Wednesday, December 31, 2008

AAA, and not the Auto Club

As humans, we all seek the three A's. I'm not sure what tells us to seek these, it may be childhood psychological trauma, it definitely starts at a young age. You see third graders and up making sure they "fit in". It may be hair cuts, shoes, or even a certain color shirt.

Okay, the three A's, here they are ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ACCEPTANCE, APPROVAL. The human need for these three can be overwhelming for some. We go into debt, depression, and even adulterous relationships seeking these tree A's. Psychology/Psychiatry is a million dollar industry geared toward helping people understand these three little words.

The word of God can and should really be our blueprint for life. It tells us that we are acknowledged, even before we were born, by the creator of the universe. It also tells us that the only condition for acceptance into the most elite club ever, the Kingdom of God, is to believe in Christ Jesus, and the one who sent Him. The bile also tells us we are approved. It tells us that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We are told that we are above and not below, the head and not the tail.

We have access to the best counselor ever, the Prince of Peace. We just have to believe what he has already said about us. Have a great 2009, and resolve to start getting into, and understanding the Word of God.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Learn from it....

I am always quoting a line from the Walt Disney movie The Lion King. Yeah, that's right, I watch kids movies. In this particular scene, the little monkey, Rafiki, is trying to teach Simba a valuable lesson. Simba is complaining about his life, and how hard it is. Rafiki says, well it's your past, you can either run from it, or learn from it. About that time, Rafiki wacks Simba against his head with his walking stick. Simba shouts, ouch, what did you do that for? Rafiki then swings again, and Simba ducks it. Rafiki says wow, you are a quick learner.

The lesson here, is we will all be hurt by someone, or something. The fact is, as long as we are depending on people or stuff to make us happy, we will always be disappointed. Nothing is ever enough, until we realize that God's grace is MORE THAN ENOUGH. You know the rest of the story, Simba learns from his past, and goes back to pride rock to claim his throne.

As we go into 2009, we should all resolve to look for the lessons in our life troubles. We should learn from Simba, and learn from our past. I always like to remember, "a mistake is only a mistake if a lesson is not learned". Let's all learn our lesson, and move forward with that new knowledge and wisdom, giving thanks always to God.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Pursuit of Happy.ness

The Pursuit of Happyness

With the time off work for the holidays, I was inadvertently led to think about our pursuit of joy in our own lives. First, I think we should explore the difference between joy and happiness again. Happiness is circumstantial, that means it comes and goes depending on our moods and/or current circumstance. Joy, however, is an internal state of happiness. It is often times accompanied by the peace that surpasses all understanding. It doesn’t come and go with moods, circumstances, or even money. It is that state of mind that says “whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well…..with my soul”. That is the joy that is unspeakable.

HOWEVER, many adults spend the majority of his or her life searching for that “happy place”. We start looking at a pretty young age. We say and do things that we know are not right, just to encourage other youngsters to “like” us. How sad it is, when our “friends” don’t like us, and then we choose to not like ourselves. It continues on into our earlier adult years. We get a job; we borrow money for a car. Not just any car, a new pretty shiny one that is the “perfect” color. Then we decide that if we only were homeowners, then we will be happy. So, you got it, we go out and sign our lives away for the “American dream”. The idea that we can borrow, work real hard, pay back our debts, and maybe even someday, owning our own business. However, somewhere through the years we have gone from “WORKING” real hard to “WANTING” real hard. We have been told that we deserve it whether we work for it or not.

We are becoming “middle-aged” now. We are still working as cashiers and mechanics, and grocery stockers and assemblers. All of a sudden, we decide that mom and dad weren’t so dumb, maybe we should go back to school. So, we enroll in a local community college for that non-coveted Associates Degree (what a scam). We finish that two year degree in four or five, and then expect to double our pay. However, reality is, an Associates degree isn’t worth much more than a High School Diploma. So, you know what then; that’s right, more debt for that all elusive Bachelor’s Degree. Our thoughts are: if only I had that BS degree, then I would be happy, I would have plenty of money and life would be perfect. We all too often forget that God said in his word that he would supply all of our needs.

Well, you know the rest of the story. Life doesn’t change; the only thing that changes is the price of our toys, and the depth of our sorrows. The roller coaster of life just keeps going, faster and faster, looking for a “wall” to crash into. The wall usually comes in the form of losing a job, or defaulting on a bank loan. We think “life must be over”.

The one thing that has been missing all alone is a relationship with the Prince of Peace. We all focus too much on being “religious”, rather than having a “relationship” with our Lord and Savior. Being religious looks like the Pharisees of the Old Testament. They were more caught up on rules and customs than getting to KNOW God.

Seek God and you will find Joy. He said, Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Will the circle be unbroken??

As I was driving to Louisiana, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my grandmother several months back. We were talking about life, God, and Family. She told me that her dad (my great grandfather), always loved a song that talked about an unbroken circle. I am still not completely sure what the circle refers to, but here's my best attempt.

