A vacation like no other!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to tour the world. I went to India, then China and Brazil, to France, and on to Canada, then Mexico, and returned home to the USA.  Well, actually, I didn’t visit any of those places for real. But I did get exposed to each of their cultures for a brief time during the Upstate’s International Kick-off for 2014.

Despite the fact that I never left Greenville, SC – for a short time I had the experience of being “there” as I toured each exhibit. The excitement of this type of trip, or even that of vacationing abroad, unfortunately, is only short lived. While we can have great memories of our time in another place, we know that when the experience is over we have to come back to “reality.”

Some people get – or “take” – the opportunity to make a good experience last longer by moving to another location indefinitely.  Ever been on a vacation so extravagant that you just wanted to stay there and never come home?

I think that’s what it will be like when we finally get to Heaven. While our trip there is not temporary, I can just imagine the environment and how welcoming and full of God’s shining light that it will be. It will be more than we could ever dream it to be, and the great thing is that we will have forever to explore it.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 NIV)

Just imagine, a place without any more pain, a place without sin. A place built for us to focus 100% of our effort on our future with God.

Locked out?!?

Ever lock your keys in your car? I’ve done it a few times in my life, and one of those times was today. Sadly, I have to admit that it was purely my fault, and there are no excuses.

I can’t blame the cold weather, the fact that I was gathering my belongings to take in to work, or anything else like not knowing any better.  I merely forgot to pick them up and carry them with me when I locked the door.

Unfortunately, there are many people “locked out” today! But what is really sad is that they can unlock the door. The door to heaven is as simple as knowing Jesus.

As Christians, we know about the key (Jesus).  Disappointingly, there are people out there who don’t know a key is necessary or simply haven’t used it.  It’s not a matter of possessing the key, it’s there for them. Jesus is waiting for them to reach out and use Him.

A speaker once described Salvation as a gift given from one person to another. The giver merely reaches out and presents the gift to the receiver. However, the receiver does not have possession of the gift until he reaches out and accepts the gift into his hands.

The gift of Salvation is the same. Jesus has reached out His hand as the giver of Salvation. For anyone to receive the gift, however, they must reach out and accept Jesus into their hands (heart).

There is no excuse to be locked out of Heaven. The key to Heaven’s door is real and free!

Is there anyone you know who needs the key?

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”  (Romans 10:9-11)

Oh, Glorious Day!

One topic that scares many Christians is that of witnessing.  Most of us tremble in fear when we are confronted with the thought of having to tell another person about Christ.

I’ve often thought about this issue, and it really is a “natural” fear that we have. It’s the fear of the unknown. What if….?

What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to? What if they challenge what I believe? What if they are an atheist?  These are good questions.  To be prepared to answer any and all questions someone might have would be almost impossible. But honestly, do we really need to have all the answers?

My opinion is “no.”  As I was traveling today on the road, one of my favorite songs came on the radio: “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns. If you listen to this song, you’ll quickly realize that the writer did an excellent job of combining the story of salvation and Jesus’ life into a 5 minute song.

If you ever want to witness, and just aren’t sure how to start, simply share this song with a friend.  It can open the door for both of you to share the joy that the Lord has in store for them.

Enough said (I can’t really add to what Paul says here…)

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,  just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:14-17

. . . enough said!

Today I’m sadly at work!

After this morning’s round of bad weather, I texted my wife to say I’m safely at work. But as nature would have it, I mistyped safely as “safly.”  Thankfully, my trusty iphone corrected my misspelling and put the correct word: “sadly” in its place – therefore telling my wife that ‘I’m sadly at work.’

For a second, let’s forget whether I’m happy being at work or not, and let’s discuss the outstanding function of auto-correct that has overtaken almost every aspect of our society.

Auto-correct really is a nice feature on Microsoft Word and other computing programs.  It’s even come in slightly useful on smart phones.  But wouldn’t it be great if we would have auto-correct in our speech?

I can just imagine how auto-correct speech might sound. Similar to the beeps on TV when someone says a word they shouldn’t, we would hear people speak like “Did you hear about BEEP?!?  Yeah, he beep beep beeped when she beep beeped.”

Actually, that would be quite nice, because after a while, I am sure that we would finally stop gossiping about people.  (of course, it’s not gossip when we just speak the facts, right?  Wrong!)

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23 ESV).

I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak (Matthew 12:36 ESV).

So . . . today, go out and beep beep your beeping beeper.

 

You too can be a loser!

That’s right, you too can be a loser!

This morning, I overheard a good friend’s journey in a competition everyone knows called “Biggest Loser.” So far, he has adjusted his eating habits, type of food, and exercise routine.  In just a few short weeks he has lost well over 15 pounds!

He was featured today on “His Radio,” and had the opportunity to tell his story on the local tri-state radio station. It was really great to hear about his success!

