Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Baptized Miss America 2006!!

Jennifer Berry, who was baptized in October at the Skiatook, Okla., church, waves after being crowned Miss America 2006 at the 2006 Miss America pageant in Las Vegas on Jan. 21, 2006. Berry (below) with Debbie Kendall, the Skiatook deacon's wife who shared her faith with the pageant winner.


In the article wrote: "Back in October, Kendall, whose husband, David, is a deacon at the Skiatook church, said she shared with Berry how she had studied the Bible with a former Miss Oklahoma, Meighen Bradfield, resulting in Bradfield’s baptism.“I had talked to Jennifer a lot about spirituality and how important it was in my life, but I hadn’t gone into it deep the way we did today,” Kendall wrote in an e-mail to friends the day of Berry’s baptism.

Berry told Kendall that she had gone to church when she was younger and had participated in several Bible studies, including one in college.

“She had always wanted to be baptized but never knew how to go about it,” Kendall wrote. “We discussed Acts 2:38, why we believed you had to be immersed and I gave her several examples out of the Bible. We talked about how Phillip and the Eunuch were on the road together … and that was all it took.”


Did you see that? "..and that was all it took.." Awesome!! Her heart was wide open! She didn't care what the world will think of her being an immersed believer of Jesus Christ! She knew she had to die to herself and raise anew in Christ! How I wish we could see more of Berry's example in the world today: that the Scripture pierced her heart in a flash! People simply argue about the infallible Word of God, procrastinate because their family or spouse may not accept the conversion, that baptism is merely "works" or even simply say that they don't have the time or heart to commit their life to Jesus.

God bless Debbie Kendall!! She's a true servant of our Lord Jesus Christ by seeking women's hearts for Jesus! Lord, we need more examples of Debbie in the world today!

Faith & Worship

Yesterday, I helped chaperone with a couple of Angela's classmates in Warrenton.

We attended a play called, "The Life Of Martin Luther King". I think it was interesting that we just saw a play yesterday and Coretta King, the wife of Martin, passed away this morning. I cannot imagine how hard it had been for, not only that family, but the whole race!! After the assassination of MLK, Coretta never gave up!! She cared for her four children and fought to keep Martin's legacy alive! Can you imagine how many times the thought of giving up runs through her mind? It seems to be impossible to convince millions of white people to accept Martin's call for unity, but she did! And because of her unfailing love for her own race and Martin's dream, we've all come together as one, sons of God, regardless of the race!

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28 (niv)

I keep thinking, throughout the history, of how people fought the good fight of faith. Where situations might be impossible to overcome, God overcame! There's another wonderful family, the Schwambs. I had the privilege, today, to meet Cristi, because she has expressed a desire to learn ASL. She felt a calling by God after reading an announcement I posted in the church's bulletin. Despite the setbacks she's experiencing right now with her third baby in ICU, she told me that she's determined to start learning ASL in March. I have not seen such positive faith coming out of a family like this in a long time!!

When their beloved baby, Lauren, had a setback and required surgery, they remain optimistic! They were all smiles and full of joy asking us all to continue to pray for Lauren. Not too long ago, her prognosis didn't look so great that there was a call for a 24 hour prayer a couple Sundays ago! Because our prayers were lifted up, Lauren continues to make a miraculous improvement! While Lauren remain in ICU, Cristi brought her two children to church to attend the Tuesday morning ladies' bible study!! This shows that, regardless of the situation with her daughter, she's determined to keep God first in her life! She continues to consecrate her life to Him. How pleasing is this to God? Awesome!! Keep the Schwamb family in your prayers!!


I just talked with one of the hearing members of the church as well as getting some comments from come deaf members concerned about the commitment of others to worship services and classes. One hearing member commented,

"Most Christians do not understand the importance of coming together to worship the One who created us. It's like telling our dads, "Sorry, I won't be home for dinner. I have made other plans." How would dad feel? He sees an empty chair. He knows the son prioritizes things in life above the precious moment with the family. And guess what? Isn't it simple to know that Sunday is a day dedicated to God!? When all other Christians gather together in His Name, shouldn't others gather too? They may say, "Oh, I have other plans..." or "Oops! I overslept and my alarm didn't go off." or "My kids don't feel like going so therefore I don't have a choice but to stay home." These excuses pose problems with commitment. They aren't giving, two things: consistency and examplification. Jesus said, "Learn from me..." Then those having problems with commitment should learn from the committed!!"

Personally, my family and I are always dedicated and committed to being with God on Sundays! Shouldn't that be true for each and every Christian? When I see one, two or three always committed on Sundays, it shows their heart is true and fixed on Christ. When I seldomly see one, two or three, they are either ignorant about their relationship with Jesus or simply lukewarm, meaning they know but don't want to and/or allow the priorities of the world to take precedence over God.

