The Love That You Have

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  – 1 John 4:16

After writing last week’s WMD on forgiveness, I thought I was randomly choosing a book to read.  For years, Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place has been on my list to read.  I figured it was finally time.  I’m not finished, but have already read something that has and will forever stay with my heart and mind.

Corrie was a Dutch watchmaker.  She learned the trade from her father.  She is famous now for providing a hiding place for Jews during the German occupation of the Netherlands.  I’m only about a third of the way through with the book.  Corrie has just begun to protect the Jews by joining and participating in an entire system of protection provided by a national underground network.  As soon as I type and send this, I’m looking so forward to picking back up where I left off.

When she was young, Corrie met a young boy named Karel.  She knew the boy liked her and she sure liked him.  She had her hopes up that they would be married.  Her parents let her know that, from what they understood, that family was looking for their son to marry into wealth.  Corrie still wanted to believe that he would still marry her.  One day, Karel showed up to her house and introduced her to his fiancée.  She was absolutely crushed.  But, through talking to her dad (who I have already learned so much from), she was able to say a prayer that went something like this:  Lord, I had an earthly affection for this boy.  I give to You this love that I had and ask that You replace it with the love that You have for Him.

When that played in my mind, I just teared up and wept for a while.  Corrie goes on to say that four years later, she realize that God had perfectly answered her prayer.  She could pray for the couple and truly want the best for them both.  

Immediately, I mentioned the names of the people who have hurt me the most.  I said, “Lord, I had what I thought was a great friendship and a great trust amongst these people.  I give you the love that I had for them and ask for You to replace that with the love that You have for them.”  

Lord, You are amazing!  The way You teach us and the timing that You have is an absolute miracle!  Thank You for the stories of those who have gone on before us.  Thank You for authors who write about You.  I realize that no real love comes from my own heart.  Real love only comes from You.  Continue to grow this love in me and help me to follow You for the rest of my days.  Thank You so much for what You’ve already done.  I never knew that a heart could feel this free.  Amen!

P.S.  Tell me the names of some books that have grown your faith.  I will mention some of the titles that have really helped me along the way.

The Chronicles of Narnia

Mere Christianity

Screwtape Letters

Lord Foulgrin’s Letters

The Pilgrim’s Progress (This one first and foremost . . . I’ve read it probably 10 times)

The Pursuit of God

Practicing His Presence

The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker

St Patrick by Michael McHugh

Beyond the Dead Forest by Steve Groll (An awesome story about the Golden Rule)

These are just a handful off the top of my head that really, really made an impact on me. 

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Then Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

I’m working with a couple of kids who have an unbelievable amount of unforgiveness in their hearts.  I’m not saying it isn’t deserved, but I’m watching it deteriorate these two right before own eyes.  I imagine if they hold onto this unforgiveness in their hearts, their lives will be destroyed in the next 3 to 10 years.

Here is the thing though: as I’ve been talking to them about forgiving, I’m realizing that I have a tremendous amount of unforgiveness in my own heart.  I don’t think about it daily like they do, but when I do think about it, this darkness just enters me that I hate.  I wish I could say that I recognize it immediately, but I don’t.  It takes a while for me to realize what is happening.  Then, I forgive, and the light comes flooding in.  If it is this difficult for me, I can only imagine how difficult it is for them.  What has been done to them is easily 10x worse than what was done to me.

As I was thinking about this, my mind went to the first words that Jesus spoke on the cross.  Nobody was asking for forgiveness, yet that is what He gave.  I like to think that Jesus, like I tend to do sometimes, simply was thinking about all the wrongs being done to Him for no valid reason other than jealousy.  The dark clouds might have been forming over Him for the past several hours and He might have even thought for a moment about what He could do to them if He wanted to.  But, instead of allowing that dark place to enter His heart and mind, He simply said, “Father, forgive them for they have no clue what they are doing.”  I’m doing it from a rocking chair in front of a heater years later . . . He did it immediately after being freshly nailed to a cross.

So, one more time this morning, I offer my prayer of forgiveness to those who have wronged me.  It really isn’t all that difficult when I think of the people I have wronged.  I sure do need forgiveness . . . how can I not offer it?  When all that unforgiveness is lying right here beside me and I look at it, it seems so stupid that such a little thing can wreak such havoc when it is inside of me.  No wonder the Lord got rid of it at once.

