Down Days…

Today is a day when I’m down…. and can’t put my finger on why.  All the “check list” is done (Prayer, Scripture, Worship, Claiming the promises, etc), but I’m still not “feeling” up.  Been there?  It is written in Psalm 42:11…

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.

From this verse I see a few things:

Sometimes we can be down and there be no particular reason!

Emotional ups and downs are a part of life… but there IS an answer.

“Hoping in God” is the proper response to emotional down times.

Hoping in God means purposefully directing our existence, well-being, and meaning in life toward God and His Truth.

Hoping in God means trusting in God and not how we “feel.”

Hoping in God means that our emotional state (However down we may be) will change for the better… (Continued)

The change for the better comes as a result of focusing on God who is the source of our being and salvation.

Now… when we’re down… how long are we to “hope in God” before we are restored?  That’s up to God Himself… and we trust His timing.  Whether it is an hour or decade… Psalm 42:11 is God’s Truth.

Now here are a few Scriptures I go to and meditate upon when I’m having a down day…

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not lean on your own understanding…

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

What About The Girls? (Big Ben’s Immorality)

Okay… I’m tired of hearing, and not hearing, some things about “Big Ben” Roethlisberger.  I am tired of hearing how his football career will be effected by his conduct.  I’m tired of hearing how his actions will impact the draft and the Steelers’ season.  I’m tired of all the pundits talking about Ben’s this… Ben’s that… Ben needs to… Ben should… Ben shouldn’t.  Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben.  Give me a break!  He willingly and knowingly used his star status to force himself upon young… all be they starry-eyed and drunken… girls.

What about the girl(s) who’s lives have been messed up by this NFL “star” forcing himself on them?  What about the emotional trauma the girl(s) we know about who’ve been wounded by him?  What about the emotional struggles they have… and will have for years?  What about the parents and siblings of these girls?  Doesn’t anyone remember that they are having to deal just as many issues?  Where’s the compassion for them?

Honeslty… as the dad of a daughter (I’m speaking in the flesh now)… I don’t care how the situation transpired.  If a man forced himself upon my little girl I wouldn’t mind starting a prison ministry as a result of going after her attacker.  (Pause)  Now that’s out of my system… I hope and pray that I would honor God while going after little benny within the full scope of the law (If that is possible).

Now consider…

The girl(s) did put themselves in a situation they shouldn’t have (inebriation), but that doesn’t give Ben the right to force himself upon them.

The girl(s) should have known what the possibilities were (Ben’s previous conduct), but that doesn’t give Ben a green light to force himself upon them.

Note: Nothing good ever comes from drinking alcohol to excess (In my little world, if a person catches a buzz… they’ve gone too far.  I say that as the son of a severe alcoholic.).

Proverbs 23:29-35; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

The written statement supposedly from Ben was most probably written by a lawyer for the Steelers… and had no resemblance to what a Christian who has repented should be saying.  What is at stake here are not dollars and cents, but the integrity of the Christian Faith!  If Ben were to really apologize, it would look totally different that what is being played out in front of us (Click here).

I do hope and pray Ben will get his spiritual life in order.  I pray the rest of his life is corrected also.  The latter will not come before the former.  By the same token, I pray those he’s wounded will seek God through Christ in all this (Hopefully Ben has not so defamed the faith in their eyes that they reject Christ.).  At the same time, I pray that the young girl who is dealing with who knows what all kind of issues will get her life in order also and be healed of this horrible event.

This is a sad situation indeed.  My prayer and compassion is more for the girl(s) he’s transgressed against.  For me, that is the part of the story that is missing (And maybe that’s best for the girl(s) at this time).

The Father Or Jesus (Who Sacrificed More)

Sometimes in my reading and reflection, I pose questions.  I don’t know that this question can be answered… at least to my satisfaction, but here it goes.  When it comes to salvation, who sacrificed more… God the Father or Jesus? Which one’s sacrifice showed more love… if that is even possible to ask and be answered?

