Sunday, April 25, 2010

Don't Stop Dreaming

   As a child we can't wait until we grow up.  I remember when I turned 12.  I had several guys over for my 12th Birthday party.  It was a good party.  We played football in the yard for awhile and then walked to the local movie.  This was the greatest party of my Birthday celebration.  Why?  Because I could now pay the "adult" rate to get in the movies.  Instead of a child's ticket, I now had to pay the adult rate!  How cool was that! least it was cool back then.  I basically had to pay more for the same thing!  

I couldn't wait until I was old enough to drive a car.  I remember it well (even though it was sometime during the past century).  Then I had to reach the age of!  Then...21!  Then 25 so I could pay less on my auto insurance.  As a child, teenager, and young adult...I was a dreamer.  There was so much to look forward to!  And since becoming a follower of Christ in my upper 20's (a while ago), I still dream!  

Do you still dream?  Did you, like so many adults loose the ability to dream.  When you reached those common milestones we all live to reach, did you have anything left to dream for?  Just asking.  Many adults don't dream anymore.  Many adults don't anticipate future milestones like they did as a child or teenager.  (Except maybe retirement.)  Why is that?  Because they've reached all the common milestones of life the world expects us to reach.  After that most adults become settled in to the American dream which again is established by our culture.  Then what?  It has been my relationship with Jesus Christ that has spawned new dreams that are tailor made for my life and destiny.  Along with the purpose God gives us He also gives us a personalize destiny.  The neat thing is that He is committed to our reaching our destiny.  He is with us always.

Let me encourage you.  Put your trust in Christ.  Don't settle simply for the routine life offers you.  Don't even settle for the American dream.  That's not bad, but God has so much more for you.  He might need you to travel to different parts of the planet for Him.  He might need you to launch into a god-called career you never dreamed of...before now.  Just trust Him.  He wants you to anticipate and dream dreams He gives.  Let me assure you.  Life with God was never intended by God to be dull and boring.  Check in with Him today.  He has a new dream for you to reach for!

Christian Singer Talks To Larry King About Her Coming Out

   Take a look at this short video (biased in my opinion) and tell me what you think.  Thanks!
Christian Singer Talks To Larry King About Her Coming Out - Towleroad (blog) #christian

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday Monday

It's another great morning in Mississippi.  It's not necessarily a beautiful morning by comfort standards.  The sun is up, but it is covered with rain clouds.  It's also lightly drizzling.  It would be easy to chalk up the day as a bad one just because of the clouds and rain.  Isn't it amazing how we determine the value of our day by certain "exterior" conditions.  For instance it is often quite easy and almost natural to despise Monday because it is the first day of the work week.  Monday means the weekend is over.  Monday also means the longest distance between now and the weekend!  I still fight that mindset!

But I have also learned that the way you think about something is determined by the way you think!  That last statement didn't come from Yogi Berra, it is a Steve Hutto-ism!  When you think about makes perfect sense.  We think negative things based on negative principles we've learned from others and experience.  It's very easy to despise Monday when everyone around you despises Monday.  The result is we see things through negative glasses, which give us a negative outlook.

The Bible teaches us that following after Christ requires we change the way we think.  We have been given the Bible which is chock full of truly positive principles that change the way we think.  It is the renewing of the mind.  Since it's God's Word, the application of it not only changes our thinking...but it changes our thinking to the way God thinks.  I am so glad God doesn't sleep.  But if He did I am convinced every morning He would wake up on the proverbial "right" side of the bed!

Why change our thinking anyway?  I mean what's so bad about despising a Monday?  The truth is the way you think becomes the way you speak.  The Bible also teaches that what we speak is what we get!  Not meaning to pick on Monday but it such a good example.  If you despise Mondays at work, you will usually talk about it. However, if you decide to think on the positive things Monday brings with it - you begin to see it in a different light...God's light!  Get this...Monday is the first day of an entire week filled with incredible opportunities!  What kind of opportunities?  Opportunities to make a positive impact on lives.  Opportunities to influence someone with God's love.  Opportunities in business.  Opportunities to advance in your job.  Opportunities to change stuff.  Opportunities to apply God's Word outside of the church building and your home.

