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When I knew for sure

Lots of authentic Christ followers can tell you the time and place when they were saved. Or where they were on 9-11, or where they were when MLK was assassinated, or the last time the Dodgers won the World Series.

I can tell you the time and place I was when I learned my true identity in Christ. I was in Al Scardino’s bible study class with Marie at First Baptist Church Atlanta. It was August 13, 2000. We were studying Dan Stone and Greg Smith’s powerful book, The Rest of the Gospel.1 Page 90 to be specific.

It was one of those unforgettable revelation moments when the light flashes and all of a sudden you get it. You realize that you live in Christ and Christ lives in you. And that’s the only identity you need.

Satan hates it. Because at that moment in your life he realizes that he has absolutely no chance of EVER persuading you to reject God and follow him. It means he has lost that believer forever to victory in Jesus.

We exist and live in one of two realms. The eternal realm of the Spirit of Almighty God. IT’s where things simply are. Everything is completed, unseen, changeless and timeless. No fear. No pain. No loss. Just never-ending peace and love always in the presence of Almighty God living as his beloved children.

The other realm we call the natural or temporal realm. If you live in this realns. m you are dying every day. There is a beginning and end. There is good and evil. There is a past, present and a future. There is birth, life and death. Wealth. Poverty. Failure. Expectations. Limits and experiences. Consequences. Trauma. Fear. Hate. Rejection. But the worst part about living in the natural realm is you are separated from God.

Are you still living in the natural realm? If you are, how’s that working for you? Things are going to become progressively worse. Any happiness you may experience will eventually turn to disappointment, futility and loss. You will eventually have to admit that this life sucks. Nothing works out the way you thought it would. Failures mount. So does your emptiness and feelings of worthlessness.

Do you want to swap realms? Do you want a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe? Wouldn’t you love to have all your sins forgiven forever? Would you like to know your eternal home?

IF you’d like all this stuff you get by living in the realm of the Spirit, have all your sins forgiven and become a child of God and join his family forever just say this simple prayer and it will be a done deal.

“God, I confess to you that I have sinned and I am genuinely sorry. I confess that my life has fallen short of your glory because of the way I’ve been living.  I want to know you. I want a personal relationship with my Savior. I believe by faith in You that Christ died for my sins. I ask you now, Jesus, to forgive me of my sins and come live in my heart.  I trust you as my Savior and receive you as my Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.”

Congratulation. You have a new Father and a new life in Christ. Your old self is dead and your new life is alive in Christ forever.

1The Rest of the Gospel; One Press, Dallas, Texas, c 2000

2000; pg. 90

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Time

The most important use of your time is to spend your time on what is most important.

You can’t save time, borrow time, make the most of time, keep time, find the right time, mark time, lose time, take time, or spend time.

You don’t have any time tomorrow, it’s not here yet. and yesterday is history.

The only time you have to do anything is now.

So, the question each of us has to ask and answer for ourselves is:

What’s the most important thing in our life?

I will claim for myself “seek ye FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (food, drink, clothes) will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Do I consistently seek my God first? No. My wife and my family edge out God more than I care to admit. But my heart always longs to make God first. How about you?

If God and His Kingdom is not the one thing that is most important in your life, maybe it’s time to make Him the most important thing. Right now.

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You’re nobody. . .till somebody loves you.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was an American singer, actor, and comedian. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed “The King of Cool”.

As a singer Martin was probably best known for his rendition of the song “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.”

Martin was a heavy drinker, a womanizer, a gambler and a chain smoker.

I’m sure he never imagined that one of his songs would bring believers so much comfort and peace and rest one day.

You see, as a believer you’re already loved deeply and forever. Almighty God already loves us unconditionally and with a love that will never fade or end. We have been loved since before Almighty God decided to create the heavens and the earth.

This love God has for us is indescribable. It is unfathomable. We can’t understand it. We can’t explain it. All we can ever do is receive it and share it with others. You can’t change it. You can’t refuse it. You can’t stop receiving it. You can never be turned down for it. God is love. He can do nothing else but love.

Here are just a few of the benefits that are part of God’s love for every believer

  • You are accepted just as you are, scars and warts and all.
  • You are totally forgiven for all your sins, past, present and future.
  • You can’t do or say anything that will change God’s unconditional love for you.
  • God makes you a partaker of an inheritance that is literally out of this world
  • You are made holy and blameless and righteous.
  • You are a precious child of God adopted into his family forever.
  • You have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through for you and through you.
  • You possess the mind of Christ and the peace that passes all understanding.
  • God supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Not every child of God believes who he or she is in Christ. For instance some believers have done things they can’t believe God would ever forgive them for. Some believers can’t wrap their arms around the truth that they were created before God created the world and they will neve die.

