lifestyle

Buying a New Life

WP_20150406_001Have you ever been burnt out? Tired of the same ole struggle, the same day-to-day routine? Need a change of scenery?

We all get burnt out. We all get tired, and we all want a new life. Why else would one of the top-selling singles from the Rock band “Everclear” be named “I will buy you a new life?”

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they want to hit the “Reset” button. Many actually ruin their lives in search of that reset button. They leave their families, file for divorce, leave a steady job and lose opportunities as a result. Many a regret were born out of restlessness.

The secret, however, is that new starts, restarts and resets do not come from the afore mentioned options. All those options do is add problems to your current struggles. That said, is it possible to hit the reset button on life? Is it possible to buy a new life?

The short answer is yes, it is possible to hit the reset button, and it is possible to get a new life, but Art Alexakis of Everclear is not the one who is going to buy it for you. Your new life was already paid for, 2,000 years ago, by Jesus Christ.

Now before you roll your eyes and click away, hear me out. You cannot get a new life simply by running from the one you are in. You get a new life by changing the one you are in. That change comes through Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says “If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” The first key to a new life is to change yourself. Become someone greater. Become something more. Become the great individual that God intended on you being. It’s a change that no one can make on their own. It comes by turning from sin, trusting Jesus Christ as your savior, and by allowing Him to work in your life to form you into the person He intended on you being.

The initial change happens at the point of salvation. The continued change happens as you live out that new life. Romans 6:4 says “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” So, if you are a recovering alcoholic who has repented and given his life to Christ, don’t live the rest of your life the way an alcoholic would. Live your life with your new dream and your new purpose. It’s a conscientious choice you must make daily.

The continued change happens as you allow the Lord to work in your life. Romans 8:28 says “We know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Accepting Jesus Christ as your savior does not mean that you will no longer have problems. It simply means that your problems are no longer pointless. They now serve a purpose, whether it be resolving an ongoing conflict, strengthening you for the journey ahead, building your testimony to reach others, or placing you in a position where God will later bless you. All of it will set you up to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

So, at this point, God has changed the core of who you really are, and He has forged a hope and faith within you through the circumstances in life. But chances are, when you signed up for a new life, you weren’t looking for conditioning, but rather, a new adventure.

May I welcome you to your new life. If you center your life around the Lord as He forges your faith and your character, new opportunities that once seemed impossible will open themselves to you.

When I was saved, a retired pastor told me that my life would never be the same. I doubted him. After all, I still had a job, I still had bills, and I still expected to go to work at the same place and continue to do so until I die.

Today, I still have a job, and I still have bills. However, God has opened the door for me to play a part in the planting of a new church, and this opportunity has opened doors of which I have never dreamed… from the people I meet, to the radio talk show that I do, to the places I have traveled along the way. Back in November 2002, God literally blessed me with a new life. I am a new person, in a new place, with a new mission. The same can happen for you.

Do you want a new life? Repent and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. Have you been saved, but a new life never materialized? Rededicate yourself to the Lord, center your life around Him, live out your faith, and watch what happens. May God bless you along this journey.

False Promises of Freedom

Do you realize that, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived under one restriction, and one restriction only?

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17

Adam and Eve were told they could freely eat of every fruit of every tree in the garden, except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were forbidden from eating of that tree, because doing so would cause death. Other than that, everything went.

In the history of man, I cannot think of another time when man was more free, let alone as free as Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Yet, in Genesis 3, Satan (in the form of the serpent) somehow convinced Adam and Eve that they were not free. He reasoned that they could never be free as long as they were under God’s authority, and God was intent on continuing His “oppression.”

That’s the message within Satan’s statement to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5.

Adam and Eve were led to believe that by eating the forbidden fruit, they would be freed from God’s authority, free to do whatever they felt. They thought they were about to realize a level of freedom never before seen. They were wrong.

