Updating your address

When moving, it can sometimes be hectic to get your address changed. One might think that it is so simple, since the US Postal Service provides a card that will forward your mail (up to a year).

However, with on-line shopping, credit cards, bank statements, etc, the amount of times one must update your address is really overwhelming.

I recently updated my address at an on-line bank, but they continue to show my former address. Even after repeated attempts, I still cannot get the system to recognize that I have moved. I no longer live there!

Sometimes, life can be that way. When we become Christians, our old life has ended, and our new life is just beginning. The hope and joy we receive when we understand God’s love is unbelievable, almost. We are at a point in our life that we think it can’t get any better.

Well, for life on earth, I think that is a very true statement. When we realize what God has done for us, nothing can compete. The only thing that can beat it is when we finally get to Heaven and have every tear wiped from our eyes.

Unfortunately, while still here on earth, our old life, our old friends, maybe even our old habits will continue to crop up. Like my former address, the old things in our past (those former items) try to interfere with our new life.

Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before. – Philippians 3:13 (ASV)

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing  -Isaiah 43:18 (ASV)

Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ASV)

Even if the healing doesn’t come

How much do you really trust God? This morning, I heard Kutless’ song titled “Even if.” <—-click here to listen!

It simply exhibits the ultimate trustworthy servant like David who puts total faith in God, no matter the outcome (read Psalms if curious about David’s faith):

Even if the healing doesn’t come

And life falls apart

And dreams are still undone

You are God, You are good

Forever faithful One

Even if the healing doesn’t come

The song continues, reminding us that our limited knowledge of humanity is far superseded by the omniscience (all-knowing) authority of God:

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways….

You reign high above us…

You’re working all things for our good…

Even if the healing doesn’t come!

Throughout my life, I have prayed earnestly for healing, faith, direction, and a variety of other “needs.”

And through it all, despite my prayers not being answered the way I would expect, God has provided for ALL my needs.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19 (HCSB)

Will you trust in Him, even if the healing doesn’t come?

Want healed? You don’t have to send this to 10 people in the next 10 minutes.

You don’t have to press “Like” or even “share” it on Facebook.

You don’t have to Tweet it to your friends.

Healing won’t be provided by doing anything as ridiculous as these items.

But praying sure wouldn’t hurt! And always remember, His ways are not our ways.

need some Fructooligosaccharides

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), also known as oligofructose or oligofructan, are simply oligosaccharide fructans.

Now you know!

Isn’t that sometimes how we feel about the Bible? We hear a verse of Scripture or Biblical word in conversation, or even from the Pulpit, that by implication of its use is that we as the hearer, understand it’s meaning. Unfortunately, many times, we don’t know it’s meaning!

Unfortunately, this can happen quite often to us. Pastors or friends will read a passage of Scripture, maybe even meditate on it, or study it for a short time, and then decide to share that knowledge with others, but quite frequently leave out a lot of background that goes with it. Then we might feel a little foolish because we don’t completely understand what just happened. We may even feel embarrassed!

In my short preaching history, I have always attempted to explain passages of Scripture based on my interpretation and that of experts. It seems that sometimes the Bible is just plain “confusing.”

Honestly, however, it’s not really the Bible that’s confusing. OK, now I’ll probably upset some people with my next answer.

Why don’t we understand the Bible then?

I believe it’s simply our immaturity in Christ.

Now, I’ve gone and said it, I better explain: The first time I read the Bible completely was in 1994. I was still a fairly young Christian (2 years old), and took my Bible with me to Egypt so that I could read it from front cover to back cover (in order). I used to say “that was a mistake.”

But now, I know that I needed that. I needed to be able to see, read, and not understand what a lost person feels.

I still have that Bible, and when I read it the first time, I jotted down notes in red pencil. It’s full of question marks, missing pieces, and a variety of other notes I took during my first reading.

