Posts Tagged With: iPhone

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

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

Would Jesus use an iPhone?

“Just Do it!” (Nike). “Have it your Way!” (Burger King). “There’s an App for that” (iPhone). Today, we are constantly bombarded by product messaging that wants to tell us how we should eat, live, love, and even speak. Unfortunately, this constant assault extends beyond just television. Radio, telemarketers, billboards, junk-mail, email, door-to-door salesman, and even those pesky internet banner ads are all-vying for your and my attention. It seems that no matter what great invention immerges, the big conglomerates immediately snatch it up, tweak it, and then repackage it so it can be resold back to the American public in its “new and improved” version. All this quick and easy living has brought America to the point where we feel almost “entitled” to have things our way.

Today, our need for self-indulgence has become so bad that it seems to infiltrate every aspect of our lives. Let me prove it… Ask yourself this; what is my primary means of communication today? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m that techno-nerd that stands in line at 3 AM for the latest version of the iPhone. I’m just as guilty as the next guy who finds it much easier to communicate with electronic devices than with man himself. This having been said, it should come as no surprise that people today use text messaging and email as their primary means of communication over verbalized speech. Thus, our ever-growing need to do things easier and faster seems to be gradually deteriorating our knowledge of how to verbally communicate with one another. Which brings one to ask, “If Jesus was ministering on earth today, would He use an iPhone?”

As we look back at the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Gospels details many ways Jesus chose to communicate. Yet, what’s interesting is that while blogs, email, and Facebook did not exist due to lack of technology, Jesus still managed to reach the masses while communicating His message of hope. As we read in John 8, Jesus kneels down and writes on the ground before a group of Scribes and Pharisees. So it’s clear Jesus had the ability to write and then have his message transcribed and passed amongst the regions. Yet, as most biblical accounts confirm, Jesus chose to communicate by using spoken words. In fact, the Gospels detail story after story of how Jesus approached people and spoke with them in one-on-one conversations. Jesus understood that the key to presenting the Gospel did not take place while hiding behind a computer screen as many of us do today. Jesus knew that the power of the voice held the key to how the Gospel was to be received. In fact, it’s worth noting that some of the most profound messages that Jesus ever conveyed took place while he was engaged in one-on-one conversations. Take for example the scripture that every new believer in Christ to the most esteemed pastoral leader loves to quote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This quote occurred during a one-on-one conversation between Jesus and a religious man known as Nicodemus.

Have you ever noticed that many times when we hear someone sharing his or her faith it almost seems like a canned response? They repeat the same testimony; the same scriptures to everyone like an automated telephone answering system. Therefore, is it any wonder that we begin to see that same glazed look in the eyes of the person they’re speaking with? The person who once looked for guidance has now completely disconnected from the person speaking and all they’re doing now is trying to quickly come up with an excuse to get away from this newly perceived “religious nut.” Is this the example Jesus gave to us? While it may sound like a bit of a cliché, one of the best ways to determine how we as Christians should communicate today is by asking ourselves “W.W.J.D.?” Or, simply put, how would Jesus communicate His Gospel?

Not only is Jesus our Savior, our provider, and our deliverer; but He is also the perfect example of how we should communicate with others. If there is one thing we can learn from Jesus when it comes to communication, it’s that He took His time with people. He didn’t just stand there with His Starbucks latte in hand, and iPhone spilling out the latest trendy sermon of the day. No, Jesus took the time to adapt His conversations depending on each person’s needs and the situations unfolding in their lives. Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, we are able to see that whenever anyone needed healing or support, Jesus spoke. He knew that for a person to be healed or comforted was completely dependent on hearing His voice. Likewise, the scriptures declare, for within us holds the same healing and comforting powers as Christ. Jesus gave us the right and privilege to use His authority when we communicate. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18).

Today we live in a technologically advanced society. Mass media and Internet resources make it much easier to essentially cast out the proverbial net and reach millions of people at the same time. Like Jesus who once stood atop a rock in an effort to amplify His voice to those seeking His truth; Christians have a plethora of electronic tools and websites available to cast out their nets. Yet, the one thing we need take away from this message is that Jesus understood people. He understood that there was a much greater difference than preaching at someone than there is when ministering to someone with a personal touch.

