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February 17, 2020, 10:05 AM

Dog Food


 

My family was sitting at the dinner table sharing a meal together last week. This is a common practice and something we believe is very important to the structure and strength of our family. Now, when I say my family, I mean every member of my immediate family. This includes me, my wife, three kids, and Thor. Of course, Thor is our dog. I know some of you think poorly of me for allowing our dog to be present during mealtime, but it’s ok. Thor is smart when it comes to getting what he wants at mealtime. He knows if Laura is at the table and we’re eating, he can go sit by her and get a bite of food. He also knows that if it’s just Emily and me, it will be much more difficult for him to get something to eat. So, he will hop up in one of the other chairs and sweetly lay his chin on the table and hit us with literally the puppy dog eyes. If all else fails, and he is able to, he will nudge his way into Laura or Gracie’s lap where he knows he’s assured of finding something tasty. The thing is, almost always, he has two different kinds of food to choose from in him bowl. So all the while he’s at our table begging for scraps, he has good food, as much as he wants of it, just sitting there for him to eat. So after observing this practice the other night, Emily looked to me and said, “There’s a sermon illustration in that somewhere.” Amen! Thor doesn’t prefer people food over dog food because it’s better for him. He prefers it because it tastes good. No matter that it sometimes upsets his stomach or gives him terrible gas. All he is concerned with is gratifying his desires. I don’t want to sound too crazy about a dog so let me explain the principle of where I’m going with this. How often do we pass up or reject what we know to be best for us because we would rather satisfy and gratify our fleshly desires? Because something appeals to our senses, we think we must have it even if it will cause us to be miserable. Holding on to a grudge helps us feel better but it destroys our spirit and relationship with God. Unhealthy relationships often gratify the flesh but take a piece of us away with every broken one. Gossip intrigues us but it is the very poison the devil uses to destroy churches, communities, and families. It all comes down to three things: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Just about every sin is rooted in one of these three categories. It was in these three ways that Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. When Jesus was tired and hungry and His flesh needed sustenance, He refused to give in to the temptations of the devil simply for self-gratification. Instead, He responded with the truth that all of us need to remember when faced with temptations. We must choose to feast on the Word of God rather than settle for the scraps from the table of the world. They may seem to satisfy us momentarily but more than likely will leave us with an upset stomach. There is specific food for dogs that is a part of a healthy diet for them. There is specific food for Christians that is a part of a healthy faith walk and it’s the Bread of Life. Don’t beg for the scraps of the world, taste and see the Lord is good.

Robert




February 10, 2020, 9:31 AM

Running the Point


 

The Bible provides examples of spiritual warfare and battles that originate in the spiritual realm that unfold in the physical realm. Even in the Old Testament, we can see where there was an attempt to cut off the line from which Jesus would be born. Still, today, though many don’t like to admit it, there is a battle that rages. I find myself often saying, “The devil is alive”, he’s defeated but none the less he’s still roaming about like a lion seeking whom he may devour. We should never give him more credit than he deserves and shouldn’t blame him for our poor choices. It is my opinion that to believe there is no such thing as spiritual warfare in our lives is foolishness. There are times when the attacks seem to be more intense and the spiritual “fight or flight” kicks in. It’s in these times when I am reminded that, as a child of God, I am not alone. On my own, I can’t overcome the enemy, but through submission to God and in His strength and power, victory is possible. I have also learned that God puts people in our lives to walk through the battles with us. It’s kind of like a team that sticks together when times are tough. Not like Job’s friends, but those who are willing to go into the fire with you. It brings to my mind the idea of a special tactical team in the military or law enforcement. These teams are highly trained and are composed of select individuals. Each of us should have this type of spiritual team in our lives. Every member of the team is available at any moment and the response time is literally ASAP. Each member has a particular purpose according to their skillset and without every one handling their responsibility, the entire team is at risk. Everyone from the person driving the vehicle, the people securing the perimeter, or the one breaching the door plays a vital role in the outcome of the team. Typically the most dangerous position is the point position. This is the first person in the door and is most vulnerable to whatever is lurking around every corner. This person leads the team and must have clarity of mind and apply strategic wisdom in their decision making. This is where followers of Christ are as individuals when the spiritual attacks come. You are running the point on the situation in your life and are the most vulnerable. This is especially so for people such as pastors, teachers, husbands, fathers, ministry heads, or anyone in a leadership position. For the person running the point, the most important position to them is the person in the second position. This is the person that has the point man’s back and makes sure nothing sneaks up on him. The entry team usually consists of multiple members so there will be others that watch the back of each person of the team always being prepared for anything. Essential components to the team being successful are trust and dependability. Each member of the team has to know the other members have their back and will not leave them or do anything to risk harm or injury. To have a team like this in our spiritual walk is more important than we may realize. The blessing of having someone who will pray with you and for you, will tell you the hard truths, will love you and encourage you and stand in the gap is amazing and sometimes life-saving. The Bible provides numerous examples of believers needing to have companions and not walking in faith alone. It is when we allow ourselves to become isolated and alone that the enemy is more likely to overcome us. If you don’t have this type of spiritual tactical team in your life I strongly encourage you to pray that the Lord would bring them to you. Every one of us knows someone who needs someone to stand by them in times of distress and spiritual attacks. As Christians, we need those people and need to be those people for others. You never know, someone’s life just might depend on it.

