When looking for answers to our problems, many times we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”
A better question might be, “What did Jesus do?”
“But we preach Christ crucified…” – 1 Corinthians 1:23
When looking for answers to our problems, many times we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”
A better question might be, “What did Jesus do?”
“But we preach Christ crucified…” – 1 Corinthians 1:23
This morning I saw a post from a friend on Facebook. It was a question that many ask, and I felt compelled to answer it with more than a clever quip, cliche, or copy-and-pasted quotation.
The question was:
“How do you know you are where you are supposed to be and doing what God has called you to do?”
Below is a word-for-word copy of what I wrote (names omitted). I hope that by sharing it here it will help others beyond the realm of Facebook.
[For all my friends]
Whenever people ask how to know God’s will – especially when it includes questions like, “How do I know I’m where God wants me to be?” – I have to ask some [three] clarifying questions.
First, are you doing what you already know He wants you to do? I mean, just start with the basics like do you read the Bible and pray to your Father just to get to know Him? Or, do you only do these things when there is a need? He desires our fellowship like any father or friend, you know. Are you telling others about Him? Are you putting Him first? Are you doing your best with the “talents” He has given you? “Whatsoever you do, do it with all your heart, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). These are important first steps.
Second, is your heart aligned with the heart of God? Remember, we want to do HIS will, not ours. However, God does promise to give us the desires of our heart, if, of course our desires are HIS desires. How is this possible? Well, go back to the first question – are you spending time with Him for love’s sake? Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Third, would you be OK with wherever you are, or wherever you went, if you KNEW it was God’s will for your life? The Apostle Paul, as you know, had it good, bad, was rich, was poor, in bad situations and good, yet he said: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). If your prayer is, “Wherever, Lord, I will serve you,” then He will bring fulfillment to your life wherever you are. You will see Him working through your life. You will know that wherever you are, He is with you.
Once you have truthfully answered the above three questions, be a light where you are, let God open and close the doors, and walk in faith. If you are in close fellowship with the Father, follow the desires of your heart, for He wants to give them to you. But understand, even in the following He may lead you places you never knew you’d enjoy. Just like when Paul had a desire to go to Asia to preach, the Holy Spirit prevented him and led him to a place he never intended – Europe (Macedonia). Paul was certainly in God’s will and trying to do what He thought was right, but the Holy Spirit used that momentum to take him in a direction he never saw coming and didn’t even know was needed.
Lastly, understand this important truth: Our Father in heaven wants us to be mature. Just like any other parent, He wants us to grow up in our faith and walk so that we don’t have to be led around like little babies (not saying you are). He wants us to think and act with a transformed mind, one that is becoming more and more like Christ, and do the things that we think He would do – we are His body. The desires of your heart, if aligned with His, will give you the freedom that Grace affords to step out in faith, trusting what you are doing is His will. But rest assured, He will never leave you nor forsake you, and His arms are there to catch you and redirect you if you fail while in the process of trying to please Him.
Oh, one more thing: His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and no matter the direction we take, the decisions we make, the places we work, or whether we stay or go, God is our Sovereign King – He is still God – and He is always in control.
One of my favorite verses from Proverbs (and the Bible) is Proverbs 16:33. It reads:
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD. – Proverbs 16:33 KJV
Or, as another translation puts it:
We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall. – Proverbs 16:33 NLT
Others have mentioned Proverbs 3:5-6, and those verses sum it up nicely. Trust in the LORD with ALL YOUR HEART, and lean not, like a crutch, onto your own understanding, or at least what worldly common sense my dictate. Instead, in ALL your ways (the things of your life) acknowledge Him (put Him first), and He will direct (make sure you walk in the right direction) your paths.
When I first traveled down to this part of Georgia, having no knowledge of what was around, I used a common term to describe the area. I told others it was “in the middle of nowhere.”
Since then, I have felt bad about saying that. First, unless Warthen was in the middle of nowhere – like some outpost in the middle of Antarctica – the term could be considered derogatory. Coming across as bigoted isn’t helpful.
Secondly, nowhere is actually nowhere; everywhere is somewhere because God is there. In reality, I’m right in the middle of where I’m supposed to be.
So, there’s that.
But when it comes to getting around and finding what you need, the somewhere might not be “nowhere,” but finding anywhere when you’re there can prove difficult, if not leave you stranded with an empty gas tank and no filling station for miles. That is why before you start exploring, listen to the locals!
One of the first things that bothered me (and, I know, this is more of a first-world problem) was that there seemed to be no restaurants. My wife and I had pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that there would be no nice place to go on a date. But what we came to find out was that if we were only willing to drive a few minutes, and if we were willing to trust our local guides, we would find exactly what we were looking for.