As I look back on that Bible, I can now understand many of the question marks that I had 20 years ago. Why? Because, as we say in Baptist circles, the Bible is the LIVING Word of God. It speaks to us. But in a manner that reveals God’s story over time. What we don’t understand today, we may understand tomorrow (or next year).

The more we study the Bible and pray, the more likely that God will reveal pieces to the puzzle to us. It’s just like trusting in God. The more we trust, the more we’ll see God’s plans unfold.

Even though we get confused on occasion when we don’t understand Scripture, I want you to think about how lost people feel when we ask them about their “Salvation” or whether they’d like to “respond during the hymn of invitation.” These CHRISTIAN words/phrases need to vacate our vocabulary when we talk to the lost. Use simple words that they are more likely to understand. Asking somebody if they “feel like God is speaking to them” is better, but you may find an even better way to witness without using Christian lingo.

 

NOTES: I would never suggest reading the Bible in order from front to back. However, I do suggest reading it book by book, in an order that suits your needs. Starting with the Gospels, in whatever order you choose.

For you curious people, and if you’ve had the patience to read all the way to here: I’ll give you insight on what Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are. They are simply an alternative sweetener and carbohydrate, that can occur naturally in fruits (like Bananas) and are thought to have a prebiotic effect (encourages friendly bacteria) to our digestive system. Sorry, I don’t know much more than that about FOS.

. . . on the road again

Most of us have jobs or take vacations that allow us to visit areas of our nation that we may have never been to before. During our visits, we form an impression, whether good or bad.

If good, we generally decide to return sometime again. On the other hand, if our impression is bad, we try not to go back.

Jesus instructed His disciples to travel also. And His attitude was quite “in your face” for those homes who gave His disciples a bad impression (those who rejected His Gospel):

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.

12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. – Matthew 10:5-15 (NIV)

I have read of some people using this verse as a means to “detest” the lost. Some may claim that once you tell a lost person about Christ, if they don’t repent, then you are to stray from them, and “shake the dust from your feet” and never return.

While I believe what Jesus told His disciples, He did NOT instruct us to do the same! Remember, He sent His disciples out with not “just a message,” but with ACTION! He sent His disciples to “heal the sick, raise the dead,“ cleanse lepers, drive demons out, etc. If a lost person is not convinced by the message of the Gospel, backed up by divine miracles, then I don’t really think they’ll ever listen. Do you?

Jesus taught us to love one another (every one), including sinners. We are not to love their sin, but to love them. I also believe that the reason Jesus gave the disciples such an instruction is so that they wouldn’t “give in” and become like the lost (as non-followers).

You see, when we hang around people, we naturally start following them in certain ways (whether consciously or unconsciously). We may speak the way they speak (I’m definitely guilty of “that there one”). Or we may participate in secular activities that they do (as in rowdy college football parties/games, ooh anyone guilty here? Just kidding!)

But, if we spend too much time with lost people, chances are that they will influence us at least as much as we influence them.

The Bible doesn’t say “don’t have fun,” but Jesus was clear that we shouldn’t take “advantage” of unbelievers, in the sense of using their resources to live by. Jesus commanded us to go the lost. He commanded us to tell others, and to love everyone.

I have a lot to do

You may think, “I have a lot to do”. And you’re probably right. Today, I looked at my list of to-do’s for work (203) and for home (59). That seems like a lot, and sometimes it can get purely overwhelming. Considering that I actually accomplish 10-20 in a day, I should be done in 15 days, right?

Well, as you know, to-do’s get added everyday also. So, I’ll never finish all of them. Instead, I have to prioritize what’s important.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the list does not include simple recurring ordinary items like wake up, check e-mail, go to work, eat, etc. On the contrary, these are real tasks that are one time events. For example, change oil in truck, paint arch in hallway, check on moving claim, etc. And for work, I have meetings to schedule, reports to write, people to call, powerpoints to compile and present, etc.

So, why do I belabor this point? We all have “stuff” that needs done. On the surface, it all looks important. And some of it is.

