Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why So Many Translations?

I've been asked by several in our church to address some questions on my blog that people have about the faith, the Bible, or the church in general. One of those that has surfaced recently is why we have so many different translations of the Bible. With the release of the NIV update this year, many are asking why we need another "version" of the Holy Scriptures. So, why so many translations of the Bible? That's a great question. Christian Standard had a series of great articles on this from this summer. I want to encourage you to read these articles understand the different translations of the Bible. They will answer probably better than I could write a response. Here are the links:




Hope this helps you on the journey to understanding different translations.

For translator's notes on the NIV 2011 update, see this link:


Hope this helps! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


When I was in the hospital and had surgery a couple months ago, my girls came to see me and brought me some "Get Well Soon" type of cards. They had been staying with Amanda, our Children's Minister here at Oakwood, so I'm sure Amanda planted the idea with the girls. As I was presented with these works of art and thoughtfulness, I received this one from Izzy, my then 3 year old:

This picture means a lot to me because it shows Izzy's effort to show love and comfort to her daddy. If you look closely, there are 12 colors that she used in this. Imagine the time that it took her as she picked out each color, each crayon, each marker, each ink pen, and used them to draw and color on the paper. I remember when she handed it to me as I was laying in the hospital bed and she looked with a smile and said, "I made that for you." I didn't even have to ask what it was or what it meant. It meant, I love you, in three year old ways of course. And she was very happy and excited to share it with me.

I believe that God looks at what we bring Him this same way. It might be messy and have a lot of different shades, designs, and colors to it, but He knows that we took the time to make it and bring it to Him. It's the effort that we show that means the most.

That's why you'll find this one in my "keepsakes folder". I love my girls so much. And God loves His kids too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wanted: Disciplemakers

Some good thoughts here from my friend Greg. Ponder and do something!

Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.
—Acts 9:27

Sometimes new Christians have a difficult time finding their way in their newfound faith. They need someone who will stand with them and love them.

A guy named Mark did this for me. After I came to Christ on my high school campus, no one came up to me afterward and said, "Now Greg, you are a brand-new Christian. We have this Bible here for you. You also need to start going to church." Instead, the school bell rang, and I went back to class.

I went on with my plans for that weekend, which was to go off into the mountains and smoke dope. But as I was sitting out on a rock and getting ready to do this, I felt God was speaking to my heart and telling me I didn't need to do that. Although I didn't know how to pray, I asked God to make himself real to me and to help me. And God answered that prayer.

When I returned to school on Monday, some guy named Mark, whom I had never seen before, walked up to me and introduced himself. He told me that he had seen me give my life to Christ at the Bible study on Friday. Then he invited me to church, and, in a very direct but loving way, he wouldn't take no for an answer. So I went to church with Mark. I started hearing the Word of God, and my life started to change.

I didn't need a Bible scholar. I didn't need an evangelist. But I did need a friend. And that is what Mark was for me.

So here is my question for you: Can you be a friend to someone? Because our commission is not only to preach the gospel, but to make disciples.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Night Without the Light

So last night was Halloween night. The first Halloween night that Oakwood hasn't done our Festival of Light in 10 years. As I drove by the church a couple of times I must admit that I was saddened to see the building dark, no people to see, the lines, the crowds, the hayrides, etc. I had to remind myself that we are on mission from God. We decided to put our FOL resources toward Family Palooza, an event that we did in September, because we felt that we could have more time to relate to people. At FOL, it became all about the candy and we didn't feel like we ever got to stop and really talk to the people there. We were always too busy herding people through the event. Get your candy and keep the line moving! Family Palooza was a huge success in and of itself and it definitely was more missional as we touched and actually talked to many more people than we ever could at FOL. Family Palooza is about time together with families and relationship building. FOL became just about candy. All of that being said, last night was still an adjustment for me and my family.

My girls have never been trick or treating. Festival of Light is all that they know. It was interesting to go and do that with the girls last night. So different when you are on the receiving end of these events. It really changes your perception about how most of the world relates to Halloween and all of the "events" that are offered. To put it in a word...it's about candy. Almost greed about candy! Didn't matter if you were 25 and didn't have a costume or anything. Go buy a cheap gory mask, get you a bag and get yourself some candy! Push those little ones to the side and get yours!

We went to a church thing first, then the mall (which was crazy), and then went on to try the door to door trick or treating. Overall I think that the girls had fun, made some memories, etc. It was all just kind of weird though. Strange feeling about missing FOL. When you do something like that for that long, it's hard to change. But change we must! We prayed long and hard about that decision for 2 years and after last year really felt that the Lord had laid it on our hearts to do something different and redirect those resources to an outreach event like Family Palooza. And so we did!

Hope that everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some Thoughts on Anger

We must make certain that we don't give the devil a foothold by hanging on to our anger. Read Ephesians 4:26-32 and pay special attention to what God is saying about this subject of anger. Pray about what God may be saying to you about this. Then take a few minutes and read these good thoughts below from Dr. Charles Stanley.

A righteous life has no room for lingering anger, whether in the form of rage or resentment. Fury that hardens in our hearts becomes a stronghold for Satan.

The fleshly method for "curing" wrath is to either let it out (rage) or suppress it (resentment). Neither is effective for solving problems or making an angry person feel better. God's way of dealing with this dangerous emotion dissolves it and sets the believer free. As today's passage reminds us, we are to "let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from [us], along with all malice" (v. 31). But to do so requires that we recognize it's there.

Whether we are annoyed at ourselves, another person, or God, we have to own that feeling. Pretending that the emotion doesn't exist or that we've somehow risen above anger is useless. If you're angry, admit it and then identify the source. Knowing who or what ignited the initial fury can prevent people from misdirecting irritation onto the innocent.
Here are some questions to help in identifying a source of anger:
• Why am I angry?
• At whom am I angry?
• What caused me to feel/act this way?
• Where or when did this feeling start?
• Have I been angry a long time?

Once we know the source of our anger, it's time to forgive, no matter what. Fury and unforgiveness often go together, and they're heavy baggage that will drag you down. God calls us to set them aside and take up love and kindness instead. Forsaking anger means walking in His will with a light step.

After we learn how to deal with lingering anger in our lives, we need to discover God's principle for preventing long-term resentment. The key is to deal with this dangerous emotion promptly.

It's important to realize that believers can have moments of anger and still remain right with God. Yet anger that is allowed to linger and fester is an opportunity for Satan. He quickly plants justifications in our mind: That person deserves to be yelled at. You shouldn't be treated that way! God understands that you're frustrated. By handing people excuses to build a defense for harboring fury, Satan creates a stronghold in their lives. It is a foolish man or woman who hides behind that wall (Eccl. 7:9).

We are not to lay even one brick for the Devil's stronghold. Instead, believers must respond to provocation by forgiving others as God forgives. His mercy is unconditional; there's no wrong that He does not pardon. Believers cannot stand before God and justify harboring long-term anger. So we must release it at once through forgiveness.

We can further protect ourselves by identifying frequent irritants. When those situations (or people) loom, we should pray that God makes us quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). That is the spiritual fruit of self-control in action.

Anger produces only rotten fruit—sour relationships, a poor witness, etc. The wise believer takes a two-fold approach to dealing with it. First, heed the Bible's 300-plus warnings about this dangerous emotion and be vigilant against it. And second, forsake your anger in favor of forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maybe Churches Need a Few 80 Year Olds

I received this from my wife today. It's from the blog and ministry of a minister's wife from Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. The spirit and commitment of the woman that she's talking about is a blessing for any Christian, but especially one who's 80 years old! Wow! Enjoy and be challenged!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Night Before

So by now, some of you may know that Abigail, my 6 year old daughter with the eye condition, is being fitted for and receiving an ocular prosthesis called a scleral shell tomorrow. This is all happening first thing in the morning. We have to be at the surgery center at 6:30am. Whew! The procedure starts with her going under anesthesia so they can make a mold of the eye. Then we will go and see the ocularist as she works on making Abigail a prosthetic shell to go over her little eye. If all goes well tomorrow, we will actually come home tomorrow night with her scleral shell in her eye. Pretty big and exciting deal. It's amazing how God has given doctors this knowledge about the human body. Truly amazing!

As I was praying and pondering today in my office something very strange happened to me. I got worked up over doing this procedure for her. I love my Abigail just the way she is. In fact, I love her so much the way she is, little eyeball and all, that I think I'd just like to keep her that way sometimes. It makes her special...different. I'm reminded however that this is a medical necessity for her. This will help her eyelid to open up all the way and will help fill the eye socket so the orbital bones don't atrophy. She's going to look and feel pretty normal after this as both eyes will look a lot alike.

Till the doctor sprung on us this summer that we needed to do this now, we hadn't planned on doing this till she asked for this someday. That was when we understood it to be more cosmetic. I've never known it to bother her before, except for the occasional idiot in line at the grocery store that wants to ask us right in front of her, "What's wrong with her eye?" But through this process and getting ready for it, I've been made aware from Abigail that it does bother her some. She gets tired of the questions and looks. You will just never see her react to it.

