Category Archives: Faith

Saved from Irrelevance: the MacBook and Me

This morning I was seriously thinking about walking away from blogging for the next 30 days, or so. Last night was just one of those nights when all the emotional energy I had was sapped out of me, leaving me awake this morning with little or no desire to be transparent, much less creative. So, what was one of the first things that came to mind? Walk away from blogging for a while.

Now, the big question is why would I think like that? Well, it’s not really that difficult to understand: I wanted to atone.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we like to act destructively in order to relieve stress or pain? Some people do it by drinking too much and getting drunk, while others shoot up drugs or watch porn (is this hitting home with any of you?). Many people, if not most, find some temporary comfort in doing something harmful or self-abasing in order to either punish themselves for something they feel they did wrong, or just prove to themselves they are as bad as they feel. Both options are tragic in their own right.

Why am I writing this? Well, what I am doing is the opposite of what walking away from blogging would do – I’m trying to make a difference.

If you have gotten this far I congratulate you. Most people, in my experience, would have tuned out by now, thinking the subject matter of this post is too emotional, depressing, or something. However, I am not writing this for anyone’s entertainment; I’m writing it because I need to.

And if I ramble, that’s because I am writing with no agenda, no editing, just to get this off my chest.

Anyway, last night was one of those nights that drained me, like I said. It was a night full of family drama, the kind parents sometimes have to go through when there are teens and young adults in the family. It’s that parenting thing that can be so hard…and the struggles within a marriage relationship…when multiple people get together, have differing opinions, different communication skills, and struggle to see things eye-to-eye. The single life does have its advantages in that one can just walk away when things get tense or uncomfortable – but not family. Family is hard work, and painful, too.

So, I woke up this morning, ready to quit blogging for a while. It just seemed like a statement I could make that would make me feel better. Really, the truth is nothing more than what I really wanted to have control over something. We can’t control other people (not unless we are tyrants, or something). Life itself is often nothing more than a four-wheel skid in a generally predetermined direction. Therefore, had I just announced that I was going to quit blogging for a while, I would have at least given myself a temporary emotional boost, one that said something to the effect of, “You are in control!”

But only God is truly in control, you know? The best I can do is remain faithful in the life He has called me to live. I will make mistakes; I will do things I regret; I will say things without thinking; I will hurt feelings; I will give advice today that tomorrow I may regret; and that’s because I am human. Even king Solomon, the wisest man on earth, made mistakes; am I wiser than him? All I can do is “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In a broad application of Ecc. 12:14, God will handle the rest.

I don’t want to walk away from blogging – although I would like my posts to become ever more relevant and impactful. Just like this computer I am using this morning – one that I rescued from the trash – even though I am not the fastest, sharpest, most up-to-date, and all that, God want’s to take what I do have and put it to good use for His purposes. It’s a much better feeling knowing that something I am writing will make a small difference, rather than feeling that temporary gratification of being in “control.”

Lord willing, even thought I am not the best at it, tomorrow morning I am going to be preaching on the topic of prayer – specifically  “Prayer that Works.” Much of what I preach is nothing more than something I need to hear myself, and this will be no exception. And just like this blog post, one that is an attempt to show I don’t have everything under control, but I’m still making it through another day, tomorrow’s sermon will be an example of God using a flawed, imperfect example of humanity to showcase his glory and grace.

So, if nothing else, I’m thankful for this old computer, rescued from the trash heap, for giving me the urge to do a little bit more typing. God knows how He is going to use it. He’s the one in charge and in control, not me.

Our county school system had relegated this “outdated” MacBook to the trash, but I rescued it from the crusher. After a cleaning up and cleaning out, it still works fine, just a little slower than the new stuff – just like me 😉

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Filed under blogging, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons

Walking or Riding?

A Familiar Story

If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably remember the story of Jesus walking on the water. And if you remember that, you may also recall that the apostle Peter was the one who walked on the water with Jesus – until he began to look around.

But if you don’t remember the story, here it is as found in the NIV version of Matthew 14:25-33.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.

“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Familiar Pictures

Now that you are familiar with the story, have you ever seen paintings or illustrations depicting this passage of Scripture? Of all the ones I have ever seen, Jesus is usually portrayed as a calm, sad-looking, and often effeminate water-stroller. Peter is always some scruffy-looking, heavy-as-stone fraidy-cat.

Then what about those waves? In all the depictions of this story, how high are the waves? Usually they are no more than just a few inches high around the Lord and his bobbing disciple, Peter.

Well, I am here to challenge the common perception based on these fallacious (that means stupidly wrong) paintings.

