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Showing posts from March, 2020

Pull Together in Prayer

The  Roman scutum  was a concave shield that was 43 inches high and 34 inches wide. The soldier could use the scutum for both offense and defense. Personal protection is important, but when he pulled together with other soldiers, the scutum's effectiveness increased exponentially.  In times of intense attack , a unit of Roman soldiers pull in tight. The soldiers on the edges joined together, shield to shield, to create an impregnable wall that surrounded the unit. Those in the middle would raise their scutum to form a bunker of sorts, safe from the enemy archers. With their scutum pulled together, the unit would become like a walking tank. Enemy assailants would wear themselves out pointlessly swinging swords trying to penetrate the wall of shields to no avail. The exhausted enemy then became easy prey for the Roman counter-attack. In Ephesians 6 Paul calls for the followers of Christ to put on the whole armor of God (shield included). But that's not all. He also calls them to

How to Deal With Your Demons

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When it comes to demons, there is too much crazy, and we give them too much credit. The Bible speaks of demons as being actual, spiritual, evil creatures. Jesus confronted and conquered demons. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:34 The Bible On Demons What does the Bible teach us about demons? Demons are fallen angels that chose to side with Satan and rebel against God. Rev. 12:7-9 There are twice as many angels as there are demons. Rev. 12:4 The Bible attributes the power of mediums, psychics, and the paranormal to demons.1 John 5:19, 1 Timothy 4:1 Demons are highly organized strategic schemers under the direction of Satan. Ephesians 6:10-12 Demons cannot possess a Christian or make you do anything. 1 John 4:4 Demons believe Jesus is the Son of God, and they fear Him. James 2:19, Luke 4:41 How do we recognize demonic activity? Infatuation with death, self-harm, an

Wrestling is Real

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The NBA is totally rigged. They know who's going to win a NASCAR race before they even get started. The Bachelor is a complete manipulation of emotion.  "Wrasslin' is real!" Growing up in the South, there were two things you could count on happening every Saturday night. The Braves would lose, and then we'd watch " wrasslin' ." It was the Four Horsemen and the Von Erichs. It was Ricky the Dragon Steamboat vs. Randy Macho Man Savage. It was The Rock 'n' Roll Express vs. The Fabulous Freebirds and it had nothing to do with Lynard Skynard. Wrasslin' was a southern man's soap opera.  Then you turn 40, and some guy tells you that NASCAR is real and that wrasslin is fake. Yeah right. That same guy probably believes in Bigfoot.  So "wrasslin" may not be what we thought it was, but there is another wrestling the Bible reveals that is very real. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the

Integrity

To be undefeated, you must be undivided. For three centuries, the Roman army conducted morning inspections. Each soldier put on his armor and stood before a Centurion. The Centurion would look over the soldier and then strike the breastplate over his heart. The Centurion listened for two sounds. The first was the distinct ring of well-kept armor. The second was the reply of the soldier, "Integritas."  Integritas is a Latin word that means wholeness, completeness, entirety. We now use the word integrity to speak of a person of good character. A person with integrity is morally sound. He is undivided. By the late 4th century, the laziness of Roman culture also crept into the military. There were no more morning drills. Because the soldiers rarely wore it, the armor started to feel heavy and cumbersome. Inspections became infrequent. Soon the soldiers chose to wear less armor. In 410 AD Rome was sacked by the Visigoths. The Roman army fell to an inferior enemy it had successfull

Your Time in Quarantine, Kill It or Make it Count

In 2014 a Swedish gravedigger named Fredrik Colting released a watch he called  The Tikker . The purpose of The Tikker is to help you make every second count. Unlike standard watches, The Tikker does not tell you what time it is; The Tikker tells you how much time you have left. The Tikker tells you how many years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds you have before you die. The Tikker doesn't know precisely when you are going to die, but by using an algorithm that calculates factors such as age, health, and lifestyle, it makes a prediction. And while some may see this as a morbid piece of wrist jewelry, the purpose of The Tikker is to help you make every second count. Colting says about his unique watch "The occurrence of death is no surprise to anyone, but in modern society we rarely think about it. I think that if we were more aware of our own expiration I'm sure we'd make better choices while we are alive." Colting's Tikker captures the concer

