10 Things You Need to Know About Suicide

Suicide is more common than we think. No one is immune from these fatal thoughts. There is help, but we need to start talking about one of life's most tragic mistakes.

Is God a Fun-Sucker? (from my book #TheWalk)

Surely God likes more than khakis and choirs.

How much do you weigh?

Your situation cannot be measured on a scale, but it is heavy. How to strengthen the soul.

Bid, Buy, Adopt!

Bid $5, win 12 great items - all for adoption!

The Signal of Christmas

Christmas is a signal. Are you watching and waiting to make your move?

December 13, 2014

Ten Things I Learned about Suicide, #'s 6 and 7

Continued from a previous post: http://www.feelmyfaith.com/2014/12/ten-things-i-learned-about-suicide-1-5.html

6.  Parents who have lost children through suicide want you to say their child’s name and talk about their child’s life.


During our interview time, Mike mentioned that his son is one of three young men who had died untimely deaths in their family.  Mike tragically lost two nephews.  One was killed in a car accident and the other was lost when a tornado hit a high school in Enterprise, Alabama in 2007.  
Mike said that when he is around friends and family, people will freely share memories of the other two boys, but will seldom mention his son.  There may be various reasons, but whatever the reason it reveals a common problem, people don’t know what to say.
Mike looked at our congregation on that Sunday and said, “Say their names.  Parents who have lost children through suicide want you to say their names.”  People who have lost loved ones through any manner of death find healing through the sharing of memories and the recollection of stories.  For those who have lost someone through suicide, it is just as healing for them to hear those stories and to have their names mentioned and missed.  Family members and friends don’t want you to ignore their loss, they want you to talk about it, ask questions, and share memories.  The freedom of conversation lets them know you are with them in their trial.

7.  Grief after suicide is different than grief after other forms of death.
No one survives life.  Death comes upon us in various ways and at various times.  Some die young.  Some are very old.  Some lose their life after long battles with sickness or disease.  Some people’s bodies just break down.  Some people are lost suddenly and tragically in accidents.  There is a common patter of grief shared in almost all of these instances, but for those who lose someone through suicide, the process of grief takes on a different form.
After the death of a loved one grief is often objective.  We wonder if our loved one suffered in their final moments; or perhaps we wonder what their life would have been like if they were allowed to continue living.  With suicide grief is greatly mingled with guilt.  Grief takes on a much more subjective tone as loved ones struggle to answer a seemingly impossible question; why?  
Many times there is a great deal of blame.  People may blame themselves or one another.  Suicide often brings with it emotional strain that tests friendships, familial bonds, and even marriages.  With suicide there is confusion and anger at the one who took their life, but the person is no longer there to help bring resolution.  Suicide is not only the end of the conversation, but it as stated in a previous point, it is the end of possibilities.  
For those contemplating suicide, Mike mentioned that one often thinks his or her death will bring relief or resolution to a problem.  Mike said the reality is otherwise.  He said that his son struggled with depression and other problems from the time he was a teen, but those problems were no comparison to the problems his suicide has brought upon his family.  Mike said his son’s death was only the beginning of problems; and those problems continue even 11 years later.  

Grief after suicide is severe.  For those contemplating suicide, the toll on one’s family needs to be considered before you make a tragic mistake.  For those helping a loved one heal after suicide, it must be understood, this will be a long road full of unanswered questions.  In this case we may not be able to offer solutions, but to do what the Bible says and merely to help bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

December 9, 2014

Ten Things I Learned About Suicide (1-5)