Jesus left heaven where He had perfect fellowship with The Father… Where He was worshiped… Where there was perfect peace.  Jesus willingly came to a place full of brokenness, hurt, and sin.  Jesus willingly chose to be misunderstood, maligned, attacked, and eventually killed.  Worst of all Jesus was completely abandoned by His heavenly Father.  That had to have hurt deeply.

God the Father purposefully sent His Son… His ONLY Son… out from His midst to a hostile world for the purpose of being horribly murdered so that those sinners who would believe could be saved.  That had to have wounded His heart more than we can imagine.  I can’t imagine the pain God the Father had when He heard His Son… His ONLY Son… crying out to Him and then chose to ignore Him.  That had to hurt… tremendously.

I can’t come close to imagining what God the Father must have gone through.  I know what it is like to have disappointed my children (Though God NEVER failed His Son).  As a son, I know what it is like to be disappointed and wounded by my earthly dad.  But neither of those approaches what happened in heaven with God the Father!

Which is worse?  I don’t know…

This much I do know.  When God provided salvation for believers the pain, sacrifice, and suffering was on both ends… The Father AND The Son (Jesus).

Oh how great is our salvation!  That God would love us that much!

Test The Spirits!

Don’t swallow as truth everything you hear set forth as the Truth from Scripture.  I don’t care who is speaking, you test what they say because Satan can appear as an angel of light!  The reason for this encouragement is that in 1 John 4:1 it is written…

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Just because a man stands behind a pulpit… gives a speech in a religious setting… and uses the Bible as his text does NOT mean what he says is right NOR does it mean he is a Christian NOR does it mean you should believe what he says.

Every time the believer hears a message or teaching when Scripture is used, it is required that what is said is tested by The Word.  There are people who distort the Scripture for their own gain.  There are people who, though well intentioned, do not faithfully proclaim the Word.  Then there are those who Satan uses to lead people astray from the Truth.

The way to discern truth from error is simple.  Know the Truth so well that when unsound doctrine is spoken it is immediately recognized as such.  Doctrinal error is subtle and sometimes not easy to distinguish.  So every time the Word is preached in your hearing… listen closely.  Engage your mind.  Cut through the clutter of jokes and flashy presentation to what is actually being said.

For example…

A person cannot be a Christian and a practicing homosexual (Or drunkard… or thief… or liar… or adulterer.  1 Cor 6:9-10)

A person cannot be a Christian and reject the Virgin Birth…

A person cannot be a Christian and deny Jesus is God…

A person cannot be a Christian and reject the Trinity…

A person cannot be a Christian and affirm there is another way to be saved other than Jesus Christ…

A person cannot be a Christian and not become more like Jesus day by day… month by month… year by year.

How are those things known to be God’s Truth?  By studying, reading, and applying the Scripture.  And those are just the basics.

Consider Hebrews 5:11-6:3…

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings,the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

A Real Blessing!

Yesterday I traveled with my two sons from our home to a church 2 hours away for an informational meeting before going on a mission trip to Costa Rica the end of May (God willing).  The time we spent on the road was a high point of my year… let me explain.

I sat in the back seat (By choice) as we followed the Sunday rule in the Ethridge family… “No Secular On Sunday.”  That meant the whole way I enjoyed listening to my boys (Age 20 and 17) sing worship songs and talk about their faith.   They talked about how excited they were to worship at the church we are going on the mission trip with (CrossPoint Church in Argo, AL).  They talked about going on the trip also, but by far the greatest majority of time was spent listening to them sing song after song after song that exalted God and glorified Jesus.

Both of my sons have regular quiet times reading the Scripture (Without prompting from me).  Trey has a group of 8th grade boys he is discipling (Click).  Britton has a friend with whom he reads and discusses Scripture weekly (Click).  My daughter Amy and her boyfriend are in church each Sunday in Auburn and are seeking God’s will for their life.

Those are blessings that only come from God Himself!

Dr. David Jeremiah said, “Parents take too much blame… and too much credit… for how their children turn out.”  I agree.  I am thankful to God that (To this point) all three of my children love God the way they do, AND that they have a level of spiritual discernment that I am thankful God has given them.

