To follow or not to follow? That is the question.

One of the most frustrating aspects that I keep running
across in ministering to “Christians” is the lack of belief in God and His
Word. It’s even more frustrating when I find these aspects in myself, which I
find more than I like to admit in various areas of my life. Thank God that He
forgives, and that He still wants to use us in spite of our innumerable
failures, lack of faith, and lack of trust.

Where did this start though? Where do we get the idea that
our opinions and beliefs are more important than God’s thoughts, beliefs,
principles, and commands for the way we live? If we are not living for God, His
Word, and for spreading the message and love of the gospel, then what are we
living for? Can we even call ourselves Christians, if we never follow Christ or
resemble any part of what He said or did in His Word?

These questions run through my mind more frequently
nowadays, because it seems like in our churches we are continually bombarded
with cheap “Grace” and easy faith. There is only mention of how great God’s
love is (and God’s love is magnificent beyond belief), how you just have to
believe in Jesus Christ, and then that is it. There is no mention of Jesus’s
words, in Mark 8 and Luke 9, where He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our
cross, and follow Him.

It is not easy to deny yourself if you have spent your whole
life living for yourself, and the desires of your eyes, mind, feelings, and
wants. I know that it is even harder in our culture in the U.S.A., where
everything is about me, me, me, and I, I, I. But Jesus is calling us to deny
ourselves, so we better find out what that is about and realize that it is
sometimes a monumental battle to actually deny ourselves.

It sounds like work to take up our cross and follow Him.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, your cross will be light as a feather if
you follow Jesus with a biblical belief system and thought process. It will be
the heaviest thing in the world if we cling to sin-filled, selfish, and
unbiblical beliefs when trying to take up our cross.

We have to follow Jesus. That means He gets to choose where
we go, what we do, and how we live. He is our guide on this road of life, and I
know He will lead me through valleys, mountain tops, places of rest, and places
of refinement. It is not just a joyride, where we get to live out the American
dream. We need to follow through the hot and the cold, when it is uphill and
downhill, when it is painful and when it is joyful, when we can see clearly and
when we cannot see at all. Where is our trust and faith if we only follow when
we are comfortable or “okay” with it?

I hope if we call ourselves “Christians”, that we will
follow Christ no matter what. I hope that we will live for Him, instead of
living for ourselves. I hope that we can point people in the direction of Jesus
Christ and God’s Holy Word.

If we don’t live for
Him, follow Him, or never point anyone in the right direction….can we even call
ourselves Christians without lying through our teeth?

If you lack faith in God, or have a hard time trusting Him,
know that we all do at certain times.

Know also that we need to actually build our thoughts,
beliefs, feelings, and actions on God’s Word to get anywhere in this Christian
life.

Please know as well that we actually will have to start
taking faith steps following Jesus Christ if you want to see God at work, if
you want Christianity to make any sort of sense, and if you want to see your
faith grow and become steadfast.

I’ll be praying for you that read this to take the keys of
your life, and turn them over to God. I’ll be praying that you will actually
take faith steps as well, instead of being stuck in the land of indecision
where we only think about following God and never back it up with any actions.

I’ll finish with God’s word from Joshua that has helped me
enormously in this area-

Joshua 1:9- “Have I
not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be
discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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Book Review

Be sure to check out my book on Amazon! Below includes a great review from a reader:

The book encourages us to evaluate our lives and examine what we say we believe. To put into action the walk with the Lord, not just the talk. I could relate and it reminded me of areas in my life that could used deeper digging as opposed to shallow complacency.

I really like the quote…”I wish we could sit down over a cup of coffee years from now and tell each other what has happened in our lives as we both followed God’s will for us.”

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Is God really real?

It amazes me how many times I have had this question asked at the college campus. Before I can berate the unbelievers and believers alike for asking this simple question, the Lord reminded me that I even struggle with this thought in my own dark times of doubt and depression.

So how do we answer this question? Recently an individual that comes to our college group asked this question. They went on and on about how they grew up in a Christian home and were “forced” to believe in God and Jesus Christ, and how after coming to college and learning what they had they had to conclude that there was no real evidence for God. This person went on to talk about how I was encouraging making Jesus Lord and King of their life, and how that was crazy. The quote of the night was, “God can be my co-pilot, but I don’t want Him in charge or running my life, when He can’t even prove himself to me.” We had a good discussion and several students shared about how God was real in their life, but I was still troubled on the way home. My 12 year old daughter had come to the meeting that night, and she improved my mood drastically on the way home.