A few weeks ago I invited The Director for The Center for Hope, Denny Whitesel and a pastor friend of mine, Mike Jackson, Director of The Office of Leadership and Church Health for the Alabama State Board of Missions, to join me one Sunday morning for a conversation about suicide.  Denny has done extensive work in suicide prevention.  Mike lost a son 11 years ago to suicide.  Here is what I learned.
1.  Suicide is more common than we think and more people in the church are struggling with it than we care to admit.  
“In the U.S., there were 38,364 suicides in 2010—an average of 105 each day. On average, one person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes.  An average of one elderly person every hour and 41.4 minutes and an average of one young person every two hours and 2.1 minutes killed themselves.
“Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years, the second among persons aged 25-34 years, the fourth among person aged 35-54 years, and the eighth among person 55-64 years.”
“Men are more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide. There are on average 3.7 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide. But there are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt.”
My personal experience as a pastor has been that when I am willing to openly talk about suicide, truthfully and lovingly from Scripture, there are people in the congregation who will admit they have been struggling with it.  Often, these are people who have been a part of the church for some time.  
As a pastor, this tells me that the conversation about suicide does not need to be anathema to the church.  The gospel has an answer.  The power of Christ is sufficient even for suicide.  If we are to preach the full counsel of Christ we cannot exile certain topics.  Doing so communicates to our brothers and sisters in Christ that you are alone in your struggle and this is simply not the case.
In fact, my experience has taught me that no one is immune.  Pastors, teachers, the most kind, loving, Christ-like people can struggle with suicidal thoughts.  These people need to know the church is listening and has an answer for a very real problem they are facing.
2.  Treatment is not defeat, even for people with great faith.
In our conversation, Denny shared that more than 80% of those thinking about suicide, who seek professional counsel, are treated successfully.  I was pleased to hear that the success rate was that high.  Mike shared that his son had gone through treatment several times, but unfortunately he still chose to end his life.  From my vantage point it was refreshing to hear these men talk about the need for Christians to seek clinical counsel.
Yet, I wonder how many people in the church see visiting a counselor as defeat?
The argument for counsel is a post in itself.  I dealt with the issue of paying for counsel in a post sometime ago.  Space does not suffice in this post for the full argument, so allow me to simply string together some thoughts to consider.
There are some things your pastor, your family or your friends, are simply not equipped to deal with.  I can speak from personal experience; if your pastor is worth his weight, he will be willing to admit his limitations.  Furthermore, there are some things you need to be able to talk about with someone you don’t see every Sunday.  There are some things YOU WON’T talk about unless you feel 100% safe.  I’ve never felt 100% safe talking about some of my personal struggles with people in the church.  
A counselor provides you a safe place to talk - and let’s be honest, so you can continue attending your church!  There are some things people want to discuss with me that I will refer them to a counselor for one simple reason; I know if they tell me, they won’t come back.  From that point onward, that person will think that if I bring up certain topics from the pulpit, that I am talking specifically about them.  As a pastor, referring someone to counsel is not defeat, it is protection for both pulpit and pew for liberty in preaching.
Counselors are trained professionals and paying them is not a sin, it is smart.  These people have invested massive amounts of time and money studying human behavior.  Paying for counsel is not a self-defeating admission there is something wrong with you as much as it is a matter of support for someone well equipped to help you.  You pay a mechanic to work on your car.  Why not invest money and time into seeing someone qualified to treat someone much more precious like your thoughts and emotions?  
What’s your life worth?  Most of the time when we don’t seek help, we pay far greater a price.
3.  Suicide is brain failure.
