whatever…

Whether your happy or sad, busy or lazy, it doesn’t matter:

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17

Our circumstances are just that – simply conditions in which we live. They shouldn’t affect our attitudes, our actions, or our behavior in any manner. Instead of allowing your circumstances to affect you, remember that at all times, in all situations, we should be doing ____ for God.

Fill in the blank. If it’s working, then work for the Lord (by respecting others, and showing love). If it’s talking, talk up His praise (and don’t spread rumors or judge people). If it’s cooking, then cook to honor Him (through eating healthy and sharing in fellowship).

Now in case you’re wondering, this isn’t just for you. It’s for each of us, myself included. Thankfully, God knows we aren’t perfect, but He is willing to help us become better Christians. All we have to do is try.

After-life

I’m not a fan of fundraising, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them or support them.

As the month of April comes in, it’s that time of the year again for His Radio (the local Christian radio station) to have their annual “friend-raiser” where they try to gain enough commitments from the listeners to continue support over the next year. For the last two years in Greenville, I have supported them, although somewhat less sacrificially than others….

Today as I was driving back to work at lunch, they continued to talk about giving your “best gift.” For one family who recently had been through many trials they struggled to give! In addition to losing his job, the husband had recently overcome a long stretch of running from God.

But now…, the family was re-building, and decided they wanted to support His Radio. En route to the electrical department to negotiate with the management to not cut off their power, they came by His Radio personally. Then, they gave their best gift, two dollars, that they managed to not spend, and despite not paying their electric bill in full, they gave to support Christian music.

I’m not sure about you, but that’s quite convicting! Did I really give my “best” gift?

Some might say “it’s just music!” Is that really the best way to support the ministry of God? Fine, then I pose the question: are you giving your best gift to God in church, out of church, and at all other times?

And I’m not just talking about money. Are you actively participating in spreading the Gospel through serving at a local church or ministry opportunity?

Maybe more importantly, have you given God your life to do as He pleases? After all, that is your best gift. Don’t just give God your after-life, give Him your current life.

Be still and know…

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Normally this verse is used when someone is struggling and needs to rely on God’s strength or refuge. However, I propose that it’s also good just to stop every once in a while and realize that movement is not necessary every day of our life. Not physical movement, but “activity” movement.

Sometimes we can get caught up in doing things for God, and yet there may be times that God just wants us to “sit this one out.”

Personally, I have been seeking God’s plan for my life since I moved to Greenville. From Supply Preaching to Awana Director, Interim Pastor to possible Trail Life Chaplain, I have been seeking evidence from God on which direction He wants me to direct my efforts. However, in this case, it may be that God is still asking me to be still…. You see, even though I’ve prayed, I haven’t gotten the answer I have been seeking. Or have I?

Last weekend, my family and I attended “Living Gallery” at Bob Jones University. If you don’t know what it is, it’s an artistic drama and live art re-creation of the events surrounding Easter. Involving more than a dozen famous paintings and sculptures, the Christian scenes come alive (or I should say “stand still”) as the human performers replace key figures in the art. If you missed this Easter’s performance, you’ll have a chance to watch as BJU presents Living Gallery again on December 3rd-5th.

Has God answered my prayer and is trying to tell me “sit still” like the artists? Maybe He’s answered me, and I’m just not listening? Or has God just not answered me yet? What do you think?

If I may know nothing else, I sure can “Be still and know that He is God!”

Obedience

Then [Jesus] got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  Luke 5:3-5

I am Simon. At least I think I am. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Was Simon obedient at letting down the net, or was he stubborn and let the net down only after implying to Jesus that it was a futile attempt.

Did Simon just want to prove Jesus wrong? Or did he truly want to obey, and unfortunately let his mouth speak before thinking?

Too many times I open my mouth before I think what to say. Unfortunately, our hearts are quick to respond, and when our mouth doesn’t close, we can say things we shouldn’t.

I’m not sure where Simon’s heart was, and I’m not sure it matters.

What I do know is that when Jesus tells us something, we should obey. And just like our parents taught us – don’t back talk! Especially to God!

What is He asking you to do?

Dear Church Goer,

Dear Church Goer,

I am so happy that I saw you in church on Sunday. You were sharply dressed and had your Bible in hand. In fact, the Bible looked very nice, almost new!

I saw you when you stood and sang praises to God. I even saw you pass the offering plate, pitching in a dollar or two.

I was proud when I saw you in the pew, apparently deep in thought, pondering what the Pastor was preaching. What’s better, you corrected your children’s behavior, making them sit quietly so as not to disturb others. It looked like you even provided them a phone, possibly with a Bible app to keep them focused on church.

After church, when I came to talk to you, I couldn’t find you. You had disappeared. I wanted dearly to tell you how proud I was of your Christ-like behavior. But somehow, outside the door, you and your family vanished.

I saw another family that looked like yours, but the children were bickering violently, and the parents were screaming profanities at each other about something that happened that morning.

I hope to see you again next Sunday. But it would be really nice to see you outside of church….

“…merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in His sight.” (Romans 2:13, NLT)

Not all cheesecakes are created equal!

For years I’ve been a cheesecake snob. Ok, really, I’m not sure that’s the right word to describe it, but bottom line is that I love Kimberly’s cheesecakes. And it’s not just because I have loyalty to her as her husband – it’s because I’ve never found better.

I used to order cheesecake in restaurants and enjoy them quite fondly. But in the last 5 years or so, Kimberly has perfected the baked and no-bake cheesecake – so now I’m always disappointed when I order cheesecake when dining out.

Well, last night as I sat in Mexico eating dinner alone, I found myself wanting dessert. Unfortunately, the selection was poor and cheesecake seemed like the best choice. Against my own advice, I ordered one….

