Thursday, March 31, 2011
Day 272 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Here's another "blast from the past" that I noticed in Wal-Mart this evening, road maps. I figured that some people would still use paper maps, but didn't figure that Wal-Mart would carry such a variety to choose from.
I would say the majority of those that travel these days use a GPS, their phones built in location service or print their own maps from the internet and that maps for purchase are on their way out. This has happened to a lot of old "technology" as well. Look at how the cell phone has revolutionized communications. I can go almost anywhere and call almost anywhere with a device that fits in my back pocket. Then back to the GPS subject, I can punch in an address in our GPS and have door to door, turn by turn directions in a few seconds. The unit will also tell me how fast I am going, what my ETA is, which direction I am headed, what elevation I am, my coordinates, where to find restaurants, gas stations and any other business I may be looking for. Now that is pretty amazing in my book.
There are some lone holdouts against technology. While I have always embraced the next levels in our technological evolution, many others are quite vehement about "keeping it old school". They will always use a paper map that they bought at a gas station. They will always search out a phone booth and not own a cell phone. They will even heat their food on a stove top for crying out loud. Technology is not a friend to some people and they are content to live in days gone by for whatever reasons. I would say that it is mostly fear of something new or just simple reliance on "how it's always been".
This also is how a lot of people view religion, Christianity to be exact. They have "always heard" things put certain ways. This is because they have always attended the same church, the one their parents and their parents attended. The preacher is the son of the son of the founding pastor and preaches in the same style, cadence and message as grandpa did. These kinds of people are so engrained in "what I always heard" that they rely on that as their plumb line to judge all other things by. In all actuality they should use the Word to compare all aspects of life, but sadly do not. Any thing "new" they hear is taken as a challenge to their beliefs, even if it is straight from scripture. They have a relationship with the preaching, know a lot of good stuff, but sadly do not know the Truth of God's Word in it's fullness.
This is not true in all cases as I am sure there are some 3rd and 4th generation church members that are spot on with their theology. There are usually exceptions to the norm and these folks are it. They love God and it shows. They love His Word and it shows. They love their pastor and their church family and it shows. They know that they have been graced by God and base their lives on scripture and not "what I've always heard". This is what I strive for, but because I was raised in a church that I first mentioned I constantly question everything that I "always heard". I lived in a lost and deceived state for 30 years because someone told me what they had heard from someone who heard it from someone who heard it. "Just say this little prayer and you'll be alright". That is what I "always heard" was the way of salvation.
I have since had the scales removed from my eyes and gloriously saved by my Lord. The "I always heards" have been replaced with "God show me your truths". I have been graced and blessed so undeservedly by God and thank and praise Him for every truth He places in my. What a Savior He is indeed!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Day 271 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
One thing you can count on during a diet is temptations. They come at you from every angle and are relentless. This temptation happens to be one of my favorites, coffee cake. Cinnamon, sugar, icing and all of the other yummy stuff that goes into making this are tops on my list. Only thing, all I can do is look at it right now. Who knows, I may never have anything like this again, or at least until I meet my goal weight. I know that cheating is not really an option for me, but if I happen to cave under the pressures of tempting morsels, it would be pizza, hands down.
Writing about the temptations of food when on a diet really reminded me of sin in a Christians life. We are bombarded with the temptations of sin every day of our lives. Our flesh still craves the "goodness" of sin, like I do the "goodness" of a sweet pastry. Why would we think ourselves not to go through temptations of this world? Our Savior was tempted, so we too will be tempted. Unlike Christ, though, we often times give in to the temptation and dive headfirst into sin and wallow around a bit.
I pray for the day when the temptations that plague me are gone and I walk with a new stride. I don't want to battle the temptations, I want them gone. Like God took away my desire to smoke cigarettes I want my desires to placate my flesh to be gone too. I realize that I need to move closer to God and as that happens my sinful urges and temptations will be better handled. Just like focusing on getting down to a healthier weight is motivation to not be tempted, since I know I can't eat sweets or pizza, the same goes for sin. As I see living without the option to sin it becomes the norm to resist the temptations of sin.
Temptations will never subside though. If anything they will increase as we get closer to God. What changes is our perception of those temptations. They can actually be used as a tool to draw us closer to God and to remind us that we need to go to Him as our Source to overcome these trials and temptations that arise. This side of Glory we will always have to fight and struggle, but one day soon we will finally have the sin purged from our bodies, once and for all. Then think of how awesome it will be to worship our Lord without the hindrance of this miserable flesh.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Day 270 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I've been breaking out a few older and smaller work jeans over the past week or so. I've lost a good little amount of weight on the ol' diet and my current work jeans (and normal ones too) are getting loose. Thankfully I am prepared. Over the years I have been putting the weight on I have also been saving my smaller size clothes. Now I have goals based on my pant sizes over the years.
I just pulled out jeans that have been neatly kept in the closet for about 4-5 years now. I still have some others in the same time range that I will be breaking out in a couple of weeks, but it is good to see the old clothes again. I will, however, have to put up the larger clothes that I have been wearing. Actually, I think I will go a different route with the larger clothes - I'm getting rid of them. In getting rid of them I will have to buy new clothes if I gain weight again. Since I am not big on buying clothes, I will be less likely to gain weight because I won't have anything to wear. Since I am cheap, I won't buy any and then I'll shed the pounds again.
So, I am probably not on track to lose my target weight of 50 pounds, but I am losing at a healthy rate. I am over 1/2 way to my 90 day goal with a few more weeks to go, so you never know. Maybe I will hit a fat burning increase now that spring is here. I've got a lot of outside work to do, so that will burn some extra calories. Plus there is mowing the yard, which I already had to do in spots through the yard.
All in all I am pleased with my results. I know that I am gaining strength from God through this. He is my focus and He is who I want to glorify in this process. I have tried many times to lose weight unsuccessfully, this is because I relied on me and my willpower. This time I am relying on God and my "big why" which is to glorify Him and open doors to talk to others about Him and share the gospel. Prayerfully He will open my mouth since I am on the quiet side. I know He is in control and I know as long as I keep my gaze on Christ He will direct my path. To God be the Glory!
Monday, March 28, 2011
Day 269 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I came across the shirt pictured today. I had purchased it from ebay a year or so ago, but was too big to wear it then. It is a size Large Tall, so it should fit a little different than a regular large shirt, but I am probably still too large myself to wear it.
In case you don't recognize the emblem it is a dragon, from the Sears line of clothing from the 80s. These were released back then when Izod Lacoste and Ralph Lauren's Polo brands were making headway like gangbusters. These were Sear's attempt to make a little money in the "look at what brand I'm wearing" war. Only thing is, they were from Sears and like today the "preppy" look does not usually come from Sears. The one I have still happens to have all of the original tags on it and still in its original plastic bag. Maybe that means it's worth a little more, maybe it doesn't. I do know that these pop up on ebay every now and then and sell in the $30+ range in worn condition, so this may be worth in the $50-$75 range.
I guess the reason I wanted one of these shirts was to try and regain some of the days from yesteryear. After all, I'm not getting any younger. That's something a lot of people try to do and why so many toys and things from our youth go for a lot of money now. We didn;t think of keeping stuff back then, so those that did happen to stick something away for 20-30 years is sitting on a small fortune. Everyone wants something to remind them of their youth, to take them back to days gone by.
The shirt happens to come from the time period that I was learning a lot about the world, first hand. I wanted to fit in really bad, but couldn't afford the high dollar brands that all the "popular" kids were wearing, so we got either plain clothes or the cheaper priced alternatives like the Dragon brand. Also during this time I started learning a lot about sin and it was no imposter, it was the full fledged sinning and I was diving in head first.
