Where is your faith rooted…

I was talking with a guy the other day when out of the blue he blatantly informed me that the Bible was a sham. He then went on to tell me about how a lot of different things had happened through history. He even went back as far back as the third century and then this and that…it all sounded very logical. He made it all sound so right.

I said well that’s nice. So where did you get all this information?? He said oh I read it in a book. It’s groundbreaking really… And then he proceeded to give me the author and title.

I said, oh so you want to discredit my book with your book?

He said huh???

I said well that’s what your doing. You have put your faith in a book and I have put my faith in one. And not only that…but I have put my faith in the author of it. My author is God. Yours is a man.

We all gather our faith from somewhere. We all put our trust in something. But in the end there is only one credible source.

What is your faith in today??

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A small miracle…

So yesterday while my wife was shopping Karis dropped her “blanky”. This satin blanket has been through makenna and now Karis over the last few years. The emotions and experiences attached to that blanket were too numerous to name. Although it is just a material object, it holds great sentimental value to us. Our greatest fear because it was so ragged, would be that if anyone found it they would simply, throw it away.

Summer had traced her steps and came to the realization that it had to have been dropped in Target. They were shopping to buy the kids a toy with their Christmas money around 4. So we called the store and there was no sign of it.

When I got home I was informed of everything that had happened. We ate dinner and I guess I thought… well maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Karis will be 3 in April and it’s probably time to ween her off of it anyway.

Well around eight that tune had changed. Karis was heartbroken!! I thought well if I am going to have to listen to her cry all night the least I could do would be to go back down there and take a look.

So off I went. When I got there I looked through every buggy in the parking lot. Then I walked inside and talked to customer service. No luck. So I text summer and asked her to which department’s had she been in.

Electronics, toys, shoes, and make-up. Up and down the aisles of those departments I roamed for the next 30 minutes. Back and forth and up and down… no dice.

I was about ready to give up when I thought… you know I have not prayed about this. So I stopped, closed my eyes right there in the store and said a little prayer.

“Father… I know it is a small thing, I know it is not a big deal deal in the scheme of life… but I am asking you for your help in finding this blanket. And I am asking for your help in Jesus name, amen. “

I had pretty much made my rounds again and I was thinking about going back to customer service and offering a reward. Maybe it would turn up in the next few days…But as I was walking past the card section I saw the return cart for the kids stuff. Something told me to turn and go that way. I walked down that aisle to the lady and looked at her stuff.. nope she hadn’t seen it, either. By now it was near closing time and most of the associates were working putting stuff back on the shelfs.

But the shoe department was right there and I thought why not… and would you believe it as I walked around the corner, there it was!!!

Almost five hours later. Sitting on the ground in plain view!!

I will not lie and say I didn’t get all choked up.

Sometimes we are so worried about the big things in life we forget that our father in heaven cares about and loves us in all things. He doesn’t mind us asking for help, even with the small stuff!!

One Bible, coming right up…

My first trip to the Dominican was pretty awesome. So many stories to tell. I have shared a few but the other day another one came to mind.

On the plane ride there I sat beside my buddy Chris McDuffie. We were just making small talk and I was thinking out loud…man I wish I would have brought one of those Spanish to English bibles, it would have been very useful!!

Well I didn’t think anymore about it. The conversation moved on and so did we.

Over the next few days we were split into 2 teams with the other church on the trip. They were from Decatur baptist church in Alabama. We were all mixed up and Chris was on the other team. As we loaded up the shuttle bus I moved towards the back. Our “team” was headed out into the field! The ride lasted about 30 minutes and we were all making small talk and excited about the trip.

Right before we got to where we were going, Paula Carver Batchelor spoke up on the bus and said hey…I brought this Spanish/English bible if anyone thinks they need it!!

Instantly I recalled that conversation Chris and I had. I felt like God was smiling at me. Like He was saying…I don’t want any hindrances on this trip. You said you needed it, so here you go!

But the story doesn’t end there. I carried it all day with me and used it frequently. At the end of that day we were scheduled to begin discipleship classes with ones who wanted to learn more.

Our team leader, had became violently ill during the day. It really is a hit or miss thing over there. People just get sick. The food and water has different microbes than here and it’s not good or bad it’s just the way it is.

