Monday, August 9, 2010

Religion and Religiously

How often have we heard someone say something like, "He goes to the gym religiously" or "She checks up on her parents religiously." We know what that means. They do these things faithfully and consistently.
Here's my question. Do you practice your religion religiously? Just because one may "have a religion" does not mean they are faithful or consistent in their practice of it. It does not make it a priority in their lives. Oh how we need more Christians to practice Christianity religiously.
According to James 1:26, it is possible to have a useless religion. However, if we want to practice pure religion, we must strive to meet the needs of others and keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Remember, it does not matter how religious you are if you don't practice your religion religiously!

Just a note: I have heard that there are some now referring to our First Amendment right of freedom of religion as "the freedom to worship." We should be careful to point out that worship is a part of our religion and the First Amendment encompasses much more than that. Otherwise, the argument will eventually be made by those who oppose Christianity that certain aspects of our religion may be regulated by the state. May we ever be vigilant about this precious freedom.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Lord, I've never moved a mountain and I guess I never will. All the faith that I could muster wouldn't move a small ant hill. Yet I'll tell you, Lord, I'm grateful for the joy of knowing Thee, and for all the mountain moving down through life You've done for me.

When I needed some help you lifted me from the depths of great despair. And when burdens, pain and sorrow have been more than I can bear, you have always been my courage to restore life's troubled sea, and to move these little mountains that have looked so big to me.

Many times when I've had problems and when bills I've had to pay, and the worries and the heartaches just kept mounting every day, Lord, I don't know how you did it. Can't explain the wheres or whys. All I know, I've seen these mountains turn to blessings in disguise.

No, I've never moved a mountain, for my faith is far too small. Yet, I thank you, Lord of Heaven, you have always heard my call. And as long as there are mountains in my life, I'll have no fear, for the mountain-moving Jesus is my strength and always near.

Author Unknown

Note from Steve: The key to moving mountains is to recognize the real power behind the process -- God!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Get Out of the Way!

A man was once visiting a farmer and asked, "Does your mule ever kick you?" "No Sir," was the reply, "he hasn't yet, but he frequently kicks the place where I recently was."
Temptation is like that, and we would do well to learn from this farmers wisdom. The best way to avoid being "kicked" by sin is to not be there. That is what David did when Saul tried to kill him. "And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice" (1 Sam. 18:11).
So it is with us. One of the best ways to avoid harm, trouble, or even sin is to get out of the way!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Accordance Bible Software

I recently purchased a new Bible software package called Accordance after looking at several at several others. Previously, I had used QuickVerse and really enjoyed it. The iLumina program was very interesting, but seems to be lacking in serious Bible study tools. Of course, Logos is the best known and has the largest library. It has the largest price to go with it. Yet, that is the way I was leaning until a friend told me about Accordance.

Accordance is made by Mac users for Mac users (but they also have an emulator for PC's), and since I also use a Mac, I thought it was worth checking out. The new Mac version of Logos will not do everything the PC version will do. That coupled with the price helped me make up my mind, but not completely. What really influenced me to choose Accordance was what it will do. This is an amazing program. Unlike Logos, when you buy a package and later upgrade to a larger package, the price of the first package is credited to the purchase of the next. This makes it much more cost effective.

Don't think you have to sacrifice power for savings. Accordance has extremely innovative search commands like the "Fuzzy" search which allows you to search for a phrase even if you don't have the exact words. The "Instant Details" box shows you verses or original language information as you move your cursor over a word in the workspace window. Time and space will not allow me to tell you all the valuable tools and abilities of this program, but you can see them by going to the Accordance website. You can view demos, watch podcasts of how to use the program, or even download a free demo. It will be worth your while to check these out.

Last weekend, I went to an Accordance training seminar in Kansas City to learn more about this powerful study tool. They did this for free (How many software companies do this?). Beside free tech support, they also have training videos and user forums to you help and to get new ideas. Whether you are a Mac user or a PC, you can benefit from Accordance.

Monday, March 29, 2010


My first real experience with a GPS (Global Positioning System) was on a trip with a friend. It absolutely amazed me to see it work by receiving signals from satellites in space and triangulating our position here on earth. As I watched this device work, I thought of how it is like the Gospel.
The GPS is not like the Gospel in that it is from man, yet the Gospel is from God. It is subject to changes, but the Gospel is not. It can be wrong, but the Gospel is always right. However, there are some ways in which these two are similar.
  • Both look up for direction. One looks to satellites, and the other to God.
  • Both tell you where you are (whether you like the answer or not). One tells you where you are on the earth, and the other tells where you are spiritually.
  • Both tell you how to get where you need to go.
  • Both can be ignored or rejected. Anyone who has ever used a GPS has heard the familiar word, "Recalculating" when they deviated from the charted route. When one deviates from God's course, he must repent and get back on course or he will end up being lost.
Are you trying to go to Heaven? Use the right GPS... God's Plan to Save!