For example, last week a couple from our church invited us to join them for a movie and dinner. After the movie, they took us to a steak house. But if we had not trusted the suggestion of our new friends, we wouldn’t have even given the place a chance. I mean this place was the quintessential example of “hole in the wall.” It was literally a steak house.
But the food was some of the best I have ever had – ever. It will be a destination when we host friends from out of town.
Another thing that bothered me was that I didn’t think there were any coffee shops around. Again, when I listened to the locals I found out about a great coffee place not far away from where I will be meeting a new preacher friend every week to talk shop.
So, no, my place in the middle of Georgia might not be Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, or the like, but it has everything I thought I was going to miss and everything I need. I mean, come on, it’s got steak and coffee!
You know, the children of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, were faced with a similar situation when they were about to cross over the Jordan River. In chapter 3, the Lord told Joshua to send the Levites and the Ark of the Covenant ahead of the people. The reason was pretty clear.
“But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between yourselves and the ark. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.” – Joshua 3:4 (CSB)
If there is there anyone we should listen to, it’s the Lord. Do you realize there is not a place He has never walked? Do you know there is not a place, not a situation, not a wilderness, where He has not already worn the straight and narrow path?
Think how much time and effort I saved after listening to the locals who’ve lived in this little town for years and years! How much more would all of us benefit if we’d just trust the One who’s already been where we’re going?
If you can trust the locals, you can certainly trust the Lord – He knows where everything is.
This blog was never intended to become a ministerial diary, of sorts, but reality is what reality is, not what we want or perceive it to be.
Therefore, I will continue to share my observations as we press forward in this new (to us) work in Georgia.
Getting strait to the point, there is a spiritual war going on, and you and I are involved in the conflict. It doesn’t matter where you and I are; the war is on-going and world-wide. We will never escape it until it’s over.
Unfortunately, too many think that life, with all its problems, is rarely affected by the spiritual conflict that rages all around us, even within us. Yet, the reality is that nearly everything we experience in this life is tactically connected to innumerable, web-like strategies meant to bring either victory of defeat. And depending on which side you are on – and that is debatable – victory may mean either bondage and destruction, or hope and deliverance.
There are no coincidences, and no small decision is devoid of long-reaching consequences. This is reality, and that’s a check you can cash.
To be fair, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what responsibility you’ve been given: you’ll never know the full extent of how your life and your decisions will affect others. However, what is equally true is that the more influence a person has, the more of a “high-value” target he or she becomes. And because we are in a spiritual war, this is especially true for those in ministry.
Just since the last post I wrote, the one about “Food and Fur,” I have been reminded that the more influence one has, the more the enemy will attack. I have been reminded that the enemy will wait until we are comfortable, then strike where we are least expecting it, and usually with weapons and tactics for which we have little defense. Or, rather, the defense we do have is more than adequate, but the enemy knows we have not done much training on how to use it. Either way, the attack is meant to knock us back and reconsider our ability to continue the fight.
This is why it should never be an aspiration for a minister to obtain a “larger church” or anything like that, for unless it’s in God’s timing, and unless the minister and his family are equipped, because of the “influence factor,” they – and I do say “they” – may not be able to handle it. The more influence over the lives of others, the more the Enemy will desire your destruction.
You do remember the TV show Fear Factor, don’t you? Do you remember how that it was perfectly possible for every contestant to complete the required challenges, if only they could conquer their own fears? They all had the strength, the coordination, and the skill, but it was so often the fear that immobilized the contestant who failed. So often in this spiritual warfare what we find is that we’ve been given all we need by the Holy Spirit to be victorious, but fear – fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of sacrifice, fear of inadequacy, fear of the Enemy – saps our strength, makes us weak in the knees, causes us to run, or convinces us to surrender.
This week (even yesterday) my family was threatened. The threat is hard to assess, but it is being taken seriously, so much so that police departments in two states are now involved. Yet, should we live in fear? Should we be intimidated?
Or, should we refuse to cower and hide, put feet on our faith, and trust our God to deliver?
In the Messianic Psalm 91, David wrote of how he would handle threats. He wrote:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust’” (Psa. 91:1-2).
Later in verse five he writes: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.”
Then King Solomon, David’s son, echoes these very words when he describes the kind of peace one can enjoy when he puts his faith in the true God and trusts His word:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths…When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:5-6, 24-26).
Believe me, I am concerned. I am concerned for the safety of my daughters, my family in general, myself, and even my friends and congregation. But I refuse to live in fear! I refuse to live in hiding. I refuse to accept that threats from enemies of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven, the One who tells me to call Him “Abba” (Daddy) – carry more weight than the promises from God’s Word!
