Friday, October 24, 2014

He Is With Us

Challenges might appear to be insurmountable, at times. No matter what angle we look at them from, they appear to be larger than life. Moses sent 12 spies to covertly inspect the promised-land, and when they came back, it wasn’t the fruit of the land that they noticed. It was the size and strength of the opposition.

But there were two among the 12 who looked beyond the impossible circumstances and saw an opportunity to trust in the promises of the God who had delivered them time and again. In Numbers 14:7-9, Joshua and Caleb pleaded with the people of Israel:

“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.”

The God whom we serve is mightier than anything we could ever face on this earth. Though calamities and troubles may fall upon us, remember: the same God who created existence stands with you. He keeps His promises and provides for His beloved. He is with us, no matter what may come.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Keep It Movin'

David’s own family, were a bunch of haters. Shortly after being anointed the next king of Israel, by Samuel, David walked among the fighting men, trying to boost their confidence. But hearing his little brother’s words, Eliab, David’s oldest brother, mocked him and tried to get David to turn around and go back to where he came from. But the bible says, in 1 Samuel 17:30, David turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way. He didn’t get caught up in his brother’s hatred. He turned away from him, and kept his feet moving.
When you become a Christian, some of your greatest haters just might be found in the house you live in. It could be Mom or Dad urging you to tone down your new radical personality. It might be a sister or brother making fun of your new life choices. It could even be a grandparent reminding you of the way things were done back in their day, without Jesus.
Be brave. We are called to spread the gospel even when our loved ones don’t understand it. That’s how we win people over to the Lord. When hate shows up, turn from it and keep your feet moving. Don’t be ashamed of sharing your new faith just because someone else can’t dig it. Turn from them, and spread your faith to someone else. God only needs to get one person in the family to reach them all.

Stop Doin' Wrong!

Isaiah 1:16 (NIV)
“Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
Out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,”

Wow! The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, wasn’t holding back when he spoke to the children of Israel, on behalf of the Lord. I have to admit; sometimes, I do things I know God doesn’t approve of. In the back of my mind, I can hear my heavenly father yell at me, “Stop doin’ wrong!” That’s when I have to remember the promises I made to God, and slow my roll. If I want Him to bless me, I have to do what’s right, not just some of the time; all of the time.
It’s hard following Jesus. I’m constantly bullied by the temptations of the world we live in: money, comforts, fame. But I have to remember that Jesus warns me to stay away from those traps because my purpose is not to chase after those false prizes. No. My purpose is to spread His word to those who know nothing about Him, His saving grace or His mercy which endures forever.
Hey young Christian, are you busy doin’ wrong? Have you shared the gospel with an unsaved friend yet? Have you given to the homeless? Or, have you been wasting time pursuing the things seen on T.V. or the internet; things that have nothing to do with God? Check Isaiah 1:16 again. The Israelites were behaving the same way as we do today.

Set Your Mind Right

Romans 8:6-7 (NIV) – “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
So…you’re new to the faith, and you’re discouraged because you keep thinking on the same things you were thinking on, before coming to Christ. Well young Christian, be encouraged. This is what we call dealing with the flesh. The bad news is that you never outgrow dealing with the flesh. As long as you are alive, on this earth, you’ll have to deal with money, lust, anger, sadness, happiness, the IRS, and bills.
 The good news is you have the Holy Spirit inside to order your steps and give you a new target to focus on. Whenever I’m overwhelmed by the everyday challenges I face, I remember to focus on the Lord and the things of the Spirit; that means anything that God promises in the bible. When I get into my word, I find the pressures of everyday life begin to fade, because I believe God is for me. And if God is for me, then nothing or no one can stand against me.
 A mind focused on stuff can’t stand with God. It just can’t understand God’s ways. But a mind focused on the Lord, will see peace and miraculous things manifest in life. Go with God. Set your mind on Him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pray It Forward

