Welcome to my blog! I hope to be a resource to help you in your walk with God. Now more than ever we need to get back to the basic fundamentals of moral living and take a stand for what is right and truthful with God as our ultimate authority. His Word is reliable and preserved and can be trusted, so that is the basis for my advice and teaching. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart. See my website at https://www.lovinggodministry.com/ for books and music I have written that will enrich your life!

Ezekiel 22:30: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Let's stand in the gap together!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Will Stand booksigning

I was blessed to have the opportunity today to do a booksigning at Walmart.  I really enjoy being able to share the book that God placed on my heart to write.  It's a great book for personal devotions, family devotions or group discussions.  It's a useful tool, interactive, and helps young people to develop godly character in their lives.  This in turn helps them to build greater coping skills.  So much in life cannot be controlled by us, but we can control who we are, and how we respond to the world around us.

If you have not had the opportunity to read my book yet, I highly recommend it!  I trust it will be a blessing to you and your family.  Here's a link to Google Books, which shows several places you can get it at discount.  And of course, you can always order it directly from Tate Publishing.



If this book was a blessing to you, I'd love to hear about it!  It really encourages my heart to hear testimonies about what God is doing through this book.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to be a True Friend

How to be a True Friend

by Dawn Foss


Life is not so easy,
No matter who you are.
Troubles come from everywhere,
Hard to live at par.

What happens if you mess up?
Or you don't fit in?
Failure's staring in your face,
Disappointment comes again. 

You've made choices that were bad,
Employment can't be found.
Your coping led to prison
And now you find you're bound.

Your time has been so wasted,
Friends are hard to find.
Welcomes have been worn out,
Years have been unkind.

You wonder how you got here?
You knew much better than this.
The stress you feel brings pain,
And pressure in your chest.

Or maybe you're a victim
Abuse has called your name.
Fear, regret, and trauma
Have brought you tears and pain.
But each day brings new promise,
As faith gives way to hope,
Learning from the hard times,
Improving ways to cope.

Praying for God's wisdom
and strength to face each day;
Holding onto promises
While you humbly pray.

Don't be ashamed of failures,
They lead you to success.
A thing of beauty often comes
From what started as a mess.

Mistakes will mold and make you
Into something God can use.
Humble and tender hearts
Make it difficult to accuse.

Know that you hold value
With an expected end,
God will use those hard times
To make you a better friend.

Jeremiah 29:11-13: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Once Upon A Time

Have you watched the TV series called Once Upon a Time?  It's about storybook characters that have a curse upon them, and they have been transplanted from their happily-ever-after land to the current day world in a town in Maine called Storybrooke.  A loophole in the curse was that the baby daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming was transported to the new land before the curse hit everyone. When she turned 28 yrs. old, she would come to Storybrooke and save everyone from the curse.  No one in Storybrooke could leave, and most of them had no memory of the former life.  Time stood still for 28 yrs, so none of them aged.

Emma, now the 28 yr. old daughter who was to save them had one little problem - a lack of faith to believe what was written in the storybook, that all the people in the town were once beloved storybook characters in another land or parallel universe.  The evil queen who put the curse on everyone knew love once, but because her heart was broken, it was her life's mission to ruin everyone else's happily ever afters, especially Snow White's.  What she couldn't see was that ruining everyone else's happiness did not really create happiness for herself. 

She was the mayor in this parallel world, and knew everything about everyone, and how to make life miserable for them.  Her adopted son, who was actually Emma's birth son (and Snow White and Prince Charming's grandson), read the storybook, so knew how everything fit together, and how the town could be saved from the curse.  As Emma started intervening in the town and became the sherriff, things started to change and the curse started to weaken, and memories started to come back, as well as happiness.  The boy had great faith in what was written in the book, as it related to what he could clearly see in the people and the world around him. Emma, however, could not see past the here and now, the cold, harshness of reality. One of the greatest challenges was to get Emma to see what was right in front of her with eyes of faith, but she chose to disbelieve.  The truth could be right in front of her face, and yet she refused to see it.

This reminds me of this present world.  This world is not our true home, the Bible says, but we are strangers and foreigners. 1 Peter 2:11: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."  

