Wednesday, April 18, 2018

THE TRAGIC ISOLATION OF SPENCER CHAMBERLAIN

Formerly Christian band Under Oath
      What would you call an organizations whose members ostracize and condemn those who fall on hard times or struggle with addiction?  Tragically, I would call that organization the Church.  This past week, I read of yet another casualty of the one organization whose sole command is to love God and love others. Spencer Chamberlain, of the Christian metal band, Underoath, has renounced his faith, stating, "The most alone and isolated I've ever been in my life is when I considered myself a Christian, personally."  You see, Chamberlain got hooked on drugs and the "Christians" promoting his band were more concerned with his ability to continue performing than his spiritual crisis.  Instead of helping him work through his issues, the "believers" around Chamberlain encouraged him to hide his problems because, after all, the show must go on!

      Even more outrageous was the hate and vitriol Chamberlain received from the Christian community at large.  Chamberlain recounted how he was reviled and attacked during his very public bout with addiction.  Here is a revelation: Christians struggle with sin, just like everyone else, and  before you get all self righteous, would you be willing to share your Saturday night activities, Netflix watchlist or internet browsing history with your church leaders?  Jesus said it best, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."  

        Of course, there is the debate as to whether or not Chamberlain, now a self proclaimed atheist, was ever actually a Christian.  The theology behind that question goes way deeper than a simple eternal security conversation. Laying theology aside for just a moment, my immediate concern here is how can we better serve those who struggle within the Body of Christ? 

        Chamberlain's story is not isolated nor rare.  I am routinely meeting people who have been shunned or alienated within the church because it is easier to trim the fat than to actually get involved in people's lives.  I have personally served in a church where the spiritually needy were shoved aside, or even out, while those who contributed were lauded and supported, even when they were of questionable character.  I myself experienced the same isolation, in that church, when my commitment to my family was criticized as interfering with my commitment to that church.  

      The Church must do better to serve those within who struggle.  We must consider each member a vital part of the Body of Christ and relate to their personal struggles and setbacks the same way we would tend to a broken or pained body part.  If we were as quick to sever body parts as we are to sever struggling parts of the Body of Christ, we would all be in various states of amputation and not functioning well at all.  Yes, there are times when a diseased body part must be removed, but always as a last resort and after all method's of treatment designed to save the part are exhausted.  It must be the same within the Body of Christ.  How easy is it to cut someone off when you do not consider them vital? What happens when you are the one struggling and deemed unnecessary because you are no longer contributing?  The Spencer Chamberlain's are vital and the church is now without his unique role. 

      Perspective is everything. Seeing one another as vital members of the same body will go a long way to helping us love the way we are commanded in scripture.  1 John is a great place to learn the type of sacrificial, others centered love God expects from His children.  Jesus said, "they will know you by your love for one another."  Let that sink in for a minute...  Where would Spencer Chamberlain be today if he experienced this kind of love from his so called brothers and sisters in Christ?  

    When you see your brother or sister struggling, remember Spencer Chamberlain, consider where his isolation led him.  Pray you would be part of the solution and not the problem.  See your struggling brother or sister as a vital part and think how you would want to be treated in a similar situation. Pray for Spencer Chamberlain that he may reconnect with a Savior whose people let him down.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

33,000 DIE EACH YEAR SHAVING? - CHECK YOUR FACTS

   
   The Emergency Room Statistical Resource Center (ERSRC), has released a report this month on the number of deaths associated with neck shaving.  A little known fact is 33,000 men die each year, having slit their own throats while shaving.  Ben "Goatee" Robinson, President of the Neckbeard Co-op International (NCI), is capitalizing on this report for NCI's annual recruitment drive.  

      "People think neckbeards are a fashion statement, but they just might save your life, or the life of someone you love." Robinson stated at a rally at the  Norfolk, VA chapter of NCI.  ERSRC's report found most deaths were caused by straight razors, however almost one third of slit throat accidents were the result of utilizing safety razors.  ERSRC also went on to report that very few victims survive because they simply bleed out before help can arrive.  


     Robinson has been preaching the dangers of neck shaving for years and believes all men everywhere should either sport neck beards or, at the very least, use electric shavers.  One of NCI's brochures warns: "Every year, parents hand a razor and a can of shaving cream to a young, inexperienced teen aged boy, only to rue a tragedy which could have been easily averted with a neckbeard."


