Archive for the ‘Hot Topics’ Category

The events that have unfolded over the last few weeks and even months have been such an eye-opening display that the Lord’s return isn’t too far away. From the huge Tsunami in Japan to all the tornado’s in Alabama and storm damage in many other states, it is hard not to see that we are getting closer. I for one can’t wait.
Sunday was a historic day for our Country and the world. I have been glued to the news to see all the events of the Bin Ladin death and how they have unfolded. I love the details of the raid of our Navy Seals and to see how they defeated a tyrant. To me, one of the craziest things about the whole ordeal was the reaction to his death. Some have rejoiced, some have been angered, some are just indifferent. As many have already said, I am thrilled that justice has been done. I don’t gloat in a man’s death but I do gloat in the fact that a tyrant is dead. There is a difference. We all are equal in the sight of God in the fact that we have all sinned and fall short of His glory. Therefore all of us needed a Savior in that of Christ. I am so thankful for His salvation and gift of grace. We all get to make that choice as to whether we receive Christ or reject Him. Unfortunately for Bin Ladin, he adamantly rejected Him his entire life. He even went so far as to hate Christianity and make war against it. That was his choice. I wish he would have found Christ, then he wouldn’t have been the enemy he was. I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul when he was Saul, making a living off killing Christians until God intervened. Paul then became the spokesperson for Christianity. In a miraculous rescue because of God’s grace. I wish a long time ago Bin Ladin would have made the same decision. He didn’t. He chose the path to make war and now he had to deal with the consequences like we all deal with consequences of our own sin. His lead to a premature death. I am glad justice was done. My prayer is now for the followers of Bin Ladin. I hope they see where following a man get’s them and find grace instead. I for one am glad I follow a Savior, and I already know how that ends. We keep getting closer.

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I Love You, if…

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Hot Topics, Life Change, My Faith

This is the love season. You see it everywhere, people are trying to figure out the right card, or where to go on the perfect Valentines date. The one time of year when people might go just a little out of their way to emphasize their love for someone. Seems we get a little sidetracked at times when it comes to love. It’s a lot easier to love someone when they have something in return for us. It gets even easier when that something is of great value or want. I hate that we have become a people who put stipulations on our love for one another. We live now, whether consciously or subconsciously, with the mindset of “I love you, if…” You can fill in the blank.

This may not be something we do all the time, but many times we will see ourselves in this situation. I am so grateful for a God who doesn’t have those type of motives. Who loves us no matter who we are, or what we have done. Who gives more grace than we can handle, and shows His love in ways no one could even fathom. Who, most importantly showed His love by giving the greatest gift that can’t be matched. His Son.

One of my favorite verses of all time is Romans 5:8. It’s been on my heart all week and I can’t get enough of it. But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Just reading that verse gives me chills and a complete brokenness to my own life and situations I face. I can’t get over what He has done for me, and I pray I never will. In honor of Valentines day and one of the greatest love verses, I just want to expound on a few of these words from this verse:

Commends
This is such a powerful word and one that sets the stage for the rest of the verse. Some translations use the word shows here, which is true, but only half of what it is trying to say. Some use the word demonstrates, which is another powerful word and gives us a picture and demonstration of what true love looks like. I like the word commends because of its meaning. Commends means to praise formally or make official. Think about how amazing that is. God makes His own love for us official by giving us His only Son. That is perfection. I also love that is word is used in the present tense! He still commends. No matter your situation, what you are going through, or who you are, God wants to pour out His love for you right now. Don’t let things in your past or present rob you from receiving what true love really is. It’s offered right at this moment.

That
It’s only in God’s love that we find salvation. If He doesn’t pour out His love through Christ, we have no hope. But He did. I love that the definition of that means “to such a degree.” There is not a greater degree to go than to give up the most precious thing that you have. Your life. No amount of money, wisdom, or fame even matters if you don’t have your life. Christ gave His freely. For us. So that we could see what true love is, and in return have a relationship with the creator of the world.

Were
Our past. It took place right where we are. We don’t have to clean ourselves up and then He loves us, He loves us now. One thing that is a battle at times as a Christian, is thinking that God only loves a future version of us. That He can only love us if we just overcome a certain sin, go to church regularly, read our Bible everyday, pray all the time, or treat people nice. While those things are good to do, He loves you regardless. No matter what, He loves.

Died
This is the reason this verse exists. To show what the greatest love produces. The payment for our sin and a broken world. To finally restore the glory of God. I love the second definition of the word die: “To be killed for a cause.” That is the easiest way to explain what God did for us. The cause was great. Our sin is bigger than we can handle. Christ had to die. In the process we see love, but not only see it, but get it. We get God, and He wants us. That’s what makes this love so powerful.

