Daily Living

Listen to God

“Has God indeed said?” These are the very first words spoken by Satan as recorded in Genesis 3:1. They were words not intended to question what God had said, but to manipulate and twist what God had intended in an effort to cast doubt on His love. To clarify, God’s original statement to Adam was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16). Yet when Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t go to Eve and try and deny that God spoke those words, he just mischaracterized them. He used the very scriptures God had spoken, but he completely twisted what He had said. Cunningly, he questioned whether God had really meant what He had said to Adam. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

When Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden, Satan used God’s own words intended for love and protection and distorted them into a negative prohibition designed to cast doubt on God’s graciousness. He effectively misrepresented God’s words, which led Adam and Eve to question God’s love for them. Thus, he was able to substitute the truth with his own lie and got Adam and Eve to believe God was holding something back from them. Through his deceptive ways, Satan took God’s positive invitation to eat from every tree, misquoted the Bible, and then turned those elements of truth into a justification for sin; “What a snake!” you might say. No pun intended.

As the story progresses, Adam and Eve having now sinned before God for eating the forbidden fruit, felt shame and tried to hide from the Lord. But as any loving father, God called out to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). As the Bible states, God is an omnipresent God; He’s “All-Knowing.” Therefore, God wasn’t calling out to them because He didn’t know where they were. But His intention was for Adam and Eve to confess what they had done so they could make things right. For God cannot forgive a sin that has not been confessed. Yet this is how many Christians live their lives today.

Have you ever played hide-and-go-seek with a small child? They are so innocent that you can go show them a hiding spot, go back to the tree and begin counting, and what will they do… they’ll literally go hide in the exact spot you just showed them. That’s what it is like when we try and hide from God. Just like in the case of Adam and Eve, God wasn’t looking for them for He already knew where they were. He was looking for them to confess. And like Adam and Eve, when we sin, God already knows what we’ve done and where we are.

Unfortunately today, Satan is still up to his old ways. Now instead of the Garden of Eden, he has infiltrated our pulpits. And once again he has manipulated God’s Word and twisted it into a wayward version of the truth. He has created an epidemic that has saturated the American church for the last twenty to thirty years. It’s an epidemic of “Perverted Grace.” As John Bevere states, “The grace taught and believed by many of our churches is not real grace, but a perversion of it. This is the result of overemphasizing the goodness of God to the neglect of the fear of him” (Bevere 95). When the doctrine of love and grace is overly emphasized and not balanced with the doctrine of obedience and repentance, what we see in the American church today is the result. And it is an error of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

We have “Changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). Yet even more frightening, is that while we are still listening to Satan’s old lie, “Has God indeed said?” now we have become even bolder in our disobedience. Unlike Adam and Eve, many Christians today are not even trying to hide their shame and sinful ways anymore. Where Adam and Eve once feared and hid from God, we now see man making brave statements like, “God is my friend, He understands my heart” or “I love Jesus, He’s gonna forgive me anyway, so what’s your problem?” This false sense of grace and goodness has led to “sin rationalization.” A rationalization by which sin is not repented of, but stemming from a group of “Cultural-Christians” that filters “God’s Word and commands through their own culturally influenced thinking” (Bevere 22). And as sin is more rationalized, a false sense of security occurs within the believer. The person trapped in the bondage of sin begins to convince themselves that since they haven’t been caught or punished, then God must be okay with it. But know this, as God showed when looking for Adam and Eve, He is never okay with sin. And no matter how you try and rationalize your actions, God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

I’m often amazed at people that think they are fooling God. They will know that a specific scripture states something is sinful, yet they will try and use a scripture that is taken out of context and try and condone that sinful nature. They will use a scripture like “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). There are two things wrong with this statement. First, it says love covers over, it doesn’t say love covers up your sins. Secondly, when people use this verse, and I have had it used on me, they fail to realize that the verbiage states a multitude of sins, it does not say ALL. If this is you, STOP! You are not fooling anyone, and you are surely not fooling God. If you believe that the Bible is the ‘Infallible Word of God,’ then you can’t believe for a second that it will show you it’s okay to sin. In fact, His Word confirms, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:13-14). It’s that same lie from the devil cropping up all over again…

