The path is narrow and I am wide!

<!– just a regular guy trying to do right –>

Are you really a Christian?

wallpaper-of-sunset-crater-volcanoMany young men have had girlfriends. All too often, being self centered and goal oriented with the goal being getting in the bed, they act through the motions of caring just long enough for intimacy, after which they only call on the “girlfriend” when the desire for intimacy arises. Sometimes this leads to a relationship but most of the times it has very little roots in love and the brief moments of intimacy cannot pull the weight of a lasting relationship and this connection is severed.

Many people have had girl/boy-friends that start out merely as friends, after enjoying the company of each other they date and get to know one another, they are compatible and grow into a healthy relationship and fall in love. The “logical” next step is marriage. After being married a while, the honeymoon fades and life’s distractions begin to ping away on the marriage. Children come into the picture, the corvette is traded for a mini van, the money once used to travel is now used pay for insurance and a house…ping, ping, ping…the divots become craters and soon the marriage starts to fade. The couple pays more attention to life than to each other and all too often the decay creeps in and the next “logical” step is divorce.

Some people after being married grow into a relationship and bond to each other. The two become one. Life pings problems but the top priority is each other. children come into the picture and they share in the responsibilities, enjoy the years that pass and are thankful. The bills stack up and the responsibilities grow and the corvette just isn’t really that big of a deal anymore. The trips they once took every year to Tahiti are traded in for a theme park every other year and that is fine. The intimacy has to be planned now and the spontaneity of it all seems a memory but that is okay, they have each other and embrace those moments in bliss and appreciation. Time passes and they are inseparable, they know each other, favorite foods, pet peeves…the simplest of things are important to each other. This is a “relationship”…the two become one.

We are made with a hole in us. deep inside there is a longing that yearns for something. Many of us put money or sex or acceptance in that hole but the hole remains. Some of us put a person there but the hole remains a hole. That hole was put there by God…for God. Some of us kinda sorta feel that and reach out to God only long enough for Him to stick a finger in the hole and we feel good for a moment and go back to putting that thing we think we need back in. Is this person a Christian? Some of us allow God to fill the hole but as time goes by we replace Him little by little with distractions until one day we wonder where God went. Is this being a Christian? Some of us allow God to fill the hole and are consumed by His presence, we nurture the relationship and prioritize God as the most important thing in our lives and He empowers us to overcome the distractions and thrive. Is this being a Christian?

Allow me to cut to the chase and directly ask you a few questions. Do you have a relationship with Christ? I am not saying you cannot be a Christian if you only heard a message once and said a prayer and then go through life struggling or keeping God in your pocket to pull out when you need him. I am not saying if you refuse to give up those distractions or sins that hold you down, you cannot be a Christian. Drug addict? Liar? Cheater? Homosexual? Self Centered? Murderer? Drunkard? Abuser? Porn addict? Whatever Sin etc… All these can be Christian, it is not for me nor any other human to say if another person is or is not a Christian. Ask yourself that, look inside. Can you have a relationship with someone if you never talk to them? Do you pray regularly? Can you have a relationship with someone if you don’t get to know them? Do you read the bible? Can a relationship last if you put that person last in everything? Is God more important to you than the person, money or thing? Are you a Christian?

The bible is our guide. All the trials, all the ups and the downs in this life can be a journey filled with joy and purpose. Even the bad things have a silver lining when God is at the helm and your trust and faith is in Him. It is not usually an overnight process but a life long exercise building faith, growing in the Lord and learning who He is through scripture and prayer with the Holy Spirit inside connecting you to God.

http://blog.htmlinc.com/lost-alone/

Will Being a Christian Be Illegal in America?

ehilton-bigAs a kid in Sunday school, I loved joining my classmates in the singing of “This Little Light of Mine,” complete with the hand motions. One of the verses went something like, “All around my neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine.” In our innocence, we never thought for a moment that in our lifetimes it might not be possible to let the light of our Christian faith shine publicly, but increasingly, that’s happening. In a widely publicized case last year, Michael Salman of Phoenix, Arizona was sentenced to 60 days in jail for holding a Bible study in his home. You can be a Christian at Vanderbilt University, but you can’t belong to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the university because the group was banned for requiring its members to be Christian. And faith-based organizations like the one I lead, Bethany Christian Services, are being pressured to hire people who do not share our religious beliefs and values or otherwise violate our Christian principles.

These alarming threats to religious freedom didn’t happen overnight. Laws and ordinances generally make their way through a very public process, so in a sense you could say these restrictions occurred right under our noses. Awareness is the first step toward making sure we don’t lose our freedoms, but few of us have the time or capacity to monitor the goings on at our city halls, county commissions, school boards, State Legislature, the House of Representatives, or the United States Senate for example.. Fortunately, a lot of good people and organizations are now working overtime to keep us informed and help us preserve our religious liberty.

One of those groups is practically in my backyard—the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1990 by Rev. Robert Sirico and Kris Mauren, the Acton Institute exists to help people make their faith and public lives work together. Their resources alone—which are free—are reason enough for you to visit their website: www.acton.org. But I also appreciate the fact that they base their positions on detailed and highly-respected research. These are really smart and dedicated people who care deeply about your right to live out your faith in the public square.

