Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Going through the motions




Recently someone asked me about all the things I do at my local Church and just for those who don’t know me I teach Sunday School, a couples class on Sunday evenings and sing in the choir. They ask me if I am really feeling it or just going through the motions. Well to be perfectly honest it’s a combination of both, but more feeling it than anything. Often what starts out as going through the motions quickly becomes a heartfelt worship experience. I think we all go through times where we are just coasting through life and going through the motions but I feel these are times where we are most vulnerable to falling into the traps of our enemy. In the Army our commanders warn us of the dangers of complacency and I think we as Christians we should also heed this warning. The book of Amos also gives us a warning about being complacent.

Amos 6:1-7 NIV 1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! 2 Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours?3 You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. 4 You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.5 You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.6 You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. 7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.

This is why I feel it is so important to stay plugged into your church. A lot of times we don’t feel like getting up and going to a service but like I told my wife I can’t ever recall a time where I wish I would have stayed at home and not gone. Yes we all get tired and overwhelmed with all the stress we put on ourselves but for me listening to the Word and worshiping with others brings a kind of peace and rejuvenation that can’t be described. It also keeps feeding the fire in my spirit. We often hear about people being on fire for Jesus but I often wonder how that fire is being feed. For me it’s staying involved and fellowshipping with others. But I have to admit I still struggle with staying fired up.

I believe another area we should aware of is being lukewarm. I recently started reading the Book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan and in chapter 4 he starts talking about being a Lukewarm Christian. Again this Chapter could have been written about me because a lot of times I feel I am neither hot nor cold, just somewhere in the middle. In the book of Revelation Jesus says:

Revelation 3:15-16 NKJV “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth”.

Wow this really hit me hard and made me evaluate myself and to be honest I didn’t like the results. I have asked myself do I really walk the walk or do I just talk the talk? Have I given all I have to follow Jesus or just enough to get by? Am I just drifting along with the crowd, singing songs in church and doing good things on occasion? Here’s a big one, have I reached out to family members who don’t know Jesus and tried to share the Gospel with them, Co-workers? Strangers? The Bible tells us in a couple of places to examine ourselves to see where our faith is, here are just a few.

Galatians 6:4 “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor”.

1 Corinthians 11:28 “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup”.

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

The test results are in and I have failed my exam. But the good news is that I will be given another chance to take it and this time it will be open book. Like I said in the beginning I do a few things with my church but I believe it’s not enough. Jesus wants me to be full time and not just show up on Sunday and Wednesday. He wants me to be his first love and not get what ever I have leftover. He even tells us this in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 2:4-6 NKJV “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place — unless you repent”


I know I will be doing a lot of repenting and for my “Westwood” family cleaning out my tent. I hope you all have a very blessed New Year! Chris

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crouching Tiger Hidden Sin!



Friends,

The “Big Story” or “Breaking News” this week of course is the Tiger Woods saga. I like many others have joined in on the jokes, forwarded the funny doctored photos of Tiger and had lengthy discussions with friends and co-workers about the speculations of the case. But I have also been in the same situation and kind of know what he is going through. Take away the fame and fortune and it’s the same story with different characters. But this is nothing new, for over 2,000 years the Bible has been warning men about this very issue. If you just look in Proverbs you will see the warnings that King Solomon gave us on adultery.

“1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, 2 that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. 3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; 6 she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. 7 And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. 8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, 9 lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, 10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, 11 and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed,” Proverbs 5:1-11 (ESV)

“15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. 20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? 21 For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” Proverbs 5:15-23 (ESV)

“21With much seductive speech she persuades him; with(DN) her smooth talk she compels him.22All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast[s] 23till an arrow pierces its liver; as(DO) a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. 24And(DP) now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth.25Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths,26for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are(DQ) a mighty throng.27Her house is(DR) the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” Proverbs 7:21-27 (ESV)


As you can see things have not changed much in 2,000 years, but what we also have to remember is that we serve a loving and forgiving God. God sent his only Son to die on the cross all of our sins including Tiger’s and mine. So I would encourage everyone to pray for him and especially his family and also pray for God to use him to help others who might be tempted to go down this path. The Bible is full of murders and adulterers who have turned their life around and have done great things for God. King David is one of the best examples. I have included a article by C.J Mahaney that ties in with this. God Bless



Hunting Tiger Woods


by C.J. Mahaney

Tiger Woods wants his privacy back. He wants the media entourage to disappear from his life. He wants to be left alone so he can manage his personal problems in private.

Not a chance.

The story began unfolding in the early hours of last Friday when he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a tree and a fire hydrant near his Florida home. He refused to speak with the police about the incident, raising curiosity about the circumstances. The story has now escalated into allegations of marital infidelity, and that generated a blog post from Tiger that stated, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.” This statement by Tiger has led most to believe that the allegations of infidelity are true.

Hunted by the Media

As expected, the allegations of adultery involving a public figure are attracting a media pile-on. This is a big story with a big audience and it’s a story that will not disappear soon. Tiger Woods is being hunted by the media.

But let us make sure we do not join the hunt. A Christian’s response to this story should be distinctly different. We should not be entertained by the news. We should not have a morbid interest in all the details. We should be saddened and sobered. We should pray for this man and even more for his wife.

And we can be sure that in the coming days we will be in conversations with friends and family where this topic will emerge. And when it does, we can avoid simply listening to the latest details and speculations, and avoid speaking self-righteously, but instead we can humbly draw attention to the grace of God in the gospel.

Hunted by Sin

But Tiger is being hunted by something more menacing than journalists. Tiger’s real enemy is his sin, and that’s an enemy much more difficult to discern and one that can’t be managed in our own strength. It’s an enemy that never sleeps.

Let me explain.

Sin Lies

The Bible in general, and the book of Proverbs in particular, reveals an unbreakable connection between our character, our conduct, and the consequences of our actions. These three are inseparable and woven by God into His created order.

Deception is part of sin’s DNA. Sin lies to us. It seeks to convince us that sin brings only pleasure, that it carries no consequences, and that no one will discover it. Sin works hard to make us forget that character, conduct, and consequences are interconnected. And when we neglect this relationship—when we think our sins will not be discovered—we ultimately mock God.

Sin Hunts

We’ve all experienced it: Sin lies to us. We take the bait. And then sin begins to hunt us.

One commentator on Proverbs articulated this truth like this: “The irony of a life of rebellion is that we begin by pursuing sin…and end up being pursued by it!….You can ‘be sure your sin will find you out’ (Num. 32:23…).”* In other words, sin comes back to hunt us.

In light of this fact, sin is an enemy Tiger can’t manage. He can’t shape this story like he does a long iron on a par 5. Tiger doesn’t need a publicity facelift; Tiger needs a Savior. Just like me. And just like you. And if by God’s grace he repents and trusts in the person and work of Christ, Tiger will experience the fruit of God’s promise that “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Conclusion

Tiger cannot intimidate this enemy like he can Pebble Beach or any of the field of professional golfers. And there is no privacy he can claim from this enemy, regardless of his resolve, his silence, or the name painted on his yacht. It’s likely Tiger only perceives the press hunting him out of a vain “curiosity about public figures.” But Tiger is being hunted and hounded by a far greater foe: the consequences of his sin.

And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Have we gone too far with all these Czars?


