The Things We Keep Buried


Colossians 3: 5-10…”Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

The Apostle Paul wrote this as part of his letters to the church in Colosse around 62 A.D. while he was a prisoner in Rome. It is written as a warning to keep pure the work of Jesus at the cross and the resurrection thereafter, as the church had morphed into a sort of hybrid religion that no longer resembled true Christianity. It is a detailed account of what we are before receiving Christ, and what we transform into after the death of our earthly self and being reborn in the spirit of Christ. He’s very blunt and explicit in his instruction and they are hard words to hear and read. Very few passages in scripture are as important as what Paul wrote here, but these are the exact same qualities that many of faith choose to ignore as command. However, we must keep in mind who wrote this – Paul, the human being that the resurrected Christ specifically and directly chose to bring the gospel to all the world…to you and to me. This is to be taken as if spoken directly to your face by your Creator.

We are warned here by Paul that there is a coming wrath of God and it will be leveled against the things that are born from sin. But since we have been saved by the blood shed at the cross and reborn, we are now transforming (being renewed) in knowledge and in the image of our Savior. In that, we must die in our earthly self and that life we walked in that will face judgment, and walk in the new self that we now have in oneness with Jesus. Complicated? Sure, if you’ve not been rescued by Christ and the Holy Spirit has not yet come to you. But to those to which this has occurred, it all makes perfect sense. It’s the application that gets lost in translation. Transformation is a process…not a one and done, at least for most. Paul was a one and done, but most likely you are not. I am not. We are transforming from our previous life which is now dead. It’s like a snake shedding its skin. What is left behind is all that Paul listed…all the things that separated us from God and eternal light.

There has been much I’ve lost in my old self as that doomed existence dies and my true life emerges. Much of the sexual immorality, the evil desires, the greed, lust, anger, rage and the rest has washed away, and the Spirit is always pouring life back into me to replace those things. Yet, on occasion, I’m reminded my transformation is yet to be complete. Especially when I take off a piece of the armor that shields me from the enemy and leave myself vulnerable to attack. I’m nearly certain that I’ve never met a fully transformed being and that I probably never will. I believe they are out there and I absolutely believe we can get there before leaving this earth, but we do have an enemy and we are constantly at battle with it.

Buried deep in my gut somewhere is this little ball I’ve discovered. It’s not supposed to still be there. I don’t want it there. Yet there it still is. Its content is a toxic brew of terrible pain, anger, rage, sins of all sorts, and all that was me before my rescue. It’s almost as if this ball is a “greatest hits” of all the traits my previous doomed soul consisted of. The death of my mother and the massive pain that came with that takes center stage in that melody. It’s a platinum hit. Recently, because I took my armor off, that little ball of pain was exploited and it surfaced on me again. My actual brother witnessed this. I’m not sure what happened and why, and after much personal analysis I actually believe it was part of the ongoing transformation process. God was releasing it from me and in confession there must be a witness to it. The deep bitterness I was holding towards the end result of my mother’s life poured out of me in a fit of rage.

God has used that ball in my life for a long time. It’s the motivation that has propelled me to do many good things in life out of the ashes of the wrong. It’s the source of what led me to him and his rescue. But it’s of no use anymore as those things have died. I cried the next morning after that ball came pouring from me to God to please take it from me. I didn’t even know it was still there like that. I didn’t belong there and I pleaded for him to take it. There exists plenty of mystery still regarding God, our salvation, our personal transformations, and the way we are used in God’s glory and purposes. For me, this is one of those mysteries. But I take it back to what Paul says here…”Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” I pray that I do.

What are the things you are keeping buried deep in your gut? What type of control do they have on your actions? Consider Paul’s warning. Put them to death.

Gary Abernathy



Jesus is the First Responder


Luke 19:10…”For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

If you are a transforming Christian you know exactly what Jesus meant when he spoke those words. We understand that moment with vivid detail because we were that lost and broken soul reaching out to be rescued. In this story from Luke’s gospel, Jesus had entered the town of Jericho and a huge crowd had surrounded him. Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector with a great life, but he had heard of this Jesus and wanted to see him. Jesus knew exactly who he was coming to see that day, but for Zacchaeus, he just wanted to know if something more than the emptiness of his ill-gotten gains existed. He was a short man so he had climbed up into a sycamore-fig tree to get a better view.

