Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Faithful

Posted: April 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

It has been a while since I posted anything here.  It seems that time doesn’t slow down and neither does the workload.  Whether it be work, family, extra curricular activities we all tend to want more time to do things.  We try to fit so many things into a 24 hour period and rarely do we find or set aside time to worship, pray and read our Bible.  Sure, we may set aside time on Sunday mornings to go to church and even then opening our Bible isn’t something that we even need to do at church anymore.  We have the text from the sermon on the “Big Screens,” or we can access it on our device if we choose, but most of the time in this technologically advanced world we just choose to look at the screens because it’s readily available.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with just looking at the screens, but what I fear the most is that many people are looking at those screens and that is the extent of their Bible intake for the week. The few songs that were sung before the preaching is the extent of their worship for the week and the prayer that was prayed was the extent of their prayer for the week. Does this sound familiar? Is this you? Well, it has been me on many occasions.  Why do we get so busy living the lives that WE want to live that we completely miss the opportunities minute by minute, day by day to give God glory, to worship him, to speak to him and to read and respond to his Word? I have narrowed it down to two main reasons. One, we are to busy and two, we just don’t care.

To Busy

It’s true that as life goes on we tend to get busier and busier and when we have a few minutes to rest we want to do just that, rest.  We want to sit down and watch a television show, listen to music, take a nap or just sit in a chair with silence.  We are consumed with having to go from one place to another on a daily basis.  Many times our day begins early in the morning and doesn’t end until late in the evening.  We have work, games, social events, church events, etc. We get so busy with everyday life that we tend to forget to spend time with God, or we are so busy we just don’t have time.

There are two things I want to point out here.  1. Our life is just a vapor, it’s here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). We can plan our days, our weeks, our months and even our years, but we never really know when our time will come that we stand face to face with Jesus.  Do we want to stand before him having totally wasted away our lives running from one place to the next and never making time to seek His face, read and live by HIS Word, or even worship and give him glory?  Ephesians 2: 10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works. These works should come from time spent with him in worship, including reading and responding to his Word. Don’t let time pass you by, intentionally make time during the day to worship and honor Him.

That brings me to my next point.  The Bible tells us to “Pray without Ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This means that even on our busiest days we can still pray and communicate with God.  When you are driving from meeting to meeting or from game to game, simply talk to him.  You don’t have to talk out loud, but internally talk to him.  He hears you.  You don’t have to close your eyes to pray, keep them open and pray, especially when your driving!! We can stay in constant contact with God no matter how busy we get.  All we have to do is do it, be intentional about it! Remember, our life is here today and gone tomorrow, don’t waste it away, worship him daily.

Just don’t care

Apart from being busy and not being intentional about carving out time for God is the other side of this thing.  People just don’t care.  You know it’s funny to me how many people I have seen that are in the ministry, work in a church, people that claim to be Christians, or others that want to appear spiritual that just don’t care anything about the Bible or living a holy and pure life apart from Sunday mornings.  Unfortunately this isn’t something as easy as creating space in your busy schedule. This is a heart issue that needs to be changed by the Holy Spirit.

If you claim to be a Christian and you don’t care anything about reading the Bible through the week or attempting to live a holy and blameless life that Christians are called to live then I’m asking you to check your heart.  Do you remember the day you truly repented of your sin and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Was it just an emotional response to a worship service or a sermon, or by a pastor begging people to come forward? Was it because everyone else was doing it? or was it a real, genuine faith in Christ and a turning from your sin and doing your best to live for him? If you are truly saved then I believe God has placed a desire in you to live according to his Word (Even though we will never measure up).  If not, then the Bible says you are unregenerate, you are still in the darkness and each week in your churches you are parading around like a wolf in sheeps clothing.  This sounds harsh, but it’s the unfortunate reality.  Repent of your sins and believe the Gospel.

We serve a faithful Father.  He is faithful to us and when we neglect him and put other things before him then we are being unfaithful.  Our God is a jealous God and he will not tolerate other things being put before him.  What is in your life that you need to change? Do you need to make space for him in your busy schedule? Or do you need a heart transplant? Do you need to repent, believe the Gospel and be saved? Check your schedules and your heart. Give God glory and enjoy Him.

