Don’t Put Thoughts of the World Out of Your Mind During Worship – Please!

I often hear people say to the people in the church, or in prayers, that we should put the thoughts of the world out of our minds and concentrate on Christ.

There’s a problem with this.

Worship isn’t just for Sunday. It isn’t just for remembering Christ, although that is a big part of it. Worship is to bring glory to God, and for encouraging others in their faith, as well as building up our faith.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.  I Thessalonians 5:1

…not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

During communion recently, I was overcome with emotion thinking of something recently that had happened. I thought of how Jesus took this thing that was overwhelming me, and he had bore it on the cross:

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

If you put things of the world out of your mind during communion, it will take away its power. Remembering Christ’s death also remembers that what he did then makes a difference now.

So, don’t worry if you can’t put away a problem you are worrying about away during communion. Instead, think of how Christ’s death took on that problem. He conquered death and sin, and he overcame. He rose from the death. He is a conqueror.

You, too, can think of how what is overwhelming you has been carried already by Christ. Thinking of how he carried all of those overwhelming problems, pains, and sicknesses will help you to see why he was sweating so profusely in the garden that his blood vessels were breaking.

The problems he carried were greater than we will ever know or fathom. And, for that, our gratitude will be as overwhelming as our problems, pains, and sicknesses.

Think about it. It’s OK.

Each Day’s Trouble

Jesus said:

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Holman Christian Standard Bible – Matthew 6:34)

This statement is very true.

Some days it feels more like it than others, though.

When things are going well, or you are in a deep routine and life seems to go on and on the same way, it may not seem that each day has enough trouble of its own.

Then you get hit with something that is overwhelming.

One song that has given me great comfort in a recent family crisis is the one by Casting Crowns:

Just Be Held by Casting Crowns

Words to songs with deep meaning can help you through a difficult time.

Another thing I have found so very helpful during this time is just talking with friends. Seek out friends who have been through what you have been through.

Also, if you have been through something, reach out to someone who is going through what you have been through. It helps to know when you are going through a crisis that someone else has gone through it and made it to the other side. Or even if the result wasn’t so great to know that someone else understands.

When life is difficult, it is often not the big things that help as much as the ones that may seem little.

Listening to someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

Perhaps that’s why Paul often talked about how he thanked God for people he wrote to:

I Corinthians 1:4

I Thessalonians 1:2

Romans 1:8

Ephesians 1:16

Colossians 1:3

Philemon 1:4

Don’t think that just being there and listening isn’t important to your friend in a crisis. It’s the best gift you can give.

Prayer for Peace


Today, please bring peace…

  • to those who are hurting in body
  • to those who are hurting in their emotions
  • to those who are scared because the world is difficult to understand
  • to those who don’t feel loved
  • to those who have had family leave them, or they have had to leave due to choices not of their own
  • to the person who feels misunderstood
  • to the one who feels inadequate
  • to the one who doesn’t know where to turn
  • to those in the busy city
  • to those in the slow nursing home
  • to those who feel no peace.

Peace, not as the world gives, but as you give.

We need your peace desperately, and we are asking for that peace for us, for our city, for our state, for our country, for the countries of the world.

Through Jesus,

the Prince of Peace

Three Reasons People Stop Following Christ

Jesus told a parable, a story, about a person who went out and sowed seed. He used it to explain four types of people.

I’m going to talk about three of the types of people he spoke about, and what he said about people who stop following God.

They Don’t Understand the Bible

The first type of person who stops following God is a person who doesn’t understand what is taught in the Bible. Jesus said this is like seed (the Word of God) that is sewn (spread) on the path.

There may be people who hear the Word of God preached. They may read the Bible, but they don’t understand what is being said.

Jesus said that seed is carried away by Satan.

Trouble Comes, and They Go

The second type of person hears the Word of God. They accept the word joyfully. They get excited about their faith.

But, then, they get stress or abuse because of their faith. So, they leave. They didn’t have a deep enough faith to withstand the difficulties.

