Category: Life at First

Pardon the Interruption

Pardon the Interruption

Interruptions – sometimes they bring surprises that are exciting, but usually they are unwelcome. A few years ago I had an interruption from God. I had just come back from vacation when I started having double vision. The eye doctor said it was sinuses so I went to a general practitioner. By this time my eyelids were half closed and puffy. He had no clue what was going on suggesting a sinus infection or the need to see my thyroid doctor. Therefore on day 3, I went to the thyroid doctor who saw, not only the above symptoms, but also that I had trouble chewing and slurred speech. He claimed the other 2 doctors should have figured it out and said it was just a sinus infection. By this time I couldn’t drive and my mom was staying with me to help navigate – literally. On the evening of day 4 since nothing had improved we made plans to go to the Urgent Care the next morning. Thank the Lord for a doctor with great deductive skills – he knew almost immediately that I had Myasthenia Gravis (I call it MG for short). MG is an autoimmune disease where the nerves and muscles don’t communicate thus the drooping eyelids, double vision, trouble chewing, occasional slurred speech and muscle weakness in extremities. He referred me to a neurologist, but told me it would take 2 weeks or more to get an appointment! However, God is faithful! One of my best friends was telling others at church what the doctor had diagnosed and the referral problem. One of those listening said a friend was a neurologist and she’d call him. Not only did she call him, but the doctor saw me the next day! He confirmed the diagnosis and was impressed that a general practitioner, not a specialist, diagnosed it.
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The Backyard Mission Field

The Backyard Mission Field

The modern day university campus is the market place of ideas and, in many ways, the epicenter of cultural development. Countless trends in the U.S.— philosophically, spiritually, and culturally—begin on college campuses. Some of the most powerful industry leaders in today’s market began making their mark while still in college (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame). Not only that, but today’s college campuses in the U.S. are veritable micro-urban centers full of people from almost every nation on the planet. The cultural and intellectual exchange on our nation’s campuses is astounding. Because of this, the college years, which are some of the most creative, energetic, and formative years in our lives, are now more exciting than ever. Now that spring has arrived, many of our high school seniors are preparing to graduate and are in the process of picking where they will attend university; it is important they take a step back and appreciate the significance and excitement of this choice. But, they can and should also consider how wonderful of an opportunity they have to make a choice that could potentially influence countless other students for Christ no matter where they decide to study.
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Standing Strong Together

Standing Strong Together

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

There is a silent and unknown war going on daily against Christians around the world. For the most part, the mainstream media doesn’t report it except for a few instances. It seems that no one brings light to the atrocities that our brothers and sisters are experiencing on a daily basis apart from Christian organizations such as International Christian Concern, Open Doors, and Voice of the Martyrs. It is said that statistics suggest that a Christian is martyred for their faith every five minutes and that more than 200 million followers are facing persecution in 105 countries. This makes Christianity the most persecuted religion in the world. Christian Freedom International has found that more Christians have been martyred in the 20th and 21st centuries than during the previous 19 combined. Open Doors reports that each month, 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages. According to The Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians).  Also, according to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.
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One Solitary Life

One Solitary Life

One Solitary Life…

 

He was born in an obscure village

The child of a peasant woman

He grew up in another obscure village

Where he worked in a carpenter shop

Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

He never wrote a book

He never held an office

He never went to college

He never visited a big city

He never travelled more than two hundred miles

From the place where he was born

He did none of the things

Usually associated with greatness

He had no credentials but himself
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Friends & Social Media Blues

Friends & Social Media Blues

Here’s a profound truth about social media: it allows people to make their lives look like they are blissfully perfect. Whether it is intentional or not, most of us do this when we only post pictures or status updates that highlight exciting events or happy times with friends. Occasionally, people share prayer requests, which reveal that life isn’t perfect for them, but not everyone is willing to share their serious struggles on social media. All this leaves us scrolling through profile after profile thinking everyone else has a perfect life, and over time we start to feel discontent with our lives and lose a sense of reality. It also makes us want to hide behind the social media curtain and never talk to people about hard times in life, which leads to something I like to call the “social media blues”. In First Student Ministries, we are going through a series about friendships, and we discussed how good friends don’t let others live disconnected lives and get stuck in a spiritual or emotional rut. Although social media is supposed to keep us engaged and “social”, it often times has an adverse effect, and that is why each one of us needs good, real friends to lift us up when we are alone or discouraged. Genuine friendships are the cure for the social media blues.
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March Madness