Pastor Rick Warren lost a son to suicide in 2013.  In preparation to discuss this topic, I watched Rick’s first sermon after his tragic loss.  He made a great point.  Sin in our lives is to blame not only for failures in our body, but also for failures in our brain.  People suffer heart failure and kidney failure.  People also experience brain failure.  
During our interview, Denny shared that most people who are suicidal are dealing with some form of mental illness.  Something in their thinking and reasoning, whether cognitively or emotionally, isn’t working.  We can be mentally ill just as easily as we can be physically ill.  Guess what, anyone at any time can become mentally ill.  
The week after I shared this topic with my congregation I was in a meeting of over 200 men.  The speaker for the event is one of the most motivating men I know, a former athlete who played football for the University of Georgia, and a real leader in our town.  He is a man’s man who appears to have it all together.  Toward the end of his talk he made the statement that he had been hospitalized four times for depression and suicidal thoughts.  
When he made that statement I did not think less of him.  In fact, it was probably the most liberating thought of the entire evening.  Here is a man, a leader, who knows what is wrong with him and he is getting the help he needs.  How many of us know there is something wrong with us, but we have yet to admit it?  
We go to the doctor when something is wrong with our bodies.  Why don’t we find help when there is something wrong with our brains? 
4.  Suicide is satanic, personal deception.
In the first chapter of his epistle, James explains the course of temptation and sin for all of us.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14–15 (ESV)
Suicide is a sin in the same way that adultery, corrupt speech, stealing, murder, or abuse is sin.  Yet, unlike many other sins, suicide has an immediate, fatal, self-centered consequence.  
Somehow the mind gets twisted into thinking ending life is better than living it.  Perhaps a person is not willing to suffer, be shamed, deal with the consequences of actions, seeks attention, or maybe even wants revenge upon a loved one - whatever the reason one is carried away in their own desire, the thought is allowed to incubate and the mind becomes convinced.  
Satan is the father of lies.  He knows our mental and emotional weak points and he exposes them.  We are easily deceived and according to James it becomes even more dangerous when we become personally convinced.  
As with other sins, self-control, denial, and repentance are essential tools in interrupting deceptive thoughts.  The mind must be brought back to truth.  Ending one’s life is not the end of problems but the end of possibilities.  
My friend Mike Jackson, in our conversation said it best, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  In fact, he pointed out that in the experience of his family, his son’s choice to end his life was only the beginning of what has become 11+ years of problems for them.  He had much rather his son be alive than to be dealing with the harsh reality they now contend with everyday.  
When we have suicidal thoughts we must fix our minds on truth, on a God with whom all things are possible.  We must bring ourselves back to reality or we may be fatally deceived.
5.  A suicide survivor may be someone far beyond the circle of immediate family.
We often hear the term “suicide survivor.”  Up until our conversation about suicide I often thought of the survivor being a spouse, a child, a parent; someone from the immediate family or perhaps a close friend.  In talking about and researching suicide I realized that the term “suicide survivor” encompasses a much larger circle.  
Survivors of suicide may include any of us who know someone, whether intimately or distantly, who has committed suicide.  A suicide survivor may be a classmate who never had a conversation with a person who ended their life, but wonders why they never took the time to get to know them.  A survivor may be someone who worked in the same building and never even knew the person’s name, but carries some weight of blame wondering if it would have made a difference if he or she had reached out to them.
The suicide of one can effect an entire school or community.  Suicide hurts and confuses all of us.  There are more survivors out there than we think. 
In the second service that morning there were around 300 people in the auditorium.  I asked those in attendance to raise their hand if they know someone who has committed suicide.  I was shocked to see a clear majority of hands were raised.  