Lord, You have freely forgiven me . . . help me freely forgive.  I want my light to so shine before men, but that is an impossibility when I hold unforgiveness in my heart.  I go months now without thinking about it, so I know that You are at work and are truly helping me to lay it all down.  Let this be the last time.  Let it be the last time because I truly think of it no more.  I pray for my enemies . . . may You bless them ever so richly, Lord.  I truly believe they simply didn’t know what they were doing.  Give them hearts that want to serve You and Your purpose from this day forward.  Give them eyes to see as You see.  May I never bring it up again.  Help me be like You.  Please make me more and more like You.  Amen

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Bowling Lesson

I will bless the Lord at all times:  His praise shall continuously be in my mouth. – Psalm 34:1

I’ve been bowling in a church league on Monday nights.  I never in my life thought I’d have so much fun bowling.  I love meeting the different teams and talking to the individual members.  Two weeks ago, one of them gave me one of the best lessons I think I’ve ever received.  It is a lesson that I believe I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

He told me that life was like bowling.  Sometimes you will roll a strike, which is what you are supposed to do.  A strike in life means you lived that day right.  When you get it right, you should look up and give God praise.  Sometimes you will roll splits, which can range from difficult to nearly impossible.  Even when we are in impossible situations, we should look up and give God praise.  Sometimes you roll it right in the gutter, which represents getting it all wrong.  Sometimes I run late and don’t hang out with God in the morning.  I proceed to just rush through my day not thinking much of Him.  I go to bed and think that I lived so poorly for my Lord and my Savior.  I used to beat myself up for days like that.  Do you know what I’m going to do from now on?  

That’s right!  Give Him praise!

Monday night, I was trying to put this into practice.  I had just come off three strikes in a row on the right-side lane.  I got to start the next game on the same lane.  Honestly, I got caught up so much that I didn’t give Him praise for the three in a row.  With all the confidence in the world that I would throw another strike to start the second game . . . I threw it in the gutter.  I couldn’t believe it.  So, I went to the ball return and waited.  While I waited, I looked up, and gave God praise.  I thanked Him for the lesson of the gutter ball.  

I don’t know what happened, but I proceeded to bowl the best game of my life after that.  Also, this would be my first ever league game where I acknowledged God after every single frame which, in my mind, now represents a day in my life.  From now on, if I get it right, I’ll praise Him.  If I get it wrong, I’ll still give Him praise.

Lord, thank You so much for the bowling lesson.  Help me treat every day of the rest of my life like a frame in bowling.  I want my life to honor You.  I want to hear the words, “Well done.”  I look forward to my faith becoming sight and being in Your presence forever.  So, Lord, whether I strike today or throw it in the gutter . . . I will give You praise!  You are so worthy!  Amen.

P.S.  I might as well show you the scorecard

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Real Deal Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice. – Philippians 4:4

When I was at the Texas State Fair a month or so ago, I don’t know if I’ve had joy like that in a long time.  Every problem that I had back home in South Carolina seemed to just be nonexistent.  In fact, when I got back, those problems were all there ready to smack me in the face as soon as we turned on exit 1 and onto Highway 11.  It was like my joy just melted when I got back to reality.

I have a friend who has recently come home from a weekend getaway where he did nothing but seek the Lord. Philippians 4 is where the Lord led him.  As he was telling me all that the Lord told Him, the Lord was really speaking to my heart and mind as well.  In fact, for two days solid now, I bet I’ve quoted Philippians 4:4 a hundred times in my mind.

You see, when Paul wrote Philippians 4:4, he was not at the Texas State Fair . . . He was in prison.  In Chapter 2, verse 14, he encourages the church to do things without complaining.  In chapter 4, verse 2, he tells a couple of people who are fighting to knock it off.  He’s basically like, “Look y’all . . . Y’all’s name is in the book of life!  Rejoice!  I’m even going to tell you again . . . Rejoice”. That of course is the Salem translation.  But doesn’t it sum up Americans?  We complain about the things we have to do, and we pretty much always can’t stand someone else . . . at least that is the way I am.  This verse smacks me in the face, “Dude . . . rejoice!”

As I dwell on and simmer in Philippians 4:4, with all my heart, I don’t want to be like I am anymore.  I want to have as much joy today driving my bus, teaching my classes, sitting in meetings, driving in my car, hanging with my family, playing music, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, and absolutely anything else that I do today . . . I want as much joy as I had had the Texas State Fair.  There was this unbelievable moment where I had my arm around my wife, I was listening to Trace Adkins, I was looking at that monstrous neon Ferris wheel changing colors . . . man, life was just perfect in that moment.  I looked up and I thanked God.  Yet, it convicts me this morning . . . I don’t want to only tell Him that when things are just like Adam likes them.

