Monday, December 12, 2011
The gospel not being preached in many of our churches has led to people being Christianized and not really converted. Sermons about finance, friends, and morals apart from how those relate to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ do not produce new people but "better" dead people. A new person looks nothing like the person he or she was before.
Take a moment to think about your life before you were saved. Are you a completely different person than you were before? If not, I encourage you to think hard about whether or not you have been Christianized or if you have really been saved.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
I was a part of something like this last year in my neighborhood in Durham. We had a table set up in the driveway and gave away free hot chocolate and water to the adults who were walking with their children. Members of our church manned the table and engaged people in conversation and gave each one of them a gospel booklet.
We had houses like this all over Durham and it was great to get to talk to people and engage them with the gospel. I really think we can make this a success here in Cheraw.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
“We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. We are “sideliners” — coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!”
Did you catch that? Far too many of us are content to stand on the sidelines of this war. We are mostly unharmed because we are harmless. We don't do anything that would make our enemy harm us because we are pacifists, not wanting to engage.
This makes me think about a few years ago when I was the leader of our group of kids at children's camp. We were playing paintball and had made a plan that on go, we were all going to go to different bunkers. When the horn sounded I ran for my bunker only to realize none of the children had run for theirs! They were afraid to engage and therefore harmless to the other team. Far too many Christians are this same way. We want to sit back in our Christianity and let others be in the line of fire.
I pray that we would become "dangerous" Christians. That we would be in the line of fire. This means that our lives will not be easy. This means that we may have some casualties. But we have been on the sidelines long enough when we have been given clear orders to engage the enemy and win souls to Christ. I close with one more quote from Jim Elliot that I offer as a prayer for myself and all who read this:
“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another after facing Christ in me.” Amen.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Oh lord have I become a man
Too scared to be a child again?
Too comfortable with amazing grace;
Familiar with the empty grave?
Did I miss something, or have I begun to lie;
Do I really live, like "Jesus is alive"?
If this is true, this changes everything
If this is real, I've got to tell the world
If He is God, then I've got choice to make
If I believe, then I must follow Him!
How great are those lyrics? I am not a big crier but those lyrics almost bring me to tears. Have we heard the "story" of Jesus so much that it no longer has any bearing on the way we live our lives? If it is true that there was a man who lived, died, and then came back to life, that has to change everything!
We cannot read the Scripture like it is a children's story. We have to realize that it is a true story that really happened. It has to change everything in our lives! What are you going to do? Are you going to keep living your life for yourself or are you going to really live like Jesus is alive and begin to tell people this amazing news?
I encourage you to go to the Itunes store and buy this song. It is only $.99. If you can afford the entire album there are a lot of other good songs on it.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
First, don't get discouraged if you miss a few days. God is interested in the heart more than the action. God knows if you truly desire a deeper relationship with him. If you find that you miss a day or two alone with him, he will understand. God is always waiting with open arms when we come back to him!
Second, devotional guides are good, but they should not be a substitute for reading the Bible. God gave us the Bible as a personal love letter. He desires that we spend time alone with just our Bible and prayer. Devotional guides are great tools to get our thoughts focused in the right place.
Here is a website with some great devotional readings. I hope that they help you on your journey to a deeper knowledge of who God is and what he desires from you!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Bible says my King is a seven-way King:
He’s the King of the Jews – that’s a racial King.
He’s the King of Israel – that’s a national King.
He’s the King of Righteousness.
He’s the King of the Ages.
He’s the King of Heaven.
He’s the King of Glory.
He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords.
That’s my King.
My King is a sovereign King – no means of measure can define His limitless love.
No farseeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply.
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings.
He’s enduringly strong.
He’s entirely sincere.
He’s eternally steadfast.
He’s immortally graceful.
He’s imperially powerful.
He’s impartially merciful.
He’s God’s Son.
He’s the sinner’s Savior.
He’s the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of himself.
He’s august and He’s unique.
He’s unparalleled, He’s unprecedented.
He is the loftiest idea in literature.
He’s the highest personality in philosophy.
He is the supreme problem in higher criticism.
He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He is the core and the necessity for spiritual religion.
He’s the miracle of the age, He’s… yes He is.
He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.
He’s the only one qualified to be an all-sufficient Savior.
He’s available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He strengthens and sustains.
He guards and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleansed the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captive.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent.
And He beautifies the meek.
He’s the wellspring of wisdom.
He’s the doorway of deliverance.
He’s the pathway of peace.
He’s the roadway of righteousness.
He’s the highway of holiness.
He’s the gateway of glory.
His promise is sure.
