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Did Jesus ever give anyone a Prozac?

August 27, 2010 1 comment

Why do we offer people anything less than Christ?

I love what Peter says in Acts 3:6 in the following historical account about a beggar crying out for alms (I liken it to crying out for a medication like Prozac) when what he really needed was Christ but he had no idea about his real needs:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

Yes, you may call me radical but I simply think people need only to know Jesus Christ so that’s what I tell them. I don’t recommend Prozac (I’m not a doctor) nor do I recommend anything less than Christ.

What else is there to offer someone? Where else is there real hope for transformation?

-Mark (I love to read about the early fathers of the faith who pointed people only to God)

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Statistics are misleading

August 23, 2010 Leave a comment

We keep all like statistics. We like to know how many teens are on drugs, how many marriages end in divorce (over 50%), and stats like those.

But when the goal is wrong, the statistic will be wrong, too.

Someone we know and love recommended we keep stats on certain things in our ministry. We agreed and we do that. But our overall goal cannot be measured in a statistic though it is always measured. Always, by God, that is.

Our primary goal is not JUST to reconcile marriages, see people get off of drugs, or even lead people to Christ – though those are ALL good goals and ALL of them are our SECONDARY goals. We want God to move in our ministry and He does to achieve those secondary goals! Praise His Name!

But our PRIMARY goal is to please God and to glorify His Name. Therefore, we must accurately speak His TRUTH in the LOVE of the Holy Spirit to the glory of His Name. Sometimes, we do that and someone chooses to reject Christ or His answers to their problems. That happens.

In those cases where someone rejects Christ, our secondary goal statistics will be lowered; however, our primary goal of pleasing God is the same because all we can do is present His truth in His love. We lay the truth out there with CLARITY and then the person has a decision to make whether to reject it or accept it. When we do our part, we honor God and He is pleased.

Now, it is possible for us to lower our statistics on primary goal #1. This happens when we are not bold enough to speak the truth OR not loving enough. Either of those things happen when our FLESH gets in the way of the Holy Spirit so we must always be careful to allow Christ to do His work through us! This is a big responsibility because we do not want to quench the Holy Spirit.

So our statistics may be misleading to you, but it is possible for us to be 100% on our first goal to glorify God. That’s the only stat that counts because it’s eternal and it’s to please the Lord!

What a great way to live!

-Mark (thankful that my statistics don’t get me into heaven!)

What if Tiger Woods became a Christian?

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I heard Voddie Baucum mention this in one of his sermons: “What if Tiger Woods became a born-again believer in Christ? Would Christianity become more popular?”

Voddie’s answer made me stagger. He said (in my paraphrase): “Tiger wouldn’t make Christianity cool. Christianity would make Tiger Woods un-cool.”

Now, all of this was stated long before Tiger’s recent personal problems due to his own sinful choices.

Think about any celebrity. When they get saved, they no longer become relevant but often become irrelevant. Why? Because the world does not embrace Christianity. It does not make sense to a lost and dying world.

I Corinthians 1:18 says: “For the word of the cross is folly to cthose who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”**

So why do we preach this foolish message? Because some will be saved. Romans 10:9 simply reminds us:
“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”**

It involves simply a heart change by the Holy Spirit alone. No other power can save us but God’s power. It’s Him not us!

**The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Co 1:18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

-Mark (grateful that salvation does not depend upon me though I must do my part to throw the seeds of grace out there to whosoever will…)

Are you in recovery or being transformed?

July 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Some of you reading this blog are in recovery from an addiction.

Others of you reading are being transformed from an addiction.

So what’s the difference?

I’m going to lay it very plainly to you like this and I hope you don’t get offended: Unbelievers are in recovery. Believers in Christ are being transformed.

2 Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 8:29 tell us that God’s goal for us is to be transformed into the likeness and image of His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. So, for Christians who believe in Christ for eternal life, they are being transformed into Jesus daily for the glory of God.

However, for unbelievers, they are simply recovering from an addiction and surviving. They are what they once were and are simply clean and sober.

But the goal for Christians is NOT just clean and sober. It’s “Be Transformed” into His image!

According to the Word, unbelievers are going nowhere good eternally. They are going to hell. They have nothing to look forward to so this life is all they have. They are recovering from a problem and in an improved condition though it is still a FATAL condition with no hope eternally.

Believers have hope. Hope to be transformed. Hope to have the power of Christ to say “no” to addiction and say “yes” to Christ.

