Friday, June 26, 2020

Are We Fake Or Real Christians?

"Real." What is "real"? Webster's Dictionary defines "real", in part, as "not artificial, fraudulent, illusionary or apparent; genuine".

I believe people, today, are looking for something that is real. They're fed up with the artificial. They are incensed by the fraudulent. They're tired of the images that so many put forth to appear real. 

What is a "real" Christian? Some would have you believe it involves wearing certain types of clothing or perhaps not wearing certain types of clothing. Some say to be real you must wear your hair a specific way, or your shirt sleeves must be a particular length. Some even go as far as to say if you don't attend their church and believe like they do that you cannot possibly be a real Christian. 

Is "real" something you wear? Is "real" something you put on and take off? Is it being what someone in your family or someone else thinks you should be? Is "real" being what some preacher says you should be? Is it doing your own thing? Is it bestowed on some but not on others? Is it distinguishable? If so, how?

Being a "real" Christian entails putting off labels and stigmas that we sometimes attach to certain groups of believers. The Bible tells us "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch" (Acts 11:26). It doesn't matter whether or not you call yourself a Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or any other label. What matters is this - Are you a real Christian?

To be a real Christian means believing on Jesus Christ and receiving Him as your Savior and Lord. It includes repenting, believing and forsaking your sins (Luke 13:3,5). Receiving Jesus Christ means being in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Old friends, habits and sinful appetites drop off. In Christ all things become new. We receive a new life, faith, hope, love, joy and peace. How cool is that?

As a child of God we should emulate Him in our thinking, seeing, hearing, speaking, doing and going. We should be forgiving.  We should look for the positive and the good. We should be kind, compassionate and understanding (Colossians 3:12-13). Unfortunately these traits are too often missing in Christians and churches today. 

As real Christians, we are to represent Jesus at home, school, work and play - everywhere! We should seek to exemplify Him in deed and conversation. We can do this by offering words of encouragement, good deeds and being a witness to the unsaved individuals around us. 

Being a real Christian, then, means we are in Christ, like Christ, for Christ and with Christ for now and throughout eternity. Friends, its time we examine our hearts and perhaps ask ourselves this question: "Am I a fake or am I the real thing?"

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, June 19, 2020

Don't Be Discouraged - God Needs You

Have you ever felt like your contribution to God doesn't really matter? Have you ever felt like you don't make a difference? Have you ever felt like God doesn't need you? After all, He has so many gifted preachers and so many "big" ministries that He doesn't really need you or me. 

Several years  back, I began to wonder if our ministry was really making a difference. It seemed that we were always on the go, but not seeing anything accomplished. I almost felt that God didn't really need this ministry. He has so many other wonderful ministries that are eminently more qualified and, in fact, do a far better job than we do. Does God really need us?

I then  realized that each and everyone of us has a nucleus of individuals we touch and influence on a daily basis. It may be family members, friends, co-workers or mere acquaintances. We have an opportunity to make a difference on a one-on-one basis in the lives of these individuals. 

In many cases we are the only Jesus these people will ever see. Many of these people seldom, if ever, grace the door of an institutional church. Many times they lump all Christians in the same category. If they have ever been wronged by someone professing to be a Christian they have the attitude that all Christians are like that. If they see the lifestyle of a professing Christian to be that of the world then they reason in their minds, "Why should I become a Christian? What's the difference? I'm living as good of a life as they are."

God doesn't have any "big" or "small" ministries or preachers. God doesn't have any "big" or "small" children. All God has is ministries, preachers and children. My point is those who are involved in what most would consider a "small" ministry are just as important in the eyes of God and in the plan of God as those involved with a large mega ministry.

You see, if you are called of God to do a particular task, no matter what that task may be, then there is no greater ministry you could be involved in. I don't care if you feel called to clean the church, preach the gospel, feed the hungry, clothe the poor or to do anything in between, there is no greater ministry than the one God has called you in to. The important thing is that we be obedient to what God has called us to do. 

I want to encourage you to keep on serving God in the capacity He has called you in to. Remember, there are no big "I's" or little "you's" in God's work. It's all important. 

