Category Archives: worship

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

The Day After Father’s Day

Please forgive me if there are any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, but I am talking into my iPhone as I’m walking around in the rain (The seven can handle that kind of stuff, thankfully), waiting while a bus driver trainee is taking his test at the DMV. I had to bring a school bus down for him to test own, so I’m on the clock and writing a post at the same time. What do you think about that?

Anyway, today is the day after Father’s Day, and I wanted to share with you a thought or two that I had as I was standing in the rain.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, and I enjoyed preaching a great message that was very convicting for all men present, including myself. And I also enjoyed spending time with my daughters who I love very much. 

One of our daughters lives in Charleston South Carolina, so she’s not able to be here. But the other two were in church with me yesterday, and then later for a lunch which a church member graciously provided the money for. 

Last night we ate dinner at home, late, and that is when my two younger girls gave me the presents that they purchased (with their own money!). I have included a picture below.


My youngest daughter, Haley, procured for me the complete box sets of the first two seasons of the television program called “The Unit.” And by the way, that was a fantastic series of which I think they should have never canceled.

The other daughter, Katie, brought back something very unique from Norway. She found a wallet made from the skin of the Nordic moose! I don’t know how much she paid for it, but I know it had to cost more than something I would’ve gotten at Walmart.

After both presents had been opened, Haley asked a question which was very difficult, if not impossible to answer. She asked, “Which one is your favorite?” Now, I don’t know if she was being facetious, or if she was being serious, but my wife quickly answered for me: “That’s like asking which one of you he loves the most; he loves you the same, just differently.” 

This morning as I was thinking about the gifts my daughters got me, and the question Haley asked, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Cain and Abel. I couldn’t help but think of Sunday morning and our worship. I couldn’t help but think of how so often we wonder if God loves us more or less than someone else, simply because of what we have to offer. I thought about what it must be like to be God the Father – our Abba – after a Sunday has passed. 

One of those gifts cost a lot of money (relatively speaking), while the others probably cost a lot less. However, based on the means of each daughter, both were a sacrifice. In the same way, when we go to church to worship God, the gifts and offerings we bring may cost one person a lot more than it cost another. But who are we to judge whether or not those gifts that were given were sacrificial? We don’t know the heart of the child, nor do we know the heart of the Father. All we can surely know is that if the gifts were given out of love, then they are of equal value. More so, if the Father truly loves his children, which He does, there’s nothing that can compare to those gifts given by the children who love Him.

So, in conclusion, this is not only the day after Father’s Day, this is the day after Sunday. What gifts of love did you give your Father in heaven yesterday? I have no doubt they are giving him a smile today.

Happy day after Father’s Day!

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Amaze me again

yo-yo-312175_1280I was watching a kid at my school doing some pretty amazing things with—are you ready for this??—a yo-yo!!  It was eye-popping cool!  Not just because of his skill, but because it was so retro as to be, not just “low-tech”, but “no-tech”.  (Never mind that the toy cost $150; that’s just wrong.)

I’m waiting breathlessly for the return of the hulu-hoop…but no personal videos will be posted for readers’ enjoyment.

If there is one thing that our technological advances have done to us, it’s the removal of a sense of awe from our children.  Not our younger ones, the little guys not yet totally exposed to the marvels of their i-phones, i-goggles, and whatever other virtual realities are bombarding their brains.  But certainly by the time I get them in middle school, it takes quite a Continue reading

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Side Effects Worth the Cure?

Ask Your Doctor

Surely you have seen the commercials on television. They advertise different medications meant to do everything from grow hair to end hot flashes. And at the end of every commercial you hear, “Ask your doctor if ******** is right for you!”

Right for me? Ask my doctor? OK, maybe I will.

“Dr. Close (my general physician), can I ask you something? I saw an add for female hormone replacement medication. Is it right for me?”

A New Disease

I can’t tell you how many times I have watched a commercial and said to myself, “Where did that disease come from? Is it common? Could I be suffering from it? Will I get to wear a colored ribbon?”

Have you ever heard of Trihemamasticular Disease? I googled it – nothing came up. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an advertisement in the works. At this very moment, there is probably a pill being made which promises to alleviate the symptoms of Trihemamasticular Disease. And if there is, rest assured it will be the best thing for you.

