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

So it’s Halloween and it has been raining since about 10:30 this morning.  It’s been one of those days. I’ve eaten lunch, watched the Ole Miss Rebels win a close football game against Auburn, watched an episode of The Walking Dead and played with the kids and our new lab/golden retriever mix River.  It’s been a great day.  After all of this, I sat down to do a little quiet time and started reading in Psalm 106 and I read these words.

Psalm 106:6-8English Standard Version (ESV)

Both we and our fathers have sinned;
    we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
Our fathers, when they were in Egypt,
    did not consider your wondrous works;
they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love,
    but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
    that he might make known his mighty power.

I read this and I started thinking back to the story of Moses leading the Israelite’s out of Egypt.  Verses 6 and 7 really capture the hearts of the Israelite’s at this time.  After being set free from slavery by God they chose to rebel and sin against the very God that set them free to begin with.  How could they? At one point in the story they actually say they would be better off back under Egyptian rule than to be in the wilderness hungry and alone! What? Really? Even then God fed them and watered them, He cared for them and met their basic needs.  All they had to do was keep following, but time and time again we see the Israelite’s sin against God.  They sinned against God, the one who set them free.  I read the story and I’m blown away by the ungrateful hearts of the Israelite’s.  How could they do this? How could they complain and turn their backs on God, and then…….. Bam!!! hello that’s me…..that’s you!!

If we are honest, we have been no better than those complaining, sinful Israelite’s.  Let something go wrong in our lives and who are we the first to blame? God mostly, and then we start blaming other people.  We never look at ourselves, and never take responsibility for our actions. God always gets the bad wrap, even when He is taking care of us in our weakness, in our struggles, He’s still there and He still cares, yet we throw our wrath up to Him and turn our backs.  We sin, we fall, we blame God and others but we never look to see just what all God has done for us.

Let’s take the cross out of the picture for a moment.  You see God does so much for us that we don’t even think about.  Take a deep breath in and then let it out.  You didn’t do that….God did that….. He filled your lungs with air and allowed you to exhale all of that air.  You can’t manufacture breath no matter how hard you try. If we as humans could breathe and manufacture breath then we would never die right?  Think about that.  Ok, on to the the next thing.  When did you eat last? When did you have that last water, coke, Dr. Pepper, etc…? Are you reading this on your smart phone? on a computer? Are you in your house? Are you sleeping on a bed at night? Do you have running water?

Here is my point, God has blessed us with so much more than we give him credit for.  Many will argue that yes they in fact do have a smart phone, a house, a computer, etc…and they worked hard to have all that they do, but when we trace it all back to the root of it all It was because God put that breath in us. It was the ability He has given us to go out and work.  It’s all about God yet we choose to live for ourselves, turn from God and live in sin.  He has done so much for us.  We are modern day Israelite’s, but….. verse 8

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
    that he might make known his mighty power.

Even though the Israelite’s were a bunch of complainers and sinners, God chose to save them. He put his power on display in their lives and He saved them, He spared their life.  He also did the same for all of mankind when He sent His Son Jesus to the world to be murdered on a tree so that all sinners can be saved.  Wow! Even though we complain, steal His breath, turn our backs He still chose to die for us, so that we might be saved.  He chooses to forgive our sins, love us, care for us and continue to bless us.  He truly is a GOOD GOOD FATHER.

Worship Him today

In Christ,

Steven

Dad Life

Posted: October 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

Check out @swdew5’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/swdew5/status/650857921018925056?s=09

Men and College Football

Posted: September 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

image

I have to admit, this picture is fun to look at for me. It represents an Ole Miss football team that beat an Alabama team Saturday night. I am an Ole Miss fan and I was excited to see my team win such a big game. I slept like a baby when the game was finally over at 12:30am on Sunday morning.

Here’s the flip side of that. Let’s say Alabama won the game. I wouldn’t have been as excited but I would have still slept like a baby. The truth is college football doesn’t determine how I respond in life or the way I treat other people. For many men it’s quite the opposite. Many men will be frustrated, angry and down right mean. They will be mean to their wives , snap at their kids and sleep in on Sunday mornings while the rest of the family treks off to church, without the man of the house.