Invest Your Time in Quarantine

Invest your time in quarantine. My mother worked 35 years for the same bank. She held several different positions over her time there, but the one I found most interesting was her time in the investment department. My mother's job was to take people's money and turn it into more.  When it comes to time, we cannot turn it into more. We are only given so much time in an hour, a day, a year, and a life (Job 14:5). Though we cannot make more time, we can invest it in a way that gives our time more value. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:16,  "Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16 We have to make wise use of our time. Why? "Because the days are evil." What does it mean that the days are evil? Having time is not necessarily a good thing. So you may have been given a lot of extra time while in quarantine. There's a danger in having this time if you don't do something useful with it. Because of our sin nature, we are not v

What to do with Your Time In Quarantine (1 of 3)

I think we would all describe the social isolation response to the coronavirus pandemic as a slight change of schedule. Depending on how long this goes on, what are you going to do with your time in quarantine? I'm typically very busy. But I suddenly went from needing more time to needing to know what to do with my time. How about you? Ephesians 5:15-17 says something important about time. The Bible calls us to make the best use of our time.  Look carefully then how you walk , not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 Another translation of "make the best use of time" is to redeem the time. Redeem means to add value to your time. So how do we make our time in quarantine a valuable time? Use It or Lose It We are always spending time. You can save money, but despite the saying, you really can't save time. Once it's gone, you don&#

The Church As an Assault on Evil

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Jesus did not intend for the church to be an escape from the world, but an assault on evil.  On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The speech became known as  The Moon Shot Speech . While a commitment to the moon was undoubtedly the most memorable part of the speech, the moon shot was not the main subject of his address. Kennedy's comments on space came in section IX, just before the conclusion. The focus of the speech was on the growing threat of communism. Kennedy sought to persuade Congress to use the power of America's economy to fight communism around the world.  We reached the moon. But in response to that speech, Congress allocated more money to the U.S. military for the formation of elite units of special forces. Kennedy's speech and Congress' decision paved the way for the establishment of the U.S. Navy SEALs. The Navy Seals would be the first special ops unit able to assault an enem

Why We Are Better When We Suffer

"The fall of Christianity in America will be its lack of persecution." - Francis Schaeffer I visited the persecuted church in a middle eastern nation and listened to their horrors and hardships. Our small contingent sat in silence. As our time with them drew to a close, I heard a stunning statement. "I know that as Americans you will pray for our persecution to end. Do not pray for persecution to end. Pray for our perseverance. We are better when we suffer." That statement was stunning because it was spoken over a theological divide. They pray for perseverance. We pray for prosperity. Paul voices a prayer for the persecuted church (2 Thess. 1:5). He does not pray for persecution to end, but for it to fulfill God's purpose. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, accor

How to Believe in the Second Coming of Christ and Not Sound Like an Idiot

One of the Bible's most hopeful teachings has become one of the church's most divisive doctrines.  Jesus made it clear that He will return and make all things new. He told us the "what" but he did not tell us the "when." Jesus is like that friend of yours that shows up unannounced. You're glad to see them, but it would have been nice to have a heads up.  But it's this unknown "when" that has caused a quag for the church. We have turned various opinions into ridiculous arguments. We need to believe in Jesus' return, but how can we talk about it without sounding like idiots? Here is some helpful advice from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (read the passage and then continue). Read the Bible (1 Thess 4:13-15) The big issue with the return of Jesus is ignorance (4:13). Ignorance is a lack of information. So Paul begins to dispense the information and calls it "a word from the Lord (4:15)."  YouTube  is not a wise source to alleviate igno

How to Encourage Your Pastor

How can you encourage your pastor? Be his Elliot. In the classic film E.T. , a boy named Elliot befriends an abandoned alien. Spoiler alert: Eventually, E.T. gets sick and begins to die. The plot twist is that Elliot gets sick as well. Elliot's life was in E.T.'s life.  Pastors have a deep connection to their congregation. It's like E.T. and Elliot. A pastor's emotions are tied to the congregation's fluctuations. There was a guy in our congregation who would often say to me, "Don't take it personally." Bro. It's always personal to pastors. It was personal to Paul. Notice how Paul responds to the report. It's E.T. and Elliot. For this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 1 Thess. 3:7-8 Here are three ways you can encourage your pastor. Prayerfulness (1 Thess. 3:9-10) In Paul's response, we see a partnership in prayer .