Apostle Paul thanked the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians) for their faith, labor and endurance!! Obviously, this church tops all the churches in the world, even today!! They had severe suffering from persecutions that we don't have today! The most common persecution we're experience is: "Not Getting What We Want"!! That keeps us away from the potentially deep relationship with God through Christ! A couple of things found in 1 Thess. 1:

1. They became imitators "in spite of severe suffering"!!! (6)
2. They became a model to all the believers (including us)!!
3. The Lord's message spread throughout (because of their fervency and sense of urgency)!
4. Paul didn't need to say anything to others because they are already seeing the evidence of the church's faith alone!! What did they see??
  • They saw that they turned from worthless idols: what are the idols you're turning from: self and world?
  • They served the true and living God (worship, worship, worship!!)
  • They are anticipating the coming of Christ and entrance into Heaven!!
Now, question yourselves, "Who am I before God today?"


Check this Prayer site out!! Excellent!!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why We Sing?

Remember, we're still worshipping God!! This Sunday, He is expecting us to share His messages through thousands and thousands of messengers in the world! The first day of the week is extremely important to Him. If we miss it intentionally, how do you think He would feel?

I am thinking of the opposite of the "Parable of the Ten Virgins" (Matthew 25). Picture a five wise virgins, faithfully, remaining in place before the bridegroom (Jesus) comes back, the other five foolish virgins decided not to attend because they are thinking the bridegroom isn't coming back on that day.

At midnight the cry rang out: "Here's the bridegroom! Come out and meet him!"

Imagine in slow motions....

It's happening now!! The father would quickly put on his suit and tie, the mother her blouse and dress, the children their slacks, dress and dress shirt. Then all step outside.. The sky looks rather weird. It isn't an ordinary day. They walked further until the see one thing, "Jesus in the sky". The multitudes of angels singing and praising aloud, "Glory, glory! Glory to God in the highest!!!" For this deaf family, it was the first time they hear the awesome singing. Their jaws dropped. They see the dead rise first to meet Christ in the sky! (1 Thess. 4:16-17) The other, "unfaithful", in their neighborhood screamed and ran like crazy. They didn't know what was happening. They were lost.

Remember, we're still in slow motions....

The father and mother quickly gathered their children into the SUV. As they began pulling out the drive hoping they'll make it to the church building in time, the father thought,

"Yeah! Yeah! We're like the "foolish virgins" running to the door!! I really hope Jesus don't mind us being late! I admit that I've been slacking off and lacking faith."

But then a remorse came into his heart,

"Oh Lord!!!! Please accept me!! I'm sorry!! Don't forsake me!! I know I haven't been keeping you my number one!! Please!! Please!!"

Tears began falling from his eyes. His wife covered her face in disgust. She couldn't believe it's happening today!

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." 2 Peter 3:10 (niv)

The children wasn't sure what was happening probably because of their lack of understanding of the Scriptures. They haven't been going to church because their parents didn't have the time or commitment.

Meanwhile... The skies still stirring wildly with Christ welcoming the faithful!! The dead soon lifted from the grave and now those (faithful) who are left alive are being caught up following the dead in Christ. After all the faithful has been gathered up, earth began to burn...

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (niv)

But, of course!! This is only a picture of what will happen on the Day Of Our Lord Jesus!! Where do you stand before Christ today?

Faithful, Lukewarm, Unfaithful?

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may have a new life." Romans 6:1-4 (niv)

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot or cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Revelation 3:15-16 (niv)

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (niv)

If you were to come every Sundays, what three songs would you sing from your heart to God?? We sing because of the hope we have in Christ Jesus and that eternity awaits us!! Give us all your three songs...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bunny Christians

I read Mike Cope's blog regarding to what I am going to call, "Bunny Christians", aka "Church Hoppers":

It's not necessarily wrong to switch churches. There are several good reasons someone might decide they need to do so. But I'm through catering to church-hoppers. These are the religious consumers who:

1. Hop from place-to-place, seeking the congregation that best serves THEM.
2. Worship like they like it.
3. Change only when they approve.
4. Children's ministry the way they think it should be done. Ditto with youth ministry.
5. A class or small group where they are the center of attention.

God bless the Church-hoppers, for theirs is the eternal quest of self-fulfillment.

Here's my growing conviction:
1. Let's live missional lives--lives poured out for the world.
2. Let's seep and leak into the crevices of society; let's offer our lives for God's purposes of mercy and justice; let's be poured out like wine upon the altar.

If people aren't happy with that, let's love them and bless them as they leapfrog to another place. But let's not get off task in order to keep them. It isn't the way of Christ. All things in love. But the mission of Christ must guide us.

...connects with those outside the faith by, well, connecting with those outside of the community in their world. Connecting happens not in a 'come to us' CHURCH service, but through 'go and dwell' church SERVICE, i.e. service in the community -- living alternative lives.

Wow. How many churches can say that something other than the Sunday morning service is the major connecting point in their fellowship? Probably very few. But Bolger's assertions are not unlike the description of the church in Acts, where a once-a-week "service" was not at all central to the life of the community:

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity-- all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Is the church of Christ a cult?


Since starting working with the Fairfax Church of Christ, I have been asked over and over whether or not, the churches of Christ is a cult church? If you don't mind, why don't you look up in the dictionary the definition of "cult". We all understand the cult is led by one person and he controls all of his followers: mind, time, money, and life. I just thought I'd give you this article explaining this question and I hope this does answer your pondering questions regarding cult church in the world!

