Thursday, December 25, 2014

Do What You Love!

     What does it look like to have a child like faith? It’s a simple enough question isn’t it. I believe that it is having to do with having an awe and wonder about things. This is how we are supposed to approach God right with a child like faith. Why is it so hard to do that? It has to be because we have lost that sense of awe and wonder. 

How do we regain that sense? To be honest with you I don’t know. What I do know is that in the Bible in the book of Revelation when Jesus is talking to one of the seven churches he told them go to back to their first love and do the things they did at first. Go back to what you first loved doing, whether that was writing, drawing, or some other activity. GO BACK!

Start over because you love it, not because someone else is making you do it. I love to write and had forgotten how much I enjoyed the process until this last month. Start to do something because it is what you want to do, and amazing things will begin to happen.

You'll feel alive again. You begin to think I can do this. Most of all you feel like you are doing the thing you were created to do. Jeff Goins says that if you do it for yourself then it will resonate with other people. When it resonates with other people you are finding your “tribe.” 

We all have one it is just a matter of finding it. I am in the process of finding mine. I am finding out who I am and who I am not. It is a hard road to hoe. In the end it will be worth it. People believed enough in me to help me get to this point I don’t want to let them down. I also don’t want to lose myself either. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Don’t Care What You Think…Or Do I?

     This is hard for anyone to tackle but is it true? Do I really care what you think yes I do. As my reader/audience I care about what you think (for the most part). Like anybody I want you to like me and what I am producing, but I have come to grips with I love to write even if nobody else loves it. I still love the act of putting words to screen (instead of pen to paper). There is just something cathartic about it. Does that mean I just write for the sake of writing? NO! I write because I feel compelled to get what is inside of me out. If my math is write this post should becoming out on Christmas Eve, which means I should be more gentle and less forceful in what I say right. Sorry not for this post. 
     If you have stuck with me this far thank you. I want to grow and be more like Jesus and that is who ultimately matters when I think about what does someone think about me. Jesus was not always well received while he walked on the earth. He was questioned at almost every turn by the pharisees. It didn’t matter if he was eating food or talking with a  woman they always had something to say about him. I have realized that if I want to be like Jesus, people are going to talk about me. It is not always going to be good. I am going to offend some people and that is okay. Who doesn’t want to be liked? I haven’t found a person yet that doesn’t long for some sort of validation. Except for Jesus of course. 
     Now, the way I do care about what you think is by interacting with you, through comments, G+, Facebook, Twitter, and even the occasional email. I want to hear from you and start building community. Because this thing cannot work without your voice as well. If there is a topic you would like me to consider than drop me a line and let me know, I will do my best to cover it. But understand there are going to be times I might say somethings that step on some toes. I will still try and be the same insightful and loving Paul, but there are just going to be those times I cannot be. In order to protect the sheep I have to beat the wolves. 
What can I do to better server you? What do you enjoy about this blog?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Home

To all of my dedicated followers I will be writing from a new web address and making some more changes over the next few months and hope you would follow me as I make these changes. I value all of your support and look forward to serving you from my new home.

I will continue to share to the G+ communities. Along with twitter and the new Facebook page.

I look forward to continue serving you with daily inspiration. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

God Bless,


Fighting Boredom

How do we fight boredom in life? We fill our time with things that are entertaining.

     That sometime is easier said than done. I have two boys, one is ten the other six. One of them also has Aspergers and both are ADHD. Which means our house is always a buzz with something going on. It may be the boys playing on their Kindles, playing a board game, or something else to try and consume some time. It is hard to keep these boys entertained all day everyday, and we have just started a 16 day stretch of them being home from school for Christmas break. They normally have cub scouts on Tuesday nights but that is on hold until the new year. 
     Why am I telling you all of this because as adults we can get bored easily too. Especially when it comes to reading the Bible. You know those genealogies where so and so begat so and so. Those are hard things to make it through and it is rather boring. It is not until we realize they are important to the plan of God then they can become interesting. I was reading 1Kings 7 the other day in my devotions and started to dose off because it was speaking on all the different things being built toward the temple. It was a hard section to get through with all the measurements being foreign to us. 
     I want to offer you this encouragement while these sections are hard to get through they are inspired and good for us (2 Tim 3:16). I understand your struggle and maybe reading those challenging sections in a different version of the Bible like the Message or the NLT or a paraphrase like those would be easier to read. Do what ever it take for you to help those boring sections come to life. Like with my boys it takes time and planing to do things well. So be prepared when you hit a bumpy section to go with your back up plan, what ever it is. Maybe using a good commentary and reading less than you normally would. I usually try and read from the OT history, Psalms, a Prophet and the NT. But when things are getting heavy I may cut out one or two sections in place of reading supplemental material. 

What suggestions do you have for when things get boring? How do you handle the difficult parts of Scripture?

Monday, December 22, 2014


 How do you respond to challenges you face? Some people say you can tell a lot about a person based on this one act. I know for me it depends on the challenge. Is it something mental or physical? Is it something I have been able to train for does it appear out of the blue? These are factors I have to take into consideration. But what about challenges mad against your character, how does one respond to that type of attack? I say we take our cue from our Chief shepherd. He was brought before the chief priest at the time and said nothing as  a sheep being lead to slaughter. Is is going to be easy to sit back and let someone attack your character? NO it’s not! But do it anyway. 
     I say that because the Lord will vindicate you there are several different places in the Bible in the Psalms especially where writers like David are crying out because people are coming after him. Take Psalm 3 as an example. David is being chased by his own son Absalom. David says in Psalm 3:4, that he cried out and God heard. In this Psalm David is resting in the Lord, not on his own ability to take care of any given circumstance. Why should you be any different, I know I’m not. I want to rely on God more like David did. Do I? No, not as often as I would like. I tend to take things into my own hands and seek God when the going gets too tough. When I should have started by seeking God and seen how much smoother things would have turned out. 
     There is a situation right now I thought was going to work out one way and I did seek the Lord over it, and it looks as though it may not work out; or it is going to work out in a way I never imagined. That doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with because if it doesn’t work out I will have to do some scrambling to find  another class to fill its place. And find the money for those books. So I am being stretched in my faith right now. But like I have been saying all I can do is rely upon God to take care of the situation. He is opening doors that I hadn’t even thought of a month or two ago. 