Robert




January 25, 2020, 1:10 PM

Fitbit Fake-out


 

 

Fitbit’s and the Apple watch have developed into something so much more than what the original pedometer set out to be. They have progressed into things of the 007 type technology. Watches you can use as a phone, a camera, radio, personal trainer, and that can even tell you when your heart is out of rhythm have become the common accessory to any outfit. This year for Christmas each of my daughter’s received a Fitbit. I’m not sure which model it is but I know it can play music and keep up with their activity level. One day shortly after Christmas, we were riding home from Dallas and Emily was riding shotgun and the kids were in the backseat. It was about a 2-hour drive and everyone was quite tired so naturally, when there was no sound coming from the back seats, I assumed the kids were asleep. I had drifted off into deep thought when all of the sudden, in unison, both girls sat up in their seats and began shaking their arms frantically. My initial though was that somehow a swarm of bees had gotten in the car. Then having turned to look at them, I could tell by the smiles on their faces it couldn’t be anything too serious. Just when I was about to pull the car over and investigate one of the girls screamed out, “I need 12 more!” The other then replied back a similar number and Emily looked at me with a smile on her face and informed me that their Fitbit’s had prompted them to get their steps for the hour. Emily and I shared a laugh between us as to how the girls were able to reach their hourly goal without getting their steps. All they had to do was move their arms in a manner so that the Fitbit thought they were walking. I thought, “man, how many times have I done that?”, except in my faith walk not a Fitbit. I can get in the habit of staying busy and have the appearance of doing a lot of “Christian” things when all I’m really doing is the equivalent of shaking my arm. Especially in seasons of life like I am in currently. I have church work, preaching and teaching 3 times a week, school work for my Master’s degree, family life that includes 3 very busy children, trying to be a good husband and father, and maintaining a personal relationship with God. In all of the busyness it’s easy for me to get to the point where I’m sometimes just going through the motions and the only thing I’m accomplishing is wearing myself out, regardless how productive I may appear. I don’t think I’m the only person that can relate to the “Fitbit Fake-out.” If you struggle with this like I do, remember to incorporate 3 spiritual disciplines in your daily walk to help prevent this aspect of futility. Solitude, prayer, and meditation. Get alone, preferably in the morning before the days gets crazy, meditate on God’s Word and who He is, and pray for the things on your heart. There are examples of these found throughout Scripture and I can promise you that if you will practice these disciplines daily, or at least somewhat regular, you will find an improved faith walk and become much more productive. They are called disciplines for a reason and it takes discipline to keep them as a part of a consistent routine. There is something about sweet communion with the God of the universe that nothing in this life can replace.