God doesn’t want your excuses, He just wants YOU. Now don’t get me wrong, God’s plan for your life is not some rigid pathway based upon unrealistic performance in order to receive His blessing. Actually the Bible says all of God’s laws are about righteousness and peace. By righteousness it’s referring to the blessing of things working out right. But it’s not talking about a rigid type of righteousness that if you do one small thing your salvation is at stake. However, it is asking you to do your part. And that begins by His call to alignment. Aligning ourselves with His Word, His ways, and His law. Maybe your sitting there thinking, “Well that seems pretty rigid, and pretty narrow.” The Bible says that, “The gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14). But believe me, it’s not saying that you are just creeping along two narrow walls hoping to get by. God provides us with enough elbowroom to maneuver in. We’re not confined in some straightjacket that makes it impossible to move around. But He does want us to follow His desires. It’s learning to understand that we can’t decide to do whatever we want and expect that things will always work out because they seem right in our own eyes.

In His Word, the Lord has provided guidance, and it clearly shows that God has pointed out the limits. And that’s what He ultimately wants from you… To live life to it’s limits! But to do this, you’re going to have to do your part. God intends for each one of us to use our own judgment, our gifts, our talents; He was the one that gave those things to us. Furthermore, He didn’t set these limits as a way to control your fun. His Word simply points out these limits and says, “Don’t go past this limit, because when you do, things will begin to deteriorate, and life will get a lot messier.” Yet it never fails, there are always those who try and put God to the test. They go about life saying, “Well I think I can navigate through that. I’m an adventuress soul.” And to you I say, “Well lot’s of luck. Go ahead and make the attempt.” Because no matter how long you seem to manage on your own, remember judgment delayed is not judgment denied, and eventually there always comes the place of the back firing.

If you are reading this and feel as if you’ve been allowing Satan to whisper to you, “Has God indeed said?” I want you to fear not. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To “confess” means “to agree with.” So when we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God and His ways. Take the time to pray and humble yourself before the Lord. Let Him know that you repent of your sins and no longer wish to try and hide from Him in the Garden. Just like Eve, you too have a choice. You can either continue listening to the master of all lies, or you can finally reject him and just Listen to God. 

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Bevere, John. The Fear of The Lord. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006. Print.

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Categories: Daily Living, Forgiveness, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Faith Ops – Video Games as Ministry

GAMER. Just the mere mention of the word, conjures up images of lethargic teens glued to a couch while barking taunts into a headset. They are a curious sect to many; surviving on a diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew while hibernating in the dark lair known as their parent’s basement. Then throw in a couple incidents where troubled-teens mention a video game because their not man enough to admit their responsible for their own actions, and you’ve got society labeling gamers as boys living ‘on the edge,’ who are one Red Bull away from marching into a high school with a handgun and re-enacting the exploits of their pixelated heroes. While this may seem a bit too cliché, unfortunately this is the ‘stereotype’ that mainstream America believes the life of a gamer is all about.

“Put down that silly controller, get outside, go play baseball, or hop on your bike and go out for a ride with your friends.” Yes, the argument could be made that these activities are not only a million times healthier, but also socially engaging as well. Likewise, video games today have become so realistic that their graphic images do seem to warrant parental guidance. However, this is not the premise for which this article is being written. As a gamer myself, I grew up with the introduction of the first video game ‘Pong’ and have seen the evolution of video game entertainment transform over the years. Looking back it still amazes me that gaming has evolved from a ball and two paddles, to now having the ability to control an entire universe of digitized soldiers while lounging on my couch in the confines of my home.

Stereotypes aside, today the video game industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Yet, while much of society believes that gamers are nothing more than a bunch of socially awkward teenage boys, statistically this could not be farther from the truth. As the Entertainment Software Association confirms, “As of 2011, the average age for a video game player is 37, a number slowly increasing as people who were children playing the first arcade, console, and home computer games continue playing now on current systems. The gender distribution of gamers is also reaching equilibrium, according to a 2011 study showing that 58% of gamers are male and 42% female” (The ESA). This being said, the stereotypical gamer really is not whom society determines them to be.