It has not been too long ago when I heard a report of someone accusing the church of Christ of being a cult. Now before I even address the question of the church of Christ being a cult, let me first state that the person who made the accusation does not understand the description, "church of Christ." In fact, any time someone uses the phrase "church of Christ" in such a way demonstrates that he or she really thinks that the church of Christ is a denomination. Such of course is a misrepresentation because the church of Christ is not a denomination. That phrase is merely a description for the people of Christ worshipping at some location. I dare say that the person who made this accusation would call the church that belongs to Jesus, a cult. So I am sure that when the accusation was made, the individual in question assumed that in referring to the "church of Christ" he felt like he was speaking of some denomination. With such in mind, let's consider the matter further.

When one thinks of a cult, of what does one think? The first thing that pops into my head is a single living charismatic person who controls everything his or her devotees practice. You identify the cult by the name of its leader: David Koresh, Jim Jones, etc. Of course, if having a single charismatic leader in and of itself meant that you are a cult, then almost every denomination that is out there would be a cult. The one man "pastor" system is one of the most common practices among Protestant denominations. Some of these denominational leaders even exercise cult-like power over their members. I heard a story of one who told his members that singles who were part of that congregation had to get the "pastor's" permission before they could go out for the evening. In sharp contrast to this type of system, churches of Christ do not have a one-man "pastor" rule. In contrast we have a plurality of men referred to as elders (also called shepherds and overseers in the Bible, Acts 20:17, 28) which serve as the leadership for the individual congregation. The preacher within churches of Christ has no authority beyond teaching and preaching God's word. If the church of Christ is a cult based upon this standard, then more so are the denominations.

The second thing that comes to mind is brainwashing. This is usually done by isolating the cult members from the rest of society, controlling their communications, and feeding them on an exclusive diet of whatever doctrine the cult is propagating. Through this technique an individual can be programmed to believe whatever the cult leadership wants the individual to believe. In contrast, I personally know of no preacher or leader within the churches of Christ who practice such a technique. In fact, the Bible teaches just the opposite and so we preach. The Bible says that Christians need to be in the world in order to be lights of the world (Matthew 5:14). In my preaching, I encourage our members to participate in community activities such as civic organizations, pancake breakfasts, volunteering at schools, enrolling children in baseball or soccer, or being members of the local community center. Involvement in any wholesome community activity is something which cults discourage their members from doing. We also encourage our membership to question the preacher. Our standard of right from wrong is the Bible and not some individual. If the preacher is not preaching what the Bible says, then he needs to be questioned and challenged. This is not how things work in many denominations. In many places, what the preacher says, goes and if you challenge the preacher then your allegiance is questioned. If the church of Christ is a cult based upon this standard, then more so are the denominations.

The third thing that comes to mind is a group of people who claim to be the sole proprietors of certain "mysteries," which if you want to understand what they are, you must join their group. I would say that the Klu Klux Klan, the Masons, and other "secret" organizations fall into this category. These exercise cult like power among their members and encourage them to believe their "mysteries." In contrast, the Bible teaches that anyone can come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). This is what I preach and teach and most other gospel preachers I know preach and teach the same thing. There are no "mysteries" that you can only understand only if you attend the church of Christ. In contrast, the Bible teaches that it is a book that can be understood just like any other book can be understood, that it is not hard to understand, and that if we sit down and read it, we can understand exactly the meaning that those who wrote it intended (Ephesians 3:3-5). In fact, the Bible says that the mystery that once existed in the word of God has now been revealed so that all can know God's saving truth (Romans 16:25, 26). The Bible requires you to believe nothing but the truth that is revealed within it and that is what I and most preachers I know, teach. On the other hand, I have heard many a denominational preacher say that the Bible cannot be understood and that in order to interpret it correctly you had to listen to him and him alone. I have heard many speak about the "mysteries" that are within the gospel and heard many say that they only have the key to understanding them. If the church of Christ is a cult based upon this standard, then more so are the denominations.

The bottom line is, there is no valid evidence to prove that the churches of Christ are cults. So what is the motivation for individuals saying that the "church of Christ" is a cult? Their motivation is simply this: they don't like the church of Christ and they don't want others to listen to the preaching of the gospel. So, they make up names and doctrines and ascribe them to the church of Christ as "straw-men" in an effort to dissuade as many as possible not to listen to faithful preachers, teachers, elders, and members. Their sole concern is to get you to believe something about churches of Christ that is simply not true. Now judge for yourself; is this the way a Christian behaves, or is this the way a cult member behaves? Christians, true Christians, have nothing to fear from those who are teaching the Bible. However, those who are not teaching the Bible have everything to fear from those who are. I challenge you, dear reader, to examine all the doctrines that all the different "churches" are teaching and compare them to the Bible. You will find that the Bible is always right, and those who are following the Bible are clearly recognizable. You will also find that there are many that have gone astray.

If the church of Christ is following the Bible in your community, then become a member. If it is not, then find one of Christ's churches that are faithfully doing so. In so doing, you will not go wrong, and will never be a member of a cult. You will be a member of the church that the Bible talks about, the church that belongs to Christ, the church of Christ.

Disclaimer: This article does not represent a defense of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC). The author has not been and is not affiliated with that religious group.