When it comes to parenting, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

Model the life you want your children to live the best you can.

Use all of life to teach your children to love God and honor Him (Taking them to church on Sunday isn’t enough).

Talk with your children daily about Jesus, Biblical Truth, and Christian morality.

Don’t be a Pharisee (Legalist).  Explain why certain behaviors honor God and others don’t.

Pray for your children regularly… then trust God!

Wal-Mart… Bump! “Oh It’s YOU!”

Random events are NOT the way God works.  He doesn’t take advantage of coincidences to work in His children either.  Let me explain by describing an encounter I had at Wal-Mart two days ago…

I already was not in the best mood for reasons that aren’t important.  As I was picking up a few things I literally bumped into the wife of a man who disappointed me deeply and profoundly two years ago.  I hadn’t seen her in over two years, and she was without makeup which made it hard to place who she was (Not wearing makeup and just coming from a working out is actually a good disguise).  When I recognized her, the hurt and disappointment from her husband flooded back into my soul.  As a result I wasn’t ready to switch on the smooze and act as if I was doing great.  In fact… I hurried on to finish picking up a few things so I wouldn’t say the wrong thing.

While walking away I realized I shouldn’t have been so short.  So I tracked her down to apologize… at which point the discussion went in a direction that surprised me.  She began defending her husband (As any wife would and should).  She told me they decided to withdraw completely from the situation and not get involved at all.  Note: This is the very reason I was profoundly hurt.  I told her I would call her husband so we could sit down and talk… more for me to correct any misunderstanding I (!) may have contributed to from their perspective.  After I left Wal-Mart… I called her husband and asked to sit down and talk.  He said he’d call me right back… and hasn’t yet.

Now The Point Of The Post. When you love someone (As I was told multiple times by the lady’s husband), and they are in difficulty or hardship, not getting involved is not an option.  When you love a person, you will get involved.  In Hebrews 10:32-34 Christians gladly accepted the plundering of their property by associating with their Christian family that was suffering (Click here).

Note: Make sure you read my suggested lesson if you don’t read anything else… which can be found below…

I don’t mind telling you, when I was hurting… when I didn’t know who my friends were and knew I had many after me… every word of encouragement I got was like cool water on a hot day.  Some people surprised me with their encouragement.  Some disappointed me.  This woman’s husband was one who disappointed me… deeply.

I didn’t want him to interject himself into the situation.  I didn’t expect him to say anything to those I believed were in opposition to me.  I didn’t want him to come in like Mighty Mouse and save the day either.  But what would have been good was a word of encouragement… such as is commanded in Scripture…

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

Hebrews 10:32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.

Suggested Lesson: When a brother or sister is struggling… when they are hurting… when they are under pressure and stress, one of the best things you can do is give them a call to encourage and strengthen them.   There is no need for you to actually interject yourself into the situation unless you are so led… but it IS part of your call to help and encourage the downtrodden.  It IS your call to help them bear whatever burden is placed upon them that is crushing them.  And not to do so is to turn your back on the Law of Love.

I hope and pray that from this day forward I am willing to encourage those who are struggling… even if it does cost me… even if I am misunderstood… even if I have to take a hit.  After all, there is a reason God allows/causes us to suffer… it is to comfort others when they are struggling!

Who do you know, right now, that would be encouraged by you either visiting or calling them… just to build them up and pray with them?  If a name comes to your mind, that is God’s Spirit prompting you to act.

Proof You Are Saved

18 years ago a 32 year old man tragically died in a car wreck.  His mom told me…

I know my son didn’t live a Christian life and I know he hasn’t been to church in years.  BUT when he was 11 years old he walked the aisle and got baptized.  I know my son was saved in his own way… (Emphasis mine).  Note: He was living with a woman… hadn’t followed Christ publicly for years… was killed as a result of driving while drunk… and was a user of illegal drugs

“In his own way?!”  I know those were the thoughts of a grieving mother.  And I suggest she was struggling with the validity of her son’s conversion.  The question is… was this young man saved?

