31.jpgOne of the first spiritual decisions that I remember making as a new Christian kid in the 7th grade concerned my mouth.  Even though I did a pretty good job at hiding my language from the adults in my life, my language did not reflect the Christ that I was then claiming to represent.

 

I realized that if I wanted to reflect Christ I needed to clean up my words so I asked my friend, Mike, to hit me in the arm anytime I cursed.  (I didn’t realize it at the time but that was my introduction into peer accountability.)

The bruised arm eventually worked and I didn’t have to worry any longer about slipping up and saying a 4 letter expletive in the presence of an adult or teacher.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that every once in a while if I slam my hand in a door or if a crazy person dares to get in my way while I’m driving something may slip out.  More often than that, I’m very liable to think a bad word even if I don’t say it.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.

Now that all of that is on the table, here’s something that I just don’t get:  What’s the deal with those who say they are Christians flaunting their sin these days, like cursing, and nonchalantly chalking it up to “nobody’s perfect” or “Jesus loves sinners”?  (Sadly, it seems there are those that claim to follow Jesus flaunting any sin you can imagine these days.  I’m just picking on language right now.).

The truth is that Jesus does love sinners and nobody is perfect, including me, but that doesn’t give us a license to curse like sailors.  I know.  I know.  Some people accept Christ and they just have a habit.  I get that.  I just told you that was the case with me.  What I’m talking about is those who just accept that as a part of their life and carry one.

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I’ve seen tweets from a well known worship leader cursing like that’s just the cool thing to do and he’s proud of it.  Sometimes we can actually become too cool for God in our quest for “cool”.

God wants to take us from where we are to where God wants us to be.  If anyone doubts that God wants us to let Him clean up our language, there are lots of scriptures that support that.  (Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 5:4, James 1:26, James 3:10)

If we are following Christ, we’re supposed to be encouraging and lifting others up.  What I’ve found is that most of the time when someone uses these words, that’s not what’s happening.  In fact, those that use them constantly  seem to be unhappy people in a lot of ways.  That make me sad more than anything.

No one is perfect but that doesn’t mean that we should just stay in the same gutter that we were in when we met God.  If we follow Christ, He is calling us to something more.

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This year I listened to more podcasts and read a few less books than years’ past.  Some of the books I read the old fashioned way and some of the books, I listened to through Audible.com.
IExtremeBook.jpg tend to read books in a couple of different categories.  I enjoy reading business books.  I find they help me be a better Real Estate Agent and they also help me to be a better pastor.  My favorite business book this year is probably “Extreme Ownership.”  This book tells stories that the author experienced as a Navy Seal.  He then relates them to business applications.  I think I love this book because I respect Navy Seals and I found it very interesting and applicable.
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Another type of book that I enjoy are biographies that relate a person’s life with their faith.  I enjoy hearing their struggles and how they grew in their faith as a result.  That was
the case with “Shaken,” by Tim Tebow.  I’m a Gator Hater but as a believer in Christ, it’s hard not to like and admire Tim Tebow.  He is honest in this book about what he has learned in finding his identity in Christ, as opposed to finding it in the world.  He also shares about some of the people that he’s been blessed to know that have gone through trials.  Tebow is very honest about his walk, struggles, and faith, which is refreshing.
I also enjoyed “With My Eyes Wide Open” and “Save Me From Myself” by Brian “Head” Welch, guitarist for band, Korn.  Welch is also very honest about his journey to Christ.  By the time I was finished with the book, I felt like I knew Brian personally.
Other books that stand out to me from the list:  “Wild Goose Chase,” “The Pastor’s Kid,” & “Unashamed.”  (Two of the books on the list are “Unashamed”.  Both are good, but I prefer Lecrae’s book.)
1.  “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell
2.  “If”, Mark Batterson
3.  “I am N”, Voice of the Martyrs
4.  “Wild Goose Chase”, Mark Batterson
5.  “Extreme Ownership”, Leif Babin, Jocko Willink
6.  “The Measure of a Man”, Gene Getz
7.  “The Sons of Liberty:  The Lives and Legends”, Bill O’Reilly
8.  “The Pastor”, Eugene Peterson
9:  “Unashamed”, Lecrae Moore610K8EmWyeL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
10.  “The Most Excellent Way To Lead”, Perry Noble
11.  “Amish Grace”, Donald Kraybill, Steven M. Not
12. “Peculiar Glory”, John Piper
13. “Unashamed”, Christine Caine
14. “Through the Eyes of A Lion”, Levi Lusko
15. “All Roads Lead to Heaven”, Robert Jeffries
16. “Got The Life”, Fieldy
17. “Save Me From Myself”, Brian Welch
18. “Answering Jihad”, Nabeel Quereshi
19. “God’s Smuggler”, Brother Andrew
20. “The Sons of Liberty”, Bill O’Reilly
21. “Kidnapped By The Taliban”, Dillip Joseph
22.”The Pastors Kid”, Barnabas Piper
23. “Help My Unbelief”, Barnabas Piper
24. “Think and Grow Rich”, Napolean Hill
25. “Shaken”, Tim Tebow
There’s not a bad book in the group.  Honestly, if I start a book and it bores me, I don’t finish it and it’s not on the list!

