I have installed IntenseDebate to enable the use of CommentLuv on Blogger, but anyone can leave a comment, and please do! I have also removed the nofollow tags to make this a Christian DOFOLLOW blog. If you have a Christian or family oriented blog and would like to exchange links in the blog roll, just leave a comment and ask!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veterans Day: Two Freedoms

Sometimes it seems like an old, worn-out cliche', but it's so true: freedom isn't free. We live in a sinful, broken, and fallen world. Throughout history there have been many people who have sought to enslave others based on many factors such as race, religion, nationality, political views, or simply because they lusted for the power that came from oppressing people. Some have even twisted God's Word to try to justify their own hateful ways of suppressing the freedoms of others. The simple fact is that this is an outright rejection of how God says we should love each other. This is the kind of freedom that our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have valiantly fought to preserve for our nation.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you,
whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 
And a slave does not abide in the house forever,
but a son abides forever. 
Therefore if the Son makes you free,
you shall be free indeed."
- John 8:34-36

Freedom is more than just the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to vote and such as guaranteed by the Constitution. Even our Declaration of Independence acknowledges that our rights and freedoms are bestowed on us by God, Himself. Often we, ourselves, forfeit our freedom and make ourselves slaves. When we stop putting God first, when we willfully live sinful lives, when we let the desires of our flesh run our lives, we have given up the freedom that can only be found in Christ. Along with freedom comes responsibilities, and all too often we take our freedom for granted. This Veterans Day, take the opportunity to reflect honestly on your life and your choices. Ask yourself the hard questions and see if you truly are free. Ouch! I'm stepping on my own toes already! To all of my fellow veterans (Navy 1986-1994), I thank you for your loyal service to keep us free in the natural world, and I pray that you have found the spiritual freedom that can only come from the Greatest Soldier, who conquered death, the greatest enemy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Till Death Do Us Part... Literally

This is such an inspiring story of what love and commitment really mean. This is such a rarity in today's society. In full disclosure, I, myself, am twice divorced, once widowed, and even have a beautiful daughter out of wedlock overseas. Much of my adult life I was not living for the Lord, but I now understand the meaning of those words "till death do us part," that marriage between one man and one woman was instituted by God, and the sanctity of marriage and human life. How fitting it is that God would allow this couple, after 72 years of marriage, to die together holding hands and not have to experience the pain of one losing the other.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Casting Crowns - Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) with Lyrics

Casting Crowns is one of my favorite Christian bands. Here is one of their many fantastic hit songs, Glorious Day (Living He Love Me) with the lyrics. No commentary necessary from me on it, it speaks for itself. I've just included some scripture I feel is appropriate to each line of the chorus, one each from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. ENJOY!

Living He loved me,

The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying:
"Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
-Jeremiah 31:3

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come
that He should depart from this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end.
-John 13:1

Dying He saved me

And I will pour on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
the Spirit of grace and supplication;
then they will look on Me whom they pierced.
Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son,
and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
-Zechariah 12:10

But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,
we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
-Romans 5:8-9

And buried He carried my sins far away

For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death
-Isaiah 53:8b-9a

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death,
that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life.
-Romans 6:4

Rising He justified freely forever

I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be your plagues!
O Grave, I will be your destruction!
-Hosea 13:14

And therefore “It (Abraham’s faith) was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him
who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
who was delivered up because of our offenses,
and was raised because of our justification.
-Romans 4:22-25

One day He's coming, oh, glorious day,
oh, glorious day

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
-Daniel 7:13-14a

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him,
even they who pierced Him.
And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.
Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord,
who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
-Revelation 1:7-8

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Can I Forgive? - Learning How To Let Go Of Pain

In this fallen, sinful and broken world, being wronged by somebody is simply an inescapable fact of life. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, whether intentional or not, and fact is, it will happen again. Sometimes it’s by strangers, or sometimes by someone in our circle of friends, or the worst of all is being hurt by our loved ones.

“How can I forgive her adultery?”

“How do I forgive him for cheating me on that deal?”

“How can I let go of the pain of being lied to?”

“I don’t know how to let go of the pain of betrayal.”