Just be aware of the side effects…

  • Common side effects may include the following: nausea, indigestion, coughing, dry mouth, ringing in the ears, and a runny nose.
  • Don’t be alarmed if you experience: watery eyes, hair loss, brittle teeth, a craving for oysters, bleeding gums, or stinky feet. These symptoms are usually temporary.
  • Stop using this medication if you begin to experience: a reddening of your ear lobes, tooth loss, finger loss, memory loss, or financial loss.
  • Avoid the following while taking this medication: leather, crayons, animal fat, peanut butter, aspirin, attitudes, children, loud noises, butterfly feces, clowns, and purified water.
  • Get medical attention immediately if you begin to experience: hives, swelling of the left knee, suicidal thoughts, thoughts of starting over, unknown tongues, a desire to star in a reality show, rapid breathing, breathing through a straw while submerged in a river, thoughts of voting Democrat, or a craving for pickles.

Warning Label

As crazy as it may sound, there should also be a warning label inside every Bible. They should make television commercials explaining the possible side effects of following Christ.

Side effects may include:

  • Being hated, ridiculed, made fun of, mocked, and parodied.
  • Being ostracized, avoided, shunned, passed over for promotions, and fired from a job.
  • Being accused of radicalism, racism, fanaticism, and narrow-mindedness.
  • A cross to bear.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” – Matthew 5:11

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” – Matthew 24:9

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27

Is this Medicine right for you? Yes! The side effects are totally worth the cure.

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My Church

Country Music

I appreciate good music, regardless the genre. However, being from the South I should be one who regularly listens to country music, right?

Wrong.

You see, I like the style of country music (I should, considering I’m from Tennessee), but so much of what is passed off as “country” is nothing more than rock with a banjo or steel guitar. By the way, I don’t like steel guitar.

Also, I’m really big on lyrics, you know. Every song has a message, and these days country music if just as polluted with immorality and sacrilege as anything rock and roll puts out – it’s just that country music does it with a twang and sweet tea.

Is all country music bad? Of course not! But today I heard a couple of songs for the first time – because I don’t listen to country music on a regular basis – that literally made me angry.

“H.O.L.Y.”

The first song I heard come across the radio was by a group called Florida Georgia Line. By the spelling of the title I sorta knew what was coming was not going to be a remake of a famous hymn, and I was right. Actually, it followed the patter so many songs of late have been using: they take religious words and twist them into something with a sexual meaning.

In other words, they do just like what the Enemy has done with sex: Take something holy, beautiful, full of transcendent meaning, and pervert it.

For example, check out the second verse of “H.O.L.Y.”

You made the brightest days from the darkest nights
You’re the river bank where I was baptized
Cleanse all the demons
That were killing my freedom
Let me lay you down, give me to ya
Get you singing babe, hallelujah
We’ll be touching, we’ll be touching heaven

Now read the lyrics to the chorus, and you’ll get the meaning behind the title of the song.

You’re holy, holy, holy, holy
I’m high on loving you, high on loving you
You’re holy, holy, holy, holy
I’m high on loving you, high on loving you

And then here’s my favorite part:

You’re the healing hands where it used to hurt

You’re my saving grace, you’re my kind of church

You’re holy.

“My Church”

Then, just like the two were meant to follow each other, the next song started playing. It was a song by Maren Morris, “My Church.” I mean, why not, right?

Here is the first verse of “My Church”…

I’ve cussed on a Sunday
I’ve cheated and I’ve lied
I’ve fallen down from grace
A few too many times
But I find holy redemption
When I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial
Now the chorus…
Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

MY Church

The problem with so many lukewarm Christians is that they actually prefer Maren Morris’ church to an authentic, biblical gathering of believers who desire to worship in spirit and truth. They have been so accustomed to the hypocritical, dead, religious, white-washed sepulchers that churches have become, that they forget what a genuine one has to offer.

If you go to my church, you might hear someone sing the word holy, but it will be about a Holy God who is not mocked.

If you go to my church, you will find out about saving grace, but not the kind that rescues your libido; it’s the kind that’s truly amazing – the unmerited kind that can save your soul from death, hell, and the grave.

If you go to my church, you will find people who have cussed (maybe even on that Sunday), cheated, lied, and fallen, too. The only difference is that they’ve found redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ and have fallen into His hands.

