"The key to understanding the Bible is to look for Jesus in the Bible. Jesus is the hero of the Bible. If you read the Bible and don't find Jesus, re-read it! The Bible has one hero, His name is Jesus; one villain, that is Satan; one problem, that is sin; one solution, that is salvation. That is what the Bible is all about." -Dr. Adrian Rogers

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bringing the Family Unit Back to the Church

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15

Recently I had a discussion with my mother about where the youth sit in our church. You see, in recent years, it has become commonplace in many churches to have a section somewhere in the sanctuary set aside specifically for the youth so that they can all sit together during the worship service. However, I have never been a proponent of this. When I was growing up, I always sat with my family, and I felt that everyone else should do the same. Back then, church was a family thing—families coming together to worship together. Now, I look around and I see groups, but they’re not families. You have the young people over here, the newlyweds over here, the singles over there, the middle-aged over there, the senior adults in that corner; it makes no sense whatsoever. The church talks about the breakdown of the family unit, yet I’m afraid that the church is one of the main causes. We must realize once again that families who worship together stay together.

Dale Evans once said, “I think big families are wonderful and together can withstand fire, flood, anything. We need more big families in this nation—where people band together in a common good.” That’s what the family was designed to be. Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (emphasis added). What better way to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) than in a family setting? We must bring back the family unit within the church.

I remember reading in Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s book A Love that Multiplies about a decision they made for their family early on about Sunday school. Being staunch believers in the family unit, Jim Bob and Michelle felt that it was imperative that they all worship together and learn together as a family. They learned that the pastor of their church taught a Sunday school class for the senior adults in the sanctuary of the church, so they approached him one Sunday to ask if it would be alright for their entire family to join the class so that they could all learn together as a family. The pastor agreed, and the entire Duggar family stayed in the class for years.

At first, I didn’t agree with the Duggars’ decision because I felt that each child could learn more in a class that was designed for his particular age group. After all, that is what Sunday school is all about, right? However, the more I thought about it, the more I began to see their point. It is good that you send your children to Sunday school, and it is equally as good that you see they make it to the worship service; but it is so much better when they can see you learning and worshiping right alongside them.

Whenever I think of something like this, my mind constantly goes back to an article written by my high school English teacher:

Furthermore, hymns are an enduring thread running through church history. Knowing that Christians throughout the centuries have sung the same rich songs should bind our hearts together and help transmit to our children and grandchildren the spiritual heritage that has been passed down more than 2,000 years. Martin Luther, St. Francis of Assisi, the Wesleys, Fanny Crosby — all are hymnwriters from various ages whose work is too rich to lose. We cannot allow the next generation to think that their faith exists alone!

Although I realize that we are not talking about hymns here, what she had to say about them is not completely off topic. It all boils down to her last sentence: “We cannot allow the next generation to think that their faith exists alone!” However, that’s the exact message we are sending to them when we allow ourselves to be segmented by age within the church. And they will continue to believe that they stand alone until we once again sit with them, stand with them, walk with them, talk with them, pray with them, worship with them, and grow with them together in the Word of God.

If you are here today and you have yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, I invite you to do so today before it is eternally too late for you. If you will simply turn from all sin and trust Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Where the Real Battle Lies

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
But against principalities, against powers,
Against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
Against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12

I saw on AOL the other day where New Jersey has decided that they will be the next state to legalize same-sex “marriage.” Does this bother me? To a degree, yes it does. However, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, I know that this is not where the real battle lies. The real problem is not the homosexual movement or even the homosexuals themselves. Neither is the problem corrupt judges who pass immoral laws. Therefore we ought not to be angry with these people, because the real problem goes much deeper than that. The Bible tells us that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities [and] powers.” The main problem here is sin; not the sinner himself.

I believe that the main reason we are seeing things like this happen in this country is that the church has lost its focus. We have taken our eyes off the main problem. Therefore, although we seek change and revival, we are going about it in the wrong way. Adrian Rogers said that “the Gospel is not intended to save civilization from wreckage; the Gospel is intended to save people from the wreckage of civilization.” That, my friends, is where our focus really ought to be. I think too often we try so hard to save civilization from men that we forget to save men from civilization. Does that make sense? We will never again have a true Christian nation until there are true Christians in this nation. And in order for that to happen, we must first seek and save the lost.

