Update: Restarting the Semester

On August 22nd, I started back to school to continue my efforts towards getting a diploma in Automotive Service.  After two weeks, I was getting the schedule down and starting to strike a balance between my 40-hour full-time job and the course-load.

Sometimes, things don’t turn out like you expect.

My family and I just returned from Western New York after staying with my mom and sister for a few days.  Robert Sharpe, my step-father, passed away earlier in the month.  Family and friends gathered together to share in a memorial service, and it provided an opportunity for us all to reflect on his life.

During this time, I also had time to pause and think about the significance of what I’m doing.  When you are as busy and laser-focused as I get when in the midst of the ‘battle’, you lose perspective easily.  I know that the investments in time I am making will pay off, but when each moment counts, and you are reminded that each day brings you closer to the finish of your race, it makes it hard to look at some aspects of your life.  You don’t want to waste any of it.

So, I will get back to routine.  That means working hard to keep ourselves afloat, hitting the books regularly to keep up with academics, assignments, and lab projects.

This is how I seek to glorify God – by accepting grace from Him, and the gift that is the opportunity to redeem myself for past mistakes.  He is so, so good!

Marsh Gives an Analogy About Sweet Surrender!

He shall bring forth from us the sweet music!

(Frederick Marsh)

Mendelssohn, on one occasion, hearing an organ being played–asked permission to play it for a few minutes. The organist reminded Mendelssohn that he was a total stranger to him–and that strangers were not allowed to touch the valuable instrument.

At last permission granted, and then Mendelssohn brought forth such music from the organ as to make the organist weep! Ah! But before the music came forth, there were two things necessary:
the first was, the instrument had to be abandoned to Mendelssohn;
and the second, Mendelssohn had to take control of it.

The same is true with us in the spiritual realm. There must be the entire surrender to Christ first–and then He shall bring forth from us the sweet music of . . .
a holy heart,
a lovely character,
a gentle disposition,
a surpassing peace,
a sweet humility,
a lowly service,
a beautiful sympathy,
and a Christlike life!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship! Romans 12:1


Any other ‘control junkies’ out there?

One of the biggest struggles I have is not surrendering all to God.  Love the idea, but the execution is poor.  Reminders like these are necessary, because they not only show me that I should be obedient, but the blessing contained in the act of being obedient!

God the Most Wise Pharmacist!

(Thomas Adam, “Private Thoughts on Religion” 1824)

In pain, sickness and trouble, methinks I hear God say: “Take this medicine! It is exactly suited to your case, prepared and weighed by My own hands, and consists of the choicest drugs which Heaven affords!”

As much as we despise the aggravations and sufferings that some days afford us, we will do well to remember that God is all wise.  True, at times we don’t see the point in difficulties that come our way, and we wonder what the reason may be for a bad day, or a situation that seems to come out of nowhere and rock our world.  But maybe that is precisely what we need – to have that counterfeit god of thinking we are in control knocked off of its throne!

Trust and obey.  God has a plan to build you for the coming days.  Having faith in His person and His attributes of being all-powerful, all-knowing and just – balanced against love and mercy – assures that whatever your situation, it is for your benefit.

Reading is Important!

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

– II Timothy 2.15

This verse is one of the first ones I have memorized from the Bible.  Sadly, due to years of neglect, I actually had to do a search of the word study to find it again.  Still, what a verse, though!  With all of the changes I am facing now, decisions to be made and my need for discernment, it is imperative that study is a daily activity.

I mean, it should always be a part of our daily lives, right?  One thing that we are told early on in our Christian walk is that we should read the Bible daily, and pray as well.  The instruction we receive from Scripture is vital to bringing us closer to God.

So…why the neglect?