Our early childhood director relayed a story to me that happened on a Wednesday night at church a couple of weeks ago. She was teaching Abi's group and a little girl in the class, who's known Abi for more than a year, began a grand inquisition into what was "wrong" with Abi's eye and kept getting in her face to look at it. It was a little pestering. Then, the teacher said that Abigail replied rather matter of fact, "That's the way God made me."

That's right, Abigail. Don't ever forget that. That's the way God made you. There was no quiver in the Creator's hand as He formed you in your mother's womb. As I've seen you grow up from day one I've seen your smaller eye, and it's quite wonderful if you ask this daddy. There are many reasons that God gave you this special eye, and one of them might just be the journey of faith that He needed to take your parents on to draw us into total dependency on Him for ALL things.

I know that this will help her in many ways as we journey forward in life. I'm excited about those prospects. But I pray that Abigail will always know in her heart that God made her on purpose with supernatural intentions, even if some people may see her eye as flawed. Aren't we all flawed physically in some way? I think that's the way God likes us. Maybe if we could just see a glimpse of each other with His eyes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I can write about criticism today, because today, no one is criticizing me. Okay – they probably are, but at least I don’t know about it right now. So it seems like a good day to do it so no one thinks this blog is directed at them because it's not, really. (And if you're feeling guilty after reading, repent!)

Aristotle once said: “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

I guess its bad that I don’t know of anyone criticizing me today, because I must not be saying, doing, or being enough. I used to be the guy that always cared about what people thought. When I took this position at Oakwood in 2008 (ya, 3 years now!) I knew from God and His Word exactly what we needed to do to turn this church around and go God's way again. I found myself being paralyzed sometimes by criticism of the changes we were making. Made me want to slow down or even stop. Bob Russell told me, "Eric, if you are one step ahead of your people, you're a leader. If you're three steps ahead, you're a target." That is so true! Leaders have to find that delicate balance. But at the same time, I see many church leaders, even locally here in Enid, that are controlled by the courts of church member opinion. When that is the case, you can't lead to where God needs you to take His church. Sometimes I think that if I was the guy who didn't give a rip about what other people thought, that might make me a more effective leader. Maybe a good barometer of your leadership is whether anyone is criticizing you or not. Criticism=movement.

The theme for Oakwood this year is "Follow Jesus to a place you've never been." That means pain. That means discomfort. That means effort. I’m so excited about the future of this place. And maybe now I can’t wait to hear people criticize it. Partially because it will help us figure out where we are wrong, and partially because it means we’re actually saying, doing, and being something significant to God and His Kingdom.

I spent a few hours with my staff every week planning ministry opportunities, discussing where people are at, where they need to be. We have a lot of good ideas that might make people a little uncomfortable. I will be criticized for these decisions, I'm sure. It’s very delicate. Some will think I’m going to lead from youthfulness and some will think I’m leading from old age. Ha! Some will think I changed too much, and some will think I didn’t change enough.

It’s okay – I’m going to lead. And when criticism comes, I’ll listen, learn, and continue to “be.”

“To be or not to be,” is not the question. I will be. And I will be criticized.

Be weird...because normal isn't working.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Deceptive or Deceived?

First, take a moment and read 2 Samuel 11 & 12. Yes, 2 whole chapters of the Bible. It will take you about 6-7 minutes. Yes, it’s worth it. Then read on.

From his youth, King David was a committed follower of God. He believed in God’s ways enough that he even took out the giant, Goliath. Yet there was a time when this devoted believer gave in to temptation and committed adultery with Uriah's wife. His walk of integrity was severely compromised. What would happen next? How would David respond to God’s conviction on him?

Ethical and moral failings have set back Christians throughout the ages. We see it a lot today. I don’t know if I’m more sensitive to it today than I was a few years ago, or if it’s just striking closer to home with the people in my church and friends that I’ve had for years. There are many factors that drive people to sin. When a believer decides to do whatever it takes to obtain something he wants (ie. Stuff, a girlfriend/mate, recognition, acceptance by the world) then selfishness or greed is the root cause. At other times the desire for acceptance can tempt us to manipulate people and circumstances—or fabricate lies in order to make ourselves seem more desirable. And fear of conflict can result in compromised standards; many people try to fit in so they can avoid arguments. Compromise seems to be a common factor. Lower God’s standards to fit my life. There, now that’s better for me.

At first, even those close to us may not notice our deception in this. But God always sees. He will use our conscience to produce guilty feelings so we might confess our sin and turn from it. Self-protection will take over if we continue in unrighteousness—we will try to quiet our conscience by justifying the behavior. We begin making excuses for what we’ve done. Over time, we will draw away from certain people so they won't discover our ungodly behavior. By keeping them at a distance, we hope to avoid their scrutiny. Habitual sin may result in lost job opportunities, damaged friendships, broken families, and ultimately, a route away from God. No matter what the situation, when you veer from God’s ways, it leads nowhere good.

When confronted by Nathan, David recognized his sin, acknowledged it, and received forgiveness (2 Sam. 12:13). Here’s where the rubber meets the road now. How do you respond when the Holy Spirit convicts you of ungodliness? Do you see the reality of your behavior and repent? Or do you try to justify it and persist in your conduct? Now, think of how this applies to you personally…and to others you love. Do you need to share this with someone? It might just be the most loving thing you can do.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Already Happening

Nothing charges me more than hearing about our church members doing amazing things for God. If you were here on Sunday, you know that I preached about Christians having greater boldness to share their faith. Acts 4:29 challenged me personally to pray and beg God for a greater boldness to share the gospel. I encourage you to listen to the message from Sunday, not because I'm some great preacher, but because I think that the story of the early church and what they faced challenges us to make a move for God. Here's the link: www.myoakwood.org/sermons Just look for September 11th called "Great Boldness".

So I get a call this morning from a guy in our church. He's excited to share with me that someone from his work is going to be joining his Bible study. Apparently God did some awesome work to have a mutual friend who goes to church here connect them and open the doors for conversations about God and His church. Now there is divine purpose for all that has happened there and God is using one of our men (or a couple of them) to possibly draw this guy into a relationship with the Lord. Amazing!

I've also had a couple of other stories and emails this week. A lady from our church called me about being bold in her faith in the hospital yesterday. Another lady emailed me about the courage she had to talk about faith and Christ with another student from her class at school. God is using our people to do some amazing things for Him! Doors are bring opened and the gospel is being shared.

At the end of the service Sunday we all prayed together this prayer: "Lord, enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." And then we made it more personal: "Lord, enable me to speak your word with great boldness." Maybe we should all pray that everyday. And maybe through begging God to give us courage and strength and opportunities, maybe God will save many and call many back to Himself through our faithfulness.

Now I'm praying, do it again, Lord! Do it again!

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Good Excuse

Received this from Greg Laurie and wanted to pass it along. I couldn't agree more. Maybe we all need to pass this along to a friend.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. —Hebrews 10:25

A reason is what we offer when we are unable to do something, while an excuse is what we offer when we don't want to do something and want to get out of it. And people offer a lot of excuses as to why they can't go to church.

Yet I look at the commitment that sports fans have—how they will go and support their team, no matter what. No matter what the circumstances or weather conditions, they will root their team on. They will dress in the team colors and even paint their faces. And when their team scores, they will yell in their excitement.

What if people were like that in church—never missing a service, never missing an opportunity to worship? And what if people offered the same reasons for not going to sporting events as they do for not going to church? Think how stupid it would sound: "Yeah, I don't go to the games anymore. The people who sat around me didn't seem all that friendly. And it is so crowded. There are just too many people." Or, "The seats were too uncomfortable." Or, "It is too hard to find a parking place." Or, "The coach never personally came and talked to me."

Or how about these excuses? "Well, I read a book on this sport, and I think I know more than the coach anyway." Or, "My parents took me to a lot of games when I was growing up, so I just don't want to go anymore."

I doubt you would ever hear these excuses for missing a sporting event, yet these are things people say about why they don't go to church. They may have a lot of excuses to offer, but none of them are reasons.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Godly by Association?

There is an old English adage that says, "Still as of old, man by himself is priced. For 30 pieces Judas sold himself, not Christ." We think Judas sold Jesus, but it was in fact Judas who sold his own soul. How much is a soul worth? Judas figured that 30 pieces of silver ought to do it. And not only that, he betrayed Jesus with a kiss—a kiss from hell. Judas could have pointed Jesus out and said, "Okay, guys, that is Jesus. Take Him. Now give me my money." But no, Judas instead went up to Jesus and, in what looked like an act of affection and devotion, he kissed Jesus on the cheek. Judas wanted to appear to be spiritual.

