The more I hear about the situation, the angrier I get.

What would cause a 24 year old man to go into a crowded movie theater showing the “Dark Knight Rises” and kill as many people as he could?

How could anyone be that evil?

How could anyone shoot randomly, killing among others, a six year old little girl?

A twitter friend said this today:  “This coverage of the shootings is devastating. It’s hard to turn it off, you just keep waiting for them to say why.”  (@SamBradley)

I agree with Sam.  Things are a lot easier to accept if there is a reason.  We want to know “WHY?”

There have been a lot of “WHYS” asked the past several years.  I think of Columbine.  Besides the shooting in Denver, I also heard TODAY about another tragedy.   50 Christians were burned alive in their pastor’s home in Nigeria by “Muslim extremists.”           (See: http://global.christianpost.com/news/fifty-christians-burned-alive-in-pastors-home-in-nigeria-78303/ )   Why?

Is it a coincidence that we are moving farther and farther from God as a nation and world?  President Obama even announced that we are no longer a Christian nation.

Perhaps the trend started in 1962 when the courts told us that we could no longer have prayer in schools.  I’m not sure when it started.  All I know is that when we remove Christ’s influence on a situation, we remove any good that existed.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad that when tragic events happen, people ask, “Where is God?”  They forget that we asked Him to leave.  Don’t pray in schools.  Don’t pray in public in Jesus’ name.  (We might offend someone.)  Don’t talk about God with others.  They might be a different faith.  We have to be sensitive to their beliefs.  Don’t teach Creationism in our schools.  “Evolution is the only thing that makes sense.”  BULL!  How’s all that working for ya?

Rick Warren recently said, “When we tell kids that they are animals, why are we surprised when they act like it?”

The only “Why” that I can come up with is that a world without Christ is totally depraved.  This world will never make sense without Christ.  If we continue to throw Him out every chance we get, we will continue seeing things like we saw this morning from Denver.   If we continue the trend to give “Muhammad” and other gods equal billing, the downward slide will continue.

I fully expect that the trend will continue.  God’s Word says that things will get worse as the end draws near.  It also says that Christ will come back as unexpectedly as a “thief in the night.”

Jesus will return and all of the madness will end.  Until then, we have to hold onto Him when we don’t know “WHY?”

Advertisements

Life is short.  One minute movie goers were excited about Batman and looking forward to a movie.  The next…  they had no idea that their life would end before the movie did.  Loved ones are left to pick up the pieces.  Witnesses have memories that they will never shake.

We never know when tragedy will strike us.  We never know when our next breath will be our last.

Our passing could come by natural means or it could come suddenly by a wacko in a place that you feel reasonably safe, like a movie theater.

The best thing to do is to be prepared for anything.

We live in an era where most people interpret world events through the lens of culture.  Theology for the masses comes from Lady Gaga or whoever else is popular at the time.

Time is spent by many people reading the hottest books like, “50 Shades of Gray” that preach the exact opposite of the Truth.   Culture shapes our thinking.  Then when tragedy strikes, questions come up and people turn to God or anyone else that would care to make sense of things.

God’s Word provides a BEDROCK of support in tragedies.  A person that has a FIRM understanding of God’s Word will not be as shaken when something unexpected happens because they stand on a firm foundation.

You can better stand if you ALREADY know what you believe BEFORE the tragedy strikes.

If a person wanted to fly an airplane and he spent time studying and reading BEFORE the need to fly arrived, he would be better prepared to fly the plane.  He would know a bit more about what to expect from the experience and he would have head knowledge of what to do in various situations.  When the experience to fly for the first time came, he wouldn’t have to have as much explained to him.  If a gauge showed a certain level, he would understand what that meant because of the preparation time.

The same is true when we go through tragedies and hard times.

If we’re prepared with God’s Word ALREADY in us and a relationship with God that is REAL, we can stand more firmly.

If we already walk with God daily, we don’t have to go looking for Him when we want answers.  We know He’s already there.

The families of the victims, the witnesses in the theater, and much of America is looking for answers.  I pray that they look to God’s Word for those answers.  I also pray that YOU will make a commitment, if you aren’t already committed, to following Christ DAILY and knowing His Word.

Jesus PROMISED, “In this world you will have trouble.”  The world will shake you.  Tragedy will come.  You won’t understand.  I pray that you are ready and standing on the only firm foundation that is available.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8)

(Note:  This post was inspired by Frances Chan’s message to the 2012 Chic Student Conference in Knoxville, TN)

“Do you love me?”

Those are the words that Jesus asked Peter THREE TIMES when He appeared to him after his death.  Peter had just denied that he even knew Jesus.

