Author: james

James Oliver is a follower of Jesus Christ, a pastor, a husband, a father, and a friend. He loves people passionately in an attempt to imitate Jesus Christ's love for people.

Stay Tuned

Hello everyone!

I pray you’re all having a great 2018 so far!

We haven’t written anything in a while for this website, and I apologize for that. We’re needing to regroup and start posting you some devotionals!

I hope to get that going soon.

Blessings to you and yours!

James Oliver
Admin, Inscription.Today

Filthy Talk

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.. ~Ephesians 5:4 ESV

Crude Joking

All of my life, I’ve liked to joke around. I have told tons of jokes and my sense of humor is pretty dry. But, for some time now, I’ve been trying to catch myself with my “crude” joking. I don’t joke crudely on purpose. But, this particular scripture has been on my mind a lot because I believe the Holy Spirit is convicting me in this area.  I need to remember that if I wouldn’t tell a joke or joke with my daughters with the joking I’m saying, I shouldn’t at all.

Crude joking can be hurtful to your friends, and others you may not even know (depending on where you are). Not only that, it can have a negative impact on your ministry. More than even that, you could be staining someone’s impression of who Christ is. As a believer, you’re representing HIS kingdom as an ambassador from there. Represent well.

 

Think About Your Words

When you’re with your friends and family, what type of voice do you use? Do you use words that are encouraging and uplifting or words that tear down and discourage? Does filthiness come from your mouth? Do you joke crudely?

What steps can you take to correct this? If you’re feeling the Holy Spirit convict you in this area, you should prayerfully consider asking Jesus to help you in this area of your walk with Him.

God bless you today!

 

Photograph by: Joshua Earle

Pride Comes Before Disgrace

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. ~Proverbs 11:2 ESV

Have you ever let your pride get in the way of a wise decision? I know I have countless times throughout my life. It’s really bad when that disgrace comes and it affects more than yourself.

When I read this scripture, I think of many moments that I let pride interfere with my life and the lives of others. There are definitely a lot of moments to not be proud of. Today, would you pray for me, as I pray for you, dear reader,  that God would humble us so that we could be all that He wants us to be?

The thing that I am most proud of – more than anything else, is of my God. The God who created all things, including people that turned their back on Him. Yet, out of HIS unconditional love, He created a way that we could still come to know Him. I’m proud that even while he was a human being, and suffered at the hands of a creation that didn’t recognize Him, he still died so that we could be saved. I’m proud that when he didn’t even have to do it for such a sinful people, he rose from the grave and defeated death once and for all for those that trust him. For Jesus, and what he means to me in my life here and for eternity, I am proud.

I am also humble enough to know that I will mess up. I will be disobedient to my heavenly Father. When that happens, I must set my pride aside, and confess to Him and repent for my disobedience.

Thank you Lord for all that you’ve done, all that you do, and all that you have planned! I LOVE YOU JESUS CHRIST!

Photograph By: joel herzog

It is Well

I recently read a short article about one of my favorite songs. The song is “It is Well” and I’m keen on the Kristen DiMarco or Bethel version. When I read the article though I was amazed that one of my favorite songs had such a profound story that I never knew about. It was in the studying of that story behind its writing and subsequent choice of DiMarco to perform it that I was really led to write this.

I’ll keep the history part brief but it definitely plays a huge part in the meaning behind the song. Horatio Spafford penned the original version in 1873. Incredibly he wrote the song after terrible circumstances had all but decimated his family. He first lost his son in the Great Chicago fire only to later lose 4 daughters in a shipwreck on the Atlantic. It wasn’t until he was bound for Europe and passed the location of his daughters wreck that he wrote the lyrics to this song.