There are people like that today. They are spiritually diseased on the inside but they want to appear godly on the outside. Judas is proof that association with godliness is no guarantee that you will be godly. Do you think that if you hang around godly people, it will make you godly? Not at all. They can be a good influence on you, and I highly recommend that you hang out with godly people. But I also recommend that you be a godly person who influences others. However, these things alone will not change your character in and of itself.

It would be like going out to a restaurant with friends, and while they order off the menu, you say, "Oh, I am not going to order anything. I will just look at the pictures in this menu. That will meet my needs and fill my stomach." You cannot grow spiritually by simply hanging around with godly people. To grow wise and develop spiritually, you must personally take in what Jesus offers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Be God's You

Have you ever said the words, "I want to be just like you!" to someone? We might find ourselves speaking these words to people we respect, love, and long to emulate. One day, you might find yourself expressing admiration to someone by speaking such a thing. But there's a problem that we must consider.

As we look up to someone and admire them in their maturity and faith we must make sure that we don't try to exactly emulate them. A little girl had once told her mother that she wanted to be just like her. Her mom, with such grace and wisdom, replied: “Oh honey, don’t ever rob the Kingdom of God of who YOU were meant to be…don’t waste your time trying to be someone else. God has a unique purpose for your life, and ONLY YOU can fulfill it.”

How many of us now at the ripe age of 26…38…52…need to hear those words? We look at others, striving to lead like them…minister like them…serve like them…be like them. But all along God is whispering in our ears for us to be who He created us to be…who He needs us to be.

Have you been robbing the Kingdom of God of who you were meant to be? Have you been trying to be someone you are not? Do you need to rest in the fact that there's a purpose that only you can fulfill for God? Or if God has already brought you through this journey, share some of the insights He taught you along the way with others. Build another up and encourage someone to be exactly what God wants them to be!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Watered-Down Gospel

Received this from Greg Laurie today. In lieu of the "prosperity gospel" that is so rampant in our world, I think that this is a timely thought. I always remember that as we follow Christ we don't ask "God, what can you do for me?" but we say, "God, you've done it all, what can I do for you?" Will you endure hardship For Christ?

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
—2 Timothy 2:3

Without question the greatest life to live is the Christian life, because God takes a life that was empty, aimless, and, worst of all, headed for a certain judgment and then turns it around and transforms it. He forgives all our sin, removes our guilt, and literally takes residence inside of us through the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, He changes our eternal address from a place called hell to a place called heaven. This all comes about as a result of the power of the gospel proclaimed and believed.

Yet some have believed what I would describe as a watered-down version of the gospel, a gospel that promises forgiveness but rarely mentions the need to repent of your sin, a gospel that promises peace but never warns of persecution, a gospel that says God wants you to be healthy and wealthy and never have any problems to speak of, a gospel that says you will so find the favor of God that a parking space always will be available for you. But that is not the gospel of the New Testament.

The Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground. Not only is there a God who loves you and has a plan for your life, but there is also a devil who hates you and opposes God's plan.

I am not suggesting that once you become a Christian, you will be sick, poor, and miserable. But the essence of the Christian life is knowing and walking with God. It is about sticking with Him when the sky is blue and also when it is filled with clouds. It is about pressing on. Jesus made it clear that storms will enter every life. But as we seek to know and follow Christ, we will find happiness as a fringe benefit.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fully Surrendered?

“All you have to do is ask Him into your heart today. There’s nothing more you have to do,” the preacher said. Is that really what the Bible teaches? Where is that found in the pages of Scripture? Simply ‘asking Jesus into your heart’ is a line of thinking has done indescribable damage to Christianity in America.

Americans have been exposed to this heresy for well over a century. If we go back to the late 1800s, Dwight L. Moody was one of the first to invite people, who believe in Jesus, to say “the sinner’s prayer.” Some fifty years later, evangelistic crusades popularized the practice of “believing and saying the sinner’s prayer” during altar calls. The sinner’s prayer started to be published in different pamphlets, brochures and books, making it more widespread in its use. Yet, nowhere in the New Testament does it say, “believe and say the sinner’s prayer” to be saved. In fact, the Bible "repent" & "be baptized" many more times than believe. ‘Easy-believism’ was not a known by the first century Christians (see Pagan Christianity by Viola & Barna, p. 190-191), who believed in Christ, repented of their sin, and were baptized, and often at the cost of their very own lives.

Jesus preached that we are to abandon our lives for the sake of following Him. Yet, our culture redefines Christianity to accommodate whatever form of faith the believer wants to follow. American Christianity is characterized by half-hearted, lukewarm, indifferent, uncommitted, mediocre believers. Only 17% of Americans are in church on any two Sundays a month, as revealed in an extensive 15-year study of worship attendance of over 200,000 American congregations by David Olson, Director of the American Church Research Project. Not even 2 out of 10 Americans regularly attend church! Easy-believism produces Christians who are comfortable with God, but not committed to God.

Christian authors are boldly confronting this heresy. David Platt, author of Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, describes how Christians must be willing to abandon anything and everything for Christ. Craig Groeschel, in The Christian Atheist, confronts Christians who believe in God but live as if He doesn’t exist. Richard Stearns, in The Hole in our Gospel, urges Christians to leave behind worldly success for a life of significance and sacrifice for Christ. Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, says that our religious complacency must come to an end with tangible, radical solutions. It’s time to join them in confronting ‘easy believism’. (By the way, all of these aforementioned books have been or are studies at Oakwood right now!)

Simply put, we have to change the way we think. People think: “Can I get a divorce and still go to heaven? If I’m having sex with someone and we’re not married, can I go to heaven? Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved? If I commit suicide, can I still go to heaven?” These questions, and others like them, indicate a condition of the heart. They clearly indicate that we’re more concerned about getting to heaven than in loving the King. John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” We must change the way we think.

Jesus clearly said that to follow Him, we’re to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him. He said that if anyone is to save his life, he will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Him will save it. Jesus called the disciples to abandon their careers (i.e., fishing, tax collecting, etc.), and to reorient their lives completely around Him. He wanted their desires and dreams to be consumed by His. The disciples left every thing that was certain behind for what was uncertain. They sacrificed safety for risk, security for peril. Christ’s demands are no different on our lives, and it’s necessary to bring that truth into our minds as Christians. We must change the way we think.

Do American Christians live this way? No. Jesus didn’t really mean that we are to abandon all for Him. We twist His words into a more comfortable version— of a faith that brings us comfort and pleasure, while pursuing the American dream. The goal of the American dream is to make much of us, yet the goal of biblical Christianity is to make much of God. Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Will we?

I believe that all American Christians should be challenged to once and for all surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Yes, even the ones in Enid, Oklahoma. If anyone will systematically move through the Word of God and pray and allow the Holy Spirit to transform their lives into the image of Christ, the most amazing and life-changing things will happen. They will be most like the One who was completely surrendered to the will of God, and they will do mighty things for the King. Just think what we could accomplish for the glory of God in advancing the kingdom of Christ by actually living surrendered lives! Will you pray with me for people who are more fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Will you fully surrender to Him?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Found Faithful

2 Chronicles 27 says: "Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all his father Uzziah had done (although he did not enter the temple of the Lord.) But still the people acted corruptly. He built the Upper Gate of the house of the Lord, and he built extensively on the wall of Ophel. Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built fortresses and towers. He also fought with the king of the Ammonites and defeated them. And the people of Ammon gave him in that year one hundred talents of silver, ten thousand kors of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. The people of Ammon paid this to him in the second and third years also. So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God. Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars and his ways, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. So Jotham rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David. Then Ahaz his son reigned in his place."

That's it, that's the whole chapter, 9 verses. I'm preaching on Jotham and faithfulness this weekend as a part of our "Time to Grow" series. Good stuff. Jotham was found a faithful king in a whole line of unfaithful ones. Jotham reigned sometime around 750-730 BC. He was a good example of one who held fast and persevered and these are traits that are so lacking in many people today. How many of us have started projects and never finished them? How many of us have made promises we didn’t keep? How many of us have made a commitment to the Lord and find that we are not as diligent or steadfast as we had promised, we are not faithful?

Jotham was only 25 years old when he became king of Judah and he reigned 16 years, 11 of which were apparently as co-regent with his father Uzziah who was struck with leprosy because he failed to worship God as instructed. Jotham’s mother was the daughter of a priest which gives some indication that she lived a righteous life. Jotham walked righteously before the Lord and executed true justice in Judah but seemed to have little effect of the people for many of them continued to walk in corrupt ways and to worship false gods.

While serving as king, Jotham carried out a public works program and completed several major building projects. These included the rebuilding of the upper gate of the temple that stood near the palace. This was the major gate used by the king and his royal officials. He also repaired part of the wall of Jerusalem in addition to building towns, forts, and military lookout towers. These were necessary for military defense and for storing food, supplies, and weapons.

