No Longer Swinging But Still Rocking

Donna and I are really enjoying our new chapter in life.  We moved to Anderson for me to Pastor Homeland Park Baptist Church.  Anderson holds a dear space in our heart because Donna grew up there and we met at Anderson University.  While out riding around town last night after a great home cooked meal, we drove around the AU campus and saw "The Swings".

We like many couples during our time at AU spent a lot of time sitting in those swings, talking about life, dreams and where we felt God leading us.  I was shocked when we went to sit in the swings and they had been locked down.  THE SWINGS DO NOT SWING ANYMORE!  They are locked down.  Now they are just fancy chairs.
After the shock wore off, God reminded me of this point.  The importance of the swings are not in their movement but what they represent.  God often instructed people in the Bible to build altars after they experienced Him (Genesis 35:1-14).  Altars served as reminders of God's hand working in their lives.  These swings at AU are altars in our lives that remind us of how God has moved in our lives for over 20+ years.  They remind us to enjoy the simple things like taking time together to remember when, where and why we married in the first place.  Our marriage has not been perfect but, is there such a thing? The swings may not swing anymore but we are still rocking.  I am grateful God took two college kids who were full of dreams and knit them together for His glory and purpose.

The take away for me on this post is this:

  1. Take the time to recognize the special moments, places and people that God has put in our lives.
  2. Though things change, remember why they were special in the first place.
  3. Life is not about where you sit but who you share it with.
What about you?  Do you have special places (altars) that remind you of times in your life where God provided?  If you do not, can you establish one?  Have you ever sat in these swings at Anderson University?  What's your story?


Keep Your Eyes Up

Basketball is a great sport that I always wanted to be good at but never quite got the hang of it.  I do love watching those play who are good though.  As a youth I played on several church teams. My instructions consisted of chase that guy and stand between him and the goal.  If you get the ball, throw it to someone who can shoot.  I have always been amazed at those who can take the ball up and down the court without even thinking about the fact that they have to keep dribbling or stop.  I know several people that can dribble as natural as they can walk.  The ball becomes part of their body movement.  Over the years I remember one fundamental of basket ball.  When first learning to dribble, you must fight the urge to watch your hand bounce the ball up and down. Why? You must look up and see the goal, your teammates and your adversaries.  I was reminded of this as I spoke with our church staff this morning.

Everyone's lives including my own are filled with situations, needs, dilemmas, struggles and trials. Many things that we cannot or should not attempt to control end up taking every ounce of strength we have. We become so focused on our circumstances (like dribbling a basketball) we lose the greater picture of the game we are playing. (Life).  I was reminded of these scriptures this morning.

  • Colossians 2:20  20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world?

Those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are set free from the evil and temptations of this current world. It does not say we will not experience temptation and trying times but the scripture does say we have a way out. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Colossians 2:20 leads to the "So, if . . ." statement starting in chapter 3 verse 1.

  • Colossians 3:1-4 1 So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. 4 When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

To Keep Our Eyes Up In Difficult Times We Must

1) Look Up: Remember we are seeking a different prize than those who have not placed their faith and trust in Christ. We are not better than them, we just have another direction to follow which is a strength greater than ourselves to draw upon. That whole concept is foreign to them. Paul reminds us to look up and seek Christ. Much like a basketball player seeks to put the ball through the basket we should remember that our goal is to be like Christ. By looking up we can see our adversaries, but more importantly, those on our team who can help us.

2) Flip The Switch: When Paul says to, "Set your mind . . ." he is reminding us that the decision to NOT look at our surroundings and to look up to God is not our natural default,. It is an intentional decision. There will always be someone or some situation seeking to demand our time, energy and faith. Make the effort to not let another's crisis become yours. Pray for them, help them as God leads but do not let them keep your eyes off of Christ.

3) Keep The Faith: This world is not our home. We do not have home court advantage. The referees play by their own rules. The game we are playing here in our world is simply a scrimmage for a greater one that we have already one because we have Jesus Christ as our star player.

Continue to work out your faith. Be intentional in spending time with God through prayer, reading the Bible and spending time with other believers. At the sound of the last whistle, our scrimmage here will be over and our greatest game will begin. Have hope today and in the midst of your struggles, keep your eyes up!


What Does The Bible Say About Suicide?

If someone commits suicide do they go to hell?
To get a correct answer one must look at the whole of the Bible. Many will say that God said in the 10 commandments, “Thou shalt not kill” [Exodus 20:13] which they extend to killing yourself is a sin.  Therefore, if someone “murders themselves” they break the sixth commandment and do not have time to confess and repent from that sin, therefore will spend eternity in hell.  Furthermore, some believe Christians are not supposed to suffer from depression. If their faith was strong enough then they would not want to kill themselves. These statements do not take into account the entirety of the Bible.  Lets look at each of these statements.
1)  If someone “murders themselves” they break the sixth commandment and do not have time to repent from that sin therefore will spend eternity in hell.
  • We Will Be Judged For Our Sin
    • This is absolutely correct!  Anyone who commits any sin and dies with it  in an unconfessed state will have to give an account for it.  This means if someone cheats, steals, has lustful thoughts or even tells a little white lie, their transgressions will be on their register to give account for.  God will judge us according to our sins.
      • Romans 2:16 [NLT] “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.”
      • Romans 14:10-12 [NLT]  Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’” 12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.
  • God Gives Mercy and Grace
    • No sin goes unpunished however there is only one sin recorded in the bible that keeps us from the presence of God (sends us to hell) which is the sin of denying Christ.
      • Matthew 12:31-32 [NLT] 31 “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either  in this world or in the world to come.
    • A Christian CANNOT commit the “Unpardonable Sin” of denying Christ because they have Christ within them.
      • [Romans 8:1] So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus
  • Application
    • If someone kills themselves and they have never accepted Christ into their life as Savior and Lord, then yes they will go to hell. Anyone who dies without Christ will go to hell.
      • To reject God is to follow Satan.  Hell was created for Satan and his followers.  Those who follow Satan find his fate as theirs.
    • If a Christian kills themselves, yes they have committed a sin but they will still go to heaven and be judged but not banished for any unconfessed sin, just like everyone else.
2)  Christians are not supposed to suffer from depression, if their faith was strong enough then they would not want to kill themselves.
  • Depression and despair is a reality among Christian and Non-Christians.  Even biblical heroes of our faith suffered with depression and despair.
    • The Bible mentions six specific people who committed suicide: Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul's armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5). Five of them were wicked, sinful men (not enough is said regarding Saul's armor-bearer to make a judgment as to his character). Some consider Samson an instance of suicide (Judges 16:26-31), but Samson's goal was to kill the Philistines, not himself. The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die.
  • Just like Christians go to Doctors for physical healing, Christians seek counseling for mental healing as well.
    • There are many people both believers and non-believers who live with and are treated for mental illnesses.
  • Satan wants to destroy God’s most prized creation (You and I)
    • John 10:10 [NLT]  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
      • Suicide is a momentary decision that has fatal consequences.  For many it is a bad decision at a bad moment in their life that they cannot correct.  Much like misjudging the speed of an approaching car.  If you decide to pull out into the intersection at the wrong time, you will get hit.  The effects of the impacts cannot be undone.
      • Satan uses people and when he is done with them he destroys them.  His one desire is to see God’s precious creation suffer and fail.
      • Satan is a Murderer [John 8:44]
    • The Bible teaches that from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). If no “created thing” can separate a Christian from God’s love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a “created thing,” then not even suicide can separate a Christian from God’s love.
  • God desires life for us not death.  Anyone who consistently rejects the Holy Spirit of God wanting to work in their life moves one step further away from the security and acceptance of being in God’s will.  Scaring people into thinking if they will go to hell if they commit suicide may be the very thing that pushes them to do it.  They already feel unworthy of love, they may feel like the need to be punished.  Love others, treat them as God would and pray!
  • God gives us life more abundantly [John 10:10]  Do not believe the lie that you are unloved and unworthy.  God created you and called you good!  Fight and run to Him. He has never left you, just turn around.