Friday, January 20, 2006


"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,.." Colossians 1:13 (niv)

"..if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment." 2 Peter 2:9 (niv)

God makes a very great difference in his dealings with the godly and the wicked. When he saves his people from destruction, he delivers over his enemies to deserved ruin. The unjust has no share in the salvation God works out for the righteous. Yet, he does rescue us from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light, His Son!

But... There's another kind of rescue... Satan's!

Screwtape says to his nephew, Wormwood, "In modern Christian writings, though I see much (indeed more than I like) about Mammon, I see few of the old warnings about Worldly Vanities, the Choice of Friends, and the Value of Time. All that, your patient would probably classify as "Puritanism" - and may I remark in passing that the value we have given to that word is one of the really solid triumphs of the last hundred years? By it we rescue annually thousands of humans from temperature (spiritual warmth), chastity (purity in conduct and intention), and sobriety of life (straight-forward; right)."

What I am about to type rings extremely true to us all and our friends today. Peer pressure is evident today. We do just as much as we can to avoid an embarrassment; avoid being oddballs; and one of those, "Holier-than-thou" people.

"He can be taught to enjoy kneeling beside the grocer on Sunday just because he remembers that the grocer could not possibly understand the urbane and mocking world which he inhabited on Saturday evening; and contrariwise, to enjoy the bawdy and blasphemy over the coffee with these admirable friends all the more because he is aware of a 'deeper', 'spiritual' world within him with they cannot understand. You see the idea - the worldly friends touch him on one side and the grocer on the other, and he is the complete, balanced, complex man who see round them all."

Here portrays two different worlds: Relationship with another Christian and relationship with worldly friends.

"Thus, being permanently treacherous to at least two sets of people, he will feel, instead of shame, a continual undercurrent of self-satisfaction."

Doesn't that happen to us all?? We're tempted to leave the faith for the pleasures of the world. We're tempted to trample the Son of God, Jesus, under our foot:

"How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:29 (niv)

"Finally, if all else fails, you can persuade him, in defiance of conscience, to continue the new acquaintance on the ground that he is, in some unspecified way, doing these people 'good' by the mere fact of drinking their cocktails and laughing at their jokes, and that to cease to do would be 'priggish', 'intolerant', and (of course) 'Puritanical'."

In other words, once we behave like the world, Christ is known no more! Light is diffused! Salt is kept in the saltshaker.

Have you been rescued into His Kingdom? That, I pray!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


In C.S. Lewis', "Screwtape Letters", Screwtape asked his nephew, a faithful servant of the evil, "Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?"

I had to stop. I'm a "no-brainer" with esoteric words. There, I said it! So what does "u-n-d-u-l-a-t-i-o-n" mean? Flipping through the dictionary pages, here's what I found:

Undulation, "A regular rising and falling or movement to alternating sides;.."

Sound familiar? Let's proceed...

Screwtape calls us, humans, "amphibians" which is half spirit and half animal. I think Satan pictures us as ugly patients like a "half man, half horse" that you see in the movie, "The Witch, The Lion and The Wardrobe". Here's an interesting quote from Lewis:

"The Enemy's (God) determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father (Satan) to withdraw his support from Him."

Apparently, Satan, who used to be one of the most beautiful angel in Heaven before the creation, thinks it's "unethical" to clone the Spirit and Flesh together. Now, I am just playing with words here and I know God can do anything He pleases because He is God! If I play with my toys, I can decide whether to dissect two toys and switch its parts over creating a relatively rare object. But that's what I would want to do.

Anyways, let's proceed with C.S.'s reading here on chapter 8:

"This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation - the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life - his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down."

Satan knows we go through the "..valley of the shadow of death.." (Ps. 23) which is our trough. There are times when we're at our all-time lows (spiritually and physically)! And it is to be expected. Other times, we experience a high level of spiritual energy where everything seem to be so swell!! So be forewarned, everyone will always have a valley to pass through.

"The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it."

Powerful thought!!! It is not Satan's work, it's life itself. God allowed the undulation to happen for a reason. He knows we need the undulation experiences everyday! Consider Adam feeling lonely when seeing pairs of animals keeping one another company. Satan didn't enter the picture til after Eve was formed.

"To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy (God) wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else."

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 (nas)

Amen! Do you have a struggle that you feel it's impossible to overcome? Then God wants to use that to show His awesome power. Do you have a difficult issue that you've become entangled with? God relies on them for a purpose.

"He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself - creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His."

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (niv)

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." 1 Peter 1:14 (niv)

"We (evil ones) want cattle who can finally become food; He (God) wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empthy and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below (Satan) has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct."

Right! Satan devours, God overflows with blessings and love!!

And lastly,

"And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment... ...He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs - to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best... ...Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

It's all about faith! Many people will think God is so far away that they have been forsaken. But God is always near and watching. He hears prayers. But He will respond when He wants to. He knows when is a good time and when is not. We must always praise God through every undulation of life!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pretty Cageful (Screwtape)

I still have my eyes glued to C.S. Lewis' book, "Screwtape Letters". I am taking it slow digesting his writings and finding relations between his thoughts and the Scriptures. It's really amazing when you read something, the Word of God pops in your mind a resemblance, a parallel.

"'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Matthew 15:8 (niv) This is called "lip-service". We say what we "have to" say. It's not from the heart. When we worship God, all the "heartless" do is simply babble. I can see people with the heart of God who loves Him, serves Him, diligently works hard bringing Him the glory in the church and out in the world.

"Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." Mark 7:13 (niv) When we follow traditions, most of the time it's about religion, not relationships. God is interested in a relationship with us through our obedience to His commands in the Word.

In the "Screwtape", Screwtape wrote to Wormwood,

"Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours - and the more "religious" (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here."

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13 (niv)

You know, Satan is out to win your soul. He works extremely hard pressuring you and me into "religion" instead of "relationships". When Jesus quoted that "..many enter through it..", that explains why C.S. Lewis wrote thinking of Satan's mind, "..a pretty cageful down here.." Surely, he has multitudes of lost and rebellious souls in his den while only a faithful few in Heaven.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

States With Deaf Minister (churches of Christ)

Here is a map consisting the churches of Christ in each State employs at least one deaf minister (in red).

Bakersfield: currently a deaf elder is acting as a deaf minister.

Denver: Mike Atteberry works with the Dahlia Church of Christ.

Lubbock: Sunset International Bible Institute (SIBI) with Bob Anderson and Hollis Maynard
Fort Worth: Terry Heidecker
Dallas: Tom Ramey

Goodman Oaks (south of Memphis): currently looking for one.

Memphis: Billy Leavell works with White Station Church of Christ
Nashville: Mike Helms works with Hermitage Church of Christ
Nashville: Frank Rushing
Chattanooga: Richard Smith
Knoxville: Chris Nipper

Jackson: George Myers

Louisville: Jack Williamson

Birmingham: Birmingham Bible Institute for the Deaf (BBID)
Birmingham: Hal Suddreth works with Roebuck Parkway Church of Christ

Jacksonville: Jose Abenchuchan works with San Jose Church of Christ

North Carolina:
Greensboro: Joe Kaplan works with Friendly Ave. Church of Christ

Virginia (Maryland/D.C./Virginia):
Fairfax: Mark Lowenstein works with Fairfax Church of Christ

Anchorage: Andy Deuschle works with Anchorage Church of Christ

I am sure there are other deaf ministers being supported by their local congregations. I would love to hear from you and get your information (email me). Imagine that only 27% of the whole United States employs a full-time deaf minister and almost an average of 1 deaf minister per state.

"Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." Matthew 9:37 (nas)

States I Have Set My Soul On

Here are the States I have been (in the red) to in the last 37 years of my life. Check out this site for the States you have been to:


More Screwtape


I am still reading this fantastic, yet deep book, "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis..

This is in reference to Christian prayer. Remember, Screwtape is probably one of the stronger leader of Satan or Satan himself. His nephew, Wormwood, is a servant of Screwtape. Here's a couple of quotes C.S. Lewis wrote:

"One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray "with moving lips and bended knees" but merely "composed his spirit to love" and indulged "a sense of supplication". That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy's service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time."

Enemy refers to God; Satan's adversary. Remember, this is a conversation between evil forces against Christianity. This book helps us see the all the possibilities of Satan and his legions' work against our faith.

Patients refers to us Christians. We're Satan's patients and he wants to destroy us and make us ill. That's Satan's job!

This is particularly true today. Rarely, do we witness others in prayer in restaurants before they eat their lunch/dinner. When there's a sense of urgency to pray for the sick and broken-hearted, they simply say to themselves, "I'll say a prayer when I get home tonight" but do not take the time to pray about a certain situation on the spot. Do we see a "bended-knee" prayer wherever we go? Do you do a "bended-knee" prayer yourself?

"The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him toward themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills. When they meant to ask Him for charity, let them, instead, start trying to manufacture charitable feelings for themselves and not notice that this is what they are doing. When they mean to pray for courage, let them really be trying to feel brave. When they say they are praying for forgiveness, let them be trying to feel forgiven. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment."

Of course! When we ask, we struggle to receive what we ask for with human efforts. God is the Provider of the things we ask for.

Another interesting comment from C.S. Lewis regarding our prayer to an "object":

"I have known cases where what the patient called his "God" was actually located - up and to the left at the corner of the bedroom ceiling, or inside his own head, or in a crucifix on the wall. But whatever the nature of the composite object, you must keep him praying to it - to the thing that he has made, not to the Person who has made him."

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (niv)

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;" Psalms 95:6 (niv)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Top Ten

I visited Mike Cope's blog and found this top ten ways to improve church attendance. Not only is this funny but it does show that there are Christians all over the world with commitment problems. Some rings true to our eyes while others are something that applies to the hearing. :)

10. Watch Aslan the Lion take down a gazelle, live on the platform. (Disgustingly cool, huh?)

9. More "open mic" opportunities during worship service.

8. One of those fake shark fins in baptismal.

7. Floating sermon points dance in front of your eyes via cool 3-D PowerPoint slides. (I know a couple of deaf preachers doing this.)

6. Spiritual tech support guys will tell you not to just "re-boot your soul" every time you call.

5. Sermon series: "Thomas Kincaid; the soft lighting Disciple".

4. Wi-Fi access for wireless hearing aides. (Then all the deaf would be wearing one!)

3. Tazer the Sleeping Sound Booth Guy Day. (I've always wanted to taze someone. ;) )

2. Will start accepting coupons from non-tithing churches.

1. Ability to TiVO the sermon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Made For Heaven!!

I love C.S. Lewis' writings, especially the "Screwtape Letters"!! He leads us further into the deep abyss of the Bible - supposedly where no man has ever gone before. ;)

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Almost Heaven!

