Oct 24, 2020

Can I share a Secret?

"Can you keep a secret?” “Don’t tell anyone else.” “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.”  Whether it is personal, business, or public sector; it’s no secret, that we live in a society framed on confidential information.  There are business secrets, criminal investigations, national security matters, and grandma’s secret cookie ingredient.  Yet while secrets have their place, they have also caused innumerable arguments, strife, and broken relationships.  Besides recognizing the destructive pattern of secrets, we may also be able to heal or avoid some of the effects if we examine some sources of secrets and what Christ has taught us.

The Bible tells us we made it only a few verses before secrets entered creation.  Satan caused Eve to doubt God and sin ensued.  The secret was not sin but breaking the trust of God caused the sin.  Trust is one of the largest reasons for the existence of secrets.  We use secrets to prevent sharing info with those we lack trust in, often because we have been hurt.  Sometimes we take this too far and keep everything secret.  Keeping secrets prevents true relationships because they require trust.  Trust allows someone the opportunity to hurt us, but also the opportunity to help us. 

One of the secrets that we try to keep the closest is that we are not enough.  It is actually a shared secret amongst us all, but we still try to hide it.  We use busyness, arrogance, smoke and mirrors, and a host of other methods to hide our need for help from others.  When we cannot hide our own need of help, we turn to shaming others for their own needing help.  Our own shame eats away at us, and has helped produce a host of problems in society including loneliness, depression, addictions, dependencies, and health issues as extensions of each of those problems.

Jesus never intended us to hurt like this.  First, he wants us to ask him for help with our sin problems instead of feeling the shame of it.  He also did not leave us alone, because he knew we would need help.  Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, part of himself to comfort us.  He also left us, as part of a church which he called the body of Christ.  In this brilliant illustration we recognize that no single part of the body can survive without many of the others. 

Where do you reside with truth and vulnerability?  Have you acknowledged your needs, or are you fighting to keep people at arm’s length, so they do not see your weaknesses? Recognize that Christ came to help and seek where he can shine some light into your soul, by acknowledging your needs.

Jun 20, 2020

Sum of our Decisions

Photo by Alphacolor on Unsplash - Our community is made up by people, who make decisions, the real building blocks of community.
Anyone who has paid attention to my page recently, knows I have been reading the book “The Man in the Mirror” by Patrick Morley.  The section I just read refers to decision making, and wow it was so good I wanted to share some takeaways. 
   We all do exactly what we decide to do; we are the sum of our decisions. As hard as we try to make excuses, where we are physically, financially, morally, mentally, and relationally are functions of our decisions.  Those living under freedom-based governments largely can change our circumstances based on decisions.  I realize there are outside influences (family, culture, community) that will heavily influence some opportunities, but there are very few decisions which don’t involve options. The choice of these options compounded over our lifetime of decisions result in our current position.
   Moral or Priority Obviously every decision doesn’t have the same goal or weight to it, but it pretty cleanly comes down to choices of either morals or priorities.  Moral decisions are either right or wrong, and priority decisions are between right and right.  Most of our choices allocating money and time/ talents come down to priority questions.  The laws and teachings of the Bible are an excellent resource when it comes to moral questions.  A struggle with priority questions is that all decisions are morally right, but we are choosing between good, better, and best, with opportunity costs associated with each choice.  If we invest certain hours in our job, we can’t invest them in our family or church.  Society will often portray priority decisions as right and wrong, when in fact it is a question of good and best (politics as an example.)
Jesus’ decision template:  When tempted by Satan, Jesus used these as a risk management guide:
Math 4:4 “Man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the Mouth of God.” – We should live by the Word of God.
Math 4:7 “It is also written, you should not tempt the Lord, your God” -We should not make foolish decisions where we need a miracle to be rescued.
Math 4:10 “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” – Avoid decisions that reduce your worship and service to God.
Consequences-spiritual and financial- We are spiritual beings and as has oft been said Time=Money.  A reminder how Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and (Money).”  Once it is made, a decision leads to consequences that we must live with.  And again, we are the sum of our decisions.

Dec 31, 2019

While I breathe, I hope!

Dum Spiro, Spero – While I breathe, I hope! This latin phrase, and South Carolina motto, was highlighted in our local coop’s monthly magazine.  It has become synonymous with New Years to make resolutions for the coming year, and since you are reading (and breathing) we have reason to hope for the year ahead.  Remember, God is for us!
Many promises from God show us His heart to bless His people.  A favorite verse for many is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”  God had Jeremiah deliver this message to a people in exile, who were not listening to God’s chosen messenger, and to whom God told them to settle in the foreign/strange land because they would not be returning in this generation.  God’s intent was to bless His people, but He once again was calling their attention back to Himself from the false prophets.  Israel was still His people, with His blessing and promise, but they found themselves in a troubling place that they did not desire.  As a church, and individuals, we have experienced this in the past year; but God has a plan!
Paul knew hard times in his ministry, and faced potential death several times during his life.  He did not fear death, and you could say he welcomed it knowing the bliss that awaited him in Heaven.  When he wrote Philippians 1:21 “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain,” he expressed the purpose of each Christian’s life while on this earth, to glorify Christ!  We glorify Christ while we have breath because we know he brings hope.  If you need a motto for 2020, consider “Dum Spiro, Spero!”

Sep 1, 2019

Ever feel unloved? worthless? Nobody knows your pain?