She said, “Daddy, I wanted to talk tonight, but I didn’t.”

I replied, “Well, that was a pretty good idea, since they probably wouldn’t have listened to a 12 year-old. But what would you have said?”

She thought for a moment and said, “Well I really didn’t like that part about God being a co-pilot. I wanted to tell that girl that God is the only God,  and that He made everything in the whole universe including you. He doesn’t have anything to prove…..to anyone. We just need to have faith and follow Him.”

I was bubbling with pride and joy that my 12 year old daughter had given the best answer of the night. In times of doubt, depression, or frustration with God we need to fall back on our Shield of Faith and just believe. When we do that I think that we will see a mountain of evidence that proves that God is really real.

One of my favorites is church services. I cannot tell you how many times that a service will completely go together, let me explain. In our services, usually an elder will get up and read a devotional, then we will have worship time, and sometime during that usually the song leader or another leader will share a short something that God laid on their heart. Then I will preach the sermon. What happens next has happened so many times that something of a marvel has almost stopped being marvelous. Without talking to each other at all, the message from the devotional, the songs, and the sermon will be saying the exact same thing or be along the same theme! What are the chances of that happening once, much less multiple times throughout the year? I know I cannot explain it, except for that God orchestrates the services of those who give Him control of it.

There are so many other examples I could give of how God is really real, but the best example and signpost I can give you is His Word. If you are having trouble in believing if God is really real, start reading His Word, be open to what the Holy Spirit will reveal to you, and watch the “fireworks” happen. He will make Himself known to you, and it is up to us to how we respond, believe, and follow. Is it His fault when we have doubts, choose to not believe, or reject Him? No. It is ours.

I hope and pray that if you are dealing with doubt or unbelief that you will look at the mountains of evidence in your life, and if you are an unbeliever or young believer that you will start to read His Word and see God at work in your life.

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Reasons why I wrote a book

I felt called by God to write this book, for a long time I even actively ignored His still small voice that was reassuring me I could and should write the book. In the preface I tell the story of how I ignored him and even ran away from doing God’s will like Jonah did. God was still faithful to keep prodding me to write it and I even laid out fleece’s like Gideon did and God would answer every one. And it wasn’t until God made me completely miserable and convicting me over and over again that finally got the book writing started. I feel that this book is for any Christian searching out how to live their Christian lives in a God-pleasing manner, from someone who has went through a great deal in his life from God’s own disciplining hand and my own sinful choices.

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If God is for us, who can be against us?

Sometimes we need illustrations of this powerful verse played out in our lives, before we truly understand it. I personally love it when the illustrations come from unexpected places. This one came from listening, and then watching my two youngest children playing together.

Our two youngest include Malachi our eight year old son who is 110% boy, and Rylee our 6 year old daughter who is even more than 110% girl if that were possible. They were playing by the kitchen, and it was a variation of the game War. Malachi was in charge of the game, and they each had to bring toy and then those toys would “fight” and one would win. Rylee was visibly frustrated because her toys were continually losing. It wasn’t too hard to figure out why, when you saw that Malachi brought guns, swords, army guys, and LEGO men while Rylee only brought Barbies, ponies, or sweet stuffed animals. She was on the verge of tears when I started watching them, and it was time to choose a toy again for the fight. Malachi was all smiles as he brought a pretend bazooka, and was even laughing as he questioned his sister as to what she would bring that could possible beat a bazooka. Rylee looked over her selection of toys and with a pouty lip did not even reach for one. She looked around and suddenly hope sprang into her eyes, she confidently told her brother, “I’m bringing God!” Malachi looked at her dumbfounded, and exclaimed, “You can’t bring God! You can’t do that!” Rylee smiled smugly and said, “Well, that’s who I am bringing anyway.”

As I think back on that with a big smile on my face, I realize that we as Christians so often fail to bring God to our battles. We look to almost every answer under the sun for guidance or strategy for dealing with temptation, problems, spiritual battles, questions, etc. When the first thing we should do is turn to God in prayer, or to His Word for answers, guidance, help, etc. Try it this week and see if your world of thinking, feeling, actions, and dealing with certain things doesn’t shift a little. I think that Satan loves to use the tactic of convincing us that his “bazooka” is going to overwhelm us, when we should realize that bringing God to any problem or battle that we are facing means that we are going to win, no matter what. Anything that frustrates Satan is a win in my book.

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Lie #1- Since God is a loving and merciful God, He is always happy with me, no matter what I do.

