Jan 31, 2014

A Jealous God?

Nahum 1:2  The LORD is a jealous and avenging God

Not exactly a verse that you and I highlight or underline in our Bibles.  In fact, we may be a little embarrassed that the Bible says this about our loving, merciful, kind, and gracious God.

Jealously is an ugly word that is usually considered a very bad thing.  It has overtones of selfishness, suspicion, and distrust.  We understand jealousy as possessive, demanding, and overbearing.  We find it repulsive.  It breeds tension and discord, it destroys friendships and marriages, and sometimes it degrades and demeans freedom and individuality.  We view jealousy as a horrible trait and we hate it.  But our normal view of human jealousy is not at all what God’s jealousy is like.

In Exodus 20:4-5 we are told that God is a jealous God “You shall not make for yourself an idol…You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God “

The root idea in the Old Testament word jealous is to become intensely red.  It seems to refer to the changing color of the face or the rising heat of the emotions which are associated with intense zeal or fervor over something dear to us.  In fact, both the Old and New Testament words for jealousy are also translated “zeal.”  Being jealous and being zealous are essentially the same thing in the Bible.  God's jealousy means that He is eager about protecting what is precious to Him:  namely you and me.

There are a lot things that God is rightly jealous for in us: our worship, our obedience, our trust, our faithfulness, our love, our devotion, and our protection.

Think about it.  To whom else do we owe these things?  Who or what else deserves these things aside from God?  It’s foolishness to waste these things on something or someone less than the best. 

Think about it this way:  My wife is the only woman worthy of receiving roses from me.  Now, were I to give roses to another woman, wouldn’t my wife have a right to be jealous of them?  YOU BET SHE WOULD!  Wouldn’t my actions be wrong?  YOU BET THEY WOULD!  And believe me, she would have every right to avenge me for doing something so foolish!  Listen, it’s much the same way when we give the things that are rightly God’s to another.

These things are rightfully God’s and when we give them to another He is jealous for them.  Why?  Because they belong to him alone, because he alone is worthy of them.  He will not share these things with another.

We may well know that…but what we often forget is that he is an avenging God.  Meaning he will go and get what is rightfully his.  Listen, if you are a born again child of God, he will not let you stray too far from him, when you stray He will pursue.

This sounds horrifying…God coming after me...and to a degree it is.  But listen, it’s also a comforting thing to know that he pursues us because he loves us and desires to protect what is His.   When God pursues us and when we come to our senses we do not find a God what laughs in our face, throws us in the corner and chastises us…rather we are met with his grace and redemption. 

This is a lesson that the nation of Israel learned the hard way, that’s what the book of Nahum is about.  For that matter though, this is a lesson many of us have to learn the hard way.

Some of you have learned this lesson the hard way.  You’ve seen your life fall apart because you were running from the Lord.  Maybe you’ve made huge mistakes and lost or nearly lost all you had.  You realized this was God’s way for pursuing you and you came to your senses and returned to God.  God got back what was His!  When we return, we find the matchless grace of a loving and jealous father ready to restore us, rebuild us, and return us to His purpose for our lives.

Hosea 6:1 “come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us, he has struck us down, and he will bind us up"

Some of you today may be running, but I want you to know that God will not let you run forever.  He will pursue you and he will win.  But when he does win, he does some amazing things in us. There is no reason to fear the jealousy of God.  His jealousy is a holy and good thing.  Think about it, he comes after me, not to punish me but because he loves me and rescues me from my sin and failure.

So if you are in the hard times, if you are at rock bottom, if you are feeling the guilt and shame of your sin, if your world is spinning out of the control of your hands…learn that God is jealously good...return to him and you will be met with his amazing grace.

Jan 20, 2014

5 Attitude Adjustments that will Change Everything

We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.  In many ways we are powerless over the many things that effect our lives.  But there is one thing that we can change that changes everything:  Attitude 

Winston Churchill said “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Our attitude effects our perspective, how we view the people and the events that happen around us and to us.  Attitude determines our reaction to what happens to us and around us.  Attitude directs our actions.

Until we come to grips and change the one thing that we really can change, then things will never change.  We will never be able to experience the fullness of life that God has for us.  We will never be able to see life in the fresh light that Jesus gives in the new man.