So I ask you: Are you against same-sex “marriage”? If so, why are you against it? Are you against it because it goes against the values this country was founded upon, or are you against it because it has the power to take people to Hell? We must be against it for the latter. That is the only biblical reason. And if we are against it for that reason and that reason alone, we will stop trying so much to save this nation and start trying to save the lost, for that is really the only way we will ever save this nation. A nation is made up of nothing more than the people who occupy it. If we want to save the nation, we must first save its people.

Do you know Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life? Do you know for certain that, if you die before you reach the end of this sentence, you will go to Heaven? If not, I suggest that you get it settled right now. Don’t wait. If you will simply turn from all sin (we call that repentance) and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Just a Call Away

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:13

A couple years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “Call Out and Be Saved.” In that post, I explained how Romans 10:13 applies to far more than just our eternal salvation. Well, today, I want to reiterate that because I feel that so many of us are struggling and dealing with unnecessary pain and confusion because we have not yet fully grasped what it means to call upon the name of the Lord that we might be saved.

One of my absolute favorite hymns says, “Oh, what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!” God has caused me to realize that I have not taken hold of the promise of Roman 10:13. I’ve tried to fight life’s battles on my own so many times, but I’ve never been able to win on my own. However, He has proven time and again that, when I call on His name, He will come to my rescue; He will see me through.

Maybe you’re here today and you’re fighting your own struggle. I don’t know what that is, but God does. Maybe you’ve never acknowledged Him as Lord of your life. If that’s so, I urge you today to give complete control over to Him. Repent of all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you. If you do that, He will save you today and keep you saved forever!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Living the Word

She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously,
but thou excellest them all.
Proverbs 31:27-29

I’m sure any regular readers that I have will soon become tired of reading about my grandmothers, but I will never become tired of writing about them. My grandmothers are my heroes. They are not my heroes merely because of who they are, my grandmothers, or because of what they have done. No. They are my heroes because of the things that they have done because of who they are. My grandmothers are also my heroes because of what they have taught me just by living their lives. My father’s mother in particular has taught me what it truly means to live, to love, to give the way that Jesus did, expecting nothing in return.

Perhaps the first time I ever noticed the selfless and giving spirit of my grandmother was around her dinner table. Anyone who has ever eaten at her house knows that my grandmother is always the last one in line to fix her plate (we’ve always eaten kind of buffet style, helping our plates from the kitchen counter before sitting down at the table). Not only that, but you will usually find my grandmother eating standing up at the kitchen counter because there are no seats left by the time she has finished serving everyone else. Someone will almost always offer her their seat, but she always refuses.

When I walk around my college campus and I look at the people around me, I don’t see juvenile delinquents. No. I see young people who are hurting because they have no heroes. I see a whole generation of people who have made their own way in life because they had no one to pattern their lives after; they had no one to rub off on them. They may have had parents and grandparents who made rules for them, but they had no living examples of Christ’s selfless, unchanging love; they had no one to model the Word of God for them. Parents, this is the biggest mistake you can ever make with your children.

I used to get so mad at my grandmother growing up because I thought she hated everything. But then one day I woke up and I realized that not only was she quoting the Bible, but she was living it. It’s one thing to teach your children something, but it’s another thing entirely to live it before their eyes. My grandmother is the most genuine person I know, and watching her has made me want to know Him more.

Parents, listen to me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: Your children may not always hear what you say, but they always notice the life that you live. Let them see you on your knees before the Lord. Let them see you leaning over an open Bible. Let them see you giving all you have for Him because He gave all He had for you. You make God’s Word come alive for them that they may truly see.

If you are here today and you do not know Jesus as the Lord of your life, I plead with you to please come to do so before it is eternally too late for you. If you will repent of all sin and trust Jesus Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever. No one who has ever come to Him in true repentance and faith has He ever turned away.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Question for Parents

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
-“Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green

For about a year or so now, I’ve been reading the blog of a lady who lost her mother to cancer about a year and a half ago. The blog is entitled If I Were My Mother, I’d Tell Myself. In her very first blog post, she says this: “There are so many life lessons I learned from her and am continuing to learn from her, even through her death. I want her legacy to live on. I want my children to know her. I don’t ever want to forget one thing about her. So, to honor who she was and what she stood for, I am going to continue to write about her.” This tells me two things. First, it tells me that this lady’s mother must have been one incredible woman. Secondly, it tells me that she must have had an incredible influence on her daughter in order for her daughter to want to keep her legacy alive. That’s what this blog post is all about. When you are dead and gone and your children sift through the reservoir of memories of your life, what will they find? Most importantly, where will it lead them?

