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?

Countdown Calendars

Calendar-countdownWe’ve all used them, whether physical or purely mental. Counting the days until….

Whether it was counting the days until high school graduation, until your wedding, or until a special vacation arrived, countdowns keep us focused on “the prize.”

The fascination with crossing off days as the special event draws near provides a sense of joy that generally can’t be replicated. But what if – what if you didn’t know when that special day was coming? What if you knew that special day was coming, but didn’t know when it would be here?

Would you still feel joy by crossing off days? Would you feel like the day would ever come? Or would it feel as if it would never arrive?

I’m afraid that most of us would not feel the same joy crossing off days to an indefinite target. Not knowing if it was tomorrow, or next week, or maybe 10 years off may hinder our joy and rip the excitement from us. And that’s why I believe we are not excited about Christ’s return.

“you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angles in heaven, nor the Son.” Matthew 24:36

The excitement of Christ’s return should be FOREFRONT in our minds, causing us to witness non-stop. Yet, because we don’t know when it will occur, we are not excited about it. But, just think for a second, CHRIST IS COMING BACK! And He’s coming back to fulfill His promise of building a place for us to share as His heir:

“we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8:16b-17

So what are we waiting for? Let’s celebrate His return. We know He’s coming back, let’s not worry about when, and let’s live for Him!

Christ died for us, let’s LIVE FOR HIM!

More bad news….about Jesus

Yesterday I discussed some good and bad things about some popular people. And this is part two of the bad (when it comes to Jesus) …

Did you know… there is another bad item associated with Jesus. Are you wondering what it is?

Well, if you’re reading this, you’re ok – you don’t have to “worry” about it. However, the other bad item is that not everyone knows Jesus by name (or as Lord). It’s our job then to introduce them to Jesus – and that’s what you need to focus on.

We all have sin in our lives; Jesus will judge us, and despite the fact that He’s given us this out – a free gift… those people living in the world that don’t know Him, they are in trouble. They don’t get this free pass until they accept Jesus. And they can’t do that until they know Him. Will you tell them about Jesus?

Romans 10:14 states “How, then, can they [the lost] call on the one [Jesus] they have not believed in? And how can they [the lost] believe in the one [Jesus] of whom they have not heard? And how can they [the lost] hear without someone [YOU] preaching to them?

Ok, so maybe I’ve added a few words – but I think you get the point.

Don’t let there be any bad news about Jesus! Tell everyone!

I have more friends than you!

“I have more friends than you!” Back in the day this could have been one of those heart-wrenching phrases that deserved a “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” response. However, today, in the world of digital technology, having more “friends” simply means you don’t mind people creeping on your “space.”

OK, sure, it may have to do with actually having more friends, but not necessarily.

I struggle with Facebook and friend-ing people. Do I friend everyone I see so that I can potentially spread the gospel more on my Facebook? Or do I limit my friends and utilize its functionality to truly reach people with a connection first?

Years ago, I limited who I accepted as a “friend.” Now I’m a little more agnostic about it, and don’t really care about who friends me – most times I don’t even know if I have a friend request pending or not.

So the real question then is: how can we use something the world created to teach the “unworldly” truth about the Gospel?

If I recall, Jesus didn’t have many friends (look at the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and other religious leaders). On the contrary, He did manage to have the largest speaking engagements in the country at the time at upwards of 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:13-21).

So, how should we deal with Facebook and our friends? Some people would say “first deal with who your true friends are.” I think Jesus, on the other hand, would say “Go to all the nations, make disciples of all people” (paraphrased from Matthew 28:19).

Home Sweet “Home”

A common saying originating in America in the early 1800’s is “Home Sweet Home.” It has come to portray how comforting one’s own domicile can be. Whether “home” is a country after returning from a trip overseas, or one’s physical house, the phrase is often used by travelers who have been away for a while. It’s an expression used to describe the familiar sanctuary and stable environment that make people comfortable.

While many people don’t travel enough to miss the luxuries and comfort of one’s own home, some people can miss home in a matter of days. I’m in the latter category. Although I love traveling and exploring, I find, like most business travelers, that it just gets old quickly when you travel to the same location time and again.

This past week after being in Canada, I missed not just the comfort of home, but the weather, my family, and my church. When people are away, it’s easy to miss things without knowing it.

Home Sweet Church: I wonder how many other people miss their “home” church. The Bible tells us that the church is truly universal, and we should understand that the building is not the church. I’ve talked to many people over the years that have left church and returned, only to say “I really enjoy being back.”

