Thursday, October 31, 2013

Are You a Bear Riding a Bicycle?

Satan is a clever dude and an expert in tricking people. He loves to counterfeit God’s ways to deceive Christians into thinking they are on the right path, but leading them in the wrong way. Legalism in the church is a counterfeit spirit that masquerades as “dedication to God” but it actually prevents people from walking in the Spirit and God’s grace. It is a system of rules to follow, which is enforced by a person or persons who act like spiritual policemen.

A legalist tries to control other people’s behavior through browbeating and threats. He or she is like the circus person who trains a bear to ride a bicycle. The bear feels awkward doing it, and is only doing it because of the trainer’s threats. Garrison Keillor once said, “A bear riding a bicycle can be trained to do it, but he would rather be in the woods, doing what bears do.”

God calls us to freedom (Gal. 5:13) but legalism calls people to bondage. The Holy Spirit inspires joyful service (John 15:11) but legalism produces dreaded duties. The Pharisees were the legalists of Jesus’ day. In Matthew 23:4-33, Jesus rebukes them for adding heavy burdens on people.

#1 Legalists are typically perfectionists who have unrealistic expectations of others.
Imagine being a pole-vaulter and the highest you’ve been able to clear is 13 feet. Your coach sets the bar at 17 feet. When you keep going 4 feet under the bar, he goes berserk and screams at you for not meeting the goal he set for you. A perfectionist is like that coach who sees everyone as a pole-vaulter who fails to make it over the bar. No one will ever be able to meet his expectations because he sets the bar way too high.

#2 Legalists are highly critical of others. A legalist has no room in his or her heart for God’s grace and compassion. They will often blast others in public and belittle them behind their backs. Those who are highly critical have very little love in their hearts, which causes them to only see others’ faults.

#3 Legalists force people to obey through threats, intimidation, and guilt trips. They will make condemning statements to make others feel guilty so they will conform to their wishes. The people being controlled are more concerned with pleasing the authoritarian figure than they are with pleasing God. They will attend church to make sure the legalist sees them in attendance rather than going to worship the Lord. People were afraid of the Pharisees and followed their rules “for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43).

Lest we be misunderstood, God wants you to submit to those in authority in your church and be joyful in serving Him. Hopefully your church is filled with grace and the Holy Spirit, and led by those who love the Lord. Remember, though, that you get to choose your place of worship. If your church makes you feel like a bear riding a bicycle, it might be time to find a new circus trainer. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Several people wrote us the link didn’t work to “Can Christian lose his salvation?” The link is working now, so please click on the link and print it for future reference.
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We are excited that some students at a university in Kenya are using our studies at www.makinglifecount.net for a weekly Bible study. If you would like to start a study in your home, please email me kent @kentcrockett.com and I would love to show you how.
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Read over 130 Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
Are you worried about the future?  Read The Sure Cure for Worry
Do you want to defeat depression, unforgiveness, and rejection?  Read Slaying Your Giants

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where is Your Focus?

A study was done with two groups of basketball players of equal talent. One group was instructed to practice shooting baskets for so many hours. The other group was told to stay out of the gym, but to practice shooting baskets in their minds and making them. They were instructed to see themselves continually shooting basketballs and visualizing them going through the hoop.

When they played the next game, the players who had rehearsed shooting in their minds hit a higher percentage of their shots than the ones who actually practiced with basketballs! This experiment shows that what you focus on makes a difference in what happens.  

I’m convinced that whatever we focus on determines whether we are happy or miserable, whether we have faith or fear. When Moses sent the twelve spies into the Promised Land, they all saw the same land. However, ten spies were afraid because they focused on the giants in the land, while Joshua and Caleb had faith because they focused on the good land God had promised them (Num. 13:25-33). All twelve were in the same situation, but their difference was their focus.

Focusing on what’s good isn't a secular concept—it’s a biblical command. The apostle Paul told us to meditate with positive, uplifting thoughts: "Whatever is true…honorable…right… pure…lovely…admirable…let your mind dwell on these things" (Phil. 4:8).

