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Christians in America are raising Americans, not Christians

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

There is a difference in being an American and a Christian. The two are NOT the same. Which one are you raising: an American or a Christian?

Christians should be raising their children to be Christians first. Muslims are raising their children to be Muslims so why aren’t Christians raising their children to be Christians?

Most Christians do not know the Word of God. Compare that to Muslims who study and memorize the Koran at an early age. How many American Christians require their children to memorize large chunks of Scripture? Not many. Maybe a Bible verse here and there but not whole passages!

Are you raising a Christian or just another American? The church is dying largely because the faith of the fathers and grandfathers in Christ is NOT being passed on. They are teaching their children to know and embrace the very Word of God!

Instill those values into your children today! Teach them to be real followers of Christ, or Christians. In other words, disciple them to be disciples of Christ!

-Mark (thankful for God’s Word that guides us, indwells us, and enables us to obey and glorify Him)

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Zaccheus and Rich Young Ruler – two rich men, two different decisions

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Luke 18 & 19 tell us the biblical accounts of two rich men: Zaccheus and the rich young ruler. I don’t think these chapters were written by Dr. Luke accidentally in this order. Let’s take a quick look.

Both men were rich but both made very different decisions in response to meeting Christ. The decisions had nothing to do with money and everything to do with their hearts. One of them was unwilling to give himself and everything he owned to Him. He refused to surrender to Christ. The rich young ruler walked away from Jesus! Imagine that…how very sad!

The other man, Zaccheus, was truly submitted to Christ. His riches became secondary to His obedience to Christ. He gave his all to follow Christ.

How important are riches to you?

How will you respond to the radical call of Christ to give Him everything: yourself, your children, your finances, your home, your ______ – you fill in the blank! He wants it all.

I urge you to give radically to God’s work today! Give your time, treasures, and talents to advance the kingdom!

-Mark (wanting to be more like Zaccheus)

Utter Distrust of Self?

June 30, 2010 Leave a comment

I read a Christian leader say recently that the early church leaders had an “utter distrust of themselves and a living trust in God” as they traveled and established the local churches in the book of Acts. 

I don’t know about you, but it was a refreshing thought to me since I live in day where religious leaders tend to trust themselves more than Christ Who is their Head.

We are to trust Him not ourselves. In fact, I have found nowhere in the Bible that says, “Trust yourself. Do what you think is right. Do what you feel.”

On the contrary, I read the opposite in Proverbs 3:5-8 below:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
   and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your flesh
   and refreshment to your bones.”

Nothing in this passage says, “trust your heart.” Nothing there to indicate that! In fact, the Lord says He will make straight your paths which means you are going to walk down crooked paths if not for His power to straighten your paths.

Let’s trust God and do what He says to do in His Word. Let’s get rid of “our experience” as the standard of living and live by faith according to His standards in the Scriptures. This is a key for both biblical counselors and counselees.

-Mark (utterly distrusting myself yet learning to trust Him daily as I walk and He straightens)

Jesus CHOSE a Betrayer!

June 24, 2010 Leave a comment

One of my favorite verses is in Ephesians 1:4 and simply says: “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” There is much more in that chapter but this little statement reminds me that there is no good deed I can do to earn salvation and that He had planned to choose me to serve Him. The fix was in and I’m glad it was! 

Jesus backs up this assertion in John 6:60-71 below:

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.”

People argue about whether or not God chooses us or we choose Him. How about both happen but that He chooses us and draws us first? He draws us by His grace and gives us faith to then choose Him though He has chosen us long before.

In fact, Jesus even chose a betrayer in Judas. Chosen by God to betray His Son. How interesting!

Is God sovereign? “Sovereign” means “that God answers to no one.” Does He owe you and I an explanation for His choices? I think not. He is God. We are His created beings. It is by grace we have been saved and NONE can boast!

Ephesians 2:1-10: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

-Mark (grateful He chose me long before I chose Him; in that sense, Jesus chose another betrayer: ME! yet He is in me and changing me into His image day by day – praise His Name)

NOTE: All verses taken from The English Standard Version of the Bible.

Can you “scare someone away from God”?

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I read a blog recently that someone said somthing like this: “We don’t want to scare anyone away from God with too much truth.”

What?

How can you “scare” someone away from God who is ALREADY away from God in the first place?

All people are born lost and bound for hell. Everyone according to Romans 3:2-26 is lost and God owes NO ONE eternal life:  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

In other words, God is gracious to give mercy to those who have faith in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. Not everyone will be saved. Everyone is lost without His grace that is greater than all of our sins!

What’s wrong in our thinking is that we think God owes us eternal life but He does not owe anyone eternal life? In fact, no one deserves it. So all are lost and bound for hell except by God’s grace!

That ought to make us motivated to share the Gospel with others knowing that it is the good news of salvation for every type of sin. If that truth is told and someone rejects it as truth, it is on them – not on us who have “scared them away.” They are responsible for rejecting God’s truth.

I didn’t think up the Gospel. It’s God’s idea. It’s His truth. I urge you to share it with reckless abandon and without fear of scaring people away! What a lie from Satan! God is bigger than you and I and Satan and this world’s lies. No one can be scared away from Him WHEN He is drawing them to Himself (read Ephesians 1-3 by Paul and John 6:60-71 to see what Jesus said about those the Father draws to Himself).