It is crazy how many church going people believe this today. I have personally talked to many “Christians”, and even pastors of churches that immediately go up in flames if the idea is presented that God could be mad, angry, or even upset with someone down here on earth.  I ask them about what place repentance, conviction, and even godly sorrow have in our lives, and I am met with looks of total incomprehension. “Just focus on God’s love”, is what I am usually told as they walk away.

Is God’s love of paramount importance in the message of the Gospel? Yes. Does repentance, conviction, and godly sorrow part of that message as well? Yes. Let me share about how I learned about this lie the hard way in my own personal life.

I was raised in a loving Christian home. Both of my parents are Christians, and very involved in the local church. In my adolescence I started to rebel against the Christian values and beliefs I was raised by. I started to run after anything my eyes desired, and that turned out to be partying, girls, and living totally for myself. I even went so far as to go on a mission trip to South Padre Island, but my intentions were not to evangelize or minister to people they were to go see how hot the girls were and see what the party scene was like. (If anyone deserved to be struck dead by God nowadays, I would have been first in line.)

Before I could participate in any of the festivities, we had to go to a worship service. As everyone was worshipping God, He spoke to me. He spoke loud and clear, and it was not what I expected to hear. He informed me that I cared to much about what other people thought, he told me that I was a worthless Christian and that all of my so called “friends” in the party scene did not know Jesus Christ as their Savior, and by me not telling them about Him I was gladly endorsing them going to Hell. God broke my heart when He told me he wanted me to stop being a useless Christian, to quit playing church and hurting the name of His Son by calling myself a Christian. He informed me that He wanted me to just leave the church, because I was doing nothing but mocking Him and His Word by the life I was living. What hurt the most was that everything God had said was true.

As I sat there, broken to pieces, I cried out to God that I didn’t want to be that way anymore and that if He still loved me I would follow Him with all my heart. I told Him that for the first time in my life I truly wanted Jesus Christ to be my Lord and King and to have my whole life, that He could control my beliefs and have my thoughts, actions, and desires—-I didn’t want them anymore.  After that I have never felt so overwhelmed with love before, and that made me cry even harder. He impressed upon my heart that He did still love me, and that following Him was what He had wanted for such a long time. He accepted my cries of repentance and for forgiveness.

So does God have negative things to say to us when we are sinning? Yes! Will God bring conviction through the Holy Spirit when we are not following His will for our life? Yes! Does it feel good? No! But, it is supposed to draw you closer to Him, instead of drive you farther away. I pray that if God is convicting you or challenging you in some area in your life that you will listen, repent, and restore the relationship with Him. Don’t run away or stay in guilt or shame…if you do Satan will be winning the battle.

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Inspiring Quotes

“Having convictions can be defined as being so thoroughly convinced that Christ and His Word are both objectively true and relationally meaningful that you act on your beliefs regardless of the consequences.” -Josh McDowell

I really like this quote!

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C.B. Matthews Author of the Book “Fake Christianity”

This will be my first blog; I can’t decide whether I should be excited or scared. The only thing that comforts me is that we will be taking this journey together.

I believe God has called me to challenge Christians to live out their Christianity to the fullest. I hope you enjoy the inside look into our life, and how God challenges, convicts, inspires, motivates, loves, and helps us in our Christian walk as a family.

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of my new book, Fake Christianity.

“One of my biggest pet peeves as a father is when my kids lie to me. I instantly turn from a nice, loving, understanding dad into a fire-breathing, steam-coming-out-my-ears, red-faced, yelling dad. Ashamedly, I usually go too far in berating them for the lie they either got by me, or tried to get by me.

This has recently resulted in my children turning into the Lie Police. They cannot wait until one of them lies, and then they will trample each other to get to daddy first and inform him of the lie. At church they get in other kids’ faces and call them out on their lies. While I can be proud that they are dedicated to finding out lies and not lying, I wonder what kind of monstrosity I may be helping to create in them.

I get sick of my kids lying. I also get sick of lying to myself in my Christian life. When I reason or justify sin so I can do it more or feel better about myself, God is always faithful in my quiet time to show me just how disgusting those lies are.

That is why, when I look at the American church today and the majority of people who call themselves Christians, I feel nauseated. It is sickening, the lies that are being followed and swallowed in the church today. Whether they come from our culture, beliefs, sinful nature, or Satan himself, I don’t know, and I really could care less. All I know is that these lies are being consumed by the church, by whole denominations, and unsuspecting Christians should know better.”

In the upcoming posts we will go over some of the lies I point out in the book.

Next post- Lie #1- Since God is a loving and merciful God, He is always happy with me, no matter what I do.

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