Do EVERYTHING As To the Lord

Colossians 3:23 is pretty clear:

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

It tells us that whatsoever we do, we should do it as to the Lord. Whatsoever? Everything? Yes!

So, Becky and I are going to pick up a few groceries today, along with a few other things. I detest grocery shopping. It is probably my least favorite thing to do that doesn’t involve some sort of physical pain. But the Bible tells me to do it like I’m doing it for the Lord.

This verse in its context is talking about a servant’s attitude toward his master, or an employee to an employer. But the principle applies to everything we do, whether it’s for our job, for our family, or whether anybody sees us or not. Because our lives are to be lived for the Lord.

If I go grocery shopping, I should do it like I’m doing it for the Lord. I should keep a right attitude and let others around me see that I have a Higher Purpose than just putting food on my table. My life, everywhere I go, should be a reflection of Jesus Christ.

The Bible doesn’t tell us much about what Jesus may have disliked doing (Except when He prayed that the cup might pass from Him). But I guarantee He kept the right attitude in it (“nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”).

Everything we do, should be done as to the Lord. Let’s work hard to live our lives to simply please God!

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It’s Christmas!

Everybody is waking up this morning excited about the gifts they’ll give, and the ones they’ll receive. I want to remind everyone once again to remember the ultimate gift in Jesus Christ!

Without Him, nothing in this life would have any meaning. Eternal life would be only a myth. We would have nothing to live for. Because of His birth, perfect life, death and resurrection, we have the opportunity to have eternal life, if we’ll only accept Him. I pray you have, and I pray you have a truly great Christmas this year!

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2010 Christmas Program

Last night Fellowship Baptist Church had its annual Christmas Program. We got a bit of a late start, but we had a great group of young people and adults as well who worked hard to make sure it was a success.

The Lord’s working was evident throughout. There were times during practices it seemed like there was no way it would be ready in time for last night, but in the end, He brought it all together.

I can’t leave out the recital at the beginning of the program. We had 3 young ladies that played either a piano piece or a guitar piece, and  they all did a great job. I could listen to that kind of music all day long.

After the program, there were many positive comments. One person in particular said it was the best one they’d ever seen!

Most of all, I’m thankful to be a part of a church that has a desire to get the entire Gospel message out to unbelievers. Our annual Christmas Program is just one of the ways we do that. We work hard to make sure the Gospel is presented clearly during this time. One of the big reasons for this is because there are people that will come to a Christmas play at church when they will not come at any other time.

I’m glad people enjoyed the program, and we all had a lot of fun presenting it, but my ultimate desire is that someone who needs the Lord will allow Him to work in their hearts the message they were exposed to. We’re thankful for the Lord’s blessing on it. Seeds were planted. Now we’re praying for the Lord to bring the increase.

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Remember Christmas

It’s December, and everything Christmas is in full swing. Shopping, dinners, programs, decorations and so much more, it seems like we’ll never make it through the holiday.

But wait. What IS Christmas? It has nothing to do with gifts, dinners, sales or any of that stuff. This world has so commercialized Christmas, and it’s hard for us to avoid being sucked into it all.

Before you think I’m getting self-righteous, I enjoy giving gifts as much as the next guy. I enjoy receiving some, too. The thing is, more and more, gifts are what Christmas is made into. “What’s Santa bringing you this year?” I hear all over the place. Or, “Did you get your shopping all done?”

The thing is, we get so involved in all this stuff that ‘surrounds’ Christmas, that we forget what it actually is, and forget to enjoy and actually celebrate it. It’s the time we celebrate the birth of our Saviour! (I know, Jesus was likely not born on December 25, two thousand years ago, but it’s the time we celebrate it.) It is a most holy time (By the way, holy is the root form of the first part of holiday…) that we should dedicate to Jesus Christ.

