God

Please pass the mustard seed

seed

Mustard seeds fascinate me.  They start as one of the smallest seeds in the world. Then they can grow into herbs larger than an adult with sturdy branches large enough to carry birds. Jesus taught the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew, Mark and Luke..

In Matthew Jesus said, “. . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

When growers plant the mustard seed, the germination process begins. Only after it dies does it start to grow. All the growth and fruit from one tiny seed would not be possible unless the seed dies.

We would not be proclaiming the Gospel if Jesus had not died.

We have to die too if we are going to bear fruit for God. We can do all sorts of “good” things. We can pray, read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, go to church, serve on committees, usher and more. None of it glorifies God, however, if we’re not willing to be crucified with Him. We have to die first if we’re going to live for Him.

That’s why Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Need to move any mountains?

God

Confrontation

hf

If Jesus had  a middle name it could likely have been confrontation.   Every time he turned around he was in a confrontation with somebody. Usually it was  the Jewish bigshots  arguing with Jesus about the law. The Jewish leaders followed Jesus around all the time trying to catch him breaking a Jewish law, like working on the Sabbath, or healing a Leper when the law said not even to touch one.

Well here’s a good example:  One Sabbath Jesus was teaching in the synagogue.  Of course the scribes and Sadducees we’re all watching him to see what he would do. They wanted him to break a Jewish law so they could arrest him or shame him in front of all the Jewish people.

But he knew their thoughts.  Jesus knows everything about everybody all the time. Nothing was is hidden from Jesus. He called the man over to him. The man stood with Jesus. Jesus looked at all of the Jewish bigshots who were watching intently. He asked them a pointed question that pitted Jewish law against the ministry of healing love He was advocating. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm to save life or to destroy it?”  Then he looked around at all of them. (I wonder what he must have been thinking about them then?) Jesus told the man to hold out his arm. When he held out his arm it was immediately healed.  The Jewish big shots were furious. They started talking among themselves wondering what they could do to Jesus.

God

The bottom line

All the prayers have been lifted up. Your wife is already in heaven waiting to see if you’ll join her. You got your very last social security check. Your house sold. Both your kids and their families are living their lives out in Utah. Your three grandkids visited for the last time in August. All three of your best friends you played gin rummy with in the park every Saturday have all died.

The Holy Spirit whispered in your ear this morning at breakfast.,” Tonight your soul will be required of you. Jesus will come for you tonight.”

Okay, life as you know it is over. There is only one decision left to make. Just a few hours from now you’re going to go to hell or heaven. You won’t be making that decision. Jesus will. And where you go depends entirely on how Jesus knows you will answer this question–Did you have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s His bottom line. There is no other criteria. If you did have a personal intimate relationship with Jesus you’ll be in heaven tonight and probably spend some quality time with your wife and maybe play a little gin rummy with your buddies.

If not…well I don’t even want to think what its going to be like where you’re going.

If you’ve still got some life left to live you might want to consider how you’ll answer Jesus’ bottom line one day.

God

Spiritual Warfare

When I started playing basketball, you didn’t have many choices for shoes. There was one brand. You could either get high tops or low tops. Later, you could get either black or white. Today, it’s hard to count the number of choices.

Another choice was introduced on July 27, 2021. The new version of the classic Chuck Taylor All Star shoes was introduced with features of a satanic pentagram symbol on the tongue of the shoe. I am sad to say that they sold out the first day at $170 a pair. The designer, Rick Owens, said that he wanted to develop a shoe with a message that offers an alternative to life. Advocating a satanic approach to life is certainly an alternative – but it is a false alternative.

Make no bones about it, friends – we are in spiritual warfare. Even the shoes that kids are buying could have a satanic message. Obviously, they think that the Christian faith is not sufficient, so there needs to be an alternative.

A musician and art collective tried this earlier in 2021 when they sold 666 pairs of modified Nike’s Air Max 97s called “Satan Shoes.” Supposedly, the shoe contained a drop of human blood in the sole.

Jesus was very clear when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) Peter said, “There is no other name under Heaven whereby a person may be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Those statements leave no room for “an alternative system.”

We are in spiritual warfare. The Bible is clear that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against world forces of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness and schemes of the devil. Therefore, put on the full armor of God! (Ephesians 5:10-19)

One Christian author has spoken out and said, “Satan knows his time is short and is intensifying his activity to deceive and destroy souls. I pray that Christians understand how real the war is and they do the same, but in order to save souls that would otherwise be lost.”

An observer said, “A company has sold its soul to partner with darkness. It’s more than just a marketing gimmick. So many companies of commerce are under the sway of the wicked one.” Another response was, “This is definitely not a fashion statement. This is just another way the devil promotes himself whether you realize it or not.”

We are in spiritual warfare. Good news!! Paul said, “I am an ordinary weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and weapons to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons that can break down the devil’s strongholds. . .and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding Him. With these weapons I can capture rebels…and change them into men who desire obedience to Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:3-5) Hallelujah!!

Are you ready for battle? All it takes for the devil to win is for God’s people to be spectators safely and silently positioned away from the lines of battle. Get off the sidelines and move to the frontlines!

One person said, “It is spiritual warfare. Dark versus light. Spoiler: God wins!”

I say, “Amen.”

God

If Jesus came back tonight

Only God knows the day and time Jesus is coming back to gather all God’s children to be with God forever in heaven.

But what if he was coming back tonight in just a few hours? What would you do? Are you completely sure, positively assured in your heart that you’d have a seat on the bus? Or do you have some lingering questions? A doubt or two? Unconfessed sins? Some pride left?

I think there’s a bunch of folks who call themselves “Christians” and think they’ve got their ticket punched. But their thinking misses the mark.

These folks will tell you they’re good people. They do good deeds for others. They go to church. They read the Bible. They pray.

They don’t sin . . .very much or often. They try real hard to be a good person and be real kind to everybody. They really like to do good things and help people who need help.

I’m really a good person. Isn’t that enough? NO!

Nothing these folks say they do will punch their ticket when Jesus comes back. They can never do enough to be accepted by God to make it into heaven.

John 3:16 is the key to get our ticket punched to go with Jesus back with him to heaven and enjoy eternal life in Paradise with God forever.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever (that means anybody) believes in him shall never perish but have eternal life.

God

What are “the things above”?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Janes 1:17

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ , set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

So lets drill down to some basic truths about things above.

1. Christ is in God at his right hand.

2. Christ has blessed US with every (every) spiritual blessing.

3.We have died and spiritually we live in Christ above.

4. We have a new life down here on Earth and above.

Let’s look at another critically important word “above” in these passages. “SET” it means –“put, lay, or stand (something) in a specified place or position. Paul uses set in two different places, to set. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things and Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated- at the right hand of God. 

As followers of Christ our gaze should be fixed in a a special place–on Christ and God above as we live out our new lives as Christ’s disciples.

Blessings

There are more blessings than we can count. And who has every one? We do. Where are they? In Christ and God above. They are the things above.

compassion love patience kindness humility gentleness forgiveness salvation self control the indwelling of the Holy Spirit giving hope peace sanctification justice knowledge joy

And these blessings don’t even qualify as the tip of the iceberg

If we have them, how can we take advantage of them? We must appropriate each one of them from Christ as we need them or choose to minister or witness by using them. We set our hearts and minds on Christ in God above.

God

Looking at life through God’s glasses–two different olympics

The Olympics are famous for a lot of pageantry. Millions of people watch the opening ceremony as athletes of each nation walk together behind their nation’s flag.

The closing ceremony is different. The athletes don’t walk behind their own flag but enter at random with people from other nations. The idea was to represent that the Olympic Games end with bringing people from different nations together.

This tradition started in 1956 at the Melbourne Games. You might remember that high political tensions had caused several countries not to participate. Those games became famous when the water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union ended in a bloody fight. The contest had to be cancelled when the violence broke out.

A 17-year-old Australian of Chinese descent suggested in an anonymous letter that those games should end with people walking together as “only one nation.” The letter was sent to Kent Hughes, the chairman of the Melbourne Organizers’ Committee. He liked the idea, so the closing ceremony took place with people coming in together.

It wasn’t until 1986 that the writer of that letter was revealed as John Wing. When questioned about it, he said that he wanted history to show that the Olympics could go from “bloody” to the “friendly games.”

Our world today needs to go from competition that is producing bloodshed to community that can produce peace and harmony. We need less walking behind the flags of our own thoughts and positions and more reaching out to other people. We must learn to live together.

The word community is composed of two words – common and unity. Common refers to the fact that everybody is included. Unity refers to togetherness, teamwork, and solidarity, and that leads people to live in peace, civility, and love.

We have enough competition in the world – we need community. The One who can give community is God’s son, Jesus Christ. He died to bring all people into a new relationship with God so that all people could live together meaningfully. Jesus said, “God so loved the world. . . “ (John 3:16) The word “world” includes everybody. Only God can create a community in which people can live in peace.

Religious denominations need to quit competing and start cooperating in creating God’s community. Cities need to quit competing and focus on how we can improve all human relationships. Nations and races need to quit competing and discover the power of genuine Christian relationships. We need less opening ceremonies and more closing ceremonies!

An Australian of Chinese descent, John Wing, had a great idea for the Olympics. A Jewish carpenter had a greater idea for changing the understanding of relationships. Our world needs community. Our world needs to experience peace, respect, and love.

Let’s learn a lesson from watching the Olympics. Looking through human glasses, we see opening ceremonies focusing on competition for “our team.” Looking through God’s glasses, we see closing ceremonies, focusing on community for “all teams.”

Are you marching in the opening ceremony or the closing ceremony?

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God

Two spikes

Folks were adventurous

On May 10, 1869 Leland Stanford drove a spike (a 17 karat solid gold spike) into railroad track at Promontory Point Utah. The spike connected the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento, California to the Union Pacific Railroad from Omaha, Nebraska completing the first Transcontinental Railroad. And the United States would never be the sA whole world of business and commerce exploded. The New York Stock Exchange was born. Shipping all kinds of goods by rail mushroomed. The passenger train business took off and just kept growing. Thousands of people headed West to seek their fortunes and capitalize on new land grabbing opportunities (much to the dismay of Native Americans. The throngs who migrated west forced Native Americans onto reservations and slowly depleted their food and hunting livelihood. But most folks didn’t care. The new transcontinental railroad was their savior. It gave folks new life. They feasted on opportunities they never dreamed were possible. Folks were adventurous and self-sufficient. They became willing to take risks. There was no limit to the amount of earthly treasures folks could accumulate. Our new life set us free. We could do whatever we wanted and live any way we wanted..