This is a follow-up to a previous post on this topic (Click here).  Consider two statements: 1) It is possible to know that you are saved!  2) Paul writes that we are to evaluate ourselves in relation to our salvation (Click here).  Given these, this post is designed to help us in knowing our spiritual state.

Just because a person has “believed” in the past… OR prayed a prayer to be saved… OR walked an aisle… OR gotten wet in a baptistery does not mean they are saved (See previous post).   When it comes to eternal security (Knowing you are saved and stay saved), a genuine salvation is essential.  Once a person is genuinely saved, they are saved forever.  The proof of salvation is…

Continuing in the faith. Consider the following Scriptures… (These are descriptive, not prescriptive).

Romans 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  6  He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Romans 11:22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed…

Hebrews 8:8 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.  For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The proof of a genuine conversion is continuing… throughout all of life… in Christ.  Oh… there is no chance of a person who is genuinely saved not continuing in the faith.

Defense Against Failure

This is from an email I get each week from H.B. London who is a wise pastor to pastors.  Consider his thoughts on protecting against failure…

LIVING A LIFE OF LOVE: THE DEFENSE AGAINST FAILURE

Recently, I have been working privately with some very difficult situations involving pastors who have made mistakes in judgment and behavior.

The high profile situations of Tiger Woods, Larry King and Sandra Bullock’s husband, Jesse James, get the headlines. But, the misadventures of clergy failure have a shelf life that lasts for decades. There is a sense of mystery and curiosity that surrounds a sports figure or entertainment personality. But, for obvious reasons, when it is a religious leader, there is even greater disgust and disappointment. Like ripples in a stream, the fallout of the failure just keeps moving from one person to the next.

For years, I have been teaching that there are at least three things that lead to a failure, regardless of the category.

  • Limited time alone with the Lord
  • Unresolved issues at home
  • Inadequate accountability

I can hear some of you groaning now. But, trust me, what I tell you is the truth. We can point to example after example that we have documented through our Pastoral Ministries division that gives support to our premise.

The other side of the issue is how it happens. I have thought about that, as well. I believe such things as the following contribute to failing morally:

  • Carelessness
  • Counseling too much
  • Fatigue or burnout
  • Spiritual defeat
  • Unresolved issues from childhood
  • Entitlement
  • Sin

The list is endless, but the upside of all of this is that failure need not be. From this day forward, there wouldn’t need to be one more failure experienced. How? Fall in love! That’s right! Fall in love with your Lord — fall in love with your spouse — fall in love with your call. If you love deeply, you will do all in your power to avoid disappointing those who love you. Too simple? I don’t think so. Paul would write in Eph. 5:1-2, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love.”

Now, read Eph. 5:3-5 — Interesting.

There’s a lot of wisdom in Pastor London’s comments.  Pour over his suggestions and make necessary changes.  Who knows when YOU (Or I) might run our SUV into a tree outside our home at two in the morning and all our skeletons spill into the street?!  “Whatever happens conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:27)

I Hate Death

A few weeks ago a husband and wife who were friends of my family both died on the same day.  The wife’s death was expected (Cancer), but the husband’s death was totally unexpected.  When I told my wife Pam about them she immediately responded, “I HATE death!” (Her dad died when she was 15).

Today I got a text message from a dear friend informing me that his dad passed away after a long illness.  I’m sure the grief is deep… as much as the relief also is.  That is not an insensitive statement but it is one only those who’ve been there can understand.  I know what my friend is going through because last July 10th my dad died.  I am praying for my friend, his mom, and his brothers and sisters.  Like my wife… I hate death!

When Jesus stood before Lazarus’ tomb the Scripture records that Jesus was “deeply moved.”  The actual meaning of the phrase is that Jesus “quaked with rage.”  It is a very strong word/phrase full of passion and emotion.  Knowing that, we have to ask… “Who or what was Jesus angry at?”

I couldn’t have been Lazarus… he couldn’t help that he died.  It couldn’t have been Mary or Martha… they were grieving over their loss.  It couldn’t have been the mourners… they hadn’t done anything.  So who/what was Jesus angry with?  I suggest it could be that Jesus was angry at death and the sin which brought it into the world.

