Saturday, December 20, 2008

Is Christmas unchristian?

To make my point one only has to go to the mall during the last Saturday before Christmas to see for them selves how our society has fallen away from the faith. The Christmas holiday as we know it was not declared a federal holiday until 1870. In fact the celebration of Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681. For most of our history December 25th has been considered a pagan time of worship. Ancient Rome celebrated “Dies Natalis Invicti Solis” this time of year. Which means the birthday of the unconquered Sun. History tells us they had parties, formal meals and exchanged gifts. So when was Jesus born? The following scripture is one of many keys to the story.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8 (KJV)

It is highly unlikely that the shepherds would be out at night during the winter season. It would have been too cold and wet more likely in spring, summer or fall. October would be more accurate. When we read the story of the shepherds we find they were given specific instructions on where to find the Savior. No mention of wise men there.

Notice within the following verse the word “house.” No mention of the word manger. We may have established the idea of three wise men based on the three gifts mentioned within the following verse.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Matt 2:11 (KJV)

The story of the wise men coming to see Jesus much later after His birth is again noted in the following:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Matt 2:16 (KJV)

The time frame of two years and under suggest that Jesus may have been several years old by the time the wise men came to see him. Certainly they saw the Savior in a house and not a manger.

Another tradition celebrated at Christmas is the Christmas Tree not a Holiday Tree. Is this biblical? At the birth of Christ the Bible has no mention of a Christmas Tree, Yule logs, wreaths, boughs of holly, mistletoe, lights, eggnog, elves, toys, cookies, reindeer, Santa Claus, Bing Crosby or a report of Grandma being run over by a reindeer. Today we have it all and it is getting worst in my opinion. We do have a biblical reference and warning about the tradition of trimming the tree.

This is what the Lord says: “Do not act like the other nations, who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.” Jer 10:2-5 (NLT)

Since the Book of Jeremiah was written around 600 B.C. we can conclude that the trimming of a tree for celebration dates back before the birth of Christ.

Another point is made that the apostles throughout the New Testament have no mention of the birthday celebration for Jesus. December 25th may not have been the accurate birthday for our Lord and Savior. Evidence shows that pagan celebrations and Christianity have intermixed in some way. Many of the Christmas tradition we do celebrate may not be biblical.

I too am guilty of following the worldly view of Christmas. Scrambling across the Mall. Driving from store to store. Falling deep into the Hallmark conspiracy of what Christmas is all about. God gave us the greatest gift of all. What have I done with this priceless gift? It would honor my Father in Heaven better if I were to openly read aloud from my Bible in the middle of the mall and risk going to jail for it than too continue to run like a mouse in a maze during this holiday season.

The only unchristian thing about Christmas is what we make of it. Take a moment to say thank you to the hard working underpaid clerk behind the counter. The waiter or waitress at the restaurant who is working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Too often we find our Christian brothers and sisters with their heads down wondering where has the joy gone? For the unsaved it is even worst. God gave us Christ Jesus. Make a point to share this gift with others throughout the year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

You Need Friends

I do not know about your family but ours has had a hard time within the recent economic crunch.

When hard times hit it is difficult to maintain your joy. Worry and immediate family concerns can feel overwhelming. Friends are priceless especially in times of crisis. The sharing of ones experiences can help you prepare for what you are facing now.

A close friend of ours gave me a book this week. Billy Graham's "Hope for the Troubled Heart." Reverend Graham in chapter 8 sums it up well. "Out of pain and problems have come the sweetest songs, the most poignant poems, and the most gripping stories."

Right now my life story seems more like a tragedy than one of hope and inspiration. The problem is that I am looking at just one chapter when God already knows the whole book of my life.

