Author Archives: pastorharness

About pastorharness

Pastor Steve Harness was saved at the age of seven. His father led him to the Lord in their home after a Sunday night service. The Lord has blessed Pastor Harness with many educational and experiential opportunities. Educational opportunities include a Bachelor of Bible, a Master of Ministry, a Doctorate of Biblical Studies and a PhD in Christian Counseling. He is also a Board Certified Counselor by the BCPPC. Experiential opportunities include pastor, youth pastor, Christian school educator, school board president, teen evangelist, camp and conference speaker, radio broadcaster, and much more! He is thankful for each opportunity the Lord has given, and he desires to “serve the Lord with gladness" while seeing people saved and growing in their relationship with the Lord.

Seek God – Find Life

Seek God – Find Life

The following quotation was read by Dr. Adrian Rogers and taken from an essay by a 17 year old boy.   This boy wrote an essay on the topic of “union with Jesus Christ” as part of his school work in a Christian school.  As you read this, at first it may sound like a terrific essay:

“If we examine the history of man’s nature as an individual, we constantly observe that spark of divinity in his breast. The enthusiasm for what is good. The struggle for wisdom. The longing for truth are being smothered by the flames of desire and greed. The zeal for virtue becomes deathened by the tempting voice of sin and turns into a mockery as soon as we feel the full impact of life. Our hearts reason, history the word of Christ all call out to us loudly and convincingly to tell us that union with Him is absolutely necessary and without Him we would be rejected of God. For He alone is able to deliver us. Once a man has obtained this virtue, this union with Christ, he will awake quietly and composedly, await quietly and composedly the blows of fate. He will bravely oppose the storms of passion. And endure undaunted the rage of the wicked. For who can crush him or rob him of his Redeemer?”

“What’s the problem with all of that? Not a thing in the world, so far as truth is concerned. But if he had been writing an essay on Geography or history he would have done just as good a job because he had a brilliant mind. He knew the answers but he doesn’t know Jesus. Founded atheistic Communism. Can you imagine, a person knowing all of that truth and yet not knowing the Lord?

The person who wrote it was Karl Marx. Karl Marx, the founder of godless, atheistic Communism. The one who wrote the diabolical book, Das Kapital. The one who has caused more misery, more bloodshed, more hatred, more violence, more division, I suppose, than any other man who ever lived. Karl Marx wrote this when he was a seventeen year old boy.”  – The Adrian Rogers Legacy Collection

Jesus said in Luke 12:48 For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Graduates, purpose to hold the following principles in your daily life going forward.  These principles are taken from Amos 5:4, 6, 8, 14.  For example: Amos 5:4 says, For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

In fact, each of the above references say much the same thing: Seek God – Find Life.

  • You are leaving High School, but you are not leaving God.
  • Some people walk all alone in life. Israel was walking away from God and Amos warns them that they were walking alone.  Can two walk together except they be agreed?  No! They were all alone because of their sin.
  • No matter what happens in life, we must keep seeking God.

Keep seeking God.

God’s people, to whom Amos was preaching had been worshipping false gods for a long time.  They had a lot of stuff and in many ways they worshipped their material things, possessions, and money.  Read the book of Amos for more details.  Greed, stealing, and coveting was all too prominent in everyday life.  If they were living in our day and age, they would have looked a lot like us; plenty of food, too much stuff, and lots of money.  Possessions and stuff was now controlling them – much like many of us today.  If they were alive today, they would have had the best cell phones, the fastest computers, and the best-looking cars.  They had everything that mattered materially in life because God had previously blessed their fathers and forefathers.  They had enough and more than enough, but they did not have God.

Think of it this way: We do not have much of a life if we live without God.

God’s people had left God.  They were walking through life all alone.  They had stuff, money, families, jobs, land, chariots, and things – but they had left the Lord. Please note the following and examine your heart…

  1. Success Can Blur Your Vision of God.
  2. Stuff Can Weaken Your Value on God.
  3. Situations Can Lessen Your Victory in God.

Current and old chapters of life end, new chapters begin – Keep Seeking God.  Seasons go, and seasons come – keep seeking God. Changes happen in life – keep seeking God.

Follow what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

When we seek God first – that is when we really find living.

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Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing a Child Home Changes Everything

Bringing a Child Home Changes Everything

And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters…  Genesis 5:22

As far as I can tell, Enoch knew his great-great grandson Noah, for about 31 years before Enoch was called to go to Heaven.  One of the extremely unique things about Enoch is that he did not experience death.  His walk with God was so genuine, real, and vital, that God did not let him taste death – He took Enoch directly to Heaven!

As we are told very briefly about Enoch in Genesis 5, we discover that his walk with God appears to become more real, relevant and deep AFTER he has his first child.  When Methuselah is born the entire world of Enoch changed – for the better.

Whatever Enoch was doing after Methuselah was born – it pleased God.  Not everyone will be a preacher like Enoch became, but we all can walk closely with the Lord.

  • Enoch pleased the Lord. Hebrews 11:5 says, By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
  • Enoch prophesied for the Lord. Jude 1:14 teaches, And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.