#SoliDeoGloria

Glory to God Alone

Steven

anguish_by_cycoze

Many of you reading this have probably heard the word depravity. Many of you may have never heard of the word at all.  Depravity simply means wickedness or immoral corruption.  Biblical Theology tells us that depravity is the innate corruption of human nature, due to original sin.  Original sin happened way back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  When Adam and Eve took the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The very tree God told them to stay away from.  Paul reminds us of Adams sin in Romans chapter 5 verse 12.  “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” ESV.

Sin came into this world through Adam, and because of that original sin, every person born into this world is born wicked, sinful, disobedient toward God… depraved. There are no exceptions. The only person born into this world that never sinned was Jesus who came into this world to die for our sins and prove to be the better Adam.  As a matter of fact Paul go’s on to say in Romans chapter 5 verses 18 and 19 that “as the trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one mans disobedience (Adam) the meany were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” (ESV). Simply put, Jesus came to die for our sins, to take on the full wrath of God so we didn’t have to and change our dark and wicked hearts to a new heart full of light and truth for those who put their faith in Jesus and confess him as Lord. (Romans 10:9-10)

As I think about the total depravity of man and the saving work of Christ on the cross, it leads me to think about the world around us.  Just this morning I have seen where a police officer was shot and killed in Chattanooga, just days after 6 young children died as a result of a bus accident that was potentially caused by a bus driver who wanted to inflict harm.  Also this very moment eleven people are being held hostage in a bank in Jacksonville, Florida.  Just days ago a young man ran into people with his car and stabbed others on the campus of Ohio State University.  Two men were arrested in my home state of Tennessee for starting wildfires, fires that potentially claimed a large part of Gatlinburg.

Why? Why are people acting this way? Why is all of this happening around us and seemingly getting worse? We want to “fix” all that is broken in our society.  We have seen new programs being rolled out in our communities, we see laws trying to go into affect to stop certain crimes, we see education classes trying to teach against a certain outcome in life such as teen pregnancy, etc… We can’t “fix” anything or anyone.  We have to realize that this world is broken, we have to realize the human heart is desperately wicked as Jeremiah 17:9 tells us.  It’s total depravity.  The reason we see the turmoil is simply unregenerate hearts living out the only thing it knows. Wickedness. Sin.

How do we “fix” this problem? The problem has already been “fixed!” The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ made a way for us to forsake the chains of sin and death and put on righteousness and eternal life.  The battle has been won, death has been defeated, Jesus reigns in eternity and is seated at the right hand of the Father. The problem has a solution, but the problem of sin isn’t the biggest problem.

We are seeing the human nature of people play out through their sin.  It’s tough and it’s hard to watch.  We want to point our fingers at the “big” sins that get broadcast on the local networks and social media, but we never look into our own hearts and see the sin we commit daily.  From large to small anything that we do, say or think that is contrary to the word of God is a sin that offends a holy and perfect God.  As God calls us to himself and we put our faith in Jesus and confess him as Lord, repent (turn from)of our sins and follow him, we, at that moment, become a Christian.  So what’s the problem? We keep it to ourselves.

Yes, the problem that is much larger than the sin we see around us is the fact that Christians keep the Gospel to themselves.  Think about when you became a Christian.  Who told you about Jesus? Who proclaimed the Gospel to you? As the Holy Spirit stirred in your heart and God called you to salvation I’m willing to bet there is someone you could name right now that told you the good news of Jesus Christ and how he came to die on this earth for your sins and that through him you could be made righteous and have a relationship with God the Father, and that your sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. Am I right? Is there someone? Then why are most Christians quiet about their faith?

How many people do you think we come in contact with on a daily basis? Most of us cross paths with many people during the day and week.  How many of those people are Christians? Unless we truly know the person, we don’t know who is or who isn’t a Christ follower.  With that thought in mind, how many people do we come in contact with that might be about to do the unthinkable like shoot a police officer, rob a bank or drive a bus to fast or start a wildfire near your hometown?  What if they aren’t about to do anything major like that, what if they are just normal people that live a life continually offending and sinning against God, and if they died without knowing Jesus they would spend an eternity in hell? Yes, the problem is bigger than we imagine.  Our silence as Christians will always be overpowered by the loud acts of sin.  It’s time we do something.