God has given us His Word, His Son, His Love, and His Promise.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
Heb 13:5 (NLT)

Friends are there to lean on when needed. As a friend we are there to reach out and help one another up when they have fallen down. A friend is truly a brother or sister in Christ for my Bible tells me in the following verse: We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 (NLT)

Jesus laid down His life for me. Making my troubles trivial in comparison. And that is what my troubles are, trivial. It is our problems that remind us that we just cannot make it on our own. That is why we need Jesus. That is why He came to us in the flesh over 2,000 years ago. We cannot make it in this life or the next without Christ Jesus.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Eccl 4:10 (NLT)

The above scripture warns us about going at it alone. Asking for a friend's help is also the act of friendship. Be a friend. Help those in need and do not let pride get in the way when you need to ask for help.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pastors, Pastors, Pastors

Some recent events have come to my attention. As a seminary student we look forward to our assignment in continuing service to God for God. Lately I have notice the number of churches that are in the process of looking for a pastor for their church. Statistics show that the average tenure for a Southern Baptist Pastor is 27 months. That seems outrageous to me. How can churches survive? How can a Pastor expect to be able to serve God knowing how little time he has? How can a Pastor’s family survive with such change and lost of their church family? How can a church congregation move from "welcome" to "please leave" in such a short time?

In 1 Peter we learn the great responsibility that is placed on the shoulders of the Pastor.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 1 Peter 5:2 (NLT)

A Pastor is called by God to serve God. It is for this reason that so many seem to be rejected by the very flock they are entrusted to care for. Though it may not be popular it is required to preach of the cross, the blood of Christ and dare I say it, SIN. Yet the Bible clearly tells us of the gifts we have been given.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
Eph 4:11 (NLT)

Please see my posting of Sheep without a Shepherd.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 (NLT)

I am ashamed to admit it but I have seen Pastors belittled, discouraged by and beaten up more by their own congregation than from Satan’s own demons. Make no mistake I am guilty in allowing this to happen within my own church as anyone else.

Again statistics show that half of all seminary students drop out before graduating. Half of those who do graduate and enter the ministry leave it within their first two years. That leaves only 25% of those who enter seminary continue in their service for God. The parable of the farmer scattering seed in Matthew 13:1-8 comes to mind.

It is a small group that continues to bare the burden that enters the ministry. It is a hard life. One filled with longsuffering, disappointment, hardship, poverty, and relentless service for others.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17 (NLT)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Trick or Treat

It is that time again. Ending of the month of October with the nationwide experience of Halloween. We could go down that road of its history. That would be the tradional thing to do, but that would be boring. Let us focus on what Halloween has become.

I remember a time long ago as a young boy in the neighborhood on Halloween night. I was dressed as a pirate my friends as an astronaut and the other a cowboy. It dates back a while. We would walk for blocks and blocks. Each one flooded with children in costumes. Laughter and giggles filled the streets. Joy and excitement a dentist could love a time of innocents now long gone.

Today the commercialization of the holidays is the main theme. Retailers now pushing products endorsed by the Hollywood movie industry. Halloween products ordered from suppliers over six months ago to be shipped in time for the holiday. Many of the items on the shelf have returned from storage inventories from the previous year. Perhaps they will sell this year? Video stores, TV, and movie houses around the country release their latest stories of horror to entice our pagan roots.

As Christians we try to point out the evil involved in this season. Our critics are quick to point out the carnage found in our Holy Bible. How David cut the head off of Goliath in 1 Samuel Chapter 17. Again they point out the story of the execution of John the Baptist in Mark Chapter 6:24-28 the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The history of the church has its bloody tale too. Crusades that used force to convert entire populations that continues to rebel against the truth to this day.

How we have missed the point that the instrument of death, the cross, was turned into a symbol of life through Christ Jesus.

With many youngsters coming to your front door this Halloween. Do we see an opportunity to witness to them? Along with candy could we also include a gospel track? Perhaps even an invitation to visit us at church? What about an announcement about an upcoming youth activity at your local church?

What if we went as far as to set-up a living manger scene rather than a haunted house display? Reminding everyone of the gift available at all times and not just on Christmas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Witness Reaction Program, Step Three: Worship

In step-one we learned to get in tune with God and stay in tune with Him through prayer. In step-two we learned to know God through His word. Studying His word is essential for our Christian growth. The first three steps of the Witness Reaction Program are the foundation work for our Christian faith. If you do not have it or do not live it then how can it show in you? How can God’s light shine through you?