I think so, sure I think it’s awesome that Baskin Robbins has 32 flavors of Ice Cream but do we really need 32 Czars? According to some sources that is exactly how many we have in the Obama administration. This means we have more czars than Imperial Russia. So what is a Czar anyway? According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary a Czar is “one having great power or authority”, in government they are appointments of a few special officers to play a constructive role in a given administration. But the problem is they are not subjected to Senate confirmation and congressional oversight and pose a grave threat to our system of checks and balances. I found the next two quotes on another blog.

“Even Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) was fearful enough to pen a letter to President Obama in February highlighting his concerns with the administration’s tactics. The Constitution mandates that the Senate confirm Cabinet-level department heads and other appointees in positions of authority — known as “principal officers.” This gives Congress — elected by the people — the power to compel executive decision-makers to testify and be held accountable by someone other than the president. It also ensures that key appointees cannot claim executive privilege when subpoenaed to come before Congress.”

“The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States.” — Sen. Barack Obama, March 31, 2008

“To say President Obama failed to follow through on this promise is an understatement. By appointing a virtual army of “czars” — each wholly unaccountable to Congress yet tasked with spearheading major policy efforts for the White House — in his first six months, the president has embarked on an end-run around the legislative branch of historic proportions.”

So what kind of Czars are out there you say? Here are just a few examples. The administration has a Mideast peace czar (not to be confused with the Mideast policy czar), a Sudan czar and a Guantanamo closure czar. Then there’s the green jobs czar, sometimes in conflict with the energy czar, who talks to the technology czar, who sometimes crosses paths with the urban affairs czar. We mustn’t forget the Great Lakes czar or the WMD czar, who no doubt works hand in hand with the terrorism czar. The stimulus accountability czar is going through a rough time right now, as is the TARP czar — but thankfully they have to answer to the government performance czar. And seemingly everyone falls under the auspices of the information czar. In a government full of duplicative bureaucracies, adding more layers with overlapping responsibilities hardly seems the way to go.

The car czar, who stepped down this month amid controversy over his former firm’s role in a scandal, had been managing government’s recent takeover of a huge swath of the domestic auto industry and making decisions for auto companies. The pay czar — also known in White House circles as the “special master for compensation” — has the power to reject or accept any current and future compensation for the top 100 earners at companies that received, in some cases under pressure, money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program. In the coming months he will decide the fate of $235 million in pending retention bonuses at AIG. And the health czar, meanwhile, has become as influential as perhaps anyone in the Obama administration, spearheading White House negotiations with doctors, hospitals and other health providers. She will play a key role in determining which medicines, treatments and cures are deemed necessary for the public.

You know I could of sworn we had cabinet heads (secretaries if you will) to cover all these areas. I think I want to become a czar. Maybe a video game czar, I can get a fat paycheck, have a staff and determine if some of these games are worth 60$ or not. Or I can be a college football czar and make it illegal for top ten teams to play against community colleges. An example would be #1 Florida playing Charleston Southern. Really? I thought preseason was over. So what kind of czar would you like to be?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Leaving a “Spiritual Inheritance”


Friends,


While preparing for my men’s book study “The man God Uses” I came up with a question for next week’s lesson. The question is “What does it mean to have a Spiritual responsibility to your children and grandchildren?” Now the book we are reading had some great examples but I also came across an article on the internet that talked about leaving a “Spiritual Inheritance”. I have never really given it much thought but I do know after Heidi and I were married my grandfather gave us a bible with a personal note and some scriptures that would help us in the future. I think that’s what their talking about. I can remember another time when my brother and I were talking about books and what to do with the ones we’ve read. How about leaving them for our kids? How cool would that be to see what your parents were reading and to look at things they highlighted or notes they may have jotted down? You know we are always worried about leaving our kids money but how awesome would it be to leave a “Spiritual Inheritance”? I would love to have more personal things like this from my parents and grandparents. So my challenge to you all is to start preparing your Spiritual Inheritance for your kids and grandchildren. Below is an article I pulled from the internet that has some great ideals. You might even want to save your blogs for your children as well.

http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/inheritance.html


LEAVE A SPIRITUAL INHERITANCE

"A good man," says Proverbs 13:22, "leaves an inheritance to his children's children." Leaving a material and financial inheritance in a wise manner is good stewardship and can be a great blessing to your heirs. But have you considered ways to leave an inheritance to your family that will have a more direct spiritual impact on them?

These spiritual lives we're trying to simplify aren't lived for ourselves only. We also bear responsibility to influence others spiritually, especially the members of our own family. To that end, here are a few items to leave as spiritual time capsules with the belief that they will bless many generations of your descendants.

Prayers. The beloved old Bible commentator, Matthew Henry said somewhere that wise parents are more concerned about leaving a treasury of prayers for their children than a treasury of silver and gold. God can answer long after we are dead the prayers for our children and future generations we bring to His throne today. King Hezekiah's wicked son, Manasseh, repented and turned to the Lord many decades after Hezekiah died (see 2 Chronicles 33:12-19), but no doubt the father left behind a rich inheritance of prayers to God for his wayward boy. You may want to preserve some of your prayers for your descendants in letters or journals.

Journals. One hundred years from now, quite possibly all that will be known of you will be from photographs or videos, and from what you write. Despite your decades of life and labor, few, if any, of even your direct descendants a century from today will know anything about your spirituality. (What do you know about the inner life of your ancestors who, just 1200 months ago, were as alive as you are now?) Leave your heirs a clear, written testimony of how you came to know God through Jesus Christ. Provide them with a record of answers to prayer, remarkable providences, significant spiritual events, and other works of God in your part of their family history. Write letters to your descendants, urging them to trust Christ, to maintain a Christian heritage in the family, and to meet you in Heaven. Make a list of books that have influenced you.

Books. Leave a library—especially of Christian books—for your children and their children. The Lord may use the books to bring them to Christ and to give solid guidance to their spiritual lives long after you are gone. Collect good books for your children or grandchildren even before they are born. I've always bought books (both Christian and general reading) for my daughter, Laurelen, years before she could enjoy them. In fact, I started buying books for her future children when she was just six years old. So if I find a bargain on boys' books, I'll buy them—even though Laurelen will probably never read them—in anticipation of having grandsons some day. Who knows whether some of the great old used books I find for them today will still be available or affordable by then?

Daily planners. If you have the space, archive your daily planners. These reflect how you've spent your time and, combined with your journals, provide a fairly complete biography of your adult life.

Of course, your most immediate spiritual legacy is the life you live before the watching eyes of your children and grandchildren. However, some (all?) of your grandchildren or great-grandchildren may never know you personally. But if you leave them a rich spiritual inheritance, they may say of you, "He being dead still speaks" (Hebrews 11:4).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Don’t mess with the Bull you’ll get the horns!


One of my favorite quotes from the movie “ The Breakfast Club” besides “does Barry Manilow know you stole his wardrobe?” is “ don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns”. Well that’s exactly what happened the other day in Spain during the annual running of Bulls festival. Here is some of the story from the AP

PAMPLONA, Spain - A charging bull gored a man to death Friday at Pamplona's San Fermin festival, the first such fatality in nearly 15 years. Nine others were injured in a particularly dangerous and chaotic chapter of the running of the bulls.

The San Fermin festival Web site said the unidentified man was gored in the neck and lung during a run in which a rogue bull separated from the pack, which is among the worst things that can happen at Spain's most popular fiesta.

