Wednesday, March 28, 2018


   Life doesn't always give us what we think we deserve. When things don't go our way, we sometimes develop coping mechanisms, things we implement to deal with stress or difficult situations.  Some coping mechanisms are good and healthy but many are investments in future stress and difficulty.  For instance, a healthy coping mechanism would be to pray, recall memorized scripture or contact a close friend. Unhealthy coping mechanisms would include tantrums, finding comfort in alcohol or drug abuse, resorting to violence, withdrawing or employing deception.  It's the difference between resting in God or wrestling with God.  

 In Genesis, we meet Jacob, a guy who finds a way to get by on his wit and wisdom.  Jacob, the second son of Isaac, not only manages to gain the birthright of the firstborn son, he also swindles his older brother out of the blessing of the firstborn.  God had a plan for Jacob and placed a strong calling on his life, but Jacob chose to carve his own path through life, ignoring God.  Jacob spends the early part of his life employing his favorite coping mechanism, outsmarting those around him.  Jacob does not realize he is wrestling with God.

   Jacob was not a God hater nor an atheist.  Jacob believed God existed and probably considered himself a follower.  Like many today who acknowledge God and consider themself Christian, Jacob mostly ignored God and did things his own way.  The key component of faith missing for Jacob was a personal relationship with God.  In the early part of Jacob's life we see him referring to God in terms like, "the God of Abraham" or the "God of my fathers", it is not until Jacob has a real encounter with God that he takes ownership of  a relationship. Jacob learned to move from wrestling to resting. 

     So often, as a minister, people ask me to pray for them or for a specific situation.  Often I get the sense of the unspoken, "can you pray to your God on my behalf?"  Though no one has actually expressed it this way, I sense it is an underlying issue for many who do not perceive God as their God.  I once told someone who asked for prayer, "I will pray for you if you promise to also pray."  The response I received was unexpected, "you mean, actually, like get on my knees and talk to God?"  I was totally not expecting such a response. This was a person who acknowledged God and probably if asked, would say they were good with God, yet the idea of actually talking to God was completely foreign.  

   Similarly, I know President Trump exists, I know things about him and also have heard many things about him which may or may not be true.  I even follow him on Twitter.  None of these things equals a relationship.  I would be a fool to claim to know President Trump.  Most of what I know, or think I know of him, comes from the press.  This, unfortunately, is many people's experience with God.  The difference is, Donald Trump has no awareness of my existence and is not the slightest bit interested in me as an individual.  I have no ability to engage Donald Trump in a conversation. God, on the other hand, knows me and loves me individually.  God allows me the privilege of speaking to Him and hearing from Him and knowing Him.  

      Jacob managed to get by on his own until he couldn't...  Jacob's coping mechanisms alienated him from his family and the family of his wives.  Jacob found himself isolated and vulnerable because he chose to keep God at arm's length.  Only when Jacob realized he was out of tricks did he surrender and call out to God.  When all seemed hopeless, Jacob found hope in God, even as he realized he had been fighting against God his whole life.  Jacob went from knowing about God to knowing God. From wrestling to resting. God changed Jacob's name to Israel and Israel took possession of his relationship with God.

     Are you Jacob or Israel?  Do you know about God or do you know God?  Are you wrestling against God or resting in His Lordship.  God wants you to know Him, to have a rich and deep relationship with Him, through His Son Jesus Christ.  The only way to know someone is to spend time with them. God gives us prayer, His Word, worship and fellowship with other believers as methods to get to know Him.  

    Would you turn down tea with the Queen of England or dinner with with a King?  Of course not, but everyday, we pass up opportunities to spend time with the King of Kings.  What is your coping mechanism and how's it working out for you?  May I suggest getting to know the One who not only helps you cope but will make you more than an overcomer.  God has so much more for us than just getting by.  Unless you take the time to know Him, you'll never know how meaningful life can be.  Jesus isn't merely dying to spend time with you, He actually did.  Get to know the risen Savior and find your special purpose. Stop wrestling and rest.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


   Just when you think college campuses cannot get any more ludicrous: the March 15, 2018 edition of the Washington Times  reports Simmons College in Boston MA has decreed saying "God bless you" after a sneeze is considered micro aggressive behavior.  And why would saying "God bless you" be considered micro aggression, you ask.  "God bless you" is micro aggression because, according to Simmons College, it assumes your religious identity as the norm.  I guess the Declaration of Independence should be banned from college campus as "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator..." assumes a religious identity and may trigger a delicate hater of God.          