Wow! What a beautiful morning!! The fog was so thick that we're almost walking on the clouds in the sky or almost in heaven!! It was absolutely beautiful!! And how I wish it was like this every morning!!

Heaven is closer than you think! If you don't think heaven is near, you're saying that God is far away. Really, heaven is waiting for us!! Exciting, huh? I'm really anxious to go there and meet all the Bible heros, poets, historians and faithfuls!! Meanwhile, we're on our way! And I can say it is just right around the corner!!

I'm looking at David's Psalm 23 to help increase our excitement has Heaven is near...

"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:6

Yes! God is watching over you! "Surely goodness will follow…" Isn't David is saying, "Surely only good things are going to happen to me!" No! Bad things happen to good people. Rather he is saying only goodness will follow. Good things will always come out of whatever happens - even the bad, the evil, and the difficult. God will insure that good will come!

It’s a great promise that God has given to believers: We know that all that happens to us is working for our good - if we love God and are fitting into his plans (Romans 8:28). If you're a believer, the Bible says all things are working together for good - not that all things are good - but working together for good. There is no difficulty, dilemma, defeat, disaster in the life of a Christian that God can’t ultimately get some good out of.


When you understand God's grace and mercy, then you have no need to fear the future. God isn't trying to get even with you. Jesus has taken the penalty for everything you've ever done wrong or will do wrong. He paid for it on the cross. Amen!? So when a bad thing happens, you don't have to think, God's getting even with me. That's grace and mercy.

Mercy, like goodness, follows us in life. Picture a parent following a little child around picking up after them. How often do I do that to my own children? So God is constantly picking up our messes.

Christians go to the future - not with a question mark - but with an exclamation point. God will be with you no matter what happens, of course, we don't have a "license-to-sin". He will help you out. He wants to. He loves to. He knows we need it the most because we're absolutely powerless and he's powerful!

God's goodness will provide and protect.
God's mercy will forgive.
God's goodness will supply.
God's mercy will comfort.
God's goodness will assist those in need.
God's mercy will heal the hurting..

Goodness is the fact that God gives us good things in life that we don't deserve. Mercy means God holds back the condemnation we deserve.

Heaven is waiting for you"... and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." That's one of the most important connections we see in the Bible. It connects yesterday and today with tomorrow. God says, "I've got this great life planned for you and surely goodness and mercy will follow you through it, BUT that's not the end! I've got something else at the end!" He has everything prepared for the faithfuls.

David ends this Psalm by saying "We're going to heaven!" Jesus saves the best until last. When I get a cake with thick frosting on the top, I go for the cake and crumbs first saving the icing for the last. After eating the cake and crumb, then eating and licking the icing to the plate brings satisfaction to my soul! Heaven is our icing on the cake (life in the world). With God it just keeps getting better and better. The best is yet to come.

"We know that our body will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever." 2 Cor. 5:1

How long is forever going to last? Forever! Someday your body is going to die, but you aren't! Your body is going to end but that's not going to be the end of you. You're going to live forever in one of two places - heaven or hell. They’re both real places. You will spend eternity in heaven or hell. Your body is going to die, but you're not going to die. Rick Warren quoted in the Purpose Driven Life book, "We were made to last forever!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Anger and conflict

It's been a rough two days for me! I am borderline of exhaustion. My wife and I rented some movies through Netflix and I slept through them all!! I wake up for my breakfast meeting with God but felt extremely tired that I wanted to go back to bed and sleep another 15 minutes. Yesterday and today, I have been wrestling with the Sprint customer service trying to get my Treo 650 working. Today, I waited another hour so that they could update the Sprint software on my pager. But, guess what!! The problem remains and it was never fixed!! Then they told me to call the 800 number for a replacement in which I did two days ago.

And today, I had a surprise visit by one of our members of the church who rambled on and on about the problem this person was facing everyday. I reminded this person over and over that we shouldn't allow other people to control our emotions but only that God controls it and that we move on with our life taking responsibilities of ourselves. Well, this person still rambled on talking about the second person and how he/she really affected this person. I apologized if I am not making sense here but does all this look familiar? Have you or are you going through this type of worldly harrassments. I feel like I need to go to the Human Resources in Heaven and file a complaint.

Well! I did in a real selfish way. Being borderline with exhaustion, one thing piles on another, waiting and patiently waiting for an, oh please, good customer service, a guy cut in front of me when, all along, I have been waiting for 25 minutes. I asked the customer service lady that the guy cut in front of me and I have been standing here for 25 minutes. Her answer: "Sorry, there's nothing I can do about that.." Wow! And how does that make you feel! Steam brewing out of my ears. Lava coming up to my throat and ready to spew out of my mouth. I maintained composure but raised my voice a little bit. "Well, excuse me, I have been here for 25 and this guy who just got in a minute ago is there!" Her answer with a smile, "Sorry, there's nothing I can do about that." Ouch! I just looked away because I know I'll cause a big commotion that a SWAT team would need to be called!! (Kidding...) Actually, it's a diversion from the worse-case scenario!!