Today, I’m gonna start #PrayingItForward. There are a lot of bad events happening not just around the world, but in our own back yards. It seems that Satan is having a field day with our peace. I think we underestimate the realpower behind prayer. It works, but only through faith. It works because God wants it to; simple as that.
It’s easy to pray for a friend or loved one you stay in constant contact with. But, what about standing in the gap for an acquaintance; what about praying for someone who was once, or maybe still is, an enemy? What about that friend you haven’t kicked it with in some years? What about that family member who laughs at your belief? These folks experience hard times and have bad days too. The difference is, when tragedy hits, they may not know who to turn to. We’re all just regular people trying to find our niche in life. We could all use God’s help.
With all the stupid challenges I see posted on Facebook (Fire, Winter, Ice Water?), I’m gonna start my own challenge. Here’s the deal folks: I challenge everyone to pick a friend, acquaintance or enemy (whatever the case may be) and lay down some prayer for that person. You don’t have to post your prayer; we’re not advertising here. I don’t advocate Pharisee-type behavior. But what I would ask is that after you’ve prayed for that someone, you send them this: “#PrayingItForward”. Only they will know. My hope is that they will, in turn, pray for someone else. Remember, the goal here is not really to stand in prayer for someone you’re warm and fuzzy with. Chances are, we do that anyway. No, the idea and the challenge is to stand in the gap for someone who you might not be too familiar with. Yeah, maybe you’re Facebook friends, Twitter pals, or say, “Hi” at the grocery store. But, besides that weak interaction, you know nothing of one another.That’s the guy or gal this is for; that person who is going through a rough patch.
I’m starting this off, so I get to break my own rule, on behalf of a brother who’s going through some rough times right now.
“Lord, today I stand in the gap for my brother Cle ‘Crushar’ Clark.
When we were kids, we didn’t always see eye to eye, but as grown men, I see him trying his best to do right by his family. Right now, Satan is trying his best to claim hisfamily, and to claim Cle’s peace of mind. Enter his heart, Lord. Grant him grace and mercy like only you can. Guide him through this difficult time in his life, and lead him into a better tomorrow.
Lord, help him to accept loss of life, even without understanding it. Help him to realize that you are in control of everything, at every moment, everyday. We never know when our time to meet you may come. I pray today, that the tragedy this brother faces might bring him closer to you, and that through him, his living family might see and come to know who you really are…and that you DO exist. In your name, I pray these things over my brother, Lord Jesus. Amen”
This was originally started as a Facebook post before walking out the door to work this morning. But, as I wrote this it, I realized, “this thing is bigger than Facebook. People are really hurting out there beyond my door. God calls us to pray for people and to spread His gospel anyway.” So I’m sharing this with everyone in hopes that this things actually goes viral.
Today, pray for someone who really needs God’s touch in their life. Pray for someone who could really use a miracle. Pray for someone who’s at the end of their line. While the apparent suicide of Robin Williams caught everyone off guard, I wonder would he still be here, if enough people had prayed for him? Make this happen today, tomorrow, all week, all month and for the rest of the year people. Let’s pray it forward.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Movies paint a picture of ultimate heroes charging death head on, with no fear. You grow up watching enough of those types of films, and you actually start to believe them; rather, you begin to believe their implied definition of bravery. Real life, however, is much different. Let me tell you what real bravery looks like.
Bravery: Its the little guy on the basketball court who knows the final play of the game comes down to his quick speed enabling him to evade every defender taller than him. His heart beats a mile a minute but, somehow, he knows he's gonna make the game winning layup.
Bravery: Its the woman who tells her male pig-of-a-boss, "Keep your hands off me," even though she has the fear that speaking out may cost her the very job she's worked so hard to obtain.
Bravery: Its the pipsqueak who decides today is the day, he'll stand up for his lunch money. His palms are sweaty, but he swings with a lightning speed he never knew his fists housed.
Bravery: The Christian who decides to defend Jesus, despite the raunchy, disrespectful, off-color humor of his long time pals. The threat of losing friendships is real, and terrifying. But not standing up for his beliefs is far worse.
Bravery: Its the alcoholic who finally says, "Enough's enough. I can't do this on my own. I need help."
Bravery: Is the devoted wife and loving mother who finally decides to pack up the kids and leave her abusive husband, to start a new life for her family, without him.
Bravery: Is the young girl who tells her selfish boyfriend, "I'm not ready for sex," despite his guilt-trip pleas for love.
Bravery: Standing alone in your decision, when everyone around tries to convince you of your impending failure. Yes, its a scary situation, and you might fall. But what if you don't fail, and actually succeed?
True bravery says, "Yes, I'm afraid; I'm even terrified. But...I'm going to do what's right, despite my fear."
Be brave

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Let The Tears Flow

Do you know how hard it is to pose like a tough guy 24/7? It can get downright exhausting trying to hold back tears, when bad things happen that are beyond our control. I know some of y’all out there are just too proud to let the tears flow in front of your crew or even your family. But all of that pinned up emotion only rots the Spirit within you.

Did you know that Jesus wept? The shortest verse of scripture in the New Testament, John 11:35, says so.  In fact, He wept a lot, because he experienced the same feelings and situations we go through today. Jesus was the hardest man to walk the earth, not because he was tough and held back his emotions. No, He was boss because he had the power to wipe out all of his enemies, all diseases, all suffering with a single thought, but chose not to. He chose to live the life of a man. He was “that guy” because he didn’t hide his emotions in times of difficulty.

The world teaches a man to buck up and quit that cryin’ in times of distress. But, in God’s kingdom, tears represent real heart. Real men cry, in times of tragedy, in reverence of God, even in times of great joy. So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re soft for crying. Sometimes, a real man’s just got to let the tears flow.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Choose Your Words Wisely

   When I first got saved, I struggled with my tongue. My vocabulary was fine. As a writer, big words and the dictionary were my close friends. But, I could bless a person in one second and curse their name in the next. “Hey, Brother Ted! May the Lord bless you and the family today.” Then, I could turn to my wife and say something like, “I hope he knows people are gonna laugh at those stupid-looking shoes he’s wearing.”