These are some very real questions you may be asking yourself, or maybe something similar. In our humanity these are very legitimate questions to ask, but let’s put a little perspective on it. What if Jesus, as He hung on the cross being wrongfully executed, had asked, “How can I forgive them for killing me?” He chose, instead, to submit to the will of the Father and asked forgiveness for those who were committing the ultimate wrong that can be committed on this earth against Him.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they do.
-Luke 23:34

Forgiveness is a command of Jesus, but we must CHOOSE to follow it. Forgiving is hard because it goes against our sinful flesh nature that wants to get even and be vindicated, but He set the example for us in a big-time way. I guess you could say he “talked the talk and walked the walk.” The sins committed against us by others pale in comparison to the sins we’ve committed against God. That was the point Jesus was making with the parable of the unforgiving servant. The servant was forgiven a huge debt by the king, but then would not forgive a fellow servant of a much smaller debt. As a consequence, when the king heard about it, he had the servant sent to prison. When we choose not to forgive, there are consequences for us, as well.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone,
forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
-Mark 11:25-26

Whoa! Wait a minute! I thought Jesus forgave ALL my sin? Well, He did, but these are red letters in my Bible, and it says what it says. Consider verse 26 with this perspective; if your heart is so hard that you won’t forgive, then have you really experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus? How can you ask God to forgive you if you won’t forgive others? If you have truly experienced the freedom that comes with God's forgiveness, then how could you NOT forgive someone else? Your heart’s desire should be to forgive the specks in others’ eyes, knowing you’ve been forgiven the board in yours. Notice there are no conditions put on forgiving someone, either. It doesn’t mean that what they did was ok, but that you choose not to hold it against them anymore. For instance, if you forgive someone for lying to you, does that mean you will believe everything they say from then on? Not necessarily, but you overlook that lie and use discernment in the future. They don’t have to come apologize or ask for forgiveness, either. Forgiveness is grace- undeserved favor.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies,
kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another,
and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another;
even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
-Colossians 3:12-15

Forgiveness is a hallmark of a devoted follower of Christ. It is an expression of love like no other, short of laying down one's life for another. I urge you, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, to let the perfect love of Christ live within you, being full of tender mercies, shining forth kindness and humility by His Spirit, and “pay it forward,” as they say, forgiving others in grace as you also have been forgiven, and may God's perfect peace reign in your heart.

And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
-1 Peter 4:8


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Have You Had Your TAWG Today?

time with God
I have a 17 year old daughter who lives on the island of Guam in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. She doesn’t know it yet, but she inspired this blog post when I was chatting with her the other day on Facebook. Guam is 14 hours ahead of the US East Coast, so it was Friday night here and Saturday morning there. She told me she needed to get off of the computer for a while because she had to do her TAWG. Having never seen that acronym before, I naturally asked what it meant, and she told me, “Time Alone With God.”

Shadanice James
My daughter Shadanice
And when thou prayest,
thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues
and in the corners of the streets,
that they may be seen of men.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest,
enter into thy closet,
and when thou hast shut thy door,
pray to thy Father which is in secret;
and thy Father which seeth in secret
shall reward thee openly.
- Matthew 6:5-6

My friends, have you had your TAWG today? The above Bible passage from Matthew 6 is in red letters in my bible. Jesus, Himself, told us to make time to be alone with God. Some people call it going into their prayer closet. It doesn’t have to be a literal closet, as some people do, which is perfectly fine, but a quiet time and place to be with God. Thank Him for His many blessings, pray for yourself and others, read the Bible, confess what you need to confess, but don’t do all the talking. Take time to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Seek His guidance, His will for you, how you can bless others, and how you can glorify Him.

A literal prayer closet

Immediately Jesus made His disciples
get into the boat and go before Him
to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
And when He had sent the multitudes away,
He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.
Now when evening came, He was alone there.
- Matthew 14:22-23

Not only did Jesus tell us to spend time alone with God, He set the example for us, as seen in these Bible verses from Matthew 14. Notice how Jesus is proactive here. He didn’t just wait for things to quiet down, He made the time. He sent His disciples away, and then He sent the crowd away. I want to encourage you today, my brethren, to make time for your TAWG. All of us can come up with reasons not to and give a list of stuff that is keeping us "too busy," myself included, but aren’t they really all just excuses? Sometimes we even become so caught up in ministry work that it becomes an excuse for no time ALONE with God, just like Mikes Sumondong wrote about on his blog, Your Daily Word. Can’t we find at least 20 or 30 minutes a day to make time for God every day? Turn off the TV, get off of the computer, get up a little earlier in the morning, or maybe get ready for bed a little earlier and have your TAWG then. Satan doesn’t like it when we have some TAWG, and he’ll throw anything in our way he can, but stand firm my friends, because we are more than conquerors in Christ!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Extreme Makeover - Heart Edition