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, June 12, 2020

Dedicated People Needed To Overthrow The Status Quo

Through the years of our traveling, singing and preaching in various churches and venues I've had the opportunity to visit with various preachers and ministry leaders of all denominational stripes. One concern rises time and time again with these leaders. That concern is the seeming lack of dedication and commitment to God and His work. 

It appears many individuals are only involved in the work of the Lord when there is money to be had or when they can receive some sort of self-glorification or recognition. It seems the work of the Lord has been reduced to self-serving motives by far too many who lack genuine dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ and His plan and purpose. 

Far too many seem to be satisfied with the status quo. Listen, friend, we need more - much more - than "status quo religion" if we are to see anything accomplished for the cause of Christ! We need more than church as usual.

People are getting fed up with dead, dull boring churches that provide little or no spiritual vitality to them. We've replaced the genuine move of God of the early church with our own man-made programs. We've gotten so far advanced in our programs that we know as much as a year in advance who is going to do what in each service even to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit. We leave no room for the Lord to move in our services because our programs don't allow for it. 

I realize that Paul the apostle wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:40, "But everything is to be done decently and in order". Does this mean to the exclusion of God's will? Must our churches be "dead" in order to be decent? I believe the answer to both of these questions is a resounding "No!" 

What would happen if we would turn our church services/meetings totally over to the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit? What would happen if we did not restrict God by putting a time limit on Him? What would happen if we would commit ourselves completely and wholly to the Lord? What would happen if we would dedicate, or in many cases rededicate, our lives to the will of God?

Consider the possibilities! We could see a move of God sweep across our communities and land like we've never seen. We could see the gospel preached to a lost and dying world in need of a Savior. We could see God's people awake from their slumber and do the work of the church. Oh, what God would do with a dedicated and sold out group of people reaching out and actually becoming all that God wants them to be - becoming a genuine New Testament church working until Jesus returns for His people!

What we need today is some dedicated people willing to serve a mighty God in order to see great things accomplished for the Kingdom of God. 

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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Friday, June 5, 2020

God - The Ultimate Stress Reducer

Today's society is caught up in so much noise and confusion. The day-to-day pressures and stress of life have had a profound effect on our families, friends, employment as well as the church. Our music is loud and thounderous. Our entertainment is explosive and sometimes destructive. 

Many have attempted to deal with this stress through various means including drugs, alcohol and even suicide. Many have resorted to psychologists, psychiatrists and even hypnosis. We've taken out our frustrations on our loved ones by means of physical, mental and emotional abuse. Stress is tearing us up from the inside out. How do we as Christians cope with stress?

One of the first things we can do is change our way of thinking. We should concentrate on things that have a calming affect. God has provided us, through nature, a built-in calming influence. The hills, the valleys, the streams and the lakes all can provide us with a means of relaxation. Listening to good soothing music or, for many, it's the hymns of the church that bring relief from stress. Prayer and fellowship with God while meditating on the promises in the Bible will do wonders for the Christian who faces stress. 

Many Christians suffer stress because they struggle with and fight against inevitable conditions. You know, there are some things in life we have absolutely no control over. There's nothing we can do to change the circumstances so why not change our outlook on them? Jesus conquered stress because He didn't fret about the difficult situations He encountered. Jesus rolled with the punches, as it were. He simply turned impossibilities into opportunities. What a difference His outlook was. We should attempt to do likewise. Sometimes we must accept situations we are powerless to change, doing our best with what we have and simply leave the rest to God. 

Too often, we fail to comfort others as we should. We get so wrapped up in our own selfish interests. We get to feeling sorry for ourselves. Jesus cared about the difficulties of others. He had compassion for others.  He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, unstopped deaf ears, made the lame to walk, cleansed the lepers and met the needs of those He came in contact with. Jesus set the example for us to follow. We should get involved in assisting others in their time of need and difficulty. Oftentimes, comforting others who are facing problems and difficulties will help to resolve our own complaints and bring joy and peace to our own lives.

Friend, if we are to overcome stress in our lives, we should be aware of God's presence in our lives at all times. Even though we don't always feel His presence, we know through faith He is always near to the believer. We are able to put our trust in God because He is not just a fair-weather friend. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble."

We ought to take God at His word! Let's stand on the promises of God and overcome this victory-stealing enemy we all face from time to time - stress.

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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