My question is why do we even entertain doing stuff like this? I know I have done some crazy things in my past. But I always have to ask myself “what was I thinking?” I have to admit before this guy was gored to death I have always thought it would be cool to run with the bulls. Also have you ever noticed it’s always young to middle age white guys doing crazy stunts like this. Do women have these ideals and just not act on them? What is it about us that make us think things like this would be a cool ? Putting a lit bottle rocket in your butt is another example reckless behavior guys have engaged in. Is it the “Jack Ass Syndrome” ?

Hopefully I have grown out of this stage of my life but I have to worry about my son and his buddies and I pray they won’t try to act out some of these things they see on you-tube. What are some of the craziest stunts you have ever done? For me it would be running over a junked car with a tank, and driving 125 Mph on the Autobahn in Germany. What was I thinking?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Church: Love It, Don't Leave It


Friends,


I found this article in the Washington Post and thought it was worth sharing. Seems like lately we have been trying to come up with our own style of church instead of following the example Jesus set for us over 2,000 years ago. I am all for meeting at houses or coffee shops for some fellowship and worship as long as it's not taking the place our weekly Church services. As a matter of fact I think we need to spend more time together in fellowship and worship. I am really encouraged when I see how our Westwood youth get together and just hang out at Church. What do you all think? Are we too caught up in the world to give more than 2 or 3 hours a week worshiping with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ? I know I spend that amount of time just goofing off at the house everynight. So while I am taking the plank out of my own eye let us try to come up with some ways to get together and fellowship more..What says you? Below is the article from the Washington Post



Church: Love It, Don't Leave It
By Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Here's what Bono, Oprah, and the guru speakers on PBS won't tell you: Jesus believed in organized religion and he founded an institution. Of course, Jesus had no patience for religious hacks and self-righteous wannabes, but he was still Jewish. And as Jew, he read the Holy Book, worshiped in the synagogue, and kept Torah. He did not start a movement of latte-drinking disciples who excelled in spiritual conversations. He founded the church (Matt. 16:18) and commissioned the apostles to proclaim the good news that Israel's Messiah had come and the sins of the world could be forgiven through his death on the cross (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:14-36).

For almost two millennia, it was axiomatic that Christians, like, actually went to church (or at least told other Christians they did). From Cyprian to Calvin it was believed that for those to whom God "is Father the church may also be Mother." But increasingly Christians are trying to get more spiritual by getting less church.

Take a spin through the religion section at your local bookstore. What you'll find there is revealing - there are "revolutionary" books for stay at home moms, teenagers, and Christian businessmen. There are lots of manifestos. And most of the books about church are about people leaving the church to "find God." There are lots of Kerouacian "journey" stories, and at least one book about the gospel according to Starbucks. It used to be you had to overthrow a country to be considered a revolutionary, and now, it seems, you just have to quit church and go pray in the woods.

We've been in the church our whole lives and are not blind to its failings. Churches can be boring, hypocritical, hurtful, and inept. The church is full of sinners. Which is kind of the point. Christians are worse than you think. Our Savior is better than you imagine.

But the church is not all about oppression and drudgery. Almost every church we know of visits old people, brings meals to new moms, supports disaster relief, and does something for the poor. We love the local church, in spite of its problems, because it's where we go to meet God. It's not a glorified social/country club you attend to be around people who talk and look just you do. It's a place to hear God's word spoken, taught and affirmed. It's a place to sing praises to God, and a place to serve others. It's a place to be challenged.

The church is more than plural for Christian. It is both organism and organization, a living thing comprised of a certain order, regular worship services, with doctrinal standards, institutional norms, and defined rituals. Without the institution of the church nurturing the flock and protecting the faith for two thousand years, there would be no Christianity. If Gen Xers (like us) and their friends want to be against something, start a revolution. If you want to conserve truth and grace for twenty centuries, plant a church.

We love the church because Christ loved the church. She is his bride--a harlot at times, but his bride nonetheless, being washed clean by the word of God (Eph. 5:25-26). If you are into Jesus, don't rail on his bride. Jesus died for the church, so don't be bothered by a little dying to self for the church's sake. If you keep in mind that everyone there is a sinner (including yourself) and that Jesus Christ is the point and not you, your dreams, or your kids, your church experience might not be as lame as you fear.

Perhaps Christians are leaving the church because it isn't tolerant and open-minded. But perhaps the church-leavers have their own intolerance too--intolerant of tradition, intolerant of authority, intolerant of imperfection except their own. Are you open-minded enough to give the church a chance--a chance for the church to be the church, not a coffee shop, not a mall, not a variety show, not Chuck E. Cheese, not a U2 concert, not a nature walk, but a wonderfully ordinary, blood-bought, Spirit-driven church with pastors, sermons, budgets, hymns, bad carpet and worse coffee?

The Church, because it is Christ's church, will outlive American Idol, the NFL, and all of our grandkids. We won't last, but the Church will. So when it comes to church, be like Jesus: love it, don't leave it. As Saint Calloway once prophesied to the Brothers of Blues, "Jake, you get wise, you get to church

Friday, June 5, 2009

Addicted to Entertainment


Friends,

My name is Chris and I am addicted to entertainment! I never really gave it much thought but its true. A couple of weeks ago my friend Shawn mentioned he was cutting off the TV for awhile, another friend Benita mention she was giving up “Farm Town”. I have had other family members mention packing up their TV’s and video games. So it looks like I am not alone. I am addicted to all these things! Now with today’s technology, we have enough media at our fingertips to be able to watch thousands of hours (days/Months) of TV shows and Movies. With Netflix and Hulu alone you can spend every min of the day watching something new for the rest of your lives. Wow! Sometimes that’s enough to stress you out. I have about 30 hrs alone on my DVR that I don’t have time to watch. Let alone the hundreds of DVD’s I just had to have. Am I really going to have time to watch all 5 Star Wars movies again? I don’t think so.

But is all this bad? That’s the million dollar question. I think if it controls your life, keeps you from worshiping God and spending time with your family it is. I was thinking about this the other day. I have recently decided to start doing some extra activities at Church (couples class on Sunday evenings and Men’s book study on Wed). All of this combined with the services on Sun and Wednesday adds up to about 7 hrs a week. That’s a lot! But then I thought about how much time I spend on entertainment I felt ashamed. I can’t even give 7 hours to worship and fellowship with other belivers?

So what’s the take away? For me it’s balance and prioritizing. It’s about putting God first, and then your family and anything left can go for entertainment. For the longest time I have had these in the reverse order and trust me it’s a daily struggle. But if you read the attached article there are some good tips from Tim Challies and John Piper on overcoming this addiction. Another thing I would suggest is to take it slow and wean yourself off these addictions. Look at it like steering an 18 wheeler that you are trying to turn around. Make a slow gradual turn. A lot of people want to get radical and go cold turkey. Examples being, taking out the TV or shutting off the cable. It never works. Like Brother Steve said the other night about good intentions being the path to you know where! Remember “I was gonna” died and didn’t make it to Heaven because he “was gonna” and never did. The below excerpt comes from Tim Challies’s blog http://www.challies.com/ Hope you enjoy…Chris


Addicted to Entertainment (II)by Tim Challies

Yesterday I looked briefly at entertainment addiction and attempted to propose a definition of entertainment. I said that entertainment is an escape or distraction from normal life. Perhaps I should have added that it is an “enjoyable” escape or distraction. While this is an imperfect definition, I think it is useful, at the least. We seek entertainment to take our minds off the stresses and strains and reality of life.
Today I want to offer a couple of ideas that may help you see the impact entertainment has on our lives.

