A Time to Speak


(Hiking near Blowing Rock, NC off the Blue Ridge Parkway – October 2017)

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8…A Time For Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

It’s been a time of silence for me here on this devotional. After having poured out my sins and sharing the process of reconciliation with our Lord by the cross and resurrection, I was put into a season of Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 The picture I posted above was me last Autumn hiking in North Carolina. What a beautiful day that was with God. I was all alone on this miles long trail. I never saw another human being the entire time until I returned to where I’d left my car. A passerby asked why I had randomly popped out of the woods. Ha! They weren’t aware of the incredible trail that begins behind the roadside pond they were admiring. On that hike I had to cross this one winding creek on multiple occasions. Each time having to figure out how to do it as wisely as possible. Go across reckless and my socks are going to be drenched and ruin the rest of the hike. Try to trust the quite slippery rocks and I could easily fall and hurt myself…with nobody to help. I’m 51 and in moderate shape. I’m not exactly bouncing around like a kangaroo out there! But I LOVED the challenge. God was teaching me wisdom. In the picture I’m using my staff to point to the other side of the creek I need to be to continue. The picture doesn’t accurately reflect the width or depth of the creek. It wasn’t as easy at it appears. Basically, the choice was step into about 2 feet depth of water (deeper than my boots) or trust a series of very wet rocks. I went with the water. Yep. Sock on the right foot got soaked. But I didn’t slip on any rock leading me to fall and break something…like my head. I could have turned back, but I never gave myself that option. I really wanted to get to the pasture that I’d read was ahead. And man…was that ever worth the wet sock the rest of the day.

This time of silence has had many moments like that. It’s also had a lot of not as pleasant moments. The Lord has been showing me things. The good, the bad, and the truly horrible. That leads to lots and lots of reflection. It tests our faith. It tests our courage. Mainly, it tests – our hearts. God only cares about the heart. Proverbs 4:23…”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If we are to serve our Lord, our hearts must be in order. If our heart is straddling both the world and Christ, then our work is fruitless. This is the danger of Christianity when practiced by straddling hearts. Accepting the gift, but not accepting the change. What flows from that type of heart results mostly in cruelness to the world. Not His love. Taking personal authority to condemn and judge, while at the same time claiming forgiveness and purity from one’s own mess. I daresay, that’s as harmful to the world as any nuclear weapon. It’s not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And if it’s not that, then it’s from his enemy. This is what this time of silence has been teaching me.

With no effort by me other than the writing from my heart, this blog somehow to date has been read in over 100 nations on earth. In my mind, that’s nothing short of a miracle. I’m one servant writing in his small office about my relationship with God and hitting “Publish.” The only “marketing” I do whatsoever is to add a picture that I took with my own camera at the top, and to add a few relevant tags to the post. Beyond that, it’s all God. It’s a publishing team of the Lord and…me.  It’s been months and months since I’ve written a new post, but last night I got a notification sound on my phone from WordPress. Someone new signed up to follow this blog. They were from Uganda. I’m in the state of Florida in the United States. That’s a God thing.

There is a time for everything. And now…it’s time to write. Time to work. From my heart fully committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m a sinner and I’m nowhere near perfect. Ask my wife 😉 Ha. But my heart? It’s ready to serve for our Lord again.

To anyone that reads these words anywhere in the world, there are 3 words you need to know: God. Loves. You.


Gary Abernathy



Seeking the Kingdom


The Armor of God – Ephesians 6: 10-20…”Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me (the writer – Paul), that whenever  I speak. words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

That’s quite the exciting imagery Paul puts forth in that letter. Swords, helmets, breastplates, shields extinguishing flaming arrows…the full armor of God! Be ready to stand your ground! It’s the stuff of heroism that fills the imaginations of most people. We want to be that brave soul. The righteous one. Oh my how we fail so utterly at doing and being so. Our world is overflowing with self-righteous zealots, and Paul was one as well before being blinded by the glory of Christ. We summon all we believe to be right into a fiery ball of rage, and we set out to conquer the wrong in this world. That’s the story of the entire timeline of man – the quest of righteous justice in the perceived minds of man. Cain kills Abel and off it goes. Has never stopped. The trail of blood that leads in all directions to the cross.

