Wednesday, November 30, 2011


James 3:1-8(NIV)
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

When some people get angry, the curse, others blame others.  When some people get mad they run and hide or walk away.  Others rant and rave and run their mouths and spill out a vomit of angry words.  People react to anger or being upset in different ways.  Some bottle it in until they explode, while others are set off by the slightest things.

I struggle with my tongue. What about you?  I'm not talking about cursing, though some of you may struggle with that, even if you are a Christian or even in ministry. Some struggle with cussing when they become angry. Some don't struggle with cursing at all, it's part of their vocabulary and normal to them. They curse in front of their kids, in public, at work, it doesn't matter, and they don't even have to be angry. But, some do lose their temper and curse.

I don't struggle with cursing as much as I struggle with angry words. You don't need to curse to be mean, ugly, harmful, or cause pain.  Growing up I was a people pleaser, but as I got older, especially into my adult life and the military, I left my people pleasing ways and began to speak up and speak out when I didn't like something, didn't approve, or had an opinion.  I pride myself today on being very vocal, direct, and saying and meaning what I think. 

Though I believe being blunt and direct is a good thing and people need to have more backbone and self-respect and speak up when it's appropriate, bring direct is just like anything else in life, if not done in balance it can be a negative.  Some people say things and do not think about how it makes others feel, have no filter, and say things that can be mean and hurtful and out of place and yet they think they are doing the world a service.  I unfortuneatly can fall under this category.  There are times my emotions and feelings get out of balance and I say things I regret later, or spew things out of my mouth like hot lava and though it is not my intent to hurt feelings or upset people, it doesn't prevent it from happening.

The tongue is a hard thing to tame. Whether it's gossip, talking bad about others, complaining, being a foul mouth, or saying whatever you want when you feel like it or get mad. As James writes about a horse or a boat, such a small thing controls such a big animal or ship and the human tongue is the same way.  The tongue is hard to tame.

I want to encourage you today that you are not alone.  I too struggle with my  big mouth.  Even at appropriate times like yelling at the kids for bad behavior, or standing up for a worthy cause, or disagreeing over something important, we still must all learn to control the words that come out of our mouths.

Paul Reminds us in scripture (Eph 4:26) in our anger do not sin, implying we are going to get angry, but in that anger, we must not allow it to separate us from God. 

Our mouths gets us in trouble alot don't they?  At work? At home? With parents?  With children? With Siblings?  With spouses? With Churches?  I don't know, but if you are constantly getting in trouble or having drama or issues because of your mouth, then work on changing the pattern.  I can tell you from personal experience as soon as I think I am making progress or doing better, I slip.  We must keep our focus on God and His Holy Spirit. He is our guide, our strength, our wisdom, and our overcomer!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful

Being Thankful

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Being thankful is not and sholud not be just for one week or one day a year at Thanksgiving.  Now having a holiday to celerate "Thanksgiving" is a great idea and tradition, but being thankful is really more of an attitude or lifestyle.

People who have a thankful attitude and are thankful on a daily basis as part of their daily lives are less negative and more positive.  They're more optimistic and less pessimistic. They're more content and less complaining people.  They're practice great good instead of griping about everything.  Thankful people have a tendency to be peacemakers and get along with people as opposed to always "having drama" or not getting along with others.   They're more accepting of people and open-minded to change, instead of being a gossip, or trouble-maker, or always making issues about something they don't agree with.

Most of all being thankful is having a heart for God and an attitude that shows Him glory.  When we are thankful and appreciative of WHO God is and WHAT He as done for us, it seems to make other areas of our lives make more sense and give us more thankful attitude.

God wants us to be thankful. He wants us to appreciate Him, our blessings, our gifts, and our relationships.  We are blessed people.  Whether poor or rich, popular or unknown by the world's standards, we are rich in God's love and popular because the creator of this world knows us by name.