When Jesus came upon him he yelled up, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5). Can you imagine? Jesus Christ standing below you as you sit in a tree yelling at you to get down immediately because he’s coming over. NOW! The town people were astonished. “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Zacchaeus was relieved. Humbled. Rescued. “I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount,” said Zacchaeus. Jesus replied, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Recently I was at a Target store near my home and I happened on a first grade girl crying in the main aisle with desperation screaming from her eyes. Before I reached her two grown women pushed their carts right by her without a word. I gently approached her and asked her what was wrong. She was wearing the school shirt of the same elementary school both my own daughters attended. “I can’t find my mom…I don’t know where she is.” I know that moment. I thought of it right then as I stared at this young girl. Lost, broken, confused…seeking so hard to find home but everything is a blur. Then I considered that in that moment with this young lady, I was Jesus. He had come to me when I was in the same condition. He had taken my hand and brought me home safely. He was my first responder. Now here I stand in his shoes.

Maybe I am reading too much into it and she didn’t feel what I sensed, but this girl was very calm with me as if she knew I was good. I was a stranger, a man, in a big store, and all she’s ever been taught to this point is to run from me in that situation (as we all teach our children), but she trusted me right away. I’m certain she saw Jesus through me and not me. Eventually she disclosed that she knew her Mom’s phone number which I found very impressive, area code and all, which was different than the one we were in. I called her mother and told her I would wait upfront near management until she got there. When we saw her “red hair in a ponytail” round the corner, I started waving my arms so she could see where we were. This woman never made eye contact with me. When she got within 10 yards her daughter ran to her sobbing. Mom looked relieved and frustrated but not joyful to have averted disaster. Anyone could have taken that child. She never spoke a word to me. Not even a simple thank you. They quickly whisked away.

Jesus is the first responder to the trauma in our lives. He’s there when this little girl needed a lighthouse, he’s there when Zacchaeus was filled with nothing but emptiness and excess, and he’s there for you in every moment your heart is calling out from within your soul. When the addiction can’t be broken, when the abuse can’t be stopped, when life just can’t be lived straight…he’s there. It leaves us with the choice. Are we to keep our eyes down and pretend he doesn’t exist because it’s too painful and too shameful to look up, or do we go as far as to even climb a tree to find him in our desperation? He is always there but we have to accept him. We have to look him in the eye. We have to sense that he is good…he’s the way home.

Where do you stand? Are you in a tree looking over the crowd for him? Or is your head down like you didn’t do your homework and the last thing you want is to catch the teacher’s eye? Either way you know he’s there. That’s why you’re reading this. Get down from that tree immediately. Jesus is coming to stay with you. Your rescue has arrived.

Gary Abernathy

The Super Bowl Crown


1 Corinthians 9: 24-25…“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Charlotte, NC is one of those types of places that everyone that was born there is very proud of where they come from. At least they are from my generation born in the 60’s and 70’s and before. Mid-size cities are often this way, such as, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Nashville, and other similar sized places. We want people to know our city exists too and that it’s a great place to be. I’m not sure of the psychology behind that, but I’m willing to guess that it’s akin to Napoleonic complex because of being rivals with nearby larger cities. Charlotte has grown such now that it’s losing that quality, but for those of us who are natives, we’re extremely proud when good things happen to it. Which leads me to the Carolina Panthers NFL football team.

We (Charlotte) were awarded an NFL team that began play in Charlotte in 1996. The first year was spent playing in Clemson, SC until our brand new stadium in Uptown Charlotte was completed. Uptown instead of downtown is another story all together, but it goes right back to that striving to be unique and special. The very first event held in what is now called, Bank of America Stadium, was a Billy Graham Crusade. Billy of course being one of those proud Charlotte natives, and he is also a fan of our football team like the rest of us. If you listen to past messages of his you’ll hear his love of NC and Charlotte come forth quite often. 20 years later that stadium and the city of Charlotte will be hosting our very first NFC Championship game between the Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals. It’s kind of a big deal.