The next step is worship. Have you ever been in church service with the choir singing and tears come running down your face? For that brief moment everything is fine even though you might be at you’re lowest. It is at that moment we come before God with a repentant heart. It is at that moment that we give up all we are to God. I will let you in on a little secret. We do not come to church to worship. We bring our worship to church.

Worship is associated with song or music. If you are like me then you know how to make a joyful noise. Those around me hear the noise and God and I hear the joy. Yes, call me a Jesus freak. I am one of those who move back and forth when the music plays. I enjoy hearing the choir sing. Come Monday morning has the joy left you?

Each day and each moment is a time to worship God. When that choir song keeps ringing in your ear let it move you. Perhaps you only remember the chorus line. Sing it over and over. Today there are many Christian radio stations as well as Internet radio Christian videos on and on CD. A good song can change your mood from negative to positive.

Reading the Book of Psalms has helped ease my heart in times of trouble. The more of them you read the more your heart will cry out to God.

Our youth band is a joy to listen too. Sure I know I am getting older since I often think the music is too loud. So I sit in the back. The point is that you need to search out different opportunities in worship. Go to a Christian concert with friends from church. Ask fellow Christians what groups or songs they listen too. Your Minister of Music at your local church is a great resource. Ask him.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Witness Reaction Program Step Two: God’s Word

In step one we learned to communicate with God. Get in touch with Him at a moment’s notice. Now we are in tune with God. Let us move forward in getting to know Him through His word. This is step two of the Witness Reaction Program.

If my wife wrote to me 66 love letters and I did not read them or chose to just read some that interest me. What would you think my wife would believe of me? Yes, she would still love me but would she know my heart is in the right place? So it is with the word of God.
The Bible is a gift. Pastor Rick Warren author of the book The Purpose Driven Life says, “I have been a follower of Christ Jesus for over 40 years. Each time I read the Bible. God reveals to me something new each time.”

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Eph 6:17 (KJV)

When I was around 8 years old I went to visit my Uncle’s family in southern California. They insisted I attend church with them. I was excited about it. You see I had never been to church. I was not raised in the church. With my two cousins we went to Sunday School. Each of us was handed a Bible. Then asked to turn to chapter and verse. I had never seen a Bible before. I had no idea where to turn to. So I sat there quiet. The rest of the kids caught on very quickly that I was new to all this. Then proceeded to laugh at me. The Sunday School teacher as I recall did nothing but ignore me. At that moment the Bible represented nothing but pain and humiliation to me. I still hear the laughter in my head each time I walk into Sunday School. By age 18 if you had asked me what the 10 commandments were I would have said it was that movie they play around Easter. By my early 20’s my attitude was that I had no time for God and He had no time for me. I was mean to Christians. If one tried to show me the ABC’s of salvation with their Bible. I would lash out at them nearly to the point that I would take their Bible and want to beat them with it.

Now I carry with me my pocket Bible nearly all the time. You will often find me carrying a Bible wherever I go. My testimony is another entire story. Someday I will post it.

Jesus changed my life. It is through God’s Word we learn about Him about His son. Through the Holy Spirit we learn our purpose in serving Him.

Again D.C. I read my daily devotion and attend Sunday School. I do not have time for much more. I say, make the time. You will cherish it in time. When I was first saved one of the elders of my church took it upon him to guide me through a series of bible lessons through the Navpress. He himself was part of the Navigators. Through these series of lessons a foundation of truth was built. There are the key words: Foundation of Truth.

Even at Sunday School your teacher has very limited time to present, encourage and teach how to apply the scriptures to every-day life. Many churches offer discipleship-training classes. There with others you learn from a very focused study on particular books of the Bible and scriptures. At our church many members are involved with Bible study groups that have members from several other churches meeting at individual’s homes during the week.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Tim 3:16 (NLT)

The above verse spells it out for us all. The second step in the Witness Reaction Program is God’s Word.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Witness Reaction Program Step One: Prayer

It all starts with God. How do we communicate with God? We do so through prayer. Why is prayer so important? The answer is because there is the devil. The devil and his minions attack those who can do the most damage to him.

Why should we pray? Jesus did.

