Category: Religion


The Best Laid Plans…

…of mice and men often go awry.” (Robert Burns)

or, as someone else once said, “The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16.9). 

All too often, people think they have all their life mapped out, and that from the time they are old enough to make plans until their death, they will have total control over all they do and accomplish. We can barely get through a week without changing our schedules, yet we are expected to embellish on our 5-year plan as soon as we get out of college.

Graduates are told, “Follow your dreams. You can do anything you put your mind to”, then they find themselves in jobs only marginally related (if at all) to their major. But is that the end of the world? People panic when something in their life goes in an unexpected direction. Sometimes, though, a detour is the only way to get to your destination. (Tip: Read “On Target’s” post) And sometimes, it is by taking the scenic route that you realize that is where you were meant to be all along.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs from North Carolina to Virginia and is known for its views of rugged mountains and the Appalachian Highlands.

Why should i panic, like a child who cannot have what he or she want’s RIGHT NOW? All that goes on in the world, throughout history is exactly that…

God has planned all that will happen, and we need to realize that our great deeds and accomplishments are not the main focus of the universe. We try to become more than we are, when we ought to be “content to fill a little space if thou [God] be glorified” (Anna L. Waring)

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Be Still

Let’s start the new year talking about stress…

Did you know:

  • Work stress causes 10% of strokes?
  • 3 out of 4 doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments?
  • It is estimated stress increases your risk of
    • Heart Disease by 40%
    • Heart Attack by 25%
    • Stroke by 50%

(http://www.stress.org/stress-is-killing-you/)

We enter a new year filled with excitement of all that can occur in the upcoming 12 months, and rightly so! But we may worry as well-there are so many unknowns that may flood our minds, and the anxiety about the future adds to the stress we have on a daily basis. While we may have a number of valid concerns on our minds, we often get all worked up over things that are nothing more than what MAY happen.

It is distressing how stress is so ingrained in our society. It seems companies are most “productive” when they keep their employees under the gun to get projects done by an arbitrary deadline. We hear “I need that done yesterday!”, then chaos ensues and our blood pressure goes up.

And somehow this is perfectly normal in our culture; everyone is stressed, everyone is rushed. We need to stay moving and we need constant noise. You know the horror that everyone experiences when there are even 12 seconds of silence on the radio. We have music at home, at work, at the gym, at the store. If it were quiet, what would happen then? We would end up lost in thought, and i use “lost” literally. We would not know what to do with ourselves, or which way to turn. But that is exactly what we need-we need to stop, and think, because we were given direction to our thoughts, if we only listen.

We are told “Be Still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10) God speaks to us, not in some thunderclouds or hurricane, but in the stillness, as we read His Word. The problem is that we have become to loud and too busy to have time to listen to God. We are like little children, with our fingers in our ears, shouting over our parents’ voices.
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So what will it take to change? God has so much to tell us, but we need to listen, to truly hear what He has to say. Let’s put down the screens, and pick up a Bible. Turn down the volume, and just

BE. STILL.

“Living or Dying”

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Here is a little poem I came across while reading today. We must seek to be useful in our time here on earth, and yet be willing to die for Christ if we must.

“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give

If life be long, I will be glad
That I may long obey;
If short-then why should one be sad
To soar to endless day?”

-Author unknown

New Year-New You!

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As we begin 2014, there are all sorts of commercials for diets, clothing styles, and more designed to bring out the “new you this New Year!” Seeing some of these things got me thinking, “Is there a way people can really become new?” Obviously, changing your style, diet, or activity level does not make a changes to your actual identity. You will still be the same person, even if you change the words on your birth certificate.
Well, in the Bible there is a verse that addresses our spiritual “identity crisis”. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” So, somehow we become a new creation in Christ Jesus. The problem is that most of humanity does not see their need to be made new. They see no need to become a new person- New Year’s or not. In speaking to some people, many have responded to the Gospel with “Christianity is a crutch, and those who believe in it are weak.”

Well, last summer, I was trying to be daring in my wheelchair. I tried to jump a curb, and mistimed the jump, quickly snapping my front wheel clean off, and ending up on the patio. If someone had come up and offered me a new $4000 wheelchair, what would you say to me if I said, “Are you kidding? You’re trying to give me a wheelchair?! That means admitting I can’t walk on my own! I’d never stop so low!” I hope you would show me my arrogance and foolishness! But that is what we do when we think we are “too good” to accept the only means to become a new person.
The Bible says we are “dead in our trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:5) . DEAD. However, Christ, “The Great Physician” is able to make us alive again.

But How?

In Ezekiel 36, there is a verse that says, “I [God] will give you a new heart…I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh.”
No matter what you do to a rock, it will have no response, and will not do what you want it to. As babies, we learn “NO!” very quickly, and as we grow, we come up with increasingly “creative” ways to get out of doing what we know we ought to do. We need that “heart of flesh”, and we get that through what Paul told the Philippian jailer- “Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Remember, the belief is not enough on its own, though. If I believed…REALLY believedthe food in the cafeteria was contaminated, I would actually stop eating my own plateful and keep others from eating it as well, even to the point of making a loud announcement and being an annoyance. If you believe that Christ can give you a new heart, that belief must be joined with turning from the lifestyle your old self used to be involved in. Don’t let another year go by without praying for a New You!