The Bible tells of a rich man who died.  He asked Abraham to send someone back to the earth to warn his family about hell, because surely if someone came back from the dead to tell them about it, they would believe and could avoid that eternal place of torment.  However, Abraham told a very sad truth in Luke 16:29-31:

Some agnostics say that the existence of God cannot be proven, cannot be known.  However, according to Romans 1, God is not hiding!  He is not only seen, but He is clearly understood, to the point that no one is without excuse when it comes to answering to God!

Are you like Emma?  Are you going through life thinking that this is all there is?  Or will you look at the Bible and see what God has left for us, an instruction book that teaches us all wisdom and godliness, so that we can live a life on the right path, full of love and happiness?  It really doesn't take much faith to look around you and see the wonderful home God has given us, and how active He is in the lives of those who will trust in Him.  Yes, this world is under the curse of sin, but praise God our Savior has come!  He knew why He came, and He knew His purpose and plan, and fulfilled the prophecies that spoke of His coming.  He took the curse upon Himself so we can live eternally and not go to a place of eternal torment. 

If you have not known Jesus, please open God's Word (because faith comes by hearing God's Word), open your eyes, and then open your heart to Him.  Your life will never be the same again after you've had that aha! moment!  Glory be to God!  May you live happily ever after in God's kingdom, saved from the curse and freed to love and live forevermore where there is no more death, no more pain, no more suffering, and no more sin.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Apathy - Preachers vs. Worship Leaders

I've had a couple things on my heart lately.  One is apathy among Christians.  Ephesians 5:14: "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Evangelist Ken Sparks preached at our church recently, and spoke about how the term apathy used to be used by early Christians to describe how they felt about worldly things. When confronted by worldy and sensual temptations, they passed it by because they were apathetic toward it.  "Want gold?"  No thanks.  "Want prostitutes?" No thanks. "Want powerful jobs?" Not if it will get in the way of my service to Christ.  They had so much passion for Christ that worldly pleasures did not grab a hold of their hearts. They had no feeling toward it. 

How has apathy changed in the church? Unfortunately, it has flipped in many hearts of Christians. Rather than being apathetic toward worldly lusts and passionate about Christ, we instead are apathetic toward Christ and passionate toward wordly lusts and desires, and the pride of life. Apathy toward Christ and thus disobedience to Him is due to a problem with our love for Christ, our faith in Christ, or our desire for money/power/selfish gain.

We all struggle with these things.  I was recently on vacation at Virginia Beach, and spent some time worshipping the Lord in my heart as I stood in the ocean on a beautiful day, watching my family play on boogie boards with the bigger waves, looking out at the sky and even dolphins that were swimming by!  How beautiful they were!  I loved it when their bodies came out of the water for a second. I thought about the majesty of Christ and how loving and powerful He is to have created sweet dolphins and fierce sharks. The vastness of the ocean and all that lives therein is absolutely amazing. Jeremiah 10:6: "Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might." The beauty of the sky and the stars, planets, galaxies and the vastness of all that is in the universe is also overwhelming and awesome to me to think that the same God who created the microscopic particle and the huge galaxies cares about you and me.  How deep His love toward us!

Psalm 8:4-6: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet."

As I thought about that, I thought about pride that creeps in my heart, often unawares until I quiet my life down enough to smell the roses - or the salt air! - and humble myself before an Almighty God who is the One who gives me strength and daily provisions and blessings beyond belief!  Yes, with all the troubles in life, we can always find wonderful blessings and miracles in our lives if we take notice and look.

So what does this have to do with Preachers and Worship Leaders?  I have recently been to a couple different church services, and have been upset by the music. I am a church pianist and very involved in my church's music ministry, so it is a sensitive subject to me. I am amazed at the mismatch between the music and the preaching in many "good" churches.  The churches have fantastic ministries, people who seem to really be excited about the Lord, at least by appearances, and the preacher brings forth the message of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!  I don't know how preachers can get up in the power of the Holy Spirit after being part of a rock concert. Why don't they do anything about the worldliness of the music? It doesn't match!  I grew up being taught that rock music is bad. The rock music in a church does not compare entirely to a secular rock band, but it is similar in many ways!  Why are we imitating that? How did that creep into the church of all places?

It totally annoys me because I know better. I know that is not how church music should be. It is meant to prepare the hearts for the preaching, and to bring honor and glory to God.  I'm not saying that people who listen to this aren't worshipping God in their hearts, because I cannot judge their hearts.  But I know that I cannot worship the Lord when the band plays a song for 45 minutes basically saying the same thing over and over and over again. They don't know when to end!  We got the point 30 minutes ago! The music is damaging to my ear drums, and gives me a headache. My chest feels like I'm going to have an arrhythmia from the pounding of the drums and vibrations from the speakers. My stomach actually felt physically ill during the heavy drums, and felt better when the music quieted, and felt sick again when it started back up!  Did you know that plants grow away from rock music and toward classical music?