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Heb 5:7 (NLT)

After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Matt 14:23 (NLT)

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Mark 1:35 (NLT)

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”
Matt 26:36 (NLT)

One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Luke 9:18 (NLT)

Start your day with prayer. Finish your day with prayer. If we are to get in touch with our Heavenly Father we need to talk with Him as often as possible. In the morning take the time to pray and hand over to God the burdens you have. Give up to God those problems with your spouse, children, friends, co-workers, neighbors, physical problems, financial problems and anything else. These things are holding you back and interfering with your personal relationship with Christ. Sure you will still have to deal with them but as a co-pilot. God is now in control. Let Him drive and do not try to give Him directions. He knows what is best for you.

It sounds simple. It is and many of us end up skipping it until faced with a dire situation. We need to pray in good and bad times. We run into the devil when we are going the opposite direction of him. We never see the evil one when we are running along side of him.

D.C is not my daily devotional good enough? Let me ask you. Is just sitting down at the table with your family good enough or should you take the time to talk to them? Is leaving your spouse a note good enough?

I cannot emphasize it enough. You need to drop off all that extra baggage holding you down. Jesus is there for you.

Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28 (NLT)

So D.C. how often should I ask Jesus for help? Pray as often as it takes. Ask other brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for you and at times with you. One book I recommend is “Power Prayers to Start Your Day” by Donna K. Maltese.

A personal relationship with Christ is just that. It is personal. Do not be surprised when your prayer time becomes a conversation. A conversation takes two and He is there with you. God does not talk to me directly but I have received full sentences as answers. I am not crazy. I am sure if you talk with your brother and sisters in Christ they too will tell you so.

The first step in the Witness Reaction Program is prayer. Your communication with God is vital if you are to have that personal one-on-one relationship we all as Christians want. Prayer is absolutely required for staying tuned-in with God.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 (ESV)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Witness Reaction Program

wit·ness: 1.a. One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced: a witness to the accident. b. One who furnishes evidence. 2. Something that serves as evidence; a sign. 3. Law. a. One who is called on to testify before a court. b. One who is called on to be present at a transaction in order to attest to what takes place. c. One who signs one's name to a document for the purpose of attesting to its authenticity. 4. An attestation to a fact, a statement, or an event; testimony.

When we are attacked or mistreated we naturally want to lash out or strike back. We honestly want to share that pain with others. Especially with the one we are upset with or want to retaliate against. A dark subject for a Christian based Blog.

If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin.
Lev 5:1 (NLT)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Matt 28:19 (NLT)

As Christians we are all called to witness, to testify and share the Good News. It sounds simple and it is. It is ourselves who make it so complicated. Not everyone is open to talking about or receiving Christ. Or are they?

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.
John 6:44 (NLT)

Over 11 months ago I was online at viewing a video clip about witnessing. After I reviewed the comments listed. One was very negative, in my opinion. Within the text of the comment was a website. Sure enough I visited it. It was a website owned and published by the owner of the negative comment. She is a writer, producer and movie critic of cult horror films. To cut to the chase I thought of all people this one should have the closest idea of what Hell must be like. This was her trade. This was her life. An email from a Christian like me was like gas to a fire.

Trying to witness online is hard to say the least. In this case I did a very poor job. I was ill-equipped for the job. As in Luke, chapter 18:18-30, this woman would have to give up all she has ever known. Turn away from the evil one she has been serving.

I ask the question. Before I was saved was I so determined to deny God?

My personal goal is to become not just better at witnessing but make it a habit. Make it something as natural as reaching out for a handshake. So my goal is when I am faced with a situation my reaction will be to first ask myself, “How can this be a witnessing opportunity.” Then pray for God to show me the way and serve Him.

If I am going to react then make it a witness reaction for Christ.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What is SIN?

Author Paul Copan, PH.D. describes it best. He says, “Sin is doing what you want. Sin is having attitudes that are self-absorbed and self-centered rather than being God-centered.”

I was saved in my early 30’s. Yet even to this day I am amazed by the many different Christian denominations we have in the United States. When I ask the question of “why” I received just about the same answer. Each church or denomination follows it’s own doctrine.

