Thursday, December 27, 2012

Working on YOU

Working on YOU

Probably the most difficult thing to do in life is change yourself.  It's easy to change others, give others advice, or have opinions/judgements on other peoples lives, but so difficult to better or improve ourselves, why? Because it hurts!  It takes work, discipline, effort, and energy!

Many times around this time of year, the end of a year and beginning of a new year we want to make resolutions or resolve to be a better person, but really I think we need to do that every day, not just one time a year? It's ok to make resolutions to stop smoking, lose weight, or clean out the attic/garage, but when it comes to being a complete, whole, positive, or healthy all around person mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, etc...we should strive to work on that on a daily basis.

I am not preaching some easy Joel Osteen "Be a better You", becuase it's not always pretty to become a better person. Sometimes you have to end friendships, change jobs, or even chang places you go or people you are around. It may mean admitting fault  asking for help, or seeking professional help. I am not sure what you are dealing with or going through anymore than you know what I am, but  regardless, we all need to take the steps to be a better person and constantly be working on ourselves.

You  don't just come out of the womb and grow into a good friend, husband, wife, father, mother, brother ,sister, grandparent, boss, employee, christian, have to learn, develop, mature, grow, and work at it.  You have to develop healthy social skills, living skills, and learn how to be a better person.

We are all different ages, in different places in our lives, different upbringings, habits, and lifestyles, but God is the same.  He is our model. His Word and His church are places we learn, grow, and develop, discover, or deepen what and who He wants us to be.

Overall He wants us to be like Him. Strive to be honest, sincere, giving, and holy.  He wants us to have a relationship with Him and then model that relationship that is healthy in other relationships.  Marriages, dating, parenting, work, etc...and sometimes its tough.  We might struggle in certain areas with certain people and we may have some difficult people in our lives to deal with.  Regardless, God can and will help us grow as to be a better YOU if we will be honest with Him, seek Him, make the effort, and remain faithful.

If it weren't for the faithfullness of God I would have given up the faith a long time ago, and I tried before and I tried other things to replace God, and it all ended in failure.  I know now that if I am going to be a better Christian, Husband, friend, Father, Minister, or whatever it's only going to be because of me seeking God and His help. I can't do it on my own.

It may not happen overnight or make take a long time on this journey in life, but I pray each of us everyday will work to change ourselves and be the best we can be for God and others.

 James 3:17NIV
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Since sin (separation from God) first entered our world in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit from the "Tree of the knowlede of good and evil" when the serpant(satan) enticed Eve to take of the fruit of the tree that God had told both Adam to not eat of (every tree was ok except this tree). 

The reason? Well look at the name of the tree? Before they ate of the tree they had no knowledge of what good and evil even was. God knew that once they ate of it, there was no turning back, sin entered the world through this first disobedient act and they were exposed to the knowledge of what good and evil was, which causes separation from God in a variety of ways.

Since that day in the garden the world has struggled with evil.  God had already destroyed the world once because of the evil that took place, only sparing Noah, his wife, their 3 sons and their wives.  God promised to never destroy the earth in that manner again(a flood), but next time would be different(not a pretty scene coming in the future), but the point being, evil didn't die, it continued and has continued for centuries up until today.

Evil is not going anywhere.  We can create laws, go to extremes to prevent it, but in the end, you cannot stop evil.  Evil will prevail.  People are still going to shoot people, stab, rape, molest, choke, beat, and blow up other people.  No matter how many attempts we make to change laws and create legislation and do things to stop people, there is no stopping evil.  Evil knows no law, respects no boundaries, and heeds to no rules.  Evil is mentioned almost 500 times in the bible.  It's evident in the Old and New Testaments.

Depressing you yet???  The Bible doesn't tell us there will be no evil, but the Bible does tell those of us who know Christ to overcome evil with good.  The Bible also says to repay evil with good.  Those are foreign concepts to us even as christians sometimes.  Also, we have forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ if we repent and accept Him as our Savior.