We all have a birthday and we all have a day that we will die.  You have probably heard it said that what you do with that dash between the two dates matters.  It may sound cliche or cheesy but it’s true.  What we do in life matters, and it isn’t about how much wealth we can gain, or how successful we can become or the type of cars we drive.  It’s about knowing Jesus as our Savior and telling others about the saving and redeeming work of Christ. We can’t change or “fix” people, but there is something about hearing the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, that allows the Holy Spirit to move in someones life which will lead to salvation.  Let’s stop being part of the problem as Christians, and be part of the solution.

#MakeDisciples

Steven

Struck Down But Not Destroyed

Posted: October 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed   2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Paul wrote these words telling the church at Corinth what preaching and teaching the Gospel is costing them.  The apostles were afflicted, crushed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, but not destroyed. They truly risked their lives and ultimately died just to tell the simple story of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.  We have access to the Bible and know the Gospel, but we have been so desensitized in America that it doesn’t seem to carry as much weight in our lives as it did to the men and women back then. We have lost track of the Gospel and we need to rediscover the joy and even the weight of the Gospel as well as a desire to make disciples.

In Acts chapter 5 there is an amazing story of the apostles and their seriousness for the Gospel and the command to make disciples.  Starting in verse 12 of Acts chapter 5 we see the apostles doing many signs and wonders, people were being healed and people were being saved.  Verse 14 says more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.  The Apostles were creating an uproar in the name of Jesus and the high priest and all that were with him didn’t like it, so they put the apostles in public prison (v. 17,18).

The apostles are in prison for preaching the Gospel and during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out. He told them to go and stand in the temple and preach the Gospel (v. 19-20)! What did they do? They were already in prison for preaching and proclaiming the name of Christ, now they find themselves free. What would they do? Verse 21 tells us they entered the temple and began to teach.  There is no talk of fleeing the scene and seeking their freedom, there is no talk of turning back. The apostles were obedient to what they were told and began to teach.  What would the modern Christian in America do at this point? What would I do? Would I stay and teach? Would I run? What would I do?

As we see the story progress, the high priest sends for the apostles.  When the officers approached the jail cell they found it locked with guards standing at the entrance.  When they opened the doors the cell was empty! They were gone! Someone would eventually tell them that the apostles were in the temple teaching the people again! The same thing they were put in prison for in the first place, they are now doing again! In fear of the people causing an uproar, the officers gently brought the apostles before the high priest.  The high priest said “we strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. “(v. 28) Now what? What would you do now? Your standing before the high priest and he’s got you again! What do you do? What would I do? Verse 29 says “But Peter and the apostles answered, we must obey God rather than men.”

The apostles know that this life is meant to obey God, not man, please God and not man.  Somehow in America we have gotten it backwards.  We tend to please man and not God, or to obey man and not God.  We tend to exalt man’s opinions, thoughts, actions and look up to these people and model our lives after them, instead of modeling our lives after scripture and the God of the Bible.  I have lived this way before. I have sought to please man and not God and it always ended in destruction, because as a Christian I know that my life isn’t built on man, or this world or the things of this world.  My life is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and any attempt to please or obey man and not God is the perfect opportunity to jump off the rock and build a small shack on the sand that ends in total devastation and loss.  Why? Because I’m not designed to live for man, I’m designed to live for God, give Him glory and enjoy him always.  The apostles got it right.  They knew that God was exalted and they lived their life proving that to everyone around them.  Even when imprisoned, they lived to please God and share the Gospel.

The story goes on to tell us that after they preached the Gospel again to the high priests and all of the officers and officials, the high priest wanted to kill them.  Here they are fresh out of prison, continuing to do what they were told not to and now they are all threatened to be killed for simply preaching the Gospel.  The apostles were willing to die for this Gospel.  Why? They knew the importance of making disciples and seeing men and women come to faith in Jesus Christ and cross over from death to life.  How is that working in our lives? We live in such a fast paced world that we go throughout most of our day not even thinking about where the people we come across stand with Jesus.  Do they know him? Does He know them? Are they saved, do they even know? We don’t think these things, we simply think about what we need, where we are going, what we are going to do when we get there, what we are going to eat for lunch, etc… For many of us the command to make disciples is not at the forefront of our mind on a daily basis like I believe it was for the apostles.