NCI has spent thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to outlaw private ownership of razors and have actually found an unlikely ally in the National Brotherhood of Barbers, who also believe razors of all kinds should be left in the hands of professionals.  

    You can't make this stuff up folks!   Or can you....  Well I just made all of the above up to make a point. Many people will read a ridiculous fake news article and never bother to verify it for accuracy.  Daily, millions see nonsense online then share and repost.  Recently, the topic of fake news has been lighting up both social and mainstream media.  Now, more than ever, fact checking is crucial.  Once a trusted source is found to have delivered fake news, all credibility is lost.  For a news agency, this can be devastating. 

      Tragically, fake news is not something exclusive to the media. Fake news has found it's way into the church and with it the loss of credibility.  When a news agency gets caught presenting fake news, revenue is lost and maybe a job or two.  When the church gets caught promoting fake new, lives can be destroyed.  

     How can you protect yourself from fake news in the church?  The only way is to learn the truth so well, you recognize error when you hear it.  2Timothy 2:15  Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth. 

      If you don't know the truth, you cannot detect a lie.  Millions of Christians trust their local congregation or minister to reveal Biblical truth, without ever actually reading the Bible for themselves.  Beware any minister who discourages you from reading the Bible for yourself.  No different than a husband who refuses to allow his wife to look through his phone, guaranteed, he is hiding something. 

      Blind Willie Johnson, the famous Bluesman, sang: Momma she taught me how to read... if I don't read and my soul is lost, it's nobody's fault but mine."  We have unlimited access to the Word of God.  If you don't read and you get deceived, it's nobody's fault but yours!  God has given us His word, it is our responsibility to read it.  

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally The Good News.  The Good News is God has prepared a way for us to have a relationship with Him. The true news is Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and no man comes to the Father but by Him.  The fake news is there are many pathways to God.  If your church or some other so called religious authority is presenting a way to God other than Jesus or teaches He was just a man, if your church or some other so called religious authority is telling you the Genesis account is not true, you are being presented with fake news!

     Do not trust your soul to man, read the Book God gave you and if men teach something different than what you read, run away.  Don't be a victim of fake news in the Church.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!
     

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

GETTING RID OF THE LEAVEN? - WHATSA MATZAH WITH YOU

                                           
  
   Friday night began Passover and with it commenced the Feast of Unleavened Bread or as I affectionately refer to it the FOUB.  Most people are at least familiar with Passover, but the FOUB, not so much. The FOUB is a seven day period in which Israel was commanded to not eat any bread with leaven (yeast).  The day before Passover, Preparation Day, every Jew is to search their home for leaven, including bread crumbs that may have fallen from the table or even in the cracks of the table, bundle it all up and burn it. For seven days only unleavened bread, matzah, is to be eaten. 

          "What in the world does leaven and the FOUB have to do with me," you may ask.  Whatsa matzha with you?  You know 2Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

     So, if everything in the Bible has value and the lesson of the FOUB is in the Bible, we have to ask ourselves, "what's it all about?"  It's all about sin!

         We find this command in Exodus: Exodus 13:6-18  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD.   Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.' 

     In my experience, much of scripture has a three-fold purpose, the literal re-telling, the practical application, and the spiritual meaning.  In the above passage, the spiritual meaning is so deep, one could almost drown in it! When scripture says, "No leaven shall be seen with you..." the spiritual application is no sin shall be seen with you

        Consider for a moment what removing the appearance of sin looks like in your life.  There are basically two ways to remove the appearance of sin: One is to stop sinning and the other is to do a better job of hiding sin.  Jesus condemned the religious leaders who hid their sin behind religious practices, so that is probably not what God had in mind. That leaves us with door number one - STOP SINNING!
     
      God is not so much interested in us appearing sin free, He wants us to live free from sin.  It is only when we begin to understand God's heart toward us that we begin to see sin from His perspective. What we may see as fun or normal, God sees as destructive.  Our pursuit of holiness - removing the leaven - is less about looking good and more about honoring God.  For more on that CLICK here   We have all experienced the destructive consequences of sin.  