Not all men are this way but I know many men that are. They base their life around college football at the same time claiming to know and follow Jesus. The last time I checked Jesus didn’t die for college football, hunting,  fishing , trucks , work or whatever else men immerse themselves in. Jesus died so that we could give him glory, build each other up and evangelize the world. College football is a form of entertainment that is meant to be enjoyed, not worshiped. The only person that deserves worship is Jesus himself.

Here’s what I’m saying. Enjoy life, enjoy football but don’t let it rule you. Worship our risen Savior and lead your  families well. If you don’t have a family , worship Jesus and learn how to lead a family when you do have one. Our country is in desperate need for real men to step up and give all glory to God and live with conviction, read their Bibles and do what it says and lead their families well. We have to stop letting football on Saturday determine what we do on Sunday and every other day of the week.

Live for His glory today.

In Christ,

Steven

Persecution and the American Church

Posted: September 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Recently Relevant Magazine tweeted an article about Christian persecution in the world today.  The information showed that every 5 minutes a Christian is martyred for their faith somewhere in the world.  You can check this article out here. If you read this article you will see that it goes on to show the top 50 places in the world where Christian persecution is alive and well.  Nowhere do I read the words “The United States,” or any state in America.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s really nice to not have to worry about being persecuted for our faith, but as I read scripture there is one verse in 2 Timothy that stands out to me.

2 Timothy 3:12

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

There is one word in this verse that stands out and will eventually show who is all in, or who is all out.  That word is desire.  If you desire to live a godly life in Christ, then guess what, you WILL be persecuted.  It doesn’t say you might be, or it’s possible, it says you will be persecuted.  I think back to the recent and still ongoing story out of Kentucky with Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage license to not only homosexual couples but heterosexual couples as well.  She felt that it was wrong for her to go against her religious beliefs to issue marriage license to same sex couples.  She stood firm in her faith and was arrested and put in jail.  Her story can be found here. Kim Davis was persecuted for her faith.  Although we in America think of persecution as being martyred (killed) for our faith, persecution means much more.  Here is the webster.com definition of what it means to be persecuted: to treat (someone) cruelly or unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs.  I would say Mrs. Davis was persecuted for her faith. She made national headlines for her stance on the issues, but what about us? What about the church in America?

First, let me tell you what I believe the church is or isn’t. The church isn’t a building, the church doesn’t have a steeple and it’s not a thing we go to.  The church is a group of people that profess Christ as their Savior.  We are the church.  Living, breathing human beings who have Christ living inside of us make up what is known as the church.

So what about the church in America? Are we being persecuted for our faith in Christ? Maybe it isn’t on a national level, but what about the people we work with, go to school with, interact with at our kids games, the people we interact with in Wal-Mart, in traffic, at the gas station? Do they know where we stand when it comes to Jesus, or are we keeping it between the four walls that most people call the “church” on Sundays and possibly Wednesday nights? For so long I lived my Christian life between those four walls. When “church” was over I went on being who I wanted to be and doing what I wanted to do.  The people around me had no clue I was a Christian because my life did not reflect Jesus to others.  I wonder how many others are doing the same thing, just living the “Christian” life when it’s expected of us.  Where is the persecution in America? Where are the ones treated unfairly because they love Jesus and they won’t back down? Sadly, many Christians profess Jesus under the steeple, but not out in the streets.  Others are just to comfortable, or maybe even scared of what might happen, and I get that, I was that guy.  I have been the one that is on fire inside the walls, I have been the one that has been on fire outside of the walls but afraid to tell people out of fear of being laughed at, or persecuted.  I have been the guy that has just been a “comfortable Christian” and kept my faith to myself because it was comfortable that way.  God hasn’t called us to comfort or passivity, He has called us to put on the armor and fight like a warrior for his name sake regardless of the outcome.

I believe it is time for America to awaken, stand up and profess the name of Christ no matter what! Without fear, without fear of what people may think or what they may do.  If we desire to live a godly life, it’s time! If we believe Jesus, and we believe the Bible is God’s word, then we will believe it when it says “To live is Christ, to die is gain!” Simple translation: on earth, live like Jesus, and if and when we die, it will be  our gain because we will be with Jesus for eternity.

Who cares what people think, if you are in Christ you are accepted, you are adopted, you are a son or daughter. I challenge anyone that reads this to tell others what Jesus has done in your life, don’t be ashamed, stand firm and imitate Christ in your life regardless of the outcome.

