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A Call to Commit: Crush the Idols


So many who come to faith in Christ seem to want to return to where they were before. Why? They think it was better or “more fun” to live in slavery to sin. As I have shared before I call this place a “Christian’s Spiritual Egypt.” Obviously I am referencing when Israel wanted to return to slavery in Egypt instead of continuing to the Promised Land. They thought they’d be safer and more comfortable there. So a Christian (I am not referring to all believers) thinks their old life was better and they want to return. They want to return to their slavery to sin. That comes from a lack of trust in God which is exactly what the Israelites were suffering from at the particular time I’m referencing. My message here is to those Christians who are on the fence. I pray the Holy Spirit draws you close before you fall back into the vicious cycle of an utterly sinful life.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”- 1 Kings 18:21

In this passage of scripture Elijah is establishing to the people of Israel this same message that I’m trying to give to you: You can’t truly serve more than one god. You need to either choose the One True God or you can choose the worthless gods who will do nothing for you. I’m talking about money, popularity, power, sex, relationships, etc. Those are all idols when you put them before serving the Lord.

Elijah isn’t the only one who spoke this message in the Bible. Jesus told us that we can’t serve two masters. We’ll hate one or the other (Matthew 6:24). Sin is rebellion against God. And that is ultimately hatred towards God. Also, God can’t go against his own character. If you choose to live in slavery to sin, God will be forced to withdraw His presence, His Holy Spirit from you. We saw that happen to Israel’s first king, Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul…”- 1 Samuel 16:14

Saul chose to disobey God and lead a life of rebellion. He paid the price for it. God doesn’t change, so He is required to do the same today because He is just.

Sin is so deceiving and it sneaks up on you like a predator. You begin to tolerate one little thing and that gives a foothold for the enemy. Sin then slowly takes over your life. Finally, you feel trapped and you can’t get out. No matter how much you want to and how much you try you can’t. I’ve been there. Then, if you don’t confess your sin to the Lord and repent, you begin to love your sin and you’re back to where you were before Christ. Finally, you’ll begin to plunge deeper and deeper until you are destroyed by your sin unless you turn back to Christ. That is the downward spiral of sin.

“How come every time we buy into and idol, we’re the ones that get devoured?”- Jefferson Bethke

Because as Jefferson Bethke states in the video I just quoted, “An idol takes, it never gives.” When you’re so wrapped up in what people think of you that you’ll do anything to gain their acceptance, you are a slave to acceptance. You have now put that before God. It’s the same way with anything else. Popularity isn’t bad, unless you turn it into an ultimate. Money isn’t bad until it’s turned into an ultimate. What are your idols?

“This day I call the heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”- Deuteronomy 30:19

Life is found in Jesus Christ. Death is found in sin and the ways of the world. It’s as simple as that. Your choice. No one else can make it for you. God’s not going to force you to choose life, but he wants you to. If you turn your heart away from God and choose to be disobedient and serve your idols, you will surely be destroyed (Deuteronomy 30:17-18). Choose life (that is: Jesus) today.

You know who you are. If you are on the fence and are falling into the idol trap, you haven’t gone too far. The grace of God can reach you. No matter what you’ve done you can be made new. If you repent and turn back to your faith in Christ, you will be saved. God promises us that. If you have been ensnared by sin, pray to God and repent now. Don’t wait. Do whatever measures it takes to crush your idols.

Make this declaration:

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”- Joshua 24:15

Here is the video of Jefferson Bethke that I quoted. This poem is inspired by what true manhood is, but I believe everyone can get something out of this.

God bless you!




What is the Spirit’s Concern for the Unbeliever?

I’ve noticed that so many Christians immediately confront the sins of unbelievers when they attempt to evangelize them and advance the Kingdom of God. I ask, “Is that the right approach?” The answer is really quite simple: No. It is not the right approach. And I’m going to tell you why. Let’s begin with a passage for Scripture that everyone knows. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”- John 3:16

Most of us know what this means. Out of an unimaginable love for His Creation, God sent His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for mankind. This sacrifice would allow us to experience a right relationship with God. We now had free access to the Father. We could walk right into the Holy of Holies. We no longer need a middle-man (priest). Now look at the next two verses.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” -John 3:17-18

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. We see this in John 8.

1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”- John 8:1-11

Let me transition for a minute and talk about this passage. 