Torn Away but Not Torn Apart

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When things are torn away we need not be torn apart. As a child, my friend moved away. It was awful. As a teen, my first real girlfriend dumped me. Heartbreak hurts. As a man, I'll never forget watching them wheel my father's body out of his bedroom. That pain was indescribable. Paul uses two words that come close. Torn away.  "But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person, not in heart, we endeavored more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face." 1 Thess 2:17 Whenever and however you may lose someone, you understand what Paul means by "torn away." Things and people will be torn away, but Biblical faith establishes us so that we may not be torn apart. How so? Relational Connection Paul uses an odd phrase for our digital culture , "face to face (2:17)." They needed more than a message. They needed a face, so Timothy went to them (3:1) so that he could "learn about your faith (3:5)." The Holy Spir

Give Information, Be an Illustration

To share the gospel give information and be an illustration. My neighbor had a woodworking shop in his basement. For a young boy, the prospects of getting to run a saw were mesmerizing - and incredibly dangerous. But Mr. Ledbetter was a master. He would tell me how to do it. Show me how to do it. And then he would do it with me.  "Share the gospel" does not merely mean "tell the gospel." It also means "show the gospel."  We must give people Biblical information, but our lives must also be an illustration. Paul knew that his preaching would be "in vain (1 Thess. 2:1)" if his life was not an illustration of the gospel.  3 ways we illustrate the gospel: We are Willing to Suffer (1 Thess. 2:2) Paul suffered, and his readers saw it.  But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 1 Thess. 2:2 Some people will only be

What We Do Until When

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Our focus should not be on trying to figure out WHEN Jesus will return but on WHAT we should be doing until He does. When our daughter was in the 8th grade, she came home one day and informed us that there would be no school on Monday. My wife and I must have missed something. Monday wasn't a holiday or a scheduled break. Why were they canceling school on Monday? And then our daughter shared the news. "Jesus is coming back on Saturday." I lived through Edgar C. Whisenhunt's bestseller 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988. The third revision of that book was something about 23 reasons it would happen in 1993. And as ridiculous as those books sound now, I vividly recall the anxiety they brought me then.  When Christians try to figure out the WHEN of Jesus' return, it brings about fear and confusion. Jesus told us not to worry about the WHEN, but to rather get busy with the WHAT (Acts 1:7-8).  One of the oldest books in the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians, i

The Center of It All

Seeing Jesus at the center of it all centers us. Please allow me to share one of my weird thoughts without being judged. Do you ever drive by important places and wonder what they are doing in there? I do. What's a Monday like in  The Pentagon ? What are they serving for lunch in the West Wing of the  White House ? What are the brainiacs working on at the  Googleplex ? Exactly what's in Fort Knox?  While each of the buildings mentioned above has tight security and guarded secrets, the Bible gives us a clear view of the center of it all. In Revelation 4, John sees an open door into the throne room of Heaven, and it is quite a sight. And before the throne, there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy,

Special Revelation vs. Paranormal Information

You are much better off living by God's special revelation (the Bible) than seeking paranormal information. Everyone wants a leg up in life. If we could get some insight beyond our senses, perhaps information about our future, we could make life-changing decisions.  Our culture is fascinated by the paranormal. From conspiracy theories to reality TV, from dabbles with ouija boards to psychics and horoscopes, even if a person does not consider himself to be a "spiritist" we do show a great deal of interest.  The Bible warns us of such interest and commands us to avoid it. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be