You will know a tree by the fruit that it bears. An apple tree produces apples just like an oak tree produces acorns. If you desire apple pie, do not expect a vineyard to be very helpful. I learned a very valuable lesson while in college that I should only seek advice from someone who has the results in that area. RESULTS is the key word here. Many people are great at defending a point, bold in their answers, and convincing. But if you look at the results in their life, you would be less inclined to follow their lead in that area.

For the longest time I took my own financial advice... that didn't get me anywhere but farther backwards. I have also tried making my own way in spiritual matters. That turned out in heartbreak. There are people out there who have the results you desire; find them. If you are seeking spiritual advice, seek it from those who have the fruit of the Spirit as shown in Galatians 5:22-26: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

No one is perfect in these areas, of this I am aware. But those who are qualified to speak into your life, like spiritual teachers, should be, and are held to a higher standard of living in the results category (James 3:1). If your spiritual mentor does not exude great results in the fruits of the Spirit, then you should consider seeking out wise counsel elsewhere (Proverbs 19). NOTE: this is under the assumption you have a spiritual mentor... if you don't, get one!

Final disclaimer: all of the above content is intended for personal growth. It has nothing to do corporate worship or whole church functions. If you have issues in those areas I would advise you to go over Matthew 18:15-17 for how to handle it. God wants unity in the Body of Christ. That is how His glory is reveal and we worship and live in the greatest power! Don't divide...UNITE

Matthew 7:15-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

A Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Have you ever read something multiple times thinking it was an obsolete practice, only to find that it has immense meaning today? I have the habit of reading the Proverb of the day (whatever the numerical days it is I read that chapter: Sept 2nd read Prov. 2). When something is repeated multiple times in the Bible you are supposed to take notice. Well, in Proverbs 11:1, 16:11, 20:10, and 20:23 there is instruction to maintain honest weights and measures. I usually skipped over those verses because we don't use them for our money supply anymore. Therein lies the problem...

Most of us today don't even know what "weights and measures" are. Weights and measures were the standard by which precious metals were given value, thus establishing a means to pay for goods or services that equaled that "money". For example, I love gummy worms. If I were to use the old system of payment to buy a pound of gummies, valued at $3.00, I would have to shave off 0.00215 oz of gold (based on the price of gold at the time of this writing $1394.4/oz) and exchange it for my delectable treat. As long as the "measures" were accurate, I would have a fair deal. We don't have that today because of paper money. The difference in value between a $100 bill and a $1 bill is... here's the kicker... none. They weight the same, are the same size, even have about the same amount of ink on them. So what makes one more valuable than the other? The number inked on the paper. But who put that number on there? The government right? Nope... a private bank called the Federal Reserve Bank. Don't let the federal word in the name deceive you. Look it up.

So to the point: To have dishonest weights and measures that the Lord abhors (Proverbs 11:1) means to tamper with the perceived value of what should be an immovable standard of measurement. If the one weighing the gold uses a weight heavier than the value agreed upon, the buyer would pay more than the object bought is worth.

When something is rare, it has high value. When something is common, it's value goes down. A #2 pencil is not hard to find, thus making them a few cents. A signed Michael Jordan rookie card is probably worth a good chunk of money, because it's rare. So let's take our valueless paper money into account. It is dubbed by a private bank (whom our government gets it's loans from) to have a certain value. That same bank at any given moment prints an additional amount they desire. If I struck a deal with TOPPS, a sports card company, to print me ten more MJ rookie cards and get them signed by MJ himself without anyone else knowing, I could sell those at the price of the original rare card. The problem is then those cards are less rare, thus decreasing the value of them all, even though I sold them at the "rarer" price. The Federal Reserve prints more money and spends it at current market value, but once that money is in circulation the value goes down. Does that count as dishonest weights and measure which our Lord abhors??? YES

When I was a kid gummies were $1.00 per pound. Now they are over $3.00 per pound and they're the same gummies. Seems pretty dishonest to me. Ironic how Biblical principles still hold true today. The founding fathers of America were not perfect men, but they used God's word as the foundation of the constitution and we prospered greatly under it until it was changed in 1913. God's word is timeless and true and get this: it works.

For more on this topic and for solutions read Leadershift by Orrin Woodward. Also, as these thoughts came to my mind and I looked up info I stumbled on a great post with similar thoughts here:

Our thoughts on Godly money and government interaction need to BEGIN AGAIN.

Picture this: You have it in your mind and calendar that you are supposed to be at an event in a specific room at a certain time. You walk into that room about five minutes early. As you enter the room there is no one there. The first thought to cascade into your head is “did I mess up?” An instant pit is in your stomach and a brief moment of anxiety strikes. Then soon after, the people you were expecting to see walk in and all is well.