     I fear for the future if today's college students are so fragile the very cliched mention of God after a sneeze can cause a sense of being bullied!  I may, as a public service, go on up to Simmons College and collect all the little green slips of paper that say, "In God We Trust" on them so none of those precious leaders of tomorrow will feel aggressed against when they reach into their pockets to pay for their morning Starbucks.  

     Seriously though, the real agenda on these campuses is not to create a "safe space" conducive to learning, it is to undo 230 years of American culture that acknowledges absolute moral truth  imparted to us by God.   The goal is to cast off restraint and to replace God's moral law with "do as thou wilt", as espoused by famed sorcerer and black arts devotee Aleister Crowley.  Crowley, the self proclaimed Beast 666,  and Helena Blavatsky, before him promised to transform society by transforming the youth.  Alice Bailey, founder of the Lucifer Publishing Company, wrote numerous books espousing a society free from the constraints of the God of scripture.  The Lucifer Publishing Company became the Lucis Trust and is now an integral component of the United Nations.  

      The late Robert Muller, who served as assistant deputy director of the United Nations was an open follower of Alice Bailey. Muller espoused Bailey's ideas, writing over a dozen books touting eastern mysticism and promoting a one world religion headed by the UN.  One of Muller's roles at the UN was to prepare curriculum for schools world wide.  You can kind of see where this is going.  Blavatsky, Crowley, Bailey, and Muller, each guided by evil forces, touted the importance of conditioning the children in order to transform society.  

     As silly as banning "God bless you" from campus sounds and as ridiculous  as this makes the academic society look, we have to keep in mind we are in a spiritual war for the heart and soul of all people.  Banning "God Bless you" is not the real problem, just as the hoopla over whether or not to say  "Merry Christmas" is not the real problem.  The real problem is we do not recognize there are actual spiritual forces working to undermine God and His influence on society.  Influence the children and you change the culture.

     Until churches figure out a way to become relevant to the youth of America, without compromising the Gospel, the enemy will continue to have the upper hand.  Like the Pied Piper of yore, Satan,  the modern day piper, is leading our children to oblivion by encouraging them to think with their heart rather than their minds. We live in a society where truth is relative and facts only cloud the issues, and Satan is holding court in the highest institutions of learning, laughing his rear end off.  

     I know the God of Scripture is the one true God and I will continue to say "God bless you" when someone sneezes.  Whether that person feels triggered is not my responsibility, my responsibility to speak truth in love.  As we roll into spring and people begin to battle allergies, I imagine I will be very "micor-aggressive".  I hope you will too!

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Thursday, March 15, 2018


 Have you ever felt discounted or ostracized because you did not meet some physical standard of a particular group?   Maybe you had the wrong clothes or hair style.  Maybe you were obviously of a different economic level, social class or ethnicity.  People tend to distrust those who are different.   

     The saying, Birds of a feather flock together, holds a great deal of truth.  Most people naturally gravitate toward those with whom they can identify.  Though affirming the similar is a natural tendency, it may be a destructive practice.  What happens when a church filled with suits and dresses receives a visit from a guy in jeans and a t-shirt?  Will t-shirt man be made to feel welcome or will he get dirty looks and under the breath comments?  I have actually heard rumors about a church in Knoxville which turns people away at the door if they are not properly dressed.  I am considering a visit there one Sunday...

      I am blessed to be part of a ministry where a black t-shirt is basic garb for our events.  Metal Mission of Knoxville tries to create an environment where "come as you are" is literal.  The danger for us is  allowing a certain look or style to become standard and not accept someone who looks more traditional.  At our last ministry meeting, I jokingly asked out loud, "what if some guy in a romper shows up?"  My comment got a good laugh but... what if?  

    In the last year, our ministry was contacted by a dear lady in another state who lamented there were no ministries like ours where she lived.  This woman felt judged by the local churches because of her background. I thought, surely there must be a local church near her where she could feel welcome.  As I began to visit church website after church website I discovered something disturbing, every church displayed photos of upper middle to upper class people enjoying time together.  As I looked through the photos each church chose to represent itself, nowhere did I find any indication my friend would be welcomed.  To me, the message was clear, "if you look like us, you are welcome."  

     I know you cannot judge a book by it's cover, but the practice I have observed in many churches and is evident throughout the country on Sunday mornings is people desire to worship with people who look like themselves.  Worse, many create a standard of what is acceptable appearance and anyone not meeting the standard is written off as unworthy. 

