on the prowl….

He’s doing it! Satan is on the prowl. I’m talking about Satan’s intervention into America. Through the guise of the current election, Satan is entering into our minds to tear us apart from the inside. Think about it for a second, there a millions of Americans, and the major nominees we have to choose from are an accused criminal and a liar (oops, that actually describes both). The truth is nobody can be honestly FOR either candidate, they are both horrible nominees. And if you don’t believe that, you haven’t had your eyes open. It appears that America is already splitting due to strong opinions from both parties. Violence has already taken place and seems to be getting worse. In the end, this election will be decided by how many people vote their political views based on party affiliation. The good news is that God will ensure that through the election, all things WILL come to fruition that He (God) has planned. The real question is what will we do as a country? Will we unite, or will we allow the results of the election to tear us apart? I recall just about a year ago that our church voted on a building program. The vote was so close that Dr. Carter (and the rest of us) didn’t know what to do next. The rules state that leadership MUST follow the decision of the voters. In our case, the vote to build and renovate passed, but by such a narrow margin, how do you move forward with a drastic difference of opinions? Easily…, you help the people come together by speaking out and working it out together – NOT by saying “na-na na-na, boo-boo, we won!” In the end, our church survived the building program, and I believe we are now stronger than before. The question now is, how will we, America, respond following the results of the election? It’s YOUR decision. Pray! . . . not for your party, but for our country. For those of my Facebook friends that I may have offended by responding to your totally one-sided views on the election, I apologize. You have a right to your opinion, we all do. But I challenge ALL of us to REMOVE our political comments, and focus on the God that our country had its roots in since our founding fathers. Can you do it? And by the way, just because you found some news story on the internet about one candidate (or the other), doesn’t mean it’s true – it’s still BIASED, depending on who wrote it. Can you remove your opinion and stop trying to influence people with one-sided attacks on others?

The ” . . . “

god_prayerUnlike years ago when we simply picked up a phone and talked to someone, today we seem to think that texting is the way to go. And if you’re an iphone user, you know how good it feels to see the “. . .” at the bottom of your text message conversation. You’ve just sent a text, and you’re waiting on the recipient’s response.

Maybe you’ve asked an important question (what time are we ____?, or how do I get to ___?), or maybe you’ve stated something in your relationship for the first time (I love you). The anticipation can build up when waiting to hear what his or her response will be to your text.

On the other hand, if the screen just stays blank, the disappointment or discouragement can be unbearable.

Isn’t idotdotdott good to know that when we ask God for something, He just doesn’t sit idle?* In fact, I can imagine that his response may be “. . . “

He may not give a response right away, but He’s working on it.

Jesus told us “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

That being said, there are two things that we need to highlight from that verse. First – Jesus never says “when” – this brings us back to the “…”. He doesn’t imply it will be immediate or quick, just that He WILL do it. Let’s also be clear here that God doesn’t have to wait – He’s capable NOW, but it may not be the right time for you, or another, or even the world. Everything done right must be done in God’s timing.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly is the conditional IF. ‘If you ask in His name,’ does not mean that you close your prayer with “In Jesus’ name I pray.” On the contrary, it really means IF you are asking in His WILL – is this something Jesus would want? Brings to mind: WWJD – “What Would Jesus Do?

So, next time you’re praying, or next time you’re texting, remember the “. . .” – God is working on your prayer.

dotdotdotGod is capable, willing, and ready. He’s told us to “pray without ceasing.” What are you waiting for? Pray today!

*Credit for the concept of this blog goes to the host of the His Radio Afternoon Show who is the first person I’ve heard describe God’s response to our prayers in this manner.

In the beginning, God did not create Pokémon!

In the beginning, God did not create Pokémon!

Lately, “Pokémon Go” has captured the hearts (and minds) of children (and adults) around the world. In just the first 30 days since its release, the Pokémon Company has garnered approximately $250,000,000 in gross revenue.* With its first 30 days behind it, Pokémon Go is now bringing in almost $2,000,000/day, with an additional 170,000 app downloads daily (more players = more revenue).*

How does that happen? Almost 30% of players (and some businesses) have spent money on in-app purchases to either gain weapons, store “inventory,” or attract other players (companies can pay to be a Pokémon stop, hide-out, or to house rare Pokémon in an effort to attract people to their business).

As an avid i-phone game player, I don’t get the attraction of Pokémon Go – an “augmented reality game.” However, it is apparently an attraction to almost 10 million people who are active daily in the app.*

My question, or challenge to all of us then, is how do we attract this kind of following to God?

I’ve done a lot of research on Bible Apps and religious games that are available, and have never found one that is as engrossing as Pokémon Go is to the general public. You may not be an app developer, but if you can come up with an idea for a “Jesus-mon Go!” app, there are enough people out there that have the resources and expertise to support it.

It’s our job, as given by Jesus in the Great Commission to bring people to Jesus. Somehow the Pokémon Company has done it. Let’s learn from what they did, and create something for Jesus. Let’s get people out there looking for Jesus, and not Pokémon.