Before I write these posts, or any of my writings elsewhere, I kneel at my altar steps from where I sit, and I pray that I’m given the correct words so that they may reflect His will, His purpose, and His glory. Paul asked for that prayer, and thus so should we. Why? Because anything that comes from our own mind is automatically tainted with the spirit of that river of blood flowing towards the cross. We all have our motives. My own particular weakness in that regard rests in glory. I want it, but it doesn’t belong to me and it never will. It’s a battle I’m often fighting against. And when the armor is missing a piece or two, that’s where I’m most often attacked. The one who defends the kingdom must be stripped bare of his own will, and covered fully in the righteousness of the Lord. There is no way for us to fill in pieces of that armor ourselves. It’s all his, and when removed, we are right back to the feeble sinner state we began with.

I was watching an old Billy Graham Crusade earlier today, and he spoke to this in that unique way of Billy that breaks down complicated things into simple terms. I love him for that. It’s the gift God gave him that allowed him to reach millions in such an enormously impactful way. This is a direct quote I jotted down from that message in Chicago, Illinois in 1971. Billy Graham…

“Ya know, some of us Christians live as though Jesus is dead. He’s not dead. He’s alive! Oh, you’re going through your troubles, and your trials, and your temptations, and your testings, and your pressures, and you’re under satanic attack all the time…constantly. You know, I think in many ways, in some ways, it’s easier not to be a Christian in this world. Because the devil may leave you alone. The moment you receive Christ as Savior, you’re in for it. Unless you live on your knees and live in the scriptures, and keep your guard up, and your spiritual armor on at all times. Because if you let down even one day as a Christian you’re in trouble. The moment you receive Christ all the world is going one way, and you turn around and start against the tide as a Christian. And that’s hard.”

Yes it is. Very hard. One of the primary confirmations of the truth of Jesus Christ to me is the fact that I now experience exactly what Billy Graham said there quite often. I used to go merrily on my way doing all sorts of things not intentionally seeking harm, but leaving a trail of destruction behind me nonetheless.  A worldly life lived within (mostly) the laws of man, but far outside spiritual law. Receiving Christ convicted me of those sins and forced repentance, and in turn, caught the attention of the devilish pied piper that I had stopped trailing along. Billy said as soon as you receive Christ you’re in for it. No doubt! Every weakness of our existence can and will be used against us. Anger, sexual temptation, pride, envy, jealousy…all the classics. I know I’m important to Christ, because I’m surely important now to the adversary. The armor of God. Can I order that on Amazon Prime?

Unfortunately no. To live in the kingdom in tranquil peace and security, there is no shortcut to be had. We are under a constant state of transformation where piece by piece of that armor is being instilled upon and within us. As each year passes by, I have a few more weapons at my disposal, not so easily knocked down as I was before. Moving from place to place along that narrow path of lessons, testings and temptations. But I’m not fully armored. Some of the shots get through with regularity. In particular when targeting my want of glory or prodding my wrath when I’m distracted into putting down my protection. But…I now know where to seek shelter. I know exactly where to retreat. Into the word. Into prayer. On my knees. Seek my hero. And that’s what it’s all about.

Submission of our will to his authority. Once you figure out you actually can’t be defeated no matter how devastating the attack, then you can begin being armored. The victory is already won, but most of us are wasting our time nonetheless still trying to win it. Our Lord needs us to move on. To submit to that victory so that we can be taught to live in it. When we do that others will follow. Heroes of the Living Christ within us.