Whether folks believe all the above stuff or not. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s all true.

It doesn’t matter what you believe about God’s love. It only matter what God says about his love for believers. For everything God says or does is true.

I didn’t include any Scripture references in this post. I’m going to challenge you to seek God’s truth about Him and you in his word. All His truth is there.

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Why God chose Mary, a virgin

God could have chosen from among hundreds of girls or young women to be the mother of God’s only Son on earth. Why did he choose a young teenager from a wide spot in the road village, Nazareth. They said “Nothing good ever comes from Nazareth.”

But now we watch The Creator of the universe, Almighty God, pick this nondescript teenager to be the mother of the Savior of the world. And a virgin to boot.

Jesus’s mother had to be a virgin. It could have happened no other way. Remember with the first bite of the apple in Genesis Adam and Eve died spiritually. So every man, woman and child born from Adam and Eve’s union were born into sin.

“we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3

We all were at one time born into the world children of wrath and were deserving of death.

Jesus came into the world to give us His life. He had God’s love and eternal life to give anyone who would believe in Him and accept the free gift of eternal life Jesus was willing to give them.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

So, if Jesus was born to anyone but a virgin, he wouldn’t have had God’s eternal life to give away. And we would all die without God.

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We have forgotten God

Dr. James Merritt

Dr. James Merritt once quipped, “If we’ve learned anything from history it’s that we haven’t learned anything from history.”

Idols

It used to be that only some off-the-wall religions and pagans worshipped idols. But look at us now. We make idols out of almost anything that satisfies our worldly lusts. Shiny cars, football players and teams, movie stars, singers and music groups, clothes, our cell phones, (yes we do) money, shopping, crystals, astrology, success, personal image, . . .an idol is anything in our lives that we consider more important than God.

Sexual Immorality

We have completely forgotten what God said about marriage, dating back to Genesis

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24…Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that God created marriage as an institution for the purpose of man and woman to fulfill God’s purposes for man–procreation.

That means at the end of the day homosexual couples are and will always live outside God’s law and His purpose for man. Gay couples can not procreate, that will always render them shy of God’s original and eternal purpose. But God’s love is for all people and those living in sin will always have the freedom to repent and follow God’s law.

But homosexuality is only the tip of the sexuality immorality iceberg in our society. All you have to do is look) around to get a dose of every kind of immorality. Examples of immorality prevalent in our society: incest, adultery, prostitution (all pornography is merely glorified prostitution), fornication–having sex outside marriage, rape…abuse of women or children, lust after sex, cars, alcohol, drugs, riches, food, covetousness, lewdness. . .and the list goes on.

We have forgotten what God thinks about all this sexual immorality. Much of this disobedience has become commonplace and accepted as normal to many in our society today. Some turn away and claim just not to care or be moved by the behavior or beliefs of another. They claim it’s none of their business what others do.

“If it feels good” they rationalize, “do it” with no regard for who gets hurt.

Iniquity

And we’ve forgotten all about iniquity and how our heavenly Father feels when He sees it in us.

But sin is sin and ours has to be dealt with. We know from John 3:16 that Jesus died on the cross to pay the sin debt for all of us we owed: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But when we’re saved by the blood of Jesus, the rest of our lives we have to make choices every day about how we’re going to live. We will choose to make choices that glorify God or choices that glorify us. Choices that glorify Holy God come with rewards and a heaven full of grace and blessings or those choices that live for us. Those choices lead to disappointments, costly outcomes, unnecessary suffering and regret–never fulfillment.

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Unity please.

We inaugurated a new president, Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris, on January 20.

We’ve just completed the most significant benchmark in our entire democracy–the transfer of power from one presidential administration to another–pageantry we perform and celebrate every four years.

Vice President Kamila Harris
President Joe Biden

The quote that impacted me most in Mr. Biden’s inaugural address, and one I can imagine myself quoting in future blog posts, is what he said about unity. Mr. Biden said, “With unity we can do great things. Without unity, there is no peace.”

Unity please. We so desperately need unity in this country in this day and time, especially since Trump, in his last weeks in office tried to split our country apart even more.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:31 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

We can’t even begin to change our attitudes about being united with our fellow man until we undergo a transforming change of our collective hearts.