Anyway, the band looks like they are seeking self gratification, which is easy to do when you are up on stage. They enjoy playing, and I get that. There's nothing wrong with having fun serving the Lord! I was once in a conservative band, and it was fun!  But in church there should be a reverence for God's house. And singing the same words over and over again reminds me of the warning about vain repetitions: Matthew 6:7: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."  These worship songs are basically putting prayers to music, and they repeat the same phrases over and over again.

Worship leaders believe they are called to lead the people in worship to the Lord, and the preacher's job is to bring the message from the Word of God to feed the people.  Are preachers apathetic when it comes to the standard of music for the church? Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, but the pastor is the shepherd of the flock of Christ. I urge preachers to take a stand for music that doesn't feed the flesh, but feeds the soul.

1 John 2:16: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Is your church a rock concert or a house of prayer? Are you apathetic toward God and passionate about pleasing your sense of entertainment, or are you passionate about Christ and apathetic toward worldly pleasures?  I know I have to do a self check daily; we can all fall into this and must be very cautious.  My prayer for you is that you evaluate yourself daily as well, and if you have the power to make change in your church, that you see what you can do to get back on track. It is very, very hard to go "back" once rock and roll and heavy drums are introduced into a church because people get used to it and without it the music sounds dull and boring. It's better to never have gone there. But if you have, it will need to be a gradual change in the right direction.  Go with light drums and more piano/strings/guitar, and perhaps eliminate the drums altogether or at least have them be VERY background without a heavy beat and loud volume. Get to the point of the music, and then get out of the way and on for the main event - the preaching from God's Holy Word.  He is holy, and we are to be a peculiar people, and zealous unto good works.  Preachers - please lead and take a stand in your church. You are ultimately responsible for what goes on in that church. Don't be afraid to do what you know is right.  Music can fall into preferences, but there is a line for standards of what is appropriate for the house of God.

1 Peter 2:9: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;"

Titus 2:14: "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

1 Peter 1:15: "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sharing a thought about thanking the Lord for your food, even at a restaurant-from Stand to Reason

Stand To Reason | Quick Thought

This is a newsletter that I got in my email today from Stand to Reason.  I really recommend their website: http://www.str.org/.  They have great, practical ways for living the Christian life.  This was about praying in a restaurant to thank God for your food, just like you would do at home.  I usually do this, and feel really good about having the decency to thank my Savior for the wonderful things He has given me. This is an expression of the heart, showing thankfulness for our blessings.  I really believe it is a great thing to show our children, too.  Getting in the habit of saying thank you to God can also help them to get in the habit of thanking others for the good things they receive as well.  It's such a positive thing! 

I always try to bow my head and give thanks over meals in restaurants, even when I’m alone.  Sometimes, though, it creates awkward moments.
Just a few weeks ago, something unique happened while I was at a Mexican restaurant with my wife and girls.  As usual, we held hands, bowed our heads over enchiladas and chili rellenos, and prayed.  Nothing fancy, just a specific, genuine expression of thanks from the heart.
When I lifted my head, I noticed our server waiting patiently—and politely—for us to finish.  He then came closer, took a knee next to the table, and in broken English asked a question.  Could I teach him to pray?
He told me he liked the idea of giving thanks with his own family over meals, but he was a little unsure of himself.  Did I have any suggestions?  I thanked him for his interest, offered some thoughts, and then passed on a word of encouragement.
It was a short conversation, but it reinforced for me the importance of appropriate gestures of public piety.
I have three specific reasons for saying grace in restaurants, none having anything to do with grandstanding, trying to look “religious,” or attempting to impress anyone with my spirituality.  Here they are.
First, I want to express gratitude to God.
It is right to be grateful to God for every good thing we receive from Him, including what we eat (1 Tim. 4:3-5).  Giving thanks for any meal—even in the humblest circumstances with no one watching—is simply good manners towards God.
Sometimes people are watching, though, which brings me to the second reason I always try to say grace publicly in restaurants.  I want to express gratitude to God before other people.
This brings me to my final reason for always saying grace publicly in restaurants:  I want my simple act of devotion to have a beneficial effect on others. 
Instead of thinking the worst of those around me, I assume my behavior might encourage them.  I don’t expect to get many requests for a short tutorial on prayer, but I do hope my effort will get others thinking in a positive way.
Some of those who offer a compliment turn out to be believers who weren’t as bold themselves.  My effort encouraged them to stand a little taller and be more concerned about honoring God rather than being anxious about the judgment of others. 
Even with non-believers present, I’m willing to take the risk that they may not like what they see.  Those who don’t share my convictions display their values publicly.  Why should I, as a Christian, timidly shrink into the background? 
I hope in the future you won’t miss opportunities like this.  Non-Christians frequently zero in on the negatives of religion.  Maybe your decision in this small area will give them something positive to consider.
Equipping you with the skills that will give you confidence to live out your convictions publicly is what Stand to Reason is all about.  