Since I’m already at 907 words, I should bring this “Observation” to a conclusion.
First, I don’t think it’s wise to share specific details about what is going on that made me write this post. Doing so would not help keep anyone safe any more than what is already being done. So, don’t expect any real details to come out in future posts.
However, I will say this: Even in America there are those who will swear they are not radical, but will nevertheless use the “fear card” credit their fellow faith-members have earned as a tool. Even should their veiled threats be hollow and only mean, it is impossible to know what is truly in the heart or intended, and should therefore be taken seriously.
Evidently, the Enemy wants to put a stop to what God is doing, and he’s not going to play nice. When people down here said they’d heard I was stirring things up, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind! And whether or not what we are going through right now as a family is related at all to the overall plan here in Georgia, in reality, it’s all related.
So, pray for us.
Your soldiers on the battlefield in middle Georgia
BONUS: Here’s a song my daughter Katie sang several years ago (I think she was 17). I think it’s pretty appropriate for today. Are we fearless, or full of faith?
In honor of the home-going of a godly man and combat veteran of the European campaign of WWII, W. L. “Red” Sims, I re-post the following.
Hearing a soldier in the United States Military recite his particular “Solder’s Creed,” whether it be with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, is something quite stirring.
Probably inspired by the military creeds of this world, an unknown author penned the following for soldiers in God’s Army, the Church: those bought with the blood of Christ, wearing the whole armor of God, and marching onward toward victory with the Sword of the Spirit in their hands.
The sooner we come to the realization that we are most certainly engaged in a spiritual war, the better. May we all be willing to stand unashamed…”and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).
The Christian Soldier’s Creed
I am a soldier in the Army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.
I am a volunteer in this Army, and I am enlisted for eternity.
I will either retire at the Rapture, or die in this Army; but I will not get out, sell out, be talked out, or pushed out.
I am faithful, reliable, capable, and dependable.
If my God needs me, I am there.
If He needs me in the Sunday school to teach the children, work with the youth, help adults, or just sit and learn, I’ll be there.
He can use me because I am there!
I am a soldier.
I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.
I am a soldier.
No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.
I am a soldier.
I am not a wimp.
I am in place saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His kingdom!
No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or give me handouts.
I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for, or catered to.
I am committed.
I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.
If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.
I will win.
My God has, and will continue, to supply all my needs.
I am more than a conqueror.
I will always triumph.
I can do all things through Christ.
Devils cannot defeat me.
People cannot disillusion me.
Weather cannot weary me.
Sickness cannot stop me.
Battles cannot beat me.
Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me.
I am a soldier.
Even death cannot destroy me, for when my Commander calls me from this battlefield He will promote me to Captain and then allow me to rule with Him.
I am a soldier in the Army and I’m marching, claiming victory.
I will not give up.
I will not turn around.
I am a solder marching, heaven bound.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3
I am not blessed with a lot of free time these days, especially because of the hectic details of moving while trying to finish out my last week of driving a school bus. As a matter of fact, below is a picture of where I am writing this very piece – on a school bus while waiting for elementary-aged crumb crunchers to finish swimming.
It’s 90+ degrees on this bus, I only have about 30 minutes to write, and I’m sweating like a glass full of ice on a hot day – except I’m not icy. Please allow me the opportunity to rant.
There used to be a time in American life when a man who actually tried to stay true to his moral convictions was considered the kind of man we respected. That kind of man, by all respects a hero of virtue, would be lauded, placed on a pedestal, and pointed to as a standard for young boys to emulate.
Joseph (the one in the Bible with the multi-colored coat) and Dr. Billy Graham are two such men who come to mind.
But nowadays, when a Republican running for governor of Mississippi wants to keep things above board and honorable, the first thing you hear from the media is that this guy is a sexist. In other words, when he tries to honor his wife and his marriage by avoiding the possibility of impropriety, the substance of which could not only harm his marriage and his livelihood, but also the reputation of one whom could be falsely accused, he’s labeled as a woman-hater and abuser of his wife’s integrity.
In other words, because the guy wanted to do things the honorable and godly way, he’s a scum bucket worthy of relegating to the trash heap of failed and forgotten politicians. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a moment to read the vitriolic and condescending article by Monica Hesse in The Washington Times (July 11) entitled:
Like I said earlier, I’m pressed for time and dripping sweat on my keyboard, but let me say that I think Monica Hesse and Larrison Campbell are out of their ever-loving minds.
What’s even more interesting is that, if true, The Washington Times was originally going to send a male reporter to shadow Robert Foster. According to one report I read, it was only at the last minute that the paper wanted to send Larrison Campbell to be alone with the gubernatorial candidate, forcing him to say no, not unless they could send a male along with her. If this is true, and if they already knew of Foster’s beliefs (which I’m sure they did), this could have been nothing more than a set up to smear him.