All of it thanks in part to a golden spike driven into a railroad track at Promintorry Point Utah over 150 years ago.

There was another spike that promised true freedom far beyond any worldly freedom or transcontinental railroad could bring. That spike was driven by mankind into the hands and feet of the Son of God at the cross of Calvary. The spike that pierced Jesus didn’t only bring the promise of TRUE freedom to man. The spike also brought the promise of eternal life to ANYONE who believed in Jesus as the Savior of the world.

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall never perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God

Labor Day and work

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Many Americans go to the beach on Labor Day weekend, or another favorite vacation spot in the woods or mountains, or perhaps taking a “stay-cation” in their own backyard. This holiday marks the end of summer, the last chance to relax together as a family before school and fall activities start.

It’s a good time to think about labor—work. Work is regarded, even by some Christians, as part of the curse that came as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:1-24).

But if you look more closely, you will see that work came before the curse. When God created Adam in his image, He gave him work to do—just as He Himself had worked in creation (Genesis 2:15,19-20).

The word labor or toil comes from a root word meaning “representative, messenger, one sent.” God placed Adam and Eve on earth to care for it as his representatives (Genesis 1:26-28). After they disobeyed, their sin did have an effect on work. God cursed the ground with thorns and thistles and said, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Genesis 3:17-19).

We all find thorns and thistles in our gardens. Fellow workers do not always cooperate. Someone else gets the attention or raise we wanted. Our ideal job turns out to be much more effort than we expected. We sweat, maybe psychologically more than physically.

We need to recognize that God has given us work—“good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” as Paul says in Ephesians 2:10. We need to seek his guidance in finding our jobs and then dedicate them unto Him, especially when difficulties appear. If we allow God to work through the thorns, thistles and sweat, we will grow and be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-30).

Can you see that God has given you your work? Instead of “TGIF,” can you say, “Thank you God, for the work you’ve given me”?

Devotional today courtesy of: Dig Deeper Devotionals

God

hole in the roof

Let’s say for discussion’s sake you have been paralyzed with a debilitating disease and are confined to your bed. And you knew Jesus could heal you. And he was in town teaching at a house across town but you had no way to get to Jesus.

But then four friends from your small group came by one day. They said, “We’ve been praying for you and we’ve decided we’re going to carry you to see Jesus. You are awe struck by your friends’ faith and compassion.

My friends picked me up on my bed and carted me all the way across town. When we got to the house where Jesus was staying, healing and teaching we were amazed. People were jammed into every inch of space around the home. When they couldn’t sit they were standing on shoulders. They were even huddled on the porch. There were so many people crowded inside and outside the house we couldn’t move, let alone have a chance to see Jesus.

Do you know what my friends did for me? They lugged me up to the roof, ripped the tiles off the roof and tore this huge hole in the roof and then lowered my bed and me through the hole and laid me down through the crowd and set me down right smack dab at Jesus’ feet. We talked for a minute. Then he reached out and just touched me and I was healed. Immediately. Just like that. Then Jesus said to me, “Son. your sins are forgiven”

Do you have any friends like that? When I read this story again this week I stopped to consider my friends. I could name 4 or 5 true friends I could call on in any situation I was in. Any of them would find a way to help me thy could. Do you know they would–because they’ve done it before and would do it again. All I would have to do is ask. That is called true friendship and it’s one of my most treasured possessions. I hope you have true friends as well. Do you know the difference between true friends and friends? True friends know that actions speak louder than words.

God

Do you want to be healed?

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about an invalid who encounters Jesus at the pool of Bethesda. John 5:1-17

The pool in a Jerusalem colonnade was known for its healing powers. Blind, lame crippled and paralyzed folks hung around the pool waiting for the waters to be stirred. When the waters stirred the needy folks would jockey for a place in the stirring waters to be healed.

On this day Jesus encountered an invalid who had been laying near the waters’ edge for 38 years. Jesus asked him what seems at first to be a strange question. Jesus looked into the invalid’s face and asked him, “Do you want to be healed? I don’t know about you, but if that’s me laying there as a disabled person for even 10 minutes, let alone 38 years, I couldn’t say “Yes” fast enough.

But this invalid didn’t answer Jesus. All he did was offer up an excuse. “But, Sir. I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

Jesus didn’t wait for another excuse. Jesus said, “Get up, take up your bed and walk.” Immediately the invalid was healed and he took up his bed got up and walked.

I hope you aren’t suffering from a debilitating disease. If you are have you sought Jesus for his healing hand. Sometimes like the hopeless invalid in this story Jesus is going to heal you anyway.

Pharisees looking on that day hoped to discredit Jesus for claiming to be God or for healing (doing work) on the Sabbath. Neither worked. Instead a crippled lame invalid walked for the first time in his life and God ultimately received glory.

What’s your illness? Is it physical? Is it emotional? Depression. Thoughts of suicide? Your marriage falling apart? Your business? Your lost teenage son heavily into drugs? Your husband walked out on you and the kids? You think your life could never get any worse?

Let me ask you one question. Do you want to get healed?

God

How butterflies live

Have you ever heard of a butterfly crawling back into its larvae and cocoon to live?

Why not? Do you suppose it might have something to do with the grisly struggle the butterfly endures to resurrect itself from the remains of its larvae and cocoon?

That’s right– resurrect. Remember from 5th grade science in order for the butterfly to live the butterfly must die. Well, not the actual butterfly. The gorgeous, multicolored creature we see flitting around the flowers started out as a larvae stuck on a tree branch or twig. Inside the larvae it starts weaving its cocoon to protect what’s growing inside it. What’s growing inside it will soon die and emerge as one of God’s most beautiful creatures in all of nature.

But in order to live. the butterfly must die. Death is one of God’s immutable inalterable principles. In order for life to exist, it will always follow death. This principle applies equally to human life, animal life, plant life, and vegetable life.

God

You have to die to live

A fundamental truth of every saved believer is that once you [b]were dead [c]in your offenses and sins, in which you previously walked according to the [d]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 

A basic truth that pretty well sums up the entire Christian adventure is this:

Once you were dead. Now you’re alive.

And [a]you [b]were dead [c]in your offenses and sins, in which you previously walked according to the [d]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the [e]sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:4-5

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead [i]in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ Ephesians 2:4-5

Another foundational truth about our lives is that as saved believers we must die in order to live. This principal is universal and applies to man and nature.

For instance, consider the lowly, tiny acorn. It will just be an acorn unless it falls to the ground and dies. When it dies and receives water and sunlight, and nourishment from the soil it can grow to be one of the biggest and most beautiful trees in nature.

A mature live oak can stand between 60 and 100 feet tall. Crowns of the largest southern live oaks reach diameters of 150 feet—nearly large enough to shade half of a football field!

God

How big is your but?

A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GODACCEPTANCEAPPLICATIONATTITUDECHANGESCHOICESCHRISTIAN COMMUNITYFREEDOMGODGOD’S WILLGRACEGRACE / MERCYGROWTHHOW GOD LOVES USIDENTITY IN CHRISTTRUTH

How big is your but? x

Posted on 

 by Steve Sawyer in A Personal Relationship With Godacce `zptanceapplicationattitudechangeschoicesChristian communityfreedomGodGod’s WillGraceGrace / MercygrowthHow God Loves UsIdentity In ChristTruth

I’m not getting personal here. I’m not talking about your posterior. I’m talking about your perspective of your posterior–your real but.

rest of the gospel

In his book, The Rest of the Gospel, author Dan Stone writes a chapter called, “The Holy But”¹. Stone writes that the Holy But originated in the Garden of Gasthemene, “Going a little farther, he (Jesus) fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, ΒUT as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Jesus was suffering and grieving about what He was about to do. His circumstances led Him to the cross to die a painful, bloody, lonely death. In spite of the horrible agony He suffered, Jesus lived behind the Holy But. “Yet not my will BUT Yours be done.” Jesus put His life in the hands of His Heavenly Father. He focused on His Father, not His circumstances. Jesus chose God’s will over His own.

Stone says we all live behind our buts.

For example,

  • “I like our pastor, but he’s too long-winded.”
  • “I’d volunteer in the nursery, but Sunday’s my only day off.”
  • “Our atheist neighbors are facing a crisis, but I’m afraid to talk to him about Jesus.”
  • “We’d like to tithe, but we barely make enough to pay the bills.”

Do we know some Christians with big buts like these?

  • “I know Jesus loves me, but you don’t know what I’ve done.”
  • “The Bible says Jesus freed me from sin, but I still sin.”
  • “I believe in Jesus, but church people are hypocrites.”
  • “I know I need to forgive my dad for abandoning us, but I just can’t.”
  • “I know I need to pray more, but I just don’t have the time.”
  • “The Bible tells me God accepts me completely, but I don’t feel accepted.”
  • “God’s grace may work for some people, but not for me.”

The Apostle Paul lived after his but as well. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Paul says,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 48-9

Paul faced dreadful, seemingly hopeless circumstances, but he chose to live behind his buts and above beyone his circumstances.

Later in that chapter, Paul writes,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Vs 16-18

Paul put the trouble in front of his buts and put God, or God’s perspective, after the but. He was still afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But, his perspective and his focus was on God and what God could do.

God’s word teaches us we are totally loved, totally accepted, children of the eternal God? Let’s start putting our circumstances before our “buts” and our faith (and God’s truth about us) behind them.

If we know who we are in Christ, isn’t it time we get off your buts?

¹The Rests of the Gospel, by Dan Stone and Greg Smith; © 2000 by One Press, Richardson, Texas; pg.186.
Parentheses in this blog are mine.

God

Danny lived to love others

Jesus was preparing to ascend to the right hand of Almighty God. Before he left he gave his disciples the most important command of his entire ministry on earth.

Danny Stephens

It was simple: Love one another.

No one I’ve ever known, or known of, has ever lived out that command as fully and genuinely as my dearly departed son-in-law Danny Stephens.

