Be All You Can Be

One of the most well-known advertising slogans that I can think of is the slogan that the US Army used for years, from 1980 to 2001, and I feel is one we can apply to our lives as Christians. Slogans are easy ways to get a message across and make sure that others get your message out.

As Christians, I feel that we can embrace this mentality when it comes to walking with Christ and becoming what He calls us to be. I urge you to take a close look at your life and examine if you are being all you can be when it comes to serving the Lord, sharing the Gospel, and making disciples. If not, let me offer a solution so that we are not AWOL (absent, without leave) when it comes to spiritual matters.

In order for us to embrace this mentality we must realize that our lives are not about us. We have to be aware of our responsibility to deny our own desires, take up the cross, and follow Christ. If we fail to do so we will find ourselves struggling to make sense of it all, we will find out that only through complete sacrifice can we fully embrace who we are called to be in Christ.

Becoming all we can be takes acknowledgement that we are not in control of our lives. It takes sacrifice on our part. It takes our realization that we are children of God, created to serve Him with lives of complete surrender, fully devoted to the plan that God lays out for us in His word.

Romans 12:1-3 gives us insight to this type of lifestyle:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:1-3 KJV)

This life is a life full of blessings and rewards, if only we will embrace it in full assurance of the faith, knowing that God’s promises ring true throughout our lives and generations. The truth is that we serve the same God that created Adam and Eve, saved Noah and his family from the flood, and thought enough of His children to give up all the glory and splendor of heaven to become man, walk this earth, and died on a cross for the sins of each one.

If God thought that highly of you, is it too much to ask that we give up everything for Him? The truth is, it is the only way we will ever get to where we can be everything we were created to be. Part of fully embracing our potential is denying our carnal desires, our worldly tendencies, and devoting our lives to the One that gave us life and desires to live in us.

Examine your heart today and make sure that not only are you making room for God, but that you are allowing Him to work through the Holy Spirit to make you all you can be. Becoming all you can be begins with letting go of all you think you are and taking hold of all God has intended for you. Take hold of His promise today!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord , thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

What Makes a Father?

I know that many reading this either knew my dad, Jim Greene, or knew of him.  One of the most amazing and unique things that I can remember about my dad was how well he was known just simply by his voice.  We could not go anywhere it seemed where he didn’t know someone or wasn’t recognized, mostly by his voice.

We could go into a restaurant and someone would hear him talk and come over and introduce themselves.  It is with this in mind that I want to thank everyone for being a part of his life.  He loved Avery County and the residents of the County.  This was his home.  I knew what Avery County meant to dad, and when he went on to his Heavenly home, we found out what Jim Greene meant to Avery County.

One of the most important things that my dad taught me during his time here is that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is key to a happy life.  This is a lesson that I feel needs to be shared, because a good father will make sure that his children know who Jesus is and what He did on that cross for their sins.

I would encourage each of you out there who are fathers to take heart and make a vow to raise your children in a good, Christian home, showing them right from wrong, showing them what a good prayer life looks like, and live what you claim to live.

One of the major factors in my dad’s example to me comes in seeing that not only did he preach the Word on Sunday mornings as the Pastor at Minneapolis Christian Church, he lived the life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  My dad knew that worship was a lifestyle, and he made sure that we knew it as well.  My dad lived the example at home, behind closed doors, away from the public eye, just as much as he professed it each day on Glory1130.

The greatest legacy that he left with me is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, something I hope to pass on as I grow older.  I will make it a point to pass it along to my children when I have them, if the Lord wills.  I want to continue the legacy of showing Christ to others, just as my dad did.

I would encourage each of you who are fathers to do the same.  Do not let another day go by without coming to know Christ for yourself, and then, pass it along to your children so that they can know the saving grace of God that came through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The best thing that a father can do is give his life to his Heavenly Father, and raise his kids in a home that glorifies God daily.

