Archives For Christian Living

biscuit

Here I sit with a sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee. It’s about 8am and I’m at one of many fast food joints that offer breakfast. I’ve eaten here for breakfast many times. As a matter of fact I’ve had sausage biscuits at many of the locations of this national brand fast food eatery. I guess it’s safe to say that over the last thirty years or so I’ve eaten hundreds of sausage biscuits at their many locations.

After a few sips of delicious black coffee I unwrapped my biscuit. Something about it didn’t look right. As I said, I’ve eyed and eaten hundreds of these things, but I regress. I take a bite. It doesn’t taste right. The texture is so wrong. Is there something wrong with me? I took another bite and in the style of Andrew Zimmern I began to analyze it (quietly of course). It’s dry but doughy with a bit of a stale flavor. I’ve been known to dip my sausage biscuit into coffee for a little extra flavor so I dipped. There was no change. What is wrong with me, with this biscuit?

After a few moments I decided that I must have gotten a bad biscuit and that I would just get another one. I stepped up to the counter facing the same lady who took my original order. “One sausage biscuit”, I said. She looked at me kind of strange and then I asked her. “Have you guys had any complaints about the biscuits”? She being a good employee passed the buck and called the manager on duty over and said to him, “he wants to know if we’ve had any complaints about the biscuits”. His face turned a little red and he said to me, “it’s the wrong dough. We ran out of our regular dough and we’re using this stuff until the truck comes.” He seemed a little embarrassed like a child who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He offered to give me something else but I declined. I was glad to find out it was the wrong dough. I was glad to know that my analysis had been correct and that in fact the biscuits were FAKE.

Like many things in life I left that restaurant with a thought. No matter what we’re doing in life, trying to be nice, living a Christian life or cooking biscuits, being fake doesn’t get it done. Here’s what I think. If the dough is wrong tell the customers up front don’t’ try to fake it. If you’re a Christian but struggling don’t be a fake, be real.

Most people can see right through fake. On the other hand, most people will respect you when you’re real, when they know you’re a Christ follower with real struggles.

Just a thought.

I’d love for you to have a copy of my book, The Eye of A Needle. You can find it in paperback and Kindle format here.

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My dad once said with a big smile, “I want to show you my butter bean vines,”  so we walked to his garden. This particular year, he had planted running bean vines that grew on a wire fence he had constructed. This way he could pick his butter beans standing up. I wish he would have thought about standing up vines when I was living at home. We picked butter beans that grew on plants very low to the ground. It was hard work. Anyway…..

“Have you ever seen more beautiful bean vines?” he asked me. My answer was a definite, “No.” We stood there and looked at the greenest, thickest, healthiest looking butter bean vines I had ever seen.  Sensing his pride, I bragged and told him that I was so impressed, that never in my life had I ever seen such beautiful butter bean vines.  Then he asked, “Do you see anything wrong with these vines?” “No sir!” I said.  He said, “Look closer.” I was puzzled and not sure what I was supposed to be seeing, so I asked, “Is there something wrong with these vines?” He wouldn’t tell me at first; he wanted me to see, but eventually he said, “These are the most beautiful butter bean vines I have ever grown, but look, there are no beans.  There aren’t even any blooms.  I’ve grown the most beautiful butter bean vines I’ve ever grown, and they are useless because there are no beans, no fruit.  I’ll just have to wait for them to die and then burn them”.

My dad passed away this past March. Just a few days ago I was cutting grass for my mother, I rode past that spot and remembered that conversation with my Dad. I also remembered the words of Jesus in John 15, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;”

My dad’s butter bean vine reminded me that looks don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter how beautiful we seem to be, how good, how Holy.

The answer: spend less time worrying about how you look on the outside and pleasing men and more time developing the inside and your relationship with God so that you will produce fruit and please Him.

 

Get a copy of my book, The Eye of a Needle here.

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Last week a federal judge ruled that the State of Alabama’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional.  A constitutional ban that was approved in 2006 by 81% of Alabama voters.  As an American I’m extremely troubled that activist judges are ignoring the will of an overwhelming majority of Americans. However, that’s another subject for another day.