I love the game of football both college and pro. I loved playing the game with my friends as a kid. I didn’t so much love playing organized football, and the giant kids that played against us that must have lived by a nuclear power plant. That’s when I discovered there was a limit to my love of football. Ha. That said, I’ve been rabidly obsessed this year with the Panthers best season in our history. Going into the championship game we have 16 wins against 1 loss. It’s been a beautiful sight to behold. When I attended the playoff game last weekend with my family, I began to wonder if me directing all of this passion at the Panthers was a correct posture from a Godly standpoint. It’s a dangerous and slippery slope bordering on idol worship. Often times, the most seemingly harmless activities are the things drawing us away from relationship with our Father. Is that what is happening to me? It’s a very serious question.

So I began to put this against what the Apostle Paul wrote comparing the spirit of earthly competition with the spiritual responsibility that comes with eternal salvation. Competition and games existed in the time of Christ and the Apostles the same as it does now. He mentions racing in the quoted verse, and later he mentions boxing if you go on reading the chapter. Paul does not condemn these things, but instead he uses them as an example for us to adhere for a much higher purpose. “They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

This led me to honestly assess my life from the stance of am I as “sold out” (I really dislike that Christianese term but it fits here) for Jesus as I am the Carolina Panthers? Not that many years ago that would have been a for sure no. But I’m a much different man in my transformation than I was 5, 3, even 1 year ago. My life revolves around Jesus now in all phases. Even football, because I’ve never even considered this to be an issue before, but now the spirit has brought it to my attention. This is what happens when the spirit of the living Christ dwells within us. It was brought to me to consider for a reason. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy all of this creation and the other humans God has created and the great things mankind does, but we must at all times remain with both feet on his narrow path. Eyes forward. If the Panthers lose this weekend I’m going to naturally be disappointed as to what might have been, but my life will instantly go on. I’m in my own race. I’m seeking the crown that is eternal. The Super Bowl crown will fade to dust when mine still shines with his glory as I lay it at the feet of my Savior.

Billy Graham, if he is able in his condition, I’m sure will be watching the game this Sunday. I’ll be there with my family once again, making the 1200 mile roundtrip trek to be in that moment with them. The picture above is one that I took just a few weeks ago while at his library in Charlotte. It’s a signed helmet from Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson, to Mr. Graham, “his friend.” It’s a great moment for the team and for the city of Charlotte and all that love it. But I’ll also have these words from Billy in my mind as I temper my enthusiasm with spiritual reality…“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”

I’ve grown much closer in likeness to the Lord over these many years, but I still have much more growing to do. How about you? Are the things you give your deepest passions to surpassing the passion you give to serving and growing in Christ? Serious question indeed.

Gary Abernathy



The Power to Say No


1 John 3, Verses 8-10…“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”

So what is the “devil’s work?” What are these things that Jesus came to destroy? For me, it’s been a long list of items, both mental and physical, that controlled, shaped, and mislead me down a path taking me away from who I was made to be. Are we aware the devil has this sometimes very subtle continuous power over our lives? Not when we are living apart from God. When we are in that state, the devil is very quiet. He tiptoes around us so as not to wake up our hypnotized slumber. When our conscious stirs, he’ll whisper very quietly those simple humanist justifications that lull us back into deep sleep. “You need that last drink because nobody else has stress like you.” “You deserve to cheat on your wife because she doesn’t fall at your feet every single moment.” “Stealing from that man was the right thing to do because he has more than you undeservedly.” His whispers hit our sin-filled hearts and manifest our complete destruction.

The only thing that can wake us up from the devil’s work is the voice of the Holy Spirit when he comes to rescue us. The spirit does not tiptoe. “WAKE UP! Your destruction is soon. WAKE UP!” I’ve heard the voice of the spirit. It’s warned me just that way. This is Jesus Christ coming to be our salvation. We have no power of when that voice is going to come and when we will be saved, but when it happens, we had better not ignore the moment. It may only happen that one time. Satan has stolen throngs of souls with sweet and gentle whispers. The Spirit comes with a loud thumping on the door of our conscious. We know he is there. For you, reader, this may very well be that moment right now. This article may be the thumping. Is his voice speaking to your conscious about the sin you’ve been feeding? Answer. That is your creator. That is true life calling to you. That is salvation in the person of, Jesus Christ.

