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Shady Grove Church
3805 Carpenter Pond Road
Durham, North Carolina 27703
This page features articles from our pastors and other Christian leaders who use the truths from the Word of God to help others. From issues concerning the faith, to marriage, child rearing, and much more you will find a wealth of information as you search our blog.
If we can be of help in any way please feel free to contact us through this sight and we will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.
We are all tempted on a daily basis to get our worship of God wrong. We tend to put people before God and stuff before people, turning God’s designed order upside down. In our sinfulness, this is a constant tendency. We know God is supposed to be first, yet we allow other people and other things to slip into His place all too often. We need His help to even get this right. He has to give us grace to be able to put Him in His rightful place in our lives. For a man who doesn’t know Christ, he is even is worse condition. For he is not even capable of putting God first. Thus, he will never find true fulfillment and peace because he is operating his life completely out of sorts with how it is supposed to operate. The sad reality is that this individual will grasp and pull at everything this world has to offer and yet never find what he is looking for. But God can reveal to you the purpose for existence, something that no other could ever do. The way to know God is found in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The way to know God and His design for your life is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Have you ever thought about how much time you waste? It may seem as if it’s not that important until you realize that your days are not limitless, and they will come to an end. In fact, the end is much closer than you might think.
I recently attended the funeral of a 25 year-old young man. He was tragically killed in a car accident. He definitely had no idea that his life was going to end that night, but it did. Do you realize that your time is not limitless? Because this is true, we all could use a good reminder of this reality.
In Luke 13, Jesus shares a parable with a group of people which causes them to realize that their time on earth is limited. If they were going to do anything for Him, they best do it NOW!!!
The norm today is for teenagers to spend the majority of their time doing things that honestly are not worthy of their time. The average young person spends hours a day during the summer with some electronic device in their hand. Whether it be an iPod, game boy, laptop, cell phone, etc., their time just slips away. Needless to say, very little of eternal consequence is accomplished in such endeavors.
My challenge to you today is this—consider what you are doing with your time, and make sure the things that consume your time are worthy of something that is so valuable. A wasted life is made up of wasted years, months, weeks, days, and hours. Since you have so little time, do not waste even one opportunity for eternity.
In my recent studies I came across the following:
In the 1950s a psychologist, Stanton Samenow, and a psychiatrist, Samuel Yochelson, sharing the conventional wisdom that crime is caused by environment, set out to prove their point. They began a 17-year study involving thousands of hours of clinical testing of 250 inmates here in the District of Columbia. To their astonishment, they discovered that the cause of crime cannot be traced to environment, poverty, or oppression. Instead, crime is the result of individuals making, as they put it, wrong moral choices. In their 1977 work The Criminal Personality, they concluded that the answer to crime is a "conversion of the wrong-doer to a more responsible lifestyle." In 1987, Harvard professors James Q. Wilson and Richard J.Herrnstein came to similar conclusions in their book Crime and Human Nature. They determined that the cause of crime is a lack of proper moral training among young people during the morally formative years, particularly ages one to six.
Christianity Today, August 16, 1993, p. 30.
These studies just further point us to the reality that we are to truly train up a child during those most informative years of his life. These years are so extremely important in his later development that I personally would not trust hardly anyone with this task. Is it possible that children are so needy during these same years? Is this why they must be watched and cared for almost around the clock? Is this why God formed them so that parents would have to have interaction and influence with them?
With these thoughts in mind, who has your babies today? Where is your toddler? Who are they being influenced by in these most informative years?
When trying to decide what to do with your child during these years here are a few ideas that you might want to consider:
- Is it possible that you, as the parent, could be their keeper during the day when most will send their babies off to daycare?
- What is it that requires you to be separated from them? Is it financial? Is it a desire to build a career? Is it something as simple as being able to afford a certain lifestyle or material thing?
- Would it be worth the sacrifice of some status or pleasure to be able to ensure that your child receives the proper raising?
- What is the more important responsibility in this situation?
- Can anyone else raise and train your child like you?
In considering these things, I encourage you to prayerfully rethink your situation. For the Christian parent, I don’t believe that there is any stewardship more important than the one granted to you when God gave you a child. Be sure you are found faithful.
Photo taken from videohive.net
The Gospel that is given to us in the Bible is not merely a story for Sunday school, its not an attempt to tell us all to be good, its not an effort on the part of God to tell us to work hard so possibly one day we could be accepted by Him into heaven, no that’s not the Gospel at all. Instead the Gospel of the Bible is a Gospel that declares our absolute sinfulness, inability to do anything to change our plight, and the reality of our being the enemy of God in our present condition. The Gospel is a declaration of man’s hopeless condition combined with God’s hope filled plan of rescue. The Gospel reveals God’s sending His perfect Son to die for imperfect man so that the hopelessly imperfect could be made perfect by an act of God. The Gospel message is simple, believe on Jesus Christ and He will forgive your sin, give you eternal life, and do the impossible work of uniting you with God.