       God's desire is His best for you.  Poor behavior hinders God's blessing. Can we attain a sin free life - theoretically yes, realistically no. 1John 2:1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 
God desires us to be free from sin, the consequences of sin and the guilt of sin.  God takes away the guilt, but we control the consequences by whether we give in to temptation or not.  

     What leaven do you need to clean out of your heart and life?  With God's help, you can overcome anything.  Remember, God loves you!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

RESTING IN GOD OR WRESTLING WITH GOD - WHAT'S YOUR COPING MECHANISM?


   Life doesn't always give us what we think we deserve. When things don't go our way, we sometimes develop coping mechanisms, things we implement to deal with stress or difficult situations.  Some coping mechanisms are good and healthy but many are investments in future stress and difficulty.  For instance, a healthy coping mechanism would be to pray, recall memorized scripture or contact a close friend. Unhealthy coping mechanisms would include tantrums, finding comfort in alcohol or drug abuse, resorting to violence, withdrawing or employing deception.  It's the difference between resting in God or wrestling with God.  

 In Genesis, we meet Jacob, a guy who finds a way to get by on his wit and wisdom.  Jacob, the second son of Isaac, not only manages to gain the birthright of the firstborn son, he also swindles his older brother out of the blessing of the firstborn.  God had a plan for Jacob and placed a strong calling on his life, but Jacob chose to carve his own path through life, ignoring God.  Jacob spends the early part of his life employing his favorite coping mechanism, outsmarting those around him.  Jacob does not realize he is wrestling with God.

   Jacob was not a God hater nor an atheist.  Jacob believed God existed and probably considered himself a follower.  Like many today who acknowledge God and consider themself Christian, Jacob mostly ignored God and did things his own way.  The key component of faith missing for Jacob was a personal relationship with God.  In the early part of Jacob's life we see him referring to God in terms like, "the God of Abraham" or the "God of my fathers", it is not until Jacob has a real encounter with God that he takes ownership of  a relationship. Jacob learned to move from wrestling to resting. 


     So often, as a minister, people ask me to pray for them or for a specific situation.  Often I get the sense of the unspoken, "can you pray to your God on my behalf?"  Though no one has actually expressed it this way, I sense it is an underlying issue for many who do not perceive God as their God.  I once told someone who asked for prayer, "I will pray for you if you promise to also pray."  The response I received was unexpected, "you mean, actually, like get on my knees and talk to God?"  I was totally not expecting such a response. This was a person who acknowledged God and probably if asked, would say they were good with God, yet the idea of actually talking to God was completely foreign.  

   Similarly, I know President Trump exists, I know things about him and also have heard many things about him which may or may not be true.  I even follow him on Twitter.  None of these things equals a relationship.  I would be a fool to claim to know President Trump.  Most of what I know, or think I know of him, comes from the press.  This, unfortunately, is many people's experience with God.  The difference is, Donald Trump has no awareness of my existence and is not the slightest bit interested in me as an individual.  I have no ability to engage Donald Trump in a conversation. God, on the other hand, knows me and loves me individually.  God allows me the privilege of speaking to Him and hearing from Him and knowing Him.  

      Jacob managed to get by on his own until he couldn't...  Jacob's coping mechanisms alienated him from his family and the family of his wives.  Jacob found himself isolated and vulnerable because he chose to keep God at arm's length.  Only when Jacob realized he was out of tricks did he surrender and call out to God.  When all seemed hopeless, Jacob found hope in God, even as he realized he had been fighting against God his whole life.  Jacob went from knowing about God to knowing God. From wrestling to resting. God changed Jacob's name to Israel and Israel took possession of his relationship with God.

     Are you Jacob or Israel?  Do you know about God or do you know God?  Are you wrestling against God or resting in His Lordship.  God wants you to know Him, to have a rich and deep relationship with Him, through His Son Jesus Christ.  The only way to know someone is to spend time with them. God gives us prayer, His Word, worship and fellowship with other believers as methods to get to know Him.  

    Would you turn down tea with the Queen of England or dinner with with a King?  Of course not, but everyday, we pass up opportunities to spend time with the King of Kings.  What is your coping mechanism and how's it working out for you?  May I suggest getting to know the One who not only helps you cope but will make you more than an overcomer.  God has so much more for us than just getting by.  Unless you take the time to know Him, you'll never know how meaningful life can be.  Jesus isn't merely dying to spend time with you, He actually did.  Get to know the risen Savior and find your special purpose. Stop wrestling and rest.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"GOD BLESS YOU" ..? THEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS!