I will approach this article primarily by responding to things I have heard from those who support homosexual rights.

1.  If you don’t support gay rights you’re a hate monger.  I agree that there are people in our country who hate gay people but those people do not represent all of us. I also acknowledge that there are people who call themselves Christian who are full of hate. They are not Christians.   I believe that same sex relationships are a sin but I DO NOT HATE HOMOSEXUALS.  I’m sure that some will read this post and respond to me with anger and even hatred but I refuse to hate you back.  I do not hate you and God does not hate you. God hates sin but not the sinner.

2.  I was born this way.  Ok!  I don’t have a problem with that statement and I may be one of the few conservative Christians that you will hear say it.  Here’s why I don’t have a huge problem with the statement.  The Bible (my authority) says in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  I was born a sinner too. Let me give you an example. When I was three years old I lied to my mother. I was a three year old liar. No one taught me to be a liar, it came naturally. I was born that way.  God’s word teaches us explicitly that we should not lie.  When I became a follower of Christ, part of my growth as a believer was to overcome my “tendency” to lie.  So maybe you’re not a liar but you do have a “desire” to have a gay relationship.  If you are a follower of Christ you should be seeking the healing and deliverance of God to change you’re desires and overcome them.  I stopped lying years ago.

I have a few questions:

  • If a man is born with a desire to kill should he have the constitutional right to do so because he says that he was born that way?
  • If someone wants to have sex with children and their argument is “I was born a pedophile” does that make its ok?
  • If a man gets married but then discovers he likes having sex with multiple people should the constitution protect him from his spouses desire for a divorce?

3. People who use the Bible to support their belief’s are “Bible Thumpers.”  Ok again.  I believe the Bible.  I have been a  student of the Bible  for almost forty years.  Reading the Bible and accepting it by faith is part of my faith. However as I am referring to it I’m not angry nor am I foaming at the mouth.  In addition to accepting the Bible by faith I also see the Bible being fulfilled throughout history and even today.  It’s real and it is the inspired Word of God.  As a Christian I have to believe that. If I don’t believe it, then my Faith in Christ comes into question. The Bible is my final authority on all matters.  If you don’t believe the Bible, Ok but don’t hate me because I do and I want society to reflect it.

4.  God doesn’t care about homosexuality.  You have to ignore the Bible to make that statement. Scriptures are replete with passages that show God’s disdain for homosexuality.

Leviticus 18:22New International Version (NIV)  “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13 New International Version (NIV)  “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. Note: Because I understand scripture and understand that Leviticus is the law, I’m not suggesting that God wants us to put homosexuals to death. All I’m doing in sharing this verse is to show you that indeed, God does care.

New International Version (NIV)   1 Timothy 1:   8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Look at this passage of scripture from Romans 1

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

I’ve given you just a sampling of scripture. There are many more. My only motive is not to “Thump” the Bible but to show you that God does care and that God does not approve of homosexuality.

If you have made your mind up about this matter I may not change it. But if your trying to decide what you believe then take my argument to heart and mind.  If you call yourself a Christian but support the gay rights issue I’d love to have you hear my heart.

If you feel trapped by a desire to be a homosexuality, there is deliverance.

As I close I’d like to reiterate that I don’t hate you if you disagree. I love people,  even those who do not agree with me. I love you!

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Note from me: I usually write when something is burring in my heart or heavy on my mind. I write and  type fast and I make mistakes. I don’t take the time to have my entries proof read because of the urgency in my heart at the moment and, spelling and grammar are not some of my strong points. So please excuse the spelling errors that get by Word and for my grammar and  mistakes.

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Every year during the month of January many in Christian churches spend time fasting as a first fruits offering, a way to give God the first of the new years. The church where I serve has done this for many years. I thought I would share with you two, only two important points about fasting, points that will help you.

One: It’s not supposed to be hard. Our bodies need food and when we don’t give it to them they rebel with hunger pangs, dizziness and other negative side effects. In addition to the need to have food for health and survival we Americans are accustomed to eating, eating a lot and eating a variety. Our social lives surround food. We sit at the lunch table talking about what we will eat for supper. It’s harder in our culture because food plays a bigger roll here than in many places.