So today I don’t call you to be good, I don’t call you to try to stop sinning, I don’t call you to turn over a new leaf. Instead, I call you to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and understand that He was God the Son, that He came and lived perfectly in this world, He died for crimes He hadn’t done, and he suffered for your sin. He was buried, and he was resurrected from the grave, and today He lives in heaven with God the Father. What do you need to do? Believe those things are true and then look to Him for your forgiveness. Believe that He was all of these things, and then trust that He can do what He said He would do….”I came to seek and to save that which was lost” … “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
To receive this marvelous gift of eternal life today, all that is required is that you place your faith in Christ, believe in Him and have eternal life. Abandon your own efforts to gain Gods acceptance, and trust Christ to save you…. and He will, He promised!
Dear Jesus, I understand that I am hopelessly lost without you. I believe that you are God the Son who came to this earth to save sinners like me. I now believe that it was for me that you died, and I now reject my own efforts to save myself and I trust in you. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. Thank you Jesus for saving me from my sins, help me now to learn how to live the rest of my life for you!
If you have prayed that prayer, please contact us. We want to send you some information that will help you begin your new life in Christ. Pastortim@shadygrovechurch.net
Image from http://vv.church/uncategorized/gospel-power-god/
This Blog is part two of a series:
When it came to the building process we figured out that there were two different ways of doing it. One was to hire a builder that was what I call a (all the bells and whistles) builder. These companies are numerous. Most in our area build for anywhere from $125/sft to $140/sft. These builders do everything that you want and you will be able to get all the latest and the greatest. In many cases this may be the type of builder that you choose to use.
However, for us, we needed to build in a less expensive way. We needed to be able to build a house that was almost 3,000 s/ft to suit the size of our family. (There are 6 of us). So, we discovered that there are other builders who build in this area and are what I call (get me what I need) builders. These companies build the same house as the others but they begin with a plain house and you add only what you think you will need. This was great for my wife and I, we paid extra for the things that we could not change later (taller ceilings, brick, crawlspace, taller windows downstairs, side entry garage, etc.). I was willing to do without some of the other extras until I could do them myself. If you can do some things yourself you can save a lot of money in the building process.
These (get me what it need) builders can build houses for as low as $60/sft. This is a significant savings compared to the others. The $60 is a base price for sure, and if you are like us you will make some changes to their base, but in the end, we got what we wanted and did it for about half of what the other guys would have charged. We discovered that there were three of these building companies in the area.
Everybody’s different and we all have different needs. However, for us this was the way to go. I hope this will be helpful to someone in the process of trying to build a house.
If I can be of help please feel free to ask!
One of the scariest things that I do is be a parent. Its scary on a few different levels. First, I realize that they are free moral agents (a fancy theological word that means they will make their own decision as to whether or not they will accept Christ, and I can’t do it for them). Its scary because, I understand the reality that my influence on them as a parent will largely determine how they turn out in the end. Its scary because I know that the Bible teaches me that I will be held accountable for how I raised them.
After saying all of that, I think it necessary to say that one of the greatest things I do is be a parent. I love and enjoy my children. It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to be a dad. My kids bring great joy to my heart and I wouldn’t take anything for the opportunity that I have had to have them in my life.
I want to spend some time writing about parenting. This will be an ongoing work for sure. Because I am still a parent. I know it’s risky writing about this while I am still in the heat of the battle, but the truth is that I need to write these things down while they are on my mind. Yes, it is possible that I could still fail at parenthood at this point, but I want to share the things that I have learned thus far.
Kids need parents
Regardless to what they may think and even express in their childhood years kids need parents. I know this to be true because of experience but also because God in His wisdom established it this way. As I am writing this, my family works at a dog breeding kennel, they breed some of the most beautiful Golden Retrievers in the world. It is very interesting how being a dog momma and daddy is so different from being a parent to a child in God’s image. The dad is there only for a few days. He breeds the mom and then he goes back home. His work is done! The mom carries the pups for about two months, births them, and then nurses them for eight weeks. Then she goes home. And believe me, after the eight weeks she is ready to go. I wonder sometimes if she even misses them once she is home. The pups by then are eating on their own, and in just a few days will be at their new home with their owners.
Being a parent is a whole different ball game. Children and a whole lot more complex and to raise them properly takes a whole lot longer on the part of the parent. The child that God gives you desperately needs you! Every little boy and little girl needs its mommy and daddy. To take a little side street for a moment, I want to remind every parent how important it is to have a great marriage. The truth is, the most important earthly relationship that any of us has is our marriage relationship. We must learn from the Scriptures the importance of placing a lot of emphasis upon our connection to our spouse. The Bible has much to say about this subject: (Ephesians 5, Colossians 3). Stephanie and I both realize that our relationship to each other is to be the most important in our lives under our relationship with God. This is essential. Your kids will receive a since of security when they know that their parents are bound in a loving relationship. When this is missing children pick up on it quickly and it affects them drastically.
When the marriage relationship is right, then the two of you can function properly as parents. You can make decisions together concerning your children. You can operate on the same rules and principles because the two of you are in agreement over what you are trying to do. Children need their parents and they need to see a unified front. Your marriage relationship will play a very important role in ensuring this takes place.
But back to children. They need their parents. Unlike the puppies at the kennel they will not be all right without someone who they can call mommy and daddy. God has designed the family so that the children are entirely dependent upon you for the first years of their lives. What the parent will observe is that as time passes this dependency should grow less and less. God made it that way. But right now, they need you. And because they need you so much it is important that you know why they need you.