   Just when you think college campuses cannot get any more ludicrous: the March 15, 2018 edition of the Washington Times  reports Simmons College in Boston MA has decreed saying "God bless you" after a sneeze is considered micro aggressive behavior.  And why would saying "God bless you" be considered micro aggression, you ask.  "God bless you" is micro aggression because, according to Simmons College, it assumes your religious identity as the norm.  I guess the Declaration of Independence should be banned from college campus as "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator..." assumes a religious identity and may trigger a delicate hater of God.          


     I fear for the future if today's college students are so fragile the very cliched mention of God after a sneeze can cause a sense of being bullied!  I may, as a public service, go on up to Simmons College and collect all the little green slips of paper that say, "In God We Trust" on them so none of those precious leaders of tomorrow will feel aggressed against when they reach into their pockets to pay for their morning Starbucks.  

     Seriously though, the real agenda on these campuses is not to create a "safe space" conducive to learning, it is to undo 230 years of American culture that acknowledges absolute moral truth  imparted to us by God.   The goal is to cast off restraint and to replace God's moral law with "do as thou wilt", as espoused by famed sorcerer and black arts devotee Aleister Crowley.  Crowley, the self proclaimed Beast 666,  and Helena Blavatsky, before him promised to transform society by transforming the youth.  Alice Bailey, founder of the Lucifer Publishing Company, wrote numerous books espousing a society free from the constraints of the God of scripture.  The Lucifer Publishing Company became the Lucis Trust and is now an integral component of the United Nations.  

      The late Robert Muller, who served as assistant deputy director of the United Nations was an open follower of Alice Bailey. Muller espoused Bailey's ideas, writing over a dozen books touting eastern mysticism and promoting a one world religion headed by the UN.  One of Muller's roles at the UN was to prepare curriculum for schools world wide.  You can kind of see where this is going.  Blavatsky, Crowley, Bailey, and Muller, each guided by evil forces, touted the importance of conditioning the children in order to transform society.  

     As silly as banning "God bless you" from campus sounds and as ridiculous  as this makes the academic society look, we have to keep in mind we are in a spiritual war for the heart and soul of all people.  Banning "God Bless you" is not the real problem, just as the hoopla over whether or not to say  "Merry Christmas" is not the real problem.  The real problem is we do not recognize there are actual spiritual forces working to undermine God and His influence on society.  Influence the children and you change the culture.

     Until churches figure out a way to become relevant to the youth of America, without compromising the Gospel, the enemy will continue to have the upper hand.  Like the Pied Piper of yore, Satan,  the modern day piper, is leading our children to oblivion by encouraging them to think with their heart rather than their minds. We live in a society where truth is relative and facts only cloud the issues, and Satan is holding court in the highest institutions of learning, laughing his rear end off.  

     I know the God of Scripture is the one true God and I will continue to say "God bless you" when someone sneezes.  Whether that person feels triggered is not my responsibility, my responsibility to speak truth in love.  As we roll into spring and people begin to battle allergies, I imagine I will be very "micor-aggressive".  I hope you will too!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

     

Thursday, March 15, 2018

YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE ME SO YOU CAN GO TO HELL



 Have you ever felt discounted or ostracized because you did not meet some physical standard of a particular group?   Maybe you had the wrong clothes or hair style.  Maybe you were obviously of a different economic level, social class or ethnicity.  People tend to distrust those who are different.   

     The saying, Birds of a feather flock together, holds a great deal of truth.  Most people naturally gravitate toward those with whom they can identify.  Though affirming the similar is a natural tendency, it may be a destructive practice.  What happens when a church filled with suits and dresses receives a visit from a guy in jeans and a t-shirt?  Will t-shirt man be made to feel welcome or will he get dirty looks and under the breath comments?  I have actually heard rumors about a church in Knoxville which turns people away at the door if they are not properly dressed.  I am considering a visit there one Sunday...

      I am blessed to be part of a ministry where a black t-shirt is basic garb for our events.  Metal Mission of Knoxville tries to create an environment where "come as you are" is literal.  The danger for us is  allowing a certain look or style to become standard and not accept someone who looks more traditional.  At our last ministry meeting, I jokingly asked out loud, "what if some guy in a romper shows up?"  My comment got a good laugh but... what if?  