Let me see if I am following you D.C. on this one. You are saying that each church or denomination reads the same Bible? Each Christian church that is, Yes. They teach from the same Bible? Yes. They preach from the same Bible? Yes. Yet each has a different doctrine, set of beliefs or policies when it comes to the Christian faith? Yes, you got it.

If the Christian churches cannot seem to get it together how can we expect individual Christians to get it?

The answer is within your question. We do not get it. We are not supposed to get it. That is why we need a redeemer, a savior the one who has it and always has and always will have it. That is going the long way around the barn for the answer. My point is we need Christ Jesus more now than our ancestors did over 2,000 years ago.

Let me warn you here D.C. You are skating on that precious word of doctrine that the higher-ups hold dear to their hearts.

Then let me put it the way I see it. From my point of view doctrine today is used like a football. We hold tight of it when it is beneficial to us. We do not think twice about kicking it down field or throwing it out of bounds when we want to. We often fumble it and then yell at others for dropping it.

The fact is very few of us ever take time in the study of Biblical doctrine. We leave that to others. Make no mistake about it. I am guilty too, but by doing it ourselves we would be interpreting the scriptures. We might come to realize that we are doing things the way we want to and not how God wants us to do.

So tell me. What is SIN?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Does God Answer Prayers? NO.

D. C. you have gone over the edge with this one.

You might be right but please read the following story first.

The story is found in R.A. Torrey’s book, “How to Pray.” He recalls talking with a young Christian who has backslid from the faith. She had given up on God and turned away from God’s Word. The Bible. Why? “Because I have tried its promises and found them untrue.” “Which promises” Torrey asked. She was referring to the following scripture:

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Matt 21:22 (KJV)

She had asked but did not receive as if sitting on Santa’s lap and giving him a list of toys wanted for Christmas. So often we as Christians have projected such thoughts to new believers in Christ. Mr. Torrey’s response is one we should all be prepared to give. He answered with scripture:

And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. 1 John 3:22 (NLT)

Mr. Torrey continued the conversation by focusing on the young Christian’s relationship with Christ. Asking, “were you keeping His commandments and doing those things which are pleasing in His sight?” The answer for all of us is no.

These verses have directly affected me. For the past few months I have been fighting with kidney stones. The pain is excruciating. I not only pray but also beg for Christ to heal me. So much to the point of asking Him to release me or take me home. Yet it is during this time of struggle that I find myself closer to God than ever before.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The South Must Rise Again

I am originally from California and at the time of this writing have lived here in Alabama for past 3 years. You would think that the old battle cries "The South shall rise again" would be heard often. Just the opposite is true. Here we are in the middle of the birthplace of the Civil War and Civil Rights. When I first arrived here in the South. It was like a utopia for Christianity. Here there is a church around every corner. You see billboards on the road promoting churches, Christian radio and more promoting the need for salvation. Could this be the Garden of Eden? No, like all gardens there are snakes waiting to strike.

It does not take a lot of head scratching when looking at a map of the United States to know where the "Bible belt" is located. Unfortunately that belt is shrinking. Living on a diet of the modern world. Relying less and less on God and relying on self. I dare you. Take a look at the map. The last stronghold of Christianity in the United States is here in the South. Here in the Bible belt. Satan knows our Achilles heel. Keep the Bible belt shrinking and the rest of America will fall.

In the late 1950’s and early 60’s we had the great crusades. Now we are hard pressed to get a group of Christians together for a simple bible study. Preachers now have to walk lightly so not to offend their congregation. We see Christians now pointing fingers at other Christians at the drop of a hat. No wonder new Christians are turning away from the faith. Backsliding. No wonder unbelievers just say NO to anything that points to Christ. If Christians cannot get it right why not give another religion a try? Ouch! D. C. stop slapping us around.

What an ugly picture I have painted here. What an uphill battle we face.

As I write this article I am attending a five-day revival at another church in town led by my Pastor. Not until I walked out of that church the first night did I realize just how much I needed it. All it takes is one bad day or just one missed timed thought and you feel cut off at the knees these days. Is that not why we should attend church each week? I do not know about you but I certainly need to be revitalized with God’s Word often. And there lies the answer America.