It’s so easy to get behind on our “stuff.” And then it’s easy to get distracted from the really important things. You see, I don’t have anywhere on my list – “write blog.” I just do it. It’s one of those recurring daily activities that has become a habit of mine.

The neat thing about the blog is this – just like sermons, the pastor or preacher giving the sermon usually needed the inspiration or message as much as you did. I know when I write a blog, it speaks to me, just as much as it does anybody else. It’s my way of having my own devotion on a daily basis with God.

Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer away from others and with God. Just as it’s important for Him to spend time with His Father, it’s more important for me to spend time with God, my Father.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – Matthew 6:33a (NKJV)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  – James 4:8a (NKJV)

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving – Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)

Thank you for being a “subscriber” to my blog, and allowing me to open my heart to you.

Ouch! a splinter

During the last couple months, I have been working in my basement, running electricity, and putting up non-load supporting walls. The electricity has taught me to respect power again as I tie-in to live circuits and sub-panels. While I haven’t gotten hurt, I could easily make a bad decision and electrocute myself. But I’m not here today to talk about power or death. If I was, I would discuss the power of God and how He provides an eternal life for us.

Today, I want to talk about 2x4s. I’ve been putting up extra walls that aren’t load bearing, but are required to finish the final design that I’ve mapped for our basement. While working with 2x4s, I manage to get a splinter in my hands every time because I refuse to wear gloves when working.

If only I would take the time to wear the proper protective equipment, I’d eliminate the pain and ultimate fishing out of splinters from my hands. And that’s when it hit me….

Jesus said “first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the chip from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

It seems that every day I can find myself judging someone else. But if truth be told, I probably have more issues in my life than others have in theirs.

I need to be wearing protective gear every day in my life. And although that seems rather ridiculous at first, it makes sense. I need to be putting on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6):

  • The Belt of Truth
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness
  • Gospel of Peace
  • Shield of Faith
  • Helmet of Salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit (Word of God)

Think about it – If I donned these every day, I don’t believe I would be judging others, but looking to God to see how better to fight against evil.

Metamorphis – complete?

blogAs I complete the move of my blog from one webhost to another, I have also decided to upgrade the “feel” of my blog. Please visit my direct website HERE, and give me your feedback – do you like it?

I discovered quite a bit of lessons learned through this ordeal. And because it was so painful, and took so long, I don’t know if I ever want to do it again. Isn’t that the same reason we just sometimes don’t want to “change” anything?

It is widely known that people don’t like change. Despite how much somebody hates the way something is done, they generally refuse to change it. “That’s the way it’s always been.” In fact, most people won’t change companies after having the same one for years, because they would rather complain about their current job, than to go through the heartache and pressure of finding a new company to work for.

So why the discussion on change? Well, that’s what Christ calls us to do. He wants us to CHANGE! From the time we open our heart to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us, we are called to change WHO we are. We are called to leave behind our past life and become new:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2 NKJV

Once we accept Christ in our lives, we are saved. But that is not the end of our responsibility. A lot of people go around preaching Salvation, which is great; we need to tell people about Christ. And THEN, after we tell them, we are to make disciples, and ensure they begin following Christ in everything, not continuing their old ways:

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,  – Acts 3:19 NKJV

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,  – Matthew 28:19-20a NKJV

This blog will never be “saved.” But that’s ok, it’s only really some 0’s and 1’s in a computer somewhere, translated into English. But hopefully someday, it will reach out and help someone to realize that Salvation is only the first step to a total transformation of mind, body, and soul. In the meantime, I’ll rely on you to help me tell others. Let’s help this world change (for the better)!

I’m back!

Welcome back to FollowinGod.com! Although the transformation continues, I am back on-line, and here is a timely topic:

Why is it called “Good Friday?” In Germany, it’s called Sorrowful Friday.

Some rumors abound that Good Friday evolved from “God’s Friday.” Other people insist that sometime years ago “Holy” was translated as “good” therefore Good Friday, not Holy Friday.