In Paul’s exhortation to the church of Colosse he challenges them to make some attitude adjustments that reflect the new man and nature of Christ

Colossians 3:12  Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

5 Attitude Adjustments that will Change Everything

1. Put off Selfishness and Put on Compassion
Compassion and selfishness have a lot in common.  The heart.  Both are born and developed deep inside of us.   Selfishness is heartfelt, deep, concern for self.  Compassion is a heartfelt deep concern for others.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
You don’t need to worry about yourself so much.  God’s got you handled.  He promises that he has your needs and your future taken care of.  The Christian is called to an attitude of self denial and trust in the provision and protection of God.  Selfishness and self-centeredness is lack of trust.  Put down a concern for ourselves to pick up a concern for others.

2.  Put off Anger and Put on Kindness
Allow me to be blunt for a moment.  Some of you are rude and honestly you are jerks.  Honestly, we all have a tendency to be this way, myself especially.  Mean things come out of our months quicker than kind things.  We display a mean spirit and are rude.  I can call you a jerk because, I am a pretty bad jerk from time to time too.

Maybe it’s because we’re selfish.  Maybe we are angry at something that’s happened.  Maybe we’ve let what other people have done to us plant bitterness in our hearts.  Maybe we really just don’t realize how harsh and rude we can be and we’re unaware of the way we hurt others.  Stop.  Be kind.  Be a friend. 

We’ve all heard this from our mothers many times: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Don’t be a jerk.  You can change that.

3.  Put off Pride and Put on Humility
Pride is an inflated self-image.  It’s a self-sufficiency.  A self-reliance.  An over self-confidence.  It causes us to think high of ourselves and low of others.   It causes us to ignore our need for help and our own short comings.  It causes us to talk over people, look over people, to not find value in other people and what they have to offer.  It causes us to rely solely on ourselves and ignore the help and uniqueness of others and our need for others.  It causes us to think others need to change, but we don’t need to change. 

Listen, you are not a great as you think you are.  You need a Savior.  You need help, counsel, and instruction from others.  You can’t do it all and you can’t handle it all.  Pride is a dangerous thing.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall

 4.  Put off Arrogance and Put on Meekness
Jesus said, “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5
Arrogance is an unrestrained display of your strengths and talents.  It’s a result of our pride.  We understand that we are good at something and we make sure everyone else understands it too.  We display arrogance in strength, power, money, talents, humor, looks, intelligence, work ethic, knowledge, etc. 

Meekness is an understanding of all these things, but a gentle display of them.  Meekness is not weakness.  It realizes your strong points, but restrains them so that they can be used effectively and strategically.

Horses are powerful animals and much stronger than humans, but they allow themselves to be controlled by us so their power can be used effectively.  Be a horse.

A meek spirit it born out of humility and wisdom.  A meek person knows what he is great at and was his strengths are, but is wise as to how and when to use them.  Arrogant people are nauseating to be around, but we love being around meek people. 

5.  Put off Impatience and Put on Patience 
This is where it all comes out.  We live a fast food world.  We want it now and we want everything and everyone to go our way.  But truth be told we cannot change the pace and actions of others or the world we live in.  Impatience is a combination of arrogance, pride, anger, and selfishness all working together.  Impatience is being short tempered, patience is being long temper.  We are slow to anger rather than quick to anger.  People and life require patience.  The world and God are not working and living on your time table and your agenda.  You and I are living on His.

Attitude is everything.  It’s the only thing that you can change that will change everything.  So dump the attitude of the old self and put on the new attitude of Christ.

The world could use a lot more people who are compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient…a lot more people who are like Jesus.

Jan 16, 2014

8 Reasons Why I Think You Should Go on a Mission Trip at Least Once in Your Life

Not everybody can, not everybody will, but here's why I think you should.

Because God commands it
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

Because the world needs Jesus and you have Him
If people who know the gospel do not obey God’s command to take the gospel to people who do not know the gospel then the people who do not know the Gospel never will.
Romans 10:14-15  But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"

Because it gets you out of your box and out of your comfort zone
You go to a place you’ve never been before that you know very little about leaving your routine, home, family, car, cell phone,  job, your country.  You do things you’ve likely never done before and pray prayers you’ve never prayed before.  Kind of like Peter, you are stepping out of the boat…and do you remember what happened next?  He walked on water.  In a sense, you will too, unless of course you stay in the boat.