His life is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous and
His yoke is easy and
His burden is light.
But He’s indes… Wooah, yeaaah! yeaahh,
He’s indescribable – yes He is ! He’s God.
He’s, He’s indescribable, yes, He’s indescribable.
You get Him off of your hand,
You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him.
Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
Death couldn’t handle Him and
the grave couldn’t hold Him. Yeah !
THAT’S MY KING !
THAT’S MY KING ! YEAH !
and ever and ever.
How long is that ?
And ever and ever.
And when you get through all the forevers, then
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
In his first chapter, Carson gives seven lessons for someone who wants to really learn how to pray. I will address the first two in this post and then the last five at a later time.
1. Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray.
That means we must self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray. In our world, this is not something that is done very often. We are so busy that we pray as we remember to. We must set aside time during the day that is designated just for prayer. What we do throughout the day reflects our priorities. Prayer must become a priority if we are going to get to know God on a deep and intimate basis. Wise planning will ensure that we spend time in prayer often even if just for short periods of time.
2. Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift.
This is one of my biggest hindrances to my prayer life. When I pray my mind begins to wander to things that I have to do, places I have to be, the TV show I watched last night...you get the point. This is a discipline that I need to learn. Try vocalizing your prayers. This does not mean saying them just to be heard but saying your prayers out loud will get you out of your own mind and allow you to focus on the words that you are saying. Another helpful thing is to pray Scripture back to God. Read the Psalms and pray for the things David and the other Psalmists prayed for. This will help keep you on track with your praying. Journaling is how some people impede mental drift. If you are writing out your prayers, it leaves less time for daydreaming.
You can greatly improve your prayer life if you will combine just these first two principles. If you will set aside time to pray and adopt practical ways to impede mental drift, your prayers will become more meaningful and in turn allow you to grow closer to God.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I long to have the type of prayer life that Paul had. I want to be known as one who is always in prayer for the things of God. When I think about the majority of my prayers, there is no way that God could use those to change me. I am all too often praying for physical needs of people. There is a time and a place for that type of prayer but if that is what dominates your prayer life then something needs to change. Paul made it a point to pray for the spiritual more than the earthly needs of the people he loved. This earth is going to pass away but the spirit will remain for eternity. Which is in need of more prayer?
Prayer is the great instrument that God has given men to make us more like Him. It is when we pray that we feel the closeness of God. Of course God is omnipresent and is always with us but we feel closer to Him when we are in communion with Him. So when we talk about getting closer to God, what we really mean is that we realize more and more the closeness of God. Again, prayer changes us, not God.
One of the best books that I have ever read on prayer is called A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. Over the next couple of weeks I will be taking some of the information about how to pray from this book and sharing it with you. I pray that God would use this information to transform the way that you pray so that God can use your prayer times to make you more like himself!
Friday, March 11, 2011
I think it is crucial in this day and age to have parents and students in classes together inside the church. As youth leaders we only have a limited amount of time with the students on a weekly basis. We want to equip parents to be talking with their children about spiritual things at home. What better way to stimulate spiritual conversations than talking about a class that you are taking together at church? What better way to begin memorizing (yes, I said it!) Scripture together than by working on a passage that you are studying together at church?
Most of the people I hear making the excuse that they are not wanted in the class are simply assuming that is the case. More and more research is showing that teens really want a closer relationship with their parents than any generation before them. They may resist at first but if you really want to see your teenagers fall in love with Jesus, you need to live out your faith in front of them. Being in a class together with them and letting them see you pour over the Scripture is one way to show them that your faith is authentic.
Some of my most favorite memories of my mom are from coming downstairs in the morning to eat breakfast and seeing her reading her Bible and writing in her prayer journal. When she passed away one of these was given to me and from time to time I read over it. It warms my heart to know that she was praying for me and my family. Knowing that she had an authentic faith makes me strive to have one also.
Whether you usually attend Ridgecrest or not, this class begins on Sunday night at 5:00. It is my prayer that you will seriously consider being there with your teens and actively participate in their faith formation!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
These are great ideas but I fear that many in the church today have missed what Paul is getting at. If you look at those in the church and those in the world, there is very little difference in the way we look. We have, all to often, become conformed to this world, with a little Jesus on the side. "American Christianity" looks completely different than Christianity in the past. We need to be reminded of what Jesus said the cost of following Him was going to be.
Luke 14:25-28 says, "Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
This was Jesus' pitch to the people who were following him. Hate your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters and yourself in order to be a follower of Him. As if that wasn't enough he went on to say if you will not take up the most brutal form of torture, willingly, you cannot be his follower.