Two: It’s not for your glory. If you’re drawing attention to the fact that you are fasting then you have your reward. Your reward being that other people know you’re fasting and possibly admire you or feel sorry for you. J

esus is recorded in the book of Matthew chapter six saying, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

We fast for the Glory of God. Read Isaiah chapter fifty-eight and see the results of fasting. Here is the list.

  • To loose the chains of injustice.
  • To untie the chords of the yoke.
  • To set the oppressed free.
  • To break every yoke.
  • To give food to the hungry
  • To clothe the naked.
  • Your light will break forth.
  • Your healing will appear.
  • You will call and the Lord will answer.

Wow. That’s pretty impressive but there is no way a man can get or take glory for those results. The glory goes to God. If your fasting for attention or for your glory, STOP and go get something to eat. You’re wasting your time. That’s it! I believe in fasting and I believe that it brings great results in our lives. Blessings on you.

Below are links to good books on fasting.

For Sermon Audio on Fasting Click This Link.

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Yes, it really happened. Years ago at one of our previous churches a little older lady who was not a shut-in called our home. Felicia took the call and had a look of shock on her face as she held the receiver to her ear. Then came her response to the call, “no mam, I don’t think he will do that. I’m so sorry.”  As I wait for the call to end curiosity is getting the best of me. Felicia put’s the phone down and said to me. “You are not going to believe this. That was (name not important) and she wanted to know if pastor Jeff would go to the store and buy her some panties.” It’s funny now but at the time I didn’t take it with such humor. Why? because folks will find any reason to become critical and put their pastors in difficult lose-lose situations. In twenty-nine years of pastoral ministry it never ceases to amaze me what good folks expect from their pastor.

  • They expect him to know without being told.
  • They expect him to always be there even if He doesn’t know that there is a there where he needs to be because he hasn’t been notified or he needs to be somewhere else.
  • And they expect him to do the outrageous, like errands for panties.

Here are a few tips on some things you can do or not do to be a blessing to your pastor.

  • Don’t expect the outrageous.  Your pastor is not your errand boy, your delivery boy and certainly to the fetcher of panties.  Now honestly I have found pleasure through the years serving folks who needed me. I have purchase the occasional gallon of milk because I asked if they needed anything or was just trying to minister to someone who I knew (because they told me) was going through a difficult time.
  • Don’t expect your pastor to know without being told. It always gets me when I ask someone how they are and their response is,” better.”  Why? Because most of the time I’m wondering, better that what? They have been sick and expect their pastor to know it. They didn’t call their pastor they just expect that some little bird told him.  ‘t your sick let your pastor or someone in the church office know. If you want a visit for prayer say it. Something like this, “I’m sick and would like pastor to come by and have prayer with me.” Or “I’m sick, I don’t want anyone to come to my home or the hospital room but would love for my church family to be praying for me.” It’s really that easy. Communicate with your pastor. Let him know what the boundaries are. Some people don’t like having the pastor or anyone else come into their home or hospital room.  Tell him that! Most of the time pastors are left guessing.
  • Be understanding if your pastor can’t come right now.  Many times I’ve had (even in small churches) multiple situations at one time and must choose where to be based on what limited knowledge I have.
  • If you are missing church services, please, please, please take the responsibility to let your pastor know where you are and why your not attending church. Please don’t expect him to be pastorPI. A simple call, a voicemail, a text even a Facebook message to let your pastor know. That way he can take the appropriate action or non-action.

It all comes down to communication. Our world has never been more connected. Social media, land lines, cell phones, text messaging, email, etc.  Your church may have one pastor or you may attend a church that has multiple staff members.  Regardless of the size of your church communicate with your pastor or pastoral staff. It will be very much appreciated.

It all come from the memory of the lady who wanted me to buy her panties. Blessings!

Follow this link to purchase a .99 cent kindle version of my book, The Eye of A Needle.”

Please comment, share and subscribe. It will be a blessing to me.

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Photo by Jeff Scurlock – Our Youth Leadership Team.