Many people when they leave church, it’s not intentional. They get busy with life, fail to make time to return, and because they’re not involved as volunteers or teachers, they don’t feel a responsibility to return quickly. Then months, or even years, go by, and one day they decide to return.

But Why?

What makes someone realize they need to return, or simply go to church? You’d be surprised what a common answer is. “I’ve never been asked.” Yes, that’s right. Surprisingly, studies have shown that 82% of the unchurched population is somewhat likely to say yes if asked to church.1 So, what are we waiting for? Well, surprisingly, another awful statistic is that “only two percent of church members invite unchurched persons to church.”2 And finally, 62% of those who have left church are open to attending church again.3

What’s the moral of Home Sweet Church? Simple: “more people would attend church if given one simple thing – an invitation.”4 Why don’t you invite somebody to your Home Sweet Church?

1,2 Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door.
3 Scott McConnell, Lifeway Research
4 Philip Nation, Lifeway Research

 

FIVE FEET of snow

IMG_7612FIVE FEET of snow

That’s what I see when I look out the window today. The weather is expected to add another 4 inches before the day is over.

Let’s be clear, this area of Canada did not receive 5 feet of snow this year at one time. In fact, it hasn’t received that much snow over the course of the winter. So, why do I see 5 feet out the window?

Very simple, we call them snow drifts. The wind blows the snow and when the snow reaches an obstacle, like a building, it starts to build up. The more wind, the higher the potential for a snow bank. It’s very common around the world in wintery areas.

IMG_7611In fact, I’ve seen many snow banks this week even underneath drive thru awnings, and other canopies intended to provide a barrier from the weather, and clear walkways. One rather large canopy had over a foot of snow underneath it this morning when I walked through, even though it never any snow fall directly or vertically down into its protected zone. Yet with each breeze, the wind blew snowflake upon snowflake into this “protected” area and influenced its new look, one flake at a time. In these “protected” zones, people still had to walk with great attention to their surroundings, so as not to slip.

Like snow, we can see a similar result with the Gospel. By yourself, you might feel your impact on the world is little. However, when we all put in a “little” effort, the impact can become large. Eventually, our influences, one witness at a time, can add up to a tremendous effect on the world as a whole. We can create a “Gospel-bank.”

Even in “protected” areas of religious freedom (such as workplaces and schools), our witness can slowly build upon others’ witnessing, and impact to an extent that we would never be able to do alone.

Let your light shine and be that little patch of snow (Gospel) that brings somebody to be more cautious about how they “walk” in this world. You might have more of an impact than you think!

Am I supposed to read something here?

Today, I was asked by someone “Am I supposed to read something here?” The question was posed with a finger point in the direction of my desktop Bible. The individual, who claims to be an atheist, said “I’ve seen your Bible open to the same passage for two weeks, what is so important to read on this page?” (I’ve paraphrased the individual).

The answer is a resounding “YES!” You are supposed to read ALL of it! Not just that page.

Moral of the story: We sometimes find ourselves impacted by what other people do, whether we want to be or not.

In this case, a simple, quiet, yet strategically placed Bible on the corner of my cubicle caught the attention of a pronounced atheist.

It goes to show that atheists, no matter how vocal, have an interest and even a desire, I presume, to be told the Word of God. I believe that many pronounced atheists are not really atheists (defined: don’t believe in God), but are really more agnostic (defined: they haven’t really given God much thought, or don’t care whether God exists or not).

It is therefore our job, as Christians, to care for them. Not only in the meaning of care about God for them, but care about THEM for their soul’s sake.

You may be in a situation where you are not allowed to “witness.” That’s fine, I am too. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep your religious beliefs to yourself. There are plenty of ways to witness, like having a Bible visible in your workspace, wearing Christian jewelry (like a cross), or other things like posting your favorite Scripture passage on your Facebook account, or merely sticking a Jesus fish on the back of your car.

There are so many inconspicuous ways to witness that are legal, that we have NO EXCUSE for not witnessing. What can you change in your life today to be more visible to those who “don’t care,” and start caring for them?

Test results are in

Test results are in…
Sometimes those words can be dreadful, other times, a sigh of relief may accompany them – it all depends on what the results are.

Unfortunately, if we look at the US results for religion, the test results are in and they are really obscure, at least to me.

A look at the 114th Congress – the one taking office this year, reveals 92% claim to be Christians. 57% of them Protestant, and about 31% Catholic (15% Baptist). Interestingly, this is greater than the average of the US at 73% Christian, 49% Protestant, 22% Catholic and 17% Baptist. (Source: Pewforum.org)

If this is our leadership make-up, then what is happening in America?

