Tag Archives: christian

Hunters Who Never Hunt

IMG_4681It’s hunting season across the nation. Each morning thousands of people wake up before dawn and get into their vehicles or walk out to their desired location and listen and watch as the sun rises. This process usually begins with a gathering of tools and weapons needed for the hunt. If the hunt is for the day or for a week much preparation is needed before the day of the hunt.

Many hunters spend hours and hours hunting, not for game, but for areas where the game are. They do research and read books and peruse articles that may give them an edge on the hunt that they have chosen. They spend countless dollars on gadgets and gizmos they see as needed to reach their prize. They look at maps and drive miles upon miles to get to their hunting grounds.

Then there’s the hunt. The hunter is properly camouflaged and adequately still and quiet. They pick a place where they can find cover but still see well enough to find their quarry. Then they wait. They may make game calls with their gadgets if they deem necessary, but more important than gadgets is that they are in the right place at the right time, so they wait.

Hours and hours have gone into this one morning. The sun is rising. The air is calm and crisp. Anticipation and adrenaline runs high.

There’s the prize.

Now the harvest.

God be praised for the bounty of his creation.

What if they never went out?

What if week after week they talked about hunting. They paid for subscriptions to the best hunting magazines and read them cover to cover. They bought all the gadgets and gizmos and practiced them to perfection in the comfort of their homes (or the car if their wife deems necessary). They have the right gear and weapons.

What if they even got together at the local shop to talk about their latest gadget. They showed off their best camo. They talked about their favorite hunting dog.

What if they did all this but never went out and hunted.

Would they be hunters?

Week after week people flock to churches to sing praises to their God. They read their bibles and partake of the Lord’s Supper. They teach classes to people of all ages on how to know their bible and properly practice the traditions of their faith.

Many of these people know the bible forward and backwards. They can quote book chapter and verse with ease. They can tell you all about Jesus. They are good people and look like they have it all together.

Week after week they read the words written in black and white, and week after week they fail to put those words into practice.

Does that make them Christians? Is your knowledge of the bible what makes you a follower of Jesus? Is it not, rather, the way you live your life?

We call ourselves Christians, but how well are we evangelizing the world around us? Jesus seemed to make that a priority for his followers.

We call ourselves Christians, but we look like the world on every day but Sunday. Isn’t that contrary to what we are called to in the bible?

It’s time to stop pretending and start participating. You have been called to be fishers of men. You are called to hunt for the lost and rescue them from the wages of sin. It’s time to stop filling your buckets with preparation and start using your tools for the work you were called to do.

Join with me as we work together to do more than learn about Jesus. Join with me as we tell the world about him.

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Zombies for Jesus

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This is the time of year that I love to go shed hunting. If you’re not familiar with what that is, then I’ll explain. Every year elk and deer shed their antlers. No one really knows why, but they grow back even bigger the following year. The antlers they shed are beautiful pieces of creation, and hunting them means hiking – a lot.

I love to be in the wilderness hiking along looking for these unique finds. I’ll admit, I’m not very good at it, but I try anyway.

The other day I was hiking along. There was much on my mind, and I was going through the countryside at a normal pace. I wasn’t tripping over rocks or branches. I avoided all obstacles, but after a while I realized I couldn’t recall any of the terrain I had just covered. I knew enough to retrace my steps, but I couldn’t remember what I had “looked at”. I was using my eyes, but I wasn’t seeing. There could have been 100 antlers in that area, but I couldn’t have seen them even if I had been staring at them because my mind was elsewhere. I was so distracted by my thoughts that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me.

Last week I was gathered with Christians from the four corners region to sing praise to God. I enjoy singing, but as we sang I began to look at the words to the songs. There were songs about those who were condemned that we sang joyfully. Shouldn’t we be sad about that? Shouldn’t that motivate us to get out there and witness more? There were songs about mansions, robes, and crowns that we want and expect to receive when we get to heaven. Isn’t that selfish? I don’t want that. I want to be in the presence of God forever. Everything else is of no consequence if I just get to be in His presence. We were singing songs that have been sung for ages, but so many times I’ve said the words without paying attention to their meaning.