Danny died unexpectedly and suddenly on July 21. My daughter, Leah had taken him some ice cream. After a few minutes she went back to check on him and he was gone. CPR could not revive him. The Lord called Danny home when he was only 45. This October 1 Danny and my daughter Leah would have celebrated just their 5th wedding anniversary.

We attended a Celebration of Life Service in Montgomery last weekend hosted by My daughter’s mom.

While I was there I discovered how and why Danny loved one another. At a lot of funerals family and friends portray the deceased as a Saint and a God-fearing angel destined for heaven. Many times that’s for show and to make the family and friends feel good about themselves and the departed.

Not so Danny.

He loved his family, and Leah and his countless friends with an unmatched, unselfish love rooted deeply in the core of his being. Some folks drove for 8 or 9 hours or other states to celebrate their memories or testimonies of their lives with Danny. Several of their testimonies brought me to tears.

Danny didn’t care if you were white, black, red, purple gay, long-haired, bald, 21 or 81, Catholic or atheist. It didn’t matter to Danny. His job was not to judge you. His job was to help you if you needed it. And love you in the process.

He doesn’t wear an earth suit anymore. But the suit he wears now will never wear out.

You’re still with us–all of us you loved and those of us who love you.

Danny, tell us, are there fireworks in heaven?

God

Coach Bobby Bowden

Coach Bobby Bowden

One of the best serendipities in my life occurred at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Conference when Coach Bobby Bowden came up to me and thanked me for Frazer Television Ministry. He said that our worship service was shown in Tallahassee on Thursday nights, and he and his family watched.

We were fortunate to have our worship services carried nationwide by ACTS Network, which was the television ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. We were one of two non-Baptist churches on the network. We also were on INSP which covered most of the United States.

Coach Bowden was a devout Christian gentleman. He was Mr. Baptist. He even told me that he watched our service for a few weeks before he realized we were not a Baptist church!

When his son, Terry, was head coach at Auburn and his son, Tommy, was the offensive coordinator, they both joined my brother George’s church in Auburn and became Methodists! Coach Bowden couldn’t believe it. He had to apologize to some of his Baptist friends. I just told him that their Dad ought to listen to the boys and maybe also see the light! He enjoyed kidding about being a Baptist.

Coach Bowden was a legendary coach at Florida State. He won a couple of National Championships and was the National Coach of the Year. He took a football program that few people had ever heard of and made it into one of the national powerhouses.

Nobody used their vocation as a platform for sharing the Christian gospel better than Coach Bowden. He made it clear to everyone that he wanted every student to give his/her life to Jesus in a personal way. He changed the population of Heaven!

On one occasion, my son, Si, and I were in Panama City at the funeral of a high-profile person. We were offered a trip back to Montgomery on a private plane if we didn’t mind going through Tallahassee and picking up Coach Bowden. Florida State had an open date and he was going to Auburn to see Terry and Tommy coach.

It was a very illuminating time for me. I have never seen a man more focused on his mission in life. I mentioned a couple of things going on in college football, and he said that he was unaware of them. He was totally focused on two things – Florida State football and how he could best witness to people for Jesus Christ. The plane ride was too short for us.

When I asked whether his wife would be joining us on the plane, he said, “Definitely not.” He said his young grandson was playing in a YMCA football game on Saturday morning, and she had rather see the grandson play than to go see her sons coach major college football!

A friend of mine told me about Coach Bowden’s relationship to Burt Reynolds, who played football at Florida State. Before he died, Reynolds went to see Coach Bowden, and Bowden led him to a commitment to Jesus Christ. That was a bigger victory than Coach Bowden ever had on the football field, and it was the best victory Burt Reynolds ever celebrated! The population of Heaven changed!

I want to use my vocation as a platform like Coach Bowden used his to change the population of Heaven. I hope you do too. Coach Bowden was a humble Christian witness who also happened to be one of the best football coaches in the history of college football! Oh God, please increase his tribe!

How will you help change the population of Heaven?

God

Is Jesus making a difference in your life?

If you’ve experienced salvation in Jesus Christ here’s a partial list of what Scripture tells us

This is our new identity in Christ:

  • I am loved. 1 John 3:3
  • I am accepted. Ephesians 1:6
  • I am a child of God. John 1:12
  • I am Jesus’ friend. John 15:14
  • I am a joint heir with Jesus, sharing His inheritance with Him. Romans 8:17
  • I am united with God and one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17
  • I am a temple of God. His Spirit and his life lives in me. 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • I am a member of Christ’s body. 1 Corinthians 12:27
  • I am a Saint. Ephesians 1:1
  • I am justified Romans 5:1
  • I am sanctified 2 Thessalonians 5:23
  • I am redeemed and forgiven. Colossians 1:14
  • I am complete in Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:10
  • I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1
  • I am a new creation because I am in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved. Colossians 3:12
  • I am established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21
  • I do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • I am God’s co-worker. 2 Corinthians 6:1
  • I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. Eph 2:6
  • I have direct access to God Ephesians. 2:18
  • I am chosen to bear fruit John. 15:16
  • I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2:5

I would venture a guess that most Christians don’t spend much time at all thinking about all the wonderful traits in this list that constitute our new identity in Christ. Just saying. The list makes a nice read. But don’t you tell yourself you’ve got more important things to think about?

Are you a typical Christian? Do you believe Jesus was crucified on the cross and paid for the sins of the world, was buried and was risen on the third day, and after appearing to some 500 witnesses rose to sit at the right hand of God the Father. You go to church, you read the Bible and pray occasionally, and play on the church softball team in the Spring. You’re positive you’re going to heaven and your brother-in-law is going to hell because he doesn’t believe in God. Does that about sum up your spiritual life–you’re Christian experience? Can you claim your identity in Christ–your typical Christianity?

What about some of those attributes like “justified” and “righteous” and “sanctified”? Do you know what those terms mean? Does it matter to you? Do you even care that you’re all three of them and they are integral parts of your true identity in Christ.

JUSTIFIED–You become justified, made right with God, the moment you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He takes all your sin, past, present an future, all your guilt and shame in the trespasses column of your life and marks it all PAID IN FULL. Everything is paid for. It is nothing you do. It’s what Jesus did for you by choosing to be crucified on the cross.

RIGHTEOUS–At the moment God makes you justified He deposits Christ’s righteousness in your account . He gives it to you. It’s His gift to you. You don’t do anything to earn it. You can’t do anything to change it. So now when God looks at you he sees you as holy and pure through the righteousness of Jesus, which you have also.

SANCTIFICATION–Now that you are justified and wrapped in Christ’s righteousness God begins our sanctification–a life-long process God uses to transform our hearts and lives into Christlikeness.

Think about it. Won’t it make a huge difference in the way you live your life today if you intentionally think of yourself as justified, righteous, sanctified and transformed daily into Christlikeness?

God

The greatest message ever sent

When you want to communicate with someone two things are required. A message and a messenger. Before the advent of the automobile sending messages was the primary function of the Western Union company. The messages were sent over the wire by Morse Code. The receiving office would type the messages by hand and would normally be delivered  to their destination. by young men on bicycles.

Today of course we have email  and text messages which make the process of communicating much easier and faster.

God likes, and sometimes needs, to  send us messages to get our attention and give us information we need. Sometimes he needs to  send us messages  to  answer our prayers,  to warn us about  something or simply  bless us or give us words of encouragement. God often uses angels to convey messages he wants to give us. The purpose of angels ministries is to carry out God’s will for us. As messengers they are seen bringing a variety of messages from heaven to earth.

When God visited Moses when Moses walked  over to see the burning bush God warned Moses “Don’t come any closer Moses,  take off your sandals the ground you are standing on is Holy Ground.” The Bible offers up a slew of examples when God or his angels delivered messages to folks in the Bible.

Peter and John were both thrown in jail. Unfortunately they killed John. But Peter was freed by an angel. His release confirmed that God intended Peter’s ministry to continue. (Acts 12:7-19)

The night Jesus was born in Bethlehem God sent the most glorious message in the world by an angel of the Lord to three shepherds keeping watch over their herds by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

God

Two Gardens Part 2

On Wednesday we looked at two very significant gardens in the Gospel story. First looed at The The Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent his list night praying before his betrayal and immanent crucifixion at the hands of his own people.

The Garden of Gethsemane was not the end of the road on Earth for Jesus. In fact it was both a symbolic ending AND a glorious new beginning for Jesus and every single believer in the world.

In the Garden of Eden God created Paradise–the PERFECT PLACE where the children he would create could live forever in harmony and fellowship with God and have every need and every pleasure they would ever have met in abundance in Paradise for eternity.

But then man messed up the deal (well really it was Eve who messed up the whole deal.) when they listened to Satan’s lies and got kicked out of the Garden.

Later on God asked his righteous friend Noah to build a boat for him and his family and all the animals God created and it hadn’t even rained yet. Long story short, that plan didn’t work out so well either. The people on the ark were so wicked that God wound up destroying everything on the earth with a flood.

But Almighty God is still at work.

Fast forward a few centuries. God leads his people into captivity as slaves in Egypt and then frees them so can live in freedom in Canaan land but they decided it was more fun to obey then rebel then obey and then disobey and obey then disobey. So this wasn’t working out for God’s people so well either.

Fast forward and we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to his Father for all the believers God has given him and for their protection and safety in the world.

After his resurrection he met with his disciples in the Upper Room to comfort them and challenge them with their calling after Jesus leaves them and ascends to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus tells them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

So, the Paradise God desired from the beginning in the Garden of Eden is being created, and sustained daily by Jesus Christ

God

Two Gardens

The Garden of Eden was Paradise.

Perfect. Created by Almighty God to be His jewel of creation. Everything necessary to sustain and perpetuate His impeccable, unblemished Kingdom.

And he did it all for the man and woman he would make in his own image. He formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And the man became a living being. Then the Lord God made a woman from the man’s rib and brought her to the man and he named her Eve. Not only did he make the man and woman in his own image but God provided his garden paradise with every provision man would ever need or desire to live in perfect harmony and loving fellowship with Almighty God forever in God’s paradise.