King Jotham was blessed mightily by the Lord and grew more powerful throughout the years of his reign. God continued to bless him as he remained faithful to the Lord. He was steadfast in following the Lord, persevering throughout his entire life, unlike many people who start out well and end up forsaking the Lord or falling away. Jotham followed God though no others appeared to be doing so. He remained faithful and kept his commitments to the Lord and to his people.

James reminds us that saving faith and righteous works go hand in hand (James 2:14-24). Faith is the root of our salvation and good works are the fruit of our salvation. The works are the result not the cause. We are saved by grace through faith but saving faith, if it is real, will result in faithfulness. The evidence will be demonstrated by the changes it produces in our lives. Just as Jotham demonstrated his faith in God by remaining faithful in his working for God, so should we. As believers, we are to love the Lord, and to be faithful in following Him. We are to persevere to the end, just as Jotham did. 1 Cor. 15:58 says “Therefore, my beloved people, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain for the Lord.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

An Exciting Future

Last night, the elders, staff, deacons, and myself met for our monthly meeting. It's called the board meeting, but it's truly not "bored". It is so wonderful to be a part of the healthy spiritual leadership that God can provide for a church. The meeting was long with much discussion, but we are discussing discipleship and how we can connect more people to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

If we were to identify one of our biggest obstacles as a church right now it's lay leadership. We need passionate followers to step out in faith and step up to leading others toward a deeper walk with the Lord. We need Sunday School teachers and Wednesday night class leaders. We need small group leaders and ministry team heads. I know that we are not the only church that's lacking in these areas. This is not a unique problem with the American churches. The challenge is finding the solution to the problem.

We are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. We are starting to see some of our younger members step up and volunteer for leadership. We are seeing long-time members step back into life-changing ministry roles. We are looking forward to what God will do with Oakwood in the future. I'm just glad to be a part of it as I get to share the Word and teach every week.

Remember to support the ministry of whatever church you call home. Support it with your financial giving, your time, your talents, and your testimony. There is no limit to what God can do with a life fully surrendered to Him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Message to the Masses

My wife recently read an encouraging book written by a lead minister's wife about life being married to "the man" as she put it. This is an excerpt from the appendix in that book that she wrote to address people in the church. I think that it rings so true for us in ministry in church work. Reference is at the bottom. Please ponder and feel free to respond with a comment.

“A Message to the Masses”

Laypeople, the main thing that ministry wives want you to know is that their family loves you. Philippians 1:8 says, “God can testify how (we) long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” When God called us out to leave what was comfortable, we were able to obey because He equipped us with a supernatural affection for you-His cherished people.

We are going to mess up. We are going to fail you. We are going to turn right when we should have turned left. I am speaking for my own family, and I will presume to speak for others, when I say that it is rarely with ill intention or impure motive that we error. Luke and I take very seriously the grave responsibility we have of leading God’s flock, and we bathe our actions and decision making in prayer. However, that doesn’t make us immune to mistakes. Will you be forgiving? We may be imperfect, but we still desperately want to serve God by serving you. Will you let us?

In our defense, there are often two legitimate sides of an issue-and yet we are forced to choose one. If our choice falls on the opposite side of your own opinion, will you love us anyway? Can we agree to disagree and move on side by side even if we don’t feel like holding hands at the moment? When we can operate beyond our own desires and seek God’s agenda for our lives and churches, everyone wins. Above all, may God and His kingdom reign.

Taken from Lisa McKay "You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cohabitation for Dummies

First of all, let me say that I'm sorry for not posting more lately. It's been a busy couple of weeks for me at the church and priorities have to shift sometimes to accomplish God's purpose. I'm hoping to get back in the saddle this week!

I do a ton of marriage counseling. Currently I'm working with about 5 couples who are all having marital issues. In the past 13+ years of ministry I've probably worked with 100+ couples on marriage related issues. Many of these would probably be labeled "crisis marriage counseling" situations. Many of these couples have problems that go back to the fact that they cohabitated before their wedding day. Let me share why I think that's an idiotic thing to do.

Cohabitation makes it easy for bad stuff to move into the relationship, bad stuff like sin against God and each other. Let me clarify that cohabitation in and of itself is not a sin, but it makes it easy for sin to occur.

You can try to make excuses for putting yourself in the "living together" position. We can't afford separate places (though we did before). That is so weak. I hate that one. We aren't sleeping together, he sleeps on the couch every night (really!). He didn't have any place else to go! We moved in because it's closer to work for both of us. We wanted to "try before you buy" and see if we were really compatible (that's what dating is for). Etc, etc.

Just like every prisoner is innocent, almost every cohabitating couple I have counseled is not having sex. It's like the young man whose mother came to visit her son. The mother had her doubts that the "roommate" live-in girlfriend and her son were not sleeping together. She kept her doubts to herself and left when the visit was over saying nothing. A week later her son wrote her an e-mail, "Mom, I'm not accusing you or anything, but we haven't been able to find the remote control to the TV since your visit." To which his mother replied, "Son, I'm not accusing you of anything, but if your "roommate" was sleeping in her own bed you would have found the your remote by now." I'm just saying, like good ole mom, I seriously have my doubts!

Regardless of whether they are having sex or not, I rarely meet "Christian" cohabitating couples who are proud of living together. That's good! We shouldn't be proud of sin. If we are proud of our sin, that shows are unregenerate heart toward God. I've been scared more recently because I have encountered some "Christian" couples that are quite proud of their living circumstances while their children and family members (and church members) are looking on. That's a discussion for another time, but it's concerning and disheartening that couples, even self-professing "Christian" couples, are showing approval for, if not flaunting, their bad choices.

When I meet with Christian couples who lived together before they got married, I see good people who put themselves in a bad position and are paying the price for their choices. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says that we are to "avoid every kind of evil" AND that we are to avoid things that might make our brothers and sisters in Christ "stumble" (1 Corinthians 10:32). We are definitely not supposed to be having premarital sex with someone we're not married to. You can argue that cohabitation is not sinful in itself, but it looks bad, causes Christian brothers and sisters to stumble, and--from my experience through the years--makes having a good marriage really hard to do.

The Bible teaches that marriage is a covenantal relationship in which God unites a man and woman so they become one. Behind the covenant is the special bond and unity that a healthy sexual relationship brings. Covenants serve to stabilize and secure relationships. Couples that have sex before marriage have convenient love. This "love" breeds insecurity and instability, amongst other things, because there are marital acts that are exchanged with no commitment tied to them. Convenient love and covenant love are not anything alike. Let me point out some comparisons:
Convenient love is at times irrational, while covenant live is rational. Convenient love is only feeling-based while covenant love is thought-based. What will you do when the feelings are gone? Convenient love's goal is happiness; covenant love's goal is joy, a fruit of the Spirit. Happiness will come and go but joy can be for always. Convenient love sees sex as an act of passion while covenant love sees sex as an expression of love and commitment. Convenient love is conditional while covenant love is unconditional. Convenient love avoids disagreements and suppresses them while covenant love processes disagreements and engages them. Convenient love stays...till something better comes along while covenant love stays for good. Convenient love is about me while covenant love is about you. Convenient love is insecure while covenant love is secure.

I could go on and on but I think that you get the point. Instability and insecurity kills marriages. When Amy and I got married, neither one of us had lived with someone of the opposite sex (except family, of course). It was pure adventure and so much fun when we got married and had to work through...well literally...everything. What time and how did we go to bed? What were our routines like? What household duties would we share or take on ourselves? It was wonderful figuring all of that out with the love of my life! Experiencing all of these new things together bonded us in a very powerful way.

Cohabitation (convenient love) doesn't make a marriage more secure...it has the exact opposite effect. Did you know that 40% of people who live together will end their relationships before marriage? Did you know that that couples who live together before marriage have the highest separation and divorce rates? And when there are families created before marriage (with kids), the rates only go higher. I just recently read that women who lived with their husbands before marriage have nearly 80% higher divorce rates than those who did not. That's astounding!

Let me cut to the chase, I think that cohabitation is an idiotic way to start your life with a possible mate. I've seen nothing good...nothing good, come of it. You can read statistics and talk to couples who are starting to grow up and get it and see the pain in their lives. Or you can take it from a preacher who does a ton of marriage counseling and would prefer to do much less of it!

Remember, Satan prowls like a roaring lion, seeking who he will devour. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Don't let him do it in your relationship with the one you love. Also, help a friend not make the same mistake either!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

For Glenn Beck Fans

This is an article I ran across on the Berean Call website written by T.A. McMahon.

Beck's Bogus Beliefs
Glenn Beck, the television and radio talk show host who is best known for his conservative political views, isn't someone whom we would normally address in our newsletter. Our concerns are usually directed at individuals, programs, or organizations that promote spiritual or theological views contrary to the Word of God. Beck, of late, seems to be making himself at home in that realm, and he's attracting many who call themselves Bible-believing Christians.