My eyes are fixed upon the kingdom. The armor I have been given is on and I’ll gladly receive and seek more as it’s given. But my eyes gaze on that path, even when storms and attacks knock me from it. That’s not me capable of doing that…it’s the Holy Spirit. Praise God. Are you beating yourself up and living in defeat, or are you running to your victorious hero for shelter? You can’t do this alone. The wolves will eat you for breakfast every single morning, and come back at night just to laugh at your condition.

Take this serious. The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Gary Abernathy




Finding Spiritual Happiness


Romans 12: 3-8…(Apostle Paul Speaking) “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Peace and joy are the primary ingredients that make up what every human ever to live seeks – Happiness. Merriam-Webster defines happiness as “a state of well-being and contentment.” Isn’t this what our Lord promised in sending the Holy Spirit to us? Romans 15:13 states…”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Throughout the New Testament we are promised these wonderful things…joy and peace. Do you feel them?

The answer many give is: No. We are also promised a rough road to traverse. A cross to bear. A roaring enemy stalking us and setting traps. Do we feel those? Overwhelmingly, yes. Where is our spiritual happiness? If the Holy Spirit is indeed dwelling with you, it’s right there too. Guaranteed. We are just still holding onto to our worldly existence, and peace and joy are not allowed to be brought forth by our own misunderstanding of it all. Contentment is not something we excel at is it? We are taught by culture to want…to envy…to create our own dreams and plans…and to stop at nothing to attain them. We are taught these are the qualities of the justly ambitious and best among us. The exceptional. Who is planting those seeds? Christ or the enemy?

Even in our places of worship contentment is considered a foul word. They must be grown. They must have more. We must keep up with others. What God has provided is never enough. God’s direction is ignored and replaced with man’s direction…who claim to speak for God while they give it. The structures within our churches push their flocks for more and more. Give more, do more, say more, lead more, take up more…do, do, do…for Christ. You owe our Lord this. Lies. That’s the world talking, not our Lord. We are one body of Christ serving many different functions, just as Paul described, and he actually was divinely inspired to speak on God’s behalf. In short Paul is saying, “Do what you do best and don’t try to do too much. Stay within the gifts God has given you for his purposes and glory, and give them your best.” Is that the message you hear in your churches and groups?

In all my years of involvement in the church, I’ve said no to hundreds of things, and yes to only a few. Why? Am I a malcontent, selfish Christian only wanting to do what I want to do? Nope. I’m doing exactly what Paul told me to do. What are the gifts loaned to me by grace? I communicate well through writing, so I write on his behalf…without asking for compensation. I play percussion well so I serve my churches in that way…without asking for compensation…and have done so for nearly 20 years. I’ve been given the ability to recognize suffering and need that comes in my path, and God gives me the ability to offer encouragement. I do that every time I’m led to see it. Without asking for compensation. And God has blessed my family with resources that enables me to share…so I give generously to where I’m led. Those are my gifts, and they are all given to my Lord’s kingdom. No, I’m probably not going to go on a 10 mile walk…because that’s not my calling. I’m not going to agree to lead groups where I’m not qualified to lead them. I’m not going to serve this ministry and that ministry, because my function within the body doesn’t mesh. But do and will I support each and all? Absolutely. The body is one and we all work in unison. Know your role. Contentment follows.

There exists a billion dollar plus industry that caters to God’s people and their desires to find peace and joy…happiness. Christianity in America has largely become the world’s largest self-help seminar. This is why our nation’s faithful confuse and anger so many on the outside. Everyone has a book to sell, a bible study series to peddle, a viral video to expose…and they all have the secret. But nobody is happy. Why? The Holy Spirit isn’t present. No Spirit equals no joy…no peace…happiness nullified. When courageous church leaders and pastors do step up to their flocks and speak God’s true words to them…congregations recoil in horror. “That’s not what our church is about!” “That’s not what we believe!” “You’ve lost your mind!” “You’re pushing political agenda!” No, dear faithful, they are just telling you what God’s word actually says. The Spirit dwelling within them requires they not add or subtract a single word. They are to teach what God has instructed. Period. Want to see a big ol’ controversy in modern churches? Preach the gospel. It got Jesus hung a cross, and it still has the same effect today.

