Sin is the sickness and we all are acutely sick and dying. We are actually like Lazarus and dead in our sins and we need Jesus to say "Jeff - arise and come forth". I was dead in my sins and really loving it, until Jesus called my name and brought life to my deadness in sin. I am now alive through Christ and all my life flows from Him, through Him and for Him. You may be saying about now, "I took care of that a long time ago" or even "I'm a good person, I've never killed anyone or robbed a bank or anything, there are a lot worse people out there than me". And so there is in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of God, the true Judge, you are guilty. Have you ever told a lie? Ever stolen anything, even a piece of gum as a child? Have you done everything your parents ever told you, without hesitation or talking back? Have you ever lusted after another person? Have you ever put anything ahead of God? All of those are just a few of the 10 Commandments, the Law. James 2:10 says that if you've broken one law, you're guilty of them all. You stand in judgment of a Holy God, that will not compare you to other people, but to His Son and His righteousness. How do you compare to Jesus?
Thing is, Jesus is the only One that can save you too. He was the sinless and spotless Lamb who gave His life willingly that you may live. How awesome is that? Jesus Christ loved you so much that He made a way for you to be healed, to live? Pretty amazing seeing how He created everything. He also can create a new heart within you, take your heart of stone and make it into a heart of flesh that can be molded into something very different than your current heart. God will not only save you from hell's fire, but also from the life that you live that is in opposition to Him. After you are converted you will hate the sins that you now love and love the God that you now hate as proven by your sinful life.
Know how to receive the healing and the life in Christ? You can only believe and trust in Him and repent and turn from your sins. You must lay everything before His feet and truly believe in Jesus as Savior. There is no prayer, baptism or church membership that will ever save you, only crying out for mercy from God and pleading for the Blood of Christ to wash your sins away. If that is done then new life will be evident, the fruits of the Spirit will blossom and bloom. You will hate sin and the effects of sin in your life.
So, turn from the scarring that you self inflict daily and turn to the Great Physician for healing. Only He can heal and take those scars away, no matter how bad or how much you have sinned, His blood can and will wash you clean. Now that is the Good News.
Monday, October 25, 2010
So, I completely "borrowed" the title of this post from a reality show from a few years ago. It was actually really interesting to see the ritual of the Amish as they allow their children a season to move away from their family and Amish life to wherever they wish and do whatever they wish. Of course I'm sure most of these normally conservative peoples live in sin for that season, but not all. I don't want to cast to broad a net that is based on my assumptions. The ones featured in the TV program did like their sins, but not all of them. Some remained in their convictions.
The season I mentions is called rumspringa or translated "running around". As portrayed in the series "Amish In The City" the youth would eventually have to pick between staying in the lifestyle of their rumspringa or return to their family and culture. If the former were the choice, then they could never return and would be shunned. So, this is quite a dilemma - "sinful" lifestyle vs. family. I am sure that most do return to their family and the lifestyle of the Amish.
I'm not sure what the Amish's core beliefs are, but know some of their secondary customs. I also know that they are some pretty good cooks and you can buy their goods a short drive away from my mouse in Marion KY. I have met some of the AMish in Marion at Bro. Mike Morrow's church, Union Baptist, which is a sister church to mine. The Amish folk come to that church on a regular basis and are some of the nicest folks you would ever meet.
This leads me to wonder if the Amish have some things right that us other, mainstream, electricity lovers do not. Maybe not the electricity part, but at least the separation from societal things such as watching TV, going to the movies, listening to music (secular anyway) and constantly feeding in the troughs of fast food restaurants. They do, however, like WalMart like most of us do and must drive cars because I did not see this family get out of a buggy, nor did I see a horse ted to the light pole. So, they do "bend" on some of their older standards, at least some do. I am sure there are those sects out there that would call this family radicals for going to WalMart or driving. To us it is nothing, but to them it could be a really big deal.
I will definitely not say anything condemning of these people. I am sure that a lot of them truly love the Lord, but I am also sure that a lot of them just do things because they always have. They probably have the same issues within their churches as most mainline churches do. There are probably as many false converts in the Amish community (percentage wise) as there are in most baptist churches. A lot of them probably rely on tradition and law keeping for their salvation, just as mainstream church attenders do. So, they are really not that different than we are, only in appearance and speech. I do know that we need to pray for this group of people, that the true Word of God would be preached among their communities. Also that God will use churches like Union Baptist to make an impact in these peoples belief systems.
I have been informed that the folks in the picture may be Mennonites, not Amish. I'm not really sure. A quick web search tells only that the Mennonites and Amish came from the same religious backgrounds and still share many similar beliefs and customs. In this article it does say the most noticeable difference is that Amish men grow beards and Mennonites do not. The man in the picture did have a beard. I made a mental note of it because it was a strawberry blond color instead of dark or gray as I have seen others with similar beards. The article I referenced may be incorrect, so I'll stick with I'm not really sure.
Dec. 19 2010
I watched a program on a few nights ago about the Amish that leave their families. One of the people they featured was Mose, from "Amish in the City". He is currently in Missouri and helps kids that are leaving their families and religion find jobs, even giving some jobs himself and letting them stay at his house. So, Mose is out permanently. married and has a business and kids. I did notice that smoking and drinking are big to the kids that leave their roots.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
For the past several Sunday evenings we (Oak Grove Baptist) have been doing a study through Jerry Bridges' book, Respectable Sins. This is a very good (and needed) book that will challenge all that read it. There is a study guide that goes along with it, but we haven't been following any real structure, except to have Matt or Derek give a brief description of the chapter and then some applications.
Tonight's chapter was on judgmental-ism. Something that I am very familiar with. I blame it on a zeal for truth to be known, but I think it actually might go a little deeper than that. I don't like to be wrong and I don't want others to be wrong either. So, in my desire to see others properly understand just how Holy God is, what He demands, things the bible clearly says not to partake in, etc. I can sometimes come off as sounding harsh and well, uh, judgmental. It is not because I try to, but that is how others perceive my words. Tonight we had a task to tell others how much we appreciated things in them, instead of being derogatory or seeming judgmental. It was an exercise, to show us just how to do it, that we may start to practice this daily.