*Data taken from a variety of un-verified (but trusted) internet sources.  Pokémon, Pokémon Go, and The Pokémon Company are probably all registered trademarks or some other legal term of the respective owners, … and other legal jargon required…

Have ye any doubt?

Many times throughout our lives, our beliefs in certain things can change.

For example, I once believed the grass was green and the sky blue. Over time, I came to realize that the opposite was true. The grass is actually every color except green (which it reflects); and the sky is every color except blue.

I once thought that my Dad could do anything; he was my hero and I looked up to him. Then I grew up, and I realized he had done anything and everything he thought was necessary for me to be a better person.

For years, 12 disciples spent their time with Jesus, day in and day out. They spent hours listening to his preaching and teaching. They observed probably hundreds or thousands of miracles, most of which were never documented in the Bible. Still, by the end of Jesus’ life, they had beliefs and doubts that would change.

At some point, each disciple had to come to the personal knowledge of “who Jesus was.” We don’t know how and when each disciple considered the reality that Jesus truly: 1) was the Son of God, 2) able to do anything, and 3) was foretelling the future.

In the end however, the Bible documents the doubt that Thomas had. Despite years of instruction and proof after proof of Jesus’ ability, Thomas had to see with his own eyes and touch with his own hands to believe that Jesus was truly resurrected from the dead.*

What about you? Do you have any doubt about Jesus? Do you have any doubt that what you’ve learned is true?

Did you know that the wise men never actually visited Jesus in the manger, despite widely distributed pictures and displayed nativities?** …and there were not necessarily three of them.** This is one reason that I like pastors who clearly ask their church members to bring their own Bible and read along with them as they quote Scripture.

I don’t want your beliefs to be swayed by people who mis-quote or mis-teach the Bible. If you have any doubt, look it up. Another reference many people don’t believe, but is true is that atheists claim the Bible says “There is no God.” Their statement is actually TRUE! The Bible does say this, BUT READ CAREFULLY the FULL text: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1)

Read it for yourself – the Bible that is. And allow God to teach you one on one what you need to know. I have no doubt you’ll be better off if you do.

*In John 20:25, Thomas stated he had to see and touch Jesus personally. In John 20:28, it is not clear whether Thomas physically touched Jesus during their encounter.
** Matthew 2: 11 states “And going into the house, [the Magi] saw [Jesus] with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” References to Magi at the nativity are prominent everywhere, and despite the inaccuracy of them, don’t let this knowledge detract from the powerful message that Jesus came to earth to be born and die – so that we can be born again in His righteousness.

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

Sinning, not sunning, at the beach

beach_churchIn Myrtle Beach, there exists these two words on the side of a building “beach church,” probably not two words you would normally associate with each other.

But for them, it’s home to a family of believers who gather weekly to celebrate their faith in Christ.

Christ was clear in the New Testament that church is not defined by a building, but by the faith that the believers displayed.

Whether you live at the beach, or just vacation there, are you displaying the true faith of a believer?

I’ll admit that during my recent vacation I sinned. I clearly stepped over the bounds of the Ten Commandments and knocked at least one of them out of the park. Let’s take the easy and obvious one for analysis.10Commandments

While there, I was envious of those people who live the luxurious condo life on a regular day basis. Whether its because of high paying jobs, or just family money, some people have the opportunity to live a “beach life” and I was jealous of them.

At what point does “dreaming” become envy? For years, my wife and I have talked about retiring at the beach. So am I truly envious, or just trying to make my dream a reality? I’m soliciting help here. I don’t know where to look in the Bible for an answer.

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.”

Take My Son….

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands….

He said, ‘Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly….  He often talked about you, and your love for art.’ The young man held out this package. ‘I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture… ‘Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’

There was silence…

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.’

But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?’

Another voice angrily. ‘We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!’

But still the auctioneer continued. ‘The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?’

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. ‘I’ll give $10 for the painting…’ Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

‘We have $10, who will bid $20?’

‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.’

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel… ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’

A man sitting on the second row shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’

‘What about the paintings?’

‘I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.
The man who took the son gets everything!’

God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: ‘The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?’

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, WHO SO EVER BELIEVETH, SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE…THAT’S LOVE!

Seek His Face Book

like_BibleRecently, I heard a study that showed social media usage is up almost 100% from 2012. Years ago people spent on average 1.25 hours a day on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc.  As of 2015, that number has risen to over 2 hours/day! That means almost 10% of EVERYONE’s day (on average) is spent on a mobile phone, computer, or tablet updating or reading status alerts, watching videos, or “liking” something on-line.

To me, the number is unbelievable, because I don’t spend 5 minutes a day on average on Facebook – and I don’t Tweet or Youtube. That means somebody is out there using not only their 2 hours, but also mine! Wow!

And we wonder why our world is growing darker day by day?

I wonder what would happen if people stopped Facebooking, in order to seek His Face and His Book?

I’ve always said, if it’s in the Bible, it’s important. If it’s in the Bible more than once, then it’s really important:

Face:

“If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

My heart says of you, “Seek His face!” Psalm 27:8

“You will seek Me and find Me…and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

Book: 

It is written “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16