Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So, what are you thinking about?

Your mind has a lot to do with the quality of your life. How you focus your thoughts and your mind will determine whether you will be stressed out or at peace. Our thoughts shape our behavior, our attitudes, and our actions. In other words, garbage in – garbage out.

So, what are you thinking about? The word “think” can be defined as – to consider, reflect, reason, and ponder. What we think about determines a part of who we are. The human mind is an incredible creation. It holds tremendous creative ability. Have you thought about how powerful your imagination is? Once you have an image in your mind, it is hard to remove it. Too often we let garbage rule our lives. We give the devil control of our minds by meditating on thoughts that do not line up with the Word of God. Then we reap the results of that carnal mindset – the fruits of the flesh as are described in Galatians 5: 19-21.

So again, what are you thinking about? Romans 12:2 says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is as we are transformed and our minds are renewed that we begin to see and understand God’s plan for our lives. A renewed mind is focused and directed by the Word. You will have wisdom, discernment, and insight.

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. .Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Or in other words set your mind on the things of God. You can do that by studying Scripture and getting to know God.

Finally a look at Philippians 4: 6-9. I’d like to look at these verses in steps.

Step 1 - “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

If you do this, then the next verse is true.

Step 2 - “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How do you keep from being anxious? By doing what it says in the next two verses.

Step 3 - “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

So, what are you thinking about?

Monday, January 26, 2009


I’ve been thinking about the concept of righteousness the last couple of days.

Righteousness is defined as the quality or state of being righteous; holiness; purity; uprightness

Righteousness is an attribute of moral purity belonging to God alone (Phil. 3:9). Our righteousness is based on what Jesus did on the cross. The righteousness that was Christ's is counted to us. We, then, are seen as righteous in the eyes of God. Though we are actually worthy of damnation, we are made righteous (http://www.carm.org/kjv/Isaiah/Isaiah_61.htm#8)

Isaiah 32:17 “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.”

God's righteousness is imputed to us at the moment of salvation. So any righteousness that flows from us is not from us, but from the Holy Spirit.

There are many ways to invest our lives. There is nothing that gives us a greater reward than devoting ourselves to righteousness. Every area of our lives should reflect the holiness of God. Am I taking God’s righteousness in my life for granted? Am I thinking holy thoughts or am I allowing sinful thoughts to grow there. Is there bitterness, jealousy, or unforgiveness in my life? Jesus told us to seek first God and His righteousness and everything else would follow. (Matthew 6:33)

How am I putting righteousness in my mind so that my thoughts are holy? How am I cultivating righteousness in the relationships I find myself in? How am I maintaining my integrity? Are the activities in my life above reproach? If I want to harvest righteousness in my life in the future, I need to plant the seeds of righteousness today. I need to be intentional about it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Magnificent Obsession

I had this song stuck in my head today - Magnificent Obsession by Steven Curtis Chapman. It talks about Jesus being everything Iwant and need. As I go through your day, do I think about Jesus? Do I see everything I do through a Biblical grid? Do I seek Jesus with my whole heart? The lyrics say I want everything my heart desires to be for Jesus.

Magnificent Obsession

Lord, You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed
And still I seem to stay
In the middle of life’s complications
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
But now it’s brought me back to You
And I can see again

This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You, Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession

So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross
And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love
That You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains

You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord, You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me

You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You

You can play the song here http://music.yahoo.com/track/2081628

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Christian Education vs Secular Education

I’ve been a part of four different Christian schools in the Atlanta area over the last 20+ years. I’ve really dedicated my life to Christian education. I’ve been a part of new and growing schools as well as old established schools. Each one talked about academic excellence but no one really defined what that meant.

As I've been thinking, my mind went to the struggle that schools face of academics versus spiritual issues. There are lots of Christian schools that claim they provide academic excellence in a Christian environment. What does that mean? I think for a lot of schools that means providing a secular education in a Christian atmosphere, even though the terms secular and Christian are not logically compatible. This is probably the reason we do not hear of Christian schools claiming to offer a secular education. No Christian school would want to admit to that, so they disguise what is actually happening under the name academic excellence. Yet if academic excellence is silently defined as success according to standards set by a non-Christian mind, it is all too likely that secular education in a Christian environment is the best that they can really claim. The pursuit of academic excellence can hardly be judged to be wrong in itself, nor does it automatically lead to a secularized education. It does so when the non-Christian mind is allowed to set the standards and when high-test scores to enable students to attend the best colleges take precedence over the time it takes to teach students to be servants in a lost and broken world. The worst possible thing to do is to pursue success according to the world’s standards and to attempt to make it look otherwise by couching it in some kind of “religious talk”.

There is nothing wrong with a Christian school pursuing academic excellence as long as they maintain a Bible-based, Christ-centered philosophy. God’s Word needs to be the foundation upon which every principle of the school rests. Policies and procedures must reflect their commitment to the Word. They cannot compromise their biblical integrity for academics. Their concern with the purpose of education goes beyond the immediate function of providing the students with an opportunity to get into best colleges. (Thus giving them the opportunity for a good job and more of the “good life”.) Their concern with students goes beyond helping them score well on tests and prove their intellectual capabilities. Their concern as teachers goes beyond being an effective classroom manager whose students perform well on required tests. Their concern is that all these tasks and purposes be carried out within the framework of an eternal perspective. They must prepare them not only to serve in this world but also prepare them to stand before God in eternity. If they fail at this task, nothing else matters.

So let’s call it what it is. If you are providing a secular education, call yourself a college-prep private school. If you are a Christian school, then everything you do should be done from a Christian worldview. Everything should have at its root core to bring people to Christ. Every student should hear the gospel, study the Word, share their faith, etc… Every activity on campus should be used to further the kingdom. How many schools really do that?

Some of these thoughts were influenced by the book 'Kingdom Education" by Glen Schultz.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Thing ...

If you could ask for one thing you wanted from the Lord, what would it be? What one thing is the most necessary thing? If you could do one thing with your day today, what would it be?

David, often referred to as a man after God’s own heart, asked for this:

Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

My life seems so complicated sometimes. There are a million things in competition for my thoughts and devotion. It is hard to think about this kind of singleness of mind. Not everything that crowds in is sin. Yet nothing should take that position - the position of the most important thing in my life. No amount of busyness should keep me from that alone time with God.

David’s one thing was to dwell in the house of the Lord. I don’t think that was because he wanted to hide. I think that was because he wanted to worship. He longed to be in God’s presence. Everything else was secondary to him. This is what gave him the strong faith that he possessed. His devotion to the Lord provided him with wisdom and vision. It gave him courage.

Seek His presence. In His presence is fullness of joy! (Psalm 16:11) God wants us to worship him. He delights in the praise of his people.

Help me to have the same desire that David had.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Penn gets a Bible

Penn and Teller use a variety of magic and comedy to entertain crowds in Las Vegas. Penn is an atheist and he tells people that. After one of his shows, a business man comes up to him and gives him a Bible. Penn appreciates the guy's complements of his show. He also appreciates that this man believes enough to share it with someone else. He thought that this man was a "good man." The quote below is the one that stuck with me:

"How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them about it?"

Here's someone who doesn't even believe in God who knows that Christians should be sharing their faith. Wouldn't our world be different if all Christians believed this....

The video clip is 5 minutes long but well worth playing.

FYI - This was presented in our church service on Sunday. Thanks, Kevin.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Psalm 62

I'll keep this one short today. I read Psalm 62 and I was thinking on it today.

From God I get: rest, salvation, honor, hope, and I will never be shaken.

God is my rock, my salvation, my fortress. mighty rock, my refuge.

God is strong and loving.

Psalm 62 (Emphasis mine)

1. My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.

2. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3. How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down-- this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4. They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. "Selah"

5. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

6. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

8. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. "Selah"

9. Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.

10. Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11. One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong,

12. and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Computer Virus

I got a virus on my computer. I have been using a PC for over 15 years and have never really had a problem. This one hit me hard. It’s hard to tell exactly when I got it. A virus can sit dormant on your PC for long periods of time and then some little thing you do activates it and it begins to wreak havoc on your PC. I suspect that I recently got this one. I let my virus definitions expire for a couple of days. I just kept putting off taking care of it. I knew they were expired but I was busy. Then Sunday, the PC locked up. I had to just push the button in and hold it until it shut down. I tried restarting it about 5 times before I got it to come up. It worked for about 30 minutes – long enough for me to back-up all my data. Then it locked up again. Then it was dead. It refused to restart. It continually locked up when it was trying to boot up. I tried several tools to remove it but I couldn’t get rid of it. I finally had to completely reformat my hard drive and reload everything.