And God is the only one who can do that.

Are you prepared for Him to do that in your heart?

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He never invited her to church

butterfield

How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield met Jesus is an incredible story. This radical unbeliever despised Christians and didn’t believe Jesus was real, according to her story published on the Christianity Today¹ website in their February 7 issue. She calls her story My Train Wreck Conversion. “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing,” she said. “That’s what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.”

Her story, despite being an amazing work of God in her life, is not what grabbed my attention. Ken Smith, a pastor at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, wrote Dr. Butterfield a letter. The lesbian radical wrote a vehement assault on Christianity in a local Syracuse, New York paper in 1997 after Promise Keepers came to town.

The story drew both fan mail and hate mail, but Ken Smith’s letter, Butterfield said, was engaging, not condemning, not judgmental. “And he didn’t invite me to church,” she said.

THAT’S what caught my attention.

He didn’t invite her to church.

In a few words, Butterfield and Smith and his wife, Floy, became friends.

“They entered my world,” she said in her story. “They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.”

When I first moved to Alabama and met new people the first thing many of them asked me was, “Do you have a church home?” Regardless of my answer, they’d invite me to church.

Ken Smith, in my opinion, employed the best and most effective evangelism tool–friendship. Ken and Floy knew what Jesus meant when He taught His disciples to “Love One Another.” As a result of their friendship, Dr. Butterfield made a conscious and independent decision to go to church, where she met and accepted Jesus Christ.

She calls her story, “My Train Wreck Conversion”. I urge you to read her full story on the Christianity Today website. Or watch the video version below.

She has written a book about her life and her conversion experience, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.”

We truly serve an Awesome God, and we never know when, how or who He will draw someone unto Himself.

¹The Christianity Today website story © 2013 by Christianity Today, My Train Wreck Conversion, was the inspiration for this blog post. Direct quotes from her story appear in quotation marks in the post.https://www.youtube.com/embed/hkJZSeUGzWw?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparentAdvertisements

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Child Abuse and Domestic Violence

Thousands of children and women won’t have anything to eat today. Or have anywhere to sleep tonight. Or they’ll be terrified and huddled in a closet so the man mom brought home won’t explode in a fit of drunken, angry abuse.

Not a pretty sight. But it plays out all the time in too many places in America every day and every night. It is a never-ending toxic plight that is eroding our society relentlessly.

Can we cure it? Probably not. The hate and anger and rage is so deeply rooted in the souls of those that abuse that change is virtually impossible

Jesus is the only one who can transform a heart. And abusers often don’t have courage enough to reach out for HIM.

But there is hopeFOR THE ABUSED

Kerri McKenna Reece can help

Find her at Kerri Coaching

Some brave, survivors of abuse themselves, have chosen to share their experience, strength and hope with others living in the aftermath of childhood abuse or in the midst of adult domestic abuses. The long term hope is for victims of abuse to learn the life skills, tools and truths that enable them to rebuild their lives. Skills that will empower them to move beyond the behaviors and people that don’t serve them well. Techniques that commission them to live truly authentic, and unafraid, embracing the life God intended them to live.

Kerri says, “I know the depths of your pain and struggles first hand. I’m a survivor of abuse myself and my journey to recovery led me to become a Certified Professional Life and Trauma Recovery Coach.

“I’ve been where you are and have recovered and survived. Together we can walk the road to your recovery. Free of abuse forever.

Arrange a complementary consultation with Kerri today. Click on the link below.

https://www.kerrimckennareece.com/lets-connect

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What do you expect

One of the greatest football coaches Alabama has produced was Ralph “Shug” Jordan. He was the head football coach at Auburn for twenty-four years and had an enviable win/loss football record of 176-83-6. He was the National Football Coach of the Year in 1957 and several times Coach of the Year in the SEC. He’s in the Hall of Fame.

He was also head basketball coach at Auburn and Georgia. He was an American patriot and a great military leader. He led four military invasions during World War II. He was wounded at Normandy. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. I’ve heard that General Patton had a “War Eagle” sign on the front of his Jeep because he said that Shug Jordan told him to put it there!

A friend in Selma had the personal high school annual of his father who had graduated with Coach Jordan. I held that annual in my hands. I saw that next to his senior picture in the annual, Coach Jordan wrote these words, “Someday I expect to be a major college football coach.” Wow! He set his expectation level when he was a senior in high school – and he accomplished it later!