    In the last year, our ministry was contacted by a dear lady in another state who lamented there were no ministries like ours where she lived.  This woman felt judged by the local churches because of her background. I thought, surely there must be a local church near her where she could feel welcome.  As I began to visit church website after church website I discovered something disturbing, every church displayed photos of upper middle to upper class people enjoying time together.  As I looked through the photos each church chose to represent itself, nowhere did I find any indication my friend would be welcomed.  To me, the message was clear, "if you look like us, you are welcome."  

     I know you cannot judge a book by it's cover, but the practice I have observed in many churches and is evident throughout the country on Sunday mornings is people desire to worship with people who look like themselves.  Worse, many create a standard of what is acceptable appearance and anyone not meeting the standard is written off as unworthy. 

    If you attend church, what would the reaction be if a group of bikers or young adults in concert t-shirts showed up Sunday morning?  Would they be welcomed and included in fellowship or would they be ignored and avoided?  

     God is interested in the heart. We have to get passed the outer and focus on the inner.  What is the basic thing we all want? Love and acceptance. As Christ's representatives, are we properly demonstrating God's love and desire for individual relationship or are we deeming people worthy of hell because they do not meet our standards? 

 My Bible has no passages referring to Sunday best attire or the standard appearance for a committed Christian.  I love the response I get when I tell someone I am a pastor, especially when I am not dressed for work.  My go to garb is jeans and a t-shirt, preferably black, I have tattoos, both my ears are pierced, and my preferred musical style is, of course, Metal.   Not exactly standard fare for the average minister.

     The point of all this is, we have to look beyond the outer and pursue the inner.  Just because someone does not wear a sweater vest or does not dress business casual does not mean they are less intelligent or less in need of love.  To many, a tough outer appearance is designed as protection.  My original purpose in getting tattooed(when tattoos were still taboo) was to send a message: LEAVE ME ALONE!  Not because I was dangerous but because I was insecure.  

     When we judge someone unworthy of our time or attention because of the way they dress or any other aspect of their physical appearance, we are, in essence, saying, "You don't look like me, so you can go to hell."  Your mission today, should you choose to accept it: go out of your way to be friendly to someone you would normally avoid because they look different than you.  I am not talking about hit and run evangelism or walking up to a stranger and asking if they know Jesus.  Just be friendly and see where it leads.

    Act 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 

If God is no respecter of persons, how can we, His representatives, disregard those we deem different?  

Now, go  live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

    

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

FINDING CONTENTMENT IN OBEDIENCE NOT RESULTS

   
 Do ever you feel insignificant?  Do you ever feel as if you are busy, but accomplishing nothing?   Does contentment seem to elude you because you put forth effort and seem to have no impact.  Everyone experiences frustration from time to time, feeling as if even our greatest efforts are in vain.

    As the world mourns the loss of Evangelist Billy Graham, it may be a good opportunity to ponder things like legacy, spiritual impact and motive in our own lives. There is no question Billy Graham's legacy is secure.  America's Pastor has established a ministry that will most likely outlive his grand children.  Millions of souls have been redeemed through Graham's ministry and personal life.  Graham's spiritual impact is evident, and here is no evidence to question Graham's motives. Billy Graham had a burden for the lost and God gave him a tremendous platform which he faithfully and obediently utilized.  Billy Graham's secret was being satisfied with what God called him to do.  Billy Graham's impact grew out of his obedience.

    Why do we do what we do, is it for notoriety, personal gain, accolades? What is our motivation?  Am I content to follow God and not see the outcome I think I deserve?  Am I content with being obedient or do I want specific results? 

      These are all legitimate questions and a healthy part of self examination.  We all should be asking these questions, or similar ones of ourselves from time to time.

  I am blessed to be in ministry with some very talented musicians.  Many of whom I would put up against any superstar talent. Amazing song writers who are talented at their craft. I and others write and promote stuff on social media. My musician friends record and promote their stuff on various platforms.  Many of us have work we have produced available on Amazon.  What's it all about?

      Mostly, we do what we do because we recognize God has given us a specific ability and we get to use it to His glory.  The bonus is, I love writing.  The musicians I minister with love playing and love creating music.

