Category Archives: Christianity

My Verse. My Prayer. My Hope. 

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”  – King David (Psalm 57:1-2)

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Filed under Christianity, current events, Depression, God, Struggles and Trials, worship

Which Would Surprise You More?

It may come as no surprise to you that I have some pretty unique students who ride my school bus. I’m sure the same could be said for any school bus.

However, today, following a conversation in which a middle school girl was laughing about some creepy things she’d done, like stabbing her stuffed frog, I posed a question to the students surrounding her.

“Of the following,” I asked, “which of these two things would surprise you more if you found out they were true about (the girl)? First, that she had a bedroom full of unicorns and rainbows, and that she wrote poetry about flowers… Or, secondly, that in her bedroom she had a black pot, under which sat a burner…and that she used the pot to boil water, into which she would put the severed extremities of creatures she gathered from outside after midnight while her parents slept?” 

“Unicorns and rainbows,” replied the other students. A creepy cackle of approval came from the seat behind me. Then she added, “But the poetry could have been about dark, magical flowers that kill.”

Uh, yeah. 

Anyway, this got me to thinking. What would surprise you more, if you heard it about me? 

  1. That I could bench press 500 pounds, or…
  2. That my biceps look like chicken thighs.

How about this?

  1. That I have a fondness for burning things, or…
  2. That I have a fear of getting burned. 

Now, try these on for size. Which would surprise you more?

  1. That I was a spy for the U.S. government, or…
  2. I was a draft dodger. 

You see, how we answer these questions reveal our perceptions of people. So, here’s one more. Which would surprise you more if you learned it to be true about me? 

  1. That I’ve never offended a single soul with my preaching, or…
  2. That someone got so offended by something I preached that he left the church and personally threatens me…and he wouldn’t be the last. 

I hope you picked #1 on that one (read John 15:18-20). Otherwise, I need to reevaluate what I’m doing. 

Why not give it some thought and ask others some questions about yourself? You might be surprised with their answers. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

When Tomorrow Is Sunday

Never forget that the arguments, the hurt feelings, the illnesses, the stresses, and the pains that hit seemingly out of the blue are not coincidence when tomorrow is Sunday.  – A. Baker

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Is It Enough to be God-Centered?

The Prayer

A while back I asked the Lord to make me a “characteristic example of a life centered on God.” But as soon as I prayed that prayer, another thought came into my mind…

Maybe being “God-centered” is not enough.

God-Centered Living

You may be asking, “What is wrong with that?” Well, there is nothing wrong with living a God-centered life, generally speaking. On the other hand, there is more to being a Christian than being “God-centered.”

“Outrageous!” “That’s blasphemy,” you say. Well, is it? Stop and think about it for just a moment. Start with thinking about what being “God-centered” actually means.

Does someone have to be a true Christian in order to live a God-centered life? You may think so, at first, but there may be a few church folk fooling themselves. Don’t believe me? Read what Paul wrote to the Church…

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV

Why would the Apostle tell church people to “examine” and “prove” whether or not they were in the faith? Could it be that there were some who were going through all the motions, but were never converted, never born anew? Could it have been possible that there were some doing all the right things, for the right reasons, but not right with God? He says that the answer to the test will be whether or not “Jesus Christ is in you.”

Can people live God-centered lives and still be lost? To help answer this question, consider the following people (names are fictitious). Do their actions guarantee salvation?

  • Bob goes to church every day the doors are open, including every other function on every other day
  • Henry gives 20% of his income and 10% of his time to the church. If there is a need, ask Henry for help.
  • Margaret goes to a Fundamental church, has the right translation of the Bible, and never wears pants – ever.
  • Mary would never say a dirty word, tell an off-color joke, or even permit foul language in her presence.
  • Sharon put aside marriage and gave her life to helping orphans on the streets of Mumbai, India.
  • Scott and Karen have Bible studies in their home, take the kids to Sunday School, and even have gold crosses in every room of their home, not to mention on their necks.
  • A rich young ruler keeps all the commandments (not just the Big 10) from his youth.

If these people were to examine themselves, as Paul asked, what might be missing? Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Is it not possible that someone could do everything for God’s glory (live a God-centered life), but still die without Christ?

What are your thoughts?

Have you “proven” whether you “be in the faith?”

Do you know of Scripture that supports a “God-centered” life being proof of salvation?

The Realization

When contemplated what I had asked of God (to make me characterized by a God-centered life), the mental picture of a wheel came to mind. It was the picture of a wheel with a center hub and spokes, much like a bicycle or wagon wheel. As I thought about this, however, something seemed wrong. Something seemed almost selfish.

You see, when you look at a wheel, especially the kind with spokes and a hub, it may not be obvious at first, but there are parts. In such a wheel I can distinguish the spokes from the hub, and the rim from the spokes. I can even see that there are spaces in between the spokes that are empty and not attatched or filled with anything – just empty. If God is supposed to be represented by the hub, the center of the wheel, then the wheel is not really all about the hub, but the wheel itself.

