Tag Archives: Facebook

What Is a “Blessing”?

Earlier this week I posted a question on Facebook:

If I could offer you your choice – if you’d just come to church just once – of either $1,000 or a blessing from God, would you come?

I got a few responses, but one friend, Michael Wheeler, decided to probe a little, asking if I could define what a “blessing” actually is.

The answer seems obvious, but how do you define “blessing”? That word is thrown around with no real meaning. – Michael Wheeler

I gave a typical tongue-in-cheek response:

True. I know a thousand dollars would surely BE a blessing right now 

Michael followed that response with how that he had asked “countless pastors and laypersons who overuse that word to define it, but have never gotten a satisfactory answer.” He then went on to say that the use of the word “sounds good,” but carries with it “no real meaning.”  “Other than salvation,” he proposed, “we have no other ‘blessings’ or promised things over what unbelievers experience.

Well, in fun I replied to Michael Wheeler’s question with:

Do you even own a box of crayons?

As expected (because Michael is usually a very serious kind of guy), he answered with:

Nope… Is that the extent of your definition of “blessing”?

That is when – after a brief distraction – I wrote the following:

No, not hardly. I got distracted by other things. I only asked that because sometimes I feel like you see things only in black and white – not as in truth claims, but in what you see. For instance, I never read fiction, but then I read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”…it added color to the pallet of my spiritual imagination. Lewis didn’t teach me any new truth, but he added shades of color to what I could already see.

Much of what I would call “blessings” are those moments when the Spirit opens the eyes of my understanding and allows me to see the beauty of a Truth in a new shade. In some ways, it’s like God takes me into His art gallery and amazes me with a new painting of the same scene. I’m speaking in terms of spiritual imagination, of course… the box of crayons.

We are blessed every day by the goodness of God. That goes for everyone who enjoys the providential care of the Creator (it rains on the just and the unjust). But we are also blessed in that we have a Father who not only gave us salvation but continues to give us bread instead of stones. He is the one who will one day bring us close to Himself and share with us that little white stone with a name on it only the two of us will know – that’s true intimacy. So, many blessings are no less than those moments when we enter into worship – corporately or privately – and sense the real presence of the Holy Spirit reassuring us of the truth that He will never leave us or forsake us, that His grace is sufficient for every need. I could go on and on.

If I had the time to sit down do a more meticulous study of the definition of “blessing,” I’m sure you’d find the result more satisfying to your particular taste. However, what I’ve just described for you is the practical and real-world look at how I see it. Simply put, many times getting a “blessing” may be nothing more than being brought the realization of how good, merciful, and gracious our Father is. If He throws in a thousand dollars, well, that’s a bonus.

Excellent answer,” wrote Mr. Wheeler.

That’s why I thought it would be worth sharing with you!

What do you think? How would you define a “blessing”? 

16 Comments

Filed under Church, Love of God, salvation

Advice to the Will-Seeking Christian

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.

God bless!

4 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christianity, General Observations, ministry

Life Lessons from the School Bus (#4)

Till the Storm Passes Over”

Yesterday a strong storm front moved through our area around 2:25 p.m., EST. I was in the bus. NOT a good idea.

On a normal day, schools get out at 2:15. Yesterday, because of the coming storm, school dismissal was delayed until 2:30. That was a smart move. It would have been really dangerous to be on the road with a bunch of children and a tornado coming.

Because I knew that rain and high winds was on the way, I went outside of the school building and onto my bus to put up the windows. That was at 2:15……2:17, it was still calm……2:18, the storm hit like a bull catching a matador.

The following is what I posted on Facebook from my iPhone:

  • 2:18 pm “Storm is on us at lookout valley. In bus. Not good. Think was a bad idea.”
  • 2:21 pm “Laying on floor.”
  • 2:21 pm “Just a little scared.”
  • 2:23 pm “Hail.”
  • 2:24 pm “Hope somebody is praying.”
  • 2:30 pm “Whew! Bad stuff is over. Kids will be getting on bus soon. They held them in the school until the storm passed. Was scary.”