No worries. Not a care in the world. All the delectable choice food they wanted any time they wanted it. Free for the taking. Love and companionship. Adam’s only job was to care for all the plants and trees in the garden. God commanded Adam to procreate with Eve so they could create many more of God’s children to live with God in his perfect garden paradise.

Pretty nice digs right?

But there’s another garden in this story.

Centuries later after God banished man from the Garden of Eden, on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day the Jews sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ last hours on earth and in his ministry were winding down. Immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus took a walk to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is this hour in Gethsemane that Jesus accepted the will of God that he would be betrayed, sacrificed and crucified on a cross by his own people for crimes he never committed.

We are all familiar with the events of the next three days. But in the Garden of Gethsemane that last night Jesus cast his vision with his Father for the church he would Shepherd with his disciples. The church he would birth would be the ETERNAL paradise God knew the Garden of Eden was supposed to be before that Adam and Eve ruined it with their sin and disobedience.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus prayed to the Father:

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

God

love one another

In Acts chapter 3 there is a beautiful example of one of Jesus’ final commandments to his disciples. In John 14 as Jesus was making plans to rejoin his Father in heaven he was talking to his disciples and told them, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In Acts 3 Peter and John were going up to the temple. At the same time some men carried a man lame from birth and laid him at the Beautiful Gate every day where he begged for money or food from people entering the temple.

When the beggar saw John and Peter about to enter the temple he looked up to them expectantly and asked them for alms.

Peter and John both looked down at the beggar. “Look at us,” Peter said. The beggar fixed his gaze on them expecting them to give him something. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”

Then Peter went an extra mile. He reached down with his right hand and took the beggar’s right hand and lifted him up and he began to walk. Something he had never done before in his life. They all walked into the temple together and the beggar, was leaping for joy and praising God. People in the temple who remembered he was just moments ago lame were astonished and amazed.

Peter not only showed us what “love one another” means by healing the beggar so he could walk. Peter and John showed how we impact those around us who witness us displaying the love of Jesus in our personal lives.

I dedicate this blog post and its beautiful message of our need to love one another to my brother in Christ, Eddie Conkle, who called this beautiful message of love to my remembrance recently. Eddie is one of those intimate brothers in Christ God has given me so we can walk this life together. How sweet is that?

God

Envy rots the bones

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30

Envy is a horrible insidious thing. It can destroy friendships. It causes jealousy, resentment, mistrust, anger, conflict, bitterness, and in some extreme cases confrontations and physical altercations.

My friends over at Daniel Webster’s place define envy as . . .a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by someone else with a desire to possess the same advantage. 

It’s painful alright except when you’re feeling it towards someone else. When that happens envy can give you this twisted, perverse sense of cruel satisfaction.

Envy is a close cousin of comparison. Comparing ourselves to other people or their stuff is just as damaging to us as envy. Maybe even worse. There is NEVER any win in comparison or envy. You can read about the dangerous, harmful effect of comparison on our lives. Click here to read about Comparison in The Land of ER.

The wisest man in the world, King Solomon, had envy figured out. And he shared some wisdom with us. Solomon took a hard long look at his kingdom and finally determined, “that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another.” This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

That’s a powerful powerful statement. ALL toil and ALL achievement spring (come from) our envy of another.

Envy is useless and accomplishes nothing. It is chasing after the wind. Looking for something to possess, we’ll never ever find, to hold onto something with clenched fists we never want to let go, to control someone or something we can never control.

But King Solomon had this whole envy thing figured out. Here’s what he figured out and wrote for us in Ecclesiastes 4:6

Better one handful with tranquillity
    than two handfuls with toil
    and chasing after the wind.

King Solomon, who we know was the smartest man in the world, knew that an one open hand for God to bless us or take away from us with tranquility and peace was better than trying to hold on to something or someone with clenched fists thinking you’d hold on to someone or something. and not lose them.In the end that’s nothing more than chasing after the wind. It’s totally useless.

God

I’m OK. How are you?

Where do you look? Or who do you look to to see if you’re OK?

And what does it mean to you to be OK? Or is this just what you tell yourself? Self, this is just the way things are and I guess they’ll always be this way? Does OK mean you’re satisfied with your life right now? Or when somebody asks you, “How are you?” you just say, “OK.” to end the conversation?

Or are you really not OK? Where do you look? Or who do you look to, as your reference point for how you are?

Many folks live every day lives in their own Land of ER1–we want to be smartER, friendlyER, prettyER, richER, skinnyER, hipER, happyER than our neighbors or our boss or our in-laws. Then you’ve got your super ego friends who want to be the smartEST, prettyEST, richEST, happyEST.

We spend lots of time checking our social media to find out how we’re doing compared with other people. We scroll up and down and slide back and forth on our smartphones and tablets to see how everyone else is doing. And according to a Common Sense Media study the average adult checks his/her phone 96 times a day. That amounts to once every four minutes. According to the same study, teenagers spend an average of seven hours and 22 minutes a day on their phones or tablets and that does not include school work.

All that time and effort just to see if you’re makeup is as even as Sally’s is today. Or to find out if George broke 70 at the club Saturday like you did Friday.

If we’re honest we spend a big chunk of our day comparing the reality of our day-to-day life with the highlight reels of our friends and acquaintances2.

There is NEVER a win in comparison. NEVER!

The real question we need to ask ourselves is who or what is our go-to reference for how we are. Not how we are but who we are.

1The Comparison Trap, the Land of ER, Devotional series by Andy Stanley, northpoint.org

2The Comparison Trap, the Land of ER, Devotional series by Andy Stanley, northpoint.org

God

Frogs

I think most folks would agree that frogs are a far cry from the prettiest or most beautiful creatures God ever created. In fact in my opinion they’ve got the corner on the ugly gene.

When I was growing up my dad would take us frog hunting in the summertime around the lakes and creeks sometimes. We used to gig them with this 3-pronged stick. If we gigged enough of them we’d take them home and fry the legs. They tasted a lot like chicken.

Let’s change the subject for a second.

Let me ask you a question: Has God ever had to get your attention in a hurry? Let’s say you were about to take a dangerous turn in your life and he wanted to prevent you from taking it. You talked to your pastor about the details and he convinced you not to take the wrong turn.

Or, let’s say you were about to take a new job that was going to be disastrous for your family and the guy you were replacing revealed some information you didn’t know before and you decided not to take the position.

God always wants what’s best for us.

He used your pastor and a coworker to get your attention and prevent you from making potentially horrible damaging decisions. God used some strange animals and plagues to get Pharaoh’s attention so the Egyptian king would allow God’s people to leave Egypt. But Pharaoh was about as stubborn as they get. He’d promise to let them go and then renege on his promise. God used millions of frogs to swarm the country. But it didn’t sway Pharaoh.

God used gnats and flies to cover the country. God used nine nasty plagues but none of them got Pharaoh’s attention until God had enough.

God told Aaron and Moses to tell the stubborn leader that God’s death angel would pass through the country that night and kill every first born child and first born animal in the land. And the death angel did. That last attention-getter finally got Pharaoh’s attention and he agreed to let God’s people go.

If God needs to get our attention He will.

He’s got a million ways to get it. He got Noah’s attention with a flood. God had him build a boat and it hadn’t even rained yet. He got Jonah’s attention with a giant fish. Pete’s attention with a rooster. He got David’s attention with a story of infidelity from his friend Nathan. He used a talking donkey to get Balaam’s attention. God used his awesome power through Elijah to destroy the gods of Baal with fire. With Moses God used a burning bush to get his attention.

Is God seeking our attention today? Now?

Is the body of Christ loving God and others. Is the church functioning in a compassionate loving way that is attracting new members and growing? Is Christianity attracting or repelling new members?

We’re so busy that our days are little more than distracted, disjointed agendas. Admit it. Most of us are overscheduled with obligations and overloaded with texts, emails, news, podcast, advertising and interruptions. The chattering of the world around us is a constant buzz in our ears like tinnitus.1

Do you think maybe, just maybe, God is trying to tell us something and get our attention?

1 Well That Just Happened, Turning Point magazine &, Devotional, Dr. David Jeremiah,  © 2000- 2021 July, 2021, pg 6

God

In the beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Think about that for a minute. Genesis 1:1. Everything that has ever existed in the universe, every atom, fire, molecule of water, air, troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere., fire, every natural resource, every animal, vegetable and mineral.

God created it all by–and here’s the incredible part–by simply speaking it into existence out of nothing.

We can’t comprehend “nothing”. We have no concept of “nothingness”. Oh, we can look up at the black sky on a starless night and say to ourselves, “Well, that’s void. There’s nothing there.” Yes there is. The black sky is full of oxygen and gasses and tiny particles of dust and stuff we can’t see with the naked eye–all of which God made when He spoke everything into existence.

I heard this scientist on some space show on TV talking about finding life on other planets and preparing space craft to reach Mars and colonizing it so someday we could live there. Then he said one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard anyone say on TV ever. He said something to the effect of. “We can’t be so naïve to think that in this massive endless universe earth is the only planet where man can sustain life.

The guy clearly doesn’t know or believe in God or know a thing about God’s Word.

I know third graders who know more about science than that “scientist”.

God

The pastor can’t do it alone

Any of you older than 50 probably remember growing up in a church with a pastor who was expected to run the show pretty much by himself. Oh he had his faithful secretary who was older than Methuselah, everyone called her Misses M. She knew every members by name and every kid’s name.

But the pastor preached every Sunday, maybe Sunday night too and Wednesday night. He officiated every wedding and funeral. He visited all the folks in the hospital, the shut-ins, new members and the members who hadn’t been to church in awhile. He was available for premarital counseling as well as family counseling and married couples counseling. Then on top of all his ministry work we paid him for he was expected to provide for his family, be a great husband and fatherly to his preachers kids, wear a smile and be kind to everyone he meets.

Say goodbye to that preacher and his antiquated church model. Jesus is in the church planting business today with the model he started with his 12 disciples in the Upper Room on that Sunday of his resurrection. And it’s transforming peoples hearts every day.

There’s a Savior in town. He’s cultivating a church model he planted 2,000 years ago in the Upper Room with his 12 disciples on the Sunday night after his resurrection. It is an exciting and vibrant church. It doesn’t have just one pastor. in fact every member of the church is in ministry. The job of the pastor and his leadership team is to equip the membership to do the ministry and to serve each other and those with real needs.