First, I am drawn to the idea of the "circle of life". We all have gifts, talents, and abilities that we should use for the betterment of society. I just wonder if that could be the circle of the song. If we die prematurely, or never really submit to our Lord, there's a good chance that we will not fulfill our destiny, therefore allowing the circle to break.

My second thought on this song, suggests that when we all get to we are going, our circle of influence (friends, family, loved ones) will all have a place in that great mansion. However, if those that we love, haven't submitted and accepted Jesus as Lord, there place in the circle may be vacant, thereby allowing the circle to be broken.

No matter where we are, or what we are doing, we are talking to people, and people are watching us. We have been given the great task of taking the message of Jesus to the rest of the world. We think of those far off islands, but we can start right at home. If the "joy of the Lord is our strength", then shouldn't we share it?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Love

I am reminded of a story of an elementary school's Christmas Program. The teachers/administrators were very careful to not be offensive by telling the true Christmas story. You know, how there were a young couple who traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. You know, then the time came for a baby to be born. But, just like when the Big XII championship is in town, there are no more motels. The young couple settled down in the stable with the animals. The rest is history, you know, "unto us a child is born". The babe born in a manger grew up to become very offensive to the religious, legalistic pharisees of their time. He turned the world upside down for them. He continues to be offensive to those without a KNOWLEDGE of him. He says, "I stand at the door and knock", just open the door and let him in.

Now, back to the Christmas play. The children all held a big piece of cardboard with a single letter on it. As the children shuffled in and stood in their spots, the words came together. CHRIST-WAS-LOVE. That's right, little Johnny who had the letter M accidentally/divinely turned his letter upside down. He very appropriately gave the message of Christmas that CHRIST WAS LOVE, AND HE STILL IS.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas.... What are we celebrating

Christmas…….What are we really celebrating?

We have all at least heard that there are disputes about the meaning of Christmas, even if we don’t know what the disputes are. I will attempt to enlighten you on just a couple of the arguments against Christmas.

One argument is just the etymology of the word. Etymology is nothing more than the origin and meaning of a word. Christ-mass is the Mass of Christ. Mass is defined in early dictionaries as pertaining to a death sacrifice. Their argument continues as they throw Santa into the mix. “Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas” is suggested that the big red guy is laughing at the “death sacrifice of Christ”.

Another argument is that December 25 is a day chosen to celebrate the Unconquerable Sun, or a star, or Saturn the planet. I don’t think anyone even knew who or what they were honoring (maybe they just needed an excuse to party). However, technically if they were honoring the awesome solar system of our creator God, they were, in a round-about way, praising God.

I think we have to at least consider a passage from the 14th Chapter of Romans. In this passage, we are told not to “look down” on someone else of “weaker faith”. Specific examples are given of eating meat or vegetables, and even regarding one day more sacred than another. Paul goes on to tell us that if we are living our lives with the right attitude of worship, we are all praising God. So, give thanks to God for his Son, Jesus.

I encourage you today, count you blessings, humble yourselves before God, and give thanks that we all have what we have. We should also realize what Christ did for us. He made a way for us to enter into everlasting life (fellowship).

Romans 12:
11It is written:
'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.'
12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to Go


Ho-ly (ho-lee)
1. Specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated: holy ground.
2. Dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion: a holy man.
3. Saintly; godly; pious; devout: a holy life.
4. Having a spiritually pure quality: a holy love.

We have all heard this little four letter word, usually followed by another four letter word. However, have we ever stopped and considered what the bible says about living HOLY lives? The New Testament encouraged the congregations of the Churches in the First Century to strive for HOLY Living. We are encouraged to put on a likeness of Christ. We will never be perfect, but we ARE supposed to try.

Colossians 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

In this passage, we are told what to remove from our lives, and also what to replace these things with. We are supposed to be kind, humble, gentle, compassionate people.

Hebrews 10: 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Here we are told to expect judgment from God if we continue to sin after learning the TRUTH.

1 John 3:6
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Here again, we learn that if we truly know God, we won’t continue to sin.

So, what I see here is that we should all strive to be “Holy Rollers”. That means, while we “roll” through this life, we should strive for holiness.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bearers of Fruit........ WHAT?

Fruit Bearers???

Matthew 7: 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus is instructing his disciples to beware of false teaching. I think he is also informing us on how to better our skills of discernment. I was encouraged to think about the “fruit” I bear, as I was watching our youth pastor, Bodie Sanders” stand on stage and portray a tree. He pointed out that Jesus should be our trunk, because it’s the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead that lives within us. He also encouraged us to think of our limbs as limbs of a tree or a vine. We should be continually bearing fruit available for anyone who may need it.

Now, I have heard this before, and thought a lot about it. I have even asked others, what is the “fruit”. I have gotten answers from deeds that we do to the children we bear. Let’s dig a bit, and see if we can get an answer from the Word.

In Galations 5, we are instructed on “living by the Spirit”. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Here, we are shown the fruits of the spirit, and as Bodie suggested, maybe they are in order of importance. So, we should put on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. In the passage above, it tells us that the Spirit and sinful nature works contrary to each other.

