Wednesday, June 20, 2018


                      Does your life present a case for Christ?

This past weekend, I had the privilege of seeing Lee Strobel speak at the Gridiron Men's conference, in Birmingham Alabama. Those  familiar with Lee Strobel,  know he is arguably the premier apologist of our time.  He is author of the groundbreaking book
The Case for Christ and subject of the movie by the same name.  

     An apologist, for those not familiar with the term, is someone who can present evidence for faith in Jesus Christ and the science of presenting this evidence is called apologetics. 

   Being very familiar with Mr. Strobel's story, having read his book and seen the movie about his transformation from atheist to child of God, much of what he shared was also very familiar to me.  However, one story Mr. Strobel shared truly impacted me and I knew I would be writing about it when I got home.  

     Prior to coming to faith in Christ, Lee Strobel was a man who struggled with alcohol abuse and given to violent episodes. Mr. Strobel recounted one incident where, in a booze fueled rage, while arguing with his wife, he kicked a hole in the wall.  Strobel's violent behavior negatively impacted his young daughter.

    Strobel shared how his toddler aged daughter, happily playing in the living room, would gather her toys, retreat to her bedroom and close the door when daddy arrived home.  Mr. Strobel admitted his violent behavior precipitated this behavior from his daughter.  

     If you are familiar with Lee Strobel and his story, you know he embarked on a two year journey in search of truth and was confronted with a far different set of facts than he expected. Faced with irrefutable evidence concerning the resurrection of Christ, Strobel surrendered his life to the Father, through the Son.  Lee Strobel's life began to change as did his behavior at home.

    Lee Strobel's daughter watched the transformation taking place in his life and began to wonder, "what's happening with my dad?"  One day, at the age of five, Strobel's daughter told her daddy, "I want what you have."  This precious child, who hid in fear of her alcohol fueled, raging father, watched the transforming power of Jesus Christ and knew she needed that power in her life.

    Here is what I took away from this story: Remember, Lee Strobel had all the evidence necessary to make the case for Christ.  Strobel had years of research and historical documentation.  None of that was relevant to his five year old little girl.  What mattered to her was the change taking place in her father's life and behavior.  

     Today, Alison Strobel is grown and actively serving Christ. Not because he father presented her irrefutable information about the savior but because her father allowed the savior to manifest Himself in his life.  Lee Strobel's changed life was a far more convincing apologetic to his daughter than the book he would later write.      

      More than your than your words, believer, your actions will tell others what you believe.  If someone watched your life, would they be able to make a case for Christ?  Can those who live with you make a case for Christ based on your behavior?  Would there be enough eyewitness testimony to convict you of being a follower of Christ? 

   Jesus, Himself, told us: Matthew 5:16 - In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

   As much as I hate cliche's, here is a cliche' that holds much truth - no one will care what you know until they know you care. Lee Strobel backed up his faith with action by pursuing holiness in his personal life.  The hard truth is, there are many learned Bible scholars whose lives do not reflect their claim to faith, rendering all their great learning meaningless.  In Jesus' day, these were called Pharisees.  Jesus used strong words of condemnation for Pharisees.

  If you have not read The Case for Christ or seen the movie, I encourage you to do both.  Even more importantly,  I encourage you, pursue truth like Lee Strobel, and, just as necessary, pursue holiness like Lee Strobel so others may encounter your faith in word and deed.  Let your life be the case for Christ.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018


   In the last few weeks, two more celebrity suicides dominated news headlines,  leaving many average non-celebrities to ponder, "what more could these people want from life?"  From the outside looking in, fame is the golden ticket of life.  With fame comes adoration of friends and strangers alike and enough resources to indulge almost every craving and desire.
In a materialistic culture, what else could anyone possibly want or need?  

      When one realizes suicide is the number 10 leading cause of death in America and many in the celebrity world succumb to or attempt suicide each year, one conclusion screams out: adoration and accumulation of possessions are not a pathway to peace and purpose.     

   In the subsequent days to the tragic and unexpected deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, calls to suicide hotlines increased 25%. This may be a cause for alarm or a sign of hope, depending on what is driving this number.  Alarm if this increased 25% is a result of suicide contagion and hope if the increased 25% is the result of increased awareness and willingness to seek help rather than suffering alone.

     While certain demographics seem more susceptible to suicide, no sector of society remains untouched.  Rich, poor, religious, godless, married, single, young and old - despair and hopelessness is no respecter of persons.  Over 100  hurting souls commit suicide every day. In 2016 over 44,000 Americans took their own lives and the suicide rate continues to climb. Most people do not gives much thought to suicide until someone famous falls victim to the darkness. 

     The list of musicians and actors who succumb to the siren call grows each year, nevertheless, the news is never less shocking.  From Curt Cobain to   Robin Williams, from Wendy O. Williams to Chris Cornell, high profile suicides always leave the public wondering what went wrong.

Suicide is the hidden epidemic:

       Society is more medicated and connected (via social media) than any time in history, while suicide rates continue to climb.  Depression awareness, anti-bullying programs and other tactics meant to stave off the flood of self destruction seem to be making very little progress, in fact, we may just find encouraging people to embrace impulse is counterproductive.  Never before has transgenderism, for example, been more encouraged and accepted, yet the suicide rate among the transgender community continues to rise.  