Start looking around your lives.  Don't focus on what you don't have, take inventory of what you do have.   Don't focus on how your life would be different if circumstances would change, focus on how your circumstances might change if you  were different? 

We all have bad days, we don't always agree with others, changes, or have control of things that happen in our lives, but no matter our circumstances, problems, even tragedies,  God is still God and is in control.  Even at facing anger, hurt, pain, suffering, and death we have so much to be thankful for.

When you have a thankful heart and attitude you can't help but have joy, and want to share it with others.  Take time to Thank God everyday for everything.  Ask Him to give you a thankful heart and attitude if you struggle with being thankful. 

Also, take time to show others your thankful..  Thank those who care for you, provide for you, who are a blessing to you, or who you appreciate in your lives.  Spouses, childern, parents, employers, friends, those you date, teachers, pastors, even those who wait on you at a restaurant or check-out at the store.  Being thankful is contagious, pass it on and pay it forward.

Be Thankful!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hardest Person to Forgive

Hardest Person to Forgive

Yourself!  That's right, I think the hardest person to forgive in any situation is yourself, when we screw up, mess up, or do or say something we regret.  Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we do others, so when it comes to forgiveness, it's very difficult for many to forgive themselves and move on and heal.

I look back on my past; things I have said, did, and thoughts I regret.  I wish I could take them back.  I know I have did things to hurt people, disappoint people, and change their opinion of me in my lifetime.  I know there have been people in my life who have hurt me, disappointed me, and my opinion of them changed, but I have found it easier to forgive them (though sometimes it took some time), but again even when it takes time to forgive others, its usually because we are stubborn or holding on to something.

We have to live with ourselves.  We have to think, rethink, ponder, dwell, and live with the choices, decisions, and mistakes we've made, and because of that we sometimes have a hard time letting go of the past, the shame, the pain, regret, or other emotions.

The key to forgiveness as a whole has always been the concept that forgiveness is not about the person that offended you, as much as it is about you, releasing them from the offense.  But, the struggle with forgiving others is the releasing part, we feel if we forgive them, we are letting them off the hook or letting them get away with the hurt/anger they caused us, but that is only part of the issue, you may be releasing them, but they are still on the hook to God, especially if they won't admit their wrong or mistake,  and sadly some never own up or accept responsiblity for their actions.  Not our problem, it's God's.

However, when forgiving ourselves, it's another level, because we have to look at ourselves in the mirror everyday unless you avoid it.  You cannot shut of your mind/memory of the things you are angry at yourself about.  The key is learning to overcome your thoughts, which is the hard part.

Satan is the king of reminders.  He loves to remind us of our sin, our shame, our mistakes, and our wrong doings.  He wants us to dwell, stay, and wallow if our pity and sorrow. As long as we do that, we don't allow God to work or have power in our lives.

I don't care what you've said or done or thought you've done, we all must learn to allow God to forgive us and forgive ourselves. If we do not forgive ourselves, are you really allowing God to forgive you?  When you keep asking God to forgive you over and over about the same thing, are you forgetting Jesus died ONCE and for ALL for our sins, and asking for forgiveness once is enough?  By repeating our request to God, we are acting as if He's not forgave us, doesn't have the power to forgive us, and that if we keep asking, it will make us feel better, which is what it's all about anyway. We are being selfish to keep asking God to forgive us over and over.

We need to ask for forgiveness once and accept it.  Leave it there with God. Sure we may be tempted to dwell on it, but the more we focus on God the less we will focus on our sin or mistake. We may never forget what happened or what we done, but we can give it less attention over time.  Though sometimes we may be reminded of our past sins, mistakes, or things we'd soon forget, those reminders in some ways are a good thing. They remind us of where we were one time and where we are now.  They also remind us that we serve a God who loves us unconditionally and that He wiped away our sins and whatever we do wrong, if we ask sincerely and accept responsibilty for our actions, He forgives us and even though there may be consequences, we accept them, deal with it, heal, and move on.  No matter the offense.

