Friday, May 21, 2010

Serving the Creature or the Creator?

Romans 1:24-25 - "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves who exchanged the Truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator..."

The greek term used here for "gave them up" is a judicial term used for handing over a prisoner to his sentence. When men consistently abandon God, He will abandon them. He does this sometimes directly by specific acts of divine judgement and punishment (flood, Sodom, etc.). And He sometimes does this indirectly by removing His restraint and allowing their sin to run its inevitable course. Here, Paul is speaking of God indirectly giving men up to uncleanness of sexual immorality. The Greek word used for "uncleanness" is a general term often used when speaking of decaying matter. God abandons those spoken of here and allows their sin of sexual immorality to run its course which begins in the heart and moves outward to shame the body decaying the soul.

Men who deny the existence of the Almighty God of the Bible worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. Most men (without admitting it) worship and serve themselves because of this popularity within our culture to establish that truth is whatever one personally believes to be true. John MacArthur speaks of this in his book, The Truth War....

"Postmodernism in general is marked by a tendency to dismiss the possibility of any sure and settled knowledge of the truth...... Nothing is certain, and the thoughtful person will never speak with too much conviction about anything. Strong convictions about any point of truth are judged supremely arrogant and hopelessly naive. Everyone is entitled to his own truth."

This can be clearly examined through general conversation. You hear people all the time making comments such as.... "Well, I don't think God is exactly like that". I would then follow by asking what this particular person bases their beliefs about God on. You might hear something such as.... "Well, its just what I believe". So their beliefs about God are based on their own personal thoughts and opinions. They have become their own personal god and established their own false truth that fits their pleasure. I'll end with this.....

When asked by someone which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness, CS Lewis responded.... "While it lasts the religion of worshipping oneself is best..... If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly do not recommend Christianity."

- Terry

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Grace You Must Know!

Sup e-fellas! I'm going a day early because I just felt like sending this out today. Hope y’all are doing great! I’m continuing from last week, speaking some grace. Like I said before grace is given, it is free. We don’t obligate God by our obedience or our sacrificial service. Even if we were perfectly obedient in all our Christian duties, we would still be forced to say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Luke 17:10). In a somewhat loose way of relating it, it is like always going the speed limit, stopping at stop signs, and obeying every traffic rule. Do you receive any reward from the state or even expect it? No, because that is what you are supposed to do.

Grace can be completely misunderstood at times, and I admit, I do it often. But, grace relieves us from the performance treadmill. “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1). No way dude, this and other passages in the Bible recognize the possibility that the Bible’s teaching that grace alone is the basis for God’s blessing can be misconstrued as an excuse for indulgent, slothful living. So what are you compelled by then to obey?

The solution to the problem is not to add legalism to grace. Rather the solution is to be so gripped by the magnificence and boundless generosity of God’s grace that we respond out of gratitude rather than out of a sense of duty. Our "motivation" for commitment, discipline, and obedience is as important, if not more important, to God than our "performance". God searches our hearts fellas, and He understands every motive. To be acceptable to Him, our motives must spring from a love for Him and a desire to glorify Him. Obedience to God performed from a legalistic motive – that is, a fear of consequences or to gain favor with God – is not pleasing to Him. So, our good works are not truly good unless they are motivated by a love for God and a desire to glorify Him.

Only when we are thoroughly convinced that the Christian life is entirely of grace are we able to serve God out of a grateful heart. See, it’s not about inclination or feeling. We are not to wait till we “feel like” having a quiet time to have one, the same goes with obeying God’s commands. Motive has nothing to do with feelings or inclination; rather, it refers to the “reason” why we do, or don’t do, something. For the person living by grace, that reason should be a loving response to the abundant grace of God already manifested in Christ.

I’ve struggled in this area all my life and continue to do so, feeling like I just abuse grace. Like you have heard numerous times before, hearing and reading it is one thing, actually doing or living it is another. And if you are like me in this area, know this, God is worthy of our loving obedience because of who He is, not because of what He does. But when we truly understand the grace of God in Christ, we will not abuse that grace.

trying to die to myself,


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Attributes of Spiritual Leaders