Parents were meant to rub off on their children, and children were meant to want to grow up to be like their parents. However, in today’s world, it seems as though that has been reversed. Instead of what we should be seeing, we see children rubbing off on their parents and parents growing down to be like their children. This therefore leaves today’s generation with no foundation and no stability. No wonder we are seeing an increase in divorce rates and teen pregnancies. No wonder kids are going off to college only to become hooked on drugs, alcohol, and pornography. It all boils down to one thing. Parents are no longer setting the standard by which their children were meant to live.

At the end of the biography of Adrian Rogers written by his wife, Joyce, there is a collection of things written about him by various people on whom he had a tremendous influence. There you can find the following written by his daughter Gail: “I know of few children who could say they have never, a single time heard their father curse, lie, gossip, or belittle someone else. What my father is in the pulpit, he is in the home when no one is looking.” That tells me that Adrian Rogers set the standard by which his children were to live. Not only that, but he lived it. He did not just expect his children to do what he said; he expected them to live by his example. That is precisely the problem we are having today; parents are no longer being role models for their children.

When I think about my Granny, I think of the tree we read about in Jeremiah 17:8 that’s planted by the waters and “spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Granny was just the same one day as she was the next. Her life was totally predictable. We could always tell exactly what she was going to say before she even said it. No one ever had to question how she would react about something. My Granny gave us a firm, solid, and sturdy foundation to build on. She brought consistency and stability to our family, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

When I look around today, I see a generation of young people who are confused beyond measure. They have no one to look to for guidance because their parents have failed to provide the consistency and stability that they so desperately need. So I ask you again: When your children sift through the reservoir of the memories of your life, what will they find and where will it lead them?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Not Just Our Own

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;
hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Jude 1:23

Recently, a friend shared a picture on facebook that immediately got my attention. It was the same picture that I have included here. At first glance, this quote seems right nice. In fact, at first glance, this quote almost seems biblical. However, when we filter this quote through God’s infallible Word, we find that it is far from biblical. There is only one part of this quote that lines up with the Word of God, and that is the very first line. In fact, loving the sinner while hating the sin is exactly what Jude directly commands us to do.

If you really think about it, Jude only gives us two options. We can hate the sin and love the sinner, or we can ignore the sin and hate the sinner. I know what Mark Lowry was thinking. He was probably thinking that it seems unloving to hate someone else’s sin. However, Jude tells us that it is actually unloving to not hate the sins of others. You see, it is sin that will cast your neighbor into Hell. If you really love your neighbor, you will convince him of the reality of his own sin, that he might repent of it and turn to Christ.

If you have not yet acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, I invite you to do so today. If you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Though I Do Not See

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
John 20:29

It’s been a good long while since I last posted to this blog. To tell you the truth, I just haven’t felt much like writing these last few months. You see, there are some things in my life that just aren’t going as planned right now. Ever since I was a young kid and heard my Granny tell stories about growing up with nine brothers and sisters, I always dreamed of growing up, getting married, and having a large family. However, when the first phase of that dream seems impossible to complete, I get discouraged; and at times, it’s hard to believe that God really does have a plan for my life. That’ when He reminds me of the above verse: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I’ll be twenty-two at the end of this month. I almost dread my birthday this year because it means that I am another year older with precious little to show for it. All around me I see people my age getting engaged, getting married, and having children. It’s depressing, really. I’m not the kind of person that believes in putting off marriage and family for college or a career. No. I always dreamed of getting married right of high school. I always thought I’d have a couple little kids running around by now, but I obviously don’t. Marriage is nowhere in sight, and I still have a year and half of college left. So sometimes it’s easy for me to look at my life and say, “Lord, what are You doing”? The answer’s always the same: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Friend, God knows what He’s doing. It’s up to us to trust Him and to remember that “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). It has been well said that, when we can’t trace His hand, we can trust His heart. Therefore, though I cannot see, I choose to believe that He still has plan for me.