I spoke recently with Elise Hilton, communications specialist for the Acton Institute, and as you listen here to our conversation I think you will agree that it’s great to have friends like these working to protect our freedom. With their help, and the diligence of all of us, we can continue to let the light of our faith in Christ shine brightly—all around our neighborhoods.

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I did it just for you.

He splashed orange in the sunrise
and cast the sky in blue.
And if you love to see geese as they gather,
chances are you’ll see that too.

Did he have to make the squirrel’s tail furry?
Was he obliged to make the birds sing?
And the funny way that chickens scurry
or the majesty of thunder when it rings?

Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste?
Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face?

nails

The diadem of pain
which sliced your gentle face,
three spikes piercing flesh and wood
to hold you in your place.

The need for blood I understand.
Your sacrifice I embrace.
But the bitter sponge, the cutting spear,
the spit upon your face?
Did it have to be a cross?
Did not a kinder death exist
than six hours hanging between life and death,
all spurred by a betrayer’s kiss?

“Oh, Father,” you pose,
heart-stilled at what could be,
“I’m sorry to ask, but I long to know,
did you do this for me?”

Dare we pray such a prayer? Dare we think such thoughts? Could it be that the hill of the cross is rich with God’s gifts? Let’s examine them, shall we? Let’s unwrap these gifts of grace as if—or perhaps, indeed—for the first time. And as you touch them—as you feel the timber of the cross and trace the braid of the crown and finger the point of the spike—pause and listen. Perchance you will hear him whisper:

“I did it just for you.”

Max Lucado’s He Chose the Nails

To clean the bugs off…pull over…

messyWhile traveling, I enjoy the beauty of nature and the sunrise/sunset through a windshield, it is almost blissful to me. The trip always starts with me being prepared: potty, gas, fluid check, tires, playlist, sweet tea and sunflower seeds…good to go. I’m driving along enjoying Third Day, sipping on a peace tea and taking in the amazing views. A few dozen miles in a bug hits the windshield, dodge a few tire chunks and I am making good time. I few hundred miles later the bugs are really adding up and I am running on fumes and the tea needs to find a new home. I find a safe looking place that has the cheapest gas and whoop in. Tires look fine, fluids should be fine, gas is full, bladder is empty and time to roll.

It is getting late now and the sun is setting. The glare is brightly beaming in my windshield and the bugs have made a permanent resting place with my glass. I can hardly see as I slouch down in my seat to find that opening between the dragon fly and pair of love bugs and I make the decision to push the washer fluid button on the column…instantly I am blind and driving 70 mph. I hold the button down and swish, swish, smear…a gallon later and the mess on my windshield is so bad I am now driving by braille.

The sun is now going to bed for the night and the cruise control is off because I can’t see and my seat has permanent grip marks in it now from the near accident I had trying to dodge the large truck tire in the middle of the road. My stomach is in knots, I’m stressed to the max, tunes are off and I just want to get where I am going and be done with this flipping trip…

windshieldThis day just as many other days started out great with a majestic view of the sunrise, and I appreciate and marvel at the beauty of nature but as the bugs pilled on the windshield and the stress set in, the beauty and majesty of the sunset was lost in the circumstances. I have been driving for almost 30 years and after all this time you would think I would have learned to simply pull over and clean the windshield but it seems I either forget or just don’t feel like it.

Life is similar in so many ways. One constant we all share is life is going to throw bugs on our windshield, problems are going to come and it is going to get messy. Some can’t take it and do the unthinkable, some turn to substances, some sex and some just sink into a shell of seclusion (this guy). During these messy times it is easy to get into trouble or fall into the pits along the way but another constant during these travels of life is the beauty and majesty we once appreciated is still there and never changing, what changes is us and how we view it through our windshield. The life cleaner is God but He never makes us pull over and use the power He gives freely via the Holy Spirit, instead He leaves that resource up to us to tap into and sadly most of us reserve it until we can’t see past the pain or trouble we wake up into. The bugs are coming and life is going to get messy, it is up to us to pull over and allow God to change our perspective. The trip goes so much smoother that way and instead of looking forward to it just being over we can appreciate the beauty on the way.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7

“The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.” -Mere Christianity

Spiritual Adultery

 

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

politically_correctHere is a simple truth to remember: If you are single, you are not supposed to have sex. And if you are married, you are to have sex only with your spouse (a member of the opposite sex, I might add). That is the way it is. Everything else is a sin.

Some will disagree, and some will say this viewpoint is not politically correct. Nevertheless, it is biblically accurate, and if they have an argument, then their argument is with God. The Bible says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10).

In Revelation 14 we read of 144,000 messianic believers who lived pure lives:

 

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. (verses 4–5)

 

The word “defiled” used here means immoral. And on more than one occasion, the Bible uses the metaphor of having other gods as being like adultery. James says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (4:4).

To love this world means committing spiritual adultery. You have a choice. You can be the world’s friend and God’s enemy, or you can be God’s friend and the world’s enemy. Which will it be? -Greg Laurie