I’m not asking for persecution, I’m asking for obedience to scripture and scripture tells us persecution will happen if we are obedient to Jesus.  It’s just another way we are more like Christ.   What do you desire? Safety, comfort? popularity? acceptance from others? or do you desire to live like Christ and be obedient to Him?

In Christ,

Steven

In the Valley with a Shovel!

Posted: September 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

I was told recently that I should write a book and title it “In The Valley With a Shovel.”  I started thinking about that title and about my life from years ago to where I am now.  I have come up with two conclusions about life.  Before I get to those two conclusions though, I want to remind all one or two of you that will actually read this of the age old saying.  You have probably heard someone say this before, that you 1. Just got out of a storm 2. In a storm 3. or headed into a storm of life.  You have all heard that right? Ok, maybe you have heard it like this as well, you are either on the mountain top or in the valley.  The mountain tops are these good moments when life is just going your way, God is blessing, you are reading scripture and applying it, things are just great.  Then there are the valleys.  Nobody likes the valleys! Nobody prays for a valley! The valley is where things aren’t as good, well, lets face it, things suck, life sucks and you start to fill like you as a person sucks.  The valley is bad.  I think about Psalm 23. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – see, death is associated with a valley!! The valleys feel like death in our lives and in my case I could often write a scripture of my own. Though I walk through the valley of crap I will take my shovel and keep shoveling, because the crap keeps coming! Come on, you have been there right? or as they say in the church world “You may just be headed to a valley!” That means if you have never been in a valley of crap in life then you will be one day.  That leads me to my two conclusions about life and valleys.  Here they are.

  1. When we are in a valley we can look back at the events that got us there and sometimes we realize the choices that we made in life knocked us off the mountain backwards and we roundhouse kicked a cow patty with our teeth! Yep, I mean we fell face first in to a big ole pile of poop!  Isn’t it like the prodigal son? He found himself in the middle of pig crap and it was all because of the choices he made in life.  The point is, all valleys aren’t anybodies fault but our own.  Trust me, I’ve shoveled a lot of crap because i took a swan dive into it myself.
  2. The second conclusion I have is that life just happens.  Things happen that are beyond our control and we just can’t help it. It happens, it’s life.  You get laid off, the bills don’t get laid off, they keep coming, you get sick, you lose your car, you lose a loved one, etc…. We all know that some things happen are way beyond our control. Sometimes life throws us down into the valley and there is nothing we can do about it, but keep shoveling.

In either situation it’s important that we do just that.  Keep Shoveling!! Maybe I will make that my new hashtag to round out the year 2015 on Twitter #KeepShoveling.  I’ve shoveled for both reasons listed above and it’s not fun, but it’s necessary.  If we just sit down in the valley no matter how we got there, nothing changes, stuff keeps piling up on top of us and before we know it, it’s difficult to even move.  Shoveling takes work, shoveling means we do whatever it takes to get out of the valley.  It may mean we come to our senses and get up and leave the valley.  Life may throw more on top of us on the way but we shovel it to the side and keep pressing on, keep moving forward, keep trusting God and doing the work it takes to get out of the valley. Sometimes it may take a while to get out of the valley, that’s ok, keep shoveling! Think of it like this.  There are many people who get a whole lot of snow each winter.(I think we call them Yankees!?!?) If they don’t get out and shovel their driveways, they can’t go to the store or to work or wherever else they need to go since they don’t shut down their city because of snow.  When they shovel once, they will wake up and have to shovel again, but they keep shoveling.  That is what we have to do in our life, shovel, put it behind us and keep walking until we get back on top of that mountain, and when we are back on that mountain we start shoveling away all the things that might knock us off.  Just because we reach the mountain top doesn’t mean we drop the shovel. We have to stand ready, firm in our faith and fight off or shovel away temptations, pride and anything else that could creep in and destroy us.

I also have another conclusion about God and our valleys and mountaintops.  Here it is: He loves us no matter where we are. Whether we’re on the mountaintop or the valley he loves us and he is there.  We don’t serve a God that says shovel harder or shovel faster!!! He shovels with us! You may think I’m crazy but his word tells us that He will never leave or forsake us – If we are in a valley shoveling and doing the work it takes to get out, then I believe He’s right there with us! His love is deep, wide, long and high.  Trust him and if you have a shovel, start shoveling!

Let this Psalm give you encouragement as your living this life

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting onthose who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

In Christ,

Steven