To me those hands represented a truth we have heard but often ignore.  You never know who is watching.  Our lives are interconnected more deeply than we think.  We need fewer suicide survivors and more life sustainers.  We need to get to know one another’s names.  We need to open up the conversations.  You never know how a smile, a simple question, a hand shake, a “good morning” could save a life. 
To be continued . . .
Listen to our conversation about suicide here.   Suicide: Thinking, Coping, Healing from Liberty Baptist Church Dalton, GA.

December 8, 2014

Is God a Fun-Sucker? (An Excerpt from My Book #TheWalk)

It is difficult for many of us to believe that God wants us to be satisfied.  My wife affectionately refers to me sometimes as a “fun-sucker.”  A “fun-sucker” is someone who can emotionally vaporize every ounce of joy in a room with a single word.  I am a master at the craft.
One of our favorite things to do in the spring of the year is to attend the University of Georgia G-Day football game.  The weather is warming.  There is a real family atmosphere in the stadium.  It has been a long, dark winter and it has been a long time since we have seen some football.  Best of all, its free!  A game will cost my family a small fortune in the fall, but the spring game is perfectly priced.
We get out of bed the morning of G-Day and the weather is perfect.  Our plan is to stop at a mom-and-pop breakfast joint in our town and grab biscuits on the way to the game.  Apparently, everyone else in the metropolis of Chatsworth, Georgia had the same plan.  We live in a small town with only a few thousand people.  Apparently all of them meet up at the same hole-in-the wall joint for biscuits and invite out-of-town guests. 
We sat at the drive-thru 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and it seemed like we had moved less than a car length closer to the window.  It was at that moment that fun sucker determined to save the day.
I loudly expressed to every passenger in my van my thoughts regarding the inefficiency of the restaurant servers.  I condemned harshly the idea that other people in our town would want biscuits as badly as I did.  Comparatively, I pointed out why my day must certainly be more important than theirs.  How dare the good people of Chatsworth inconvenience a man on a schedule going to a glorified spring football practice!  By the time I had yelled, stomped, and slung gravel while bolting out of the parking lot, there was not a single ounce of fun left within the confines of our Honda Odyssey van.  Mission accomplished.  
For some reason we believe God is a “fun-sucker.”  We believe God is a mostly stoic, otherwise temperamental, unpredictable, ruler of the universe who requires us to be miserable if we are to have any shot at being godly.  If you share this belief allow me to ask a few questions.
Who was it that created the Garden of Eden full of perfect provision and told Adam and the Eve to have it all, but one?
Who was it that invented the day off?
Who was it that instituted seven feast days on the Jewish calendar?  
Who was it that created the concept of a promised land flowing with milk and honey?
Who created Paradise?
God is not a fun-sucker.  The God of the Bible is happy.  
In John 17 we have recorded a divine conversation between Jesus and the Father.  There Jesus prays, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” - John 17:13 (ESV)  
As a happy God, the Bible teaches that there are things that God approves, that He delights in (Psalm 35:27).  We have a God who actually likes things.  Remember why we said that, when we turn our attention to God’s face instead of our own, we are more likely to be satisfied?  Because you need only one “like.”
Someone may object and point quickly to the Ten Commandments.  It is difficult to envision a happy God who likes anything when the 10 most familiar statements in the Bible begin “Thou shalt not.”  Through our eyes we see God as a warden on patrol.  He has a scowl on His face and He is quick to bring harsh judgment on anyone who dares to break one of the ten rules.  But is that really a fair assessment of what the Ten Commandments truly are?
Is it really fair to presume that negative statements are always motivated by hate?  When a child walks too close to a fire, is it hateful for a mother to scream out, “Stop!”  Is it judgmental for the manufacturers of rat poison to put a skull and crossbones on the box and to warn you that, if you eat it, you will die?  Think about this:  Do the warnings on a box of poison diminish in any way the pleasure that is found in cake?
What we need on a box of poison is a warning about the contents, not a commentary on the taste of cake.  Would you rather the box list all the things you can eat and allow you to figure out by the process of elimination what you can’t eat without harmful repercussions?  No way!  What we need is for warnings to get to the point.  It’s not so much negative as it is practical.  
What if you rethought the Ten Commandments and didn’t see them only as negative statements, but as affirmations of what God loves?  If the Ten Commandments are the primary list for what God doesn’t like, what do the Ten say about what God does like?
Let’s take the last 6 as an example.  The last 6 govern our relationships with one another.  Honor your father and your mother.  Why, because God loves the family.
You shall not murder.  God loves life.
You shall not commit adultery.  God loves loving marriages built on trust.
You shall not steal.  God wants you to enjoy ownership and have security with your stuff.
You shall not bear false witness.  God loves truth and in the same way He protects His image (no graven images, do not take the Lord’s name in vain), He protects your reputation.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or wife . . . or anything that is your neighbor’s.  God values contentment and security in community.
Is it really a fun-sucker move on God’s part to protect your property, your marriage, your parents, your children, and your very life?  The Ten Commandments say more about who God is and what God likes than they do about what He doesn’t.
If you will learn to like what God likes, you can have your fill of it.  It is here that the word “fun-sucker” enters the equation.  So what does God like?  Is it singing in the choir?  Wow, now that sounds eternally fun - forever a choir boy!  

