Choose Joy!

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)

Joy is not a natural response to life but it is a supernatural response to life. That is why it is a fruit of the Spirit and not of your personality. Joy is not a knee-jerk reaction to your circumstances but it is a miraculous moment in a dark and dying world when His presence is revealed through your life. The joy that you experience and demonstrate is birthed from a relationship with Him.

You were not made for depression or to demonstrate a critical spirit; you were not made for gossip or for bitterness. You were not made to give your husband the silent treatment, to create friction in the church or to yell in anger at your children. You were made for joy!

What would happen if rather than putting gas in the tank of my truck that I decided to save a little bit of money and fill the gas tank with sand? Not only would I never reach my destination but I would also ruin the truck! This is also a very sad picture of what happens when Christians try to run their lives on depression, anger or bitterness. You will never reach your destination in life.

You were designed to be a fruit-bearing Christian! You will never bear the fruit that you were designed to bear unless you hang out with Jesus. Every day … all day long just marinate in Who He is and all that He has for you. Fertilize your life with the Word of God, with worship and with prayer. To the extent that Jesus occupies your whole being is the extent to which you will produce joy!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 ESV)

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Is it a Christian’s duty to vote?

A Christian has a duty to vote probably more than any other citizen because of the biblical principles that are out there relating to nations. The Scripture tells us, Proverbs 14:34, that “Righteousness exalts a nation.” Well, righteousness comes from the national policies that are enacted, or, you could also say righteousness exalts a state or community and you determine righteousness on the basis of the public policies that are enacted—which means public leaders choose those public policies and enact them. That’s when we go to Proverbs 29:2, which tells us “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice (and) when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

In other words, ungodly, non-God-fearing people will not make righteous policies. You will not get, for example, God-fearing people to say it’s OK to have abortion, it’s OK to destroy the sanctity of marriage, it’s OK to promote certain things in schools. … So, what we find scripturally, is that God-fearing policies come from God- fearing people; and in America, the only way that God- fearing people can rule … is to be elected. If, as people of faith, we want righteousness to be exalted, we have to elect leaders who will exalt righteousness, and that’s the only way that God can bless the nation. –David Barton

I know this has become a hot topic among Christians recently. I’ve been asked, “Is it a sin for a Christian to not vote.” That’s a pretty authoritative statement to make. But here’s my take on it. In the past, all Christians pretty much voted because for the most part there were candidates that had similar Christians views. We’re now dealing w/ something in our country that’s new. There’s not a clear cut candidate that supports our Christian views. We can learn much from our British friends and others who’ve been dealing w/ this problem for some time now. I’ve talked extensively about this issue with my Christian brother, Jose Robles, in the Dominican Republic. He always votes based on how God directs him about which candidate will be best for the evangelization of his country even though the Roman Catholic may align with his moral beliefs more. So most of the time, he votes for a non-Christian as opposed to voting for the Roman Catholic candidate who believes Baptists are a cult. Check out what this British brother has to say about voting. I love his point about Jeremiah telling the people “to seek the welfare of Babylon, even though it was a pagan state”:

Where in the Bible do we find a biblical basis for arguing that it’s a Christian’s duty to vote? There are many passages that deal with choosing leaders in God’s Word. The best IMO, is Deuteronomy 1:13: “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” (ESV) That’s pretty clear to me. We have an opportunity to “choose wise, understanding, and experienced men” when we vote. IMO, if we forfeit that command by God, we will be held accountable. I know that sounds dogmatic. But it’s what is a major problem in our churches. We don’t want to take responsibility for the state of our nation, when in reality it’s our fault to begin w/ for not being more involved in placing Godly men and women in leadership positions.

So I would suggest that voting is a Christian’s duty. No the Bible does not directly say, “Thou shalt vote.” Just like it doesn’t directly say, “Abortion is murder.” But I think most Christians can agree that the Bible implies that abortion is wrong and is murder. In the same way, voting is a duty for a believer. We are not just responsible for our own personal welfare, but also for the welfare of the community and nation in which we serve. This is an issue I struggled with for sometime. But I’ve decided God wants us to be proactive on this issue rather than giving people the choice not to vote so they have a cop out with God, our nation, and our children.