I have recently, over the past several months, been enlightened about this issue in my life. I have sought God to change me and to reveal areas that I need to address. I have come to the conclusion that the things I was saying (and still do) were not wrong, in and of themselves, but that I was being perceived as being unloving when saying these things. So, I have asked God to give me a lot more love when dealing with these things. It's not that I must bring the level of my convictions and sharing down, but I must do it with compassion and for it to be perceived as in the right spirit.
I do not desire to hurt anyone or make them angry with me. My heart has always, honestly, been loving, my words - not so much. I am a quiet kind of guy, so when I do say something meaningful I suppose it can be perceived as derogatory or hurtful. For that I am truly sorry and God has been working on me. I cannot, however, compromise biblical truths or allow those closest to me to live a lifestyle that is sinful. This is really true if these dear ones profess to be Christians as I really want to help them along their walk, a deeper holiness and reverence for God's Word and how others perceive them and their standing with God.
I do know that I still have a long way to go. I also know more than that, that God is going to be there to guide me through the process and allow me to learn more as I seek Him more in this area. Isn't it wonderful that the God that spoke everything into existence desires us to seek Him and actually gives us that desire in the first place? It is amazing that I call this God my Father. Wow! Can be overwhelming when you actually think about it and meditate on that truth. I recommend any child of God practice that thought, that God loves them that much that He will give them the desires of their heart. I've got a long way to go and will be walking in the path of my Father along the way, which is the only way to go.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Day trip to Nashville with the family. Destination? Genghis Grill for lunch then to the huge flea market, with a few other stops along the way. If you have never been to Genghis Grill you need to visit one right away. If you live close to Nashville/ Franklin Tennessee then you are very fortunate because there is one in the Galleria Mall area. We Paducah folk have to drive about 2 hours to get to the one there, but it is very well worth it.
If you do not know what Genghis Grill is allow me to elaborate a little. Per the picture you will see that they have a huge grill that multiple meals are cooked on simultaneously. This is a very neat thing to watch being done as the cooks go round the grill flipping and sauteing each meal. Let me back up a few steps now, you begin the dining experience with a small metal bowl that you begin to fill up with your own choice of ingredients. The first stop is the protein section with choices of steak, chicken, turkey, shrimp, fish, pepperoni, Italian sausage, scallops and a few others that I can't think of right now. From there it is to the veggie section with choices like peppers, onions, carrots, baby corn, split peas, mushrooms, jalapenos and pineapple.There is even tofu to be had and bean sprouts, both of which I have never even thought about consuming. Next are the dry seasonings that cook with your choices, ranging from the milder side of things up to some sort of dragon seasoning that I will not be trying anytime soon. Next is the wet seasoning also ranging from mild selections up to the hotter variety. After those choices you hand your personalized bowl off to the cook and tell them what starch you would like which choices are a variety of noodles or rice.
The guys that cook on the grill act like there is nothing to their trade. THe flip things around with precision. This is very impressive to watch as they keep things within a really small area designated by two wooden stick that are used to masterfully grill your meal. Hot off the grill into your bowl. You know it is fresh because you stand there and watch their grill dance take place. You will probably even need to wait a few minutes for it to cool down before you take your first bite.
You have a choice of a single visit or for a dollar more you can have unlimited trips through the line. Today I had two bowls. The first was a steak/ fajita type of concoction with some mildly hot seasonings and noodles. This was very good, but I was adventurous and went outside the box I put myself into and went back for another. The second had chicken and steak, stir fry seasonings, carrots, onions, bell peppers, pineapple and some sweet seasonings too. While it was good, it was not anything close to the first I came up with.
For a once in a while treat it does very well. It could get a little pricey if we were able to go more often, but every 3 months or so makes it something to look forward to. It is not any more expensive than Applebees or Texas Roadhouse and it is a lot more fun of an atmosphere too.
So, I highly recommend you looking one up in your area or in an area you may be traveling to. I give it 5 Stars for sure. It has always been clean every time we've been, the workers are very friendly and the service is as good as you get anywhere. No complaints from my family, except for the drive to get there. I would open one here in Paducah if I had the funds to do so.
What was good about today was spending time with Chandra, Forrest and Allan. Sure, there were some petty disagreements along the road, but that will happen anytime there are four different personalities all vying for what they desire at any one particular time. I can, however, say that God was glorified in our outing today. We consciously and verbally acknowledged His presence through the day. This is an area that I lack in a lot. Not that I do not acknowledge God's presence in my head, semi-constantly, but I do not verbalize it to those I am with enough. I understand that we should all always have the mind of Christ and be in constant communion with the Father. This is something us self centered humans need a lot of help on. Guess who desires to help us with that? God Himself. If you are having a desire to commune do you not realize where that comes from? We, as fallen creatures, would never desire to have anything to do with the Holy God of all. We would actually rather to wallow in the mire of our sins than to acknowledge God for anything. We love ourselves a whole lot.
Thank God for His grace though, that He does not leave His children in that state. He initiates the relationship and we respond. He cleans us up and makes us justified through Christ and Christ only. There is nothing at all we could ever do to deserve the grace that God bestows on us. Now, that is something to ponder on for a while. To say that we could do anything would be saying that Jesus' work on the cross was not adequate. To say we have to work, work, work to gain God's favor is ludicrous. He made a Way and all we have to do is accept and believe what Jesus did for us. How glorious is that?
Friday, October 22, 2010
Just a big ol' shout out to gas station dining. For one, I would probably never buy a burger from a gas station. Not sure why someone else would either, seeing how their is a McDonalds within 10-15 of any location you can be at in the United States.
I'm not putting gas station food down, just that I don't think I would trust the freshness and/ or hygienic condition of the area in which the food may be prepared. I mean, do they ring up a person, handle their money then turn around and pat out a burger? Do they arrange the Marlboro display then deep fry a corn dog? Who knows? I don't, but I guess it's just the perception that makes me not want to partake of their cuisine.