I was thinking that computer viruses are sort of like sin in our lives. The devil waits to attack you. He knows what is going on in your life and we waits for your defenses to be down. Don’t let down your guard like I let my virus protection expire. Be sure to put on the armor of God before exposing yourself to the world. (Ephesians 6:10 - 18)

Protect yourself by:
1. Being strong – Don’t forget that God is there to lean on through your struggles.
2. Truth – Truth is extremely important to your protection. Tell the truth and stand for what is true.
3. Righteousness – Make sure you spend time with God every day. It is by doing this that you can keep your life on the right track.
4. Gospel of Peace – How can you survive if your feet are not planted firmly in the truth.
5. Shield of Faith – The shield is the piece of our armor that is used to ward off the attacks of the enemy.
6. Helmet of Salvation – Be sure to protect your head. The mind is constantly under attack by the enemy. (Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:7)
7. Sword of the Spirit – The sword is God’s word/ Most of the armor is defensive. This is a piece that is offensive. You need to know it and have it in your heart so that when you need it, you can easily recall it and apply it. This is the weapon that Jesus used when the devil attacked him.
8. Praying Always – part of surviving any attack is knowing who to turn to for help. It is through prayer that you can know what God would have you do.

Ephesians 6: 10-18 (Emphasis is mine)
10.Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11.Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
12.For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14.Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15.and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Authentic Christians

As I wrote about Christians making an impact on society, I started thinking about the reasons we are failing. I think a good part of the reason we are not impacting our world is because we don’t live differently than the world. What is it that makes us different? What is it that makes us an “authentic” or “real” Christian and not just a “pretend” or “fake” Christian? Too many people call themselves a Christian when their lives don’t reflect biblical truth or values.

The Christians of the first century were able to take their faith and spread it to the entire world. They did this without the use of the printing press, radio, TV, and the internet. What is it that made them different? My first thought is that they practiced a different kind of Christianity than we do today. As we read about it in the book of Acts, we might classify it as radical. We might say they are all a bit extreme. They didn’t think they were radicals. They thought they were just being authentic Christians. If we want to impact our world the same way they did, then we need to live like they did. We need to start applying the same Christian principles to our lives.

The book of 1 John has a lot to say about being an authentic Christian.

An authentic Christian confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. (1 John 4:15 “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.”) Being a Christian starts with a verbal commitment to Jesus. It goes beyond knowing and believing. It has to do with acting on your faith in Christ. The Bible says that “faith without works is dead” and it also says that “even the demons believe in Jesus”. (James 2:17-19) Authentic Christians verbalize their commitment to Christ as Lord of their lives.

If you are an authentic Christian, you will be upset with yourself when you are sinning. (1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”) This doesn’t mean you are perfect. This doesn’t mean you’ll never sin. It means that you will not want to sin. If you are an authentic Christian, your sin will make you uncomfortable. You know in your heart that you have done the wrong thing. When you sin, simply confess it and ask God to forgive you and to help you not to repeat that sin again. (1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”)

An authentic Christian will enjoy the fellowship with other believers. (1 John 5:1) An authentic Christian wants to be around other Christians. Hebrews tells is that it is important for Christians to get together, encourage one another, and correct one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”)

An authentic Christian obeys Jesus’ commands. (1 John 5:3 “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”) Obeying Christ gives our lives meaning and purpose. Obeying Christ protects us from things that will harm us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If someone continually willfully breaks God’s commandments, then I would wonder if he ever really made a true commitment to Christ.

An authentic Christian loves and obeys the Word of God. (1 John 2:3-6 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”) You can’t live an effective Christian life without a love for God’s Word. Authentic Christians are students of the Scriptures. Authentic Christians follow the teachings of Christ. One stumbling block of many Christians is their lack of time in the Word. (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”) Many believers don’t realize the importance of spending time in the Word. There’s no way to know what Jesus wants you to do, if you don’t read the book. There’s no way to know how to react in tough situations unless you have “hidden the Word in your heart.” (Psalm 119:11 “have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”)

Lots of people say they are Christians but few act like it. Christians are not currently having an impact on our society and I believe that is because there are few Christians who follow the principles outlined here. Too many Christians look and act like their non-Christian counterparts. We should be different than the world. We should conduct our businesses differently than non-Christians. We should treat our spouses differently than non-Christians. We should treat our children differently than non-Christians. We should live differently and we should have a different value system. Only authentic Christians can have an impact on the world.

So, are you an authentic Christian? Do you talk about your faith in Christ? Are you upset with yourself when you sin? Do you enjoy the fellowship of other believers? Do you obey the commands of Jesus? Do you study and obey the Word? If not, what’s holding you back? It’s not too late to make changes in your life.

** I didn't intend for this to be this long but I guess it is. I do want to acknowledge that not all of this is my original writing. I found an outline for this blog handwritten in my Bible and so I know I heard a sermon on it at one point in time. Any way - to whoever orginally penned some of these ideas, thanks. I needed to think about them and hear them again.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Are Christians making a difference in today’s society?

