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Blog

Race and the Gospel

shawn beaty

All weekend, I saw comments on social media about the white nationalist incident in Charlottesville and its tragic aftermath. Comment after comment rolled through the feed from friends who lean both left and right. Of course, all of them to one degree or another are denouncing the evil of racism and then proceeding to place blame on people with the opposite world view. For the few of you who care, I want to make a few observations.

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Habits

shawn beaty

 

 

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Fear

shawn beaty

The Huffington Post recently ran a short article about fear. It featured a series of comics depicting common fears that children have alongside similar fears held by adults. Titled "Childhood Fears vs. Adult Fears," the cartoons illustrate the following pairs:

  • Childhood fear: Doctors. Adult fear: Doctor's bills.
  • Childhood fear: Bad dreams. Adult fear: Unfulfilled dreams.
  • Childhood fear: Strangers. Adult fear: Crippling social anxiety.
  • Childhood fear: Clowns. Adult fear: Clowns.

The article notes that though the fears of children are often discounted as irrational or silly by us "older" and "wiser" adults, they are not far off from our own fears. "They're proof that no matter how old we get, we're never alone in our fears," it says. In the end, however, it would seem that there is a line of logic that explains why the most common fears among adults are often as irrational as those of children: everyone has a fear of the unknown. There will always be uncertainty about jobs, relationships, finances, health, and any number of other daily concerns that can bring down even the most spirited people.

Is there a way avoid the downward spiral that anxiety brings? In a world as chaotic as this one, you definitely can't replace uncertainty with certainty. You can, however, fight against it with hope.

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Compromise

shawn beaty

“The very ones whose social pressure cause you to compromise will despise you for it. They probably respect your convictions,
and many of them wish they had the moral stamina to stand alone.
May the Lord give you added courage to be a witness for Him,
even in a hard place.” 

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Ugly Fruit still tastes good

shawn beaty

Wal-Mart is now selling "ugly fruit and vegetables." The fruits (mostly apples right now) are labeled in a bag called "I'm Perfect." Wal-Mart was already selling weather-damaged potatoes in bags called "Spuglies." "Ugly fruits and vegetables are a fact of life on the farm. Sometimes the dents and scars are so minor that you wouldn't think twice about buying them. They're perfectly edible, delicious and just as nutritious as their unmarred brethren—or perhaps even more so." Wal-Mart's John Forrest Ales says, "All of our conversations are about, how do we maximize the harvest?"

It sounds like a good calling for Christians. We're all "Spuglies" in need of God's grace and we follow a Savior who is on the hunt for other Spuglies to love and redeem for his good purposes.

 

www.clovishills.com

The Power of Focus

shawn beaty

In 1957 a graduate student at Columbia University named Gordon Gould had been working with "pumping" atoms to higher energy states so they would emit light. As Gould elaborated his ideas and speculated about all the things that could be done with a concentrated beam of light, he realized he was onto something. In his notebook he confidently named the yet-to-be-invented device a LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).

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Is that what God really said?

shawn beaty

Recently I heard the great apologist Lee Strobel use the following illustration to highlight how good we are at making the clear truths of Scripture much more ambiguous than they are.

"Imagine a daughter and her boyfriend going out for a Coke on a school night. The father says to her, "You must be home before eleven." It gets to be 10:45 p.m. and the two of them are still having a great time. They don't want the evening to end, so suddenly they begin to have difficulty interpreting the father's instructions: What did he really mean when he said, "You must be home before eleven"? Did he literally mean us, or was he talking about you in a general sense, like people in general? Was he saying, in effect, "As a general rule, people must be home before eleven"? Or was he just making the observation that "Generally, people are in their homes before eleven"? I mean, he wasn't very clear, was he?

And what did he mean by, "You must be home before eleven"? Would a loving father be so adamant and inflexible? He probably means it as a suggestion. I know he loves me, so isn't it implicit that he wants me to have a good time? And if I am having fun, then he wouldn't want me to end the evening so soon. And what did he mean by, "You must be home before eleven"? He didn't specify whose home. It could be anybody's home. Maybe he meant it figuratively. Remember the old saying, "Home is where the heart is"? My heart is right here, so doesn't that mean I'm already home? And what did he really mean when he said, "You must be home before eleven"? Did he mean that in an exact, literal sense? Besides, he never specified 11 p.m. or 11 a.m.