And you want to know the result right? Kimberly won again. In fact, cheesecake apparently doesn’t translate perfectly, and what was described a cheesecake by the waiter was more of a mix between pound cake and cheesecake. Sure it had cream cheese in it, but I’ve never had cheesecake that was so dense, and somewhat cake-ish.

So what’s the point anyway? Well, Kimberly never molds and cooks a cheesecake the same. Sure she has a recipe, but the humidity and a variety of other factors always influence the end result. During the process, she adjusts appropriately, and the end result always seems great – and better than any store bought or restaurant cooked dessert.

The point is also this. God created us all unique. None of us are like any another (ok – except for identical twins – maybe). During our molding and cooking (that is our life), things influence our results: the weather, our family, education, and other influences in and outside of our home.

And during it all, the Head Chef in the sky is looking down upon us, trying to adjust us so that we come out great. The only question is…. are you listening and adjusting?

Stuff!

Ever live in a small place? When we first got married, Kimberly and I lived in ½ of a single wide trailer. That’s right, just half. No, we didn’t share living spaces, we truly rented a duplex single wide, and not a large one. The trailer consisted of identical, mirrored homes. We had 1 bedroom that was large enough for a full size bed, tiny closet, and a couple of upright plastic Rubbermaid drawers. The living room held a small loveseat, chair and TV. The Kitchen was a very small counter, with tiny sink, and shared the open space with the living room. A miniature bathroom was set off to the side of the kitchen (that’s right, the full length of the kitchen and bath, was the width of the trailer – that’s how small it was). On the outside, we had a small deck with a yard closet, and our yard was small enough to be mowed with a weed-eater (which is what I used).

Yet those were some of the best times my wife and I remember. Why is that? I can think of only one answer – we had each other and that was enough. Walmart was down the block, but we didn’t need much. We had our own little family at the time, complete with a couple dogs.
We didn’t have “stuff” clogging our life. We weren’t hurried from one event to the other. We didn’t have a lot of hobbies taking away our precious time. We just spent our time with each other, enjoying life.

Today, most of us have larger homes than that, busier lives, and more stuff than we can stuff in our closets (or basements – guilty!). So, how do we overcome the stuff in our lives and focus back on our life?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

Lights, Camera, Action!

Lights, Camera, Action! We’ve all heard and seen it before: the events preceding the next performance, either on stage, or in front of recording cameras. It seems like the Director just loves to say those words. But why does he do it? Because it is necessary to prepare everyone for the next series of moves.

Did you ever think that that’s exactly what the Pastor is doing each Sunday morning when he gets in the pulpit? He might as well say: Lights, Camera, Action! Because even though he is not acting, the next series of events are extremely important to get everyone prepared for the next steps of Christianity.

Whether we are a young Christian, or a mature elder in church, what the pastor has to say is preparing us for the next steps in our life, in the life of the church, and in the life of our community. He is letting us know that everything that we do (that’s right – EVERYTHING) in life is a show, a performance to the world, displaying to them the love of Christ. Are you putting on the right show?

But internally, what’s happening? Are you growing your faith in Christ? Has your mustard seed of faith sprouted, or is your crown of glory fading? Are you really just putting on a show for the world? Or are you living how Christ would have you to live?

WWJD? That was the famous fad just a few years ago. Are you doing what Jesus would do? Or is it all a show?

The world may think that our life is a performance in church, or out of church, but the real question is, what result will your life bring? Will it be the next big box production like Billy Graham, or will it be a flop like Waterworld?

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:1-2

The big days is here! Or is it?

Today’s the big day! How many times have you said that in your life? Did you parents say it for your first day at school? What about on graduation day? What about on the day you got married? Or your first day at work in a new job?

Believe it or not, we celebrate the “big days” of our lives in a manner that would almost seem nonchalant. We talk about it for only a few seconds, and then the brief time passes, and it is merely a memory in our past.

But what about that big day that is still coming? You know the one I’m talking about.

27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. … 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. – Matthew 24:27, 30-31

That big day is on its way to a hometown near you. When? We all know that we don’t know. Many people have tried to predict it, and many have been wrong. Others have claimed that the Bible clearly tells us that we don’t know when it will be here…..

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. – Matthew 24: 36-37

The exact day is honestly irrelevant; no reason to worry about when it’s coming. However, we should be aware of one fact that is true. When that day gets here it’s too late! Too late for what?

Too late to beg. Too late to stand before Jesus at the throne of God and say, “but Jesus, I was waiting….” There will be no excuses for any of us on that day. We all know we have to make a decision to accept Him. But we also know that if we have accepted Him, we have a duty to tell others. And it is just as important for us to tell others about Christ. If we wait until that day, it will be too late.

Do you really want your friend, your relative, your sister or brother, son or daughter to miss the opportunity to be in Heaven because you were too embarrassed to share your love and devotion to Christ with them? What’s the worst they could say “sorry, not interested” or “you’re stupid for believing….”

On that Big day, the truth will be revealed to all, and some of us can very sadly have the ability to say “I told you so.” But instead, we will unfortunately be saddened that they haven’t accepted Christ. So what could you change now, before the Big Day, in order that your loved one would be more responsive to your sharing of the Gospel?

80 vs 20, now what?

So, I’ve talked about being a “Christian.” For some of you, it goes without saying. In fact, that old 80/20 rule probably hits most people who are active in church (80% of the work is done by 20% of the people). If you are one of the active 20% in church, I applaud you!

Unfortunately, because of the 80/20 fact, it’s easy to get burned out (of course you probably know that).

Still, God wants us to be persistent in our work, doing good things, and following Him.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galatians 6:9

It’s easy to get knocked down by the world, by all the “things” in our lives, and even by our families and loved ones, but God is faithful and just to deliver us.