It’ll be a cold day in …. Greenville

It’ll be a cold day in Greenville, when …

Well, that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but then again, you know that!

But did you know how the saying “God Bless you” originated? Me neither. Despite my best efforts to research this, our historical records only go back far enough to document its existence as early as 77 AD, but not the reason. Centuries later would give rise to the blessing of sneezers to ward off the plague, but the practice seemed to have already been customary.

The real question – do you say “Bless You” or “God Bless You” when in public? Think of it this way – despite your surroundings, there is rarely a person alive that would frown upon being blessed for sneezing today. Therefore it’s a simple way to witness (sort of) when in any environment. Maybe you can make 2015 a year to start with “GOD bless you,” not just “bless you.”

PS – try to stay warm during the next 24 hours, but please don’t fall victim to the belief that cold weather gives you a cold. Germs spread colds, not cold air. If it snows, enjoy it, just stay warm!

Do you hear what I hear?

I know that I’m really rushing the season in this year, but for some reason, I’m already in the mood for Christmas. I guess it’s really a good thing though. It’s obviously better than being a “Bah Humbug”-er.

So with the onset of Christmas (yes, I’m not giving in, it’s here!), it’s time to sing Christmas songs! And one of those songs is Do you hear what I hear? by Carrie Underwood. Click link @ left to listen.

Said the night wind to the little lamb – do you see what I see? …
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy – do you hear what I hear? …
Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king – do you know what I know? …
Said the king to the people everywhere, Listen to what I say….
“He will bring us goodness and light.”

And here we are, a people that have been told all these things. Why then, don’t we go about our lives telling others what we’ve heard, what we know, what we have seen Jesus do in our lives?

I’m just as guilty if not more guilty than you. So, how can we change?

Four!

golfGOLF: Not a game that I would ever play (I don’t think). Take a small ball, hit it as hard as you can, toward a little bitty flag hundreds of yards away, then chase it, find it on the green, or as I suspect mine would be: in the rough. Once you find it, Hit it again! Sounds like a great game for a dog, but not me. Fetch Fido!

Sorry if I’ve offended you. I just don’t get the “sport” in golf. However, there are many people that claim it’s relaxing, challenging, even fun. Whoa! Hold up.

So, what’s the point here? The bottom line is that just because I like (or don’t like something), that doesn’t mean everyone else will like it too.

The same is true for religion, or as I should say “Christianity.” More than likely you are a devout Christian if you are reading this blog. If not, then maybe you stumbled upon this site by accident. Either way, we need to all recognize that we are opinionated as humans.

We most always think our opinions are right, or we wouldn’t think that way. But despite what we think, we need to honor the opinions of others as well. In the US, we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, petition, bear arms, and freedom of religion. This specifically grants all US citizens the right to practice any religion we choose, or to practice no religion at all.

To that end, however, Jesus taught us very specifically that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Despite what the Constitution grants us as Americans, only Jesus can grant us entry into Heaven. And because of that, He has also given us the command to go and tell others about Him, in an attempt to save their life.

We do have to follow the law (that of the US which grants religious freedom to all), but also to follow Jesus’ commands which grants freedom only to those who accept Him. It is our responsibility to balance those constraints and freedoms properly. Who will you tell today about the ultimate freedom from slavery and freedom in Heaven with Jesus?

let’s have a beer (really?)

Today, I had the opportunity to witness (that sounds bad, because we truly have EVERY opportunity, EVERY day to witness).

However, I wanted to relate this story because I think it may encourage some of you. And might help me improve my witness.

Today, I’m escorting a visitor from France (we’ll call him “Mr. French”). Another American here (we’ll call him Corey) joining me in meetings today asked Mr. French to dinner, and said, “let’s have a beer – I know all the good beer joints in town.” Mr. French seemed interested, commented positively, and then looked at me as if to say “will you be joining us?”

I politely replied that “I’ll be at church tonight, you’re welcome to join me” and then jokingly I added “I know all the good places to pray in town.” Obviously, this was met with some hesitation and quick reflection on their part.

While it may not have been the most appropriate comment from me, it also spurred further comments from them.

Mr. French replied “My god is always with me” while Corey said “my god doesn’t take attendance.”

Right now, I’m sitting here trying to figure out what God might have me to say next. I’ll be with each of these colleagues for the next 10 work hours. We’ll see where God takes this….

What do you think? Was this a good witness? Did it cause them to stop and think, or did it turn them away from God?

Choices….

Choices – you have an option! Whether you are playing a game, buying a car, or simply picking out clothes for the day, you have a choice on what happens next. Will you play a domino that best fits your strategy for offense, or play one as a defensive tactic? Will you buy or lease a new car, or continue to patch your old ragged, oil leaking vehicle that you bought in 1992? Will you refuse to wear white after Labor Day, or conform to the norm and follow fashion guidelines?

Despite how much we think we don’t have a choice, we have choices every day.

A good example is that old shirt that my wife hates to see me wear week after week to work. “You can’t wear that again, it’s 10 years old.” Despite my wife’s best effort to get me to be more fashion conscious, the true fact is that I CAN wear it again, and I will (against her well-intended better advice).

