Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weird Encounter

I felt led to stop by a local church yesterday to talk with a minister. It was a church that I have never attended. I have a home church with a great minister, but he wasn't available to talk to me at the moment, so I just drove to this other church. You know how it is sometimes when you just have to talk to someone at that very moment. Anyway, what a strange incident! Although the church had regular business hours, I found the door locked and had to hit a buzzer on a speaker and tell them why I was there just to get in. Even my bank doesn't have such "security". An elderly gentleman finally came to the door. By this time, I was practically in tears needing some Godly guidance from a pastor or minister. I asked him if I could see a minister and he told me that they were all gone. At lunch? Running errands? No. He said they were gone-all 4 walked out! I was completely and totally in shock!

The man was very helpful, however, and he did call a minister that met me in one hour. We had a very nice talk. I didn't ask for too many details about what happened with the four ministers, but was told that they left because they were being told what to preach and how to minister to the church members. Apparently, the pastor's preaching, which was completely Bible-based, stepped on a few toes, and the people just didn't want to hear the Truth. I don't know, that is just what I was told. How often does this happen today in churches? How often are preachers told to "tone down" the message as not to offend anyone, or offend the least possible amount of people? When I read in the Gospels, Jesus never "toned down" His messages. He was constantly stepping on the toes of those around Him. But Jesus told the absolute Truth! Would we want anything less from our ministers whom Jesus has called? Sometimes I don't like what I read in the Bible because it completely convicts my heart and soul. But that is exactly what I need! It sometimes hurts, but the Truth is what is important.

Jesus said in John 8:31-32, "If you hold to my teaching, then you are really my disciples. Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free."

Lord, please help us to accept the things in Your Word that are hard to swallow. As hard as it can be for us to hear the Truth, please help us to absorb it and apply it to every aspect of our lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Serious Cleansing

I have read many times how Jesus got angry at least once while He was here on earth. All four Gospels relate the story of how Jesus entered the temple one day in Jerusalem and all but went berserk! You know the story of how He drove away all the sellers and money changers with a whip. He was outraged because the people had turned God's House into a marketplace. Jesus quoted Isaiah 56:7 when He yelled, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a den of thieves'". Of course this angered the Jewish religious establishment because they were making a nice profit in the Temple. How can we use this dramatic incident in our lives today?

We all make mistakes, do bad things, sin against God, and really make a mess of situations. But from time to time, we need to come to a serious cleansing of our hearts and souls. Like Jesus did, we too need to get angry with stuff in our lives and "whip" them out. Of course we can only truly do this with God's help. We need to ask God to remove all our personal defects and character flaws so we can truly live for Him. I guess it is like cleaning the house. We can pick up and do a little each day, but sooner or later, we need a serious "spring cleaning". I don't know about you, but for me, that time has come! In the name of Jesus, I command all evil, sickness, and wrongdoing to leave my body! I only have room for one God...and that is Jesus Christ!

Psalm 138:8 says, "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord endures forever-do not abandon the works of Your hands."

Father, I ask You to give me strength to do the things I know You want me to do. I have made a mess of things, as usual, but I truly have faith and accept that You have forgiven me and will lead me on my way. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just When I Need You Most

I'm sure the main reason is because we are only human, but why else is it that we only call on God when we need Him most? When things are caving in around us, we panic and call on God to deliver us. I know the Bible tells us that He loves to deliver us in our greatest hour of need. But do you feel guilty about it like I do? I tell you the truth, it just about kills me that I keep doing the same things over and over. I ask God to forgive me, and I know He does. But I can't help but to feel like I let Him down, especially when He has blessed me so much. Why do we suffer from this paradox of continuing to do what we know we shouldn't?