In thier effort to trap Jesus, the Pharisees actually twisted the law. The law would require both parties involved in the adultery to be killed. They only brought the woman. This was likely a set up by the Pharisees. Jesus answered in such a way that he could not be accused of anything. If he would have completely dismissed the case, then the authorities could have accused him of not supporting the Jewish law. He still spoke of throwing stones, but prevented them from taking the matter into their own hands.

We also, however, need to be careful that we don’t use Jesus’ words to justify sin in the CHURCH. The Word teaches that blatant sins committed by those within the CHURCH are not to be tolerated. These issues should be confronted and exposed by God’s loving grace. Notice the emphasis on “Church.” It’s important.

I also want to look at the second part of verse 11 above: “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus’ whole attitude in this situation amazes me when I read this. It reflects his purpose of forgiving sins and restoring people’s relationship with God. He doesn’t condemn her because she is unfit for forgiveness. Instead, he treats her kindly and with mercy in order to lead her to repentance. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus doesn’t look on sin lightly, but he gives us the opportunity to turn from our sinful ways and live as part of God’s Kingdom.

How many times do we, as Christians, exclude people from the Cross because we believe their sins are too great? By doing that we are saying what Jesus did wasn’t good enough to save them. That just drives people away from Jesus! That’ s beyond wrong. Sadly, I’ve caught myself doing that before. I just pray that I don’t exclude people from salvation. I have to remind myself that I still sin and at one point I was just like them.

Now you may be asking something like “Where are you going with this?” or “Why the emphasis on ‘Church’?”

The Holy Spirit is NOT concerned with the sin of the unbeliever as we see it. He is concerned with the unbelief. The reason why is because it is the belief or the faith in Christ that will save us (John 3:16, 18). Verse 18 makes it clear that unbelief is what will condemn you to hell. When they come to a saving relationship with Christ, that is when the Spirit will begin the process of sanctification (which is a life-long process). When an unbeliever come to believe in Christ, that’s when the Spirit will begin to address the sin in that life. So our job as believers is to help lead unbelievers to a belief in Christ. It is not to condemn them for our sins. That will do nothing because they don’t have the Spirit to convict them yet. 


God bless!


A Problem in the Church

I was thinking recently. Yeah, I know…amazing right? 🙂 

No, but seriously. I was thinking about how people in the Church today will separate themselves completely from another Christian who commits is trapped by sin. Or maybe they try to help, but instead just try to find the easy fix. I started thinking, “Well, that can’t be Biblical, can it? Jesus commands us to love one another and be unified in the Body of Christ. And that is true. I started reading Francis Chan’s book, Multiply. In that he said something that I already knew, but it was still just as profound. He said:

“Or when we learn that a friend is struggling with sin, we are quick to explain why that sin is harmful and tell her we will pray for her (whether we follow through or not). But how many of us would take her struggle with sin so seriously that we would walk with her as she works through the issues involved?”

Yes, the Bible is clear that sin needs to be corrected. But it doesn’t end there. We can’t “correct them” and then condemn them. You see, there’s a difference between judgement and correction. Judgment brings condemnation down on the person being judged. Correction is done out of love with the hope of redemption. It’s like a parent. They may spank their son or daughter for hitting someone. A good parent doesn’t spank out of anger. A loving parent will spank (or use other forms of discipline) out of love for the child and to correct a wrong behavior. But the parent continues with loving that child. 

It’s the same way with Christians. Yes, we are to correct each other’s sinful behavior. But you had better do it purely out of love and you had better be willing to walk through the issue with them in order to bring them to redemption. I think part of the problem is that many believers don’t want to get “dirty.” They don’t want to be associated with someone who has a sin exposed to the public. It’s the same attitude some have towards non-believers. They don’t want to be seen with the “undesirables.” It might ruin their reputation. Then tell me, how are you supposed to evangelize and disciple them if you don’t associate with them? If they won’t come in to the church, you bring it to them. How can your Christian brother or sister be brought back to the cross if you want to find a quick fix or just blow them off completely? Galatians 6:1-2 says:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Carry each other’s burdens. That will likely require you to be seen with the “undesirable.” But the attitude I mentioned above is exactly the attitude the Pharisees had. Did you know Jesus had more of problem with the “religious” people than he did with the sinners? 

It’s time we get over ourselves and be willing to walk through thick and thin with our fellow believers. 