Paul was a spiritual giant! The guy had it right and he was passionate to the point where he was infectious with the Spirit. God used him for major work and we see that in the scriptures. Paul wasn't God he was definitely human and he fell short on occassion but he never fell off as he stayed in touch with God constantly. Other mighty men in the new testament were Petey, Johnny Bap, Timbo, and even "The Train" James. They had their epic fall offs but got right back up and learned from their mistakes, going on to have meaty ministries that had 1 major thing in common. They all got people to follow Jesus not them.
Let's think about leadership failures in history Hitler, Napolean, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite (heavens gate mass suicide), Jim Jones (cool-aid/synide mass suicide), L Ron Hubbard (Scientology), and the list goes on. These men all ran into a similar issue, they got people to follow but what were they following? They all ended badly because the cause was man-made. Following a man will always end in disappointment because all of us (humans) fall short of perfection. We can't deliver on the expectations that God has woven in our hearts because it was designed to be followed out by Him not us.
We need to be serious about who we are leading and where we are leading them. Some of us are leading a spouse, others a family, and even some a group. Don't get it twisted were all leading somebody. What are we doing to prepare our sphere of influence (1-1000's) to see Christ in us? What are we doing to lead people to get onto God's agenda? We need to get on that prayer tip and pray that God would help us to lead people to follow Him not our own ways. How much more peace do we have in our circumstances when we trust that our life is God's agenda?

I'll close with this scriputre that lays it out best.

1 Corinthians 3:4-6 "For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another "I follow Apollos." are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pre-Game David Swagg

"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2 NLT

"In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection." Psalm 18:29-30 NLT

"God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect." Psalm 18:32 NLT

"You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me, your help has made me great." Psalm 18:35 NLT

Just wanted to take some time and throw out some motivation to all my brothers and sisters. In or out of baseball, we face times of doubts or unbelief. Spiritual warfare is real and Satan wants you to doubt yourself and crumble like a cookie. Business meeting, school test, presentation, or 3-1 count and the bases loaded.... God is right there with you! Don't be fearful. Step your game up and know that God has armed you with the strength to do whatever it is your heart desires. Believe, trust and fight! God did not make you to be weak or fearful. He didn't create you to worry and panic. He wants you to smile and be at peace because he's got your back. He's your strength, trust Him.

Love ya'll.

Blake "Needed a pep talk" Hawksworth

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Get in the Game

As a boy, I grew up going to church every Sunday. In my mind I didn't go to learn. Church was just something you did when you were from where I was from. When my friends asked me what "religion" I was (cuz that's how you talk when your a kid) I would tell them Presbyterian. Most of my friends were from all different denominations. I just couldn't figure out why there were so many different types of Christians. Why did it matter? That confused me, and to be honest I still think it's silly. I'll be so proud when everyone just claims to be a Christian rather than some sect of Christianity. Anyway, I was probably about 17 when I really started to question if there truly was a God. I had read the Bible some, been told all the major stories, and been to vacation bible school. I had all the qualifications for being a Christian right? Wrong, I didn't have Jesus in my heart. None of my friends and I ever talked about God... it just wasn't cool back then to me. I was too worried about getting hits or my girlfriend to worry about God. So, like many people do, with the absence of God in my life I began to try and be my own God. If someone did something I didn't agree with... I judged them. It's like I was the referee and I was blowing the whistle and calling a foul anytime someone messed up. I never took time to look in the mirror and realize I was pretty jacked up too. Then, around my late teens I started playing the "i don't want to be a hypocrite" line. It was my excuse to not get involved with anything spiritual because I didn't want to be like those people who go to church and keep on sinning. No sir, I just wanted to live my life and do my so-called sinning and carry on to the next day. I would, in my own head, scowl at people who I thought fell into the hypocrite category. Well, here is what I know now. We ALL fall short of the Glory of God. We will, without fail, continue to sin.... it's just how we're programmed. And, scripture tells us that if we put our faith in men we will eventually get let down. There is only one man that walked this earth that should be the model for our lives....Jesus. He's the only Guy that didn't mess up. I wish I woulda realized that all those people who I felt were hypocrites weren't so bad...they just weren't God. We aren't hypocrites for going to Church after we sin.... we're just humans and we need help, and definitely forgiveness. Being Christian does not make us Christ. It just means we love Him. There's only one God, He has done some amazing things and He deserves to be worshiped for all of it.
So, here are a few questions. Do your friends know what you believe? Are we doing enough to be bold for Christ like it calls us to in Phillippians 1? Is our lifestyle one that reflects what we believe? Can you do more in your church.... in your home... in your workplace..... in your heart? All of that stuff is playing the game of following Christ. Let's put down our whistles and get in the game. Thanks for reading


Friday, May 14, 2010

Grace Me Please

Egh, sorry e-fellas, I've been on the e-fellowship DL here bad, my bad. But here we go.

Just like most Christians I tend to base my personal relationship with God on performance rather than grace. So much of this world is performance based, but once I sit down and think about it, I realize that God is not keeping score. He is not giving me or keeping me from blessings based on my performance. The score has already been settled.