Therefore he (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

Through the power of Jesus living within us, we have full power and authority to say – No. We can defeat what had been undefeated, and we can destroy sin that was so robust that it defined life itself in our minds. All of those things that cause all the heartbreak, pain, agony, misery and tears of this world. We can say from the authority of Christ, “No, I will not do that and I won’t do your bidding, Satan.” That’s when the devil goes from a whisper to a shout. That’s when the line of good/evil becomes crystal clear in our hearts and minds. Evil no longer hides itself so as to easily deceive. We then have clear choices, and though they still remain for us to be made each day, because we have the unbreakable promise of God to forever hold us, we are able to just simply say…No.

At this point God begins to work miracles within us. We are alive now and of use to him. His peace sits in our hearts even in the middle of the worst storms…storms we will still feel and experience…but differently. The best way to put it is in the middle of those storms, we are no longer the one needing the safety rope thrown to them, but instead, we are the ones throwing the rope. That’s what I’m doing right now…tossing a rope into the raging sea for the hands reaching up to God. I’m not the Holy Spirit and I have no power to save you…I’m a messenger of the hope and promise of God. Grab the rope. Repent, because you are given the power to do so, and join me on this side. Join up with the living. The benefits are out of this world 🙂

Gary Abernathy

When The Rain Won’t Stop…


Psalm 69, Verses 8-12: “I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards.”

There are so many, and they continue waiting for the sun to break, but the rain keeps pouring down. The clouds swallow them up, and when there is a break and a hole in the cover appears, it closes back up before they even have time to exhale. There are so many. What is their remedy? Where is their salvation?

The psalmist, David, knew this despair deeper and as prolonged as anyone who has ever lived. When you’ve become the “song of drunkards” it’s hit rock bottom. Singing their torment at you with folly and laughter. “Poor David can’t find his God, look at him cower in his fever, Poor David calls out to his God, how stupid a man this believer.” Then they pour another round as they toss rocks his way. I made that lyric up here on the spot, but I imagine it to be pretty close to what the drunkards would sing. What did David do? He pleaded more with God…”You know I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies before you. Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Does that sound familiar? The Lord, Jesus Christ, would also be given vinegar for his thirst later down the road.

David had everything stripped away to the last shred of human dignity and Jesus the same. Stripped bare and left for the gnarling teeth of the jackals and fools of this world. To lower depths no man has sunk further. Are you in a lowly position in your life? Are you drowning in the never ceasing downpour? What have been your reactions to pull yourself out? Most will pray and plead, but what else? What did David do? He praised. Then he praised more. His faith in the mercy of the Lord never wavered.

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. The poor will see and be glad – you who seek God, may your heart’s live! The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them, for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.”

When I feel swallowed up in life…when I’m in despair…I call out to God just like David did, just like most of us do, but for most of my life I only called for the pulling me out of the mess so I would no longer suffer. I thought no deeper than that about the situation. Our Father rebukes and teaches us discipline in many ways. Suffering is one of those methods. So what is your reaction? Are you just asking to be rescued, or are you asking to be changed? Are you just asking for selfish remedy to your problems, or are you making the efforts required to not fall right back into the same problems as before? The problem is not the world, it’s not our friends, it’s not our family, and it’s not with God. It’s us. We have the fatal disease of sin. The cure…the remedy…is with the physician, the healer, Jesus Christ. He comes to get us and his hand is stretched out within grasp of our drowning bodies, but we have to grab it. With hand stretched out to Peter who had sunk into the sea, Jesus said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31