How Can We Escape if We Ignore Such a Great Salvation?

Hebrews 2:2-4: “For since the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. This salvations, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

You know, today people are looking for an escape. I have no doubt that many are seeking God out of the deepest and darkest pits of their life. And others are looking for something else. They’re turning to idols and those idols will never satisfy them. They’ll never comfort them.

I have friends of mine that are in this boat that the verses above mention. They want to serve Jesus. I have no doubt about that. The problem is that they are missing, or rather ignoring the escape or the salvation that Jesus is extending to them. It’s frustrating because they want to do what is right. They want to get rid of their idols and follow Jesus with everything they are, but they just can’t seem to. As soon as something comes along they decided to put God on the back burner. It’s grievous to me. How can they escape if they ignore such a great salvation? They can’t. Jesus is the only Way out. God isn’t something we run to when our boyfriend or girlfriend other cheats on us. He isn’t something we run to when things don’t go our way. And He’s not something we run to when tragedy strikes. He should be our life. We shouldn’t be able to function properly without first seeking the Lord. Yeah, you’ll have to dump some things you might enjoy. But it’s so worth it.

If you find yourself in this situation, I urge you to come to your senses. God is extending his beautiful grace to you. All you have to do is take it. Surrender your life to Christ completely because he bought you with his life. You will either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. You pick.

If you will please join me in praying for those friends I mentioned. I pray that anyone who reads this is just solidified in the faith. I pray that if you are going back and forth with God, you stop and surrender to Him. You’re fighting a losing battle if you don’t

God bless!


P.S. Sorry for not being able to post much lately. School is in the process of rapping up (just six days left!) for the summer and I have been busy with other obligations. I’m so grateful God has given you to me as an audience so that I may bring His Word to you.

No Turning Back- Full Length Sermon

This is the sermon I preached on Sunday night! Enjoy 🙂




The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Matthew 27:32-56: 32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Jesus went through torture beyond any of our imaginations. He went through personal humiliation, physical pain, and spiritual anguish. The worst of all was probably the suffering that came in verse 46. He experienced separation from God. That is the ultimate consequence of sin. Separation. Spiritual death. I can’t even imagine what he went through at that moment. The weight of sin for everyone who ever lived, was living, and would live was upon him at that moment. That full amount of God’s wrath was on Jesus. Jesus had never sinned, but God made him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s Son, the Creator of the universe, was rejected by His creation and isolated from His Father. The separation had to be the worst suffering of all. The wrath of God was satisfied. Because of Jesus’ suffering, we are restored to a right relationship with God if we accept His FREE gift of salvation.

According to John’s account (John 19:30) of Christ’s death, what Jesus said in verse 50 was “It is finished.” These words mark the end of his suffering. It marks the completion of Jesus’ mission to restore us to a right relationship with the Father. At the time Jesus Christ died, the “curtain of the temple” was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes that the way into God’s presence was now open. Because of what Jesus did, we have permanent access to God for all those who give their lives to Christ.

Just one person’s sin would’ve been enough to put Him on the cross. He would’ve done the exact same thing if you were the only person on earth. ‎”A cross, 3 nails, the weight of my sin, loneliness, pain and sorrow. That was on my Savior’s,”to do list”,for that day. I am the cause.”

“He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”- C.S. Lewis

“It was my sin that held him there. Until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.”

Jesus did all of this out of love. When He was hanging on that cross He was thinking of you. He gave salvation to anyone who comes into contact with His saving and delivering power. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we don’t have to be separated from God anymore. We now can have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

I also want to say that through Jesus’ ministry he was rejected by the world. Many mocked him, laughed at him, called him a liar,etc. We, as Christians, can expect the same type of rejection. If Jesus is the center of your life, the world system will reject you. David Wilkerson says: “It is a very costly mercy that;s been shown to us. Jesus paid a price in the human flesh. It’s the same price we are going to pay. We have to pay the cost of total rejection. Society will never accept you if Jesus Christ is the cause and the meaning of your mercy and grace.”

You see, the cost of following Jesus is great. Some of us will be rejected, mocked, beaten, tortured, and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. Other religions will be accepted. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism will be accepted. However, Christianity will never be accepted by the majority of society. Why? Because Christianity is the only true religion. The cost is great, but the reward is even greater- an eternity with Jesus!