So what challenges are you facing, that you need to trust God to intervene for?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Review of You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

      This is not a book written for just anybody that has a dream of accomplishing something it was written to a particular “Tribe” as Jeff calls it. It was written to people who want to be writers and need that extra incentive to do it. Originally written in 2012 it has been revamped a little bit and had some edits made, Jeff tells us that in the introduction to this edition I have read. Jeff is a man who took a while to find all the things he is telling us about in this book. Such as finding his voice, building a platform and making relationships. You are a writer is not a super long book, it is actually 134 pages long. I am usually a slow reader, however with Jeff’s conversational style I read the book in about 3 hours give or take an hour. I read his work in the kinde edition so excuse me for not having page numbers.
     The very first thing I highlighted in the book was “Believe you already are what you want to be. And start acting like it.” (location 74). I think even though Jeff is writing to a specific audience this could bode well for any thing. I am working on becoming a pastor and this made me feel that I need to act like a pastor would now. And that ties into the next quote where Jeff says, “Before others will believe what is true about you, you’ll have to believe it yourself.”(location 165) What he is trying to say here and throughout the book is that you have to have a confidence in yourself even when no one else does. That is going to help you make it in what ever it is you are trying to accomplish. I love all of the positive affirmation that Jeff gives throughout the book. “You have to be yourself, to speak in a way that is true to you.  This is the next step to claiming your life as a writer— taking yourself seriously so your audience will too.” (location 252) Jeff continues to inspire throughout this work. He dispels the myth of good writing and eggs you on to become and effective writer. 
        If I can take away more than one thing from this book, I hope to remember “If you are going to succeed as a writer, you are going to have to learn to be smart. To have thick skin. To be more than talented.”(location 420) I think if you are going to succeed at anything you have to be thick skinned because there are always going to be critics. While this work is written primarily for writers I would recommend it to anyone who has a dream to become more than what they are. Stop saying tomorrow or in the future and start now. While I cannot call my self Reverend I can call myself an evangelist. 

What do you need to start calling yourself? How can I help you reach your goals? 

Something for the Last Sunday of Advent

 Okay so here it is the Last Sunday of Advent and i hadn’t dedicated any post to the coming of our Lord and Savior. To some people that may not be a big deal, but in our house we enjoy using our advent calendar. Actually my oldest son who wakes up before anyone rushes into the living room to be the one to move the mouse. This calendar is something we use to countdown to Christmas, but why are we really excited to count to the day our Lord was supposedly born? Or are we just excited because we are going to be getting stuff? I think for most of us if we are honest it is the second option. I have done a post before about Christ’s birth and his death. 
     Why is this important? Because it gives us something to celebrate with the giving of gifts. NO THAT IS NOT THE REASON. The reason it is important is because it is to be a reminder of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. While I know that this is the season to celebrate his birth I feel we should take a closer look at his death. I know someone is going to say it’s not Easter why is this guy worried about his death? I want to talk about his death because that was the reason he was born. Christ was born to die for our sins. That was his sole mission here on Earth. While he did many great things during his time on the planet the greatest thing he did was die and rise again so that we would never have to fully taste death. Even though we imagine this sweet baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, I want you to never forget the blood stained cross. That is the greatest gift that anyone could give. Jesus said "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 That my friends is the best reason for this season. 
     Don’t get me wrong I love the holiday season and the spirit that it brings with it. But I think we can give the gospel to people and see them changed for more than six weeks out of the year. We can see effectual life change. We could not have had the cross without the manger, we could not have the resurrection without the birth. As I once heard Pastor Ruffin Alphin say, “Christ is the only man who ever got to choose to die.” That quote has stuck with me for close to eight years. 
Do you have any special things you do for Advent? Do you agree or disagree with this post?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Holiday Time: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 Is it just me or is the most wonderful time of the year one of the most stressful times of year also? I have noticed that over the last seven years of marriage that the holidays tend to be more anwry than any other time of the year. When we were first married we had a huge fight our first Christmas because of something our son did to his cousin, it didn’t help that my wife was pregnant at the time. Then going back 20 years my father passed away just before the holiday season really got started on November 4, 1994. So that makes this a tough time of year for me. I do however remember one of the last presents that I ever got from my dad and i still have it to this day.  It was a stuffed teddy bear that was brown with a bow tie on we named it “Brownie” I know not super creative but it was the best I could do I was eleven at the time. This makes me sad thinking about it,  but it also makes me happy because I can still recall that last Christmas with my dad. 
     However, the holidays are not all bad. I have two sons who love Christmas and I know that one of them loves Jesus still not sure about the other. While one believes in Santa Claus and the other does not. That makes things a challenge around here trying to keep the oldest from spilling the beans. But each year we all get a new ornament from someone, usually the boys are getting the ornament from their grandparents along with my wife who gets one from her grandmother, and my wife buys me a new National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation ornament (that is my favorite Christmas movie). During Christmas break we will make cookies and generally watch a  lot of Christmas movies. The last several years we have gone caroling with members of our church through different neighborhoods. We are trying to instill in the boys the true meaning of Christmas that it is to celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While I personally don’t believe this is the day he was born on, it is the day we choose to celebrate it with the rest of the Christians around the globe. 
     The sad thing is not every Christian gets to celebrate Christmas like those of us here in the United States, there are countries that being a Christian is agains the law and you could go to jail or even die for your faith. I hope that my boys will never have to experience that kind of persecution in their lives, but if they do I pray they stand up for what they believe in.  This is also a hard season because not everyone can afford to do for their families like others can and it makes people feel less than. While it is not intentional it still happens. What we have to hope and hold on to is the day when the New Heaven and New Earth will appear and we no longer have to worry about this type of celebration because we will be enjoying the presence of Christ. I now that this post was a little more personal than some of my others and I hope you don’t mind. If you enjoyed this post will you comment and let me know. Because my goal is to create content you enjoy not just for me to be spewing words on the screen. 