The reason I got down in the floor, as opposed to sitting in my seat, was because I was afraid that broken glass might start flying around. I also thought that I might be safer on the floor if a tree came looking for my head. Who knows? All I know is that while I was on the floor – while the bus rocked and the wind roared – I prayed.

I didn’t get off the bus because the wind was so intense, and opening the door would have been difficult, if not impossible. Not to mention, I had no idea if I would have been blown away or hit by a head-seeking oak branch. At least in the bus there was some metal protecting me. But on the other hand, it would have been a lot safer in the building. The bus was a bad idea.

As a result of the storm, there were hundreds of calls to the police for help. Trees were down everywhere, blocking roads, taking down power lines, and even crushing cars and damaging houses. As a matter of fact, I had to wait for nearly an hour for a power line to be cleared, just so my bus to get down a little back road. It was a mess.

Life Lesson

Sometimes storms come when you least expect them, even when you expect they will come. When they do, it is best to find shelter in a place that can weather the storm.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. – Psalms 18:2

When the storms of life hit, the best place to be is within our Saviour’s protective hand. The flimsy philosophies of this world are no better than a school bus in gale force winds. Till the storm passes over, resting safe within His arms is the best place to be.

“Sheltered in the Arms of God”

I feel the touch of hands so kind and tender.
They’re leading me in the paths that I must trod.
I’ll have no fear for Jesus walks beside me
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

So let the storm clouds rage high,
The dark clouds rise,
They don’t bother me;
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.
He walks with me,
And naught of earth shall harm me,
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

– Dottie Rambo

3 Comments

Filed under Future, God, Life Lessons, the future

A Little Less Ignorance, Please

This week I have been “away from my desk” doing other things…things on which I will report as early as next week.

But even though I have not been doing much writing, I have had a phone nearby, and Facebook has been a constant source of stress.

You know, all it takes is one comment on one thread to stir up a hornets’ nest of anger and hate. Even if your comment is meant to be objective, somebody is going to interpret it as an attack. Too many people are WAY too defensive and full of anger.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is that there are a lot of people out there throwing words around without knowing their actual meanings. And if you DARE make an attempt to draw out an actual definition, the one being questioned will launch into a vulgar, condescending, grammatically-incorrect, ALL-CAP rant accusing you of everything from racism to being born out of wedlock (followed by demands that you go perform a sexual act upon yourself which is physically impossible).

For example, according to some, Donald J. Trump is supposed to be a Nazi. However, if Trump was really a “Nazi,” would he have befriended Israel and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem? Would he have allowed his daughter to marry a Jew and convert to Judaism? Don’t think so. Those are the kind of things the National Socialist German Workers Party would have disapproved.

In the same vein, there are a lot of people who throw around the label Christian when describing nice people, non-Muslims, the American alt-Right, or nominal church attendees. Do they really know what “Christian” means? Do they have any concept of what wearing that name tag demands? Not likely, especially if they believe Jesus was a radical socialist and an “anti-establishment, hippie freak with strange ideas” who never judged anyone.

If you want to be honest, the majority of Americans can’t even define what it means to be a “conservative” or “liberal,” a Democrat or Republican, much less a Nazi, Socialist, or Fascist!

We hear adjectives like “unbiblical” and “unconstitutional,” yet more often than not the users of these words never read the Bible nor the Constitution, just a few out-of-context memes.

Therefore, why not call a truce until we are better able to define what it is that we actually believe, and why? How about let’s read more source material and less social media propaganda? Maybe then we could get past the name-calling and attacks and move forward to more informed, civil and intelligent conversation.

Or, <<<U can AKT LYK a IGNERANT SHEOPLE>> on the facebook>>> W/NUTN  BUT H8t!!>><< HOW BOW DAH??!!