QUALIFY ENTERTAINMENT

I think we need to first qualify our entertainment. We need to figure out what constitutes entertainment and this may well vary from person to person. A lot of what we may think is news or information or otherwise beneficial information may really be entertainment thinly disguised. Do you check Drudge Report eight or ten times every day looking to see the newest headlines? If so, I suspect you are being entertained more than you are being informed. That little bit of information you get from glancing at the headlines and skimming through the stories should probably be filed as entertainment. The same is true of much of the evening news or the blogs you read. Are these things really integral to your life and faith? Or are they really just a form of entertainment? In Amusing Ourselves to Death Neil Postman asked when the last time was that you read a news headline and were compelled to take action. He realized that the vast majority of the news that comes to us is news which demands no action; instead, it is mere information that entertains us but without edifying or challenging us. Even news is often entertainment.

So my encouragement here is to take a look at your day and especially the time you spend in front of screens to determine how much of it is genuinely useful, genuinely applicable to life and how much of it is really a form of entertainment. Which of the shows you watch are entertainment and which are genuinely useful? Which of the web sites you read are entertainment and which actually impact your life? Which of the books you read are amusing and which are edifying? Just pause briefly to think about it.

QUANTIFY ENTERTAINMENT

Once you have qualified what you do to entertain yourself, try to quantify it. Here you simply attach a number to your entertainment—a number of hours or minutes every day in which you enjoy entertainment. I suspect that, almost invariably, you will be surprised at how large that number is.
As of 2008, the average person between the ages of 18 and 24 spent 8.5 hours every day in front of some kind of a screen—whether computer, cell phone, television, or any other. Mom and dad (aged 45 - 54) fared better (or is it worse?), clocking in at 9.5 hours. These are incredible statistics that give a sense of how digital technologies are reshaping our world. Consider that in 1940 the average would have been 0 hours per day. In just 70 years we have radically reshaped our lives.
How much of this screen time is entertainment-related? In most cases I suspect that it would be the vast majority. Almost 5 hours of the 8.5 for that 18 to 24 year-old are spent watching television (with mom and dad tallying over 6). Can any of that be deemed something other than entertainment? Not likely. How much of the computer time is related to work or school and how much is chatting or browsing or looking at pornography? And even when we seek to be productive on our computers, how often do we switch quickly to email or Digg or Facebook, even if just for a moment or two at a time? How much of the time spent texting and chatting on the cell phone is for entertainment purposes? And even when we do sit back on the couch with a good book, do we keep the television on, just within our peripheral vision?

Even when we look exclusively at screen time we find that people must spend several hours a day being entertained. And this does not include all the other means of entertainment available to us. So quantify your entertainment. For just a day or two track what you do and define appropriate categories. Keep an eye out for how often you switch from work to entertainment, school to entertainment, even if for only two or three minutes each time. I suspect you will find that you are demanding hours of entertainment every day.

WHAT TO DO?

Before we continue, I wish to emphasize once again that entertainment is not inherently evil. In fact, I am sure that God created us so we desire and pursue times of entertainment. However, I do think we live at a time when we pursue entertainment with reckless abandon and when we demand it in unprecedented quantities. And for this reason it does us good to think about it, to qualify it, to quantify it.

Now we return to the question that triggered these articles. Somebody wrote to John Piper and asked “I believe I do love Jesus, but most of the time I’d rather spend time being entertained than spend time in God’s word. How do I break this hold that entertainment has on my heart?”

Here is Piper’s reply:

1. Recognizing it is a huge step in the right direction.
2. Seek the Lord earnestly about it. Pray like crazy that God would open your eyes to see wondrous things out of his law.
3. Immerse yourself in the Bible, even when you don’t feel like it, pleading with God to open your eyes to see what’s really there.
4. Get in a group where you talk about serious things.
5. Begin to share your faith. One of the reasons we are not as moved by our own faith as we are is because we almost never talk about it to any unbeliever. It starts to feel like a kind of hothouse thing, and then it starts to have a feeling of unreality about it. And then the powers of entertainment have more sway in our life.

What I have sought to do yesterday and today is give some guidance, some context, to this first step. I want to help you recognize if and where entertainment has dominated your time. If you quantify your entertainment and find that you are spending four or five hours a day being entertained, you may will identify with this person’s honest statement: “most of the time I’d rather spend time being entertained than spend time in God’s word.”

At this point I’d encourage you to pursue Piper’s remedy. I know there is much more that could be said at this point but his suggestions are, at the very least, a great place to start. Pray like crazy, immerse yourself in Scripture even (and especially) when you do not want to, talk with others about serious things and share the gospel. Let God’s Word shape and mold you, showing you what really matters.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Son's messy room leads to dad's 911 call


Friends,

I found this on MSN this morning.

“BEDFORD, Ohio - An Ohio man who argued with his grown son over a messy bedroom says he overreacted when he called 911.Andrew Mizsak called authorities Thursday after his 28-year-old son — who's a school board member in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford — threw a plate of food across the kitchen table and made a fist at him when told to clean his room. The son, also named Andrew, lives in a room in his parents' basement. The father declined to press charges and told police he doesn't want to ruin his son's political career. The son, who also works as a political consultant, says he's lucky to be living in the house rent free. He also promises to keep his room clean.”

How many of us can relate to this guy? I know I can. I also know if I had a dollar for every time we have told our Son to clean his room we could pay our house off. But you know this really got me thinking about how our Heavenly Father is doing the same thing with us. Using our “Room” as an analogy for our “lives” I am sure our father is constantly telling us to clean up! Do we listen? A lot of times we don’t but he loves us anyway and doesn’t give up hope that one day we will change. I often equate being a parent to the way God is our parent. I often tell my Son that I love him and that I would give my life for him just like Jesus did for us. I tell him that God forgives me when I mess up and I will do the same for him. He still has a messy room but has a closer relationship with his parents and for that I am eternally grateful

Father thank you for the Mercy and Grace you have shown us in dealing with our “messy Rooms” We know we are undeserving of your Love and Forgiveness but you give it freely anyway. Father thank you sending your Son to die for our sins and thank you for not giving up on us. It’s in Jesus name we pray Amen!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unashamed


Friends I have been so blessed to belong to a Church family who loves me for who I am and who loves me unconditionally. When I think about what I have been going through these past couple of years and especially the pain I have caused Heidi and my Son I have to wonder how can anyone care about me? I am very ashamed of what I have done and I have asked for forgiveness from my family and from God. I do believe that I have been forgiven and have been shown more mercy and grace than I deserve, but then again that’s what being a Christian is all about. Here are a couple of scriptures that come to mind.

Romans 3:23-24 tells us that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”

Romans 8:1-2 also tells us “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death”

Wow pretty powerful stuff. I have to credit my Brother Tony for quoting these to me when I have been feeling down and discouraged about my transgressions. I have been forgiven and I am still covered under Gods Grace! Friends it took along time to realize this. Like I said in the beginning my Church family has also been awesome through this whole experience. They really stood by Heidi and Cj and welcomed me back home with open arms.