I had not really lived a sheltered life, but a life that really didn't see a lot of sin. It was the 70s and 80s, so we weren't exposed to as much as kids these days, but I soon learned that I wanted as much sin as I could get. I also "knew" at the time that all I had to do was ask for forgiveness and I was ok. That's what I was taught in church, by professional men, who wore the real deal Polo shirts. They made a lot of money, so they had to know what they were talking about. Right?
I didn't have a reason to question anything back then. I was really liking my sin and I was really liking the fact that I could sin as much as I wanted to and still go to heaven. I wasn't interested in holiness and really didn't know what it was anyway. All I know is I was doing what I wanted to do and I was happy with me. This train of thought carried on until God truly converted me and saved me at the age of 38. 30 years of living for me, but believing I was "good" and heading to heaven. Maybe not as many crowns, but at least I wasn't going to hell.
I still wonder why God chose me to grant His grace on. Why He chose to love me and send Christ to die for me. It is a mystery and I'm sure one that will take the first 1,000 years in eternity to explain. What I do realize is that there are countless millions living in deception as I did. These poor souls are living a "good" life in the eyes of the world and maybe even attend church or are deacons or even pastors, but they do not know the God of scripture, the Creator of the Universe. They were lied to as kids and lied to throughout life. They live in deception and will one day say," Lord, Lord haven't I...".
So, what to do about this. All it seems can be done is to pray that God opens their eyes like He did mine. Pray that He uses me and my testimony to open the eyes of others that live in the same deceptive realm as I did for 30 years. These folks are on the way to Hell. Why can't the true children of God comprehend this and proclaim to these people their true state before God? That would be the most loving thing anyone could do for their friends, family, acquaintances or just someone on the street. We must not compromise the Word of God to make someone feel good about themselves. They must see their utter state of vileness in the sight of God. That is love and that is laying your life down for someone. Telling them without thought of your own self and faithfully proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and not the watered down "gospel" that is prevalent today.
Please be bold. Please proclaim the truth of the Word. Please do as God has commanded every believer and GO! Make disciples!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Day 268 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I'm taking a little liberty with my rules on this picture of the day. Reason being is we didn't get home until after midnight this morning and I want to include this memory in this series.
Chandra, the boys, their Boy Scout troop a few parents and I ventured to Nashville yesterday. Reason? So the boys could play a couple games of laser tag and then off to a Nashville Predators NHL hockey game. They were playing the Dallas Stars and ended up winning 4-2. The main picture is of the first of two goals of the evening by Mike Fisher (aka Mr. Carrie Underwood). The second is the actual view of the rink from our seats.
As a bonus, the section we were sitting in had unlimited food and drinks included in the ticket price. This was a "good deal" in that we would have had to spend a ton of money on just drinks alone. Bad news? They had Diet Pepsi and not Diet Coke.
This was the first hockey game I have ever been to and only the second professional sporting event of my life. I saw the St. Louis Cardinals play back when I was 12 or so, back when Ozzy Smith was still playing because about all I remember is him doing his backflip onto the field. I actually had a good time watching the game, even though I am not 100% on the rules, except you make a point by getting the puck in the goal.
I do not interact with the Boy Scouts very much as it's the boys dad's activity he has for them. But, I am going to pray that God opens the door so that I may be able to speak to the pack some time about God and share my testimony. They are based in a Episcopal Church's basement (and sponsored by the church), so I'm not sure if they would allow someone outside their congregation to speak to them. I know God is able to open doors and tear down any barriers that I could see. Biggest barrier would be me though and not the ok to speak to them. I am no speaker, but I really feel that I should be allowing God to use me in that capacity. It would be dramatic proof that it was all God, at least to me. I would definitely make it one of my points in my talk that God is where my strength was flowing and not from me.
Prayerfully He will tear down the obstacles in my own mind and then work on the others that I have imagined. I have no idea the spiritual standing of any of the pack leaders or the boys in the pack, but do know that God is able to save anyone. He can even save those that were "saved" when hey were a 8 year old that lived in deception for 30 years. God is mighty to save and mighty to show His grace and power if we only make ourselves available. I have done so in other area and He is using me in ways I know are not from my sheer willpower, but by His power.
I've always said, "God just wants you to make yourself willingly available and He will take care of the rest". That is a truth that I have lived first hand.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Day 267 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Had to do a little running this morning in preparation for a long evening. Stopped and paid the electric bill (picture) and got gas in the car for the trip to Nashville today. We are going with the Boy Scouts (2 youngest boys are in boy scouts) so they can play laser tag a few hours then to watch the Nashville Predators play hockey. So, had to pay the electric bill this morning before we left.
Paying the bills is one facet to our jobs. We make money to supply our families needs, to support our church and to use in other ways that God impresses on us to use His money. His money? Yes, we are just caretakers of it, since He gives us everything, He is the Source. Without His provisions in our life we would not have the jobs that we do or the income that we do. For this we should give thanks constantly. We should always be aware that He freely gives and we should do the same. Not just with our money, but with our time. We need to invest in others, disciple them as scripture tell us.
May we all be aware that everything flows through God. May we all allow everything we have to flow through us, for His glory.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Day 266 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I had to run by the post office when I got off work today. Fortunately there is one just a mile or two from my work. Unfortunately it must have been break time for clerk #2 as clerk #1 waited on people one at a time. This would not have been an issue if everyone had not wanted money orders. There was one man, however, that stood in the line a couple of places before me, patiently waiting. When he arrived at the front, he bought a single stamp. $.44. That's it and stood in line for 10 minutes or better.
I tried to be patient. I probably even appeared patient as I stood here, eyes firmly forward, about 9th in line. Truth is I was irritated and it was wrong. I did begin to think of good things, why I was thankful that I was even able to stand in a line, etc. but honestly I never thought, "Be anxious for nothing". And that is one of my go to verses when I finally figure out that God is doing something contrary to what I want. Looks like He wanted me to stand in a line for 10 minutes+ in order to realize that I get anxious about some little things and shrug it off and only think that Philippians 4:6-7 only is meant for the "big" issues in life. WRONG! That's why God said "In ALL things", that means the "little things" too.
I still have a lot to figure out and a lot of flesh to overcome. Scratch that. I have a lot to seek God for in overcoming this flesh. It is a constant struggle, but with the grace and mercy of God I am making strides forward. He must remain the focus and as long as my gaze is fixed on Him I will be good to go. Once our vision gets blurry or we start straying we then start to sin and seek pleasures of the flesh. Oh how I want to keep Him as my focus, but fail. This is why I must seek Him more. Constantly.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Day 265 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Only 100 days more until this blog series is wrapped up. Hopefully after that I will begin to write "normal" posts again. For some reason I can't seem to find the time to write much anymore. I do get ideas and inspirations, but I soon forget them or get sidetracked and re-think writing and decide I should just keep my thoughts to myself. My goal is to start writing again, what is happening in my world and to write about the state of the church these days.
Today's picture is the Bible study that the family is embarking on. The way our schedules are it is difficult to find a consistent time to do anything regularly. That is going to change though. This study is very important to our family and I have been seriously deficient in leading this family. I get frustrated easily, but I need to put those selfish feeling aside and press on toward the goal of leading. After all, I will stand before God and give an account of this family, since He has entrusted them to my care. Not only physical care, but more importantly spiritual care. I have not done so properly and I am tired of making excuses. Even though the excuses are legitimate, they are not reason enough to neglect this much needed study time as a family.