Many people attend Sunday morning services. They even read their bibles, but they are missing the main messages for the tradition of going through the motions. It’s easy to keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’s easy to sing the songs that we’ve always sung. It’s even easy to find the lists of dos and don’ts in scripture because they are more obvious to a people who think in more concrete terms.

What we do when this becomes our habit is dangerous. We sing songs, but the songs are lip service. We like the tunes. We know the way to say the words, but we don’t know or even sense the heart of the songs. We know the Ten Commandments and many of the other lists of sins and laws in the bible, but we miss the greater meanings behind the laws.

Some concepts hold greater weight in the bible than others. Grace is a message found throughout the story even though it is not always maintained directly. Unity is stressed even more than doctrinal correctness. Faith is the bedrock of all we practice. Love is the greatest concept given to Christians. Each of these concepts can be practiced practically, but so many practice the acts without realizing the heart behind the acts.

We love to get grace, but so many who profess Jesus as Lord don’t give grace as much as they like receiving it – me included. We love the concept of unity – as long as you agree with me in order to create unity. That’s not unity. That’s uniformity. They are not the same. We love the concept of love, but we are so selfish that we have a hard time living in that. In fact, it is easier for us to do the “rules” than to love unconditionally. This is why Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13. They were going through the motions without love or unity or grace.

It’s time to repent. It’s time to begin again. Let us not be zombies for Jesus – just going through the motions. May we be generous with our grace. May we be diverse in our unity. And may we love unconditionally. The world isn’t attracted to what we do ritualistically unless it comes from a well of who we are, and who we are needs to reflect Christ.


Believers, Demons, and Christians. Oh my!

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Are you a Christian? What does that mean?

There are all kinds of Christians in the world. Some are republican and some are democrat. Some are one kind of denomination and some are another. Some Christians go to war and some don’t. Some Christians use hate and fear-mongering to persuade people to Christ, and some don’t.

People who go by the term “Christian” have done all sorts of things in the name of their religion. They have killed and enslaved and rationalized and warred and devalued all in the name of Jesus.

But are they really Christians?

Some people say they are Christians, but they’ve never been baptized. They claim to believe in Jesus. They may even have said some prayer, but does that make them a Christian?

The bible says that even the demons believe. Does that mean demons are Christians?

Jesus said whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Where’s the sinners prayer there? By the way, some people use a different verse that talks about the confession of Jesus as Lord and say that means that baptism isn’t necessary. As best I can tell I have to look at all of the bible and not just one or two verses. When Jesus defined salvation he talks about belief (the first step) and baptism (the marriage ceremony).

If you’re reading this and you haven’t begun your walk with Jesus by being united with Him in baptism, then what are you waiting on? I’d love to talk with you more about that. It’s not magical or hard, but when you realize what’s going on there, you will see that it is beautiful.

Ok. Ok. Ok. So some of you have been baptized. Does that make you a Christian?

Jesus calls us to follow him. Does your life reflect his? I’m not talking about looking at his rules and regulations; I’m talking about his life. What characterized Jesus? Does that characterize you?

So many people pay attention to all the rules of Christianity. They obey them well, but they’ve missed out on two key attributes of the first people who were ever called Christians.

1. They were super excited and everyone around them knew it. Who could blame them? They had just been saved from themselves. All of their junk and baggage and mess-ups and hang-ups had been forgiven by the Messiah. Even better – they were considered children of God! They could have relationship with God! They weren’t treated like prisoners waiting to mess up so that they could receive the chopping block. They were free – totally free – from all that hinders them: traditions, illness, legalism, oppression, worry, selfishness, sin! Sure, they still dealt with those things reflected in others, but they were no longer hindered. They were set free, and they lived free.

2. In their excitement they loved intensely. They loved those in their towns. They loved the slaves and women and children in a time where those groups were ostracized. They loved the tax collectors who were considered by their fellow citizens as traitors. They loved the people who ruled over them even though it was an oppressive regime. They loved in ways that made them stand out from the world, and the world responded.

Sometimes their love and excitement would create conviction in the hearts of those around them. These Christians weren’t standing on street corners yelling “Turn or burn!” They were loving everyone – even the unloveable. Their love showed up in stark contrast to the selfish lives of all those around them. So this love and excitement brought harsh persecution, and you know what? The Christians rejoiced even in their persecution! Nothing could get them down.

