Category Archives: Christian living

What Ever Happened . . .

  • Gun violence

  • Marital infidelity
  • Divorce
  • Pre-marital sexuality
  • Homosexual relationships
  • Gambling
  • Assaults on law officers
  • Police brutality
  • Government waste
  • Looting, rioting
  • Theft
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Elderly abuse
  • Alcohol and drug addiction

These are the stories and headlines I read, heard, or saw this week (and it is only Tuesday). This is enough to depress even the most optimistic of people.  Simply put, society is corrupt.  People, we are selfish.

Paul describes the culture of Roman society in the first century and in his description, I cannot help but see Western society today.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:21-32)

What ever happened to SELF-CONTROL.  Did Jesus not teach His followers to deny themselves? Did Paul not tell the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4). Do we not see an example in Jesus as he prays to the Father, “nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42)?

Self-control starts with you and me. We practice it, we teach it to our children and grandchildren. Those upon whom we have influence see the peace, happiness, and blessings that self-control brings in our live and they learn to practice the same.

“Dear Father, help me to deny myself and live for your and to be a blessing in the lives of others. Help me to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. In Jesus’ name.”

  • Scott

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Forgetting God

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not 2014-07-10 09-00-52.216know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)

From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ (Malachi 3:7)

This scene of God’s Old Covenant people forgetting Him repeats itself throughout scripture. God even warned them against forgetting Him, “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today,” (Deuteronomy 8:11). But forget Him they did.

Paul warns about Christ taking vengeance on those that do not know God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), I believe that includes those that forget God today.  You are thinking, “I won’t forget God. I know that He is.  I go to church and occasionally read my Bible.  I pray before meals.  I have not forgotten God.”  Take time to read the four short chapters of Malachi.  The people claimed to know God and even practiced sacrifice and tithing to Him, but God still accuses them of disrespecting His name, forsaking His covenant and laws, and robbing Him. They do not know they are doing these things. They do not know because they have forgotten God. We can forget God. We can forget what He has done and does for us in Christ.

How can I know if I have forgotten God, or that I am forgetting God? Here are six symptoms to look for in YOUR life:

  1. Selfishness. Selfishness is the root of all sin. Selfishness puts my desires above what God wants of me, for me, and from me. Do I think or say things like, “I know that the Bible says this is sin, but God wants me to me happy . . . “
  2. Pride. In Luke 18 a Pharisee was so full of pride in his own self-righteousness, that he could not see his own short-comings before God. He was even judgmental of another who was also praying to God.
  3. Worry. Worry comes from forgetting that God is in control and that He cares for us. Take time to read Matthew 6:25-34 or consider what Paul says in Philippians, ” . . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. . . And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,19)
  4. Envy. Envy looks at others blessings or perceived blessings and questions why God is not equally blessing you. When we are envious of others, we forget what God is doing in our lives.
  5. Ungratefulness. This is a sign of our times. In our society of entitlements, we expect to receive and are ungrateful for our blessings. Paul writes about this in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Ingratitude forgets that all our blessings (even life itself) come from God.
  6. Unfaithfulness. God is always faithful to His promise even when we are unfaithful to Him – He will not deny His nature (2 Timothy 2:11-13). We must stay focused on God’s will and faithfully walk in His light. When we choose the way of the world, or our own will, over God then we are unfaithful to Him – we have forgotten God.

Maybe that is why the psalmist penned these words,

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:1-5)

  • Scott

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Aliens Among Us

yodaEvery once in a while a thought crosses my mind that helps me see the world in a more accurate way.  Let me back up . . . I like Sci-Fi from the original Star Trek series to the spin off series and movies, Star Wars (am looking forward to the new release), I like Dr. Who, and the list goes on.  I do not know if that makes me nerdy, curious, or just weird.

Not long ago, a thought crossed my mind as I watched a Sci-Fi program.  I wondered, what if there were aliens among us?  What if they were living in plain sight?  Then I realized a simple truth.  There are aliens among us and I am one of them.  Paul says that as a Christian, my “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20). I am not from here.  I am an alien!

Peter says,

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:9-17)

We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own special people (peculiar people KJV) . . . strangers and pilgrims.  We are sojourners, strangers, pilgrims, foreigners, exiles, we are ALIENS! What does that mean?

As Aliens We Have a Different Life. We are to “abstain from the passions of the flesh.” The lifestyle native inhabitants of this planet we live on is very intriguing, but we must not indulge (Gal 5:16-25).  We must “keep our conduct  . . . honorable.” We live to bring honor to our home and our Father. Live so that the natives cannot say evil things about our home world, our fellow aliens, or especially our King. To do so, we subject ourselves to the laws of the land we live in to “every human institution.”  We do not claim diplomatic immunity.  We live so as not to bring reproach to our people.

As Aliens We Long for Home. Many Sci-Fi shows like Star Trek have a people looking to go home.  Some movies like E.T. have an alien trying to get home. As aliens our home is elsewhere and we live here preparing for the day we can go home.

Be WARNED! The Native Inhabitants of Earth are Relentless. We will suffer for doing what is right (1 Pet 3:13-4:2). But God knows and understands our suffering.  “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Regretfully, sometimes an alien will forget they are not from earth.  An individual will begin to love the earth as home.  This begins innocently enough.  An alien tries to blend in, not wanting to attract too much attention to their difference.  After all, the natives do not understand aliens and will want to study them and put them through all kinds of tests.  To blend in an alien might dress , live, and begin to act like the natives and soon forget their true identity and purpose.