Many people can probably relate to his story, either in their desire to lose weight, or maybe in their competitive nature. What I’ve discovered, however, is that we all need to be a loser like him!

That’s right – you too, can, and SHOULD be a loser!

Let me explain – What follows is an EXAM….

But before I finish this blog (which I won’t), I want you to understand that I am taking a new approach to an old problem.

This is a multiple choice exam:  except – instead of one question with multiple answers to choose; you will receive 3 selections, then you get to choose the question and answer that will finish the blog:

What you need to lose:

1)      Sin:

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 NIV); Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6 NIV)

2)      Weight:

18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19 NIV); 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Cor 3:16-17 NIV)

3)      Worldly Life:

25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Matthew 16:25-26a NIV); 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28 NIV)

Now what?

Did you see that?

reflectorOn my drive in to work today, it was still dark (I left the house early).  One thing I noticed quite visibly was the brightness of the reflectors on the Stop signs at 2 major 4-way intersections. It was almost as if there were lights on the sign, shining toward me. They are there for safety, but also to bring attention to the sign.

It got me thinking: what if we were that bright when we reflect Christ. We could serve as a safety notice, bringing attention to others about how Christ has affected our lives.

I wondered, what Scriptures relate to “reflecting,” and this is what I found:

Follow God’s example (Ephesians 5:1 NIV)

Be imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV)

As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are becoming more like Him with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ISV)

We might not all shine as visible as a highway road sign, but why can’t we?  As we drive down the road of life, I hope you are reminded by reflectors to be a Christ reflector in your life.

It’s a Beautiful Day!

Today as I travel to Atlanta, I think not about snow, but about the beautiful weather, and it reminds me of one of Wesley’s favorite songs: “Beautiful Day” by Jamie Grace.

The link to her video can be found here: Click HERE to listen while you read

The song reminds me not only of Wesley’s love for music and love for the Lord, but also of how wonderful God truly is.

No matter what our trials, like “rain on my dreams,” instead of letting things get me down, I can let the rain “wash all the bugs off my windshield.” You see, God has a plan for each of us, and for every day of our lives. We get caught up sometimes in the moment and fail to see the forest for the trees.

But, “I’ve got no need to worry, I’ve got no room for doubt; No matter what’s coming at me, You’ll always be the beautiful I sing about.”

And more than anything, the song reminds us “There ain’t no limitations to Your amazing grace.”

“It’s a beautiful day!”

Today, just one week after we saw a historical Winter snowfall in the southeast, we will be seeing Springtime, with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. Just a reminder that, like the weather, God can help us turn around in mighty ways.

Don’t believe me? Think of David & Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Moses and the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 1, 5, & 6), the Feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:14-21). Despite overwhelming odds, God turned situations around that no one thought possible!

“There’s something ‘bout the way,
Your love shines on my face,
Oh no I could never get enough of You,
This feeling can’t be wrong,
I’m about to get my worship on,
I’m gonna sing a brand new song.
It’s a beautiful day!”

URL Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPy0ctqMwE0  (I apologize in advance for any advertisements prior to the song playing).

Is THIS the END?

With all the talk about extreme weather, earthquakes, and diseases in the world, many are wondering: ‘Is this the end?’ …and the news about war torn countries and diverging politics contributes more to this uncertainty.

The Bible does truthfully predict the end of the world. In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of wars, earthquakes, and plagues. In 2 Timothy 3, we find Paul preaching on many moral subjects that have already lapsed in our society such as love, pride, and respect. Other verses throughout the Bible will reflect actions that have already happened, or are soon to occur. But….

While we may feel the end is near, remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

Honestly, if we truly think about it, it does not matter when the end comes. When it does, it will be too late anyway. We don’t know when it will be here, and we can’t predict it (and shouldn’t try).

Instead, we should be living for the moment – knowing that every minute counts.

Don’t worry about the future. In fact, if the end is near, we should if nothing else, celebrate! – for our reward will be upon us shortly.

In the meantime, let’s make sure that we continue to obey God.

Read His Bible: the instruction book, there WILL be a test!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Most people don’t realize that Valentine’s Day began as a religious celebration of one or more saints known as “Valentinus.”

Legend has it that one saint was imprisoned in the 3rd century for ministering to and helping to illegally marry persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire. It has been recorded that this saint wrote a love letter to the jailer’s daughter that initiated the tradition, signed “From your Valentine.”

Over the years, various religious denominations picked up the holiday and still celebrate the love it represents in churches across the world.  Although not considered a holiday in many countries, it is still celebrated worldwide under secular influences, with hearts, chocolates, and flowers (with cupid now playing the lead role).

Today, while we celebrate the love we have for each other, I want us to remember the love that God first showed us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

19 We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:7-11, 19 ESV)