Just in reading these first few notes on the song I thought to myself how could someone write something so positive after their circumstances were so terrible by all standards? DiMarco’s viewpoint was the same and she related it to Jesus calming of the storm. “He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? They were terrified and asked each other, who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!Mark 4:40-41

The Lord is so amazing and gives us every reason to never be troubled by the circumstances of this world or even our own lives. Christ died for us and loves us enough to promise us eternal life with Him instead of an eternity of misery and servitude. It is only in Him that in the face of horrendous conditions we can have such peace and the ability to abandon all worry, doubt and fear. Ultimately we must always have the assurance that Christ will calm any and every storm in our lives.

P.S. If you haven’t heard the song I encourage you to listen to it!

~Kenny Stahl

Photograph by: Adam Zvanovec

Excuses

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

~Romans 1:20

Without excuse. Since the creation of the world, God has been at work so that we are without excuse. We are without excuses to know there is a God and that He is the creator of all things. If God is the creator of all things, then we should probably listen to Him and be obedient to His Words.

What’s your excuse for disobedience? Mine come in many flavors. Ultimately, I am a sinner in need of redemption. I have real struggles with obedience to God. I want to be completely obedient, but fail and sin against Him daily. I make up excuses to not do ministry I’m called to. I make up excuses why I didn’t read the God breathed words from The Bible some days. I make up excuses that I didn’t pray. I make up excuses that I could have done something for someone, but didn’t. I make up excuses for why, but ultimately, I am without excuse. Thank God for grace.

The thing about excuses is that they are just that – invalid reasons. What’s your invalid reason to disobey God? Is it because you’re faith is in Jesus so you’re free to sin? Jesus told people that He  healed to go and sin no more. In one case, he said that sin could cause his condition to come back worse.

Love God. Love your neighbor. #StopMakingExcuses

 

Photograph by: Scott Walsh

Humble yourself…

But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
“Humble yourselves before the Load, and He will lift you up.”
James 4:6 & 10

Humility can easily be a trait that naturally eludes the inward spirit and nature of people. In itself it is such a basic characteristic and yet it can often be one that we fight the most to abide by. Yet when we see verses like these, among others, we see how much God loves us showing this (and what we seek to gain from it ) in our Christian walk.

In order for me to understand what it really meant to be humble, I had to look at the characteristic that is directly opposite. What does it mean to be proud and what gives us this sense of pride? Usually, in my own life, I look at achievements or stature that have been gained and it gives me an almost “righteous” sense about me achieving them. We have to understand here that reaching these is not necessarily a bad thing. Achievements, stature, accomplishments and triumphs are a wonderful blessing in our life, as long as we are giving the glory to God for allowing us realize them. The pride part can get in the way when we use them to put ourselves above others or believe that we reached this blessing or place all on our own.

It can become extremely easy to grow proud without even realizing it. We see the faults and labors of others and grow prideful of “where we’re at” compared to them. Instead I feel like we all need to strive to understand that no matter the circumstances in our lives we are all brothers and sisters in the one true God. Circumstances among people can be very different based on where people are in their personal walk with God. There is no way or reason I should ever put myself above another based solely on that fact.

I truly want to set my prideful ways aside and be humble. I want to be humble to the Lord as he commands so that I might be lifted up, but I also want to be humble to those around me. I feel like by doing this I have the ability to show others His love and give them the understanding of being on this walk towards Him and in Him that we are all going through.

 

Photo Credit: Bradley Swenson

Deliver Me, O Lord, From Evil Men

I love to read about David’s, a man after God’s own heart. A man who was the apple of God’s eye. I want my heart to always be after God’s own heart. Sometimes, when I read King David’s words, I realize how far my heart is from God’s though. Do you ever get that feeling? Read this:

Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men;
preserve me from violent men,
2 who plan evil things in their heart
and stir up wars continually.

~ Psalm 140:1-2

How does this show me that I’m far from God? Well, usually, and I don’t think it’s just me, I think, “God, keep me from handling this evil person”. Because, I’m one of those guys that just wants to do things myself. I pray for God to not let me do anything stupid. But, I realized in reading that passage, that I rarely just give things like this over to God, and trust that he’ll take care of it. God says “Vengeance is mine”, but many times, I want vengeance to be James’s.