For me, it is not so much doing things that I shouldn't do as it is not doing the things that I should. How many times have I passed by someone who may have been lost, but I chose not to share Jesus with them? How many times have I passed someone who may have just needed a kind word, but I chose not to give them one. How many times have I thought of myself before I thought of someone else? Oh Lord, please forgive me. I would ask You for another chance, but I wonder if I would just mess up that opportunity as well. Although I might mess it up again and again, I will not give up asking for Your Perfect help. I know the Bible says I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Well Lord, here I am asking for Your strength. I ask You to help me make a difference in the lives of others. I ask You to help me win souls for Your Son Jesus. I ask You to help me further Your Heavenly Kingdom.

Psalm 72:12 says, "God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help."

Lord, thank you for my life. Please help me to do a much better job with it. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

They Are Lined Up

As I sit at my computer watching the curtains sway back and forth and feeling the cool air flow through my open window, I hear the sounds of shrill screams from across the street. My neighbors are hosting their annual Halloween Haunted Forest, and people are lined up down the street to walk through it. I can hear the hypnotic Theme of the 1978 John Carpenter thriller Halloween playing over the loud speakers. I can hear the terrorizing buzz of the chainsaw as Leather Face (from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) rushes the guests down the path. It is all in fun of course, and from the looks of the long line, many people are having some serious fun. I can just see my once step-son Jordan running as fast as he can to get away from Michael Myers. Gosh, I miss him and Abbey sooo much! Could you imagine just how scary that forest would be if it was all real? Do you think that forest will be like hell? From the descriptions in the Bible, I bet hell is even worse!

Those people who are standing in line to go through the forest across the street are doing it just for fun. But sadly, many people today are also standing in line waiting to go to hell. And what is so amazing is that they don't even seem to care! I just can't believe that people would take such a huge risk with their Salvation! The Bible is crystal clear that without Jesus, hell will be our final destination. The Bible tells us that in hell, you won't have the luxury of death. You will have to endure endless torture forever more. I just can't imagine that. I know I will NOT be going there because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. If you have also accepted Him, you, too will avoid that horrible, terrifying hell. But if you have not accepted Jesus, you are just standing in line waiting to go through a real haunted forest. And in that forest, those chainsaws have real chains on them!

Revelation 14:11 says, "The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night."

Father, thank you for saving me from Hell. I pray for those who are standing in hell's line. I ask you to save them with the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ. In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We Forgive Because We Are Forgiven

An incident that happened at the Penn State/Minnesota game this past weekend has caused somewhat of a stir in the Media. Before the game, a Penn State player knelt down in the End Zone and said a little prayer. While he was doing that, the Minnesota team mascot also knelt down in front of him and mocked his praying. The Minnesota officials have already apologized for the incident, but as usual, the Media wont let it die. Even worse, many Christians have also been outraged and have even demanded that the mascot lose his job. What do you think?

As a Christian, I am always offended when somebody mocks prayer. It hurts to hear people say that there is no God or that Jesus was not really the Son of God. But what can I do about it? Argue with them? Curse at them? Hope they die and have to "pay" for their unbelief? No, of course not. The greatest power that we have as Christians is our ability to forgive and let it go. All we can do is pray and ask God to help them truly see the "Light" that is His Son Jesus Christ. Yes it hurts, and it is ok to let them know that they offended us. But we must immediately forgive them and pray for their Salvation. Isn't that what Jesus would do? Isn't that what Jesus DID do when He was here?

Romans 12:4 says, "Bless them which persecute you: Bless, and curse not."

Father, please help us to remember that we must forgive others for anything that they may do to offend us. You set the perfect example by forgiving us. Teach us to follow Your example. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Better Or Bitter

It is true that we must first suffer before we can truly experience joy. Think about this for a minute: How can we know how bright the light can be until we experience how black the dark can be? How can we know what warmth feels like unless we feel the bitterness of cold? How can we know the amazing feeling of victory without experiencing the agony of defeat?

The four Gospels give vivid details of how our Lord Jesus Christ suffered before He was called to Glory. He wears a Crown that represents Heavenly joy, but He also carries deep scars that represent His sufferings. If you are going through a suffering season, trust in Him, and joy is sure to follow. You can get bitter or you can get better. By trusting in Jesus, you will get MUCH better!

