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Seeing so many people trying to remain germane in a world that is fleeting is a sad sight indeed. There are a host of popular reality shows on television and other media channels that are centered on people who are either trying to create a name for themselves or trying to remain current in the eyes of the people; in essence, they’re all trying to stay relevant in a world that’s passing. It’s no secret that we all, in some form or fashion, like attention, however, one has to question his or her own motives if he or she desires to be in the spotlight more often than not. Yes, it’s ok to have a nice car, it’s quite alright to have a fine wardrobe, and it’s not a bad thing to have a little extra money to blow; however, when these things and others are used to obtain glory for oneself and not to honor God and bless others, one is tiptoeing that fine line between self-gratification and reverence to God. Consider what Jesus tells his disciples, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!” (Matt 6:1-2, HCSB) If you practice wickedness before people in effort to be seen by them, you can be certain that God has something in store for you as well (not a reward)! If you’re striving to be a Christian, don’t miss out on what God has  prepared for you by being distracted by (or attracted to) things that will take your focus off of Him; be especially aware of those things that are intended to elevate your standings with others. Jesus states, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25, NASB) Who, in their right mind, would want to invest all that they have in a stock that is clearly destined for failure? Why would one waste time, one of God’s greatest gifts, chasing temporal things. 1 John 2:17 reports, the world is passing away, and also its lusts. This same scripture closes by stating, “But the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (NASB) In other words, don’t spend your life trying to fit in with man, stand out for God! Don’t lose your soul pursuing momentary praise; pay homage to God and live forevermore!”

MD 7/3/12

Lets Praise the Lord

Does God need our praise? No, certainly not! However, God, the creator, does desire our praise and has been seeking it since the creation. Ps 150:6 asserts, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (NKJV) Ps 145:3 adds, “The Lord is great and worthy of our praise; no one can understand how great he is.” (NCV) Don’t know what to praise God for, let me give you just a few reasons that I praise Him (in no particular order)…feel free to add to my list then pass it on to others.

I praise you Lord for life, sight, hearing, health, strength, control of my body, family, food, clothing, shelter, love, the ability to reason, friends, transportation, my job, joy, peace, faith, recreation, laughter, the ability to smell, mobility, prayers requested on my behalf, friends, money, hugs, kisses, happiness, the gift of salvation, education, nature, comfort, my wife, my daughter, my unborn child, words of encouragement, kindness from strangers, the gospel of Jesus Christ, care from loved ones, memories, communication, companionship, wellbeing, celebrations, challenges (they build faith), patience, hope, the ability to taste, God’s guidance, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, good times, physical blessings, spiritual blessings, safety, protection, deliverance, liberty in Christ Jesus, music, songs, singing, art, trust, forgiveness, God’s availability, the Holy Spirit, the bible, good counsel, technology, smiles, the Church, the goodness of God, the ability to give Him praise in many ways…

Will you praise Him? Keep in mind that more time spent praising God leaves less time to murmur and complain. God not only desires your praise, as aforementioned, He deserves your praise. If He never blesses you again (though being able to read this blog is a blessing in itself), He is still worthy of all the praise that you could give! Bless the Lord, for He has truly blessed you!

MD 6/25/12

Activating Faith

“God can do the impossible only if you believe He specializes in doing big things. God can do the impossible, anything that you need, just get your eyes off of things that you see. God can do the impossible!” -Da’ T.R.U.T.H song titled Impossible

