Category Archives: Christian Maturity

Don’t Be Intimidated

Some of you might be feeling discouraged, afraid, worn out, or intimidated by the Enemy and his minions. I hope this helps.


Don’t be intimidated… into silence with regards to your faith – share it anyway.

Don’t be intimidated… by those who want to deny the reality or historicity of your faith – their arguments aren’t as strong as they think.

Don’t be intimidated… by politicians and lawmakers, especially those who support every kind of deviancy known to man – they will have to answer to the High King of Heaven one day.

Don’t be intimidated… by unexplained phenomena – the universe and EVERYTHING in it was created by God for His glory.

Don’t be intimidated… by those who believe truth is relative and morality is based on the flip of a coin – they’re afraid of a higher law.

Don’t be intimidated… by children who think they know everything – because they don’t.

Don’t be intimidated… by a lack of experience or knowledge – get it.

Don’t be intimidated… by a mountain – it can either be climbed or tunneled through…or moved.

Don’t be intimidated… by the strength of others – if God be for us, who can be against us?

Don’t be intimidated… by the unknown – it’s not.

1Pe 3:14-16  – But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (16) Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

2Ti 1:12  – For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Rom 8:37 – Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

I don’t know what you’ve been going through, or what you’ve been facing, but I hope this helps. May the Holy Spirit use these words to minister to you, as they have to me, and give you strength to stand.

Don’t be intimidated… “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, the words of Jesus).

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Filed under Aliens, Apologetics, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Culture Wars, General Observations, God, self-worth, Uncategorized, World View

Don’t Ask for a Sign

Just a little while ago, feeling a little down and discouraged – it’s been a rough few days, spiritually speaking – I thought out loud to God, saying:

“Lord, is there anything I wouldn’t give to see something tangible with my own eyes? Something to encourage me. Something to increase my faith.”

Almost immediately I heard a still, small Voice speak to my conscience, “Then it wouldn’t be faith, would it?”

Yeah, it was convicting. Are His promises not enough? Should I be any less obedient to His revealed Word if I never have an epiphany? Is the illumination of the Spirit of any less value than a beam of light?

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).

What I should be praying is, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” Then, following faith, God can use a “sign” as confirmation.

If the sign comes before the faith, then the product will not be true faith, for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith

Trying to Understand the Undead

The ghoulish day is nearly upon us, so time for a rerun of a favorite, timely post. 🙂

Halloween

This time of year gets on my nerves, and one of the biggest reasons is the proliferation of horror movies. Horror movies don’t scare me that much; they tick me off! They are always full of idiots walking into the dark asking, “Buffy, is that you?”

And what’s worse, so many of today’s horror flicks involve ghostly, demonic hauntings by creepy dead kids. HINT: if a soaking-wet dead girl crawls out of a well and starts climbing through your TV, change the channel (preferably to a Christian station).

The Undead

But what I really don’t understand are the “undead”…zombies… Michael Jackson’s dance partners. Can someone help me understand the logic behind their supposed capabilities and actions?

English: A participant of a Zombie walk, Asbur...

English: A participant of a Zombie walk, Asbury Park NJ, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All I know is that the walking dead make absolutely no sense. Consider the following:

Health. Why is it that when I have the flu I feel as good as dead, yet when a zombie is dead he feels more alive than me? If I break a bone I can’t function, but a zombie can have all his bones broken and break into an armored car!

Why is it that zombies can have more energy once their skin has rotted than while they were still exfoliating?

Appetite. Why is it that the walking dead never seem to recognize that their fellow walkers are also human – and edible? And why are humans the only meat worth eating?

Why don’t the walking dead break into grocery stores, butcher shops, and kennels? Seriously, don’t the dead understand that there is far more meat and brains in a cow?! Why eat the farmer???

Blood. I’ve had too much experience in funeral homes to buy the idea that zombies coming out of graves have bright, red, flowing blood. Ever heard of embalming fluid?

Speed. Why can’t healthy people, including clumsy women in high heels, outrun people with muscles falling off the bone? Bones need muscles to function, especially when the function is running.

Even if one tripped over every blade of grass in an attempt to flee a rotting granny, how fast could granny be when her anterior muscles, such as the quadriceps femoris, iliopsoas, and sartorius (not to mention her hamstrings and gluteus maximus) are nothing more than brittle beef jerky?

It’s a matter of simple mechanics.