Because it helps you put what you have in perspective
You live in a first world country, in fact the greatest of the first world countries.  You live with first world possessions, problems, stress, and worries.  When you step into a third world country you begin to see first world things in a different light.  When you see third world possessions, problems, stresses, and worries all of the sudden you realize how easy, blessed, and good we have it.  We need this eye opening and heart humbling perspective. 

Because it gets you off of the bench
Many Christians rarely use their spiritual gifts and rarely contribute their talents, time, resources, and energies to something eternal.  You’ve only watched God work in people’s lives from the sidelines.  When you are on a mission trip you are now a part of something that matters and your participation it vital.  You realize the game is a lot more fun and God is a lot more real when you aren’t sitting on the bench.

Because it benefits your church
Most people who return from a mission trip returned revived, fearless, and ready.  They see the urgency and importance of the ministry of the Gospel.  They return and they get to work.  I’ve seen this in the church that I pastor.  The energy, drive, and passion that our mission teams have brought back to Rock Hill Baptist Church have been contagious.  Our mission team people have kept us on our toes, kept us focused, and kept us fighting on the front lines.  Your church needs people like that.

Because it is a crash course in discipleship
You never come back from a mission trip the same way you left.  Growing in Christ is a lifelong journey.  There are no real short cuts and no ways to skip ahead.  But mission trips have a unique way of moving you along in the journey and breaking through obstacles and sin that are hindering growth.  Maybe it’s that you are completely out of your comfort zone or that your everyday distractions are gone and Jesus has your full attention.  Maybe it’s because you're being used by the Holy Spirit in ways you’ve maybe never allowed him to use you before.  God has used mission trips to grow me and to show me more about himself, his mission, and his purpose for my life.  It's not the only way, but it is a refreshing way.

Because there may never be a better time than now
There is no guarantee that your will have a better opportunity than now.  There is no promise that you’ll have more money, more time, better health, less things to do.  We are not guaranteed another day, neither are the people on the other side of the world.  The need is urgent, critical, and eternal, so there is little room for delay.

 Common Excuses for Not Going

1.       I’m not called
Who said you ever would be?  I don’t think the issue is necessarily about calling so much as it is about the commandment.  Hasn’t Jesus’s commanded all of us to go already?  Now, certainly for some there is a place for calling.   But I am not sure that everyone has a “call” moment to go on a mission trip.  Honestly, I’ve never felt “called” to go.  I think that surrendering to go on a mission trip is more of an issue of obedience to his command rather than to a special call.  The command is already there and now you must surrender your time, agenda, money, and by faith obey.  The world that God touches through you will never be the same and you will never be the same.
Psalm 96:3 “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!”

2.       I’m afraid
Going to a foreign country.  Getting sick.  Leaving your family.  Leaving your comfort zone.  All of these things can strike fear in our hearts, but when we heed to our fears we disobey.  There is always a risk.  Going on a mission trip does require faith, but isn’t that a good thing and don’t you need to grow in your faith? 
2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”

3.       I don’t have time
Yes, you more than likely do have time.  It’s about reprioritizing your time and sacrificing your time.  It will cost you vacation days, possibly a day or two without pay, missing a special event.  But eternity hangs in the balance for the people who are waiting for you to share the gospel with them.  It does cost time, but it’s worth the cost.  Eternity is also a long time. 
Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

4.       I don’t have the money
In my experience of leading over 100 people on mission trips I have never seen anyone not be able to pay for their trip.  Part of the joy of going on a mission trip is watching God provide the resources needed when we by faith obey his command.
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”

5.       Can’t we just do missions here, why do we have to go across the world?
Yes you can and yes you should.  We are commanded to do that as well, but we must not be guilty of obeying half of Jesus’s command.  I’ve seen that going on an overseas mission trip actually increases our involvement in local missions before and after we get back.
Proverbs 25:25 “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country”

6.       My health won’t allow me
For many, this is certainly true.  Your health may be at a point where it will not allow you to go or it's just not a good idea, but you can still spiritually go.  Your support, encouragement, prayer, and giving makes you just a part of the mission as the people who are physically able to go.!
Philippians 4:17 “not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit”
You are not a poor Christian if you never go on an overseas mission trip.  For me to say you were would be untrue and unbiblical.  The truth is that as followers of Christ we are all missionaries.  Hey, it's a mission trip to simply walk across the room and invite some to church!  The mission field is as near as next door.  But if you have the opportunity and you are able, you should make the sacrifice, have the faith, and help take the gospel to places it's never been before.  This world is a big world and Jesus died for all of it. Maybe he wants to use you to help him to show his love and truth to some far away people who've never heard it before.