Faith isn’t just something to hold in your pocket when needed. It comes with responsibilities, and it comes with an owner’s manual that leaves not a single detail of life out – The Bible. It wasn’t until I dutifully started reading mine that I began to gain understanding. That I began to acquire wisdom and knowledge. The reason I knew this psalm was because I read them over and over every single day. Proverbs too. God’s lifeline to mankind. Psalms teaches us how to get along with God. Proverbs teaches us how to get along with world. There are things within them both that force changes in our lives. Changes we don’t want to make. When I began to read God’s word with a faithful heart and eagerness to be close to Him, I found myself and my character accused all over them both. It’s not enough to just read a bible. We have to read it with our hearts…we have to read it from a place of love and fear of our Creator.   There is a narrow path to safe haven God will keep us on when we come to him to learn. When we put our full dependence on him. That is the way out. Find it and nothing else will matter. It can keep on raining from now until Christ returns, but you and I will keep trekking down that narrow path singing our praise to him as the storm rages around us. That’s the way out.

I write to you brothers and sisters this truth…If the rain will not stop pouring down in your life and your despair is relentless, forget seeking remedy from anything of the world and from any person within it. Seek the face of God. Grab the hand of his son and accept his gift of salvation. Pour your heart into his service and the learning of his ways.

“After many years of great mercy, after tasting of the powers of the world to come, we still are so weak, so foolish; but, oh! when we get away from self to God, there all is truth and purity and holiness, and our heart finds peace, wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, victory.” – Charles Spurgeon

Gary Abernathy




Artificial Intelligence


Isaiah 45, Verses 9-10: “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds (broken pottery) among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands?’ Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’

Clearly, through Isaiah, God is giving man a very clear warning not to question his methods and motivations in this passage. In this story in Isaiah chapter 45, God is rising up Cyrus II of Persia to great heights, though Cyrus is a non-believer and doesn’t acknowledge the Lord. The purpose is to restore Israel after a period of rebuking to teach obedience, and Cyrus is the tool he will use to accomplish this.

In verses 11-13, God speaks…”This is what the Lord says – the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning the things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will rise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty.”

I use this story today because I’ve been pondering heavily about the current situation we live in with the pending explosion of artificial intelligence. Today’s devotion isn’t so much a lesson or conclusion, as it is an open-ended question for the reader to ponder as well. Where is God leading us with the rise of the machine, and what is our responsibility of obedience?

Above all the distractions of this world and the shiny objects that keep us all somewhat hypnotized away from true reality, men and women that God has blessed with tremendous gifts are busy creating a new species. That’s not science-fiction or conspiracy…that’s what is happening…and even the people doing it are frightened by its possibilities and their ultimate lack of control over where it will take us. Most feel like it’s leading us to extinction. A few want just that. “Singularity” is the moment that artificial intelligence catches up with human intelligence. At this point, it is reasoned forward that technically machines will soon thereafter see the need of the human race as pointless. That moment is fast approaching.

This fact of current reality has mankind on the edge of the possibility of a new level of existence in human history – Can man become God and create his own being? That’s the goal of a few of the most brilliant minds living on this planet. To merge themselves with machine and gain immortality. Much like Cyrus, God doesn’t enter their formula because they do not acknowledge that a maker exists. The movie, “ex machina,” provides a fictional, but reality-based glimpse into the process of what it is they are building. It’s smart viewing for the prudent to be aware of where the powerful are taking us. Within the movie it exposes the sources of the mass human data required to build this “next step in human evolution,” and those sources are – us. All of the electronic data will all create siphoned into the process creating the delicate balances of human-like intelligence. Our images, our thoughts, our nuances, our emotions….all poured in. However, what science lacks and will never gain is the ability to create the human soul – actual life.

So, where is God taking us in this “folly of man?” After all, we are but broken pieces of pottery laying about the floor, and it’s high folly indeed to truly believe God can be made obsolete. So, are we to question why God is allowing this, or are we to trust that as he did with Persia to restore Israel, God has his purpose in bringing man to the edge of ultimate destruction? Woe to he who quarrels with the hand that made him. Science obviously is quarreling, so where does that place our responsibility to obey? We trust in the Lord.