We’ll be discovering how this Jesus model church works in at least two future posts on FHG called Spiritual Gifts and Every Member in Ministry.

You don’t want to miss these and other posts here on FHG on this transformational church Jesus is growing.1

1The inspiration for this blog post came from Chip Ingram’s book, Yes! You Really Can Change Moody Publishing, Chicago   ©2003, 2021

God

Looking at life through God’s glasses

LOOKING AT LIFE THRU GOD’S GLASSES: NEGATIVE CIRCUMSTANCES OR POSITIVE RESPONSES – PART 10

What we see in life depends on the glasses through which we are looking. When we look through human glasses, we can only see negative circumstances. When we see things through God’s glasses, we can see positive responses. Which glasses we look through is a choice we make.

When I was working on a graduate degree at Princeton, I read Viktor E. Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. It had a huge impact on my life.

Frankl, an Austrian-born psychiatrist, wrote the book from a Nazi concentration camp where most of his family was murdered. When he was rescued, he started a new kind of therapy based on the fact that it is not the circumstances that determine a person’s outcome, but a person’s attitude towards those circumstances.

The Nazis thought they took everything he had. Frankl said, “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what happens to me. I choose my attitude in any given circumstance.”

In life, we all have to face some extremely tough and unexplainable situations. Many of them are unfair and unjust. It’s easy to have a negative response to tough circumstances. That only causes us to spiral downward mentally, physically, and spiritually.

We can choose to respond to circumstances in a different way. God has given us His promise that He will be with us. He will strengthen us and sustain us. He will reveal positive possibilities.

Throughout my ministry, I have seen people face similar difficult circumstances – such as a death, a loss of a job, a bad health report, etc. What I’ve noticed is that some people are devastated and become very negative about people and life. Negativity has a way of multiplying, and the deeper the hole one digs, the tougher it is to get out of it.

I’ve seen other people face the same situation, yet ask God how to respond in that situation. They place their trust in Him. You are not in charge of circumstances. You are in charge of how you respond to circumstances.

Twelve spies went in to check out the Promised Land. Ten of them came back and reported that the circumstances were impossible to overcome. The place was occupied by giants, and they would be stepped on like grasshoppers.

But a minority report came back from two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb. They responded by acknowledging the circumstances, but they were not going to let the circumstances dictate the outcome for the people of Israel. They were going to trust God for that. They said that the place was occupied by giants, but their God was greater than the giants. And they must take the land. (Numbers 13:25-30)

My God is greater than anything that I will ever face. I have a choice. I’m going to choose to see life from the perspective that God is in control of things, and not just negative circumstances. Satan will take away a lot of things from me, but he can never take away my choice of how I will respond to circumstances.

It’s your choice – negative circumstances or positive responses!

God

Small groups

When Jesus walked the Earth ministering, healing teaching and showing God’s love for man, he did it in small groups.

He began his earthly ministry by choosing 12 of the most ordinary rag tag, uneducated, unskilled commoners to be his disciples in his first small group. All he did was beckon each of them simply to follow Him. And they all did immediately and stayed with Jesus at his side his entire ministry.

Jesus started another small group of his dearest most intimate disciples–Peter, James and John. Jesus took this small group of disciples with him when he went to the Mount of Transformation and the Garden of Gethsemane on his last night before his crucifixion.

Christ took these three disciples, Peter, James, and John, up on a mountain, where Moses and Elijah appeared and Jesus was transfigured, his face and clothes becoming dazzlingly bright (Mark 9:2–13; Then God spoke to them, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.

Jesus took all three of his small group with him to pray with him in the Garden of Gathsemene on the night before Jesus was betrayed by Judas and crucified on a cross for all our sins.

If small groups were so important l to Jesus and his ministry shouldn’t they be as important to our life in Christ and our community of faith? Our spiritual growth most always happens in community, in small groups with rarely any exception.

Are you in a small group? Why not? You’ve got a bunch of lame excuses to beg off. Here’s just a few–

  1. I don’t have time.
  2. I’m not comfortable around strangers.
  3. I’m not comfortable praying aloud.
  4. I don’t understand the terms other Christians already know.
  5. My husband won’t go with me.
  6. They’re going to want me to talk about myself and I’m not comfortable doing that.
  7. I don’t know the Bible well enough.

Which excuse sounds like the easiest one for you to use? Small groups will become an integral part of the new church model for every member in ministry Jesus is creating. The new church model is diametrically opposed to the modern Christ-centered church model Christ is developing.

Will you be in or out?

God

Willpower Christianity

In his best-selling book, Yes, you really can change, Chip Ingram discusses willpower Christianity, a frustrating condition many well-meaning Christians often find themselves slipping into. Have you ever been there? Are you there now?

This is what willpower Christianity looks like–

You’re going to try hard to be more patient, especially with the kids; you’re going to watch how you talk and stop swearing so much; you’re going to stop stretching the truth; you’re going to be kinder to your wife/husband. You will stop smoking.

Instead of focusing all your energy and willpower trying to do things you’re incapable of why not focus on God and the promises He makes in his Word addressing your issues you’re trying to solve with all your willpower.

Willpower Christianity leads to frustration and discouragement because we just don’t have enough power in our will to get the job done. Only God and his power inside us working his will can change us.

God

The pastor can’t do it alone

The pastor can’t do it alone

Posted on  by Steve Sawyer in God

Any of you older than 50 probably remember growing up in a church with a pastor who was expected to run the show pretty much by himself. Oh he had his faithful secretary who was older than Methuselah, everyone called her Misses M. She knew every members by name and every kid’s name.

But the pastor preached every Sunday, maybe Sunday night too and Wednesday night. He officiated every wedding and funeral. He visited all the folks in the hospital, the shut-ins, new members and the members who hadn’t been to church in awhile. He was available for premarital counseling as well as family counseling and married couples counseling. Then on top of all his ministry work we paid him for he was expected to provide for his family, be a great husband and fatherly to his preachers kids, wear a smile and be kind to everyone he meets.

Say goodbye to that preacher and his antiquated church model. Jesus is in the church planting business today with the model he started with his 12 disciples in the Upper Room on that Sunday of his resurrection. And it’s transforming peoples hearts every day.

There’s a Savior in town. He’s cultivating a church model he planted 2,000 years ago in the Upper Room with his 12 disciples on the Sunday night after his resurrection. It is an exciting and vibrant church. It doesn’t have just one pastor. in fact every member of the church is in ministry. The job of the pastor and his leadership team is to equip the membership to do the ministry and to serve each other and those with real needs.

We’ll be discovering how this Jesus model church works in at least two future posts on FHG called Spiritual Gifts and Every Member in Ministry.

You don’t want to miss these and other posts here on FHG on this transformational church Jesus is growing.1

1The inspiration for this blog post came from Chip Ingram’s book, Yes! You Really Can Change Moody Publishing, Chicago   ©2003, 2021

God

Living the Christian life

Are you living the Christian life God has called all his children to live? In my opinion many folks who call themselves Christians vascilate back and forth between the life God has called us to live and what Paul calls the “old” man.

Oh, we may really want to live that vibrant, new life God has called us to live, because it sounds so good. And maybe sometimes we can, for a time, enjoy the fruits of that new life we try so hard to live. Sometimes it even seems to us that we’re finally living it. And it feels pretty good. And we feel good about ourselves. We think to ourselves, “God must be pretty accepting of me right about now.” But the truth is God already accepted us totally, warts and all, the moment we accepted Jesus as our Savior. We’re already fully accepted.

I think lots of Christians try hard to be good Christians. They do. They’re saved, they know they’re going to heaven. They pray. They go to church, read the Bible. They provide for their families. But after awhile their Christian living falls into a predictable pattern.

They try hard…do good… try harder… do better… try even harder…then fail.

And finally. . .try even harder. . .fake it

Sound familiar? Have you ever been there? I have. Are you there now?

There are two very good reasons some Christians fail and fall into this frustrating dilemma in their Christian walk:

  1. You can NOT live the Christian life. Billy Graham can’t live the Christian life. The Pope can’t live the Christian life. No one can. We were never created to live it.
  2. We are all prone to revert to our old way of life Paul calls our “old” man and our worldly self-centered lifestyle.  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Ephesians 4:22

God

Right Fighters

Some of the most annoying people on the planet are “right-fighters” Folks who believe they have to be right all the time and believe they always have to have the last word. The “right-fighter” desperately believes (unconsciously) that others must agree with him/her to feel ok about themselves. Being a right-fighter causes one to depend upon others for their self-esteem and worth.

Right-fighters have poor self-concepts, little confidence, and are often self-loathing. Right-fighting is a direct reflection of low self-esteem.

Right-fighters desperately believe (sub-consciously) that others must agree with them, otherwise they cannot feel good about themselves.

A right fighter’s favorite word is “Yeah but” many times used for what the right fighter attempts to be the last word or his rebuttal in an argument.

How not to be a right fighter.

  • Acknowledging your habit of right-fighting, and then become aware of when you are engaging in this no-win habit, is the first, most important step in leading a more successful and happy life. You can not acknowledge what you don’t have
  • Accept that this way of relating to others simply doesn’t work, as it will never give you what yo so deeply long for (value, lovability, and worth). In fact, in reality, it will give you one of the things you fear most—rejection.

It’s never pleasant or advantageous to anyone to engage in conversation with someone who believes (unconsciously) that their way is always the right way or the best way.


God

Everything is broken

I have a question for everyone. What is working today in this dysfunctional, anything goes, anti-God, if-it-feels-good-do-it, amoral, me-first, society we call America?

If you know anything that’s working today please let me know. The way I see it today, Everything is broken.

The government certainly doesn’t work. Congress just wants to run up the national debt.

And those Senators and Congressmen we send to Washington (on our dime by the way) can’t agree on anything or fix anything.Today there are more divorces than marriages. And the couples that do decide to try marriages, even among Christians more than 50% of them wind up in divorce.

Every night on the local news they report shootings and murders. Thugs are taking over our streets and our neighborhood. I’m not talking ghetto slum projects here.

I’m talking main street America. The local 7-11 stores and quiet residential neighborhoods where folks move there because they’re supposed to be safe (not any more). Neighborhood gas stations have become targets for murders. It’s gotten so bad some women are afraid to get gas.

