Category Archives: Faith

Universal Solvent

Does anybody remember the universal solvent from basic chemistry? Water. Is it any wonder then that Jesus is called the Living Water? And deservedly so. It is His nature to dilute and even dissolve our problems. On top of that, He can wash us clean of sin, cool us when we’re hot, satisfy us when we’re thirsty, drown our sorrows, and put out life’s fires. Like water, He takes the shape of whatever vessel He’s in (namely your heart), He is essential for all life on Earth, and as God, He can be found in three common forms (not solid, liquid, and gas but Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). For the perfect solution, just add Jesus.

Shield of Faith in One Hand, a Pistol in the Other

beretta-9

I don’t know how some of you feel about guns but as for me, they scare me a bit. With the economy in the chaos that it is, the crime stats are rocketing. More compelling than the stats, though, are the local accounts of criminal activity that is mounting. A physician in the practice I work for losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to identity theft. A growing number of home invasions, break-ins, and car thefts in the surrounding neighborhoods (and I ain’t talking the ghetto here; this is in middle to upper class communities). The house of another physician I work with robbed at high noon while he was at church one Sunday; they busted through the front door. On a separate Sunday afternoon as I was walking through the parking lot into the grocery store across the street from my neighborhood, the local police nabbed some looters during their getaway attempt. Armed robberies in broad daylight in populated parts of town. That’s enough to make someone rethink things a bit.

I decided that its far better (and a little less scary) to look down the sights of my own firearm than down the barrel of someone else’s. We have purchased and been trained to use a Beretta 9mm Semi-Automatic. We didn’t buy it because we want to shoot somebody, we bought it because we don’t want to be shot (as I once heard someone say). My hope is that I’d never need to use it (which beats the alternative of hoping I had one to use if needed.) I figure if my canine don’t get ‘em first, I’ve got my nine as a back-up!

Some might say that I am questioning God’s protection over me. Not at all. I’ve got great faith in God’s protection over me, He promises it all through Psalms. Don’t confuse protection with exemption. He wouldn’t have to protect me if I wasn’t going to encounter danger. With great faith and under the Lord’s protection, David used a carnal weapon of the day to take down the Philistine intruder. He didn’t give David some kind of Benny Hinn anointing to “slay” the enemy and He won’t me either. Faith is only part of the equation, without corresponding action, faith is useless (James 2:14-26). Let’s be real: there are some battles for which the shield of faith is just not enough. Spiritually speaking, it will stop the flaming arrows of the evil one but physically speaking, will it stop the force of a speeding bullet?

Old Habits Die Hard (And So Does Sin)

For thirty plus years, my parents kept the kitchen trash can in the pantry. After remodeling the kitchen a few years ago, they moved the location of the trash can. That hasn’t stopped me (even years later) from going to the pantry to throw something away at least once when visiting. It’s maddening! It does make it easier to see why we sometimes continue to struggle with the same sins over and over again. Just like old habits, sin becomes almost ingrained in us. Romans 7:17-19 says, “ As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

I do manage to find the trash can. Actually, it even seems to get easier to take my garbage to the right place the more that I do it. Old sins die hard, but they do die! Do not be discouraged––your sins of yesterday cannot defeat your Savior of today!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Jesus saves me all at once but he changes me little by little. ~Pastor Steven Furtick

It’s better to break out little by little than to stay in chains for eternity. ~Pastor Steven Furtick

Fortune Cookie

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Your Name is Mud: Part 2

Christ was not welcome in his own town (Matt 13:53-58), He was sentenced to the cross by the people to die a brutal death, and His resurrection and claims as the Messiah have been scrutinized since He walked the earth. Christ himself said, “All men will hate you because of me. . .” It should come as no surprise, then, that not everyone, including members of your own family, share your faith; that not all understand your fascination with Jesus; that society gives your Savior little credence; that there are those not interested in the least to try your church or even your God. You will be rejected––persecution is promised in the Bible. Quite frankly, your name is mud!

That’s a pretty bleak outlook unless you know the other half of the equation, “. . . but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” You are in good company if in Christ’s family. He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Your name may be mud but your soul is washed clean and your salvation clear!

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

Luke 21:12-19 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”

Sore Muscles

My shoulders have been sore for the last couple of days. I know what you’re thinking, the sore muscles are from a New Year’s resolution? And you’d be right, except it’s probably not the resolution you’d naturally be thinking. It has nothing to do with being more healthy, at least physically anyway. It is the result of exercise though, that is, exercising my faith and building spiritual muscle.

So what does that have to do with my shoulders? As a way of deepening my walk with God, I am trying to raise the fervency and energy of my worship time. In so doing, I threw my arms up in the air as usual on Sunday but when they started to get tired, I pushed them up higher. And when the muscles began to burn, I praised right through it. I have no idea what Christ’s arms must have felt like when He hung on the cross but I know that for His sacrifice, I am grateful. Sore arms are the least I could do to show my gratitude. No pain, no gain!

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. ~ Psalm 103:1

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. ~ Psalm 134:2

Sin No More

Back in the day, there was a metal band called Faith No More––maybe some of you have heard of them? Well my pastor preached an intense, encouraging word yesterday from the parable of the prodigal son that made me feel the opposite. I felt so inspired that on the way home from church, I told my wife that I was starting a resolution to sin no more. Yep, I was headstrong on giving up sin. That is of course until her comment quickly brought me back to earth. She said, “Great honey, I’ll go home and fill up the bathtub and you start walking.” OUCH! A test I could never pass. I guess I was asking for that.

Without sin, there would be no separation from God, the parable of the prodigal son would be pointless, Christ would be just another prophet at best, His resurrection a fraud, and His work on the cross useless. Actually, without sin would there even be a Christ (or a need for one)? Would there be a God or would we be our own god?