Which leads me back to finding spiritual happiness. Want it? John 14:6…”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Those are the words of Jesus Christ – King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Philippians 2: 9-11…”Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus is Lord of all creation. To find spiritual happiness, as part of that creation, submission to that must occur. God the Father, whose Spirit provides that peace and joy, cannot be reached, but by Jesus Christ. Few will do so. Few will ever sincerely submit. Want to know peace, joy and happiness? Eternal life? Jesus tells us we must enter through the narrow door. The narrow door is truth. Few accept it, most reject it, and all exploit it.

To conclude I offer the words of our Lord from the gospel of Luke. Seek the narrow door.

Luke 13: 22-30…”Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Call on Christ to come rescue you. He will send the Spirit. Listen to Him. Submit. Repent. Live.

Gary Abernathy






The Peace of God With Us


Philippians 4: 4-9 Final Exhortations…”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”


  1. Rejoice. Emphasized again so we are to be perfectly clear – Rejoice! How are we as Christians doing with that one? I can only speak for myself and what I see in others. We fail every day to simply rejoice in the work of the cross and the victory of Christ’s resurrection. We complain, we bicker, we worry, we spread angst…I’m world class at those things. I do however rejoice as well in my Lord daily, but am I fully transformed in that joy? No. I have a long way to go. So do you.
  2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do people see you as gentle? For me, I think it very much depends on who is answering and in what setting. By nature, I’m a pretty gentle soul. But I’m also very cunning and have the ability to tear things to shreds that I feel need torn…and there is nothing gentle about it. Is my gentleness evident to all? No. Is yours?
  3. The Lord is near. Do we feel his constant presence in our lives? Me…absolutely. Christ is at the forefront of my thoughts and my actions. Why I still act against instruction I do not know. It’s extremely difficult to discern God’s will in each moment. I often feel as though I’m acting in Godly accordance, but then in my daily scripture study, I’ll find a contradiction to what I thought compared to what God commands.
  4. Do not be anxious, but instead in every situation, pray with a thankful spirit, and present your requests to God. In my transformation, I’ve become very good at this. I’m on my knees most days thanking my Lord just for the moment I’m in…good or bad. For the opportunities to serve him…good or bad. And always seeking his direction. I’m also far less anxious than I once was. How are you in these things?
  5. The Peace of God that transcends all understanding. Is this something when you read it you say, “Yes!” Have you felt that moment where chaos surrounds you and you should be chaotic too…but you’re not? You can’t explain why…but at the height of confusion, you’ve never felt more at ease? I know this. I believe it’s the Holy Spirit that dwells within me.
  6. Whatever is True, Noble, Right, Pure, Lovely, Admirable, Excellent, and Praiseworthy. Think about those things. Is this where we place our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions…our hearts? I surely try to. It goes back to learning discernment deeply and intensely. This is the guide. They aren’t always obvious and easy to spot. We have to dig deep for these things. We have to tear past the delusions and illusions…the facades of the world. Peel back all those layers…and we find these things. Do you peel, or do you just accept what the world places in front of you as its or His? Satan is powerful on this earth, and most times it comes with a smile and a friendly hug.
  7. Do we put into practice the things Paul has left for us in word and example? No. We do not. The world would be a completely different place. It would be the Kingdom that is to come. Are we trying and transforming? I am. How about you?

With God’s peace, we are capable of “evolving” far past the existence we think traps us in these human shells. Paul had it through the process of receiving the Holy Spirit, and then putting into practice the strict discipline required to reach such a place. That place…Is the kingdom we all seek that is promised. Few will get there. Paul has left us the directions. What will you follow?