Oh, the irony. Oh, the deceit.
And they wonder why we distrust the media?
For the record, I think the “Billy Graham rule” is as wise as ever, and it is one which I abide by as much as possible. There are times when I am alone with a female doctor, for example, but not when I’m unclothed. Even when I am alone, it’s not the same thing as going out to dinner, sitting behind closed doors in my office, or counseling a woman alone in her home. For one thing, the doctor has more to lose than most if she were to act inappropriately and unprofessionally.
There’s so much more I could say about the individual points of Hesse’s article, but it’s not worth any more of my time, and I don’t have much to spare.
Regardless, Robert Foster’s convictions and rules are admirable, not demeaning. Any woman should be thrilled that her husband was taking proactive measures to protect the integrity of their marriage.
But marriage integrity and men of honor aren’t high on the shopping list for people who have no scruples of their own, I suppose.
Every year around this time the godless, anti-Christian, anti-religious, “spaghetti monster” fans wear out the keyboards of their iMacs as they hammer any and every posted news article having anything to do with the Christian stones in our nation’s foundation.
Just this week a story about another school taking down a student-donated 92-year-0ld plaque hit the news. The comment sections of various sources that published the story were overflowing with arrogant atheists preaching the virtues of “separation of church and state.” Obviously, their hatred of Christianity (not so much the desire for pluralism) was fueling their snarky vitriol.
As if the trolls got together beforehand and decided what would be the most effective “shut up the enemy” type of argument, one of the most common mic-drop-type attempts to end any defense of the Ten Commandment plaque went like this:
“If you are OK with posting the Ten Commandments, then would you be OK with posting the 5 pillars of Islam or the 7 points of Satanism? If one religion is honored, then all should be!”
You see, the whole reason for posting the Ten Commandments is not to “promote” a particular faith (btw, it’s not just Christianity that claims the TC’s; they came to the Jews, first!), but to recognize the foundational source from which our nation derived its inspiration. Fact is, Islam had NOTHING to do with the founding of our country, especially not Satanism; therefore there is no historical context to warrant the erecting of plaques them or any other religion or religious texts – the Bible and Christianity alone were supremely instrumental to the Founders and the documents they created to form this country.
At the VERY LEAST, the majority of our founding fathers, even though they did not want to establish a national church or officially promote one religious sect over another, were very religious, and they admitted the country they envisioned would fail if the people inhabiting it were not.
How can I make such a bold statement? Where’s my proof?
I’m glad you asked.
The rest of this article will consist of quotes from our Founding Fathers. Their words should speak for themselves.
John Adams (Signer of the Declaration of Independence and 2nd President of the United States)
“It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” – to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776
[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – 1798
Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)
“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” – from a letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800)
Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)
“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” – 1806
“We profess to be republicans, and yest we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuation our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.” – 1806
(When the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked) “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise with His aid?” – June 28, 1787
George Washington (First President)
The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this time that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations…” – from a letter to Brigadier General Thomas Nelson, August 20, 1778
“And now, Almighty Father, if it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the Earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee.” – private prayer, 1779
Samuel Adams (“Father of the American Revolution”)
“The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institution of The Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” – from Rights of the Colonists, 1772)
John Hancock (first to sign the Declaration of Independence)
“In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments . . . all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose blessing the best human counsels are but foolishness – and all created power vanity,” – April 15, 1775, as Hancock signed a proclamation for a day of fasting and prayer
John Quincy Adams (6th President)
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and principles of Christianity.” – attributed to Adams; cited from Pamphlet on American Revolution, 1860, John Wingate Thorton
Roger Sherman (Signer of all four of the major founding documents)
(In a speech to Congress) “Admiring and thankfully acknowledging the riches of redeeming love, and earnestly imploring that divine assistance which may enable us to live no more to ourselves, but to him who loves us and gave himself to die for us.”
Literally, I could go on and on and on… but I have 4th of July (Independence Day) celebrations to attend – and even a couple of weddings to perform! Tonight, I’m going with my family to a baseball game, after which will be fireworks! How American is that?!!
God bless America! And, may we be bold enough and informed enough to fight for the right to publicly acknowledge His blessings, despite what the Freedom from Religion Foundation and all the religion-hating trolls want to accomplish.
Oh, but wait… There’s just one more quote from John Adams that I need to squeeze in… because it has a direct bearing on the historical context of posting the Ten Commandments…
“The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.” – Source: The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, 1851, Vol. VI, p. 9
Now THAT’S a “mic drop” quote if I ever heard one!