The apostles are about to die for preaching the Gospel until one man stands up and says “be careful how you deal with these men.” He gives them examples of people that have come along before and claimed to be something only to result in failure or something that never came to fruition.  He tells the people that if their plan or their undertaking is of man, it will fail; if it is of God, they will not be able to overthrow them. They might even be found opposing God! (V. 38-39). This man stood up and said be careful, this will either die out or you will be found opposing God.  How often do we see this in our culture? We are found at time opposing God by our lifestyle and the choices we make, we seek to live our lives by doing what makes us happy, what makes others happy and not what makes God happy.  How many times have we seen in our own lives, a moment of living for self or others die out and fail? And anytime we live for God and seek Him there is no failure, only a satisfying joy deep within our souls that only comes from God himself because we did what was right, regardless of the outcome.  Much like the apostles in the story, they did what was right, regardless of the outcome.

As the story goes, we see they high priest take this man’s advice.  However, the apostles were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore! (V. 40). The apostle’s lives were spared, but they were beaten for their faith! They were beaten for sharing the Gospel and threatened even further.  Verse 41 to me is a key verse in the story and one that convicts me to the core.  “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” The apostles didn’t leave trembling, fearing for their lives.  They left rejoicing! Rejoicing at the fact that they were considered worthy to suffer!

Many of us want the benefits of serving and following Jesus. We want the forgiveness, the healings, the redemption of our life from the pit, the love and mercy we receive and the renewal we receive from God himself.  His benefits are great! We want the benefits, but we don’t want to suffer like Jesus did. Romans 8:16-17 says this. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  As Christians, to be glorified like Christ means we must suffer like Christ.  In other words, we want the benefits, but we don’t want to suffer the persecution. The apostles rejoiced in the fact that they were counted worthy yet we are scared to say the name Jesus in fear of being laughed at!

We have a priority problem in America that we need to rediscover.  Our first priority much like the apostles is giving God glory in all that we do.  From there we must build each other up and evangelize the world, teach the Gospel without fear, without shame, with all boldness and dedication to the Word of God that commands us to make disciples, even if it means we suffer for it, even if it means we will lose our life.  As we suffer, we should rejoice knowing that we are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.

This brings me to the end of the story in Acts chapter 5.  What did the apostles do after they rejoiced? They kept teaching the Gospel.  They went from house to house teaching and preaching the name of Jesus Christ. (V. 42). No man was going to keep them from proclaiming the name of Jesus, teaching the Gospel and making disciples.  They took their calling serious.  So should we, regardless of what it costs us.  Paul says in Philippians 1:21 “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” No matter what it cost us to follow Jesus and proclaim the Gospel, it pales in comparison to what God has in store for us in eternity.

I want to encourage you to die too self and live for Christ. We may be afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

 

In Christ,

Steven Dew

What a difference a year makes.  Well, it’s almost been a year, either way we will call it a year.  From last May until now God began a work in our families life that we will never forget.  We were coming out of a rough season that was physically, emotionally and spiritually draining.  I won’t go into detail about the reasons, but they were rough and my family was drained.  We were moving from Alabama back to our hometown in Tupelo, Mississippi and we were going to be a happy little family that goes to an eight hour job, comes home and is happy. We would serve in our local church where we could, but  we were never going to do full time ministry again and that was just fine with us.

We moved back home and I got a job at my old place of employment.  I was now installing solid surface counter tops with a friend of mine that is more than a friend, he’s more like a brother to me. So I was able to work with a solid Christian guy with a great faith in Christ that loves his family and leads well. We spent the next four and a half months on the road together installing counter tops.  We were more than just installers, we were brothers in Christ living an adventure each day spreading the good news of Christ, The Gospel, while we worked.  During this time God was speaking to me in a fresh new way.  I was able to see things differently.  I was no longer the jaded, frustrated man I had been.  God allowed me to see that he had plans for me and my family, I just didn’t want to believe it.  I thought I would never be in ministry again.  Through all of this my wife and I found out we were expecting our fourth child, and not only our fourth child, it was our very first girl.  We were going to have our first daughter.  We started to see greater things come from a dark and frustrating past.