Dr. David Barton is a Christian historian who deals with Voter Responsibility in this video:

I just submitted a brief argument for the reasons why a Christian has a duty to vote. But I perceive that there is a large majority of Christians that would not be willing to say that it is a Christian’s duty to vote. Recently, a very good pastor friend of mine and I were discussing this issue and he made a statement that I think represents how most Christians currently feel about voting: “Personally, I choose to not tell people they have to vote or who they should vote for. That is their choice and as long as Christians pray and follow the Word and their conscience that is between them and God. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.” In no way do I want to belittle or attack my good friend; so his name will remain “Anonymous Southern Baptist Pastor.” But I do think my friend reveals the disgust many Christians have for politics in our country right now. I will say that my friend does vote and encourages others to vote, but just doesn’t feel Scripture gives us a clear mandate to tell Christians it is their duty to vote. But he is thinking the issue over.

When Christians tell me they’re not voting and I ask “WHY?”, their response is normally something like this: “There’s not a worthy candidate to vote for.” I think that answer is Bologna. And the reason I say that answer is Bologna is, if you really are praying for our leaders as the Bible commands, then God will direct you which candidate to vote for even if he or she is a pagan.

I think the biggest problem for Christians is, Jesus is not running for President. There never has and never will be a perfect candidate. Boy would Charles Finney love politics these days. Listen to what the evangelist of the mid 1800s had to say: “The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . . Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently. . . . Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they (Christians) take in politics.” -Charles Finney

In the colonial period, it was very common for every pastor to preach an Election Sermon (and I’m not talking about a sermon on predestination, Ha) once a year. Here’s a link to one such sermon preached by Daniel Foster in 1790 with John Hancock and Samuel Adams in the congregation: Election Sermon, 1790.

So, in conclusion, do Christian’s have a duty to vote? IMO, YES. One of the greatest sins of the American Church today is apathy. To often, we sit back and think as long as I do nothing wrong, pray, show up for church every once in a while, and put a little in the offering plate I’m doing what God wants me to do. At what point do we make a sacrifice for Christ to get in the middle of the world and try to make a difference, whether that be the slums of our cities or politics? Will it be easy? NO. But we can’t ignore elections just because we don’t like any of the candidates. Be a proactive Christian, parent, and citizen.

Finding Ways to Win & Signing Day

Much like the picture above, MSUs last couple of wins have not been pretty but they continue to find a way to win. Nancy Lopez, one of the best female golfers ever once said, “A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It’s all a matter of pride.” Every game it seems that we have bad breaks, but this team is not giving up. They are playing w/ effort, including Sidney most of the time. I think that’s all most of us want to see from our athletic teams: relentless effort, as Dan Mullen puts it. I still question Coach Stans, especially in how we close games. IMO, we should continue to run our normal offense in the closing minutes regardless of the score. Instead, we try to run the clock out and have horrible offensive possessions that allow our opponent to regain their thoughts and rest in order to get an easy stop and counter with a big basket at the other end. We totally dominated LSU last night, but let them back in the game in the last 2 minutes. But when the pressure is on, we made our free throws, got the stop we needed, and won the game. This team is still capable of losing games it should win, but I do think they’ve learned some things in the last week. The 2nd half against Vandy was probably their best half of basketball the entire season. Florida will be a huge test Saturday.

Signing Day for Football Recruiting is next week, Wednesday, Feb. 1. Right now MSU has a good class even if no one else commits. But, I think adding a couple more that are in our reach will make this a great class. Here’s some names that haven’t made a commitment to keep an eye on that we could see sign the dotted line for the Maroon and White next week: Beniquez Brown, LB, Florence, AL; Richie Brown, LB, Long Beach, MS; Jeremy Liggins, QB, Lafayette County, MS; Dimitric Camiel, OL, Houston, TX; Nick Schuessler, QB, Grayson, GA. Obviously we won’t take all of the names I just listed, but we have a place for 3 of them according to the current numbers. Below is the current status of our commits:

SIGNED LETTER OF INTENT (3)

Denico Autry, WDE, 6-5/255, Scooba, MS, East Mississippi C.C., Signed(12/21/2011)

Dylan Holley, C, 6-3/300, Perkinston, MS, Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.. Signed (12/21/2011)

Charles Siddoway, OT, 6-7/295, Oroville, CA, Butte College, Signed (12/21/2011)

HARD COMMITS (22)

Nick James, DT, 6-5/320, Long Beach, MS,Commit (8/2/2011)

Quay Evans, DT, 6-3/305, Morton, MS, Commit (12/1/2011)

A.J. Jefferson, SDE, 6-2/240, Summit, MS, Commit (1/21/2012)

Will Redmond, ATH, 6-0/180, Memphis, TN, Commit (8/1/2011)