So they said hey Rob you want to teach this discipleship thing?? I was so far out of my league that I said sure… I mean when you are out on a limb of faith what’s a little more pressure??

But God knows. He knows what we can handle. So we load up and head back out. I get to the church planters house and 1 person shows up, besides the planters, for the class. It was the first day of discipleship. Milca, the lady who coordinated everything on our trip, looked up at me and said….you want to just cancel?? I said let’s give it a minute. I was already nervous anyway so I said a little prayer. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me…

Telling me…

Maybe this one is all I can trust you with today? But is the one not worth it? How would you feel if you were that one eager to learn more and they just canceled??

So I said lets do it. And the class went smoothly. My young brother Elias interpreted and all went well. A nice young lady listened intently. She took notes and followed along. She was a good student. As we finished up we prayed and began to start getting ready for the neighborhood movie.

I took two steps down off the porch and I don’t think I’ve ever felt God move me physically like that. He stopped me cold in my tracks. The Holy Spirit nudged me…Ask her does she have a Bible?? So I walked back up and asked her. She said no I do not. I opened up my backpack and handed her Paula’s bible. By the look on her face I could tell the impact the gift had made. Tears flowed as she insisted that I sign it. It was a truly humbling experience.

I simply wrote…to my number one student. Little did she know that literally…she was my number one student.

On the way back to the hotel I told Paula what had happened. In a way I was fearful because we had just met and it was “her” bible that I had given away. There was this moment where I put it out there and I didn’t know what her response would be….and then this big huge smile came across her face and I knew that I had done the right thing.

What an amazing order of events God had orchestrated to deliver a Bible into the hands of this new believer!!

Don’t Take My Word For It, Take God’s…

It has been seven years since I first heard those words. I remember coming in to church quietly and sitting on the back row. Bruised, battered and downtrodden. Taking my place yet ready to exit if the preacher said anything offensive. But on that day Pastor Joe Mckaig used these words to change my life.

“Don’t take my word for it, take God’s!”

I am grateful today that God gave him that message.

In one sentence He took the focus off of the messenger and onto the message. It changed my perspective forever. My whole life I had watched as fallen men had tried to tell me about God, but I would secretly dismantle them in my mind.

When you focus on the man instead of the message it is only a matter of time before it will leave you empty.

Do I believe pastors are inspired and called by God to be more… Yes! Please let us all pray for them because of the weight and burden they carry because of this calling. But they are still just men. They will have highs and lows. And your faith will rise and fall with them if that is your only focus.

As for me I am just a sinner that has been saved by grace through faith. I have learned a lot through a great number of mistakes in my life. Most are things I am not proud of. I write and share but my words are never good enough. If you only focus on me you will be left empty.

But I do have a mission and a purpose. That purpose is to point you towards Jesus. The reality is I am just like a guy on the side of the road with a spinning sign. Pointing you in the direction, but it’s not about me. It is about what I am pointing you to.

Read my message. Weigh it. But don’t focus on me too much. It will leave you disappointed.

And please if you are out there and you read my posts, do me one favor.

Don’t take my word for it, take God’s.

Open your Bible. Find it for yourself.

Jesus and my Georgia Bulldogs..

As I was getting ready for church on Sunday I reached for my bulldog jacket. Slipping it on brought back memories of the day before. Saturday was a rough day for my dawgs!! Man it was brutal. I mean they really stunk it up! My jacket did seem a little heavier as I slid it on and we headed out the door.

But they are my team. No matter win or lose I will always love them. I am a loyal fan.

As we were driving to church it occurred to me… now that’s just a small picture of how Jesus loves me!! Oh but how so much exponentially more!! And no matter how many times I blow it, He still loves me. Watching the game of my life unfold I am sure He wonders why I make such bone-headed plays sometimes. And oh the stupid penalties!! Why do I go backwards when I should be moving forward??

Yet He never gives up on me. He is faithful, even when I am not.

Always waiting patiently for me to reach my hand towards Him. To seek His guidance. Too many times I have found myself in a place of repentance in the last seven years. Praying in the shower till my water runs from hot to cold. Crying out to the coach of my life when I have blown the game.

But sometimes it is in that quiet place of submission where we can learn the most. I believe that’s why He let’s the other team come at us so hard. To bring us to the point of realizing we can only win this game of life through Him. It is only in Him that we can find the peace we all so desperately are searching for. As humans it is a sad reality that we learn more from our failures, than we do from our success. It is usually the pain of loss that changes us.