I will be pulling some of this from a book by Jerry Bridges entitled "Transforming Grace". It is so easy to get caught up in believing that God's grace only makes up what our good works lack. I mean, God's blessings are at least partially earned by obedience right? We know we are saved by grace but we have to live by spiritual sweat so to speak? I need a constant reminder that my demerits do not compel God to withdraw His grace, but rather, He treats me without regard to them. And honestly, I'd rather stake my hope of His blessing on His infinite goodness than on my good works. Bridges says, "To the extent you are clinging to any vestiges of self-righteousness or are putting any confidence in your own spiritual attainments, to that degree you are not living by the grace of God in your life." That's heavy, I had to read it a couple times.

Psalm 103:12 states, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." This may be elementary to some but have you ever wondered how far the east was from the west. I mean, you can go north all you want until you reach the north pole, then you are heading south. But if you start heading west, you will always be heading west. East and west never meet. So God is metaphorically saying that he removes our transgressions and infinite distance from us. He saying that forgiveness is total, complete, and unconditional. So no score keeping? "He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). Yea, God actually says that! Almost seems too good to be true because that is so foreign to our innate concepts of reward and punishment.

Just as you cannot earn salvation but must receive it as a gift, so you cannot earn the blessings of God but must receive them also as gifts given through Christ. I mean, grace would no longer be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of our faults.

I know I am leaving much of this open ended, but I will continue with this topic in the weeks ahead, but I'll finish this week with this. Theologian R.C. Sproul wrote, "Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God's grace and God's grace alone for our salvation. It is difficult for our pride to rest of grace. Grace is for other people - for beggars. We don't want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there." Although Dr. Sproul was writing on the subject of the grace of God in salvation, the problem of pride he described is applicable to living the Christian life. Not only do we think we must pay our own way, at least to some degree, we subtly insist on paying our own way. That's me, is it you?

trying to die to myself,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Try Again Young Apprentice

Luke 5:4-7
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down[a] the nets for a catch."
5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

I look at this text a little different today than I have previously. We see that Peter had tried something and failed to accomplish it. Not only was this (fishing) Peter's means of professional affiliation but he happened to be pretty knowledgable in the area too. Jesus, a carpenter, asks him to drop his nets down again, basically saying "okay you've just blasted your chest (muslces)in the gym, well let's go back in and do some more push ups because I got a feeling it's going to take you to the next level of buffness". "But wait, Lord...? I don't think you're hearing me. have you seen the results, and, dude I just don't have anything left to give." Sound familiar? Peter had to have been questioning this decision and we've probably heard this before, I sure have! Here's my new glance at this. Could have Jesus/God been making a point here as to say "the work of your (us) hands isn't what I (God) want to show you, I want you to experience the work of my hands through you so I get the glory." Could that be what He was showing Petey and the other disciples? Could that be something that plays out in our lives?

Is there anything in your life that God is asking you to do/try again but this time He's asking you to let Him take care of the results. Is God asking you to step out in faith with something that you have failed at previously? Is there something in our lifes that we keep trying to control and do on our own stength when we could/should turn it over to the Lord?

I think God askes us to try again on things after we failed at it before because we would have received all the glory had we been successful (because our sinful nature is constantly trying to take credit) with the results. God is in control of EVERYTHING and he want's us to lean, trust, and confide in Him for everything.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Are Accountable!

Romans 1:19-21 - "What may be known of God is manifest in men, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that men are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

The Truth of God can be clearly observed from conscience (2:14-15), creation, and God's Word and although this evidence is irrefutable, men still choose to resist and oppose God's truth by holding on to their sin. Now, I want to talk about the conscience real quick....

God has sovereignly planted evidence of His existence in the very nature of man by reason and moral law. Paul explains that Gentiles who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law.... they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also testifies, and between themselves their thoughts accuse or excuse them (2:14-15). CS Lewis explains this moral law in his book Mere Christianity.... "Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it........ Men find themselves under a moral law, which they did not make, and cannot quite forget even when they try, and which they know they ought to obey...... Something which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong."

God holds all men responsible for their refusal to acknowledge what He has shown them of Himself in His creation. Even those who have never had an opportunity to hear the gospel have received a clear witness about the existence and character of God - and have suppressed it. CS Lewis again speaking on conscience says, "You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built". If a person will respond to the revelation he has, even if it is solely natural revelation, God will provide some means for that person to hear the gospel. Man is conscious of God's existence, power, and divine nature through general revelation. Those who know of God but do not glorify Him as the God of the universe and seek Him out will harden their hearts. When man rejects the Truth, the darkness of spiritual falsehood replaces it (John 3:19-20).

This may help explain somewhat the answer to the concern for the small tribe in Africa who hasn't heard the Good News of a risen Savior.