Perception is very subjectional, which I have learned first hand. In my 7 3/4 years of marriage to Chandra I have taken care of our banking and finances. She told me right off she wanted me to. I always took it as she depended on me to do these things. Not that that it was a dependence in a bad way, just that she put that on me and didn't want to worry about it. I have perceived the matter differently lately. I now see it as a trust, that she actually trusts me enough to allow me to be in charge of this area of our life.
So, what changed? Not the situation or how she perceived it, but how I perceived it. That's it. It's almost like I took a burger from a BP station and took a bite. My eyes were opened to something that I had looked at in a totally different manner. So much of our lives are spent dwelling on things in the same manner, never growing, never experiencing anything differently. We grow accustomed to how things "are" and probably don't really want to look at them from a different perspective. We grow dependent on those perceptions to stay within our comfort zone and do not think about the growth that can take place if we stretch those views that we have grown dependent on.
I pray that I lose my dependence on the perceptions that I have grown to love. I want God to stretch me and allow me to see things from different angles and really see how He sees, not how I want to see. I want to see that I am blessed that my wife trusts me with our finances. I want to know that I am useful to her and appreciated instead of the false assumptions that I made almost 8 years ago that were maybe not flase, but really not 100% accurate. I want God to stretch my understanding and allow for growth in His Word and take away all of the "junk" that I learned that was not really biblical. I want to know Him more, but I want to shed the baggage of me and drink in His living water and be refreshed.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Did you know that cats eat corn? I had no idea, until I dropped a kernel in the floor this evening and the cat proceeded to chomp down on it. Who knew? I figured cats would just eat fish, chicken or anything that was made from either of those things, but corn?
I guess it amazes me too what we feed on. Not physically, but spiritually. If you are converted, then everything is spiritual to you. There is no more secular to a Christian, everything becomes holy in a Christians life. Too bad we do not live like it most of the time. Sure, Sundays and Wednesday nights we have it down pat, but it's the other times that we struggle.
Do we not realize that everything we consume has an effect on us, good or bad? I have been trying to watch the "entertainment" that I have been partaking in, chiefly the TV. I have cut my viewing down by a lot, only watching a few programs a week. I also have considerably scaled back the artists that I listen to. I have not listened (on purpose) to secular music, other than what the guys at work listen to or what I hear in everyday life. By purposefully I mean playing a CD or tuning a channel in. If you read Day 36 of my "Year in my life" series, it will give you a little more information on my musical tastes and changes. I have shed some of the groups that I once thought were o.k. to listen to that are labeled "Christian music" for a few reasons. The first is the group may have a heretical view of God - this will include Philips, Craig and Dean because of their Modalism views. The next category are groups that still glorify the things of the world, such as sinful lifestyles, wearing satanic band shirts, promoting secular bands such as U2 or the Beatles - groups that fit this category include Family Force Five and DC Talk. The last category I will mention are the ones that do not actually sing about God or glorify Him, but instead just sing about the same things you hear on mainstream radio. While this group may truly have some converted people in it, I will not listen to their music because it does not have God as its focus. This would include Owl City and Carrie Underwood. Actually Underwood would be in a different category as well, the ones that profess to be Christians but live very differently than they claim. These are probably the most common since they are products of the modern church messages across the globe.
One just needs to weigh out what actually glorifies God and what doesn't. Music and TV aren't bad in themselves, but the content can be. Also the time spent in entertainment like these can be detrimental. Do you spend more time watching TV, playing video games or listening to music than you do on godly things? That would be a sure sign that you really need to seek God for some pruning in your life. After all, as Christians do we not want to consume what will bring glory to the Father? 1 Corinthians 10:31
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The power went off today at work. It was within seconds that the emergency lighting turned on and we could at least see a little better. It wasn't really that dark anyway near my desk since there are windows in the next room that were letting light in.
The power stayed out for about 45 minutes. This hurt our production time, but allowed me to actually see how the verses about shining our light to others actually are to look. When it is the darkest is when light is seen the brightest. For example, I can turn the screen of my phone on during the daylight and it makes zero impact on the light around me. Now, if I turn my phone on in the middle of the night, in our dark house, I can actually use that light to navigate through the obstacle course. Also if you notice headlights on cars, in the daylight you see the lights main point, but it is disbursed into the stronger light of the sun, which makes them look faint. Take those same lights on a dark October night, the moon is hidden behind clouds and those same lights illuminate for miles.
That is really amazing to me. This is also how we, as Christians, are to shine our lights. The only time our lights are dimmer is when the true Light is present, which in all actuality is the source of our light anyway, we merely reflect His light. How awesome is that? We only radiate the light of the Son, not make our own. Our light is also the brightest and most noticeable in the darkest of places. This is usually anywhere except a church building theses days, and even in some church building for that matter. WE must always be shining the light, never hiding it under anything or dampening it in any way. What we should be doing is getting closer to the Source and allowing a brighter light to reflect from us.
Isaiah 49:6 Indeed He says,‘ It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob,and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
Psalm 4:6 There are many who say,“Who will show us any good?” LORD, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 43:3 Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your tabernacle.
Psalm 89:15 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.
Psalm 97:11 Light is sown for the righteous, And gladness for the upright in heart.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Proverbs 13:9 The light of the righteous rejoices,but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Luke 8:16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light.
John 1:4-5 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 12:46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
Ephesians 5:13-14 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:“ Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead,and Christ will give you light.”
Acts 13:47 For so the Lord has commanded us:‘ I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’
2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
Ephesians 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
2 Peter 1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
1 John 1:5-7 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
When you go to Lifeway, or any other Christian bookstore, which section do you look at first? Do you stop by the featured selections as you first walk in? How about straight to the Bibles? I know several people that would head straight to the newest fiction offerings and others that migrate to the music section. I think it is just what ever your personal "bent" is that determines where you like to look first. More often than not I (we) make our way around the entire store, looking at things we look at each and every time we visit the store.
If you look at my picture of the day, you will see a red circle. This happens to be what I call the "Evangelism Section" of our local Lifeway. Here you can find the first Way Of The Master Biblical Evangelism Study and the Way Of The Master book that goes along with their online School of Biblical Evangelism. That's it. Nothing else. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. You could probably venture through the aisles and see a few books on evangelism, but not a section dedicated to this much needed topic. I wonder why that is.