More to come....
Building a House in Durham, NC
Over the last year or so God has blessed our family with the wonderful privilege of building a house to live in. I will be honest with you from the very outset, it has been a slow process from beginning to end. It has been expensive in many ways, and it has required a lot of patience. But all in all, it has been a very exciting experience. Today is March 16 2017, if all goes as expected we are supposed to get our COO (certificate of occupancy) tomorrow! We are excited and ready to move in.
To kind of fill in the blanks, I want to go back about a year and help you see how this process played out in our lives. We were living in a church parsonage prior to building our own home. We had been saving for some time to be able to afford the building process. And it was unlikely that we would be able to build where we live presently because the land was so extremely expensive. But then something very unexpected happened. A lady in our church just out of the blue came to my wife one day and said that she wanted to sell a piece of land. my wife was very excited, when she told me I became somewhat excited as well. But them being the realist that I am I told her that we probably could not afford the land. So I went to talk with the lady a few days later.
Our conversation led to the realization that maybe we could afford a few acres. So I began the journey of trying to figure out how to buy land and then build a house. I must say that it has been a learning experience. My desire is to make a record of the process, to explain some things that I have learned to prove to be helpful to others, and ultimate to give praise to God for making our dream a reality.
Buying Land in Durham
I always assumed that getting land and building a house was a pretty simple cut-n-dry kind of thing, boy was I wrong! There are many issues that you will run into in this area of the country that are not so prevalent elsewhere. For starters, I found out quickly two very important realities; 1. Land in Durham is known to be unbuildable (that is without having city water and sewer access), 2. Durham has a lot of proverbial red tape that must be waded through before you begin and most certainly before you complete a building project.
We will begin with the land buying process. It is not easy to find lots in this area where we live (Brier Creek area). But once you do find a spot there are quite a few things that you need to consider.
- Zoning- how is the land zoned and what will the zoning allow for you to do with it if you owned it? A quick call to zoning will help you figure this out. Many tracts of land here (like the one we own) have some restrictions on it. You will want to know this before you move any further.
- Perk ability- Much of the land in this area will not perk. In layman’s terms this means that you can’t use a septic tank on the property because there is not enough topsoil material to allow the water from the septic system to leach into the ground. This is a very important factor to consider before you buy the land. If the land wont perk, then you cannot build on it! There are multiple types of septic systems that are available, each one designed for a different situation, but you will want to investigate this before you move forward.
Here is how this works, to begin with you will need to call the zoning department. They can tell you about these aspects of the piece of land you are considering.
The next thing you will want to do is hire a soil scientist to come out to the property and test the ground to see if it will perk. You would be better off hiring an individual to do it instead of relying on the Durham Health people. They will only test one spot. You are going to need someone who is willing to spend a few hours on the property. We were blessed to be led to a great soil scientist who knew the area probably better than anyone else around. He was very knowledgeable and helpful. (just so you know we spent a few hours going over the land that we could buy and found nothing until the very last place we checked). The state and county require a certain number of inches of perk able top soil to be able to build, if you don’t have this type of soil then you will not be able to build.
We were very blessed to have the opportunity to do this without having to purchase the land first. The dear lady we were buying from insisted that we figure all of this out before we buy. That was a true blessing, because the land that we were originally interested in ended up not being able to perk. We ended up buying on the other side of her property, and we ended up buying a much larger piece of land to accommodate our needs for the septic system. Once we found the perk able site, we then proceeded to the next hurdle. We applied for a septic permit.
This step was very important. Until we had the permit in hand, we were not guaranteed that we could put in a septic system. After the soil scientist marked the land for us, we then contacted the county and requested to file for a permit for septic. We were blessed to have a great guy come out to do the testing who was also very helpful and knowledgeable. Once we had secured the well permit, which cost a little bit of money that we had spent on someone else’s land, we were then able to proceed.
Not only is this area notorious for not perking, but it is also notorious for not having a sufficient water supply to support a home. The next step is to apply for a well permit. Once the septic permit is granted, you can apply for a well permit. Unlike the septic system testing, the well drilling process is undoubtedly more of a shot in the dark. You see, not only do you want to get the well permit, but you will want to drill the well before you ever even begin to build your house. Without water supply it would be impossible to live there. Once again you are spending money on someone else’s property. But a few thousand dollars spent could save you from buying property that costs many thousands of dollars that is unfit for building. We were directed to a great well drilling company. Boyette Well was the driller that we used and they were great. We began drilling one morning and within just a few minutes we had already struck water. We were overjoyed! (God had blessed us again). The normal home will need a water supply of around 5 gallons per minute, according to what I am told. We found 7! The well we have has a supply which is the 7 gallons per minute, this number tells you how many gallons of water your well produces in a minute’s time. This number is very important. Many of the people in our area have ½ to 1 gallon per minute. This proves to cause many hardships for the families that live on this land. Once water was struck, we then had the driller make the well deeper to provide a reserve of water for our family. We drilled 340 feet deep. You can further research water supply for a well and reserves online. You will want to understand this before you decide how deep to drill your well.