Do you know Him today? Have you chosen to believe the One you cannot see? Have you experienced the blessing of eternal life that He gives freely to all who trust in Him? If you will simply turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Think About This

"An ineffably holy God, who has the utmost abhorrence of sin,
was never invented by any of Adam's descendants."
- A.W. Pink

Just think about the above quote for a minute. We’ve all heard people say that God was invented by man. However, what man, who by nature loves his sin, would create a perfect and holy God who hates sin with all of His being?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Jesus Said “Go…Preach!”

There is none that seeketh after God.
Romans 3:11

Have you ever heard someone say something like the following: “Everyone, down deep in his heart, is searching and longing for God”? We’ve all heard that, right? I know I have. In fact, I heard it preached to hundreds of students just a few short hours ago. However, God has put me here to tell you today that that statement is a lie straight from Hell. Anyone who has ever read Romans 3:11 knows that is true. When the Bible says, “There is none that seeketh after God,” it truly means that there has never been nor will there ever be any unsaved person who is looking for God in any way, shape, or form; therefore Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

If every person, in his own way down deep in his heart, is searching and longing for God, then tell me why John 3:19 says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though this verse is saying that, even after God had made a personal appearance in the form of the Man Jesus Christ, we turned Him away because we loved our sin more. Now don’t you think if every man were truly searching for God that, if He came to them, they would embrace Him? After all, they’re supposedly searching for Him with all of their heart, right? Wrong! “There is none that seeketh after God,” because “their deeds [are] evil.”

Since there are none who seek after God, we must seek them. That’s why we have the Great Commission to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). For it’s just like one very wise man once said, “You don't find God—He's not lost. You are, and He finds you.”

If you are out there today and you do not know Jesus as Lord, my guess is that you are running from Him; not to Him. Therefore, I’m pleading with you today to stop in your tracks, turn around, fall on your face before Him, turn from all sin, and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. If you will do that today, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Greatest Love Story

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Today is Valentine’s Day. And depending upon your relationship status, you are either depressed or tickled pink. No matter how we plan to spend the day or who we plan to spend it with, we should not forget to remember the One who loved us so much that He gave His life for us on Calvary.

First John 4:10 says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We sing to our children, “Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me,” yet we never totally think it through, do we? You see, the miracle of God’s love is not simply that He sent His Son to die on an old, rugged cross. No. The miracle of God’s love is that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). That is what the cross is all about.

Maybe you are here today and you are thinking, “God could never love me.” Just let me say with Adrian Rogers that “there is no one so bad that he cannot be saved, and no one so good that he need not be saved.” No matter your situation, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God loves you. In fact, He loves you so much that He spelled it out for you two thousand years ago with the crimson blood of the Lamb. And that is why the greatest love story is indeed the old, rugged cross.

If you have yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, there’s no better time than the present. Simply turn completely from all sin and trust Christ alone to save you. If you will do that, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Greater than the Master

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28

I have heard a lot of good quotes in my lifetime, but perhaps the best one I have ever heard is this one from Adrian Rogers: “The servant is not great than his Master.” Maybe that doesn’t sound all that profound to you, but it is. You see, to use another Adrian Rogers quote, “Jesus did not come to show us how God was to live on earth, but to show us how man is to live on earth.” Everything Jesus did during His earthly ministry, He did as an example. And everything He did, He expects us to do also.

Just take the cross for example. Jesus died physically on the cross to save us from our sins. But what does He tell us in Matthew 16:24? “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” That also is a call to death. It is a call to die to oneself for the sake of Christ as He died physically on the cross for our sake. And I think we would all agree that it took selfless courage for Jesus to willingly go to the cross—a dying to Himself, if you will. Therefore, being no greater than the Master, we are called to die to ourselves also.

Now let’s take that principle and apply it to the verse above. Jesus said that He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Therefore, being no greater than the Master, what does this verse mean to us? It is nothing less than a call to sacrificial service. But I do not believe that this is meant to take place only within the four walls of our churches or during mission work or within nonprofit organizations. I believe, like everything else Jesus said, He meant for this to take place within every area of our lives. Just as Jesus lived every day to serve those around Him, we are to put the same principle to work in our own lives.