Other times, though, their love and excitement stirred up a desire in others to have the same results in their lives. People came to Jesus left and right because his followers actually lived like Jesus. Sure they messed up. Sure they sinned, but they weren’t burdened with the constant chastisement from their brothers and sisters in the faith. They were encouraged to move on – to stop sinning – and continue to love.

You see, many people think they are Christians, but they are not. A Christian is a person who has chosen to live as best as they can in the light and example of Jesus – an example of perfect love. When that person falls short of perfection (which happens a lot) they live in the grace and forgiveness that Jesus continually gives through his death and resurrection.

Christians are more than believers. Christians are more than rule-followers. Christians are people who live like Jesus. Don’t ignore how Jesus has commissioned you to begin your relationship with Him. And when you do begin, don’t be the kind of Christian that the world expects – harsh, grumpy, judgmental, spiteful, hate-filled, rule-driven people. Be the kind of Christian that your life speaks louder than your words. Love will do that. Live in love.


A Fisherman Who Never Fishes

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I wasn’t always a minister. I’ve been in ministry of some sort for about 13 years, but this is not what I thought I’d be doing when I “grew up”.

When I went to college I wanted to be an engineer. I started at Harding as a pre-engineering student. It was when I got to organic chemistry that I realized that chemical engineering was out for me, so I switched to mechanical engineering. When I got to heat transfer I decided I wanted to do something with fewer moving parts so I switched to civil engineering.

Things went well for me in engineering. I was working 40 hours per week at Walmart. I had a new family complete with baby girl. I was running a paper route (400 papers per night), and I was still maintaining a C average in my classes.

When I realized I didn’t want to sit in an office crunching measurement numbers and calculations I switched majors again. I wanted human interaction. If you know any engineers you know they don’t think like a lot of people do, and many are very awkward socially. This is because their work is VERY intellectual, and they have to be extremely logically oriented, so their jokes are different and they don’t function well with the emotional sort (I say this as a recovering engineer student). So sitting in an office and working on a project with few other people suits them. I, on the other hand, crave social interaction.

So I switched once again to education. I wanted to use my math skills to teach others. I knew there would be much social interaction in that field, and I could influence someone’s life for good at the same time. This switch added another three years to my schooling for a total of six years in college.

What if I had decided to study about teaching or engineering all my life? Would I be a teacher?

What do you like to do? If you spent all your time studying about fishing and tying flies and gathering equipment, would that make you a fisherman? If you watched all the football games and knew every play; if you studied all the rules to football would that make you a professional football player?

Maybe you like knitting, so you study all the knots and needles and patterns. You even gather all the appropriate material. Would that make you a knitter?

I love rock climbing. I read about it and have all the gear. I know the knots and the great places to climb, but until I put my hand on a rock and pick myself off the ground I am not a climber.

We can study deeply in the word of God. We can attend church week after week. We memorize all the scriptures and even live good moral lives, but that doesn’t make us a Christian.

Christianity isn’t a moral religion. Christianity is an evangelistic lifestyle. To be a Christian is to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus said “follow me.” It’s hard to do that if you never move from your comfortable position.

Many people have gone to church all their lives and know all the right biblical answers, but they aren’t helping anyone else come into the Kingdom. They aren’t disciples. They are merely consumers of information.

Don’t do church. Don’t be a perpetual student. Be a worker. Be a disciple. What made me a teacher is when I began to teach. What makes me a preacher is that I tell others about Jesus. Guess what. You don’t have to have a degree to be a preacher. Just tell your friends about the One who gives you life and hope and forgiveness. Follow Jesus, and he said “make disciples”. When I’m actively making disciples I find that I am still constantly learning.

So don’t just attend church. Be the church. Shine your light. Tell others. And watch yourself grow in faith as you share it with others.


Cake and Roses and Fluffy Puppies

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I’ve written before about my love for mountain climbing or just climbing in general. The feeling of standing on the top of a high place and seeing the world from above is breathtaking. However, the top isn’t the only part of the journey worth talking about.

