To whom are you submitting?

Although every Christian is not called into full-time ministry, every Christian should be involved in some ministry of their local church on a voluntary, part-time basis. When you were saved, you were separated from the world in order to serve the Lord. A Christian that is not serving God will not hear, “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” at least, not from the mouth of Jesus. Could it be that you’ll hear those same words from the devil? Of course not, because Satan will not be present when you stand before the Lord.

However, what if the devil were to be in the near vicinity when you stood before God as rewards are given out? Would you hear the Lord say to you, “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” for a life that has been faithfully active in serving God? Or, would you hear Satan scornfully say, “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” because you did nothing in service to God?

Just as Joshua told the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, to choose whom they were going to serve, it’s possible to be a child of God, and at the same time be serving Satan. The word, “serve” is a verb, a word of action. It’s also a word that denotes that someone has authority over you to whom you must submit. Are you actively serving God, or have you submitted to Satan? To whom are you submitting?

Those who do not submit to God are, “by default,” submitting to Satan.

Don’t be a child of God, while at the same time being a servant of the devil. If you’re saved, serve God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Serve God with everything you are, and everything you have. Serving God is loving God. If the only thing you do at church is to show up in time for the service, and then leave at the final, “Amen,” you’re missing out on an opportunity to serve the Lord. You’re not only missing out on being a blessing, but you’re also missing out on receiving a blessing. Serving the Lord is one of the best things you can do after you are saved.

I know that every Christian is not called to be a full-time pastor, missionary, or evangelist, but every person who is saved is called to be a full-time Christian who is serving God in some capacity of ministry.

Are you fulfilling your calling? If not, determine to stop serving the enemy, and start serving the Savior today!

Discouragement or Encouragement?

“Discouragement” is a dark and awful place. Don’t go there. You may be tempted to go there when things aren’t going your way. When you have a loved one that is sick or having problems, Discouragement is the last place you need to go!  When someone breaks your heart, stay far, far away from Discouragement. When it seems as if the world is crashing down around you, you don’t need to run to Discouragement, for it is a lonely, sad place. I know that many people are there, but they are sad and lonely, too.  “Misery loves company,” and they will only make you even more miserable than you already are.

When the storms of life hang dark and heavy, instead of running to the place of Discouragement, you should head straight on over to the place called, “Encouragement.”  I know you won’t feel like going there, but it’s the best place to go, and you’ll be glad you went. There are happy people there that will help you. They can’t dispel the storm clouds in your life, but at least it won’t be so gloomy. 

When your storm passes, and you feel encouraged, then it would be good if you went over to the place of Discouragement to try and help someone that may be stuck there.  Discouragement is an easy place to go to, but difficult to leave. There are many people there that need help leaving the muck and mire of Discouragement. Only a person who has been to Encouragement can help a person leave Discouragement.  YOU can be that person!

Friend, I don’t know where you are today, and I don’t know what is going on in your life. Run to the place of Encouragement, for Jesus is the King there, and He is all about loving and helping and encouraging you.

The king of Discouragement is the devil, and he wants you to avoid King Jesus and Encouragement.

Every day you make choices in life. You will choose who you’re going to be with, what you’re going to do, and where you will go. Choose to go to Encouragement and choose to go with those that will encourage you.  Those who are discouraged will try and lure you to that horrible place of Discouragement.  Don’t go!

When things seem to be going “all wrong,” stop in your tracks, turn around, and make a beeline for Encouragement.  Someone will be waiting for you with outstretched arms, a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear.  When things go wrong, go right to the place of Encouragement.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Two Years of COVID

In March of 2020, the whole world came to a screeching halt with what is now called, “the pandemic.”  Schools, businesses, and churches were closed as governments around the world ordered their citizens to stay at home.  And stay at home we did.  Fear gripped the world as the COVID plague was out of control.

It’s been two years.  For a good part of the past two years, people have spent countless hours playing online games, watching innumerable movies, and being “glued” to an astronomical amount of YouTube videos. While many people have done workouts and learned to cook new recipes, I would venture to say that a large percentage of people have “wasted” nearly two years of their lives.

I’m not going to do a Google search of things that you can do in two years, but I know that it’s possible to get an Associate degree from your local community college or technical college in two years. I understand that those colleges were also closed part of the time, but while it seemed as if life had come to a standstill, time did not.