   The tongue is a dangerous thing. If we don’t watch what we say, every time we open our mouths, we could be in danger of condemning ourselves. James 3:10 (ESV) says, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.” Do you know that Christian who praises the Lord in church, but swears like a sailor, on Saturday night? That’s a danger we should watch out for.

   The Lord wants us to use every part of our being to praise Him. This includes our speech. Yeah…we’re human. We will fail sometimes. But, we should not purposely use our tongues to speak evil into someone else’s life, or our own. In one of his songs, Lecrae says, “For me, learning not to curse, was like learning to write in cursive.” Its hard! But, as Christians, we have to learn to speak life, and put an end to speaking death. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Who Are You Following?

JOSHUA 24:15 (NIV) - “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua was making his position clear. Today, it might be translated in Ennis-vernacular to read this way: “Look, if following God seems wack to you, then follow your own God: money, power, sex, or the culture’s definition of what seems cool. But everyone under my roof will follow God.”

Every day, we have to face challenges. Some may seem like small decisions, but could really have terrible consequences. Other choices may seem as big as mountains, but really mean nothing in the plans of your life. Challenges show up in what we choose to pay attention to: a music video, an R-rated movie, the lyrics on the radio, our friends’ lifestyles. What or who we choose to follow dictates the course of our lives.

Joshua basically said, “Look, no matter what, I’m runnin’ with God. Whatever He says, is what I’ll do.” He chose God’s way over the ways of everything else going on in the world. And for that, God blessed him. Every day, we have to make a choice of who or what to follow. If I have to go through struggles, I’d rather have God guiding me through those struggles.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pigs Love the Mud

2 Peter 2:19-22 (ESV) – “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverbs says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.’”

Boy, that’s a mouthful of bitter-tasting truth right there. No one likes to think of themselves as dogs returning to their own puke, or pigs wallowing in the mud, but its true. I tried Christianity on, like it was an overcoat, 14 years ago. It seemed to be enough for me to simply give Jesus my conditional surrender.

“Okay Lord, I’m gonna go ahead and attempt to read your book now; cover to cover. Uh, if its all the same to you, I’d rather sit at home and watch a few T.V. preachers on Sunday, rather than waste my time in someone’s boring church. We can have some light conversation every night if you want to, but I’m gonna need you to keep a low key profile during the day. A lot of my friends might not understand our complicated relationship. I’m sure in time, I’ll give you more of me, but let’s just start this off slow.”

“Whatever you say, Ennis. We’ll try it your way, but remember: this was your plan.”
I can envision the Lord responding to my idiotic demands, in that loving tone. Its really no wonder that I quickly returned to my selfish ways and destructive patterns, a mere six months into my walk. Not only did I return to the mud, I made it my permanent residence. Everything I thought I’d left behind came back to me ten fold. I was seriously worse than before I’d come to Jesus.

It took me nine years, and a few devastating life changes to break down and honestly turn my life over to the Lord. The new experience of actually being saved was refreshing and uncomfortable at the same time. Oh, I truly gave my heart to God, but my flesh was determined to hang on to some of the dirt from my old life. For another five years, I tried my best to learn the intricate dance of being a dirty Christian. You see, I was all about learning the scriptures, going to church, getting involved with the congregation, and turning over my big sins to God. But, there were a few secret, little sins that I figured He wouldn’t mind me indulging from time to time.

“Hey, didn’t I just throw that up a minute ago? It still looks pretty tasty. One bite won’t kill me.”

Insanity can be defined as doing the exact same thing, but expecting differing results. I actually could not figure out how so many of my christian friends were growing in the Lord, receiving blessings, being delivered from bondage and struggles, when I was consistently by their side, performing the same acts. Then one day, it hit me. The key just appeared. That was it. I was performing! I couldn’t grow in the Lord until I’d made a conscious decision to give the Lord everything, including my secret sins, which of course He knew about anyway. The only person I was really fooling, was myself.

Pigs love the mud. What might seem grimy and disgusting to the human eye, is actually heaven to them. We don’t get it, because we know what’s in the mud: disease, parasites, grime, filth. But the pig can’t see nor understand the danger. As soon as she’s free from the barn, she runs straight for that cool and refreshing filth. Often times, she’ll immerse herself deeper into the slop, than she had been before her bath. You can see it can’t you? Right now, your mind’s forming a mental picture. At some point, the farmer simply leaves the animal to her filth.
There’s the connection. That’s what we do as christian’s who continue to struggle over the same obstacles. That’s how we find ourselves going back to the bottle, or looking for the next sexual fix. That’s what it looks like to continue tripping over the same spending addictions. The pig doesn’t understand why it eventually gets sick. The dog doesn’t know why it needs to go out into the backyard and eat grass, after dealing with two days of lethargy. As born sinners, we honestly can’t understand why we continue our destructive behavior, unless we submit completely to God. Devoid of Him, we’ll always run back to our own vomit or our own mire; never discovering a way to be free of it.

The good news is this. When we submit to God fully, and I do mean fully, He shows us the error of our ways. Our ways are not His ways, you see. So, from our perspective, what looks enticing could eventually kill us. We need God’s direction to keep us from the mud.