Xavier Grindle, RB, 5-11/195, Columbia, MS, Commit (7/22/2011)

Quadry Antoine, S, 5-11/205, Belle Chasse, LA, Commit (6/5/2011)

Adarrius Perkins, WR, 6-2/220, Brooklyn, MS, Commit (10/20/2011)

Nelson Adams, SDE, 6-4/290, Brandon, MS, Commit (6/7/2011)

Cedric Jiles, CB, 5-10/170, Clinton, MS, Commit (6/2/2011)

Deonte Evans, WR, 5-11/190, Mccomb, MS, Commit (5/11/2011)

Devon Desper, C, 6-4/300, Madison, MS, Commit (3/29/2011)

Frederick Brown, WR, 6-2/185, Jackson, MS, Commit (7/27/2011)

Brandon Holloway, ATH, 5-10/160, Tampa, FL, Commit (7/26/2011)

Adairius Barnes, ATH, 6-0/180, Port Gibson, MS, Commit (7/23/2011)

Torrey Bell, WDE, 6-4/222, New Orleans, LA, Commit (6/15/2011)

Kivon Coman, ATH, 6-1/185, Florence, AL, Commit (8/29/2011)

Ryan Brown, SDE, 6-4/240, Marrero, LA, Commit (6/15/2011)

Jordan Washington, DT, 6-2/265, Suwanee, GA, Commit (10/20/2011)

Cole Carter, OT, 6-5/290, Caledonia, MS, Commit (7/1/2011)

Gus Walley, TE, 6-4/220, Leakesville, MS, Commit (7/23/2011)

Devon Bell, P, 6-2/180, Vicksburg, MS, Commit (7/11/2011)

Justin Senior, OT, 6-6/305, Chatham, VA, Commit (12/12/2011)

Billboard Bonanza

1st Billboard MSU put up across the state

Alright, I’ve avoided sharing my thoughts on how fans from TSUN are reacting to the billboards. But now I’m tired of the whining. So here’s my take. In the last couple of years MSU has begun putting up billboards all over the state of Mississippi. 1st billboards were put at entrances to the state of MS on highways saying “This Is Our State.” Ole Miss lost a law suit over the “This Is Our State” slogan because MSU had properly copyrighted the slogan and had sufficient proof that MSU is the official State college. Then MSU put up some basketball billboards before this season began and has added some new ones to start the year.

But the one that really got TSUN upset was the “Play with the Best” billboard meant to be up only for a month to begin this year in 5 MS cities, but the one in Oxford is what got their goat. It’s important to note at this point that TSUN launched it’s own billboard campaign this month as well. Hopefully, all these players at least claim that they played at Ole Miss in the pre-game lineups for Sunday’s NFL games. And by the way, why did you leave out Michael Oher?

I commend Ole Miss for putting the above billboard up. Finally, they have a billboard they can be proud of rather than one like below that attacks it’s own university rather than supporting it.

MSU has taken down our sign in Oxford (according to the Daily Journal), some say due to the amount of Webels whining to the NCAA about it being a recruiting violation. I understand it’s a little more in your face being in Oxford and saying “Play with the Best” the month before signing day. But if we committed a violation then TCU & many other schools have as well concerning billboards. Check out TCUs billboard below:

Even this TCU or the MSU billboards have nothing on some others. Take a look at what Texas A&M put up in Waco when Baylor was attempting to keep them in the Big 12.

Or how about what Tennessee put up in California after Lane Kiffin left them high and dry?

There’s plenty others I could display, but I think you get the drift. MSU did not invent putting up billboards to promote and attract people to it’s university. I think it’s great for MSU and Ole Miss fans to be proud of who they support. It’s good PR for our universities. And now USM has gotten in on the billboard bonanza too.

And below is my favorite billboard the Mustard Buzzards put up.

So my message to fans from TSUN, USM, and MSU is: enjoy being proud of your university. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” We have a great state. And you should be proud of who you pull for. I love MSU. And you have a right to like or love TSUN, USM, or whoever. Just because MSU has some swagger for the first time in 40 years doesn’t mean you have to get your panties all in a wad. Let us enjoy it while it lasts. I’m sure you Ole Miss fans can have another bragging day soon. But it won’t bother me because I put up w/ your bragging my entire life. And now we see how fans from TSUN really and truly are now that they have lost 3 Egg Bowls in a row. Yeah, some MSU fans are getting too cocky, but they’re just acting the way the Webels used to act. All in all we may not like one another but we live as neighbors. Get over it and wait till you can hold the Golden Egg again. And as for USM fans…see you at Davis Wade Stadium in 2014. You will get to show your worth then.