The Christian who is living by faith in a world whose motto is “seeing is believing,” has a daunting but necessary task, that is, to put complete trust in the One true God whom he can’t see in all situations at all times. Faith is as vital to the Christian’s spiritual wellbeing as food is for one’s physical health; consider what Hebrews chapter 11 has to say on the matter. Though nothing is impossible for God, Heb 11:6 reveals that it’s impossible to please God, the One who can do all things, without faith. While many people will claim to have faith, their actions often suggest otherwise when a situation arises that challenges their comfort. If one hopes to have the abundant life, as presented in John 10:10, he or she must not talk about their faith only, but demonstrate it before God and others, especially during the more difficult times. Consistently making the tough decisions, the ones that distinguish the Christian warriors from the consistent worriers and true believers from truly belligerent, requires faith, not a faith, that is dead, but one that is coupled with actions! This active faith can be seen in James 2:18 which says, “But someone may well say you have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works and I will show you my faith by my works.” (NASB) Heb 10:38-39 asserts, “…but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (ESV) Take full advantage of every opportunity to put your faith into action and rid yourself of stress and worry about things you have no control. Remember, the one that you love, follow, and serve, Christians, is in full control because He has power and authority over ALL things. Activate your faith, let go and let God!

MD 6/15/12

The hard decisions

I truly believe that anyone who claims to be a Christian will come across a situation(s) at some point in their lives that will test the integrity of their Christianity and faith. I’m not referring to decisions such as whether or not to attend worship services because of a slight cough and mild headache, or determining if it’s feasible to attend a social event because of the abundance of alcohol (and other such temptations) that is likely to be present; I’m referencing situations that are much more difficult. As a Christian, what do you do when your values and obedience to Christ may cause you to be ostracized by your closest kinfolk; wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother, best friend, etc? Do you compromise your faith and relationship with God to appease people? Do you walk away from your job, career, and money when you’ve come to clearly see that your company’s code of ethics is contrary to God’s standards for righteous living? Do you attempt to justify yourself and make God’s word “fit” your response to the situation by any means necessary, or do you trust that God will sustain you despite the evil looks and unfair treatment you may get from others if you follow His will? Surely, all those who will live Godly will suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12); for the true Christian, suffering is inevitable. In fact, according to Hebrews 5:8, even Jesus, God’s own son, learned obedience through the things He suffered. Christians, undoubtedly, will have difficult decisions to make in life; the faith that one displays during these tough times is necessary for that Christian to mature spiritually. As long as “so-called” Christians try to take the easy way out or make decisions based on how people will respond rather than base their thoughts, speech, and actions on what God has revealed through His word, they can’t expect to receive much in return from God. “So that God would get the glory,” should be the motto and motive driving the lives of Christians; aiming to please people or validate oneself will ultimately cause one to be excluded from the presence of God when all is said and done!

MD 6/11/12

As a Matter of Fact…

I’ve always been amazed with people who can remember so many different facts, statistics, and other detailed information about people, events, or things; people who are keen on various sports and player statistics are especially impressive to me. A good friend of mine is like a human sports encyclopedia; he can seemingly recall the name and statistics of male and female sports figures, past, present, and prospective without hesitation.  I know others (myself included) who know and can speak  some information regarding sports but their knowledge is limited and they’re more opinionated than they’re accurate; they may have an interest in some sports but they’re not committed to them like my friend is. Still, others couldn’t care less about sports or anything sports related, but may be enthusiastic about other such things…to each his/her own.

The same is true with Christianity. Some people are truly knowledgeable and wise concerning the teachings and example of Christ and are committed to discerning and fulfilling the will of God through study of the scriptures and righteous living. Some have a limited knowledge of God’s word and his will; they may have attended a few bible classes here and there or they hold the words of those they consider to be spiritual as truth and pass it on as such. These people are usually more opinionated than they are knowledgeable about the word of God; little of what they say regarding spiritual matters is fact. Still others couldn’t care less about Jesus Christ, salvation, and the will/word of God; they are considered atheists or Christian antagonists. Though I find those who have random bits of information stored regarding various sports figures and such to be interesting, I am truly fond of those who are married to Christ and committed to serving the Lord; I, too, am part of this fine group of people that make up the body of Christ. The apostle Paul tells Timothy (his son in the faith), “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.” (2 Tim 2:15, NASB) While sports statistics and related opinions are not necessarily considered the “worldly and empty chatter,” that Paul was referring to, true Christians recognize that when compared to God, everything else (sports, events, people, etc.) is worthless; what is important, however, is being attentive to the will of God and being approved by Him as one who is diligent and able to appropriately apply and present His word. Fact of the matter is, God desires that you commit yourself to thinking, saying, and doing those things that will give Him the glory; this was the very reason in which you were created. The Wise King Solomon concludes, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear Godand keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Eccl. 12:13, NIV) If you can retain volumes of information regarding sports and cannot set aside any time to determine what the word of God says, you’re doing a disservice to God and placing your soul in jeopardy! Let’s go with Knowing God’s Word for 1,000 Alex!

