Category Archives: Christianity

I’ve Been Tozered

A couple of weeks ago I started reading a new devotional every morning. It is a compilation of writings from A.W. Tozer, and it is meant for the Christian leader.

To be honest, I have been convicted by some of the things that I have read.  Today’s entry alone gave me reason to pause and consider my own carnality.  In the devotion entitled Faith Dares to Fail, Tozer says:

The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it.” Believe me, there are times when I get down.

But it was yesterday’s devontion that stood out the most out of all the ones I have read recently. In Greatness Has Its Price, Tozer uses painful analogy to point out one reason why most Christians (and churches) are pitifully inadequate and effective, the power of the Holy Spirit aside:

The amount of loafing practiced by the average Christian in spiritual things would ruin a concert pianist if he allowed himself to do the same thing in the field of music. The idle puttering around that we see in church circles would end the career of a big-league pitcher in one week. No scientist could solve his exacting problem if he took as little interest in it as the rank and file of Christians take in the art of being holy. The nation whose soldiers were as soft and undisciplined as the soldiers of the churches would be conquered by the first enemy that attacked it. Triumphs are not won by men and easy chairs. Success is costly.”

Yet, even though we are told to “be ye holy, even as I am holy,” we treat our faith like a weekend leisure activity, never caring much about the eternal outcome, only the present pleasure of half-hearted activity and even less commitment. Need proof?

  •  How many verses of scripture have you memorized “that [you] might not sin against God”?
  •  Is your commitment level to a local sports facility more than your commitment level to a local assembly of believers?
  •  Do you brag more about your child’s batting average than his boldness to tell others about Jesus?
  •  When’s the last time you ever voluntarily did any Bible study outside of what was spoonfed to you in church?

Is there any wonder the church, along with most of its members, is weak?  We’ve forgotten what it means to “be sober and vigilant.” We’ve become lazy and insubordinate soldiers in the army of our God,  yet spend millions in research to determine why we’ve lost ground to the Enemy.  We’ve even traded our powerful pulpits for motivational ministries that adjust our “easy chairs.”

Maybe it’s time we take our faith seriously – because the One to whom we will answer to does.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Christianity, Faith

“Alive, Alert, Awake, and Enthusiastic!”

As we both walked into the office this morning to clock in, a fellow bus driver asked me, “How are you doing this morning?”

I replied to my co-worker’s genuine inquiry with the following affirmation: “I’m alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic!”

“What was that?” he asked.

“I said, ‘I’m alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic!’ There’s even a song about it.”

“You know,” my friend said, “I think I’ve heard that song before, now that you mention it. But who would sing a song like that?”

“Somebody trying to convince himself it was so,” I answered.

As a matter of fact, I was on a month-long mission trip to Romania back in August of 1992. Every day was long, and morning always came too early, so the “enthusiastic” song was often sung as we fell out of our beds and stumbled outside looking for some form of coffee (usually the kind boiled in a big pot over an open fire). We would sing the words with a hint of sarcasm, yet the simple act of singing them – while feeling anything other than alert and awake – somehow brought a smile to our mutually tired and grimacing faces, eventually making us exactly what we sang…alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic.

That is one reason we sing Christian songs in church, or in our cars, or even when we are tired, sick, or discouraged. But it is not so that we can convince ourselves of something that might be true, or that we wish to be true; we sing because the Word of God IS true!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. – Colossians 3:16

I sing “Amazing Grace,” not because I hope He is gracious, but because His grace is new every morning, and there is more than enough for ever need!

I sing “The Solid Rock, ” not because I’m standing on shifting sand, but because my hope is truly built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness! Therefore, despite the teetering foundations of man-made institutions, I don’t have to worry about sinking – He’s got this!

Sometimes the nights are long, and we get weary. At other times we may hate to see the break of day for fear of further struggles which may sap our strength.   But in those moments of weakness a song of praise can give access to a Strength outside our own, making the downtrodden and discouraged “alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic!”

Songs of Truth will rebuild your faith, renew your strength, and restore your enthusiasm! So, even though others might ask, “Who would sing a song like that,” sing my brothers and sisters! Sing!

