Mar 17

Fish Out of Water

Poisson rouge

Have you ever been fishing? My first experience with fishing was in the pond behind our house; a pond I knew very well. Not only was it located 50 yards from my back door, but I lost quite a few baseballs in that pond over the years. However, I never spent much time fishing in that pond. Then one day, all that changed. My uncle was fishing and decided to teach me the finer points of the sport. He spent time teaching me about baits, how to cast the line in the water and what to do once you hooked a big one. Within a matter of minutes I had caught my first fish.

As exciting as it was to catch that fish, do you know what I remember most about that day? I remember the fish struggling to survive. That fish wanted to be back in the water. Water is a source of life for fish. Once a fish is out of water, it is unable to survive for very long.

Sometimes I feel as though Christians have a lot more in common with fish than we probably realize. You see, like fish, we sometimes allow ourselves to be pulled away from our source of life into a world that threatens our survival.

James writes, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

For Christians, a lot of times we are like fish out of water. We allow ourselves to bite the lure the world dangles before us and to be pulled away from obedience and faithfulness to God. We find ourselves giving our friendship and loyalty to the world and thereby making ourselves an enemy to God. Like fish, we take the bait and are pulled away into a world that threatens our survival, our eternal survival.

Sure the bait looks appetizing to the fish, but it’s just a trick. By the time the fish realizes it has made a huge mistake, it is struggling to survive. Let’s stay alert so we don’t become like a fish out of water.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Mar 11

Life Will Never Be the Same

2558140743_4460f51fd5             Photo Credit: Jacob & Kiki Hantla via Compfight cc

 
Most people can recall the best moments of their lives. We remember these moments because they are life changing. If I were to ask you your wedding anniversary, you could probably tell me (at least for your sake I hope you could!). You probably know the birthday of your spouse and children. You might remember the date you graduated after all your years of hard work. You may even remember the day you got your job or the big promotion you spent so much time working toward. Whatever the event, if it was important and life changing, you probably remember when it took place.

Like most of you, I have experienced my fair share of life changing moments. I have graduated, started my career, married a beautiful woman of God and been blessed with a wonderful son who brings great joy to our lives. However, there is one important date I will never forget. This date sticks out because it was one of the first life changing moments I ever experienced. On January 12, 1994, late in the evening, I came to realize I was a struggling sinner who stood in need of the grace, mercy and love of God. Bible verses like, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) became real to me. I began to understand that I needed the free gift of salvation that God offers to all people.

Around 11:30 p.m. on January 12, 1994, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and obeyed His command to be buried in the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of my sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). It was a life changing night on so many levels.

Since that night 21 years ago, my life has never been the same. When I experience difficult times, I am reminded of God’s love. When I feel hopeless, I remember I now have hope because of what Jesus has done. When I get too caught up in this present life, I recall my life is now about Jesus and not about me. When I’m struggling to forgive, I recount the forgiveness the Lord has granted me from my past sins. Surrendering to Jesus has truly changed my life.

You probably have a lot of events that have significant meaning in your life. What about the time you surrendered your life to Jesus and were baptized into His death? Do you remember the moment? If you haven’t surrendered your life to Him, what’s stopping you? There’s no greater decision a person can make than to obey the will of God and give their life and heart to Jesus Christ and be buried in the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). Why not submit to the Lord through baptism today? I promise your life will never be the same.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Jan 21

Stop Talking About It!

Photo Credit: Justin Morton

Photo Credit: Sarah Smith

This past weekend over 1,600 people from across the southeast attended an annual event in Savannah, TN known as Evangelism University, including 21 of us from Karns. This is always one of our group’s favorite events of the year. EU is a weekend devoted to training high school students to be more evangelistic among their peers.

Students are typically given a booklet to take home and study with a friend. Over the course of the weekend, the students are led through the course themselves so they will better understand how to teach the material to their friends who have never obeyed the Gospel plan of Salvation.

On Saturday night I got to thinking about what it would look like if everyone in attendance made just one disciple for Jesus this year. What an incredible impact such an action would have on the Lord’s Kingdom. Unfortunately, some of us who attended will choose to let multiple opportunities pass us by this year for one reason or another.

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).

Jesus has commissioned us to go into the world and make disciples. Notice this is not a suggestion for us to follow but rather a command for us to obey. What if all 1,600 who attended EU this year went back home and made one disciple for Christ? Just imagine the impact. Now, let’s not stop there. Imagine if each of you reading this made at least one disciple for Christ this year. How incredible would this be?

When are we, who claim to be disciples of Jesus, going to stop talking about being disciples and start acting like disciples? Jesus commanded us to GO, MAKE DISCIPLES and TEACH. What are we waiting for? There’s no better time than now. Jesus promised, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Let’s stop talking about making disciples for Christ and actually start making disciples. Why not make this the year we lead at least one lost soul to Jesus. Just imagine the impact!