One can blame our technological age, the distractions of the internet and social media.  We have a culture that is all about being busy…doing things and keeping up.  It seems like it is a fight, a struggle to maintain a ‘quiet time’, or ‘have devotions’, or whatever the Christian vernacular is for the practice.  Some maintain that insisting upon daily Bible reading and other obediences and practices is legalism, that God will maintain and keep you in His graces and His family through the blood of Jesus.  Only the Jesus Freaks are the ones that read the Book all the time.  Oh, don’t get me wrong – say the critics – I know it’s a good thing to do…but my situation is…

Lately, I have found that not only I have a growing need for being in the practice of reading the Word, but also other Christian books that are solid and helpful.  I can’t tell you what an impact that reading Keller’s Counterfeit Gods has had on my soul, and now I am working through R C Sproul’s The Holiness of God.  Does this make me a Super-Christian?  Nope.  I am actually admitting that I need this extra-curricular study in addition to the necessity of the Bible to keep my thoughts more in-tuned to God and His direction for the coming days!  The contrary is true.  I feel an acute lack of devotion, and seek God through reading.  I want to know what He says, who He is, and apply His direction more and more.

This is done through study.

As the verse above points out, what is the motivation for study?  To show that we are approved unto God.  If we are His, then our highest concern should be being a valid workman, and having discernment in a time of high falsehoods.  There is some stuff that just isn’t Biblical in a lot of churches today, folks!  Much of it is couched in the language of the evangelical.  Some of it seems so legit, and other things seek to satisfy longings of spiritual awakening in our day.  But…don’t be fooled!  Not all is what it appears to be.


Reading and study also helps our discussions with other believers to be that much sweeter, centered around spiritual good, and beneficial to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  It raises us above the fleshly and mundane to a higher place, one where our heart should be.  There is nothing boring about conversations dealing with Scriptural matters when we are Spirit-filled.  I find that many times my neglect of reading and study either places my thoughts on the carnal, raises my fears as I look at events around me, or lulls me into sins dealing with loose and vain speaking.  When talking about God, it is hard to slide into speaking falsehoods and tearing down others.  If people need encouragement, you have it available if you have the Word in your heart.  Neglect of both the Bible and prayer is the stalemate that is our spiritual state today – both as individuals and as the church!

The winds of change that I seek and are currently experiencing are the movements of God towards Himself.  Praise His name!!  I can’t make my desires for Him grow, apart from the Holy Spirit that He alone provides.  Reading and the desire to learn more about Him is a manifestation of God that I pray continues and brings much glory to Him!

Winds of Change

Last month, I wrote about The Doldrums, and defined it as a period of inactivity likened unto a sea journey with no wind to drive the sails.  I am glad to say that by the grace of God, that time of being stuck and idling in neutral is passing on.  However, the winds of change are bringing unexpected results from areas of my life that I didn’t think of.

It was bound to happen, and I praise God that He is moving in so many different ways.  He provided the needed patience and grace to endure, and is rewarding me with the ability to tolerate my current job situation.  School at New River Community College begins for the Fall semester in just a few short days, and a regular schedule and pace will once again provide needed stability.  In fact, my course load is such that I should be able to continue blogging here at Crossing Over and not take a hiatus like I did in the Spring....we prayed about it and concluded that God has something else in store for us

The one decision that we have made as a family recently was the biggest, and has us seeking the Lord the most right now.  We left our church, Alleghany Baptist.  It was too far to keep driving to, and the distance did not allow us to fellowship and serve as much as we wanted.  My income is still barely adequate to keep up with our needs and expenses, too.  After deliberating for the past few months, we prayed about it and concluded that God has something else in store for us.  Change can be very exciting!

What happens now is that, as my retail schedule allows, we will be visiting local churches in the area for opportunities to worship.  Also, the college has a Bible study group during the week that I will sit in on.  It is put on by Campus Crusade for Christ, and meets at 11 o’clock, allowing me to go before my classes.

There are still an unsettled, unresolved undercurrent to the future.  We don’t know how things will fall into place as early as next year, however, we look to God.  He knows the future and has written out our life’s story through His sovereignty and goodness.


The Idolatry of the Nostalgic

noah ark steampunkProbably about ten years ago, I was introduced to the world of steampunk.  For those who have not been initiated into such a movement – it is pretty rare around most parts of the country, from my observation – the concept is very interesting.  It is a mindset that incorporates the Victorian era into our technologically advanced one.  The merging of art, modernism and the Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s.  Function is merged with a sort of Jules Verne fantasyland.

Not only is the style used to produce consumer goods that look like they run off of steam, even though they house electronics, but the clothing also harkens back into the days of corsets, high-heeled boots and top-hats.