Later on I began working at a company that manufactured RVs. We moved further north of Tupelo, MS to be closer to this job as well as my wife’s family.  This was the blue collar life I was looking for.  Working in manufacturing, living in the country close to family and serving at our local church was what we wanted, but God had different plans.

In November of 2015 my wife and I were just looking at ministry opportunities across the United States and we found an open position in a place called Cross Plains, TN.  This church was looking for an Associate Pastor of Worship and Administration.  Something clicked inside of us both as we looked at this open position and looked through the church website. My wife said this word “apply!” with great enthusiasm. I said “really,” and she said “yes!” Now you have to understand that up to this point we had said that only God will put us back into full time ministry, but He would have to put us on the same page. We would both know that if God wanted it, we would both know it.   If He doesn’t put us on the same page then we will never do it again.  Little did we know God was opening a book to begin putting us on page 1, together.

From there we went through a lengthy process that was nothing short of amazing.  The people we were meeting and interviewing with were some of the best people I have ever been around.  God was up to something and every step of the way my wife was on board and we were on the same page, together, as a family.  My kids were even on the same page as us.  I know that God put everything into motion and knitted our family together like never before through this process.

During the process we were scheduled to come up to Cross Plains, TN for a big weekend of meet and greet, and to continue the interview process.  Little did we know Snowmageddon 2015 would hit.  We didn’t get to do all that was planned, but we did what God had planned.  My boys also got to play in 10 inches of snow so it was a great trip.  A couple of weeks later we came back to continue where we left off.  That particular Sunday I was going to lead worship and the church would vote.  We went through the weekend meeting one amazing person after another, and as Sunday came, I led worship and my family hit the rode back to Mississippi.  On the way back we received the phone call that said “Mt. Carmel is calling you to be the Associate Pastor of Worship and Administration,” we were excited and couldn’t wait to go home and spend the next two weeks packing.

Two weeks later we had our life packed neatly into a 26′ Penske truck.  Ok, so I will pause here and say it wasn’t neatly packed.  We tried, but it was to much to keep neatly packed, so by the time we got there it looked like we just threw stuff in there at random.  I digress. We arrived in Cross Plains, TN which is situated just a bit north of Nashville, TN. We were met with several men that were ready to unload that truck, which took about 45 minutes.  What took us a whole day to pack took 45 minutes to unpack and put in the house.  My wife and I worked most of the night and all day the next day getting it situated and by Saturday night we were comfortably in our home.  We were glad to be there.

Here is the beautiful piece of this whole puzzling, winding, strange trip.  There was peace.  Most moves are stressful, especially a move 4 hours from your home, but there  was this perfect peace that comes only from God himself.  I think of Isaiah 26:3 which says “You  keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” We kept trusting God through this process and we kept our minds fixed of God and what He was doing in our lives.  His plan was for us to be here in Cross Plains, TN and my wife and I including our kids are all on the same page.  It feels like we have lived here all of our lives.

There are many more details I could get into that were trying, troubling and down right scary, but God was faithful as we remained faithful to Him.  We serve a great God and sometimes we get so caught up in our circumstances that we fail to miss who God is in our lives and the work he is doing.  If there is any take away for any of you reading this it is this.  Keep your mind focused on God and trust Him through any and every circumstance.  It isn’t something magical, it’s real, it’s where our faithfulness meets His and everything that comes from it may be strange, may be a little weird, may be a little scary at times, but in the end we can say we have peace.

In Christ,

Steven

 

Train, Train, Train!!!

Posted: February 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

A little over a year ago my wife and I wanted to get healthy and stay healthy.  We made decisions to start running and working out.  Let me start out by saying I in no way wanted to start running.  I was a runner before and it didn’t last long. I wasn’t disciplined enough to stick with it in the sweltering Mississippi heat. I caved, and I quit, which brings me to my point.

Fast forward to right around Christmas of 2015. I have now logged over 300 miles for the year, which is huge! It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, it’s cold and it is pouring down rain.  I head to the park and I sit and think “do I really want to do this?” I didn’t, but I got out of the truck anyway.  As I was running in the nasty weather I wondered what people might have been thinking that passed by the park seeing me run in a downpour.  I didn’t care, I kept running.  I have a goal and that goal is to remain healthy and in shape!