People just don’t want to get along anymore. Have you seen the news clips of passengers fighting on airplanes?

Many churches are no longer soft places to fall. There’s more bickering and snobbery in church congregations today than I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Neighborhood gas stations have even become targets for gun violence.

The good thing about all this hate and discord and polarization is no matter how disgusting and violent our society even if we all crash and burn, God is still in control.

Stop and praise Him today and thank Him that you’re still alive. His plan is still working for our good and His glory.

God

Looking at life through God’s glasses

Oftentimes in life, we are confronted with situations that are hard to understand. Through human glasses, we see a sad situation. Through God’s glasses, we can see a simple solution.
It was June 6, 2021, in Centerpoint, AL. Tim Harrison didn’t have enough money to get a cap and gown, so he could not attend his high school graduation from Woodlawn High School. He also did not have a ride to get to the ceremony across town. It’s natural to see that as a very sad situation.
But Tim didn’t sit down and have a pity party for himself. He worked at Waffle House, so at 7 a.m., he went in for his shift. When he walked into Waffle House, his boss, Cedric Hampton, wondered why he was reporting to work because he knew it was graduation day. Timothy explained why he came to work. Seeing a sad situation sometimes leads to being satisfied with allowing the situation to remain like it is.
But Cedric Hampton was not going to let that happen. Neither was his co-worker, Shantana Blevins. They began to look at things through God’s glasses, and they saw that there was a simple solution. Timothy needed their help, and they could do it.
Tim had only been working at the Waffle House for a month, but he had already become greatly appreciated. The staff at the Waffle House and some customers  took up some money to buy him a suit, shirt, and tie. He said that it was the first new suit that he had ever owned. Shantana offered to drive him the 20 miles across town for graduation. They got there just in time.
When we see a tough situation, oftentimes we are just content to see if we can overlook it. We make some excuse about not having time, or resources, or we don’t want to get involved.
Jesus told a story (Luke 10:30-37) about a man who was robbed and beaten and left on the side of the road. That’s a sad situation. Two very religious officials were walking along the road and saw the sad situation. They probably felt badly about it, but they found some excuse to keep on walking and leave the man there. The religious folks were looking at the man through human glasses of being in a sad situation.
Then a Samaritan man comes along and sees not a sad situation, but a simple solution. The man needed help. He goes to the man, picks him up, puts him on his donkey, and carries him to the hospital. He said that he would come back later to pay the bill. Now that’s offering a solution.
Guess what? When people heard Tim’s story, the leadership at Lawson State Community College offered Tim a full scholarship, including books, to attend college there! Tim accepted it! Tim never dreamed that he could afford to go to college.
Acting on what we see through God’s glasses can lead to great results. That Waffle House served up a real “All-Star Special” that day! His co-worker who drove him to the graduation said, “You never know who you can touch or who you can influence with one simple gesture.” Sad situations are transformed by people who are willing to offer a simple solution, and simple solutions can bring about huge consequences.
What do you see – a sad situation or a simple solution?
God

America’s biggest danger

Somebody posed this question – how do you eat an elephant? The best answer was, “One bite at a time.” Enough little bites can consume the whole big elephant.

Big things fall because little things eat away at them. Little drops of water constantly hitting a rock will eventually wear the rock down. If a woodpecker keeps pecking long enough with his little pecks, a limb or even a tree can come down. A lot of little things led to the collapse of the 12-story residential complex, Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. Many residents died and many are still unaccounted for.

I feel that today so many things are chipping away at the foundation of America. Because they come in little packages, many people are not paying attention to them. I believe that America is in a dangerous position. It’s like a boat that becomes untied from the pier. It starts drifting. You can be sitting in the boat and not be aware that it’s drifting.

Drifting doesn’t seem so bad, except there is a huge waterfall out there. The boat will drift towards the waterfall. Unless there is a change of direction, the boat will go over the waterfall and everybody aboard will be in danger.

America’s biggest threat is never from the outside but from the inside. It’s the slow deterioration of our values.

Abraham Lincoln gave his first major policy speech and addressed the question of the dangers to America. He did not expect some transatlantic military giant to cross the ocean and crush us with a single blow. He affirmed that no armies in the world would ever come into this country and “take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge.”

He warned that the biggest danger is the one that will rise up from within. He said, “If it ever reaches us, it must spring up from amongst us. It cannot come from abroad.”

That’s so true today. I fear that we’re allowing our Biblical and moral principles to be eroded. Big things fall from within because little things have immense power. Consider these examples: denying the fact that Jesus is God’s plan for salvation; taking God out of the picture and saying that man can solve all of his problems; changing our understanding of family; deadening sensitivity to racial injustice; not protecting the unborn; neglecting our responsibility to those less fortunate; and you add to the list.

C.S Lewis writes that the Devil believes that “the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Is there hope? I believe there’s only one hope, and that is a return to trusting and obeying the God who loved the world so much that He sent His Son in order that His kingdom might come on earth.

We have a choice –  “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

What will you help change today?

God

Are you giving or getting

Looking through human glasses, we see getting. Looking through God’s glasses, we are able to see giving. A spirit of getting is a result of our natural selfishness. The spirit of giving is the result of God’s grace helping us to see things from a different perspective.
“The greedy only wants to get, while the Godly only wants to give.”  (Proverbs 21:26) Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) This is demonstrated so clearly by two great bodies of water in Israel. I’ve visited there on several occasions and had the privilege of seeing first hand this principle.
One body of water is the Sea of Galilee. It’s very beautiful. Jesus spent much of his time teaching there. It has green foliage around the edges of the water. It is filled with fish. It has life. It depicts beauty and it pours itself out to fertilize the Jordan plain. It is always giving what it receives.
The other body of water is the Dead Sea. It’s dead because nothing lives around it or in it. It is so salty that you can literally wade out in the water and the saltiness will keep you afloat. I have done that!
The reason it’s dead is that it has no outlet. It keeps everything for itself. It is always getting and keeping, and that leads to death.
The two bodies of water in Israel both come from the same source. It’s the same water which flows down from the heights of Hermon and the roots of the Cedars of Lebanon. It flows first into the Sea of Galilee, then is passed along to the Dead Sea. The same water – one sea gives and lives – the other sea gets, keeps, and dies. Our lives are either like the Dead Sea or the Sea of Galilee.
My good friend, John “Rat” Riley, told me about his granddaughter, Isabella, who at that time was 13 years old. She lived in Atlanta. John often speaks at a business function there, and he invited Isabella to go with him.
While they were riding in the car, she told him that she had become a certified babysitter. Isabella then started talking about her concern for the poor. She knew that John had been involved with World Vision and helping adopt children. She told him that she wanted to give financially to sponsor a child.
He told her that the cost would be a dollar a day. She looked a bit surprised and said, “Oh!” He assumed that $1 a day, $30 a month would take a pretty good chunk of a 13-year-old’s babysitting money, and that would be too much. Maybe she wanted to do less to try to support a child.
John was shocked when Isabella looked at him and said, “In that case, I want to sponsor two children!”
Jesus confronted a wealthy man one day who was a “getter.” He asked about conditions for following Jesus, and He told him that he would have to shift from “getting” to “giving.” One of the saddest pictures in the New Testament is the man refusing to change. (Luke 18:18-25)
Are you getting or giving?
God

DOWN WITH PRIDE!

In my opinion gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers could not have picked a more offensive, morally reprehensive label to celebrate.

Pride is at the root of every sin known to mankind. Every one.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:8.

To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverb s 8:13

You folks and your pride collide headlong into God’s will for your lives and lifestyle.

My friends over at Miriam Webster’s place describe pride as a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements

Totally self-absorbed, self-centered. ME ME ME! Focused on what you think of yourselves rather than showing thankfulness for who your Creator and mine created you to be. No matter what or who you are and what you believe about yourselves, God loves every one of you unconditionally and has a beautiful plan for your life if you will trust Him and His will.

I have a suggestion: A serious one that just might be a beautiful thing.

Rather tha call your celebration PRIDE, why not your celebration–SERVE?

After all Jesus commanded me and you to LOVE ANOTHER and to consider the needs of others greater than our own. That’s our greatest purpose. It’s God’s personal calling for each of our lives.

proverbs

God

For His Glory mission statement

God gave me my mission statement for my For His Glory blog

I started writing my blog in April 2010. With the exception of two months of rehab after my stroke in February, 2018 and a self-imposed three-week sabbatical several years ago I’ve published original blog posts and an occasional guest post either five-days a week or three days a week for almost 11 years.

In the beginning I was writing on a variety of topics. Then in 2014 God said to me, “I want you to write for Me.” So For His Glory was born.

Since then I have trusted God to give me the words and subjects He wants me to write about in my blog. He gave me my tag line for my blog: “Christ-centered, family oriented blog posts that glorify God.” He also gave me the words for my mission statement: To help us all know, understand, believe and live out of our true identify in Christ.”

To that end I’ve decided to spend some blog post capital helping us all explore and understand what it means to know and believe what our TRUE identity in Christ means.

DISCLAIMER–I am NOT a theologian, a pastor or a Biblical scholar. I’m an everyday Joe with a 35-year writing-for-a-living resume who loves the Lord, loves to immerse myself in God’s word and grow daily in my intimate relationship with Jesus.

If you ever read something you may consider to be contrary to Biblical truth, please let me know right away so we can rectify it.

God

How’s your Christianity workin’ for you?

When folks see how you are living day-to-day now what evidence would they see that Christ is living in you? Or would folks see evidence that you are surrendered to God’s will in your life and allowing Jesus to live his life through you. If you went on trial for being a Christian would the prosecution have enough evidence to convict you?

I wonder just how many folks today who identity themselves as Christians are making an effort to follow Jesus, love one another, and consider the needs of others as more important than their own. Does your brand of Christianity look like that?

Does your lifestyle now look more like the Galatians 2:20 new man in Christ:  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Or does your lifestyle reflect worldly thinking like in 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

If you’re a believer and an earnest follower of Christ it is easy to fall back into a dangerous pattern of worldly thinking and behavior. The instant we realize we might be slipping down that slippery slope into the world Flee. right away. Get into God’s word. Pray. Call a friend.