I have felt this very feeling before as I am sure many of you have. But what if the others never walked in? You check your stuff and confirm that you are in the right place at the right time. Then it becomes an issue of importance. Was I forgotten? Did I miss something? And from that moment on you are never coming back to that spot. No one wants to feel alone. This could even happen in a room full of people, but the few of your friends that were supposed to be there didn’t show. Once bitten, twice shy.

Let’s get more specific. You walk into church. Upon looking around you notice that your friends who you normally sit by aren’t there. So you shoot out a quick text to find out where they are. They respond promptly with, “I did two service projects this week so we’re relaxing at home today.” If this happens more than a few times a month, the natural tendency is to join the ranks.

This is just one example or reason or excuse why we (myself included before I worked in a church) tend to not take Sunday morning worship services too seriously. We have a bit of a consumerist or “check in the box” mentality of church. But let me encourage a different perspective:

We need each other. We need fellowship and corporate worship desperately. If someone new walks in the doors, they need to be able to see our love for each other as well as our love for God. When the faithful weekly attenders show up after a crappy week, they need that love. When the pastor pours his/her heart and soul into sharing God’s word, it’s to bless our lives. Let us not forget what corporate worship is all about: love. Share God’s love, receive God’s love, show God’s love, be loved!

My age demographic is the worst. The twenty-somethings are almost nonexistent in the church. Young adults need to come back. Families need to bump the priority of corporate worship back to the top. Youth need to come and be mentored. And the aged need to come be mentors.


I need you. The church needs you. God wants you.

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love."  -Proverbs 27: 5

I didn't want to type today... so I spoke instead.
Wait, what? Something is not right about that title. Yet there is a common theme among all four categories: addiction. Each has a different enticing pull. Some start you out slow and through the course of gradual increases a person gets dependent. Others release a chemical in your brain that causes an instant desire to recreate the initial feeling, only to be severely disappointed when it misses the mark. 
    I was told about a drug in which the first time it is taken, it essentially makes a certain area of your brain burst with excitement, literally. That area affected is destroyed completely after the first dose, giving the user the false expectation of that same high for the second, never to experience it again. I rarely (actually have never) come across a person who exclaims "I'm so glad I lost my virginity to that person before marriage". And one of the sneakiest ones of all is alcohol, that can in many cases be completely fine, harming nothing. But all it takes is a bad day and bottle of your drink of choice to develop a dependency. 
    But what about this Jesus character. How does one become addicted to a person. Well that is quite simple if you survey middle school girls about Justin Beiber or One Direction... people addictions are quite real. There was even a pop song that talked about it: "I'm adic, I'm addicted to you". Oh how different we would look if we were so consumed with Christ that the world debated our sanity. The Apostle Paul was one of the most famous addicts of all time. He was what modern people would call a prude; until he overdosed on Jesus on the road to Demascus, never to be himself again. He was so strung out he changed his name from Saul to Paul. Then he changed the world, leading the worldwide revolution of love with a group of about 11 or 12 other addicts.
    Their lifestyle changed. Their actions changed. Their pursuits changed. People all around them couldn't help but to take a hit of the most potent, life changing addiction ever to grace this earth: Jesus. If the American government was overthrown and made religion illegal, could you be accused of this addiction? Would they try to send you to C.A.(Christians Anonymous)? I would be a straight felon... Ready to start the rebellion... with some God raps in my melon... Just kidding... or am I bidding?

Those emails and post that tell you to "repost if you believe" bother me... so keep this to yourself lol

    I played video games tonight with my best friend's little brother (basically my little brother). I watched a movie the other day. I check my twitter almost every day. I had to communicate with some people via facebook, and lingered for a while. I am failing at this whole give it up for lent thing. 
    Worse than the Lenten commitments, or lack thereof, I question myself all of the time if what I do on a daily basis is right. This past Sunday night I spoke to the teens about priorities. Oddly enough, the message hit me probably the hardest. I am committed to a few different things currently: my God, my wife, my job, and my future family. If I put my daily activities into a pie chart I would not like the results.
    I do my devotions, usually. I love and cherish my wife, most of the time. I work and love much. But is it enough? Am I focusing my energies in the right directions? All this I write because I know many feel the same pressure at times in their lives. So what do we do? How can I be more at ease, content even, with me? Is it too simple to say pray?

    "My God is not dead, no, He's surely alive and He's living on the inside, roaring like a lion."

That roar is what is bothering me. The Lion of Judah is roaring inside of me while outwardly I meow like a tiny kitten.

Let this be our prayer:
God give me the boldness to be humble, the confidence to serve, and the maps to guide me. May your roar come screaming out of us like the Israelites screamed on the seventh day at Jericho. You are mighty. You are Good. Amen.

So how are you doing on your lent commitments?