The old saying is, “What you expect is what you get.” What are your expectations for 2021? Where you will be in December 2021 will be directly related to the expectations you set in January 2021! If you expect something bad, it’s going to be a tough year. If you expect something good – get ready for some huge surprises! I dare you to expect God to turn a tough, turbulent 2020 into a terrific 2021!

2020 was tough, but it was not nearly as tough as what the apostle Paul experienced when he wrote to his friends at Philippi. He was in prison. His expectations were so high about the possibilities of what he could accomplish there. He considered prison to be the perfect place for him to do ministry. He expected the best for his people, and he led by example. He writes, “Because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians seem to have lost their fear of chains.” (Philippians 1:14)

Paul says a few verses later, “I’m going to keep on being glad, for I know that you pray for me, and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is going to turn out for my good. For I know when I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that will cause me to be ashamed of myself…and I will always be an honor to Christ.” (Philippians 1:19 ff)

When Louis XVI and his queen were put to death by the people of France, they left behind a little boy who would have been King Louis XVII. They put the boy in prison where he was surrounded by terrible people who were vicious and vile. Their aim was to teach the boy vulgar thoughts and habits of profanity and unholy things.

But these men failed because of the expectations of that little boy. Whenever someone tried to get that boy to say a bad word, he would simply reply, “No, I will not say it. I was born to be a king!”

You were born to be in King Jesus’s family! Live 2021 in the expectation of what God is going to do through you. Make every day a day that God uses you to help Him increase His royal family and define Kingdom values for other people!

We are graduating from 2020. What are you writing by your picture for 2021?

He was also head basketball coach at Auburn and Georgia. He was an American patriot and a great military leader. He led four military invasions during World War II. He was wounded at Normandy. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. I’ve heard that General Patton had a “War Eagle” sign on the front of his Jeep because he said that Shug Jordan told him to put it there!

A friend in Selma had the personal high school annual of his father who had graduated with Coach Jordan. I held that annual in my hands. I saw that next to his senior picture in the annual, Coach Jordan wrote these words, “Someday I expect to be a major college football coach.” Wow! He set his expectation level when he was a senior in high school – and he accomplished it later!

The old saying is, “What you expect is what you get.” What are your expectations for 2021? Where you will be in December 2021 will be directly related to the expectations you set in January 2021! If you expect something bad, it’s going to be a tough year. If you expect something good – get ready for some huge surprises! I dare you to expect God to turn a tough, turbulent 2020 into a terrific 2021!

2020 was tough, but it was not nearly as tough as what the apostle Paul experienced when he wrote to his friends at Philippi. He was in prison. His expectations were so high about the possibilities of what he could accomplish there. He considered prison to be the perfect place for him to do ministry. He expected the best for his people, and he led by example. He writes, “Because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians seem to have lost their fear of chains.” (Philippians 1:14)

Paul says a few verses later, “I’m going to keep on being glad, for I know that you pray for me, and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is going to turn out for my good. For I know when I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that will cause me to be ashamed of myself…and I will always be an honor to Christ.” (Philippians 1:19 ff)

When Louis XVI and his queen were put to death by the people of France, they left behind a little boy who would have been King Louis XVII. They put the boy in prison where he was surrounded by terrible people who were vicious and vile. Their aim was to teach the boy vulgar thoughts and habits of profanity and unholy things.

But these men failed because of the expectations of that little boy. Whenever someone tried to get that boy to say a bad word, he would simply reply, “No, I will not say it. I was born to be a king!”

You were born to be in King Jesus’s family! Live 2021 in the expectation of what God is going to do through you. Make every day a day that God uses you to help Him increase His royal family and define Kingdom values for other people!

We are graduating from 2020. What are you writing by your picture for 2021?

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God called on me

by Monty B. Pitner

My Uncle Monty wrote this poem decades ago.

Monty was a Speech and English professor at the University of Maryland campus, Montgomery County junior College in Rockville, Maryland.

He garnered a bushel full of of national bridge points (I don’t know a thing about bridge but folks who play tell me that’s a big deal.) Monty was also the top civilian instructor in the Atlantic theater for the Pentagon. He was also acquainted with John F. Kennedy before JFK ran for president in 1960.

I never knew Monty to be religious or spiritual. I don’t know whether he had a saving relationship with Jesus when he died in 1970 or not. But you’d think from the context of his poem that he may have.

God Called on MePitner

By Monty B. Pitner

God called on me one night when it was late

and said that love should conquer over hate

It was a dream, and yet I seemed to see

a light as bright as silver circling me.