It is because of sin that we know of a perfect, all-powerful God and it is because of a Son that we know the perfect, all-powerful God. Thank God for sin (never thought I’d say that) and His son! Nevertheless, I shall “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14b).”

Get a Clue!

Tina, Meg, and I were playing a game of Clue last night. I had the killer and the location of the crime identified but I only had the weapons narrowed down to three possibilities. Using the trophy in two separate unchallenged accusations, I was convinced that I had finally nailed down the weapon used to commit the crime. I quickly got into position where I could make the final accusation that would win the game. As I opened the envelope to reveal the answer to the crime, I slowly slid out the cards one by one, first revealing the killer–YES, I got it right; then the room–BAM!; and finally for the win (drum roll please) the weapon–WHAT?! It wasn’t the trophy as my evidence had implied. Someone either unjustly gave me the wrong information or wrongfully omitted a very important clue. Someone failed to show me the truth for which I missed the great mystery; I was deceived into believing the wrong answer!

In this game of life, are you neglecting the Truth? Will you miss the great mystery (“which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”)? Are you being deceived into believing the  wrong answer? Here are some questions and scriptures for further consideration:

Do you rely more on your pastor, other fellow Christians, or even non-believers to decipher the mystery of the God instead of looking to the Word of Truth for yourself?

  • Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many…” ~Matthew 24:4-5
  • See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. ~Colossians 2:8

What evidence are you using to justify your beliefs? How can you affirm your faith?

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. ~1 Corinthians 15:2
  • I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. . . Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. ~Romans 16:17-19, 25-27

Get a Clue, Get in the Word!

Man’s Best Friend

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

This is the favorite quote of an old friend of ours. If you’ve never heard it before, you may not know the source of it. Believe it or not, it comes straight out of God’s Holy Book–Proverbs 26:11 to be exact. The question is, what does it actually mean?

I think it’s pretty simple. The dog does a shameful act of disobedience, he vomits (probably on the new carpet). This kind of conduct is habit for Spot because he simply does not know any better; he doesn’t have a conscience to tell him right from wrong, to give him that guilty feeling. And it is no different for the sinner without Christ. He continues to sin because he sees nothing wrong with it; he does not have a standard (Christ) to live up to.

So what? Well, this verse suggests that the onus is not on the sinner to find Christ because the sinner doesn’t know he needs Him; remember, he sees nothing wrong with what he is doing. The obligation, then, is on YOU, those who already know Christ. It’s the great commission. Christ has charged YOU with the responsibility to lead the sinner to Christ. The parable has the sheep owner going out to find the one lost sheep, not sitting there with the other ninety-nine in the flock.

Moral: There is a lost and dying world out there, let’s get out there and conquer it for the cause of man’s best friend (and Savior), Christ! Oh, and don’t let your dog eat his own vomit.

Sounds All 2 Familiar

Surely everyone can relate to that strange feeling you get at the sound or mention of a particular occurrence. You know, like the one people get when they hear (cover your ears, I’m about to say it) the eerie screech of fingernails across a chalkboard. Or for me, I can’t stand to hear of someone or see someone licking a popsicle stick (I think that comes from the gag test that my evil doctor did as a child). Hold on a minute––I need to get that image out of my head before I need therapy (err, more therapy). Well, two nights ago while sitting here tapping Friday’s post into the keyboard, I heard an all too familiar sound that made me cringe. It was the screeching of wheels followed by the distinct sound that two heavy pieces of metal make when they collide. It was a car accident near my house. There are two reasons why I hate that sound.

For the first, I remember lying in bed awake one night as a child, maybe about 10 or 11 years old. My bedroom window faced a main road about 30 yards away. It was a straight stretch of a slightly slanted road with a gentle curve about a quarter of a mile downhill so traffic moved pretty fast on it. And I could hear every car go by almost as if I’d pitched a tent alongside the road. As I lay there pontificating the finer aspects of life (no, no I was 10 or 11 silly––I was either innocently thinking of some chick in my class or about playing Asteroids on the Atari game system). . . Anyway, as I lay there staring at the ceiling in an attempt to nod off to sleep, I heard the awful drawn-out, as if it were occurring in slow-motion, sound of squealing tires followed by a loud crash. Of course I jumped out of bed to see what had happened. As we looked down the road, the lights of slowing traffic revealed the silhouette of a car that didn’t quite navigate the curve in the road and ended up hugging a utility pole. That sound has made me squeamish ever since.

The other is my own encounter with a moving vehicle. It was the first vehicle I ever owned (ok, the bank owned it but I didn’t get help from my folks). It is still the favorite of any automobiles I’ve owned since. It was a fire engine red, mid-size 4X4 with an extended cab. I was casually driving through a Walmart parking lot when another vehicle struck the passenger side fender just before my rear tire. This resulted in the truck rolling onto its top. Thankfully, I had my seat belt on and was not seriously injured (my truck was another story––it was totaled). But it took years for me not to rehearse that in my mind with precise detail every time I had a close call or even saw another accident.

What sound or the mention of something gives you the heebie-jeebies or a funny feeling?

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a sound that we associated with Christ entering our hearts so that every time we’d hear it, God’s love would resonate through our bodies? How about when you hear a carpenter hammering in nails. . . or the flow of water. . . or when you see someone with an ear or body piercing. . . or when you hear the word “finish.” Maybe there’s even a sound you can identify with that occurred in worship that day like a song playing in the background, the voice of your pastor, or the sound of your own voice as you recited the Prayer of Salvation. Or maybe you are just like me, and need to mute yourself long enough to hear God’s “still small voice.” Wouldn’t this be a constant reminder that would make living for Christ a little easier?