Once we had secured our septic permit and had a good well drilled, we were then ready to buy the land. We were blessed to be able to get land that was buildable according to zoning, septic, and water. We were now ready to begin the building process, we will talk more about this in the next post.
Many times the parent/child relationship is strained because as parents we fail to properly communicate to our children what we expect of them. The result of this failure on our part is angry parents and frustrated kids. Parenting is one of the areas in my life where my failures are often brought clearly before my eyes and I can see where I "messed up". Its easy to just "chalk it up as a loss" and then move on, but the reality is that I need (we need) to figure out why that didn't work and develop a plan to fix it next time.
If you ever find yourself raising your voice at your child, if you ever find your child seemingly ignoring what you have just told him to do, then the below bit of wisdom might be helpful to you.
It is vitally important to teach your child to listen to you! for many reason, 1. Because its required of them by God to be under His umbrella of blessing. 2. Because it's vital to having a proper parent/child relationship. 3. Because they will learn from you how they are to respond to others in life and even God.
Teach your child how to listen:
At the McCreight household we often recite this with our kids. It's not because we have it all figured out that I share this, but because I know that it works when properly practiced. It looks something like this, my kids (I have four) are talking and playing when suddenly I walk into the room and begin to speak. I say something like, "I need you guys to go get your shoes on and get ready to go, we are leaving in just a minute." The kids keep wrestling and laughing and no one has shoes on when its time to go. The result of this could be me getting frustrated and yelling at the kids. After this yelling episode transpires the whole atmosphere of the home changes and the kids wonder "why is dad yelling at me? What did I do?". I realized that this cycle was present in our home and I wanted to try and find a way to stop it.
Now we remind our kids, "when you hear my voice this is what you are supposed to do"
- The child is to immediately stop whatever it is that he/she is doing. Pause the movie, set the crayon down, halt in the wrestling match, etc.
- The child is to look the adult directly in the eye.
- The child is to refrain from speaking or even thinking up something to say while the adult speaks.
- The child is to listen intently to what mom or dad is saying.
Once the parent is finished speaking then the child can ask a question, if necessary, or they can do what it is that they were asked to do. This can help prevent frustration, disobedience, and the necessity of discipline being divvied out in many cases.
There are many other factors at play in this scenario for sure. But we can't expect nor inspect obedience if we are not even certain our kids heard what we said. And where else will Jr learn respect?
image from https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/helping-parents-of-children-with-type-1-diabetes/
One of the most inherent rights that every living soul has is the right to life. Our fore-fathers recognized this when they wrote "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." From the beginning of man's existence, life has been seen as a sacred possession. No doubt men have violated this sacred possession. History reveals to us many such violations: wars, the Holocaust, slavery, murder, etc. have taken place. None of these were just and most certainly each one was a terrible mark in the history of man.
However, I believe that all of these pale in significance when compared to abortion. The current statistics report that there are over 1,000,000 (that's one million) babies are clinically aborted in the US every year. That number does not include the abortions that take place from other means such as, non-clinical abortions, chemically induced abortions etc. Abortion is a horrible thing and regardless to what political party you might lean toward you would have to agree that this is a violation of the lives of those who are being aborted. It is clear, that a baby is alive in the womb. Like many of you, I went to the doctor's appointments with my wife when she was expecting. I heard the baby's heartbeat. I have laid beside my wife and have felt the all exciting kicks that our children have given their mommy's tummy. A baby is alive and thus it possesses life.
Because this is true, then the people who have been denied the most inherent right that man has are the unborn. I encourage all who will read this article to take a moment and think about this dire issue. If the people of America don't rise up and do something, then who will?
How Should The Christian Vote?
Voting is in the hearts and minds of all of us in these days. We are bombarded by commercials, pictures, radio ads, etc. It's almost amusing how each candidate for each of the different races reveals to the American people how horrible their opponent is. From the race for president down to the local officials, everyone is unfit for office and a crook, at least according to the commercials.
It would be a wonderful thing if we, as Christians had a truly God-fearing candidate that we could throw our full support behind. However, I fear that its highly unlikely that we will see such a candidate anytime in the near future. Pray for our country. God's people need to mobilize and get busy doing His work. We need to reach the lost for Jesus Christ.
So the predicament that each of us faces is this; "what do I do when both of the people that I can vote for fail to meet my Christian standards for belief and conduct?" I believe the answer to this question is four-fold.
First, we have to pray. God is the one who establishes our governing authorities (Romans 13:1) and we need to pray for grace and mercy in this area. We don't deserve to "have it good" but we must plead with God to help us.
Second, we need to do our research. We shouldn't align ourselves with any specific party. I don't vote for a candidate just because he/she is a republican or democrat. So that means I have to do a little digging and try to find out what each candidate stands for. We need to figure out what their beliefs are and how they would make decisions if in office. Once this research is done, print off a sample ballot so you can mark who you will vote for before you go to the polls. I strongly encourage every Christian to know what will be on the ballot before you get to the voting booth.
Third, we need to get out and vote. The Christian has way too much to lose to stay at home during an election. We have the privilege and right to vote in this country, and might I add, I believe the responsibility to do so. Not voting for one is voting for the other one!