Gary Abernathy

Green Pastures


Psalm 23 (a psalm of David)…”The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love with follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Faith = Trust. Trust = Right Path. Right Path = Abundant Life and Peace…eternally. That’s the formula. If we are to be honest, most of us hold a shaky faith and we never move to trust. We can’t complete the first equation. We are stuck in fear behind a rock in the darkest valley. After rescue and we find faith, trust holds the key to all that we dream we could find. Why can’t we grasp that hand? Why did Peter sink on the water instead of just trusting? Matthew 14: 28-31

David in his psalm spells out to us where God wants to take us. Green pastures beside quiet waters. Our enemies (the things blocking us from God) silenced. Refreshed like a perfect blooming flower. Taken to His glorious place we were created to dwell in. Fear abolished from our soul by trusting his perfect wisdom – His Son. Abiding by the guidance of Christ to find true peace and joy. Our cup literally overflowing with goodness and love for all eternity. That’s where the good shepherd, the Lord, wants to lead us. Who in their right mind wouldn’t go? Why did Peter hold onto the world just like we do? It’s a mystery.

My Grandfather died in his 60’s from diabetes. Before a heart attack took him away, he had lost both legs, one at a time, and a once proud man full of life and laughter, had been reduced to rubble. It was a mercy killing at the end. I have much in common with my grandfather. I was cut from his mold…in my sense of humor, my habits of roaming, and my diet…my intense love of food that isn’t the best for us. I’m soon to turn 50 years old. I have a beautiful wife and (2) teenage daughters. There is much life left for me to enjoy. The future holds great achievements, weddings, grandchildren, and wonderful special moments with my bride. Legs and feet would be useful for these things.

A few weeks ago I walked into an empty room at my doctor’s office. I was handed 3 pieces of paper to review before the doctor came in. The results of my blood work a week earlier. The reading wasn’t too bad at first. I had improved in cholesterol since the last time. Then I got to page 2. My fasting blood sugar level had now moved into a diabetic range. The first image in my mind was my legless grandfather in a wheelchair try to hug his 8 year old grandson. I was just a kid that didn’t understand of course, but I still hold a sadness seeing him that way. I knew what he had been. I knew the both love and fear I had of him. My brother and I spent a great deal of time there, and we would sleep at night in the living room of my Grandparent’s house. We had all kinds of games we would play when were supposed to be sleeping, including my favorite, sock baseball. It drove my PawPaw nuts. He would take as much as he could stand before he would come storming out of his room yelling. That was our cue to actually go to sleep. Intimidating as he was though, he never once laid a hand on me except with those of love. He was a great man.

So there I sit with this paper in my hand telling me that before me is the same future. It’s not like I haven’t been repeatedly warned. I like my doctor. He’s a young, enthusiastic guy and he seems to genuinely care. He’s also old enough to know these things don’t usually turn out well. He said as much. I have a window of opportunity to reverse course. “Eventually the pancreas gets fried and there is no turning back from that,” he spoke to me. He told me what to do to lower this blood sugar level before it’s too late. He looked at me with eyes saying he didn’t have any faith that I would do it. He sees this every day. Jesus sees us look at him with the same eyes. Full of doubt and skepticism. “You of little faith,” Jesus said to Peter, “why did you doubt?”

Trust. This is where I am. Will I trust him to take me down the right path and eventually the safe green pastures I should be? It seems so simple. Why hold tight to the world when I can have that? Do you understand? Are you in the same type place? I believe most of us are. The shaky faith we hold we believe is enough. It’s not. We must believe. Truly and trusting…believe. Less…we sink…just like Peter.

We can transform away from this misery. Our life can be overflowing with wonderful Godly abundance. Trust. We must walk to him in trust. Like a child lifted up by his father and placed safely back down on secure ground. We have to let go…

Pray for me, please. I will be in prayer for you. Peter cried out in his fear as he sunk, “Lord, save me!” Cry out. He’ll come.

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



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