The main reason I am writing this Blog is to reach other people who might feel too ashamed of their Sins to come back to Church. I talked to a very sweet girl and her boyfriend yesterday after the service and asked about her Mom and Dad. Her parents had divorced 4 yrs earlier and recently reconciled and remarried. Her Mom was in our Sunday school class and I can remember the day she told Heidi that she was getting back together with her former husband. Just thinking of the happiness I saw on her face brings tears to my eyes. God has restored another marriage! He has healed another family! God does not know the meaning of the word impossible!

Well to get back to my point. After this couple remarried we haven’t seen them in Church that much and Mom has not been back to our Sunday school class. When I asked the daughter about it she said they are visiting other Churches. I hope and pray that they don’t feel too ashamed to come back and get involved with our Church. Like I said before Westwood has welcomed me back with open arms and I know they would do the same for them. And besides what a blessing it would be for everyone to see how God has worked in their lives. Friends we need more of this! We need to share our victories! We need to see God working in our lives. We need to hear from people who have been through the storm and lived to tell about.

Friends if you or someone you know is avoiding the Church because you feel ashamed of your past sins or feel unwelcomed I beg you to give Jesus along with his bride (The Church) a chance to work in your life. I am so glad I did! I will leave you with a verse from Colossians 2:13-14 ” And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross”
Remember we have all fallen short of Gods glory and there has only been one without Sin and that was the one who took our place on the cross! Take care my friends, I’ll see you later at our Fathers house.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Basement!


Those of you who have been following me on Facebook for the past couple of weeks know I have been really hyping up “The Basement”. Well there is a really good reason; simply “The Basement” is awesome. Now to give you a little background on the Basement I am will borrow some quotes from an article in “The Christian Science Monitor”

“The Basement isn't a club. It's a youth-oriented church service – part concert, part pep rally – led by 25-year-old Matt Pitt, a self-taught evangelist who's been preaching his message of clean living, racial conciliation, and sold-out-for-God Christianity since 2004. What began as informal street preaching has become a full-blown enterprise requiring police, security guards, lawyers, and accountants. Mr. Pitt's life has changed seemingly overnight, and many of the teenagers who flock to Birmingham's Cathedral of the Cross to hear him speak say he's changing them, too."

“Pitt is one of a new generation of young evangelical pastors around the country trying to reach out to kids who feel alienated by traditional churches. Mixing prayer and pulse-pounding music, the services speak to teens in a vernacular and environment they're used to, often emphasizing personal testimonies rather than authoritative teaching. Services at The Basement open with roughly 45 minutes of hip-hop performed by local Christian rappers who whip the crowd into a frenzy, encouraging them to dance mosh-pit-style to lyrics like, "Jesus is my rock/ Jesus is my rock star/ Jesus is my rock/ And he's totally cool."

“Pitt arrives onstage afterward, looking somewhat like a rock star himself as his lanky frame, clad in a black T-shirt, jeans, and sandals, is projected across two large screens. "Look at those Jesus freaks right there who are not ashamed," he says, pointing to a row of gyrating worshipers. "Jesus is the only way. The Basement can't do it for you. This is not about a man or a ministry. I'm just the messenger.”

“Keeping it real is a big part of Pitt's message. He addresses issues like school violence, sex, absentee fathers, racism, and suicide. He speaks openly about his personal struggles, as well as those of his family.” Follow below link for the complete article

This article is good but to really get an ideal of what goes on at the Basement you have to see for yourself. The doors open at 6:45 on Tuesday nights at “The Cathedral of the Cross” Church in Centerpoint.

Now for the past couple of weeks I have been taking a small group of kids from Westwood with me on Tuesday nights and it really has been a blessing. Last night one of the kids we took, I believe got saved. He name is Trevor. He is a friend of my son Cj and had just started coming to our youth group on Wed nights. We saw Trevor hanging around the Church last night and invited him to go with us. Well half way through the service I noticed him sitting in the pew with his head in his hands. I asked Cj if he was sick and he said “no dad he is an atheist and I think he is changing his mind” Wow that was powerful!

Trevor continued to sit there while we all were worshiping and then Cj, Kat and Randy Bailey (yes I said Randy Bailey) hugged him and prayed with him. It was very emotional. Usually the service ends with Matt leaving the stage while the crowd gathers up front and worships to a couple Hillsong tunes. Then we usually leave after a song or two but last night we stayed an extra 20 minutes singing and praising Jesus while the kids gathered around Trevor and held him. Wow! I still get emotional thinking about. Then after we got back to the church Cj informs me that his friend Jacob has also been inspired by going to the Basement. All I can say is Praise Jesus!

Now we also have a great youth program at Westwood led by Joseph and his wife Kara and they are doing an awesome job. I think the Basement is just a great way to get our youth on fire for Jesus and invite them into the family of Christ. Now the youths weren’t the only ones on fire last night, if you would of seen Tyrone and I jumping around you would of grabbed a fire hose..Take care friends and hopefully I’ll see you at the Basement! God Bless

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Family that prays together....Love Dare day 37


Friends,

As you know Heidi and I have been attending a Love Dare Bible Study at Westside Baptist Church in Jasper on Sunday nights. We have one more session to go and during that session we will renew our wedding vows, but what I want to talk about today is praying as a couple and family. I have been hit and miss on my Love Dare blogs but I feel this is one of the most important dares you can do. So here it goes.

TODAY’S DARE

“Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together. Talk about the best time to do this, whether it’s in the morning, your lunch hour, or before bedtime. Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements, and needs before the Lord. Don’t forget to thank Him for His provision and blessing. Even if your spouse refuses to do this, resolve to spend this daily time in prayer yourself.”

Wow..This is powerful! John and Lisa (our class leaders) have been emphasizing praying as a couple since day one but until a couple of days ago we haven’t been doing it. Then last Thursday we did it. We woke up and “I said I think we need to pray together”, Heidi agreed and then I started thanking the Lord for blessing our marriage and giving us a second chance. I also thanked him for all the other blessings we have received and then ask him to watch over us and our family. It was awesome! Now I have to admit I am not very comfortable praying aloud but this morning I felt at ease and the words just flowed out and it only took a couple of minutes. The best part was later that evening Heidi came home from work and expressed how much the prayer helped her through her work day. She said she felt lifted up all day and nothing really bothered her, which was great! We also did this with our Son the other day and he was real receptive to it. What an awesome way to start the day and strengthen your relationships. Thank you Jesus! A couple of scriptures come to mind when I think about praying together.

“If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father”. Matthew 18:19

Also Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”

I firmly believe that prayer is the first step in putting on the whole armor of God on and when we do this we are preparing ourselves for anything the enemy throws at us. Praying together also brings us closer to God and to each other. Try it! Take care yall..God Bless…..Chris

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just some random thoughts


In the office today we had a discussion about gossiping around the “water cooler” but since we don’t have a “water cooler” we meet by the scanner and fax machine (that seems to be obsolete in today’s high tech world) and share our stories. Now when I say gossip I mean small talk and not necessarily talking about others.Where do you all gather for your daily dish of office gossip?

I read an interesting blog about Facebook today. Seems like some folks are addicted to the Social Networking page that most of us belong to. This Blog starts out telling a story about a guy checking his Facebook page during Church then the writer goes on to explain how Facebook, Gmail and other internet usage are preventing him from his daily Bible reading. Now I will admit I spend some time one these places myself but let’s be honest with ourselves here, there are a hundred other things out there that will keep you from staying in the word on a daily basis. We have TV, music, video games, sports..ect.. ect more stuff to do than time to do it in. If you are not reading your Bible or a devotional book everyday don’t blame technology, the kids, or your job. Take responsibility. Blame yourself and make the effort to put your daily time with God first. Friends I am the biggest violator of this. I spend way too much time watching TV and goofing off on the internet but I have to blame myself and not these things.