I have so much fun applying this truth now.  Let me explain.  When I walk into my workplace and throughout each day I make it a point to be positive because God's Word is positive.  I may not always feel positive but I think positive.  I thank God for my job every single day.  How valuable are good jobs these days?  That's positive.  I make it a definite point to speak to every coworker I meet - every time we pass.  Have you heard this one?  "How are you?  Well...I'm here."  My response..."Well, I am glad you're here.  It wouldn't be the same without you!"  You should see the positive reaction that one brings!  I'm just saying.

I am convinced you have a calling to influence folks in a positive way.  God's way.  But you and I must not look at things the way most people do.  It's so easy to be negative in a negative world.  But the way to truly influence others is to be positive (Godly) in a negative world.  Don't wait till Monday to begin applying this principle.  Start today...rain or shine.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't Be Misled. Watch The Signs.

I am on the back deck of my home enjoying another glorious morning.  I simply love this time of year.  It's just a little bit cool, but not even close to cold.  Today the temps will be warm, but not hot.  Thank God the long, cold winter is over!

I've been reading the past few days in the book of Matthew.  Today as I started on the 24th chapter of Matthew the Holy Spirit stopped me when I got to the part about Jesus' return to the earth.  He began by answering the disciple's question "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"  As I read into that I couldn't go any further.  The Holy Spirit had me write down some notes in the back of my Bible.  I was encouraged and astonished at the same time.  I want to share with you what He gave to me.  First of all, it is nothing that we as true Christ-followers shouldn't already know.  But we need to be alert to it as Jesus' first words were "See to it that no one misleads you."  Matthew 24 outlines 8 clear signs that indicate the return of Jesus to the earth (the 2nd coming).

  1.  Many false Christ's (Messiah's) will come.  He said "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many."  A false Christ is anyone or any ideal that offers some sort of salvation other than the one Jesus died to give you and me.  This has been going on since just after Jesus' ascension back into heaven.
  2. Wars and rumors of wars.  Jesus said, "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars."  This too has been a well-defined sign of Jesus' return since He physically left the planet.
  3. Nation rising against nation.  Again, this is an indicator that has been going on for centuries.  
  4. Kingdom rising against kingdom.  One prevalent sign of Jesus' return is that the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan is increasingly escalating on earth since Jesus established His church in the earth.  We clearly see God's people involved in this kingdom war which by the way will soon be overwhelmingly won by Jesus and His people.
  5. Famines and earthquakes in various places.  Famines and earthquakes are not uncommon events in the earth.  But lately the world has been experiencing these more than normal, and these events will increase as we draw closer to the coming of Jesus.  Don't be misled though.  Jesus said these occurrences are a distinct sign of His return to the earth.
  6. Tribulation.  What is The Tribulation?  It is a combination of several things - two of which are God's judgment on sin and the enemy's wrath on Christ-followers.  Jesus said "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name."  Notice Jesus said Christians (followers of Christ) will be hated world-wide for standing for Him.  This will be a world-wide movement by the enemy to oppose Jesus by pouring out wrath on His followers.  Remember the term world-wide.
  7. Many false prophets will rise.  Don't be calling your local prophet a false prophet.  Jesus means those who rise up in The Tribulation and offer peace and safety through ways and means that are contrary to Christ.  Many will end up selling and forfeiting their souls because of these false prophets.  
  8. Lawlessness will increase to the point that most people's love will grow cold.  There has been a gradual move in our nation away from God's Word and the knowledge of it over the past 4 decades.  It is most noticeable now in whole generations who know nothing of God's Word and therefore His laws.  This is also a world-wide occurrence.  There will come a time when most people in the earth will be consumed only on themselves.  (As if you hadn't noticed!)  Agape love will no longer be a motivation.

Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved.  During this time period Jesus also said "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come."  Did you catch that?  Followers of Christ are hated on account of Jesus throughout the whole world.  But at the same time the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached (by Christians and 144,000 Jews) in the whole world - then - the end will come.

Whether or not you believe in the rapture - the catching away of the church; whether or not you are pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib in your belief of the time of the rapture - Jesus clearly gave us these signs to observe so that we will not be misled.  The greatest deception for any Christian is to believe you don't have to prepare for His 2nd coming.  I don't know about you but if I had to make an estimate as to where we are today in the progression of these signs I would have to say that we are clearly between signs 5 and 6.  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It Is How You Finish That Counts

As I was driving home from work yesterday in Meridian, I heard a really good message on the radio.  Actually I heard only the last couple of minutes of it.  But what I heard was really encouraging.  The preacher was someone I'd never heard of.  But that really doesn't matter!  What he said was very encouraging.  He said "It's the way you finish that counts".  There was so much truth in that.

Sometimes we look at ourselves (and what we do) as insignificant.  But before I proceed let me emphasize - no one is insignificant to God.  That includes you and me!  We compare ourselves and (what we do) to others which gives us the false impression that others and what they do are more significant than us.

Perhaps you feel you're not accomplishing much in your life.  Perhaps you feel as if your life is meaningless.  If you are allowing God to lead your live one day at a time.  Remember, we need tomorrow to finish what we started today or yesterday.  Each day you live for Him perpetually propels you toward your God-given destiny.  Each day plays a vital part in your finishing up God's plan for you.  Each day - including today - is crucial to you reaching your destiny. But you cannot do it in just one day!  You may not be where you think you should be today, but you're not where you were yesterday - because God is with you every step of the way.  

It's not always how you begin that counts.  It's not always how you run the race that counts.  But it is definitely always how you finish that counts.  You may feel like you are not pleasing to God.  But remember, He wouldn't even take the time of day for you...if He didn't love you like He does (with an everlasting love).  He loves you enough to accept you the way your are, right where you are.  But then, as He works in your life He doesn't leave you where He found you...and in the condition in which He found you!  Don't discredit yourself.  Why?  Because God doesn't!  You are so valuable to Him that He is committed to being with you every step of the way.

You have made some mistakes.  So have I.  Your progress stalls sometimes.  So does mine.  But you and I are encouraged in the truth that "God who began a good work in you will keep working on it and eventually complete it when we cross the finish line of this life".  (Huttoism based on Phil. 1: 6)  Don't drop out.  Keep running.  Run again.  It's how you finish that counts!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!"

Jesus said (more than once) "All things are possible to those who believe."  He also said, "With God, all things are possible."  But notice He didn't necessarily say..."All things are easy"!  As a matter of fact, many of the things He makes possible for us are simply NOT easy.  Have you noticed that?  Sometimes we actually give up or don't even pursue the things we know are humanly impossible.  Why?  Because instead of believing they are possible, we are convinced they are impossible!  But we must always remember...the impossible only becomes possible when we allow our incredible God to become involved.  After all, He said "With God all things are possible."

One of my  favorite Biblical incidences comes from the Old Testament.  It occurs in II Chronicles Chapter 20.  Jehoshaphat was king of Judah.  Israel was split into two of which had become Judah.  King Jehoshaphat gets word of a massive multi-force invasion of Judah about to take place.  Complete annihilation is imminent.  Judah's total destruction cannot be humanly avoided.  The Book says Jehoshaphat was afraid...and turned his attention to seek the Lord.  He was a godly king and knew the power of His God.  He also knew that without God's supernatural intervention Judah was doomed.  