So to answer the question, “If Jesus was ministering on earth today, would He use an iPhone?” I believe that the answer would be, YES! There is no doubt that technology has enabled us to achieve widespread communication with people who we would never meet face-to-face. Yet, with every technological advance carries the curse of technology. The curse that keeps us from having personal interaction and true fulfilled relationships with those we share our daily lives, and unfortunately sometimes even in our own homes. The difference is that unlike most of us, I believe that Jesus would quickly come to understand the advantage of the on/off button. We as a society must come to understand that there needs to be a balance. We need to learn how to disconnect from technology. In closing, the words of the Gospel are strong on their own; but when delivered by ones voice they are magnified. Jesus would no doubt use every available tool to spread His message of hope, faith, and love; yet He would never forget that the true power of the Gospel lies within person-to-person contact and the relationships we take time in developing with one another.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living, Jesus Christ, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

"It's Just Like an iPhone…”

Have you ever heard these words, “It’s just like an iPhone”? It seems that no matter what great product comes on the scene, rival companies quickly snatch it up, duplicate it’s look, and rebrand it so it can be passed off to the American public in a “just like the…” version. First and foremost, you know when it comes to the iPhone, most people know I am an devout junkie. Yes, I stand in line at 3 AM anxiously awaiting the doors to open so I can be one of the first to have the new version in hand. And I openly admit I am one of the people a recent poll referred to when it said that “35% of the people polled would buy a new iPhone version; sight unseen.”

As you read this you’re probably wondering what does this have to do with Christianity? Well, awhile back, I was reading an article on The Christian Post about all the different religions that are available today. All under the guise that they are considered “Christians.” I’d list them here, but as http://www.worldchristiandatabase.org provides, “There are over 9,000 Christian denominations worldwide.” As I was thinking about this, that now famous quote, “It’s just like an iPhone,” started ringing in my head. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of smart phones out there. And to be fair, let’s take the price factor out of the equation for why someone can or cannot afford different smart phones that are available.

A lot of these phones look like an iPhone. They have a touch screen, they run apps, and some are so close that from a distance you would actually start to believe that it’s an iPhone. However, while they may look like an iPhone and seem to work like an iPhone; they are not real iPhones. And just because there is an imitation posing as the “just like” version, doesn’t mean that it comes close to being like the genuine. Like most products, because there are replicas, you can be certain there is a genuine; a benchmark that all imitations can be measured by. Whenever someone says to me, “It’s just like an iPhone,” my response is simple. “If it’s just like an iPhone, why not buy the genuine?” Obviously if someone refers to an item as the “just like” version, by their own admission the genuine article is its purest form; one that others are trying to duplicate.

Which brings me to the question, “Why are there so many different religions and denominations available today? How do we know which belief is true and genuine from all the others? Just like the iPhone, when it comes to religion you can be assured that Satan will come along with his own “just like” replica. As the Apostle Paul confirms, Satan has a plan to confuse and make us believe that the replica is just like the genuine. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

Jesus Himself warned us to be on the lookout for imitations. In Matthew 13, the parable of the wheat and the tares is a great example of what the fake and genuine looks like when they are compared to one another. In His story, Jesus tells the account of the farmer who painstakingly planted a great field of wheat, but when night fell and no one was looking, his enemy snuck in and planted tares; tares is a plant that looked exactly like wheat. In fact, without careful examination, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two while it first begins to grow. Once it matures, the tares begin to uproot the wheat and by the time the farmer can recognize the imitation, his crop has already been affected and dies off.

Today, just look around at what passes off as “Christians.” On the surface with a little lip service it’s hard to tell if they are the genuine deal or the imitated version. As the Bible warns, in the last days, there will be genuine Christians and fake Christians. Jesus Himself told us to be on the lookout, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). At first glance, they might even fool real Christians. They are sporting the NOTW bumper sticker, quote their favorite scriptures to you, and put on a religious front every Sunday; but on Monday they are no different from the rest of the world.

As believers in Christ am I saying that it’s our job to go out and single-out who the fake Christians are? No, as stated earlier Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). Just like the iPhone, the imitations will try and pass off that they are just like the genuine, but spend a little time with the imitation. Soon, how it operates and functions in the real world will be revealed on its own. Anyone that owns an iPhone knows why it’s the standard for other phones to try and imitate. We who call ourselves Christians need only be focused on one thing. We just need to make sure that when people look at us closely, they recognize that we are genuine followers of Jesus Christ; and not Satan’s knock-off version in an attempt to deceive the world.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

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

Are You Being Distracted by Facebook?

As a “Techie-Guy” by nature, I love my iPhone, my Xbox-360 and any of the numerous devices that have come on the scene to keep us entertained and informed in this hustle and bustle world. Along with these devices have come websites that seem to make us feel like we wouldn’t know what to do if they never existed. Case in point… Facebook. A handy little website that enables us to keep in contact with our loved ones and reclaim our long lost friendships of yesteryear. While we’ve been provided the gift of staying in touch and knowing what Suzy and Tommy from grade school are doing now, along with that comes those annoying posts that people feel they have to let everyone know about. Like I really want to know that your cat has an ongoing digestive problem or that you currently hold the high score on Farmville. After graduating from college, one of my first acts as a new pastor was to prioritize my life. That means God, family, ministry. Recently, when we decided to take a family vacation, my wife and I decided to disconnect from all social sources; email, news, and yes… Facebook. While Facebook can be a good tool, what we discovered was that if you are truly honest with yourself as we were, I think you’ll agree that it really has become sort of a distraction. Answer this… Do you spend more time on Facebook or in HIS book? Do you feel the need to check Facebook everyday… several times? Do you sublimely just tap on the Facebook App on your smart phone? Gotcha… you’re being distracted!