I often wonder if could do anything what i'd do? My first thought is to go back into my  past and correct some mistakes, but reality is I can't. I wish I could. I'd do anything to change some circumstnces, avoid some hurt, and keep from hurting or dissapointing others, but I can't. What I can do is learn from my past so i don't repeat the same mistakes. I can allow God to forgive and discipline me, so I am stronger and better off.  And I can keep growing in my walk with God so that I He can use me for His glory and so I can continue to honor Him.

Forgive yourself today. Allow God to forgive you once and for all.  Deal. Heal, Move on.

Philippians 3:13b(NIV) "But one thing I do know:  forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead."

Psalm 19:12b(NIV) "Forgive my hidden faults."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


EGO"Letgo my eggo!"  we've heard that commercial about eggo waffles, but really we need to "letgo ourego!"
We all have ego's, check your pulse, if you got one, you got an ego, but just like anything else, if you let your ego get out of control it's going to control you and guide you and not in a positive way. defines ego as: the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

I know there are those out there that have little ego's, or low self-esteem, yet ego, is something we all must deal with, especially if we want to grow and be effective in our christian faith.  There is no room for ego in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Scripture teaches us (Gal. 6:14) that the only boasting we are to do is in Jesus Christ.

Church is just like any other organization(school, work, sports teams, social groups, etc...) people want to be in the limelight, get the credit, and have there ego's stroked!  That's not saying there aren't people serving in sincerity, there are, but yes, even in churches, yes even preachers, leaders, etc...some are doing it for the wrong reasons to get glory, to be seen, to feel important, and though it's in the church, everything we say, do, and whatever capacity we serve in, it HAS TO BE for God's Glory, to  in worship Him, and to honor Him or it's in vain and we've missed the point of serving/leading.

We all need encouragement, we all need someone to notice us from time to time, and we all need the human touch factor. We are relational beings and were created for relationships.  However, whether we are preaching, singing, teacher, serving, leading, or whatever the capacity we are serving in, our ultimate motive should be to please God, be used by Him, and Him to get the credit, & the glory.

If you do something for God and you get mad no one notices, or you have to go around constantly remiding people what you did or are doing, chances are great your doing it for you and not Him.  If you get a high from singing or preaching on the stage and like the attention to the ponit where your head is bigger than the door you entered through chances are your using your gifts for your ego and not His kingdom!

There is a fine line between humility and pride. We must always pay attention to our motives, our attitude, and or intentions, or Satan can easily convince us its about us and not Him. If you know the story of Satan, you know He felt the same way.  He got tired of God getting the praise and glory and He wanted it for himself, so then Lucifer the angel rebelled and was kicked out of heaven along with many angels because their ego took on a life of it's own.

God gifts us in many ways. Some of us it's singing, some it's preaching, some it's teaching, some it's leading,  and others it's serving or encouraging. No matter the gifts, God gave us those gifts to use for Him, not ourselves.

You may get pats on the back, you may get the praise of men, even make a good living in the service of God, but if He is not the motivation, the reason, and the one who you seek to give the credit, then you have recieved your reward in full.

If God gifted you to preach, then preach, but don't preach because you are insecure, selfish, or power hungry.  Preach because people need to hear the Word and God called you. If you have the talent of singing, then sing your heart out for Jesus, don't sing to hear your own voice, or because you like the stage, the lights, and the attention music brings.  If you are gifted to lead, lead because God called you to lead,  not because you like the title or power or control.  If you teach or work with the kids/youth, do it because God desires you to teach people and influence them for you, not because you like feeling important to those listening!

Ego is tempting, but like the bible says, we can overcome any temptation with God.  Don't let you ego get the best of you.  Do it for God or not at all.  Keep yourslelf in check, help people keep you accountable, and do Let go of your Ego!