MD 6/1/12

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (Luke 6:45, NASB) Jesus shares, in Mark 7:21-23, “And Jesus said, “The things that come out of people are the things that make them unclean. All these evil things begin inside people, in the mind: evil thoughts, sexual sins, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, evil actions, lying, doing sinful things, jealousy, speaking evil of others, pride, and foolish living. All these evil things come from inside and make people unclean.”(NCV)

The heart (mind) is the driving force behind all that we do, say, or think. No one, aside from those who may have some type of limiting intellectual disability, can use “I wasn’t thinking” as an excuse for displaying some type of inappropriate behavior. As the above passages indicates, the actions of a person are a reflection of what his or her heart is filled with; therefore, one who is wicked has a heart that is full of evil, while one who strives to be righteous has a mind that is focused on pleasing God and doing what’s right (Rom 12:17-21). If you find yourself struggling to consistently have good thoughts and to display good behavior before others, the culprit is your heart. Make more time for God; for the reading and studying of His word, and for fellowship with those who strive for purity of heart and righteous living. In addition, stay away from those who are likely to try and fill your heart with greed, lust, hate, anger…wickedness. Don’t deceive yourself, brief and sporadic attempts at trying to get encouragement from the word of God will lead to spiritual impotence and frailty; on the other hand, a sincere commitment to God’s word and His will, will continuously fortify your heart, which in turn, will lead to thoughts, words, and action that are pleasing in His sight. Remember Christians, Jesus is our example. The Apostle Peter shares in 1 Peter 2:21, 22 , “To thisyou were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps; He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” An application of this passage is that Jesus committed no sin and did not lie because His heart was saturated with God’s word and He was always focused on pleasing God the Father; as Christians, shouldn’t ours be the same?

To sum it all up, tune-in to God and tune-out the sinful ways of the world. Put down the remote (or controller) as well as any other stumbling block and cancel those plans…give attention to those things that will be a positive influence on your life! Concentrate on the word of God.

MD 5/24/12

Attitude of Gratitude

Typically, thankfulness is directly proportional to the assistance received; in other words, a person’s level of gratitude is likely (again I say likely) to be great if the assistance that has been provided is great. You can see this in just about every facet of life. If your service is great at a restaurant, the waiter/waitress is likely to receive a nice tip. The friend that sacrifices his entire Saturday to help you move on short notice will likely receive more gratitude from you than the person who committed to help you move months in advance but only stopped by for a few minutes during the move to tell you why he wouldn’t be able to help. Crime stoppers is likely to give a greater reward for the one who provides a lead to the capture of the notorious serial killer as opposed to the person who reports observance of a citizen who is guilty of jaywalking.  I liken this application to the point to Jesus makes with Pharisee in Luke 7:40-43. You should know that God did the most for you when He sacrificed His son on your behalf; if He never does anything else for you (though He will), you owe Him all of the gratitude and praise you can give Him in a 1,000 lifetimes solely for the things He’s already done for you. I challenge you this day to develop, as a good friend of mine often says, an attitude of gratitude towards God (first and foremost) and toward others as well. Col 3:17 states, “Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.” The link below features a song I recorded in effort to give thanks to God in my own way; it’s just one of the many ways I try and express my gratitude to God. How do you or will you express your gratefulness to God?