Fourth, consider what is at stake in this election. When it comes to the presidential elections there are numerous major issues that will be decided upon in the next four years. Many of our freedoms as Christians could prove to be in danger. Every time we lose the freedom to exercise our free will in relation to the things of God we have suffered a great loss. America has been so greatly blessed because it has had the opportunity and willingness to be a beacon for the Lord Jesus Christ. It's ability to fulfill this great calling could be in jeopardy with many of the eroding opinions of judges and law makers. To name a few more, our insurance and medical systems are swirling out of control like never before. What are the candidates going to do about it? There is no doubt an issue with immigration, what are their solutions? We know there will be one Supreme Court Judge appointed, and possibly more. Who will they appoint? The economy and stock market are both in serious jeopardy, what are their solutions. Abortion, need I say more? From looking carefully at these areas, I do believe that the Christian can come to a clear decision which candidate would best benefit our country, society, and which would prove to be a help to Christian beliefs. Notice that I didn't say anything about the candidates moral or religious views. The reality is that neither candidate has ground to stand upon in this area. It is sad that this is the case but this is where we live. And in case you forgot, Americans nominated both of these candidates. There is not going to be another option this election, so you have to decide between the two.
The reality is this; you will have to make a decision on November 8th! You can do nothing, which I believe would be a neglect of your responsibility. You could choose a candidate based upon how good they were at arguing and debating, their sex, past, color, popularity with the media, etc. Or you could pray and do your homework. From this make an informed decision based upon what really are facts instead of succumbing to the propaganda that is rampant right now in America. Christian, you decide what you should do, then prayerfully do it!
Let's talk about alcohol. I have observed that the use of alcohol in a social setting is becoming more and more prevalent in the church world today. It is no doubt one of those subjects that you want to avoid if you don't want to have conflict. But let's be honest for a moment. Do you really think that it's permissible for a Christian to drink alcohol?
Some well-meaning Christians would argue that the Bible does not condemn the drinking of alcohol. Most often they reference Jesus turning water into wine. The purpose of this article is not to enter into this debate, though I believe there are ample reasons to conclude that Jesus did not give fermented wine to those who were at the marriage feast. The questions that I want to address here are these; does the Bible teach us not to drink alcohol? And if so, why?
First, let's take a trip to the Proverbs. In chapter 23 we find a lengthy passage about alcohol consumption. Read below:
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: "They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?" (Proverbs 23:29-35 NKJV)
Notice the wording, do not look on the wineâ€¦ this is clearly a word of warning to the one who might be enticed to drink a little alcohol. I think it safe to say that the implication here is not to drink alcohol. I know what you are thinking, "doesn't the Bible record where the Apostle Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for his sickness" and the answer is yes! However, he was not encouraging him to keep a six pack in his fridge, he was sick and he needed to use alcohol to purify the water he was drinking. Many of the medicines we use today contain alcohol. What is being described to us here is obviously not the use of alcohol in medicine, but instead it's the use of alcohol as a drink.
Secondly, why are we warned against the use of alcohol in the Bible? The above passage tells us. Alcohol causes many issues in life. Reflect on these words, woe.. sorrow.. contentions.. complaints.. wounds.. redness of eyes.. Each of these words are descriptive of the harmful effects of alcohol. As you read on you discover that we are told that alcohol bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Those descriptions help us understand why the Bible instructs the believer to avoid alcohol. Because it causes problems and pain!
This has been proven to be true:
Nearly 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women9) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities)
In 2010, alcohol misuse problems cost the United States $249.0 billion.
In 2013, of the 72,559 liver disease deaths among individuals aged 12 and older, 45.8 percent involved alcohol. Among males, 48.5 percent of the 46,568 liver disease deaths involved alcohol. Among females, 41.8 percent of the 25,991 liver disease deaths involved alcohol.34
Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2011, 48.0 percent were alcohol related. The proportion of alcohol-related cirrhosis was highest (72.7 percent) among decedents ages 25 34, followed by decedents aged 35 44, at 70.3 percent.35
In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United States.36
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast
The above statistics are only the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, alcohol causes more problems in the home and in society than almost any other single factor. This would explain why God would give us such a descriptive warning concerning the use of alcohol.
So how about you? Are you guilty of trying to justify your drinking using the Bible? If so I would challenge you to seriously reconsider. If you have fallen for the adage a drink a day keeps the doctor away, I challenge you to look into that claim more closely.
My conviction is that God's Word speaks clearly to the dangers and difficulties of the use of alcohol. It's unnecessary, harmful, and just down-right dangerous. And I do not believe it has a place in the life of a believer.
What is your goal in life concerning money? In our society today it seems that the normal attitude towards money is that of "give me some more please"! As a husband and father of four I feel the pressure all the time to make sure that I am accumulating wealth for myself and my family. It seems as though everywhere I turn someone is trying to get me to invest in this, and put my money there so I can get the best return. I will tell you I am not against saving and being a good steward, as a matter of fact I think it is completely necessary, but all the hype about money seems to have caused a lot of people to put too much focus upon it. Actually, the result of all the emphasis on money has been to cause many people to begin to focus on it more than God. The desire of many is to be rich. Many young couples don't have kids because they are trying to make a million, some are not getting married, and many are putting things before God for the purpose of gaining wealth. Most of the financial planners of today stimulate the desire of Christians to be rich. All around us we are pressured to turn our focus on amassing wealth and sad to say but this pressure is even present in the church.