By: Carl Holland
Carl's Words of Inspiration

Heart transplant surgery, though still a very serious operation, seems almost routine with today's medical technology. Many people claim to feel like they have much more energy and can breathe better after receiving a new heart. Sort of a "renewed life" you might say. That's what it's like when we come to God and let the Holy Spirit work inside us. Before a heart transplant is even considered, it must be determined that there is a problem with the heart to begin with. You may be physically healthy without a heart disease, but you still have to contend with "heart deceive." In Jeremiah 17:9 we read:

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
who can know it?
And in Proverbs 28:26:
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

So, our own hearts can deceive us and we not know it, and we are fools to trust it. Ouch! Sounds pretty harsh, but that’s what God says about our emotional heart. He certainly knows, and He says so in Jeremiah 17:10:

I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.

So how do we get this extreme heart makeover? Simple… we just ask the Master Surgeon for it, and we humbly allow Him to do it. As we seek to do His will and set our own desires aside, He renews our heart, both inwardly in how we look at things such as ourselves and situations we face, and outwardly in how we respond to and treat others around us. Is your heart made of stone, and maybe you don't even realize it? Have you stopped to honestly consider whether your own heart is deceiving you and you're operating based on feelings rather than God's Spirit within you? Humbly submit to His authority, His ways, and His will for you today, setting your sights on the things above, and let Him do some radical, life-changing heart surgery in you to make you more like Him! Jesus is the cure for any heart condition!

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 3:14-19

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.
-Ezekiel 36:26

Monday, September 26, 2011

I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is Mine

wedding picture with a heart outline
So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
let not man separate.
- Matthew 19:6

It was two years ago today that my lovely wife decided she could put up with me and we tied the knot. We chartered a passenger ferry boat for a couple of hours and got married just off of Cumberland Island, GA near the south end of the Island where the Atlantic Ocean comes into Cumberland Sound at the FL/GA state line. The minister was a very dear friend of mine, Scotty Langford, who is like a brother to me, and has been my discipler for several years. Fort Clinch in Fernandina Beach, FL served as a backdrop behind us.

Carl and Odie wedding with Scotty Langford
My wife loves to dress up our dogs, and sometimes we take them to the nursing home where she works and let them visit the residents. Our wedding day was no exception. She found a doggie tux for our male Chihuahua, Kasey, to be a groomsman. We made dresses for our female Miniature Dachshunds, in our wedding colors, of course. Prissy was a bridesmaid and Tilly was the ring bearer.

dogs in wedding outfits

fishing at my wedding                                                            Of course I can't talk about our wedding day with mentioning me fishing at my own wedding! I had been teasing my wife that since we were going to be on a boat I had to bring my fishing pole, since the whole purpose of a boat was to get to more fish. I snuck a small collapsible pole onto the boat and started "fishing" on the way out. Don't worry, I didn't even have a hook on it, but just a small weight to cast it with a few times. Her jaw about hit the deck and my dad leaned over to her and said, "I brought him into this world, I can take him out for you."

One of the things Cumberland Island is known for is its herd of wild horses. I had been out in the Sound fishing in my own boat quite a few times and never saw a horse. My wife had it in her mind that the horses were going to come out that day. Sure enough, just as we said our “I do’s,” as if on cue, some horses came out to graze. They were not going to deny my bride her wish on our special day. Well, God didn’t deny it, at least.

horses on Cumberland Island

Jesus said to him,
“You shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.”
- Matthew 22:37

To my beloved wife, I wish I could say I love you with all my heart, but that is how Jesus told us to love God. Sorry, honey, but you come second here. I do, however, love you as Christ loved the church. I give myself for you. I will nurture you in the Word, that you may be washed by the blood of Jesus, presented before God without blemish.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church
and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her
with the washing of water by the word,
that He might present her to Himself a glorious church,
not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
but that she should be holy and without blemish.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies;
he who loves his wife loves himself.
- Ephesians 5:25-28

We haven't always lived our lives for Christ as we do now. This isn't the first marriage for either of us, but it will be the last, and it is "till death do us part." I am yours, and you are mine. Happy Anniversary my love!
hands with wedding rings on the bible opened to 1 Corinthians 13

I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.
- Song of Solomon 6:3

Monday, September 19, 2011

God's Economy- It's Never in Recession

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal;
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Matthew 6:19-21

The Egyptian Pyramids of Giza are certainly one of the true wonders of the ancient world. A great deal of archaeological study has been done on them. Essentially they were huge tombstones for the Pharaohs buried in them. Included in their burial chambers were large amounts of valuable earthly treasures of gold and silver and such, which, it was believed, the Pharaoh needed in the afterlife. Well, if grave robbers or archaeologists were able to find it still there many years later, obviously they didn’t take their treasures to the afterlife with them.