Your choice. Choose wisely.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” – James 1:5 NLT

1 Comment

Filed under America, current events, General Observations, politics

What Is a “Blessing”?

Earlier this week I posted a question on Facebook:

If I could offer you your choice – if you’d just come to church just once – of either $1,000 or a blessing from God, would you come?

I got a few responses, but one friend, Michael Wheeler, decided to probe a little, asking if I could define what a “blessing” actually is.

The answer seems obvious, but how do you define “blessing”? That word is thrown around with no real meaning. – Michael Wheeler

I gave a typical tongue-in-cheek response:

True. I know a thousand dollars would surely BE a blessing right now 

Michael followed that response with how that he had asked “countless pastors and laypersons who overuse that word to define it, but have never gotten a satisfactory answer.” He then went on to say that the use of the word “sounds good,” but carries with it “no real meaning.”  “Other than salvation,” he proposed, “we have no other ‘blessings’ or promised things over what unbelievers experience.

Well, in fun I replied to Michael Wheeler’s question with:

Do you even own a box of crayons?

As expected (because Michael is usually a very serious kind of guy), he answered with:

Nope… Is that the extent of your definition of “blessing”?

That is when – after a brief distraction – I wrote the following:

No, not hardly. I got distracted by other things. I only asked that because sometimes I feel like you see things only in black and white – not as in truth claims, but in what you see. For instance, I never read fiction, but then I read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”…it added color to the pallet of my spiritual imagination. Lewis didn’t teach me any new truth, but he added shades of color to what I could already see.

Much of what I would call “blessings” are those moments when the Spirit opens the eyes of my understanding and allows me to see the beauty of a Truth in a new shade. In some ways, it’s like God takes me into His art gallery and amazes me with a new painting of the same scene. I’m speaking in terms of spiritual imagination, of course… the box of crayons.

We are blessed every day by the goodness of God. That goes for everyone who enjoys the providential care of the Creator (it rains on the just and the unjust). But we are also blessed in that we have a Father who not only gave us salvation but continues to give us bread instead of stones. He is the one who will one day bring us close to Himself and share with us that little white stone with a name on it only the two of us will know – that’s true intimacy. So, many blessings are no less than those moments when we enter into worship – corporately or privately – and sense the real presence of the Holy Spirit reassuring us of the truth that He will never leave us or forsake us, that His grace is sufficient for every need. I could go on and on.

If I had the time to sit down do a more meticulous study of the definition of “blessing,” I’m sure you’d find the result more satisfying to your particular taste. However, what I’ve just described for you is the practical and real-world look at how I see it. Simply put, many times getting a “blessing” may be nothing more than being brought the realization of how good, merciful, and gracious our Father is. If He throws in a thousand dollars, well, that’s a bonus.

Excellent answer,” wrote Mr. Wheeler.

That’s why I thought it would be worth sharing with you!

What do you think? How would you define a “blessing”? 

4 Comments

Filed under Church, Love of God, salvation

May a Christian Listen to Any Kind of Music?

Sharing a Facebook Thread

Very rarely do I share a conversation from Facebook, but this one with a former member of my congregation (who shall remain nameless) is well worth it.

The following question is an honest one, made by a Christian struggling with a real dilemma.

The Question

“I have been thinking a lot about how music affects me, spiritually. I’m not a big fan of a lot of Christian music although I am a Christian. I like old school hymns but not so much the newer contemporary music. I don’t know how someone can have the gift of music and be a peaceful, Christ-like person, but not go to Heaven or not ever be saved (Like George Harrison). Every time I hear “My sweet Lord” I think of how I can’t wait to be with my Lord in Heaven and my family and friends, but George wasn’t a Christian. Also there are other musicians who are talented and really great people but they’re not saved.

“Does that make me a bad Christian because I don’t listen to J103 [a CCM station in the Chattanooga area] but really like classic Rock? I wouldn’t listen to music knowingly that bashes God, so it disturbs me that a Christian or anyone could listen to music or say things like GD.