These people, Jesus says, are like seed that is sewn on rocky ground. They don’t have roots. So, when the sun rises and it gets “hot,” they wither and die.

Worries & Wealth Lead Them Astray

The third type of person gets sidetracked by worries of life. Worries gets them down, and they give up. Or perhaps they want to get wealthy. They leave their first love for God and chase wealth. They may not plan to leave God, but Jesus said:

No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.  –Matthew 6:24 (HCEB)

She started out well, but like the seed sewn among thorns, worries and wealth choke out the good results she could have had.

There are solutions to each of the above things that lead a person astray.

  • If you don’t understand the Word of God, there are people who can help you grow deeper in your understanding. I’d suggest World English Institute or World Bible School. The first teaches English grammar, reading and writing as well as the Bible. The second one focuses just on the Bible.
  • Grow your faith. Be prepared for the trouble. A great way to do this is to get immersed in learning God’s Word by memory. For that I would suggest Scripture Typer. It’s a great place to work on your memory verses and you can practice your typing as well. It gives you the speed of your typing.
  • If you are having a lot of worries, learning verses about giving your cares to God will be helpful, and this will help with the pursuit of wealth as well. God will help you have the things you need if you seek first his kingdom. Don’t let money get in the way of your faith, and be careful. Moving away can creep up slowly.

Note: None of the above links are affiliate links, but I am a volunteer teacher for World English Institute, and I have taught with World Bible School in the past. I use Scripture Typer and it has helped a lot with learning more Bible verses.


Why Did Cain Kill Abel?

Abel brought the best of his flocks as a sacrifice to God. Cain brought some of his crops to offer to God.

It wasn’t that Abel offered an animal and Cain offered some of his crops. After all, Moses later gave commands for grain offerings as well as animal sacrifices.

Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God. He, however, brought the best.

Cain’s wasn’t. He brought some of his crops. Not the best perhaps.

Maybe it was because of the attitude of their hearts when they brought the sacrifices.

Cain became angry because of God’s reaction. And God warned Cain about his anger and that what was in his heart was going to cause Cain problems.

Cain didn’t listen.

Instead he deceived Abel into going into the field with him, and he killed him.

Cain was angry that God did not accept his sacrifice. But he could have changed his heart and offered what was right.

But he didn’t.

He took out his anger with God on Abel.

Cain was perhaps jealous and felt that God loved Abel more than he loved him.

The very first murder was in one way over religion.

Jesus said:

But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire. (Matthew 5:22 HCSB)

Murder begins with anger. Anger is very dangerous. Cain killed Abel, because he was angry.

He was angry that God did not accept his sacrifice.

He was angry that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice.

This led to jealousy.

Genesis 4:7 tells how God tried to warn Cain that his behavior was going to led to sin, and that is was waiting to attack him. The person who attacked was first attacked by sin.

Cain could have made a different decision. He could have changed his life and repented before it was too late. But he didn’t.

If you are angry with someone, be very careful. It may take you somewhere you do not want to go, and leave you with regret.

It might not be murder, but it could be assassination of character, or words that you can never take back once said.

We can learn from Cain’s mistake and choose to repent.

Waiting for Irma

The title of this blog post sounds like it would make a good title for a book, or a movie.

But it isn’t. She’s a serious hurricane. But the waiting part is real. Waiting to see where she is planning on going. Waiting for her to get here, or for her to go in a totally different direction.

It seems with all the technological advances that are out there, people still don’t realize the magnitude of the powers of these storms. Or the great amounts of water they bring with them. Or the water the large winds push in from the sea.

Perhaps technology is a hindrance as well as a help. People get stuck behind devices and don’t experience nature as much as they once did.

When I was a kid, I rode my bicycle around the school parking lot in the summers. Our elementary was next to a bayou, a very deep bayou. My brothers, who were braver (or perhaps more stupid, um, less cautious) would ride beside the bayou, but instead of stopping where one drainage ditch went into the bayou would pick up speed, and would go down it, and with the speed go up to the other side.