There is a lot of "me" in me. I always look at things from my vantage point, instead of looking at the big picture. I tend to get frustrated, which is just looking at me in self pity. I should always be taking my eyes off of me and placing my gaze upon Christ. I need to see this world filtered through Christ. I fail miserably and it's because of all of the "me". It is a grace that God has shown this to me and a grace that I desire to not be so self motivated. I know through Him and doing the things I have already been commanded to do in scripture for my family that He will be honored and glorified.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Day 264 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Today we had a little hail storm as I was getting off of work. Thankfully I had just made it into my truck when it started coming down. They were probably close to marble size and I am sure they would have smarted a little bit if I got hit with one. If it would have came 15 seconds sooner I would have been pelted.
I've always heard that hail is a precursor to a tornado, so I immediately began to scan the sky. All I saw were clouds, rain and hail. Tornadoes carry some very awesome power behind them, as do hurricanes, earthquakes, wind storms and about any other known weather extreme. But the power of those combined does not even match an iota of the power of the Creator.
God has set these forces in motion. They are part of His creation that happen from time to time. When they do happen a lot of outlets say, "Where was God in this disaster?". He is right where He is all the time - on His throne. Just because God doesn't stop a hurricane from destroying cities and taking lives doesn't mean that God is somehow powerless against His creation. As far inferior humans we cannot grasp God's ways. We only fail miserably when attributing our ways and thoughts to Him. It is actually blasphemy to try and make God like us, since He is so far above and beyond what humans on this earth will achieve.
I thank God for Hi graces and for His love. He is worthy of all and Lord of all. I praise Him in the sun and I praise Him in the rain. I still fail miserably at that as well and must seek Him for renewal almost daily so I can achieve a closer relationship with Him. Although I do not like the trials and tests I do like the fact that I must lean on God through them. I gain strength from Him and His Word and He leads me by the minute.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Day 263 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
A while back I featured my "new", old truck that we purchased. A 1967 Ford F100 that is in pretty decent shape for being 44 years old. It has it's issues, a little rust here and there, but hey, it's 44 years old.
So, I bought a package of tie-downs to keep in it for whatever reason. It seems like whenever I borrowed someone else's truck in the past that I always needed tie-downs for whatever reason I was borrowing the truck for. It's what every truck needs, right? Well, besides gas, brakes, an engine, a key, wheels, tires, lights, you get the point. They are the accessory that every truck needs, how about that? They will come in handy to, well, tie stuff down to keep it from moving.
Talking about tiedowns reminds me of ties that we like to hold on to that we probably shouldn't. For me, it is the old "stuff" that was taught and told to me in my former church and what is prevalent today in American Christianity. So many things just come to mind that I have to question whenever any particular topic is brought up. If someone mentions the Second Coming of Christ my mind automatically goes to the "Left Behind" mentality, because that's all I was ever told. I never knew that there were so many different points of view of the subject. Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib? That's not even to mention Amillennialism, Preterism,Supersessionism, Covenant theology or Futurism. We like to tie down our thoughts and not be open to the possibility of being wrong about any given thing.
Personally, I am open for anything as long as it is supported by scripture. I had such a warped view of God all during my life, until conversion, that I question everything now. I even question some things that my pastor says now, which is biblical to do. We are to test everything. EVERYTHING! As humans we like to put our thoughts into God's and give Him human characteristics. I am so thankful He is not like us. Of course we don't understand why He allows things like earthquakes in Japan that kills thousands, heresy to spew from pulpits or the death of a baby. But, we can rest assured that He is in control and everything brings glory to His Name.
My confidence is in God and not my understanding of Him. I am quite content at knowing that I will never understand just how awesome He is in every way. I am thankful that He has shown me grace and mercy throughout my whole life and especially that He loves me as a son. He is my Father. That I am tied to and will never be cut lose from.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Day 262 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I'm sure our dog is not the only one that likes stuffed animals. He may be one of few, though, that carries a Furby around some times. He has a laundry basket full of different sizes and types of stuffed animals and squeekie toys. These all usually find their way back out onto the floor shortly after they are put back into the basket.
Our dog is part lab, so he likes to carry things around. He really, really likes rocks for some reason. If he happens to grab one outside when we aren't looking he will carry it around until you sneak it away from him. He likes to play with the rocks and sometimes swallows them, so we try to keep them away from him if at all possible. That's where the stuffed animals come in and help out a bit.
He is also very excitable. He really gets excited when we get back home from being gone for a little while. He runs around and grabs one of his "babies" to bring to us as a gift. Only thing is he will not give it up, he's got to keep it locked in his grasp.
While writing that last line about our dog it dawned on me that we do the same things. We like to hold on to things with a death grip and not give them up. We'll even confide in someone (show it to them, like the dog does his stuffed animal) and even act like we want to give it up, but then we cling on to it. Sin is like that. It deceives. We think that just telling someone that we have a particular grasp on a sin (or vice-versa) that we are from from it. We self deceive and may even hide our sin in front of that person, creating another sin of lying, just to have a good appearance for them. The thing is that God knows about that sin and He knows that you have not forsaken it. Some things we have to tighten the belt for and dive in and cut it from our hearts. This is what Jesus meant when He said "if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out". Not in a literal sense, but in the sense that you have to get serious about your sin, get radical to do whatever it takes to forsake your sin instead of forsaking God. He has promised to not give you more than you can handle, so turn to Him for the strength, but turn from your sin.
Turning to God over every area of life is what it's all about. God has done all things through Christ for you. He has paid the ultimate price for you and me. Most of the time we are too selfish to turn loose of our sin and allow God to love us. We would rather wallow in the mire and filth instead of staying pristine. Our flesh is very wicked and we are given the ways to overcome sin. Turn to God for whatever has hold of you, be it lying on your taxes or selfishness, hating your brother or taking an ink pen from your job. It is all sin, it all put Christ on the Cross and it all is under His blood.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Day 261 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Yesterday was my wife's Birthday. No, before anyone I asks, I will not tell you how old she is, but when I turn 43 this year she will be 4 years younger than me. Enough hints, I don't want to give it away.
We had dinner with her family at Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant here in Paducah. It was yummy as ever and is highly recommended by me. Her mom was in town from Arkansas and all of her brothers and sisters came out for dinner too (except two brothers). It was a great dinner and a great time by all, catching up on things and re-telling stories of days gone by. One of Chandra's aunts brought her a little gift bag and it had 2 balloons attached to the bag. I really did not pay that much attention to them last night, but did read them and what one of them said just went right over my head.
I'll shift gears to this morning's message at church from Bro. Michael Durham at Oak Grove. He is continuing the series on the Sermon on the Mount and made it this morning to verses 38-42 of Matthew 5. The sermon was titled "The Sin of Self-Centerdness" and went in depth about the 5 verses in Matthew. These are the verses that Jesus tells us to "turn the other cheek", to "go the extra mile", "give someone the shirt off your back" and to not turn anyone away that asks to borrow something from you. Needless to say, the sermon was about being self centered and broke down how Jesus was telling the Disciples (and us) that being focused on "ME" is not a trait of a follower of His, that it is "not all about me". I highly recommend that you download the whole series on the Sermon on the Mount so you get the whole picture. Today's message does stand on its own, but Bro. Michael really pulls out the nuances of scripture that most of us seem to overlook.
Now, after telling you about the sermon this morning you can see why the message on the balloon caught my eye. While having lunch I happened to look the way of the balloon and chuckled. Chandra asked me why I laughed, so I told her how I equated the balloons message with the sermon. She wasn't as amused as I was.