So you see, Christmas is not about decorations, trees, shopping, lights, dinners…or even family. It’s all about Him. I challenge you this Christmas season to take some time each day out of your busy schedules to just stop and meditate on the meaning of Christmas. It was the beginning of the plan God set in motion to allow us a way to spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

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The Christian Battle

It seems that most of my posts thus far on this blog have had something to do with church or Christianity in one way or another. I’m finding more and more that as I get older, that is my life. My job is a necessity to provide an income and thus take care of our needs like food and clothes. We get a lot of our wants that way, too. It’s becoming abundantly clear, however, that without God it wouldn’t be possible. So, yes, my job is a necessity, but it isn’t my life. My life is my God, my family and my church.

What is always present, although not always evident, in every Christian’s life is a constant battle between the flesh and the new nature and desire that God gives us. A confession – I struggle to remember that. It’s easy for me to see sin in someone’s life, and even easier for me to decide what they should do about it. It’s usually a thought such as, “Just stop listening to that music,” or, “Just stop hanging around that person!” What I fail to recognize many times, however, is that it is extremely likely just as easy for someone to look at me and see sin in my life. Oh, I like to think I have the ‘big’ and ‘easy’ ones covered, but if I’m honest with myself and allow God to search my heart, it becomes quickly evident that I’m not perfect either.

Temptation is real, sin is real, and God still hates it. The problem comes in where our two natures go against each other in how to deal with a temptation. Our old man faces that temptation and longs to partake in whatever sin is presented before him. Our new man wants to please God, forsaking the temptation and that sin.

What makes the problem worse is when we give in to something ‘small’, it gives the devil a foothold. We progress in sin. That ‘small’ thing turns into something just a little bigger, just a little more risky. Before we know it, we don’t give that sin a second thought. We become so entranced by it, that our conscience becomes seared and we simply don’t see anything wrong with it.

So there’s the initial battle – the one where we first deal with a temptation. The man we feed (the old or the new – carnal things or Spiritual things) will determine the one that wins in that temptation face-off. From there, a large portion of our path forward is already decided. If the old man wins that battle and we drift into sin, another battle comes when we finally realize that what we’re doing is in fact sin. We struggle with how we got there, seemingly forgetting those ‘small’ things we gave in to. We then struggle with how to get rid of that sin. Sometimes it’s not so hard – stop listening to worldly music (I always come back to that one, don’t I?). Other times, however, it’s not so cut and dry. What about someone who’s in adultery? How about a gripping drug addiction?

The easiest answer is to never have let that happen in the first place. The real answer (albeit admittedly simplified as well) is that it will take a while, but with God’s strength, grace and leadership, that sin can be overcome.

The point of this post? Let’s make sure the ‘small’ things matter to us. When we start giving ground there, we open the door for bigger things to take control of our lives. It’s always a battle. But if we fight the smaller battles in God’s name, not all, but many of the larger ones can be avoided altogether.

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Sports as Our god

In churches all across Tennessee today, members will be down, depressed and not into the service. Why? The Tennessee football team lost yesterday.

I love football. I was able to sit down and watch a little bit of the game yesterday, and I was disappointed in their performance. But in the end, it is simply a game. A game. It means nothing in the big picture. That’s right – nothing.

So why do so many people let it affect them so much? Because ultimately it is their god (little g). They worship it. They may not bow down to their TV while they’re running through the power T, but most of them cheer more during that game than they do during a church service. I know. I’ve been guilty.

A few weeks ago, God pricked my heart about this, and many other things during a visit to South Carolina at a camp meeting. If I can’t get at least as excited about church and the things of God as I can about a game, there is something bad wrong. Where were my priorities? What was my focus and attention on? God wasn’t at the top.

By His help and grace, that is changing. Tennessee lost. So what? It’s a game. God forbid I let it affect how I worship Him on Sunday, or any other day for that matter.

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Do We ‘Really’ Love the Lord?

First things first in this post – I got charged up last weekend and on Sunday. I received encouragement. God dealt with my heart in several ways. I’m responding to that dealing, and with His help and grace my life is changing by it. This post isn’t a rant. It’s as much for me as it is anybody. That said, let’s get started.