Have you given the implications of artificial intelligence much thought? Are you preparing for the changes it has and will bring to earth? Most importantly, are you deeply considering how you will remain steadfast in your faith while science seemingly proves everything you believe wrong? This is the test facing the believer and it’s coming at us like a freight train.

Gary Abernathy





Almighty Social Justice


1 Samuel 17, Verses 34-37: (David speaking to King Saul regarding Goliath) “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

David vs. Goliath is the most famous underdog story in all of history. Everyone knows it, but few grasp its vital point – God is true power and humans are hopelessly powerless without Him. Depending on what you want to believe, Goliath stood somewhere between 6 ft. 9 in. to 9 ft. 9 in. tall. Like a good fish story, his height grew in each translation. No matter the actual facts, Goliath scared the living daylights out of King Saul and the armies of Israel. For exactly 40 days (If you pay attention, God seriously likes that number), Goliath would come out in the open and make his shout out for just one of Saul’s men to come fight him. Winner take all. Nobody dared…they would fall back in fear every time. God had specifically raised up Goliath to be what he was at that very moment to eventually meet, David.

David was the lightly regarded youngest son of a family from Bethlehem. (Yes, that same Bethlehem). Three of his older brothers were all in Saul’s army, but David split his time between keeping his father’s sheep and serving Saul. His family sent him to the front lines to give food to his brothers and cheese to their commander, hoping that it would buy goodwill in keeping them safe. When he got there, he was appalled at the disrespect of Israel by Goliath and was inquiring what had been going on. They told him that any man that stood up and killed Goliath would be made very wealthy by Saul, his family would be exempt from taxes, and he’d even be given the King’s daughter in marriage. When King Saul got wind of David’s intrigue he sent for him. Young David said to the King, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” The king must have laughed a bit looking at David and his bold claim, and said to him, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” That’s when David put on Saul the words quoted above.

David understood what no other soul all the way up to the King, in all their armor and all their weapons, on that battlefield understood – Power comes from God and God only, and because of his faith, he possessed far greater power than Goliath could ever fathom. This is a young boy that killed lions and bears with his hands. HIS HANDS. Because he had faith that God would enable him to do so. 100 out of 100 times without God’s intervention, a human loses that fight and dies badly to the animal. David knew God was with him. Later to come would be Jesus, born in Bethlehem in the direct lineage to David, who would say to his disciples (and us), “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

God keeps balanced scales – Always. When you read Proverbs, Psalms and throughout the Bible, you quickly pick up how important this is to God. For instance in Proverbs 11:1 from Solomon’s wisdom comes, “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.” The 9th Commandment is, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This is a major stumbling block for most of human history. Human power attempting to usurp God’s almighty power. It will always fail, but yet, God will allow human power to build up even while his suffer, because he is turning their rebellion into his balance all the while, teaching his via suffering, while laughing at the rebellious because he knows their folly is doomed. Balance of power is a very tricky thing. A scale must be perfectly weighted on both sides to keep order, so if you consider that in worldly terms, you might begin to start to understand why things are the way they are instead of how we wish them to be. Why seemingly bad things (worldly terms) happen to good people, when in fact, all of it is a measure of God’s Almighty Social Justice balancing the scales. In our viewpoint, if 10 innocent people die at the hands of 10 evil people, and the evil people remain free and seemingly victorious, then God is wrong and maybe he’s just sadistic. That is exactly what Satan whispers in the ears of many, because we are looking through lens that only see worldly dimension. Spiritually, those 10 innocent people now reside in the presence and light of God’s perfect goodness, and those free evil people are very soon doomed to an eternity of torment and suffering. Social Justice, the battle cry of today’s secular activists? It’s always been in perfect play and balance, they just can’t see past today and into what is.

Recently I watched an interview with the American man who was the lead in the 1994 nuclear weapon negations with North Korea. In the process of that interview he said something that is wisdom seldom heard these days in political and diplomatic circles. When pressed that America is the most powerful nation in the world and why don’t we just use our strength to end North Korea, he replied, “Of course we could crush North Korea, but is that the right thing to do?” There is a man that understands morality balanced with power. For my vote, he can negotiate on behalf of America any time, any place. God’s scales will always tilt back to balanced, so if power on one side goes rouge, justice on the other side will surely balance it back out. That’s a difficult concept for anyone to fully bring mental image to, but that’s exactly how this life works.