    On Monday I voice my frustration with the rapid decline of moral standards for television. I was surprised to see the response. With my education in marketing, I have a tendancy to do market research. This means I watch to see what demographic of people (geographically) and how many view my blog. An average post of mine gets around 125 people view it and maybe one or two comments. On Monday more than 500 people saw it in 22 states and five countries. The thoughts must have struck a chord with some people.
    Tuesday was equally impressive with 120 visitors. Then Wednesday I didn't look and it (down to 24) and went back to my normal routine. Wait... what? I just got done speaking of the change that is need and followed it with... normal? I am ashamed. After reading the last post, how many episode of TV did you watch? How many hours of video games did you play? How many good books were read, or minutes in reflection and prayer? My answers hurt my soul, I would imagine many of yours did too.
    After reading the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, I became fascinated with epidemics. I don't mean the disease kind, but the "everyone has, does, or knows 'x' idea seemingly within a matter of hours. But 500 people does not change the thoughts and minds of a nation. With the Lenten season coming up (starts next week) I propose a challenge. If you haven't read my last post, do that first. The challenge is this: Let's shut off the tv, video games, useless internet times, and apps on the phone, and read or write a letter to a friend. It is a "wasted time" fast. But there is one more part to the challenge. Let people know about it. Write your experience on here of the results of this break. We are not alone in our thoughts of desiring change. SHARE, COMMENT, TALK so we know how "un"alone we really are.
    Could something as simple as sharing a blog, commenting, and reading help a country? Probably not. But it will most definitely help you. No more going back to routine after getting passionate about things that are wrong. It's time to change. Below are videos that hurt to watch. Excuse the expletives used in the first, but it makes a point.

I do not own the rights to these videos

    In the last few years I have heard many talk about "how bad our
country is getting". But I have seen enough good to avoid jumping on that bandwagon, until now. There was once a day when having a Super Bowl party for the youth group was a great time of fellowship and fun. That day is long since past. I realized last night while watching the game that I missed the last two Super Bowls due to snowboarding outings. I think that time off from the pinnacle
of advertising has allowed me to avoid the "easing into" the acceptance of blatant seductive sexual immorality on TV.

    Sex is rampant. One commercial after the other came on the screen making me uncomfortable. The only thing
missing from the halftime show was a pole, but don't worry, they incorporated that into one of the commercials. I am angry, sad, upset, but determined. One of the groups I associate with talks about a media battle. We are losing this
battle. I don't really watch TV much anymore anyway, but the Super Bowl may have just put me over the edge of no more. 
    I have always been intrigued by the passage in James 1:27 that says "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and TO KEEP ONESELF FROM BEING POLLUTED BY THE WORLD" (emphasis added). Most people focus on the first two parts of looking after orphans and widows, but I believe we have neglected the very important third call of pure and faultless  religion.

It is time to put down the remote, the game controller, and
ungodly internet sites, and time to pick up good books, prayer, fasting,
solitude reflection, and most of all Scripture.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who
sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the
one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let
us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all
people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

-Galatians 6:7-10

    In the mid 1700's, few colonial Americans knew about the drastic transformations that would occur by the turn of the century. In his book, Freedom Shift, Oliver DeMille talks about what it took for the one of the greatest movements of freedom in history to unfold. The common perception is that everyone living in the fledgling colonies was angry with England. In reality only about 2 or 3% of the population of that day had any part in starting and carrying out the American Revolution. It was just a small group of committed men who signed their lives away on the Declaration of Independence. These men changed the world.

    I have the privilege of meeting with a small group of young men on Friday mornings before they head off to their high school classrooms. Each one of them has a passion for bettering the world around them by first bettering themselves. They make me better by their presence. There is a greatness about them that is uncommon. I do not fear for our future with such good men coming to lead. Their names are as follows: Nick, William, Clark, Gary, Tommy B, Grant, Tommy H, Cam, Mitch, Adam, Mack, Bo, Carter, Jake, and Jimmy. Others I am sure will join this group for the sheer fact of associating with awesomeness.

    DeMille puts a stress on three things that need to happen to allow freedom to reign: a small group of committed people who are 1) veracious readers/independent thinkers, 2) successful entrepreneurs, and 3) tribal leaders. The guys I spend time with have the capacity to be the type of people who can change the world like the signer of the Declaration of Independence. Are you willing to become the type of person it takes to change the world? If your answer is yes, let's talk.

I encourage you to read The Declaration of Independence as a reminder of the world the founding fathers tried to create: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html 
Oh The Things We See
By: Duncan Bone

The sun upon horizon line,
The moon when full and bright.
The snow weighs down the lofty pine,
The thought of love's first sight.

The hurting soul of love's depart,
The war in broken lands.
The shorten breath from broken hearts,
The bruise from angry hands.

My eyes discern both good and bad,
For love and hate abound.
Joy and pain I oft have had,
One constant I have found.

My sight cannot fix on the good,
For a broken world unfolds.
Peace only comes just as it should,
My life is in God's hold.