    If you attend church, what would the reaction be if a group of bikers or young adults in concert t-shirts showed up Sunday morning?  Would they be welcomed and included in fellowship or would they be ignored and avoided?  

     God is interested in the heart. We have to get passed the outer and focus on the inner.  What is the basic thing we all want? Love and acceptance. As Christ's representatives, are we properly demonstrating God's love and desire for individual relationship or are we deeming people worthy of hell because they do not meet our standards? 

 My Bible has no passages referring to Sunday best attire or the standard appearance for a committed Christian.  I love the response I get when I tell someone I am a pastor, especially when I am not dressed for work.  My go to garb is jeans and a t-shirt, preferably black, I have tattoos, both my ears are pierced, and my preferred musical style is, of course, Metal.   Not exactly standard fare for the average minister.

     The point of all this is, we have to look beyond the outer and pursue the inner.  Just because someone does not wear a sweater vest or does not dress business casual does not mean they are less intelligent or less in need of love.  To many, a tough outer appearance is designed as protection.  My original purpose in getting tattooed(when tattoos were still taboo) was to send a message: LEAVE ME ALONE!  Not because I was dangerous but because I was insecure.  

     When we judge someone unworthy of our time or attention because of the way they dress or any other aspect of their physical appearance, we are, in essence, saying, "You don't look like me, so you can go to hell."  Your mission today, should you choose to accept it: go out of your way to be friendly to someone you would normally avoid because they look different than you.  I am not talking about hit and run evangelism or walking up to a stranger and asking if they know Jesus.  Just be friendly and see where it leads.

    Act 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 

If God is no respecter of persons, how can we, His representatives, disregard those we deem different?  

Now, go  live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Wednesday, March 7, 2018


 Do ever you feel insignificant?  Do you ever feel as if you are busy, but accomplishing nothing?   Does contentment seem to elude you because you put forth effort and seem to have no impact.  Everyone experiences frustration from time to time, feeling as if even our greatest efforts are in vain.

    As the world mourns the loss of Evangelist Billy Graham, it may be a good opportunity to ponder things like legacy, spiritual impact and motive in our own lives. There is no question Billy Graham's legacy is secure.  America's Pastor has established a ministry that will most likely outlive his grand children.  Millions of souls have been redeemed through Graham's ministry and personal life.  Graham's spiritual impact is evident, and here is no evidence to question Graham's motives. Billy Graham had a burden for the lost and God gave him a tremendous platform which he faithfully and obediently utilized.  Billy Graham's secret was being satisfied with what God called him to do.  Billy Graham's impact grew out of his obedience.

    Why do we do what we do, is it for notoriety, personal gain, accolades? What is our motivation?  Am I content to follow God and not see the outcome I think I deserve?  Am I content with being obedient or do I want specific results? 

      These are all legitimate questions and a healthy part of self examination.  We all should be asking these questions, or similar ones of ourselves from time to time.

  I am blessed to be in ministry with some very talented musicians.  Many of whom I would put up against any superstar talent. Amazing song writers who are talented at their craft. I and others write and promote stuff on social media. My musician friends record and promote their stuff on various platforms.  Many of us have work we have produced available on Amazon.  What's it all about?

      Mostly, we do what we do because we recognize God has given us a specific ability and we get to use it to His glory.  The bonus is, I love writing.  The musicians I minister with love playing and love creating music.

       I am not a "successful" writer.  Of the over 200 blog posts I have shared, only 2 have been what the blogging industry considers successful.  I am not writing for high volume numbers, I am writing because I feel led of the Lord to do so on this platform.  Will that change? Perhaps, someday.  For now, I continue, in obedience to God, to write and hopefully impact someone's life for the Kingdom. 

   Two passages of scripture motivate me. Matthew 6:33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. And 1Corinthians 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 

  If we can understand and incorporate these two passages into our everyday lives, the ideas of success and achievement will take on whole new meaning. We will recognize our obedience is victory and  honoring God is our success. 

What you accomplish may impact only one person but that person is infinitely important to God.  We, also, do not know the long term  impact of our obedience.  We see, in scripture, men like Nehemiah whose obedience had touched the ministry of the Messiah almost 500 years later. 

    If you are doing what you believe God has called you to do and you see evidence of His equipping you to do it, do not worry about the reception or outcome, be content with obedience.  God will use your efforts in His way, in His time, and to His glory.  Be encouraged and strengthened by the knowledge you are in God's will.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!