It is recorded in the Bible that the Egyptians were using the ancient Hebrews as slaves for construction work before God called Moses to deliver them. Today’s researchers are trying to remove that part of history by preferring more politically correct terms such as “laborers” or “workmen” instead of slaves, some even flat-out denying that slaves were used. Some so-called “researchers” even go so far as to say the pyramids were built by space aliens with super-advanced technology. Somehow, they find that easier to believe than the biblical account of the Egyptian Pharaohs using slave labor to build monuments to their own over-inflated egos that believed themselves to be gods.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
and into many foolish and harmful lusts
which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,
for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness,
and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
- 1 Timothy 6:6-10

But this isn’t about the Pyramids, or who built them and how. It’s an example of self-glorification and putting trust in the riches of this world. You can’t take any wealth of this Earth with you when you die. That’s why we have wills to distribute our possessions to those we want to receive it. Where are you storing up your treasure? Where are you investing your heart? Investing in mutual funds or the stock market may produce riches of this Earth, which is here today and gone tomorrow, but it has no eternal significance. Is that where your heart is? Or is your heart set on Jesus and the things above, obeying His Word and doing good deeds in His Name, which stores treasures and crowns in Heaven that you will so thankfully give back to Him one day? Salvation is a free gift of God, paid for by Jesus because we couldn’t pay what was required, nor could we earn it. Treasures we store in Heaven are rewards for our good works we do in His name, for HIS glory, and not our own while we are on this Earth. They are fruits of our Salvation, but do not produce salvation. Trust that God will provide what you need in this earthly realm, and be content with what He has provided. Invest your heart in God’s economy- it’s never in recession, and the returns are out of this world!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Seven Places Christ Bled

If this video doesn't touch you and give you a better appreciation for just what Jesus did for you, maybe you should try walking on water. Betcha get wet!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What is Worship? - Beyond the Music

A very dear friend of mine shared this funny worship video with me. It’s funny, but at the same time, sad. Isn’t the twist of these worship lyrics true of many in the Church, or if we’re honest, ALL of us at some time or another?

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
- John 4:24

I’ll admit I’ve had times when I’ve been in a worship service and really didn’t feel like being there and just sort of “going through the motions.” I’m sure we all have. Are we getting all dressed up in our “Sunday best” to be seen “going to church” so we can look all spiritual? Are we busy looking at what so-and-so is wearing? Do we really “surrender all” to Jesus, or do we just “surrender some?” Are there things in our lives that we want to keep control of in the flesh? Do we have things deep inside us that we don’t dare let out because we’re afraid of what others will think? “If they knew this about me, would they think I’m not Christian enough?” Or do we deny the truth even to ourselves because we’ve been taught to believe that Christians aren’t supposed to have this or that issue they struggle with? Of all places, the Church (the body of believers, not the building) should be where we can let our guard down, open up to our brethren, be real, confess to each other our problems without being judged so we can lift each other up and encourage one another. We shouldn’t be made to feel like we have to fake it and act like we have it all together. I’ll be the first to admit… I don’t. It is Christ alone that holds me together. (link to Louie Giglio- Laminin post) Nothing is hidden from Him. God searches the heart and knows us better than we know ourselves.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God,
which is your reasonable service.
And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
- Romans 12:1-2

This begs the question then, “what is worship?” It is certainly not the music. Sure, the music can produce an emotional reaction, but we can be fooled by our own emotions. Worship is summed up very well in Romans 12:1-2. I’m not trying to “rewrite Scripture,” but I believe you can think of worship by considering this passage something like this: when you realize God’s mercy on you in giving Himself to save you, it should make you want to live your life for Him in all ways, giving yourself fully to Him, setting yourself apart for His purposes for you, obeying what He has commanded you to do, and seeking to please Him alone. Don’t be how the world says you should be, but seek to be what God says you can be in Him, by letting His Word transform your thinking into what He desires for you, and put that thinking into actions where people see Christ in you, and not yourself. Worship music is great and can help us get/keep our mind set on Christ, but true worship goes far beyond the music. We have to keep the focus on Christ as we seek Him with all our hearts, and seek to live out the Gospel according to His will for us, that others are drawn to Him and not ourselves. Ask yourself, “Am I exalting Christ? Or me…”
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