Could this issue be because no one (hardly) is interested in evangelism? Not many books are sold for this great command? Is it lack of material? How about Lifeway just doesn't stock it, or put it in high regard? I am not sure and all I have are speculations. But I, personally, see a huge gap that needs to be filled. Why can't they take the few titles they keep in stock and make an actual Evangelism Section? There are sections for everything else - biographies, self help, finances, fiction, women's, men's, classics and even a Spanish section. All of which encompass whole sections of shelving.
Wouldn't I be safe to say that this is indicative of a much larger issue? A problem with Christianity? Or actually modern or American Christianity? Are people so confident in their ability to share the gospel that they do not need books and other literature to help them along in this part of their walk? Of course the Holy Spirit guides one when proclaiming the gospel, but are people even doing it? Are they sharing the good news? Or do they just give a few dollars here and there and think they are following out the Great Commission? Do professing Christians even have a desire to share their faith? Or do they even know what their faith is based on anyway?
I think there are some real issues and the lack of literature on this topic really is a tell tell sign of things. Why can there be thousands of fiction titles and maybe a couple dozen evangelism titles? I am perplexed and think I may have to inquire with Lifeway headquarters. If when reading scripture one can not see that you can not separate evangelism from being a Christian, then you are not reading the bible. Christian and Evangelical are synonymous, you can't be one without the other.
I think we, as a body, need to really examine our priorities. Is the Christian life to be used to entertain ourselves with books and movies that are supposedly made for or by Christians? Or should we actually be putting the soles of our shoes to the street and proclaiming the Word? I am not an anti-TV or anti-entertainment person either. But I see many people who waste a lot of time and resources in that area, instead of in areas that could be used to further the Kingdom and bring glory to the Lord. We have "Americanized" Christianity to the point of it looking just like the worlds idea of entertainment, just with Christian themes or titles.
Just something to think about and seek the Lord over. WE should all be examining our "free" time activities. Just remember that to a true child of God, there is nothing secular. Everything a Saint does, says or comes into contact with is to be Holy and set apart. We are not our own, but are slaves to the Almighty God. Let Him choose what we do then. Get out there and spread the gospel as all Christians are commanded. Do not let those that are dying around you end up in hell without you faithfully telling them about the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ the Spotless Lamb. Get out there and evangelize, start with your family.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Have I ever said on a blog post that I don't like cats? Well, if I haven't - I don't like cats. Not that I wish any harm to the little critters, I just don't like them in my house.
So, thanks to my sweet wife, she has allowed 2 cats to come into our home. They seem to really like me, but like I said, I am not very fond of them. I think I featured this cat back in the beginning of my "Year In my Life Through Pictures" series and since then he hasn't grown on me any. He thinks he has because he likes to perch next to me and lay nuzzled up to my legs at night. But, I still wouldn't shed any teas if he had a new home.
I probably sound cruel to some people, but I'm not. I just never wanted animals in the house, in my care. I am not evil, just not wanting my life to revolve around cleaning up after them, taking them out, not being able to go on vacation because of them, extra expenses for food and so on. My belief is that if they never would have been know to the household, they would never have been gotten attached to by Chandra and the boys.
I use that same rationalization for other things as well. Music being one of my favorites to say that about. If you do not listen to it, then you will not like it. Movies, TV shows and certain books also fit into this category. So, actually any type of entertainment that is geared towards having people purchase their products is right there with cats/ pets. You must always be on guard for what is being ingrained in your mind and psyche. Just as what you consume physically has bearing on your body, what you consume mentally has effect on your thoughts and ultimately your spiritual condition.
Justifying things is the next step after a person likes something not very good for a Christian to partake of. Excuses is the more operative word and the main argument is "I am strong enough that it doesn't effect me". This is closely followed by a hyperbolic statement such as, "At least it isn't (insert your more blatant sin here)". That one really gets my ire, as something is ungodly if you compare it something more ungodly or not. I've seen mass murderers use this same logic when saying, "I'm not that bad, at least I'm not like Jeffrey Dahmer who ate boys. I just killed a few people."
This type of justification is very dangerous to Christians. It also teaches others to bend their convictions. I see this a lot with "Christian" music artists as they wear their mainstream music group t-shirts. I have seen Third Day wear Guns 'N' Roses shirts and hearken back to yesteryear with their "fond memories" of listening to G'N'R. Is that something that really should be put out there by prominent Christian artists? Not at all. Of course there are other, more hardcore groups that promote other ungodly groups like The Misfits, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Slayer and even a "Christian" author has written a book on how to glean from the music of Metallica.
It is a very sad state of Christendom. There must be voices to cry out for a return to biblical standards and practices. Being like the world is of Satan. For a "church" or mainstream "Christian" musicians to endorse the antiChrist values to the youth is an abomination. Where are the church leaders that take a stand against this type of worldly promotion? They are often relegated to "crazy" status by everyone. I think those that promote this mind of satanic influence would do well to read Proverbs 17:15 Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
Here we have precedence to celebrate the leaders that God has ordained for us. We did such a thing this evening as we celebrated our pastors 50th year of life and the many ways that God has used Him to minister to each of us.
We are very fortunate that God has graced us with a true proclaimer of the Word. Pastor Michael Durham has wonderful giftings and uses those to minister to the flock God has ordained to his control. He will be quick to tell you he is not the Head of the church, but point you every time to the true Head, Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, that is Whom he points us to in every situation, as a pastor should.
He is truly an abnormality these days, in a world of preachers pandering to itching ears. Pastor Durham is among the remnant that faithfully expounds the Word for the glory of God and God alone. He has personally ministered to me and my family and seen us through some difficult times. I can truthfully say, that if it weren't for his investment into my marriage that I would not be married today. He and his wife, Ms. Karen, sacrificed many hours to Chandra and I, giving us true biblical counseling and pointing us to the Cross. Thank God that we heeded the call of His faithful servant and can now rejoice in our marriage as actually glorifying to God.