But Why? Not why will I wear it, but why do we sometimes think we must conform to societal accepted norms and behaviors?
As I recall, Jesus specifically objected to many of the cultural norms of the day. In fact, I’m pretty sure he wore the same garments every day, without worrying about what others might say. So WHY and HOW did our society change so much that things that we should have choices about, we now weigh in to what the world accepts before making a decision?

Another good example coming to everyone’s house soon will be during Christmas: the black Friday sales and Christmas rush to buy the most famous toy for the 2014 season. Will it be Lego Fusion? Razor Scooters? Or maybe retro-Firby? Captain America? How about Atari-4D? Will you get sucked into the mix and stand in line for hours just to make sure that your child will get that much desired Christmas list fulfilled?

I don’t know about you, but I feel myself being influenced WAY TO OFTEN by the world. I wonder, what can I DO that will change not just me, not just how others see me, but how can I influence others to stop being influenced by the world? I know, that’s probably a paradox in itself, but hopefully you understand where I’m coming from!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2

sticks and stones…

sticks-and-stones1Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!

We all know that isn’t true, yet we said it anyway when we were kids. The truth is that words do hurt, and they can hurt for a long time.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

shoes, shoes, and more shoes….

How many pair of shoes do you have? Women generally have more than men, because no single shoe can apparently go with more than one outfit (at least that’s what I’ve learned as a husband – no offense Kimberly – you probably have less shoes than most women). Anyway, I’m wondering – how many shoes do you have?

Let’s count how many shoes you have:

Your church shoes
Your work shoes
Your vacation shoes
Your public shoes
Your party shoes
Your family shoes

Have you picked up yet? While we all have physical shoes that we put on our feet; we can also replace the word shoes with “face.” Many of us put on our church “faces” when we attend church. Then we put on a different pair of “shoes” when we walk through the doors at work. And on vacation, we have a different pair we display.

Are you wearing a different pair of shoes when you leave the doors of church? If so, why?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind – Romans 12:2a

Share!

It’s my turn! Share! You’ve had it all day! Why won’t you let me have that?

If you’ve ever been around kids, you’ve heard those lines and more. Why? Because one child has what the other wants. Maybe it’s a scooter, an ipad, a remote controlled car, or just simply a ball. We all have what someone else wants. And sometimes (especially as kids), we don’t want to share it, because it’s so nice to have it in our possession.

As Christians, we all have something that others need, and STILL we don’t share it with them. Hmmm….

Making Disciples

Ever wear flip flops to church? Years ago, I was asked by a deacon in church, “are those sandals?” His question was obviously rhetorical. He was implying that I had worn improper footwear to church. Without thinking much, I gave the rather juvenile comeback: “I’m pretty sure Jesus wore them.” Today, I probably wouldn’t be so outspoken against an elder. Yet, I was upset that he would be focused so much on my attire.

I’ve visited many churches last year when I moved to South Carolina, and was exposed to a variety of “welcome” methods as well as church cultures. From the extreme reformed Baptist church, to the mega-church concert, from the small traditional southern Baptist church, to the technological simulcast, each church has its own culture or traditions. And their acceptance of you, as an outsider, differ from widely open to narrowly closed. I’ve experienced all of those just within a 15 mile radius of Greenville.

And as I think about those, I have to compare them to the “churches” at the time of Jesus. If we place ourselves 2000 years ago, we’d find the same thing. From the elite religious leaders, having beautiful temples, where they sold their goods, to the countryside revival Sermon on the Mount. Even then, not everybody got it. And even those that did, had different ways to share the gospel.

I’m not “digging” at any church for their method. However, I will, as Jesus did, condemn those who don’t love others. If we are so focused on how people are dressed, or what their current life is like, then we have missed the boat. Jesus was condemned by leaders for fellowshipping with sinners. But He said…..

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

We shouldn’t be so focused on our methods in the church, but how we show the love of Jesus outside of church. Please take the time to watch this video on what church should and COULD be like…..

 

Making Disciples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJWkQ9UP_m8

Yay Technology! What?

Laptops – I think we all have one now. And if you don’t you probably have a tablet or phablet (that’s right – the latest techno word – phone/tablet). Technology has made our life so much easier, hasn’t it! Now we are able to sit down for hours on end at night in front of TV, and instead of wasting away our time rotting in a chair, we can now watch youtube videos, keep up with the Jones’s on facebook, or discover new “life hacks” via the digital world.

In fact, if we really wanted to, we can spend countless hours engrossed in Biblical theology and reading billions of on-line blogs about how God worked in their lives. But we don’t.

So, why is it that we think technology has improved our life?

Sometimes I think the Amish have it all right. I read the latest blog from an Amish family on-line about what they are doing, and it occurred to me that what we are doing wrong is….

Did you pick up on that? There is no Amish blog on-line. They aren’t wasting life away writing about each other, they are actually living life.
Sometimes, I am convicted because I am just as guilty as the next, for posting what I do on Facebook, or keeping tabs on my friends. But realize this, if I don’t “like” your post – it isn’t because I didn’t like it, it’s probably because I didn’t read it. If you want me to know about your life, call me, or at the least, text me what’s going on.

And concerning Facebook:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11