This evening we are attending a concert here in Paducah. Kind of a day late birthday present for her. Matthew West and Josh Wilson will be performing at the Carson Center in our Downtown area. it is a beautiful venue, but they do not allow you to take pictures inside, so there may not be any posted on my blog or on Facebook. We do get to participate in the "Meet and Greet" thanks to getting our tickets early and an "artist's circle" seating. We have been this close at this venue before (2nd row), but none of those performers offered meet and greets, so this should be extra fun.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Day 260 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
A few days ago in this series I talked about Lifeway and bad choices they are making. The choices? Selling "Christianzed" versions of worldly things I.E. "Resurrection Eggs" and "Jesus Promise Seeds". These items cause more damage than they do anything else, I see no good whatsoever in peddling these goods to people. I also mentioned Rob Bell and Lifeway carrying his books and videos and mentioned they would probably have his newest book "Love Wins" lining their shelves. So, today I stopped by the local Lifeway to check things out.
As I walked through the door I scanned the front most book shelf that holds the workers recommendations, not there. I then proceeded around to the "Christian Living" shelving units and there found 2 offerings from Bell, those pictured. That was it, not a glimpse of any other books in the store. That is a good thing, but still having his other books on the shelf is still a bad decision. I will give Lifeway props for not stocking this newest book of Rob Bell's, but mark an A down to a D since they still had his others for sale.
So, I guess the boycott is on hold for now, but a email campaign would probably be a good idea. Everyone should email or send a letter to the corporate offices and let them know we are thankful for them not selling Love Wins, but should also remind them that Bell's other books are just as heretical. It is time that Christians stood up and defended the faith and stopped cowering under the pressures of "You can't judge me" and "You're a Pharisee". Actually we can judge and calling out a false teacher and false teachings is not Pharisaical in the least, it is commanded. But we must do it out of love and not for the sake of proving a point or being argumentative. Us acting out in malice or pride is sinful and anti-Biblical to the core, it is a heart issue.
I pray that Lifeway is making some changes in how they choose the books they stock. For them to sell heretical merchandise is to partner in it and become just as guilty as Bell, McLaren and Pagitt. Hopefully the way Bell's "Love Wins" is being accepted (actually rejected) by the Christian community should be a sign that they need not partner with darkness. Just because someone speaks at a church, writes books and attaches the label of "Christian" to it all means nothing. Many will profess on Judgment Day that Jesus is Lord and be cast away into the Hell that Rob Bell denies existence of.
Pray for these deceived souls that God will ignite the Truth of scripture in them. Pray that they are genuinely converted and dismiss all the heresy they have spewed forth and repent. God still saves preachers just as much as He does druggies, alcoholics, liars and pornographers. I praise God through this because He has graced me enough to not be deceived by these wolves and allows me to pray for them. Deception is a very evil demon to overcome, but I know the One that can overcome any obstacle. I petition Him for their salvation and repentance and they they will be saved and start preaching the Word correctly.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Day 259 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Well, the day had to come. I've been to work, I've been home, I've been busy. I have not taken a picture all day or night and hence, have nothing to write about. It's been 259 days after all, it had to happen some time. I could have rushed around at a hectic pace and tried to snap a picture, but didn't feel right about doing so. The purpose of this series is to share in my life through a picture a day, so this is some sharing. It was almost a failure today.
Actually as I write, this post is actually sharing my day. It has been somewhat the same as any other day. My mother-in-law did come into town for a visit, so that is something I could have written about, but I never captured a picture of her and she's fast asleep. I did get to talk to her for an hour or so before my wife made it home, which was really nice talking to her. We have never really had in depth conversations about much of anything and I am glad that we had the opportunity to talk.
I did have more time today to commune with the Lord, which is always great. I go through periods where I feel like I am further away from Him than I was when I was unrepentant. I then have to rehearse in my mind that my feelings are from the flesh and can be deceptive. It could actually be oppression from demonic forces too, trying to infuse confusion in my mind about my standing with God. Today was sweet in that manner though. I have been asking God to renew my heart and I believe that He is answering. I am an emotional kind of guy (even though my wife says otherwise), so I do have to watch how my feelings manipulate my thought patterns. I can come up with something and run with it, spinning it into a whole story before I snap out of it.
I can not put faith in my feelings, only in God. He is faithful and just and loves me and has adopted me. I was once a God hating sinner and now I am His son, joint heirs with Christ. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is more of a picture of grace than that. While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. For me? Yes, for me. I praise Him for that and I can't thank Him enough for bestowing on to me His love and His forgiveness. Oh, what a Savior!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Day 258 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
You may not be able to tell by the picture, but the offerings in the Kroger checkout aisle are more than the common fare. You do have the 20 different kinds of gum, 30 different kinds of candy bars, Twizzlers and even Mike & Ikes. But, do you notice what is in the picture? Not normally considered an impulse item (to purchase anyway) is hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer has really gained in popularity over the past few years. I know there are industrial strength derivatives for hospitals and such, but I want to focus on the more common type, those that hang on the walls of restrooms by the door leading out. First, let me say that hand sanitizer IS NOT a replacement for washing your hands. This goes double for those in the food service industry. If you got some undesirable foreign object on your hands, it will still be there after you embed it while rubbing your hands together to "sanitize" your skin. Sanitizer is to kill viruses and germs, not remove dirt and other nasty particles from your hands.
Let me give an example: A child is playing outside and is told to come in for dinner. Said child has been making mud pies and has their hands are covered in mud. Would it be acceptable for you to squirt hand sanitizer on their hands, them whirl it around a little bit and expect their hands to be clean? Not at all. Their hands would just have alcohol laden mud on them then, they would not be clean. Same is true with everything else you might get on your hands. Sanitizer is to work in conjunction with hand washing, not instead of. But, then again, I see guys make a B line to the door without even glancing at the sinks to wash their hands. Maybe the hand sanitizer is there by the door so you can saturate a paper towel so you can hold it in your hand before opening the door when you leave. Personally I use a towel to open the door when it pulls inward and use my foot to kick it open if it pushes outward. Door knobs are the dirtiest place in a restroom and I avoid them at all costs.
Hand sanitizer is also like people that try to dress up their sins, cover them up even though they are putrid and covered in filth. I was like that for a long time, gave the appearance like I was a "good guy", but inwardly I was stinking. I would sanitize myself with saying a prayer every night as I went to bed, even after a night of drinking and partying. After all, I was good to go in my mind, I had said the prayer at 8 years old and took care of it, I was sealed and I wasn't going to hell. I would just not get as many rewards, but I'd still be in heaven when I died. How graceful God was when He awakened my spirit to the lie I had live for 30 years. At 38 years old I finally realized I was trusting in a lot of things for my salvation, but none of them were Jesus Christ. That is when He truly did a work in my life, in my soul and HE hasn't stopped. That is eternal security, knowing that God is in charge of sanctifying me and not my own actions. That is how you rest in Him, knowing that He is the Master, you the slave and that He takes care of all your needs. WOW! I am amazed as His grace even still.
I stopped sanitizing my outward appearance and God started really cleaning me up. He has sanctified me in many areas, some instantly and some through trials and tests. All have brought me closer to Him. He has shown Himself true and trustworthy and I continually show myself unworthy of His grace. I praise Him for saving me 5 years ago and I praise Him for saving me daily, each step of the way until I am at Home with Him.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Day 257 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
"Diggin' what?" You might ask, by this blogs title, especially when compared to the picture of the day. I'm referring to us digging out of debt. This is a stack of bills that are due in the next couple of weeks. The electric bill and car payment are within this stack too, so they're not all credit card bills, just mostly.
This is a perfect example of having to live with the consequences of sin, even after you are forgiven. We accumulated a lot of unsecured, credit card debt over the first few years of our marriage. After I was soundly converted and later my wife, we realized that our spending habits were not glorifying God in the least bit. He has changed us to now have the desire to dig out of this mound of debt we have lived under. This shows that sinful habits, even years prior, have consequences that must be dealt with.