He spoke and smiled as though we’d met before,

and then I wasn’t frightened any more.

He said, “How strange to me that man

has lost the meaning that his Master planned.

I gave my only son to light the way,

and now you honor him Christmas Day;

but have you all forgotten why you sing

of Jesus who was born to be your King?

Let love prevail and play its proper part;

the Joy of Christmas is within the heart.

To give is more divine tan to receive;

My son, in this have faith; in this believe.

Now I shall go, but speak my word

that out of darkness you saw God one day.”

It’s strange that I should see my Master call,

for I am blind and cannot see at all.

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Who we are–really

identity in Christ


I’ve been living under an assumed name now for years — Christian. God is slowly showing me that Jesus’ last command before returning to His Father was not “Go and make Christians of all nations.” You can’t really find any definition for Christian in the Bible. In fact in the KJV version the word only appears three times.

“Christian” was a derogatory term those outside Jesus’ followers used to call those who followed Jesus around. Jesus’ command was “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Now disciples has a clear concise definition in the Bible. Jesus defined a disciple as followers who loved one another.

Every command, every verse, every lesson, every book, every parable Jesus told, every Bible study we use today. All of it is based on that command: love one another. Love those we like, love those we love, love those we don’t like, love those who don’t worship like we do, those who don’t worship at all, those who rebel.

Jesus loves all those (in fact he hug out with tax collectors and sinners) as much as we who Jesus calls His children. He loves each of us regardless of who we are, what we’ve done, or where we’ve been.

So don’t call me a Christian anymore. You can define a Christian any way you want to, with a bushel full of beliefs,  a plethora of principles, some authentic, contrived rationalized behavior, rituals, rules and regulations.

Instead of calling me a Christian, I want folks to know me to call me a disciple of Jesus Christ or an authentic follower of Christ. That’s my true identity in Christ and my one purpose is to love God and love others.

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God bless atheists this Christmas

A New Jersey billboard, paid for by atheists, depicted three wise men approaching Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in a manger. The billboard proclaimed, “You know it’s a myth! Celebrate reason.”  The atheist group reportedly paid $20 grand to display the message through the Christmas season.

A spokesman for the atheist group said the billboard was not to condemn Christians for celebrating Christmas; it was to encourage atheists to stop going through the motions of celebrating Christmas.

If you’ve ever debated Christ with an atheist or a non-believer you may discover their belief system sounds shallow. But many are adamant believers in their faith in a godless world. Isn’t that an oxymoron? If they have beliefs and faith, isn’t that, well . . . belief and faith in something?

But let’s not go there. I’m not seeking to belittle atheists or their beliefs and faith.

God still blesses atheists. Many of them are successful, well-educated, kind and considerate people. They go to college, raise families, contribute to their communities, volunteer their time and resources for the good of others. They prosper and add to our general welfare. Many are good people.

Like Christians, atheists live by the choices they make. From the beginning I believe God gave man freedom of choice in the Garden of Eden.  Atheists acquired their freedom to choose from the big bang, as they tell it, when their version of man’s ability to choose crawled out of the primal ooze, and, through osmosis, I suppose, seeped into his brain and enabled him to think.

As an authentic follower of Jesus I believe Adam and Eve’s garden experience instilled in every man and woman the ability to choose right from wrong and good from evil.

God, I believe, gave us the choice to believe in Him and Jesus as our Savior, or not to believe.

I believe when I take my last breath I will go to sleep (die physically) and wake up in the arms of Jesus. Atheists believe when they die their bodies will rot wake up in Jesus’ arms, but rather return to the earth as worm food. No afterlife, no heaven, no Jesus waiting to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” no treasures in heaven, no trumpets, no mansion, no streets of gold, no peace.

And they’re entitled to believe that. They don’t have to believe they are God’s children and that He loves atheists every bit as much as He loves true believers.

I also believe, however, that those who don’t believe (like the atheists) will spend eternity separated from God (as He says they will in the Bible) for eternity. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

But God blesses atheists, and will continue to bless them with life and health and families and 401K’s and good jobs and food and clothing, just like he blesses us.  God will continue to love atheists until they draw their last breath.

Then atheists will discover, the moment after that last breath, whether they were right or wrong.

So will we.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9

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Total peace and serenity

I love snow. Everything about it. The problem is I live in Atlanta. Snow is rare if ever a weather event here. Last year we had three days of winter when the temps plunged into the 30’s. That was it. Our winter.