I leave you with this: What are some fond memories you have of the holiday season?

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Endeavors

This is season of my life where I am trying something new. I have joined a writing program called Tribe Writers. It is something I hope will be a good benefit for me and also for you my readers. It is helping me to find my voice in how I write. I am not sure if you guys like having the more personal side of me, or if you prefer the deeper theological side of me. I know for me it is easier to create the content that is personal with a small mix of the theological. I love to hear from you guys as to what are you looking for and how I can help you find that. While I plan on continue writing how I am, I want to try my best do do things that interest you.
     Speaking of new endeavors I have recently gotten into the world of Twitter, and I am hoping to reach 100 followers sooner than later. If I can do that I plan on having a book give-away. By now you may be asking yourself why do I care about all of this? And that is understandable. I hope you care because at some point you were blessed by a piece I have written and I want you to continue to be blessed. I am not the first person to do any of this. It is good to try new things in life because you never know what you will actually succeed at. I am finding out who I truly am and finding what makes my voice unique. If you would like to let me know what you think about my previous works I am all ears.
     Just remember I am not the only person to ever do something different the prophet Elisha was a farmer before he became a prophet. Jesus was a carpenter. Paul was  a tent maker. David was a shepherd. These are just a few examples of men in the Bible who entered into new endeavors from what they ended up becoming. So this is a step on my journey. Yes, I am still planning on becoming a pastor, but that doesn’t mean I cannot write on the side. I have several friends who are already pastors who do some form of writing along with their main job. Who knows maybe this will be the ministry the Lord chooses to use for me to bless the world. I can only hope that you will stick with me on this journey. It is going to be a fun ride (I hope). I cannot guarantee that I will not have some missteps along the way, but I’m going to enjoy the trip. Because it’s not just about the final destination its about the trip along the way. 

What is a new journey in life you are starting on? What impact are you anticipating on having?

Running Away!

I have to admit that I can be rather obsessive about numbers. Like how many followers I have on Twitter, or how many page views did the blog have today. That is not necessarily a good thing, because when I allow those things to rule my life it becomes a god thing. I personally do not want any other gods in my life other than my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Isn’t it easy though to allow functional saviors to enter lives? I know for me it can be, I cannot speak for anyone else. One thing I do know is that it can be destructive to our lives, because they can become all consuming. Where do you run if you are not running to the Lord? My guess is you are running to your functional savior, whether that is drinking, smoking (of either sort), writing, or even family. Yes I said it family can become a functional savior in our lives that will keep us from turning to God when we need to the most. 
     It is easy to try and discount that we are not running away from God, when in reality we are. You know I can think of one story in the Bible in particular when someone should have done what God wanted to do but instead he ran away. Can you think of who I am speaking about…? Times up! I am speaking about Jonah. God had given Jonah a plan of action that he wanted him to take and Jonah thinking that he was wiser than God proceeded to run away to the land of Tarshish (his functional savior). If you don’t know the story let me give you a brief synopsis. God tells Jonah that he wants him to go to he land of Ninevah to preach to the people there and Jonah decides he doesn’t want to do that. He boards a boat head to Tarshish. Along the way a great storm arose and the men on board the ship were afraid and began throwing their cargo overboard, until Jonah said that it was his fault. Then he has the men throw him overboard and the storm calms. While in the water Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish. And lives in its belly for 3 days. After that he is spit up on the the shore and goes and does what he should have initially done. 
     All of that to say when the Lord is our savior we should trust him and run to him, not away from him. He does not have plans to hurt us. While somethings may be unpleasant for us they are ultimately for our good.(Romans 8:28). So please if you feel the Lord pulling you in a particular direction do not run from him and make things harder on yourself go where he is leading it will be a blessing to you and those you are called to. I know there were times in my life I wanted to run away and not follow, it wasn’t until I got on the correct path that things started making sense. I would always run from my calling saying I couldn’t find a school to go to and earn my degree, then the Lord showed me an online school Liberty University which is where I completed my Bachelor’s in Religion and am now working on my Master’s of Divinity.

What do you need to stop running from?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Everything is Not Meant to Last Forever!

At least that is what my wife keeps telling me. I was telling her how I was afraid to turn off a 20 year old ceiling fan because it may no want to turn back on. And her response was “It is not supposed to last forever.” But something inside of me wanted to cry out thats not right. Things should last forever, so we don’t ‘have to keep re-buying the same things over and over again. I cannot say much this fan has been in our house for almost 20 years. But this conversation brought to mind something else for me and that was the resurrection of believers. You may be asking yourself how did we go from a fan dying to the resurrection of Christians. It’s simple actually, one of those things dies never to be reborn while the other dies once to live and never die again. 
     I hope you know which is which. It is only through the blood bought promise of Jesus Christ that we get the option to live forever in heaven with all three persons of the God-head. How easy is it to want to try and run away from the inevitable. I know for me there are certain things that I just don’t want to admit to and things coming to the natural end of their usefulness is one of them. However that is not the case for Christians. We do not run out of usefulness, we will be like the creatures covered in eyes, and others around the throne of God signing “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty.” (Rev 4:8) Something that should give us as Christians comfort is knowing that though we will die in our bodily forms we will go on to live forever with God in the forms of new bodies or heavenly bodies. Christ in talking with Martha breaks it down to her that we may die only to live forever. (John 11:25-26) Find some peace in that and allow it to bring comfort to your soul. That everyone you love who is a Christian has been given the same promise. This does not mean that I have it all together and know everything there is to know about the resurrection. I do know that Bible says that there will be one in due time. That sir/madame is enough for me. 