Philippians 2:3-4(NIV)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Essentials vs. Non-essentials

Essentials vs. non-essentials

Essential:  Necessary; indispensable; vital; critical; required
Non-essential:  Not necessary, despensable; not vital; not critical; .not required.

Pretty basic defintions of the word essential and non-essential.  However, when it comes to christianity, our faith, God, the Bible, basic beliefs and doctrines of our faith, etc...those words get clouded, confused, and boundaries are crossed. I want to keep this simple today. The problem we make God, salvation, and being a Christian so complicated because we are worried we'll go to hell, sin, or not look smart or something, I don't know?

What I do know is that we make being a Christian, going to church, and serving the Lord a lot more complicated than it has to be and I believe not at all what God desired or intended for His people or His church.

The simpliest of examples is for us to go back in the Bible to Acts 2:42-47, the church in it's infancy gives a basic example of what the church is supposed to look likeand how Christians are supposed to be.   Devotion to teaching, devotion to fellowship, breaking of bread(eating together), praying, filled with awe, miraculous signs and wonders being done.  Everyone(i.e. the church/christians) had everything in common. They were generous selling things and giving to everyone who had a need.  They met daily and had each other in their homes to fellowship/eat, they were glad and sincere, they praised God and enjoyed each other.  The Lord blessed them and people were saved daily!

Does that sound like a church you'd like to be in?  I sure would!  Does that sound like the type of Christian you'd like to be?  I sure would too.  But, through the years we have allowed Satan into our lives, and our churches and he has manipulated us, tricked us, and led us astray.  We think we are doing God a favor by being so dogmatic and harsh,but really we are helping satan.  Satan is the enemey and He's using you who act this way, not the things we think are the enemy.(Get out our list, bible versions, church music, salvation process, eternity beliefs, spiritual gifts, etc).  Not even drugs, or alcohol abuse, or sexual sins hurt the church as much as legalisitic/narrow-minded bigoted christians.  We preach, protest, holler, and condemn everything that isn't the old ways, old paths, the old time religions, like papaw used to say, or not the way I was taught or raised, yet satan thrives on this division I believe in all my heart.  Nothing hurts the church or spreading of the gospel or people staying in church more than this type of attitude, the narrow-minded, legalistic, and hateful spewing that tryies to make non-essentials into essentials.  

Think about it.  Some preachers preach the same things every weeks, they say it 100 different ways, but it's the same message with their personal agenda or issue they are "passionate" about.  How many churches spend most of their time against something or tearing down other christians or churches with their personal crusades and messages, instead of sharing the love of God through Jesus in the Bible or other biblical topics?  How many christians and churches are more known for WHAT THEY ARE AGAINST INSTEAD OF WHAT THEY ARE FOR?

Whether it's ignorance, the way we were taugh, raised or mentored, or whether its something personal to us, we cannot truly reach a lost and dying world with the message of Jesus with hate, pride, arrrogance, ignorance, hypocracy, manipulation, or stupidity.  Too many preachers, churches, christians, publications, etc.. are doing this in the name of God and they are hurting more than helping!  (again I am promoting common sense and spiritual guidance, not anything goes and is ok!)

These people promote with pride their "essentials" to salvation, but they decided what were essentials, not God.  Take whatever issue you like there are many.  Some say you can only use ONE version of the bible and all other translations are not-inspired and even some go as far to say they are a sin or won't accept you as a Christian if you don't agree with them.  Some say you can only sing one type of worship music.  If you use any other music, it's a sing, it's of the devil.  Some say you can't use any music at all, one can only use an organ or a piano, no drums or guitars, those are an abomination. Other say only a few are predestined to be saved, or others once your saved your always saved While others say you gotta speak in tongues, or others you don't have to be baptized and others baptism is all that matters.  We are picking and choosing what we want and screwing it all up with all these different beliefs, but we cross a line when we make certain things essential that the Bible does not back up.