So are you being transformed or are you simply in recovery?

-Mark (I am being transformed and it feels good!)

Is God against you right now? If so, why?

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember James 4:6 states: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

The picture I think of is playing tennis against God. When we are proud, we are on the opposite side of the net against God and there is no way we are going to win against Him in tennis!

Is God opposing you right now? Do you feel like He is against you? Maybe He is. If He is, why? Have you humbled yourself before Him?

Have you begged for mercy, grace, forgiveness, and wisdom (James 1:5)? God gives grace to the humble – to those who say, “I don’t have the answers, God, but You do. Please help me!” and then those that are willing to obey Him.

Sometimes when I pray, I say, “God, I’m not hearing You right now and I know the problem is on my end not Yours! Will you forgive me and speak to me through Your Word and by Your Spirit? I need to hear from You! Please give me Your wisdom. I am a weak and needy man who only needs You.”

-Mark (glad God is leading me and not opposing me today only because of Christ)

A Christmas Paradigm Shift

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment

You know why most of us like Christmas? I think part of the reason is because the season gives us a reason to splurge on ourselves! We give with the expectation of receiving in return.

Think about it: what do children do? Make a list of things THEY want and give it to Santa. You know what this does? It breeds disappointment with high expectations when the child does NOT get what is on the list. 

So how can Christians like you and I be counter-cultural and biblical since the Bible teaches self-denial NOT self-esteem or self-fulfillment apart from Christ?

My wife and I didn’t do the list thing this year. Instead, we made a list of people we could give TO. We also listed things from our home we could sacrificially give away to needy families we know. Not our worse things, but some of our better and best things that we are still using!

We want our children to be givers not consumers. Self-less rather than selfish. Don’t you want your children to be like Jesus Who gave without an expectation of return? I do. Otherwise, I’m just bringing up children who are going to be consumed by consumerism and just like this world rather than like Jesus Christ.

Was Jesus a consumer or a giver? Can you imagine Jesus making a Christmas list of His wants to mail to Santa? Ridiculous thought yet we are to be LIKE HIM.

Make your children’s expectations low this year by teaching them to be like King Solomon when he prayed in I Kings 3 for wisdom – not for himself – but so that he could serve the Lord by serving His children better!!! This prayer was inspired by God, the great Giver of all good gifts according to James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jas 1:17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Let’s give this Christmas with no expectation of receiving! Let’s be like our Father of lights and be a light that realizes it’s much better to give than to receive! Let’s glorify the Lord and not get caught up in a secular season that has made it all about SELF rather than about Jesus HIMSELF.

-Mark (wanting to shift our thinking from self to Christ, especially during Christmas!)

P.S. We say, “Jesus is the reason for the season” but we sing about Santa, reindeer, mistletoe, snow, and all the stuff we get in this life that is temporary. Let’s set our minds on things above (Col.3:1-3), especially now during Christmas!

TV, Videogame, and Internet “Addiction” or “Idolatry”?

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

This may sound harsh at first, but people want to claim that excessive videogame playing is an “addiction” but that is not true if you begin with the Word of God. The Bible says it’s  a sin. Specifically, it’s idolatry, or a false god that they are completely devoted to more than anything or anyone else.

Sadly, any SIN causes problems in a person’s life. God hates sin because it separates the sinner from Him and from others who love the sinner. Such is the case for a very successful tennis player according to this article on Yahoo:

http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/blog/busted_racquet/post/Andy-Murray-gets-dumped-for-playing-too-many-vid?urn=ten,206655

It’s not a sin to play a videogame; however, it is a sin to play for 7 hours a day or more since the sinner is neglecting to fulfill his/her God-given responsibilities.

The real problem is what the sinner is FAILING to do while playing the games, or watching TV, or surfing the internet. It’s a sin of omission.

But there’s good news for this famous tennis player and for all of us: Confess your sin &  ask God to forgive you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and He will (I John 1:9). Then, when you are right with God, ask others to forgive you and begin repenting (changing your thinking and acting) by fulfilling your God-given responsibilities and you will find blessing. There is an abundance of grace and mercy found in the Person of Jesus Christ!

When we call sin “sin” and not an “addiction,” we find the forgiveness of Christ. Correct terminology is vital to biblical counseling and salvation!

-Mark (thankful the Lord forgives my idolatry and all of my sins – past, present, & future)