Their eating of the fruit brought sin into the world, and the knowledge of sin. So, instead of being freed from God, Adam and Eve were made slaves to sin, its consequences, and its relentless presence in every aspect of life. Consequently, the entire human race has been subjected to such.

In modern times, the Satanic Temple (which denies the existence of Satan, all the while advancing his message), proclaims that its doctrine would liberate people from the bonds of religion and unjust laws. In reality, they are making the same false promise as Satan made to Adam and Eve. Satan promised a freedom from God, a freedom to do with their bodies as they wished. The Satanic Temple lists that concept as one of its tenets. Yet we know that one cannot live in total freedom without impacting the freedom of others.

Recently, the Satanic Temple protested in favor of abortion, saying that pro-life legislation enslaves women to the oppression of motherhood. While motherhood is definitely a rigorous lifestyle (one of which many women have told me is completely worth it), the fact is that a pregnant woman cannot live free of motherhood without denying another person the most basic right to life. And while the Satanic Temple claims to support scientific reason, the fact is genetically, that “fetus” is a human being.

If a woman decides to defy God’s design for marriage, and live a sexually immoral life, then she can do so without the effect of pregnancy, and thus, motherhood, simply by employing birth control. Even if she is successful at this, she still faces the consequences of STD’s, the emotional damage brought on by promiscuity, and the degradation that often follows. (For what it’s worth, men who live sexually immoral lives face the same consequence).

What is promised as freedom from God’s law, the restraints of religion, or the morays of morality, actually presents a bondage all its own. My point? The promise of total freedom is a false promise that Satan has made since the creation of man. It never materializes, and never will.

Whether it was the prohibition of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, the 10 Commandments in Exodus, or the commandment to love each other in John 15, God’s commandments are given to protect us from destruction, and to help us enjoy the most of what life has to offer.

The prohibition against eating of the tree in the garden was to allow Adam and Eve maximum freedom without the fear or confusion over sin. The 10 Commandments guarded us against the self-destructive lifestyles of covetousness, deceit, theft, adultery, stupidity, and idolatry. The commandment to love each other moves God’s law from a list of do’s and don’ts to a check of your motivation. It all frees us. The question is, will you enjoy the freedom God makes freely available in Christ? Or will you choose the slavery that comes with sin?

Choose wisely, for your choice will last you for eternity.

6 Truths that will Revolutionize the Way You Live Life

What separates greatness from mediocrity?

What separates a man who lives life boldly, pursuing his dreams, and achieving great things from someone who merely tries to survive? One lives by faith, the other by fear.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., achieved greatness through living by faith. Dr. King spoke of this faith during his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech given at the Jobs and Freedom March on Washington in 1963. He stated:

I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Dr. King’s faith was not only that his dream of racial harmony and national healing would come true, but that one day, the Lord would return and set everything as it should be. Knowing that this result was inevitable, he boldly marched forward, speaking out on racial injustice, national healing, and ethnic harmony. He challenged America to live up to its founding creed, that “All men are created equal,” and are endued, by God, the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On the eve of his assassination, Dr. King told supporters that he was confident that he had done God’s will.

What a way to live life… to live confident that your life meant something, and to leave this life with no regrets.

How can we live that life? We may not be able to lead marches on Washington, and notably change our nation the way Dr. King did, but we can still make a huge impact in our own spheres of life. In order to live a life that mattered, a life where you achieve greatness, there are six truths you must embrace.

1. God exists, and He created all things. The very existence of God is proven through the creation. (Romans 1:20, Hebrews 11:3). He created the Heavens, the Earth, land, water, oceans, animal and plant life, and man king. Being the Creator of all things, it follows that God is in control of all things, which should give you the faith to trust Him with the details over which you have no control.

2. If God created all things, it follows that He created all things with a purpose. 

3. If God created all things with a purpose, then He created us with a purpose. Your life is not an accident, and you are not just drifting in this world, left to survive the best you know how until you die. Your life has meaning. Your life is valuable. Your life has purpose. Your life matters. The question then becomes, “What is my purpose?”