Monday, March 22, 2010

It Takes A Preacher!

Today many believe that preaching is outdated and ineffective. The pulpit is being de-emphasized in many churches, while drama and other forms of entertainment are gaining more prominence. There are two points I want to make about this trend and attitude toward preaching.
First, to minimize preaching in our worship services is to minimize God's plan for our worship. Preaching has been practiced in our worship from the very beginning (Acts 20:7). The pulpit is invaluable to the life and growth of a congregation. It sets the tone, encourages, warns, and informs. When the pulpit is de-emphasized, the members of that congregation will certainly suffer from shallow teaching.
Second, the pulpit is not the real answer to church growth. The pulpit is not going to reach the masses. It is simply too limited. It is limited in scope because it is not primarily designed as an evangelistic tool. The main purpose of the pulpit is directed to the church and not specifically to those outside of Christ. If we used the pulpit only for outreach, we would never be able to deal with the meat of God's Word(Hebrews 5:12-14). It is also limited in range. By its very nature, pulpit preaching is limited to the confines of a building. Most of the lost are outside our buildings without any desire to enter.
There is another unfortunate assumption often made today. Namely, the way to reach the lost is to invite them to worship services. This practice is not wrong; using this practice as an approach to personal evangelism is wrong. As we have seen, worship services are really for Christians, not those outside of Christ. If we are going to reach the lost, we must realize it doesn't take a pulpit, it takes a preacher. When Jesus sent Saul to Damascus to wait to learn what he "must do" (Acts 9:6), He also sent Ananias to give Saul that instruction. In the conversion of Saul, it took a preacher! Why didn't Jesus tell him what to do when He had Saul's attention on the road to Damascus? The only answer I have to that question is that Jesus did not want to do it that way. He must have wanted a preacher to talk to Saul. Consider the Ethiopian Eunuch. The Lord sent Philip to "chase him down." When Philip caught him, he "preached to him Jesus" (Acts 8:36). Again, it took a preacher! It is the same with the Philippian Jailor (Acts 16:31-34).
The fact is, all Christians are called to be "preachers." If we are to grow as we ought to be growing, we must all go out and "preach" or talk to others about Christ, His grace, His word, and His Church. While there may be a very few exceptions (those who are self-taught), the general rule is that everyone who becomes a Christian did so because someone cared enough to talk to him or her. It still takes a preacher. Are you preaching today?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Head or Heart?

I loved the old Star Trek TV show when I was growing up. Do you remember the seeming conflict in the approaches of both Spock and Kirk. Spock approached everything with cold logic. Kirk, on the other hand, approached the things with some degree of emotion and passion, and sometimes he went with his gut feelings. They worked well together.

Today, many people struggle with their circumstances in life questioning whether they should go with their head or their heart. More often than not the world says to go with the heart. Of course, the world always counsels us to do what makes us feel good at the moment. I once heard a speaker say there are some people who have a more doctrinal approach to the Bible and Christian living, while others have a more devotional approach. This sounds a little like the "head or heart" approach to life. Which should we follow?

Following the head strikes me as being "an inch wide and a mile deep." It has the depth or substance, but it is somewhat limited in its breadth. I know following the head is important because Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). "Knowing" and "truth" require the head. When Jesus spoke of the scribes and Pharisees, He said, "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do" (Mt. 23:3a). Therefore, we must do what we know to be the right thing to do no matter how we feel about it. However, there is an inherent danger in a purely academic approach to the Bible and Christian living. Jesus went on to say about the Pharisees "but do not do after their works, for they say and do not" (Mt. 23:3b). They ignored the weightier matters of the law such as justice, mercy, and faith (Mt. 23:23). They were sticklers for the law, but their heart was not in it.

Following the heart strikes me as being "a mile wide and and inch deep." It is broad enough, but too shallow. This approach recognizes the "felt needs" of every person. It reaches out to others, it cares, and is compassionate. Such was Jesus. I know this is important because Jesus said, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me" (Mt. 15:8 NKJV). Jesus was just as serious in condemning this as He was condemning the problem in Matthew 23 (Cf. Luke 6:46). However, there is a danger of emotionalism. Sometimes people become concerned only with how Christianity makes them feel to the neglect of doing what is right in the sight of God (Gal. 1:6-9; Rom. 6:1; 2 Tim. 4:3,4; 2 Pet. 1:16).

We must find a balanced blend of the head and the heart. This approach is "a mile wide and a mile deep." This is not an "either, or" question. It is a question of "both, and." The head and the heart are not mutually exclusive. Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind." We see that loving God requires both the head and the heart. This is also true in our worship (John 4:24). All I am saying is that the Christian must follow his head (what God's Word says) with all his heart (emotion and passion)!