So I ask you today, for what purpose are you living your life? Some might tell you that there is joy in serving God and others. Some might tell you that God will bless you for living according to His word, and they would be right. However, I’ll never tell you that. You see, that is what the above verse is all about. It’s about serving others while expecting nothing in return. So today I am asking you a question: knowing that we are no greater than the Master, are you living to serve or be served? You don’t have to answer that audibly because your career will tell. Your marriage will tell. Your family life will tell. Your friendships will tell. How you spend your spare time will tell. Your life will tell. So being no greater than the Master, do you choose to serve?

Maybe you are here today and you have never acknowledged Jesus as Lord of your life. If that is you, I am asking you today to give your heart and your life to Him before it is eternally too late for you. Turn completely from all sin and trust Christ alone to save you. If you will do that, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coals of Fire

Yesterday I watched a very interesting episode of Bonanza. Like most episodes of the show, it made me want to send my fist through the television screen more than once. However, as in all other episodes of the show, the ending proved that right never loses and wrong never wins. It also proved several other things, as well. Mainly, it reminded me of two key verses in the Bible: Romans 12:19-20 which say, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

I have included the aforementioned episode below. Please take the time this week to watch and learn from the wisdom, patience, and courage of Ben Cartwright. I am sure the writers of this particular episode did not realize they were fulfilling Scripture when they wrote the last four minutes of the episode.

If you do not know Jesus as the Lord of your life, I invite you to give your heart and your life to Him today, before it is eternally too late for you. If you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Heritage of Faithfulness

Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives.
-“Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green

I admire a lot of wonderful people who I like to call “heroes of the faith.” However, one of the people that I admire most of all happens to be within my own family—my grandmother. My grandmother is faithfulness personified. She is faithful to her friends, her family, but most of all to her Lord. However, I cannot talk about my grandmother’s faithfulness without talking about her faithfulness to her own mother, my great-grandmother.

My great-grandmother went to be with the Lord when I was eleven years old. However, I have very few memories of her true personality and character. You see, my great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t remember how old I was when she was diagnosed with the disease. To be completely honest I am not entirely sure that she ever knew that she had been diagnosed with the disease. My grandmother knew and my aunt knew, but it was not something they talked about with the family.

My grandmother and great-grandmother lived together; and at that point in my life, I visited them fairly frequently. Every time I visited them I saw nothing but unconditional, selfless love being poured of my grandmother. What an example of loyalty and dedication she was to us kids, especially toward the end.

Eventually, it got to the point where my grandmother had to do everything for my great-grandmother. She even quit her job to stay home with her fulltime. But not once did I ever hear her complain. I remember one night when we were getting ready to go someplace and we had to take my great-grandmother with us because she was not able to stay at home alone. When it came time to leave, my great-grandmother became confused and did not understand how to go down the steps. Then, when we finally got her down the steps, she could not figure out how to get into the car. I think the whole process took around twenty minutes or so. However, my grandmother was so patient the entire time. I have no memories of her ever being frustrated because my great-grandmother could not remember how to do something.

About three months before my great-grandmother passed away, my grandmother had to do what she had tried so hard to avoid. She had to put my great-grandmother in a nursing home. My great-grandmother had become very weak and needed round the clock care, much more than my grandmother could provide for her alone. However, my grandmother was just as much involved there as she was when my great-grandmother was at home. She visited her every day and fed her every meal. She was the epitome of selfless devotion.

I tell this story as an example of what it means to leave behind a heritage of faithfulness. My grandmother has taught me what it means to love unconditionally, to die to oneself, putting the needs of others before your own. She has taught me that we may be weak and powerless on our own, but His strength is perfect. People today wonder why their children aren’t making it. It is because they are not leaving behind a heritage of faithfulness. Please, let the fire of your devotion light their way.

If you do not already know Jesus as Lord of your life, I invite you to come to do so before it is eternally too late for you. If you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thoughtless Loyalty

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1

If I had to pick only two words to describe my grandmother, those words would have to be “thoughtless loyalty.” Now I know what you’re thinking. “What did he just say”? I know at first glance those two words do not seem to go together at all. In fact, if anything, they seem like total opposites. However, I think that once I explain what I mean you will see that they work together perfectly in this particular area of life that I want us to think about today.