Throughout life, there are a lot of things we face that we could consider ‘grey’ areas. These are things that aren’t spelled out clearly in God’s Word, or questions that no one seems to have a definitive answer to. However, in Matthew, there is  something spelled out as plainly as can possibly be done. In chapter 22, verses 37-40 tell us (emphasis added by me):

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

In this post, I want to focus mostly on the ‘first and great commandment.’ I included the last two verses to make a point, which I’ll do now. Because of the last verse, those grey areas I mentioned just a minute ago can be put to the test of these two commandments. In other words, ask yourself, “Is this decision dictated by my love for God?” Or if it affects your neighbor, ask yourself the same question in that context. By the way – your neighbor isn’t just the family that lives next door. If you can’t honestly answer the question with a definitive “Yes!” then you should probably reevaluate your decision.

The great thing about these verses is that they are extremely clear and concise. We’ve all heard things preached before, and as the preacher is reading the text, he’ll stop for a second and emphasize that what is being read isn’t exactly a suggestion. The wording of these verses takes care of that all by itself. Jesus Himself said these things are commandments. For sake of not leaving anything out, I’ll state the obvious: a commandment isn’t optional. It is something that must be done. It must be followed. In the military it’s called an order. If an order is ignored or disobeyed, a court martial is in order, and the one who failed to follow that order is punished, sometimes with a dishonorable discharge.

One of the things that has bothered me the most in my short life that I have seen in at least some people in any church I’ve ever been involved in is that they take church attendance so lightly. When it’s convenient, they will keep church at least near the top of the list of what’s important. However, when a ballgame or practice comes along, it trumps church. When the latest hot movie comes out, it trumps church. When a camping trip is what’s wanted, it trumps church. When the hot sale hits the stores, it trumps church.

Are these decisions being made in light of Jesus’ great commandment? The answer is an obvious and resounding, “No!” If we truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, we will have the greatest desire for Him! No one will ever convince me that they have the love for the Lord that they should when they constantly put church attendance below other activities. Church is where we have fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters, we are taught and preached to from God’s Word (another thing we should have a strong love for), and also where we go to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And we’re cutting that out of our lives to play a game?

These verses leave no room for improvement. It is a commandment. Not only is it a commandment, but it is a commandment that requires our all. It requires our utmost effort. It requires all of our attention. It requires all of our passion. If we truly put our all into loving the Lord as we should, there will be no room for anything else.

Is that a radical idea? Maybe. But it’s totally feasible. Every time I see a ballgame on TV, I see thousands of radical fans who make fools of themselves because of their love for their team.

Did I really just compare a love for a sports team with our love for God? It appears that’s what it’s come to in many, many people’s hearts and lives. God help us all.

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Sin and Our Testimony

I spoke about this in our teen Sunday School class today, and wanted to post something here as well.

We humans are strange creatures. If there is something wrong with us, we usually want to go to the doctor to find out what it is so that we can get it taken care of. When it comes to spiritual problems, however, we tend to ignore them. Whether we just hope they will go away or we like to think that it doesn’t affect us, either way we don’t want to do anything about it.

Imagine I’ve written up a report to send to my manager at work. In the title of that report, I’ve obviously misspelled a word: “Copmuter Utilization Report”. I submit the report to my supervisor to review before I send it on. He sends it back, noting the misspelled word, and I pretend it isn’t there. He sends it back again, so I argue that it’s spelled right. It comes back to me again, so I discover that it’s actually spelled wrong, but I insist that’s the way I want to spell it. He sends it back yet again, so I just lighten it up a little bit (Make it light gray instead of black) so it doesn’t stand out. For the last time, he sends it back. I ask, “What do you want me to do with it?!” He responds simply to erase it and spell it right!

This is the same way we deal with sin in our lives a lot of times:

  • We first pretend we don’t see it
  • Next we argue that it’s right
  • Third, we decide we don’t care what the rules say; that’s how we want it
  • Last, we agree that it’s wrong, but just try to cover it up

The thing about sin, however, that doesn’t quite line up with the example I gave above is that we can’t erase it on our own. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is how we get rid of it – confess it to Christ, repent of it, and accept His forgiveness.