The Waves

I am not a seafaring man like my friend David Welford, but I would bet even he would say that 6-8 inch waves would have been NO problem for some experienced fishermen. What ever frightened Peter, once he looked around, had to have been more than a ripple on the surface.

Consider how the Bible described what was happening to the boat in Matthew 14:24: “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” Do kiddie pool waves toss a boat? No, but real waves do.

In stead of tossed, other translations use words like buffeted, beaten, and battered. The New Living Translation says that “a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” It would seem to me that the disciples were facing a life-or-death struggle, not inconvenient weather.

The Wacky Request

People often belittle Peter for his “lack of faith.” They think less of him because he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. But who on this earth that is not currently on anti-psychotic medication would actually ask a UWG (Unidentified Walking Ghost), “If it is you, compel me to do something totally irrational and dangerous, OK?” What kind of crazy question was that?

I believe there is more to this story than we have been told. Why didn’t Peter just ask Jesus to come a little closer? Why not just ask Him to get in the boat and take a load off? What would have caused Peter to think of leaving the boat?

Maybe, just maybe, what Jesus was doing looked like fun.

Wave Riding

The next time you look out over a stormy sea capable of sinking a boat, try to find the smooth spots. The paintings that show the Savior walking delicately over glassy H2o in the middle of a gale are unrealistic.

My guess is that Jesus was doing more than simply walking. He was having fun! He was probably surfing without a board. It is possible that He was going up and down…up and down…up and down…smiling the whole time. That’s when Peter said, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come out there with you…that looks like fun!”

Seriously, just stop and think about it. Here was a storm that was beating up a boat and wearing out the crew; waves that were anything but small; a boat full of panicking people; and a Man walking on water. Peter must have concluded that if there was going to be any place to be, it was with Jesus, riding the waves.

With Jesus

We can’t help the fact that storms come. But if there is any lesson to be learned from this story it is that the worst possible place to be can be the safest and most peaceful, as long as our eyes are on Jesus and we are walking with Him.

Does it make sense? No. Is it irrational? Maybe. But as long as we have faith in Jesus, we can ride atop the tallest tsunami, admiring the view.

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Filed under Faith, Struggles and Trials, Uncategorized, worship

Which Way Do We Go?

How often do you argue with your phone?

Maybe a better question would be, “How often do you disagree with Siri or Google over directions?”

Last week I was invited to be the guest speaker at a church I’d never been to before. I knew the general direction I was supposed to go, and I had a general idea where to make some turns, but even though I had the address I wasn’t sure how to get there.

As we were getting close to where I knew we were supposed to turn off of the main highway, I asked my wife to use her iPhone to look up the address and get directions. You’ve done that before, right? And most of the time things go just fine and I get to where I need to go.

On a side note, I do miss those days long ago when I’d sit down with an atlas and local maps in order to plan a trip out of town. Planning trips that way always made it seem like I was heading out on an adventure. GPS has taken all the fun out of road trips.

Well, my wife entered the address of the church, pressed the “go” button, and down the road we went until we found the first turn.

I don’t know about you, but despite the amazing technology, even though Siri and Google rarely lead me astray (I did say “rarely”), there’s always this uneasy tension which keeps me from totally trusting the little gadget in my hand.

Anyway, we drove for only a couple of miles until we came to a split in the road. Right there in the middle of the road was a big white sign with a big black arrow painted on it. Above the arrow was the name of the church I was trying to find.

As I slowed down, my wife repeated the words of the digitized direction-giver, “Keep right.” I said, “But the sign says that we should go left.” Then Valerie replied, “All I know is that the phone says we should go right.”

Risking my own embarrassment and a potential “I told you so,” I followed the instruction of the big, black arrow and went left.

In just a short while we came to an intersection where we would have to make another choice, either left or right. Once again Steve Job’s creation sweetly advised me to “Make a left, and proceed blah blah blah blah.” However, right in front of me, as plain as black paint on a white sign could be, there was a big hand-painted arrow pointing left, and right above the arrow was the name of the church we were trying to find.

“You know,” I said to my wife, “this is one of those times when a good, biblical lesson about the spiritual life could apply.” I continued, “Instead of trusting the phone, why not trust the sign that was obviously placed by someone who’s been down this road before?”

We made the left – despite Siri’s protests – and found the church no more than a quarter mile down the road.