And he wasn't really clear on whether he was talking about Central Standard Time or Eastern Standard Time. In Hawaii, it's still only quarter to seven. As a matter of fact, when you think about it, it's always before eleven. Whatever time it is, it's always before the next eleven. So with all of these ambiguities, we can't really be sure what he meant at all. If he can't make himself more clear, we certainly can't be held responsible."

As children of the living God we are so quick to question God and what is best for our lives. Could it be that he actually does know best? Can I trust that he has my best and I actually don't know what is best for me? What kind of person would you be if God always gave you what you wanted? And so it is with God and his word, most of us question and write it off because we think culture knows better or we know better.

www.clovishills.com

If The News Is Good You Share It...

shawn beaty

George Sweeting, in his book “The No-Guilt Guide for Witnessing,” tells of a man by the name of John Currier who in 1949 was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Later he was transferred and paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1968, Currier’s sentence was terminated, and a letter bearing the good news was sent to him. But John never saw the letter, nor was he told anything about it. Life on that farm was hard and without promise for the future. Yet John kept doing what he was told even after the farmer for whom he worked had died.

Ten years went by. Then a state parole officer learned about Currier’s plight, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. He was a free man.

Sweeting concluded that story by asking, “Would it matter to you if someone sent you an impor- tant message -- the most important in your life -- and year after year the urgent message was never delivered?” (Adapted from Our Daily Bread, November 6, 1994.)

John Currier obviously saw other people living in freedom. They were setting an example for him on how to live in freedom. But what he needed were the words which would tell him HOW he could be free, and there was only one source for that.

We who have heard the good news and experienced freedom through Christ are responsible to pro- claim it to others still enslaved by sin. Are we doing all we can to make sure that people get the message?

www.clovishills.com

The Martin Luther King I Never Knew

Daniel Aiello

In school I was taught that MLK fought for equality and they never mentioned that his fight for equality was a direct result of his belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In church he was not mentioned. It wasn’t until I was out of seminary and I began to read his sermons that I was introduced to this giant man of faith. In this 1956 message, Martin Luther King Jr. reads an imaginary letter from the Apostle Paul. I’ve excerpted it below, but be sure to read the whole message (it could have been written to us today).

“For many years I have longed to be able to come to see you. I have heard so much of you and of what you are doing. I have heard of the fascinating and astounding advances that you have made in the scientific realm. I have heard of your dashing subways and flashing airplanes. Through your scientific genius you have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. You have been able to carve highways through the stratosphere. So in your world you have made it possible to eat breakfast in New York City and dinner in Paris, France. I have also heard of your skyscraping buildings with their prodigious towers steeping heavenward. I have heard of your great medical advances, which have resulted in the curing of many dread plagues and diseases, and thereby prolonged your lives and made for greater security and physical well-being. All of that is marvelous. You can do so many things in your day that I could not do in the Greco-Roman world of my day. In your age you can travel distances in one day that took me three months to travel. That is wonderful. You have made tremendous strides in the area of scientific and technological development.
But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress. Your poet Thoreau used to talk about “improved means to an unimproved end.” How often this is true. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality. You have allowed your civilization to outdistance your culture. Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood. So America, I would urge you to keep your moral advances abreast with your scientific advances.

I am impelled to write you concerning the responsibilities laid upon you to live as Christians in the midst of an unChristian world. That is what I had to do. That is what every Christian has to do. But I understand that there are many Christians in America who give their ultimate allegiance to man-made systems and customs. They are afraid to be different. Their great concern is to be accepted socially. They live by some such principle as this: “everybody is doing it, so it must be alright.” For so many of you Morality is merely group consensus. In your modern sociological lingo, the mores are accepted as the right ways. You have unconsciously come to believe that right is discovered by taking a sort of Gallup poll of the majority opinion. How many are giving their ultimate allegiance to this way.

But American Christians, I must say to you as I said to the Roman Christians years ago, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Or, as I said to the Phillipian Christians, “Ye are a colony of heaven.” This means that although you live in the colony of time, your ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity. You have a dual citizenry. You live both in time and eternity; both in heaven and earth. Therefore, your ultimate allegiance is not to the government, not to the state, not to nation, not to any man-made institution. The Christian owes his ultimate allegiance to God, and if any earthly institution conflicts with God’s will it is your Christian duty to take a stand against it. You must never allow the transitory evanescent demands of man-made institutions to take precedence over the eternal demands of the Almighty God.”
You can find more MLK speechs and Sermons here