We have to see sin as wrong, first of all. That’s a simple thought, I know, but we like to hang on to it. To make it right in our own lives, we have to repent of it – turn away from it. Then we have to ask God to forgive us. He is willing to forgive, and even desires us to ask forgiveness. He wants us to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to Him.

Switching gears a little bit, our testimony is something that is very important for us to protect. There are some things that happen in our lives that we can’t help. Those things by themselves won’t mar our testimony, but how we handle and respond to those things will.

Every single day, our actions affect our testimonies. The things we do, the places we go, the people we keep company with, the things we say… Having unconfessed sin in our lives is one thing, and it injures our testimony. Being proud of and broadcasting that sin to everybody we know throws our testimony in the dirt and begs everyone to stampede all over it.

I’ve written about music before, and talked about it several times. Country, rock, pop, hip hop, rap…these are just a few of the genres that not only neglect to glorify God, but they oppose Him directly. The music is worldly and ungodly! It promotes:

  • Fornication
  • Self
  • Worldly philosophies (Which go directly against God’s Word)
  • Drunkenness
  • Lustfulness

…just to name a few.

The performers live wicked lives in defiance of God. Some of them talk good sometimes if they win an award for their wicked music – they give thanks to God. That’s like me giving thanks to God for the ability to walk into a bar and get myself wasted.

Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift, Adam Lambert. I could go on for hours, but can anyone name just one that lives a life for God? Are these the kind of people whose ‘artistry’ we should be subjecting ourselves to as Christians? I realize there’s the matter of finding the good in people and not focusing on the bad…in some circumstances. The problem with that is we overuse that idea so much that when we’re faced with blatant, obvious and even defiant sin, we still turn a deaf ear or a blind eye, as the case may be.

Don’t get me wrong, now. All of these people have souls, and they will die and go to hell one day if they don’t get right with God. I’m not making light of that at all. This is their legacy, however.

Some of you profess to be Christians, and you’re telling the world that you enjoy this type of music. I ask, “What kind of testimony is that for someone to have?” Let that sink in…

In Sunday School we’ve been talking about temptation and sin. Last week we talked about how sin has consequences. We may not see the consequences of our sin right away, but I guarantee there will be some. One that I can think of right away is that when someone sees a professing Christian’s choice in wicked music, any Spiritual insight they may have, any wisdom that professing Christian may have to offer (Whether real or not!) will be discarded because they can see that person is not real. They can see the testimony and make a quick (and accurate) determination about that life based on that choice.

I’m focusing on music here, but this applies to any sin. It especially applies to open sin that other people can easily see in our lives. Do you talk like a saint in front of other Christians, then cuss once in a while when you’re elsewhere?

Protect your testimony! Get rid of unconfessed sin! Repent of it!

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A Few Thoughts on Missions

As many of you know, I recently returned from Colorado for a missions trip. A missionary family that spent much time with us at our church has gone out there to plant a church in the Denver area. It is more specifically in the nearby city of Aurora.

Let me first start out by saying that this post is in no way intended to be a comprehensive view on what missions is all about. It is simply, as titled, a few of my thoughts on missions as inspired by the trip.

In the past, I’ve invited people to church. I’ve witnessed to them. I’ve even been on door to door visitation, asking people to come to church to hear the Word of God preached. Yay for me. Through my own fault, I’ve never felt a huge sense of urgency in it all, until this trip.

As we were going door to door in Aurora, mostly hanging packets containing the book of Romans and information about the church on doors, my eyes began to be opened a little. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in Denver and the surrounding cities. Aurora alone has upwards of 300,000 people. In the entire area, we know of about 5 churches that we would consider good, solid, Bible preaching, Bible believing churches. That just isn’t enough to reach them all.

I began to think about that as I placed more packets on door knobs. At a few of the houses, the home owners were outside and I was able to talk to them briefly. Every single person expressed appreciation and interest in the opportunity to hear God’s Word. Whether they will act on it is of course up to them, but their receptiveness placed an even bigger sense of urgency on the entire idea of missions in my heart.

