Thursday, May 28, 2015

Happy Anniversary

Today marks exactly one year since I started For God's Glory. In this year I have more than doubled my readership, however, that may sound more impressive that it actually is. But to those who have been faithful through the year and to those who have joined me during this past year, I thank you!

Not only did my blog turn a year old this year, I also turned 45 years old, which means that I am only five years short of being a half-century old.  That doesn't bother me nearly as much as the fact that just a few weeks ago I registered my daughter for her first year in high school!  She will turn 15 later this year and is already talking about driving! My son turns double-digits this year as well.

Why are we so consumed with the concept of time? It's because we are finite: limited. We know our days are numbered, but we don't know what that number is. So, we keep track of all our events based on time. Some of us worry about time and some just take it day by day. Some of us value time and some waste it away.

We are finite, but God is infinite. I think this is the perspective of which we seem to lose sight fairly easily. Understanding and remembering that God is infinite means that we don't need to worry about tomorrow:
25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life...27 "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?...33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34, also Luke 12:22-34)
God knows where we are and what we need and when we need it. He has made everything and loves you and will take care of you. So don't worry about the time that is passing, but use the time that He gives you wisely:
11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." 15 Therefore be careful * how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:11-16)
Jesus also spoke in this regard:
16 And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' 21 "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21)

There are only two circumstances under which we are instructed to be concerned about time. One is for those who have not accepted the gift of salvation from God. They must be concerned because we do not know how much time we have left before God begins judging the world. He is delaying for you, but no one knows for how long. The second is for those who know Christ, that we will exercise urgency regarding the sharing of the good news of salvation with those who will perish without Christ.
 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (2 Peter 3:3-12)
If you have not accepted the gift of salvation, I want you to know that it is a gift that has been paid in full. The reason it had to be purchased was because you and I and all the people who have ever lived, have sinned against God by disobeying His commands. God is perfect and therefore demands perfect living. However, we are incapable of being perfect and so we can never be right with God in our own power. But because God loves us, He paid the penalty Himself by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins. He paid our debt.

He then proved that His payment was sufficient by rising from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. He has proven that not only does He have power over His own death, but yours as well. He now is offering the gift to you. All you have to do is believe that it is yours and receive it from Him. Then commit your life to Him. Let Him be the boss of your life. Let Him direct your decisions/choices by reading the Bible and doing what it says. Find a church to attend so you can learn more about how to study His Bible and apply it to your life and then share it with others.

If you need help understanding any of this, please leave me a comment and I will be glad to get with you. I hope that today will be the beginning of another birthday for you to celebrate. This is why I started this blog a year ago. I want to help those who don't know Christ to know Him and I want those who know Christ to grow in their understanding. I have been serving Christ for 35 years now and I haven't managed perfection at any time. However, I look forward to the day that He will perfect me and take me up to heaven. Meanwhile, I am going to learn all about Him that I can and serve Him with all that is in me by His power that lives in me!

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

Friday, May 22, 2015

Smartphones Obsolete?

I heard a news report this week that said statistically smartphones are almost obsolete. That is based on research that states that once anything reaches more than 50% of market saturation, it begins to become obsolete. According to the report, the smartphone market is now at 75%.* You can enter any public arena and see that this is pretty close to accurate. People are constantly consumed with looking at their screens in search of information or making sure they haven't missed the latest "news" from or about a friend or they are addicted to the latest game app.

Many times I have seen couples out for dinner and they are not even talking to one another. Rather, they are on opposite sides of a table looking at their phone and might as well be on opposite sides of the world. But lest I seem too condescending, I am guilty as well. Me and my family have gone to a local restaurant to purchase and share a drink just so we could visit and my wife will need to remind me why I am there.

Last night something happened that is very out of character for me: I walked out of my house to go to our daughter's junior high band concert and I left my phone at the house!  It was a little hard to get used to. First, both my pocket and my hand were empty. I'm used to having the phone in one of those two places. Then occasionally, I found myself wondering if I was missing a call or a text from a church member (Maybe someone had an emergency and could not get in touch with me!). But, do you know the one thing that didn't bother me? I didn't have the urge to look at Facebook or Twitter or look something up on the internet or any other distracting thing. Do you know what I did? When we got to the concert, while we were waiting for it to begin: I talked to my wife and my son. I visited with other parents. I even got out of my seat and walked across the room to greet some folks that I knew!  What a concept! I socialized! And once the concert began, I just listened!

I am obviously being "a little" over the top right now, but I/we have truly sacrificed social relationships for social media. We are not really engaged in the lives of the people in our social networks. We interject into their lives and they into ours, but we do not invest. God created us to be relational, but the enemy, Satan, does not want such a bond.  Jesus said, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls" (Luke 11:17). This is certainly an area that needs our intentional attention.  We need to invest in our spouses, our kids and our spiritual family. We need to invest, most of all, in our relationship with Christ by spending quiet time in His word and in prayer (Matthew 14:23).

I am not railing against the use of smartphones. I value the usefulness of mine, but I also recognize the distraction it can present. However, after I finished my time out with my family last night, I was glad that I forgot my phone. It was peaceful and undistracted.

Because of my experience, it has inspired me to issue a challenge: **Plan a phoneless night out. If you're married and it's going to be just you and your spouse and you have kids, leave them with someone you trust fully to take care of any situation so you don't feel the need to call while you are out. You may want to have a family date night with your kids. If you're not married, either agree with your date  or with your group of friends to go phoneless . Just leave your phone at home and engage in conversation with the people you are with. Maybe you'll need to develop a list of questions to ask (you might be out of practice in the art of conversation).