Jan 14, 2014


Over 1.5 billion people utilize Social Media in our world.  What a huge world to connect with at the tip of your fingers!  I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Blogger and Snapchat.  I really enjoy using these social media avenues.  They keep me in touch with family, friends, my church, and acquaintances in ways I’ve come to rely upon.  I enjoy seeing what people do with their families and friends, reading their thoughts, and in a way sharing life with them.  You could categorize nearly all of my posts and pictures into four categories:  God, family, food, and hunting.  Social media helps us stay connected with the people next door and people across the world all at once.  I think social media in some ways has become a necessity for some businesses and ministries in today’s world.  It’s not going away and more and more of us will use it more and more in the days ahead.

As I have utilized and immersed my life in these social media avenues I’ve come to some realizations about them:

Your profile and page do not really communicate who you are
Step back, look deep.  Is your Facebook account really who you are?  The answer is no.  The truth is that we are all both a lot better and a lot worse in real life than what we show through social media.

Social Media relationships are not as meaningful as REAL relationships.
1 real true friend is worth far more than 1000 Facebook friends. 

Man cannot live on Social Media alone
At your funeral Facebook will not be there, real people will.  Facebook does not feed your family, your real job does.  Facebook does not need and depend upon you, your real children do.  Facebook does not love you, your real spouse does.  Facebook did not give His son for your, a real God did.  Facebook cannot loan you its shoulder to cry on, your real friends can.  Facebook cannot give us what a real God, real spouse, real family, real friends, and real job can.

Time spent looking on Social Media is time not spent elsewhere
Social media often robs time and attention from work, family, driving, rest, and God.  The real world needs more of you and you need more of the real world.  Social media causes us to rob attention from the real world actually happening around us.   The people with and around us deserve more of our attention because they are actually investing their time to be with you…the “friends” on Facebook are not.

Social Media adultery leads to real world adultery
Though it may seem as an innocent chat, the enemy can turn it into more than that.  If you are hiding accounts or conversations you have on social media from your spouse then you are being unfaithful to your spouse. 

Social Media can bring out the Worst in Us and Others
Post a rant, complaint, boast, simple gossip and more than likely the “likes” and “comments” will roll in like wild fire.  Satan glories in this, God does not.  If you have a complaint or rant, go to the source or cause, not to Facebook.  When you just complain or rant nothing positive is accomplished and Satan’s head just got bigger.

Social Media can become addicting
For some reason it has a tendency to grasp us in such a way that we cannot go but a few hours without it.  We feel like we are out of the loop when we can’t look at it.  It may not be drugs, alcohol, or nicotine, but the damage an addiction to Social Media can cause can be just as costly over time.

You can still live without Social Media
You will not be cast out of your friendship circles and die alone.  And for that matter your business will survive and your ministry will still thrive without social media.  You may actually find yourself developing healthier and more meaningful relationships the less you invest in Facebook and the more you invest in real people.

Social media can take up too much of us and it can become larger in our lives than it needs to be.  Here’s a few things that I’ve learned to practice to keep Social Media from becoming larger than it needs to be in my life:
  1. Try a Social Media fast
  2. Schedule or limit your time on social media
  3. Use social media to speak of God and Godly things.  Encourage someone.  Post about what you are learning from God’s word.  Drop a word about what you learned from the sermon or Sunday school lesson at church.  If the world of Facebook is going to see what's happening in your world, show them what God is doing.
  4. Don’t post too much.  The more you post, the less people read what you post
  5. Enjoy something awesome and don’t post about it.  Go on a date with your spouse and keep it a secret from your social media friends.  I’ve found that I enjoy some activities and people more when I’m not trying to let the world in on what I’m doing at the time and who I’m doing it with.  Privacy amongst spouses and friends can be enriching to those relationships.
A popular hashtag in 2013 in social media was #YOLO.  It stands for “You Only Live Once.”  This statement is true, we only have one life that we have the opportunity to live in this real world.  So spend that one life wisely and don’t waste too much of it on a social media world that sees people as little more than a newsfeed.  Spend it investing in a real God, real family, real friends, and the real world that is around you every day.