That’s something Valentines day can’t compete with…

Try saying that title five times fast…

I have always been very interested in astronomy and the greatness of God’s creation. There is something about the endless universe that is very intriguing. For me, I think it’s because it displays the glory of God, and that is always amazing to think about. I heard a message by Louie Giglio a few years ago called Indescribable. He went through our solar system and told how incredible everything lined up and pointed to the greatness of God. Toward the end of his message he showed a picture and gave a quick summary of what is known as the “Pale Blue Dot.” It was a picture taken by the Voyager I spacecraft on its way out of our solar system. Since then, I have read a lot about this picture.

On February 14, 1990 Carl Sagan, a well-known astronomer, was heading up a mission for Voyager I in which it was taking pictures of Saturn, and the later parts of the solar system. More than a dozen years after it launched from Florida, the scientists and engineers who were still communicating with Voyager I commanded it to turn its cameras back towards the solar system and take one last picture of all the planets before it flew out of reach forever. So from 3.7 billion miles from home the Voyager started capturing all the photographs. The most amazing one however was the little place we call home and what Sagan rightly named, “The Pale Blue Dot.” Here is that picture with the arrow helping to point out the earth:

I don’t know what looking at this picture does to you, but to me, it helps me to see how small I really am. Carl Sagan ended up writing a book called “The Pale Blue Dot,” and in it he talks about how everything we have heard of and have ever known took place on that little spec in the picture. How even though everything we have ever known seems so big and huge to us, it actually pales in comparison to how big our universe really is. Although I would agree with the point he is trying to get across, I don’t come to the same conclusion. He describes what our world might look like if possibly an extraterrestrial were looking on: “You might imagine an uncharitable extraterrestrial observer looking down on our species… – with us excitedly chattering, “The Universe is created for us! We’re at the center! Everything pays homage to us!” and concluding that our pretensions are amusing, our aspirations pathetic, that this must be the planet of the idiots.”

Funny thing is, I agree with him there, I just can’t leave it there. You see most people do live as though the world is created for us and we are the center of everything, I even have those selfish moments in my life. But what Sagan got right is the stupidity into thinking everything was created for us. One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:16. It clearly states that everything was created for HIM and by HIM. For me, that brings joy. That Jesus is the center of EVERYTHING.

Unfortunately what Sagan is missing is the fact that God wants to share it with us, but not only that, but goes a step further and would actually come to our pale blue dot and die for us. Stop and think about that for one second. The Creator of this universe, came to this small fragrant spec in space and gave His life so we could spend eternity with Him, and at the same time restore His glory. That’s the reason He did it. So what does this picture do for me? It shows me how so small and insignificant I really am, but that God still holds me as significant. Not only am I a pale blue dot, I am only one of 7 billion people on that pale blue dot and yet my Savior wants a personal relationship with me… and you. Wow… That never gets old.


Loving the Church

Posted: June 10, 2010 in Hot Topics, My Faith

I had a discussion with a friend of mine the other day on how the church is becoming very “old-fashioned” it seems to many of the younger generation. A lot of people seem to dismiss the church as something that was good for their parents and grandparents. So if truly a personal relationship with God is built on God’s Word, then why do we need organized church? I have actually heard that question brought up many times. The problem with that is the Bible itself. When God left the disciples here on earth, He gave them instruction on building His church, not to just get a Bible in everyones hand and hope they read it.

I love how some of the younger generation are fired up to reach the world and solve world peace and hunger, but I feel like we lose sight of maybe God’s true will for our individual lives when that’s where are focus lies. Not that those things are wrong by any means, but just maybe not where we need to start. We need to be more concerned about being faithful in the small things before we jump into big things. With this being on my mind a lot recently a co-worker shared this article with me the other day. It actually hit hard on what I had been thinking and I thought it was excellent. I would just let you read the link, but if you’re like me, I don’t read a lot of links on peoples blogs. So I am copying and pasting it below:

The Glory of Plodding

by Kevin DeYoung

It’s sexy among young people — my generation — to talk about ditching institutional religion and starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church. Besides being unbiblical, such notions of churchless Christianity are unrealistic. It’s immaturity actually, like the newly engaged couple who think romance preserves the marriage, when the couple celebrating their golden anniversary know it’s the institution of marriage that preserves the romance. Without the God-given habit of corporate worship and the God-given mandate of corporate accountability, we will not prove faithful over the long haul.

What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church — a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders. The best churches are full of gospel-saturated people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God’s glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency.