We love our pastor dearly. We do not take him for granted. I pray that if you have a faithful proclaimer of the Word, someone that lays his life down for the Gospel, a pastor that is truly a bondservant of the Lords to never take him for granted. Make sure you encourage him and pray for him daily. Let him know that he is appreciated and his adherence to the things of God and tending to the flock is much needed. Give him double honor.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Today had everything to do with our command to go and make disciples. Not to just go and proclaim the gospel, but to proclaim the gospel AND make disciples ( Matthew 28:19). We are to teach and mentor others in the things of God. How will they not hear without a preacher? They won't. Anyone that is a child of God is a preacher, we are to live our lives to bring honor to the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27)
As a corporate body at Oak Grove we set out today with first steps in our surrounding community to do just that. We have felt the draw to a local community called Indian Oaks and today was our first time to interact as a body with some of these folks. Our prayers are to become mainstays in this community, offering bible studies, scheduling other picnic type things, movie nights, etc. Of course we will not turn any of these people away at Oak Grove, but gaining them as attenders to our church is down on the list. Our main "goal", for lack of better terms, is to see souls converted, make contact with other believers in the community and to make disciples for Christ that we may be so honored to mentor.
These people are needy, as we all are. Their biggest need is of a Savior and we have a burden to point them to Him. We all were lost at some point. Paul made that clear to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6:11. Paul lists off a whole laundry list of sins and follows it up with "such were some of you, but you were washed - YOU WERE SANCTIFIED". Very powerful words about the truth that Christ saves and washes us of our sins. That is ultimately these peoples immediate need and they must be pointed to the Savior. We gathered that there are not many that have seen the love of Christ in this neighborhood before, so that's what we did today - just loved on them and told them of Christ.
Friday, October 15, 2010
So, I went to the old standby, McDonalds, for dinner this evening. I stopped for a quick bite on the way home from a prayer meeting at church and a stop by the grocery to get my sickly wife some ice cream. When I pulled up to the second window I was greeted by a nice young lady that had an ice cream cone sticking out the window. "want some free ice cream? They made too many and I decided to give it away." What else could I say? I definitely couldn't let a scrumptious treat like that go to waist.
There was a pleasant surprise for the day. Something that happened that I did not expect or desire, just handed to me, through a drive through window. Too bad I am not that cognizant when God is handing me things throughout the day. I do notice some things, but by no means am I able to notice them all.
This is my issue, of course, as God blesses me through each day with His rich blessings. I do see the beauty of His creation, sometimes, when I'm not just looking at trees and stuff. Seeing clouds move across the sky is fairly common to me, so I do not notice their intricate design as they actually dance from horizon to horizon. I hear the noise of the birds, but seldom stop to hear their beautiful music lifted to the Father of all. I smell the stench of a skunk, that snarls my nose, but I very rarely stop to smell the fragrance of the honeysuckles that grow on our land. I am just too busy sometimes to actually stand still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
As I get older (gracefully?) I am slowing down a bit. I think this is part of God's design, so that we can take that extra moment to linger by the flowers, to gaze upon the sunset and to listen to the melodies of the animals. This should make us recognize who the song is for and what natures beauty reflects and make us long for our home. At 42 years old I still have a few decades if I live through an average life, Lord willing, so I hope that I can slow down to see God's handiwork, so that I may be more in tune with Him on my departure from this dying world. May I long for heaven more each day and yearn to be in His presence.
There is a unnerving debate going on right now. You may have heard a little about it, it is the old “Calvinism VS Arminianism” debate. Actually it has been escalated from debate to all out “you sere a different god than I do, a different jesus than I do”. So, I am perplexed. I am actually feeling pain from this as it is a strong tactic of the enemy to cause division among the brethren.
If you read over my posts here, you will probably be hard pressed to say which you would call me – an Arminian or a Calvinist. I simply call myself a Christian, although I do have scriptural basis for the actual “structure” of my soteriology. I am not about to go into that here, but want to start by saying that I have dear Arminian brothers and sisters and I have dear Calvinist brothers and sisters.
So what is the big deal then? Why does it matter if you either or neither of these? I don't think it really does matter, other than having a wrong view of the condition that man is in and what, if any, ability God has allowed or disallowed of Himself in the salvation process. I honestly believe people from each camp are going to be very surprised in heaven when they see or do not see certain people. I think that is why we are not to judge superficially and instead make our judgments based on the adherence to God's Word. One thing that should not be happening is exactly what has happened – saying the other structure is going to hell.
I think the current debate/ misinformation is actually the common misunderstand of what Calvinists actually believe. Mark Cahill has the common view that all Calvinists are actually Hyper-Calvinists, which is simply untrue. He has a caricature view of that view, possibly because he holds a wrong view of God and/ or humanity. There are also Hyper-Arminians around as well, but for the most part they are actually Pelagian or Semipelagian in their soteriology. I would even venture to say that most “churches” today are actually Pelagian in nature and neither Calvinistic of Arminian in their views of salvation.
So, what is a person to do? Do we say we are of Calvin or of Arminius? Not at all, just as Paul told the Corinthian church not to say they were of him or Appolos (1 Corinthians 3:1-16). What should be happening now is a searching of scripture, a study of the teachings of Christ and the Apostles and of the Old Testament Saints. We (modern Christianity) put too much stock in men's words and do not compare them to what God has revealed to us in His Word. That is the main reason we have so much heresy rampant these days. People are lax in their discernment and give ear to the many false teachers out there today.
I am not discounting true men of God and their work in the furtherance of the Kingdom. God has given us men that have a love and a passion for His Word and that same love for exposition of His Word. There are many authors and preachers alive today that God has gifted as true voices to a dying world. There are also many great saints of past that who had the same gifts from God. I will say that these men will also tell you that their words are not authoritative without their adherence to scripture. God has given these men to help us, to teach us and to help guide us along the path to His righteousness. I can also say without flinching that these authors and preachers will tell you to search the scriptures yourself, that anything they say or write has to come under the scrutiny of scripture, to the fullest extent. Do not take anyone at their word alone, ever, when it comes to teaching on the character and holiness of God.