Try it and come back and leave some comments. I would like to hear how your phoneless night out goes. In addition, I challenge you to spend some time in the scripture either with your phone off or so far from you that you don't hear it make a sound until you are done. I'd like to know how that goes too. I hope to hear from you soon!

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

*I searched for an article related to the radio news story and was unable to find a link.
**Interestingly enough, this afternoon after I posted this article, a radio station mentioned an app to help with this: It is called Dinner Mode. It is only available for Apple products in the iTunes store.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Risky Business of Convictions

I am not a risk taker. Because of that, I am prone to be slow at making decisions. One reason is because I don't want to be wrong, even though there is always a high probability for me to be wrong at some point. I tend to forget that being wrong is not always detrimental. It won't necessarily end in my death (though it could) :-). Sometimes being wrong is only a matter of someone else's perspective. So I have to remind myself that it's okay to disagree. However, this is difficult for the part of me that likes to keep people happy and favorable toward me.

I have been challenged over the past few weeks in discussions about some doctrinal issues. I have encountered people who disagree with my understanding of Scripture. I am not going to break open the specific topics in this post, but I am going to address the need to know where you stand.

After one of those encounters, to which my wife was privy, I began to review it all with her in the car on the way home. In our discussion, I began to waver on my convictions and she called me on it!  I am so thankful for my wife. She has some great godly wisdom and she has a different perspective than I. She held me accountable to my convictions.

Some doctrines are not clearly defined by the primary texts. In other words, they do not directly tell the reader how to proceed though it is clear that something must be done or decided. So, how do you form convictions in these cases?

When addressing doctrinal uncertainties, you have to look at Scripture as a whole. Even though the Bible is a collection of books penned by multiple authors, its true author is the Holy Spirit and everything in it is 100% true. The Bible as a whole is cohesive.

It is a dangerous practice to take one passage out of the Bible and present it by itself.  I have always heard the following illustration to demonstrate this danger: Matthew 27:5 says that Judas hanged himself and Luke 10:37 ends with the words "Go and do likewise". If you took these two verses out of their context or out of the context of all of Scripture, it appears that suicide is permissable. However, if you look at all of Scripture, you see that God values life and wants us to value it and that He alone is qualified to decide life and death for mankind (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, Deuteronomy 32:39 - of course, make sure you read the context).

Scripture is where our convictions must begin and end. Scripture is our primary source for discovering the heart of God. It is the only source for those who do not yet believe in Christ, For the believer, we have one other source: the Holy Spirit. We must constantly stay connected to the Father through the Holy Spirit by spending daily time in prayer in addition to Bible study.

In order for either one of these sources to benefit you and strengthen your convictions, you must commit to an investment of time and energy and thought. We cannot be haphazard about our relationship with Christ.  To be lackadaisical about our relationship with Christ is even more detrimental than if you stop talking with your spouse. You and I both know that a marriage won't last long if you don't ever talk. It certainly will not  improve without this activity. We must be fully devoted to and interested in our spouse for our marriage to reap the most benefit. We must also be fully devoted to and interested in our Savior to reap the most benefit our relationship with Him.

Finally, if you have encountered a difficult doctrine and have done all the research and praying to discover the best interpretation based on the whole of Scripture, you must simply take a stand on what you understand to be right according to the Scripture and the Spirit. Granted, there really are not many "unclear" passages in the Bible, but there are some and they require you to make an educated and convicted stand. I have heard it said many times, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything" and it is true. This doesn't mean you couldn't learn something new that might change your perspective, but it does mean that you will stand firmly upon what you have discovered until it is proven otherwise.

My rule of thumb is to consider what will give God the most glory. What will honor His name by following His principles. Jesus warned that the world will disagree and will even hate us for our stand, but it is much better to offend people than to offend God. He's the one we have to stand before at the judgment. I pray we I will be found faithful.

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

Friday, May 1, 2015

National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible. (

Thursday, May 7th is National Day of Prayer. It is timely that I recently read the following verses:

2 Samuel 21:14: "...and after that God was moved by prayer for the land."

2 Samuel 24:25: "...Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel."

In the first passage, God was disciplining Israel for breaking their covenant with the Gibeonites. Saul had been trying to wipe them out, but was violating the covenant that had been made when Israel first entered the promised land.

The second passage relates to the time David ordered Joab to count all of his troops. It is presumed that he was being prideful regarding his military strength rather than glorifying God's strength. Although he repented and grace was applied, sin always has consequences. The Bible says that God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). God gave David three choices. He was given the choice of seven years of famine, three months of running from his enemies or three days of plague. Because David trusted in God's mercy and feared the mercilessness of man, he chose three days of plague at the hand of God.

In each passage we learn that it is after repentance and worship that the prayers are heard and move the heart of God.  We do not religiously approach God in prayer to manipulate Him to do what we want or need Him to do. God is interested in changed, devoted and fully surrendered hearts. That is what causes Him to hear prayers. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear..."

God desires His people to come humbly and dependently to Him and seek His favor and love Him first and foremost and to learn from Him. We must pray regularly. Prayer is our communion with God. We must specifically pray for our nation and confess both our individual and our national sins just as Nehemiah did.

Will you join me in praying, first, confessing our own personal sins? What have you done that is offensive to God?  If you don't know, just start with the Ten Commandments. We have all violated at least one of them and probably on a regular basis. Confess that to Him. Next, will you join me in regularly reading the Bible? That is how we learn about who God is, what He expects, why He expects it and why He is deserving of our devotion and service. Finally, will you allow God to change your heart and your life to be conformed to His ways? If you do this, He will begin to hear your prayers and He, the Creator of the entire universe, will be moved by your prayers. He already sent His only Son to die for you, paying your sin's penalty. He loves you. He is waiting for you.

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet