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Dear Son,

One night last week my son said something to me that shook me. Not just caught me off guard, but shook me to my core. I was laying him in his bed, we talked about the day, we prayed, and I was about to leave the room… Then, it happened. He said “Daddy, can I ask you something?” Since my son is a very smart 3 year old, I assumed he was about to come up with some reason why it was NOT his bedtime yet. I asked him what it was that he wanted to ask, I will quote his question for you here, “Daddy, will you tell me what I need to know so I can go to heaven?” I wasn’t expecting that question. Realizing that my 3 year old son is not mentally capable of grasping God’s plan of salvation, I knew this was not time for Bible study, I simply assured him that I would.

I stayed up a little later that night laying in bed and praying to God. Asking that He help me be a better dad. I kept repeating his question over and over. assuring myself that I could fulfill his request. However, there was something bothering me. I know of many people (some very close to me) that know what the Bible says about how to get to heaven, and yet, they choose their own path. I know people who know that the Lord’s church plays a crucial role in God’s plan, and that Christ died to establish it, yet, they convince themselves that they don’t really NEED the church. It is simply, a good idea for some. I know people who can quote more Bible verses than I can who are not living them. It hit me harder than ever that night that my job is bigger with my children than to simply teach them the plan of salvation. It is deeper. The following is part of an “Open Letter” I have written to my son for when he is older. I am sharing part of it with you for your encouragement as well.

               “Dear Son,

As of this writing you are too young to read. It is my prayer that when you are old enough and the time is right, you will understand how much your mother and I love you. I can’t wait to share my passions with you buddy. I can’t wait to talk sports with you, show you how to hunt, fish, and do some handiwork. I can’t wait to take you camping, and mountain climbing. Above all of these things, I can’t wait to to watch you grow up in the Lord. You asked me once if I would teach you what you needed to know in order to go to heaven. Thank you for asking me. I would love to tell you. However, I cannot teach you all you need to know in a letter. I’m not sure I even know everything that I need to teach you yet. I do want to talk to you about one thing in this letter son. I need to talk to you about your heart.

Buddy, God has blessed you with a kind and tender heart. As you grow, the world will try to teach you that in order for you to “be a man” you have to be hardened. Please son, don’t listen. It is the tenderness of heart that will let you see the good in people. It is your kindness that allows you to show compassion. Jesus is recorded as someone that showed compassion to others, even when He was suffering from a deep personal loss (Matthew 14). Your kindness of heart will help you to realize your own sin, as well as urge you to reach out to those who are outside of Christ.

Satan will attack your heart. He will try his best to hurt you. You will be hurt by people that you thought were your friends. You will see someone within the church behaving in a way that you know they shouldn’t and it will make you question things. There will come a time or two, or even three, where you are hurt financially. It will sting you deeply. It will make you question things again. Satan will try to lure your heart away from God by showing you things in the world that look great, but ultimately lead to death (Romans 6:16).

Satan will use words of flattery to try to soften your stance on doctrinal issues. He will try to convince you that what you believe can’t be right because _____________ doesn’t believe that, and they are living a good life, therefore you really must be mistaken. He will try to get you to become firmer than you need to be and adopt a holier than thou attitude toward others. My son, if you never listen to another word I say, please listen to me now. Do not let Satan steal your heart.

The psalmist writes in psalm 119:10-11 that seeking God with all of your heart and storing His word in your heart is essential to avoiding Satan’s pit falls. Buddy, there are going to be times in life that it is simply easier to ignore this command. Maybe we are “too busy” to study, or maybe we know what the word says, but for our own comfort we “forget about that passage” for a moment. There are going to be times that you don’t feel like serving. There will be times that you don’t want to “go to church” and worship God. There will be times that you will want to do things your own way, and assume that God will just understand your heart. My son, this is Satan working on your heart. Don’t let Satan steal your heart, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).

My son, follow Jesus. When Jesus was on this earth He had one consistent message, “follow me.” It is the same message you and I need to follow. Please buddy, don’t follow me. I make too many mistakes I say things I shouldn’t, I don’t always handle things well. If you follow me you will follow my mistakes. Please, follow Jesus. My son, I love you. I promise to try to be a good gatekeeper for our house. I promise I will try to teach you what you need to know. I promise I will try to guard you from the lion (1 Peter 5:8). However, there will come a time, (If it is not already here) that I can’t guard you anymore. It is a decision that you have to make. Please son, don’t let Satan steal your heart.

Love, Dad.”

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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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“Where Would I Be Without the Church?” Pt. 3

 

          This is the final post in this mini-series. I have attempted to briefly summarize some of the main points in response to this question. As most of you know, this series could go on and on. However, I simply wanted to share a few things to get us thinking about the importance of the church in our own lives.

 

          So far we have talked about the time we would save (and then waste) if we didn’t “go to church.” We discussed depression, referring to how easy it would be to fall in to a cycle of severe depression if we lived without the hope and encouragement that can be brought to us by the Lord’s Church. Finally, this day I want us to look at the most important item of all.

 

Q: Where would I be without the church?  A: I would be lost eternally.

