Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Set Goals to Set Success

The New Year is right around the corner and resolutions will be thought of until January 1st roles around.  The difference in a goal and a resolution though is that a goal will more likely be seen through.  Why?  A resolution is simply a good idea that you think would be beneficial in your life.  Things like losing weight and reading the Bible more are a few popular resolutions.  Though these are good ideas, unless they have some definition, they will be thrown by the wayside before Valentine's Day.

Zig Ziglar, one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time talks about goal setting.  A couple of the things he says resonates with me.  The goal must be specific, measurable, have a plan of action, and contain a time frame.  This kind of goal would include how much weight you would like to lose (20 lbs.), when you want to have it lost (20 weeks), and how you will go about losing it (cardiovascular workout for 30 minutes everyday and count calories).  If you put these things into action, your New Year's resolution turns into a goal bound for success.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Barbie House For Christmas

Every family should have some good 'ole Christmas traditions.  My parents required us to be in bed early so we didn't keep Santa waiting.  After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, the sand man came and the slumber which would soon be interrupted with Christmas morning excitement came to an end.  We all piled into my parents' room and jumped on the bed before we were allowed to go in the living room and bust out our stuffed stockings and rip open the presents surrounding the tree.  My Dad was the first to go into the living room to scout it out before we could enter.  Every year, without fail, he yelled to us from the living room, "Santa must have come to the wrong house...there's nothing but barbies and barbie doll houses in here!  I was so nervous that Santa did indeed get our house crossed with a bunch of girls, but my dad was pulling our legs.  That didn't stop the shadow of doubt from entering year after year:)  What traditions did/do your family have?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holy Spirit Dwell In Me

One CANNOT be a Christian without the Holy Spirit!  When Peter told the people on the day of Pentecost what was required of them, the gift of the Holy Spirit was part of that deal (Acts 2:38).  If you deny the Spirit dwells in you, know that you are not a Christian without it.  Paul is abundantly clear about this, "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Romans 8:9 ESV).  It does not get anymore cut and dry than that.  The Holy Spirit dwells within each Christian.  It is by this Spirit that Christians are led (v. 14).

So what is people's problem with the Holy Spirit dwelling in them?  I have no idea because it is a comforting thought to me that the Lord left us the ultimate Comforter (John 16:7 KJV).  Paul teaches Christians "...your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God..." (1 Corinthians 6:19).  Paul is speaking to the individual Christian in this context with references to sexual immorality and sin against one's own body.  His point to the Corinthians is to take care of the Spirit's dwelling, our body. 

When someone becomes a Christian, they are "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it..." (Ephesians 1:13-14).  Sometimes I think people want to dismiss the idea of the Holy Spirit having any part in our lives because they do not fully understand it.  I would dare say, if we waited to except anything until we completely understood it then Christianity would be a dead religion.  There are debates about differing ways to interpret various passages because there is not complete understanding.  So, just because we might not understand something completely does not mean we should dismiss it all together!  "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).  Let us not shun the Holy Spirit, but embrace its indwelling that convicts Christians concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).  I am thankful the Holy Spirit dwells in me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Hate Sin

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made" (Genesis 3:1 ESV).  He has been at it since the beginning of time.  He knows the loopholes and the tricks to make sin attractive and seem right.  He even makes us desire the very evil of sin...what are we to do?

God tells us to be holy as He is holy.  We can only do this with the blood of Christ.   When Christ's blood makes us holy by taking part in his death, burial, and resurrection, then we have to continue to walk in the light so His blood continues to wash over our sins.  Sin has some weird characteristics though.  Even though I know it is wrong to carry out certain temptations that would lead to sin, I find myself desiring that sin.  I know it's wrong, but I crave it all the more.  It is comforting that Paul dealt with this struggle as well which he records in Romans 7.  How can Christians go about hating something they want to do?

It seems like an oxymoron to hate something you want.  Generally when you hate something, you don't want anything to do with it.  Likewise, when you want something usually you actually like it.  Sin is not this way though.  Satan works today the same way the serpent did in the garden.  He is "crafty."  He makes the oxymoron a reality.  Sin, which Christians hate, is the very thing we desire to do every day.  I think the only way to come to hate sin though is to remove it from our life.  Jesus prescribed this along with Paul and others.  We must remove ourselves from the temptation or remove the temptation from ourselves.  Some temptations we cannot help being around as we live in the world around us, but you control the television in your living room.  You control the radio you listen to, the magazines you read, the people you spend time with, the websites you visit, and your career path.  Let us cut-out the temptation we can actually control exposure to and I believe hate for those sins will dramatically increase along with love for righteousness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everybody Has a Religion...which one is right?

It blows the mind to think of all the world religions that exist.  It goes to show that each human is unique and thinks very differently from one another.  Some religions claim there is many ways to reach the place most wanted.  Other religions claim there is only one path to the destination desired.  Christians for example, believe there is only one way to spend an eternity with God the Father.  That singular way is through His son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, ESV).  This is a very limited view that Jesus set forth for those who follow Him.  In fact, it is because of statements such as this that some have labeled Jesus as narrow minded.