Thank You Lord by Mike Danger http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_9660405

I’ll leave you with a phrase I’ve coined. A heart full of gratitude has no room for complaints and cynicism!

MD 5/18/12

The Master’s Plan

If you never go back to school and obtain that degree you so desire, would you consider you life a waste? If the man or woman of your dreams never sweeps you off your feet, will your life always feel incomplete? If the door to your career is never unlocked, will all your years spent working be in vain? If your short or long-term goals or plans always seem to be thwarted by problems, complications, or others, will you never experience satisfaction? Is your happiness only temporarily aroused by monetary, material blessings, or fleeting pleasures? If so, know this…God is the only permanent fix for your impermanent problems! While medication and therapy may assist in easing discomfort and provide assistance in minimizing the effects of anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc. and a few extra bucks might help pay the bills, faith in the son of God and obedience to His word are necessary for true fulfillment in life (and the next); they will keep you contented even if your plans are never successfully executed. Consider the words of Paul to the brothers and sisters in the body of Christ in Philippi, “I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens.I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough.I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength. (Phil 4:11-13, NCV) When you learn to truly put God first in your life and align your will with His, He will grant the desires of your heart, because they will all aim to give Him the glory.

MD 5/9/12

Intimacy with God

“I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear the son of God discloses…

and He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own, 

and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known!”

The words and arrangement of the hymn I Come to the Garden Alone are so lovely and calming. I often find myself humming or singing this song when I’m in the midst of a storm or feeling overwhelmed. The message that rings the loudest when I ponder over the words of the song is having true intimacy with Christ. While many people think only of sexual relations when they hear the term intimacy, the word’s true meaning is that of having a very close association, unification, familiarity, or bond. When I think of David’s relationship with King Saul’s son Jonathan, intimacy immediately comes to mind. Intimacy transcends basic communication; it allows two or more people have a stronger, more personal union. When true intimacy exists in a relationship, that relationship will not be severed easily because all parties will be motivated by love and care for each other. One can’t expect to understand the unique relationship of God (being the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, yet one God) without understanding the idea of intimacy. A man cannot leave his father and mother and become one with his wife without truly grasping the concept of intimacy; this is probably one of the main reasons the divorce rate is so high at present. Peruse the words of Jesus as He prays to His Father and you find that Jesus desired intimacy with those who believed in Him, “I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me.I have given these people the glory that you gave me so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them and you will be in me so that they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as much as you loved me.” (John 17: 20-23, NCV) Don’t become complacent in your relationships with others and especially, your relationship with God; seek to know him more and more, and better and better each day. Commit yourself to true intimacy with God by giving Him your all; obey His will, exam His word, strengthen your prayer life, and share His goodness with all that you come in contact with. God desires an intimate relationship with you!

MD 5/3/12

Forgiveness Anyone???

Jesus, after teaching his disciples how to pray, concludes his thoughts with the following statement, “Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you of your sins. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6: 14, NCV) I’m not sure if the disciples really grasped the importance of this simple concept that Jesus presented to them at that moment; I’m also not sure people really understand the gravity of that rule today, though it is still in effect. To make it even clearer, Jesus is expressing that one should not even expect forgiveness for his or her own wrong doing from God if he or she will not forgive others for their wrong doing.  Jesus explained the importance of forgiveness on several occasions, yet it doesn’t appear that forgiveness is one of the principles that is highly emphasized today. So many people struggle with forgiveness; some, to the point that they will hold grudges or hate others for a lifetime. Jesus is the epitome of forgiveness so if you’re striving to be “Christ-like” then forgiveness should be one of your finest attributes as well, right!? Reconsider what the bible has to say regarding forgiveness and how that Jesus freely gave his life for our forgiveness and reunion with God; know also that God will not forgive you if you don’t forgive others and heaven cannot be your eternal home.

MD 4/27/12