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

Stoning Stephen and Saving Saul

Posted: December 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

Most of us have heard about Stephen in the book of Acts chapter 6 and 7.  If you don’t, I will catch you up real quick.  Stephen according to the Bible was a man full of God’s grace and power.  He performed amazing miracles and signs among the people (Acts 6:8). One day he got into a debate with some men from the Synagogue.  Stephen was full of the Spirit and full of wisdom and none of the men could stand up against him, so they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen.  They told the people and religious leaders that Stephen was blaspheming Moses and even God.  He said that Jesus would destroy the temple and change the customs Moses handed down to them.  The high priest got involved and asked Stephen if this was true, and Stephen let them all know exactly what was in his heart and on his mind.  Acts chapter 7 is worth the read to see the boldness of Stephen.  He tells them all about Abraham, Moses, Joseph and Jesus.  He then in verse 51 calls them “stubborn people! Stephen is really getting after it here.  He proceeds to tell them that THEY murdered and betrayed Jesus.  Whoah…that was obviously not the right thing to say.. All of the leaders were furious at what Stephen just told them so they rushed him and dragged him out of the city and stoned him.  When I say they stoned him I don’t mean they threw pebbles at him.  These stones were more like huge boulders that were thrown at Stephen.  Through all of this Stephen sees the Heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  Chapter 7 verse 59 says that Stephen said “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” and then he died.  Wow, what a man of honor and integrity and character.  As these men stoned him because of his love for Jesus, he asked Jesus not to hold them accountable for this sin.  We wouldn’t have that right? We would want revenge!! We would say something like “Kill em God, Kill em!!” But not Stephen.  He said “Forgive em God, forgive em!!!

But, it’s not Stephen I really want to focus on here.  It’s a man we know by the name of Saul.  Acts chapter 8 verse 1 says this, “Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.” This man Saul, held the coats of the ones doing the stoning, and agreed with it 100%.  Many of you probably know the story of how Saul became Paul and wrote over half of the New Testament.  If you don’t here is a quick background of Saul turned to Paul.  Saul didn’t like Christians, in fact, hated them.  He would beat them and seek to kill them, just because they were Christians, so naturally when they were killing a man that loved Jesus he was cool with it.  The Lord one day got Sauls attention by knocking him off of his horse and blinding him.  Saul had an encounter with Jesus and changed his life, and also changed his name to Paul.  Paul went from a man watching Stephen get stoned and probably cheering to a man that would end up giving his life, and his head because of his love for Jesus.  Two very different people when we meet them in scripture, but at the end of their lives they were both killed because of their love for Jesus.

It’s amazing to me how we see one man cheering on the death of another man and then see that same man fall in love with Jesus and do amazing things in his name.  Here’s what I know.  You may have messed up many, many times.  You may be messing up in life right now, but if you are still breathing then God isn’t done with you.  He has plans for you, he died for you! There is nothing you could ever do to take away His love for you! You can’t be to bad or run to far.  He loves you.  Jesus gave his life on the cross so that you could have an abundant life in Him.  So, you messed up. So did Paul.  Paul was a murderer and God forgave Him and changed his heart.  Paul lived a life sold out for Jesus and if God can change His heart then He can change yours.  It’s not to late.  You can start over today. The good news is God doesn’t just throw you away, he can remake you into something beautiful.  You are His masterpiece created for good works.  Let him mold you into what He wants your life to look life.  Maybe life is broken into a million pieces, let Him restore it.  Let Him be the potter in your life and you be the clay.  He still loves you.

I wish I could say that I have always been a Stephen, but I can’t.  I’ve been a Saul more than a Stephen.  But, I have seen God do an amazing work in my heart and in my life.  He has brought me out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Even as a Christian I have done awful things, but God has restored, He has redeemed, He has changed me from a Saul to a Paul and I will spend the rest of my life being a Stephen.  What about you? Do you need to be healed, restored, redeemed? Cry out to Jesus, reach out to someone you know and remember, He loves you and wants you, let Him do great things in your life and be a Stephen, even if it ends up getting you stoned.

In Christ,

Steven

A good name

Posted: November 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

People have names. It’s a part of our life.  I have a name, you have a name, you give names to your kids. But, do we have a good name? My name is Steven and I have often thought about what I would be called if it weren’t Steven.  I could never think of anything that I liked so I just stuck with Steven.  Maybe you have a name that you hate, maybe you have a middle name you hate, maybe you even have a last name you hate.  I know for years I hated my last name because people made fun of me all the time.  My last name is Dew so I will give you a few seconds to let your imagination run wild……………ok, are you finished? Did you come up with all the names? Yes, I was called Mountain Dew, and still get called that sometimes.  People think that the fact that I am 6’5″ makes Mountain Dew even funnier.  I’ve been called Dewberry, Honeydew Melon, Dew Drop, Dewcefus and more.  Can you think of anymore? Ok, enough about my last name. The point is we have names, we may like our names or we may hate them, but how do we have a good name?

Proverbs 22:1 says this:  A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

We know how to desire great riches, more money, more stuff that we think will make us happy and even go to great lengths to do what it takes to get more money.  We have to remember this, Mo Money, Mo Problems!! Yes, we’ve heard it all our lives but it is true.  It seems that the more money I have had in my life the more problems I did have.  Maybe I tried to buy more than I needed because I “had the money,” either way, it didn’t make me happy.  Money is a good thing to have, it helps a lot but, do we really need to desire money? What about a good name? Many people don’t care what people think of them, but if we break it down we will see that it really does matter what people think of us.  What do people think of when they hear your name? Do they think that you are negative, rude, work to much, arrogant, prideful or any other not so good thing you can think of? Oh wait, who cares right? Normally when people say that it’s because they are one of those things or something worse.  They will do whatever it takes to make themselves happy, no matter who it hurts in the process.  That’s not a good name? I hope none of you have a name associated with those things.

But what about that good name? When people say your name do they think great things? Do they esteem you like Proverbs 22:1 says? Do they respect and admire you? Do they think you are a great person that loves Jesus and loves others? If so then you have a good name. Chances are you have put all of the fame and fortune lifestyle behind you in order to serve Jesus and serve others.  You are probably kind, gentle, patient, self controlled. You are probably good, faithful and know how to love well.  Do any of these things sound familiar? They are the fruit of the Spirit found in the book of Galatians.  Here is the truth: When we concern ourselves with things of God we live a life that honors Him and we have a good name because of His Son’s name, Jesus.  If we make life about ourselves then we reap pride, rudeness, and are people that have no self control.  That’s not a name I want but sadly, I’ve had that name, but now I choose to carry a good name.

Maybe you are thinking of people like Mother Theresa.  She had a pretty good name right? She was a good person, loved people and served well, however, she didn’t love and serve Jesus.  Her name is chalked up to the things she did, not the woman she was.  I want to be remembered by who I am in Christ, not just the good things I do in this world.

So the deciding factor in having a good name that the Bible talks about is Jesus.  What have you done with Jesus? Is He your Lord and Savior? Is He your King? Do you serve Him? What we do with Jesus go’s deeper than just giving our life to Him.  It’s a daily denying of ourselves and following Him.  It’s a relationship. If you have a relationship with Jesus and you are obedient to His word, I bet you have a good name.  I bet people respect and admire you.  I bet people know that you stand for Christ! Let us all strive to be that person.

In Christ,

Steven