Monday, January 31, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Preaching IS for the Choir

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Preaching IS for the Choir: "There is an old saying that goes... 'You are preaching to the choir' and what is usually meant by that is that you are telling me something ..."

Preaching IS for the Choir

There is an old saying that goes... "You are preaching to the choir" and what is usually meant by that is that you are telling me something I already believe and I'm with you. Sometimes it is an invitation to continue the dissertation but often it means you need not say anymore so save your breath, I am with you on this one.

Funny thing is that if you take the saying literally and put it in a church context the choir actually DOES need preaching. As much or more than anyone else in fact. When you are a Christ follower you can slide into arrogance and start to exalt yourself. Topical preaching and the awareness that you still are a sinner and still in need of God is very important. The perception outside of the church is skewed by the world that believers are self righteous and believe themselves better than their fellow man. In some cases that is true but I believe in many ways that is a lie spread by the evil that is present in this world to keep unchecked sinners exactly where they are. The most damaging of all lies this world has to offer because you can only have one master and if it isn't God then it must be something else.

I am no better than anyone else and in some ways may be worse. Even as time has gone on and I recognize my areas of weakness I can still succumb. I get to a certain point in my walk and start to think highly of myself and get prideful and arrogant. That leads to a judgemental attitude and a controlling nature. The next thing you know I'm depending on myself too much and God too little. So I continue to study my Bible and continue to listen to the message of the preacher. I see where it applies to me and then try to use it in my life. Gods grace is a precious gift and I cherish it. He is good, outside of him I am not.

Truth is no one can lead you to Jesus. One can point you in the right direction but it is totally your choice. He didn't come for the righteous but for the sinner. If you can humble yourself before him then he will come in. He does not come in without an invitation. Ask, seek, knock and the door will be opened. Invite him into your heart and he will invite you into his Kingdom.

If anyone is interested in learning more please contact me via email and I will return your message. God bless you right where you are!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Christ follower living in a secular world: White sugar and how it relates to spiritual decay

A Christ follower living in a secular world: White sugar and how it relates to spiritual decay: "I've done a lot of reading recently about foods that harm and foods that help. You see I have been trying to improve my diet. I'm in reasona..."

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Body art

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Body art: "Tatoos and body piercings are more popular now than I can ever remember. Tatoos have been around forever and have had different significance..."

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Potholes

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Potholes: "On the street right in front of my place there is a pot hole. Over the last couple of months the city has repaired it at least 5 times ..."

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Is attitude important? Does positive thinking make...

A Christ follower living in a secular world: Is attitude important? Does positive thinking make...: "Attitude can make all the difference in most peoples lives. Positive people tend to make positive choices. Many people suffer from var..."

Is attitude important? Does positive thinking make any difference?

Attitude can make all the difference in most peoples lives. Positive people tend to make positive choices.

Many people suffer from various forms of depression and anxiety disorders. Some are more severe than others and I don't want to minimize that reality for those sufferers with my thoughts on the subject. For them it is very real and scary. They are medicated for a reason and in no way am I suggesting that I'm some sort of expert on that subject but I do have some advice about positive living from my own life that I wish to share.

Your thought life can become your reality. If you label yourself a loser or call yourself dumb all the time eventually your subconscience will accept that analogy. If you believe in yourself and affirm you are bright, intelligent and articulate(which you are) then you will start to experience positive change in your life. The power of positive thinking in various forms has sold millions of books and will continue to do so. There is always another hardball selling type hawking a book and holding seminars. A lot of what they have to say is hocus pocus but there is a truth deep down in there too. Not everyone is going to be rich but you can be happy and prosperous but not necessarily in material means.

Christianity has had its share of snake oil salesmen too with the health and wealth gospel(AKA prosperity Gospel). As a Christ follower I believe God will give me what I need but his works are eternal and far exceed anything our minds can comprehend in this present age. Jesus does say in the gospels that God will provide for those that put their faith in him. John 15:16 is pretty clear...whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. That doesn't mean you will definitely be rich(not that that is precluded) monetarily unless you want to contort it but it does mean you will provided for. God knows what is in your heart. I believe in that promise.

So now that I've got that off my chest back to the task at hand. Can positive thinking make a difference in your life? I will give an example of a man who rose to a position of great power and prominence by always having a positive attitude. A man of great principle who overcame many obstacles along the way.

His father was a lord in the house of lords. A man of great power and influence but also a man who didn't really have the means to provide for his sons education and vocation because of a lavish lifestyle. This young man was determined to be an officer in the calvary and in those days officers got little or no wages since most were from the upper class and even had to pay out of pocket for their horses keep. He, when off duty(which they were about 6 months of the year), went off to serve as a mercenary in Cuba to raise sufficient funds. He also wrote news articles during these conquests which he sold to London papers.

He went on to write books about his escapades and after leaving the military became a full time war correspondent during the Boer War. He was captured during a heroic effort which kept many others from being captured. After a short time in captivity he escaped and managed to evade recapture for quite some time with the help of locals. Soon after his return to Brittain he entered into politics. The first time he stood he lost but was undetered and persevered. Why? Because he believed in his abilities and would not be defeated by defeat.

Once he entered the house he found that he was not a great ad lib speaker and would endeavor to write all his speaches he was to give in the house and commit them to memory. It turned out he was one of the great orators of all time but you would never have known that from his humble beginings. After several years in office he was ousted when his party was swept from power and stood again elsewhere when the opportunity presented itself. He rose to be a prominent cabinet member much like his father had been before him then he did the unthinkable.