John Buchan said ‘The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”

At the church where I serve as lead pastor we are going through a staff transition. Two staff members, Chris and Alicia (husband and wife) who have served with us for over six years in extremely capable fashion are moving on. They have accepted the position of lead pastor in another church.  When I knew for sure that they were leaving I began struggling with what would be the best move. What should I do? Should I immediately hire new full time staff to replace them? Honestly it is a stressful process.

Felicia and I had many conversations and agree that we believe that there is enough talent already present within our congregation that hiring new staff is not necessary yet.

The key to leadership is giving those you lead a chance to shine. To discover talents and abilities that you might not have been previously  aware of and then utilizing those talents.  I love the quote from John Buchan that I began with so I’ll share it again. “The task of leadership is not to PUT GREATNESS INTO PEOPLE, BUT TO ELICIT IT,…”

The danger for leaders is trying to put everything on yourself. I struggle with the it’s easier to do it myself than to take the time to teach someone else syndrome and that’s not good.  Leaders must invest time and energy into discovering and teaching. Today is my new administrative assistants first day on the job. She’s being trained to do some bookkeeping by Chris, one of our outgoing staff members because he also did our books. It’s stressful for me but guess what,  I know that as we elicit greatness from her and as she learns and grows that she will shine. Now that’s good.

Our student pastor (Chris) is leaving but we have a young adult leadership team of ten individuals who will work with our new, younger, inexperienced student pastor.  They will all grow together and greatness will come from them.  Our praise and worship leader (Alicia) is leaving but we have rallied the troops and now I’m confident that as we elicit greatness from them that they will shine. They already have.

Are you a leader? I hope this helps. What do you think?

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Note: As the readership of this site increases  I like to perodically repost articles that received a lot of attention. This is one of them. The subject of Christians and alcohol use is a hot button, especially in my part of the country. 

I’ve given a lot of thought recently about the subject of Christians and alcohol. And I want to share with you my personal conclusions. This is in no way an exhaustive paper on alcohol. It’s a brief description of how I feel.

First of all you need to know my culture and my heritage. My Spiritual heritage is this. I am a third generation Pentecostal Christian. I understand chances are that many who read or hear the title Pentecostal immediately envision snake handlers, miracle spring water and someone rolling on the floor in church.  That does not describe my heritage. As a matter of fact it grieves me that most crazy, weird, money grubbing false teachers identify themselves with Pentecostal circles.

I did grow up in an environment where Christianity and alcohol did not mix. My culture is the Bible belt. I grew up and continue to live and pastor in south Alabama, which many refer to as the buckle of the Bible belt.  In my culture growing up Alcohol was considered evil, a tool of the devil.  I was taught that if you drank that you were living in sin and losing out with God.

In my years as a pastor I have grown in my relationship with God and have a much greater understanding of the grace of God that I had growing up.

Where in my past the subject of alcohol was a subject of heaven or hell I now understand grace and know that this subject is not a heaven or hell discussion.

I recently preached a message in my church on this subject and the line of thought in this blog follows closely what I said in that message.

I am not a holier than thou preacher and this message is not meant to be judgmental or condemning.  It is not my desire to run people who drink away from my church. Our church is for everyone. None of us are perfect and all of us are still trying to grow.

The question might be posed, if your going to deal with a subject why not one that the Bible is clear on like gluttony, gossip, backbiting and sexual sins, all of which the Bible clearly deals with?  Those are all subjects that preachers need to address but this blog is on the subject of alcohol.  Note: IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A CHURCH FULL OF GOSSIPERS OR A CHURCH FULL OF DRINKERS I’D TAKET THE DRINKERS EVERY TIME.

After giving this subject much thought, reading, praying, etc., it is my personal opinion that alcohol has become an extremely negative force in our society.  In my experience as a pastor every time I’ve been told of the sexual molestation of a child, alcohol was involved. I’ve counseled with females through the years who have become pregnant outside of the bonds of marriage and most of the time they blame alcohol.   Alcohol in itself is not evil. What people do under the influence of alcohol most of the time is.

According to a government web site (nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov) over 100,000 deaths a year can be blamed on alcohol. How?