Ephesians 4:26-27 (GN) says, "If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin and do not stay angry all day. Don't give the devil a chance."

Did Jesus ever sin when He was angry about people trashing God's temple? No! He knew that they were violating the Lord's command and that a clean up was necessary. How do we know it's alright for a Christian to become angry? Oh, how I would love to toss all the phones on display around and on the floor. :) But that wouldn't solve anything.

Don't let anger hang on. Anger that is not dealt with turns into resentment and then into bitterness. Bitterness is always sin. Resentment is always sin. Those emotions are always wrong. Anger is OK. It's an appropriate response. If you love, you ought to get angry sometimes. I get angry when I see people blowing their lives on things that don’t matter. I get angry when I see people walking right in the middle of something they know is wrong and they know it is going to destroy them. When you care about people, sometimes anger is the correct response.

But the Bible says you need to deal with it quickly. If I swallow my anger, my stomach keeps score. Have you found that to be true? All tied in a knot. Ulcer-ridden. You have a pain in the back, or a pain in the neck, or pain in other places. The Bible says, Deal with it quickly. Don't let it hang on. Resolve conflict as fast as possible.

A lot of stress is just conflict that's never been dealt with. Instead of dealing with the problem right off the bat, you just let it irritate you day after day after day ...

...until you’re totally stressed.

I thank God for the opportunity of a reprieve. I think it's ridiculously silly to dwell on such a small problem (Satan loves to make it look like a big problem).. But, ha! I know Satan is a pure-bred liar!! I am not going to let this weight bear down on my heart. Yes, I was angry, for a short time. Then I simply lift that anger up to God. He's the problem solver of my everyday encounters, whether good or bad.

At least, I will be happy once the new TREO 650 arrives in the mail for a trade. Let the old be gone and the new come! As always, whatever we are angry about drifts away into age and we're given a new life to move on! Are you still angry about something? Stressed? Then you know why? Give it to God...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Avoiding The Pits Using Proverbs

Good eve, bloggers!!

I got my braces on the upper teeth today and it looks great. Hard to tell whether if I have braces or not. It looks like I have a retainer which is good!! The "catch" that fits on the tooth to hold the wires are clear, not metalic. So I don't look like JAWS after all!! :) Now that it's day one with braces, I'm looking forward to the transition it makes..

I would like to blog about how we avoid the pits of life. Some of us may run into a quagmire and fall into a trap. We may end up being ambushed by Satan's arsenals! I don't mean that we work toward "never" falling into the pits of life the rest of our lives. Some pits should not be avoided but embraced as evidence of God at work. However, there are pits that are the result of sin we refuse to relinquish or a wrong habit we cherish and love more than we love God. We should and can avoid these pits by making the right choices using the book of Proverbs..

First choice: guard your thoughts. "Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." (Proverbs 4:23, NCV)

Second choice: guard your mouth. "Don't use your mouth to tell lies; don't ever say things that are not true." (Proverbs 4:24, NCV)

Third choice: guard your eyes."Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good." (Proverbs 4:25, NCV)

Fourth choice: guard your steps"Be careful what you do, and always do what is right." (Proverbs 4:26, NCV)

"Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success. Don't depend on your own wisdom. Respect the Lord and refuse to do wrong." (Proverbs 3:6-7, NCV)

It is impossible to know Christ and respond to the world in the same way. Meeting God changes everything, including our lifestyle and behavior. Our perspective and standards will change. Everything is new, as if we were born again.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

True obedience means that we learn, accept and choose to live out his truth every single day. We are living sacrifices, trophies of his grace.

"So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect."(Romans 12:1-2, NCV)

God does not want a season of obedience. He wants a lifestyle of obedience. I know it sounds like an impossible and overwhelming command! That's only because it is! Obedience to God is impossible outside the power of God. Your Father has already been where he is asking you to go, my friend. He has prepared the way for you and will empower you to walk it. Guard your steps.

If you missed last week's class on Proverbs, why not start this Wednesday through April to study God's wisdom counterattacking life's problems? This class is too precious to pass up!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bracing For Braces

Once again, I'll be a "metal mouth".. Dare ye call me that!! : ) Alright, go ahead and give me a new one. Hey, braces are, after all, beautiful!!

I am looking forward, after 4 to 5 months of using braces, to an ultimate transformation of my upper teeth. It has been crooked and is moving out lil' by lil', thanks to my irresponsibilities of not using my retainer during my teen years. Well, I actually lost it. So be thinking of me as I take a time travel back to my teen years sitting on the dentist chair and getting my braces this Friday!!

Don't be surprised to see my hair standing up! I must have gotten my mouth too close to a electric current! : )

I am really excited about tonight's class studying the book of Proverbs. Also, this Sunday, I'll be talking about "The Heart Of Worship"..

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Bloggers! Just thought I'd share with you the message I preached last Sunday and pray that you will carefully take heed God's Word as we began the new year a couple days ago... Alot of you (members of Fairfax) were either AWOL ;) or OOT (Out Of Town). I hope you didn't have a "headache" after the New Year's Eve Day but you'll have migraines showing up before God unprepared! ;) So this is an important lesson that many of you have missed. It's time, again, to change our lives: remember, change doesn't happen once, it's continuous!!!