When you set out to climb a mountain there are a lot of undesirable issues you must deal with to get there. There is the hassle of camping and gear if you choose to make it an overnight trip. There is the issue of sustenance, for you will surely need the energy to make it to the top. Because you must have sustenance you will have to carry that weight on your back. This creates more weight for you to have to haul up the mountain.

Then there’s the sheer feat of climbing the mountain. No mountain is “easy”. Some are less difficult than others, but your body does strange things above 10,000 feet of elevation. As you climb there are rocks that you trip on. There is often snow to be traversed. There are aching muscles from the constant upward motion. Then there’s the dreaded issue of having to go to the bathroom above tree line (embarassing).

Climbing a mountain is fun and rewarding, but it is also difficult and painful.

When you listen to many preachers talk about life in Christ you hear about love, joy, peace, kindness and other such beautiful ideas. You hear about grace and forgiveness. Who wouldn’t want those things? Christianity sounds awesome, right?!

What they don’t tell you is that Christianity is like climbing up the mountain. The summit experience is awesome, but you have to go through the climb of life to get there. It isn’t all cake and roses and fluffy puppies. Sometimes Christianity is tears and pain and division and struggle.

Jesus was very clear that the Kingdom of Heaven – the kingdom that is here and now in those allowing Christ to rule in their hearts – is much more desirable than the kingdoms of this world with their selfishness and tyranny. However he also made a couple of statements that aren’t so popular.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

He also promises this:

“In this world you will have trouble.”

Well, that’s not very happy. It doesn’t seem like Jesus is doing the best job marketing this new kingdom life.

Think about it though. Have you ever made a decision you knew was right, yet everyone around you was angry with you for the decision you made? Have you ever loved someone even though they hurt you? Have you ever risked your life for someone else? Then you know what Jesus is talking about.

We choose to live for Christ because He is teaching us the way of love, but not everyone likes this way. Some people even hate this way of life because our living this way exposes the darkness within them. They revile against it, and division is created, and relationships are damaged.

In Luke 14 Jesus encourages us to count the cost of being his disciple. It will be a struggle, and you will have to be wiling to sacrifice everything for him, but what you gain is so worth it. Forgiveness, grace, eternal life, relationship with the Creator, purpose in this life. Those things cannot be given a value.

After Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, he said “but take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus doesn’t leave us alone to deal with these struggles ourselves. He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised to take every circumstance and bring good out of it (Romans 8:28). He has promised to love you, and he showed it by dying for you. He gave his life for you. Are you willing to go through a little bit of struggle for him?

One more thing.
In Jesus there is a new perspective that I learn day by day as I follow him. The more I live like Jesus the less concerned I am with myself because I am learning to love others more. This brings pain at times when I am rejected, but this also brings hope in all things because of the resurrection. I now have a choice on how I look at the hard times. I choose to look at them as learning experiences and refining fire that makes me stronger. I choose this because I know that this life is not all there is for me. My eternal life began when I gave my life to Jesus, and it reaches its fullness once this physical life reaches its limits. Death is not the end, so I live this life with joy and hope whatever the situation.

Count the cost before you come to Christ, but know that the cost is well worth it for the joy of knowing the Creator and living in His presence. And if you’re already in Christ, live with the perspective of hope in all circumstances. Jesus is with you. His Spirit lives inside you. You are eternal – your pain doesn’t have to be.


Ignoring science in the name of science.

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This week there was a lot of buzz about the debate between Bill Nye (the science guy) and Ken Ham (founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation museum in Kentucky). I watched the debate, and I learned a few things.

The most important thing I took away from this debate is that if you aren’t answering the questions you’ve been given with straightforward answers then you seem like you don’t know what you are talking about.

One other thought I left with is that science and the bible are not mutually exclusive of one another. They go together. The bible is not a science textbook. In fact, the first few chapters of Genesis are written in poetry form – not as a scientific treatise on the creation of all things. But that doesn’t negate the fact that there are many ideas that have been discovered by science that the bible mentioned thousands of years before their discovery.

Let me give you some examples of things mentioned in the bible hundreds and thousands of years before they became known facts proven by science. These predictions are the very thing that Ken, in my opinion, should have been using to answer Bill during the debate.