4. God revealed His purpose for us in His written word, the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

These verses tell us that everything we need to know about God, and His expectation from us, is found in the scriptures, the Bible. The Bible is all God’s Word (given by inspiration), and is profitable for doctrine (a system of teaching, or a creed by which life is lived), for reproof (confrontation), for correction, for instruction in righteousness (what God wants us to do.) The idea is that we would be perfect (complete), thoroughly furnished (equipped) unto all good works.

5. To reject God’s purpose for our lives is to rebel against God Himself. That is the definition of sin. Sin is not defined as breaking God’s law. Sin is not defined as doing something bad, immoral, or evil. Sin is defined as rebelling against God. Now, breaking God’s law, immorality, and evil are all forms of rebelling against God, but even things that you and I don’t see as bad, or evil, also qualify as rebelling against God. When we reject God’s design for life, His purpose for our lives, and His will, we are rebelling against Him, and are sinning.

Think about it. What was so bad about Adam and Eve eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why was their disobedience of God’s command to not eat the fruit a sin? It was a sin, because they were trying to be as gods. They were seeking to elevate themselves to God’s level, so that they would not be subject to Him anymore. They rebelled. They sinned, and we have been cursed ever since.

6. We are all guilty of #5. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This truth, while keeping us humble, also reminds us that the onus is not on us when it comes to greatness. Our greatness is bestowed upon us by God as we trust Him throughout our lives. It also reminds us that our salvation, and our entrance into Heaven is not based on our accomplishments, but our faith in the Lord. Mainly, this is key to knowing that we can be redeemed.

Now, let’s look at how you can revolutionize your life by embracing these six truths.

1. Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. The fact that all of us have sinned, and thus all of us stand guilty before God prompted Jesus Christ to take our sin upon Himself when He went to the cross. He took our punishment, so that we could stand before God with our debt paid, and thus be welcomed into Heaven. That salvation is accessed whenever a person turns from their sin, and trusts Jesus Christ to save them. Believe in Jesus. Pray to the Lord. Ask Him to save you. Without faith in Christ, nothing else matters.

2. Follow your purpose. In the movie, “Moms Night Out,” Trace Adkins played a biker who had strayed from the Lord. During the movie, he discussed watching an internet video of a mother eagle with all of her babies. He said it was awe-inspiring to watch one of God’s creatures simply do what it was created to do.

Finding your purpose doesn’t mean you have to go on this Easter egg hunt for a secret mission God has planted for you. It simply means to do what God designed you to do. All of us were designed to live the human experience: To grow up, follow a career, to get married, have kids, raise those kids, and then retire and teach the younger generations. There are some variations, not everyone gets married, not everyone can have kids, but as a norm, that’s what God designed us to do. (Those who are unable to marry, or have kids have different callings in life). Furthermore, all of us were designed to worship God.

So, living your purpose means worshiping God. This means going to church on Sundays, but it also means having a time of personal, and family worship, which consists of Bible study or devotional, and prayer.

Finding your purpose in your career involves discovering your talent, using that in your career to the best of your ability, but more importantly, honoring and glorifying God with that talent. In my particular case, I host a radio talk show. While the format of my station will not allow me to preach sermons or give devotionals during my 3-hour daily talk show, I can approach the topics from God’s perspective, and give Spiritual insight into the news of the day.

In your case, it might be building your reputation for workmanship, work ethic, and integrity. In whatever you do, you are called to show the world how God would work through that profession.

Finding your purpose in your personal life involves applying scripture to your family responsibilities… from a man’s responsibility to provide for his family and teach his children about God, to a man’s responsibility to love his wife. A woman’s responsibility is to respect and help her husband, though Proverbs 31 tells us that women are also endued with talent that is to be used to glorify Him, and provide for her family.

We can (and probably will) explore how these truths can apply to certain situations in your life. In the meantime, if you will keep them at the top of your mind, and think about how you can apply them to your situation, you will notice changes. God exists. He has a purpose for our lives. Are we willing to live it?