- Terry

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I was blessed October 22nd with a healthy baby giraffe (girl who will be very tall), she is unbelievably precious. I use the word precious because that’s the best word available to describe a harmless, helpless baby who is just a peach to look at. When I saw her and held her for the first time I cried and I’m not ashamed to admit it, actually I’m kind of proud to say it, I cried! However Gwen has already frustrated me on occasion and it just exposes my lack of patience. I mean, how can an infant frustrate me, she doesn’t even know what is going on. I’m embarrassed how little patience I have for this wonderful, sweet child of mine. Back to the crying thing; weeks ago I was at Christy’s parents house and I was sitting in a chair next to Gwen (my daughter) who was on the couch. I was having a conversation with Christy’s father when I saw out of the corner of my eye, Gwen launch herself off the couch. She smashed her face on the coffee table on her way to the ground. I gasped and snatched her up off the ground and into my arms, bringing her close to my chest. I was scared to look at the damage but I braced myself to do so and to my horror she had a huge dent above her eye. Gwen was whaling and it all hit me so hard I started crying. I couldn’t believe I let this happen to her, I was sitting right there. 15 minutes later she had a bruise and 30 minutes later it had almost completely gone away (kids are resilient). She was going to be okay, disaster avoided. I couldn’t help but think about the future and how I can’t prevent her from doing anything, I can only teach and hope she listens and obeys.
I say all this to bring it back to our relationship with God, He is like the parent and we are the kids. He loves us so much and teaches us so many good lessons in life that we think stink due to the pain we experience. However we never take into consideration the huge pain that we might be avoiding by handling the little stuff today. I’m sure God cries a lot over the choices that I make and even the pain that He allows into my life but He is sure that it is for a better purpose and a better me. Without pain we can never experience real joy, there is a balance like everything else in this world. It blows my mind how patient God is in comparison to me. I get mad at Gwen when I try to feed her and she tries to grab the spoon and spills food all over herself, then she will put her hand in her mouth take some food out and wipe her face. Come on Gwen, you’re better than that Gigi! But wait she is only 6 months old, where is my patience? Correlate that to God’s patience with new believers and the battle of the “Old Man” v.s. the “New Man”. How many times do we judge new believers for their struggle against old habits like “man, this guy didn’t except Jesus, look at him over there falling off”? Yeah! Pretty shameful huh, I’m guilty as any. How does God feel when we continue to damage or body and mind with the stuff we feed it (television, movies, music, food, drinks, etc…). He gives us a hangover to remind us of the consequences of too much drink or a stomach ache to remind us of too much food. But what if we keep doing it then what? As a parent what do you do with your kid who won’t change? Unfortunately I think we have to give them away to their sin and I think that is what God does sometimes too.
To sum this up I think it can be beneficial to be reminded of how amazing God is (patient, loving, gracious, merciful, omnipresent, forgiving, etc…). I really think He has designed this life to reflect Himself in many ways and parenting is just one of those parallels. I hope you all can experience Him in your parenting whether it is with your own kids or some kids you’ve been blessed with taking care of for the weekend. Let’s all be thankful for how much we’ve been given and how many warnings God gives us that we really don’t deserve. He is amazing!

Monday, May 3, 2010

e-Fellowship Mission Statement (retro)

I came across this post and I felt like now is a good time to throw it back up on here:

I got some things on my mind that I feel led to release into the wild. I want to throw down what I feel the church really is and what fellowship really looks like. First, lets define the church and its purpose. Christ’s church is not a bunch of buildings where people go sit, sing, listen and leave. We as christians are the church. The book of Ephesians states that we are the body and Christ is the Head. As the body, we each have our own specific purpose. Ephesians 4:11-16 says,

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

Fellowship is not sitting in a pew on sunday morning listening to the pastor teach and hoping in your car and heading home. Fellowship contains interaction. The early church that we read about in the book of Acts wasn’t some building where people would go and listen to a pastor. The early church was groups of people meeting in houses and around bonfires to tell stories about Jesus and the impact that He had in their lives. Can you imagine chillin with the disciples around a bonfire and discussing their stories of Jesus Christ? They didn’t have the New Testament or a worship band. They would just meet up, break some bread, and share what Jesus had done in their lives. Their message was simple. Their message was Jesus. Today we continue to lose the oneness and the harmony that the church is called to have because of divisions within the church. Correct me if I’m wrong but denominations are destroying the harmony of the church. That is why fellowship is so important. Through love we need to enlighten and uplift each other and come to a unity of faith and knowledge. That is why e-Fellowship is here. That is the reason we have this site and the daily bread flowing through email. We need to get back to our roots and engage in true church fellowship. Keep this thing rollin because this is true fellowship. I look forward to sitting around that campfire on the New Earth laid back sharing stories with the e-Fellowship congregation. I love you all. Thank you Christ my King!

- Terry

*** That being said, I miss you guys. I miss the power felt when e-Fellowship is living out its mission statement. I've been absent from this fellowship lately but am here today declaring that e-Fellowship has once again moved back up on my priority list. You can expect more from me going forward. I love you guys!