“The Crutch”

Have you ever had a surgery or been rushed to the emergency room for a serious injury? It’s not a fun experience. But after some time, you leave the hospital with a cast or brace, and a pair of crutches, and set out on the long road to recovery. So, are crutches a help or a hurt? Would an amputee tell the doctor, “Who are you to give me those crutches? That means I’m weak and need help!” While some may be bitter in that circumstance, the majority of recovering patients would be thankful for advances in medicine that make it possible to become improve from physical weakness.

That being said, you can probably imagine how confused I felt upon hearing people reject the Gospel because belief in Christianity ” is a crutch”. At first, I was tempted to be angry, but I recalled that crutches are something good ad worth depending on in times of weakness. If we are honest with ourselves, we are indeed “weak and wounded, sick and sore” (“Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”)

Jesus came to live and die in the place of sinners-those who know they have not met God’s perfect standard of righteous living. In Matthew 9:12,13 Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He was gracious enough to “forgive all our iniquities” Psalm 103:3. Just as a crutch aids the weak in becoming physically stronger, so repentance and faith aid sinners in becoming spiritually healthy.

That being said, we do not need to be offended when we are told that what we believe is a crutch. While we must remember “Christianity is not an excuse to be intellectually lazy,” (Walk Good-Is Christianity a Crutch? we must also realize that for those who realize their own spiritual sin and weakness, it is like a crutch.

When faced by those who would mock what we believe, let us not be to proud to accept our own weakness.

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Heaven on Earth?

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There are so many things in life that I find perplexing. Deep things like-

Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the-nevermind, that’s too cliché….

Other things, though, are more distressing than perplexing. For example, we listen to celebrities who tell each of us to be ourselves and embrace our individuality. Then, the more we pay attention to them, the more we begin looking, talking, and acting like them.

Or, why do we think that throwing a couple nickels in a bucket before splurging on a new HDTV will somehow make the world a better place? Why do we spend weeks scheduling a 4-hr movie marathon when we can’t seem to find a way to “fit” God into a 20-min slot on our busy schedules?

It all comes down to priorities. What do we live for and care about? I realize as I write this that I may be upsetting some people. That is not my purpose, and I hope you hear me out. I don’t say all of this because I have it all together. I say this because I have struggled with misplaced priorities myself. I know in my heart what is the right thing to do, but it is very tempting to be “cool” and relevant.

So, where are our priorities? What are we living for?
A good time?
High academic excellence?
Popularity?
A mansion and yacht?

What will these things all matter in the end? “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”(Mark 8:36 ESV)

Problems start when we begin pushing God out of the highest place in our lives. We forget that we are “sojouners and exiles” on this earth (1 Peter 2:11). We then quickly lose sight of the fact that “…our citizenship is in heaven…” (Philippians 3:20 ESV) In his book, Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung states

“If you think God has promised this world will be a five-star hotel, you will be miserable as you live through the normal struggles of life. But if you remember that God promised we would be pilgrims and this world may feel more like a desert or even a prison, you might find your life surprisingly happy.”

(pg. 29)

If we are indeed pilgrims headed to a better place, we should be excited about it! People should be able to tell that this earth is not our real home. We need to stop being more excited to go to the mall than the morning service. While you hesitate to keep reading because “Chris just condemned mall trips” (which I absolutely did not), let me ask

Where are those bold Christians who are “unashamed of the gospel of Christ”? (Rom 1:16) Let us not get complacent in our comfy suburban churches. I thought of myself as a pretty strong Christian, then heard of

The woman who was arrested for over 3 years in Pakistan, on “blasphemy charges”

The SC high school valedictorian who boldly tore up his pre-approved speech and instead, gave his testimony and quoted the Lord’s Prayer at his graduation (until his mic was muted)

The pastor arrested yesterday in Scotland for open-air evangelizing.

The countless other men and women of history sacrificed all, including their lives, for the sake of Christ.

This is what I long to be. How often do we loudly sing, “Dare to be a Daniel” as a child, only to sit in silent terror when a neighbor or classmate asks us if we actually believe in Jesus?

We are called to be a witness. We are to speak of “what we have seen and heard.”. May we live and speak in such a way that others would see that Christ is everything to us.

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Have you ever played the “Telephone Game”? I used to enjoy it as a child. Someone would whisper a word or phrase into a neighbor’s ear, with the goal of having that phrase make it all the way around the circle. But it would never take long for the original saying to turn to a hilarious jumble of meaningless words! While this game is immense fun for children of all ages, it has recently struck me how often we as adults play “Telephone” in our own lives.

We are told in James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” We are to be quick to hear, and slow to speak. However, the reality is that all too often we talk far more than is necessary, and don’t listen nearly as much as we should. We hear rumors and spread them like wildfire, not taking the time to see if they are true, or considering the implications of what we are doing. Even in the news, we often hear, “There are reports of…”, “It appears that…”, or “There is speculation that…”. And isn’t it telling that there is an ever-growing audience for gossip magazines? There is a drop in the value of truth and facts in our society. While fact may be stranger than fiction, it’s often not as interesting.

This brings a whole new significance to what the apostles Peter and John said when they were arrested and told not to preach. “…but they answered, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:19, 20 ESV) They weren’t spreading rumors, but speaking of what they had experienced. They were witnesses to the power and glory of God. As Christians, we are blessed to have experienced God’s power in how He changed us from the inside out. What is it, then, that keeps us from spreading more than empty gossip and rumors? Let us boldly speak of “what we seen and heard”!