The question arises, "How does God feel about this subject?" The answer is found in I Timothy 6:9 where Paul writes,
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
In a passage where he is encouraging contentment we read that living to be rich brings something quite different from what we expected to get out of it. When being rich is our motive in life the results are actually very negative. We are said to be overcome by temptation and a snare. Temptation references the fact that you will be enticed to commit sin to gain wealth. A snare is a picture of a trap that a bird gets into and is entangled in. The goal of being rich proves to be very hurtful for the Christian. So what should the Christian's attitude be towards money?
We find in II Corinthians 8, that God gives to us not for the purpose of allowing us to amass great wealth, but so that we can meet our needs and the needs that are evident around us. God doesn't tell us to see how much money we can have, instead He tells us to look to see what needs are evident around us.
So what should you do with the money God entrusts to you? Well to start with give back to Him. He doesn't need it but He told you to do it! Then meet your needs and the needs of your family. It is essential, if you desire to be a good steward, that you budget money and know where every dollar goes. Otherwise you will waste God's money! You should also save some of your income. This is only wise. As you save and avoid wasteful practices be sensitive to what needs God might bring to your attention. When you see a definite need be willing to meet it. If God put it on your heart He will make sure He takes care of you.
Whatever you do with money, don't let it become the thing that rules your life. Remember, they that make as their goal to be rich get entangled in a web that is almost impossible to get out of!
The Life That is Usable to Christ is one that He can direct and mold for His purposes. This is a life that He can direct through the working of His Spirit to accomplish His purposes. Every believer should desire to be used by God. If you have truly experienced His saving grace and realize what He has done on your behalf, then it should be a part of your inner being to desire to serve and please your God. The Love that He has shown you should be your motivation to live for Him. If God will use your life, then it must be usable to Him.
No need to question whether it would be useful, because if He made it then it is useful. But useable is another story. Useful has to be with the make-up and worth of something, but useable has to do with the objects workability and availability.
How can you be usable? To begin with, your usability is dependent upon your spiritual condition. If you are not a Believer in Christ, then you can't really be used by Him the way He wants to use you. Salvation must take place before you are useable to God.
The next requirement to being used of God is that you learn to surrender to our God. As He comes and works in your heart for the purpose of molding and shaping you it is your responsibility to be responsive to His working in your life. As He shapes and directs your job is to respond in obedience. When there is sin in a believer's life God will address it. However, He doesn't come into your problem and force you out of it, no, instead He works to alert you to the sin and then will empower you to repent of it. He will always do His part, the only breakdown is when you fail to do yours.
When you hear Him speak its your job to obey. If He points out an attitude in your heart that needs to be corrected, respond immediately. If He uncovers some activity in your life that displeases Him, repent and set up a plan in your heart to deal with it. (directly focusing on dealing with this is very important) The idea of surrender in the Christian life is simply doing what He says, when he says, How HE says. Surrender is simply allowing Him to take control and obediently following His directing.
After salvation and surrender then comes service. The one who is in tune with God and in service to Him will have no problem being usable. It will become natural to this believer to hear His voice and then respond in all things. It will become easy for God to use him. This is the place that each of us should desire to be. This is the place that is usable. If you are there, then rejoice. If you are not, then get there!
Your usability to God is dependent completely upon your willingness to get there.
Unless you have had your head in the sand for the last few months, you have heard that slogan what feels like a million times. Aa a Christian, all the hype surrounding this statement, and more importantly the movement, would cause you to ask a few questions.
First, do black lives matter? And the answer is of course they do! As a Christian, I must submit myself to the Word of God and obediently align my thinking with what it teaches. And the truth is that God teaches us that all lives matter, equally. He loves every part of His creation and especially every human being that ever has been or ever will be.
Secondly, why are we hearing this slogan so much in our day? I will carefully answer this with a few different thoughts. I do believe that there is cause for people to be concerned when they perceive that anyone, regardless of color, is being mistreated and taken advantage of. And many of the people who are screaming "black lives matter" are genuinely concerned about people. It is our responsibility as believers to do all that we can to defend the lives of other individuals and do good to everyone that we can. Some shout "black lives matter" in genuine concern for people that they perceive are being mistreated, and I believe that is a good thing to do. But I do not believe that is the sentiment behind everyone who is involved in this "movement". It seems that there are some, maybe even many, who are trying to stir up racial tensions between black and white people. Just like there are some white people in America who hate people of color, there are some black people in America who hate those who are white. I believe some of the people who are shouting the loudest at this moment are doing so to further their cause against white people. I truly believe it is sad that people are trying to promote their hate on the graves of people who have died.