I had a friend recently ask me the question, “If a person accepts Christ, is baptized, and then converts to Islam, does he still go to heaven?”

That’s a tough question.  There are two schools of thought and interpretation of the Bible by Christians and I think they both end up with the same conclusion.

This is very similar to asking “if a person is once saved, are they always saved” or “can a person loose their salvation.”  There are scripture passages that can argue both cases for these questions so instead of providing all of the Scriptures, let’s just take a moment and assume that each is true.

If salvation can be lost, as the Assembly of God and other denominations believe, then person was a Christian but they lost their salvation.  They denied Christ and they are no longer going to heaven.  They have tasted the goodness of God and turned their back on Him when they became a Muslim.

If salvation is eternally secure and there is nothing you can do to loose it once you have it, as Southern Baptists and others believe, the person never really had eternal life to begin with.  Though it may have looked from outward appearances that he knew God, you cannot really know God and totally turn your back on Him, as in becoming a Muslim.  This isn’t to say that you are perfect or that Christians don’t make dumb mistakes.  It’s just that they repent when they do and return to Jesus.

I could perhaps even see a case where maybe a believer in Christ was misled, “flirted” with Islam or another religion, and was led back to the True God.  Jesus said that if we seek Him, we will find Him.

In either of these cases, a person who “converts” to Islam and never returns though they have opportunity and time, either never knew Jesus or doesn’t know Him anymore.  The result is the same.

 

 

Heaven: Who Gets To Go?

June 16, 2016

I had a friend ask me the question, “If a person asks Christ into his life, is baptized, and then converts to Islam, does he go to heaven?”

I have to say real quick that I’m not the gatekeeper of heaven.  All I know is what the Bible says.  I believe it is God’s Word and I believe it has the answers, so that’s where I go for most answers like this.

There are actually two ways to get to heaven, according to the Bible.  Before you burn me at the stake, hear me out.

2 Ways To Heaven

  1.  Perfection:  This is the first way to get to heaven.  If you’re perfect, you get to go!  Yay!  Now here’s the bad news…only Jesus was perfect.  Everyone else has been born into sin so they aren’t perfect.  Even the best person that you can think of was born into sin so that rules the first option out.
  2. Jesus:  The Bible says that the wages of sin is death.  Jesus also said, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life.  NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME.”  (John 14:6)  The one perfect person is the only one that could pay the debt for our sin and Jesus did that.  He offers eternal life to us as a gift.    All we have to do is admit that we’re sinners (Romans 3:23), believe in our hearts that Jesus paid our price and was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9-10), and give our life to Him.

The question now is, “can a Muslim go to heaven? ”  A Muslim believes that Jesus was a prophet, not the Savior.  He believes that Muhammad is the greatest prophet.  Muslims do not believe that Jesus should be worshipped and most believe that Jesus didn’t die on the cross.  Their faith is in Allah and they have to please Allah and keep his commandments to be saved.

Even though there are some good Muslims who are neighbors, just like there are other good people, the Bible says that the way to God is narrow and only a few will enter through it.  I didn’t make this stuff up.  It’s above my pay grade.  I can only go by what God’s Word says.

If we don’t follow Jesus, we spend eternity away from God.

For the second part of my friend’s question, check out my next blog post.

 

 

 

It’s always surprising to me who is there when you need them and who isn’t. My dog, Sugar, was one of those “always there” friends. In fact, she was good for a snuggle for each person in our family when we needed it. We lost her today after 16.5 years.

Sugar taught me more about God than most people that I know. Here are a few examples:

Disobedience

During our first year with Sugar, she was WILD! As fast and beautiful as a deer running and jumping, she continually jumped our 6 foot privacy fence. That act was always followed by me, Marla, Rebecca, and little Matthew chasing her all over the neighborhood. Once I caught her after an hour or so of humiliation and chasing, I would take a newspaper to her rear. That didn’t work too well.

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(Daniel and Sugar when they were about 3 and then at around age 14)

A friend (Thanks Rick Theobald) then said, “If you knew that you were going to get the newspaper, would you come or just keep running?” He suggested “throwing a party” with her, including plenty of hugs and rubs when I finally caught her. It worked!

Love had more effect on her than hardcore discipline and unkind words. She wanted to please me.  Once I got that figured out, she would follow me anywhere and always came running when I called. People can be like that too if you love and encourage them. Lesson learned.

Watching Her Master

When I walked into a room where Sugar was, I automatically had her undivided attention. She would raise her head and was attentive to only me, watching my every move and waiting for me give her the command to come with me. Usually she wouldn’t even move until I told her to do that. She loved just being with me.

It was like she was always just waiting to hear my will. She wanted to know it and she wanted to follow me. If I was going to walk in the backyard or neighborhood, she came. If I was going to the car, she would jump in on my command. She would sit, roll over, stay, or even get my morning coffee. (Ok. That last one was an exaggeration.) She did it all because she loved me.