What do you think should we be excited that we are going to live forever? Or is it scary to think about? 

P.S. Don't forget we are having a book giveaway when we reach 100 followed on Twitter. So go and follow to stay up to date with our posts. 

Life is hard, but God is good, 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unexpected Circumstances

How often do we freak out when something unexpected happens? I know I do almost every time because I have realized I'm a control freak. Just today Monday the 15th,  both of my macs decided to die in one way or another. So I am writing this blog post on my phone. I'm trying to remain optomistic but it is hard. It is so much easier to expect the worst in any given situation. 
A question I have is "is it that way with God?" Does he look for the worst in us, or does he see the best in us? I would argue the latter if we are in Christ, because he no longer sees us but sees us thru Christs righteousness. How wonderful is it to know that God looks at us as believes and sees his Son, & even sees us as sons and daughters. 
That is awe inspiring. Just like the fact the gentleman I get my machines from took the in trade toward a newer Mac. We are now new creations the old is gone the new has come. That is not what we expect to happen to us. I'm not sure what we expect, but being considered new in Gods eyes, for us that is hard to understand. I was happy with my old(er) machines. But it doesn't hurt to have something a little newer. In the same manner there are some aspects of your old life that was okay. Now just take those aspects and run them through the filter of Christ and you have something newer. 
All of that being said does not mean I won't still run into some challenges with this Mac, the same way we are gauranteed to have struggle and conflict in the Christian life. 

What are somethings you weren't expecting that turned out for the good?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't Despise the Small Things!

The title of todays post comes from what was  gleaned from a church service on 12-14-14. That was the biggest take-away I got. Don't despise the small things, because they can turn into great things. One thing that comes to mind are two of the biggest computer companies in the world, Microsoft and Apple. They both started out small, but with a vision. And they didn't let anything get in the way of that vision. Because they new the potential that their product had. This is a lesson I am begging to learn. While I do not have a huge following right now, I believe I will one day as long as I continue to produce material people can use. 
     My hope for this post is to encourage you, maybe even challenge you! What do you have inside of you that you are about to let die because you are upset with your meager beginnings? When I first started this blog I was happy when I had 10 visitors a day. Now I am averaging around 140 a day. Which for me is great. Do I think we can do more yes, I DO! But, I know it depends on the plans the Lord has for me and this ministry of writing he has given me. Another reason not to despise small beginnings is because that is exactly how our Lord and Savior started out. He was not born in some fancy mansion in Jerusalem no he was born in a manger  in Bethlehem. He would go on to live a normal life until the time his ministry started. He was not drawing big crowds at first either. It wasn't' until people started to take notice of what he was able to do that he grew a following. The biggest problem with Jesus following is they were always in it with the whats in it for me category. Which is okay some of the time, we have to be willing to give back. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that make the largest impact. Looking ahead there are things we learn from Christ interactions with the disciples. 
     Christ tells the disciples a parable about the mustard seed being the smallest of seeds, yet when it is planted becomes the largest of all garden plants.(Mark 4:30-32) While Jesus was referencing the kingdom of God in this parable we can take a lot away from it.  There is another reference to a mustard seed I like for our context just a little bit more. Jesus is speaking to the disciples and tells them that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed  they can move mountains.(Matt 17:20) It lets me know that I can start out small in anything and still have potential to become more. I don't know about you but I long to do big things for the kingdom of God. While my faith may be small, God says its all I need. It will grow over time as I exercise it.So for my faithful readers I am VERY appreciative of you and say THANK YOU for all of your support. If you have been blessed by this or another post would leave me a comment letting me know. It is just one small gesture to help me to continue trying to be a blessing to you all. 
Life is hard, but God is good!

What are you exercising faith in to see it grow? What is your small thing?

Monday, December 15, 2014


     What comes to mind when you hear the word gratefulness? There are several different things that jump out at me when hearing that word, they are more concepts than things. I think of humility. I also think of generosity. Both of those things seem to play a role some way or another in gratefulness. It takes humility to receive something with a grateful attitude, while it takes some one being generous to give making it possible to be grateful. 
     The best picture we have of this combination comes from God to us. God is gracious enough to come down to this world in the form of a man to take on a burden that is rightfully ours. That is generously giving of ones' self. This gift requires humility on our part because a proud person will not accept what has been shown to him in his need of forgiveness. (1 Cor 1:18).  I know for me I thought all Christians were crazy hypocrites. It wasn't until I came to know Christ personally that my view changed. It takes a change of heart to begin to  understand the riches that are found in the kingdom of God.
     We can learn great lessons from our relationship with Jesus on how to be grateful. While Jesus walked this world he often appreciated all that was done for him, such as the women who took care of him. One instance that comes to mind is when a woman anointed His feet with nard, washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. (Luke 7:36-50).  This section of Scripture show that both Jesus and the woman were appreciative of the actions the other took. There are many people in the world who need some assistance and will be eternally grateful. 

Q: What are somethings you are grateful for from this last year?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beating a Dead Horse