Getting back to Facebook, I love it! I think it is a great tool to keep up with friends and loved ones. How do you all feel about technology(and Facebook/myspace/twitter) and being able to stay focused on God at the same time? I feel it’s a balance that we all can achieve and who knows we as Christians can even use technology to spread the good news. Below is the link to the Facebook Blog I mentioned earlier..Peace and Blessings my friends..Chris


http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0002003.cfm

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love is Faithful


I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.
—Hosea 2:20


TODAY’S DARE


Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, “I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.”



Friends,


I know I have been hit and miss with my Love Dare blogging so bear with me. Today’s dare talks about being committed to love. It starts off with saying love is a choice. Wow I never really thought about that before. Do we choose to love someone? I always thought it was a feeling that you had no control over. I guess on the other hand you could choose not to hate someone. What are some of your feelings on this? I also heard something interesting in our Love dare Bible study the other night. Our teacher told us that you must “lead your heart instead of following it”. I am still trying to grasp what that means so again feel free to chime in. I guess it means you can will your self to love someone and lead your heart where your flesh doesn’t want to go.

Well getting back to the Dare. I usually tell Heidi I love her a good 10-15 times a day whether it be in person, cell phone, e-mail or text so I think we have this covered. But then I got to thinking if we tell each other “I love you” that many times a day why don’t we do the same for Jesus? I have to admit I am lucky if I pray once a day. That is an area that I really need to focus on. But I was thinking I can just close my eyes for a second and tell Jesus “I love you” and not ask for anything. I can tell him everytime I get in the car or better yet when I get out of the car and thank him at the same time for getting me to my destination safely. I can think of alot of times where I have a minute or two that I can just say I love you!. Well friends that’s my 2 cents for today. Let me know what you think…take care..Chris

Monday, March 16, 2009

Love dare..Day 14

Friends Thursdays Love Dare was:

Day 14


Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just be together.



Well for the past week I have been playing a lot of online video games with my Brother so Thursday I decided to put down the games and spend some quality time with my baby. I started out by cooking dinner, then afterward we watched a movie together. It’s amazing how much time we could spend together but it always seems like we have other stuff to do. My suggestion would be spend quality first , then do whatever you thought was so important afterward. I always have a couple of hours after Heidi goes to bed to play games or piddle around the house. Thanks for stopping by..Your Brother in Christ…Chris



Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life.—Ecclesiastes 9:9 HCSB

Friday, March 13, 2009

Love Dare Blog


Friends,

I have started a blog just for doing the Love Dare. I will still maintain this on but wanted to get involved with others who are doing the Love Dare program. Today i will post a link and my first Blog post from the Love dare site. Feel free to put your 2cents, well 1cent in since were are in hard economic times.





March 13th, 2009

Friends,

For the past couple of weeks Heidi and I have been attending a “Fireproof” Bible study at Westside Baptist in Jasper on Sunday evenings. I have decided to start blogging about this as a way of keeping up with our love dares and to share experiences with other couples going through the same thing. This is my first Blog on an actual dare and yes I know I am starting in the middle and out of order but if you look in the love dare book there are some things you can’t do on certain days. I am starting out with day 13 then I might jump back to some others. So here it is. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you came up with.
.
"If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand".—Mark 3:25

TODAY’S DARE

Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by. Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.If a [...]


Wow what a good Ideal. Come up with some ground rules before an argument or conflict arises. Well here is our list that we both came up with.

Day 13

Talk to your spouse about establishing healthy rules (guidelines) of engagement

1. No yelling or raising voices
2. Use speaker listener technique, Listen first to the other- then speak, no interruptions, and a promise to listen openly
3. No low blows or bringing up the past
4. Before speaking put best thought forward
5. Call time out when an issues get too heated and can’t be immediately resolved.
6. Pick good time for discussions (not while going to Church, getting ready for work, or on date/family nights/vacations or meal times)
7. No going to bed angry
8. End disagreement/discussion on good note, giving a hug, kiss and saying “I love you”












Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Romans 13


Friends,

In an attempt to get more into the Word and learn some scripture I have joined Tim Challies and his fellow bloggers in a weekly scripture memorization group. Each week Tim posts a passage of scripture for us to learn and memorize. I will attempt to keep up with this and blog a little on the scripture as well. This week we are memorizing Romans 13. This is a good one. I think my brother Tony quoted this to me after the election. The basic themes are Submission to Authorities and to Fulfilling the Law through Love.

After the election one of my co-workers (an Obama supporter) asked me if I was ok. As in was I disappointed? And my response was “I am great, my guy won!” She then looked at me like I was crazy and I explained that God is in control and that his will was being done. Romans 13:1 tells us “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” There you have it “those that exist have been instituted by God” he is in control and he knows best.
Now the second part of Romans 13 talks about how Love fulfills the Law. Wow how simple is that! Basically if you follow what Jesus says about love you will not break any of other the other Commandments? That’s it “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Romans 13:10 tells us “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” To quote the Beatles “all you need is love”. Just think of how much easier our lives would be if we could just remember that. I know I struggle with it sometimes.


Father God,

Thank you so much for giving us your inspired Word to help guide us through our lives here on Earth and to prepare us to one day to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and spend eternity with your Son. Father thank you for giving us your Son to who has shown us what true love is all about. Lord it’s in your name we pray. Amen


Romans 13

Submission to the Authorities

13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
.
Fulfilling the Law Through Love
.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shopping for a Church


Friends,


Today I came across an interesting story on MSN about the new “American Mania” of shopping around for a Church. Shopping for a Church? Now I have heard of looking for a Church before but shopping? Do we shop for a new Job, or a new School? I think my Church is more personal than that. I think the article was referring to the White House statement saying the Obama Family was “still shopping for a Church in Washington”; well anyway besides the play on words here I believe a lot of Americans have been looking for a good place to worship and call home. According to this article “One in seven adult’s changes churches each year and another one in six attends a handful of churches on a rotating basis”. Wow that seems like a high number but I guess it’s possible. I know we have had a few people rotate in and out of our doors but not that many. But in today’s society we have more choices than ever about every aspect in our lives; examples are school, work, doctors and yes even Churches. Wow so many to choose from and so little time to do it. Now friends I am a firm believer in finding the perfect Church for your family no matter how long it takes.
While visiting my brother in Nashville over the past couple of years I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of Churches. Each one of them has been awesome and unique in their own way. I still don’t know which one I would choose if I lived up there but I do know I would find one who would love my family and I like their own. Kind of like my Westwood family. I know I got all mushy about Westwood in a previous post but I can’t help bragging on them. But back to the topic of Church shopping, what do look for when deciding on a Church to attend? What is it about the Church that makes you feel like a part of the family? How did you come about attending the Church you are at now? For me it was a matter of the Church finding my family. After moving here in 2000 we were visited by a group of folks from Westwood who invited us to Church a couple of times. At first we really didn’t get a warm fuzzy about Westwood but as we got to know some people we started to feel at home and really felt in our hearts it was the place to be. What’s your story?