Minor Practicalities. Speaking of grannies, if old people become zombies do they have to keep their false teeth in order to chew their neighbor? I mean, if one did bite/gum you, would you still be infected if no teeth were involved? For crying out loud, how long does Fixodent last?

Theoretically, if the dentures of a zombie did come flying out after the first bite, could a non-zombie then use them as a zombie-creating weapon?

What is the life expectancy of something that is already dead?

Oh, and when a zombie eats a human, where does the ingested material go? Do zombies have functioning digestive tracts? If not, then how much could a zombie eat before becoming bloated, impacted, and for all intents and purposes worthless as a killing machine?

Do zombies poop?

The Real Undead

To be very honest, I am more afraid of my own stinking flesh than the “walking dead.” I cause myself more problems than any zombie can.

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

I can’t outrun my old nature; I must crucify it on a daily basis! If I live in the power of my own zombie-like self, I will die. The only way I can survive is live in the life of Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14).

So, don’t worry about what’s already dead and buried; through the Spirit put to death the deeds of your own stinking flesh, and live (Romans 8:13).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, current events, General Observations, Humor, World View

Barriers to Church Growth #9 (Despising God’s Name)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

Traditional practices are done without a heart for God (Malachi 1:6ff).

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name? – Malachi 1:6 NIV

In a reading of Malachi 1:6-14 it is obvious that God is greatly offended by priests who care little about the One to whom the sacrifices are being made. They offer “polluted” and “blind” offerings, and for what? To gain His approval?

In verse six God was saying, “Look, you give more honor and respect to men than Me. Am I not greater than mere men?” Of course He is, so what was their problem? Did they not care what God would think of inferior offerings?

Essentially, God views giving anything less than one’s best nothing more than an insult to Who He is. God deserves better than the best we would give as a present on Father’s Day. He deserves far, far better than we would give to an employer on Boss’s Day. He is God.  We should give Him our best. Period.

But how have we despised your name?

Maybe we should ask the same question. Are our churches not growing? It might be because we “despise His name” with our poorly executed traditions, our just-getting-by attempts at worship, or our whatever’s-in-my-pocket-besides-the-big-bill offerings.

Notice that Stetzer and Dodson are not putting down traditional practices, only those which are done “without a heart for God.” For many in the church, these practices are only a list to check off, not a means to express appreciation to our Father and LORD. And without true worship, traditional practices suffer the neglect associated with only doing what is necessary to get by. Our God deserves so much better.

Who gets the best effort?

Just take a moment and compare they way we do things on the job, or at school, as compared with worship. What if God gave a paycheck each Sunday based on the way we fulfill our worship duties? What if he gave a grade for how well we listened to and studied His word? Would we even care if poor performance would result in getting fired or expelled?

We say, “God is good – He wouldn’t do such a thing!” And that is one reason why many churches don’t grow. We do enough, we give enough, we sacrifice enough to get by; but without a real heart for God. We never stop to consider that He might be offended…angered…hurt.

What a shame. Why would He want us to multiply?

 

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, worship

Barriers to Church Growth #8 (Selfish Fasting)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People think of fasting as being for themselves.”

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” – Matthew 6:16-18

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.” – Isaiah 58:3ff

One of the great tools of prayer is fasting. But before we go off too quickly and label it as a “tool” or a “key” to answered prayer and holiness, consider the motive behind it.

Why do people fast? Why do people abstain from food or drink when they pray. Honestly, many do it only to either be seen by men, or to be thought more highly of by God. Neither are proper motivations for fasting.

It’s all about me…

In today’s church culture there are many who promote various ways and means to health, wealth, and spiritual success. You know the type – they’re constantly begging for you to sow a “seed of faith” into their ministries (or should I say “scams” and “snake oil factories?”). There are even those who promote fasting as a way to becoming more holy (then offer a book in exchange for a gift of any amount above $20).

The real problem with all of that is the fact that it preys on the flesh, the sinful tendency to think of “self” more than the will of God. It may help a televangelist get rich when you sow a “seed,” but it won’t bring you closer to God if you are expecting a hundred-fold return on your “investment.” When it’s “all about me,” God is not glorified.

Not a means to an end…

Without getting into a long study of the topic of fasting, let’s just say that most fasting is done for the wrong reasons. Look at the rest of the verses in Isaiah 58, for example. It was not that the people were avoiding fasting; they were even abusing themselves. Yet, God was not pleased. He was not interested in their fastings. He wanted their hearts.