Of course, we must be conscious of the fact that the results above are based on self-assertions and not fact-based evidence.
So if over 90% of our government is Christian, and almost three quarter of our nation is Christian, why don’t we see more Christianity during our day? My guess is it’s because of me.

You see, I don’t flaunt my Christianity. I don’t have a bumper sticker that says “Got Jesus? – it’s hell without Him.” I don’t wear my Christian T-shirts everywhere I go. I don’t say a prayer before making every decision I need to make. I don’t witness to every stranger I meet. I don’t go to church every time the door is open. I don’t give to every poor person I meet. I don’t show love to everyone in every opportunity I have. I don’t invite everybody I know to church. I don’t . . .

You see – it’s my fault that Christianity isn’t visible in America. Can you do anything to help?

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

I say tomayto, you say tomahto

In the world of “my truth” vs “your truth,” many confused people feel that there can be two “truths.” Problem is – there is only one truth.

Unfortunately, because our society has gone from one of free speech and individual rights to one of “say what you want, as long as it doesn’t offend the minority,” our culture has deteriorated sharply.

The majority only has the rule in voting, except that anyone can vote despite your citizenship.

Sorry, I digress…

In our world of many “truths,” we must be careful to distinguish what others say – from what the Bible truly says.

Today, people are constantly expressing their views on politics, race, sex, and religion. Well, everybody except us. Yes, that’s right. Everyone out there is publicizing their beliefs, while we Christians sit back quietly in our chairs, trying not to offend anyone, being an example of “acceptance.”

Well, I’m sorry to say that Christ did not teach us “acceptance” (of foolishness). In fact, if one reads the Bible, it is clearly evident that Christ had no trouble offending others, when they were blatantly off in regards to religion.

  • He threw tables over in the temple and used a whip to drive wicked people out (Matthew 21:12, John 2:15).
  • He rightly accused religious leaders of praying and fasting publicly only to impress man, not for spiritual reasons (Matthew 6:5-7, 6:16-18).
  • And He verbally assaulted others saying “woe to you hypocrites” (Matthew 23:13-33) and corrected other’s teaching saying “You have heard it said…, but I say to you….” (Matthew 5:27-28, 31-34, 38-39, 43-44).
  • He even corrected His own disciples and friends on many occasions (Matthew 18:1-5, Mark 10:13-14, 10:23-27, Luke 10:41-42, Matthew 14:15-21, Matthew 26:21-25)

Next time when you have the opportunity to take a stand for Christ – will you stand up, or sit back in your chair? Jesus said “Whoever is not with me is against me…” – Matthew 12:30a. Who are you with?

HOT water freezes faster than cold water- really?

If you’ve been around any amount of years, you’ve probably heard this claim more than once. In fact, some people swear by it, others disregard it as fallacy and say that common sense won’t permit them to believe it.

For years, I was in the latter crowd, not believing it due to common sense.

But first let’s consider why some claim this “wild idea.” First, it’s been proven that hot water freezes faster than cold water. Now let me clarify this – it’s also been proven that cold water freezes faster than hot water.

Now – how is that possible? Science would require us to have only one “truth.” Justice, similarly, pursues the “whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Background: something not-so-commonly known as the Mpemba Effect happens when hot water freezes faster than cold water.

Interestingly, nobody knows what causes it, although many people have tried explanations which primarily include gas molecules and/or the transfer of heat to the top surface of a container and this super-cools the lower water.

Interestingly, it all depends on the overall conditions (environment, temperatures of both liquids, etc). But to make a stance and a decision myself, I delved outside last night during 20 degree temps to experiment for myself (with my buddyhot_cold_water Wesley on my hip).

Two identical shallow metal containers, 1 with cold tap water, another with 1.5 min microwaved HOT water. 10 minutes later, ice crystals were forming on the surface of the cold water, but not for another 5 minutes on the hot water. Conclusion – cold water freezes faster – duh, big surprise!

But wait, we never checked to see which one “fully” froze first. But then again, that wasn’t the question; the question was which freezes faster hot water or cold, not the “whole container” of water.

So, why is this on a Christian blog? Simply because there are many people out there that deny God and speak openly and freely. Some just say God doesn’t exist, and many others (including their children) believe them. If we all just believed each other, then we wouldn’t be able to think for ourselves.

Worse yet, there are others out there that will use Scripture to “prove” God doesn’t exist! After all, the Bible says “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). [By the way, feel free to look up that verse now, so when the Atheist quotes it, you can be sure and quote the whole verse: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.” – Psalm 14:1a].

So what’s the moral today? Don’t believe everything you hear. Even if it is “true” – it might not be the WHOLE truth.