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Jan 13

A Forgotten God

Slide1

Isn’t it amazing how quickly our attitudes can change depending on our circumstances? We can go from feeling happy and blessed one moment, to feeling sad and depressed the next. Too often we allow our disappointing and difficult circumstances to cause us to forget all the blessings from God (Jam. 1:17) we have experienced along the way in our journey.

Take Israel as an example. Israel was coming off one of the most miraculous moments in their history. They were celebrating and praising God for victory over Pharaoh and his army as they escaped Egypt and crossed the Red Sea unharmed (Exo. 14:30-15:2; 11, 18). And that’s when it happened, that’s when it always happens.

22 “Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.” And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” (Exodus 15:22-26)

The Israelites were wandering around the desert for three days without any water. If you have ever been really thirsty you can probably imagine how difficult this would have been. Without water, they would eventually die.

Finally, after three long days without water, they had a glimmer of hope. They came to Marah probably expecting another blessing, this time in the form of water being provided to them. Unfortunately, their hope was quickly defeated. When the people of Israel saw they were unable to drink the water, they started to complain. Oh, how quickly their attitude changed.

Have you ever felt like Israel probably felt at this moment in their history? Have you ever found yourself standing before water too bitter to drink? Standing in the midst of disappointing circumstances you really didn’t want to be in? It doesn’t matter who we are or even where we are in our lives, we have all experienced disappointing circumstances.

Like Israel, too often our response is to grumble and complain about the hand we have been dealt. And that’s when it happens. We get so focused on our disappointing circumstances we forget all God has done for us in the past. This is exactly what happened to Israel. Their forgetfulness led to a serious problem; a lack of faith and trust. You see, when we forget what God has done in the past, we will always fail to see what God can do in the future. 

The problem for Israel was they had forgotten God was on their side. Because of Him they walked out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea unharmed. Israel just needed to trust God and be obedient to His commandments and promises even in the mist of their current disappointing circumstances.

What about you? What disappointing circumstances are you currently facing that have caused you to forget all God has done for you in the past? Whatever the circumstances are, may I encourage you to place your trust in God and reflect on all He has done for you?

It’s interesting to me, had Israel only been more patient and trusting, they would have seen God had already made provisions for them.

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” (Exodus 15:27)

Elim was only a few miles away. Although they didn’t know what was going on, God did. He knew exactly what He was doing. Elim had twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. It was a place that would satisfy Israel’s need in a big way.

Friends, we all face our own Marah at some point. What’s important to remember is that if we will remain patient and trust God, He will lead us through Marah into the land of Elim; a place of great joy! After all, He is the great healer.

Now that’s Something to Think About!

Jan 07

When Your Greatest Teacher is a 3 Year Old

IMG_1838

It was only three short years ago that my life was completely turned upside down. Most of the time when this happens it’s never a good thing. Having your world turned upside down usually involves some aspect of heartache and pain, but not this time. On January 6th, 2012 at 8:19 a.m. God blessed Miranda and me with a little baby boy. Little did I know that this small bundle of joy would be one of my greatest teachers; a teacher from whom I would learn some of life’s most important lessons more fully.

As a parent you are suppose to teach your children, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). That was and still is my plan for Caden. However, in the three short years he has been a part of our lives, he has taught me much about some of life’s greatest lessons. He has taught me about love, patience, care, concern, affection, kindness, joy and a host of other things. But, perhaps the greatest lesson of all deals with God’s love.

I have always been told about how much God loves me. As a minister, I have spent a great amount of time telling others how much God loves them as well. However, until I had my own son, I don’t think I ever truly understood the depth of God’s love for me.

The apostle John wrote, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4:9-11).

God’s love for us as His children is unlike any kind of human love. I love my son with all my heart. And yet, as much as we love our children, it fails in comparison to the love God has for us as His children. His love for us propelled Him to offer His only son as a sacrifice for sin so we could have hope of salvation from the wages of our own sins. According to Paul, the wages of our sins is death (Rom. 6:23).

Friends, God loves YOU so much He was willing to offer up His only son to suffer humiliation, shame, torture and even death so you might be able to spend an eternity with Him. Jesus himself said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God loves the whole world and every one living in therein. And yet, although His love is universal, His abounding love is very much personal towards each one of us. Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

The love of God is truly hard to comprehend. The closest I have come to comprehending God’s love for me is by examining the love I have for my one and only son. It is an amazing kind of love; a kind of love that would propel me to do anything for him and his well-being.

Yesterday my son Caden celebrated his 3rd birthday. I don’t know where the last three years have gone, but it has been the greatest three years of my life. I hope and pray God will bless our family with many more wonderful years together. With those years may God work through my son to teach me many more important lessons along the way, lessons I might otherwise never truly understand.

Happy 3rd birthday, Caden! Daddy loves you more than words can say.