I want to close by saying that I was brought up with a distorted view of God. I was taught many things in my youth that I question today, things that molded my view into a very un-powerful god. My views were like most of the professing Christians today. I had created a god in my mind that allowed many things, that overlooked many things and that was going to let me into His Kingdom just because I had mumbled and agreed to a few points when I was 8 years old. Only when I actually saw my standing before the most Holy God was I able to truly repent and turn from my sins and to that Holy God for my salvation. Did I choose Him or did He choose me? That is the question of the day. Better yet, was I able to choose Him would be the proper question.
Please examine scripture to see what God has to say about salvation, His will, His power, His Kingdom, His Word, His holiness, His worth, His demands, His love, His judgment, His world. It is all His and He has allowed us to be a part. How awesome is that? That the God that created the universe, has allowed us communion with Him? How awesome is it that we, as sinful creatures, are able to enter into His presence because of our Mediator, Christ Jesus. Why? Because He loves us.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Earlier in my "Year in my life" series I used a local McDonalds that was being torn down with the plans on being rebuilt. The first post/story was on the nostalgic side as I recollected the old building built in 1970. The second picture/ post was of the pile of rubble when they had demolished the building.
These newest pictures are of the new building, an outside shot and an inside shot, on the first day of operation. Not that we had to go there the first day of the new stores operation, but it was kind of cool to be a customer on the first day. I had the old trusty #6, which I would just as soon have over a steak dinner.
I am quite the simple person for dining. I have no inclination for fancy foods or fancy restaurants. Just give me a Diet Coke and a double cheeseburger and I am good to go. I will be adventurous sometimes as Mickey D's and get a Big Mac, but that's a variant of a double cheeseburger too. So hopelessly simple am I.
The three posts are now over, but they do show 3 major phases of this McDonalds. The last day, the destruction and the new version. My conversion experience was probably not this obvious to those that have known me for a long time. I was not the typical "Saul to Paul" conversion; I had lived a good life, at least in the eyes of the world. At my conversion I did not have a lot of baggage, per se, but I did harbor a lot of sin. When God did save me He did take some of the noticeable baggage, the 24 year smoking habit, the satanic music and the semi-potty mouth were gone, those were rubble. The things left were sins that were not that noticeable to others. These sins are still being demolished by God as I look to Him to rebuild me, to mold me into the likeness of His son. These not so readily noticeable sins can be very detrimental to my walk, if I allow them to. My flesh battles with my spirit daily, which gives me more reliance on God for strength and guidance. I thank God I still have to depend on Him for everything. If I had to rely on me I would still be mired in the filth of my sins.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I refuse to make a correlation between coupons and the saving grace of God. So, please do not think that is where this is going. To do so would be sacrilegious.
Chandra has gotten into a coupon phase over the past few months. I am 100% for this as I am all for saving wherever and however possible. We are not die hard at it, but we have saved quite a bit over the time she gained interest in clipping coupons.
I would suggest that everyone take advantage of these little money savers. Also do a little research to see if any stores in your area offer doubling or even tripling. In our area Kroger doubles coupons up to $.55. You can also take coupons and add with register rewards and special sales at CVS and Walgreens. I have seen friends get things for practically nothing, which is a good thing. I just wonder how these stores stay open after paying bills and for the merchandise if they are selling $100.00 worth of items for $5.00. I just don't understand it.
This is one way to be a good steward of what God blesses you with, using the money He blesses you with in a glorifying manner. This could be the start of getting out of debt as you can use your savings dollars to put toward your outstanding debt. Another possibility is donating the money you save to your church or another ministry that proclaims the Word. I still have a lot to learn in this area too, so you are definitely not alone.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
We ate dinner at a local restaurant, which also happens to be one that I worked at about 16-17 years ago. Back in the day we only decorated a little bit for holidays, but it was limited to Christmas and maybe Valentines Day. Seems like the thing to do these days is to decorate for Halloween. Not really just to decorate, but to go all out.
As you can see by the pictures, they did go all out. Keep in mind, this is a restaurant, people are eating meals a few feet away from this homage to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Okay, Texas Chainsaw Massacre may not have been their theme, but blood, body parts and internal organs were. It was a good thing I set with my back to the display, because my stomach is not the strongest when it comes to looking at gnarly stuff while I am trying to enjoy a meal.
You will notice blood splatters, cutting utensils, rats, various skeletal remains some of which are hanging from what looks like a slaughter house wall. Also you might notice two jars sitting on the window seal. In jar #1 it looks to be a liver or kidney or something and in jar #2 a brain, which presumably belongs to the person that decided to decorate a restaurant with bloody human remains. Not that I need to say it, but I will not be dining in at this establishment until after October 31st.
I am not going to condemn anyone for celebrating the pagan holiday of Halloween. I do not agree with it, but it is one of those gray areas, as far as I can tell. If your conscience has not been active as you go through the rituals of Halloween, then I will not push my convictions on you. I will, however, suggest that you study the origins and practices associated with the "holiday".
When God took the scales off of my eyes 4 years ago along with the scales came a shedding of a lot of baggage that I had carried around during my 30 years of being a false convert. My new eyes saw everything in a different way, discernment came natural to me. Gone were the heavy metal CDs and in were the Jeremy Camp CDs. Gone was the 24 year habit of cigarette smoking, in was the desire to not bring dishonor to the title of Christian. God changed me in an instant on a lot of things, but some things He allowed me to keep for while, so that I may see His glory and His grace along my steps of sanctification.
Discernment seems to be one of the gifts God has bestowed on me. Discernment can be a very dangerous thing as well. It can be used in a very judgmental way, which I have done on several occasions. When I see a professing Christian doing something that is obviously not in accordance with God's Word I tend to want to tell that person in some not so nice of ways why they are sinning. I don't do it in a mean spirit, but sometimes it does come across that way. I have a knack at being a little pushy sometimes. God is dealing with me on that matter and it is a major area for me to seek God's discernment for me personally. Not that I need to tone down the discernment, but that I need to crank up the love when showing a brother or sister where they are lacking in discernment.