If you are a parent, I concede the point that video games have become far too violent. Violent behavior, vengeance, and aggression are often looked upon as a reward rather than a negative in today’s modern video games. And as a pastor I have struggled with the thought if I should be playing these types of games; so much that at one point about a year ago I was seriously contemplating getting rid of my game system all together. Then late one night while playing my favorite game series ‘Call of Duty’ an Xbox Live message popped up on my screen. To my surprise the message said, “Do you know Jesus?” Immediately I quit my game and contacted the sender of the message, Daniel Beck who goes by the gamertag BornAgain2001. Over the course of the next few months a camaraderie and mentorship began to take shape between us. Daniel began to share with me a calling that God had placed in his heart years ago.

“As men of God, we are identified by many titles: son, father, husband, Christ Follower. But identify yourself as a ‘gamer’ and instantly you’re looked upon as a ‘trouble maker’ or ‘unmotivated freethinker’ who is not truly following Christ,” Daniel said. “Yes, games can be negative. But turning away from evil does not mean that we are called to ignore that it exists in the world,” he concluded. As scripture asserts, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). And this was the motivation behind Daniel taking a leap of faith and founding the Christian Gamer Community called “The 116 Boyz.”

Founded in June of 2012, The 116 Boyz fashioned there name after Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16). The group exists so that Christian male gamers of all ages can enjoy online gaming while incorporating biblical principles and fellowship within the gaming community. This ministry covers all game spectrums and all game consoles to include Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, and PC Gamers. While on the surface, it may appear that gaming is their reason for existence. When a member takes on the coveted role as a 116 Boyz Disciple, they affirm to be Salt and Light to an ever-dimming world. As Daniel says, “We exist to lead those who are lost to Christ; and also to pour our lives into believers who seek a place of community and fellowship with other Christian believers. While we love our gaming, at the end of the day when we lay our controllers down, it’s not about who is the best player; but who has made the most impact of ministering into the lives of online gamers for Jesus Christ!”

While Christian Gamers is not a new idea, The 116 Boyz do try and set themselves apart amongst other Christian gaming organizations. Like other gaming ministries, they conduct weekly Bible studies online and provide inspirational messages of hope and guidance on their website. However, Daniel was determined that The 116 Boyz was not to be just another gaming ministry. To be part of The 116 Boyz, members must adhere to a very strict code of conduct. A code that expects all members to reach out and minister to gamers each time they log-on to multiplayer type games. Additionally, “Followers of Christ come to us at many different points in their spiritual walk. Life sometimes deals us a hand we don’t know how to play. Therefore, I am thankful that we have an ordained on-call pastor available 24-hours a day for counseling and spiritual guidance. I believe this is what really sets our community of gamers apart,” Daniel said.

Since it’s inception, The 116 Boyz have multiplied to over 150 members in just 2-months! Needless to say, if you spend anytime on ‘Call of Duty’ multiplier games, you’re likely to come across a 116 Boy a time or two. With gamertags like Gods Gladiator, x iPastor x, and Jesus Possessed, it becomes a little easier to identify whom it’s members are. But the really standout attribute is found by those who are defeated during ‘Call of Duty’ multiplayer missions. When a person is slain in the game, the other opponent’s Call Sign Tag is displayed. 116 Boyz take advantage of this feature and use the clan tag option to display scriptures (seen below). With the current number of members playing ‘Call of Duty’ the Word of God is being flashed to Xbox live opponents at a staggering rate per hour. And as most people are aware, this can be a very powerful ministry tool as history has proven. During the 2009 College National Championship game, Tim Tebow wore John 3:16 on his eye black; the result, “John 3:16” was searched for on Google more than 90 million times.

One great thing about the 116 Boyz ministry is that it provides parents with a piece of mind about whom their children are friends with online. There’s no doubt that today’s online community can be a doorway that leads down a road of rejection, hostility, and impropriety. For normal youth this is bad enough, but for Christian gamers it can be detrimental to one’s spiritual walk. As 13-year old Kyler Moses, who goes by the gamertag KylerM1999 said, “Before the 116 Boyz, my parents disliked that I was involved with a Call of Duty Clan. The clan swore and verbally attacked other gamers. This is not what men of God are supposed to do. Now my parents love that I am involved with brothers who share my beliefs and make it a point to lift me up so that I remain faithful to what God calls me to do with my life.”