Now that businesses and schools are open again, let me encourage you to consider either taking an online class, or even going to a class in person.  Maybe you started college but never finished.  Think ahead to the NEXT two years, and consider the possibilities of learning a trade, or getting an Associate degree, or even finishing college.

Don’t waste the next two years playing Minecraft or Call of Duty. Don’t throw away your life watching endless movies or videos. Think, plan, and get up from the couch to start living a productive and meaningful life.  

In two years, your life can be completely different, and you can be going to places of which you’ve only dreamed. Or, in two years, you can still be sitting on your couch, doing the same old thing, and going nowhere.  Don’t be satisfied with doing nothing, when you could be learning, growing, and going places.  You’re never too old to learn something new.

Let me challenge you to make some goals and make some changes in your mundane way of living. Perhaps in two years you will write me to say “thank you” for encouraging you to get busy and do SOMETHING.  I hope so.

The best time to get started is now, so don’t waste another day.  The past two years of the pandemic are history.  The future lies straight ahead, full of adventure and opportunities just waiting for you. Are you going to miss out?  I hope you don’t. Make a decision to improve your whole being (spiritual, physical, mental), and begin this two-year journey today.  In two years, will you look back with satisfaction and gratitude, or will you look back with regret?  The choice is up to you. 

“Evangelize? Who? Me?”

What is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you?  If you are a Christian, your answer should be when you got saved. We’re talking forgiveness of sin, not going to “Hades” (a literal place of fire and suffering), but going to be with Jesus your Savior for all eternity.  Stop and think about that for a moment. Isn’t that the greatest and best thing that has ever happened to you? Of course, it is!

Now, do you know anyone who is not saved?  Sure, of course.  Do you want them to spend eternity with Jesus, or with Satan?  If you thought, “Jesus,” then what are you doing to introduce them to the Savior?

You know how you were saved, but can you explain to someone else how they can be saved?  If you do, then when was the last time you tried to win someone to the Lord?

I know that’s none of my business, but it is YOUR business, and it’s YOUR responsibility to take care of YOUR business.  If you don’t know how to share the Gospel, let me encourage you to learn.  Ask God to give you one person with whom you can share the Good News of salvation.

Don’t be surprised if God gives you more than one person, and more than one opportunity. The world is full of people who need Jesus.  Pray, “Lord, please give me one person.” If every church member would do that, your church could double in size this year. That’s my prayer, and I hope that you will make it your prayer, too.

“Live Chat Café”

If I was a businessman, I would open a “Live Chat Café.”  This would feel like stepping back in time, to the age before smartphones.  It would be a coffeehouse for “old people,” a place for people who actually want to have a “live chat,” a conversation in person, face to face, without having to check their phones every 20 seconds. Oh, young people could go there, too, but I would somehow have a place to store the patrons’ phones while they are there.  Some people who are dating, or engaged, or newly married might go there. This would be a place where the people at the table would give their full attention to the other people in the conversation, and not be distracted by their phones. 

Probably 99% of what screams for your attention on your phone doesn’t require immediate attention.  You see, I would open this coffee shop for those who want to be “all in” on the conversation they are going to have.  I get tired of seeing people seated around the table who are off on another planet, playing a game, or scrolling on Facebook.  You know, the “important” stuff.

This could be successful for a while, at least until all the “baby boomers” died out. Then it would become just a thing of the past, too, like meaningful conversation has.

I know I’m old, and some of us old-timers don’t fit well in the 21st century, but we won’t be here for very much longer.  Your older parents and grandparents would love my coffeehouse, and I am sure that they would love it even more if their children and grandchildren would take them there to just talk, and listen, and be engaged in the conversation.

You know, like it was before smartphones.

Don’t Multi-Task in the Prayer Closet

When I was growing up, a popular phrase was, “killing two birds with one stone.”  This was not referring to the actual death of two birds, but it meant getting two things done at the same time.  I’ve not heard that expression in a long time. 

In today’s fast-paced world, no one is satisfied with only doing two things at once because everyone is just too busy.  In the twenty-first century, people pride themselves of being able to “multi-task.”  I jokingly tell my adult kids that, when I have fifty tabs open on the browser of my laptop, I am multi-tasking.  In some cases, multi-tasking may be alright, but if someone is talking to you, and you’re scrolling on Facebook, it’s rude to not give that person your full attention. 