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

What Would You Do

I think one of the funniest commercials I have seen has to be the older Klondike ice cream commercials that asks the question of: “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

But that has gotten me thinking this week about that question…only in a different light.

I have started thinking about the question of, “What would you do for Jesus?”

I think that is a question that many of us need to ask ourselves when it comes to our walk as Christians. Too many times we seem to want to ask the question of what would Jesus do for me? That question has already been answered by looking at Scripture and realizing that Jesus died for your sins as he did all who will trust and believe.

Get involved in the church and seize each chance you get to share the Gospel with someone so that they can come to know the hope that you have that can only come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and getting to know who it is that saved you from the sinful nature that can dominate your life.

Today we have to make sure that we are not to eager to be what this world wants us to be. We have to be on our guard for the ways of the world and allow the Lord to do his work in us.

Open the Word and let the Lord tell you what He wants for you today. He is always speaking to us through His Word but it is up to us to make sure that we are looking for it. Pray today that God will reveal something to you each time you read and put your full trust in Him.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:3-5 ESV)

Letter to the Graduates: Remember Your Chains

As we approach that time of year again, a song that I remember hearing growing up continues to echo in my mind.  The song is “Remember Your Chains” by Steven Curtis Chapman.  This song has absolutely nothing to do with graduation, but as it has played over and over in my head I realize that it can be applied to each of our lives as we look to turn the pages to a new chapter in our lives.

The song deals with remembering the prison of sin prior to our salvation.  Remembering the chains of bondage that held you down and kept you from moving forward, but also remembering that those chains are now gone…you have freedom. The hook of the song says:

“Remember your chains, remember the prison that once held you before the love of God broke through; remember the place you were without grace, when you see where you are now, remember your chains and remember your chains are gone.”

What a great message for us today no matter what we pursue in our lives…remember where you came from and remember that you are no longer that person.  You are no longer held by the chains of your past…you have freedom.  The message goes even deeper in the second verse of the song with the lyrics:

“There’s no one more thankful to sit at the table than the one who best remembers hunger’s pain; and no heart loves greater than the one that is able to recall the time when all it knew was shame. The wings of forgiveness can take us to heights never seen, but the wisest ones, they will never lose sight of where they were set free…love set them free”

This message is the one I want to convey to the graduates, but also to us all as we pursue a life of happiness and contentment…No one is more thankful than one who works to achieve a goal.  Letting go of our past and moving forward in forgiveness for others, but also for ourselves…God forgives, and our past is our past…mistakes we may have made only make us more thankful for the future and the things we now have.  Life may not always go our way, but little experiences will always help us to see the beauty of the moment we are in.

Today, as you look to the future, remember the past.  Remember where you were set free…remember the work that you had to put in to accomplish this moment…the long hours, the long roads, the lessons learned and the love…the love of others, your family and friends.  I urge you today, do not lose sight of all the work that got you to where you are today…and go with God…

Allow God to work in your life today, submit to his ways and allow Him to lead your steps. Seek him for clarity in the path that you feel led to take, and at the end of the day…Remember your chains and remember that your chains are gone.  Nothing is holding you back from becoming who God wants you to be, the chains are broken and the world is awaiting.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your steps.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Wanted: A Few Good Men (and Women)

I think back to the early 1900s and what is likely the most famous poster to ever be printed in the United States.  The poster depicts “Uncle Sam” stating, “I want You for the U.S. Army”.

Uncle Sam became somewhat of shorthand for the United States in the early 1800s when someone coined the phrase while loading barrels of food that were stamped with “U.S.”  The joke was that it stood for Uncle Sam, and it became a nickname for the Nation’s Government.

In 1917 when the country was getting ready to enter World War I, James Montgomery Flagg depicted ‘Uncle Sam’ as an older, serious looking gentleman, wearing clothing that resembles the American Flag.  Flagg was well known as a propaganda artist, with the Uncle Sam poster being his most famous work.