Many of these people have probably never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They live in an area that is so Spiritually dry, that they are never exposed to it. Many times here in the southeast, if you ask someone if they’ve ever received Christ as their Savior, they buck up and say something along the lines of, “Of course! I took care of that years ago!” All the while they are in a drunken state, unable to remember what happened only hours ago. I stereotype, I admit. But the example serves its purpose to show that the southeast is so saturated with preaching, Bible, church and everything else you can think of. The people here have heard it over and over, and have grown seemingly immune to the whole idea. But in Colorado, they were so receptive of the idea, it was almost a shock.

There was one man sitting on his porch that we handed a packet to and invited to the services on the upcoming Sunday. He immediately opened the packet and began reading what was inside. We had to drive to another neighborhood to pick up the rest of our crew to take them to another area. When we came back, the man was still reading intently. He was hungry for it!

So what’s my point for this post? I got a first-hand experience in seeing that there is a world full of people, oblivious to our great God, dying and going to a real, eternal Hell. They are starving for truth, whether they realize it or not. While it isn’t necessarily ‘fun’ to go door to door, not knowing what to expect out of the person you may have to talk to, it is truly a joy to be able to introduce the first little bit of truth to someone for the first time.

After all, the ‘Great Commission’ isn’t just for missionaries, pastors and evangelists. It’s for all Christians to tell the world about our great Savior! God help us all to fulfill it!

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Choices in Music

The Bible is really pretty clear on music. To me, the most important verse on music is Ephesians 5:19:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

This is the only place that I know of where we are told what kind of music to listen to or partake in, whether playing it or singing it. The main idea is that our music ought to be to the Lord.

It’s the same idea that I have talked about in some of my preaching and teaching about acknowledging God in all we do (Proverbs 3:6). It would be awfully hard for me to justify going into a bar and getting wasted and acknowledging God in it. Could I seriously bring myself to thank Him for the ability to make that decision and make a fool of my drunk self? Would God be anywhere near that? I think not…

So the same goes for our music. If the music we listen to and sing are all about our spouses committing adultery, or the pleasure in acts of fornication, or how a beer can chase away our sorrows, how can we seriously convince ourselves that singing about and listening to songs about this subject matter is for the Lord? All of these subjects are things that God’s Word is clearly against. It is displeasing to God, it is sin, and God hates it!

So many people, many (if not most) of them teenagers, are so caught up in the world’s music. Church going people, at that. They don’t count it a big deal. “It isn’t hurting anything,” many think. How do I know this? I was once one of them. I liked country. When I finally stopped thinking that way and accepted the truth that God hated it, I got rid of it. When I made the decision, I immediately felt at ease in my soul and relieved of the burden of carrying that sin with me. That by itself was enough, but to know that my choices in music were more pleasing to my God was icing on the cake.

The sad part is that when I was in the middle of it, I didn’t know how weighed down I was by it. I fear that is the situation many people are in today. The main thing they think about is something along the lines of how catchy the tune is, how popular the singer is, or how fun it is to think about (or act out!) what the song encourages.

The devil uses music to keep people’s minds off the the things of the Lord. He has a pretty good advantage over us, too. As Lucifer, he was a musical angel. His body had pipes built in that he would make music with. When he was cast out of Heaven, I don’t find where that part of him was removed, nor the knowledge of music. I guarantee he knows more about music than anyone that has ever lived on this earth. That said, don’t you think you should be extremely careful about what music you allow yourself to listen to?

Last thing and I’ll end this long post. Even some so-called ‘Christian’ music is wrong, in my opinion. It mimics the world’s music to gain popularity and appeal to the listener. Yes, it has Christian words, but the music is so overbearing that they are lost in the beat and melodies. Going back to my favorite verse on the subject (Ephesians 5:19), it’s hard to sing a hymn with a hard rock beat. I can’t imagine that David’s psalms were screamed by a rapper.

Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing. Make sure your music is glorifying and honoring to God. To please Him, after all, is what our lives should be all about.

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