It’s technically a rock

For those of you who have missed me (or my e-mails), I want to apologize. For the last month, my blog site has been down due to “malicious spyware.” I finally resolved the issue, and it is back up.

In today’s environment of technology, we all know that our technical advances make things easier and faster, right? Well, not exactly. As we all know, the speed of booting up a computer today is probably no faster today than it was 20 years ago. Granted, the computer is probably doing 100 times more than it did back then, but it’s not faster in general. Today we rely on technology way too often and when it’s down, so are we.

As we advance so quickly in the technical realms, it amazes me that still . . . without a doubt, and despite ever changing cultures, and needs, the Bible remains the one true book that many people can and do rely on worldwide. It’s a book full of answers, mysteries, questions, and most of all unchanging, yet ever revealing promises and revelations.

Let me explain…. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced this same phenomenon, but I want to tell a true story starting in 1994. During that time of my life, I had rededicated my life to Christ (I was still a young Christian at that time, being saved maybe only 2 years prior). I was on deployment to Egypt with the US Army, and because we were told we couldn’t take much with us, and being aware that electricity wouldn’t be available in the desert, each soldier had to make a hard decision on what he would take to occupy our free time.

I decided to take a Bible. I had just started reading it from the beginning, just weeks prior. This was the same Bible I received from my Pastor on the day of my Salvation. During the course of 3 months in Egypt, I read the Bible every day. However, as a young Christian, “I didn’t get it.” I didn’t reach out to anyone, including my chaplain for help. Instead, I simply pushed through the Bible, writing in red pencil “What?” and “Why?” (this was NOT a study or devotional Bible with footnotes or anything– it was merely the Word of God). I made it to the end, but not without a LOT of red questions from cover to cover!

Now, years later, as I look through that Bible, many of my questions are answered. I know the answer to them today – Not because I’m smarter or more mature in Christ, but because I believe God has revealed the answers to my questions. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many questions I have (like “why are there four horseman described in Revelation, and will they be on real horses or is it just symbolism?”) Many other questions still remain.

Despite my lack of understanding in some areas, the Bible is still a rock we can build our house (life) on. We may not understand it (just like we don’t understand everything about technical items), but we can trust in the Bible. I remind everyone not to rely on technology, which WILL go down (and out), but instead, trust only on God! The more we trust Him and rely on Him, the more answers He’ll reveal to us.

“My Salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times.” – Psalm 62:7-8a

Are you in a committed relationship? …or just dating?

As we studied through the Philippians 3 yesterday, and with a similar message during the morning’s sermon from Pastor Carter, I came up with the question mentioned above. Are you committed to God, or are you just dating Him?

Let’s take a look at this in detail:

  • A commitment is defined as “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.” (Google 2nd definition)
  • Dating, on the other hand, is defined by Wikipedia as “assessing the others suitability as a partner.”

Those are obviously very distinct and almost opposite definitions. One (dating) has lots of freedom to check compatibility, where the other (commitment) excludes freedom entirely and uses words such as “obligation, loyalty, legally bound.”

The word “restricts” is quite interesting in the definition of commitment. During our Sunday School lesson, we talked about behaviors that we need to modify. We spoke specifically that modifying (restricting) behaviors is one way to improve our walk with God. But…, we can modify our behavior and still not follow God! Therefore, we need to focus on God, and not focus on our behaviors. By focusing on God and following Him, our behaviors will naturally be modified indirectly.

Back to commitment…, an interesting level of maturity that Paul reached was one of not just following God, but following so closely that He wanted to “know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). Although we can’t know exactly what Paul was trying to say, I think I have an idea.

For parents, I think a similar action is human instinct. When our child is in agony, we will do everything to have the pain removed from the child and put on us. We love our children to the extent that we will pray, begging, and asking why the circumstance could not be transferred to us instead of our child. We would die for our children. I think this is what Paul was trying to say: he would rather himself suffer and die than to have it happen to Christ.

Is this the type of relationship you have with Christ? I don’t know that I’ve reached the level of maturity that it seems Paul has described in this passage. What about you? As the famous Steve Brown on radio says “You think about that.”

Idiot Light

That’s right. I think it’s the first use of that term in my blog: idiot. “Back in the day,” vehicles were equipped with about 4 or so gauges (speedometer, oil gauge, fuel gauge, and engine temperature – and sometimes a voltmeter, pressure gauge, and/or tachometer). Each of these were generally utilized by the driver infrequently to check on the status of the engine. Today, in most cars, the only remaining gauges are the speedometer and fuel gauge – although they have been replaced in some vehicles with electronic readouts. Most other gauges are no longer present in a car, but have been replaced by an “idiot” light – a light that comes on if the reading is abnormal. These lights generally don’t tell the driver if the reading is high or low, just that it is outside the normal operating range.