If God is in my life . . . and He is!  What a difference that should make!  If I mope around at work dying to go home . . . why in the world would anyone want the God that I claim to have?  What difference does He make?  If I stay aggravated at people’s pettiness . . . what good am I to God’s kingdom.  At the end of the day, my name is in the Lamb’s book of life!  I will not stand condemned before a Holy God!  If I die at 80, then in 33 short years, my faith will become sight . . . I will physically behold His Glory with my own eyes!  All of a sudden, that does not seem like a lot of time.  All of a sudden, I realize my need for the Lord to change me and what I think is important.  

Lord, I am amazed at how You are teaching me and transforming me.  Oh, with all my heart I want this joy!  Paul had it in a prison cell.  I don’t have it with comforts some people only dream about.  I humbly ask, Lord, to fill me with that “peace that passes all understanding” that You talk about just a couple of verses later.  Maybe that isn’t what I need to be asking for.  Maybe I need to be asking for help in only thinking about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy . . . help those be the things that I fill my mind with and truly dwell upon.  Lord . . . I really want to get this right.  Philippians 4:13 is the most famous verse in this chapter and we use it to win sporting events.  As I think about the impossibility of what I’m asking, it sure means something to me right now . . . I can’t rejoice in my own strength, but I can do it through Christ . . . who gives me strength.  Amen.

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There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a burning bush. – Exodus 3:2

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed. – Joshua 6:20

Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!  My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; — Daniel 6:21

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. – John 5:5. 

At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. – John 5:9

I remember hearing these stories read and preached in Sunday School and in the church services I attended.  Never have I even thought to doubt them or question them.  When I talk to many people today, they simply dismiss the Bible and say, “Well, the Bible was written by men,” or “It has been changed so many times.”  In a nutshell, they are saying, “I don’t believe it.”  

Here is what I have doubted, though:  I have doubted that God would do something big and miraculous for me.  In my most desperate times, I’ve gone back and read the stories.  I wish I could say that I did it with 100% confidence and in full faith, but I’ve prayed with the amount of faith that I had, “God, You showed up for them . . . will You show up for me?”  

Sometimes, He showed up exactly like I hoped He would.  But other times, He showed up in just the most unexpected of ways.  He has answered prayers in ways that I could not have dreamed up on my best days.  

Often when I’m witnessing to people who refuse to believe in Jesus, I will speak of the wonderful things that have happened in the Bible.  The person and I usually agree that we are glad all that happened to them, but what does that have to do with us?  Will God do it for us?  I usually make my best attempt to simply get them to say this prayer, “God, if You are real . . . make Yourself real to me.”  Then, I trust that He will . . . in His time, in His way.

At a men’s group meeting where only 4 people showed up last night, I listened to two stories of where God showed up for two men in their lifetime.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been as captivated as when I was listening to them tell their stories. 

What could possibly be the reason for all these stories?

I think it is so we might believe that all things are possible.

Lord, You have done the impossible in my life.  You changed me.  You made it so that I want to do good things I once despised.  You made it so that I hate sinful things I once loved.  You did this in Your time and in Your way.  I am so thankful.  You are so good.  Continue to mold me and make me after Your will.  There is and never will be another like You.  Show some people today who have not placed their trust in You that You will show up for them.  Amen!

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Salvation is Free, The Blessed Life Isn’t

If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss.  He himself will be saved, but only as if through the flames. – 1 Corinthians 3:15

I have written a lot of WMD’s.  I think close to 600.  I’ve preached a lot of sermons.  Nowhere near as many as some preachers, but probably close to 400.  I love to think about, write about, read about, and talk about God.  Without a doubt, He is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  

Unfortunately, critics are everywhere.  Not to let myself off the hook, for I can turn into one so easily.  Many times, those critics get under my skin and my brain goes into this fog and I just can’t ignore them or let it go.  Eventually, I let it go, but major stuff takes years for me.  Minor stuff can take days or weeks to let go.  I don’t know why I’m like this.  I for sure don’t want to be.