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, Faith, Life Lessons, music, Struggles and Trials

Monday Meditations

“When you hit rock bottom, remember this. While you’re struggling, rock bottom can also be a great foundation on which to build and on which to grow.” Dr. Rick Rigsby

But sometimes God has to bring us down to “rock bottom” in order to remind us of an even greater truth: “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

 

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Filed under Christianity, Depression, Faith, Struggles and Trials

Deception of Depression

Taking Pictures

Last week, as I was standing on a street in downtown Chattanooga, I decided I’d take a moment and play the photographer. Had my daughter Katie been with me I’m sure she would have had no problem finding good shots, but my eye is not as gifted.

I looked around, first at eye level, then upwards, and that’s when this particular shot came into frame.

After a little tweaking, what I had was, in my opinion, a pretty picture of the Maclellan Building …behind a huge, black tree.

Illusion and Perception

Now, you’re smart enough to figure out that the size of the black tree is only an optical illusion, correct? You do realize the size of the tree in relation to the early twentieth-century skyscraper is not a matter of fact, but of perception, correct?

Unfortunately, the way we perceive our problems is much the way this photograph highlights the perspective ground level. As we look up from rock bottom, even the smallest branch can appear gigantic. That’s when we need to forget what we see down here and consider another perspective – God’s perspective.

Depression and hopelessness can make small things look much larger than they really are. But with the eyes of faith, our perspective can change, thereby exposing the deception of false perception.

Don’t let depression or a lack of faith deceive you; God is bigger! 

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Filed under Christianity, Depression, God

Sunday Sermonette

Sanctification is the opposite of conformity.

There is a danger we face when we turn our backs on legalism: it’s the temptation to to lean on grace so hard that we eventually become indistinguishable from the world in which we live.

Our freedom in Christ should never be used as an excuse to be conformed to the world; it should release us to be different.

“I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:15-17 (HCSB)

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christianity, grace, legalism

If We Could Only Comprehend!

This morning, as I preach from the third chapter of Ephesians, my prayer for you (and myself) will be the same as what the apostle Paul prayed…

I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 CSB

Oh, that we might comprehend the the width, the length, the height, and the depth of God’s love through Jesus Christ! If we could only even slightly comprehend the vast, expansive spread before us, mercy and grace for every need; the never-ending, eternal, infinite promise of his love and care; the heights to which we are raised, far above the lowly, humble truth of our natural condition and state; and the the depths of Christ’s love – humble depths to which the love of God had to reach down in order to pluck us from the pit of sin… If we could only even slightly comprehend them!

Yet, through His strength (v. 16), and being rooted and grounded in His love (v. 17), it is possible! Hallelujah! Because He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according the power that works in us! (v. 20 NKJV)

This morning, and every morning, to God the Father be all glory in the church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, wherever they may be, forever and ever, “world without end” (v. 20).

And all the people said… “AMEN!!” 

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Church, Faith, God, Love of God, Preaching, worship

“Till the Storm Passes By”

A Word of Encouragement 

I was trying to think of something clever to write: either something funny or entertaining; something profound and theological; or just something encouraging as many Americans stare down the barrel of the strongest storm on record, Hurricane Irma.

That’s when the lyrics of a song came to mind, a song written many years ago by Mosie Lister entitled “Till the Storm Passes By.”

My mom and dad used to sing this song in church. I grew up singing it, especially one day when I was lying on the floor of my school bus as tornadic-like winds came through unexpectedly and trapped me inside, making me think the yellow box was going to flip.

In the words of this song there is clear sense of dread, but at the same time a sense of security and hope. Storms do come, whether they be literal meteorological events or spiritual/emotional battles; yet, there is One whom we know will hear our cries and keep us safe in the hollow of His hand.

Immediately I hear someone say, “But what about those Christians who die in storms? Did you God keep them safe?” First, what about the ones who didn’t die? Secondly, and most importantly, what about that “peace that passeth understanding”? True safety will be seen “when the long night has ended and the storms come no more,” and we stand in His presence on “that bright, peaceful shore.”

Regardless the size or consistency of the “storm,” knowing I am held fast in the hand of the One who will keep me eternally safe gives me peace. I pray that those stuck in this coming storm, and others to follow, will find that same peace in Jesus Christ.

“Till the Storm Passes By”

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there’s no hiding place;
‘Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
“Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.”

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispers,
“There is no need to try;
For there’s no end of sorrow,
There’s no hope by and by”;
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I’ll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

– Mosie Lister

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Filed under America, Christianity, current events, Life/Death, Weather