His influence among evangelicals is rather odd and may say more about the state of evangelicalism than about Beck's engaging personality. His popularity is proof that there is very little discernment that's based on testing things by the Scriptures--a consequence, in part, of the Church Growth Movement. Marketing principles have become the rule and are being used to fill churches. Biblical doctrines, which convict, have been set aside in favor of psychotherapeutic sermonettes--something to keep the folks feeling good about themselves and coming back for more. There's no doubt that this trend has dumbed down much of the church and has done away with discernment to a great extent.

Anyone who proclaims the name of Jesus--even though his understanding of who that is may be far removed from the biblical Jesus--is nevertheless accepted as a brother in Christ. Conservativism, political or otherwise, is seen to be the glue of spiritual fellowship, and its characteristics have taken on scriptural status and a basis for kinship. I've been told that "Beck must be a Christian because he's all about turning our country back to its Christian roots." That's erroneous on at least two counts.

First of all, Glenn Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He may refer to himself as a Christian, but he's certainly not a biblical Christian. The distinction is as wide as hell is from heaven: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 John:9). Mormon doctrine is "another gospel" that exalts "another Jesus." Both false beliefs came out of the deceived and deceiving mind of Joseph Smith. Secondly, "our country" doesn't have "Christian roots," even though some are claiming that our founding fathers were true Christians. Many were not biblical Christians but Christians in name only, who followed the faith of Deism, Masonry, and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Any early influence in America's history of a biblical nature very likely came from the Pilgrims and the Puritans.

Since I spend very little time watching television or listening to radio programs, I wasn't familiar with Glenn Beck, other than seeing him by chance on Fox News. I found his Catholic background and his conversion to Mormonism rather curious, given my own Catholic upbringing and, years later, my writing for the film documentary The God Makers. What I know about the overwhelming fictional nature of the Book of Mormon had me wondering why Beck's work as a conservative political analyst didn't give him the ability to discern the blatantly erroneous teachings, practices, and historical claims of Mormonism. However, it wasn't until he was invited to speak at Liberty University's Commencement in 2010 (the largest evangelical college in the U.S.) that I was first made aware of his growing influence among evangelical Christians.

The rationale, I was told, for having him speak to the graduating class was that his conservative point of view was consistent with the school's philosophy, and his message was needed at a time when the Obama administration seemed to be pushing this country down a path of socialism. The fact that he is a Mormon was not a concern because his address would be of a political nature, not spiritual. I learned after the event that he rewrote his talk just before speaking because he felt compelled to address spiritual issues. He said that his invitation to speak was not an endorsement of his religion by the university. "[But although we have] differences...we need to find those things that unite us." His speech was infused with religious terms that would appear to bring people together--except for the fact that these terms have very different meanings for Mormons and evangelicals. He frequently referred to the power of the Atonement, to faith, to the gospel, to the Holy Spirit, to personal revelations from God. Does it matter that a Mormon has a completely different understanding of the Atonement and the gospel from what is taught in the Bible?

Beck said, "Turn to God and live." What God might that be? The Mormon one, who has a physical body and lives on a planet near a star called Kolob? Or the One who is spirit and exists outside His creation?

Beck exhorted his audience to seek the truth. But which God is true? He closed his speech by challenging these mostly evangelical graduates to "question everything, including everything I have just told you" and to "read the Scriptures every day...." Would these include Latter-day Saints' scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price? What about "The Inspired Translation of the Bible," which Joseph Smith wrote to make sure that the Bible was "translated correctly"?

Beck's last words were greeted with a standing ovation from the faculty, the graduates, and their families and friends: "I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen." Were they cheering wildly for the biblical Jesus...or for the Jesus Christ of Mormonism? The two couldn't be more dissimilar.

For those enamored with Glenn Beck and upset with my concerns about him, let's take him up on his challenge to question his words. Many of the thoughts in his Liberty University speech can be found in his new book titled The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, which he co-authored with psychiatrist Keith Ablow. In it, Beck sets the record straight as to his understanding of Mormonism. That's important because I have heard all kinds of explanations--from his being naïve about the faith fabricated by Joseph Smith to his being led to biblical salvation through faith alone in Jesus Christ by various evangelical leaders who have appeared on his television and radio programs. Beck, however, dispels any and all speculation:
I read everything there was to read on [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints'] websites and every word of Mormon Doctrine. I treated Mormonism as if it were a hostile witness. For a while I went to the anti-Mormon literature for hints, but I found most of it to be unfair or just plain wrong. I tried every trick I could think of to find a contradiction. The problem was that I couldn't. Mormonism seemed to explain the world and my place in it better than any other faith I had looked at. It answered many spiritual questions that had gone unanswered for me for my entire life. (Beck &Ablow, The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, p.149)

In his Liberty University speech, which was often very emotional, he referred to the Old Testament book of Ezekiel and how he (Beck) felt that the call to be a "watchman," i.e., someone who stands guard to alert the people to the evil that could overtake them, was something God had put on his heart to do. It was his calling. If Beck's book is any indication of his "watchman" competency, he is either asleep at his post or has gone AWOL. Isaiah sets the criterion for God's watchman: "To the law and to the testimony [i.e., the Scriptures]: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). Does Beck speak according to God's Word? Even if one assumes that he is talking about the God of the Bible rather than the god of Mormonism, or what the Bible declares, it is clear by comparing his views with the teachings of the Bible that he's got them both wrong.

He and his psychiatrist co-author declare throughout their book that God is within everyone: "If God is everything and everywhere and inside everyone, then I figured He had to be inside me, too...." That is a foundational premise to most of what Beck presents. It is pantheism, a belief common to Hindus, Eastern mystics, and popular among New Agers.

The truth is that the God of the Bible is not part of His creation. He created everything out of nothing. If He were inseparable from His creation then He would be subject to the death and destruction that the universe is undergoing. That would deny His perfection.
The Word of God says that the born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and that his body is the temple of God (Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 3:17). This is conditional, based upon faith in the biblical Jesus, and it involves God's taking up residence within the believer. God is not, nor does He become, a part of humanity.

If God were part of everyone and within everyone throughout all eternity (Beck &Ablow, Seven Wonders, p. 85), then He would be part of the evil makeup of every human. Of course, Beck and Ablow fervently deny that mankind is evil: "People are inherently good. Our souls are magnificent and capable of extraordinary performance" (p.165). That may make some "feel good about themselves," but it's contrary to numerous Scriptures that address the nature of man. The prophet Jeremiah tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (17:9), and Jesus said in Mark 10:18, "There is none good but one, that is, God."
That truth of the Bible poses a huge problem for psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, especially a Freudian psychotherapist like Keith Ablow. How so? He's in the business of facilitating a person's relief from the troublesome problems of living by helping him find his "true self, the really lovable and loving person you are at your core..." (Beck &Ablow, p. 185). The key to recovering the "real you," Ablow and Beck explain, involves a process of "digging up the painful parts of your life story..." (p. 107).

Nearly all psychotherapies assert that mankind's problems are caused by painful issues external to the person, such as emotional traumas, parental abuses, environmental conditions, a bad hair day, etc. Ablow tells us to "Accept that today's negative emotional and behavioral patterns are almost certainly connected to painful memories and unresolved conflicts in the past" (p. 131).
However, if it were acknowledged that the root of the problem is the innate evil within humanity (as the Bible declares, yet psychology denies), Ablow and his colleagues would be out of business. Just as a leopard can't change its spots, neither can the mental health practitioners do anything to change a person's sin nature. Only God can do that. Yet the charade in pursuit of the "higher self," "human potential," "self-discovery," and "the God-given reservoir of personal power inside you," (p. 50) continues to delude and deceive the masses.

Beck's description of his "life story," especially how he was led into Mormonism, is a reflection of what the pseudo-Christian cult is all about: it majors on the subjective and the experiential (e.g., a personal "burning in the bosom" experience from God). He believes that God guided him into the faith of Joseph Smith through a series of inexplicable events in his life. He says that God-ordained "coincidences," which he calls "bread crumbs," are available to help everyone "find their paths to embracing the truth" (p. 152). He and Ablow continually exalt the subjective and experiential through their promotion of "gut feelings," "intuition," "the third ear," and "the inner voice of truth inside us--the voice of God" (p. 265). They write, "Practice listening to your gut....In order to do this, you need to listen for inner voices inside you" (p. 274).

When discernment depends upon gut feelings and inner voices, it's a recipe for spiritual disaster: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). The Bible tells us to put no trust in subjective experiences but rather to trust in God's written Word: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). Jesus' prayer to His Father certifies how He wants believers in Him to know Him and the truth of His teachings: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).