Hitting the Reset Button on Life

Toward the end of The Shawshank Redemption, Red, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, gave the following speech at a parole hearing when asked if he had been rehabilitated:

There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that.

Who can relate to looking back on one’s younger self, and wishing they could relate the consequences of their actions? The problem is, when we’re young, we lack the wisdom to foresee the consequences of our choices, and actions. Many people find themselves in a place today where they never intended to be, nor did they desire to be.

While some people made good choices in their youth, they placed their faith in Jesus Christ, went to college, graduated from law school, built a career, stayed away from drugs/alcohol, and were faithful to their spouses, many made poor choices, and as a result, have seen their lives torn to shambles. Such hopelessness has some contemplating suicide, others contemplating running away. Oh, if there was just a reset button on life? Such as the one on the old Nintendo Entertainment System…. if the game wasn’t going well, just hit the reset button, and start over.

The good news of the Gospel is that such a reset button exists, although the results may not be as instantaneous as the NES reset button.

In Matthew 8, scripture records the cleansing of the leper. Now, leprosy in Bible times was a horrible debilitating disease. It formed lesions on the skin that would get infected, scar, and leave the victim disfigured. It also killed the nerve endings in the skin, leading to injuries to the body’s extremities and face.

In many ways, leprosy was like sin. It destroyed, scarred, spread, and left one disfigured. Also, just like ancient leprosy, one can’t heal himself from sin, or the sin-curse. 

In Matthew 8, a leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus replied, “I will, be thou clean.” The Bible says that immediately, the leper was made clean. This means that not only was he healed of his leprosy, but the sores, scars and injuries were gone. Christ had removed the disease from him, and healed him from the effects of the disease. The leper was now a new man. In essence, he hit the reset button on life. He had a new lease on life.

Now, in every miracle Jesus performed, there are two meanings… the physical meaning, and the Spiritual meaning. The physical meaning of the healing of the leper is obvious. Christ has the power over disease, and the power to heal. If you are suffering from a physical disease, Christ can heal you, and often times will, if you trust Him and turn to Him in prayer.

However, the Spiritual application is much better than the physical, because by cleansing the leper, Christ showed us how he cleanses us from sin. As mentioned earlier, sin and leprosy are a lot alike… except sin is a spiritual disease, and leprosy is a physical disease. Our sin destroys us, and scars us, and we cannot cleanse ourselves from sin, or its effects. Just like that leper, we have to turn to Jesus for salvation, forgiveness, healing, cleansing and restoration. And just like that leper’s cleansing was immediate, our salvation and forgiveness is immediate as well.

However, Christ does not stop with just saving our souls. He goes on to clean up our lives, and restore us to a place where we can serve God, and have a positive impact on others. He places us in situations where God can bless us. He begins that work in us, and continues it until the day we die. Thus, the day we repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we effectively “hit the reset button” on life, and the Lord puts us on a new course. 

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that my life before I accepted Christ was destined for destruction. Since Christ saved me, He has worked in my life, building me, remolding me, and placing me in situations where I can see Him work, and He blesses me. It’s a great place to be.

So, if you are trapped in your current situation, and feeling hopeless, remember, there is a reset button on life… and his name is Jesus Christ.

May God bless you, guide you, and keep you…

-Leland Acker

Carpe Diem vs. Redeeming the Time

The passing of Robin Williams this week may have you re-thinking your bucket list, as well as ways to “carpe diem,” or “seize the day.” Indeed, you may very well be thinking of ways to “seize the day” after watching the clip of Williams giving the “carpe diem” speech during the movie, “The Dead Poets Society.”

Seizing the day means making the most of every opportunity, and enjoying life while you can. This is a concept that goes back centuries, as poets and philosophers encouraged people to try new things, scale new heights, and conquer new obstacles. In most cases, seizing the day is a good thing, whether it be skydiving for the first time, or accepting one’s dream job, or going back to college. 