If you're like me, quite often you are faced with what seem to be impossible situations.  Perhaps even right now you are in a situation that seems helpless.  And the truth probably is helpless...unless God intervenes.  The Book says Jehoshaphat turned his attention to seek the Lord.  In other words, he came to the reality that he must have God's supernatural intervention, and that the salvation of Judah was humanly impossible.  Jehoshaphat called together all of Judah and proclaimed a time of nationally seeking God.  In this prayer, he prayed what I call the prayer of faith.  For instance, "God...have You not said...?"  Or, "God...did You not promise...through your prophets...?  Not that God needed to be reminded of what He had said, but this kind of prayer is a prayer of faith and trust in Him.  Paul said,  "We walk by faith and not by the way things appear."  This is what King Jehoshaphat was doing.  Instead of responding to the circumstance and the way it appeared, he was standing on God's promises made to Israel and Judah.  Today for you and me, it is standing on what God has said in His Word.  We have it written down for us in the form of the Bible.  That's why it is so important to know God's Word.  A prayer of faith (which moves God) is impossible without praying His own words!

As King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah sought God, He began to move by speaking!  Imagine that!  We pray God's Word and He speaks to us!  How cool is that!  God spoke to Judah by telling them He would fight their battle!  Humanly it was impossible, but with God all things are possible!  As a matter of fact God emphasized to Judah that the battle was His...not theirs.  How often do you and I attempt to fight battles that we don't even own, but He does?  He does it better!  As for Judah, God required they march out to an overlook to station themselves, but not for battle.  God instructed Judah to station themselves in a place in which they would see God fight the battle and win in their behalf!  He did and overwhelmingly won!  It took 3 whole days for Judah to harvest the spoils of victory!  The enemy threatened, Judah sought God, He spoke, fought and won the battle, and provided more than enough through the victory.

This incident is recorded in the Bible to encourage you and me.  The principles are the same.  When the enemy invades, do not fear but turn your attention to seek God.  Pray His Word in the prayer of faith.  He will speak, act, and provide on your behalf!  How awesome is our God!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If It Says "Christian" It's OK...Right?

Have you noticed all the stuff out there lately that has been given the "Christian" label.  Not to say that it all is not Christian, but we should really be careful what we accept blindly as Christian...just because it has been labeled "Christian".  Listen to some of these examples:  Christian music, Christian dating, Christian yoga, Christian jobs, Christian singles, Christian science, Christian movies, Christian communities, Christian cruises, Christian aerobics, Christian martial arts, Christian vacations, etc.  You could probably add a few more!

I am not an alarmist but we really need to be sensitive to the things that are not Christian at all!  It seems as if we can easily put the word "Christian" on some activities that are normally very worldly and feel as if (since they are Christian) they are alright.  For instance, Christian yoga.  I can feel some temps already rising because I mentioned Christian Yoga!  Well...take the word Yoga.  Listen to its meaning and origin.  The Divine Life Society says, "If you define Yoga in the simplest term, it is the steady movement of the individual soul towards the Supreme Soul. Yoga is a steady ascent to the Divine. Yoga and Vedanta are universal in their scope. They are the property of all mankind. Yoga uses a technique by which you overcome the bondage of body through restraining your senses, mastering your mind, and controlling your thoughts and desires. Going beyond them, you reach the inner depth of your all-perfect and divine being. Yoga is a path that leads up to the state of supreme blessedness and peace. Its practices constitute the techniques for the purification and preparation of human consciousness for entering into the experience of the supreme blissful Divine Reality."  Now if you are a follower of Christ, you know that we are to discipline our bodies by the renewing of our minds.  The only body we are "one" with is Christ's body (through the cross).  And eventually we will get our new bodies.  These old bodies will be done away with!  Just because it has the label "Christian" doesn't mean that it is Christian.  If any of it's practices or procedures are misaligned with or contradict the Word of is not Christian!