The Bible and guidance of God's Holy Spirit is what helps us interpret Scripture and God's will for us as to what is essential or non-essential to our salvation and that is the biggest question.  Is this topic, issue, or believe essentail to me being saved, or is it a non-essentail item?   I think where God speaks in scripture directly and with clarity, we obey whether we like it or agree with it or not.  However, we must be careful to pull out certain scriptures and take them out of context or misuse them in order to get them to say what we believe.  Christianity is the opposite, we shoud read scripture and mold our lives around it and do what it says.  It's hard for some people to accept, but not all things are wrong or sinful.  I think scripture is very clear on that(READ Romans).  We want to make issues out of things God never intended to be divisive issues and certainly not us going around saying we are christians and others are not because they don't worship or teach or believe everything we do.

I think for some it comes down to fear.  Some are afraid if you change anything, you might end up compromisng God's word or truth. For some it's simply comfort and enjoyment.  Others its just spiritual habit, some  it was way they were raised and I'm sure reasons are as many as the issues/topics we can choose to divide/aruge over.

My point today is there are essentials to our salvation.  Jesus is the ONLY way to God (John 14:6), no other person, religion, denomination, or doctrine is going to save you or get you to heaven, only through the blood of Jesus.  Another essenatial, Jesus was born of a virgin, lived, died, and raised from the dead to be our sacrifice for sin, death, and hell.   Another essential, the bible is the inspired word of God.   Essentials.  These are just a few, but wanted to give you some examples of what is essential beliefs to your salvation.

Non-essentials:  translation of the Bible.  Sure not all translations/versions are good, but use some common sense, but I believe most scholars who translated the Bible from original manuscripts were trying to make studying/reading the bible better, and if we believe the Bible is our guide, scriptuer does not tell us there is only one translation we have to use.  saying all but one is "inspired" is ignorance. It's  Non-essential.  Worship music.  Music is styles, genre's, and in taste of the listenter.  The key in worship music is to be sincere and worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  Jesus looks at our heart, not our voice, not the instruments, and certainly not the style/genre of our choosing.

Non-essentail, church denominations.  These should have never been started,  God established THE CHURCH(Acts 2) not denominations, that mostly started because people can't get along, have different views, can't agree to disagree, have agendas, etc...God never intended the 30K plus denominations out there.  What is essentials is Love God, Love your neighbor(everyone).

We need to stop putting God in a box and making our christianity a religion and making our faith a narrow legalistic set of rigid rules that people have to agree with or be shunned.  Many churches and christians today have become modern day  Pharisees and teachers of the law, they worship rules/laws over truth.  They like the comfort of religion and not the freedom of relationship.

Jesus is relationship not religion.  He wants us to stand for truth, but enjoy the freedom we have in Him. Not everything we say or do is going to send us to hell or is committing a sin.  We have got to start using some common sense and realize that we have the scriptures for a reason to guide us, to teach us, and to help us. We are to be the church, christians, worship God, serve God, and spread the gospel.  We need to realize that every church and christian doesn't have to look alike. We can be ONE as HE is ONE without making everything a sin or wrong.  We can get out of our boxes, we can open our narrow minds up, we can share the truth of ONE way to Jesus in MANY ways. We can preach and teach the SAME message in a variety of methods and forms to reach various audiences, cultures, and peoples.

We all need to spend some time with God in prayer and studying His word and decide before we argue, condemn others, or die on that hill, is this really essential or is this a non-essential i've been making an essential.  The easiest way I can say it is we can sit around and worry about when to pass the offerings in church services, whether someone dresses up for church, or sings an upbeat song, or we can be more concerned about lost souls and people dying everyday going to hell.  I think when we compare unsaved people to our agendas, it's no contest, our opionions/beliefs/agendas pail in comparison to what's really important, people knowing Jesus and growing in Jesus.  That is essential!

I leave you with the words of Titus, you may want to go read Titus 3, but his advice is good reminder to us about being divisive and wasting our time on things that don't matter!

Titus 3:5b-11(NIV)

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.