The reason I say this is because I was recently told that I preach, or it sounds like I preach, that a person can lose their salvation.  Do I believe that after following Christ for 31 years that, suddenly, I could no longer be saved?  No.  Do I believe that I still must trust and obey God with my life . . . even today?  Yes!  Do I believe that the way you live your life matters?  Yes!  I believe 1 Corinthians 3:15 speaks of two different types of Christians in the world today.  Those who build with a pure heart, and those who build with selfish motives.  It might even include a third group that doesn’t work at all.  To me, this verse says that you can barely make it into heaven.  It also teaches me that there is a reward on top of salvation that can be received if we can simply learn to build with a pure heart.

The truth is, without obedience to God, I would have so much less in my life.  God has asked me to do some things since I’ve been saved.  I’ve done some of them, and I’ve not done some of them.  What I did do didn’t earn me a spot in heaven, and what I didn’t do didn’t take my spot away.  But the things He asked me to do blessed me on this earth.  For example, I remember God asking me to not date for a year.  I was the neediest person on the planet.  I didn’t want to do what He said, but I did . . . because I wanted to trust and obey.  If I had refused, I would not have lost my salvation . . . but I would have lost the chance to be married to my wife.  That year alone made me realize God was enough and prepared me to add to her life and not just subtract from it.  

I can give you another one.  I read Colossians 3:23 one day after honestly contemplating quitting teaching.  I hated it and was lining up another career.  God asked me to work for Him, not for principals and not because I was getting paid.  I didn’t want to stay.  I didn’t want to change.  But I asked Him to help me change and I stayed.  Slowly, but surely, I began to love my job.  I began to see myself differently.  I began to teach differently.  I began to see the importance of why I was there.  I love my job now!  If I had refused to obey, I would not have lost my salvation, but I would have lost a great job and countless relationships that I’ve built since then.

If you have truly been saved, of course you can’t lose your salvation.  But you can miss out on some pretty great things that God has in store for you.

Lord, I don’t just want to be saved and barely make it into heaven.  I want the abundant life.  I want to build in a way that I receive rewards that I can lay at Your feet.  I want to trust You.  I want to obey You.  I don’t all the time.  Will You help me?  Will You lead me, guide me, and direct me?  You never say, “Depart from me, you didn’t get saved.”  You say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”  I want to know You, Lord.  Thank You for a relationship that will never end.  I hope these little devotionals continue to bless people’s lives.  Use me Lord for Your glory.  Amen.

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Seeing God

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. – Matthew 5:8

Of all the beatitudes, this one means the most to me right now.  I have written a book about the beatitudes.  I promise it will eventually be published.  For some reason, I’m afraid to release it until someone checks over my work.  I have found someone who will do it next month.  So, for about the third year in a row, I’m saying it will be available next year.  We will see.

Lately, I have seen God quite a bit.  I saw Him shine ever so brightly through kids at a chorus concert.  I saw Him in an angry person deliberately restraining themselves and removing themselves from a situation.  I saw Him through a woman with hands raised singing “How Great is Our God who has lost so much so recently in her life. When I talked with her about it, she just beamed of God and boasted of how good He was and is through it all.  It is so amazing how my instinct is to cry when I see Him.  I used to be the last person to cry.  It simply feels like I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t take it.  It is quite literally the best feeling in the world.

On the flip side, sin is making me sicker a lot faster.  When I first got saved, gross sins wouldn’t bother me that much.  Sure, when the Holy Spirit was thick in one of those old school Church of God services, I’d feel super convicted.  But out in the world, my sin just didn’t seem like that big of a deal.  Now I’m calling things sin that I never would have called sin years ago.  I get so convicted.  I just want to run to be alone with God and tell Him everything and plead with Him to make things right.  I always find that He isn’t interested in my pleading.  He simply forgives me and ever so kindly shows me where that particular path of sin leads and lets me know why He doesn’t want me on it.  I can’t tell you how much this makes me love Him even more.  It makes me want my heart to be so pure so I can see Him more and more.

I’m amazed that God lets me see Him so often.  I’m so aware of how unworthy I am right now.  I have so many issues right now that seem impossible to conquer.  But then I think sometimes if all my issues were conquered, I just might become the older brother to the prodigal son thinking my father isn’t doing anything for me and refusing to celebrate when my lost brother comes home.  I might become a Pharisee who looks down on everyone and acts way more spiritual than he is.  I might live my life appearing to be a Christian, but not really knowing Him at all.  