I have to bite my tongue a lot lately, which shows me I still have a long way to go. Recognizing the issue is the first step, but even having the thoughts that I do are sin and I need God to purge me from even having those thoughts. My desire is to not even think about reaching out in love, but that it comes natural to me. I need God for this to take place and if I try to do it on my own it will be an utter failure. I am still ruled by my flesh as it struggles against my spirit. Sadly my flesh still has a lot of control over my choices, but I do recognize the issues I have. In that recognition I can seek God to change me, to give me grace to overcome those obstacles. I welcome any way that I can seek God to gain a deeper relationship with Him and I thank Him for taking the scales off of my eyes to my own sinful natures still present within me.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I love freebies. There is nothing like getting something for nothing, especially when it is the new ESV MacArthur Study Bible. I wanted one of these since I heard they were going to be released, and low and behold I get one for free directly from Grace To You. I like to think that Johnny Mac or Phil Johnson packaged mine up and sent it from their California headquarters. Nah, probably not.
What a great ministry this is from Grace To You. I receive several offers for "free" items throughout the year. This is only the second I actually requested, the first was "The Gospel According To Jesus" last year. I did make a donation that covered the price of the book and shipping, so it was not really free to me, but also felt that GTY should be reimbursed for their time and book. I do assume that there are others that are not able to send a donation to GTY for the products they offer, which is why t is a ministry and not really a full fledged business.
This is usually the point in my blog where I segue to a spiritual application, but I think I already made the spiritual application already. A ministry is not in "it" for the revenue, they are in it to further the Kingdom and to glorify the Lord. They may have to run things somewhat like a business, but don't think that the folks at Grace To You, Real Truth Matters or Desiring God forget who their Boss is for one second.
It is refreshing to see ministries put things online for free, including full books and audio messages. There are many out there that are in "it" for profit, to line their own pockets. This is a sad reality within professing Christians. I see it almost everywhere, especially on some un-named TV stations that have the letters TB and N or TC and another T in their names. Most of the time it is marketed as "planting a seed of faith" which is theoretically code for send me your money and you'll get more back. While this is a biblical principle, it is being grossly misrepresented to the public. No wonder so many are disillusioned about Christianity. Just today in a comments thread of a local news outlet I saw Al Mohler likened to Jim Jones, lumped in with the wackos from Westboro, called illiterate and told he needed to repent of being judgmental just because he cautioned professing Christians about participating in YOGA. Most of those comments were from professing Christians themselves, who must not know anything about Mohler. But it just shows how even solid biblical leaders can be lumped in with the filth and garbage that the world gladly accepts as "Christian", just because they say they are.
Judge a ministry by their fruits. Do not support the downright wacky ones, but also make sure you are discerning enough to also pick out the ones that seem to walk the wall, occasionally dipping a toe in biblical things, but also dipping another toe in the world and emotionalism. There are many established ministries that could use your financial support and more importantly you prayer support. Do not think that just because you cannot send them money that you cannot send the Father your prayers for them, the One that supplies their needs anyway.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
This evenings church service was moved from the sanctuary to Noble Park here in Paducah. While not the normal church service, we did celebrate and learn some things about marriage and the symbolism throughout.
Shelby and Leigh Ann were married this evening, Shelby's father Pastor Michael Durham was the officiant. What a great honor being the person to proclaim their son married. Pastor Durham began the service with a brief history of the marriage customs and how they reflected Christ's imagery He used. The Jewish cultural customs were that after the bridegroom chose his wife he would then go to her father and named a price or ransom for his daughter. After that was agreed upon the bridegroom would return to his fathers house to add on enough room for him and his bride. The addition would take a while and no one knew the return time except the father. Another symbol within the marriage covenant is baptism which was what the bride would do as a cleansing and also the oath/ contract that Jesus portrayed by sharing the cup at the last supper.
No wonder we, the church, are referred to as the Bride of Christ. Before the first humans were ever created, the Son and the Father determined the price for the Son's beloved, they made an oath and we are currently awaiting the Bridegrooms return. He has gone to His Father's mansion to prepare a room for us. How exciting is that? We will one day (soon) be whisked away by Jesus Christ to our new home with the Father.
I have prayed with Shelby as well as offered him some advice, not that I have a lot to offer. I have failed a lot as a husband, but learning what a marriage actually is helped me a lot. Ephesians 5 lays out some really daunting commands for us men. We are to love our wives as Christ love His church. How is that possible? It is not, unless by the grace of God. I take that command seriously and knowing that I am not capable of that type of love I look to Christ for that grace to be able to love like I should. I still fail, but it is more opportunity to seek Him more.
Also, I have realized that God gave me my wife as a token of His love for me. Pastor Durham was key in helping me see that very important aspect of husband and wives. God gave me Chandra as a physical representation of His love for me. While, at this moment, I cannot see God and hug Him out of the love He has graced me with, I do have my wife. When I hug her I am able to feel that love from God. She is my constant reminder of His love for me. He has graced me with someone that I love very dearly and desire to share everything with.
Even if I am not consciously thinking about my wife when making decisions, my decisions are definitely made with her well being in mind too. I do not make rash decisions that will adversely affect her or our household. The decisions are made because I always know she is my wife. This should also be my factor in making decisions with God a part too. My relationship with Him should be natural and I shouldn't have to get the balance out and weigh things out with how it will affect my relationship with God, it should be natural. This can only happen when one realizes that God is the ultimate deciding factor in any decision. We must be so intimately connected in our relationship with God that everything else flows from that. I am by no means perfect and must make corrective adjustments to get back into agreement with Him. But, He is long-suffering for His children and allows us to do things so we can see our need for Him.
I will continue to pray for Shelby and Leigh Ann through the years. I pray that God will use Chandra and me as godly influences to help them along their walk together. They have a lot to figure out on their own, but having a biblical foundation is the key to any marriage and any other venture for that matter. All marriages are mirrors of Christ and the church, even the unconverted. God's design for marriage is perfectly laid out in scripture and I suggest any couple do an in depth study before and/ or during their marriage to be in agreement with the Word. While the best time is before a wedding, it is still never too late to get your marriage in agreement with scripture. My marriage is proof positive of that. God is good and loves His own and will give you all that you need. Start in Ephesians 5 and go from there.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
This is a picture of Steven Curtis Chapman's dad's music store here in my hometown of Paducah KY. It is actually just a few miles from my house and we pass by it often. This is where Mr. Chapman has been giving lessons since 1967 and is still going strong today. Mr. Chapman (Herb) is one of those "un-known" people that God uses to touch and reach others that are used more prominently than others, in this case his son Steven Curtis.