When Enoch named his first son Methuselah, the name had a special meaning.  Enoch knew that God was going to judge the world because nearly all the world had turned their back on God.  Methuselah means, “When he dies, it cometh.”  Enoch understood that the evil of his world was self-condemning and that God while merciful would soon judge.  When Methuselah dies at the ripe old age of 969, then the flood of Noah’s day begins.

Every man – and woman reading this post, should passionately consider their walk with the Lord.

  • Did your life change when you became a parent? More than sleep patterns and busy schedules…
  • Did your walk with God get closer to the Lord when you brought your baby home?
  • If you adopted a child or married a person with children, are you parenting them with passion and purpose, adopting them as your new responsibility?

I see it often in ministry.  A beautiful young couple gets married and seem to be or become casual in Christianity.  Not in church often.  Not as involved in the life of the church as they could be.  Then it happens.  God blesses them with a child.  Then things start to change.  The gravity of nurturing that little life to know the Lord starts to take hold.  I am always thrilled when apparently nominal Christians step up to the next level in their walk with Jesus.  It thrills me to see the changes a little baby will make in the home!

You do not want to be the one that brings a new child of any age into your home and nothing changes.  If you have a child of any age in your home – it should change your life.  It should elevate your walk with God to new levels!   Be like Enoch – walk with God even more closely as a parent that pleases the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teach the Tongue

Teach the Tongue

Powerful.  Life Changing. Incredible.  Sometimes, not saying anything is priceless!  How many times do our words, though seemingly innocent, get us into trouble, or hurt other people?  How many times do our words encourage, edify and help those around us?  How many Christians are really living like Proverbs teaches.

As the school year winds down, finals are administered, and teachers get a restful summer break, what have you and I learned during the school year.  When a family has school aged children the year seems to revolve around the school session schedule.  So, for this year, what have you learned?  Have math skills increased?  Has science and history been your thing?  How much better is your handwriting?

More importantly, what character traits have grown?  What spiritual steps have been taken this year?  What decisions for serving the Lord have you made?

Recently, our family was reading though proverbs and the following 2 verses stood out to me personally.

  • The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
  • Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.  Proverbs 17:7

What have you taught your mouth?  Taught what?  The wise man or woman, son or daughter, will teach his mouth to say only good things.  Not always will be win this battle, but again, the wise teacheth his mouth.  His lips are guided with learning.  No-one wants to talk the fool, or speak foolishly.  Verbal discipline is a requirement and expectation for the Christian life.

Notice how to not become a fool in Proverbs 17:7.  Excellent speech will not result in a person being a fool.  One paramount, pinnacle lesson each person must learn is the value of their words.  Empty speech, useless conversation, angry words, and bad themes to talk about are not worth talking about!   There are some things we should not waste our breath on!  Here are some ideas to help these verse be true in your life.

  1. Teach or control your mouth.  Take a breath before you speak.  Pray for God to help you say the right things to the right people, the right way, with the right attitude.
  2. Keep learning. Be around good speaking.  Avoid listening to cursing, gossip, or evil communication.  Be aware of the impact of social media and the “Friends” you follow have on you and your speaking.  The people we listen to and look to will inform our mind which in turn impacts what we say or do not say.
  3. Expect more.  Don’t allow negative, selfish, and evil speaking in your home.  Have excellent speech.  Make or create time to talking at the dinner table, in the car, and on the porch.  The more excellent speech that is expected, the least likely you and your children will be in becoming a fool.  Don’t allow useless talk in your home.
  4. Be upfront.  Notice how verse 7 says a person with lying lips will not become a prince.  It is not likely that a lying person is ever truly successful and like a prince in life.  It is less likely than a person who says good things to turn out to be a fool.
  5. Set down the phone.  I read recently that teenagers spend more time on their cell phone than they spend time with their parents. Texting, facebook, twitter, Instagram, video games, snap-chat and more has not increased real life talking!  Learn to set the phone or device down and carry on a real conversation with someone.  Teach yourself good conversation habits.

Make application in your own home and in your own life-stage.  How are you doing?  Have you taught your tongue yet?  It is an area that we must continue to learn and grow in.  We never arrive with our words.  Keep growing in excellent communication!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Violent Death Hits Home

When Violent Death Hits Home

I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  Amos 4:10

Could it be that when school and mass shootings take place, that it is an indicator that God is judging that nation?  It is very possible.  Please consider Amos and his warning to the Hebrew people in ancient Israel.

In Amos 4, the Lord sends Amos to give a warning.  He preaches that God would send judgment in an effort to see the people turn back to God.  Read the chapter if you like.  5 times God says: “Yet have ye not returned unto me.”  In each verse, the Lord describes various forms of judgment; taking away food, rain, sending famine, pestilence and more are warned of.  Instead of turning to the Lord, the people of Israel are said to have been led away with a hook and a fishhook in verse 2.  Like a carrot on a stick, they followed what was in front of them to satisfy their perceived need and actual greed.

When Amos ministered in Israel, the people were still very prosperous.  They had wealth.  They had money.  They had stuff.  When God started to take all that away – they kept looking for more material things.  Food, money and stuff.  They had become so “self-sufficient” that they neglected to turn back to God.