My generation in particular is prone to radicalism without followthrough. We have dreams of changing the world, and the world should take notice accordingly. But we’ve not proved faithful in much of anything yet. We haven’t held a steady job or raised godly kids or done our time in VBS or, in some cases, even moved off the parental dole. We want global change and expect a few more dollars to the ONE campaign or Habitat for Humanity chapter to just about wrap things up. What the church and the world needs, we imagine, is for us to be another Bono — Christian, but more spiritual than religious and more into social justice than the church. As great as it is that Bono is using his fame for some noble purpose, I just don’t believe that the happy future of the church, or the world for that matter, rests on our ability to raise up a million more Bonos (as at least one author suggests). With all due respect, what’s harder: to be an idolized rock star who travels around the world touting good causes and chiding governments for their lack of foreign aid, or to be a line worker at GM with four kids and a mortgage, who tithes to his church, sings in the choir every week, serves on the school board, and supports a Christian relief agency and a few missionaries from his disposable income?

Until we are content with being one of the million nameless, faceless church members and not the next globe-trotting rock star, we aren’t ready to be a part of the church. In the grand scheme of things, most of us are going to be more of an Ampliatus (Rom. 16:8) or Phlegon (v. 14) than an apostle Paul. And maybe that’s why so many Christians are getting tired of the church. We haven’t learned how to be part of the crowd. We haven’t learned to be ordinary. Our jobs are often mundane. Our devotional times often seem like a waste. Church services are often forgettable. That’s life. We drive to the same places, go through the same routines with the kids, buy the same groceries at the store, and share a bed with the same person every night. Church is often the same too — same doctrines, same basic order of worship, same preacher, same people. But in all the smallness and sameness, God works — like the smallest seed in the garden growing to unbelievable heights, like beloved Tychicus, that faithful minister, delivering the mail and apostolic greetings (Eph. 6:21). Life is usually pretty ordinary, just like following Jesus most days. Daily discipleship is not a new revolution each morning or an agent of global transformation every evening; it’s a long obedience in the same direction.

It’s possible the church needs to change. Certainly in some areas it does. But it’s also possible we’ve changed — and not for the better. It’s possible we no longer find joy in so great a salvation. It’s possible that our boredom has less to do with the church, its doctrines, or its poor leadership and more to do with our unwillingness to tolerate imperfection in others and our own coldness to the same old message about Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s possible we talk a lot about authentic community but we aren’t willing to live in it.

The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an anti-religion, anti-doctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love, harmony, and re-integration. He showed people how to live, to be sure. But He also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church. The Lord “didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church” (John Stott).

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). If we truly love the church, we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. The church is the hope of the world — not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head.

Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me. Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.

The Improbable

Posted: January 12, 2010 in Hot Topics, Life Change

A year ago at this time there was a high school kid named Skylar Mcbee that lived in Rutledge, TN. playing basketball for Grainger County high school. Most days you would find him shooting baskets in the old high school gym, knowing that was the most exciting thing that could happen in that small town. Fast forward a year later and he is now in front of 21,936 people in Thompson Boling Arena, and just hit the shot of his career, oh…and he is only a freshman. One play, one shot, and he solidified himself a local hero, and on some scale, a national hero. An hour after he made that improbable basket, “Skylar Mcbee” was in the top 50 hot topics on Google’s search engine.

What makes him such a special kid is his love for the game, and Tennessee basketball. Unlike most people on the team, Skylar doesn’t have a scholarship. Most Division 1 schools didn’t think he was big enough, or quick enough to play at this level. Coach Pearl agreed. He did offer him a walk-on position to which he gladly accepted. After fall workouts and practice however, Pearl saw a drive in Skylar he didn’t see in anyone else on the team. In fact, he worked so hard, Pearl couldn’t help but put him in the rotation.

Fast forward to last Sunday afternoon. With Tennessee spread thin, due to a few of their players being suspended, Skylar played most of the game. With 35.8 seconds left and Tennessee holding on to a 3 point lead, he hits a 3 point shot that iced the game. Instant hero. Regardless of whether it’s a basketball game or anything else in life, I love to hear a good story of an underdog succeeding. Skylar didn’t disappoint on Sunday, and I’m sure over the next few years, we will hear more from this little country boy.

He’s always been Tiger

Posted: December 3, 2009 in Hot Topics

So my sisters were eating at a restaurant almost two years ago and they saw this guy in there and convinced themselves that it was Tiger Woods. So they texted me a picture and said “Guess who we met?” I looked at it and knew right away that they couldn’t be talking about Tiger, because I could spot that guy in my sleep. They thought it was definitely him and so they finally asked him and he laughed but still gave them a picture to send to me.