Times I’ve personally seized the day include the time I rented a Cessna aircraft and hired a pilot to give us an aerial tour of our hometown on the day I proposed to my wife, the day I took the family to the top of Pike’s Peak, and the time I snuck onto the set of Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters” to get a picture of the actor himself. (I didn’t get my Denzel Washington pic, his security team intercepted me, but I got 15 minutes worth of pictures on the set, which were published in the local newspaper. I will never be able to watch the depot scene of that movie without thinking of that day).

Life is an adventure you only get to take once, so I encourage you to visit New York, see the Grand Canyon, do something that scares you, push your limits, try new things, and visit the Sequoya National Park in California.

While you seize the day, however, don’t forget to redeem the time. Ephesians 5:16 says we are to be “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The word to “redeem” means to buy back, or to save from loss. While we know that we cannot buy back time (once a day is gone, it’s gone,) we do know that we can save the time from loss. Another words, there is no reason we should waste our lives.

Now if you look at the context of the Bible verses that encourage us to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5), you’ll notice that the context is to redeem the time while you serve the Lord. In other words, make your life count for something. This will happen if you redeem the time, not necessarily if you seize the day.

Seizing the day is like a roller-coaster ride. It’s fun, exciting, eventful, and you’ll never forget it. However, that roller-coaster ride did not change your life, nor did it change anyone else’s. It may have well been worth the price of admission, and it was a fun thing to do, but it lacks any lasting impact. Redeeming the time involves using your life to impact others for good. Whether it be spreading the message of salvation, ministering to those in need, feeding the hungry, providing healthcare to those without, or anything else that glorifies God and advances His Kingdom. 

So, as you go through life, Sieze the day! Carpe Diem! Enjoy life, take opportunities, make the most of them. But don’t forget to redeem the time… because when this life is over, you don’t want to stand in the judgment with nothing to show for your time here on Earth.

How are some ways you’ve seized the day? What are you doing to redeem the time?

May God bless you,

Leland Acker

What Do You Really Believe?

During a recent trip up the Pike’s Peak Highway, park rangers warned me to use caution on the way back down the mountain. Downhill mountain roadways propel vehicles to higher speeds, and place additional strain on brakes as drivers try to slow down for the hair-pin turns. Too much reliance on brakes will overheat the brakes, and overheated brakes fail, resulting in traffic accidents.

To avoid overheated brakes, the park rangers advised me to down-shift to 1st gear, and let my transmission regulate my downhill speed. Seeing the high-altitude drop-off to the side of my vehicle, I decided to follow the rangers’ advice. Several minutes later, I safely arrived to the bottom of the mountain.

I believed what the rangers told me, therefore I obeyed their advice. Consider another example…

As a child, I was always told that if I made funny faces, my face would freeze in whatever contorted shape I made it. Disregarding this advice, I continued to make funny faces, and to my knowledge, my face never froze. I did not believe my parents’ warning about frozen faces.

In both cases, what I believed, and what I didn’t believe, guided my actions. With that in mind, consider the following….

Suppose a man goes to church on Sunday, listens to the preacher, then spends the rest of the week going to the bars, getting drunk, womanizing, and using foul language. Did he believe the word that was preached Sunday? Probably not.

You see, what you believe will guide your actions. If you believe that sin destroys lives, you will steer away from sin. If you believe that God blesses obedience, you’ll follow Biblical principles in your life. Taking these two concepts into consideration, we learn that we can gauge our faith by observing our own lives. The Bible teaches that we should examine ourselves.

What does your life say about your faith? What do you believe?

Sunday morning (8/10/14) at Grace Pointe, we will see that where we walk shows what we believe. We will learn what it means to be “in Christ,” and the blessings that come with salvation. The study will be from Romans 8, and morning worship begins at 11 a.m. at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator at 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802. Sunday School starts at 10 a.m.