Tag Archives: God

The Magnificent Fifty: Foundation of Faith (Nevada)

Carson City, Nevada (Artist: Susan Cassidy Wilhoit)

Constitution Preamble (1864)

We, the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution. 


To read the introduction to and purpose of this series, CLICK HERE.

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The Magnificent Fifty: Foundation of Faith (South Dakota)

Pierre, South Dakota (Artist: Susan Cassidy Wilhoit)

South Dakota’s State Motto and Seal (1889) and Flag (1992)

Under God the People Rule

 


To read the purpose behind this series of posts, CLICK HERE to read the introduction.

I would encourage you to share these posts.

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Barriers to Church Growth. #5 (Honoring Self)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People do works for their own honor and not the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Why do we do good works? Why do we feed the poor, shelter the homeless, tend to the elderly, etc? Do we do these things so that our Father will be glorified, or do we do them in order to get glory for ourselves?

To be Seen.

Some people do good works with the sole intention of being seen and considered especially spiritual. Jesus said that “Everything they do is for show” (Mt. 23:5 NLT). Jesus spoke of those who wanted to be seen as pious and holy by wearing boxes containing Scripture on their foreheads or arms. The bigger the box the better. All this was in an attempt to say, “I am keeping the law better than you!” (See Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Then there are other people who do plenty of good deeds without even acknowledging God. For example,  go to any charity ball held by your local “high society” club. There you will find plenty of people who willingly give thousands to worthy causes but smile as big as they can when the magazine photographers come around.

They may even be members of local churches and give large offerings to the building fund (as long as it’s named after them); buy the pastor a new car, or pay for a youth mission trip. “And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the [congregation].” – Matthew 23:6 NLT

To be Accepted

Some people do good works in order to be accepted by God. They give away fortunes and spend their lives doing good deeds, but not to be seen by men. They want to be seen by God and thought of as worthy of His love. The only problem is that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” They work themselves to death in order prove their loyalty, thereby supposedly ensuring a place in heaven. But the glory goes not to God, for attached to the works is an expectation of reward based on merit.

Soli Deo Gloria

All glory should be to God alone. If our works are done in order to receive praise, then God is not getting the glory. If our works are meant to earn credit with God, then God is not getting the glory. If we work ourselves silly to meet the legalistic requirements placed on us by men, then God is not getting the glory. However, if out of a heart of love we do good works without expectation for reward, recognition, or acceptance, then God will receive the glory.

When all glory, honor, and praise is given to the Lord, He will draw all men unto Himself. Church growth will be unstoppable. Yet, if we expect credit for anything, then what should we expect but further decline? “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” – Isaiah 48:11 KJV

We want others to see our good works, but not for our own glory. May they “glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.”

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Barriers to Church Growth #4 (Hold to God)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a few of them.

“People are unwilling to take hold of God (Isaiah 64:7).”

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” – Isaiah 64:7 KJV

Every time we heard a gospel song that had words similar to “hold on to God,” or “hold to His hand,” my parents quickly reminded us that “we don’t hold God’s hand – He holds ours.” Understandably, what my parents were referring to was salvation. In that sense, we are held and He will never let go.

But that is not what this verse is talking about. Isaiah is saying that part of the problem his people were facing was the fact that none had the desire, nor even the desire to have a desire, to grab hold of God. If that is true today, then it may not only be a huge barrier to church growth, but to individual growth as well.

Take Hold of Thee

It is interesting and revealing when we look at this phrase and compare its usage to other places in Scripture. To begin with, the word chazaq (Strong’s H2388) essentially means “to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly” (Gesenius’s Lexicon). It is a verb that is translated into English as words such as strong, retain, urgent, and caught. Here are just a few examples.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught[2388] it, and it became a rod in his hand:” – Exodus 4:4

“And the Egyptians were urgent[2388] upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste ; for they said , We be all dead men.” – Exodus 12:33

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain[2388] thine integrity? curse God, and die .” – Job 2:9

Moses “caught.” Look at the first verse. Moses had been commanded by God to throw down his rod, after which it became a serpent. Then, against all logic, God told him to pick it up again, but this time by the tail (riiiiigghht!). I would have had to be seriously “stirred up” to pick up a deadly snake by the tail – it BITES! Yet, that’s what Moses did. He “caught it” by the tail.

