“You gotta be careful about what you say these days. There are a lot of people with love in their hearts who will kill you if you don’t have as much love in your heart as they do.”- Dennis Miller
Nobody is immune to moments of discouragement. There are probably circumstances in your life today that seem overwhelming, scary, or depressing. Maybe it’s a lost family member, fear about our country with the upcoming election (help us, Lord!), relationship problems, or financial fears….
There is a surefire solution to making it through these moments with strength, joy, and VICTORY.
“But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.” Ps. 77:11
The way to move forward with victory is to look back at past victories. Stop and think back: what was your life like before you met Jesus? How far has He taken you already? Think back about a previous moment in your life when you were shocked by the greatness of God. He is the same God yesterday, today, and forevermore. When you look back on his mighty works, you realize… if He did it then, He can do it again!
We serve the God who formed the universe and rescued His people from slavery! There is no limit to His mighty power, and the same power that raised Christ from the dead is in you today as you read this. Let’s remember to remember, keeping his wonderful deeds constantly in our thoughts. He loves you and wants you to live in joy every single day!
Think of the controversy that surrounds The Pledge of Allegiance. Many do not feel the pledge should include the phrase “under God” because of what they call the “separation of church and state.” There has never been any phrasing or concept of “separation of church and state” in any official founding documents. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The intent was to prevent the establishment of an official state-sponsored religion as happened in England. The Church of England was established in 1534, and if you dared worship God in an unsanctioned way, you risked martyrdom – (that means death).
Having the Pledge state that our nation exists “under God” does not endorse a particular religion, nor does it force an atheist to believe in God or any god in order to receive the benefits of being a citizen, thus it is not an instance of the state endorsing a particular religion.
An atheist would argue, “but I don’t believe in God and forcing me to say those words is a violation of my rights.” This logic is faulty for the reason stated above -they are not forced to say anything (there is no risk of martyrdom for being an atheist). In addition, taking an atheist’s argument to its logical conclusion would require the complete abolishment of any pledge altogether.
Consider the potential conflicts:
“I pledge allegiance…” – What if one does not feel complete allegiance to our government or its flag? Most citizens were born here against their will! Should they be forced to say they pledge allegiance if they do not feel allegiance to, or believe in, our centralized governing body? That doesn’t seem very fair! (Remember: Just because there is a centralized governing body, doesn’t mean I must believe in it, right atheists?!) I could prove that many people who live in the USA do not feel allegiance to our nation.
“…to the flag…” – Which flag? The one with 13 stars or the one with 50? If the flag is changeable, I can’t definitively know to which flag I’m pledging allegiance, or if my allegiance will always exist.
“…and to the republic for which it stands…” – I could make a strong argument that the U.S.A. does not resemble the republic for which the flag originally stood.
“…indivisible…” – A basic history lesson proves this is not even a true statement, as proven by the U.S. Civil War.
“…with liberty and justice for all…” – I could definitively prove that many people do not receive total liberty or justice, albeit the potential for “liberty and justice for all” does exist in contrast to many nations…so that’s something.
The ONE lasting truth of our nation’s pledge is that it DOES exist under God. This will never change regardless of what happens to our nation. It is the one phrase that should ALWAYS be in our pledge, because it’s the only phrase that’s unconditionally true whether you like God or if you don’t acknowledge His existence. In fact, it’s the only part of the pledge that cannot, in any way, be proven to be false on any level! (Because nobody can prove that God does not exist, and they never will.)
Those who shout for the “separation of church and state” have a completely flawed understanding of history, and use faulty logic. They believe that phrase means that nothing involving the state can include anything involving religion. This is not what the First Amendment of the Constitution states. If it did, consider how far-reaching those affects would be…
Consider that the majority of the founding fathers believed in the Christian God as described in the bible, and their beliefs shaped the government they formed. Consider that problems with the state-sponsored Church of England were such big factors in driving Puritans to America. Consider that the concept that “all men are created equal” comes directly from the God of the bible. A separationist could easily argue that history books used in state-funded schools should not discuss those historical facts, because to do so would promote one religious system over another. Common sense would argue that it would be kind of awkward to just SKIP OVER the historical factors which led to the establishment of the U.S.A.
When anyone uses the phrase “…separation of church and state.” It’s an automatic signal that they do not understand history, and their logic is faulty. Christians, especially, should understand their rights, their history, and their freedom to worship God in any setting – public or private. I’m thankful for this great nation, which exists under God.
Here’s what I heard God speaking to me this morning: “If your wife came to you and said, ‘I don’t feel like you love me.’” You wouldn’t argue that she shouldn’t feel that way or defend yourself. That would be unloving. You would say, ‘I do love you. I’m sorry I made you feel that way. Let’s fix this so it doesn’t happen again.’ So if the black community says, ‘I don’t feel like you love me.’ You shouldn’t argue that they shouldn’t feel that way or defend yourself. That would be unloving. You say, ‘I do love you. I’m sorry I made you feel that way. Let’s fix this so it doesn’t happen again.’”