Sadly, it seems that “full attention” is a thing of the past.  Even Christians don’t give full attention to God when they pretend to have their devotions.  People have told me that they pray while driving to work, or they listen to the Bible being read as they race off to an appointment.  The purpose of the “prayer closet” is to have an uninterrupted and undistracted time alone with God.  Doesn’t God deserve your undivided attention?  Of course, He does!  There’s nothing wrong with praying while driving, and with the crazy drivers wherever you go, you need to pray while you’re driving.  I’m not against listening to the Bible in your car, or on your smartphone while you’re taking a walk.  That’s fine and good.  My concern is that so many Christians are multi-tasking when God doesn’t want you to multitask, but He wants you to give Him your full attention. 

Many Christians don’t even have a “quiet time” with the Lord anymore because their lives are too “noisy.”  Many are getting up before the sun does, and going to bed a little before midnight.  The problem is that you have not given God hardly any of your time, your love, devotion, worship, and praise.  Other than a sporadic prayer at the red lights, or having an audio Bible playing in the background as “white noise,” your time with the Lord is basically meaningless.  When you are just “going through the motions” with your relationship with the Lord, you’re missing out on the greatest relationship you could ever have.

I’m not against multi-tasking, but let me encourage you to start multi-tasking only AFTER you’ve given the Lord your full attention for more than five or ten minutes.  God has never neglected or forsaken you, so don’t take it for granted that you have the privilege of being able to spend time with God. 

If Christians would get back to the prayer closet and have a daily quiet time with the Lord, giving God their full attention, there’s a good probability that your day would be less chaotic and stressful since He will be at your side.

People Need People

A popular Christian song was released in 1984 by Steve Green entitled, “People Need The Lord.”  As a Christian, there is no denial that people need the Lord.  However, that is not the gist of this article.  What I want to emphasize is something that is greatly needed in Christians today.  Please take the time to thoughtfully consider the following text.

People need people. Don’t tell me that you don’t need anyone. I don’t believe it. You may not want other people around because you’ve been hurt by someone, or maybe you just want to play your game or watch your movie uninterrupted, but the touch and fellowship of another person is necessary to the human spirit. Don’t be a loner or a hermit.  You’re special, and you’re valuable, and you have experience that can help someone else. If you’ve been hurt, I really am sorry, but it’s time to forgive and let it go. Don’t miss out on the rest of your life because something happened a long time ago that hurt you. Yes, people can do and say hurtful things, but other people can make you laugh and bring you joy.  Besides all that, you can make people laugh and bring them joy.

Don’t give the lame excuse by saying you’re an introvert.  You can discard that nonsense right now.  Most people who say they’re introverts are introverts by choice, because they’re afraid, or lazy, or selfish. Turn off the TV, get off your backside, and go out and have some fun with other people. Go bowling, or play mini-golf, or go have an ice cream or a cup of coffee with someone. Even if you don’t have any money, even a slow walk around a park with a friend would do you good. You need it, and they need it. Life was not meant to spend alone.

Friend, God has given you life, and He wants you to have an abundant life.  The abundant life is not for just a select few, but it’s for every child of God.  Don’t miss out on the life that God intended for you to have. Whether you believe it or not, there are people who need you.  Someone is waiting for you to call them. Muster up the courage, give them a call, and go out and enjoy life with someone else. Don’t believe the lie that no one would want to spend time with you. That’s just not true. Call a friend, or someone from your church. There’s a parent or grandparent who would absolutely love to sit and chat face to face with you. You can add joy and make special memories with someone else that may be alone. You don’t have to be alone, and you don’t need to be alone. Just decide that you’re going to be a friend and a blessing to someone today.  Now, make that call!

Building Altars and Offering Sacrifices

As I read in the Old Testament, it was work to build an altar.  It was not necessarily hard work, but it wasn’t easy, either.  It took time.  It took dedication.  There was a purpose in building an altar.  It was an integral and important part of worship.

Offering sacrifices was what came next after building an altar.  But the offering was not just ANY offering.  It had to be a pure, spotless, and perfect lamb.  It was separated from the rest of the flock to prepare it for the sacrifice.  It was the best, so it’s value was greater. 