Jesus tells us that the world will hate us. He tells us that we will be persecuted. Jesus went through considerable suffering so that we can have freedom from sin and death. Expect to face troubles on this earth, especially persecution. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

The Greatest Story Ever, the Greatest Truth Ever does not stop here. There is more.

The Resurrection:

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

As I was looking through all four accounts of the Resurrection, I saw Luke gave the most descriptive telling so I decided you use his account. If you want proof of the Resurrection look at the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If Christ did not raise from the dead, there wouldn’t be that kind of demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

The Resurrection of Jesus is one of, if not the most central truths of the Gospel. If the Resurrection had not occurred, followers of Jesus would have no hope and their faith would be pointless. In fact Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). As Lecrae says, “That implies that our lives are built around Jesus being alive.” Because Christ conquered death, death no longer as power on those who are in Him either. We can enter Paradise with Jesus. Christianity is the only religion on earth that can say that their “main man” is alive! Enemies of God try to stop the message of the Resurrection because they know the effect that the message can have! They can NOT stop a miracle, however! Without the Resurrection my whole life (and every Christian’s) would be wasted. He is risen!

Once again the Greatest Story ever, the Greatest Truth ever does not end there. It is an ongoing thing. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit after a ascended into Heaven (Check out Acts chapter 2 for more details on that). Jesus is returning soon! Are you ready?

“Paul said if Christ ain’t resurrect then we wasted our lives
Well that implies that our life’s built around Jesus being alive
Everyday I’m living tryin show the world why
Christ is more than everything you’ll ever try”- Lecrae



Exchanging the Truth of God For a Lie

Romans 1:25: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

My first question when I used to read this passage of Scripture is “Why would anyone ever exchange God for anything less? It doesn’t make sense!” Then my attention was turned to Israel. Israel seemed to be in a constant stage of rebellion against God throughout the entire Old Testament. At one point, they even wanted to return back to Egypt (read Exodus for more on that). I remember thinking, “Good grief! Why would you continually do things that grieved God? Why didn’t you learn?” Then one day, God told me this in my heart: “Austin, you do the same thing.” That was it. Not anything profound at all. However, I was completely humbled. I realized that so many times I choose worldly things, worthless things over God. The Lord also laid on my heart that often Christians want to return to what I call their “Spiritual Egypt.” We think it was better where we were before we accepted Christ. That’s just our flesh deceiving us though. That’s when I finally realized that God’s grace is so much greater than I had ever imagined. We, as Christians, often rebel against Him and yet He still chooses to love us and take us back when we repent of our trespasses. Our idolatry. Colossians 3:5 says this about our sin:

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Paul calls our sin or our rebellion towards God “idolatry.” And it really is. Whenever you put anything before God, that’s idolatry. You’re worshipping something else. As Jefferson Bethke puts it, “What defines you, what do you give ultimate worth, and what, if taken, would bring ultimate hurt.  Now see, that is your god.” We often think of idolatry as literally bowing down to something else. That’s not necessarily true. You can worship money, drugs, your boyfriend or girlfriend, you popularity, etc. Anything you put in place of God is idolatry. Jefferson Bethke also said, “Where we exchanged ourselves for God thinking we could be Him, He exchanged Himself for us, absorbing all our sin.”

That’s grace. Even when we are in rebellion against the Creator, God still calls us our of the darkness. He doesn’t care where you’ve been. He wants you now. When Jesus was on the cross, He was dying for each and every individual that ever was and ever would be. His love will never fail you! Call out to Him in repentance and accept Jesus as your Savior! Only then will you be satisfied.

“Counterfeit gods, if you fail them, will never forgive you and if you get them, they’ll never satisfy you. This is the only God who will- Jesus and His resurrection.”- Tim Keller

God bless!

-Austin Registered & Protected

America: A Nation Turned Against God? (Part Two)


Are We Losing Focus?

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed.