“Not sure if this makes any sense, because I am not a writer and have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. But it’s been on my mind a lot lately, for some reason. Maybe I should be listening to more music that praises God, but I feel like most all music is a gift from God. Thoughts please! This is really bugging me.” – (Minor edits were made for this blog)

My Response

“Without him quoting any Bible verses, let this preacher submit his two cents 😉

“Music WAS created by God. Music is what we would call “amoral,” because it is neither good or bad – it just is. However, music is a very powerful force which links emotions, memories, and physical feelings together with the now. That kind of force attached to a lyric (the words) can become a powerful tool – either for good or evil.

“The guiding authority for the Christian is God’s divine revelation to man – the Bible. Regardless of what man (or woman) has to say, we should always base our actions on what is right in the light of God’s Word. Therefore, does the Bible have anything to say about whether a Christian should listen to just Christian music? Only in principle.

“OK, I can’t help it…I have to quote Scripture. “Whatsoever things are true…just…pure…honest…lovely…of good report…have virtue…any praise…think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). There are a lot of non-Christian songs (especially instrumental music) that fit into the above verse. A song about doing good, or loving someone forever, or doing what’s right in a bad world…there’s nothing really wrong with that. However, you do have to be careful when you start liking a style of music without any regard to the lyrics of the song itself. The musical score may be amoral, but the lyrics can be anything but true, pure, virtuous, etc. That stuff you should avoid.

“One other thing I would caution you about: Never fall for the lie of “I don’t listen to the words, just the music.” That sounds all well and good, but it’s impossible – unless you just don’t understand the language being sung. Every song has a message, else it’s not a song. If the message is ungodly, then it will eventually find its way into your heart.

“Remember, there is an Enemy that knows more about the power of music than any producer or executive in Nashville. This Enemy knows our weaknesses and temptations, too. If world leaders know how to use propaganda to turn the minds and hearts of people, don’t you think the Devil is equally knowledgeable? Remember where Satan came from and of what he is capable. One of his actual [attributes] was the ability to create music – not just play it – within himself. At one point he literally led the worshipping angels of heaven and gave praise to God! He KNOWS music. He also knows how to use it to change minds, just like he did to a third of the angels of heaven.

“So, all that being said, we are not under the Law, but Grace. You are free to make choices. However, you are NOT free from the consequences of your choices. Therefore, my advice is to choose wisely. Make sure what you listen to is at least wholesome, if not exactly Christian. Feed your soul with good stuff, not trash, and you’ll not have anything to worry about.”

What are YOUR thoughts?

Yes, I know a little about music. This is myself, along with my sister, Rebecca, Jody Gould, and Steve Castlen. The band was Mirror Image, circa 1992.

Yes, I know a little about music. This is myself, along with my sister, Rebecca, Jody Gould, and Steve Castlen. The band was Mirror Image, circa 1992.

4 Comments

Filed under legalism, music

A “Like” Getter

As I get ready to head off to the land of slumber, let me leave you with a precious poem which will encourage, strengthen, and uplift your spirits. It’s like one of those you see on Facebook every day.

Roses are red and violets are blue.

I’ve always known that, and so have you.

Puppies are sweet and faithful and fun;

The world would be sad if we had none.

So share this sweet poem with all your friends.

Hit the “like” button again and again!

If you love God, your mother, your children, puppies, kittens, or the Baby Jesus in a manger, you will now forward this poem and post it on your wall. If you don’t, millions of demonic monkeys will arise from the abyss, come into your kitchen, and then dirty every stinking dish in your house!

cute nuggetFor the love of all that is holy and pure; for the love of children; for health and decency; “like” and share this poem – a precious poem which made you feel warm and fuzzy – or you just might find yourself in everlasting torment wishing you had at least one more Facebook friend to message.

Blessings! 😉

Aren’t manipulative Facebook posts wonderful?

2 Comments

Filed under Humor