There are so many ways the church could benefit if we would seek the heart of God, not our own desires. If we sought after God with a pure heart, asking Him to burden us with a desire for the lost and broken, fasting would come naturally. Most examples of fasting in the Bible were not begun with intent, but were the result of brokenness. Most of the time the fast was the result of one’s lack of desire for anything other than hearing from God. How different is that from the modern Christian who gives up a meal or two and expects, in return for their great sacrifice of earthly pleasure, an answer to a selfish prayer?

Fasting should never be a means to an end. It should be the natural result of one who can find no pleasure, no solace, no comfort in anything other than a word from the Bread of Life. Anything else borders on an attempt to manipulate the King of Glory into feeling sorry for us. What’s worse, fasting as a means to an end for a request which is intended to be “consumed upon [our] lusts” is no different than self-mutilization or witchcraft.

God will not grow a church that seeks to glorify itself or seek its own desires, especially if it attempts to bribe God in the process.

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, Food, God, Uncategorized

Barriers to Church Growth #7 (Self-honoring Giving)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People think of giving as being for their own honor.”

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” – Matthew 6:2-4 KJV

I don’t have a problem with buildings, wings of buildings, rooms, sanctuaries, pews, or stained-glass windows being named in honor of people. It’s when those people give money in order have their names put on those things.

One of the most commonly used complaints against the church is, “They only want your money.” Just throw a rock into any crowd and the chances are high that you’ll hit a disgruntled, self-proclaimed atheist who thinks that way.

But even though most churches aren’t all about money (if they were, then why are so many struggling with tight budgets?), there are some folk within the church that like others to know how much money they have. These are the ones who pay the bills, and everybody knows it.

Jesus spoke of those who give just to be seen. I know people like that. They don’t give anonymously, heaven forbid. No, they hold a new conference and write an over-sized, four-foot-long check to the church, while posing for the camera.

These are the people who think they have more say-so in the congregation of believers. They think they have earned the right. Some even give in order to purchase titles, such as “prophet.” What’s worse, that very practice is applauded within a particular denomination. How sad.

What we need are more people who are willing to give because they love the Lord, not praise. I love the scene in Facing the Giants where a wealthy man gives the coach a new truck. Then he looks over at his son and says something like, “Don’t you say a word.” Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

God gives to us so that we can give to Him. When it is money that we give, it is to be for His glory, not ours. So, if you want recognition, why not wait a little while for the kind that will come from your Heavenly Father?

The praise of men is worthless, if not simply envy in disguise. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Uncategorized

Be Thankful for Your Trials

In all things praise the Lord (James 1:2).

This is Haley and me in a tow truck (Cain’s Wrecker Service) with her car behind us. We were on our way to an appointment at First Baptist Church in Fort Oglethorpe when only a block from the church (at 12:40) the steering went out. Haley barely got it into the parking lot.

It has been POURING RAIN, so getting out to check the car was wettening. Once I did look under the hood, I noticed the belt had slipped off. Then, upon closer inspection, the whole dang harmonic balancer had come off (the big pulley on the engine block)!!

Well, my appointment was at 1pm, so Haley and I left the car in the parking lot and decided to go on inside. But the entrance to the building on the side we were on was locked. They were already in a staff meeting, so nobody answered the phone. Soooo, we had to walk (run) in the rain to the other side of the building to the office door. By that time we both were soaked.

I went ahead with my meeting and Haley went back out with an umbrella to wait for the wrecker. After the meeting I went out to ride with Haley in the wrecker, and that’s when she asked, “Did you know about the tires?”

What??

Both front tires were nearly ready to separate on the inside. Being low-profile tires we never saw the inside edges. So, it was only when the car was lifted up on the wrecker that the tires were easily viewed. The Acura drove fine and did not give any hint that the front was out of alignment. However, at any moment either on of the front tires could have blown out while Haley was driving.

So, here we are in the cab of a wrecker on our way back to Soddy Daisy to drop this car off at a garage, then go get my car. From there we will finally get back on the road to Charleston, SC. I have an Aflac open enrollment scheduled for tomorrow at our daughter’s business and I can’t afford to miss it. We need all the money we can get right now.

But, what could have happened if this car had not broke? A blowout while Haley driving up or down a mountain or on a highway at 70mph?

which trial would I prefer? How we are going to afford to fix my daughter’s car, or how to pay for my little girl’s funeral?

Count it all joy, my brethren! Count it all joy.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Struggles and Trials