I hate death because…

It isn’t natural…

It causes so much heartache…

There’s no way to escape it…

I will have to deal with it again and I don’t want to…

Jesus hated death.

There are a few redeeming factors about death.  It is the way I will get to see Jesus face to face.  Death is the way that this life will be swallowed up by more life.  Death will be the way that all the pain and hurt this world has will finally be over.  The death of my Christian friends means they are comforted by God.  Unless Jesus had died, there would be no salvation for anyone.

So I hate death in one sense… but the grief it brings into the life of a Christian is not like the rest of the world that has no hope!

Pastor With Brain Cancer (Matt Chandler)

The link below will take you to Pastor Matt Chandler as he describes his theology of suffering.  Last Thanksgiving he had a seziure that revealed the presence of a malignant brain tumor.  In this video he explains his journey and how his understanding of God’s grace is sufficient for every situation… including the unexpected.  His testimony lasts 27 minutes, then CJ Mahaney gives a few thoughts regarding suffering, after which John Piper prays for Matt (This takes place at 46 minutes into the video.  This is a blessing!).  You may not agree with all of Matt’s theology, but you can’t argue with his faith and hope in God.

http://vimeo.com/10959675

College Jerk Apologizes… Who’s Next?

This sounds a little like a very short guy in Luke 19:1-10Click here for the article.  Good example for Christians… thus (after reading the article) consider my question in the title, “Who’s Next?” (Meaning which of us needs to do this?)

Saints Lineman Is Sorry He Was A Jerk In College

Raise your hand if you never did anything stupid when you were young.

OK. None of you have your hands raised. That’s either because you’re human and you did do something stupid in your younger days, or because it would be silly to raise your hand because you read on the Internet that you should.

If you’re in the former group, you’ve got something in common with Carl Nicks, starting left guard for the world champion New Orleans Saints.

Nicks acted like an idiot when he was in college, but here’s where he separates himself from most everyone else. When he matured a little bit, he actually went back and tried to make it right. Nicks visited Nebraska’s campus Wednesday to apologize and make amends for the bad behavior he displayed while “attending school” there.

“Attending school” is in quotes because Nicks didn’t actually do a lot of that. He admits he skipped classes and didn’t have the work ethic he should’ve. The weekend before Nebraska’s pro day, he even got himself arrested at a house party for “suspicion of being an inmate of a disorderly house and failure to dispense.”

“I was proud of my school, but I know my school wasn’t proud of me, so that was important to me,” Nicks said. “I’m embarrassed.” [...]

“I’m not who I was then,” he said. “It just kind of hurts, to know I made a fool of myself.”

“I wouldn’t be true to Nebraska if I didn’t try to apologize to [current head coach] Bo Pelini, even though I didn’t play for him,” Nicks said. “He’s the face of Nebraska. I have to make it right with him, [athletic director] Mr. [Tom] Osborne and everyone I did wrong when I was here.”

Osborne surprised Nicks by greeting him as Carl — “I didn’t think he knew my name” — and then told him to learn from his mistakes and finish his college degree as soon as possible.

That’s got to be difficult; going back to face the very people you once let down. Nicks manned up and did it, though, and I think he deserves a lot of credit for that. Once an athlete steps out of line, we’re quick to label them forever. People can change, though, even if that change isn’t always accompanied by a change in public perception.

If you’re a Nebraska fan, and you had a low opinion of Nicks, perhaps you’ll re-evaluate now. He knows he let you down, and he’s a different guy now.

I’m not saying this young man did this as the result of a conversion to Christianity… if he has, GREAT!  If not, how much more should we as believers do things like this?  Especially since we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ?!

Life And The Gospel

Philippians 1:27 (NIV)

Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Question 1: What kind of Gospel is your life proclaiming to those around you?

Question 2: What kind of Gospel is the church you attend setting forth to the community?