There are many critics that would argue that due to the nature of these games, Christians should not be playing them. Like anything, I believe the most important thing to ask yourself is why you are playing them and what’s the condition of your heart? I have personally witnessed 16-gamers in an online room about to start playing a ‘Modern Warfare 3’ match and hear, “Does anyone have any prayer requests?” And then there was the night when that simple casting of your nets question, “Do you know Jesus?” led a 28-year old man in London, England to Christ. So to say that all gamers, and games for that matter are inherently evil would be callous and unwarranted.

After reading this, maybe you’re still not convinced that gaming can be a real and authentic means of ministry. But as 1 Peter 2:5 says, “You are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” Just because gaming or any other activity isn’t for you, doesn’t mean that those who choose to participate aren’t making a huge impact for God’s kingdom. In today’s society, it’s very easy to become a spectator for Christ’s ministry and not one of His disciples. How often do we spend time on the sidelines of life acting more like an armchair quarterback saying, “I would never do it like that.” Yet, no matter if it’s sports, dance, or yes gaming, we all should seek to find our niche and participate; for everyone of us is a stone for which God to use. I’d like to close with a quote from one of our great former Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt who once said: “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out where the strong stumbled or how the doer could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is in the arena, his face marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and falls short again and again: There is no effort without error.” In the end, the one that claims the victory is the one who gets out there and does something. It’s the one who is determined to live by the motto, “leave no man behind.” And it is the one that when others are running away from conflict; is seen running into the conflict. It is the Christian Gamer’s ‘Medal of Honor.’ A medal earned on the ‘Battlefield,’ and for members of the 116 Boyz, it is our ‘Call of Duty.’

If you are interested in becoming a member of The 116 Boyz, please visit http://116boyz.com for more information.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
“Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry.” The ESA. Web. August 24, 2012.

Categories: Daily Living | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fish Out!

Webster’s Dictionary defines the term “Fish Out” as: Depleting a body of water by overly fishing. As followers of Christ, Jesus instructed us to, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17-18). Yet, we look around today and there are many ponds, lakes, and oceans still overflowing with fish waiting to be caught. Is there a problem with our fishing gear, or is it that we’re simply not being shown how to fish correctly?

It is said that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime. The idea behind fishing is to know the fish you are looking for and attract them with bait that they’re unable to resist. As technology has advanced in the sport of fishing, shiny spinners and flashy bait that swims on their own have seemed to take the focus off the fact that a plain old worm on a hook with a weight and bobber still catches more fish. That’s the mindset today in the American church. More focus seems to be going into distracting light shows, pyrotechnics, and rock-concert stage antics, all in an effort to lead people to Christ. However, these churches are left with a troubling anomaly. Do they focus more on those they’re trying to reach or do they focus on those they’re trying to keep? This is the decision all churches are faced with; “Do we want to be fishers of men or just keepers of the aquarium?”

People today have been enticed by the trappings of this world. In truth, we spend more time looking at our iPhones, than focusing our eyes upon God. Why? Because we’ve become a culture with an incestuous need for entertainment and self-indulgence. With this, have come churches more concerned with catering to the personal preferences of the few, rather than pursuing the salvation of the many. More time seems to go into becoming the “Next Big Thing” in ministry, than our obligation to preaching the objective truth of God’s Word. The result, a room full of “Lukewarm Christians” looking for entertainment, while occupying the seats of people that really need to be sitting there and getting saved. You may be saying to yourself, “Why can’t the church have both types of people?” The truth is you actually can. By shifting the attention to the people the church wants to reach, the people you want to keep will end up staying; and then those believers that come and go like the ocean tide will find a church somewhere else to drift to and fro.

In the Bible, while Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee He came upon two men, Simon Peter and Andrew. These men were casting their nets into the water, for they were fisherman. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:17-18). While I realize the fishing that Simon Peter and Andrew were doing involved nets and not a pole and reel, let’s break that mold and talk about fishing in today’s terms. The basic idea behind fishing is simple. It’s knowing what bait attracts fish and then cast it out in hopes of fish taking the bait. Along with this comes learning the area in which to fish, the depth of the water, and what type of equipment is best to use. While these are the basic principles for catching fish, in the context of Christ’s word, how do we apply these principles to become fishers of men?

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles. –Doug Larson. Just as a fisherman carefully selects his equipment for his battle between fish and man, we too need to be choosey in the equipment we select to be fishers of men. It starts by being ready for the fishing excursion before we ever leave the house. Choosing to put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) is one of the best ways to insure we have the proper equipment and are ready for whatever lies ahead. Particularly important are the Sword of the Spirit; which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and the Shield of Faith; useful in deflecting the fiery arrows of demonic forces who don’t want men saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:16). Unless we equip ourselves with these two pieces of equipment, fishing for men’s souls will become virtually impossible.

Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish. –Mark Twain. While having the right equipment is important to our fishing excursion, we must also become aquatinted with the fish we’re trying to lure in. Unless we study and become knowledgeable about the people around us and their condition, we will never “reel in” these fish on our own; no matter how good of a fisherman you claim to be. Rather we will become fatigued from unsuccessful attempts. Because, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Just like fish, he drives them farther into the depths where the light of the gospel becomes harder to penetrate. Yet, while the deeper Satan tries to drive them, our Heavenly Father already knows which “fish” are already His. Thus, He uses some of us as His best anglers to penetrate the darkness, and bring light to a forever-dimming world.

Never throw a long line when a short one will serve your purpose. –Richard Penn. While shiny spinners and flashy bait has seemed to become the desired choice of many anglers, we must never fall to modern day consumerism. For the plain old worm on a hook still catches more fish; and so does the only effective bait—the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel has the transforming power to change lives, deliver those from darkness into light, and triumph over every obstacle bringing us to eternal joy. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is the power by which no other message, no other “bait” can reel in the fish of God. The same message that Jesus spoke to Simon Peter and Andrew that is still spoken today; and the message of any successful angler fishing the waters for Christ. With heavenly authority, we cast out our nets while declaring, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Unfortunately today, the vast majority of churches aren’t willing to teach people how to fish. At times it appears that more concern goes into building the congregation (the fish), rather than building up its members (the fisherman). An atmosphere of no accountability or true church family exists. People begin to enjoy the freedom of being part of the crowd; yet don’t reap the benefits of being a member of the church. In the end, what is found is continuous turnover because while the church says they want to reach people, in reality they’re more focused on preservation rather than expansion.

Yet, even with the greatest knowledge of how to fish, many times we’re simply left scratching our heads because we don’t know where to begin fishing. But thankfully, we serve a God who does, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:6). We must patiently wait on the Lord like we would when sitting on the shore waiting for those fish to bite. Have our lines ready to cast out, and He will guide our steps to the place where fish are frantically biting. Of course, there will be times where God leads us to fish in areas that may not seem acceptable to us. It is in these moments that we must make a decision. Are we going to follow Jesus like He told Simon Peter and Andrew, or are we going to go fish on our own and come up empty (John 21:3)? It’s your choice; will you become true fishers of men? Or be left telling one of those big fish stories about “The one that got away…”

In closing, when Jesus proclaimed, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” notice He made this statement in future tense. Like you, Jesus saw the potential in their lives before that potential was ever revealed. Many of us live in doubt of our true capabilities and talents provided by God. The fact is, even though you may doubt your abilities, Jesus has already equipped you (Acts 1:8). So grab your nets and head for the largest body of water you can possibly find. Place your faith in Jesus to show you where to fish and go for it! Don’t settle for catching a few little fish in a pond. Run to the oceans and keep casting your net, hand over fist, until you can proudly proclaim… Fish Out!

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are You a Lukewarm Christian?

There are very few things in life that are good when it comes to being lukewarm. For instance, we don’t hear people say, “You’d feel better if you would go take a lukewarm shower.” Or what about going out to eat? If we get our food served to us lukewarm, what do we do? We send it back if it’s not hot, or cold if that’s the way it’s supposed to be prepared. By nature, society tells us things should be hot or cold.

But for some reason, in the area of Christianity, we make excuses and try and manipulate what the scriptures convey to us. I apologize if what I’m about to say upsets you. But as a pastor, our jobs are not always meant to build you up. Sometimes we are called to steer you in the right direction when you stray off course; hence why pastors care called God’s Shepherds. The Greek Word for Pastor: ‘poimaino’ = (herdsman, a shepherd… one who cares for, feeds, guides, and protects the sheep).

Let me cut right to the heart of the matter. The Bible makes it emphatically clear; being a lukewarm Christian is NOT considered good in the eyes of the Lord. What does lukewarm Christianity look like? It’s the place that is found somewhere between being hot (on fire and living your life for what God desires) and being cold (not believing in or having no desire to follow God). One of my favorite lines comes from Pastor Craig Groeschel, “Just because it doesn’t bother you… Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t bother you.” And that’s exactly what’s occurring in society and the church today. We have become a Christian society that spends more time debating scripture and twisting it, rather than doing what it says. Instead of following God’s Word, we follow it up with, “Well the Bible doesn’t really say…” Let’s be clear, the Bible does say! In fact, in the area of lukewarm Christianity, scripture proves that Christ Himself knew that the nature of our society would pull away from God just as it is today. In fact, Jesus was so concerned that He sent a clear message to those living a lukewarm walk with God. He actually states that He would rather you and I be “cold” rather than lukewarm; and that lukewarmness is so disgusting that it makes God want to vomit. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

So with that in mind, here are 10 signs you might be a lukewarm Christian…

1. You only seek God when things seem to be crashing down around you.

2. You rarely share your faith, and would have a difficult time sharing your faith if asked.

3. The acceptance of people matters more than the acceptance that God provides.

4. You come to church and “Play Christian.” But as soon as you leave, your life is really no different than others in the world.

5. Your friends would be shocked if they found out that you were a “Christian.”

6. You spend more time on Facebook rather than in His Book.

7. The Bible that you have been carrying back and forth to church still looks like you just bought it.

8. You sometimes skip saying grace before a meal while out in public because you are afraid of what others are thinking.

9. Being a Christian to you means that you want to know Christ just enough to save you from going to hell, but not so much that it means having to change your lifestyle.

10. And my all time favorite… You are more concerned with “offending people” that you don’t share your faith.

The Word of God is clear and concise on this matter. Since God’s love for us is so unfathomable, shouldn’t our love for Him be so radical and thankful for Him sending His Son to pay the ultimate price? As I have had the displeasure of seeing this country fall to the wayside by trying to remove God from all of society, I’ll be very blunt; I have no patience for “lukewarm Christians.”

Let me end with two thoughts. Christianity is not simply living a lifestyle; it is living and dying for Jesus. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). For Christianity is not a brief emotional experience, it is a lifetime commitment made with our Savior Jesus Christ. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). In this life, God denounces lukewarmness. For Him, you are either a Christian… or you’re not! Which one are you?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Have the Balls?

Dodgeball… It may be the one word that still to this day has the ability to strike fear in the hearts of every gangly pre-teen in America. A game that seems so simplistic in its design; yet, for most of us feels like we’re David walking into an arena about ready to face Goliath. While the game has its rules and code of conduct, let’s be honest; dodgeball is nothing more than a politically correct way for Butch-the-Ginormo sixth-grader to beam balls off the head of every poor and defenseless prepubescent pencil-necked geek.

While there are varying ways to play the game, the basic rules are as follows. Teams of 6 or more players line up on opposite sides of the playing court. 6-8 dodgeballs are then lined up on the center of the court. At the blow of a whistle, both teams rush to the center court line and attempt to retrieve as many balls as possible. Once the teams have the balls, the object is to eliminate the other players until one team has only one person standing on the court; thus deemed the winner! To do this, each team tries to eliminate the opposing team by three different methods. First, and the most widely used method, is to throw the ball in an attempt to hit the opposing player directly with brutal force. Second, if a defending player manages to catch a live ball that has been thrown at them by an opposing player, the opposing player will be deemed “out.” Lastly, if any part of a player’s body crosses over the centerline or the neutral zone lines, that player shall be deemed “out” as well.