I grew up in a small farming town in Southwest Iowa (5,000 souls). We had snow. Lots of snow. In fact snow was responsibifle for one my most precious childhood memories.

When a snowfall started filling up our yard and the yard next door I walked into our laundry room and looked out the window at the snow falling outside.

It was as if God turned off the sound. It was total stillness. Quiet and complete stillness.

It was as if God said to me, “Here, Steve, this is what total peace and quite feel like.

And I loved it. I’ve rarely felt so serene and in God’s peace. Often I’d gaze transfixed by the snow and stand at that window for hours. Several times I think I stood there till the snow stopped.

What a blessing. Even today I’ll call up those memories of looking through the window at the falling snow and rekindle that peace and serenity and feel it all over again.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.

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What do you see?

Life is lived daily. When you look at things each day, what do you see? Two people can look at the same thing and see something different. Attitude greatly influences life by what we see.

One day, Jesus was teaching, and there were thousands of people there. It had been an extremely long teaching session, and people were hungry. The disciples confronted Jesus about it because they didn’t want the crowd to get out of control. All they could see was a problem. Jesus never saw problems – He only saw possibilities!!

There were no restaurants around, and no take out was available. Drive-through windows hadn’t come into style yet. The disciples found a little boy with five loaves and two fish. For Jesus – that was enough. They fed five thousand men, not counting women and children, and had basketfuls leftover!

Do you see a problem or a possibility? Focusing on a problem will create a frustrating, frightening, fearful situation. Focusing on a possibility will create faith, fortitude, and a future of hope.

A shoe salesman went to a remote part of Africa. When he got there, all he could see was a problem because everybody was barefooted. He sent a message back to his company saying, “No prospect for sales, no one wears shoes. I’m returning home.”

The company later sent another salesman to the same area. He didn’t see the situation as a problem, but as a possibility. He sent a message to the home office saying, “Great potential, no one wears shoes; send 10,000 pairs immediately!”

Two people look at similar situations in life and see different things. One person sees stumbling blocks, obstacles, and unsolvable problems. Another person sees stepping stones, opportunities, and unlimited possibilities.

The great golfer Bobby Jones was going to Arizona to play in a golf tournament. He was told that the temperature in Arizona was “105 degrees in the shade.” He quickly said, “Man, I’m glad we don’t have to play in the shade!”

That’s an attitude! A successful person is not the one who is in a certain set of circumstances, but the one who has a certain set of attitudes!

Walter Gary was probably the biggest University of Alabama Football fan anywhere! He suffered from Down syndrome and died last year at age 36. Every Thursday, he went to Bryant-Denny Stadium and gave Nick Saban a sheet of paper with a prediction of the score for Alabama’s next game. Gary never picked Alabama to lose!

To celebrate Gary’s life, hundreds of people came to the north end zone at Bryant-Denny. Everybody present had been influenced by his attitude about life. Once an ESPN reporter asked him, “How do you deal with Down syndrome?”

Gary’s response was, “I don’t have Down syndrome – I have Up syndrome!” That’s an attitude!

There is an old saying, “If life gives you LEMONS, make LEMONADE!” I like that! My friend Derric Johnson says, “When life gives you LIMES, rearrange the letters to SMILE!”

What do you see?

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Who’s in charge?)

What a mess!!!

So many conflicts. ballot challenges, accusations of cheating, stealing votes, lying politicians (of course that’s nothing new), more wild demonstrations, law suits, divisiveness, hate, protests, racism, a fractured church, a polarized society and culture, failure to communicate, a media gone mad…

How and when will it ever end? In my opinion it won’t. It Can’t. We’ve gone too far. I believe our wonderful constitutional democracy is witnessing it’s waning days. Congress can’t fix it, the courts can’t fix it, the president can’t fix it, Billy Graham or James Dobson or Dr. Phil can’t fix it.

I’m even beginning to wonder if 1st Chronicles 7:14 will still work:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” My people” can’t even agree with each other. The church today is about as fractured as it’s ever been. How are they ever going to be unified enough to humble themselves and pray as a unified body of believers–the church?

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

There are oodles of scriptures in God’s Word that affirm God’s absolute sovereignty and that Almighty God is still on the throne and in complete control of everything.

Remembering that and abiding in it, I believe, is our only hope today and in the future.

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Does age matter?