    How often have you considered that God created you, as you are, for the place and time you live?  His Omniscience knew what events would happen during our lives, and He placed us here.  His Omnipotence could change any circumstance, correct any flaw, and direct our paths around troubling times.  But what He chose to emphasize was His Omnipresence.  God shows us over and over that He is always there when we need Him.  God hears every prayer as though He is setting beside us.  You are loved more than you know.
With our disconnected lifestyles we get downhearted not understanding how interconnected we remain.  God created us for fellowship, to have relationships with others, and has intended his people to share His Glory.  When we shutdown true relationships, and only share the carefully chosen social life of Facebook, Instagram, and the like we have ignored one of God’s primary vehicles to share his gospel.  Often we think there have been things to happen to us, or choices made which make us unable to help anyone.  Yet the truth is, God says that we should share our weaknesses all the more, because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  When we show our weakness, it gives others an opportunity to know that none of us are perfect and we have all fallen short.  God paid a great price for us anyway!
God knows the interworking of our bodies better than any scientist; because He is The Creator.  He can heal all our ailments from physical, mental, and spiritual because He is the great Physician.  We have many doctors who are very good at treating our physical bodies.  There have been great strides in mental health treatments, but there are still many people struggling to find relief in the sea of their thoughts.  If you’ve experienced this, God knows this pain.  He had no place to lay His head, He spent 40 days alone with Satan’s temptations, and the men closest in his ministry deserted him.  Jesus was tempted as we are yet didn’t sin.  We shouldn’t feel defeated by that, but instead know that Jesus knows what that pain feels like.  He asks us to share rather than hide these dark times, so that friends and neighbors know that God is able to reach through the darkness.
We are Known, Loved, and a Help to those around us through our experiences.  Look around and see who you can share with or encourage today!
Psa 147:3 NKJV - He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Aug 10, 2019

Are you losing the Joy


Personally the last few days have had some moments that I was ready to throw my hands up and give up.  Between the sinful effects of the world showing its ugly face, individuals lashing out, saddening reports from friends, and just the wear and tear of life it is easy to start losing hold of the joy of life.  Of course this joy is only found in Jesus and how He paid and paved the way for us to eternal life with God. 
     Satan's ultimate goal is to get us to lose sight of Jesus and all He's provided us.  When he can get Christian's to forget the hope of Heaven, the security of salvation, and joy of knowing Christ; he knows that we lose our most powerful weapons to advance against his ugly forces.  Christ told us that the gates of hell (a protective structure for Satan) would not stand against our declaration of Christ's position as the Son of God.  (Matthew 16:16-18)  The Word of God provides us such assurances with its unchanging message.  It doesn't change, but we lose sight.
    This stands as a reason that worship is so important in our lives.  It reminds us of Christ's position, His strength, the completion of His Work, His Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence, the Love He shows for us despite our failings, and so much more.  Once we get our eyes back in line with His, we can rest in His assurances, wait on His timing, and advance His Kingdom.  Nothing is about us anymore.  Our 'kingdom' and its resources, our ego, our family, they don't lead our work and efforts; they are resources we contribute to see His kingdom grow.  We realize that we do not save the world, but if we can help one more soul see the gift Christ offers, the efforts will be worth it.  Will you keep reaching out?  Offering Christ and Love to those you meet every day.

Aug 3, 2019

Who is it that does the work of the God?

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col 3:17
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Acts 13:2
“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:9-10
Why do you work? There are many answers to that question.  There are many who work, because that is what we were taught to do, and as Thessalonians says, “those who don’t work, don’t eat.” We will work in order to receive money to purchase items we want, to buy gifts for friends and family, and to support our families.  Sometimes we work in order to draw a retirement, or save money for the future.  Of course we also know that part of this money should be given back to God as tithes and offerings.  But what about the time and effort that is expended during ‘work?’  Is it just a holding pattern, keeping us busy between worship services in exchange for money?
   No our work is not simply a means to earn money.  God intends our work, like the rest of our lives, to declare His glory to the world.  Each job shows skills that God distributed and enabled his children to do.  Each person receives talents from God, and His providence places us at the time and place we live.  These details contribute to a unique placement for each person. 
The following is two quotes from A.W. Tozer’s book ‘The Pursuit of God’, Chapter 10 pages 81+83. “Paul's exhortation to "do all to the glory of God" is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot.” – “We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought-prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.”

Different doesn’t have to mean divided

Different is… … …. just different
Isa 66:18 NKJV - "For I [know] their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.”
Rev 7:9 NKJV –“ After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
    There is an elephant in the room in many congregations today. Sometimes differences in worship styles, Bible translation, and so many other small things will cause major divisions among people in the same congregation and sister churches. God is certainly not a God of division, but of unity in Christ Jesus.
    Isn’t it funny that we have friends who have different passions but we don’t disengage from them because we have other interests in common?  Such as our racing buddy that loves to cook and we can’t boil water.  Why is it different that we both love Jesus, but I like contemporary music, and you like traditional? God made people with different passions, abilities, spiritual gifts, and tendencies so that all the world could be reached.  A great preacher, Bro Lonnie Sheets once passed some great wisdom to me and the congregation at Leitchfield Crossing. “Different is. . . .just different.”
    Sometimes the new ideas come into our lives in order to introduce us to good opportunities. When was the last time you tried a new activity or restaurant and then it became your favorite thing to talk about?   Even if a new activity is not our cup of tea, if we’re doing it with our friend it shows that we care about them.
     Finally Jesus was no stranger to differences.  He had fisherman, a couple tax collectors, a zealot, among others in his entourage yet his team changed the world with his mission.  He engaged with sinners, Pharisees, Jews, Gentiles and rulers with his teachings because He wanted to see them reconciled to His Loving Father.  Jesus didn’t withdraw from differences but embraced them because they were key to accomplishing His Mission.  Let us embrace ours also. 8/4/19