Lord, I just want to know You.  I want to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I confess that I don’t really know how.  I just know that when I spend time with You, I wonder why I ever do anything else.  Yet when I’m doing anything and everything else, it is so easy to put You on the backburner and forget about You.  I do know that in this moment, right here and right now, I cannot thank You enough for all that You have done for me and through me over the course of my life.  You are quite literally the best thing this life offers.  Please help me to never forget.  I hate how easy it is to forget.  Lead me safely home, Jesus.  I see You in people, situations, places, and things right now.  But one day . . . one day . . . my faith will become sight and I will see You for real.  Help me be patient.  Help me be about Your work.  Most of all, help me be pure, for I want to see You as often as I can.  Amen

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Where Eagles Fly

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like Eagles; they will run and not go weary, they will walk and not be faint.  – Isaiah 40:31

When I first made myself available to God to preach His Word, I didn’t really think He would take me up on the offer.  It was one of those things that I kind of hoped He would give me credit for my willingness, but not actually make me do it.  As it turns out, He has given me opportunity after opportunity.  Before I would deliver messages at churches, I used to go to the auditorium at Tamassee-Salem Middle/High school, turn on the sound system, and preach to the empty seats.  I would preach my heart out.  God’s power would be all over me and I just loved those times in that auditorium when it was just Him and me.

I say this because my heart has always been for my hometown.  I’ve always wondered if God would find a way for me to preach there.  It is looking like I may have the opportunity to preach in that very same auditorium that I used to practice. As I’ve been thinking about this for months now, I’m asking myself what it should look like.  The last thing I want to do is more of the same and more of what is already available.  I don’t want to do the Sunday morning, sing three songs, and then hear a message thing.  I’m not saying there is anything at all wrong with that, it just seems that we have made that a formula that you would swear is straight from the Bible.  

What I’m thinking (and praying that God is leading the way in this) is a Saturday afternoon service, like a 4:00 pm service.  I’m thinking that instead of playing songs that anyone can worship to on the radio, we sing songs that specifically help us learn and memorize scriptures.  Maybe we even sing the same song for weeks until that Word is drilled into our hearts, and we can worship to it from memory.  I’m thinking there is always room for testimonies . . . always a platform for people to tell what God is doing in their lives.  I’m thinking just how much I would love the opportunity to let the Holy Spirit freely flow . . . and I’m not saying that I know what that looks like.

I’m not going to even pretend that I know what I’m doing, I’m just throwing this out there and asking for any input and feedback.  I’m not saying anything will start next Sunday, but I am saying that it is a decent possibility for 2023.  Would you come?  Do you know people that would?  After attending a 4:00 Saturday service in Texas this past weekend, I think a lot of people might appreciate it.

Lord, use me for Your glory.  I’m willing and I’m available.  Amen.

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Your Best Life Later

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  – John 14:3

Because God let my preacher die” is the latest reason that I’ve been given that someone quit Christianity.  “I was a big time Christian . . . went to church all the time,” they told me.  I have spoken with a lot of people who have reasons that they no longer follow God nor care about Him at all anymore.

I’ve only had one moment in my life where my circumstances seriously had me contemplating no longer following Jesus. Within a few days of this, my daily Bible Reading took me to John 6 where I read the words of Jesus when He asked the disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  (John 6:67-68)

Where else am I going to go?  Who else offers eternal life?  To me, those are the important questions to answer if I am going to willingly leave my faith in Christ.  Looking back, I see now that my worst days with Jesus were better than my best without Him.  I remember what it was like to care about everything but Him . . . I never want to go back to that.

So many Christians, often me included, are trying so hard to make this life as comfortable as possible.  People who profess faith in Christ don’t want anything to do with a work ethic, Bible study, prayer, or any kind of suffering or delayed gratification.  For the most part, Americans, even American Christians, want what they want, and they want it yesterday.  If, and when, they must face the least bit of discomfort, they shake their fist at God, or at the very least, begin to doubt Him, His love, and His care.

In this life there are headaches . . . literal and figurative.  There is injustice.  There are accidents that lead to death and sicknesses that lead to death.  We have no clue if our lives will end in the next few moments or years from now.  This life is filled with an insane amount of uncertainty.  Yet, Jesus promises to be with us in all that uncertainty.  He promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  We always have a friend in Jesus, and we always have someone to talk with about anything and everything going on in our lives.