Peter was feeling like a total failure at the time.  He knew that he had let Jesus down, and now Jesus was looking him in the eye, asking him that very question.

How did Peter answer?

How would YOU answer if Jesus came to YOU, looked you in the eye, and asked you if you love Him?”

Maybe you would answer, “You know better than anyone, Lord.”  Who would really know better than Jesus if you really love Him?

Maybe you aren’t even sure yourself how to answer that.  If it were anyone else asking if you love Jesus, you would say, “of course” without reservation, but Jesus knows your real heart.  He knows your shortcomings and weaknesses.  When it’s Him asking, you may not even be sure how to answer.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Sometimes we like to pick and choose which commands we will obey but Jesus doesn’t seem to leave that as an option.  He said, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

We may have a good reputation.  People may know us as a Christian.  There may be no one in the community that would question our devotion to God.  What really matters is if Christ knows us.  Reputations are worthless if He doesn’t know you.

In Revelation 3, Jesus spoke to the church in Sardis.  “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead!”

It doesn’t matter what your reputation is or how well you are “known” for following Christ.  What matters is do you love Him?

How do you know?  Keep his commands.  (John 14:15)

John 14:15 isn’t a call to perfection.  No one will ever meet perfection outside of Jesus.  I think it should give us pause, however, when we think of our “pet” sins.  Maybe it’s a sin or two that NO ONE knows about except for you.  If others knew, it would ruin your “reputation.”

The question here is “Do you love Jesus?”  Do you love Him more than you love your secret sin?  Do you love Him enough to deal with it?

Have you given your “EVERYTHING” to Him.

Would you die for Him?

Do you love Him enough to deal with THAT SPECIAL sin?

Are you satisfied if everyone just thinks that you’re sold out?

Do you love Him?

Westboro Baptist Church

God gets the blame for ALOT of dumb things that humans do.  Jim Jones had people drink poison Kool Aide because “God” told him to do that.  “God” regularly tells the Westboro Baptist Church “Wackos” to protest at funerals of our country’s heros.    I’ve heard of pediphiles say that “God” told them to molest the kids that they harmed.  Did God REALLY tell these FRUITCAKES to do those things?  How do we know?

Sometimes my wife will speak a sentence to me and I know EXACTLY what she means because I’ve known her since college and we’ve been married long enough to have a 19 year old child.  I understand where she’s coming from.

I also have a couple of old friends that come to my church.  Sometimes we might say something in reference to an adventure that we had in our college years and the other one will “get it”.  Other friends standing nearby may hear the same words but won’t “get it” until we explain what we meant.

What makes that understanding possible when such few words are exchanged?

We understand each other.  We have a history with each other.  We also know the personality, passions, and hearts of each other.

Hearing God is like that too.  That’s why it is SO important to know His word when listening to Him.

I once had someone tell me that it must be God’s will that they continue the affair that they were having with a married man.  They had prayed, “God, take these feelings that I have for him away.”  When the feelings didn’t leave, she reasoned that it must be God’s will for them to be together.

She would never had thought along those lines if she had known God better through the pages of the Bible.  If you think you’re hearing from God. there is a test to measure it by.

If what you’re hearing conflicts with clear instructions in His Word or His character, it’s not God.

The 66 books of the Bible tell us what God is like.  We learn His passions, what He loves, and even some things that he doesn’t like very much.  The Bible tells us things that we shouldn’t be involved in if we want to know Him.  It even gives us some instructions on how to know God’s heart.

It’s hard to hear and understand someone that you don’t know very well.  It’s also hard to understand what someone means when you don’t know their background.

If you’re REALLY interested in hearing from God, get to know Him through the Bible. Then when He speaks, you will be prepared to better understand Him.

He will also speak to you through the Bible when you prayerfully read it in the quiet.  Make a habit of it!

Sometimes I wish I could just pick up the phone and call God like I can my friends.  When I want to do His will but I’m just not sure what His will is, that can be frustrating!

Then, when you start hearing Him speak, do you ever begin doubting and wondering if it’s just bad broccoli from the night before?  Maybe it’s just me.  lol

5 Reasons We May Not Hear From God:

1.  You Don’t Belong to Him:  

This is a tough one to start out with but I didn’t write the book.

“Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47

People aren’t born Christians.  Being an America doesn’t make you a Christian.

Growing up in a Christian family doesn’t make you a Christian & God doesn’t have grandkids.

If you don’t belong to God, you won’t hear Him speak.  Each person has to make the decision by himself as to if he will follow Christ.

A  person that wants to hear from God should ask themselves if they have ever given their lives to God, through Christ, and accepted His forgiveness of sin.