     Have you ever done a task and felt like you were beating a dead horse? Well that is how I started to feel after this last eight weeks of class. I was working on a homiletics class on preparing a sermon. The sermon was on Philippians 1:12:18, and almost all of my course work for the last eight weeks has centered around this one portion of Scripture. I have had to do a lot of praying in the last week to get the needed motivation to finish this sermon. There were a few faithful FaceBook friends who offered up prayers alongside of me, and the words just started to flow. 
     I am not sure why it was so hard to write this sermon compared to others I have written in just a few days. Like I said I think it was because I was beating a dead horse. While I am positive some of my contemporaries have a different take on this set of verses I had exhausted my knowledge and understanding of them. I will more than likely post the sermon here on the blog in a few days. There are several verses that help me realize that the work I do is not just for men but for God and they are 1 Cor 10:31, and Col 3:23-24. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the preparation of writing and never actually sit down and write the sermon. I must say that I enjoy all of the work that goes into it and learning how to come up with better illustrations has been helpful. This class has taught me some things I can use in  my own ministry here with you all(my readers) and with the world at large such as those I preach to on occasion. 
     I know that it is not easy to do something that at times can feel like a drudgery, but let me encourage you to finish the work that is set before you. In the end you will be proud that you set your mind to something and finished it and it did not beat you. There will be times you just can't do somethings and that is okay too, give yourself permission to know when those times are. But, don't give up just because something gets hard, if you need to ask for help. For instance my oldest son is one of the smartest kids I have ever met (I'm not just saying that because he is my son.) He is in the fifth grade reading at and eleventh grade level. But lately he has been struggling with his math homework and needing more help. He wants to quit because it is hard and everything has always come easy to him, at least pertaining to school work. We won't let him quit we encourage and help as necessary. I know right now you are asking yourself "What does that have to do with anything?" The answer is simple, if we let him quit he would never learn how to persist in life, and deal with those dead horses that will arise. Have you ever heard the saying,"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" That is the process I had to use in writing this sermon heck even writing this post. 

It's your turn now, what dead horses are you struggling with? How can I help?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Struggle to understand

I don't know about you but there are just somethings in the Bible that I just don' t get. Do you ever feel that way? When it comes down to the book of Revelation I have a really hard time. Reading commentaries and the usual study helps don't really help because this is probably the hardest book for scholars to agree upon what it actually means. You get so many different stances on the interpretation that it makes it feel muddled and hard to get through. The best thing I know to do is pray your way through this book and others you are struggling to understand. 
     Ask the Lord for insights into His word, James 1:5 tells us that if we ask for wisdom God will grant it to us. So be bold in your asking of the Lord and see that he will not be bold in answering you! This is not a guarantee that you ask God for just any old thing he is going to give it to you were are specifically referring to seeking wisdom to understand His Word. In the book of Isaiah we are told that God's  ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Isa 55:8. This verse helps bring me comfort at moments like this when I have been struggling to understand what Jesus is trying to teach me through His Word. It is not always easy studying the Bible or being the guys people look to for the answers when it comes to Scripture. I hate to admit it but I have not settled on an eschatological view. I am stuck between pre-mil and a-mil. I am not sure if I believe in the rapture because there just doesn't seem to be enough scriptural support for it in my opinion, so I guess that does mean I have a view huh?
     It is not easy studying to be a pastor and not having answers to the tough questions people want to ask. However, I am always willing to try my best and give a balanced answer. IF you have any questions you would like to ask, please leave a comment down in the comments section and I WILL RESPOND. 

What do you struggle with? Where can I help?

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Was the Pope Thinking?

I wouldn't normally write a post like this but for what ever reason I felt compelled to jot this one down. It is worldwide news that today the Pope has said all animals can go to heaven! That is ludicrous, how can a man with so much influence over so many people (I not being one of them) make such a statement. I don't see how that is even possible because doesn't that take away the exclusivity of heaven? While it is true that God created all creatures, he created humans with a special nature. One like his, what is known in theological circles as the Imago Dei. If just anything can enter heaven does it lessen the effect of what Christ has done to allow humans entrance into heaven? We are told in the book of Genesis that God created them after his own image, (Gen 1:27) it no where mentions animals being made in the image of God. The only thing I can think of that even comes close is when Scripture speaks of the new earth and lion and the lamb laying together. 
     I am not a perfect theologian but I think that the sanctity of the Imago Dei needs to be protected. According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, " In contrast to the animal creation, humankind is made in the image of God in a separate act of creation. Man originates apart from any connection with the animal creation and certainly not from evolution. Also, for the first time in the creation narrative, the divine “let Us” is used in conjunction with the creation act. Added to this, the immediate scriptural context after this introduction of the “image of God” is the additional charge that man “subdue” the earth and “rule over” all of its other creatures (1:26, 28)". That would lead me to think that we will have a heaven while animals will not. We are made to be in communion with God, while animals are made for our benefit. 
     I am curious where you land on this debate, what are your thoughts?

What Makes You Giddy?

    I have to say that there are not very many things that get me giddy, but today was a good day. The blog surpassed 240 unique visitors in a single day. That is the best day we have ever had. I felt like a young kid again at Christmas time. Then I received a book for review I had been waiting upon since last week. For those of you who helped us reach our highest day average THANK YOU! We have decided to hold a contest for all of our Twitter followers that if we can reach 100 followers we are going to give away some books. 
     I also get giddy when I read the Bible and find a new nugget I had never noticed before. Take for example the story in 1 Kings 3:16 about two women who had had a baby and Solomon suggests cutting the child in half. Did you ever notice that it was two prostitutes living together and one of them had a child who died by being rolled over upon. This is just one example of the kinds of nuggets that make me excited as I read the Bible. 
     I often wonder did characters in the Bible get giddy about anything? We know that the NT believers were expectant of Jesus’ return but we don’t know that they were giddy with excitement about it. I can think of one time when giddy is the last thing on Jesus’ mind and that is when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane as he wept blood. He was to a point that he was exhausted and knowing he was nearing his end, he would tell his father, “not my will, but your will be done.” Matthew 26:39. While being one of the most traumatic scenes in the NT of how Christ endured on our behalf it can give us excitement to know that he loved us so much that chose the cross for us. And that should make us all very happy.
     He died for those whom he foreknew, and had predestined before the foundation of the world. While this is a time of year when we generally celebrate the birth of Christ, i think it is important to remember that while he chose to come down form heaven in the form of a helpless babe, he died a suffering servant and a brutal death at the hands of those he created. All because of Love, John 3:16. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

8 Tips for Better Bible Study

Who among us doesn't want to study their Bible better. I know I do, and I'm a seminary student. So I can't imagine how the average Christian may feel about studying the Word for themselves. Over the years there have been a few handy things I have learned to do when I want to get deeper into a particular section of Scripture. There are certain steps that I take that allow me to see more deeply into what is being said besides the mere words written on the page. 