1. The earth is round. Isaiah 40:22 This wasn’t proven or even accepted as anything other than heresy until the 1500s.
2. The earth isn’t held up by some mythological creature. Rather it is suspended in space by seemingly nothing. Job 26:7 Job is the oldest book in the bible.
3. The universe is expanding. Isaiah 45:12. Edwin Hubble discovered this in 1929.
4. There are deep canyons in the ocean floors. 2 Samuel 22:16. This was discovered in the 1900s.
5. There are springs on the ocean floor. Job 38:16. This was discovered in 1977 (the year I was born) yet written about in the earliest book of the bible.
6. There are currents in the oceans. Psalm 8:8. This was discovered in the 1800s.
7. Water evaporates from bodies of water and turns to clouds then condenses to form rain and eventually goes back to its sources. This is known as the hydrologic cycle. Job 36:27-28. Bernard Palissy is credited with this discovery after he wrote his explanation of it in the 1500s.
8. The law of entropy. This is part of the second law of thermodynamics. Psalm 102:22-26. This was explained in the 1800s.
9. Some constellations are held together by gravity and move as a unit. Others wander in the sky with a unique “pattern” unlike other constellations. Job 38:31-32. Scientists now say that the stars in Orion’s Belt are all moving in different directions – thus the loosing. The Pleiades contain 250 stars that travel together in grouping held together by gravity. Arcturus is in a class of stars unique in the universe. They don’t travel like other stars. The sun travels at about 12.5 miles per second. Arcturus travels at a whopping speed of 257 miles per second. Who will guide him? Can you even catch him?
10. We are made up of atoms and molecules which can’t be seen with the naked eye. Hebrews 11:3. The light microscope which allows us to see at the cellular level wasn’t invented until 1590.
11. The sun isn’t stationary. Rather it moves at a high rate of speed. Psalm 19:4-6. People used to think this was talking about the sun revolving around the earth when in fact it was talking about the sun warming all things it is near as it moves through the galaxy. This movement of the sun was discovered around 1800. It is interesting to note that many people still didn’t consider the sun a star at this point in history.
12. The earth once had a main land mass that we call Pangea. Genesis 1:9; 10:25. It is thought that the continents began to drift during the flood, but continental drift wasn’t seriously suggested until the 1800s.

These are only a sampling of scientific facts mentioned in the bible. It’s more than just a moral folk tale. It is the Word of the Creator who systematically patterned everything. That’s why it says in Romans 1,
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Don’t ignore science in the name of “science”.


If You Love Jesus You’ll Buy This

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The other day I was listening to a local Christian radio station and I heard a commercial for a “gift this Christmas”. I’m not going to tell you what it was, but the people gave all these reasons why someone should buy this item and give it to someone. Then, at the end of the commercial they said “honor The Lord by giving this gift”.

Really? Honor The Lord by buying some Christian merchandise? Shouldn’t we better honor The Lord by living our lives in service to Him and being content with what we have? Do we really need more stuff?

I see this all the time. “Christian” companies using their religious preference to get you to buy their goods. Is there such thing as a Christian company anyway? Sure, there are Christians who own companies. There are companies who deal with merchandise that promote Christian symbols and ideas. There are Christians who work for companies, but the companies themselves cannot be Christian or non-Christian.

I hear commercials by companies who have no direct tie in their business to anything specifically Christian. They aren’t selling Christian goods or teaching Christian ideals, and yet they are advertising themselves as a Christian company.

1 Timothy 6:5 gives warning that there are some who think that their godliness is a means to financial gain. He warns to watch out for these people. He says rather to find godliness with contentment.

As you live your life, don’t use your status as a Christian to manipulate or coerce people. You should gain people’s trust and friendship by the way you live. Christianity is not a badge we wear but a life we live. And if the fruit of our lives don’t match up with the faith we profess then that makes us a hypocrite, and Jesus had a lot of negative things to say about hypocrites.

We are called to be consistent in how we live. When we make a commitment to something, we follow through because we have made our “yes” as good as a promise. When we talk to people they are able to hear Jesus reflected in our speech. When we do things, whether working or playing, people are able to see that we are doing everything to the glory of God. When we run a company or work for a company we should be the most highly sought after people because of our reflection of the attitude and lifestyle of Jesus in our lives.

May you be people who reflect Jesus in everything you do. And may you be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5-6). God bless you!


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