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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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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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Three Attitudes

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Every day, we have an opportunity to adopt one of three different attitudes. The attitude we adopt will go a long way in determining how much we accomplish during the day. This is true in sporting contests, work environments, church opportunities, and every relationship we have in life. Your attitude is your choice!!

  1. PRIDEI’m too big to do little things.
    The Bible reminds us that pride goes before the fall. (Proverbs 16:18) Pride is very deceptive and extremely destructive. Paul said, “If you think you’re too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You’re really a nobody.” (Galatians 6:3)

    One day General Robert E. Lee was traveling on his horse and met a group of soldiers trying to get a wagon out of a ditch. Four of the soldiers were working at it and a Lieutenant was standing back, watching and giving orders. Lee asked the man why he wasn’t helping. He said that he was a Lieutenant. Lee got off his horse and got his boots and clothes muddy as he helped the other soldiers pull the wagon from the ditch. When he finished, the soldiers who had been helping looked at him and all of a sudden recognized that he was General Robert E. Lee. He was not too big to do a little job. 
  2. PITYI’m too little to do big things.
    This negative attitude is usually the result of dealing ineffectively with some dysfunction in our past and comparing ourselves to other people. What we do in life God doesn’t compare to anyone else. Paul said, “Do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (Galatians 6:4)

    We can never be too little to do something big. If God gives us the opportunity, He will supply everything that’s necessary to be successful in it. Pity should never be accepted as reality—it’s something that we have created and accepted. God can change that attitude. 
  3. POTENTIALI’m just right to do all things through Christ.
    This is a great attitude! Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Our strength to do all things does not come from anything that we generate—it comes from receiving God’s strength. God created us just right to fit us for the purpose He has for us. 

    Part of the problem is that we think we can changedo things in our own strength. Remember—the Potential Attitude is one in which we do everything through Christ.

    If God gives you a vision to do something big, and somebody says to you that it is impossible—remember, they are talking about themselves—not you. The Potential Attitude changes the negative to the positive, brings excitement to life, and becomes a blessing to others.

Paul said, “We are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Gal. 6:5)

What’s your attitude?

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The best stress relievers. Guaranteed.

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What’s your TQ–your Trust Quotient?

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Today is National Bipolar Day

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What’s your AQ — Attitude Quotient?

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I can do some things through Christ who strengthens me.

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What’s your FQ? your faith quotient?

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The Struggle In Today’s Church

Editor’s Note: I ran across this post on Writinggomer’s  blog and wanted to share it with my readers. Greg has some of the same issues I have expressed on this blog before about the state of the church today.  Is the church more like a harlot or the Bride of Christ?

By Writinggomer
Published on his website: Believing God Today

How would you like your eggs today, over-easy, scrambled, fried, sunny-side up, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, poached, or shirred?? How about your steak; rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done?? Choice of potatoes? This sounds like questions for a meal in a restaurant right?

Can you relate the above questions to today’s Church? Depending on the meal you choose when eating in a restaurant, you, the patron, sometimes have Continue reading

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7 ways to resolve conflicts

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Whole lotta shoutin’ goin’ on

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Ever notice isolation around you?

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What is the church doing about mental illness?

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I’m okay. You’re okay. It’s okay. Okay?

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My response to the tragic murders in Dallas, Orlando, San Bernadino and beyond

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Sometimes helping loved ones grow up is painful.

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We change our clothes, we change our minds, but . . .

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Meekness is not weakness

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Oh No, FOMO!!!!!

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Go Forward

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Walking Away From God

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Growth Requires Change

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Ministries

Change is always difficult because most of us don’t want to change.  However, thejohn ed amount of growth is often dependent on the amount of change we are willing to make.

My experience with Sunday School at Frazer is an excellent example.  Early in my ministry I put together a visionary group called the Joel Team to help discern God’s vision for the future.  One layperson suggested that Sunday School attendance had to grow in our church.  This bucked the trend because United Methodist Sunday School had been declining over the last 50 years.  Our Sunday School was small, but these creative laypeople began to discuss how we could change that trend.

We discovered that some of the larger Sunday School classes were meeting in smaller rooms, and some of our smaller classes were meeting in larger rooms.  This isn’t good stewardship in the use of the facility.

Let me remind you that Sunday School classes have a tendency to have ownership of their space.  They go to great efforts to upgrade the looks of their classroom.  The window treatments, the altar tables, etc. are oftentimes personally made by members of the class.  One layperson suggested, “Why don’t we look at Sunday School attendance every six months and rearrange the rooms to give the largest rooms to the largest classes.”