If we were honest, we would admit that Christians are becoming more and more irrelevant in today’s society. Congregations are shrinking. Christians are perceived negatively in all aspects of life. American society continues to move away from its Christian roots. It is becoming more and more difficult (and important) to reach people for Christ. However, most Christians today do not share their faith. They do not take the Great Commission seriously. It is easier to talk about anything else than their faith.

Let there be no mistake – it is the job of all Christians to reach the world with the gospel. However, it is much easier to do nothing and so that is what most Christians do. The biggest “Christian thing” we do all week is occupy a pew seat on Sunday morning. There is a common saying in churches that “15% of the people do 85% of the work.” That seems like a pretty good estimate. And, usually it is the same 15% for every event. Involvement takes effort and that is something that most Christians aren’t willing to give.

I wonder what the Church would look like if the 85% of uninvolved Christians decided to get involved. What if 100% of the Christians in a church were involved in church activities? The result would be a church who took the Great Commission seriously. They could help meet the needs of society. They would reflect the love of Christ to the lost world. They could accomplish almost anything they attempted.

So how do we get Christians to get involved? How do we get churches involved in the Great Commission and not just social events? When is the last time someone was saved at a potluck dinner? When is the last time someone was saved at a softball game? When is the last time someone was saved in a Sunday morning service – ouch – that one hurts! It means we, the body of Christ, have to start to take responsibility for things. We need to learn what it means to be a true disciple, an authentic Christian. We need to learn to love and care for people. We need to learn to reflect the image of Christ to others. We are called to be like Christ. We need to be His hands and feet to a lost world. We need to speak the truth in love. We need to open our mouths and our lives and share about our relationship with Christ with others. We need to stop being so lazy and get some “guts” in this area.

We don’t have to continue to be a “Christian failure”. We don’t have to be a lukewarm mediocre church. We have a lot of potential. We can change. We can be the kind of Christian that the Bible calls us to be. We are mediocre because that is what we choose to be. We can choose to be so much more. We can make a difference in this world for the cause of Christ.

As I thought about this the last few days and wrote this, make no mistake, I am speaking to and about myself as much as I am about Christians in general. I need to make more of a stand. I need to be more proactive in sharing my faith. I need a “kick in the pants” to be more involved. What about you? Think it through and be honest. Are you doing all you can for the cause of Christ? It is the only thing that really matters.

I am thinking my way through a post on what makes an authentic Christian. Look for that post in the next day or two.

The Great Commission from Matthew 28:
16. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20. and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I will be glad to get back to school and back to my normal routine. The only thing that I don’t like is the 5:15 alarm clock - that will take some getting used to again. My natural tendency is to stay up late and then sleep in. I get some of my best work done late at night. However, everything is better when I get back to my routine. I eat better. I read more. I’ll get back on track posting on this blog again.

When it comes to my spiritual life, sometimes routine is not the best thing. Huh – did I really say routines can be bad. Yes, I want to have a devotional time each day but I don’t want to do the same thing, the same way, every day. Sometimes the habits of our devotional life can actually get in the way of our growing closer to God. Sometimes the routine can make it grow stale or boring.

There is nothing boring about worshipping the God who created the earth and all its beauty. There is no lack of excitement in worshipping a Savior who died on the cross for my sins. So how do we avoid dry devotional times? By breaking your routine of what you usually do. Try adding some variety to your time with God.

Jesus found a quiet place away from the business of people and the ministry. We need to do the same. Try changing the routine. Try a different place, method, book of the bible, or topic. Whatever you do, just do it. Time spent with the Lord is never wasted time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Well, the ball just dropped and 2008 is now over. As you reflect on the last year, how would you describe it? Was it a “good” year? Was it a year of achievements or trials? Did you accomplish your goals for the year? Did you lose weight, exercise more, eat more vegetables, watch less TV, read more books, etc… (Funny - those sound like mine!)

Have you thought about any spiritual resolutions? Those are the ones that really matter. In fact, we don’t have to wait for New Years to make spiritual resolutions. We can make those resolutions any time and, in fact, we can make them every day. Every day resolve to walk with God. Every day, resolve to live for Christ. Every day, resolve to do the right thing. Every day, resolve to thank God for your blessings. Every day, rely on God for strength and wisdom.

Remember, it’s OK if you can’t keep your personal resolutions. Good thing – because most people don’t keep them past the first month. Just don’t fail at your spiritual resolutions. Those are the ones that really matter.