I won’t spend long on this because I know everyone in the world is tired of hearing about Tiger Woods. However this story breaks my heart. I’ve always liked Tiger Woods and have respected him as a golfer ever since I saw him first play in 1996. The year before he became a pro. So here is something that might surprise you, or maybe it won’t. I still like him. I still highly respect him as a golfer and professional. I will still root for him and watch him in each tournament that he is in. So what is different about him now to me? Nothing. You see, I never looked at him as a hero or even held him high as a person. It’s never been a secret the guy has flaws. You can’t watch any tournament he plays in without seeing his temper and lots of language. So it’s not a shock to me that this came out in his life. But it doesn’t make me wanna hate him, it breaks my heart to pray for him and his marriage. I know he is going through some pain and hurt and most likely a lot of regret and guilt. He’s still no different from any of us. We are all in the same boat. It is my prayer for him that somewhere in this he can find a loving Savior that paid the price for this fallen world we live in. That includes Tiger’s “transgressions and personal sins,” as he describes them. A lot of people want to throw him under the bus for this, and I will never understand how anyone who claims Christ can stand in front of the cross and point a finger at anyone for anything. It’s never how big or how small the sin is, it’s who the sin is against. Not one of us can compare to Christ, and by the way, that is the standard. Being in the publics eyes, Tiger will always be in the spotlight whether he likes it or not. There is actually a great post from my friend Marty about this here. He’s built his life around the public view so he will have to deal with that, but to me, he’s no different from the guy in this picture. I’ve never looked at him as a hero, but as a great golfer that could use a Savior. He’s always been Tiger.

Twitter

Posted: April 17, 2009 in Hot Topics

So I have been on Twitter now since January. I haven’t really told anyone because I didn’t know if I would use it or even stay on it long. It actually has been pretty cool to be a part of. I don’t update that often because I don’t want to be known as a Staddict. lol However, it’s been cool for me to be able to follow a couple pastor’s I listen too, and also a few good friends. There are many celebrities on there now as well as many athletes and other people. I don’t follow any of them, that’s not my thing, but it is funny to see the hype around it. For instance Ashton Kutcher became the first person to reach a million followers after a close contest with the CNN network. That’s kind of crazy. So, if you want to see what the hype is all about, or follow my pretty mundane life. Then click here. It can be fun, and maybe addicting! But please don’t become a Twaddict. 🙂

Crown of Thorns Galaxy

Posted: April 8, 2009 in Hot Topics, My Faith

crown-of-thorns-galaxy1Like Heather, I love astronomy. It has always amazed me to look up in the stars and be in awe over what God has created. Like Louie Giglio so eloquently says it, it shows how big God is and how small we really are. I always need to keep that in mind. Today on a website I saw this article that was just released by NASA. I thought it was very fitting for Easter week. Absolutely amazing picture. It always cracks me up how the universe screams out in so many ways the message of the Cross. It would be hard to paint a crown as perfect as this galaxy made it appear. I think the biggest thing that makes me smile about this picture is not just the crown part, but how pure white the light is in the middle of this pic. If you look at a lot of galaxy pictures, they have a lot of bright purples and reds and blues. This one is just bright white. For the purity of an amazing Savior. Wow… I love what Easter represents.

March Madness

Posted: March 17, 2009 in About Me, Hot Topics

This is my favorite time of year sports wise. I like college sports more than professional sports, because it seems most of the time, college players play with more heart. Professional sports are more a business than sport these days. That’s another blog. I like this time of year because of the college basketball tournaments. It is filled with underdogs that have a chance to beat the Goliath’s. Normally I am even more excited than I already am because the last couple years Tennessee had a good chance to go far in the tournament. Not this year. They haven’t lived up to expectations and aren’t expected to go past the 2nd game at the most. We’ll see what happens. My hopes are definitely not too high.

The thing that is most intriguing about this tournament every year is the unexpected. The experts NEVER get it right on who they think will succeed and who won’t. There are always several surprises and disappointments. It is impossible to predict. In fact many websites like espn.com and yahoo.com give you the chance to make your own picks and if you get them all right, you could win millions of dollars. The crazy thing is, every year over 100 million entries go into these things and no one ever wins! They may win by guessing the right bracket or game and even have the most right, but no one has ever mastered every game.

I can’t help but think about the same thing when applied to the people we walk with at our churches and in our circles. It is so easy to pinpoint certain people and proclaim them to be the next great Billy Graham or Spurgeon. The thing is, the majority of the time, it’s the unexpected. To me, that’s one of the greatest joys of Christianity is to know God uses the unexpected, unworthy, and unqualified people the most. He is the one that does the work, no one can lay claim on that. Look at the Disciples, and many others throughout all Scripture. So we can try and place people all we want to, but truth is, in the end, we are NEVER right. But that’s how I like it…

Picnik

Posted: March 9, 2009 in Hot Topics

It’s not too often that I find a website that astonishes me. However, Friday night Hannah Hickman introduced me to picnik and it has consumed a few hours of my time now. It’s so cool to be able to edit photos and just have unlimited possibilities with not much skill involved. That website does all the work for you. Very cool. You may already know about this site, or maybe you don’t, but it’s been really fun for me so I thought I would give the makers some free advertisement so that the thousands upon thousands of people that read my blog each week will know about it (hilarious). Anyway, here are a few examples of my handiwork…