Father God,

Thank you so much for not only giving us your Son but also giving us so many places to go and worship him as a family. Father thank you for our brothers and sisters in Christ who make our Churches more than just places of worship but homes where families can gather as one. It’s in your name that we pray. Amen
.
.
MSN Article

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cool Blog/links for "Lost" fans



Friends,

For those of you who like the show "Lost" I have posted some links you might enjoy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A few nuggets


Friends,

I just got through listening to a teaching from one of my favorite pastors, Mark Driscoll. He taught a good lesson on the "9 Distinctions Between the Gospel and Religion" while visiting the campus of the Southeasten Baptist Theological Seminary. It's over 40 min but worth the time .

http://www.sebts.edu/news-resources/multimedia.aspx?type=chapel&Vid=72


The other gem for today is fellow Blogger, book reviewer and Author Tim Challies is starting a scripture memorization program with his fellow bloggers visit his site for more details.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Love for My Bride!


Friends,

While reading Ed Stetzers book “Compelled by love” I came across a quote that made me think about my Church and how I feel about the people I worship with. The quote goes like this “Can You Love Jesus and Ignore His Bride?” I have to admit I never really gave that too much thought. Then when he explained how Jesus thought of the Church as his Bride it all made sense. Ed also writes in his blog “if you consider yourself a Christian but don't love and enjoy a covenant relationship with a local body of believers, you are essentially saying "I love Jesus, but I don't love His wife.". I have to admit I do love my Bride. I love all my Brothers and Sisters in my Church family and really enjoy worshipping with them. But last night during a business meeting I was sad to learn that a number of members have left our family. I then wondered why.

In a recent survey about people leaving a church( conducted by Life Way)it was concluded that 58 percent of those studied said they stopped coming due to relational problems. For example, 26 percent said Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical; 20 percent didn’t feel connected to people in the Church and 15 percent said churches were unfriendly, unwelcoming, or cliquish.

Wow! I have heard some of these comments from people who not attended Church regularly or nonbelievers, but not from members. I know we have had some problems in our Church but not to the extent listed in the Life Way survey. But I have to wonder how much the individuals contributed to the experiences they had with the Church. Were they judgmental themselves? Were they friendly, welcoming? Did they even try to connect with some people? Friends I feel there has to be some give and take here. I believe we have to come out of our shells and make the first move sometimes.

We need to go up to that person we don’t know and shake their hand. One guy came up to me just last week and ask how long I have been going to Westwood and I told him on and off for 5 plus years. He said he never noticed me there. But come to think of it I have never noticed him neither. That’s what I am talking about. That tells me I need to go to some of these folks I see every week and greet them. I need to stick around a little bit after Church or come in early and just start up a conversation with someone I don’t know. It’s funny I do that all the time when I am waiting in line at Wal-Mart or out somewhere so why not do it at Church?

Friends like I said before I love all my peeps at Westwood and every weekend is like a family reunion. We have a group of older ladies who are like grandmothers to me; I have some other guys and gals who are just like Brothers and Sisters. I can just go on and on about them. But the whole point is we have to love the Bride and this means we have to love the Church just as Jesus did and everyone in it. Ephesians 5:25 (ESV) gives us instructions “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

Father God,

Thank you finding my family and I a Church that we can call home, a place where we can share our love for you and our love for one another. Father please continue blessing our extended family and help us reach people who feel unloved and unwelcomed in your home. Father we love you and are thankful for the many blessings we have received from you. It’s in your name we pray Amen!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Sabbath? Who needs that?




Friends,


If you’re like me you might think the same thing. For the longest time I never understood what the big deal about this day was. Even after being saved I never really knew what this Commandment was all about. Like a lot of folks I always thought that you couldn’t work on that day and you also had to spend all day in Church. Well my friends today I have a different opinion of this day.

According to Wikipedia “A Shabbat or Sabbath is generally a weekly day of rest and/or time of worship that is observed in several faiths. The term derives from the Hebrew Shabbat , "to cease", which was first used in the Biblical account of the seventh day of Creation.

In the Old Testament the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day, which of course was Saturday. During those times the Jewish leaders added over 1,500 rules dictating what you could and could not do on this day. They even questioned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. But Jesus had the perfect answer. Mark 2:27/28 (ESV) And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” So there you have it, Jesus said “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” and he also said he was “lord even of the Sabbath”

The Sabbath is a gift from God. It is something that God thought was so important that he included it the Ten Commandments. It is something that God instructed us to do for our own good. Now it was the Pharisees who decided to add conditions to this Holy day and it was Constantine who officially changed the day to Sunday.Now I know a lot of us will say that the Sabbath is part of the “Laws” of the Old Testament and that we have been freed from these laws by Grace, there is even scripture that could back that up.

Galatians 3:22-26 (ESV) tells us “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

Yes it is true there are a lot of the “Laws” from the OT that we are free from like Circumcision and observing the Sabbath but we have to ask ourselves do these Laws really help or hinder us. In the case of the Sabbath I believe it could only do us good.

The internetmonk (who has a really good blog site) wrote “Christians can greatly benefit from Sabbath keeping as a personal discipline, but it isn’t a new covenant command. We should always be careful when using any OT practice. It can be done, but only with the Gospel as the controlling principle” he also said “But it’s not a command to keep Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. It’s a worthy imitation of the old covenant to honor the Sabbath as Jesus did by honoring God as the God of Sabbath whenever we take it”.

So now that we are free from this law do we still need it? I say yes. We all need a break from the daily grind. No one can work for any long period of time with out taking some kind of break. God even rested on the seventh day, even though he didn’t need it. He did so to set an example for us to follow. So here are some of my own thoughts and some I borrowed from J. Johns book “Ten”

So the question is when do we take this day? Well Sunday would be perfect and you could start off by worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What should we do on this day? Well I just mentioned one but J. Johns says we should spend time with our families and other believers and fellowship. We should sleep in, watch a movie, take a walk in the park, and have a picnic, any kind of recreation that doesn’t require work and stress. “But I have so much to do, I am so far behind on my house work” Well I say take care of that stuff during the week. Do a load of laundry every night, clean as you go! How about getting your grass cut, your clothes ready for the following week and vacuum your house on Saturday? We need to make the time! Prioritize! Cut off the branches in our life that doesn’t bare fruit

It’s up to you to organize your time so you can enjoy this day. I tried this last week and have really benefited from this day. I felt very refreshed mentally and physically and was ready to start the work week. Plus I got to have a great day of worship with out stressing about things I needed to get done. How many times have we had the Monday morning blues? A lot if you’re the average person but this is because we don’t give ourselves a break. We all need the Sabbath!

Father God thank you so much for giving us the Command to take a day of rest and spend it worshipping your Son and enjoying the things you have created for us. Father please show us ways to make the most of this day and keep our lives free of stress and distractions. We love you Lord and thank you for your many blessings its in Jesus name we pray. Amen

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just walk it off!


Friends,

Have you ever heard the old expression “Just walk it off”? Of course that is an expression used when we are injured and are encouraged to walk or move the injured area to ease the pain and get back into the activity we were doing. Peyton Manning has been quoted as saying “just rub some dirt on it”. These are some funny expressions that can be used by your smart-alecky co-workers or friends who seem to be entertained by your current discomfort. I was thinking about this while working out this morning. It seems like every time I start my workout my muscles tighten up in my legs and it causes a great deal of discomfort. Then I have to will myself to keep going and work through the pain. Eventually they loosen up and I am able to finish my workout but it’s those first couple of minutes that really test my dedication to getting in to shape. So where am I going with this?