If you go to my church, you may just hear a few hallelujah’s and amen’s, but the Holy Ghost will be real, not just a feeling. And, if you stick around long enough, you might find out what real “revival” is all about.

Yeah, that’s my church.

 

PS, I am preaching on depression this Sunday morning, so I will be saving parts of my outline and notes to use in future posts starting on Monday. I anticipate there will be several posts.

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“It was Jesus”: A Testimony of Faith and Praise

I am a blogger, a semi-professional writer, but my wife is not: she’s an accountant. Valerie deals with numbers all the time, not words.

However, when Valerie does write, she has a flair all her own, one that I could never duplicate…one you will enjoy. Therefore, when she recounted to me the conversation she had yesterday with her gynecologist, I knew you needed to hear it…

In her words.

So, what you are about to read are the words of my wife, Valerie. I’m turning over the keyboard to her.


I feel that to do the Lord the justice that He deserves, I need to go back about 12 years.  I had a complete hysterectomy, including my ovaries, when sweet Haley was maybe 4 years old.  Please understand this was not as a form of birth control; no, I would have had more children if I could have.  (I really do not know if Anthony and I had discussed more – maybe it was just me, but either way, you know who would have won that battle!)  I was very lucky to have the last two children that I had and am very thankful.

During the three-day hospital stay after having the hysterectomy, my sweet husband was by my side – sure wish I had pictures! Yes, he was sleeping on the chair/bed for the visitor who is crazy enough to stay.  The funny part is that I was hotter than I’d ever been and he was colder than he had ever been.  You see, on day two, it just happened to be the coldest day of winter that we had that year.  I looked over as I sat on the bed with only a hospital gown and panties on, to him with a toboggan, a winter coat zipped up tight, and several blankets.  I had the air conditioning on in the room and still was hot!  I guess I could have opened the windows, but I didn’t think about it.

Now, we lived in KY at the time.  After having two bad experiences at the local hospital (Jenny Stuart, but nick-named “Killer Stuart”) our family drove to the next closest hospital which was about 40 minutes away.  I was released just after lunch on day three.  I was still just burning up!  I had the window down and my head sticking out going down the Pennyrile Parkway in something-teen-degree weather.  Anthony?  He still had that same coat, toboggan, and now gloves on.  Somehow I figure this was a faster drive than usual.

I had a patch on my arm with hormones that I was supposed to wear five days, remove two days, and then apply a new patch for five days.  After the second day of the second patch, I ripped it off and Jesus and I had a little chat that went something like this:

Me: Jesus, you know that I did not desire this hysterectomy.

Me: Are you there?  I said I did not desire this hysterectomy!  I wanted more children…. (by now the tears are coming).

Jesus:  (He did not audibly speak to me, but the Word of God sure came flying at me.)  Be happy in whatever state you are in.  Be content with what you have.  I am here.  I will help you.  I love you.

Me:  Ok, I will be content and happy, but I really need for you to handle the hormone part because really just can not take the patches.

Jesus: (I waited….)

Well, things were much better.

In 2007 or 2008, I had my yearly exam at the gynecologist.  While waiting in the exam room, I was reading the poster on the back of the door about the pros and cons of estrogen.  Looked to me like the cons were medical complications and problems, and all the pros were for pleasure and nothing really medical at all.  After the exam, my doctor always leaves and has me dress and then the nurse will come and get me to take me to his office where he sits across the desk and talks to me about his findings and makes suggestions, etc.  While I was waiting for the nurse, I snapped a picture of the chart on the back of the door.

Once in his office, he began the spill that I had heard for year after year about how important estrogen is and how much better I would feel.  I brought up the poster on the door and he said, “The cons rarely ever happen.  In fact, I have never had a patient experience any of those problems.  So that year he convinced me.  I left and went to Target to get my estrogen prescription.

Two days later, Anthony and I were at the mall shopping (not my favorite thing.) and he said, “I wish you felt better.  We hardly ever get to do this.”  I told him if I could just vomit I though I would be better.  The next day, I went to work and I felt really bad.  I never even thought about the estrogen as the cause.  I was so really achy.  Could this be the flu?  I worked later than usual trying to get things finished up so when I was driving home I hit major traffic on I-24.  I typically drove the van, but for some reason that day was in the Honda Accord, which happened to be a 5-speed.  I remember my right arm hurting so badly that I was clutching with my left foot, holding the steering wheel straight with my right knee, and shifting with my left hand.  Traffic was c r a w l i n g!