Mormonism is rife with occult beliefs and practices, whether they be rituals taken from Masonic ceremonies to supposed communication with the deceased through baptism for the dead. This makes the Latter-day Saints extremely susceptible to demonic deception. Yet Glenn Beck seems to have added more false doctrine to an already bizarre belief system. He lauds the first-century heresy of gnosticism and gnostic books such as "The Gospel of Thomas"; he endorses communication through silent meditation ("Connect with the miracle of spirit, of God, that has lived inside you from long before you were born. You will be rewarded..." (p. 85); and he and Ablow espouse the Eastern mystical teaching of spiritual energy as an "immeasurable force that you can tap into to dramatically improve your existence....It is nothing less than your connection to God" (p. 113).

Lest someone object to one or another of the religious or psychological concepts Beck and Ablow are serving up, the two fall back on ecumenical pragmatism: "How can you begin to do this? Some people go to psychotherapists. Others go to pastoral counselors. Others begin to meditate. Still others start with twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. Whatever works for you is what you should do, but we've developed a four-step plan to help you get under way."
Perhaps the reason I quote the following verse more than any other in my recent articles is because I see the church and its shepherds looking more and more to the ways of man rather than to the Word of God: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). Glenn Beck has no answers for those who are truly God's people. Nevertheless, I pray that he will come to the knowledge of the truth.

I also pray for greater discernment among those who claim to follow the biblical Jesus and the Word of God. Jesus declared to His disciples (which all true believers in Him are) that they were to "Take heed that no man deceive you" (Matthew 24:4). He was referring specifically to the last days, the time just prior to His return. It would be characterized by massive spiritual deception. For more than three decades Dave Hunt and I have been addressing the various elements the adversary of God has used to deceive the world and the church. Of late, our TBC articles have pointed out how the unifying beliefs that are common to diverse religious groups (and anti-religious groups!) are rallying them together with amazing speed. Their mission is fixed upon the earth as they unwittingly work toward building the kingdom of the Antichrist and his apostate religion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Way Things Ought To Be

Rush Limbaugh wrote a book several years ago titled "The Way Things Ought To Be". The whole premise of the book was that this is how we should live life and operate as American citizens. These are the things that we should stop doing. These are the things that we should do, as Americans. As believers, there are some ways that things "ought to be" in our lives. We are called by Jesus to "take up our cross daily" and follow him. Take up your cross....

In Jesus' day, if you saw someone walking through the city carrying a cross, it meant one thing: that person was going to die.

So when Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24), it meant that we are to die to ourselves. We are to deny ourselves. The word "deny" means to say no to. It means to put God's will and desires above our own. Selfish people will find this outrageous, even offensive, and will find following Jesus to be too hard, the cost too high.

Maybe that is why the church is so weak and anemic today: we don't know that much about cross-bearing. Maybe if Christians stopped trying to be so much like the world, the world would start wanting to be more like us! Are we really carrying our cross today? Are we really dying to ourselves? This is precisely what Jesus is calling us to do.

To deny ourselves and take up the cross means many things. It is as simple as reading your Bible when you get up in the morning. That is taking up the cross and denying yourself. It means praying. It means bowing your head over a meal and giving God thanks, even in a public place. It means speaking up for Jesus Christ, even when it is uncomfortable or a bit awkward. It means being regularly involved in the ministry and life of the church, maybe even a deeper level of commitment. It means giving of your finances to God. It means that in your marriage, you put the needs of your mate above your own. It means putting God first and yourself second.

Jesus said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25). That is living life as it was meant to be lived. This is the way things ought to be. Are you in?


Just noticed a couple days ago that my blog has crossed the 25,000 hit mark. I'm excited to share my thoughts with those who will listen and I feel that God has called me to write some things here that will hopefully edify the body of Christ. I'm humbled to think of that many hits, but it goes to show how God can use anyone, anywhere, anytime. So I say "Go God!" and thanks for the support of the blog.

Keep the faith!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What About Sunday School?

A friend in ministry called me to brag that they were cancelling Sunday School for good. I asked why and he gave me a short list of mediocre reasons, centering mostly on declining attendance and a lack of interest. I know that in recent years good ole Sunday School has take some hits with many churches choosing small groups over the medium groups of Sunday School. But should we do away with Sunday School altogether? Is it an archaic model for teaching God's Word? Do churches really need to teach and educate members in the Bible? What benefits does a good Sunday School program offer us today? After observing small groups for about 15 years now, I have come to the conclusion that while they may provide a sense of belonging and community, they do not teach scripture well. I cringe when I hear what passes for biblical knowledge at most churches. I would argue to keep that medium group known as Sunday School alive and well and here's some reasons why:

1) For bible teaching. No other venue in the church other than worship services is better set up to teach the Word of God. Bibles, a white board, some curriculum (if needed), and a fervor for learning the things of God make for a growth plan that other venues can't touch when it comes to Bible learning. This is a small enough group to ask questions, but medium enough to carry rich discussion of God's Word. A good teacher and your set for raising the bar against biblical illiteracy in your church.

2) Adult Sunday School classes are consistent. They meet in the same time in the same room every week. There's no question about whose house or which night or whether the group is taking off for spring break. They'll be there, even for a person who has missed a couple of weeks and might seem out of touch.

3) They extend belonging and increase the potential for outreach. As the leader of a Sunday School class, your goal is to see irregular attendees become regular. You call an absentee and tell them you missed them on Sunday. You visit a class member in the hospital even if they haven't attended for several weeks. You invite everyone on your roll to the next class social function, including those who show up sporadically. These tactics keep you in touch with folks who might never commit to a weekly small group but have the potential to be developed as more serious followers of Jesus. What better way can you imagine for reaching and keeping the marginally committed?

4) They have enough resources for significant ministry. Dynamic Sunday School classes support missionaries, encourage widows, help new mothers, remodel classrooms, and serve funeral dinners. Because they're larger than a small group, they can more easily raise funds or get up a work crew for any Christian service project that needs accomplished.

5) They develop new leaders. Teachers of midsized groups can recruit table leaders who meet with them during the week to plan the lesson together. Each person leads a different circle of attendees for a portion of the class discussion. Dynamic classes need someone to plan socials and someone to follow-up with absentees and guests. Each of these volunteers learns to lead as the teacher encourages and trains them.

There are many other things to consider with this. So many times "Sunday School" seems old school to people. Rename it "Adult Bible Fellowships" or "Adult Bible Studies". I know that it takes leaders, but imagine the influence. Well-trained leaders, new groups, new meeting places, and hard work are requirements for a successful small group ministry too. I think that churches need both. These is no easy way to reach the lost and disciple the saved, but some methods are more effective than others. A well-executed Sunday School ministry is one of them. My vote is rename and revamp Sunday School, but educate those people in the Word. Watch what God can do when His people are students of the Word.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Confusing Allegiance

This is an article that I had sent to me. The only identifier that I have for who wrote it is Tyler. He's obviously on a church staff somewhere. Interesting thoughts. We just dealt with a situation in the church recently that the staff has fondly labeled "Flag-gate". Ponder and feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

A few weeks ago a couple of concerned church members approached a minister on staff about the “shameful” state of the tattered American flag that flies near the entrance to the church building. They were kind enough to purchase a replacement, though they were not happy to see the flag in such disrepair.

Typically I would be oblivious to the whole situation, but the Senior Adults Minister asked me to help him change the flag. I am more than willing to help with chores here and there around the church, but this raised a theological dilemma. I have serious doubts that an American flag, or any nation’s flag for that matter, should be flown by a church.

The flag was going to go up anyway and the other pastor needed my help, so I consented. As we went about our work I was instructed that the flag cannot touch the ground lest it be defiled. I was also informed that the worn out flag would be given to some veterans to be “properly disposed of” – whatever that means. As we pulled down the old flag, carefully wrapping it up, I felt like I was doing something wrong.

I’ve been lambasted for opposing nationalism at a previous church so I was hesitant to say anything. With much trepidation, I casually began to talk about my issue with the flag flown by a church. It’s not that I’m anti-American. I cheer for America in the Olympics, eat apple pie and enjoy a good football game. I just don’t think the American flag has any place in the church. I would feel the same about an English, Chinese, Australian, or South African flag.

The problem is not separating Church and State. The idea of separating Church and State is an invention of the modern world. It assumes that the church does not have much to do with everyday life—a foreign concept to Jesus. My problem with flying an American flag is that it is a symbol of allegiance to a nation. The allegiance of believers belongs to God. St. John described the Roman Empire as a “beast” that blasphemes God and arrogantly demands allegiance that belongs to the Almighty (Rev 13:1-9). John reminds us that often nations compete for allegiance that belongs to God.

To my surprise the Senior’s Minister responded gracefully, “Well, I can certainly understand what you mean. I served a church that was near a military base once. They had difficulty distinguishing between God’s work and America.”

I was thankful for his response, but my dilemma is more significant. The Senior’s Minister reminded me that none of these concerned members would say that she actually worships America or that he would place his national allegiance before loyalty to God. Of course not, but sin is deceptive. I fear that we have already begun to worship America when we think the flag ought to be in a church. Why else place a symbol of allegiance in a place of worship?