Well I feel the same thing happens when we try to grow (exercise) spiritually. You know how it goes. You buy all the latest Study Bibles, you get the Bible on cd/mp3, get the daily Bible podcast ect.ect..ect. Well at least that’s what I have been doing, but when it is time to use all of these great references we start feeling a little discomfort or we get side tracked. You set out with good intentions and even get a good start but as soon as you start feeling a little tired or unmotivated you stop. That’s when I suggest we “walk it off” and push through what ever it is that’s keeping from our devotional time. That’s what I am trying to tell myself. I need to walk through those moments and stick with the program. But first I need to get a program going. Last year I was able to read through the New Testament and a few Christian living books but I think this year I need a routine to help me maximize my time. So what kind of suggestions do you all have? What time do you set aside for your daily devotions? Morning, noon, evening?


Father God,

Please help me get more organized in my life so I can make living for your Son a priority in my life. Father bring to light the things in my life that waste my time and keep me from learning your inspired word. Father thank you for all the people you have put in my life that have been an inspiration and have helped lead me to your Son. It’s in Jesus name I pray Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jesus the ultimate protection





Friends,

For the past couple of weeks I have been plagued with one of the nastiest computer viruses I have ever come across. This virus started out as a pop up and turned into a monster which eventually took over my pc and shut it down. For those of you that consider a pc a life line understand the turmoil I was going through not being able to access my favorite sites, play games, and listen to music..ect..ect. Of course I had a laptop as a back-up but I had to share that with my wife and was not comfortable using the smaller screen and keyboard. Anyway a good friend of mine told me of a great anti-virus program that would get rid of this hostile take over and restore my pc to its previous glory. So after many attempts I got my 5 year old Dell back in tip top shape and ready to ride the waves of the high speed internet.

After experiencing the joy of having my friend back I started thinking of how my experience could relate in a Biblical way. That’s when it hit me, Jesus kind of works in the same way as an anti-virus program. Just bear with me for a minute while I try to put it together. You see Sin is like a computer virus. It starts out like a small flashy pop up. It’s attractive, appealing and makes you think you have to click on it, and that’s when it happens, it’s in and you feel helpless. A lot of times when Sin enters our lives it acts like a virus and quickly spreads through every aspect of our life, its ultimate goal is to shut us down.

That’s where Jesus comes in. If we accept him as our Savior he will run a scan on our operating systems (life), recognize all viruses (Sin) and remove them from our hard drives. He will also keep watch and help keep Sin out of our lives. But an important thing to always remember is to keep your software (relationship with Jesus) updated and to use it (pray) on a regular (daily) basis.

1 John 1:9 (ESV) says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”


Father God,

Thank you for sending your Son to intercede in our lives and pay the price for our Sins. Father we know we are not worthy of your love and Grace but you give freely anyway. Father God help us to recognize our short comings and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It is in your name we pray..Amen

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lost Generation

Friends,

Here is a video that my Brother Tony posted on his site at
http://kingdombard.wordpress.com/

The video says it all...Enjoy...Chris


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Jesus I never knew

Friends,

My Sunday school teacher Joseph came up with a great ideal for his class. Instead of the normal lessons, that on occasion can be a little dry and un-engaging he suggested that we as a class do a book study and have a discussion once a week. Well the book he picked out is called "The Jesus I never knew" by Philip Yancey. I have read the first chapter and answered some of the discussion questions that were given. Then while talking with my brother Tony this morning I thought it would be a good Blog topic and a good ideal to have folks answer some discussion questions. So if there are some questions that you all can answer with out having read the book I will try to post them in the weeks to come. Here were the questions for the first chapter.

The first question is "what was your first image or memory of Jesus and what place is most associated with that image?"


Question number two is "Do you still see Jesus the same way and if not what brought about this change?"



The last question was "What has most shaped your image of jesus as it is today?"




Again friends this is just an ideal for my blog, I'm not sure how it will turn out but these are some pretty good questions. Let me know what you think. Take care..Chris

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

AC/DC


Friends while making my daily trek to Wal-Mart the other day I noticed something very interesting, over by the clothing section there was a big display of Ac/Dc merchandise. As you all know Ac/Dc is a famous rock band that started out in the 70’s and sold millions of records through out the 80's and 90's but the thing that blew my mind was that Wal-Mart had a big promotional deal with them and even had some items only available at their store. Now I have to admit I had been a fan of Ac/Dc and have even been to some of their concerts back in the day but now that I am a lot older and walking with the Lord I have to wonder if Wal-Mart is the proper place to promote this band. I would expect this at a record store but Wal-Mart? Is this the kind of stuff we should be exposing our young children to? I know some people will say if you don’t want your kids to listen to a certain group or watch a movie or T.V show that we as parents should just turn it off. But the question now is do we keep our kids out of Wal-Mart? I don’t know. I just think it’s kind of tacky.

Anyway seeing the acronym ac/dc made me think of some other ways it has been used. Of course the real meaning of Ac/Dc is alternating current / direct current or in today’s (anything goes) culture, going both ways with your sexual orientation, but how about this one, Accepting Christ / Denying Christ. I think when we use it this way there can only be one path to travel on. You can’t have it both ways. Although many have tried (Peter even denied Christ three times and later became a Saint) you will always end up on one side or the other. I know in my own personal walk with the Lord I have tried to straddle the fence and serve two masters but it has never worked.

Mathew 6:24 tells us “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other”

I once saw a church sign that read “You can’t walk with the Lord while you are holding hands with the Devil”. How true that is. Seeing that sign made me question myself and wonder if I am really walking with the Lord or walking with the flesh and the world. I also realize that I like to try to get as close as I can to the edge of that line without crossing it so I will definitely have to work on that. Now friends I know we will all veer off the path at one time or another. But being a Child of God we can take comfort in knowing that he will put us back on track and get us going in the right direction. So the question for me is what do we do when we are getting ready to cross that line? I say in this case we jerk the steering wheel and get back on the road unlike when you’re driving and you make the gradual adjustment. What do you think? Take care my friends and keep both hands on the wheel!…Chris

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saying Goodbye


Friends during this past week I have had the pleasure of spending Christmas with my mother and other family members. But I was really touched when my mother and her sister said goodbye to each other. My Aunt began to cry as she was leaving and gave my mother one last hug. Then after she left my mother said that they were getting old and that this could be the last time the saw each other. I could tell my Mom was putting on a brave front but I had to wonder. Do they really think this is it? I often wonder if the disciples thought the same thing when Jesus had foretold his death. Surly if they did they wouldn’t have fallen asleep while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. How do we say goodbye to a loved one. Or better yet how do we say goodbye to a loved one on a regular basis that would say everything we feel about them. I am not sure where I am going with this one but I would love to be able to feel good about the way I last said goodbye to someone.

So many times I hear of people saying “I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye, or to say I loved them”. I guess the point I am trying to make is that maybe every time we say goodbye to a loved one we should say it in a way that lets them know we really care and love them. I know I need to work on this one. When I left my Mom at a gas station in Virginia, I wondered if she knew how much I loved her and how much I was going to miss her or did I give the impression that I was in a hurry to get out of the cold and rain and get on my way. I think she knows how I feel but I often second guess myself and always think I should have said more or gave her another hug. What do you guys think? Like I said, I was just thinking about this while driving back from visiting my family for Christmas. I hope you and your family have a great New Year..Grace be with you…Chris