Snoozing in the Pew and in Life

andy & barney asleep in church

No doubt about it, I’ve contributed to too many folks’ early Sunday nap while I have been preaching on a Sunday morning.  I know how it feels.  You are tired, you try to stay awake, and in a moment, you see two preachers standing in the pulpit instead of one, and next thing you know, your head’s-a-bobbin’!!!  Then you look around to see if anyone saw you . . . especially the preacher!

andy & barney asleep in church 2

What concerns me so much more than this are the folks who sit week-after-week in a Bible preaching/teaching church and are never moved by the Word of God. They hear the truth, but in their heart they are snoozing in the pew.  The Word does not reach their heart and subsequently their will.

Perhaps they have never been born again. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Perhaps they have been converted but need the exhortation found in 2 Peter 1:3-11.

According to God’s divine power, we have been given everything that pertains to life and godliness (1:3) including exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be daily partakers of the divine nature (1:4).

Based upon this deposit and a personal, growing knowledge of God, we are then exhorted to be diligent!  We are to give every effort to add to our original faith the list of virtues found in verses 5-7.  Quite frankly this is simply maturing in the faith.

When you give diligence to this growth, then you as believer will not be . . .

Useless (barren, 1:8) This means to be stuck, stalled, ineffective, lazy and apathetic in your Christian life.  We are asleep.

Unfruitful (1:8) Too many believers remain spiritual infants throughout their Christian life (1 Cor. 3:1).  They are satisfied to stay on the bottle, drink milk, rather than feeding on prime cuts of meat in God’s Word (Hebrews 5:12-14).  They remain unfruitful because they are worldly wise not godly wise.  We are asleep.

Unseeing (blind, 1:9) We are unable to discern our true, present spiritual condition or to live with an eternal perspective.   We are asleep.

Unmoved (forgotten, 1:9)  There is never a day that should go by that we are not reminded of the pit God brought us out of through the gospel (Ephesians 2:1-9).  That same gospel should have a daily effect upon because Christ’s death, burial and resurrection touches every facet of our everyday lives (Galatians 2:20).  Are you asleep?

Then Peter adds that we are to be diligent in making our calling and election sure (1:10) In other words, your life should be lived in such a manner that no one would ever say, “I wonder if he/she is really a Christian?  Is he/she sleeping?”

The word sure (1:10) means “to show the receipt.”  Our transparent, honest walk with Christ should be a proof of purchase (a receipt) that we have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

If we are diligent to grow in our original faith and in making our calling and election sure, we will enjoy a grand, rewarded entrance into heaven (1:11).

So, when you hear preaching, are you “snoozing in the pew” or diligent to gain all that God wants to teach you?  Have you become useless, unfruitful, unseeing and unmoved?  The key is to be diligent to hear and quick to obey.

Keep the Fire Burning

The recent cool temps have beckoned us to enjoy our backyard fire pit.  Last Saturday night, we had 16 folks gathered around the fire sharing testimonies and singing under the stars accompanied by two guitarists. Monday night, our daughter and son-in-law joined us for some family conversation and ice cream around the fire.  After they departed, my wife and I roasted marshmallows and talked for a while.

There’s something about a fire that draws you into some good fellowship.  There’s something about a fire that also creates some good practical spiritual applications for life.  Early on in the evening, the fire was full and burning bright.  To keep it that way, I had to keep adding logs to stoke the fire, and I had to pay attention lest it die out.

As I write this post, our fire pit has no life in it due to letting the fire go out and the cold temps settle in overnight on the remaining ashes and burnt wood.  No one is sitting around the fire.  No one is attracted to its glow, nor warmed by its flames, nor sustained by the food cooked over its embers.  But, when the cools temps roll around this evening, that beckoning call will return.

How careful we must be to keep our hearts burning for the Lord (Luke 24:32;Romans 12:11).  Just as I have to keep an eye on the fire to maintain its blaze, may I tell you that the best way to keep your spiritual heart on fire is through intimate prayer.  That includes your daily time of sitting at Jesus’ feet with your Bible and your eyes wide open listening and praying the Scriptures (Luke 10:38-42). Also that includes conversing with Him throughout your day (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Combined, that’s keeping your eye on the fire, the Lord Jesus Christ.  All of genuine, authentic life comes from Him and abiding in Him (Psalm 16:11; John 1:1-4; 11:25; 14:6; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-4; John 15:1-17).  As you pray, your heart will be warmed, your countenance will be changed, your life will be sustained, and you’ll find yourself wanting to be close to fire as you dwell in this cold, dark, sin-filled world.

Are you cold?  Stoke the fire. Get closer to the fire. Keep your eye on the fire. Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is the vital breath of the Christian; not the thing that makes him alive, but the evidence that he is alive.”