 

Robert




January 16, 2020, 10:57 AM

Speed-dating with God


 

In a desperate attempt to fulfill a longing and satisfy the yearning of our hearts and desires of our flesh, modern society has developed ways to generate opportunities to satiate these cravings with the minimalist of effort. Things such as Tinder, Backpage, Craig’s list and dating sites like Match.com, Farmer’sOnly.com, and Christian Singles have lost the stigma that was once attached to them and become more of a norm for finding someone to spend time with. I will reserve my opinion on these things because it is not the point to be made today. The hope of finding something of great reward with the least amount of effort and personal involvement is not only an epidemic in the search for romantic intimacy. It seems to have spilled over into the spiritual realm a little as well. To learn of the emphasis heroes of the Christian faith placed on prayer and spending time with God is somewhat convicting to me. I find myself on occasion trying to treat my time with God like a speed dating event. I want to rush in, sit down, tell Him those things that I feel are important and what I want, only halfway listen to His response and eventually ignore it if I don’t like it and ultimately walk away without any sense of true interaction or responsibility to Him. This is not how we are to approach God and spending time with Him. The depth of the conversation we have with Him in prayer is a direct reflection of the depth of our relationship with Him. It’s similar to that person who is a friend of a friend that you’re left talking to when you’re mutual friend walks away for a moment. It’s easy to be overcome with panic because you have no idea what to talk about and hope there will be no awkward pauses in the conversation. If you have only a superficial relationship with someone it’s almost impossible to have a deeply meaningful and impactful conversation with them. If all we ever do is rush in and out of our time with the Lord and never really spend any time communing with Him then our relationship with Him won’t be deep and meaningful. If we seek to get what we want from Him with as little personal involvement as possible, we will never have that longing of fulfillment satisfied. Be careful that you don’t carry on a relationship with the Lord that makes Him seem like that distant relative who you know you’re supposed to be comfortable around but you can’t because you don’t really know that much about them. God desires a personal and meaningful relationship with you. He desires to spend quality time with you in His presence through prayer and meditation on His word and works. He even made it possible by sending His only begotten son to cover the sin that separated us. Don’t cheapen the sacrifice by making light of the opportunity to commune with the God of the universe.

 

Robert




January 7, 2020, 10:00 AM

There’s an App for That


 

I’m kind of an “old school” guy. The type that my kids call a “boomer” because I don’t have the newest technology or know the current lingo. In my day the term lit meant something completely different than it does nowadays and if words like viral and fire were used to describe you it wasn’t a good thing. I still prefer actual books to e-versions and remember when Oregon Trail, Atari, and Carmen San Diego were the newest thing. I realized after Christmas just how much out of the tech and social media loop I am. My daughter got a new phone so I took her old phone which was a hand-me-down when she got it. I had to get help setting it up and still only know how to perform the basic operations. I have resisted the push into the modern era of technology and social media but I now realize that in order to remain relevant, I must expand my understanding and practice. However, I have found that some of the terms used in the modern social media world can be used to help Apply Biblical principles. The following are a few that I have put together based on my limited knowledge. 

GPS is a miracle but a little scary. Satellites in outer space can pinpoint where you are at any given moment and tell you how to get to your desired destination. If you have a phone in your possession, you can be tracked, anywhere and anytime. Tom-Tom and Garmin weren’t the first people to possess this ability. The original is God’s positioning system. He knows all things at all times. Where can we go to escape Him? If we flee to the dark He can find us. If we settle on the far side of the sea, His hand will guide us (Psalm 139). The biggest difference in the two ’s is that God doesn’t need us to tell Him our destination for us to arrive safely where we need to be, we need to let Him set our path and trust it as we follow Him.

The idea of having friends and followers is important among social media users on apps like Facebook and Instagram. But how about getting followers of Jesus. Paul instructs his readers to follow him as he follows the Lord. Not to follow him so that he could be “verified” as social media famous. We should be as intentional about gaining as many followers of Jesus as we are about followers of our social media accounts. Also, Paul didn’t need a Finsta account, he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel and his life showed it. I can’t go without mentioning streaks. Quite simply, how long is your streak with the Lord? Do you put as much effort into maintaining it as you do with your others? Instead of sliding up or sliding right, what about looking up and getting right. Lift your eyes to the one true God and get right with Him before your Tik Tok time runs out. Today is the day of salvation for all who would call upon the name of the Lord. Jesus got Linkedin with a group of disciples and his leadership model was to do the will of the Father. So before you “Get” another download, why don’t you lay your load down at the foot of the cross and take up the yoke of Jesus. Find your true identity in Christ alone, not in what the world sees as your “status.”

 

Robert


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