Finally, how do we fix this? That is probably the most important question that can be asked at this time. I don't think that we are going to see it corrected from the political scene. The truth is that many of the people that were mentioned above who are profiting from this very ugly situation are the political voices of our day. So what can be done? To begin with, as Christians we need to adapt biblical thinking on the subject of race. We cannot and should not accept thinking on our part that is racial, prejudice, and hateful. All of these are unchristian. If you find that statement hard to swallow, you may need to spend some time praying about this issue and looking for God to change you. We also can try and be a part of the effort to quiet the rhetoric that is flying around. All of the marches, rallies, and media coverage is only fueling the fire. As much as it is possible, try to stop the craziness. I believe we can make a huge difference just by intentionally treating people of other races kindly and respectfully. Just because someone is a different color than we are does not mean that we can't treat them with Christian kindness and proper respect. Another thing that can be done is that we need to pray for our country right now. And for the future, we need to teach our children how to view others who are different from them. Though we are different in many ways, and might I add God made us different on purpose, we don't have to be divided over our differences.
As a Christian you can use your influence to help calm everyone down and get everyone back to their senses. Just imagine what it feels like to be black right now, if you have been listening to all that is being said you would probably feel like you were going to be mistreated or even shot today. Imagine what it feels like to be a police officer today. You probably are very anxious about what you are going to face today, and are concerned for your life.I don't claim to know all the answers to all the questions. But I do know this, Christians are never to be guilty of hate, racism, nor plotting against another group to cause them harm. So today, do your part. And let's see if we can change the tide that i
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
The above verse of Scripture serves as a great description of the transformation that takes place in the heart of a man when he becomes a believer and Christ takes up residence in his heart.
Though the man, as far as can be seen physically is the same, spiritually he is now alive where he was once dead (2 Timothy 1:10). He now has been translated into another kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
Life changes when you truly come to Jesus! It is more than just a decision or a prayer that you pray. It is more than just a choice to become a member of some organization like a club or a team. It is far deeper than that. No, when a person truly accepts Christ and is born again he moves from death to life. He now possesses spiritual life that he has never known before.
Some interpret this verse to mean that the person who has been born again stops sinning. However, I don't think that is really what the emphasis is in this passage. I understand it to be much deeper than that. It teaches us much more. It actually reveals to us that a true Christian will be so impacted by Christ's taking up residence in his life that the resulting life that he will now live could be explained no other way than by the word NEW. His life is now new.
The old things that have been present in his life are passed away. Old things like the habits, the way of thinking, the manner of life, all those things that he has practiced all of his days in his lost condition are now gone. He is no longer the same person. In Christ he is a new creature. Jonathan Edwards the great preacher and theologian wrote, "When a man is enlightened savingly by Christ, he is, as it were, brought into a new world".
So what does all of this have to do with me? You might ask. Well the answer is found in the question, has your life been radically transformed by Christ? The goal is not that you be a church member, though the church is a gift for believers from God, it's not that you were baptized, though it is an ordinance of the church, it's not that you have a bible and read it, though the Bible is God's word for us. None of these things are the sign nor the requirements for true conversion.
New life in Christ is just that, new life. Have you become a possessor of this life? If not, we can help. Feel free to contact our ministry or if you are in the area please come by. We would love to share the way to this new life with you!
 Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Mark Trigsted. Logos Pub. Pg 9.
God has given His Word for the purpose of revealing Himself to man. Were it not for the Scriptures man would know very little about the God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Instead he would be left to have only a very limited knowledge of a creator. But God, in His grace, has given to man the complete and perfect revelation of Himself. As Scroggie wrote, "The Bible is given to us that we might know Godâ€¦"; and R.A. Torrey echoed the same idea when he said, "From the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation, we see God as a person, an infinite and perfect person". When one considers these truths they will then see that the primary purpose of the Scriptures is to reveal the God of Heaven. He reveals that He is a loving God (1 JN 4:8), that He is a holy God (Lev. 11:44) and many other truths that man would know nothing of had He not chosen to tell him in His Word. However, that is not to imply that the Bible doesn't also serve as the only perfect source of answers to the questions that plague the heart of man. From the purpose of man's existence, to the destiny of man after life on this earth; there is no other source for the answers to these hard questions than through the revelation of God. Thus, the primary purpose of the revelation is God revealing Himself to man.
You don't have to watch the news very long to hear another story about someone being attacked, raped, kidnapped, or even killed where the motive seemed to be of the sexual nature. The recent court case involving the Stanford Student, Brock Turner, the recent arrest of a mentally deranged man who tried to drag a 13-year-old girl out of a store; such reports cause all of us to shake our heads and fear for our wives and our children.
The focus of this article is not to discuss the right or wrong concerning these individuals and their actions, nor will it be to draw conclusions about the judge and what he did right or wrong. Instead, I want to get you to join me and think about the problem that is at the heart of each of these (and many other) incidents.
Why are so many people in our society making such destructive decisions? What does this stem from? I believe the answer is at least partially found in the over exposure of individuals to sexually related images, movies, television programs and literature.
God's Word gives us some insight into this dilemma. In the book of 1 Corinthians 7:9, the Apostle Paul makes the statement it is better to marry than to burn. IN the context he is dealing with whether it is permissible to marry or if it is better to remain single. However, in the above statement he uses a very interesting word. He says to burn. The idea expressed by the word is to be kindled or inflamed. The picture is that an individual can become enflamed with their sexual passions. The use of such a strong word is to show the reader how severe this passion really is.