Here’s the thing. The world is full of all kinds of information and advice, and much of it is spot on. However, when it comes to the road that leads to a peace that passes understanding, to a relationship with my Creator, to Heaven… I’d rather trust the One who has already gone this way before.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, Faith, God

Giving God’s Way (Not What You Think)

A Guest Post by: J. David Peever


I know the first thing that comes to mind with a title like Giving God’s Way is, “here we go again.” If you have attended church for any length of time you have heard, “giving God’s way” used as code for “we can’t make budget so we need to make people give more.” Take a deep breath, this is not going to be one of those times. This isn’t about money, it’s about the way we follow Christ.

Giving Up

If something is not going to work, giving up is the most likely choice. Consequences are unavoidable and outcome is out of our control and there is no way to accomplish what we want.

Giving In

If something meets with continuous resistance, giving in will eventually happen. Unlike giving up, the consequences are carefully considered and the outcome weighed leading us to conclude that what we want can be achieved because what we want has now become very similar to what the one who resists, wants.

Giving Over

In some things God meets our standard of trustworthiness so we give over these things, especially the ones that are too hard or meet with continual resistance. If our trust becomes stronger we become more confident in God, if we become more confident in God, we will give over more and more of our lives.

Which type of giving does God do?

God does not give up. Jesus’ death is proof of that. God does not give up on saving us even though He knows not everyone will accept salvation.

God does not give in. You can beg, you can plead and you can even try to present a logical argument but God cannot be persuaded to give into the continuous resistance we put up when we think He should see things our way.

God does give over. If we continually refuse His offers of salvation while pleading our case for Him to agree with our human way of living, God will give us over to our evil desires and the consequences of a life separated from Him.

Which type of giving do Christ followers do?

I don’t know about you but I do all three! Maybe you have this Christ following thing down pat but I am still in the not so perfect stage of my faith.

There are times I give up. I just can’t see it working out so I figure God will have to do something.

There are times I give in because my way meets with continuous resistance from God and finally I conclude that what I want can be achieved because what I want has now become very similar to what He wants.

What I really need to do is give over. As I learn to trust God, I learn to give over the things that are too hard or meet with continual resistance long before I give up or give in. This is only the beginning. I want to get to the point where I trust Him and have so much confidence in Him that I am willing to give over every part of my life.

God’s plan – God’s way – God’s timing – God’s chosen resources

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, Faith, Guest Posts, Struggles and Trials, worship

Jesus Paid It All and the Payment Was Permanent Part One

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

The question is often asked: Can a person, once saved, ever lose their salvation? The short answer is: NO. The Bible clearly and unequivocally teaches that a person who was truly saved and converted can is eternally secure in that salvation and will never lose it. This is referred to as the Eternal Security of the Believer, Perseverance of the Saints or “Once saved always saved.”

We are going to discuss a lot of material here, so this will be a longish post. We will look at the key passages that support this doctrine; we will look at how Security of the Believer flows naturally from other things we know about Salvation; we will look at at some arguments made against the doctrine and finally we will look at why proper understanding of our security in Jesus Christ matters so much.

First, let’s look at some Scriptures which teach us about the Eternal Security of the Believer.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Simply tossing around Bible verses does not necessarily prove anything; out of the proper context, any verse can be used for most any proof. We always have to make sure we quote verses in the full context in which they appear. That would include the context of their chapter as well as the overall story of the Bible. They must be placed in the proper linguistic, historical and cultural context to be fully understood. Simply placing the above verses in the context of things we learn elsewhere in the Bible, it is clear that they teach that one’s salvation can never be lost.

Coming up….Part 2

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, salvation

I’ve Never Seen THAT Before!

What I Saw

I have been driving since I was 15, so that’s been nearly 35 years. On top of that, I have been a professional driver for the last 16 years, and during that time I’ve logged a lot of miles on back roads, highways, and interstates.

Needless to say, I have driven enough miles on enough roads to have seen a whole lot of things. But what I saw today was something that I had never seen before – ever. It was a big, green, plant-based elephant on the back of a flatbed trailer.

I didn’t have time to take a picture of it. There were two other people in the school bus we were transferring from one site to another. They saw it, too, but no picture was taken by them, either.

“Well, that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever seen something like that,” I said to the other two people on the bus. They felt the same way; they had never seen anything like that, either.

Then a thought came into my head…what if I were to tell people, “Hey! Guess what I saw, today! I saw a big, green elephant going down the highway!”? I could only imagine what they would say, “Really? Were you drinking and driving?

Then the one thought led to another.

What They Saw

As I was thinking about trying to explain how I literally saw a big, green, elephant of a bush rolling down the road, I was reminded of how hard it must have been for the disciples to explain seeing a dead man living again (i.e., Jesus).