Other areas of "life" that have sin issues from your past are like this as well. A lot of sins carry emotional baggage for people as they can't seem to shake how sinful they once were. That is good in a way, because it allows one to share just how awesome God is in extending His saving grace on even the vilest of sinners. It can also be a hindrance to a person. If a child of God can't understand that their sins are forgiven they will always dwell on them. Jesus paid the price on the cross for all the sins of His people, even the ones you have not even committed yet. This is not a "grace card" or a license to sin, but it is a testimony to the Lord's wrath being satisfied at Calvary. Christ bore all of our sins and we are no longer condemned. We are free of the shackles of sins grip. Until we realize just how amazing grace is, we are not accurately seeing God for how awesome he really is.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Day 256 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
The latest Lifeway catalog graced our mailbox today. Flipping through the pages I saw the "normal" offerings from their catalogs - Study bibles at a discounted price, small/ personal size bibles for $5, "Christian" romance novels, overpriced gifts, overpriced CDs and overpriced DVDs. Then the last 2 pages struck my curiosity. It was their Easter items.
Some of the items for Easter offered were "Resurrection Eggs", "Jesus Promise Seeds" and "The Jellybean Prayer Bottle". I guess this is what Christianity and Easter have devolved into, cheap marketing ploys to sell candy and plastic colored eggs. If the actual products weren't offensive enough, the descriptions really put it into perspective. Example: Resurrection Eggs - "Crack open the glory of Jesus' resurrection this Easter". Say what? This company that makes these products have reduced the Resurrection of Christ into a plastic egg? And Lifeway proudly sales them? Really? Really!?
I know that Lifeway is a business and in it to make money, but come on already. Step up to the plate and cut these distasteful and borderline blasphemous products out of the catalog and off of the store shelves. Then again, what would one expect from a chain of "Christian" stores that also proudly sells heretical books by Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Donald Miller and the ever so popular "The Shack"? A caveat about these books: Lifeway for a while had disclaimers with notices about the content of these books, that they did not mesh with Biblical and Historical Christianity. This changed late last year as Lifeway decided to remove the notices, but left the books on the shelves. This made me want to yell. Loudly.
So, what is the Christian buying public supposed to do? Especially when most, if not all, of the other "Christian" book stores sell the same types of items without reservations? Where are Christians supposed to get actual God glorifying materials and gifts? That's not a rhetorical question, I'd really like to know, because I will start shopping there immediately. I am about 75% there in making a decision to personally boycott Lifeway and the other stores that sell the junk I mentioned. I have contacted Lifeway before with concerns about products they carry and got a form letter back pretty much brushing me off. I really think a boycott may be in order to raise awareness of the things that Lifeway sells in their stores. Starting with the new Rob Bell book, "Love Wins" in which he openly states he is a heretic. (I have not actually seen this on the shelf at Lifeway yet. Making an assumption based on their carrying his previous offerings and Nooma videos)
I'll jump off of my soapbox for now. I just grow increasingly angry about these companies, authors and people that continually and increasingly try to drag the Name of Jesus through the wringer to make a buck. My God's Name is to be revered, not placed on a bag of Jellybeans as a marketing ploy to Christians.
Are you with me? Are you ready to stand strong and voice your disdain against items and stores that pander goods that demean our Lord?
Monday, March 14, 2011
Day 255 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
My weight loss has been productive so far. Not as much lost as I would like to, but the pounds are still being shed slowly but surely. I am at a point now where it gets frustrating because I am still doing the same things I have been, but not seeing much in the results column. Hopefully it is just a lull and the fat burning will kick back in.
The picture today is of the holes in my belt. If you look close you can see the imprints of where I have been wearing the belt in the past. I actaully wore the belt in the second from the end for a little while.I am down to the first hole now in the belt. I will either need to punch new holes or get a new belt. Knowing me and my "cheapness" it will be punching new holes.
I will say that my focus on weight loss hasn't been there the past couple of weeks. I have remained steadfast in my diet, no cheating at all. My exercise I did not do this morning because I am not feeling very well. Some issue with my throat has me way under the weather. My voice is really messed up right now in that it almost feel like I am gagging when I speak. Not fun and it is affecting my whole head. Headache, neck stiffness, earaches, increased ringing in the ears and a very dry mouth are the norm as of late. So, whenever I feel physically up to resuming my exercise program I will probably kick the weight loss back in.
I do wonder if I would "cheat" on the diet every now and then if it would trick my body into kicking on the calorie burning furnace again. Maybe a one step back, two steps forward mentality. I may try that in a week or two if I do not start seeing better results. I will also intensify my exercising as much as possible and I really need to add resistance training into the fold as well.
My main focus now needs to be on God, as always. If I seek Him as I should and allow Him to work through this process, stay focused on my "big why" things should really turn around. One of my reasons within my "big why" for losing weight is to bring glory to God. Through the whole process of diet modification and exercising I need to think of God and commune with Him and ask Him to work this to my physical well being. I am about 40% in to my 90 day weight loss goal, but I am also over 40% down in my time too. I know it may seem petty to some to seek God through a weight loss program, but I believe He cares and encourages through all issues and trials, no matter how small they may seem to me or anyone else. I will praise Hm through this time, even if my personal weight loss goal is not met, I will still have met with God more because of this. That is worth it all, even if I don't lose another pound.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Day 254 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I've been working, off and on, with a project for Real Truth Matter. It is a kinetic typography "sermon jam" type of thing. I say "type of" because I am pretty much learning as I go and I am learning quite a bit.
Adobe After Effects is my tool as I dive into tutorials, books and Google searches on how to accomplish the task at hand. I have a higher level of respect for those that pump these things out the way they do. It is very time consuming and an exact science to match everything up perfectly. It is coming together, but it is taking a lot of time. The time of the video is about 8:00 in length, so it is about 4 times as long as the average sermon jam and/ or kinetic typography video.
My hopes are to hone my skills and be a viable asset to the RTM stable. I know this single project will add some knowledge, but also realize it will be an ongoing learning situation. If anyone has any pointers, tips, presets, files, etc send the m my way. I can use all the help I can get with understanding this resource better.
Since first seeing the first examples of kinetic typography I knew that it was something I really wanted to do. I also know that 90% of being used by God is to just make yourself available, so I did. I am not worthy to do the work of the Kingdom, but I desire to make a difference any way that I can. God has been so merciful to me and allowed me to be around some really talented people over the past few years and the greatest part is that they all love the Lord.
My church family is much more than a "church family". Or at least any church family that I have seen my whole life. God has really brought this group of people together, warts and all, and actually makes a body as the Word describes. We all are gifted in different capacities and all are in others lives. It is truly a family in any sense of the word. Out of this body God has also developed a ministry called Real Truth Matters. This was born from Pastor Michael Durhams long standing ministry "Living Priorities" on the media end of things. RTM is purely a ministry devoted to the recovery of New Testament Christianity. It's not just a "tag line" to the ministry, it is the foundational reason it was created.
I highly suggest that you take full advantage of the years worth of resources on the website. All are available free of charge for download and a nominal donation to cover expenses for hard copies. There have also been two Real Truth Matters Conferences that really delve into the issues that Christianity faces these days. Also on that subject is the series titled "History Of The Modern Gospel", which is a very wonderfully made series shot in HD, released on the web and will also be available in hard copies for showings in churches. Our friend, Lane Chaplain, of Lane's Blog, has been very kind to RTM and has posted all of the releases to great "success" (for lack of better words). There are still two or three left in the series and I look forward to viewing each session, almost prodding JT and Joseph to hurry up already.
There are several other facets to RTM that if you look around the website you will see. Oak Grove/ Real Truth Matters host as bi-monthly Pastors Fellowship that is a wonderful resource for pastors in the area. Website design, artwork, photography and audio resources are also a large part of RTM.