  1. I copy and print out the section of Scripture I want to look at. 
  2. With highlighter in hand, I look for repeated words and concepts. 
  3. Locate important words or theological terms.
  4. Make notes about my observations. 
  5. Then I use a study Bible along with a commentary to help me understand the background of the book.
  6. Re-read the section several more times to see if I missed anything. 
  7. With the new tools I begin to go verse by verse and see what is meant by the author. 
  8. Re-write in your own words what the author is trying to say. 

Now with these ideas/tips I hope it will help you to delve deeper into God's Word. If you need any suggestions on a good study Bible or commentaries please feel free to ask. 

What suggestions would you add to this list to help get deeper into the word? 

Free Download- 5 tools to help you in your Bible study. It is a word document.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Banner Day

We have had a record breaking day today! In honor of that we are thinking of doing a book give-away. Once we reach 100 Twitter followers we will give these or other books away. (We reserve the right to use other books.) If we choose different books they will be just as good or better.

A Special Place

    We all need a place that is special to us. Jesus had a couple of places that were special to him. He would go to the garden, or the mountain top and pray and be alone. Where are you going to be alone? Do you have a special place? I would recommend that you find a place where you can be alone and get refreshed. This should be a place where you feel a special connection with God. For me it was in the woods, sitting in a tree stand during hunting season. I know that is only a few months out of the year, but for me that was my special place. I know some guys who go out on the water fishing to get that stillness that is needed. 

     You may be asking yourself why do I need a special place to meet with God? Because in the Bible there are certain places God showed up. He would meet his people at the tabernacle, and later in the temple. But apart from that there is one meeting in particular when God showed up in the middle of the night to wrestle with Jacob (Gen 32:22-32). Sometimes it takes this place of wresting with the things of God for you to gain the blessing he has in store for you. But you can’t do that just anywhere. God planned on meeting Jacob at this particular spot. According to Genesis 32:30, "So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”"
     There are just certain times in life where you can really sense the presence of God. Some people call this practicing the presence of God. I am not saying that God won’t meet you where you are, let’s make sure that is clear. What I am saying is when you meet him at your special place, you can hope for a more intimate experience. 
  1. Pick a place that is special to you.
  2. Make sure that it is quiet. 
  3. Remember that you don’t have to be alone.
  4. Find ways to encourage others to find a special place. 
  5. Clear your mind of distractions. 
Once you use these quick tips you have set yourself up for a meeting with God.  

Where do you go to meet with God? What suggestions would you add to finding a special place?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's Talk About…

     Let's talk about the Bible for a little bit, shall we. The Bible is an awesome book, it is inspiring, it is helpful and most of all it is the inspired Word of God. That last fact alone should make you excited, especially if you are a Christian. Now I know we all have our preferred versions of the Bible(for me it's the ESV). Yours could be the KJV even though I wouldn't recommend it to anyone personally. That is for another  post. What I do want you to think about is your Bible and how often you are reading it. Not only how often you are reading it, but for how long and how much of it? 

Now lets not become legalist here and say that every person should be reading their Bible for at least a half an hour each day, reading from mall the genres of the Bible. I do not recall anywhere in Scripture where that is commanded. What I do know is David speaking to God says I have hidden your word in my heart (Ps 119:11 NIV). Now how can one hide something in their heart when they don't spend anytime with it. Take marriage for an example, a married couple cannot do well if all they do is live together, then they are nothing more than roommates. We have to take the time to speak with our spouses so we can know their hearts and how to love them well. God is no different in that respect. We cannot know about God if we are not spending time with him in prayer and reading his word. Prayer is our communication with God, while the Bible is God communicating with us. I don't mean to sound like God cannot use what ever means he chooses to speak to us, trust me I always remember Numbers 22 when the donkey speaks to Balaam.
     Why do you think some people become so dogmatic or legalist about Bible reading. I would recommend the habit of reading it everyday even if it is just one chapter a day. You will get through the entire Bible in just about 3 years(give or take a few months). Again nowhere is it written that you have to read the Bible in a year! If that is something you are interested in there are several different programs out there for reading the Bible in a year, they even have Bibles specifically designed just for that goal. My suggestion is to go about it at a pace that is comfortable for you. I personally love the NT and generally read it more than the OT. But of late I have been reading bits from different portions of the Bible. Just as and example I am reading from 1KIngs, Psalms, Micah, and Revelation. I generally read one chapter from each book, except for the Psalms I may read several depending on how i feel at the time. This will usually take me anywhere from 15-30 minutes to read. There are several things you can do to develop a good habit of daily Bible reading. 
  1. Pick a certain time each day to read. 
  2. Have a certain spot you like to read.
  3. Set a plan for what you are going to read.
  4. Decide how long/much you are going to read. 
Like our post from yesterday said, consistency is key to anything. If you want to become good at something you have to work at it. The same goes for Bible study, make a plan and try and stick with it. If you miss a day don't beat yourself up about it just pick back up from where you left off and keep going! 

What things would you suggest for making Bible study easier to keep up with?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Consistency is Key!