Our Purpose as Aliens is simple – World Conquest.  We must claim the world for the King of kings and Lord of lords.  So that the natives can know the compassion, mercy, and grace of God. So that can become citizens of heaven with us.

  • Scott

Audio file: Aliens Among Us

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What do They See?

A few years ago a small project took place. Churches asked community members and professional researchers to come observe their assemblies and fill out a survey and evaluation form while posing as normal guests. Here is some of what they reported:

  • Most members know only a small percentage of other members.
  • This congregation seems to be mostly a gathering of anonymous worshippers.
  • The church does not seem like a genuine community prepared to bear each others’ burdens.
  • There was little expression of interest in being truly involved in each other’s lives.
  • Most seem to come to worship for personal reasons like their own spiritual needs and own satisfaction.
  • It was like going to a concert or theater, people came in sat down, enjoyed their experience and left.

If these results hold true at most churches, no wonder we are not bringing people to Christ.  They can get the same thing at a ballgame or at the movies.

Central Tuscaloosa

We need to relearn these messages from the apostles and witnesses who God inspired to share His Word,

  • Show hospitality and serve each other. 1 Peter 4:9-10, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”
  • Display compassion and care for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
  • Pray for each other. James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
  • Correct and restore each other. James 5:19-20, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
  • Teach and admonish each other. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
  • LOVE one another. Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Making this practical here are seven things you can do at your local congregation to help her become warmer and more inviting.

  1. Formally identify with the local congregation.
  2. Learn each other’s names.
  3. Listen to announcements (read the announcement sheet or screen) and make note of cares and joys. Send cards, emails, text messages, etc. to those you can.
  4. Pray for each other. Go through the church directory and pray for everyone by name.
  5. Be approachable and transparent. Let people see you as you are. Don’t put on the false mask of perfection.
  6. Use EVERY available opportunity to be around each other.
  7. Find your place in the body. Serve, teach, exhort, share, show mercy, lead worship, etc. Try your hand at something new.
  • Scott

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Ten Verses to Read

All of God’s Word has value.  Through His revealed Word God gives us what we need to know pertaining to life and godliness in living faithful to Him through His Son. With that understanding, clearly stated, I want to share with you ten verses I think are important for you to read and understand. These are ten verses that remind me of my relationship and dependency upon God.

  1. Hebrews 9:27 – “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
  2. Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
  3. John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
  4. Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles ‘ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
  5. 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 you fail to meet the test.”
  6. Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary of  doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not give up”
  7. Ephesians 4:15 – “but, speaking the truth in love, are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head into Christ”
  8. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,”
  9. James 1:27 – “…to keep oneself unstained from the world,”
  10. 2 Peter 3:11  – “ . . . what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness”

I adapted this from a sermon outline Levi Sides shared with me.  I preached this on a Sunday night recently.  our Sunday evening are an abbreviated assembly to give us opportunity to fellowship with each other after worship. If you want to listen to this lesson the audio file is HERE.

  • Scott

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Who Do You Want to Be

In 2006, as I was completing a Masters’ Degree in Ministry, our instructor (Paul Tarrence) assigned us at simple project; to reflect on the Man we Desired to be.  I wrote this list then and keep in under the glass on the desk in my study.  I use it to reflect on how I am becoming that man. I humbly admit I am still a work in progress.

The Man I Desire to Be
  1. Above all a servant of God.

    In my study at Central

    In my study at Central

  2. A man who is a leader in service to others.
  3. A man focused on the needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) of his family.
  4. A person with the financial security to be generous in giving to the Lord and in helping others with their needs.
  5. A fried to all I meet.
  6. A man of God’s Word in reflection and action.
  7. A man motivated by a pure heart.
  8. A man of ever deepening faith and trust in God.
  9. A living testimony of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
  10. A man Christ-like in attitude and behavior.
  11. A teacher of teachers and a disciple of Christ discipling others to reconciliation with God through Christ (2 Tim 2:2; 2 Cor 5:18ff).
  12. A man aware of and sensitive to the thoughts and emotions of others, yet not allowing the values or misunderstandings of others to change my core-values that have their basis upon and in the principles of God’s Word.
What would your list include:  List the attributes of the Person You Would Like to Be.

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I’m Just a Church Member

stained glassMany think since they went to school, they know how teachers ought to teach and will often tell teachers how to do their job.  Similarly, since many people sit in church buildings and hear sermons they have advice for preachers.  Here are actual statements to preachers.  Some of these are things said to me.

  • Speak up.
  • Speak softer.
  • You need to be less distant.
  • You need to be more aloof.
  • Tell more stories.
  • Use more scriptures and less stories.
  • Don’t try to be a comedian.
  • I like it when you use humor in sermons.
  • Relate more to your audience.
  • Never talk about you or your family.
  • Do apply so much, let people figure it out on their own.
  • Be more specific and help make application.
  • Put more meat in you sermons.
  • People need simple sermons don’t go so deep.
  • You went overtime today.
  • Don’t pay attention to the clock.
  • “If I were a preacher . . .”

I would say, “If I were a church member – but I am.” So “As a Church Member . . .”

  1. I Am Grateful to Be One – 1 John 3:1
  2. I Work for Peace and Unity – Philippians 1:27
  3. I Support the Elders and the Congregation – Hebrews 13:7, 17
  4. I Encourage Fellow Christians – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  5. I Live My Life for His Cause – Matthew 5:13-16

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