 

I desire more than anything to be that focused on my Master and want His will. I want to go when He says go and follow His commands. I’m not always as focused as Sugar. I can get distracted from my Master sometimes. Sugar was an example to me on how to relate to my Master and Creator.

Tender With The Weak

Sugar loved the kids. She was very high energy but Daniel used to actually lay on her as a toddler. She didn’t care. They were almost like twins. They were only about 6 months apart in age. I used to say that they were identical twins and you couldn’t tell them apart unless they were walking.

IMG_0775.JPGShe was also protective and had an uncanny ability to know who was friends and who really wasn’t supposed to be at our house. She would put herself in between the kids and danger. I saw that several times. She was a protector and a shepherd of kids, in a sense.

Even in her later years without teeth, she was willing to “gum” to death any intruder that she perceived as a threat to the kids.  (Since her teeth were pretty much gone.)

As I lead my family and my church, she was a great example to me. There is an enemy that wants to destroy those that belong to Him. I am the shepherd, appointed by the Shepherd. I pray that I am as attentive in protecting my flock against the wolves as Sugar was.

IMG_0763.JPGLast Days

Sugar’s last days were tough. She had to drag her hind legs to walk. Her food seemed to go right through her and she looked like skin and bones. She couldn’t hear but she would still follow my command to “come.” Because she had grown deaf, I had to begin motioning for her and she would respond, although a lot slower than she used to.  It was like she didn’t want to leave us.  16.5 years is a really long life for a boxer.

On one occasion during the snow this past winter, Sugar went out to use the bathroom. She wandered into the neighbor’s yard and had trouble getting back because the snow was so deep and it was snowing so hard. When I found her, she had actually just laid down in the snow. I think she was giving up at that point. She would have frozen to death if I had not gone to her.

I went through the snow to her and with my encouragement, she decided to keep trying to get home. She got up from the snow and followed me to the warm house. Lesson from Sugar: Sometimes our friends need our encouragement to keep going.

IMG_0769.JPGToday I had to help her into the car for our last car ride and our last walk together. We laid in the grass a while, together hung out in a field, and then we walked together to the vet from the field next door to the church.

As always, no leash was needed. She followed me slowly when I gave the motion to “come” as we walked to the vet’s office. (I felt alot like Abraham must have felt as he walked up the mountain to sacrifice Issac to God.  Issac had no idea what was happening but he followed his dad.  Sugar followed me because I asked her to, just like always.)

She went to sleep as I rubbed her. She was a good dog. She was a good friend.  I will miss her.

2015 Books I Read

January 18, 2016

imagesI’m a little late this year in publishing my list of books that I read this year.  The number of books that I read is also down a little bit.  I usually read or listen to about 25-30 books in a year.  This year I enjoyed 23 books.  Here’s the list:

1.  Jesus Prom, John Weece
2.  Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
3.  Before Amen, Max Lucado
4.  The Energy Bus, Jon Gordon
5.  Dreamers and Deceivers, Glen Beck
6.  Jesus:  Pure & Simple, Wayne Cordiero
7.  Point Main, Steve Farrar
8.  Zillow talk, Spencer Rascoff
9.  Tender Warrior, Stu Weber
10.  Dinner With A Stranger, David Gregory
11.  Jesus, Jihad & Peace, Michael yousef
12.  The Advantage, Patrick Linceoni
13.  10 Answers For Atheists, Alex McFarland
14.  3 Big Questions for Frantic Families, Patrick Lencioni
15.  Hiding In The Light, Rifqa Bary
16.  God, Guns, Grits & Gravy
17.  Truly Free, Robert Morris
18.  Defeating Isis, Michael Weiss, Hassan Hassan
19.  Prescription For Life, Richard Furman
20.  Killing Reagan, Bill O’Reilly
21.  Cracking Your Church’s Culture, Samuel R. Chand
22.  Culture Shock, Chip Ingram
23.  It IS About Islam, Glen Beck

My favorites from this year are probably:

  • Hiding In The Light, Rifqa Bary:  Biography of a teenager in the U.S. that accepted Christ against her Muslim family’s wishes.  The book goes on to tell how she felt her life was in danger so she sought emancipation from her parents so she could live out her faith.
  • 10 Answers For Atheists, Alex McFarland:  Great read if you like studying apologetics.
  • It IS About Islam, Glen Beck:  Beck shares the real danger of Islam that the media will not share.

 

 

Take A Step!

February 22, 2015

Sometimes when you’ve sought God, prayed, and asked for wisdom you still may not know what to do.  You may just need to take a step!

I’m a BOY, Dummy!

February 12, 2015

“Am I a BOY,” he asked. Let’s see…. I have razor stubble, I’m bald, and my name is Eddie! Sometimes I think this world has lost their mind and common sense.

Stupid Rubs Off

January 28, 2015

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Pants Optional??

January 13, 2015

Did I really forget to put his pants on at the gym? What does it take for God to really impact your life?

I answer both of these questions in this short video message!

https://vimeo.com/116002475

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/116002475″>”Pants Optional” by Pastor Eddie Poole</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user11098818″>LifeChurch of Mt Juliet</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>