Fact is we are all lost and when God draws us to Him, we cannot be scared away because it is His power not ours that saves! Think about that the next time you share the Gospel and/or biblically counsel. Be bold in Christ to share His truth!

And with confidence, we can share the Gospel because if God is drawing someone to Himself, there is no stopping it from happening!

-Mark (thankful I’m not powerful enough to turn people away from Christ IF He is drawing them to Himself)

Resurrection Sunday!

April 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Did you know that bunnies and eggs are NOT part of the original resurrection account in the Bible? They are nowhere to be found in the biblical account of the historical resurrection.

So where do chocolate eggs, bunnies, and even the word “Easter” come from? They have pagan origins. The word “Easter” even refers to a pagan goddess and pagan legends.

Centuries ago, Christians united with pagans for an Easter celebration. Today, we do not think anything of it but is it good to mix the sacred with the secular? Is it a distraction? Maybe it’s no big deal. Maybe it is.

Pagans worshipped fertility gods and celebrated with rabbits (who give birth to lots of rabbits – they multiply!) and eggs which are both symbols of fertility.

So, I’m not condemning you if you celebrate Easter (I prefer to call it “Resurrection Day”) or if you eat chocolate bunnies (I like them, too). I do not want to condemn – I merely want to tell you the truth in love so that you might consider these things.

Pure religion undefiled is to give to widows and orphans. It’s giving. Let’s make the holidays about giving to others and about serving Him and NOT about what we can receive because we’ve already received the greatest gift of all: eternal life!

Do some real research to see if these things are true. Find out the truth about this holiday. Most of all, read about the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and get encouragement from Him.

I assure you of this. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has to do only with the power of God and no pagan traditions!

-Mark (celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ today – so thankful He died and was raised from the dead)

A fatal disease? Or a responsible choice?

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Seems like many shows keep coming out on this “tsunami” of a problem commonly called “addiction” (the Bible calls it “enslavement” and “idolatry” which still holds the person responsible for sinful choices that feed the problem).

Dr. Drew Pinsky from the secular perspective is passionate about helping “addicts” as am I. But we have 2 different views on the heart of the problem. Therefore, we have 2 different view on the SOLUTION to the problem. I know it is Christ alone who forgives all sins and heals all diseases!

Watch this 8 minute clip from the Today Show:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35888659#35888659

Dr. Pinsky calls it a “fatal disease” and not a “theory of disease” which is what it is: A THEORY. It used to be called the “disease concept” or “theory of disease” but NOW everyone seems to call it a “disease.” Still a theory even though everyone now calls it a fact. Just because 2 men 80 years ago call something a “theory of disease” doesn’t make something truly a disease! This is philosophy (see Col. 2:8)!

I spoke to a Spirit-filled man (I will not say his name) recently who is leading the way of battling all “addictions” in Alabama. He explained it like this: “I have to face the facts. And the facts tell me that it’s not a disease. Even if they call it a ‘disease,’ my Bible still tells me in Psalm 103:3 that God ‘heals all your diseases.’ I see too many people around this program who are set free and no longer struggle with a disease because God has transformed them by the power of His might. I have to face those facts.”

The faith-based can never mix with the secular. The ideas are in oppositon!

Then, at the end of this clip, Dr. Pinsky blames things OUTSIDE of the person as he says: “the things that trigger bad addiction in young actors is the same thing that triggers bad addiction in anyone…abuse, family dysfunction.” Well, if it is a genetic, brain disease, then WHY do things OUTSIDE of the person trigger an internal disease?

They will argue that it’s like diabetes and you have choices that lead to “addiction.” I get that argument. Sounds logical and has a hint of truth in it because of the responsibility. However, the idea that “addiction” is “incurable, progressive, and fatal” and that one must cope with it forever is not what the leader in Alabama knows to be true. He has observed the transformational power of Christ who offers real hope and not just “cope.”

“Addiction” looks like a disease and there is a powerful physical component to it but our God triumphs over all diseases. “Addiction” looks like a disease because it is idolatry which ultimately enslaves the idolater who becomes powerless to get out of the cycle of idolatry. Only the power of Christ rescues someone from idolatry, or addiction.

For more on the biblical approach to addiction, go to http://www.rpmministries.org/2010/02/the-heart-of-addiction-a-biblical-perspective/ and get that book!

Brothers and Sisters, the world’s approach ultimately offers no hope but cope because they cannot offer Christ. Some people get clean and sober but that is not JUST our goal. We want to see people saved and reconciled to Christ.

At least Kirk Cameron, a devoted, solid Christian man, was on this clip to point people to God as the answer though his understanding of addiction from a biblical perspective is limited. Maybe I’ll ask one of you to send Kirk a book called The Heart of Addiction by M. Shaw! I would say to send it to Dr. Pinsky but I don’t think he’d read it. If he would, maybe he’d come to know Christ! On second thought, that’s a great idea, too! I’d love to see that man know Christ (John 17:3).

-Mark (if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed – John 8:36 – I believe Him and take Him at His Word!)