Then in our verse above we find God even begins to allow their children to be “slain with the sword.”  This indicates violent deaths for their young people in their land.  Anytime a child dies it is particularly difficult for the parents and family.  When you add uncalled for violence to the mix, it adds another level of pain. Our prayers go out for all those families who have lost children.

When God judges sin, there is collateral damage.  Just like the wind, rain, and sunshine falls on everyone, so does the judgment of God.  Not only are the people He is judging affected, but others are affected as well.  Look back at the 10 plagues that God judged Egypt with in Exodus.  Most of those judgments affected God’s people too.  In Amos 4, the seemingly natural weather events like drought impacted everyone.

Back to the school shootings.  Whenever young people die violent deaths, it could be part of God’s judgment on that nation.  Think of it this way, instead of people turning to God and training their kids to love God (who in turn teaches us to value and cherish human life) we are teaching our kids naturalism, materialism, and humanism.  Instead of telling our kids about God, we are told (as a whole) there is “no God.”  God wanted His people to turn back to Him and He used Amos to give warning, but when they did not turn back, the Lord finally sent His judgment.

It may not be that God is even judging the specific children that die in a mass shooting.  They are the sad casualties of a society that has turned its back on God.  Like the weather patterns, everyone is affected.  I have believed for years now that abortion is also part of God’s judgment on a people who have rejected Him.  Anytime humans start killing the most innocent and needy among us, we are in deep trouble.  Abortion is a violent form of killing and is another example of choosing personal (sexual) sin instead of choosing Jesus.  In abortion, the pre-born baby is paying part of the price for the parent’s sin.  It is a form of judgement on a people who are against God.

Kids are needlessly dying today.  May God help us.  We must follow the admonition of Amos 4:12 – “prepare to meet thy God.”  When homes and families begin teaching the Bible and turn to God through His Son Jesus Christ – then and only then, will lives be changed and human life valued like it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Friends are people we know and trust to be friendly.  Kindness is not only demonstrated in kind actions, but also in words, and the attitudes conveyed to our friends.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Friends are people we know and trust to be honest; even to the point of challenging and correcting us in a gentle and loving manner whenever that is needed.

Trust is the most basic requirement for a sincere, genuine, and healthy relationship with someone.  A husband who cannot trust his wife or a wife who does not trust her husband will be experiencing troubles in marriage that stem from trust issues.

Trust is something that is earned over time; but can be erased in a moment.  Trust is something we see in each healthy relationship of life.  If there is no trust, then the relationship is based on pretense, fakery, or fabricated reputation.

If a person does not trust the boss, the relationship is not what it could be.  If the boss does not trust the employee, the relationship is not what it should be.  If a parent does not trust he teacher, the student will pick up on that and the classroom relationship will not be what it should be.

The same is true in church.  The pastor trusts the deacons and the deacons trust the pastor.  Their relationship with each other and the relationship of the leadership with the church and church with the leadership also must be premised – on trust.

Sometimes people do not trust others simply because of past experiences.  Even if nothing wrong or sinful has happened in the new relationship. For example, I had a man tell me one time that “He did not trust any preacher.”  His past experiences, that were bad experiences, led him to the conclusion that all preachers were evil.  How could a person with that conclusion hope to learn, grow, attend church services, and develop healthy relationships?

I was not offended by this man’s statement – but as a preacher, I knew I would not have the chance to earn the trust of that man.  The relationship would be tainted and confused from the very start.

That is how some people see other genders.  Have you heard someone say something like “All men are evil pigs?” or “I can’t stand women?”  One or several bad experiences have been allowed to control how the person perceives about half the population!  That way of thinking makes no common or Biblical sense.

If you are hoping to marry someone and have had previous bad dating, or even marriage experience, be sure that those things do not influence your new relationship.  Let trust develop.  Grow in relationship with your new or soon to be spouse.

Starting a new job or another school year?  The boss and the teacher, the employee and the student should be respected and until trust is lost – it is best to develop a healthy relationship built on trust.   Thank God – trust may never be lost! You may have a healthy relationship the rest of your life.

Not trusting others is a personal defensive mechanism focused on preserving our pride and protecting our ego from future possible harm.  It is a natural human reaction.  However, not trusting is based on fear.  Fear is not something that we are to live by.  The Bible says to “Live by faith!”  Replace the fear and the accompanying trust issues with Faith in God!

2 Timothy 1:7 teaches, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

  • Fear causes us to doubt the power of God.
  • Fear causes us to forget the love of God.
  • Fear causes us to not think clearly.

We fear when we are not in control.  We fear when we lose our influence.  We fear when we are not sure what is going on.  HAVE FAITH IN GOD!

  • God will take care of the marriage when we trust and obey Him.
  • God will take care of the workplace and classroom.
  • God will take care of His church. We belong to Him!

God will take care of you and your relationships can become healthy when your faith in God is greater than your faith in fear and distrust.  Ask the Lord to help each relationship to be built on trust.  Without trust – you don’t really have a relationship anyway!