2 Timothy 2:3 says, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

Father, suffering is so hard. You know that fact better than all of us. Help us to rely on Your perfect strength to make it through our worst times. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Haunting Season

I used to absolutely love Halloween! Even though I am a Christian, I have never seen the harm in having fun during this fall festival. Those Christians who believe that it is a "sin" to celebrate Halloween have their opinions. But if you look up the origins of Halloween, it was started by Christians. Anyway, this devotion is not a debate for or against Halloween. Like I said, I used to love this time of year. But sadly, Halloween stirs up extremely hurtful memories from last year. It's been almost a year now since then, but admittedly, I am no closer to healing than I was last year. Now, I truly feel haunted by all the Halloween decor that is all over town. Just the sound of the word 'Halloween' brings chills down my spine. Across the street from my house, my neighbors have built a "haunted forest". They do it every year, and there will literally be 100 people to go through it every night. Because the air so nice outside, I like to leave the door in my bedroom open. But all I hear are screams, chainsaws, and the Halloween theme playing over my neighbor's loud speakers. I feel like I am losing it; I feel like I am truly being haunted!

I have prayed and prayed and prayed about this. I have asked God to get me over the hurt. I have asked God to get me over the loneliness and despair. Some days are better than others, but overall, I am still bogged down in my own grief. But I will NEVER give-up on God. There is a reason why I am still suffering. I don't know why, and I sometimes get upset with God, but I do trust Him. Something has got to give, one way or the other! This is probably not a good devotion, but as you know, I always write what's on my heart. If there is anything one can get from this devotion is that God does not always helps us on our time. We have to be patient and wait for His perfect time. I can tell you I have shed over a million tears over this tragedy. I'm sure there will be a million more. But God promises to wipe every one of them from my face. Oh, how I need my Jesus right now!

Jesus boldly told us to "ask anything in my name, and I will do it."

Father, you know very well my heart's desires. I continue to ask for those things because I continue to have faith in You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Found A New Place

I think I have found a new place to share Jesus Christ. Recently, I have been blogging on a college football message board. This is where college football fans from all around the country can debate and "argue" about whose team is better. I have found it to be a lot of fun. I have chatted with some pretty knowledgeable people who really support their favorite teams. But like always, there are some who are not Christians, and who love to poke fun at my picture I use on the message boards. The picture I use is of me wearing a blue "Jesus" shirt. Some of the bloggers love to attack me verbally for believing in "a fairy tale". But for every one of those kinds of people, at least 3 or 4 others will "come to my rescue" and applaud me for having such a strong faith. There is one guy on there that loves his favorite QB so much, that he even calls him Jesus Christ. He claims that Jesus never walked the earth until he started playing for his team. In a few conversations with him, he has flat-out told me that God is just a fairy tale. I try to reason with him that although he thinks God is just a fairy tale, he must believe Jesus is pretty awesome to give his favorite player that name. It goes right over his head!

I am proud to be a follower of Christ, and I am not in the least bit ashamed of it! It is an amazing feeling to be verbally attacked for being a Christian, but to respond to that attack with, "I still love you, and so does God." Not only do those attackers not know how to respond to that, but the other 1000 people reading it gets to see Christ in action through me. By only responding to those attacks in a loving and caring way, I am showing that I am a true Christian. I must admit that it is hard not to attack back. But through the love and strength of Christ, I am able to remain strong. We are lucky that God has called us to be Christians. But it also requires a great deal of responsibility on our part. People are watching us very closely. They watch how we respond to things. The way I see it, when attacks come our way for being Christians, that is an excellent opportunity for us to show our true colors. It is a great opportunity for us to show the true colors of Jesus Christ!

Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-45, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

Lord, thank you for choosing me to be a Christian. I ask You to always give me the strength to show others I love Christ by loving them. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's All In The Name

This week on my Jukebox Saturday Night radio show, I will be featuring "weird inspiration" songs and groups. That is, I will be explaining the unusual circumstances behind the writing of some of Rock-n-Roll's most memorable songs and how some of the most famous groups got their names. Tune in this Saturday Night at 9 Central time at to find out what songs were inspired by a McDonald's Big Mac, a man in a bathroom, a menu from a Chinese restaurant, a poem written by a 19-year old in just 3 minutes, a bottle of soda pop, and many more. To wet your appetite, let me explain how the band Three Dog Night got their group name. You might remember Three Dog Night with such major hits as Joy To The World (Jeremiah was a bullfrog), Black and White, One (is the loneliest number), etc. In the Australian Outback, like most deserts, it can get scorching-hot during the daytime, and bone-chilling cold at night. To keep warm, some people would sleep with a dog to take advantage of its body heat. On really cold nights, they would use two dogs. And on those freezing-cold nights when your blood would almost turn to ice, that was a Three-Dog Night.

I have always liked the gospel song, The Lovely Name Of Jesus. In the song, it says that the name of Jesus is the name above all others. I suffer from occasional panic attacks, and what helps me more than anything during an episode is for me to continuously say "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." There is just something about His name that calms and soothes me deep down in my heart and soul. It is amazing to me how such a short, simple name can have such incredible, lasting effects! We all face troubled times, even if we don't all suffer from anxiety attacks. We all know how it feels when things around us seem to be caving in on top of us. But there is something we can do to help. The next time you are experiencing a frigid "three-dog night" in your heart and life, allow the simple name of Jesus to warm you up all over. Believe me, it really works!

Romans 8:6 says, "The mind controlled by Jesus is life and peace."

Father, thank you again for Jesus. Please teach us to depend on Him more, and on ourselves less. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Lighthouse Is Gone

Those who know me know I love lighthouses. Not only is my living room decorated with lighthouses and nautical items, but I also have a 3-foot solar-powered lighthouse in my front yard. Well, I should say I DID have! Last week, it was stolen from my yard around noon by a 20-something year-old lady in a gray Mustang. My neighbor, who had been putting up Halloween decorations in his yard, witnessed the whole thing. He shouted out to her, asking what she was doing. She told him that I sold the lighthouse to her. He didn't believe that lie and wrote down her description and a partial license plate number. I called the Police when I got home, but they said it would be almost impossible to locate the thief with only a partial plate. The officer told me that he has been patrolling my neighborhood for a couple years and remembers seeing the lighthouse in my yard. It only cost me about 50 bucks, but it was special to me. And now it is gone.

I can not begin to tell you how violated I feel. What has happened to our society? Whatever happened to "do unto others?" I don't know who the thief is, but I have at least begun to forgive her. But it got me to thinking about all the times I have "stolen" from God. I wonder, each time I sin, does He feel violated like I do about my lighthouse? When I do the things opposite from His teaching, does He feel pain? Does He continue to feel those long, rusty nails in His wrists each time I don't "do unto others?" I know I can't be perfect and live a sin-free life, but I also know I could sin less if I would depend on His strength more than what I do. Oh lord, please forgive me. You are my true Lighthouse, and I don't want to ever "steal" from you again. You know, maybe it took a thief for God to show me that I am not much better.

Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Father, please forgive the lady who stole my lighthouse. And please forgive me for "stealing" from You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Bailey Boo

Forgive me, but I have to brag on my 13-year old daughter Bailey Boo. She is a Christian and attends church regularly. She is a well-mannered young lady who always wears a smile. I wish I could get her to read her Bible more, and I wish I could get her to go down front at church to profess her faith. She is a little shy, but then again, so was I at 13. But let me tell you what happened today at church. She has been taking guitar lessons for a couple years and has gotten pretty good at playing. She knows over 100 songs, and has become a self-learner. She is constantly on the Internet learning how to be a better player. She was overheard playing her guitar by the youth director at church, and he has asked her to join the youth choir as a singer and guitar player!! Praise God! He has given her a talent of playing guitar, and today, she decided to use that talent for His Glory. I could not be any more proud of her than I am at this very moment!