Surely God likes modesty.  Does that mean I must wear khaki and white everyday?  If we like what God likes, we imagine ourselves having only our fill of a monkish life, holed up in a bell tower, hooked on Gregorian chants, destined to forever wear khaki.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  God has greater desires than khaki for His people.  
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December 4, 2014

How much do you weigh?

In Psalm 138:3, David writes, “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”
Life is heavy.  There is a weight in situations and circumstances that cannot be measured with a scale.  There is no physical mass to a hard day, but still you feel and weight of it.  
How heavy is the soul?  
Can you imagine going through the day, walking up to friends, acquaintances, and strangers and asking them a common question, “How much do you weigh today?”  Talk about getting personal!  
And so, I will start the day with you, how much do you weigh today?  I can ask because I am at a safe “no slap” cyber-distance from you through the blog.  Yet, I can also ask, because I am not speaking of the weight of your body, but the weight of your soul.  How about the weight of your day?  Perhaps the weight of your situation?  The weight of the body, you and I mindlessly carry it around day by day.  I think very little of 211.  I’m so used to it, I don’t feel it.  I am what I am!  But, weight of soul, I feel it.  So do you.
How do we increase the strength of our soul?  From Psalm 138 we can draw some solid principles.
  1. Thankfulness from the whole heart (v. 1) - The Psalms are not trite songs and prayers that mindlessly look for the good in every situation.  If anything, the Psalms are honest songs and prayers.  They are the anthems of heavy souls.  In fact there is a small collection of them that in Latin are referred to as misery Psalms.  The foremost of them being Psalm 51.  Yet even in Psalms of hopelessness there is thankfulness.  In Psalm 138:1 he sings praise to his God before the gods.  Our soul is strengthened in the song of thankfulness.  The situation may not change, but a burdened soul finds resolute strength when we take a moment to enter into the equation of our situation who God is.
  2. Bowing the body in prayer, daily (v. 2) - Notice in the second verse David bows toward the Temple.  It is the same as saying, “I bow before God.”  The posture of our body reflects the posture of our heart.  When we bow before God we are not only expressing reverence, but humility and vulnerability.  When arresting someone a policeman says, “Hands up where I can see them.”  If the hands are up, it is assumed there will be no defense.  Bowing is the “hands up” of the soul.  It is the posture of total surrender.  How often do we pray a pithy prayer, a token word to God as we walk, or before we eat, or even as we drive.  There is no surrender in religious ritual.  There is no strength of soul in mindless habit.  But have you taken time in prayer today to bow before God?  Bowing requires that you stop what you are doing.  It requires that you get on your face.  Bowing is breaking the back, cracking open the soul, laying down before the Lord.  Bowing before God not only says, “God, you are holy” but it also says, “I can’t do this.”  The soul is strengthened in holy vulnerability.
  3. Remembering the plans, purposes, and promises of God (v. 4-8).  I will admit, it is difficult for me to pray for long periods of time.  The digi-brain is easily distracted.  Smartphones are the death of meditation and of the attention span.  Yet when my mind is stayed on Scripture I can concentrate.  What I am writing this morning is due to my time praying through Psalm 138; my strength of soul has been increased - and so I blog.  In verses 4-8 David is citing what he has found to be true of God by experience, but for the most part, he is reciting back to God what he knows to be true of Him from His Word.  The thought that all the kings of the earth will give God praise is an eschatological hope.  The world is unwound right now, but we know how the story ends.  Truth strengthens the soul.  Verse 6 reflects God’s character.  “Though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly.”  You and I need to remind ourselves of this - it strengthens the soul to know God cares.  He is with me in my times of trouble (v. 7).  His promises do not fail (v. 8).  The weight of the day threatens to crush me, but in these truths there is a new reality that strengthens my soul.
It cannot be measured on the scale, but you feel the weight of the day.  The situation may not change, but the soul has the potential to be strengthened.  Prayer, singing, bowing before God, staying the mind on truth - these are the things that increase the strength of the soul.  