With or without idiot lights or gauges, I wish it was much easier to keep an eye on our spiritual life. Am I “full enough” of Christ today? Then again, that sounds like a stupid question. I’ve never read in the Bible of any such thing as too much God in our lives.

Ever feel empty of Christ? It’s a feeling that many people get way too often. Next time you’re feeling empty, be vocal about it and ask God to show up in a mighty way in your life. No need to wait until God gives you the “sign” that you’ve gone too far – that’s one idiot light I want to keep DIMMED OFF in my life.

New Year’s Resolutions are a bad idea!

I think we’ve all done it – made a New Year’s resolution and then blown it. Experts say that between 80 and 95% of resolutions are blown within the first 30 days, most within just a couple weeks.

And most of these are attributed to weight loss. So why do it?

Obviously, we “want” to be healthy, but for some reason, our little minds just can’t get into the habit of better eating, exercise, and avoiding the sweets (guilty here!)

Anyways, a resolution is simply a statement – it is not a promise to anyone. And just because it’s a New Year, why is the timing so crucial? I challenge you instead to make a promise to God. Maybe today, maybe next week or even next month.

OK, some of you are saying, wait….you haven’t even given God any time recently on your blog, and now you’re trying to convict me? You’re right!

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to figure out what plans God really has for me. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked – I haven’t received what I think is an answer yet. For years I had a blog, then went without. Then back to the blog again a couple years ago, then it faded. I’m back.

For how long? I don’t know. I haven’t promised to God that I’m going to keep the blog going, but I will blog from time to time as I feel I have something to say.

In the meantime, I’ve challenged you to promise to God to improve one aspect of your life. NOT a New Year’s Resolution, but an agreement with God. I was convicted earlier this year to do the same, and I’ve already started. It will be hard, but I know with God’s help that I can achieve it.

I know that you can too with enough prayer and confidence that God will help you!

Rocking Chair or Beanbag?

Which do you prefer? Which are you?

Before I elaborate on why I ask the question, let me explain that I love a good rocking chair. There are not many things better than sitting in a nice wooden rocking chair and rocking for what seems to be endless minutes, or maybe even hours. Anytime I find myself in a rocking chair, I instinctively begin rocking. I just like those chairs.

But when it comes to bean bags, they seem so versatile. They are soft, moldable, cozy, and nowadays even provide a little more support to sit upright if you so desire. You can mash them down or lay on top of them. The large ones are even great for cuddling up to your child or loved one. Bean bags just seem so adaptable that they can be used in a variety of seating positions.

Now – why do I blog on chairs? I’d like to compare ourselves to a chair. What kind of chair are you? Are you the rocking variety or the beanbag type?

God has a plan for each of us; He has plans for rocking chairs and beanbags. Rocking chairs seem a little rigid – not very flexible. They are great at what they are designed for, but a person can only use them for that one thing. Beanbags, on the other hand, kind of go with the flow – they’ll function however needed to suit a child’s (or adult’s) needs.

Do you allow God to mold you like a beanbag into the need He has at that moment? Or are you stiff like a rocking chair and insist that you only be used in one way?

It’s that time of the year when churches reach out for volunteers to help in the coming school year. The positions they have open may not suit what you believe is your talent, but don’t let that hold you back. Be a little beanbag-like, and allow God to mold you into something new this year!

trust in . . .

Today I had the opportunity to drive a new 2016 vehicle. Quite simply, it seemed to work the way any other car works today. Push a button, change gears, and off I go. But then….as I drive down the interstate, the music lowers, and “beep, Beep, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, Beep, beep,” then the music returned. A few miles down the road, and again: “beep, Beep, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, Beep, beep.” On and off every few miles, this beeping is driving me crazy, what is wrong with the car? Have I left the emergency break on? Is there a setting I forgot to change, or what?

Finally, I realize that the car has blind spot (BLIS) detectors – that must be it! Nope. The BLIS lights work fine, and then…. I realize the car is equipped with lane changing notification warning “beeps.” That’s great – but it sure would be nice if I knew ahead of time that crossing a line would cause the car to beep at me.

Several miles later, I get on a stretch of interstate and decide to use cruise control. Even cars from 20 years ago had that – that should be easy enough to use. I get to the optimal speed and hit the “set” button. No problem – I’ve got this new car thing all figured out!