He crossed the floor and joined the opposition party because he had reached irreconcilable philosophical differences (that came straight from his core principles) with the then PM. Eventually he was a cabinet member with his new party when he then crossed back over after the leadership of his original party was changed and their priorities back in line with his. He stood for leadership of his party and failed several times before finally as the second world war was fast approaching the then PM stood down because of health reasons. He took his rightful place and once war was declared, the man, Sir Winston Churchill gave one of the all time great rally cries when he delivered the speech which includes this famous section....

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender

So you can see how he overcame a lot with a positive attitude and led his country through dark times into glorious victory(at a very heavy human cost). You too can overcome the obstacles life throws in your way. I know I will and I believe in you too!!! Start with setting small goals and don't be defeated by defeat. You never fail if you learn something in the process. Take the lessons learned, dust yourself off and get back up. Stretch yourself but be sensible about it. Start small and dream big. Your thought life and your self talk is important. Smile and be thankful for what you do have. There is not time for regrets. They do you no good. So have a great day and I really mean that!!

I'll leave you now with some of my favorite Churchill quotes....

-Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

-A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

 -Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.

 -Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.

 -History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

-I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.
Many blessings, James

Friday, January 21, 2011


On the street right in front of my place there is a pot hole. Over the last couple of months the city has repaired it at least 5 times but it keeps opening back up. In fact each time it seems to get a little worse than the time previous. I could talk about the wastefulness of this whole process and crack a joke or 2 at city workers expense but I'm looking at it in a different way. I'm big on symbolism. To me it is what we all do at times in our lives. We do quick fixes when really we need to do some extensive reconstruction. We put a band aid on it and pretend it is all better. I'll use an example from my own life.

I came to know and submit to God as an adult but had spent many years rebelling against his calling. Over those many years I picked up some bad habits or succumbed to my sinful nature or both. I used f bombs(amongst other swear words) as a verb, adjective, noun and perhaps even as a conjunction. Upon being convicted I weaned myself off by using substitute words. One day I was in traffic and was using one of my substitute words when it hit me.

I had a moment of clarity and realized that not only was using f bombs etc bad but what was worse were the emotions behind them. I realized that they were born out of selfish indignation, out of anger, out of frustration and just about every other negative emotion. I was patching up the surface damage while leaving the shifting earth untouched. What I really had to do was get rid of those negative thoughts and feelings, get to the root cause and irradicate that pothole in my life. It has been several years now and while I am still inclined to get angry on occasion it is much less frequent and I recognize it for what it is much quicker. I still utter the odd taboo word from time to time it has drastically changed. It has been a lot of work. I credit a program called freedom session for a great deal of help along this path. God deserves all the credit though and he has been right there with me along the way. God is love and goodness, anger is something we are allowed to feel and it is perfectly natural but you should not let it control your emotions and your life. Anger is not sin but often we do sin in our anger which is what I am still refining.

Jars of Clay said it well with these lyrics in Jealous kind...

If I should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
And love that shames the wise, betrays the heart's deceit and lies
And breaks the back of foolish pride

So the patch up job didn't work. I had to dig deeper and get a solid base first. I needed to be broken and rebuilt. It has been at times a painful but ultimately very rewarding process. Peace in your soul is a beautiful thing.

What are the potholes in your life? Are you patching them up or getting to the cause? There is no quick fix for personality quirks. It takes time and perseverance but is very worthwhile. You are worth it!!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Body art

Tattoos and body piercings are more popular now than I can ever remember. Tattoos have been around forever and have had different significance in different cultures. Often they have been used to signify your stature in your community. The more elaborate the tatoo the bigger your position. Even today in many gangs the size and complexity of your tattoo is directly related to your position in that gangs hierarchy.

When I was young I considered getting a tattoo as something military people(particularily sailors) and thugs did. Even now I still have that image in my mind. When I see a tattoo on someone that I know has no military background I instantly am a little leary of that person. Especialy when it has negative/demonic imagery. I know God loves us all equally but I can't help how I feel. I give everyone a chance though because a book can't be deemed good or bad by the cover alone.

What is it that drives people to desire tattoos? It can come from peer pressure. Often it is a desire for control. If you can't control what is around you then you can control your own body. Some people are addicted to the pain, for them pain is a rush or high. For some they have no choice as it is necessary for medical purposes or part of the incarceration process(prisoner number). For some it is something to use to commemerate events or times. There are many reasons and motives, some good and some bad .

I can't help but feel many will regret it later. I know of many people that have later had such a regret and went through the painful process(even more painful than getting the tatoo in the first place) of getting their tattoo removed with skin grafting.

For various reasons Christians in certains regions use tattoos to identify themselves as believers but what does the bible say regarding tattoos? The Old Testament is clearly opposed to it, Levitcus 19:28 says: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD." Pretty clear but you can take that out of context. The Lord was referring to pagan worship and imagery. Christians are not under the law but under grace so what does the NT have to say. It is open to interpretation but 1corinthians 6:19-20 says: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." That doesn't preclude any and all tattoos but it does mean you must not have imagery of ill repute.

There are many negative health issues that tattoos can cause. There are many talented and careful tattoo artists but there are also a lot of hacks. You could contract disease or HIV from a dirty needle. Infections are a real risk. Also as you age and your body changes your tattoo could contort and become something rather ugly.

You don't know where you'll be a year from now, 10 years from now or tomorrow so be careful. Please don't be twisted into feeling it is something you must do.

So if you want a tattoo consider closely what you want to present to people as who you are. If you put a demon on your leg you are giving yourself to satan. A snake is also demonic, remember Satan was a serpent in the garden. If you put a pic of a naked girl on your body you are demeaning all women. If you want to be a human canvass think about what you wish to convey.

All I'm saying is weigh the pros and cons. Choose wisely what you want your life to be. As Bob Dylan once said... Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody!!!

Grace and peace be yours!