Myself, I am glad to take the back seat and not be in the public's limelight. I am perfectly content to being a support type of person, as this is where my giftings fall. I am not a gifted speaker, musician or singer, but I do love God and do make myself available to whatever God puts in my path.
I have often heard that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. That is very true, as God desires the glory for what He does. What better way than to use someone in a way that seems out of character for them? In this it is very recognizable that God did a work through someone and not that person doing it in and of himself.
I see myself as an Apostle Andrew type instead of the more prominent Paul, Peter or John. Usually if you ask someone who they think they are most like from scripture it will be one of those I mentioned, not the obscure Andrew best known as the brother of Peter. But it was Andrew that God used to bring Peter to Jesus John 1:41, to bring the boy to Jesus with the fish (John 6:9) and brought became known as the first foreign missionary by bringing the first Greek to Jesus (John 12:20-23). So, obscurity is what Andrew is known for, but in his contentment with his position he was used greatly by God. So, that is where I hope to be. I simply make myself available for God to use, which is my reasonable service. He has control of my life and I follow the path He has laid before me. He wants us to be available for Him, which should be the desire of any Christian anyway.
Do you "make time" for God? Not out of a sense of having to, with a heart that grumbles? Or do you simply lay down your life because of the grace, love and sacrifice given to you. Do you willfully, with a loving heart "give" your time and resources to God? Might be a good time for a little self examination (2 Cor. 13:5) to make sure where your hearts desires are (Psalm 37:4, Psalm 20:4, Matt. 6:21).
Friday, October 8, 2010
What a blast from the past this is. Seems like the toy companies are bringing back some of the games that were popular back in my childhood.
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots was a staple in my house. I remember my brother knocking my block off quite often. The sound of the red robot's head popping up forever ingrained into my memory.
I also remember Mouse Trap, even though I never really understood all of the rules. Then there was the ever popular Yard Darts/ Jarts that impaled many a person and led to their banning in 1988. The darts were replaced by a very un-dangerous ball with fins that looked more like a giant birdie for badminton. Then there was the ever popular Battleship and Monopoly. My brother claims to be the king of Monopoly, but I may have the edge now that I am older and wiser and actually use a little strategy.
So many thing of yesteryear are forgotten. I would give just about anything to regain the memories that have left me. Some of the memories I do have are of my childhood church, attending daycare there and for some reason the smell of the food at lunch time there. I attended that church until I was 14, when my "rebellious" state kicked in, otherwise known as backsliding by all of those at that church or simply living out my depraved state of being to all of those that do not lie to themselves.
At 14 I was introduced to a plethora of sins, at church camp of all places. The music was the first draw, which was directly introduced to me at camp, followed by alcohol, drugs, cussing and a 24 year smoking habit. I was just living out my desires, buying my own way to hell. I thought I was okay and had my ticket to heaven. All I had to do was say that I was sorry for my sins each day and I was good to go. I was deceived and willfully and joyfully ignorant. I was banking on a decision as an 8 year old and knew that because a preacher told me I was saved it had to be true. I loved my sins, but also knew deep down that this couldn't be what a true Christian was.
Fast forward to my 38th year of life when God actually saved me. He began to show me the deception that I had grown to love and depend on for my constant spiritual ease. I had left church at 14 and only made the occasional appearance, less than a handful of times through life. But I believed myself to be okay still. I had recited "the prayer" numerous times through my life, whenever I felt extra sorry for sinning. God does have a way of really showing up to a sinner though.
I was perfectly content, but God had other plans for me. I had returned to the church of my youth, even to the youth pastors class to regain some of the youth I had missed. He was teaching an adults class then, but he was still the same - a schmoozer extraordinaire. He called everyone bubby and sissy because he didn't remember their names, he would always make you feel really good about yourself, a really good people person. God started showing me things that were not in alignment with what I had been studying on my own, apart from his class. I had begun to listen to John MacArthur, Ray Comfort and eventually Paul Washer all of which were teaching me biblical avenues that I had never heard before. I was learning of true repentance, true sorrow against a Holy God. I remember a sermon of MacArthur's about the narrow gate. I realized that I was on the wide path and had never known true repentance and faith in Christ. That is when God saved me from hell and the sinful life that I had been living for the past 24 years. I was then a true child of God.
I can still look back and see the path that God formed for me. He allowed me to walk that path of deception so that my heart would ache for those same type of people that are living in faith of their faith or a prayer. They do not know the true God of scripture and depend on themselves. They balance out their good and bad and pat each other on the back, reassuring each other that they are okay because they took care of "it" years ago. It is a social club where the dues are handshakes and smiles that hide the very core of American Churchianity. These people are deceived and on the road to hell.
Good news is..... there is the Good News. The Gospel of Christ who came to bare the sins of the world if one would only repent and trust in Him. A true turning from sin and to a Holy God for everything. Have you done this? Or do you cling to your faith of your faith? Do you hold tight to a god that loves everyone regardless of what they do, that turns a blind eye to sin and doesn't really care about what you do? This is a false god that has been carefully crafted by Satan, having a form of godliness but denying the Power. So dangerous is this false gospel and the harlot church that has grown out of this man centered message. Millions are damned because of it and millions more are living in its clutches today.
To the tue Christians - keep preaching the Gospel of Christ, the same message that Jesus Himself and His Apostles preached. Do not compromise one bit the message. Stay true, cast the seed wide and broad and allow God to water and bring in His harvest. You will find opposition from those outside the church, but more devastatingly within the "church". People will say you are a Jesus Freak, have gone over the edge, are a holy roller or a bible thumper. That is all well and good, take that as the signs that God is using you to reach some for His Name sake. Be true to the Lord and hold His Name high.