At the appointed time, the perfect, spotless lamb was taken and killed.  It was bloody.  It was not pretty, but it was necessary. 

Thankfully, we don’t have to build altars and offer lambs as a sacrificial offering.  However, to many Christians, being a Christian requires very little, or even nothing.  Christians don’t have to work or spend time to build an altar.  In today’s Christianity, there’s little purpose, delinquent dedication, and waning worship.  Although a lamb is not required anymore, there just aren’t that many Christians that are making sacrifices for the sake of eternity. 

Instead of Christians giving their best, they give their leftovers.  There’s not much “preparation” in giving, nor is there very much “separation” from the world.  In fact, in many “Christian” homes, there’s not that big of a difference from the average non-Christian home.  That’s a shame and a disgrace in the eyes of God!

The Christian home needs to return to the days of the “altar” and “sacrifices.”  There needs to be a revival of the “family altar.”  The altar at the church needs to be re-visited, and often. 

When was the last time you really “sacrificed” to give to God?

May the days of altars and sacrifices come back again, and may it be soon!

Believing in God

There are many people who “believe in God,” but that doesn’t mean that they are all going to Heaven.  The Bible says in James chapter two, in verse nineteen, that demons believe in God, and they even tremble at the thought of God.  The demons were once angels that were made by the all-powerful God.  The demons once worshipped and served God.  They know where He sits on His throne, and they know of His power, His authority, His wisdom, His majesty, and that He controls everything. 

It’s possible that Satan deceived the angels into following him by asking them, “Aren’t you tired of God controlling you and telling you what to do?”  Obviously, we don’t know how the devil coerced them into following him.  Even though Satan now controls the demons and tells them what to do, they still believe in God, and they still tremble at the thought of standing before God and being cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity.

A belief in God that does not change the way that you live is useless.  (Even small children who believe in Santa Claus will change the way they live for a month.)  In fact, if your belief in God does not change the way that you live, then you’re living like an atheist.  Or a demon.

The real question is not about “if” you believe in God, but have you accepted His Son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior and Lord?  Jesus will change your life when you confess your sin and ask Him to forgive you of your sin. 

If you believe in God, you will not only live like Jesus, but you will live for Jesus.

The Front Porch

The front porch was the “chat room” of years gone by. The front porch usually had a porch swing and a couple of rocking chairs. The front porch was where family and friends gathered to chat in person. They would play the guitar and sing on the front porch. 

When I was a child, not every family had air conditioning in their house. In the summer, it was cooler outside on the front porch than it was inside the house.

On the front porch, people would wave and greet those who passed by.  Folks would sit and talk, snap beans, shuck corn, peel potatoes, crochet, and darn socks. Young people would court on the front porch. Haircuts were given on the front porch. Deals were made with a handshake on the front porch. The preacher would visit on the front porch. People gossiped on the front porch. Great ideas and plans for the future were made on the front porch. You name it, it probably happened on the front porch.

Sometimes, the front porch was a place you could go to be alone, or a place to go to be with friends. It was a place of talking, laughing, singing, praying, crying, and smooching.  It was a peaceful place where many memories were made.

People don’t sit on the front porch much anymore.  Most of the houses now have air conditioning, televisions, computers, and game systems. I don’t care too much for the TV or game systems. I would rather sit on the front porch.

As a man in my sixties, I still like to sit on the porch swing and read and think and pray.  I enjoy sitting with my wife on the front porch as we discuss the past, plan for the future, and maybe even smooch a bit.  It’s a quiet place of solitude to get away from the noise of the 21st century.

I imagine that front porches will be a thing of the past in the not-too-distant future.  Most people today don’t want to sit where there’s no air conditioning or heat 24/7.  They want their electronic toys/smartphones 24/7.

I want to encourage you to not allow the front porch of your house to be just an entrance to your house.  Stop awhile. Read, drink a cup of coffee, pray, meditate, and slow down a bit.  I know that you have a lot to do, and that you have a busy life.  But your aging parents and grandparents are wishing and praying that you would stop and chat awhile with them on the front porch.

Pull up a rocking chair, grab a tall glass of cold, sweet tea, and sit a spell.  I’ll be glad you did, and I hope you will, too.