This sounds distinctly different than "walk an aisle and pray a prayer" that we, for the most part, have reduced salvation to today. I am in no way saying that you have to earn your salvation. Jesus is not saying here that we must physically hate those who are in our families, but the love that we have for Christ should be so strong that any other type of love pales in comparison. There is a superior love that Jesus is calling these people to and that is a love for the Divine. The foundation of our satisfaction must be in Christ.
Our satisfaction should not be found in the size of our bank accounts, the size of our 401K, the grades that we make, the friends that we have, our satisfaction should come from Jesus and Jesus alone. Things will not satisfy; Jesus will.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Titus 2:1-8 says, "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us."
This passage is a clear picture of a mentoring relationship that is taking place. Paul is urging Titus to teach the young men everything that he has been taught. He is urging Titus to have older women teach younger women. Titus himself was mentored by Paul. I tell you all this to ask you one question: Is there anyone in your life that you are trying to help "grow-up" into a mature believer in Christ?
I would love to see the student ministry here at Ridgecrest taken over by the mature believers in the church. I long for the day when there are volunteers who have a heart for young people who are willing to take a few out to lunch, take a few out to the golf course, take a few out shopping and just use their lives and their words to show how important Jesus Christ is in their own lives on a daily basis.
If you are willing to do this, let me know either on here or in person. I can find some students who are longing for a meaningful relationship with an adult and get you together with them. If you want more information on this before you commit to it, I can provide that for you as well.
I close with a simple prayer: Lord, I beg for Ridgecrest to have a Titus 2 type student ministry. I pray that you would tug at the hearts of our volunteers to be there for the students more than just during church times and on trips. I pray that they would be burdened for the students day in and day out and be willing to do something to help them grow in their walk with you! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Parents have to take responsibility for their own children's spiritual growth. I know that I am not a parent yet so I can not give advice based on my own personal life but this book has great ideas that parents can implement to aid in their child's spiritual growth.
DeVries says, "We can find the primary cause of the current crisis in youth ministry in the ways that our culture and our churches have systematically isolated young people from the very relationships that are most likely to lead them to maturity. Granting our children the 'privilege of being left alone' has served, in part, to create a wholesale epidemic of adult neglect of the next generation."
Students need their parents to be there for them. They do not need to be "left alone". The biggest need of our young people today is to be taught how to be an adult by an adult. Peer to peer relationships are important while in middle and high school but the only way that a child will learn to be a productive adult is to be shown how to be one by one.
DeVries cites the results of a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse and says that teens are significantly less likely to be addicted to drugs and alcohol if their parents:
1. Are engaged in their teens' lives, including helping with homework or attending extracurricular activities.
2. Have at least five sit-down meals together weekly.
3. Attend religious services together with their teens.
4. Set curfews.
5. Teach their children that drugs and alcohol are dangerous and morally wrong.
These are not things that are hard to do. Parents have to make their kids a priority over their work and own personal lives if they want them to fall deeply in love with Jesus Christ. This should be the goal of every parent who claims to be a Christian.
Again, I know that I am not a parent myself but it is clear that children who have meaningful relationships with their parents are at a much lower risk of engaging in risky behavior.
Friday, January 14, 2011
It is my conviction that we need more yearning after God in America today. One of my favorite songs is called Yearn and was written by Shane Bernard and Shane Everett.
Lord I want to yearn for You
I want to burn with passion
over You and only You
Lord I want to yearn
In our culture today, people burn with passion over a number of things. If we were to get really honest with ourselves I seriously doubt that many of us would be able to say that we burn with passion for our Lord. I have recently graduated from Seminary and am seeking God's direction for my life. I am evaluating myself and my relationship with God in light of that and really want to know where God would have me serve. It is tempting to let my desire to do the work of God overshadow my love for Him. I pray that as I seek what God has in store for my life that I would never forget the work that He did for me in the cross.
It is easy throughout the years to "get over" our salvation. Many of us have had a relationship with Christ for so long that we have forgotten or lost that yearning for Christ that we once had. It is my desire to see students and parents alike burn with passion for Christ once again. Evaluate your life...look at the things that you desire...are you really yearning for Christ? Do you have an unfulfilled desire to know Him more and more?
The purpose of this blog is to encourage people to desire a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ. The church is full of people who have great intentions of getting to know Christ more but often feel they do not have the time to do so. One great way to learn more about Christ is to ponder great passages of Scripture. You can do so along with others by going to Shay's blog. I pray that the church would be full of people who have a passion for God that is never fulfilled! I pray that we are always Yearning For More...