From 1917-1918 more than four million posters were printed for use to try and entice men into military service.  But the focal point for me comes in the statement, “I want you for the US Army”.

Truth is, the government needed help with the military; and I envision the Church of today being in the same boat as the Government was in the early 1900s; in need of a few good men and women to serve.

God can use each of us to bring others to Him.  That means you and I have a purpose to go out and serve, much like the men and women in the military.  The Armed Services are in place to help protect our country and provide well-being.  The Church is in place to do the same when it comes to the spiritual well-being of those around us, this is where God, “Wants you for His Army!”

Are you willing to give yourself for service?  Are you open to reporting for duty?

It may take some sacrifice on your part, but the sacrifice that was made for you on the Cross of Calvary is more than worth the time that we are asked to put in to furthering the Kingdom of God.

God is speaking to each of us today, asking us to join His army and fight the battle against evil and sin.  He is asking each of us not only to join the Army, but to be recruiters as well.  We are the poster for the Kingdom of God; we are the bearers of the message; and the message: “I Want You for God’s Army!”

Be the example, live the example, and bring others to know the love the God has for them.  Today is your day to shine!  Start recruiting today!

Why Do You Doubt?

John 20:24-29

Thomas was one of the Twelve, Thomas was there for the ministry of Jesus, and Thomas was full of doubt after the news was received following Jesus’ Resurrection; but Thomas is not much different than you and I.

It is something that is within us, something that we can’t really explain.  It is something that we must overcome to fulfill our life as a Christian.  That something is doubt – not being able to believe in something unless it is there physically.  Many times we are like Thomas in that we feel we have to be able to touch something to know it’s there.

I mean, the only reason that we believe in the wind is because we can see the effects of the wind, and we can feel it brush across our skin on a breezy day; but if we couldn’t feel it, would we still believe?

Jesus came to the earth to abolish the slavery that we face each day when we become a party to sin.  Each day we are faced with numerous decisions to make – most of which we make sub-consciously – and most of which deal with the subject of right and wrong.  But our sins were washed clean, and for that we have no one to thank but the Father of Lights, for sending His son to live a perfect life and to die in our place.

But Jesus’ death would mean nothing without the resurrection, because without that victory over sin and death, we would have nothing to grasp ahold of…nothing to save us.  Enter Thomas; the doubter, the one who stated to the others, “unless I can touch his wounds and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  Thomas had to touch and see for himself the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.  He had a need to see for himself before he would believe – he couldn’t take someones word that Jesus had risen.

We all are like that in some way…many of us feel that we have to see something for ourselves before we believe…we can’t just take someone’s word for it, that would be too easy.  Think about it; you hear news of someone’s death – the first thing you do is look in the obituaries to see if it is true…or make a phone call to ask someone else for confirmation; you can’t just take someones word for it.  Maybe it isn’t a death, maybe its a storm – you know, when someone says it’s raining, you look out the window to see and make sure; and I’m sure there are many other things that you face in life that are this way.

Jesus knew that Thomas needed to see.  Jesus knew that Thomas needed to touch.  Jesus knew that Thomas needed to believe.  Thomas was going to be instrumental in the Apostles’ ministry to the rest of the world.  Thomas needed to be a messenger for the King of Kings – so Thomas needed to believe.

Jesus had appeared to the Twelve without Thomas present, but we see that their word was not what Thomas wanted to see…Thomas had to experience it himself.  So, Jesus appeared again…this time knowing Thomas would be there.  Jesus entered and looked at Thomas and told him to touch the wounds; Jesus told Thomas to place his hand in His side.  We then see something that was crucial to the continuing of the ministry of the Twelve.  Thomas replied, “My Lord and My God!”  Thomas finally got it, he finally believed.  But that is not the end…

Jesus responds to Thomas by asking him, “Do you believe because you have seen?”  That is a question that we should hear every time we see a miracle occur in the life of someone…a life that is riddled with illness, or maybe the recovery of someone from cancer…whatever the circumstance, the question is the same, “Do you believe because you have seen?”