In societies where tolerance is pushed, anyone who makes a narrow minded claim is frowned upon.  It is because of this that Christianity is in grave danger in the midst of this post-modern age.  If "everybody is right and anyway you want to go is okay," then that eliminates the need for God, the Bible, and His church.  So which way is the right way?  If everything is relative and there is no absolute truth then why even bother with religion?

The interesting thing about religion is that everybody has one.  A religion is simply, "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe," (  Even if you do not believe in a divine being who created the universe, you believe science holds the answer to the origins of the universe.  Whether an atheist, deist, or theist, you have a religion.  The question remains, which religion is right?  Is the religion right that says everybody's way is okay and all is relative because there is no absolute truth; or is the one correct that says there is only one way and if you don't follow that way you cannot find that final everlasting peace?  Which one would you rather follow: a definite claim or an elusive reality?  As for me, I will take the confident claim in there being one way and strive my best to find it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Fears in Heaven

            Try and imagine living in a land where you were not free to worship who you wanted, when you wanted, or how you wanted.  Imagine living in constant fear that you would be beaten to death if you were found worshipping in a manner not authorized by the authorities of that city, state, or nation.  Envision having to go into the back room of someone’s business or in the basement of your house so you would not be seen or heard in order to worship.  What if you were caught with a Bible in your belongings and you were arrested or killed on the spot?  Talk about a life of fear.  Sadly, there are Christians around the world that live in this kind of terror. 

            Christians that stand firm in their faith no matter what the circumstance are admirable.  They remind me of Daniel who continued to worship God even when the decree had been signed to throw anyone into the lions’ den petitioning any god or man other than the king (Daniel 6:10).  Stephen, in Acts 6-7, spoke the truth among a hostile crowd who stoned him.  These men and others like them did and surely can find comfort in the wise man’s words, Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught (Proverbs 3:25–26, ESV).  Some versions render, “Have no fear…”  This is certainly easier said than done.

Can we really have no fear when our lives are in danger?  There may not be a verse in the Bible that will keep your heart from skipping a beat when an oppressor sticks a gun in your face for worshipping God.  This is not Solomon’s intent, but rather to give hope.  We can have assurance in whatever circumstance we are put in as Christians because we have the Lord on our side.  When God is on one’s side, there is great reason to have no fear of our eternal destination.  Our lives may be cut short on account of our faith like was threatened to Daniel and carried out with Stephen, but those men did what they did because they had the confidence of the God on their side.  They said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done and God rewarded them both:  Daniel an escape from the lions and Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  What a great thought to have no tears or fears in Heaven!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Depths of Wisdom

            Some things in life are difficult to understand.  The eternal nature of God boggles my mind.  The concept that God always was, is, and will be keeps my head turning.  Theology in omnipotence/omnipresence and trying to understand how God knows everything and is everywhere is welcoming, yet confusing all at once.  The story of Jesus’ birth and how he was miraculously conceived puts me in awe as well.  Maybe one of the most difficult things to understand is the creation.  I am certainly not the handiest of men.  I can easily spend hours putting together an entertainment center.  God created the entire universe out of nothing!  The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew” (Proverbs 3:19–20, ESV).  What depths of wisdom that God used at the beginning of time.  If only I had some of that with the entertainment center!

            It is easy to lose sight of some important things in life.  Sometimes, these important matters get swept under the rug and different things make their way into our lives disguised as “important,” such as careers, retirement, programs, books, TV, radio, clothes, vehicles, internet, and on the list can go.  These things are not bad, but when they take the place of the real important things, they become idols.  “My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.  Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.  If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21-24). 

            Kids seem to get distracted very easily (some adults too for that matter).  We can be told to do something and get distracted very easily by the noise that is all around us in this world.  Like parents tell kids to clean their room and three minutes later they are playing with the toys they were supposed to be putting away, we get easily distracted from God.  Solomon pleads for us to dive into the depths of wisdom and not lose sight of the wonders that God will bring into our lives.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Worth of Wisdom

Something I never understood as a child was the comments made to me after a spanking, “We are doing this because we love you,” said my parents.  I remember thinking, “If you love me then why do you spank me?”  The LORD says this to his children as well, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).  Though it is hard to think of discipline as love when you are in the midst of it, that is exactly what it is.
Lynn Deshazo wrote the words and music to “More Precious than Silver” in 1982 which say, “Lord, You are more precious than silver; Lord, You are more costly than gold; Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds; And nothing I desire compares with You.”  These words sound much like what Solomon wrote about wisdom, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15).  Even though the song is singing about the Lord and the Proverb is discussing wisdom, the two seem to go hand-in-hand.
Wisdom is not limited to a select few in society.  Wisdom is not biased towards who can obtain it.  Wisdom has so much to offer those who care to have her.  Solomon wrote, “Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed” (Proverbs 3:16-18).  The Christian life can be enjoyable and peaceful when we have this wonderful gift that our Lord offers freely.  We will never be in want with wisdom, but all our necessities can be found. 
You may know someone whom you consider to be wise.  Do not neglect to spend time with and talk to that person about their life.  The adage says, “You are what you eat.”  Well, you will reflect whom you spend time with.  Are you spending time with the prudent or the foolish?  What is wisdom worth to you?