There is an ignorant trend in our culture that says it’s ok to be “angry at God.” People will say things like, “When my mom died, I was angry at God.” Let’s be clear: it’s fine to be angry about suffering, tragedy, or pain. It’s fine to tell God that you are angry about a situation, but it’s never ok to be angry AT God.
This would imply that God has done something wrong, or that He is anything other than good. He is only good, righteous, and just. We are finite, limited, and relatively ignorant.
We don’t know why God allows what He allows. We forget that humanity is responsible for sin and it’s effects. God mercifully chose to forgive us through His grace and redeem us from the effects of sin when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Is It Ok To Be Mad At God?”
I love all types of worship music (including hymns), and we sing hymns regularly in my church. All songs, regardless of when they were written are like anything else in life. Some are great and some are not.
I keep reading in articles that hymns are supposedly unique in that they are more “theologically rich” than modern worship music. That is just not true! Hymns are not any more “theologically rich” than songs that are written today. Those who say things like this really don’t understand what theological richness is, I suspect.
I grew up in church singing hymns and old choruses and I can tell you that most of them are absolutely terrible, but some are great. Most people who sing hymns today in church don’t realize that there are only about 10-15 hymns that we sing anymore, because the rest are just plain bad. That’s right, flip through a hymnal filled with hundreds of hymns, and you might find 10-20 that you’ve heard if you were born after 1975.
When people say, “Those hymns are just so theologically rich,” what they really mean is “those hymns are lyrically complex.” A theological doctrine is no more rich because you sing it in poetic King James language. Continue reading “Are Hymns More “Theologically Rich?””
I am passionate about the subject of honor. It’s a core value at Generation Church. The biblical meaning of the word “honor” is to treat something as valuable, to show respect. It communicates the concept of weightiness and significance. America is mostly a low-honor society. Most people refer to the President by his last name without the honor of his title. Children refer to parents as “old man” and “old lady.” Guys refer to their wives as “the old ball and chain.” When we dishonor others, we communicate that they are worthless, cheap, or commonplace.
I believe we need to restore the virtue of honor and the church can lead the way. We can restore honor to God with our reverence, recognizing Him as the loving Creator He is…not “The Big Guy upstairs!” We can strengthen families by restoring honor, teaching children to honor their parents, wives to honor their husbands, and husbands to honor their families. We can restore honor in our churches by honoring the guest, one another, and giving a portion of double-honor to those who preach and teach- that we might receive a double portion of blessing from God. Too many people want their pastor to just be a friend; but more than you need a friend, you need a pastor.
This last week, our nation experienced a tragedy. You know what I repeatedly notice during any tragedy? That people always want to tell each other how to respond to said tragedy.
At the same time, you will hear voices giving their opinions about the real lesson to take away. Often, opinions follow statements of arrogant reproof like, “Why don’t we stop focusing on ___, and start talking about ___.”
In any tragedy, the same voices reappear over and over again:
The God-focused voice: This person feels it’s his or her duty to remind everyone that God is good, He is loving, and He is in control. This, while good-intentioned, can be an inappropriate reaction. Most Christians, aren’t questioning God’s nature when tragedy strikes, and most non-believers won’t benefit from a poker-faced “praise God” in those moments. The God-focused voice needs to be tempered with a strong dose of people-focus, otherwise it comes across cold and uncaring. The God-focused voice also needs to graduate from elementary regurgitation of spiritual tag-lines, and move towards analysis and application of what God has said in His word. This voice needs to ask, “What does God say about tragedy, and how should we react to it?” This allows the God-focused person to be helpful to lost people. Continue reading “When Tragedy Strikes”
Today is my wedding anniversary and a great day to reflect on relationships. I’ve observed couples with good relationships and couples with bad relationships. I’ve seen friends become enemies and I’ve seen a few instances when opponents become reconciled. I can confidently say that relationships are made or broken over time through a continuous series of decisions and events. Broken relationships are usually the victim of relationship drift.
What is it?
Relationship drift occurs as one person in a relationship makes a series of choices that weaken the relationship. Listen, you don’t wake up and decide to hate your husband one day. You didn’t just have a random mid-life crisis and decide that you suddenly despise the sight of your wife. Relationship drift happens subtly and slowly. Continue reading “How to Avoid Relationship Drift”
Some days I don’t have a lot of time to work out. But my favorite exercise philosophy is “something is better than nothing.” Even if I only run one mile, that one mile is a lot more than no miles. This type of philosophy leads to a lifestyle of health and prevents year-long slumps or out-of-control down spirals.
Some mornings I’m running behind and don’t have time to read very much of the Bible. The same philosophy applies. Something is better than nothing. God can speak to your heart through one verse. If you only have time for a single verse, then read that verse. If you have time for just one chapter, then read that chapter. Continue reading “Something is Better Than Nothing”