      What is the answer?  Ultimately, the answer is always God, but to abdicate our responsibility to love one another to God's sovereignty is gross negligence of the highest order.  Despite our best efforts to walk with others through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, people we love may surrender to the despair and end their lives, this, however, does not relieve us of the responsibility to love others as God commands us.  

     Rather than throwing medicine at symptoms, maybe we could do a better job of dealing with the root causes of depression and hopelessness where medicine becomes a temporary bridge to true healing, not a life sentence to chemical dependency.  Pharmaceutical companies have convinced the medical world pills are the answer to everything and have convinced the public to believe if I feel ok, I am ok.  What happens when the medicine stops working or side effects cause other problems?  More medicine?

     The truth of the matter is, lives are transformed, healed, and set free by the power of Jesus Christ.  If you are struggling, if you feel hopeless, if you feel as if you have passed a point of no return, these are lies told to you by the hater of your soul, Satan.  

     Suicide is a senseless tragedy that seems the only logical choice committed by those who feel helpless and without any other path.  Those left behind, in turn feel helpless and begin the self blame game, what could I have done better?  

     Because high profile suicides get us thinking about an issue we would rather ignore, I would like to encourage you to take stock of those around you.  Be aware of those who are hurting, those whose mouths say "I'm fine," while their eyes tell a far different tale.  Maybe, just finding someone who cares would be enough in some cases.  

    If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone and you are not without hope, though it may feel that way.  Reach out for help, ask God to direct you to the right person.  If nothing else, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.  You may be amazed at how many others have been on the path you are on currently and have overcome the darkness.

     Awareness is key.  Be aware of those who are hurting around you, take the time to really listen, maybe turn off the TV and reach out to someone who needs a friend.  Get out of your comfort zone be involved in someone's life. We cannot expect to do the same things over and over and expect a different outcome .  If the problem is increasing, our strategy must change.

     Love others toward the cross.  You cannot make someone change and you may not, ultimately, prevent them from harming themselves, but you can point them in the one direction with the most hope and possibility.  Jesus Christ offers hope and the power of the Spirit cannot be denied.  

    I Corinthians 1:18 - The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God

   Faith based programs have proven to be far more effective than non-faith based or government programs because the power of God's Spirit to transform lives. 

    If you are struggling with thoughts of self harm, if you are in a dark place and feel there is no escape, if you feel isolated and alone, please reach out, please do not suffer alone and please know nothing you are experiencing is unique to you. 

    Believer in Christ, be aware of the suffering and hurting people around you.  You may be the only lifeline to God they have.  Offer the hope you have in Christ, be the bridge to someone's soul, care enough to make an effort.  Love as you have been commanded.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


    Are you a saint?  Are you a sinner? Are you possibly both?

     When you refer to someone as a saint, there is a presumption of a higher level of goodness or holiness.  Sainthood infers a greater depth of godliness or piety.      

  How does one become a saint?  According to some, you must live an exemplary life, die in good standing with God, have a couple of miracles attributed to you after you die, and oh yeah, your dead body has to, some how, not rot.  Pretty simple, right?

       To confuse matters even more, the opening line to the Epistle to the Ephesians states: Ephesians 1:1 - Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus...  Is Paul writing a letter to a bunch of dead people?  Not likely, so, who are saints, really?  

     I am a saint.  If you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, you also are a saint.  Nowhere does scripture give any formula for sainthood.  Faith in Christ, and nothing else, makes one a saint.

     You may be thinking, "I ain't no saint, I'm a sinner."  Well, I am a sinner too, but... I am also a saint.  Nope, you can't have it both ways, you may be thinking.  Mick Jagger told us "Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints..." and, just like the Father of Lies he was singing about, go it twisted. Every sinner is not a saint, but, indeed, every saint is a sinner!

       When you place your faith in the Messiah, God declares you holy, set apart and sanctified, transferring the righteousness of Jesus to you. So, is a person sanctified and made holy, at the point of salvation, or is sanctification a lifetime process of growing in Christ?  The answer is YES!

I Corinthians 6:11 - and that is what some of you were.  But you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Philippians 2:12-13 - Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed... continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good practice

  Positionally, you are a saint if you are a believer.  Behaviorally, you may have a lot of work to do.  At Salvation, you are declared holy and heaven ready, but it takes submission to the influence of God's Holy Spirit for your behavior to match your status.

       Just as Jesus was both man and God, we are both saint and sinner.  Jesus is inherently God and became a man, we are inherently sinners and become saints.  This is why scripture tells us we must lose our life in order to find it. Jesus retained His inherent nature and was governed by it, so, even as a man, He remained sinless.  We retain our inherent nature and are governed by it and so as saints, we continue to sin - albeit, less and less, hopefully.

      Does this excuse our sin?  By no means!  Understanding who we inherently are and what we have been declared to be should make us more aware of the need to live according to our new status as saints.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we have the power to overcome sin and live victoriously.  

I Corinthians 10:3 - no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Inherently, we are prone to sin, in Christ, we are not doomed to remain in sin.  

    Within sainthood, we are being sanctified and made holy, being set aside for the purpose to which God has called us.  Through sanctification, God grants us the ability to overcome sin and choose the better and less traveled path.  Will you be the saint God declares you to be or continue to make excuses for sin that Jesus paid for with His blood?  Choose this day whom you will serve, saint. Are you a saint, a sinner or both?  

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