Instead of always looking to the horizon for the next big thing. Take a moment to look down at your opened Bible. For the past, present and future are contained within. Then go out and share it with someone else. For I am sure that someone shared it with you first.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lost in Translation

If there is one subject that can cause a ruckus among Christians it's what translation of the bible you read and quote from. Yes there are many to choose from. How many times have we witnessed to an unbeliever then confused them with multiple quotes from different translations from other Christians?

Is there one translation that is the true Word of God? That debate has gone on for decades. I will use my own experiences and let you decide.

My first bible I received was a small Gideon pocket bible in college. It was years later until I even tried to read the book. It was the King James version. With all those "thee" and "thou's" in it. Who talks like that? To say the least I could not understand it. Yet today at seminary we study from the KJV. Why? There is more commentary on the KJV than any other translation. So does that make the KJV the one true translation? I disagree. Yet the KJV has been the foundation for Christianity for 400 years.

Personally I read and quote from the New Living Translation. It is easier for me to understand and read aloud to others. For in-depth bible study I use the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NIV, NAS, HCSB and a number of different commentaries.

Some of the best advice I have received before quoting from a particular translation is to say first, "My bible says" then continue to read God's Word. This way others will know that you are quoting from an authority rather than from yourself. If they hear their favorite verse quoted differently then you have an opportunity to share your translation. Do not get into a debate with another Christian on which translation is right. Both of you need to share your bibles and focus on what is God telling us.

I agree that some verses in the NLT do not have the impact like the KJV has. Yet many times the NLT is more clear for me and easier to understand than the KJV especially when reading the book of Proverbs, in my humble opinion.

Be thankful that we have multiple translations of the bible. Take time to study the translator's notes on how and why your translation of your bible came to be.

For me if the KJV were the only version of the bible I would never have had the understanding of God's Word as I have today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two Square Feet

One day a senior church member made a point to have me follow her to her Sunday school room because she had a problem with her room and wanted me to see it. The whole situation seemed like a trip to the principal’s office for a scolding. Sure enough there on the floor near the edge was a coffee stain. Dirtying the floor less than two square feet. You should know our church facility is not small. I myself am responsible for maintaining over 60,000 square feet each week. She gave me a brief scolding making my efforts for the week seem very unappreciated to say the least. Did I proceed to tell her about the other 59,998 square feet I had cleaned that week? What would be the point? Her focus was only on those two square feet. Instead I immediately apologized for the mess knowing full well that the room had indeed been cleaned earlier that week. I then thanked her for pointing out the problem. Then immediately began re-cleaning the entire room and not just the spill on the floor. She was very pleased and then reminded me to be more watchful next time. Again I apologized for the problem and thanked her again for bringing the problem to my attention.

Later that week after Sunday service that same senior member approached me in a much more somber mood. She informed me that one of her students had informed her that they had been in the room earlier that week and had a slight accident with their coffee. Did I relish in this newfound news? No, just smiled knowing there was something more to this. She then apologized for her harsh treatment of me earlier that week. Telling me that her week was going badly at the time and that coffee stain was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thanked her again for telling me and told her not to worry. If there is another problem please let us know as soon as possible.

How many times have we done the same thing? We have all been on one side or the other. Upset by something else. Making assumptions about others. Determine to make our point and bear down authority over others. And then when we are attacked we look to retaliate. Again determined to make our point to the one who offended us in the first place. Becoming a very dangerous cycle.

When Christians persecute other Christians who can possibly be the winner? You’ve got it. No one wins. Can you hear Satan’s laughter?

If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you. Prov 25:21-22 (NLT)

If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also.
Luke 6:29 (HCSB)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sheep without a Shepard

I have told my children that we do not choose to be leaders. We are chosen. Anyone who has ever spent time in an authoritarian position truly knows what I am talking about. Suddenly those who have called you friend are now asking for favors based on their relationship with you rather than working to get the job done. So-called friends begin to expect you to accommodate their needs and desires without regard to how it will affect you and your responsibilities. Do they do it because they do not care? Personally I believe it is mostly out of ignorance than anything else. They just do not know better nor wish to learn about someone else’s situation and responsibilities.