Anthony NEVER meets me at the door when I come home unless I phone ahead and ask him to come out and help carry stuff in. That day, he did.  He opened the door, looked at me, and then said, “You look awful!”  It did not even hurt my feelings; my reply was only that I needed to read about female heart attacks.  I had all but two of the symptoms.  Needless to say, we headed straight to the ER.  My initial EKG was just a little off, nothing to worry too much about.  Other tests were showing things getting worse and a second EKG was not good.  I kept telling them, “It’s the ESTROGEN!” and they kept ignoring me.  I was admitted for further testing.  I finally got the floor doctor to hear me.  He didn’t believe that to be the cause but did tell me to call my GYN and have him come remove the estrogen.  I did it myself.  That was early morning.  As the day progressed, my test  results were getting better and better.  I fully expected to be going home.

But I have a daddy who has a lengthy heart history that was not impressing the doctor to make rash decisions.  My dad told my brother to make sure the doctor knows the family wants him to do a heart cath because my dad’s heart attacks never showed up on the early tests, but always ended up with stents after having a heart cath.  Well, the doctor agreed.  So here I go the next day into a very scary procedure.  I left with a clean bill of health, heart-wise, but with a diagnosis of “chemically induced heart attack. Listed in my chart was, “Allergic reaction to estrogen.”

Now, let’s finally fast forward to yesterday (4/19/2017). My yearly exam with the gynecologist.  Even though I have told him that estrogen had thrown me into a “chemically induced heart attack,” he tends to think it was co-incidence.  Each year we have that same talk, and each year I remind him.  This year was different.

Yesterday, I was waiting in his office admiring his children and cool artwork when he came in and sat behind the desk.

“Valerie,” he said, “I do not have you down as taking any kind of replacement hormones, and if my memory serves me correctly, you aren’t.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “I didn’t think so, but looking at your cells under a microscope, I am very surprised  – at your age and having no ovaries – to find that your cells look very estrogenized.”

He was puzzled to be sure!  I said in a very every-day, casual voice, “Oh, that is Jesus!” He looked up at me with a questioning expression.  I continued, “Years ago I told Jesus that I did not want to have a hysterectomy and that I had wanted more children and since I had to have one anyway, I asked him to take care of the hormones …and he has!”  He took it in and shook his head, looking back down to the chart, and then asked a more personal, intimate question that I really do not want to share on here… again, he was surprised.  I quickly added, “that is Jesus, too.”

You just never know where the opportunity to share Jesus will come up.  Even though I did not get the chance to tell him all about the Good News, I know a seed was planted.  I wonder how he slept last night?

– Valerie J. Baker

So, did you like what Valerie wrote? Let her know in the comment section.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith, God, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

Appreciate the Dandelions; They Are EVIDENCE!

My Katie

Guys (and I do mean that figuratively), you should really get to know my daughter, Katie. She is so gifted by God in photography, music, and even writing. But what most impresses me about Katie is her ability to see the wonder of God in the smallest of things.

Like I said, Katie is a gifted photographer. Her personal blog is called “Shutter Elf,” and features some seriously good photos. I can take a picture of something and it will look like a picture; Katie can take a picture of the exact same thing and it will be art.

Unfortunately, because of college and stinking Instagram, she doesn’t post as much on her blog. I wish she would do more, however. All it takes is a little browsing through her posts and you will notice not only her natural skill as a photographer, but her ability to bring meaning and insight to what the shutter captures.

The Dandelion

Last night, as I was wrapping things up and getting ready to shut things down, I happened to click on a blog post entitled “Overwhelmed.” Just click on the link and check it out.

The author of the blog (I don’t know her name) concluded her post with the following words:

“So today I pray instead for the Lord to show me the value in the dandelions, the treasures to be found hidden in our afflictions, to open my eyes to His blessings safely tucked within the weeds.”

That’s when I had to comment, and the comment consisted of me asking her to do what I’m going to ask you to do…

Read Katie’s post about dandelions! You will never look at them the same again!

Oh, and try to encourage Katie to post more by leaving a comment and subscribing to her blog. 🙂

Click HERE, or on the picture, to read “DANDELIONS.”

Photo Credit: Katie Marie

 

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