 If you look to God, you’ll be at rest.”  ~Corrie Ten Boom

Sadly, the Christmas celebration came to a predictable end and I was once again forced to begin the drive back to Tennessee from my hometown in Michigan.  This year, this also meant trudging through inches of snow lying on the Michigan and (northern) Ohio pavement.  Ugh.  Let the fun begin…

I decided to make a stop at a McDonalds in Ohio–not only to maintain my caffiene intake, but also to give my dog, Bagel, a much needed visit outdoors.  The interior of this McDonalds was quite a suprise.  It had a beautiful stone fireplace, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large decorative clock mounted on the back wall.  When I was a kid, a McDonalds was considered fancy-shmancy if it had a ball pit or Ronald McDonald statue to shake hands with in the foyer.  Now however, fast-food restuarants have apparently become a luxurious place to put our feet up, warm ourselves by the fire, and at the sound of the gong on a grand ole clock, make our way to the next looming appointment in our sometimes grueling days.

We have come a long way as a society.  Perhaps the progression of a fast-food restaurant’s aestheic design isn’t the best example of this, but it does however paint a picture.

* * *

Each year, I see our American culture becoming busier, more advanced, and surprisingly maintaining an increasing “need” for acquiring more “things.”  We have more toys, gadgets and fantastically tantalizing thingamabobs then we’ve ever had before.  Practically everything seems to exist in a digital format, presented with the help of multiple digital devices that constantly remain in the race for which is the smallest, fastest, and containing the most storage space.  As a result, information is more readily available, efficiency is improved, and yet…why is it that we still seem to maintain, and even amplify those busy schedules?  Perhaps one reason is to continue paying for those gadgets that are supposed to make our lives so much easier??

Regardless of the reason, it’s happening.  Our pace is in over-drive.  Our destractions are rolling in with unstoppable force.  And where does that seem to leave us?   Most likely, this type of lifestyle does and will only continue to steal our time and focus from God, our provider of wisdom and rest.

We lose focus.  We struggle.  We’re surrounded by harsh realities on the evening news and we fear what our children and grandchildren will see on their televisions when the time comes.  When does it end, and what can we do to stop it?  I hate to admit this, but as long as each of us has a pulse here on earth, it won’t end.  Devestating news reports will continue to roll in and technology will continue to steal our attention.

We may not have control over everything that happens in this world (we were never meant to), but we do have control over our focus.  God hasn’t gone anywhere.  He is our sturdy, picturesque oak tree maintaining the strength in His limbs for our protection.  However, the further we stray from His shade, the more susceptable we are to destractions and self-destruction.  Now more than ever, it is necessary to remain close to His branches, despite the rough weather in our midst.

Moreover, no matter what state our world is in, or where our personal footing lies, we must never forget the image we were created in and our purpose to shine for Him.  Today, here and now, we’re not finished yet.  There’s still time.  There’s still hope.  Dwelling on shortcomings won’t bring us or our nation any closer to God; it’s only one more distraction in our world of “things.”

Lets keep our focus where it should be, on His guiding Words, and His withstanding branches.  If we focus too much on the distress, we may miss the beauty.


Provoking Thought:  Have you recently been swept away by the world’s distractions?  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a smartphone, iPad, or eReader.  (God knows I do!)  However, perhaps consider loading a Bible app to one of these devices during your next use.  A little reading goes a long way.

**Do you have any suggestions to share on how you maintain focus?  We’d love to hear!

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)


Alicia M. Smith

Twitter: @AliciaMSmith7


Brody Barcus (my 15-year old cousin):

America is nearly exactly like Israel in every aspect. Just like Israel, our founding was one of the most miraculous this world has ever seen. And, just like Israel, our society was to be centered around our God and not ourselves. Our nation was designed to be set apart from all others in the way it was run and the God that it served. But after all of this was set into place, we failed to teach younger generations of those miracles which led to Israel’s demise and will lead to ours.

How did this happen? A blind man could see that our country has a moral standard that changes every time that it is opposed. Laws that used to be based on morals are being considered “unconstitutional” and are being thrown out of the legal system. Moral values are now considered opinion and are no longer considered honorable but are instead made out to be intolerable and, in a way, dangerous to our society. But, unfortunately, this is our fault. We are letting this happen and it’s time for us to stand up, take off the diapers, and start making others aware of what’s happening and start doing something about it instead of idly complaining.

-Brody Barcus

Note: I also asked my pastor to write a piece on this topic. However, circumstances have arisen and he will take a little longer to write his piece. I’ll post his piece in a part 3 when he sends it to me. For now, I will continue with my blogs as usual. Thank you everyone for your help in writing about this topic!