Heb 5:2 (NLT) And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.

There are only three pillars to leadership in my humble opinion. They are:

  1. A leader leads
  2. A leader is just
  3. A leader looks for other leaders because they know they cannot do it alone

Many of us fail with the third pillar of leadership. By delegating responsibility to others we risk losing control. We risk losing the power we think we have over others. Power is an illusion. Control is an illusion. The only one in control is God.

A Shepard is not in control of his flock. He is given the responsibility of caring for them and putting his own wants and needs second. Some of the sheep will misbehave and wander off. Some will rebel and cause discontent with others. Some for a while will acknowledge the Shepard’s authority as long as it suits them. Few will give themselves to the Shepard knowing that by doing so their protection is guaranteed.

Sheep without a Shepard; what possible outcome can there be? In my observation it appears that more and more fellow Christians want a message each Sunday that God is nice, you are nice so everything is nice. Heaven forbid that our pastors are allowed to preach the truth.

Matt 5:11 (HCSB) “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me."

This year I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Real Evangelism Conference at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, GA. There Pastor Johnny Hunt stated, “We do not need to fire our pastors. We need to help get them fired up.” I agree yet I too have failed my pastor in doing so.

What about you?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Worship or Entertainment?

Yes, when in church I am one of those who occasionally look around during service to see the expressions on the faces of others. When I watch a sermon on television I pay close attention when the camera swings around to the crowd. What I see is the same things going on in these mega-churches as they are in my own church. Adults with their arms folded staring straight ahead with little or no expression on their faces. Occasionally looking down at their watches checking the time as if counting the laps of a race or measuring the pace of the service.

I was blessed once with the opportunity to be part of the choir. It breaks your heart to be standing up there singing your heart out for God and see others in the audience with lifeless faces. The difficulty for the Pastor to give his sermon with passion for God while seeing those same faces scattered throughout the audience must be tremendous.

Without a doubt these are the lost. Yet these same lifeless faces have greeted me in the hallway and made it very clear by telling me that they were saved long before I was born. Point taken but your witness by your actions is a little hard for me to accept.

I have tried to step into their shoes. Trying to understand why they are like they are. Trying to see things from their perspective. I have not been able to figure it out. I get charged up at worship. No I am not one to jump out of my seat and dance. Sure there are times I would like too. Yet like most Christians I do not want to offend others there or look foolish. By caring what others think though I am looking foolish in front of God. Perhaps that is part of it. It is a problem facing all of our churches today.

We have the full audiovisual presentation. Sound like a stage production a projection screen like a theater. We have soundboards and lighting controls with every color under the sun. Small armies queuing up the microphones for the choir, musicians, soloists, and the Pastor. It is a full-blown production every Sunday morning.

Even with all this we find fewer and fewer people stepping forward and giving themselves to Christ. We see fewer baptisms each year. It must be just as heartbreaking for the crew of volunteers behind those controls as it is for the choir members and the Pastor.

Ten or twenty years from now when I am sitting in the pew will I be as broken as those I see today. Year after year seeing your church rise and fall. Battled scarred from this spiritual war that is going on daily. Or will I be just as excited about Christ then as I am now? I must be if I am to serve my Lord and Savior. I will not be able to do it alone. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Perhaps that is the solution. Regardless of age we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Seek and save the lost.

Monday, March 24, 2008

No one wants to be God:

We hear it from adults. If I were God I would never let bad things happen. Teenagers might say that they would have created the Internet and MP3 players on the first day. If we think for just a moment about the unimaginable responsibility God has how would anyone of us ever want to be God?

Think about it. Just look at one single blade of grass. A chemist could spend a lifetime studying it. The very building blocks of life are contained within it. Yet God is involved and responsible for every blade of grass across the entire earth. He is involved and responsible for every grain of sand. Now add over six and a half billion people. If just 1% of them whines and complains as much as I do then there is reason enough why you would not want to be God. Now add all the planets in our solar system. Add too the junk spinning around our planet and the various thousands of asteroids. Now add the millions and millions of stars throughout the universe. God is involved with every detail every moment of the day.