Running Uphill . . . to the Finish Line

My son-in-law and I have basically owned the Tweetsie Trail this summer for our morning run.  The beautiful scenery, friendly bikers, walkers and runners, beautiful wildlife, the nostalgia, pristine quiet, and the desire to stay healthy and prepare for periodic races calls us out three to four times a week.  Our routine is to run from Johnson City to Elizabethton at different distances as my training is currently maxed out for 10Ks while Andrew is preparing for a half-marathon.  Recently, I said, “Let’s change our routine and run from Elizabethton to Johnson City.  Well, I was greeted with a startling fact . . . the trail is predominately an uphill grade.

Our last run really took it out of me, and I was a bit defeated because running is such a challenge to me.  Upon sharing my thoughts via texting with Andrew, he said, “The second you feel defeated, you fail.  Sounds like the Christian life.”  He is right.

Running is such a mind game.  Correct thinking is so crucial.  In most instances, you can run farther than your mind tells you.  There you are, your legs are burning a bit, your lungs grasping for air, and your mind saying, “Just go ahead and quit.  You know it’s too hard to finish. You just don’t have it.”  That’s when you have to think the truth, remind yourself about things you have learned from running, and take another drink as well as another step.  You really don’t want to listen to yourself.

The Christian life is often uphill as well.  Every day presents you with battles that begin with putting your feet on the floor first thing in the morning.   Once that happens, you are “off to the races.”  How needful it is to think biblically from the first thought of the morning.  So often when we start the Tweetsie Trail, one of us will say, “What a beautiful day to run.  Praise the Lord!”  Starting your day thinking the Word and then throughout the day reminding yourself of the Word will help you climb the next hill.  It is so important that we do not listen to ourselves but rather preach the Word to ourselves.

I for one will tell you that one of the best parts of running is the finish.  There is such an exhilarated rush when you are done.  So here’s some truths to begin your day that will get you to the finish line… even if its uphill.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.  (Lamentations 3:21-26)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

Friday’s Findings

What can you find today?  What will you find today?

The Lord GodBut from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 4:29)  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Rich TreasureI rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure (Psalm 119:162).

Knowledge of God  If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:4-6).

Wisdom I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me (Proverbs 8:17).

GoodHe who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he (Proverbs 16:20).

Answered Prayer“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

RestCome to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 28:28-30).

LifeFor whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

An Empty TombBut they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[a] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments (Luke 24:2-4).

Weakness of my FleshFor I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find (Romans 7:18).

Sufficient GraceLet us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

So, as you go throughout your Friday, what will you find?  What are you looking for? That depends on where you look, the surrender of your heart, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  God is pursuing you today.


Here’s something else you will find to be helpful.  Looking so forward to Evangelist Aaron Coffey and the team being with us March 15-20, 2015.  This powerful message was delivered last night at Bob Jones University.  Listen here: January 15, Aaron Coffey.

Your Personal Circuit Board

IES Building

Recently I had a brief tour of a factory in our area that is a “full-service electronics manufacturing service provider, serving a diverse group of customers in various electronics end-markets including: commercial, military, medical, RF, flexible circuits, and backplanes.” As I entered the front of the building, I noticed that the exterior grounds were sharp and well-kept with a homey feel of white rockers lined across the front porch. The offices were neat and attractive and the factory floor negated the “five-second rule” of dropped food (otherwise translated, “You could eat off the floor.”).   My first impression was, “This is a quality place to work.”

Hand Solder


But what really caught my attention was the careful, meticulous work that keeps this company afloat. There before me as the factory door opened were rows of workers, many of them peering through a microscope soldering very tiny, intricate pieces to a circuit board.  As we walked over to get a closer look at an employee’s work station, he did not even look up or move to see who was around him.  He was transfixed on his work lest he lose his place.  These “hand soldiers,” as they are called, “average over fifteen years of experience in a wide variety of circuit board configurations.”

IES Capabilities

As I looked at this employee’s circuit board as well as another circuit configuration nearby, I realized that these small boards with minuscule pieces  keep commercial and military vehicles running in maximum measure. For instance, when our military troops are using Humvees in a conflict, these boards that cannot be seen are extremely vital to those vehicles’ operation in the most crucial times.

You, too, have a circuit board that needs daily meticulous work because it controls all you do.  It is your spiritual heart.  Unlike the boards made at this factory and shipped away, your heart is there to stay, but it needs careful attention.  Your “circuit board” needs to come under the microscope of God’s Word.  If not, one little drop of offense, corrupt speech, misunderstanding, assumption, deception, distraction, or hurt can short-circuit your heart and cause you to malfunction as a believer.

Therefore, let’s make application of this:

  • What does the microscope of God’s Word reveal about you?
  • Do you as a follower of Christ come under the microscope of God’s Word every day?
  • Do you take time to let the Word meticulously look into the “circuit board” of your heart?
  • Do you sit at Jesus’ feet with His Word in front of you without distraction?

You may look good on the outside, but the most important issue is what’s happening on the inside of the factory that matters.  Since . . .

  • we are in a daily battle with the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17), the world (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17), and Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9)
  • we are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. ’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself, (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
  • where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21),

just to name a few, doesn’t it make sense  to make sure you pay close attention to your circuit board, the heart?

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:21-23)