writing

My Help Comes from the LORD

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One of my favorite places to visit is the mountains of North Carolina. I think one of the reasons for that is because mountains make me feel very small. It’s hard to go to the mountains, see the majestic sky lines and the unbelievable views and not be in awe of God’s creation.

This year in particular, I felt very small. The house in which we were staying was surrounded by terrifying roads along with a terrifying driveway leading up to the house…and let me tell you, I probably prayed as hard and as fervently as we drove up and down these roads and that driveway as I’ve prayed in some time. There’s nothing like contemplating your impending doom, to get you praying…and praying hard!

I write all of this a bit tongue in cheek, but on a very serious note, I came back from vacation quite refreshed (even if it wasn’t that relaxing). I think one of the reasons I came back so refreshed was because I had time away from the everyday “hustle and bustle” of life to spend some time contemplating the things of God. And no matter where you find yourself, it is always a good thing, and a beneficial thing, and a soul refreshing thing to do…to contemplate the things of God.

For me personally, the mountains are a good place to do this. I’ve heard some say the beach helps them to connect with God in a way that they may not in their ordinary day to day lives.

With all of this being said, and aside from my terrifying drives that got me really close to God a few weeks ago, the fact is we as Christians here in America live in relative safety. We get to worship in relative safety. But this has not always been the case, and that is the backdrop for one of my favorite Psalms – Psalm 121.

The backdrop of Psalm 121 is that of a pilgrim traveler that was making his way up to Jerusalem to go up to the temple to worship. And this pilgrim who was making his way to and from the temple would encounter many trials and dangers along the way.

I suppose in light of the immediate context of this Psalm, some might wonder how this Psalm would apply to you and I. Well, let’s take a closer look.

While it is true that you and I dwell in relative physical safety in our day, that doesn’t change the reality that we are still pilgrims in the midst of a dangerous world. This being true, we can see very plainly in just the first few verses just how applicable this text is for us.

In verse 1, the Psalmist says, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?”

Friends, even though we may not be facing perilous physical journeys right now in the way of dangerous mountain roads, the fact is that all of us deal with challenges in this world. Dangerous challenges that threaten to derail us on our journey WITH and TO God, and that threaten to derail us on our path to worship.

Our world and our lives are filled with things like sickness, the death of loved ones, difficult relationships, money issues, trouble at work, and we could go on and on. All of these things are in addition to the Spiritual and emotional challenges that we all face. (Of course the big one that sort of sums up all of these things up is SIN…We ALL deal with sin.)

Each of us could, I have no doubt name something that we are dealing with right now.

So…in this context, I love this question. Why? One, because it is an acknowledgement of and an awareness of the need for help. Secondly, because it implies that there is an answer, and there is help to be found.

The Psalmist asks, “Where does my help come from…?” As the Psalmist looks to the hills as a picture of the trials and dangers that await him, it reminds us that we are a people who do need help. Much like I said earlier about how the mountains help me to feel small and they humble me…so does our seeing and going through challenges and difficulties in our everyday lives. These things help us to remember that we are not self-sufficient. We are not strong. We are not the ones with all the answers. We are small…and we are in need of help along the journey of life.

But here is the reality. The truth is we are all tempted to look somewhere else, other than to God for our help. Unfortunately most of us, and maybe even all of us often look in places that offer no help at all or at least they don’t offer us the help that we truly need.

But, the Psalmist here in Psalm 121 gives us just the answer that we need, and tells us EXACTLY who we are to be looking to for our help. In the midst of whatever trial, and in the face of the mountains that lay before us.

Verse 2, “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

Folks, we can and we MUST be looking to the ALMIGHTY, ALL POWERFUL, SOVEREIGN God of the Universe. The God who is the creator of the heavens and the earth. Look around at the world, look all you want, and you won’t find anything that God didn’t create. If God created it, He is sovereign over it. I know sometimes it seems like the world is out of control. Sometimes it seems like your problems, your hurts, your pains are too much for anyone to bear…but if you have the ALMIGHTY God, the creator of the world…the one who is sovereign over ALL things…then what should you fear? Nothing!

Is anything too hard for the Lord? Absolutely not!

Look what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8.

Romans 8:31, “…If God is for us, who can be against us?“

Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?….” Verse 37, “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.”

There is a lot going on in these verses, but I think we can sum it all up quite simply…You are in good hands with God. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. There is nothing this world will throw at you that can destroy you if you are in the hands of God, and friends if you are in Christ, that is precisely where you are. Firmly in the hands of God.

And I think the Psalmist in Psalm 121 would agree. So,  no matter what challenge or what mountain you see before you on this day…be looking to the LORD, the only one that can truly give you the help that you need.

Coming Soon! Jonah and the Mercy of God

 

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I’m thrilled to be working with Focus Forward Publishing to release my next book, Jonah and the Mercy of God. Tentative release date is early May, so be watching out for it! I’m so excited about this project, and I can’t wait to share it with the world!  More details to follow.
http://www.focusforwardpublishing.com

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Exciting News

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Exciting News!
One of the dreams of any writer is to complete a book, and then to see that book published. It’s hard to explain the feeling of seeing a book with your name on the cover. Another dream, is to have someone actually buy your book. For someone to actually want to buy a book you have written, and to actually give you money for your words…that too is an amazing feeling.