How many times have you heard that in your life? Whether it is in child-rearing, work, hobbies, or whatever. Consistency is key! That rings true as a bell through the air when it comes to journaling and/or praying. I have found that the more often I do something the more I want to do it. If you look at the life of Jesus he spent a lot of time in prayer. It did not have to always been long periods of time he was praying like when he asked the disciples to keep watch for him. (Matt 26:38-46). Then there are the times he had what Dave Earley in his book Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High Impact Leaders calls arrow prayers. These are prayers that get right to the heart of God. A great example of an arrow prayer is when Jesus blesses the five loaves and two fish, or another time when he teaches the disciples to pray the Lord’s prayer (Matt 6:5-15). 
     I have recently been trying to write for my blog more than before. In just the last week I have posted something at least once a day. I believe on Friday I had several post, along with today. I am trusting that this is what the Lord would have me do to bring glory to HIs name. While it is easier for me to journal than it is to blog I hope to do both on a regular basis for the rest of my life. At the advice of Michael Hyatt I have been using Evernote, as my new journaling program. It has been rather helpful instead of using Pages on my Macbook Pro. With Evernote it is searchable, by date keywords, tags, all kinds of cool stuff. I can easily add pictures to it. I mention this because the level of comfort you have with something will also help determine how well you stay with it. I mention in another post how I engrave glass. If I started with the hardest piece and failed I probably would not have kept up with it. I have had to slow down because I have run out of room to store my pieces and there hasn’t been too many more people willing to buy them. ( I have however sold several pieces in the past.)
     All of that to say don’t become discouraged if you are starting something new take it easy at first, don’t think you have to do what everyone else is doing in order to feel like you are doing it right. If it is something the Lord has laid on your heart, you will get through it because he wants you to. 

I would love to hear what you are doing to be consistent. What are some things you could work on, and what are you doing well with?

     It is my hope that you all have been enjoying reading the material that is being produced. If you are would you mind signing up to any of our means of keeping you up-to-date on what we are producing. If you look down the right side of your screen there is a plethora of options on how you can keep in touch with us. We would also love to hear from you, your ideas and opinions. So we have added Disqus as our new commenting system. If you would like for your comment to be more discrete we have a contact us form at the bottom of the page. We look forward to a great month as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and a blessed New Year. 
Life is hard, but God is good,

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bible Software Prefrences

     I know that there are tons of different Bible software out there. But for me I prefer one over all the rest, Logos Bible Software. I also have WORDsearch Bible software which is not bad, but it does not offer some of the same great functionality Logos offers. For instance if I highlight something on one computer in Logos or on my kindle, it is highlighted everywhere. In Wordsearch I do not have that same option. Which has made some of my studying for school rather difficult. There are some who prefer programs like Bibleworks for original language studies. I do not have any experience in that program so I do not know if it is any better or not. I do know that the exegetical guide in Logos with its interlinear translation has helped me to pass many a paper. 
     I have been using Logos for several years now and have found it to be extremely helpful. For the longest time I was not using the program to the best of my ability or the best it was meant for. I was a casual user who was able to do basic things with the program. It wasn’t until I came across these videos that I learned what this program was really capable of. I am not going to sit here and try and explain all of the videos, just know that if you are using any version of Logos since #4 these videos are free and worth your time. You can also got here for some shorter videos on how to use some of the new features of Logos 6 (L6). 
     One of the best new features of L6 has to be the Psalms explorer,  it gives you a visual filter of all the Psalms and allows you to sort theme by theme and genre. You also have a similar tool for the proverbs just not with the pretty interface that you have fro the Psalms. I have found both tools helpful in my personal study. There is another cool feature where you can visualize some ancient sites and slide the image to see it in modern times. This is just a scratch of the surface of all the new features offered in L6.

What software do you prefer to use?

Top 10 Post over the Last Month (Nov-Dec6,2014)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Please Share us with Your Friends!

Will you help us reach our goal by the end of 2015?

Take Time to Relax

How often do you just sit down and take the time to relax maybe even take a nap? I would suggest that you try and do it everyday or at least several times a week. .Just don't go to long with out taking the time to relax. Michael Hyatt has a blogpost about taking daily naps and its benefits. Relaxing doesn’t have to always be a nap, it can be anything that allows you to de-stress. For me I enjoy engraving glass using a Dremel. For you it may be something else. Whatever it may be make time for it, because it will make you a happier person. I have found personally when I am able to do my hobby and work with my hands my mind does not have to focus so hard I can just deflate some. It allows me the time to stop worrying about deadlines, family issues or anything else that maybe weighing me down. 

I know I normally have some scriptural support in my post. I just felt lead to write this one to help offer some encouragement for those of you who work too hard and stress yourselves out. The Lord used prayer as a way of him getting away to be alone. But he also enjoyed eating at peoples houses. There are multiple times we see him eating at someone’s home, take for example when he is at Martha and Mary’s home, or when he was with the twelve in the upper room. 
It is my hope that if you do not have something you can do to relax that you will find something. You need somewhere you can go to clear your head and just be alone with you, God and your thoughts. 
     How can you be fully effective in life if you are constantly stressed out? You can’t be, so invest in yourself. For the sake of your health and all those you love find something that you can do that will refresh you mentally and physically. I not only engrave glass, but I also hunt deer. There is something about sitting out in God’s creation and taking in all that he has made. These are just a few examples of things I do that help me to unwind and find solace. If you would like to have a more detailed view from Scripture about the importance of rest check out this post by my friend Dave Jenkins. 

What are some things you can do to relax? What hobby do you use to find solace?


Friday, December 5, 2014

What's In a Name?

 Have you ever stopped to think about what is in a name? It is more than just a group of letters put together to make a certain collection of sounds. It tells people who you are. When people hear your name they make certain assumptions about you from either what they have heard or from personally knowing you. Did you know that when you come to Christ all that changes?

We first see God changing the name of one who has encountered him in the instance of Jacob becoming Israel (Gen 35:10). We also have several accounts in the NT where people had contact with Jesus and they were no longer called by the same name that they previously were. For instance we have Simon called Peter, and Saul was changed to Paul. We are able to accept these new names because we have been given a new nature.(2 Cor 5:17) This does not mean we will not struggle with things of the flesh, but what it does mean is we don’t have to let it win. In the book of Romans, Paul recounts the thoughts of him battling against sin and losing but it was no longer him desiring to do it but the sin that dwelled within him.(Rom 7:15-20). When we look at Peter he was originally a fisherman, but Christ told him to follow him and he would become a fisher of men!(Mark 1:17)

The same has rang true in my life as well. In high school I went by the nickname of Casper. I was the only white guy in the group of black people. However, since coming to know Christ I have ditched that name in exchange for either my given name or Preach. Because like Paul and Peter I have a new nature in side of me and I no longer do the things I used to do. I have gone from being a thug to going to seminary to preach God’s Word. God can do the same thing for you as he has done for tons of people.
Will you accept what Christ wants to do for you? Will you allow him to change you and give you a new name?