Satan will try anything to keep you worldly. And the longer you stay the worse it will be and the harder it will be to extricate yourself

God

Enabling

Enabling is one of those misguided behaviors that keeps the enabled person from experiencing the full impact and consequences of their behavior. Enabling is not helping or supporting. In fact it is hindering and constraining. It is interfering with another person’s responsibility to be doing things they should be doing for themselves It is relatively easy to lapse into enabling behavior.

Enabling is most often associated with the behavior of parents, siblings or friends towards addicts. You might believe if you don’t help, the outcome for everyone involved will be far worse. Maybe you excuse troubling behavior, lend money, or assist in other ways. It is easy for an enabler to excuse an addict’s behavior and life choices. Enablers often tell themselves that they are actually helping the addict.

But it’s important to realize enabling doesn’t help.

Over time it can have a damaging effect on your loved one and others around them. It’s often easy for someone to blame others–relatives or friends, teachers, yourself, family or employers for the addict’s behavior.

Enabling comes in several shapes and sizes if your enabling is directed towards addicts or addictive behavior.

Enablers often bail addicts out of trouble (pays off debts, fixes tickets, hires lawyers, provides jobs.(Gives the addict unearned or undeserved. “Sees the problem” as caused by something else–broken home, insecurity, shyness, loneliness, a different disease.

Do you enable other people?
God

People pleasing

I’m not trying to win the approval of people but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10

I was a people pleaser for years. And a good one, if I do say so myself. But that’s not a good thing.

I grew up in an alcoholic home so I was automatically predisposed to people pleasing. You see, because of my innate role in my dysfunctional family I wanted everyone to be happy and like me. I despised conflict of any kind. If everyone wasn’t happy I would try doing or saying whatever I thought would make them happy and like me.

Lots of folks drag that people pleasing baggage with them into adulthood.

The root cause of most people pleasing is people’s inability to grasp the meaning of a tiny two-letter, one-syllable English word: NO!

They love to say “Yes”. They fear that if they tell someone who asks them to do something “No”, that person may not like them or be sorely disappointed in them. That would mortify a people pleaser.

If you’re a people pleasure it means that you regard other people’s opinions of you and their wants and needs as more important than your own.

If you put anything or person ahead of God’s important in your life, tat thing or person becomes an idol. It could be a girl, a car, a job, a hobby, a football team, video games, something as inconsequential as a soap opera. Anything or person before God in your life is an idol.

God himself tells Moses in the first of the Ten Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me. And He follows that up with the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself an idol. Those are God’s first and second commandments, folks. Not the 5th or 6th. So what do you think God thinks about people pleasing?

Why not take a few minutes to make a list of the top ten things most important to you in your life.

Where is God (truthfully) on your list?

God

Trust

When my daughter was five we wanted to teach her how to go under water when she was swimming. She could already sort of swim, but she kept her head above water. She was still skittish about going under.

Well, I was determined to teach her there was nothing scary or dangerous about putting your head under water when you got in the pool

So, we went to the pool. I asked Leah to stand on the edge of our pool. She wanted to wear her nose plugs but I nixed that idea. I jumped in the pool and stood in the water just far enough so I could catch her if anything went wrong. I spread my arms wide apart. “Okay Sweetie, now just jump into Daddy’s arms. I’m right here. I’m going to catch you.

“No, Daddy, I’m afraid.”

“You don’t need to be afraid. Daddy’s going to catch you. I promise

“What if I fall” she said.

“There’s no place to fall. You’ll land right in Daddy’s arms. It will be fun,” I pleaded.

“I can’t,” she said.

After about 15 minutes of this I asked, “Will you do it if I let you wear your nose plugs?” She reluctantly agreed and put them on. She stood on the edge of the pool and I spread my arms out to catch her. “Come on Sweetie it will be fun. You’ll see.

Finally she jumped. Well I wouldn’t really call it jumped. More like flailing into my waiting arms.

I made sure her whole head went under and then I snatched her out of the water.” Now, wasn’t that fun?”

“Okay, Daddy. Yes it was fun. Can we do it again?

She spent the next 45 minutes jumping off the side of the pool into Daddy’s arms. Did Daddy enjoy it? For about five minutes.

When Leah found out she could trust me to catch her when she jumped in my arms, she didn’t hesitate at all to trust me over and over.

Isn’t that how we learn to trust God? When we learn that God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do, it becomes easier and easier to trust him over and over each time we choose to trust him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Okay, Daddy. Yes it was fun. Can we do it again?

She spent the next 45 minutes jumping off the side of the pool into Daddy’s arms. Did Daddy enjoy it? For about five minutes.H

When Leah found out she could trust me to catch her when she jumped in my arms, she didn’t hesitate at all to trust me over and over.

Isn’t that how we learn to trust God. When we learn that God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do, it becomes easier and easier to trust him over and over.

[

Okay, Daddy. Yes it was fun. Can we do it again?

She spent the next 45 minutes jumping off the side of the pool into Daddy’s arms. Did Daddy enjoy it? For about five minutes.H

When Leah found out she could trust me to catch her when she jumped in my arms, she didn’t hesitate at all to trust me over and over.

Isn’t that how we learn to trust God. When we learn that God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do, it becomes easier and easier to trust him over and over.

God

How good is good enough?

Some folks, even some well-intended Christians, believe in and practice doing good things in hopes God will love them more and rack up more points for acceptance.

They believe their performance is the ticket for being good enough to please God and serve Him.

They have this performance code that says. “If I do enough, work enough, give enough, go to church enough, give enough, read the Bible enough, . serve enough, and obey enough, I’ll have a great relationship with God and be good enough to please Him.

They are totally wrong.

You can never be good enough for God. First of all, God is the only one in heaven or earth who is good. Jesus proclaimed in Mark 10, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”

There is no such thing as a good Christian. Even though God is the only one who is good in all the universe, we still have scores of believers who still think their performance counts.

It never will.

God

Will Archie Bunker be in heaven?

Archie Bunker

Archie Bunker was the master of malapropisms in the hit TV comedy series, All In The Family on CBS from 1971 to 1979.

If you labeled Archie as opinionated, stubborn, self-absorbed, bigoted, bull-headed, overbearing, pigheaded, prejudiced, biased, conceited, and stubborn, you wouldn’t be wrong.

And I think some folks who watched the show would call those Archie’s good qualities

Archie did not discriminate against any race or group. He lambasted everybody. He referred to all Blacks as “you people.” whether or not he was talking about them or to them. He denounced Jews, he criticized the Germans, he said Catholics were going to hell, he slammed Liberals, he called Puerto Ricans Spics. He had no use for Democrats or Jimmy Carter. He called his son-in-law, Mike an Atheistic pinko Pollock meathead. He wouldn’t allow his family to say anything negative about Gerald Ford or Ronald Reagan.

Everyone or people-group he didn’t like became fodder for his insults, faulty reasoning and malapropisms.

As much as we might think someone like Archie Bunker might be like ants at a picnic in heaven we have to remember who God is and that he is love. God created Archie before the foundations of the world and has always loved him as much as he loves you and me now. God loves Archie Bunker as much as God loves Billy Graham or the Apostle Paul.

And we need to be reminded of God’s promises about heaven. When Archie gets there all that crusty exterior and contrary nature will be gone. He’ll be kind and humble and have a servant’s heart, and he won’t criticize heaven or the weather or the angels and he will love his neighbors. It may be hard for us to imagine at first but he’ll be one of us, just like us for all of eternity. That’s how loving God is.

Some of Archie’s Malapropisms

1) Archie asks “what’s that smell” Gloria tells him that her friend Robin is burning incense. “It smells like a house of illrefute.

2)“They want people like your mother on the jury because they know she doesn’t have any pre-conscrewed ideas

3) “It’s a well known fact that capital punishment is a detergent to crime!”

4) Mike says, “It’s just pelvic construction women are built differently” Archie answers, “Oh please don’t draw me no diaphragms

5) “There’s wide open sex all over the place, but that’s okay that’s just your submissive society!”

6) Talking about rioting in California. Just look at that, bricks and bottles. It’s a regular insuruption.”

7) “Back in my day we learned to keep things in their proper suspective.”

8) “You and that bleeding heart Reverend Fletcher sittin’ up there in that ivory shower.”

9) “Dear Mr. President, your Honor, Sir. As one of your faithful constituionals.”

10) Mike and Archie argue, “It’s not irreverent to the conversation.” Mike corrects him ‘irrelevant” Archie says “What ever, it’s not German to the conversation.”

Archie was opinionated, bigoted, bossy,

God

The Waffle House Weather

Waffle House open 24/7365

We have a bunch of hurricanes in the South every year.

We also have a bunch of Waffle Houses. 2,100 restaurants in 25 states.

Each year the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, spend millions in resources and man power across the Southeast to help predict before hurricanes make landfall the path, strength and severity of the killer storms or other natural disasters.

Waffle Houses help the government make those predictions

Waffle Houses stay open 24/7/52 weeks a year. They never close.

So weather forecasters know things’ll be okay if Waffle House is open. If you ever drive up to one and it’s closed you better find shelter and fast.

If you’re not from the South you may not realize it, but one of the ways folks know how bad a storm will be or was is all based on whether or not the Waffle Houses close up shop. It’s just a fact of life. If Waffle House is still open, things are gonna be fine. If they start closing… well, it’s probably too late to get out and you done messed up. It’s called the “Waffle House Index.

Here’s how it works

If Waffle House is open and serving full meals, FEMA knows things are going well and the index is green.

If the diner is only serving a limited menu, it tells FEMA there may be supply or power issues in an area. That equals a yellow on the index.

But if a Waffle House is closed, FEMA knows it’s bad, and the index turns red. Since Waffle House is so prepared for disasters, the index doesn’t turn red very often.

admonition, behavior, Biblical Principals, choices, God, God's purpose, helping, Obedience, Personal, Servant, Serving others, The Great Commission, Truth

How Big Is Your But?

God

Archive week

This week I want to share some of my follower’s favorite and most viewed For His Glory‘s posts. I’ve got some site maintenance to do and some personal business our family must attend to this week

I hope you enjoy all the posts

(Editor’s note) I wrote Sweet Tea and Jesus several years ago. It remains one of my readers’ most liked posts.

