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Archive for November, 2010

If a “higher power” can be chosen, is it really a higher power?

November 29, 2010 1 comment

How do I choose a “higher power”? Isn’t that a contradiction?

By definition, a “higher power” is stronger and higher than me, right? If I choose a “higher power,” then is that really a higher power if I can choose it? Who REALLY is the higher power? I submit to you that the higher power is the one doing the choosing which is me!

But not in Christianity…I love the fact that Jesus CHOSE me! John 15:16 stated to His disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and abear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that bwhatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”**

To all of us, the Bible tells us that we are chosen by God in Ephesians 1:4: “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”**

I am not saying we are chosen. God is saying we are His chosen children whom He adopts into His family. I had nothing to do with it my adoption.

God is truly a Higher Power and THE only Higher Power because He chose me!

-Mark (chosen by God not because I’m good but because He is good)
**The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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Billy Bob Thornton’s quote

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Read in the November 26, 2010, Birmingham News a quote from Billy Bob Thornton that revealed his worldview. He was talking about the characters in his new movie called “Faster” (not an endorsement of the movie, by the way, although it might be ok, just haven’t seen nor will I with theater prices!).

Billy Bob said this: “Also I like characters that, at their core, are good people but they just go down the wrong road.”

This quote exactly defines how the world views man: there are good people and bad people. If a basically good person chooses to go down the wrong path, then that explains their bad behavior. I guess bad people always choose bad paths!

Biblically, we know this quote is wrong since “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All means all choose to sin not because they are good and choose bad or sinfully, but because they are born with a sinful nature and thus make choices that are sinful.

In other words, people aren’t sinners because they sin, people sin because they are sinners.

I like Mr. Thornton and a few of his movies, but his worldview is dead wrong and will lead many astray. The truth is that we all are bad people in need of God’s rescue and we ALL will walk down the wrong path until Jesus intervenes on our behalf and redirects us. That’s called repentance! We all need to be redirected from living for the path of destruction and begin walking down the path of the glory of God!

-Mark (thankful for the opportunity to think biblically by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me – I Timothy 1:14)

Admission is not Confession!

November 27, 2010 Leave a comment

In the self-help programs, the first step is to ADMIT you are powerless. It’s not a confession but an admission. There is a big difference. Anyone can admit a problem but confession is an admission to God rendering a change of heart through repentance.

Someone in the Bible in Exodus 9:27 and Exodus 10:16 “admitted” his problem but it didn’t bring a change of heart.

Confession brings heart change when the Holy Spirit is involved. Confession is agreement with God Who calls your sin “sin” and not a disease and then has provided a Savior for you to forgive you of your sin. All of this is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a believer.

Proverbs 28:13 reminds us: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

-Mark (I want mercy. I need mercy.)

Using Perfect Imperfectly

November 25, 2010 Leave a comment

We use the word “perfect” to describe imperfect things in this fallen world. Does the word “perfect” really mean “perfect” anymore? Not so much!

We describe the “perfect” human body and no one really has a perfect body.

We look on the outward appearance of a person and mistakenly think of people as perfect. Unfortunately, we are often wrong.

Not God, though, since He looks at the heart (I Sam. 16:7). Only God is perfect. He alone is worthy to receive that label of perfection since He is holy and perfect.

So the next time you are tempted to use the word “perfect” in a sentence, think through whether the object you are describing really is perfect. If the object is not God, then chances are it’s not perfect!

-Mark (looking forward to a new language with accurate words in heaven)

Recent message I taught on “Being a Counseling Ministry” not just having one!

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

No video, but the audio can be heard of a message I taught recently on 11-21-10 entitled:

“Having or Being a Counseling Ministry”

Go to http://bethelnet.com/audio/11-21-10pm.mp3 to hear this message.

If you are interested in beginning a local counseling ministry in your church, then call us today at 205-910-0085 and we will help you get started as best we can. That is what we are called to do!

-Mark (grateful to the Lord for His message of truth found in His Word of truth!)

Been learning how to die…

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Can I share with you some lyrics from a song I love to listen to because it’s got the right perspective?

“Learning How To Die” by Jon Foreman

I’m gonna miss you
I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone
She says, “I love you
I’m gonna miss hearing your songs”

And I said, “Please,
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing goes away”
She said, “Friend,
All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to live not how to cry
But really I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”

Hey everyone
I got nowhere to go
The grave is lazy
He takes our body slow

And I said, “Please,
Don’t talk about the end
Don’t talk about how every living thing goes away”
She said, “Friend,
All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend not how to break
How to laugh not how to cry
But really I’ve been learning how to die
I’ve been learning how to die”
Die…Die…
I’ve been learning how to die

Seems sad, doesn’t it? Death is always sad. A sad reminder of our sin of disobedience. God warned Adam and Eve about eating the forbidden fruit and experiencing death in Genesis 2.

But the Bible talks a lot about a proper perspective on life that views death as a reality. Our culture wants to deny death and look away from it. We all face death because of our sins. The Bible tells us to crucify our flesh, deny ourselves, take up our cross, die daily to self, and to live without regard for today but with eternity in view. God wants us to know that our eternal destination AFTER death is wonderful.

I am convinced heaven is better than we can even imagine. It will be better than great! I look forward to it.
For now, though, I am like the apostle Paul who said this in Philippians 1:20-26: “…as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”

-Mark (looking forward to heaven in His presence forever…it does not get any better than that!)

“My Pastor can’t counsel someone! He’s not qualified!”

November 21, 2010 2 comments

Think of one of your favorite preachers/teachers either in the Birmingham area or around the country. Quite likely, this pastor would be a godly man, full of integrity and passion for Christ and the lost, and very knowledgeable. So would this pastor be a good counselor? Would you want to meet with this pastor for biblical counseling? Probably so.

Yet in the state of Alabama, a pastor is not qualified as a licensed professional counselor unless he has taken certain courses in school, had a supervised internship, and passed the licensing exams. He would have to know a lot about psychology to pass the exams but biblical knowledge isn’t necessary to pass those exams. So, technically, the state would not allow this pastor who may be a wonderful pastor/teacher of the Word of God to “counsel” others. He’s not qualified by state standards but is he qualified by God’s standards?

Consider this question: What is this pastor NOT qualified to use in counseling? He’s not qualified to counsel using psychological theories! He cannot (nor would he) claim to be a licensed professional counselor because that type of counsel is not what he is offering. He is not offering the ideas of a man but the truths of God.

To the above, I say: “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord that your pastor cannot use psychology to counsel others. Praise the Lord that he is ‘limited’ to using the Holy Scriptures ONLY for the counsel he gives to others as a pastor/teacher! Praise His Name!”

That’s what I say! I see it as a blessing not a curse that your pastor must only use the Scriptures to help others! I am “limited” in that way, too, but it’s no limitation because Hebrews 4:12 states:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
*

What else do we need to discern the heart of mankind other than God’s Word and the Holy Spirit? Nothing!

Your pastor IS a competent biblical counselor who is equipping others to do the work of discipleship through biblical counseling!

I would take your pastor any day to counsel me regardless of what the state of Alabama says qualifies someone to counsel.

-Mark (grateful to the Lord for your pastor and hoping he understands that he is a counselor to others from the Word of God)

*The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Heb 4:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.