 

“Yes to Jesus, no to the church.”

“I believe in God, but I don’t need some preacher telling me what to do.”

“I used to go to church all the time, but I just can’t stand being around those people.”

“I read my Bible, and I pray, I don’t have to go to a church building to go to heaven.”

 

All of these statements, and many more like them have been spoken to my face by friends, family, and acquaintances. These words break my heart. I do not type those words lightly. I have spent many hours in prayer and in tears because these words have haunted me. They haunt me because they remind me that Satan is still active (1 Peter 5:8), and he is still gaining a foothold in the hearts of people that I dearly love.

In each of the above statements that people make as reasons for not attending the services of the church, they all have one common theme. They assume that they get to play by their own set of rules.

My children are at a fun age. They love to play games. However, they don’t always follow the rules. When playing hide and seek, they rarely are willing to seek, they just want to hide. When playing “Go fish” they don’t like giving up their cards, they enjoy taking yours. When we race outside, they win the race every single time, even if they have barely moved when someone else crosses the finish line. Granted, my children are 2 and 3 years old. They have a lot of learning to do.

However, their ignorance to the way that games are played does not automatically change the rules just because they do not like or do not understand them.

My dear friends, when we speak about The Lord, The Bible, and The Church, we are not speaking about a game. We are speaking about the most important issues that have ever been discussed. We do not have the authority to change “the rules” because we do not like them.

 

Some say: “Yes to Jesus, no to the church.”

 

The Bible tells us that the church is the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33.) We cannot have Jesus without having His bride.

 

Some say; “Jesus saves you, the church doesn’t”

          The Bible tells us (Acts 2:47) that those who are saved are added to the church. In other words, if you are not in the church, you are not saved.

 

Some say: “I don’t want to be around those hypocrites”

          The Bible commands us (Hebrews 10:24) to stir one another up to do good works. If we see someone who has an attitude that is damaging the church, it is our responsibility to try to help them get back on the right path, rather than just stay away from them. For more on the “hypocrites” argument, I would encourage you to read this.

 

Some say: “I don’t have time to go to church 3 times a week.”

 

          The Bible reminds us (Acts 16:5, Acts 17:11) that the early church was together daily. They were preaching, studying, and growing.

 

Some say: “I don’t need to go to church all the time, I will go sometimes”

 

          The Bible urges Christians (Hebrews 10:25) to “not neglect” meeting together.

 

Some say: “I used to go to church all of the time, God won’t punish me for taking a break.”

 

          The Bible says (Revelation 2:10) that the people who will be in heaven are the people who are faithful until they die.

 

Some say: “I can read my Bible, I can pray at home, I can do good things, which will make up for my absence from the church.”

 

          The Bible reminds us (Acts 20:28) that Jesus died in order to purchase the church with His blood. Did you catch that? Jesus gave His blood, His life, to purchase the church. The very thing that many try to run away from.

 

          Please do not misinterpret what I am writing. I am not submitting to you or anyone that attendance in a church building earns your spot in heaven. It does not, nothing will.

 

          What church attendance does, is it shows a level of commitment on your part to the Lord. It shows commitment on your part to the body of people that he purchased with His blood. It shoes commitment on your part to the group that He adds you to when you are Biblically saved.

 

          If The Lord adds me to the church when I am saved, demands my obedience, reminds that those who are faithful until they die will be in heaven… How can I convince myself that those items do not affect me? I cannot. They do, they affect you as well.

 

A preacher friend once told me, “Asking someone to study the Bible with you will not guarantee success. However, not asking someone to study the Bible will guarantee failure.”

 

In the very same way, simply attending the service of the church will not guarantee salvation. However disobeying God’s commandments will guarantee being lost eternally (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

 

It is my humble prayer that this mini series is encouraging, refreshing, and challenging to you. I pray that each of us will remember how important the Lord’s church is. It is not from man, it is from God, and should be honored as such. feel free to leave your comments/additions, and share this post with others. 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“PTC REVIEW”

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Preacher training camp in Lewisville church of Christ is my favorite week of the year. This is where it began for me. I came to this camp with no intention to preach. And now, this is my 5th year as a staff member at this camp.

This camp is phenomenal. It is full of great things. There is an awesome group of men that are assembled to teach and preach. There are 58 campers who have given up a week of their summers to come and learn how to preach. (many of who have already chosen to preach)

It is truly incredible to watch lives change!

I have worked with great campers who have worked hard on their sermons. They study, then they study, then they study. Then they compile an outline that would best help them to present God’s Word to the listeners. It is great to see. I thank God for these young men.

On a personal note…

I needed this week! Sometimes I feel discouraged, sometimes I feel downhearted, sometimes I forget that there are GREAT things thriving in the church of our Lord! This week I have been refreshed, I have remembered that the Lords church will never die. He is in control!

I needed this week, because of friendships. I have been tremendously blessed in my young ministry with some great men that God has placed in my life. Some friendships have been in place since my first year at this camp, some have only recently began to be built. Each one is very near to my heart, and I thank God for them.