In the next life, oh glory, in the next life . . . well, I’ll just let the Bible tell you about that one: 

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them.  They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  (Revelation 21:3-5)    

Lord, I hate how easy I forget that this world is not my home.  I complain about the really small things You ask me to do.  So often those things You are asking me to do are for my own immediate benefit.  I don’t want to be a complainer, Lord.  I want to do all that You’d ever have me do in this life with joy.  What a marvelous thing to get to work and labor for my Maker.  Forgive me, Lord, for I know I speak things that I would never say if I truly trusted You completely.  Help me, Jesus!  Fill me afresh with Thy Holy Spirit!  My life is in Your hands.  Amen.

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A Soul Examination

Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you.  – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!  — 2 Corinthians 13:5

Occasionally, I like to take this verse as seriously as possible and take a good, long, hard, look at myself.  In the past, I’ve allowed myself to believe that I was okay when I was not.  I simply look at what God is doing in my life.  What is going well?  What are my convictions?  Am I dealing with them?  Or am I ignoring them?  I must be brutally honest . . . this is one test I do not want to fail.  The King James says “except ye be reprobates” at the end of the verse, which simply means that you aren’t living by Biblical principles.  I don’t think we necessarily need to beat ourselves up during this test, but we want to know with certainty that God is working in our hearts, minds, and lives . . . at least I do.

This past weekend, God did something amazing for me.  I went on what I call “my little prayer walk.”  Lately, I have ended it at the little church that is near my home.  I just sit there and pray for as long as I can.  However, this time was different.  As soon as I sat on the steps, my prayers went up to heaven in one fell swoop.  In the same way God often gives me messages to preach, He took my prayers from me.  It was instantaneous and if I had to write them all down, it would have taken so much time.  I didn’t know what to do.  My plan was to sit there and talk for a while.  I proceeded to just enjoy my surroundings.  I realized that God simply wanted to sit there with me for a while.  No talking.  Just sit there together with Him enjoying everything that my eyes were seeing.  Things like this let me know God is in me and that God is with me.

The very next day, I went to see a band called Demon Hunter in Asheville, NC.  I remember buying their album “The Triptych” probably 15 years ago and thinking, “man . . . these guys are different.”  They were trying to reach a crowd that most religious folks simply wrote off as “going to hell.”  Just being around all that energy and those loud, thundering guitars . . . I don’t know why . . . it just does it for me.  I guess I will forever be a teenager that loves concerts.  I sure look forward to the many we will experience in Heaven.  

Anyway, I tell you this because I enjoyed the time sitting with God at the little church.  I should have enjoyed the concert, but I haven’t enjoyed the past few that I have attended.  You see, I know that there are a handful of religious people that love to stalk my Facebook page and make judgements about me because of my posts.  For whatever reason, I like making posts that give them fuel to say things like, “Look at where he is . . . and he is supposedly a preacher.”  Whereas this was fun the first few times . . . now it is sucking the life and enjoyment out of the things that I love to do and experience.  I’m not simply allowing God to be with me because I’m too busy trying to kick a religious hornet’s nest so to speak.  As I type it out and read it, it sounds so stupid.  It’s like, “Adam . . . what are you doing?”  I know I’ve got to let this one go.  But it is during examinations of my heart like this where I find out what I’m doing well that I need to keep doing, and where I find the things that I’ve just got to stop.  

To him that knows to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  – James 4:17

I have no idea if this makes any sense to you as readers.  I don’t even know if this is the kind of stuff I should write or if I should keep it to myself.  I just pray that God is honored through my life and that I continue to grow in Him.  If I can help a few people here and there along the way, then that makes my life worth living.  

Lord, more than anything, I want to enjoy You.  I want to be ever so aware that You are with me in all situations.  I’m tired of taking time-outs just to take digs at religious, judgmental, church people who look down their noses on others who don’t keep their rules as well as they do.  Why in the world do I even waste that kind of time?  I’ve been where they are, so more importantly, why am I not praying for them?  Who wants to be the older brother in Luke 15 that can’t even enjoy a celebration for his brother who has come home?  Who should have to be begged by the Father to enjoy a party?  I don’t know, Lord.  Will You please help me to put childish ways behind me?  Will You help me to enjoy absolutely every component of my life.  I’ve read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  I’ve read of how those guys are literally burning and still singing praises to You.  I can’t seem to do it in good things that I should be enjoying.  You have really hooked me up in life.  You’ve given me so much.  Help me to give back to You.  Help me make my life pleasing to You, O Lord my God, and my redeemer.  Amen!

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