Compare, for example, how we treat the American flag to the elements of the Eucharist – both symbols of allegiance to political entities. The flag cannot touch the ground and must be disposed of appropriately by its guardians. The bread of the body of Christ is thrown into the trash can in the kitchen along with dirty paper towels and rotten leftovers. The juice of his blood is poured down the drain along with soap suds and crumby remnants rinsed off plates and greasy pans. What does that say about our allegiance?

Yes, I have read Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ loaded question about taxation (Mt 22:15-22 || Mk 12:13-17 || Lk 20.20-26). The crux of his response is the pithy statement, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and the things of God to God” (Mt 22:21). However this passage might be interpreted, it is abundantly clear that Jesus is not suggesting that Caesar needs to be represented in worship. If anything, Jesus’ response prompts reflection about the limits of what ought to be given to Caesar in a world that belongs to God.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


For years now, churches have been fighting what many have deemed "worship wars". Many say that the Bible never mentions this concept, but the first homicide in the Bible was over how to approach God in worship. Perhaps that should have been a clue to us that this would be an issue!

Most debates about worship are really just indirect ways of talking about ourselves and our preferences in music, not God. Our discussions usually devolve into little more than spiritually camouflaged lists of preferences on how we'd like our worship service served up to us every week. It's worship as consumption rather than offering. It's more about human tastes than a longing to reflect the glory of the Almighty God. That's why I call it iWorship.

The iPod has forever changed the way people listen to music. No longer do you have to buy an entire CD for the one song your after. All you have to do is purchase the individual song that you like and download it in seconds. Wherever you are you can just pop in your earbuds and punch your personalized playlist, never having to hear something that is not your favorite.

I'm afraid that is how many of us approach worship today. We want to hear our personal playlist of worship tunes. It's almost like we've convinced ourselves that God likes what we like and He doesn't like what we don't like. It just so turns out that God's tastes are exactly the same as mine! Wow! How convenient!

In Revelation 4:1, John is invited to step through a "door standing open to heaven." What does he see there? A worship celebration like no other. God is clearly the object and focus of worship and He alone is receiving praise and honor.

Worship isn't about serving self. Worship is about seeing God and responding. The ultimate experience for us is being in His presence and expressing hearts of adoration, praise, allegiance, and gratitude for who He is and what He has done. And when we finally see Him in all His glory, we will gladly lay down whatever we have treasured in honor of a greater treasure...being with Him!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Love Wins Commentary

Hell and Human Dignity

Do Our Choices Make a Difference? By Chuck Colson
May 16, 2011

Unless you’ve been on vacation in the Himalayas, you have no doubt heard about the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Arguably, Bell’s tome is the first controversial Evangelical book of the Internet age: It was promoted by a “trailer” that appeared on many websites and dissected and condemned on countless more. Bell may enjoy the distinction of being the first person ever excommunicated via Twitter: one well-known writer tweeted “Farewell, Rob Bell.”
There are certainly important theological questions raised by Bell’s book, including whether anyone goes to hell forever.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat understands this well. In a recent column Douthat, a devout Catholic, writes that doing away with eternal punishment “is a natural way for pastors and theologians to make their God seem more humane.”
The impetus behind this impulse is understandable: In the wake of incalculable human suffering, talking about hell seems cruel and the idea of eternal punishment for wrong beliefs doubly so.

The problem, Douthat reminds us, is that attempts to make God seem more “humane” also “threaten to make human life less fully human.” That’s because, he writes, “to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices.” If we can’t say “no” to God’s offer of heaven, none of the other choices we make in life have any real meaning, either.

Douthat’s point is reminiscent of something James Schall, a professor at Georgetown, wrote in his book, On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs. Schall began by noting that C. S. Lewis once said that “we have never met a mere mortal.”

Schall continued, human “lives are not insignificant. They are risks... We like to be optimistic and suggest that no one loses his soul. But if this is so, it is hard to see how anything is of much importance. If nothing we do, say, or believe can really make any difference, what is [the source] our dignity? We may do what we want with impunity. Surely this is not the order of God for our good.”

And it’s not. And that’s the problem with efforts to dull the hard edges of the Christian message. Attempts to justify the ways of God to men often only wind up interfering with God’s plan for man.

It’s hard to square our belief in free will with the belief that, ultimately, nothing we do when we’re able to exercise it has any bearing on our eternal destiny. In some way we become like the denizens of an ant farm: no matter how much we burrow, it doesn’t change where we’re going or not going, for that matter.

It may make us feel better to believe that everyone goes to heaven. But what happens to the concept of justice? Is not God a God of justice?

Like Douthat, I understand Bell’s objection to the presumptuousness of some Christians. Instead of making declarations about the eternal destiny of people we’ve never met, we ought to be working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Folks, beware. This book is high on the New York Times bestseller list. Books like this are obviously appealing. But that doesn’t make them true.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Comfort in the Church

I think it’s fairly evident that the society we live in is very self-centered, and this same characteristic can be present in a church. Whenever a local body of believers develops an inward focus, its fruitfulness in ministry begins to decrease, and each member’s Christian walk is hindered.

I attended my oldest daughter's piano recital this week at a local church. The church was nice, but dated. The stained glass windows in the sanctuary (some 20+ of them) each had a name at the bottom of the window. In memory of's lined the sanctuary walls. The names were actually in the stained glass. I must admit, I was saddened and totally caught off guard. I told my wife, "If you buy a stained glass window when I die, please put in loving memory of Jesus on it. That's what it should really be about."

It's not about you! And it's not about me. And it's not about personal preferences of decor, seating, music selection, or whatever makes one's church life enjoyable and easy. It's not about your memorial putting your name on some piece of God's church building.

Many believers want their church only to be cozy and comfortable. I can't stand that. They come to listen to a nice sermon, fellowship with friends, and have their needs met. But God never intended for the gathering of His people to be like a country club; He calls us to join an army that will bring the gospel into enemy territory.

An effective church—one that poses a real threat to the Enemy—is a body of discipled people who have been taught the truth of Scripture, trained for service, and helped to mature spiritually. But all this is accomplished for the purpose of going out into the world, not for becoming a self-contained sanctuary of Christian comfort.

The urgency of the Lord’s command and the desperate condition of humanity should motivate us to leave the safety of our Christian fellowships and deliver the message of salvation through Jesus. To avoid this responsibility is to miss the Father’s plan for your life and the opportunity to help build His kingdom.

None of us want to waste time or energy on trivial things and thereby miss the exciting fulfillment of God’s will. He has called us, not to a life of comfortable tradition, but to an adventure of obedience and holiness. We need to answer His call. We will be uncomfortable with the process, but the results will yield God's highest and best for our lives! And there may be many more in the Kingdom of God because someone allowed themselves to be a little uncomfortable...even in their "own" church.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ties that Bind Real Churches

Have you ever noticed how different the individual members of the same family can be? One child may be melancholy while another is a live wire. One may be especially gifted in music, and another, who has no interest in music, may excel in sports. In some cases they look nothing like each other or even their parents. Yet the members of a family share a bond stronger than their differences.

In the same way, within the Body of Christ, churches develop their own unique personalities. Some may insist on formal worship services, while others thrive in a relaxed atmosphere. But the most important thing about a church isn’t the superficial things that make it different, but what it has in common with other Christian assemblies.

There are certain truths—fundamental doctrines—that every true church is committed to. These doctrines are unalterable; they cannot be compromised in any way. They are non-negotiable. Yield on any one point, and the church ceases to be a church. Here are five foundational truths that distinguish all authentic churches.

A High View of God
It is essential that a church perceive itself as a body of believers designed for the glory of God. Unfortunately, most churches today have deviated from that priority and developed a human focus: meeting man’s felt needs. Instead of faithfully proclaiming God’s sufficient Word to direct people’s minds toward God, church leaders respond to superficial needs with temporary solutions like psychology, self-esteem, entertainment, or a myriad of other diversions.

As a result, the church is no longer an organism that emphasizes knowing and glorifying God; it is an organization that tries to help people feel good about themselves. But if you know and glorify God, you don’t need to be concerned about your needs because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). When your relationship with God is right, your perspective on your needs will also be right. That doesn’t mean we should ignore people’s needs—we are to be concerned about people the same way God is. But there must be a balance, and it begins with a high view of God.

We must take God seriously and exalt Him. Yes, we are to reach out to people with the love of Christ, but God must be the focus of our worship and our life.

The Absolute Authority of Scripture
A second non-negotiable truth is the absolute authority of Scripture. God reveals Himself primarily through the pages of Scripture; that is why we must uphold it as our absolute authority.

Because we believe Scripture is true, we must proclaim it with conviction and without compromise or apology. The Bible makes bold claims, and Christians who believe it ought to affirm it boldly.