When someone is trying to do evil against me, I need to just ask God to deliver me,  and trust that He will – and it may not even seem like it sometimes. In these times, my faith will be tested, like King David’s, like Job’s, and many other folks throughout history. I know the end of the story, but, I need to put my trust in that more.

Do you ever fail to ask God to take care of the evil coming against you? Comment below and let me know.

~James Oliver

Power, Love, and Self-Control

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~ 1 Timothy 1:7

I love the encouragement found in this scripture. It’s a great reminder that we should be bold in our faith! We have no power in and of ourselves, but through Jesus, we have power, and love, and self-control.

I struggle with self control – when it comes to food, exercise, and even busy-ness. When not careful, I can be a workaholic. I have to often evaluate what I’m doing and cut back to make time for myself to rest and for my family.

Whatever you struggle with, whatever your fears, give them to Jesus and live under His power and love.

 

Yes, I Need Other Believers

That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 ESV

For context, this scripture is following the apostle Paul speaking about the different parts of the physical body. He compares this to the body of Christ and how each part is needed and compliments the others.

Many times, folks will say they do not  need to  go to “church”. I find myself agreeing with them in the sense that you do not need to go to a building called “Church”. The church is the people that are following Jesus. We weren’t created to follow Him alone.

In the book of Hebrews, chapter 10, we’re told to not forsake the gathering like some do. We need to gather together for encouragement and to remain in unity as a body of believers.

Why Do We Need Others?

I read an article one time about the fastest 1 mile run. The guy was unbelievably fast. His time was outstanding. No one could even fathom running as fast as this guy… until someone beat him. Once someone beat him, more beat the next guy. Sometimes, we need to see others do something, to gain the momentum we need to do it ourselves. Spend time with a street evangelist and learn how they share the gospel. You’ll soon be bold enough to share it yourself!

I think the reason we need other believers, is because we’re all part of one body that functions together. Jesus created all all different yet complimentary. Where I may have talents and gifts, you may not. Where you have talents and gifts, I may not.

We need each other because the mission Jesus gave us is a big one: Take this good news to the world!

Are you exercising your gifts and talents for the body of Christ or are you hiding it under a box?

Do You Suffer & Rejoice Together?

The scripture says that when one member suffers, so do the others. Do you feel like when a member of your church is suffering with some type of affliction, that you suffer as well? Do you care so much about them that you hurt when they hurt?

I’ve seen many examples of this over the years. One member of the body is suffering and the rest gather for that one member. They pray with them, help them, and see them through the trial – which sometimes ends in death of the human body. We need each other through suffering. Life can be difficult sometimes.

Another reason to join together as a body is to REJOICE together! That’s one of the best things for me.. is gathering with other believers in our church family and rejoicing together at what God is going in our lives and the lives around us. We sing songs of praise and worship, and share what’s going on in our lives.

Conclusion

We need people to live out our walk with here in this life. People see followers of Christ, and see how the forgive each other, how they love each other, and how they love other people outside of the church. It’s a showing of Jesus Christ alive and well in us and being a well of living water overflowing out of us. Don’t forsake the gathering of other believers. Join them to encourage, to be encouraged, to  sing with, and to learn and teach.

~ James Oliver, Pastor, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church

Photo Credit: Tegan Mierle

Do Not Worry

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6

Just before this first, the end of verse 5 says, “The Lord is at hand;” reminding us that the Lord is always present, always near, always available.

When you read a scripture like verse 6, do you believe it? Do you still worry or get anxious about things? Why?

When you do feel anxious, is  your immediate reflex to humbly come before the Father in prayer? When do you come before Him,  is your vision so focused on your worry that you forget to thank Him for all of the things He is doing in you and around you? I do. I get tunnel vision on problems too. But, I want to do better.

The best way to build spiritual “muscle memory” is to practice. What worries to you have right now at this moment? What are you thankful for right now? Let’s go to the Father and talk with Him for a moment.

God bless you and your families!

~ James Oliver

 

Photo Credit: Jake Oates