How much do you weigh today?    

December 1, 2014

The Signal of Christmas

I pulled up to a major intersection.  It is one of those intersections where there is a designated lane and signal for every turn.  In every direction, right turns, no turns, left turns.  There were two lanes of incoming traffic to my left, three lanes to my right.  In every direction, for every lane, there was a light.  The cornucopia of red lights served to each driver in the intersection a unified message - “Sit here - wait your turn!”
On this particular occasion my desire was to turn left.  I have no scientific proof, but it seems like at this intersection the lefties are stranded much longer behind the light than everyone else.  When the left turn signal does finally come, the green light initiates a virtual drag race to the white stripe.  You have only a few seconds to make your move or you are doomed to repeat the cycle again and wait twice as long for your turn.
There were four cars in front of me.  Familiar with the situation I reached for my addiction of choice to pass the time, smartphone!  Realizing I had missed several text messages I began thumbing away my replies.  Digital conversations ensued.  I would pass the time waiting with texting - attempting to effectively communicate emotion and information, two to three words at a time, instantaneously to friends also stuck in traffic three states away.  
I am not sure exactly how long I was there, but something in my mind alerted me that my hiatus in the left turn lane was expiring; it was time to check the light.  Raising my eyes from phone to road, I realized the scene had changed dramatically.  Where there had once been two lanes of signal stranded motorists to my right waiting to pass through the light, now there were none - only empty lanes.  Where there had once been four cars in front of me, I now saw only the distant taillights of car number four engaged in a left turn.  Almost as if to mock me, the signal rapidly changed from yellow to red as car number four passed beneath it.  I was now doomed to repeat the cycle of signals once again.
It wasn’t that I had failed to pay attention.  My failure was to pay attention to the right thing.  I should have been watching the signal.  Instead I was reading messages on my phone.  Because I wasn’t watching the right thing, not only was I left embarrassingly alone in the intersection, I missed my chance to go.
Luke is writing to a companion described as, “most excellent Theophilus (Luke 1:3).”  His purpose is to assure Theophilus that the things he has been taught are accurate (Luke 1:4).  To do this, Luke begins with a series of signals.  A series of angelic visits ensues.  A childless, aging priest named Zechariah is given a sign.  His wife Elizabeth will have a son who is to be named John.  This child will prepare the way of an even more significant one.  
The angel Gabriel visits a young virgin girl named Mary.  Supernaturally she too will conceive a child; not a child by man, but this child will be the Son of God.  
More signals, more signs, come in rapid succession.  Like the array of red lights in a major intersection, the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel are full of signals.  The children are born.  Angels visit shepherds.  The sighting of the Christ child inspires prophecies.  Every sign a fulfillment of prophecy.  Every sign a signal, like the changing colors of light at an intersection, each sign signaling a new, ordered, sequence of events is now on the move.  
The message of Christmas is simple.  Something is happening.  God is moving.  Are you paying attention?
When Zechariah received the news that his child was to be born, he immediately recognized the activity of God in the sign and he made a move.  
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old (Luke 1:68-70).”
Christmas is a signal.  The Son of God has been born.  The Word has become flesh and dwelt among us.  God is up to something.  Make no mistake, a lane of history and prophecy is moving.  Zechariah realized that Israel had been stuck in a dark intersection of their nation’s history for centuries.  But now it was time to make a move.  Zechariah was watching.  The signal was happening.  He was responding.
There is a real sense in which we have grown unfamiliar with Christmas.  Unfamiliar with Christmas?  How can this possibly be true?  We are a few days past the inauguration of the season, Black Friday . . . or perhaps Black Thursday Evening as it seemed to be this year.  We have digi-shopped cyber-Monday.  On the horizon is a tight schedule of Christmas parties, plays, and gatherings.  There are cards to write and family pics to be printed.  And who can forget the shows?  There is a certain regimen of Christmas movies that must be watched for Christmas to be Christmas.  
I will be the first to admit, I enjoy all of these things in this annual season.  But I will also be the first to admit, these are distractions to what is really happening.  If being busy with holiday themed activities defines your Christmas, you are watching your smartphone in the intersection and you will soon be left alone in the dark.  You are missing the signal.
Christ’s birth is the signal of a new season of salvation history.  Christmas is the green light of Biblical prophecy that tells us that we are now in the season in which He comes.  True, He was born.  As important of a message as the birth of Christ is in Christmas, it is not the only one.  The full message of the season is that He is coming again.
His birth identifies Jesus as the Messiah.  His death, burial and resurrection is the inauguration of a season of time in which more dead things, situations, and people will live again.  This is the season in which people are saved because Christ has come.  This is the season in which God pours out His Spirit and gathers for Himself a people for the sake of His Son.  
Zechariah recognized the signal.  “God . . . has visited and redeemed His people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us (Luke 1:68-69).”  
Christmas is not merely a holiday, it is time to make a move.  In this season of time God has signaled that it is time for repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.  The commercial Christmas season is filled with pleasant distractions, but the Biblical message of Christmas is about paying attention to the right thing - we need to be forgiven for our sins (Luke 1:77).  