Anyone who faithfully and correctly proclaims the Word of God will speak with authority. It is not our own authority. Insofar as our teaching accurately reflects the truth of Scripture, it has the full weight of God’s own authority behind it. That is a staggering thought, but it is precisely how 1 Peter 4:11 instructs us to handle biblical truth: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

If the Bible is true, then it is also authoritative. As divinely revealed truth, it carries the full weight of God’s own authority. If you claim to believe the Bible at all, you ultimately must bow to its authority. That means making it the final arbiter of truth—the rule by which every other opinion is evaluated.

Sound Doctrine
Another non-negotiable for the church is sound doctrine. If you have a high view of God and are committed to Him, you will obey His Word. The content of God’s Word is sound doctrine.

Countless Christians today are vague about doctrine. Many pastors offer short sermons that might excite or make their congregations feel better, but they have little to do with truths that matter. We need truths that we can hold on to—truths about God, life and death, heaven and hell, man and sin, redemption through Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and angels, the believer’s position in Christ, and Satan and his realm. You need to be able to read a biblical text, discover what it says, and draw out divine principles. God’s people need solid doctrine to build their lives on.

Personal Holiness
We must draw lines when it comes to personal holiness and be careful what we expose ourselves and our children to. We dare not lower our standards to those of the world. Christians are called to live a pure life, and we can’t compromise that.

Second Corinthians 7:1 says, “Having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” A church must enforce that standard (see Matt. 18:15-17). That’s why we implement church discipline where I pastor. If someone sins, we confront him or her for their own good and the good of the church as a whole.

Many Christians aren’t as concerned about their personal holiness as they should be. Where are you in terms of holiness and real communion with the living God? Church leaders aren’t the only ones who should live holy lives. You can’t have a half-hearted commitment to God and expect Him to work through you.

Spiritual Authority
One more component that’s true of a biblical church is spiritual authority. A church must understand that Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15) and that He mediates His rule in the church through godly elders (1 Thess. 5:13-14; Heb. 13:7,17).

Hebrews 13 says to submit to those over you in the Lord, for they watch your souls. Follow their example. Paul says to “recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

I am one of many leaders at our church. I happen to be the one whom God chose to preach, but I am one elder among many. While there are variations in the giftedness of spiritual leaders, there is still an equality of spiritual authority among those the Bible calls elders or overseers. Such spiritual leadership is essential to the church of Jesus Christ. That’s why the church must be committed to training and obeying godly leaders.

There is room for diversity within the Body of Christ. But every true church is united by certain non-negotiables. Make sure you and your church are committed to these ties that bind you to God.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moments That Make or Break

One of the challenges of life is that most of it happens in the mundane. You know, like today. Not much happening today. Today’s not special, spectacular, not wonderful, really no opportunities to be amazing today. Just get up and do the work.
But that is the treacherous nature of life; it’s that we fail to realize those big moments, those defining moments that come into our lives, and take advantage of them. Here are five moments that happen in the mundane. And depending on how you respond to them, they’ll make or break you.

The moment of temptation.
Temptation sneaks up on you because it starts small. It attacks your mind. You begin to think about how you’ve been slighted, unappreciated, maybe even cheated. And all of a sudden you feel justified in cheating yourself, cheating on yourself, quitting your commitments: you know, a thousand different temptations, a thousand different strokes. It’s how you respond in the moment of temptation that will determine how you can respond in the rest of your life.

The moment of testing.
Testing has to do with will. In the Scriptures it says “we get knocked down but we get up again.” That’s it, isn’t it? How strong is your resolve? It will be tested, and how you respond in that moment determines the depth and the quality of your life.

The moment of quitting.
Everyone faces a quitting moment. Think about a man and a woman standing at an altar, pledging undying love. They are married. But they fail to take into account, you don’t marry a perfect person. You aren’t perfect either and sometimes you feel unloved and unwanted, and the temptation to quit. That’s when you have to respond. You go to work and you don’t get the raise, or you’re passed over and you want to quit. You get discouraged and you want to quit. It’s pushing through those quitting moments. It’s the power to prevail, when everything inside of you wants to give up, that makes the difference.

The moment of opportunity.
Opportunity is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t come with bells and whistles. It often comes as one choice among many. It takes wisdom to know which one is the right one for you. But it also takes courage to seize the opportunity of a lifetime during the lifetime of the opportunity. Windows open; windows close. Doors open; doors close. You have to go through them or the opportunity is offered to someone else.

The moment of choice.
Each and everyday, you have ultimate power because you and you alone make your choices. If you give up those choices, your life is ruled and run by arbitrary forces. For fear of making the wrong choice, some of us get stuck in a rut. Wrong or right, a choice needs to be made. And it’s your ultimate power: the power to choose.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Education & Obedience

I encounter many people today saying, "I just don't understand the Bible." Sadly, the fact is that many of those are Christians. It seems that I hear that comment more and more often. I can understand why those outside of Christ are unable to comprehend biblical concepts, but why are Christians struggling so?

I teach a couple of classes here at the church. Often I get the comment that I have a Bible College education and that you need to be a trained minister to understand this stuff. That's not the truth! I've met several trained ministers in my time who didn't really understand the word of God. They knew the facts, but there was no excitement for the Lord and His Word.

I think there is a link between education (knowledge of the Word) and obedience (doing what it says). Many today are professing Christians but not practicing Christians. When we act on what we read in the Bible we see it some to life and we begin to hear and understand the voice of truth better. If we don't obey what God has already revealed to us, then why would He give us deeper truths to deal with? "The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him" (Psalm 25:14). Those who fear Him and obey His commandments are promised "a good understanding" (Psalm 111:10).

Living a fleshly & sinful lifestyle of disobedience to God clouds our judgement, diminishes our listening, and fogs our thinking. Although we have the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), our sin keeps us from tapping into the richness of the truth and wisdom that God wants us to find in His Word.

Do you want to know the fullness of the Word of God? Then read it and study it. Meditate on it day and night. (Joshua 1:8 "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.") But don't stop there. Do what it says. Obey and submit to God's plans and ideas for the life that He created. As you read, look for His instructions. Then rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you down that path of obedience. When you educate and obey, He'll reveal even deeper truths to you and your understanding will grow. And an exciting thing that will happen very soon...your time in the Word will become a delight instead of a duty.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May's Wallpaper

Here's a link to May's Wallpaper for the church. So cool. Great job Alan, worship minister and graphic designer extraordinaire!


Keep the faith!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Listen to God's Word

Some excellent thoughts from Charles Stanley. Wanted to pass these along. Be blessed and be a blessing.

How is it that two people can sit in the same pew, hear the same sermon about the same portion of Scripture, and walk away with two different reactions? One is joyful and the other unaffected. I think the reason is that some people do not know how to listen to the Word of God.

Nehemiah 8 is an amazing scene of God’s people coming together to hear His Word. Remember that they didn’t have individual copies of Scripture to read. For generations, the events of Genesis though Deuteronomy were passed down from parent to child. Moreover, the people had been in captivity for many years. This was the first time most of them heard the Word read. Imagine their excitement as they listened attentively for the Lord to speak to them.

The Israelites were hungry for God’s Word. Are you? Do you listen eagerly and with an expectant mind and heart? The length of a person’s attention span is directly related to the intensity of his hunger for something. If you crave to know more of God, then your mind is going to be fastened on what He’s saying through your pastor or your personal reading. And the reality is that nothing in the world matters as much as what the Lord has to say.

So many things clamor for our focus but few truly deserve it. The Lord is worthy of nothing less than our undivided attention. He has something to say to every person. So whoever listens to God’s Word with an open heart and alert mind will receive from Him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Abide in Me

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

I preached on this passage a few weeks ago. I've had many conversations on this idea of abiding in Christ. Truly it is a key to spiritual growth in the life of a Christian. Especially since Jesus tells us straight up, "Apart from me you can do nothing."

Imagine if you planted a tree in your front yard, but after awhile, you decided it would look better in the backyard. Then after a few months, you realized it would better in the front yard. So, you dig it up and plant it again in the front yard. Not only will that tree fail to flourish, it will struggle to survive.

Yet many people are like that with God. They decide to go to church, read their Bible, and pray regularly. They do this for a month, and then they uproot themselves and disappear for a few months. Then they come back again. Then they uproot themselves and go back to the old life again. Eventually they come back and are at it again. But they never truly mature and grow spiritually that way.

Jesus calls us to abide in Him. That is the secret to spiritual growth: to abide. Abiding means staying in a given place. For believers, it means to maintain unbroken fellowship with god. It means regularity. It means consistency. And it results in producing lasting fruit in the believer's life.

Another way of abiding is walking with God daily. As 1 John 2:6 says, "He who says he abides in Him ought to himself walk just as He walked." Walking speaks of consistent motion. That means making time for the Word of God and for prayer with consistency. If you are too busy, then get up earlier. God to bed earlier. You will find time for what is important to you.

The true mark of conversion is the test of time and results in your life. So ask yourself right now and be honest...are you producing spiritual fruit?