Perhaps one of the greatest feelings a writer can experience is to see your book in a real brick and mortar bookstore. Today, that dream became a reality for me. Two of my books are now available locally in a real honest-to-goodness brick and mortar bookstore. Seeing a dream become a reality, even on a small scare is pretty amazing. I’m very thankful.

Just thought I’d share.

Click here to learn more about “Ruminations.

Click here to learn more about “Gazing At Grace.”

Thank you

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It was very exciting seeing several of you guys buying my book, Gazing At Grace, and helping me climb Amazons best sellers list. Thanks for your support. Not only were you guys buying Gazing At Grace, but a couple of my other titles started moving as well. Truly humbled.

Today is a new day though. Gazing At Grace is still only $1 in the kindle store, and my goal is to get this book in as many hands as possible. Help me spread the word, and if you haven’t picked it up yet go get it today! I really think you will be blessed by it.

-Chris

To buy Gazing At Grace, click here!

I need your help

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Most of you know I recently published and released a new book, “Gazing At Grace.” The book is a collection of six sermons that were written in order to give folks, both Christian and Non-Christian a clearer picture of who Jesus is. So far the book has done “ok” on Amazon, but my real desire is to get this book in the hands of as many people as possible…This is where you guys come in.

First, I feel like I need to say this. This isn’t about money…I make very little from the sales of my books. In fact I think I’m yet to actually turn any profit at all…That’s okay, I don’t write for money. Also, this isn’t about getting famous. I have no illusions that I will ever be a famous writer.

What this IS about is telling as many people as possible about who Jesus is, and to bring him glory. Can my writing do this better than someone else’s? I won’t say that, but I do believe I bring a bit of a different perspective to things that others might not have. Unlike many people, I did not grow up in church. I became a Christian much later in life. I’ve experienced the world, and all of it’s attempts to draw us away from God. I lived my life chasing after sin and the pleasures of this world for many years. I stand before you all as one amazed by God and his amazing grace, and his willingness to save a sinner as wretched as myself. This awe is renewed daily, as I continue to see the areas in which I still fall short.

So you may ask, “Where do we come in?”

Well, obviously the first thing you can do is buy the book. Starting tomorrow I will be making the kindle version of the book just $1 for the next two weeks. Yep, just $1. If you have had any thoughts at all about buying the book, I ask you to do it in the next few days. Having several people purchase the book in a shorter period of time will help the sales rankings on Amazon, which will in turn get the book seen by more people. This exposure for a self published author is priceless. You spending $1 to help get the book seen will help more than you know. If you choose, you can also purchase the book on Amazon in paperback for $6.95. If you don’t have Amazon or Kindle, contact me and I’ll make sure you can get a copy.

Secondly, share links to the book. Even if you haven’t read it yet, you can still share the link. Simply informing folks the book is out and peaking their curiosity is huge. Those who have read this blog or read my status updates or followed me on social media have a good idea of what the book is about. I’ve even posted several excerpts from the book already. Also, if you’ve purchased the paperback version of the book, or received one as a gift, post your pictures on social media. This too helps to create buzz.

Thirdly, if you have read the book. Please, write a short review on Amazon. If you have a blog, please write a review on your blog. (This goes for any of my titles) There are few better ways to get the word out about your book than honest reviews. If you do have a blog and would like to write a review, let me know and I’ll get you a PDF copy of the book for free.

Lastly, if you have a local independent bookstore or Christian bookstore in your area, ask for the book. (Again this is true for all of my titles) This is true especially locally here in Wilmington, NC where I know most of my readers are. Bookstores are also more apt to stock books and host book signings by local authors.

So, I ask you all, if you’re able please go out and buy the book. Take a few moments and help me get the word out. As a self published author I don’t have a large entity with lots of funds to support me and to publicize my work. I have myself, and my readers. Apart from friends and family and those of you who read my work on a regular basis, I have no other means of advertising.

I thank you all for your encouragement, prayers, and whatever assistance you can lend in this endeavor. May you all be richly blessed.

To order, or to learn more about the book, click here.

An excerpt from “Gazing At Grace”

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Another excerpt from my new book, “Gazing At Grace”:

“I think so many times we come to Philippians 2:5-11, we say, “Okay, here is a list of things Jesus did, now you have to go and do the same.” It’s almost like a formula. If we want unity in the church, we’ve got to do these things, and then unity happens. So we come to these verses, and we see Jesus as a formula.

But Jesus isn’t a formula. Jesus is the object of our affections. Jesus is the one to whom we come and worship. Jesus is the one whom we gaze at and fall to our knees in awe of his majesty. Jesus isn’t just a good example.

But so many times when we read this passage, or preach this passage we read it simply as Jesus is our example, now let’s go and do likewise. But I think if we read Scripture like this, we miss the big point. We miss the forest, for the trees so to say.

Like I said, Paul is encouraging and comforting the Philippians. How is Paul doing that? He’s telling them to look to Christ! You want comfort, you want encouragement? Look to Christ! Look at who He is! Look at what he’s done!”

Gazing At Grace: Six Sermons To Show The Savior, click here to order.