Zechariah was waiting and watching.  When the signal came, he saw it and made a move.  Christmas inaugurates the season in which Jesus comes.  Are you watching and waiting?  Are you ready to make a move?

12 Days of Christmas Bid-A-Way for Adoption

My friends Sammy and Michelle Tice are raising money to adopt two boys from Ukraine.  I had the honor of serving the Tice's as pastor when we were in Birmingham and I can attest that their decision to adopt is only the latest testament to their ever expanding vision of the gospel.  You can read more about the Tice family and their journey in adoption on their Facebook page, Trust Without Borders.   

Numerous businesses have contributed items to the Tice's fund raising effort and they are offering them for bid in a unique campaign, 12 Days of Christmas Bid-A-Way.  This is a great way to get involved with their adoption effort.  I encourage you to bid on their items, learn more about the Tice family, and get involved in bringing their boys home!

Some of the things you can bid on - win - and help, include:

Starbucks items - I'm for that!
A Sephora Gift Card - I have no idea what that is, but it sounds expensive, and woman-ish.
An Augtographed Karen Kingsbury book - I wonder if Karen has read #TheWalk yet?
An ESV Bible - The Word!
An Epiphone limited edition, autographed guitar - very cool!
An Amazon Fire! - need I say more?
Younique 3D Fiber Lashes - 3D lashes? hmmm, well girls, go 3D or go home!

lots of other stuff - check it out, click here:  12 Days of Christmas Bid-A-Way for adoption! 

October 20, 2014

Getting the Brain to "Stay" (An Excerpt from My New Book #TheWalk)

We get a lot of information but have lost the art of meditation.  We know what is happening, but think very little of what it means.  Those who want to go further must also go deeper.  

When was the last time you read something from the Bible and thought about it the entire day?When was the last time something you read in the Bible changed the way you saw things throughout the day?  If the brain is constantly interrupted by notifications, giving proper attention to deeper truth is impossible.  

Because we are at a place in time and technology in which we want to know so much, we have reached a place in which I believe we know too much.  The fast pace at which we receive notifications is causing the erosion of one of our greatest God given abilities - the ability to think.  We no longer take time to think about what we know.  

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  With constant notifications we are not at a pace for peace.  It is difficult to get our minds to “stay” on the Lord when it strays after every vibration and alert that comes through our smartphone.

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