2.  Sin In Your Life:  

“If I had been cozy with evil, the Lord would never have listened. But He most surely did listen, He came on the double when He heard my prayer.” Psalm 66:18-19  The Message

If God has been telling you that there is sin in your life and you won’t listen to Him, the next time you talk to Him, guess what He’s likely to say?  He’s going to remind you about the sin.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.”

1 John 1:9

3.  Mistreat Your Wife:  

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  1 Peter 3:7

What does this mean?  God won’t hear your prayer if you mistreat your wife.  God is serious about loving her as Christ loved the church.  (NOTE:  Christ gave His life for the church.)

4.  Lack of Quiet:  

“Be Still and Know that I am God”  Psalm 46:10

Life gets too loud.  There are alot of voices telling you what to do all day long.

-Radio

-Television

-Kids

-Boss

If we want to get hear God’s heart, we have to find time to shut off all of the noise so we can hear God’s voice.

HE USUALLY DOESN’T SHOUT.  

You have to really take time to listen.

5.  We Forget the Poor  

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”  Proverbs 21:13

This is a barrier that people don’t usually think about.  Proverbs is really clear here.  God won’t be speaking to us if we only think of ourselves and not those who aren’t as fortunate.  God is serious about showing compassion to others too.  Be a jerk to the poor and He won’t hear your cries.

God wants to communicate with us.  He took drastic measures to make that possible when He sent His only Son to die in our place.  Communicating with Him must take place on His terms and not ours.  He is serious about this following Jesus thing.

I’m sure there are other barriers that may keep a person from hearing from God.   This list challenges me.  Does it challenge anyone else?

July 11, 2012

This is a repeat of one of the most popular posts on my blog and it wasn’t written by me. My daughter, Rebecca, wrote it. Hope it challenges you the way it challenges me.

Eddie Poole's Blog

 (This is a guest post by my daughter, Rebecca Poole.  I hope her words challenge you the     same way they challenge me.)
 -Eddie
 I’m learning a lot lately.

I used to think I didn’t have an “interesting” testimony. I was born, grew in the church, accepted Jesus at a very young age, went to some church camps, a couple of mission trips.  I’ve always been a “church kid,” but I am INCREDIBLY grateful for the gift of godly parents I was given.

I thought my story was boring, but how could my story be boring when the Author of life is writing it?  I have been living an identity crisis.

I have been learning how to have a constant, uninterrupted, completely in step life relationship with God. This is how we were created to live- in perfect, unending fellowship with God.  It is a gift that…

View original post 650 more words

We were at the beach last week and we stayed at a house that was about a football field away from the ocean.  There was a wooden walkway that ran beside the house that went to the ocean.

Several of us were standing in the backyard of the house when we realized that my two year old, Adam, had disappeared.  The ladies almost panicked.  A few ran to the front yard looking for him.  One started upstairs to see if he had gone back into the house.

When I saw what direction they were going, I went to the only other possibility.  I took off at a brisk trot to the walkway.

As I looked down the walkway, Adam’s little legs were taking him as fast as he could run to the ocean.  He knew exactly where he wanted to be and he was taking action.  He had a plan and he had a purpose.    He didn’t see any distractions.  He was focused!

I took off, caught him, and brought him back to the house.  Running to the beach wasn’t what I had planned for him, as his father, at that moment.  He needed sunscreen, he needed to eat breakfast, and a swimsuit would be a nice touch.  Even though he knew what he wanted, that didn’t quite match up to what his dad wanted for him at the moment.

God is calling us to a purpose BIGGER than us.

Sometimes we, like Adam, take off running.  We’re running to some good things.  It might be work or hanging out with friends.  Whatever it is, sometimes we get too busy and we miss what our Heavenly Father wants us to do at the moment because we’re so focused on what WE want to do.

He wants us to take time each day to be quiet, pray, and listen.  He has some things for us to do and get involved in.  We are His ambassadors to the world and there are divine appointments where He wants us to go and represent Him.  If you are focused on your own agenda, you will miss it.

God is calling us to a purpose BIGGER than us.

Someone may need encouragement.  A waitress might need a smile.  A neighbor may need a hand.

God is calling you to a purpose BIGGER than you.

God is calling you to a purpose BIGGER than yourself.

There is so much more to our lives than ourselves.  God is ALWAYS at work around us and if we’re not tuned into Him, we’ll miss Him.  He wants us to be involved in His work but He’s not going to force us.

There are people that you look in the eye everyday that:

  • Have secrets that they have never told anyone.
  • Their marriage is breaking up.
  • Feel helpless about their situation.
  • Have recently lost someone that they loved.

God is calling you to a purpose BIGGER than yourself. 

Life should not be about you or your desires if you follow Christ.  It’s about Him.