Imagine if people started doing good and being good(honest, sincere, caring, compassionate, giving, etc....) and also starting doing good to those who do evil instead of seeking revenge or vengence or payback(Keep in mind that is for the Lord to do, not us). Our job is to forgive, His job is to take care of the vengence part.  But imagine if one person starting doing that, then another, and another, and there was a ripple affect across our world, it wouldn't happen overnight, but eventually good would start combating evil and maybe there would be more good and less evil in the world.

We live in a broken world there will never be a 100% end to evil in this world filled with broken, confused, bitter, resentful, hateful, mental, and unstable people.  Not everyone will stop doing evil, but what if more of us started doing good? Seeking good? Being good? Practicing good behavior? Developiong good attitudes? 

If we truly want to see less evil in the world, than we need to starting being better people.  Raising better children. Being better classmates, better friends, better employees, and better christians.  It's up to you and me and it begins with you and me.

I wish I had an easy answer to end evil and do away with all the crazies who blow up buildlings, shoot up malls, schools, & public places full of innocent people, but I don't.  I know that evil has been around since the beginning of time and isn't going anywhere until the Lord returns.    We do not have all the answers or we may never understand the "why's" of why things happen like this, but we cannot lose hope or heart in God.  There are still good people out there and good for me and you to do and be.

Most of all we serve a God that is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Romans 12:21NIV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Peter 3:17NIV
It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

3 John 1:11NIV
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Audience of One

Audience of One

Many times we fail to realize or understand that church services are not for attending, we are not the audience coming to be entertained or "get our hour" in for the week.  Do you realize when you come to church God is the audience? We are there to give Him worship and worship Him with our chuch body. 

Not only church services, but in our Christian walks we should be living day to day, we are living for an audience of one...GOD!  We get it so backwards or make it so complicated.  We think church is about singing "our" favorite songs, or the traditions "we" like, or  it's all about "us" when it comes to our church,  our worship services, or our programs, and "YOU" would be very wrong.  It's about God. He is audience, it is about Him, for Him, and because of Him!

If people could grasp this idea, change their attitudes, and grow in maturity in faith, then I think the way our worship services and other things might start looking a little different, maybe be a little more sincere, and might even  move us with compassion, sorrow, motivation, conviction, or desire to give God our best, give Him ALL the glory, and we do it all because and for Him. Try it!

I want to encourage you this Sunday if you got to church, to worship with that attitude.  That God is the audience not you.  So many times we treat going to church like going to the movies, like we are the audience and it better be a good show.  The preacher better not be boring or long-winded, the music better be to our taste or preference, and no one better be in my seat!  What a horrible attitude to come to worship God with. We make issues out of things that are not, focus on areas that don't matter, and all the while, we are missing what it's about about anyway, God, not you!

Even sadder it, it doesn't matter what side of that you are on. Half complain because the music isn't traditionanl enough and the other it's not contemporary enough. Half complain it's too hot in the auditorium and the other it's too cold.  Half complain about the activities of the church, the preacher, the leaders, the kids, etc....there is plenty to complain about if you look, but people are complaining as if church is to please them and for them, when it's for God and all music is pleasing to God if it's worshippng Him and worship is more than just singing songs! All activities new and old, traditional and contemporary, and everything in between  is pleasing to God when it's done with Him as the audience and not me or you.

It's time we take our churches back and take our Christian Faith back and get them pointed back in the right direction toward God. We need to get out of the audience and on the stage because we are the ones who are being observed.  How is your worship? Your atttitude? Your giving? Your spiritual growth?

If we are not growing in our own personal faith, it hurts the church, because we are part of the church body, and if we are not positiviely contributing to the church body, then we are hurting the body, and if we are taking the attention, glory, honor, or reverence away from God because we think it's about us, then we are hurting ourselves, others, and most of all God. 

Remember everything we say or do is for God, the audience of one. Whether we are at public worship at church or we are at work, home, or anywhere, we always have opportunity to worship God and make it about Him.  He is our Audience of One.