Yet when I pray He does not say sorry D. C. I am too busy right now. Try back later. No, God is there. Does He talk directly to you? Not in my case. I believe God speaks in a whisper like the wind flowing off the wings of a butterfly. It is easy to miss. My problem is that I am so busy telling God my problems that I fail to realize all He has done for me. If God is willing to put the universe on hold to listen to me at least I can find the time to stop, be quiet and listen to God.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barabbas and Easter:

Here it is Easter so why would I be studying about Barabbas? I have found that when the Bible mentions a name or an event twice or more we should take notice. The word Barabbas is mentioned five times in Matthew chapter 27. He was guilty of murder. It does not take a lot of head scratching to figure out that it should have been Barabbas on that cross and not Jesus. Therefore would you agree that Jesus took the place of Barabbas?

Why is that important? Dig deeper. The word Barabbas in Greek means “son of father.” With that said. Follow me on this one. Barabbas was a son of Adam as all of us are the sons and daughters of Adam. Born into sin and death. Jesus the Son of God the Son of our heavenly Father took the place of the son of our earthly father. Jesus took our place on that cross. Jesus was the only sacrifice acceptable to all mighty God. Conquering sin and death.

Pilate could have chosen anyone. He chose Barabbas. The people chose their earthly son. As we choose our earthly ways. While our salvation stood right in front of them and us now!

God has given us a clear message.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Why Seminary?

It is much more than just bible college. It is much more than just bible studies. For me, it is boot camp training to serve as a soldier. Spiritual warfare is real. The battle has been raging for thousands of years. Service in ministry is not a career move. There are no riches and rewards. There is hardship and service. Not a great recruiting slogan I admit.

The numbers are even worst. The statistics I have been exposed to state that half of seminary students fail to graduate. Of those who do; enter the ministry over half will leave in the first two years. Combine that with falling numbers in church membership and attendance the appeal in ministry service has little interest. I would not say the encouragement from my fellow church members of me entering seminary has been overwhelming with enthusiasm. Ouch!

Hey D.C. it seems you have been painting this picture with nothing but dark colors. Entering the ministry takes more than just passion to serve more than a passion to help others. People will disappoint you and you will disappoint people. We must do it because above all we love Jesus.

D.C. those are noble words from a first year student. They are and I will return to this article again years from now.

I have been blessed to know several Pastors over the past 10 years. All serve because of their love for Christ. No one in their right mind would choose a career that has such daily ridicule and attacks against one’s family. My professors serve and through that service their love for Christ shines bright. So brightly that it encourages all of us in school.

Seminary is intense and difficult. The service we are facing will require such sacrifice. Why seminary? Why face a lifetime of being the world’s stepstool? Why face a lifetime of servitude? Love.

The love of Christ gives me the ability to smile when there is nothing in my life to smile about. As a servant of Christ perhaps I will be used so another will also be able to smile even though there is nothing to smile about.

Friday, January 25, 2008

But, it’s your job:

Would you call your work or your job fun? Chances are very low you answered YES. Those days when things are not going so well we often have someone come up and say, “But it’s your job.” As if to say if we do not like it then we can leave.

Let us put it into perspective. You are at the foot of the cross. You look up and see Christ bleeding from His wounds about to take His last breath. You see the blood pooling at the base of the cross. It is a very horrific sight. The stench of death is all around you. Then you look Jesus in the eye and say, “I know you are in great pain. Betrayed, mocked, whipped and beaten. You have taken my punishment. But, it’s your job.”

What an insult to all mighty God! You would not say that to Jesus. Then why say it to His children? To our brothers or sisters in Christ?

Hey D.C. get real. You are taking it a little too seriously.

Perhaps you are right. But, I see it all the time. I have been told those very same words. Have we not said it or even worse thought it with regards to our pastors? I was just reading in one of my devotionals about a pastor who would drop everything to help others. He was a workaholic. His family suffered the most and needed him. Yet this pastor’s desire was always to help others. It was killing him. Do you dare tell his wife and family, “But it is his job?” NO.

I am guilty. Too often I focused on what I thought someone else’s responsibilities were rather than listening to what God’s Word has said about my own. Do not make the same mistakes I have.

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