  • 5% of all deaths from diseases of the circulatory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 15% of all deaths from diseases of the respiratory system are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all deaths from accidents caused by fire and flames are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all accidental drowning’s are attributed to alcohol.
  • 30% of all suicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • 40% of all deaths due to accidental falls are attributed to alcohol.
  • 45% of all deaths in automobile accidents are attributed to alcohol.
  • 60% of all homicides are attributed to alcohol.
  • About 5,000 teens die every year due to teen alcohol use.

When it comes to alcohol use the readers of this blog have a variety of experiences as to the use of alcohol.

  • Some of you have never tasted an alcoholic drink in your life.
  • Some were taught to not drink alcohol. You did. You went through what you would call a rebellious stage, did your drinking for a season of life and then stopped.
  • Some of you were raised in homes where alcohol was abused and it caused you to either become an alcohol user yourself or to run from it and call it evil.
  • Some of you were raised in homes where moderate drinking was part of life.

I understand that for some this is a cultural issue. I also understand that in some cultures of the world that alcohol is as much a part of life that in my world drinking a glass of iced tea is.

For me the subject of alcohol is not one of sin, heaven or hell. It is a subject of what my lifestyle says about my relationship to God.  What does that person who may be on the fence with God think if they saw me drinking or heard me say that I do drink? In my culture even those who do not claim to be Christians frown on Christians who drink. Does that mean that I have to let non-believers dictate how I live my life? No!  However I should be concerned how my lifestyle affects those who are new in faith or those who are considering making faith in Christ their life.

If you, as a believer drink alcohol I am in no way saying that you are a sinner, calling you a hypocrite or trying to judge you. Your decision to have alcohol in your life is between you and God.  As a pastor I have told my congregation that I wished they wouldn’t drink alcohol. I have also told my leaders that I expect a higher standard and that leaders at our church were not to be drinkers. If they have been drinking they are to stop with no questions asked.

Why do Christians want to drink anyway? Is it the taste? Is it an attempt to be socially accepted? Maybe it’s because they are an alcoholic and don’t even know it. Maybe it’s because they like getting even a small buzz. It could be the need to feel just a little bit naughty. I don’t know.

Question: WAS THE WINE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE FERMENTED OR JUST GRAPE JUICE?  After much research I believe that the wine in the Bible was in fact fermented wine.  When Jesus turned the water into wine, it was wine.  I have learned that it is believed by many scholars that in Jesus’ day that wine was diluted with water but I’m not going to try to make that my case.

Wine was wine. Yes it was fermented. Why then do I have a problem with Christians and wine? It is absolutely because alcohol plays a completely different role in our culture than it did in Bible times and like music I believe that satan has taken something innocent and perverted it for his uses.

Question: ARE THERE ANY SCRIPTURES THAT SPECIFICALLY METION ALCOHOL THAT LEAD US TO BELIEVE THAT DRINKING ALCOHOL IS A SIN?

NO! For those of you who were raised like me I hate to tell you this but I cannot find one scripture that specifically says that drinking alcohol is a sin.  The Bible does mention being drunk. There are several scriptures that tell us not to be drunk.

Question: Jeff, in light of your answers to the previous two questions do you believe that Christians should abstain from the use of alcohol?

YES!  WHY? Culture and the possibility that one drink could lead to destruction and your Christian witness.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.

Every person who gets drunk starts with one drink.

  • Every person who becomes an alcoholic begins with one drink.
  • Every person who killed other people in an auto accident because they were drunk began with one drink.
  • Conservative estimates of sexual assault (molestion to rape) prevalence suggest that at least 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors.
  • According to the National institute of health the consumption of 1 Liter of alcohol per year raises the chances of divorce by 20%.

In closing I want to share with you 1 Corinthians 8 from the Message. As you read it I ask that you read it in light of today’s culture and with alcohol in mind.

1-3The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.

4-6Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.

7In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive.

We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating “idol meat,” and are sure that there’s something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn’t going to change overnight.

8-9But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.

10For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.

11-13Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.

I’m interested to know what your feedback is. Good or bad! Love yall, Jeff!

 

Get your .99 cent Kindle version of my book, The Eye of A Needle here.