See, the drainage ditches would get dry sometimes if there hadn’t been rain recently. Usually, that’s not a problem in Houston, but some summers they do get droughts.

But when there is rain, the bayous would fill up and go over the banks into the nearby neighborhoods. We lived about two blocks away and our street, along with the one next to us, didn’t flood when those around us would. Perhaps it was a little higher. Our ditch in the front yard would flood, but the yard wouldn’t.

So, we went to school, and those in the streets behind us got off, because they couldn’t get out.

I was wondering with the larger amounts of water with Harvey if that changed, and the water got into the house or not.

These ditches are so deep, you would never think there could be enough water to fill them up, never mind going over the top and flooding the nearby neighborhoods. Unless, you had lived through it before. And never to the magnitude that it did during Hurricane Harvey.

And as far as other dangers in nature, when we went to my Granny’s house in Louisiana, there were cotton mouths in the stream, and rattlesnakes (as well as chiggers and ticks) in the piney woods.

So, when we went swimming in the stream, we would watch out for them and warn each other if anyone saw one swimming near us. Of course, sometimes one of the cousins would yell that there was one when there wasn’t. Then, when there was, it wasn’t believed.

Rattlesnakes make little shh, shh sounds. So, you knew they were around (unless it was one of the snakes that pretended to be a rattler and would hit his tail on the leaves to scare you away).

But nowadays if you stay in the house, or don’t live out near nature, or go out there often, you may not know the dangers and the powers of it.

The waiting, though, because of technology is difficult sometimes. After all, you know that a hurricane is out there, you know what track it is taking (today, which may change tomorrow), and you know the strength of it is tremendous.

But it’s not here yet. You still go to work, go out and do the things you normally do.

It might not come by your place at all, or it might. But if you wait to get prepared it will be too late.

And, then, there is always Jose’ or another one popping up or out there.

Jesus talked about his return being like in the days of Noah. The people were getting married and going about their business. Then the rain came. They had heard it was coming, but they didn’t believe it. They didn’t make any preparations for it. And it was too late.

Jesus said he is returning. People don’t believe it. They don’t prepare for it. (And, then, of course, they might die first which also needs the same preparation.)

Just like those who decide to ride out the storm with Irma, there are those who think it won’t matter, it won’t be as terrible to just go about life as nothing is different and a storm isn’t coming.

But, unlike Irma, who may turn at the last minute, when Jesus returns he isn’t going to change his direction.

If you are waiting for Irma, be sure you are ready. And if you aren’t built on a rock, I suggest you might want to go to higher ground. (See Matthew 7:24-27)

No Easy Answers, and Don’t Tell Me You Know

There are some things in life that can’t be explained. I mean explained from the deep depths of the soul where you struggle with faith.

There have been tons of things written about pain and suffering. I wrote a book about it, too:  Joy & Trouble

The struggle you go through to work through things in life are part of what takes your faith from a shallow, wading-type of faith into the deep waters, to the type that will get you out of the boat and walking on the roaring sea toward Jesus.

Peter is used a lot to talk about how he looked at the waves instead of Jesus and then began to sink.

What some may have forgotten is, he’s the only one who got out to try it! Me, I’m not so sure. Maybe I’d stay in the boat.

But then, again, perhaps the safest place to be in a terrible storm is out on the deep sea walking towards Jesus. At least when you start to sink because of doubt, he will be there to reach down and lift you up.

After all, Jesus could have let Peter sink.

He didn’t though.

So, when you are struggling with pain and suffering: either yours, someone you love, or even just overwhelming events you see on the news, don’t feel bad for struggling. Just reach up your hand to Jesus and say:

Lord, save me! Save me from my doubts. Save me from my sadness.

And if anyone has a pat answer for pain and suffering for you, perhaps that’s the only way they can handle it. They may not have enough energy to go through the struggle right now.

That’s OK, too.

Pain and struggles won’t go away, and they’ll get another chance to work through it.