It’s about Jesus

The Apostle Paul told the Athenians (Acts 17:28) that in Jesus we “live, and move, and have our being.” In a letter to the Galatians he said “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). It would seem to me that Jesus should be more than our “hub.” He should be our “ALL.”

That is when I thought of a different picture. This time I imagined a solid circle – a disk. Unlike the other picture where God was the center of everything, yet separate, here was a picture of wholeness. In this picture, if my life is this type of wheel, people won’t notice anything about me, just Christ.

All of the spokes (my life, my dreams, my habits and hobbies, my talents, and my desires); the empty spaces (the areas of my life that seem irrelevant); and the rim (the total expanse of who I am – my identity, my sphere of influence); each part is now inseparable from the life and power of Christ who lives within me.

May they see Jesus

So, I no longer want to be characterized as a man with a God-centered life. I want to be a man characterized by the life of Christ. When people look at me, I don’t want them to say, “Hey, that guy really knows how to serve God,” or “Hey, that guy really loves the Lord.” Even though there is nothing wrong with those things, how much better would it be if they could say, “Hey, I met this guy… at first I thought he was that man they call Jesus.

Remember, it was to the Church at Corinth that Paul said, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” There must have been some hearing this letter read who were deceived. Don’t be like them. Make sure your life is in Christ, and He is in you.

May your activities be “God-centered;” but your life “Christ-filled.” May the world see Jesus in you.

For Discussion:

Can you distinguish between a God-centered and a Christ-filled life? What characteristics would you expect to see?

Do you think someone could live a God-centered life and still be unsaved?

Your comments would be appreciated. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, God, Jesus, Theology

Not a Failure

Regardless the success of his contemporaries, no man is a failure whose life is a positive reflection of Jesus Christ.  – A. Baker 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, Depression, Jesus, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

Debris and Grace

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

The Move

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions before, we have been in the process of moving – in all things praise the Lord. Unfortunately, as you might imagine, we’ve gained a lot of “stuff” over the last eight years of living in the parsonage.

The next time you take a long, hot shower (if you do that kind of thing) in order to ease your aching joints, think of me; there’s not a joint or muscle that doesn’t ache after all of this! As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to scratch the back of my shiny head with my right hand…my shoulder is just too messed up.

Essentially, moving contributes to less movement.

The Debris

img_5265I am not going to try to fool you; we are not the best at keeping a spotless house. I can truthfully say that our home never has bugs and it is sanitary; however, don’t expect every square inch to be dust-free…ever.

But as I was l looking at the floor in the empty living room where all of our comfy furniture used to be, I noticed some bits of debris on the floor. It seems that even after a sweeping of the imitation hard wood there were still tiny pieces of stuff like grass, a crumb or two, etc. I guess a little piece of us will always be there somewhere.

It just goes to prove that no matter how often we cleaned, there were always going to be places where we missed…places like under a cabinet, in between a cushion seam, or against the baseboard in a corner.

Grace

Aren’t you glad our salvation is not based on getting rid of every little bit of debris in our lives? I mean, seriously, there are some people who believe that we can become, through a life of total sanctification, clean from all the debris of sin. Some people think that unless every sin is confess before one dies, then one’s salvation is lost. What they don’t realize is that there’s always going to be something somewhere, something hidden and forgotten, that never gets swept away.

That’s why we need grace.

 

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, legalism

All I Need

We have moved into our new, temporary abode, but I don’t have my computer set up. My wife does, but she’s more important than me – she does taxes. 
So, the following is either being written or texted by voice on my iPhone, therefore please forgive me if there are any errors.

Anyway, the last night that I stayed at the house where we used to live, I slept there with hardly anything in the house that belonged to us; most everything except bulky stuff had been boxed up and hauled away. 

I looked over into the open closet, and there was nothing there but one set of clothes and a pair of shoes that I was going to wear the next day.

I looked up from the bed that I was lying on and saw the ceiling above me, keeping the rain that was falling hard outside from falling hard on to me. 

Downstairs there was a refrigerator with a little food in it, just enough to make some breakfast and maybe a little extra.

I had running water, electricity, heat, and locks on the doors. 

It was as I was looking around at the near-empty rooms, something very important struck me: I really had all I needed.

I mean, what more did I really need? I had food, shelter, security, a place to sleep, clothes, and probably a few other things that I didn’t notice. With everything gone from the house, I still had everything I needed.

That made me ask, “Why do I have all that other stuff in the first place?”

It made me realize how rich I really am. Take everything away and an “empty” house is not as empty as I thought. 

That’s when I started thinking about Jesus. When everything is gone I still have him, and he’s really all I need.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Are you rich? 

Are you content? 

Do you have Jesus? 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, General Observations, God, Life Lessons, salvation, worship