 

 

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At the church where I serve as lead pastor we are in our annual stewardship emphasis time.  For the fourth year in a row we’re watching the video series The Blessed Life by pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Southlake Texas. It’s an awesome series and now in our fourth year as become part of our church.

This past week I heard Robert say something that had not previously jumped out at me when talking about putting God first. He said and this is most likely not an exact quote, “God is perfect and cannot accept second best.” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks.

In this post I’m not going to debate the correctness of the statement. The point I want to make is wrapped in a question.  Why wouldn’t we want to give God our best? He gave us His best.

The subject in the videos is tithing. I believe in tithing and that any Christian who has been taught tithing and still refuses to do so is rebelling against the Word of God. I know it’s a strong statement but I believe it.  The Bible says that if we don’t tithe that we’re robbing God.  As Morris points out tithing pre-dates the law and is also found in New Testament scripture. As far as I’m concerned there is no room for any debate so I’m not interested in debating it with you.  When you put God first you do so with your finances too.

The statement, “God can’t accept second best” also hit me in other areas.  I had to ask myself a lot of questions and continue to do so. Why? Because I want God to have my best in every area of life. I’ve begun to ask questions such as.

  • Do I give God my best in my daily behavior?
  • Do I give God my best in how I keep my home?
  • Do I give God my best in how I participate in a worship time at church?
  • Do I give God my best in my church attendance?
  • Do I give God my best when I prepare to teach a class or preach a sermon?
  • Do I give God my best in how I relate to my wife?
  • Do I give God my best in how I raise my children?
  • Do I give God my best in how I treat other people?
  • Do I give God my best in how I dress?
  • Do I give God my best in the tidiness of my vehicle?
  • Do I give God my best…………..

Do you get the point. I just typed the question in no particular order as they came to me and could have kept going.  Do I as a mature believer, follower of Christ seek every day to give Him my best?  I should.

I will fail at times but God is a God of grace.  I should accept His grace, not beat myself up and continue to do all in my power to give Him my best.

This is not a message of works. It has nothing to do with salvation.  You can’t be good enough to be saved. This is a message of a Christian realizing that God deserves our best because He gave us salvation.

Are you giving God your best? If not will you?  Let’s all try together.

Follow this link to my book, The Eye of A Needle.

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Photo by Jeff Scurlock

I’ve never been able to quite grasp the hardness of life. You know, life is hard and on a purely human level I do not  understand it. I’m sure a lot of it is because I’m a spoiled westerner.

Some days I blame poor emotions and struggles on the weather. It doesn’t help when the sun is hidden behind cold gray clouds that hover over cold, drizzly dampness.  But what about the days when the sun is shinning, the air is crisp and there may even be the sound of singing birds? What’s up with that? Why can’t those days always be upbeat and happy?

The human emotions are a puzzle. I’m no doctor and have no scientific knowledge of the interworking of the human brain.  I’ve heard words like hormones, depression, happy, sad, joy, joyless, etc., etc.,.

I love those days when everything seems right, those days when the body feels strong, energetic, rested and ready.  I love it when I feel the emotion of happiness and peacefulness.

As a follower of Christ I find myself hanging onto His Words.  Things like “in this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  For me that means that everything that wages war against my emotions and my physical well being has already be taken care of.  Yes I have to deal with the heat of the battle. Jesus said that I would have tribulation.  I have to deal with the swinging of my emotions but I also hang on to those words, “I have overcome the world.”

As a child of God I’m an overcomer. It matters not what my emotions say. I’m an overcomer. My responsibility is to remind myself of that. To wage a war of positive faith on those things that try to drag me down.

Proverbs says that “the power of life and death is in the tongue and that they that love it will eat it’s fruit.”  What does that mean? It means that I’ve got to push through the negative emotions and crazy hormones to speak faith into my life.  When my emotions say gloom and despair my mouth needs to say joy and hope. When my emotions say defeat my mouth needs to say victory.  When my emotions say death my mouth needs to say life.  Don’t forget that as a believer that when you speak positive things in life it’s not some new age, mind over matter babble.  It’s the mouth of a believer speaking what their God says. Putting faith in Him not our words.