March Madness

March Madness – the time of year when Americans fall in love with college basketball. Last year the NCAA reported that the NCAA tournament averaged 11.3 million total viewers – an increase of 8% over last year’s viewership and the highest average viewership in 22 years! 1 Many fans love the Cinderella teams that bust brackets and win it all. Other fans enjoy the backstory of a team’s rise to success or glory. As the backstories unfold this year, what will the commentators discuss? Will it be the improprieties of Syracuse, the accusations against Louisville and their self-imposed ban on post-season play, or the North Carolina academic investigation that has yet to produce an NCAA ruling?
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Kids vs. Marriage

Kids vs. Marriage

Should children be parents’ number one priority?

 

It almost sounds heretical to suggest otherwise. Of course, the nurture and guidance of our children is a very important responsibility of any parent. Deuteronomy 6 states that our number one responsibility is to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. Then we are to teach that “diligently” to our children. But this command should not be interpreted to mean that our children are our second highest priority after loving God. What it says is that teaching them to love God should be second only to our own love for the Lord. One of the best ways to teach them this is by having all other relationships in proper priority. When our world revolves around our children we are teaching them that they are our number one priority.
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Welcoming the Stranger

Welcoming the Stranger

“He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.  So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19

 

Recently immigration has become a very popular topic in the news and everywhere else. As I listen to all that is being said of immigration in the mainstream media and talk radio along with various people’s viewpoints, I realize, two things. First, that most Christians in America don’t know what God’s heart is concerning immigrants and the Church’s role in ministry to immigrants. Second, that Christians are allowing their knowledge about immigration to be developed by the media, not Scripture. By their own admission, most Christians do not think about immigration from a biblical perspective. Just 12% of evangelical Christians say that their views on immigration are primarily influenced by the Bible (LifeWay Research, 2015). Why? Perhaps because just 21% of evangelical Christians say they have ever been challenged with a biblical message about reaching out to immigrants by their local church (LifeWay Research, 2015). I want us to dig into the Scriptures and discover God’s heart on immigrants so that we can continue to be effective in demonstrating to the world who God is as well as the Church’s role regarding immigration.

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Believing What We Sing

Believing What We Sing

When I was pastor of a church in Oklahoma I had another minister in town say to me, “what we believe is what we sing.”

I have thought about that statement many times. There is so much of our theology wrapped up in the hymns and songs that we sing. We believe in the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse our sin. That is why we love to sing the hymn, “There’s Power in the Blood.” We believe that God’s grace is amazing, therefore we sing, “Amazing Grace.” I believe that there needs to be a fresh call to examine what we sing. Whenever we come to a worship service we are involved in singing. Is the theology in the song sound? Does the text stand the scrutiny of scripture? Our hymns and songs of praise declare our faith. When we sing we are declaring to God our praise for Him. When we sing we are declaring to a lost world, this is what I believe!
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Movies Are Too Expensive Anyways

Movies Are Too Expensive Anyways

Reasons for Us to Filter What We Watch

With the recent showing of the Academy Awards 88th Oscar telecast, our culture is buzzing with conversations about movies. I am always impressed when I’m with someone who is well informed about cinematic history. I love when they start rattling off facts and information about movies, actors, producers, etc., but usually when this happens I have to check out of the conversation and give myself a pep talk. Behind glazed-over eyes and the occasional nod of agreement I’m actually telling myself something like this, “Scott, it’s ok if you don’t know all this stuff about movies. Everyone has to be good at something. Just think about all the things you do know! But you may actually want to consider watching more movies so you can be relevant and contribute to these topics.” While I am as far away from a movie buff as one can be, I do enjoy watching movies. It is an art to be appreciated and a great way of being entertained, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find wholesome movies that speak a good message while including plenty of humor or action or drama. There is too much debate about this in Christian circles, but the point I want to bring before you today is that Christians, in large part, compromise too much for the sake of entertainment or cultural relevancy when we watch movies that are full of filth.
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