COVID-19 has taught us a lot of things about life. One thing we’ve learned is that age is not a factor when we need to reach out and help other people. (Read Job 12:12; 32: 6-10.) Here are four quick examples:

Cavanaugh Bell is a first-grader in Maryland. He heard about the coronavirus, and he started thinking about what he could do. He had $600 in savings. He asked his mom to go shopping with him. He bought cartloads of hand sanitizer, snacks, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. He made 65 care packages.

Cavanaugh then went to his grandmother’s senior living community and passed them out. He observed all the social distancing guidelines. He wore gloves and a mask and kept his distance. He said, “I like giving back. That’s my passion.”  How passionate are you about giving back?  

10-year-old Chelsea Phaire was quarantined at home when she decided to use her time wisely to find a way to turn a tough situation into a terrific solution. She started Chelsea’s Charity. She sends out art kits to kids in homeless shelters and foster care facilities. In the past three months, this first-grader from Danbury, CT, has shipped more than 1,500 packages containing coloring books, crayons, markers, and other materials.

Chelsea says that she hopes her kits will give other children something creative and fun to do when they’re feeling down. She said, “Whether I’m happy or sad, art is always there for me.” God has something there for you. Are you willing to see it, use it, and make somebody else’s life better?

Meet Anna Adcox and her sister, Francis Trimble. They live in Dadeville, Alabama. They are 95 and 87 years old respectively. They are very productive. They spend their mornings working in their garden, and in the afternoon, they sew dresses and shorts for children around the world. These two ladies have finished about 7,000 dresses!

You’ll never hear Anna and Francis saying, “I’m too old, I can’t do that, I don’t know how.” They are continually learning, serving, and making a difference in the world. Several thousand boys and girls are glad they didn’t know how old they were!

Tom Moore is a 99-year-old World War II veteran who wanted to do something for Britain’s National Health Service. He decided to walk 10 laps around his garden every day and complete 100 laps by his 100th birthday on April 30,2020. His goal was to raise $1,000. Tom’s 16-year-old grandson, Benji, shared his vision on social media. Donations started pouring in. I saw the TV clip of him walking his laps with his walker and several British Military officers saluting him. He raised over $36,000,000!

In July, Queen Elizabeth II used the royal sword to bestow knighthood upon Tom Moore. At 100 years old, he did ask if he could remain standing during the ceremony, saying, “If I kneel down, I may never get up again.”

If your age is between Cavanaugh and Tom – you’re the right age to make a difference!

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The thing about corn

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Our afflictions

I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction
. Isaiah 48:10

Raise your hand if you like afflictions

Nobody. Right? Well guess what? Afflictions are good for us. So are trials and tribulations and struggles. Before you click off my blog and tell me I’m crazy. . .

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The main thing

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!

If you’re anything like me lots of times we get distracted by things we consider real important. For instance every Saturday in the Fall you’ll find me parked in front of the TV from noon till well into the night watching college football ( the SEC and of course Alabama). For several hours I slip into an activity that becomes the main thing in my life.

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Starry starry night

I live outside Atlanta. We live with an abundance of light pollution. So much so that we can only see a handful of stars in our sky most nights.

But if you lived in Death Valley California, one of the darkest cities in the U.S., your night sky will resemble the picture above, because Death Valley has virtually no light pollution. Behind the stars in the picture are billions more stars even further out in the universe that we can’t see..

Our sun is like a star. It is a paltry 93 million miles from earth. The nearest star to earth is Alpha Centauri. It is 4.3 million light years from Earth. Light travel at a rate of approximately 186,000 miles a second. Light travels about 5.8 trillion miles in one earth year. Do the math.

This picture is from the Whirlpool galaxy. It is 31million light years away.

To me it is God’s reminder to us that Christ is all and in all. He gave his life to give us His life.

I imagine that the white shading around the cross is more space, more universe, more stars, more creation beyond what we can’t see or imagine–more of God continuing to create His universe for us.

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Without Love

The Doobie Brothers recorded a song in 1973 called “Long Train Runnin”. One of the lyrics in the song is “Without Love, where would you be right now?” Think of all the things, places and people in our lives to which we ascribe love.

That lyric begs the question, “Without love where would we be right now?

Imagine for a moment marriages without love. Think of all the people places and things to which we ascribe some form of what we believe is love.

I love my wife with compassionate, unconditional devoted love. I love my children. I love to listen to Gospel music. I love rock and roll. I love fried chicken and corn on the cob.

I love pizza, I love chicken salad. I love to watch college football, I love our church family, I love chocolate. I could go and on about the things in my life to which I attach the emotion of love.