As I was running my final mile the Holy Spirit stirred something inside of me.  I was reminded of this verse in 1 Timothy 4:7-8: Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (ESV) What I was doing was training my body to meet a goal of staying healthy and in shape.  If I stopped training I’d eventually be back at step one where a quarter of a mile would hurt my lungs!!

When I think of training I also think of the word discipline. It takes discipline to get out of the truck  on a cold rainy night to run a couple of miles to remain in good physical shape.  For some of us it takes discipline just to put on the running shoes!! I know, I’ve been there.  If I don’t discipline myself to run when I don’t want to, or when it isn’t convenient for me, or when the weather isn’t perfect then I will eventually get to the point of not doing what it takes to even put on my shoes.  We all know what happens if I don’t even discipline myself to put on my shoes! It leads to a lifestyle of swiss rolls, honey buns, cupcakes and Dr. Pepper, which leads to being physically unhealthy.

I understand that some of you guys really do not care about physical health, and I get that, I really do.  There is no shame in you saying you will only run if a bear is chasing you or some other vicious animal.  That was me for years, and this is not a writing trying to motivate you to do some sort of physical workout, but I will say you will start to feel much better if you do.  Physical exercise is a great stress reliever and is actually GOOD for your body!

Physical health is not the goal of me writing, and I’m not writing about me running in the rain for you to applaud my discipline and effort.  I tell that story to bring you the second half of my thoughts that night, which is the second half of the scripture.  Spiritual discipline has much more value than physical training or physical disciplines.

Many people live their lives as a Christian as someone who has given their lives to Jesus, but their actions do not reflect their salvation.  They are “good with God” and use each Sunday to put a check next to “go to church,” or “Pray before a meal!” Many people don’t understand what it means to be a Christian.  There is more to it than just checking boxes and making sure you’re “saved,” so you can go to Heaven when you die.  Jesus wasn’t murdered so we could be happy little Christians that live like Pagans.  Jesus wasn’t killed for you to be happy at all! Jesus wasn’t betrayed, brutally beaten and nailed to a cross for you to worship Him on Sunday just to turn your back on Him Monday through Saturday.

Jesus died to save us from our sins.  God looked on us in our depravity and knew that we could never save ourselves, so He sent Jesus.  Jesus took the punishment and death that we deserved all because of sin committed against a holy and perfect God.  Sin can’t go unpunished, that’s why Jesus took the punishment for us and satisfied God’s wrath.  When God calls us to Himself and we answer that calling and put our faith in Jesus and believe that He died for our sins and in three days he arose, and we confess that with our mouths, then we are saved.  But it doesn’t stop there.

Salvation is the beginning.  I believe salvation is a process that keeps going until we meet Jesus in eternity.  Instead of being happy, we are called to be Holy because He is holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16). Being made holy is a process in itself, it’s called sanctification. It’s simply the process of being made holy.  To be made holy we have to DISCIPLINE ourselves! It doesn’t just happen.  There are things that we have to do which finally brings me to “the point.”

We learned that physical training is of some value but spiritual training is of greater value because it lasts longer and echoes in eternity.  The purpose of spiritual training or spiritual discipline is “Godliness.” To be like God, to imitate God, to be just like Him. (Ephesians 5:1) At the point of salvation we aren’t like God, it takes work to be like Him and that is where these spiritual disciplines come into play in our lives.  Spiritual disciplines are much like physical disciplines.  For me the physical disciplines are 1. Put on my shoes 2. Get in my truck and drive to the park 3. Get out of the truck 4. Set my GPS watch so I will know when to stop running 😉 5. Move my feet and legs in a running motion for as many miles that I plan to run.  These are all things I have to do to achieve my goal of running and being in shape.  Spiritual disciplines look like this.  1. Reading your Bible 2. Praying 3. Fasting 4. Being a good steward 5. Silence and solitude 6. Serving others.  There are more that we could name but these are just a few.