Change Your World

Each New Year's Day, millions of us make made-to-be-broken New Year's resolutions. We say, this year I'm going to lose weight; I'm going to work out more. Or, I'm not going to fall for that same old you-spilled-something-on-your-shirt joke. Ha!

As important as it is to eat right, exercise more and not be naive, we can make commitments that are even bigger. Here are five commitments that will change your world this New Year.

1. Meet God for an extended "State of Your Life" breakfast.
"And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12, NASB)

Every year the president goes before congress to report on the State of the Union. Many CEO's go in front of their company's stockholders to report the State of the Company. At the very minimum, we should get away with God for an extended time of prayer each year. The beginning of the year is a good time for your own "State of My Life" encounter with God.
In reality, this is a time to hear God's report on what's going on in your life and what he thinks about it.

We find Jesus doing this in the gospel of Luke; it was an incredibly crucial point in his ministry. He'd just had one of the earliest and most intense conflicts with the Pharisees – our favorite New Testament bad guys – and in the next verses we see him calling the disciples, those who would eventually spread his message around the known world. The moment was critical, and Jesus – even though he was God – needed to get his Heavenly Father's perspective on the matter.

And so do you! God has great plans for you this year. He wants to tell you about them.
So invite God to breakfast. Find a quiet park, go to Starbucks at 5:30 a.m., bring two place settings; grab your Bible, a notebook and a pen; and take stock of your life. Chat with God about where you've been over the past year. Talk with him about where you are going in this next year.

In fact, don't just do breakfast. You might want to clear most of a day on your schedule. There's something about spending quality time with the Lord. You can start with a little, but I guarantee you'll come back for more and more and more.

2. Do something helpful for someone else that you don't want to do.
"Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." John 13:5

We live in a gratification-orientated culture. If it feels good, do it. Jesus – by his very example – calls us to a different kind of life. Being an other-centered person means choosing to help, whether we would like to or not.

Few spiritual disciplines will help turn your attention off of yourself and onto others like choosing to do things for others that you do not want to do. We live in a gratification-oriented society, culture, “If it feels good, do it.” But Jesus, by His very example, calls us to a different kind of life: “The Other-centered People”.

Jesus' example of washing his disciples' feet is still a remarkable picture of how to serve. Not only was Jesus doing something that was certainly not pleasant (have you ever washed someone's feet after they'd walked all day in sandals?), but he was doing something useful and helping the disciples in a practical way.

Look for someone in your life who has a need that most people – including you – don't want to do. Then do it!

3. Share your story of faith with someone.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

I'll come clean with something here; this will be at the top of my commitment list this year. When I moved to Virginia a few years ago and joined the staff at Fairfax, I knew no one here. Two years later, I still know very few people who aren't already Christians. This makes sharing Christ very difficult. Still, today, I know many who haven’t committed their lives to God. I will continue to be contagious among them until the day of either my departure (Lord knows), Christ’s coming or my death!

So let's make this commitment together. Let's commit to sharing our faith with more people this coming year. Remember our theme, “One Soul For Jesus”. Write the person's name down (even if you have to write down "the guy behind the counter at the gas station"), and keep the name somewhere so you'll see it often as reminder. And just do it!

Before we move on to #4, I want to say a prayer asking God for His help with this. This is something that is out of yours and my control. Let’s pray then go on to #4.

4. Seek reconciliation for a broken relationship.
Is there someone from your past that you no longer talk to because you are upset with them? Or do you have a relationship that has lost its vibrancy because of a wrong either you or the other person committed?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, don't hesitate to repair the relationship in this New Year. When God inspired Paul to warn the church at Ephesus about not going to sleep angry, I have to believe that he knew something about human nature that we often miss.
"BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26, NASB)

Anger stews; it's never stagnant. When we hold bitterness in our hearts, it takes root and grows.

Take a few moments to write down a name (or several if you have). Make a commitment to call or email that person today! Or, better yet, visit them. You have nothing to apologize for? Break the ice by coming clean with any possible part you could have played in the disagreement. You can't control their reaction, but you can control your response to this biblical command.
And remember, this is a command from God – not some self-help guru! Going to bed tonight without seeking reconciliation is disobeying God.

5. Give God the part of your life that you've never given before.
"If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21, NASB)

If you wonder if you have an area of your life that you need to give to God, then ponder the first area of your life that came to mind when you read the subhead above. Usually, the area of our life that we need to give to God is the one we least want to give up.

In the book of Matthew, a rich man asked Jesus what it took to have eternal life. Jesus didn't tell him to go do a bunch of good things. He didn't say "drop to your knees and worship me." He simply told the rich man to do what God had told him to do. When the rich man pressed him for particulars, he told him to give up all of his riches. Why? Because that's what he held on to the most.

God wants whatever you treasure the most because He wants to BE what you treasure the most.

Find a tangible way this year to show God you are giving up what you treasure. If food is what you treasure the most, then as an act of worship, take all the junk food in your closet and take them to a nearby food bank. If your car or house is what you treasure the most, begin to use them as tools to serve God.

Lord, Have Mercy On Us!!!