It’s time America turns back to God. I can’t promise that if we turn back to God we won’t implode. But if we don’t turn back to the Lord, wake up, and start running this country has it was originally intended; we face a guaranteed collapse.

It’s time to wake up! Time is of the essence.

In Christ,

Austin Registered & Protected

A Royal Priesthood: A Call to Separate

1 Peter 2:9-12: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

This passage in 1 Peter tells us that Christian’s today are God’s “chosen” (just like the Israelites were called in the Old Testament). I’m not preaching “replacement theology” at all. Israel will still play a significant part in God’s redemption (for more on that please take a look at an article written by my brother, Joey Coons: Israel’s Place in God’s Redemption). God has set believers apart for Himself and His purposes. We literally belong to Him. He bought us with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the passage above we are called “a royal priest hood, a holy nation.” This means we should strive to reflect God’s glory and spread the Gospel in ways that bring honor to Him. We can no longer live our lives as we did before we received Christ’s mercy. We must set ourselves apart from the world and live as a holy people. We are royal in the eyes of God because we are His children. We need to live like that.

The second part of the passage above tells us we are “aliens and strangers of this world.” We do not belong here on the earth. This is not our home. We are citizens of Heaven and are just passing through this earth for a short time. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we are a part of His Kingdom. If we are a part of His Kingdom, we can not be of this world (John 18:36). We are to wage war against our sin daily with the power of Christ. As aliens and strangers to this world we have to separate! We can’t take part in the corruption and evil in this world today. You may have heard the phrase “You can be in the world, but not of it.” I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. While we currently live on this earth, we as Christians must be a separate, holy nation. We are to preach the Gospel to others and live holy while doing so. We need to live our lives in such a way that we are an example to the pagans (the unbelievers). We are called to be different, to be holy. God told Israel in Leviticus 20:26: “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” Peter gives believers the same charge (1 Peter 1:15).

I want to conclude by asking, are you living in a way that is separate from the evil of the world? Or are you participating in the sin of the earth? Now is your chance. Repent and come separate yourself from the sin of this world through the power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God bless!

-Austin Registered & Protected

The Church

Matthew 16:18- “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

The Church is built on the Christians’ confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.

The Greek word for church is ekklesia. This word refers to a gathering of people who are called and brought together for a purpose. That purpose is to worship our Savior, Jesus Christ. However, I’d like to take a little bit of time to address some of the problems in the Church today.

To be honest I don’t even know where to start. For the most part, I’m addressing the American Church, but this can really apply to everyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus Christ.

Many issues have rooted themselves into the Church today. These issues hinder the flow of the Holy Spirit. I have a sermon from a good friend of mine that talks about this very topic. The sermon lasts about an hour and twenty minutes. He could’ve went even longer because there are many more problems he could’ve addressed. I’m going to attempt to briefly address some of them.

One issue is an issue of worship. A lot of people refuse to worship because they don’t like the song or the volume is too loud or they don’t know the song. We are made to worship God! Period. End of discussion. That’s what God made us to do. The last part of Revelation 22:9 says “Worship God.” That’s it. As my friend puts it, there is no “but” there. It is the end of the sentence. Why do we think that we have to know the song to worship God? All God wants is your whole-hearted worship. That’s what pleases Him.

Another issue is forgiveness. Many Christians today refuse to forgive those who have wronged them. Bitterness is very dangerous to your faith. It does hinder the Spirit from working in you. I’m going to attach a video that talk a little about forgiveness. This video was made by Mike Donehey, the lead singer to Tenth Avenue North.

You can also listen to the song here:

The point is, we have to learn how to forgive. Jesus forgave each and every one of our sins. The sins we have already committed and, yes, the ones we will commit are forgiven. That’s powerful. That’s the love of God. Jesus says in Luke 17:3-4:

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

We are called to be like Christ, and Christ forgives. We should forgive as well. Forgiveness will open the door for the Holy Spirit to move.

Those are just two things that is wrong with the Church today. Many other things hinder what God wants. Money, lust, greed, the focus on attendance and money rather than Christ, etc. The Bible does a very good job of outlining how a Christian should live. We have to start following that if we want the Spirit to flow.

I may not have mentioned an issue  that you are dealing with, but if the Holy Spirit is convicting you, you need to respond! Don’t let these worldly things hinder your relationship with the Lord. Don’t give God the leftovers. Give Him everything you have!

-Austin Registered & Protected

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