Problem: Apathetic, Weak, Cultural Christianity

Jesus says, “Follow Me!” Yet, Christianity in our culture has turned into: pray a prayer of salvation, go to church every once in a while, put a little money in the offering plate, and I’ve done my part.

Caution: The following videos could offend a cultural Christian.

What are you willing to give up to “Follow Jesus?”

When you make a willful decision to partner with Jesus and to submit to His Lordship and authority, you are making a decision to receive joy into your life. Joy is not dependent upon your income bracket, the health of your relationships or your street address but it is dependent upon your choice of HIM through all of life’s difficulties. When you choose to give your life to Jesus Christ, joy chooses you!

1 In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

4 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Isaiah 12

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Off to the TadPad We Go

Tomorrow night the 15th ranked Bulldogs will begin a 2 game SEC road trip beginning in Oxford. The Webels really need this win to stay in the SEC race. We need the win to stay in the race for a good seed in the NCAA tourney. Recently we’ve done pretty well against the Webels at home and on the road. This is TSUN’s favorite time of year (football recruiting season) because it’s the only thing they’ve been able to brag about the last couple of years. Hopefully, we’ll take care of business and get ready for another tough road game at Vandy. If you live in Meridian, make sure to see the new billboard of Rodney Hood just as you pass the Chunky River Harley Davidson store going west on I-20/59. I haven’t found a good pic of it yet or I would’ve posted it.

 

Bulldogs in the NFL, Hardwood, & QB position

As I watch the NFL playoffs, many times who I pull for (outside of the Saints) is determined by which teams have Bulldogs playing for them. So I thought I’d point out which playoff teams have a Dawg playing for them, their season stats, and playing time so far in the playoffs.

Anthony Dixon: 49ers (29 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns; one catch for six yards; six solo tackles on special teams)
Mario Haggan: Broncos (22 tackles [13 solo, nine assists], three tackles for loss, one pass deflection and one interception return for a touchdown; Haggan saw action in a 29-23 overtime win over the Steelers.)
Kyle Love: Patriots (34 tackles [20 solo, 14 assists], one fumble recovery, seven quarterback hurries, 3.5 sacks, four tackles for loss.)
Pernell McPhee: Packers (23 tackles [16 solo, seven assists], two pass deflections, one fumble recovery, six sacks, four tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries, one forced fumble)
Derek Sherod: Packers (Five games played; one tackle; Sherrod is on injured reserve w/ broken leg)

 

It’s obvious the referees are out to get us in basketball. We didn’t handle that very well in the barn and lost horribly to Arky last week. But last night our Dawgs came away w/ a good win against Tennessee in the Hump. Yes, it shouldn’t have been so close at the end. But as long as the refs allow teams to maul us the entire game, we’re gonna have trouble dominating games. They were draped all over Moutrie, Hood, and Bost all night. The difference in this year’s team is that we would’ve lost that game last year. So I’m still positive about this team. Big game coming up Saturday in the Hump vs. Bama.

Right now there is concern because we only have 2 scholarship QBs (Tyler Russell & Dak Prescott) on our football roster. Let me explain why I’m not that worried yet. There is a good chance that we will sign a QB in this recruiting class. Tyler Russell is the future at the QB position. Tyler will be the 1st QB that has come through Mullen’s system from the beginning. He’s been able to watch and learn from the sidelines a lot. My only concerns w/ Tyler are keeping him healthy, giving him time in the pocket, and having strong WRs. All of his mistakes have been from lack of protection causing rushed throws and deflected INTs. We’ll also need a RB to step up this year. Our running game could be incredible if teams are having to be concerned about the pass first. And that’s what Tyler brings. And Dak is turning into a more than adequate backup. We could see Dak getting a lot of play time as well. The biggest concern at QB at this point is getting a 3rd QB to begin developing. Let’s have some faith in Dan Mullen. Do y’all realize Dan Mullen is the only coach to have coached 2 of the QBs starting in the NFL playoffs this weekend (Alex Smith & Tim Tebow). No other coach can say that. He knows how to coach QBs. Just look what he did w/ Relf. Relf was one more spring practice away from being turned into a TE.

Who are your NFL picks for this weekend?
Saints @ 49ers
Broncos @ Patriots
Texans @ Ravens
Giants @ Packers