On our last night here, many of our staff/campers gathered around some tables and began singing from the hymnals for over an hour. Listening to their voices blending together was just what I needed. You see, we were not just singing we were worshiping our God. I looked around and many young preachers who are faithful to the Lord, and I was reminded that I am not alone. I have brothers. True brothers, that would be closer than biological brothers (if I had any.)

During this time, the tears began to come to my eyes. It was exactly what I needed… To see my friends, my brothers praising God with a common thought. That thought being “I want to be with my savior”

I will forever be grateful for this camp, these campers, this staff, my brothers, and most of all, my savior.

“Father, thank you for you precious Son. Thank you for loving me, even though I am a sinner. Father thank you for giving me brothers to encourage me, help me to encourage them. I love you Father, thank you for your Son, it is in His holy and precious name that I pray, Amen.”

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Confession Time!

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I want you to be in heaven. I want my children to be in heaven. I want every one to be in heaven! I understand based on the teachings of Christ, that this will not be the case (Matthew 7:13-14) but, it is my goal to continually be evaluating my walk with God, and challenging myself to live more like Jesus, and to make sure I am on the path to heaven. I simply want to share with you some of my recent personal thoughts.

Jesus reveals one very important piece of information as to how you and I can obtain our ultimate goal.

Matthew 10:32-33- Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus says that if you confess Him before others, He will confess YOU before the heavenly Father! Earlier in the Matthew 10 passage, Jesus was telling His disciples that they were going to be persecuted for what they preach, and right after saying these things, He said

“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

I’m afraid many times we are great at confessing in private. But, not so good, when in public, when around our peers, when on the job, when… Charles Hodge once said, “confessing Jesus is a daily activity and obligation”

How do I confess Jesus? I’m glad you asked 🙂

1. You confess Jesus by talking about Him.

Fishermen talk about fishing, golfers about golf, football players about football, hunters about hunting, farmers about farming… Christians talk about fishing, hunting golf, football, farming… not enough about Jesus.

I have often been troubled by this fact. Not just as I look at the lives of others, but, as I honestly examine myself. Why do I not talk about Jesus more than I do? Why is it easier for me to talk to my church family about my sooners than it is for me to talk about my savior? I believe Jesus has the answer for me/us.

Matthew 12;34- “…for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
I am convinced that when we are struggling to talk about Jesus, it is because Jesus is not firmly seated in our hearts.

2. You confess Jesus by living a life of purity.

It breaks my heart that you have to be around “the world” . Because the world out there is tough. We live in a corrupt world, I promise you, if you live a life of purity, you will stand out

Phil 3:20- .But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Meaning, we not only belong to heaven, but we live as aliens while here on earth.

1. We don’t listen to the same music
2. We don’t watch the same tv shows
3. We don’t wear the same clothes
4. We don’t update the same status’s
5. We don’t have the same goals
6. We don’t have the same language.

The world says “if you follow all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.”— just a little sin is ok. Jesus says–
Matthew 5:8- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

The word that is used here for pure literally means- “to be clean, innocent, blameless, unstained by the guilt of anything”

What are you confessing by the purity in your life? Confessing that you believe in Jesus, or confessing that He is not that important to you.

3. You confess Jesus by changing your life!

When we think of “confess” we think of just simply saying “yes” when we are asked if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God

This is Vitally important! Matthew 16: Jesus is going about from place to place, then He just stops and asks His disciples… who do people say that I am? And they all gave Him various answers.. some say that you are a prophet, some say you are, John the Baptist, Elijah, Prophets. Then Jesus said… Who do YOU say that I am? And Peter replied you are the Christ, the son of the living God! Jesus praised Peter for this response.

But I must tell you, just saying those words, does not mean a thing.

I wonder how often Christ looks at me and says “Troy, who do you think that I am?” and when I say, you are the Son of God. He wonders, why aren’t you living like it? You see, if we believe Jesus is the Son of God, we will change our lives.

Brenan Manning was quoted as saying “The greatest leading cause of atheism in the world today, is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds, unbelievable.”

Let me ask you… Are you proclaiming Christ? Or are you creating doubt in Christ?

How could anyone believe that there is a loving savior named Jesus Christ, if you and I claim His name, yet go on with our lives like nothing has changed?

In Mark 5 we read of the account of a demon possesed man who identifies himself as “legion”. He was a strong man, a violent man, a wild man. He was someone that everyone was afraid of, then something happened, something life changing, he met Jesus.

Jesus cast out the demons, tried to send him on his way, but this formerly possessed man begged Jesus to let him accompany Him (Wouldn’t you?)

But then we see the rest of the story in v. 20

Mark 5:20- And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Let me ask you, why did everyone marvel? Sadly, I do not believe it was because of what he said. Think about it, many men before and after have stood before a large crowd and preached and the people…. sadly, many times, do not “marvel.” It is my belief that the reason for the people standing in amazement, is because there was a man that used to terrorize their area, and now he is a preacher?!?

He changed his life! He got attention of the people, it allowed him to further the message of Christ. The question is not, have you confessed? The question is…

Are you confessing Christ each day with your life?

So that one day… One beautiful day, Jesus will look at the Father, point to you and say.. He is one of mine…

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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