We naturally see the giants in our situations. It takes the determination of Joshua and Caleb to focus on what’s good. Instead of thinking about every hurtful thing your enemy did to you, focus on one good thing about that person. Every time you see that person, think about that one good thing and nothing else. You will be surprised how your happiness will return and your enemy cannot torment you anymore.

Instead of only looking at the problems in your job or marriage, focus on something that’s good in your job and spouse. It’s easy to see your problems, but the blessings are also there—you just can’t see them because you’ve been focusing on the wrong things. You must continually look for what’s good if you want things to improve. See the basketball go through the hoop and making the winning shot.

Every day God sends you into the Promised Land and asks you to bring back a report on what you see. What will you report at the end of today?  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Read over 130 Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
Are you afraid of the future?  Read The Sure Cure for Worry
Do you need to conquer depression, unforgiveness, or rejection?  Read Slaying Your Giants

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 Unusual Ways People Have Died

Call me weird, but I keep a file of unusual ways people have died. This morning I read about a man who had just pulled his car in a parking space when an abandoned apartment building collapsed and fell on his vehicle. If you had told him beforehand he would die that way, he would not have believed you. Here are nine more unusual ways people have died (These came from newspaper articles and are not urban legends).

·         A Brazilian man died when a cow fell through his roof and landed on him. His house was next to a steep hillside where the cow had been grazing.

·         A fisherman in Sri Lanka bled to death when a fish jumped out of the water and cut him on the neck with its fin.

·         A man in Iran was shot to death by a snake. He was trying to catch the snake alive and put the end of his shotgun on its head. The snake coiled around the gun and pulled the trigger.

·         A herdsman in Kenya was watering his livestock when he was stoned to death by wild monkeys.

·         A man at a Jets-Patriots pro football game was killed by a flying lawnmower. The entertainment at half-time was radio-controlled unusual-looking model airplanes. The flying lawnmower went out of control and flew into the stands where he was seated.

·         A man in Florida was sleeping in his bedroom when a sinkhole beneath his home opened up and sucked him in.

·         A man in London at his 100-year-old birthday party said, “Yes, I made it!” and immediately died.

·         Two passengers were dining on a cruise ship off the coast of France when a 26-foot high wave crashed through the glass windshield and killed them.

·         A man in South Carolina was jogging and listening to his iPod when he was hit from behind by a small plane that had lost its power and was making an emergency landing.

None of these people knew that death was just moments away. Have you ever thought about how you will die? Will you be cut by a fish tail? Shot by a snake? Killed by a flying lawnmower? Sucked into a sinkhole? Maybe your heart will just stop beating.

Life is short and death can happen at any moment. James 4:14 says, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Will you be ready when your time comes? If not, please read “How can I know that I’m going to heaven?”
 
Have a great day. It could be your last.
www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Read over 130 Bible studies at www.makinglifecount.net
Are you worried about the future?  Read The Sure Cure for Worry
Do you want to defeat depression, unforgiveness, and rejection?  Read Slaying Your Giants

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Announcing Kent's New Teaching Ministry

I'm excited to announce my new teaching and discipleship ministry:
Making Life Count Ministries 

Have you ever wondered how we got the Bible? Do you have questions about Bible end-time prophecies, how to answer cults, or how to answer evolution? The answers are all on our new website www.makinglifecount.net  Please bookmark the site and forward it to others. We have over 130 studies on the site with many more to be added.
  • Each week I'll add new Bible studies.
  • Each week I'll send out a new devotional.
  • Each week I'll add a new video Bible teaching (20-25 minutes).
Do you want to start a Bible study in your home?  Please email me and I'll show you how to get started. kent @kentcrockett.com  I'm especially interested in hearing from people in foreign countries.

I'd also love to speak at your church or event.  Just contact me and let me know.--Kent

Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leaving Your Offering at the Altar?

Jesus made a profound statement that most of us have overlooked.  He said, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matt. 5:23-24). Jesus is saying that a wrong horizontal relationship with man will block our vertical relationship with God.

Imagine a man taking his lamb to the temple to sacrifice as an act of worship. As he is about to hand his animal to the priest to place it on the altar, a thought pops into his mind. The worshipper remembers a disagreement he had with someone. His enemy stole some money from him, but he reacted in the wrong way by calling him hateful names. He realizes that he must forgive his enemy for wronging him, but he also needs to ask forgiveness for his hateful response.