After years of ducking, dodging, and diving, I can tell you from first hand experience that the key to winning a dodgeball match is not found in a great offense. On the contrary, the key to being the last person standing on the court at the end of the game is found when a person learns to use a smart defense. Great dodgeball veterans will tell you, when they see a rush of players coming at them, they have to do the very thing they don’t want to do; and that is to move toward the rush. As someone who has woken up with “toiV” across his forehead a few times (that’s Voit spelled backwards, the maker of dodeballs by the way); I can tell you that your first instinct is to run toward the back of the court. But doing so just makes it easier for you to unintentionally go out of bounds while trying to jump out of the way of a 90-MPH red rubber ball. Instead, you need to advance toward the rush of the players and try to catch one of their thrown balls as they hurl it toward you.

But be careful, if you are charging foreword and the rush begins to overtake you, the worst thing to do now is retreat backwards, which I have done. Once you take your eyes of you opponent, you become disoriented and open yourself up for a barrage of cheap shots and public pelting; and more than one person has suffered the wrath of Butch (the freakishly grown six-grader) because they didn’t know which way to go. They turned their back when they should have stood their ground, and the outcome became an urban legend gossiped on the playground for years to come.

So if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to make every effort to catch your opponent’s ball. Then in a freak moment of insanity, make your way in the direction of the rush. Why? That ball not only becomes your weapon of destruction for later use; but it becomes your shield to deflect the enemy’s attacks when hurled at you. So even if logic tells you to turn around and retreat, follow what your heart knows to be true; dig your heels in and stand firm for your victory is just moments away.

In life, the Word of God is like that little red rubber ball. When Satan tries to throw trials and difficulties your way, it becomes your shield so that you can temporarily deflect the enemy’s attacks. Thus, enabling yourself to catch your breath and gain a proper perspective on what is really going on. It provides you the stability to, “Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope” (Psalm 119:116). During the first moments of any heated exchange, there’s no doubt; fear can set in. And your emotions if not put in check, can get the best of you and make you rethink your initial game plan. But it’s at these moments in life that if you will just, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). For it is the Word of God that will correct, guide, and protect you.

Yes, there are times in life that we may just narrowly escape; we may even get caught in another barrage of attacks. And unfortunately they may come so often that we live our lives without ever knowing if the waves of attack will ever cease. But it’s during these difficult times that character is born. Remember when David walked toward Goliath? The Bible tells us that he had already shrugged off the cumbersome armor and was dressed in just his simple tunic. He didn’t have a massive sword to help him engage his enemy. No, David was armed with just a few smooth stones and a slingshot. And as the story goes, David did not retreat in fear; instead he approached Goliath with all certainty of his impending victory.

As Goliath stood there cursing David with threats and insults, it is here in the story we see David’s security in his faith. David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty” (1 Samuel 17:45). As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag to get a stone and slung one of them at Goliath’s head. With all the armor Goliath was draped with, the stone still managed to find a hole in the armor covering his head. And as the stone sank into the giant’s forehead, he fell face down on the ground, which ended in his demise.

David’s faith in God allowed him to look at the giant from a different perspective. From David’s viewpoint, Goliath was merely a mortal man rebelling against the almighty God. God allowed David to see things from His point of view. What we learn from this account is that when situations present themselves that in the natural seem impossible for us, they soon seem possible when viewing them from God’s perspective.

Just like in dodgeball, when we make the decision to stand firm and use the ball (the Word of God) to deflect the attacks of our opponents, we stop seeing things like a victim and realize victory is close at hand. Now I’m not going to say that facing trials are ever easy. And you may not understand why you must face the challenges that the enemy seems to always stir up for you. But remember, adversity breeds character; and after all, turmoil is just temporary. But character… It lasts a lifetime.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

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