So there is David being given the go ahead by Saul to fight Goliath. He’s loading him up with armor, weapons, and even his own tunic, and David shuns it all away…”I cannot go in these because I am not used to them.” David didn’t need all of the worldly creations of war to win this seemingly impossible battle. He took his staff in his hand, chose 5 smooth stones from a stream, put them in the pouch of his bag, and with a sling in his hand he approached the giant menace.

Goliath was insulted by them sending a boy and snorted, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” He cursed David and told him to come and die. Here is what David said in retort: “You come against me with a sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

David drilled the massive man in the forehead with a rock and he fell to the ground. Standing over him he took Goliath’s sword and removed his head. Battle over. God’s Almighty Social Justice.

One of my favorite parts of this story is verse 55…”As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, ‘Abner, whose son is that young man?’ Abner replied, ‘As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.’ ” It makes me laugh. Can’t you just imagine that same scene in a big Hollywood blockbuster? Brad Pitt as Saul, and George Clooney as Abner, and Clooney and Pitt look at each other in shocked confusion, “Who is this guy???”

Have you ever found yourself faced with something so big, so daunting, that you lose all hope that you could ever defeat it? It could be problems in your marriage, it could be an addiction, it could be financial woes…it could be hundreds of things. Jesus Christ, your salvation, your Lord, your King, says to you, “If you just have faith as small as a mustard seed, I will give you the power to defeat anything holding you back from me.”

I have personally put that promise into action in my life. It’s as true as the sunrise. I have defeated many vices and habits that I always failed doing so with my own power, by using the power of the living Christ within me.

David is you today. Will you stand up to your Goliath?

Gary Abernathy








Keeping Christ’s Perspective


Luke 12: 49-51 – (Jesus Speaking) “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

One of the great misleading narratives of Christian faith in the modern world is that of a neutered, hippie-like, Jesus. I’m ok – you’re ok – let’s all go get high (on materialism, immorality – the breaking of all God’s law). This has created a superhighway of mislead believers going down a path away from the cross instead of towards it.

Jesus is the harvester sifting out (dividing) his that he calls wheat, from Satan’s, that he calls chaff. The chaff will burn in the resulting fire. That’s what he is saying in this passage of Luke’s Gospel, and he’s yearning to do it even before he’s gone to the cross and resurrected from the tomb. That is Christ’s perspective. To be fearful (mindful) of that daily is of highest importance.

When we are low, when we hurt, when we are in danger, our first instinct is to call for His help. It sure is for me. That’s a good thing and it’s exactly what we should do in those moments. Just as the psalmist David did, we do the same. But what about when we are doing well and feeling strong? Is our Christ perspective still intact? Are we praising him, mindful of his blessing, and giving credit (glory) where it belongs? This is something I’ve struggled with my entire walk with Christ. Ego and ownership of life.

In that same gospel of Luke, Jesus spells out the responsibility of those given much. (Jesus Speaking) “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  While I am certainly not rolling like a Bill Gates, I have no room to complain about what I’ve been given in life. I’ve lived comfortable, and at the moment, God has me living very comfortable, and he has also entrusted me with some pretty large platforms. I fall smack dab in the middle of that warning from the mouth of Christ. I have failed it many times. I lose my Christ Perspective by the deception of my comfortable circumstances. Because he loves us, God will always rebuke his own when this happens, the same as we do to our children as parents. Some of those rebukes of me have been pretty harsh, but nothing compared to what he could have done. The spirit comes to me in warning, and where I once would ignore that warning and the rebuke would eventually follow, I now listen…very intently. Sometimes it takes the threat of losing everything that truly matters to us to get a person’s full attention. He has mine. My perspective is squarely on Jesus and his pitchfork. Am I to be wheat or chaff? I never was very fond of intense heat.