1 Timothy 1:17(NIV)
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, December 07, 2012

High-Tech Parenting

High-Tech Parenting

We live in an ever-changing world and it seems with technology it happens at even a more rapid pace, but the problem is what kind of affect is it having on our children and on our families?

This issue has been on my mind for awhile and my concern is, I see way too many kids both pre-teen and teens with way too much "freedom" and "access" to all these avenues of technology and the bigger problem is their is no boundaries, structure, rules, or guidance in these areas by many parents across our world.

We take for granted because so many of us adults/parents use smart phones, laptops, ipads, text, internet, ipods, etc...that we forget about the freedom our children have in their hands.  Easy access to the world wide web and unlimited resources for innapropriate youtube videos, pornography, predators, R-rated things, and that's just the internet. What about cell phones where they have their own cell phones and they have unlimited freedom and no supervision, to text, call, talk, internet access 24/7?   

Same goes with video games, television, movies, and music.  Many kids watch and listen to whatever they want whether it is age appropriate or not?  Many parents do not realize or do not care that all these things do have parental ratings and warnings on them to show you what is the content, if we'd only take the time to look.

My point?  Parents we need to wake up, educate ourselves, and set clear boundaries and educate our children.  First,  the internet, cell phones and other gadgets and devices are PRIVILEGE not required.  Parents you pay the bills and you need to set clear boundaries and guard your children with these devices.  You need to view your kids phone, email, facebook, texts, at anytime and check them regularly and monitor them. It's your right or they lose them. You are the parent and set the rules, but you got to enforce them and be consistent.  This is loving your kid, not being their friend or giving them all these things with no supervision.   We only get one shot at parenting our kids.  If your kids don't cooperate then they don't need a cell phones, facebook, computer access, or any other devices.

Secondly, you need to set clear boundaires and structure. I would advise heavily to not let your kids have private computers or internet in their bedrooms, you are setting your kids up for failure with unlimited freedom and access.  There are also settings where you can turn off interenet at certain times or limit them.  You also would be wise to have your kids keep their cell phones in a public place like a dining room or kitchen so that they do not have their phones in their rooms at night or 24/7.  Again, you are the parent, you pay for the phone, set rules when you give it/buy it and you can loosen up over time as they age, mature, or show responsibility.  Same goes for TV, Movies, etc...set locks on your tv's so they can't watch certain channels, tv shows, or movies that are not appropriate for them. Do not buy or allow others to buy movies, video games, or music that is innappropriate for them due to langauge, sex, violence etc.

Thirdly, do not feel like you are a horrible parent because you've not done these things up until this  point or do not feel you are a horrible parent for enforcing rules or boundaries for your kids, they need them.  Our most important thing to do as parents is to love and protect our kids.  We live in an age, where one of the best ways we can protect our kids is by limiting, monitoring, and setting clear boundaries on all this High-tech stuff and media that our kids are exposed to that we were not, and protect them from others and mostly themselves.  Most kids are growing, maturing, changing, and they haven't fully developed good reasoning skills and are still impulsive, or following peer pressure, or even self-centered, and it's our job to not create or give them opportunities to mess up by giving them so much freedom with cell phones, media, or computers that they really cause a lot of issues for themselves and you as parents.

Children have plenty of opportunity to make mistakes and bad choices without parents being a willing party to them.  When you give your kid unlimited useage and unsupervised access to cell phones, computers, media, etc...with no boundaries, clear rules, limits, or structure you are setting both yourself and your kid up for failure.  We all need to do a better job of educating ourselves and our children on how to use media, technology, and communication appropriately and responsibly and it starts at home.

We  have rules and boundaries in our family and if they don't honor them, they lose the privilege.  As this world continues to be High-tech remember that all these things we give our kids are wants not needs and you are the parent and are in control of what they have and how much freedom them have, so let's all be wise so our kids grow up being responsible with technology and know how to use it in the right way. Technology is so easily available now and is part of our culture and we take it for granted, but we still need to teach and monitor our children, or we will be dealing with lots of problems in the future.

Proverbs 4:23(NIV)
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life