As I drive down the interstate, I eventually get blocked in the right lane behind a slow moving truck, but before I have a chance to hit the brakes, my car has already begun to slow down. Did I hit the brakes without realizing it? No, the car has slowed to the exact pace as the one in front of me, and is keeping at a safe distance! When I’m no longer blocked, I change lanes (beep, beep….), and the car mysteriously speeds back up to my original cruise setting – all of this automatically controlled by computers and sensors.

Now I’m familiar that Google, Apple, and other companies are experimenting with self-driving cars. It’s only a matter of time until they are in every city nationwide: cars that are built to make driving safer as well as less of a participative event.

backupThe only dilemma is that most people don’t yet trust self-driving cars fully. Sure, it’s one thing to trust blind spot detectors, self-adjusting cruise control, and even back-up cameras, but we’re not ready to fully trust a self-driving car. As a matter of fact, I get it. We don’t trust the computer to be as safe as we can be as a human. In reality, the car (aka computer) is only doing what another human has programmed it to do. Why should we trust man?

We can’t even trust God fully. We state on our money that we trust God; our founding father’s put it in the Declaration of Independence; but it’s evident that today’s government doesn’t trust God and has actually walked away from Him.

But what about us? Do we trust God fully? Or do we only trust Him as much as we trust back-up cameras in our cars? Do you trust God with your future, what’s ahead of you? Do you trust that if you commit to God’s direction in your life that He will control the speed and destination that He has laid out for you? Will you allow Him to be your self-adjusting cruise control and set the speed of your journey through life? Or will you only trust Him as a back-up camera, with decisions that are already behind you?

The last words of a great leader

When we gather around a family member who is taking their last breaths, we seem to desire two things. The first is to let them know how much we love them and that will miss them. The second seems to be a need of some words of wisdom – any nugget of information that can help us live a better life.

King David, a true leader, even in God’s eyes, may or may not have had the first occasion – we don’t know if his son Solomon said anything to him in his last moments – it’s simply not documented in our Scripture. However, he did have the second occasion.

In his last moments, King David said to Solomon:

“I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God; to walk in His ways, to keep His statues, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses.” – 1 Kings 2:2-3

Sometimes, we seem to take these types of words lightly – thinking to ourselves, that makes sense, we ought to do that – it would probably benefit us to do that. What I find interesting is that not only did David tell Solomon to do this, he told him why:

“that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.” -1 Kings 2:4

That’s a pretty powerful message that God gave David. If I were to translate it: ‘Hey, if you follow Me as your King, your family will remain King for generations.’

Normally I finish my blogs with a challenge, a summary, or closing. But not this time, you decide how this one ends….

If…

In the wake of recent national events, I thought it was pertinent to communicate the following Scripture:

2 Chronicles 7:14 – if MY people who are called by MY name, HUMBLE themselves, and PRAY and SEEK My face and TURN from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.*

The only question then is, will we do it? As a nation, will we humble ourselves, pray, and seek Him?

It begins with me…, and you…, then everyone else. Don’t wait for the next person, or you’ll be waiting a while. But if we each are the first to start, maybe we can begin a revolution!

*Capitalization mine

 

The voice….

I thought it was appropriate this week with the Sports Camp Theme “Undefeated” …

“the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. ‘Boy, you’ll never win!
You’ll never win!'”*

If you’ve never heard the song VOICE OF TRUTH”, by Casting Crowns, I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen HERE”.

While the waves (and the world) tells us we may never win, the good news is that God has a different plan for us.

“the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”*

God has, and always, will a plan for us; a plan to win. You see, despite how many “failures” we may have in this life – they don’t count, because the ultimate victory is God’s. He has already won the only fight that matters.

There is only one fight that we must be obedient to now, and that’s the fight for God’s glory. Through witnessing for Him and telling others, we can defeat Satan, and win all the battles that we have.

“I will choose to listen and believe….the voice of truth”*

*Lyrics by Casting Crowns

how to study…

During a recent sermon*, I heard an amazing easy way to study the Bible that I thought I should pass on to those of you that don’t attend my church. In two easy steps (yes, only two!), you can learn more about the Bible, without needing an education, or any expensive tools.

Want to know the secret? OK, I won’t delay any longer*:

1) Open your Bible
2) Read your Bible

Didn’t I tell you it was remarkably simple?

Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh

It really is that easy.  God will speak to you if you will just take the time to sit down, open the Bible, and read His Holy Word. God will begin a remarkable journey that you can experience if you’ll just take the time to make time. …and don’t forget, Pray!

* Credits to: Benji Ladd, 5/31/2015