Who knows where this ministry will go. Who knows how God will use this way beyond the confines of the walls of the church? Many thousands of people around the globe have viewed the videos and downloaded messages from Brother Michael already. We pray to just be doing what God wants us doing. Join us in prayer for direction by the Lord and for Him to supply the needs of the ministry as He has already. If God is in it , God will supply.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Day 253 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Had a great time today with my beautiful wife, Chandra. We haven't had much time just "us" lately, so we decided to take a little day trip down South. We headed to Lebanon Tennessee to do a little shopping at an outlet mall there.
First thing, outlet malls have changed since the last time I went to one. Biggest change? The prices. They seem to be the same as in any other retail store. Years ago there was a fairly successful outlet mall about 20 miles from Paducah. One of the great stores there was POLO. I remember buying Polo shirts for 1/3 of retail. Now, at the outlet store we visited today the biggest discount they had was 25% off, but still cost as much as the local Dillard's.
Needless to day, we didn't buy very much. But we did have a great time and had a really great conversation on the way down about the effects of the world within our family. Also, I admitted to her that I have failed miserably as a spiritual leader for our family and that I know I need to step up and lead as God intends me to. I will definitely need to lean on Him a lot more now and also the brothers at church. God has placed us in a very loving church body that desires to help each other out, no matter what the need is. I praise God for our church home.
Now, off to bed as it's "Spring Forward" night for Daylight Savings time (YUK).
Friday, March 11, 2011
Day 252 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I'm about 3/4 the way through John MacArthur's newest book, "Slave". I will say that before I began to read the book I already knew we were called slaves, but what I didn't really full get was exactly what that means. Now, being almost finished with the book I can say that I am developing a better understanding on the 1st Century understanding of slavery and how it actually pertains to Christians.
One great passage from the book says, "To 'confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord' (Rom. 10:9) is to simultaneously acknowledge one's own obligation to obey Him with total submission. His will is absolutely sovereign, and His slaves are expected to obey no matter the level of sacrifice required." Pg. 80 - Now that type of language is very rarely said from a pastor these days and is not very popular. Thing is, it';s Bible.
Today's feel good, easy believism, me-centric messages that stream from pulpits is very contrary to slavery. Instead of acknowledging that we are, in fact, slaves of God, it has been turned into "God has a wonderful plan for your life and exists to make your life happy, make you feel fulfilled and give you out of His abundance". Not exactly 100% accurate, just read the Bible and see how the majority of the Apostles had their lives ended. Then compare your life to that of the Apostles whom spent a lot of time in prison for proclaiming the message of their Master faithfully. Not saying that you have to go to prison, but one should at least be joyful about actually sharing the gospel with others.
I would highly recommend and suggest that you read this book from Johnny Mac. As always he brings new levels of understanding to those of us who really need it. God has given us a lot of great minds that have intently studied the Word and faithfully proclaim that Word. Thank God for gifting an using people like MacArthur, Michael Durham, Paul Washer, Ray Comfort, Tim Conway, Bob Jennings, Mack Tomlinson, John Piper, Mike Morrow and Charles Leiter. We have some invaluable assets in these men's work and studies at our disposal. Pray for these men and pray for your pastor that they may continue to faithfully proclaim the Word in truth and in righteousness.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Day 251 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
The guys over at Custom Tract Source have just came out with a really cool looking tract. It is actually perfect for an area local festival that heavily leans on the Confederate history in its festivities. Well, not really the festivities as much as the ones that attend like to wave Confederate flags and such. This makes this festival perfect for these tracts, or vice-versa in that these tracts are perfect for the festival.
The festival? Tater Day. The place? Benton KY. The time? First Monday in April, along with the weekend before. How many times I have been? Almost every year that I can remember, but mostly and lately the weekend before and not the actual Monday of Tater Day. Reason for going? The flea market now, to run around like a heathen when I was younger. So, I am really familiar with what is there, what happens there and what type of people attend the happenings. This is how I know that these tracts are a perfect fit and that, prayerfully, they will be used to further the Kingdom and glorify God. The hopes are to be able to use these tracts as ice breakers to share what God has done in our lives and to share the Gospel with as many people as possible. Of course, the message on the reverse of the tract is not going to be that well received by the majority, but in being obedient we know that God will use this time to glorify Himself.
As Sons of God we are commanded to share the Gospel and to make disciples. Are we doing this as a body? I would say not as we should be. We, as Christians, need to start following out he great commission in our hometown, our local area, our state and this world. We barely, if ever, even share the gospel within the confines of our own home or at our job. Why is that? Do we think someone else is supposed to be doing this, or that all we need to do is invite people to go to church with us? Never sharing what God has done for us, too ashamed to bow our head before our meal at work, not bat an eyelash when someone uses the Name of God as a curse word and then expect everyone to just kind of assimilate what we "believe"? That's not how it operates, my friends. As God is our Lord, we are to follow His commands, striving for His acceptance and not the false acceptance of those around us. We should not give second thought about someone being offended at our proclamation of Jesus IS Lord.
I do understand that this mentality is not readily accepted and goes against the teaching of most churches. They say accept everyone, never be offensive, always "love" the sinner and hate the sin. Hog wash! (To use a Tater Day term). Show me in the Word where we are to do any of those things and I will happily apologize and recant my words here. We are to be salt and light to this dark and dying world, not just happy-go-lucky people walking around with smiles and t-shirts with ICHTHUS on them. The most loving thing you could ever do to a person is tell them their need of the Savior. Explain to them their sinful and wretched sate before the Holy God and then tell them the grace of God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. That is and should be the message of EVERY Christian and if it is not then you may seriously need to examine your own standing before God. If the Gospel doesn't resonate in your heart then God does not know you and has not converted you. You, my friend, still have the wrath of God on your head. Turn to Him, turn from your sin, cry out to God to save you not because of what you have done but only for what Christ has done. Repent and believe is all you can do and pray for the mercy of God to be bestowed on you. Until God changes you into a new creation, then you are still on the path of destruction and not on the narrow path to His Kingdom.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Day 250 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
So, it's been a while since I
Just because I am not a cat person doesn't mean these little critters have not become fans of mine. They seem to like to follow me around some. The one pictured will jump up on the couch with me sometimes and lay on my leg. The other cat likes to sleep right beside my leg at night. Although I do not like cats, I am not mean to them either. They can't help it because they're stinkin' cats after all.
God instilled into me at an early age a broad love for animals. Even though I do not personally like some of the species that God has created, doesn't mean that I want anything bad to happen to them. Well, other than the moles in the yard that like to create obstacle courses for me to mow over. And even the moles that I really, really do not like I don't want to cause any harm to. I just want hem gone out of our yard.
Compassion for animals came natural to me, but compassion for individuals is sometimes a struggle for me. Animals pretty much act out of instinct, so they have an excuse for the things they do. People, on the other hand, have God given decision making capacities as well as a God given conscience to guide them through life. This is true for the lost as well as the converted. When people go against their better judgment and their conscience is when bad things start to happen, namely sin. We all know right from wrong very early in life and we all seem to want to veer toward the wrong instead of the right. That is our nature, to sin.
Some people's depravity though seems to be very far from the "normal" depravity of the general population. Maybe these people are actually demon possessed instead of having any number of mental illnesses often attributed to these days. I say they are sinners in need of God and that if they ever put their faith in God they would start to be more "normal" compared to this ages standards. I'll offer Jeffrey Dahmer as a example. He murdered and cannibalized at least 17 other humans before his arrest and conviction. While in prison he professed faith in Christ and seemingly "became" a new person. Was he truly converted? I have no idea, but the signs point toward yes. He was killed while protecting another inmate from being beaten by another inmate, the ultimate sacrifice a human could make, putting your life down for another. Now, that in itself is not proof of his conversion, but it would make a strong point in favor. Possibly Dahmer was demon possessed and showed the mental instability as the lashing out of that manifestation, then after God converted him the demon would no longer be able to have reign over him.