Sometimes when we see a need it’s time to stop saying, “I’ll pray about it” to feel better about ourselves and DO SOMETHING!

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”  -John 10:10

That fulfillment is not going to come by having the biggest bank account or climbing the ladder at work.  It won’t even come by just checking into church every Sunday.

If you want the FULFILLED life that Jesus promises, you have to give it ALL to Him without holding back. 

So…  you might have to rearrange your ENTIRE LIFE to do that???  OK

If that’s what He wants you to do, then do it.  Don’t hold back.

All I know is that God is calling His followers to a purpose BIGGER than themselves. 

Maybe He wants you to keep your routines that you already have.  Maybe He wants you to spend more time with Him and go after your present life with more passion.

Personally, I don’t want to get to the end of my life with regrets that I never followed Christ into fulfilling the purpose that He had for me.  I want that for you too.

Go for it and don’t hold back.  Let’s make a difference in the people’s lives around us.  God is at work.  Be sensitive to His voice, listen, and DO SOMETHING to make a difference when He speaks!

I wish we had more Andy Griffith and less Magic Mike these days.  Andy always gave us something positive enjoy and watch.

In Mayberry, he taught us a moral each week as he was patient with Barney, a great dad to Opie, treated Otis as a person that mattered, and honored Aunt Bee.  Other than naming his son Opie, I can’t think of anything negative about the show.

Our parents didn’t have to worry about any lessons that we would pick up from watching the show.  They actually hoped we would learn something about integrity and honor.

Andy also made us laugh.  He had us whistling a catchy tune.  He taught us to be better people.  Did you ever hear his “What it was, was a football”?  That was hilarious!

Contrast that to what we have today.  “Magic Mike” seems to be the rage at the theater. I’m really surprised and disappointed by some of the ladies that have gone to this movie.  Of course, my opinion is not that important.  I’m also a self-professed screw up at times too.  I’m just not sure what we’re thinking we we call this an acceptable “Girls Night Out.”  Pleasing God is what really matters.  Pleasing me or your girlfriends doesn’t matter.

Here’s a review from the internet that sets the tone for the movie:

“Within the movie’s opening minutes, Mike slips naked out of bed (we see him fully from behind) and he starts talking with his topless friend, Joanna, about the naked girl passed out on the bed (whose bare backside is aimed at the lingering camera lens). They both talk about how they enjoyed having sex with her the night before, but neither can come up with her name.”

Where has Andy gone? Why have we allowed things like Magic Mike to become so mainstream? How far we have fallen… from Andy to Mike. Quite a contrast.  The crazy thing is that “Mommy Porn,” as some have labeled the movie, seems to be accepted among many ladies in the “Christian” community as ok.  Is it also now ok for guys to go see stripper movies and share Playboys?

Jesus told us in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the pure in heart.”  How do we get “pure in heart?”  I’ve been studying the life of David and it seems that these are some characteristics that he had:

  • He loved God’s law
  • He was a servant to his dad and brothers
  • He passionately pursued God in prayer and with his life

In Psalm 101:3 David wrote:
“I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.”


I think we’d be able to follow Jesus alot closer if we had more Andy and less Magic Mike.

Am I right or do you think I need to “lighten up” a bit?

Sometimes people say dumb things but sometimes people are just rude.  Do you know people that have a track record of speaking without regard to others?

If you ask them why they speak as they do, they may respond, “I just speak my mind.”  Translation:  I’m ok with being rude to others.

I’ve known individuals that have said “innocently dumb” things.  I’ve been innocently dumb and you probably have too but those with a pattern of running over people are a different story.

I Can Be Dogmatic Myself About Things

I realize that I can be dogmatic about my faith but I know that we’re not going to win anyone to the faith by being dogmatic AND rude.  With all of my heart, I trust God’s Word.

You can disagree with me and I’m ok with that but don’t be rude.  Rude people can get under my skin.

So how should Christ-followers respond to rude and stupid people?

Here’s a good guideline when disagreeing with someone:

“Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Just don’t say it mean.”

Jesus said:

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?   And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”  -Matthew 5:46-47

That’s not my natural nature.  I usually want to  “breathe fire upon them” in a cutting way with my own tongue.  My natural nature would be to jump right back down their throat.

The deal is, our response is what is supposed to separate Christ’s followers from others.  Any natural person would want to get even but we aren’t supposed to think “naturally” anymore.  We’re Christ followers and that makes us different.  (Not doormats, but different.)

Reach deep inside and ask God to help you to love the person behind the jerk.  Jesus died for them too.  I am learning to try to say what I need to say but do it with a smile if possible.  Sometimes words aren’t even warranted.

How do you deal with Rude Jerks in your life?