I was very taken by the fashion, and thought about incorporating such a style to my own clothing and way of life.  I did not.  Did I think there was any harm in it?  Not at first, but I was given some very good perspectives about dressing and acting out a lifestyle that is counter-cultural by my pastor.

When you let something – a movement, a style, a way of being flamboyant – carry you into vanity and drawing excessive attention to yourself, maybe you need to look a little deeper into the reason why.  My examination led to pride, and also the idol of the nostalgic.

To focus on the past, or to something that we would call ‘the good old days’, to the point where we use such an escape to lead us away from the present can very easily become an idol.  This is not a legalistic tirade, so I won’t belabor the point.  However, if we let ourselves be drawn away from the joy and excellency of Jesus, then we really miss out.  That’s the point I want to make.

The past can become such a draw to our thoughts and our perspectives that we don’t see what God is doing now.  This can also bridge into times in our lives where we were richly blessed, or God was really seen to be moving.  We can look to great accomplishments in ministry and in a church and congregation.  Then the idolatry really stands out, because we become disenchanted with the present to where we either give up on moving forward, or despair over what we have become to the point of staying in our own fantasyland – and remain blind to the harsh realities around us now.

As much as I love good morals, home-cooked meals, family togetherness, art-deco, steam and early diesel locomotives, cars that aren’t Tylenol-shaped or look like they are out of a Battlestar Galactica episode and built in other countries, I still need to live in the world around me.  That means cop shootings instead of Mayberry.

God has us in this place and in this time to affect the culture for Him through the Gospel.  Keeping the wistful glances at the past to a minimum can greatly help in our situational awareness throughout the day.  Not a rant.  Just an observation, and maybe it will help you…

Considering and Condemning Counterfeit Gods

One of the greatest discoveries I have made lately, and rates in the Top 5 life-changing truths for following God, is that we are, as Martin Luther pointed out, idol factories.  Let me point out right away – this realization did not come through my ability.  It was an in-breaking of God.  The Holy Spirit is responsible and not my own heart.

Consider this from Thomas Doolittle, “Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!”, and then we will go into this further…

But a holy soul, whose eyes are divinely opened, so sees that superlative goodness, beauty, and excellency in Christ–that all other things, which are good with an inferior goodness, seem to him as dross and dung! “But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things! I consider them rubbish,” things cast to dogs, or dog’s-food, “that I may gain Christ!” Philippians 3:7-8

I have been miserable for quite a while.  Years, in fact.  Just because you are a child of God, you are not immune to difficulty and heart-struggles.  I would go so far to say that you probably have so much more of them, and of even greater intensity!

The unregenerate can be envied if you aren’t careful – they do not fall into periods of spiritual agony over their lack of joy and closeness to God at times.  They don’t miss what they never had!

In his wisdom and by the leading of God, our pastor, T L Walters, of Alleghany Baptist Church, has been teaching on applying Gospel truths to our lives.  He also highly recommended Timothy Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods.  After I mentioned to my wife that we needed to purchase that book, she placed an order on Amazon.com, and right away I set to reading it.


In as little as two weeks, I have read more than halfway through it.  It has so much impact.  God is showing me all sorts of things…things that sit below the surface, in close shadows, just out of the light, yet nearby enough to mess up your life!

The premise of the book is that you have things all around you and through you that take the place of God in your life – counterfeit gods.  Oh sure, we look at the first of the Ten Commandments and think that we are surely not bowing the knee to some created object or system.  I mean come on, we aren’t that ignorant…or are we?

When you are shown the forms of idolatries, the many ingrained ways that we make gods of our choosing – even out of good things, like family, ministry, hard work and morality – then we slowly come to understand why we are warned of this predisposition of our nature.  And it’s a killer.  It kills your soul.

As I have found, it snuffs out your reason for living at all, and that borders into despair – save for the grace of God.

There is an old rock song lyric, “I been to the edge…And there I stood and looked down”.  Absolutely.

The worship of counterfeit gods does that.  Takes you to the edge.  It’s not limited to just us personally, either.  As a nation, as a church, as a political system, as a world power, as a culture, as a child of God, we are indeed at that place.  We are killing ourselves and we are killing each other.

Solutions abound, but only through honesty and the Gospel of Jesus.

I have more on this, so please be watching your feed for more posts.