Caution!  This is a huge change.  People began to see that every Sunday School class might have to change rooms.  But the question is – do we want to grow a Sunday School or do we want to have business as usual and keep our own rooms?  Change would be necessary.

The Joel Team, consisting of people from all age groups, said that our core value is to grow our Sunday School. To do that it would be necessary to place the largest classes in the largest rooms.  It was voted on and passed unanimously, because the core value did not center around the inconvenience of change but the vision of growing the Sunday School.

Every six months the average attendance of each class is recorded and the rooms are assigned accordingly.  The Sunday School grew to three sessions each Sunday morning.  Each room is used three times.  If you go to Frazer today you will see no permanent Sunday School class names on a door.  There are actually three slots for 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 Sunday School.  Each class has a nameplate that they can slide into that slot.  The classrooms change accordingly to average attendance and the size of the room.

It has also created a bit of competition.  If you want to keep your Sunday School room, you need to be inviting people and growing!

Another layperson suggested that the best way to grow our Sunday School is to start new classes.  Because the tendency to give a new Sunday School class a room that is not being used (because nobody else wanted that room) you design defeat for the new class.  The Joel Team suggested that we give the best classrooms to the new classes.  That was a big mindset change for Sunday School classes.

All of these ideas passed our governing body almost unanimously.  Because the Joel Team had representatives from every age group in the church it was not a case of “they” making a decision for radical change, but it was a “we” are a part of that deciding body.

If these proposals had been my idea, I would not have been retained as pastor very long!  But this was the vision of the laypeople.  When laypeople have ownership, vision becomes reality.

What was the result – Frazer grew a Sunday School that became the largest Sunday School attendance of any United Methodist Church in America!!  The amount of change dictates the amount of growth.  Vision became reality when people were willing to change.

John Ed’s blog posts appear on For His Glory each week.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

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Assault On 10 Commandments–Again

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The Times They Are A Changin’

By John Ed Mathisonjohn Ed
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Bob Dylan’s classic song “The Times They Are A-Changing” was written years ago, but it is so appropriate for today. He sang, “Come gather round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown – and accept it that soon you will be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth saving, then you better start swimming or you will sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changing.”

The times are a-changing. The water is growing. The people that are not able to figure out how to swim are sinking like a stone. Businesses, churches, and organizations that are successful know how to figure new ways to swim to navigate the change.

One example of change is the cell phone. How many of you used a cell phone 15 years ago. Some of us still have trouble with them today. The International Telecommunication Union estimates that there will be 7.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2015. This is up from 2.2 billion in 2005. Remember that the current global population is about 7.2 billion.

Six years ago one of the most popular cell phones was the Blackberry. I remember debating as to whether I should get a Blackberry or an iPhone. I picked the iPhone because I was told it was easier to use. Seven years ago Blackberry accounted for roughly half of the smartphones in the North American market. Blackberry didn’t change with the times – today it accounts for just 0.6%. Using new tools like the cell phone to live in today’s market does present challenges. The overwhelming use of the cell phone has prompted “cell phone loss anxiety” which is referred to as “nomophobia.”

According to a report, 73 percent of people said they panicked when their cell phone was misplaced; 14 percent responded that they become desperate; and 7 percent said they become physically sick. Change can be helpful, but it can also be challenging.

Cell phones have changed the way I do things. I travel most every week and stay in a lot of hotels. The way I pack my suitcase has changed. Because of noise in hotels, I always packed a noise maker, an alarm clock, a legal pad for making notes, a Dictaphone, a flashlight, and a camera. Now I don’t have to pack any of those things because they are all on my iPhone. It has changed the way I travel.

The cell phone has enhanced the use of social media. It has changed the way we do a lot of things. A few years ago people dressed up if they were going for a special picture at graduation, a wedding, an awards banquet, etc. Today you better be ready to have your picture taken anytime, anywhere, by anybody.

Businesses and organizations are relying heavily on social media to get their message out. So much of business today is done online. How well are we willing to use social media in the church? How willing is the church to change to current opportunities to expand the gospel?

The change in today’s culture among young people is very noticeable in the use of video games. It was recently reported that this year video games will bring in more money ($92 billion) than films ($62 billion) and recorded music ($18 billion) together. Is there some way that the church could utilize the immense popularity of video games to communicate the Good News?

Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” points to the situation today. There is an answer! It is in another song we sing in church which says “Change and decay is all around I see, Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me.”

John Ed’s blog posts appear each week in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org