When I was a kid, my grandmother was constantly pointing us to Jesus. She was constantly saying things like, “Jesus likes it when we…” or “Jesus doesn’t like it when we…” It was almost like she said it without even thinking. He was always on her mind, and she was always relating our current situation—whatever that may have been at the time—back to Him and His Word. She was thoughtlessly loyal to her Lord.

I remember her telling me a story a few years ago that illustrated this perfectly. My grandmother works as a cashier in a school cafeteria. One particular day she caught a young boy stealing. In her usual fashion, she looked down at him and said, “Jesus doesn’t like it when we steal.” Being the man of little faith that I am, my first response was to say, “You could have lost your job!” You see, my grandmother works in a public school where it is forbidden for teachers to proclaim the name of the Lord. My response revealed my weakness. Her response revealed her strength, wisdom, and dedication to the God she loves, for she simply looked at me that day and said, “I said it without thinking.”

How I long to have the faith of my grandmother who has proven to be thoughtlessly loyal to her God. She knows that Jesus is the name “which is above every name,” and she is not afraid to proclaim it (Philippians 2:9). It does not matter where she is or who she is with. She knows that there is power in the name of the Lord, and she does not hesitate to speak it. May we all learn to be thoughtlessly loyal to the Lord our God, speaking His name first and thinking about how it will be received later.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

May the Fire of Our Devotion Light Their Way

This past Sunday morning the pastor of the church we have been visiting for the last several months talked about his plans for the church in 2013. Perhaps the one thing he talked about most was his plan to introduce the concept of what he called “blended worship.” That is, his plan to integrate more contemporary pieces into the Sunday morning worship service rather than just singing more traditional hymns. He said that he came to the conclusion that this decision is necessary based on the fact that he has noticed that the people of this generation have not been participating in the song service. He said that by integrating more contemporary pieces into the service the younger people in the church would be more apt to participate. But why is this? And is this something that we should really want?

In the past decade or so, I have seen this issue brought up many times. And at some point in these discussions, the following belief is usually mentioned at least once: “We must change with the times.” But where is this written within the Bible? The answer is nowhere. In fact, Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If Jesus never changes and His Word never changes, then why should we?

I am all for changing for the better, but the only change I see with this generation is all for the worst. I see young people distant from their parents and family. I see teens dropping out of school left and right; and it is not so they can go to work to help provide for their families like it was in the old days, but it is because they are just plain lazy. I see college people strung out on drugs and alcohol. The air is polluted with filthy language and dirty jokes. I see young parents walking through the grocery store with hoods over their heads and earbuds shoved in their ears. But why is this? The answer can be found in Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It really is that simple. We are not training up our children in the way they should go.

In Steve Green’s song “Find Us Faithful,” he says, “May the fire of our devotion light their way.” I grew up watching my mother get down on her knees before a pure and holy God. I spent my childhood having Bible time in my grandmother’s living room. I grew up knowing that every night my great-grandmother would sit down at her kitchen table and continue her journey through God’s Word as part of her commitment to read through the Bible in its entirety every year. I grew up in a household where God and His Word were respected and revered and the principles found in His Word were taught to be essential for successful living. It wasn’t about a religion but a relationship with the one true God.

One of my former teachers who I respect very much wrote the following a couple years ago:

Furthermore, hymns are an enduring thread running through church history. Knowing that Christians throughout the centuries have sung the same rich songs should bind our hearts together and help transmit to our children and grandchildren the spiritual heritage that has been passed down more than 2,000 years. Martin Luther, St. Francis of Assisi, the Wesleys, Fanny Crosby — all are hymn writers from various ages whose work is too rich to lose. We cannot allow the next generation to think that their faith exists alone!

She’s right. It is not an issue of what tickles the ear; it is about one generation sharing with the other a passionate love for the One who gave His life for them. It is not about a tradition, for traditions come and go. But it is about following the example of Jesus Christ who came to earth wrapped in flesh to show us what life is all about. We’ll never reach the younger generation by letting them find their own way. We must get involved in their lives and share our love for Him with them. We must let the fire of our devotion light their way.