Where do you stand in keeping your Christ Perspective? Are you calling for his mercy and help when you are low, and are you praising when you are high, and doing his work of the sharing of your many blessings?

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost.” Billy Graham

Pray for and work on building your character every single day. He is coming. Sooner than you think.

Gary Abernathy






The Act of Obedience

James 1, Verses 22-25: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”

It was June of 2015 and the sweat was pouring from my entire body. Step after step, rock after rock, the incline seemed to only get more steep the higher I climbed. The cigarettes had been sat down for a year and a half never to be touched again, but decades of them saturating my lungs had done their damage…my chest was exploding and I gasped for air. I found myself hugging one of thousands of trees surrounding me as I traversed the narrow pathway towards the summit of Mount Pisgah, NC. This mountain given that name in honor of Moses and his last view before God ended his work. The summit sits at 5,721 feet and I was a few hundred feet short of it.

It had been a very special day already by this point, and dusk was creeping slowly but ever steady. I had started this physical act of obedience towards God by hiking several miles in a mind blowing place called, Graveyard Fields. A valley of trees twisted and thrown by high winds at 5,000 feet, and a landscape that at times resembled a tropical rain forest, and in other areas, the remains of the apocalypse. In between, beauty upon beauty of God’s finest work. There has been very few moments where I have felt as alive as I did at Graveyard Fields. Next, I made my way to a place called the Devil’s Courthouse. The path to the summit was nearly as vertical as Mount Pisgah, and it took a lot of the remaining energy I had to make it. Symbolically, I viewed this as an act of ending my worldly-minded life. Mount Pisgah would be the birth of my new God-centered obedience. My adherence to the words of James quoted above. By the time I had made it back to the parking lot, a storm had come up and I had to retreat to my room at the Pisgah Inn.

It was after 6 pm, I hadn’t eaten dinner (and the Pisgah Inn has one of the best restaurants anywhere in the area), and the storm had left everything wet. I flirted with the idea of waiting until morning to conquer Mount Pisgah, but God led me out the door. Because of the weather, the parking lot was empty in what normally would have been a busy site on a late Spring day. Minus the young couple I would encounter coming back down the mountain at one point, I never saw another soul the entire event. I did however constantly feel like one of the many black bears in the area could pop out on me at any moment, and I had nowhere to run if one did. Strangely, I liked that fact, and I trusted God in how that would go. I heard some wild noises in those woods, but I never saw their sources. With a single bottle of water and adrenaline as the fuel, I made my way. Step after step, rock after rock.

As I hugged that tree and desperately attempted to catch my breath, taken from me by addiction and rebellion, I felt like there was no way I could make that last final push to the top. I was praying nearly continuous all day, and at that moment I was pleading for his help to get me there. The spirit put in my head as clear as day the words, “Jesus First, Jesus in the Middle, Jesus Last.” So I started chanting it. Loudly. If there were any bears around me, I’d like to think they were chanting it too. Every step, every agonizing switchback, every rock to scale…chanting, “Jesus First, Jesus in the Middle, Jesus Last”…as I would dig my wooden staff into the ground and push one more step. I was full of every emotion a human is capable of those last many steps. Everything was pouring out of me both physically and emotionally. Then I saw the steps to the summit.

I was spent. My body collapsed on the wooden platform found on the summit, and I lay flat on my back for a very long time just gasping and wiping the salty sweat out of my eyes…and praying. God taught me a great lesson that day that will live with me eternally. Obey. I am his and my soul he will forever hold without fail. I was at one time that man James warned of that heard the word but failed to act upon it. I believed, but I didn’t want the responsibility that came with my salvation. I ran from it. On this day, God led me to him and my spirit was transformed. I’ve changed in so many ways since that moment and the transformation continues. It’s difficult. It’s scary. It places me in uncomfortable positions when the world wants the old me and can’t find him. It’s everything I thought it would be and ran from – and I don’t regret a second of it.

Billy Graham, a man I admire and study intently, once said…”I have never known a man who received Christ and ever regretted it.” I testify to that truth. Chains really do break…setting free really does happen. Have you experienced it? He is waiting for you. Go.

Gary Abernathy