       I am not a "successful" writer.  Of the over 200 blog posts I have shared, only 2 have been what the blogging industry considers successful.  I am not writing for high volume numbers, I am writing because I feel led of the Lord to do so on this platform.  Will that change? Perhaps, someday.  For now, I continue, in obedience to God, to write and hopefully impact someone's life for the Kingdom. 

   Two passages of scripture motivate me. Matthew 6:33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. And 1Corinthians 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 

  If we can understand and incorporate these two passages into our everyday lives, the ideas of success and achievement will take on whole new meaning. We will recognize our obedience is victory and  honoring God is our success. 

What you accomplish may impact only one person but that person is infinitely important to God.  We, also, do not know the long term  impact of our obedience.  We see, in scripture, men like Nehemiah whose obedience had touched the ministry of the Messiah almost 500 years later. 

    If you are doing what you believe God has called you to do and you see evidence of His equipping you to do it, do not worry about the reception or outcome, be content with obedience.  God will use your efforts in His way, in His time, and to His glory.  Be encouraged and strengthened by the knowledge you are in God's will.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

CAN WE COEXIST WITH WHAT CONTRADICTS?

    
 It seems Biblical Christianity is under attack everywhere, from pop culture to the very institutions of the mainline Church.  Entertainment icons such as Oprah Winfrey who declared "Jesus can't possibly be the only way." speak as authorities on the subject of faith.  Religious authorities such as Pope Francis recklessly declare such inanities as, " The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience."

     Winfrey and Francis both tout a multipath journey to God and redemption.  Jesus told us He is the only way to the Father. We cannot coexist with something that contradicts!  Either Winfrey, Francis and all the other multipath voices clamoring for a say are wrong or Jesus is a liar.  


     Culturally, we are inundated with the idea that good people go to heaven. Liberal adherents to most major religions believe the heart of every religious system is loving others.  Surely you have seen the Coexist bumper sticker touting the cohesion of all the major world religions.  The now defunct Coexist Foundation's  stated goal was to Promote, encourage, and support engagement between Jews, Christians and Muslims both individually and through their respective communities through dialogue, education and research.   All of this sounds wonderful.  Rodney King said it better than any, "Can't we all just get along?"  Well...


     If you listen to the those who promote this theology of sorts, you will come to the conclusion that Utopia is just around the corner.  Who hasn't listened to the words of John Lennon's  Imagine and whimsically imagined the world actually living as one.  The only problem with Lennon's vision is it requires we suspend believe in heaven, hell and religion.  Hmm... so a world with no moral absolute truth and no expectation of consequence for bad behavior will actually promote peace and love...  I imagine a world more closely resembling Mad Max than the Garden Of Eden!


    So, what do we do?  Do we go on the offensive and stand on the street corner shouting about the coming Judgment of God?  Do we quietly disagree amongst ourselves and try to teach our children better without engaging the culture?  As in all things, let scripture be our guide:  2Timothy 4:2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  Matthew 5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,.  We have to love those who oppose God but love them enough to share the truth.  


    God is not weak nor powerless, in needs of us to defend Him.  We are not God's law team dispatched to defend God against defamation or libel. We are called to demonstrate God's love and goodness.  Matthwe 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven Make no mistake, there is a culture war. There is a war for the hearts and minds of every person on planet earth. We do not battle with conventional warfare, we must understand the battle is directed by dark spiritual forces and our warfare must take place on that plane.  2Corinthians 10:4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 


     Know what you believe, study the Word, be vigilant in prayer and love people enough to tell them the truth.  Above all remember: Zechariah 4:6  Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts


Now, go live as Christ.... and give the devil hell!

Monday, February 19, 2018

PUBLISHING MY SHORT STORY ON KINDLE

 Today, I published my first short story and chose to use Kindle self publishing.  I weighed out my options and this seemed to be the best way to ease into the world of writing for profit. I am not expecting to get rich or sell a ton of copies, but I am expecting to learn from the experience.  I am now a published author! check out my first short story on Kindle and Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079WR45BC


The whole project is over 3,000 words, about right for a short story, and took about two months from start to finish.  I do not have much spare time, so writing was done in 10-20 minute increments. This caused me to have to re-read my work constantly in order to keep continuity.  After several edits, I sat on the completed manuscript for a week or so, praying about a publishing platform. 