We all have talents that are given to us by the Lord. In fact, anything that we are able to do is because He blessed us with that ability. When we choose to use it to further His Kingdom, there is no stronger peace and satisfaction in the world. He called me to be a teacher 15 years ago, and I love it more today than I ever have before. I have experienced first-hand the joy of knowing I am living for Jesus. Now, Bailey will experience that same joy and peace from serving Him. Bailey, your daddy is so proud of you, sweetie. God has given you a talent. Always thank Him for it, and always use it for His Glory. You are an inspiration to me. I am proud God chose me to be your daddy!

3 John 1:4 says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the Truth."

Father, thank you for blessing Bailey. Help her to always stand up for You and to inspire others to seek Your face. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall Break

Today is the last day for students and teachers in the Dothan City School System. Our Fall Break begins at 3:15! I think I can speak for most students and teachers; We are desperately needing a little break from the stresses of public education. Every job should have some off-time. Studies have shown that workers are more efficient when they receive regular time away from their jobs. I will be off from the high school only until Wednesday, and I will still have to work at the college Tuesday night, but I am still going to enjoy what little time I have been given. I will be officially "on vacation".

How many times do we pray to God, but it seems He is away on vacation? How many times do we feel like our prayers never get beyond the ceiling? I guess that happens to all of us from time to time. But we can rest assured that God is never too busy to concern Himself with our daily needs. In the Gospels, we learn of several times that Jesus was very busy doing one thing, but He never hesitated to stop and address the needs of those around Him. Once, He was busy preaching and teaching some 4000 people when they ran out of food. Jesus stopped what He was doing and fed every single one of them...and still had some food left over. On more than one occasion, He was asked to go heal someone in need, and He indeed dropped what He was doing and fulfilled those wishes. There was even another time when He was so tired from His ministry, that He fell sound asleep on a boat with His disciples, even when a monster storm blew up. His disciples panicked and scrambled to wake Jesus so He could save them from drowning. He got right up and calmed the storm. No, He is never too busy to help us. You know those advertisers that say no job is too big or too small for them? Well, the same is true of Jesus. He is very able, and even more willing, to help us when we cry out to Him.

Psalm 55:17 says, "Evening, morning, and at noon will I pray and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice."

Father, thank you for wanting to help us. Please help us to not get discouraged when You don't answer us right away or answer us in the way we want you to. We trust in You, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Will Get You For That

What a lopsided baseball game. In 1916, Cumberland College defeated Georgia Tech 22-0. It was rumored that the Cumberland team consisted of some professional players. Using professional players was not only illegal, it was also just plain wrong. How embarrassing that game had to be for Tech! But guess what happened that next Fall? The Georgia Tech football team, with their famous coach John Heisman, paid the Cumberland team back on this day in 1916. Tech defeated Cumberland 222-0! Did you notice the similarities between the football score (222-0) and the baseball score (22-0)? That football game was the ultimate "you got what you deserved" pay back.

It is sad that so many of us try to "get people back" when they do us wrong. That concept was certainly not taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, his teaching was the exact opposite. He encouraged His disciples to actually "do good" to those who persecute them. How hard is that for us humans? It is so natural to want to retaliate. It is human nature to want to "give them a dose of their own medicine". But it takes a very big person to love his enemies instead of wanting to get even with them. How in the world can we live up to the standard that Jesus set for each one of us? I don't think we truly can. But we can probably do a better job than what most of us are doing. If we draw our strength from Christ, and not from ourselves, we will never score 222 points against our foes, even if they do "deserve" it. Thank God He did not give each of us what we "deserved" for our sins!

Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Father, please remind us that vengeance is Yours, and Yours alone. Help us to do good instead of evil to those who persecute us. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hammering Hank

On April 23, 1954, Henry "Hank" Aaron hit his very first Major League home run. The shot came off of cardinal pitcher Vic Raschi. Aaron, a Mobile, Alabama native, went on to hit 755 home runs, a record that stood for 31 years. Aaron reached many milestones in his baseball career, but we will mostly remember his home run feat. He averaged an amazing 34 home runs per year! But they all came in the same way-one at a time.

Following Christ is not an instantaneous thing; It is like a career. We can't expect to break a lot of Christian records the minute we become saved. It takes time. We must read the Bible, pray, go to Church, and fellowship with other Christians. We do these little things one at a time. As we progress through our Christian life step-by-step, God reveals more and more things about Himself to us. As we study His Word and grow spiritually, we become better witnesses for Him. I believe we were put on this earth for one purpose: To share the Good News about Christ with others. I like to think of Jesus saving someone through my testimony as hitting a spiritual home run. My goal is the surpass Aaron's mark of 755. In order to do that, I must remain focused on the Lord and think about saving just one person at a time. With Jesus' help, maybe I can become Hammerin' Al.

2 Chronicles 15:7 says, "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded."

Father, if it be Your will, use me today to witness to somebody in need. I want to hit as many home runs for You as I can. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Keep On Truckin'

Happy Monday! Welcome to a brand-new week full of opportunities to serve and Glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. Are you excited and ready to go? I know I sure am! Put me in coach, I'm ready! I love the joke about the lady who prays, "God, thank you so much for this day. So far today, I have not lost my temper, cussed at anybody, put anyone down, said or thought anything negative, hurt anybody's feelings, nor have I bragged on myself a single time. But In just a second, I am gonna get up out of this bed and start my day. From then on, I am going to need Your help a lot.

How many times do we start a new day or week with great expectations of ourselves, only to find that we mess up almost immediately? Peter told Jesus he would "die" for Him. But Jesus made a shocking prediction that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster sounded. Peter had to think, "No way, Lord. I would NEVER do that." Yet only a few short hours later, he denied Jesus just as predicted. Peter felt awful about what he had done, but what he did after that is what is so important: He repented. The Bible tells us we will fail, and fail often; We can't avoid that. But what's important is that we do what Peter did. It is critical that we repent. God promises to forgive us every single time we sin. So start the day with great expectations. But if you happen to mess up along the way, ask Him for forgiveness, and then keep on truckin' for His Glory.

I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Father, please help us to remember that we are not perfect, but You are. It is only through You that we can be forgiven for our sins. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Want Fries With That?

Things have really changed. I can remember going to fast-food drive-thrus to place orders, and they would come on the speaker and ask, "Welcome to so-in-so, may I take your order?" Today, it is much more complicated. Now they come on and ask, "Welcome to so-in-so, would you like to try our new blah blah blah ba blah blah blah?" Gosh, now I forgot what I was going to order. Just the other day, the poor lady had so much to say in her greeting that she actually messed up twice! You just can't help but laugh.

How many times do our prayers simply become placing an order with God instead of a genuine, heart-felt talk with Him? It's almost like we expect God to come on and say, "Welcome to Heaven, would you like to win the lottery today or get a brand-new car?" I know I am guilty of treating God as an order-taker instead of respecting Him as my God. He is not Santa. He is the Creator of the universe, and He wants to have a real relationship with each one of us. There is nothing wrong with asking God for things, in fact, the Bible teaches us how to do that very thing. But we really miss the point of prayer if we focus on the gifts rather than the Giver. I actually had a dream one night where I was asking God for things like He was a worker at McDonald's. And no joke, in my dream, He replied, "Want fries with that, too." I can still remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed of myself.

Romans 8:26 says, "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Father, teach us to pray in a way that will truly get Your attention. Forgive us when we treat You like an order-taker. In Jesus name, Amen.