If your struggling today with depression, hormones out of whack, down in the dumps, discouragement etc..  Hang in there.  If you need the help of a physician, get it.  Have a relationship with Jesus, read His Word, speak His Word.  Remember, as a believer, your already an overcomer. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself of that.

 

My book, Eye of A Needle would be a help for you during difficult times. It’s only .99 in the Kindle store.

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In 2012 I wrote a book, The Eye of A Needle.  It was fun, hard, challenging, relaxing and more. The day came that the book was finished and uploaded to my self-publishing provider. I remember when the first hard copy arrived in the mail for me to proof. It was a dream come true.

This morning I opened my book in the Kindle app on my iPad and read the introduction. It encouraged me. I needed it. I thought that I would share these words from the introduction with you on this site.  It’s not an attempt to “bait” you into buying a book. As a matter of fact I have lowered the Kindle Version price to .99 cents.  You can also buy the paperback version from amazon.com. There is a link at the bottom of this post to amazon.   However I will make you this offer. If you want a paperback copy of my book I will give it to you.  Free! No cost. No Shipping and Handling.  I will pay for the book and the shipping to get it to you. All you have to do is request it in writing via snail mail.  Send it to me at 108 Florida Street, Brewton, AL 36426.  The reason I’m requiring you to ask by mail is that I want you to at least invest some effort in getting it. Email is too easy and it won’t mean as much to you. I will not use your address for a mailing list. It’s that easy.

Now, The Eye of A Needle, The Introduction

How many times in your life have you used the word impossible?  How many times have you thrown it out carelessly in a conversation as a way of avoiding even the slightest challenge?  Do we really stop and consider the power of our words when we throw them about like a plaything? The truth is, Words hold power.

Proverbs says, “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it’s fruit.”

Have you considered that when you tell your children “it can’t be done, that it’s impossible,” that your words may be killing a dream?  Proverbs says that “those who love it will eat its fruit.” Love what? Life or death!  Maybe we should really reconsider how we use the word “impossible’ and , when we do use it, to make sure we disclaim that statement with the following statement; “but with God all things are possible.”

Don’t tell your children that it’s impossible for them to make the team. Don’t speak negative about others’ dreams and aspirations. Don’t make it a habit of tearing down dreams with your words. Be a builder. Tell those around you that you believe in them and that you know that with their determination and God’s help that anything is possible.  If your initial response tends to be negative, hold your peace, think about what you are about to say and then speak faith. If someone is believing for something big, your encouragement maybe be invaluable to them.

If you’re the one with the dream, stay away from dream killers. Don’t listen to those who are negative or don’t believe in you. When they do get a negative word in, replace it with faith.

Impossible is defined by dictionary.com as “not possible; unable to be, exist, happen, etc.  Unable to be done, performed, effected, etc.k not to be done, endured, etc., with any degree of reason or propriety; and impossible situation. Utterly impracticable;”

In this book I’m going to use scripture and life stories that will rekindle the flames of your faith and remind you that nothing is impossible.  Nothing is impossible when determination is coupled together with faith.  Nothing is impossible when you say what you believe and believe what you say. When you live what you believe and put actions behind your words, nothing is impossible.

We should all be challenged. I am challenged as I write this book to believe more, to accomplish more.

I’m going to use words like “dream”, “big” and “possible” to describe that thing God is calling you to do or that thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish. It might not be literally impossible but it might be so BIG that it looks impossible. My point is this: Whether I use “possible,” dream” or “big” the outcome of your situation all depends on your determination, your faith and your confidence in God and the promises of His Word.

When someone tells you that it can’t happen, that you shouldn’t try with any reasonable expectation of success, or that it’s utterly impracticable, you tell them that in the Kingdom of God, nothing is impossible.

Those who say it’s impossible should get out of the way of those that are doing.

End of Introduction.

“The Eye of A Needle Kindle Version.”

“The Eye of A Needle Paperback from Amazon.”

Remember: To receive your free paperback copy of The Eye of A Needle request it by mail. Send your correspondence to Jeff Scurlock 108 Florida Street, Brewton AL 36426