Long story short, as a Christian we have to practice these things, even when we don’t want to.  All of these lead us to godliness.  It does’t just happen. We don’t wake up one day and “BOOM,” we are just like God! We have to put in the work.  As a Christian our goal is to be like Christ.  This means we do these things even when it hurts, even when we don’t want to and we will start to see a change in our lives.  We will start to see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5).  We will start to give God glory, build each other up and we will start to tell others the good news of Jesus and the saving grace we experienced.  Our lives will change drastically, much like mine has.  It takes work but it’s worth it.  In my life the work is worth it physically but even more so spiritually.  When others look at me I want them to see Jesus, not Steven.

Take your Christian life serious and dive into the spiritual disciplines.  I would love to recommend a book that I have recently started reading.  It’s called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney.  This book has been a great read, and it is also full of great ways we can discipline ourselves spiritually to obtain godliness.  Check it out here Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

In Christ,

Steven

Dear Lord Please Forgive Me

Posted: December 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

So, tonight I am sitting in the living room watching the movie Where The Heart Is.  If you don’t know what this movie is about it is about the Wal-Mart baby.  If you still don’t know what it’s about, it’s simply about a girl that went in Wal-Mart to buy shoes.  When she comes outside her redneck boyfriend has moved on without her.  She is pregnant and homeless.  She sneaks into the local Wal-Mart and lives there for 6 weeks where she eventually has her baby in the Wal-Mart.  She becomes famous and the baby is labeled the “Wal-Mart Baby.” Throughout her time in her new town she meets a lady that appears to be a God fearing woman.  She talks a lot about the Lord and when people come to bring the Word of God to the baby and her unmarried mother, the lady tells them the Word of God has been in that house for a long time.  Here’s the thing.  She has a gentleman in her life and often during her prayer she asks God to forgive them of the “things” she and her gentleman have done that very day.  I think we can all agree that we know what “things” she’s talking about.  If you don’t, watch the movie.  Either way, it brought my quiet time tonight to life.

Earlier tonight in my quiet time I read this verse out of the book of Romans. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). The word abhor basically means to hate evil and love what is good.  Stay away from evil things and do the right things in life.  Here is the problem, and I see it with many Christians, and I’ve seen it in my own life before. We claim to hate things like homosexuality but behind closed doors having sex before marriage.  We claim to hate abortion but we  drink until we can’t control ourselves when no-one is watching.  We claim to hate degrading lyrics in songs yet we let words spew out of our mouth like we can’t control it. Long story short we pick and choose what to hate but still willfully commit sin.   Just like the people in the movie I’m watching.  They love the Lord, they pray and they seem like great Christians in front of everyone but then choose to do what God has clearly called them not to do, and then ask for forgiveness.   We can’t just give ourselves away and then just flippantly ask God for forgiveness.  We have to understand what God has called us to before we commit sin.  He’s called us to hold fast to what is good and hate what is evil.  That means that any and every sin you can think of, hate it and stay away from it.  We know right from wrong, but we have to use our brains when faced with these things in life.  Wisdom plays a huge part in the decisions we make.  We have to pray for wisdom, it doesn’t just come to us.  Sure, some people are wise because they are smart or have lived a long life, but Biblical wisdom comes from God and we have to ask for it.  Wisdom really helps when we have to choose between good and evil.

So if you find yourself in this position, what do you do now? Well, ask for forgiveness, find a church if you aren’t already in one, find someone to talk to and share life with.  One thing is for sure, we can’t do life alone.  We have to have people in our lives that push us, encourage us and hold us accountable.  Pray for wisdom and live your life the way God has called you to live.  It’s not easy, it takes work and it will be a fight, but it’s a fight worth fighting especially when it is for the Kingdom.  We were all created for so much more than ourselves.  We were created to give God glory, build each other up and evangelize the world.  Life your life the right way, get rid of all of the evil and stop fitting in with the rest of the world.  Step out and be different.  Read Romans 12:1-2.  Don’t conform, transform.  Live your life the right way getting rid of all evil and all sin.  There will be much more joy and a  lot less pain and sorrow.

In Christ,

Steven

What’s on Your Mind?

Posted: December 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m sitting in a room with my laptop, guitar and phone.  I started playing some worship songs, then I started listening to worship songs, after that I sat down in the floor with my laptop.  I clicked on my wife’s Facebook page and in front of me are the words “What’s On Your Mind?” Well, there is a lot on my mind, so here goes.