The Egyptians were “urgent.” Next, after suffering under all the plagues, the Egyptians “were urgent” in there pushing the Israelites out of town. They had come to realize that their own lives were in jeopardy if the Jews stayed one day longer. It was imperative that they are pushed out as quickly as possible.

Job “still retained.” Now, look at poor Job. He had lost everything dear to him, including his health, and then came his wife telling him to curse God and die. She couldn’t believe that he could just sit there and hold on to his belief that God was worth serving. “After all this, are you still holding on to your integrity? What for? What’s the use? Quit putting yourself through this nonsense and just curse God and die!” Yet, he held on.

Making it Apply

When we view Isaiah 64:7 in the light of the verses above, what we have is astounding and convicting. Let’s see if we can work it all together:

1) Taking hold of God is something that we should take seriously, not flippantly. Don’t reach out for Him in a way that implies half-heartedness. Take hold like you mean it! Who do we think God is, a stick to be used by us in our own power to accomplish our own desires? NO! He is alive and dangerous. As Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, He is NOT tame. He is not here to be played with.

2) Do we not understand that without the power and presence of God we will die?In Him we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). There should be an urgency in our desire for Him, no less than the kind the Egyptians had to expel the Jews from their land. Do we want to live? We must urgently “take hold.”

3) We must hold on to God even when it seems insane to others. We must consider our relationship with our Heavenly Father so precious that even when Hell seems to be winning, faith tells us otherwise. Like Job of old, we should hold on to God even when we lie broken and wasted amid the ashes of seeming defeat. Our Redeemer LIVES!

The Barrier that Must Fall

If we are to see growth in our churches, not to mention our own lives, we must seek after God with urgency, intensity, and passion. He must be sought after and adhered to like no other treasure on earth. Anything less betrays our divided, adulterous hearts. God will bless and grow a people who “take hold.” No church will grow who only takes hold of God when it is convenient, fun, or fashionable.

Time is filled with swift transition
Not of earth or moon can stand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Trust in Him who will not leave you
Whatsoever years may bring
When my earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling

Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Build your hope on things eternal
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
Hold to God’s unchanging hand

We must cleave to Him. It IS a matter of life or death.

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, God, Uncategorized, worship

I Live With Animals

The following post was first published nearly 6 years ago, but nothing much has changed except location. We still live with animals; we still live in a house that’s never a showroom, and I’m once again at a computer on a Saturday morning. It’s just that this time I’ve got places to go and people to see … and messes to clean up 😉


Early Riser

Today I am up a little later than usual because it is Saturday. It is nearly 10 a.m. at the time of this writing and I am just now finishing an egg, cheese grits, and my first cup of black coffee (in my TTU mug).

I sat down at the computer for a few moments in order to study for tomorrow’s Proverbial Thought post on Proverbs 14:3. Then, as I read the next proverb, 14:4, an additional thought came to mind…

I live with animals, and I’m glad.

Furry and Furless

Animals. Now, when I say, “I live with animals,” don’t get the impression that I live in a barn, although barns are pretty nice if you remodel them. The animals I am referring to are not only the four-legged, flea-bearing, shoe-chewing canine types, but the 2-legged, child-bearing, shoe-buying female types.

Barns. Sometimes I really do think I am living in a madhouse. Other times I feel like I am living in a barn of the un-remodeled style. But most of the time I am cognizant (I went to college) of the fact that animals of all kinds make messes. Whether they be furry or furless, you can tell where animals live.

Qualifying “Messes”

Before I get into trouble, let me qualify what I meant by “messes.” My children, my wife, and I do not leave the same kind of messes lying around the house that our four-legged barn-guests are capable of. We know how to use our indoor plumbing.