What would our homes, communities, nation look like if every professing Christian, made a conscious effort to bear these fruits for the benefit of everyone else?

Be a fruit bearer……

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why do churches fail?

Why do Churches Fail and Close their doors?

A little church in the country, many years ago wondered why they were struggling so bad. The board of directors was deciding to stay in existence, or close their doors. They ultimately decided to ask a successful business man in the congregation to assist with the books. He accepted upon a couple of conditions. First, he would control the books for one year, and second, no question asked. The Board agreed, but insisted on a report at the end of one year. The year passed, and no one knew the financial condition of the church until the report came in.

Financial Report after year on: Mortgage on Property: paid off. Consumer Loan on Church Van: paid off. Amount of cash in bank: $10,000.

The Board was astounded, and asked how can this be? We have been around for many years, and always just barely made it. The business man replied, well, we live in a farming community. The majority of the congregation are farmers. I own the mill, where everyone sells his grain. I took it upon myself to gather the first 10% of everyone’s crop, as his or her tithe to the Lord. God promised us that if we honor Him with our tithes, He will supply all our needs.

In Malachi, we are told to test God and see if he don't throw open the windows of heaven and pour out more blessing than we can receive. I was amazed one day when thinking about what my family "needed". I thought and thought about how I could earn more income to provide for our "needs". Something took me to my garage, maybe I needed a trash bag, I don't remember. As I opened the door into the garage, the "junk" was nearly overwhelming. I suddenly realized that what I thought we needed, was actually just "stuff" that maybe we wanted. God said that he would meet our needs, and he has.

Now, about the blessings being so numerous that we are unable to contain them....... We have to understand that it is similar to a liquid pipeline. We have to keep the liquid (blessings) moving to get new ones. That is, we have to be a blessing to others with the blessings from God to get new and more blessings. The bible says that he is careless with a little, will also be careless with much. It also says that to those much is given, much is also required.

Let's all try to keep our blessing pipeline open by going out of our way to bless others.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Saint or Sinner

We have all heard someone say "I am just a sinner, saved by grace". I can agree with most of that. I think we should all be careful of calling ourselves sinners. The word sinner suggests a present tense connotation. I think we could and should change one word in that phrase; change the am to a was. The moment we repented (turned away) of our sins, and confessed Jesus as our Lord, the Bible tells us that our sins are remembered no more. It even goes as far as to say that they (the sins) have been moved away from us "as far as the east is from the west". I challenge anyone to put a measuring tape on that. No one knows for sure just where the east ends and the west begins.

So please, the next time you are about to call your self a sinner, remember what the bible says about you. We are Priests and Saints, joint heirs with Jesus, the righteousness of God in Christ.

Persecution.......What is that?

1. to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, esp. because of religion, race, or beliefs; harass persistently.
2. to annoy or trouble persistently.

It's been going on for over 2000 years, and we still, as a human race, haven't found an efficient way to deal with persecution. Most of us really don't even know what it means, so I have so graciously provided a definition. We all have people/issues that rub us the wrong way. We have been told parental proverbs such as "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything", and even "treat others as you want to be treated". Truth be known, these are both biblical principles. We are to only speak words that edify, or build up, others. The golden rule can be found in the gospels of THE HOLY BIBLE: Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31. Whether we are raised to "fear God" or not, we have these principles ingrained into us from a very young age.

From the last few verses of the 5th chapter of Matthew, Jesus instructed us how to treat someone annoying us, or troubling us. We are instructed to pray for those people. A very wise man once encouraged me not to share my problems (persecutions) with anyone who CAN'T help me fix them.

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Soooo, the next time that person gets under your skin, instead of grabbing the nearest four letter word and throwing it at them, remember what Jesus said "pray for those who persecute you".


I have been thinking for a while....... our lives are really not much more than reactions. We react to the weather, our friends, our family members, our bosses/teachers, and even our bodies. When the weather turns bad, we choose to go or not to go to town, we choose what clothes we will arm ourselves with, and even to carry an umbrella or not. Friends say and do things that we take personally and say or do things that we often regret. Family members do the same, they never think we are as important as we think we are. Our jobs and schools require us to make decisions all day long. Our bodies even cause us to choose to medicate it or not. Aches and pains in our bodies are usually a warning (like a check engine light in your car) that alerts us to some problem/imbalance in our body. HOWEVER, just over the past week, I was led to think about RESPONDING, rather than reacting (there is a difference). While reacting, all we can draw on is our own experience and teachings. We almost instinctively just "fly off the handle" and say and do things that often times don't line up with our instructions manual... THE HOLY BIBLE. I hereby challenge myself and anyone else to choose to compare our responses to what the BIBLE says, BEFORE we run it by our friends/family members/bosses/teachers. Hurting people hurt other people, we should always choose to stop, drop (to our knees), and roll (with the punches) when we are hurt or offended by something someone says.

Lord please help me to respond in such a way that you will approve.