In other words… if all people know of the Gospel is your conduct and how the church you attend presents it’s self to the community, what kind of Gospel is being communicated?  Are they seeing LOVE… PATIENCE… MERCY… FORGIVENESS… GRACE?  Or are they observing condemnation, anger, judgmentalism, legalism by your actions?  ((Big Pause Here For You To Meditate))

What kind of emails do you send?  What kind of looks do you give people who infringe upon your time?  What tone of voice do you use at home toward your family?  What about the timeliness with which you pay your bills?  What about how you talk to others about your enemies?  Want me to continue?

Is the church you attend focused on themselves… or meeting the needs of those in the community where they’re planted?  Does the church you attend actively look for ways to reach out to people and love them into the fellowship… or are they stand-offish because of how people dress… the kind of music they like… their hair style… or the fact they have a tattoo?

What about when you are treated harshly… wrongly… unfairly… or attacked?  Do people see you conducting yourself in a manner that reflects the cross of Jesus… the Gospel?  The conduct of a Christian in those situations should raise eyebrows as being different, and as a result intrigue people to find out what is different about us (ie., The Gospel).

POINT:  Everything a Christian does is to reflect the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Everything a church does is to be motivated by the message of the cross… The Gospel of Jesus Christ!

So I ask again…

Question 1: What kind of Gospel is your life proclaiming to those around you?

Question 2: What kind of Gospel is the church you attend setting forth to the community?

Nothing Better…

For a few days this week I am at a conference where I get to worship with thousands of others who are all passionate about God.  I am blessed to hear nine to ten excellent messages by some of the most gifted preachers in America.  Am with seven other men who love God and Jesus with all their heart… and love to laugh!  Then… each day they give each atendee “free” books… which by the end of the conference will be worth MORE than it cost to attend the conference!

Nothing better than that for me this week… except getting home to my family on Friday…

By the way… here’s the list of books given to date (Wednesday), and there’ll probably be more tomorrow (Thursday):

English Standard Study Bible (Hardback)

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love (Leeman)

The Unquenchable Flame (Reeves)

Proclaiming A Cross-Centered Theology (Dever, Duncan, Mohler, Mahaney)

What Is The Gospel? (Gilbert)

Dug Down Deep (Harris)

It Is Well (Dever, Lawrence)

The Holiness of God (Sproul)

The Trellis and the Vine (Marshall, Payne)

He Is Not Silent (Mohler)

The Gospel for Muslims (Anyabwile)

The Jesus You Can’t Ignore (MacArthur)

Jonathan Edwards on The Good Life (Strachan, Sweeny)

The Plight of Man and The Power Of God (Lloyd-Jones)

Scandalous: The Cross And Resurrection of Jesus (D.A. Carson)

Finally Allive (Piper)

Try This One Week Experiment

I’m going to try something and I’d like for a few of you to try it with me.  Let me lay it out, then tell me if you’re game…

For one week… seven days… from 12:00 midnight Saturday April 17th to 12:00 midnight the following Friday, April 23rd… I’m going to cut out every bit of worldly influence I can.  For seven days, I’m going to “fast” from the world.  Here’s what that would mean…

No TV…

No secular radio of any kind…

No visiting sites on the internet unless they are purely Christian (Including news)…

No secular music of any kind…

No newspaper or magazines… (I’ll only read the Bible)

No secular influence, input, or exposure of any kind if at all possible.

That doesn’t mean I can’t go to ball games to watch my kids.  It doesn’t mean I can’t go out to eat.  In fact… there are many things I will still be able to do, I’m just going to dedicate my heart, mind, soul, and spirit to decidedly Godly activities.  I plan to be in the world, but not of the world as much as I can.

I got this idea from Dr. T.W. Hunt who, after graduating college… to rid his personhood of the world’s influence… “fasted” from the world for one year!  No secular reading (He ONLY read the Bible)… no secular music… in fact, he cut out every secular activity he could… for one year.  If you don’t know Dr. Hunt… he wrote “The Mind of Christ” and “Prayer Life” as a Southern Baptist.

I think this will be interesting.  So… are you up to trying this one week experiment with me?