Learning From Others

     Learning from others is sometimes easier said than done. As of lately however I have been devouring certain blogs spending hours reading what they have to say. Or watching videos that have been produced or listening to podcast to learn more on how to be more effective as an author and as a person. Some of those people have been Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Cliff Ravenscraft and Leslie Samuel. Each of these men is an authority in their field. Michael Hyatt is teaching me how to build my platform and about leadership. Jeff Goins is teaching me how to be a better writer. Cliff Ravenscraft while is the Podcast Answerman is teaching me about branding also along with technical things such as how to do interviews,(be on the look out for some in the future). And Leslie Samuel is teaching me how to handle my blog a little bit better.
     While I cannot afford to pay each of these men for their products I can learn from them in the things they offer for free. All of my content is freely given away and there are times I wonder if I shouldn't find a way to collect email addresses or charge for some of my content. I do it because I want the world to have sound theology and to experience my insights as I come across them. I have enjoyed learning from these men over the last few weeks for some for others I have followed on social networks for close to a year now.  
     Just so you all know Michael Hyatt suggest setting goals, while Jeff Goins is against that. I have written down several goals I would like to see happen by the end of 2015. First I would like to see the blog and twitter reach 100(+) followers by the end of the year. My wife and I are planning a trip to Haiti and still need $1500 to make it there in August to train pastors, lay leaders and work with orphans. I also hope to write at least three blog post per week that can include school work and personal thoughts. And I would like to read more, so I am going to target my reading time and number of pages I would  like to read each day. 

Who are you learning from? And what are some goals you have set for yourself? 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Observations From My Daily Bible Reading

Today as I was reading my Bible somethings jumped right out to me that I had not noticed in previous readings on these passages of Scripture. What I noticed is that the Bible is violent, not grotesquely violent getting into too many bloody details, but it still says "he went out struck him down and he died" 1Kings 2:46. This is not the first person whom Solomon had commanded to be killed in that chapter. We (the Christian community) say we don't condone violence when it is hard to deny that it is a fact of life. Just look at the Bible, it is not just some story book we should read to our kids to teach them good morals. NO it is a history book, telling us the things of old as they happened. I know I let my boys play some questionable video games, but I have made sure that they understand that what they are playing is make believe and when a person dies in real life there is no second chance, no coming back from the dead to try over again.
     I think it is funny that we will want to condemn some people for watching shows with violence when the book that we base our lives on is filled with it. Take the book of Judges as an example there is a story of a man being so fat when he was stabbed in the stomach it swallowed the sword, Judges 3:12-23. This is just one example that takes place is goes on to say that 10,000 men died in battle. These are just some things I noticed while reading the Bible today.
What observations have you made lately during your time reading Scripture?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Learning Where You Can

There aren't a lot things we can learn from a show like Sons of Anarchy. That doesn't mean we can't learn somethings from it. This scene takes place moments before Jax kills his mother. Before she dies she tells him it's okay for him to kill her because it's what they do. This is a good time to speak about grace. We are given grace by God to be forgiven and to forgive even those things that seem unforgiveable. Romans 12:19 tells us not to seek vengeance on our own.
We are called to live in the world and not of it. That means I can live in Christian liberty to watch this show and try and find redeeming value from it. There will be some of you out there who will argue with me that I am wrong and that is your prerogative to have. I will continue to be a fan of this show, despite the nature of it. It is not something I push on other people, I allow each persons conscience to  guide them. If you are not engaging in things of the world how are you going to be able to impact the world. The Apostle Paul engaged in the world when he was in Athens at Mars Hill he spoke the words of their writers. There are many different things in life we need to look at and try and find the redeeming value in it, whether it is a book, blog or a television show. We can almost always find something to learn from every endeavor we enter upon. I argue that once we can find the redeeming value in anything it is able to help us grow.
It is my hope that this post will make you think about things in your life that you need to look for the redeeming value in. I have been able to look for God in this show despite its hard hitting nature and narrative.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Richard M. Hannula's Bitesize Biography of Samuel Rutherford

Richard M. Hannula's Bitesize Biography of Samuel Rutherford was a delightful read. It is about the Scottish pastor in the 1600's, who was for Presbyterian way of church compared to the Anglican or Church of England way. I am not one to generally read a biography, but this one was fun to read. The paragraphs are in small manageable chunks not being much larger than six to seven sentences. Hannula did a great job in quoting Rutherford from his writings whether it was a book or one of his letters written to a parishioner.
Like the title suggests this is a bite size book it comes in at just 138 pages. Each page filled with nuggets of goodness.  The first chapter was a good introduction into who Rutherford was and his background. It was not until I got into the second chapter when the pen came out; and I really started circling and underling all of the great gems either about Rutherford and the things he had to overcome or his great insights. Rutherford truly had the heart of a pastor in the way he shepherded the people of Anwoth. Listen to this recount, “Each day, he visited the bedsides of the sick and comforted the grieving. Rutherford took his calling seriously and ministered to his people as one who must give  an account to God. He told a friend that concerns for his flock brought forth in him ‘tears, cares, fears and daily prayers.’” (pg 31).

Samuel Rutherford Bitesize Biography 
This has been a great read, and I don’t say that often. I would recommend this work to everyone from the elementary school student all the way up to the DMin. This work was very encouraging to me as a seminary student to know we will face trials but God is still in control.

In accordance with the Law I was given a review copy of this work  from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a far a balanced review. It did not have to be a positive review.