I spoke to a co-worker who published his first novel on Kindle, about a year ago. He earned enough to purchase a new car.  I will be happy to earn enough to motivate me to write another story!  

I looked at some of the big Christian publishers and was quickly discouraged with the process.  Unless you are writing a text book or commentary, you pretty much have to hire an agent to shop publishers for you.  Hiring an agent for a short story did not seem to be very wise, so I took my co-worker's advice and self published on Kindle.

The process was easy and relatively quick, from setting up a new account to submitting the manuscript, I spent maybe 3 hours.  In less than  24 hours, my story was up for sale.  

Whether you are a new writer, or have some completed manuscripts, I encourage you to try this platform.  As far as promotion goes, hit social media. I posted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.  This is all free publicity and if you can get a few people to like and share your link, all the better.

Well, if you get the chance, go check out my story on Kindle, it's only 99 cents!  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079WR45BC

If you are an aspiring writer, you have nothing to lose, head over to Kindle and get published!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

WHEN PERCEPTION MEETS REALITY - WHO WINS?

 
  I am amazed when I read about how clueless the first followers of Christ were! How could they, the 12 disciples miss the point so often?  Their perception did not often match reality. Then I think about it a little more and realize I am no better.  

What happens when what I think the Bible teaches conflicts with what the Bible actually teaches?  Like most people, I may simply pass over the parts that contradict my theology without even thinking about them.   Even the disciples ignored the parts they did not understand according to their theology.

    In Matthew 20, Jesus very clearly explains to the Disciples, as they traveled to Jerusalem for the last time, how He is about to die: Matthew 20:17  And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them,   "See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day."
I do not think Jesus could have made this any clearer.  Minutes later, completely ignoring everything Jesus just said, James and John apply for the jobs of sitting at Christ's right and left side in the Kingdom!  Imagine this scene, "I am about to go die for the sins of the world."  "yeah, yeah, ok, whatever, oh by the way, can we have the top positions when you set up the Kingdom?"  

     How can this happen?  The worst trap we can fall into when studying the Bible is thinking we know what it will say before it says it.  The disciples believed Jesus was the Messiah, but they also believed the Messiah had come to establish the Kingdom, period.  When Jesus spoke about dying and going away, it did not match their theology.  Rather than adjusting their theology, the disciples ignored the parts they did not understand or which conflicted with their belief system.

     I have a friend who is a skeptic.  His biggest beef with Christianity is how so many different groups of "Christians" interpret the Bible so many different ways.  I explained to him, the Bible is pretty self explanatory and pretty simple to understand if taken literally. The problem is, people choose to make the Bible fit their beliefs rather than making their beliefs fit the Bible.  Another problem, which is a topic for another blog, is many false teachers count on the Biblical ignorance of their audience in order to exercise control by twisting scripture.  

     Mostly, we hold a false belief because we were taught it, either in a Sunday School class or from the pulpit.  Some false doctrine is hundreds of years old and lingers because the source is so well respected, no on thinks to question.  

Here is a small example, most people in my generation imagine the Baptism of Christ like this: Jesus walks up to where John is Baptizing, John says "behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" then John, after a brief discussion, baptizes Jesus. Guess what, John did not say the whole "behold the Lamb of God" thing until over 40 days after Jesus was baptized.  How did we get this confused?  Every year, around Resurrection Sunday, the Greatest Story Ever Told aired on television and depicted these two events as one.  

    Yes, this is a very minor thing, but it causes you to question what else you may be holding falsely.  What else may we have been taught wrong and just ran with.  The Bible is not some puzzle that needs to be deciphered.  

   Past all my rambling, my point is we have to read the Bible at face value.  Lay aside your preconceived ideas and let the Bible teach you.  If you come to a difficult passage, ask questions.  If you know someone with the gift of teaching, that person lives for tough Bible questions!  Usually, you will find the answer in another part of scripture as the Bible teaches the Bible.  

    The Bible is God's direct message to you. If your true love wrote you a letter, would you trust someone else to keep that letter and tell you what it said? Of course not!  You would want to read it for yourself and probably re read it over and over.  Sermons and books are good, but these should compliment your own personal study, not replace it.  God actually tells us to learn His Word for ourselves: 2Timothy 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!