I do believe anyone is within the saving grace of God. He saved me after all, even after I thought that I had it all taken care of when I was a kid. I felt like I already had God, so I wasn't in the least bit interested in growing in holiness and didn't even know what sanctification was. I was good to go, took care of it and living the American Gospel message of a backslidden "Christian. I may be living like the world I loved so much, but inside I was good. I was "saved" from hell in my own mind, but not from a life of rebellion to God. For whatever reason God decided to shine His mercy down on me and expose my false profession and depravity. That is when He truly saved me and He has been saving me ever since. Without Him I would be just as big a sinner as Dahmer was. God in His mercy saved me and I haven't gotten over it yet. Since He saved me, He also has been sanctifying me, purging me of this world and conforming me to the likeness of Christ. I know I will not attain that level, but I still strive.
Thank God He still saves from the American gospel and false professions of faith.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Day 249 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
Today's picture comes courtesy of a screen capture of an email from one of my favorite restaurants, Genghis Grill. We do not have a GG in the immediate area, so we have to drive to Franklin Tennessee to partake of the scrumptious morsels. I invite each of you to see if there is a Genghis Grill near you and be prepared to visit again and again and again.
So, the email I received today was advertising their "Fish Fridays" promotion. Coincidentally this multi-week promotion happens to coincide with the Roman Catholic time of Lent. Also, coincidentally, many other restaurants are starting fish on Friday sales and promotions as well. I know they are out to make money and I know those that follow the rules of Lent will be taking advantage of these sale prices. I guess it is a win, win for all of those involved with the Lent season.
My question is, "Why, if you are sacrificing meat through Lent, will you still eat fish which is also a meat?" I mean, if you're going to sacrifice shouldn't you really sacrifice? Who said it is alright to eat fish? Where does the Lent custom come from anyway? Is it backed by scripture? If it is I should probably be following it as well. I admit I have not done much research on the subject, further than asking my wife, a former Roman Catholic, and a few other current Catholics why they did or do refrain from meat on Fridays from Ash Wednesday until Easter. The closest I have to an answer is it is to sacrifice because that's what Catholics do this time of year. No real basis for doing so, except for they've always done it. Oh, and what about vegetarians? How do they "sacrifice" during Lent?
A quick peek at the wikipedia page for Lent shows that more than Catholics partake in the Lent season. Personally I do not follow the rules and traditions and can't tell you what they are even. But, if given scriptural backing will indeed hold the tradition as others do. All in all I have no true understanding of the Lenten season, so I can not talk for it or against it. It is one of those things I will need to study and see where the basis lies, what he reason is, if it "required" or optional, why not fast for the full 40 days? So many things I don't understand, which qualifies me to only keep my mouth shut about the subject.
I do know that Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for me. I know He doesn't require me to sacrifice anything for Him, but to only trust and believe in Him.... for everything. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or love me less, forgive me more or forgive me less. I am under His blood, atoned for by His blood and I stand righteous before the Father only because of Jesus Christ. I willingly give my life to Him.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Day 248 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
This is my favorite painting. Ever. I totally relate to the man that is pictured in it. My hand held the hammer of sin that drove the nails into the hands of Christ on Calvary.
As you can see, the painting by Thomas Blackshear II depicts Jesus holding a man up, even though he is the one that pierced his hands, feet and side. The blood of Christ flows in the painting, to me depicting the never ending cleansing power of the Blood of the Lamb. It reminds me of the hymn "Praise for the Fountain Opened", which is better known as "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood". It states that "E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die." Wow! That is Good News!
It amazes me that God has mercy on anyone because of our rebellion and self serving attitudes. We deny Him daily, but yet He still holds us in His arms. We cling to the hammer (sin) that drove the spikes into His flesh, even as He still holds us in His arms. What a wonderful depiction of Grace and forgiveness.
Blackshear is a very talented artist. I thank God for men like this that use their gifts in order to glorify the Father. So many people squander their talents and will one day stand in judgment because they did not properly use those God given talents to point to God. People like Jimi Hendrix that had great talent, but yet fueled their own selfish desires. So many others that never became popular that are just as much sons of disobedience as Hendrix was. I praise God that He saved me from me and my self idolatry. I often looked up to musicians when I was growing up and thought of Hendrix (and others) as gods whom I wanted to emulate. If not by the grace of God and His mercy shown (and still continually showing) to me I would be just as lost as Hendrix.
My hope is to use any talent that I may have to bring glory to God. I may not be a musician, artist, actor or speaker, but in the things that He has given me I must be true and must exalt His Name.
Luke 16:10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Day 247 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
This evening our church gathered together for a send off party for our brother Josh as he embarks on a military career. He will leave for basic training in about a week then following that will be a candidate for officer training. We are all family at Oak Grove and we all wanted to be there to "officially" wish him well. We prayed for him this morning corporately and I am sure we will all be praying for him throughout this career path. We all met up at Guadalajara Restaurant and filled the place up. The owner, Victor, and his family and employees did a wonderful job in serving us this evening. This restaurant is highly recommended in my book. If you go tell Victor that his "favorite customer" sent you.
He has a wonderful family, which is also our family, so we will all pull together as a body and help his wife and 2 children in whatever way needed. This is the way a family works and this is the first time I have been part of a church body that does this to this extent. Praise God for His mercies on our body of believers to allow this love, His love, to permeate through all of us. Without His love we would not know how to love brothers and sisters the way He has allowed us to.
Please join with Oak Grove as we keep Josh and his family in our prayers. If you are a child of God then he is also your brother and his family is your family too. You may never meet them this side of heaven, but one day in glory you can say, "Hey Josh, I was praying for you and your family when you went into the service of our country".
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Day 246 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series.
We had planned to go to the Metropolis Comic Book Show today and I just knew that my post today would include that somehow. Wrong. We did attend the show and I did take some pictures. I even captured on of the guy that played Jason in the first Friday the 13th movie. Not the big hulking guy with the hockey mask, the young guy that jumped out of the water at the end. Seems he is still making a living off of that role 30 years after the movie was released.
My picture today comes from the local Lifeway Christian book store. On the heels of removing the warnings to books like "Blue Like Jazz", "The Shack" and "Velvet Elvis" comes this fine specimen of less than God honoring trinketry. It is a small shovel with a small paper cloth with seeds embedded in it. The verse that is included on the card is part of the parable of the soil types in Luke 8. Verse 8 in particular, "But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty", even though I am not sure which translation they quoted from on the card. I looked through all of the ones at Bible Gateway and found not a translation that said, "But sown on good ground are those who hear the Word...". I did find the manufacturers website (CTA Inc.), but they do not have these exact seed cross packages pictured.
These are the types of products that do not show the reverence required of the gospel, of Christ, His people and of the cross of Calvary. It is a lame tempt of marketing to invoke the cross that Jesus bore our sins on as a seed holder, then use the words of Christ in the parable of the soil types to vindicate selling seeds in a Christian store. Using scripture out of context as a marketing tool is just plain wrong, whether it is on a seed packet or on a t-shirt. It is twisting scripture to mean something not intended, which is not a very good thing to do.
I'd just like to know when this kind of junk became considered acceptable in the Christian community. I'm sure many will say, "Lighten up Jeff, it's just a seed packet". That it may be, but then why use something as Holy as the cross and the Words of Christ to pander your goods? It is an attempt to use the things of God as a marketing tool.