How does that fit into the dilemma we find ourselves in today? The constant consumption of sexually saturated internet, video games, and television has caused men in particular to be walking time bombs. Many are burning in their lust and the result of such a condition is the cruel, barbaric actions we observe in our society on almost a daily basis.
So what is the answer? I don't pretend to know everything about this issue, and I most certainly can't even begin to properly deal with this in a short article. However, the answer lies in people experiencing the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This is merely the beginning, but from that experience we then begin to grow into a relationship with Christ that equips us to deal with these feelings and desires in the right way. The Bible has what we need to deal with what we face. We must learn it and begin to practice it in our lives. And for the individual who has already started down the destructive road of sexual perversion, I want to tell you that there is grace sufficient for all our sins. God will forgive and He will deliver you from the bonds of this sin. He will renew your mind and begin to enable you to think righteous thoughts, He will help clear your mind of all the corruption you have filled it with. God can do that.
If you or someone you know struggles with this type of sin please let us know. We are here to help.
Rape, incest, abuse, abandonment-these are just a few of the things that teenagers have to face in our present generation that they never really had to deal with before. With all of this hurt in the home, it is no wonder so many teens struggle with forgiveness. It would definitely be hard to forgive a dad who completely deserted his family and left behind a mom and kids to struggle and fend for themselves. It would also be difficult to forgive a mom who had physically abused her children and left scars and pain that will never go away.
So what is a young person to do? Those who were supposed to love and care for him or her most in this world have been the ones who forsook them and hurt them more than anyone else. How can one deal with this pain and heartache? God tells us in Ephesians 4:32 that we are to forgive one another. When the victim reads this, he may at first become defensive. The thought comes to mind, "You just don't understand what I have been through!" And the truth is, many times we don't understand exactly what the other person has experienced, but we are told by our loving God that we must forgive.
So why is it so important to forgive? First of all, we must forgive because failure to do so will only cause us more pain and suffering. It has been said that the one who is bitter over some past experience forces himself to relive the terrible incident every day. As long as we hold the bitterness inside and refuse to release the person who wronged us into God's hands, we will keep punishing ourselves with the hurt and the pain. A person who is bitter and unforgiving will revisit their hurt every single day!
Secondly, it is important to forgive because God has told us in Mark 11:26 that if we refuse to forgive others then God will not forgive us; thus, we break our fellowship with the only one who can truly give us the peace and comfort that is essential to overcome this pain and suffering. We have to forgive in order for God to forgive us.
So maybe you are convinced that forgiveness is the way to go, but now your question is, "How do I forgive?" Well, according to Ephesians 4:32, we are to forgive "even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us." How does God forgive? He forgives freely and fully. He chooses to remove our trespasses from us to remember them no more. That's the key! If we are going to truly forgive, we must make a rational decision to do so. God will not make you forgive.
Once we have come to the point where we are ready to forgive, we then can go to God and receive His help in doing so. Only He can give us what it takes to forgive some of the terrible things we might have experienced. He can give us the ability to forgive and also the opportunity to move on and leave the past behind us. That's what He wants to do! So, young person, are you struggling with bitterness from a past situation? It's time to forgive. You will do yourself the greatest favor ever. Just remember how great a debt that God forgave you and forgiving others will be much easier.
Have you ever heard a pastor say "now I'm no theologan but"? The following article deals with the question does a pastor have to be a theologian?
Every pastor should be a theologian. In making such a statement it is necessary to define exactly what a theologian is. A theologian is "a person who is an expert in theology". Theology is defined by Webster as, "the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and of God's relation to the world". "Why would such a requirement be placed upon a pastor", one might ask? The answer lies in what the pastor's calling entails. His calling is to "feed the flock of God" (1 Peter 5:2), he is to take the Word of God and place it in the hearts of the people of God. In order for him to faithfully do this it is expedient that he understand the Person of God and His dealings with man. To grow believers it is essential that they be fed a steady diet of the Word of God, and to effectively do that the pastor must be familiar with the Word and the God of the Word.
As Albert Mohler Jr. said, "the health of the church depends upon its pastors functioning as faithful theologians - teaching, preaching, defending and applying the great doctrines of the faith." He goes on to say, "The pastor's concentrated attention to the theological task is necessary for the establishment of faithful preaching, God-honoring worship and effective evangelism in the local church." There is no question that the pastor must be theologically apt to fulfill his calling. This will further enable him to conduct true research. True research is research that involves the pastor studying a biblical topic utilizing every available tool. He will be able to quickly discern what is good and helpful material and what is flawed because of his theological knowledge. Without his being a theologian he could easily teach doctrinal error and lead the flock of God in the wrong direction. The pastor's willingness to equip himself with a solid theological background is essential for him to faithfully fulfill the calling God has placed on his life.
"Theologian." Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed September 3, 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theologian.
 "Theology." Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed September 3, 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theology.
 Mohler, Albert Jr. The Pastor as a Theologian. (2010). Online at (http://www.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2010/09/the-pastor-as-theologian.pdf) pg 1. September 4, 2015.
 Ibid. pg 7.