Jesus tells him to leave his offering at the altar. Leave it there while he takes care of some business. There’s nothing wrong with the offering, so there’s no need to take it away. The offering is acceptable, but the worshipper’s attitude isn’t, and God is looking at his heart. This passage reveals that the Lord is aware of what we are offering Him, along with the attitude in our hearts, and also the personal conflicts we are experiencing.

The worshipper leaves his offering and walks three miles to where his enemy lives. He asks forgiveness for calling him those names and forgives him for stealing from him. His enemy returns the money, accepts his apology and they are reconciled, so he returns to the temple and finishes presenting his offering to God.

But suppose his enemy doesn’t want to be reconciled. Instead of being receptive, his enemy curses him out and slams the door in his face. What is the worshipper to do? God accepts that fact that he did everything in his power to resolve the difference. Perhaps his enemy will change his mind later and get right with him and God. The worshipper can now return to the altar with a clear conscience, knowing he did what Christ has asked of him.

Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” Notice 3 things:
·         “If possible.” This implies that the other person may not want to be reconciled. But it also means that resolving the conflict might be possible.
·         So far as it depends on you.” This puts the burden of peace-making on you. It will require humility on your part because pride wants the other person to come to you. Quit waiting for the other person to make the first move. You take the initiative and start the process.
·         “Be at peace with all men.” Conflict creates friction, but reconciliation brings peace.

If you will make the first move, you will find that God will also make a move by blessing you! He will always bless the one who takes the initiative in peacemaking. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Visit Kent’s New Bible Teaching website: www.makinglifecount.net

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Are you worried about the future?  Read The Sure Cure for Worry
Do you want to defeat depression, unforgiveness, and rejection?  Read Slaying Your Giants

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When You Are Slandered

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and living with integrity, you can expect to be slandered. Someone who doesn't like you (perhaps is jealous or feels threatened by you) will twist the facts to make you look bad. They think that by ridiculing you it will make them look better.
 
Jesus told His followers they would be hated by unbelievers, “I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you . . . If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:19-20). But He also said that persecution can come from religious people: “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering service to God” (John 16:2). Sometimes the religious crowd can be harder on His disciples than unbelievers in the world.

The apostle Paul tells us that we will experience a deeper walk with God through “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). No one in their right mind goes searching for ways to experience pain. No one wants to suffer. In fact, we usually avoid it at all costs. Yet, as we seek to know God in a more intimate way, the forces of hell are unleashed upon us through evil people who hate us. Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt as He walked in total obedience to His Father, yet was constantly hated and slandered throughout His ministry?

You cannot learn “the fellowship of His sufferings” by reading books. You’ll only learn this level of anguish when people hate and slander you when you haven’t done anything wrong. People will gossip about you, and sometimes only you and the Lord know that you are blameless. What are you to do when you are hated and falsely accused?

1.Keep your integrity.  If you are blameless, don’t take the bait and react in an ungodly way. This is what Satan wants you to do.  When David was verbally attacked, he said, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me” (Ps. 25:21).

2. Remain silent before your accusers. I’m not talking about if you are falsely accused of a crime. In that case, you should present evidence that you are innocent. But in most cases, it’s best to keep your mouth shut. You’ll wear yourself out trying to defend yourself to everyone. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him” (Prov. 26:4). Even though many false witnesses lied about Jesus, He kept silent before them (Matt. 26:60-63, Acts 8:32). Always remember that God knows the truth and will bring justice on your accusers.

3. Draw near to God.  As you go through this painful experience, you will understand exactly how Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets felt when they were hated and slandered. Not many people are willing to walk down this lonely road, but the Holy Spirit will teach you deeper truths as you join in “the fellowship of His sufferings.”

4. Rejoice because your reward is great in heaven. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:10-11). Notice that these are false accusations, not truthful charges that you have actually done. God will make it up to you on the Judgment Day when you are rewarded.  Jesus said to “leap for joy” (Luke 6:23) because you will receive a great eternal reward for being persecuted.  www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Are you worried about the futureRead The Sure Cure for Worry

Do you want to defeat depression, unforgiveness, and rejectionRead Slaying Your Giants