But He does want us to learn from our failures, and not get caught up in them. I think He takes no pleasure in watching us blow the game. Because with repeated failure comes hypocrisy.

I prayed…Lord I know you love me and for that I am eternally grateful. I know I cannot sin my way out of your kingdom. What is the real danger of becoming a hypocrite? Will you take your words away?

A few days later in the quietness of my heart, I felt the Holy Spirit reply… oh no child. I do not work that way. I gave you a gift and it will always be with you. You are a messenger of mine. (All Christian’s are btw)

The real danger when hypocrisy sets in…is that no one will listen to you anymore.

If your life does not echo the words you speak. You will eventually become neutralized and put on the bench. Your witness for me becomes useless.

Ouch. A harsh word for a player that likes to be in the game.

The truth is Jesus loves us so much more than we could ever love any team. And while our loyalties will wax and wane, His love for us never does. Praise be to my king who loves me way better than I could ever love Him!!

Which leaves me with one profound thought…

I wear my bulldog jacket proudly every day…but how well do I wear the cloak of Christ??

Freedom Has A Price…

On this Veterans Day I think about our freedom and how much we take it for granted. Simply put, freedom isn’t free. There is always a price. But just who is willing to pay the price for our freedom? It seems like the reality of it is far from our perception of it… And we can all sense it. Somewhere beneath the surface of our society. Evil is slowly dragging freedom from below our very feet. Maybe we have just confused free stuff with freedom?

And it is our inability to pay the price. To stand up for our beliefs. Our country and its lack of a backbone is in a state of moral decay….We all want the easy job while someone else works in the field. But it’s not just an American problem. Inside of that one is the Christians who let it happen. We rush headlong down the aisle to get our own salvation. But for most of us it stops there. A little behavior modification. Sunday morning in and out for an hour… and we’re done. We got our ticket to heaven so we are all good!! But is that it? Really ? Jesus went to the cross and died for you, just so you could feel better about living your sinful life? Is that it?…

We were all bought with a price. Remember that. Nothing is free. It is time to stand up for what is right in this country and in our Christian lives. Just like I would assume if a foreign power invaded our borders, every man and woman would protect their homes the best they could. THEN they would pay the price…But you see we are under attack. There is a war going on right now. And its a slow deliberate one. And our inability to act has made us our own worst enemy. Our freedoms aren’t being taken away…We are slowly giving them up because we all refuse to stand up for the things we believe in. We refuse to get out of our comfort zone. To leave our circle and engage others.

And as Christians our pastors and teachers are likened to the soldiers aren’t they? They end up on the front lines. Carrying most of the burden of the war. Isn’t it time for us all to step up and get more engaged? To help pay that price? As an American I have the luxury of not serving and letting others fight to preserve my freedom. But as a Christian I do not have that same right. We are all called to spread the gospel. And it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Just simply open your heart and engage the wounded people all around you. Show them the love of Christ that is in you…

Choose Faith…

I was in class the other day when someone posed a question. It was “their” question. Something they ponder about in the quietness of the mind. A pebble in the shoe about things we just don’t understand. We all have one, or two.
It was a good question. I am not discounting that. As a group we tried to talk it out. It was something along these lines…
Why did God do it this way?? Or

Why does God allow??

Or maybe it was my personal favorite, but what about those people??
This is our struggle. The human condition. But we must realize all the knowledge in the world will not get us to the place God wants us to go. Because if this life was just about knowledge… then where would the trust and obedience come in??
Where would love come in? Why would we ever need such a thing as faith??
If we logically surmised each and every circumstance…how could we ever get to the place where God ultimately wants us? The place He wants every believer. To simply trust Him at His word. After all…

Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When my wife and I first started dating she hit me with an interesting concept. She said love is a choice. I had never heard of love being put that way, because I had always chased emotion. I had always chased my feelings. But we choose to love. And how much sweeter that love is when we wholeheartedly make that choice! To choose to love someone despite all their flaws and imperfections. After all, isn’t that the way Christ loves us??
Our faith is also a choice we have to make. There will always be questions that will not get answered in this life. But the reality is.. it is my pride that demands them. My need to think I am on the same level playing field as the creator of the heavens and the earth. When He has already declared that I am not.
Job 38:4
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Ultimately on the balances of our lives there will always be the weighing in of the evidence of our hearts, versus the evidence of our minds. It is Faith that bridges that gap. That bringing together of hearts and minds. We cannot have either/or. We must have both in our pursuit of God. And it is our faith that reconciles it all. That choosing God. Even though we do not understand some days. Even though we do not see all the angles. That submission into a higher power that says…I do not have all the answers, but Jesus I know that you do. And then something amazing happens on the days when you begin to make that choice. When you start to grasp the notion of having a child like faith.
It is then that God truly begins to reveal Himself to you.

The Promised Land…

I have been in a funk lately. I think a lot of it stems from anxiety about the sale of our house. It has been on the market for a few months now without much interest. I have been looking forward to the financial stress that will be lifted the moment we sell it… even if it is just for a little while.  For months I have been looking ahead to the promised land, while feeling like I was trapped in the moments that are leading us there. Waiting, biding time, anxiously dreaming of the tomorrows that just will not seem to come.
But yesterday, something very amazing happened. As my wife and I were heading to a counseling session, (who knew we didn’t have the perfect marriage?), I was thinking of how things would probably go. It was then out of nowhere that the Holy Spirit hit me with a very profound truth.
Robby you are already there.
I thought… where??
The promised land. You are already there.
Because right now you are blessed to be alive. It is only by my grace that I have allowed that to happen.
Because right now you have a wonderful woman, sitting by your side. I sent her to you.
Because right now you are loved by many who call you dad or step dad or just plain old Robby. They all love you immensely whether they will ever say the words or not. I gave them to you.
Because right now you have a job that pays you well. I also gave that to you.
Right now is the promised land of this life for you. Because you are right where I want you to be.
It was at the exact moment I realized just how far from God my heart has been lately. My focus and perspective have been in the future when I was never commanded to live there.  I have had hurts, hangups, addictions, over the course of my life but none of them compare to a problem of the heart. Because when your heart starts getting far from God you will lose focus on His blessings. You will become ungrateful for the things in your life that really matter. I believe it is just a matter of time before He will use a weakness to bring you back to the start again.
I seem to get to start over a lot. Praise God.
So today I want to say God please forgive me for not being grateful for what I have. It is plenty. It is more than enough. Whether we ever sell this house or not.  And maybe the reality is our lives will be less stressful once do. But that doesn’t change the fact that..
Right now is the time to love those around me.
Right now is the time to cherish them.
Right now is the time to live.
Let us all quit letting the anxiety of tomorrow steal the joys of today…
Matthew 6:34
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Grace is my heartbeat..

Where would a Christian be without Grace? Dead, In our trespasses. Separated from a holy and righteous God. Unable to have access to Him. However; we know that Jesus’ work at the cross paved the way for our reconciliation. His precious blood opened up the pathway to grace and mercy. Grace then becomes my spiritual heartbeat. Pumping away the sins of my past, present, and future. As a Christian I cannot function without it.

 

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (KJV)

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

So how do gain access to this grace? We put our trust in Jesus Christ. It sounds so simple. Yet if we can do just that, then God’s grace becomes His gift to us… Salvation is a one on one transaction, though. We must all do our own business at the cross. In the end it is our choice. Each person must own it.

 

But what good is grace and mercy to an unsaved person? About as good as a parachute stored safely aboard a plane that a man just jumped out of. If you do not have it, it is useless to you.

 

A lot of people would say that Grace has no limits. But this would only apply to a person that truly has it. There a lot of teachers out there telling people to live how they want. Be what they want. Aspire to the things of this world. It’s a false teaching because the emphasis is always on this world and our fleshly desire. What a Christian should be more concerned about, is what lies ahead in the world to come. Most hyper-grace Christians are living how they want claiming Gods grace. But it’s a lie. A deception. If they truly belonged to the shepherd they would hear His voice. They would recognize His word and turn to Him. Leave behind their earthly ways. A true child of God would try to live a life pleasing to His Father.
No doubt we all fail sometimes.. but there should always be a constant striving.

 

Praise The Lord for His grace and mercy of my sinful condition. I can share God’s love with the world. And I can try to be an example of grace. I can extend it even. But I just cannot transfer it the gift of grace I have received. Simply put, it is not my gift to give. I could never afford it.

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