But Jesus didn’t stop with the question…because Thomas needed to hear one more thing.  The ministry of Thomas, as well as the others, was dependant upon one thing … Faith.  The faith of those who would hear the message of what Christ had done for the world.  It was a message that was upon the shoulders of the Apostles to share to a sinful world, a message that was to change the world – one life at a time.  That statement was this, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Blessed are those…the ones who would hear the message of the Twelve.  You and I are a part of that group.  How do I know that we are a part of that group?  John 17 – Jesus prayed in the garden for the ones who would be touched by His message brought to them from the ones who had been with him.  Jesus asked that the Apostles be blessed, and then he asked for a blessing upon those who would hear their message.  Jesus had to say this so that Thomas would understand.  Thomas needed to understand that he was now to help carry that message to the ends of the earth; but not only Thomas, the rest of those who were called Apostles.  Jesus told Thomas in front of the others, not to embarrass Thomas, but to help them understand as well.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – The key is this…Jesus is saying to them, tell people of the blessing that knowing and following me can bring.  Tell them how I saved their lives.  Tell them about my Father.  Tell them about ME.  The words of Jesus were a command to the Twelve; tell the world of the love of Christ.

If Jesus had stopped at the question, Thomas never would have known the answer.  It wasn’t a yes/no question when Jesus asked Thomas, “Do you believe because you have seen?”  The answer to that had already been made when Thomas responded with, “My Lord and My God!”  Jesus was telling Thomas it was his turn to tell someone else…show them my love in your life, show them I exist…you have touched me – now, go touch someone else.

The question today is this, “Why do you doubt?”  Jesus has already given the command – touch me, know me, love me, share me.  Share me to a dying world, share me to the ends of the earth, share me with those that need me.  Jesus is speaking through everything that we’ve ever faced in life – and he is saying, “Believe!”

“Blessed are those you have not seen and yet have believed.”  Believe.

Stand or Fall

I have done a lot of thinking lately about the old cliché, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

It came to mind the other night while thinking about the situation that we are in with HB2 and other laws, but also with a number of issues that we face today as Christians.  I want to take some creative liberties, however, with this statement and redirect our attention to these words: “You’ve got to stand for Christ, or you’ll fall for anything.”

The problem with our world today is that a number of Christians tend to approach controversy in such a way to not offend other groups or individuals.  We tend to play it safe when it comes down to the things in which our ‘religion’ comes into question.  Here is where I want to encourage you to truly seek God’s instruction and wisdom on how you should approach certain circumstances that may arise.

We must stand on the Word of God, taking to heart each word and applying it to our lives.  If we take the Scripture at it’s worth we will see things in a different light.  We will not seek approval from the world, and we will not fall for the lies that the world will try to tell us.  This may mean that we are turned away by some groups or individuals based on our beliefs, but I would warn you to avoid changing your stance for acceptance.

Romans 14:22 says, “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”  This says to me that we can be held accountable for the things that we show approval for.  Taking a stand for what the Scripture says is the best way to avoid this in our lives.  The Bible is the Word of God.  If we are not completely immersing ourselves in the Word and becoming familiar with God’s intentions for our lives, we can easily find ourselves approving of things that we should not be.

Do not let the world talk you into approvals that aren’t God’s will…

I’m not telling you how to believe, I’m encouraging you to open the Word and see for yourself….

I feel that if we want to make a difference in the world today, we must be aware of the lies that are out there.  We must fully envelop ourselves with the Word of God, fully preparing ourselves for the battle that is ahead.  Today is a day that we can see freedom, but we must accept grace.  Today we must embrace our faith and tell others where we stand.  Today, we must stand for God, accepting His grace that saves us from our sins.

Please, look deep within your heart today…trust God, love God, seek God.  Read and apply the Word!