First of all we have a Good, Good Father.  As I was playing worship music on my guitar I played that song over and over.  Then I listened to it a couple of times on my phone, and I know that we have a good, good Father that loves us, that is singing over us, that saves us!! Even when we are down in the dumps and even when we are high as a kite.  Well, high as a kite on life, not drugs, but you know what, even if you are on drugs He is still a good, good Father.  He loves you, He loves me!!! How do we ever deserve God putting on flesh, living with sinners and dying on a cross all for us? So we could live!!! So we could have abundant life!! He sacrificed His life for mine, and He doesn’t stop there.  He continues to lead us through life.  When the waves come, He’s still right there.  When the waves cease, He’s still there.  If He can tell the waves to cease and they listen, then guess what, if there are waves in your life, He can make them cease as well.  It may be rough going, but He is in your boat and has never tried to swim to shore.  How good is that? He never leaves us or forsakes us says the writer of Hebrews.  He’s always there and He always will be.  He loves us and He calls us sons and daughters.  So our God being a good good Father is on my mind!!

Second: Life is hard.  Did I just get an amen through social media? You understand that statement right? Maybe just a statement won’t do.  Maybe it should be an exclamation.  Life is HARD!!!!!!!!!!!  There are so many things that can go wrong and do go wrong on a daily basis.  People fight, people argue, people are selfish and everyone is always right.  We lose people, we lose friends, we get in wrecks, we run late for work, we get fired from work, we get laid off, we get sick, our loved ones get sick, our dog gets run over by the UPS truck and on and on and on I could go.  The point is it’s hard to live life sometimes.  Here is what I have figured out about people and life.  If you don’t read God’s word and do what it says, life will be a lot harder than it should be.  I’m not saying bad things won’t happen, or that life will be full of endless Reese’s peanut butter cups that aren’t fattening, but what I am saying is this.  If you put your faith in Jesus and you are a person of integrity and thank God by the way you live your life, you will have joy.  Even in the bad you will experience joy if you will just read God’s word and live by His standards and not your own.  Check out Psalm 119:1-8.  I would post it here, but I would love for you to grab a Bible or the Bible app and read it for yourself.  It will tell you exactly how to experience joy.  Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when you don’t know how to face tomorrow, joy will overpower whatever you are going through.  It’s not magic, and it won’t just happen, you have to put in the work.  Read it, have joy, and then start living by God’s standards and not a false standard that you create for yourself.  This life is not about us and if we would do these three things life would be so much better for us, even when it’s at it’s most difficult.  1. Give God Glory 2. Build Each Other Up 3. Witness to the world (Tell People about Jesus).  Things will change, and you will see life differently, you will experience life differently and it might just be the abundant life Jesus promises us if we do these things.

The third thing that is on my mind is this.  It’s not going to be very long, but here goes.  America is obviously not what it used to be.  Things have changed and they have seemed to change quickly.  I want you to know our next President won’t fix this mess, our Governor won’t fix it, our Mayor won’t fix it, and God Himself may not fix it.  Ok, pick your jaws up off of the floor.  Why would I say God may not fix it? Good question.  Do I believe God could take out all the evil in this world and there would be non fattening Reese’s peanut butter cups for everyone? Sure I do! I really do, but my mind takes me to what Jesus says when he tells US to go into the world and make disciples.  What if we stopped praying for God to fix our nation and started praying for boldness to go out into this nation and tell people about Jesus and who He is, and what He has done in our own lives? Stop inviting people to your church and tell people who Jesus is.  Stop wearing your feelings on your sleeves and start wearing your faith on your sleeves.  Think about that for a while.  I know this: “The earth will shake and tremble before Him, Chains will Break as Heaven and Earth Sing HOLY IS THE NAME, HOLY IS THE NAME OF JESUS, JESUS, JESUS!!!!!!”

The last and final thing that is on my mind is how in the world do you spell experience?  I’ve tried to spell it three different ways and every time it gives me the red line under it.  Maybe when I right click to find the proper way to spell it I will take time to look at it and remember how it’s spelled instead of just hitting insert!  You guys have a great night.

In Christ,

Steven