I truly think it's time for Christ-followers to equip themselves with God's Word, and build themselves up through prayer to the only true Divine Realities...Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.  Don't be taken in by activities that have the word "Christian" attached to them.  What would you think if you saw an ad that said "Christian Gambling", or "Christian Casino"?  Would you think "Oh great!  Finally it's OK to blow my money as long as I do it with Christians."  How about "Christian Prostitutes"?  Isn't it OK since it's Christian?  No...because it's not Christian!  It just has the label "Christian".  Satan is eating the lunch of so many believers because they simply don't know what's truly Christian and not.  Remember what Peter tells us in I Peter 5:8, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  If you don't might get eaten!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dead, but Alive

Connie and I are at my folks today for Easter.  It's always a joy to be with family...especially at very special times of the year like now.  Today is Easter or Resurrection Day (depending on where you're from)!  The morning is a little overcast with some fog in the air.  But to me there is a special freshness in the air.  I know it's because of my love for my Savior who came to the earth as one of us 2000 years ago to take on our sins and taste true death for us.  

I got up and with a fresh cup of coffee went outside and read all four accounts of the resurrection.  It is truly amazing when you think of God's love for us.  He cares for you and me so much that He gave His only Son for us!  And it overwhelms me when I ponder what Jesus gave up, what He became, and what he endured for you and me.  To top it off, He rose from the dead!  In His death He broke the power of sin over you and me.  And in His resurrection He conquered death and destroyed its grip on humanity!  All we must do is believe Him and the work He came and completed!  

Because He died...if you know Him, you are dead to sin (just like He was)!  And because He rose from the dead you are alive to God (just like He was and is)!  Again...truly amazing!

If you don't know Him...He's done His part.  Give Him your life.  He will forgive your sins and fill you with His everlasting life!  A simple, honest prayer is all it takes!  Happy Easter...because He lives!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life Decisions

Life is full of decisions.  Some are quite easy while others are difficult.  But no one can live life and not be faced with decisions.  Becoming a Christ-follower years back did not exempt me from making decisions!  As a matter of fact, it seems sometimes making decisions as a Christ-follower can be even more difficult!  Why is that?  I believe it is because making the right decision is more crucial to one who follows after Jesus!

Obedience is crucial to following Him and we learn quickly as Christ-followers about its importance to our walk with Him.  We also learn that the direct opposite of obedience is disobedience.  The Book also teaches us that decisions produce consequences.  Consequences are the results of the decisions we make.  If you're like me you've made some good decisions, and you've made some bad decisions!  How do we know?  Consequences!

I have no doubt that making decisions is part of God's design for us!  Since we understand (or we should understand) that decisions bring consequences, we should be more determined to make the right ones.   

Some decisions are no-brainers.  These are easy and don't require much thought.  But there are times when we must make decisions based not only on a lot of thought, but ultimately on faith and trust in God.  I know you've been there before.  You may be there today.  Perhaps God has placed a decision before you today.  And you've prayed about it, and you've thought it over..but you still have no inclination!  It's probably a rather large decision that will impact your way or the other.  I've been there too!  The first thing you look for is peace that passes all understanding.  There are times when this peace won't be found in the facts and thought processes.  It only comes when you simply trust God that He is in total control of your life.  And because you believe that, you totally trust that the decision you make is His direction for you!  God may have you in that place.  It's that place that requires you and me to simply trust Him and step out.

Finally I want to say that Connie and I recently made a rather large, life-changing decision.  It involved us laying down the ministry, and relocating to another State to be closer to our elderly parents and to more of our family.  It was one of those decisions that we had to really trust God in making!  It has brought with it challenges I haven't faced in years.  This decision was a big step of faith for us.  However, the peace of God (and the consequences) have proven to us that we made the right decision.  They have proven that it was God's will!  If you are faced with a large, life-changing decision God first that He truly is the Master Planner of your life.  Then trust Him for His peace that is not tied to concrete facts.  Then take the leap of faith He is leading you to take. may change your life, but isn't that exactly what He wants to do for you?

The Cost Of Following Jesus (Part 2)