I am sure there are some well intentioned folks doing this too. I don't think they have meeting coming up with blatantly blasphemous items. I think it is not a proper understanding of who God is and what God expects. People just seem to not have any discernment these days in so many areas of life. "Christian" companies market their wares and the public gobbles them up. So many of the t-shirts and other products today really border on heresy or just downright bad taste. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about some of the heretical shirt designs on the market then. Guess what. They have not gotten any better and are actually slipping further down the slope.
Those that are truly children of God need to take note and take a stand against these things. We need to stand firm and call these trinkets, shirts, necklaces, hats, bumper stickers, seed packets and everything else what they are - Blasphemy. Sure, I may ruffle some feathers and I'm sure some will say, "Stop living in the 50's Jeff". But, believe it or not, I do own some tasteful t-shirts and have a sticker on my car that do not blaspheme God or His Word.
Just seriously think about something before you buy it. Just because it's in Lifeway doesn't mean it is a good product to buy. I refer back to the books I mentioned that the warning were removed from. Lifeway deemed the warnings to be un-needed instead of removing the books from their shelves. Anything that is questionable definitely does not need to be in a Christian book store. But, then again, Lifeway is a business, just as the traders were in the Temple when Jesus did a little house cleaning.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Day 245 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
This morning started off a little on the rainy side. It actually continued through the day and now, at 10:45 PM it is still raining. It has not been a constant rain, but it has lasted throughout the day and is to continue through tomorrow morning.
You know what the weather reminds me of? Spring. Even though we are still a little shy of 3 weeks from the official beginning of spring. The signs of new growth are visible wherever you look. The grass in our yard that went dormant through the winter months is showing spots of green. The Easter lilies are poking heir stems through the ground and the rains are falling and bringing the all important water.
The seasons come and go and we adjust our lives accordingly. The days grow longer so we actually adjust our time keeping to keep more daylight hours even. Our choice of clothing will change. Our activities will change. We will begin to plant gardens, mow grass, play outside, go on vacations, have picnics and take walks through the park. Not that we couldn't do any of those things in the winter time, but we choose not to.
This time of year (but all year should be) is perfect for getting out and seeing the miracle of life that God has created for us. We can see life spring forth (no pun intended) from the seeming death of winter. We will see the colors of nature explode around us declaring the glory of our God. Everywhere you look will be shown God's creative powers. Look at a leaf and see how intricate it is, with its veins that supply the water throughout. Look at the vivid colors of the flowers, gaze at the oak tree spreading its canopy high into the air and be amazed at God's workmanship.
Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Day 244 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I'm sure you have seen trucks like this before, just not in this form as a pickup truck. The more common variety would be as a dump truck, garbage truck, tank truck or any other types of commercial vehicles, but as a pickup it is not that common. It took me a while of searching to find out how much one of these trucks costs. According to the ad on this page they list for $97,600 or about the list price of my car times almost 5. Oh yeah, it is a Ford F650 by the way.
I have had dealings through my job with the owner of this truck. He owns a local scrap yard and is as down to earth as any well off person could be. The difference is he has money and he likes to spend it. His bank account is big which makes his toys bigger than the average fellow. Not saying he's a bad person for spending his money at all, just that he has a higher budget of disposable funding than most people.
We all have our extravagance items. You may not think of them as that, but they are. A truck like the one I pictured may seem over the top for most people, but I know that he uses it for business too and not only as a driver for himself. Most of our extravagant items cost less, but they are the ones that are not really needed in every day life, but have become habits to us. Instead of water we drink soda or $5 a cup coffee. Instead of a square meal prepared at home we drive our nice cars, with their climate controls, listening to the CD player or watching a DVD in the back seat to dine at a restaurant where we know no one else or the ones preparing our meal. Our meal price includes a piece of the wait staff's salary, the dishwasher salary, the manager's salary, the operational costs of the building and finally the cost of the food. So, we pay 10 times what the meal would cost at our home. That is a little extravagant as well. Or is it? Our culture thinks nothing of going out to eat or going to a movie theater and spending $50 for a family of 4 to see a movie. Or how about the cost of a sporting event? How extravagant is that?
How do all of the things that we indulge in compare to what we give to the church and to godly things? This is pointed at myself too, so I am preaching to me too. We think nothing about overpaying for a "nice" dinner, but that same $50 would pay for a months worth of food in a foreign country for a family. No guilt trips, just facts. We have grown accustomed to pampering ourselves instead of offering a cup of water to the least of these. We are so wrapped up in our own wants and "needs" that we have forgotten about the mercy a Christian should feel toward others. We clinch tight to our wallets on Sunday morning, but the night before were out with a group of friends throwing money around like it was nothing - in the name of fun and fellowship. Not that there is anything wrong with fun and fellowship, but if it is looked at in a higher context than things of God, then we have a problem.
I need to seriously repent in this area and get hold of my priorities. I am guilty of a lot of what I mentioned, but thank God He has shown me that. If it didn't bother I would have a problem. Now I have another "reason" to seek God, to show me where my priorities should be and to be a better steward of the money He has entrusted to my family. May He be glorified in my life and may I seek Him more each day.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Day 243 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series
I thought I had seen it all. All as far as Elvis collectibles go, that is. That was until I opened the pages of the newest Graceland catalog. I'm not knockin' Elvis here, but a Mr. Potato Head Elvis? That's just plain wacky. But, wackier is that my mom would probably want one. Actually I think it is kind of neat myself and we could add it to our Darth Tater, R2DTater, SpiderSpud and Indiana Jones/ Taters of the Lost Ark collectibles. One big hindrance? The $20 price tag on them, so sorry, no Elvis Spudley for me.
I'm not going to mention Elvis' spiritual condition in this post, I did so in this one a little while back. I would like to say something about the level of fanhood he still has, even after being in the grave for 34 years.
No doubt about it, Elvis was a personality. He was a talented man, charming, good looking, rich and very kind hearted. But just what propelled him into such a magnitude of worship? What about more recent examples of Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber? Why do people seem to want to be like, pursue more than anything and follow those mentioned? Is it a true emotion or is it just a popular fad or something totally different? Does it border or even cross the line into idolatry? I would say yes to all of those questions.
But why do people want to follow other popular people is the real question. Or why can someone so freely follow a mere man and turn their back and close their ears to Jesus? Many people know almost every word to every Elvis song recorded. Now that is devotion. But, can not quote you a verse from the bible other than John 3:16, all the time saying they are a Christian.
What this helps to point out is there are a lot of people that claim to be Christian in word only. They have not opened their Bible in years, have not attended a church service in the last year except for Easter and/ or Christmas, but say they love God more than anyone or anything. Really? And just how does that mesh with your denial of godly things? How can you be a part of the Body of Christ and yet be severed from it? Not that reading scripture or attending church makes you a Christian or is a requirement to be saved, but it does show the state of a person's heart if they deny those things.
So, what idols are in your life? What do you love more than God? Your job? Your car? Your spouse? Kids? Money? Quiet time? Facebook? Justin Bieber? Jesus was really blunt in Mathew 10:37 when He said that if you love your parents or children more than Him you are not worthy of Him. He goes on to say in verse 38 that if you don't pick up your cross and follow Him you are not worthy either. Some pretty radical statements even for today. Breaking it down Jesus was saying that you better not have any idols in your life and if you do that you do not truly know Him. You may know another Jesus, but not The Jesus of scripture.
I hope that you examine your life and cut out the things that hinder a relationship with the Savior. If you are truly His child then He will not allow you to have idols and you can do it the easy way and purge them yourself or He will do it for you. I choose the first choice and total surrender to God, even though I am not 100% good at it yet. It is yet another area to seek Him and His strength to be closer to Him.