The kind of mess I am talking about is just the stuff that comes as a result of living a hectic life. For example, clothes aren’t always put away; dishes get piled up; the kitchen table is a community desk, and a remote-controlled helicopter is in the china cabinet (that’s my fault…along with the clothes, dishes, and table).

But what if these messes weren’t there? What if everything in the house looked like a picture from Martha Stewart’s fake family album? Without at least some of the mess, home would be nothing more than a sanitary stable or a clean crib – and that could be bad.

Too Clean

Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” In other words, a clean stable might be nice, but that’s not always a good thing.

This proverb is trying to tell us that in order to have the grain to make a mess, you need the messer-uppers to harvest the grain. Without the messer-uppers in the stable there will be no harvest – so quit complaining.

A strong family is a family that lives like a family, not like legalistic representation of perfection. It’s nice to have a clean house, for sure. Yet, I would rather live with a bunch of animals (myself included) in a happy barn, than like a white mouse in a sanitary laboratory.

As soon as my wife and daughters read this, my funeral will be a simple affair.

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Filed under animals, Do not judge, Homeschool, Relationships and Family

God IS Good!

This morning at South Soddy Baptist I will be preaching a message on the goodness of God. In some ways it will be similar to one that I preached 2 years ago at my last pastorate, but in other ways it will be different.

Nevertheless, even though the sermon I’ll be preaching this morning will be different in several ways from the one I’m going to share with you right now, the truth of this sermon remains the same: God is good, and we should be thankful.

As Thanksgiving approaches, why not take a few minutes to consider what your life would be like if God was NOT good. If God wasn’t the definition of good, the judge of what is good, and the very standard of goodness – if God was not good by nature – all of His other characteristics could be called into question; any of His actions could be suspect. But God IS good, and we have plenty of reasons to praise Him.

http://RiversideSermons.sermon.net/main/main/20542053

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Are You God? How Can You Tell?

“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Proverbs 30:4)

Did You?

I have met some pretty remarkable people during my life. I have met writers, inventors, musicians, engineers, heroes of all kinds, and ordinary people who have done miraculous things. One time I even threw a several-hundred-pound friend through the air when his life was in danger (that’s a humorous story involving a snake). Therefore, I have known and even been part of an elite group of people who have done superhuman things.

However, I have never ascended into the atmospheric heavens under my own power, much less gone to the actual heaven and back. Have you? My hands are pretty quick and can snatch a fly in mid-air, but they’ve never been able to scrunch up the wind like a snowball. Have yours?

Once I made a superhero cape from a bed sheet. Before we got married, I helped my wife sew her bridesmaid dresses. When in Romania I met ladies who would un-thread old sweaters, then take the yarn and re-knit new ones. But darn it, I have never been able to stitch water! Have you?

I have also met some pretty rich people in my day, although I have never been rich, myself. As a matter of fact, I have never even owned property. On the other hand, I have met people who decided where property lines should be drawn. You may have even been one of the military heroes who’s exploits determined the boundaries of nations. But, we all walk on a planet that was here long before us; we didn’t put it here. I didn’t create north, south, east, or west. Did you?

You’re Not

I have met some strange people during my life. Some of the strangest have been ones who have attempted to leave comments on my blogs. One individual even claimed to be Jesus Christ, the Son of the God (except he also claimed to be the son of the Egyptian god, Ra, too). Yet, he lived in America, had never been crucified, and believed there were more ways to the Father than just through him (the opposite of John 14:6). He was a blooming idiot! Just saying.

But the pseudo-Jesus, the son of Ra, is not the only idiot. There are a lot of people who live their lives like they’re convinced they are God. Many people think their loved ones, their possessions, or their careers are gods; but they’re not.

And unless you created the earth; unless you can ball up the wind in your hands; unless you can travel at will back and forth to the farthest heaven in a garment made of stitched water, you’re not God, either.

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:13-16 KJV

You may not be God, but you could meet Him! 

Call 888-NEED-HIM for an introduction, or CLICK HERE now!

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