It is a worldly misconception that love means different things to different people.

ALL love of every kind, for any person, place or thing comes from God in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no other source. There is no other definition or meaning.

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

James 1:17

God is the creator and source for all love.

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Good Christians are a myth

There is no such thing as a “good” Christian.


Lots of folks who want to improve their lives (e.g. to be accepted by God, to get closer to God, to be loved more by God,  to gain God’s favor and blessing) try real hard to be a good Christian. The operative word here is “try“.

But “good” Christians don’t exist.In addition, if someone is declared a ” Good”  Christian  that means somewhere there has to be a bad Christian and a superior Christian and a poor Christian. Do you see the judgmental comparison trap we’d get ourselves into?

The moment we “try” to improve our lot as a “Christian” we take the focus off God and place it squarely on our self effort. That’s called living in the flesh. It is contradictory to walking in the Spirit and has nothing to do with following Christ or honoring God

In God’s Kingdom what we do on our own doesn’t count for anything.  The only thing that counts in God’s Kingdom is surrender to Christ’s life allowing him to live His life through us. Christ wants to live His life (not ours) in us, through us, and as us to bring Glory to God. Period.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remains in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.

 

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When satan speaks

The thief (satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. John 10:10

What does satan say to us and how does it impact us? ( I know his name it’s supposed to start with a capital s, but ask me if I care.)

We all know satan can only speak lies.   He is not capable of telling the truth. One area of our lives he likes to target is our identity in Christ. If  he can get us to doubt who we really are he can call it a good day.

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Put your helmet on

Come on folks it’s time to get serious. 

We are in a war

We’re not at war in Afghanistan, not Iran, not Syria, We’re in a battle between our ears for our hearts and thought life.  It’s a battle for our culture, for our families, our communities and for our spiritual lives. I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan ort spiritual warfare  a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up their pews every Sunday.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

When is the last time you pleaded with Satan to flee from your presence? When’s the last genuine “Come-to Jesus “ meeting you had with yourself or a close friend about it? When is the last time a trial befell you and you knew it was Satan? When did you last sin or when was the last time you were disobedient? Did you talk with a close friend or your pastor about it? When did you last talk about Satan with friends?”

 Here’s a question: Do you think we talk about Satan too much or too little?

 Do you think we are at war spiritually or do you think that’s just a bunch of Biblical mumbo jumbo nonsense and you don’t want to be troubles with it at all.

Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years, he’s thinking about us every moment looking for someone to devour–to kill, discourage or ruin their day. Every time Satan tells you a lie and you believe him, he’s had a good day.

I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan or spiritual warfare  a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.

Howard Beale got mad enough  to go to war.    In the 1975 classic movie Network Howard let everyone know how he felt in his radio audience when he shouted into his mike, ” I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Are you mad enough to go to war? Then strap your helmet on. It’s time. Or would you rather sit on your complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.

Maybe he’s not even paying attention too many Christian who are afraid to go to war.l lives. We’ve got to get off of our complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and go to war to preserve the Gospel that saved us and gave us new life.

When is the last time you cursed him for messing with you?  When is the last time you  commanded him to flee from you? When is the last time you thought about Satan? Thought about Evil? Thought about your own disobedience?  When’s the last time you thought about sin? Yours or someone else’s.

Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years  he’s thinking about us every waking moment looking for somebody to destroy  or just discourage someone or ruin someone’s day or just get them off their game.

I would venture a guess that he’s not paying attention to lots of Christians who are afraid to go to war and prefer to sit on their complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and let other folks go to war.

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How we got here

Occasionally I like to remind myself how I got here.

So I trace my steps from my godless birth in Adam  to my intimate eternal relationship with Jesus Christ that I enjoy every day. I had little to do with creating the intimate relationship. In fact God did it all.  my entire participation in his process amounted to accepting the gifts he freely gave me.

We all have a similar biography.  Read Ephesians chapter 2 and you’ll discover that Paul seems to have captured our story there.

From death to life

 our life in Christ

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

We were dead in our trespasses and sins but God crucifed his only son on the cross so you and I could be free from the life of sinners forever.

Our old self crucified

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ on the cross so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.” That does not mean we will never sin again. It means that forever we are free from the control of sin foreveFor if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!r. Sin no longer has power you control our lives. So God takes away our old self,our old life of sin away from us.

He freely gives his life to us

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the life of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10

Now He lives his life through us

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. Galatians 2:20

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13