Recently, I came a cross a national poll that states that the typical person spends an average of 6.5 combined hours each week on Facebook. Do the math, that’s over 1-day a month that Americans spend on a website! What could you be doing with this time? After my wife and I returned from our vacation of cutting out all social media from our lives, we discovered something very interesting. We were happier, less annoyed, and more dedicated to our family. Some people might say that this was “Just because you were on vacation.” I would say, “No, it’s because I didn’t have to listen to someone tell me “If you’re blah, blah, blah… Repost this on your wall!” Come on, let’s be truthful here. Has this what we’ve really led ourselves to become more concerned with? Yes, Facebook can be a good keep-in-touch tool, and even used greatly for ministry; but is it taking you away from the real world and God’s call on your life?

The Bible is clear; Satan has one goal in mind, “To steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). And guess what, at this point, he’s winning. Divorce is at an all time high, teenage pregnancy is off the charts, and our children can be subjected to pornography within seconds of most Google search results. He will stop at nothing to win. And distraction is just one of his tactics that he uses to avert our minds away from pursuing God’s purpose for our lives and furthering Christ’s ministry. I’m not saying that Facebook is the Devil and you should disconnect from it (well not in this post anyway); but I am saying that when you become more obsessed with checking Facebook than reading the Bible then there is a problem. When you go through your day what book do you access first; Facebook or HIS Book? This American distraction has taken our time away from reading and studying the Bible, spending quiet time with God, and spending time with family; in short we’ve lost our biblical worldview.

If you are one of the elite that spend more time with God than on Facebook, then I commend you. But I’ll bet if most of us (present company included prior to this media separation experience) are honest, we’ll find that Satan has done a pretty good job of keeping us distracted from God. Look, my point is not to write this with the view of condemning you, but to make you aware of what is going on in the world. Our attack is no different than Jesus Himself once faced. Satan once tried to distract Jesus while He was enduring His wilderness experience and at Capernaum while He was beginning His powerful ministry. If Satan tried to distract Jesus, suffice to say that he too will try and come up with another tactic to distract our time away from fulfilling God’s call on our lives and our own powerful ministries.

It is my hope from this blog that you really stop and think. Where is your time being spent? We must all reclaim a deliberate walk with Christ and place more emphasis on what we are called to do. Preach the Gospel and love on our families; and this begins by cutting the umbilical cord of social media. Think I’m aloof in my call to action? There are many prominent pastoral leaders today that not only agree with what I’m saying, but also call for their congregations to completely disconnect from Facebook all together. Why? Because they know all to well that if we as Christ followers want to truly take charge of your lives, then we have to start by getting rid of various distractions; and with Facebook claiming that they will have reached 1-billion Facebook accounts by end of 2012, clearly Facebook has become a very real distraction in modern society. I’m not calling for you to go and delete your Facebook account; however I am hoping that for the sake of your family and walk with Christ you place limits on this distraction so that you can get back on the right path toward taking purposeful action daily! When we reclaim the sanity from Mark Zuckerberg’s college experiment spiraling out of control; we will all be brought back to our wealthy place in God so that we can be a blessing to His kingdom here on earth.

In closing, forgive me if you can’t find me to friend on Facebook; I no longer have one. I finally decided enough was enough. I’m making my life about His Kingdom, and not a social media site that has a proven track record of creating division amongst families and the Body of Christ! Don’t believe me? A quick Google search will shock you! Hmm… A rise in divorce, a rise in adultery, pornography, child-trafficking arrests, pedophilia arrests, not to mention the constant abuse of your and my privacy; yep, what would we ever do without Facebook?

I am thankful that God has given me a new lease on life. I’m not spending one day taking that for granted. I would hope if you are reading this that it sparks you to take a real hard and close look at your life’s priorities. I’m going to end with a view that I like from my father-in-law (who coincidently also does not use Facebook). He states, “He likes to deal “face-to-face” without the Book.” And isn’t that what we’re called to do, have real relationships? Life is not measured by the number of friends you try and accumulate on your Facebook friends list; it begins by how it’s measured through the relationship you have when you make the decision to accept HIS friend request. Have a blessed day, and remember… “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Marriage and Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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