Grateful for your partnership,
Greg Koukl

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Oh, be careful little mouth what you say..."

Have you ever heard that children's song, perhaps in Sunday School?  It goes like this:

Oh, be careful little mouth what you say, 
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say,
For the Father up above is looking down with love,
So be careful little mouth what you say.

It has other verses, too, such as, "be careful little feet where you go", "be careful little hands what you do", "be careful little eyes what you see", etc. - you've got the picture!  What great advice, even for teens and adults!  Talk about getting down to the basics of life!

We like to talk about living responsibly.  We teach our children to be responsible and dependable, to clean up after themselves, to work hard, to be honest, and kind.  But let's stop and reflect for a moment on our tongues. 

I was reading in my devotions this morning from the book of James, chapter 3. Listen to what the Bible says about the tongue:

James 3:5-6: "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.  Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell."

Wow! Strong words!  But think about it!  The preceding and following verses talk about he we tame wild animals and marine life, and yet no one can tame the tongue.  We steer huge ships with a small helm, and mighty horses with a small bit.  Even though our tongue is so small, it can "steer" us into a lot of trouble, or a lot of goodness!  Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing.  One minute we can be encouraging someone, and the next minute we are gossiping and tearing down someone's reputation!

James 3:2: "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."

Do you have control of your tongue?   Proverbs 15:1: "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."  Have you noticed how you get a response from people by the way you speak to them?  HOW you say something is so important.  On the same token, what we WRITE is also important, because while it's not verbally spoken, it has the same impact. The Declaration of Independence took a long time to write because they wanted to get it right.  It is worth the time to make sure how you write or say something is how you truly want to come across.  

James 3:13: "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth."

Do you desire to be wise?  Honest? True? Knowledgeable? It starts with a pure heart, and will manifest itself out of your mouth.  

Did you ever hear the expression, "Fake it 'till you make it"? I've had a situation recently where I was upset with someone, and almost lashed out on that person because it caused a grievance to me.  I gave it some time, and realized as I truly didn't know the whole situation, and as I thought about it more, I became even more honest with myself and realized that person was not wrong, even if it was done the way I thought it was done.  I was just mad at the outcome, and even at myself for something I had done that contributed to the outcome. I wanted to release my frustration on that person several times, but instead was friendly to them. You know what happened? They were friendly back! Then we ended up having a wonderful conversation, and I was able to encourage and rejoice with that person for some things going on in that person's life. I felt so happy, and all that anger and frustration seemed to disappear!  I chose life, I chose kindness, and while at first I didn't feel like it, I was so glad I did because I saved myself from embarrassment and maybe even a bad reputation had I lashed out (and believe me, it seemed justified to me AT THE TIME).  I also could have hurt that person, who I believe was well meaning, and damaged our relationship. If there was something that did truly need to be corrected, it would be more appropriate to wait until my anger dissipated and look at things objectively and find a real solution in a kind and productive way.

James 3:17-18: "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

People think that peace means everyone giving up what they think is right and allowing the world to take its course without anyone judging anyone else.  True peace comes from inside the individual when you are doing what your Maker created you to be, a defender of what is right, and putting aside selfishness, anger, bitterness, wicked desires, and choosing life and hope and love...and truth.  Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), and put actions to it as you make the world a better place. Start with your heart, admit your faults, confessing to God your sins, and then let the goodness flow from the tongue in a positive way, to put forth pure words rather than poison, sweetness rather than bitter, fruit instead of prickers. You'll be glad you did!