Sweet Tea and Jesus

Folks who live outside the Deep South don’t understand Sweet Tea. If you go to most restaurants or truck stops north of the Tennessee line and ask if they have Sweet Tea, they’ll say, “Sure, sugar’s on the table.” (That means, “No.  We don’t have sweet tea. Sugar’s on the table.”)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tea-2.jpg

When you make real Sweet Tea, first dump two cups of sugar into a pitcher. Bring a half gallon of water to a boil. When it boils put in three family-sized tea bags. Leave it alone for five or six minutes. Remove the tea bags and bring the tea to a boil. Pour the tea into the pitcher and stir it until the sugar melts. Fill the pitcher half way with ice and stir until the ice melts. Then fill the pitcher with cold water. Stir until blended.

Something real scientific happens when you make Sweet Tea. When the sugar dissolves in the tea, you no longer have sugar and tea, you have Sweet Tea. It is a different mixture. Two separate ingredients mix together to form a new substance. It’s no longer sugar, and no longer tea. It’s Sweet Tea. The sugar won’t settle on the bottom of the pitcher, because it’s not sugar any more. The liquid will always be Sweet Tea to the last sweet drop in the pitcher.

The Bible teaches us that’s the same thing that happens when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and invite Him into our hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man (water) be in Christ, (sugar) he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Sweet Tea).

As born again believers we are now spiritually in Christ, and will be forever. God has already guaranteed our position in Christ for eternity.  Ephesians 2:5-6 proclaims, “even when we were dead in our transgressions (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

As a new creation in Christ, He wants to live His life in us, through us and as us to bring glory to God. As part of our true identity we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We’re new creations.

The next time you drink a big glass of Sweet Tea, think about being a new creation with Christ living in you and you in Christ. And for all you Yankees, I hope y’all get to visit us down here one day and savor a tall cool glass of this delicious nectar us Southern folks call Sweet Tea. Y’all will just love it.

God

LOOKING AT LIFE THRU GOD’S GLASSES: SUCCESS OR SIGNIFICANCE – Part 15

LOOKING AT LIFE THRU GOD’S GLASSES: SUCCESS OR SIGNIFICANCE – Part 15

What you see depends on the glasses through which you are looking. Looking through human glasses, we tend to see success. Looking through God’s glasses, we are able to see significance.

Achieving success is usually connected to personal ambition that benefits the individual. Success can be dangerous. It can give us a false image of how important we really are. It can create a mindset where we get distracted and don’t see clearly what God’s purpose is for our lives.

A few years ago, the news reported a celebration at the New Orleans municipal pool to honor the first summer in memory without a drowning there. In honor of this very successful occasion, two hundred people gathered, including one hundred certified lifeguards. After a festive time, the party was breaking up, and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool. They were shocked to find a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, 31, but it was too late.

Jerome had drowned, surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season. There is nothing wrong with having a party to celebrate success – except that success can distract us from what is really most important.

Keith Richards said, “Success has killed more very talented guys than drugs. Jimi Hendrix didn’t die of an overdose – he died of success.” Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 

Success has a way of turning a man’s head – and when it turns his head, he is facing failure. Proverbs 27:1 reads, “Purity of silver and gold can be tested in a crucible, but a man is tested by his reaction to his success praised by men.”

Uzziah became king of Judah and was “a good king in the Lord’s sight.” (2 Chronicles 26:4) He followed God’s leadership and was successful, and God blessed him. (v. 4-15) But he could not handle success. At that point, he became proud and corrupt. (v.16) He disobeyed God (v.16-18). His inability to handle success led to disaster, and he became a leper until his death. (v.19-21)

Human glasses can be good if they show us a vision of a kind of success that helps us fulfill God’s purpose. There is nothing wrong with success, but it often brings more liabilities than assets.

Looking through God’s glasses, you can see significance. And significance trumps success every time. It’s easy to make money and be successful – it’s hard to make a difference and be significant.

The difference in success and significance is that success is usually for the benefit of the one achieving it, while significance tends to benefit the others the most.

Seeking success will usually create anxiety and worry – seeking significance creates peace and genuine happiness because it is bringing about the Kingdom of God on earth. A life of significance is often not recognized by the one who is living it, but it is a foretaste of what heaven will be like!

Are you living for success or significance?

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God

LOOKING AT LIFE THRU GOD’S GLASSES: SELFISHNESS OR SERVANTHOOD – Part 12

If we look at life through human glasses, we see selfishness – what’s in it for me? When we look at life through God’s glasses, we see servanthood – what’s in it for Him? One day, the disciples came to Jesus. They thought they ought to be serving Him in some way. Jesus quickly corrected them by saying, “I didn’t come to be served. I came to serve.” (John 13:1-17)

A life of selfishness leads to a shallow existence that exhibits a “never satisfied” life. A life of servanthood leads to a productive, meaningful, and joyful life makes a difference.

One of my heroes in tennis was Arthur Ash. He is one of the first great African American tennis players. The tennis complex in New York City is named after him. He is considered a hero for the kind of stand that he took to break into tennis circles. One day, he was asked about heroes.

Arthur Ash said, “Being a true hero is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Human glasses prompt us to be competitive and surpass others in categories that don’t really matter. God’s glasses show us that we become a hero when we have the urge to serve other people at whatever cost. Jesus said, “If you try to save your life for yourself then you will lose it. If you are willing to lose your life in serving me, you will find life.” (Matthew 16:25)

Trying to occupy great and seemingly important positions in life leads to a dead-end street. The simple life of serving as God taught us is an open thoroughfare to the greatest trip we could enjoy.

The Billy Graham Organization moved its world headquarters from Minnesota to Charlotte, North Carolina. There they established the Billy Graham Library. My good friend, Wayne Atcheson, was chosen to oversee its ministry. It’s not a library with books, but it is a museum documenting the ministry of Billy Graham. It is one of the most fascinating places that I have ever visited. If you are in the Charlotte area, block out a few hours to learn about this ministry and thank God for it.

Ruth Graham is buried on the Library grounds next to Billy Graham. Being married to Billy Graham placed her in a lot of situations where she met famous people. She could have sat in an elevated position, but she always elected to be a simple servant of Jesus Christ.

One day, she went to Belfast to visit a former missionary she had met in China. This missionary lived a very simple life in a small, unfurnished apartment. Packing boxes were her furniture. She did simple things like collecting plastic bottles to send to missionaries in Africa.

Five days later, Ruth Graham enjoyed tea with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. Ruth Graham said, “I couldn’t help but feel that I had tea with royalty twice in one week.”

You can become royalty when you commit your life to feeding, clothing, and visiting people who are in need. Royalty is not where you sit – it’s where you serve!

What do you see – selfishness or servanthood?

God

The Royal CommandAugust 17, 2021“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34There is really only one antidote to the poison of prejudice. There is only one cure for the disease of discrimination. It is the love of God. If you look at every person the way God does – and love the way God does – racism and prejudice in all forms will have to disappear from your life. This is why James calls the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” the “royal law,” (James 2:8) because it really is the king of all laws. When you love others as you love yourself, you automatically are going to see others as equal to yourself.Prejudice of any kind, especially racial prejudice, is not just a weakness; it is wickedness. Racism isn’t primarily a skin problem, but rather a sin problem. In fact, the only reason we look at skin is because of sin. To show just how terrible a sin it is, James said in James 2:10-11, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For He who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not commit murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” What he is saying is that sin is sin. So if you are guilty of prejudice or racism of any kind, to any degree, for any reason, your sin is just as bad as adultery or murder, which were considered the two worst sins in the eyes of legalistic Pharisees during that time.All people are created equal. In the very first chapter of the Bible we are told that both male and female were created in the image of God. Every human being who has ever, or will ever, come into the world bears the image of God. All human beings have equal worth because we are all created in the image of the God who is worthy of all honor and praise. Larry King, who has interviewed countless celebrities, politicians, and world leaders over five decades, was asked to pick out the one interview he felt was his most important. Without hesitation he said, “I was with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1961 when he was trying to get into a hotel in Tallahassee, Florida. The hotel wouldn’t give him a room even though he had a reservation. The police squad cars were coming because he was blocking the entrance. He knows he is going to be arrested. I am there right next to him, because his lawyer invited me there. King sits down on this porch in front of this small, twenty-room hotel. The owner of the hotel comes out, walks up to King and with a stern look on his face asks, ‘What do you want?’ Dr. King said nothing. The owner asked again in a stronger tone of voice, ‘What do you want?’ Dr. King looked up at him and simply said, ‘My dignity.’ Dr. King was right. He wanted the dignity that we were all born with as creations in the image of God.”That is what racial prejudice does – it downgrades people from the way God sees them and it degrades them from what they really are – creations in God’s image.Dear Lord, I’m asking you right now to help me take an honest look at my heart and reveal to me if I’m guilty of prejudice in any form. If I am, I confess my sin to you and ask you to forgive me and to change my heart so that I might be more like you. In Jesus’ name, amen.Topics: Racial ReconciliationBible ReferenceA new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.AboutContact UsJobsPastor ResourcesPrayer RequestPrivacy PolicyCopyright © 2019 Touching Lives, Inc. | 1800 Satellite Blvd, Duluth, GA 30097 | United States | 770-982-0168Touching Lives is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization

God

Old things are gone; new things have come

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God’s Word teaches us that we are a new person and everything about us is new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We all have a brand new identity and Christ lives his life in us. How we are to live our new life–Our new calling–We are to allow Jesus to live his life in us, through us and as us.

The ways we used to act, think, relate to others, talk, give, pray, party, judge, work, make friends, see others, spend money, value our material possessions, rest, love, treasure, speak, share, read, communicate, learn–the ways we used to do everything–are gone, buried. Gone forever. We all have new ways of doing everything–as new children of Almighty God.

The trick to living this new life successfully is to learn how to live this new life without allowing ourselves to slip back into the old ways of doing things in our life before Christ. And that’s a lifelong daily process you’ll never totally master. Satan and all our old ways are always lurking around trying to trick us into behaving in our old comfortable ways of behaving.

There’s an axiom I like to recall that sums up this whole living out this whole new identity in Christ. I love this thought and say it often:

Once I was dead in my trespasses and sins. Now I’m alive in Christ.