Despite the reasons, Good Friday is every Christian’s celebration of the most important weekend in all of history (and His Story). It celebrates that we believe Jesus died, and rose again – conquering death, and according to the Scriptures

. . . Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3b-4 NIV)

Jesus willingly gave His life, suffering persecution, anguish, grueling beatings, and an agonizing death that He didn’t deserve, all for you and me, and not for any other reason. Yet, while all of His love for us was demonstrated during this unbearable event, it is followed by a more glorious rising to life on Easter morning when Jesus proved victory over sin and death, pointing to a future resurrection that we, who are united with Him in faith, will experience.

For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. (Romans 6:5 NIV)

So, regardless what the world calls Good Friday, we can celebrate the culmination of God’s plan to save us through Jesus during this wonderful weekend.

 

On Sunday morning, most of us will celebrate Easter with our children with baskets filled with candy and other goodies, but let’s not forget to make sure that we spend time telling our future generations what Easter is really about.

Should We Make a Kid’s Childhood Magical?

As a parent, I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to spend time with their children. It just seems inherent to me to want to spend time with those we love.

Today’s society, however, has slowly changed. We no longer have time to spend with our kids. We are too busy transporting them from school to soccer to piano lessons. Tomorrow, we have to take them to swim lessons, and drop them off at church. The next day, it is back to soccer, and over to a friend’s house.

So, instead, we simply buy them extravagant gifts, dress them up in the latest fashions, and use the excuse that we’re too busy “doing things” to spend time with them.

What’s more is we are not to be outdone when it comes to Christmas and Birthdays.

We go to great lengths to have “extreme” parties with outstanding themes, “bouncy things,” and a clown or magician, spending sometimes hundreds or thousands of dollars for a couple hours that will be forgotten with 90% of the rest of his/her childhood.

Recently, a Facebook post named: “I’m done making my kid’s childhood magical” surfaced in which the article further illuminates how we (as parents) miss the point of childhood. Somehow, we think we must spend hours searching Pinterest for an activity to “do” with our child.

In all reality, we spend thousands each year on “stuff” and “activities” for our child. But as we all know, it isn’t the shiny new toy in the box that the child is thrilled about, it’s the box! I remember those days when we got a large present, and the most exciting thing was being able to fit into the box and hide and play!

I remember going outside (remember what that is?), and playing, not with stuff, but in the dirt, in the trees, and around the house. A simple ball and bat. A sandbox, with sticks and rocks. A basketball hoop nailed to a tree. And . . . mom and dad!

Yeah, I remember when family went outside together and spent time doing things together.

Make your kid’s childhood magical by being a part of it! Spend time with your child today, and every day! Soon as they become teenagers, they will be too big for you to be a part of their life (until they get in their mid-20s and invite you back in.  J

When I became a parent, I realized the truth of my now favorite Bible verse:

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. – (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

Time for a change….or not?

Well, it’s been about 5 years now, and I have chosen to change “web hosting” services. What does that mean?  Well, hopefully, if everything goes right, you will not see much, if anything, change.  My blog will remain in place at the same website, and you will keep getting e-mails (if you are subscribed). If you are not subscribed, simply click the link on the top right of the webpage to automatically get e-mails each weekday around 1 PM.

So, why am I telling you this?  Well, because I’m not a computer geek.  God gave me the ability to do limited coding on the internet. Thus, I can do basic website development and blogging.  But JAVA, XNET, and all those other 4 letter programming acronyms evade my ability.

Therefore, IF something happens in the next few weeks, and you can’t find my site, or stop getting my e-mails: 1) have patience, 2) e-mail me if things don’t self-correct within a week or so.

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer – (Romans 12:12 KJV)

I just started the process today, so it will probably take about 3-4 weeks to make the full change.  Again, you shouldn’t see anything different, but I will post a “SUCCESS” story when it is all completed.

I want to thank each of you once again for allowing me to preach the Word of God in this forum.

While the mechanics of how this blog works will change, I do not plan to change the message because:

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)