Some people obviously didn’t want to believe them, and some even threatened them with imprisonment should they keep talking about the crucified Jesus supposedly living again. I mean, nobody had ever seen anything like that before, and there were no photographs to prove what they saw, either.

Yet, Peter and John saw what they saw, and touched Who they touched, and talked with Whom they talked, etc., etc., etc. So, they wouldn’t keep quiet.

So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:18-20 NLT

Then came another thought: Some people may not believe what I have experienced, nor the testimony of others who have seen and experienced the same thing, but which is more important…a giant shrub, or a Glorious Savior?

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Filed under animals, Christianity, Faith, General Observations, salvation

Jesus Paid It All and the Payment Was Enough for Everyone

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Allow me to preface this with the statement that I understand not all agree with this position on this topic. The truth is, several thoughts on this seem to be quite well supported Biblically, and we simply have to conclude that no one can lay claim to their position being proven absolutely by God’s Word. It does, however, represent what I believe to be true based on my reading and hopefully correct illumination by the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus paid it all, He paid it for all of us. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to cover the sin of every human past, present and future.  Before readers get alarmed, please understand I am not saying that everyone from the past was saved, nor am I saying that all will be saved now or in the future.  In fact, the majority of people from the past, people now and those who live in the future will not be saved and enter Heaven. The sad truth is the majority of humankind will spend eternity separated from God in a place of torment called Hell.  So, please do not misunderstand; I am not espousing some form of Universalism, where everybody ends up in Heaven.

What am I saying then? I am simply saying that the quality of Jesus’ sacrifice and payment on the Cross  was enough for all humanity to escape the penalty of their sins. Jesus’ payment was not just for an elect group of people whom God the Father has preselected in eternity past to be eternally with Him in Heaven. Not everyone will agree with that statement, of course, but this is what the Bible teaches.

God’s gift of salvation through the death of His Son Jesus Christ is available to all, but not all will accept it.  Even though it is a free gift, there are terms under which we must accept. What are the terms? Repentance toward God for our sin and belief in His Son Jesus Christ. We must agree with God that our sin is wrong; we have to understand what we deserved as punishment for those sins. That covers repentance toward God. Then we must believe that God, in the form of the man Jesus Christ, came to Earth to pay on our behalf. Not only that He died, but He rose after three days dead thereby conquering sin and death. If we do that and call on the name of the Lord, we will be saved as we clearly learn in Romans 10:13.

How can we know that this salvation is available to all, and that our failure to have it is not because God denied it to us but because we refused it?

To understand this, we have to start at the very beginning. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve, we are all sinners by nature and choice. It is never a question of if we sin, but only a question of when. The Calvinists have it right on this point, really; we are so totally depraved that we are not even capable on our own of wanting to be saved from our sin. The sinful state we are born into is made clear in Romans 5:12 and 5:13, which teach us that sin and death entered into the world by one man, Adam.

We do not want to be saved, as we love our sin more. Left to our own devices, we would never seek God. Romans 3:10 and 13 tell us that not only is no one righteous, but none of us seek God. Romans 8:7 is yet more dire, teaching us that not only are we the enemies of God, but we are not even capable of accepting the things of God. In John 6:44, Jesus taught that no one would come to Him unless the Father drew them.

So even though we are not desiring or capable of seeking God, God has made provisions for us in order that we may overcome our inability.  In Matthew Chapter 19 after the rich young ruler left disappointed, Jesus pointed out to His disciples how difficult it was for a man to be saved.  When asked who could be saved, Jesus replied that with men it is not possible, but with “God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25,26) So, we see that we would only respond to God if He draws us. The good news is that we hear Jesus say  in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” God also draws all men unto Himself through the light of Jesus Christ; John 1:9 teaches us this light lights all men.

Atonement is not limited. It is available to all men. Scholars get around this clear teaching of Scripture by spinning what the Bible says when it says “all.” Of course any word can have more than one meaning including that one. But nothing in the context of any of the verses below suggest that “all” is limited in any way.

Hebrews 2:9, Jesus did “taste death for every man”
Hebrews 10:10 teaches Jesus body was offered “for all.”
John 12:47, Jesus came to save the World
Romans 5:8, Jesus died for sinners
Romans 5:18, Jesus free gift is offered to “all men”
Romans 8:32, Jesus was delivered up for “us all”
Isaiah 53:6, he bore the iniquities of “all”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Jesus died for “all”
2 Peter 2:1, Jesus even died for false teachers and liars doomed for Hell.

So, there you have it. It’s available to everyone. No one is denied it. Repentance toward God and belief in The Lord Jesus Christ and it’s yours.

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