Are You Going to Walk By Faith or By Sight?

are-you-going-to-walk-by-faith-or-by-sight-1200x630As we go through life, we must make decisions that can have a major effect on the will of God in our lives. Whether it be a job, relationships, where we live, or college, we cannot make those decisions based on the physical. What looks good carnally, or to our flesh, is how we base some of our decisions and that will deceive us every time. We must have spiritual maturity to make those decisions based on prayer and fasting and the advice of the godly council in our lives.

In Genesis chapter 13, we find Abraham and Lot leaving Egypt on a path back to Bethel. Abraham and Lot had both acquired a lot of cattle and wealth. The herdsmen were fighting amongst each other so Abraham made the decision that he was going to have to split from Lot. The first thing of importance to note is that when they arrived in Bethel, Abraham found an altar he had previously built there. He made a sacrifice and prayed and worshiped God. When we are facing major life decisions we need to find an altar and pray and seek God. We need to sacrifice those things in our life that cause us to look at things in the carnal. Abraham’s faith and connection to God was where it needed to be. In Genesis13, it does not say anything about Lot participating in anything at the altar. So what this tells us is that Lot was likely leaning more towards the carnal. Abraham gave Lot the choice of where he could live and told him, “Lot, you can either have the left or the right.”

Lot looked upon the plain of Jordan and saw how marvelous it was. There was an abundance of water, the grass was green and it looked beautiful. The bible compares it to the Garden of the Lord.

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Genesis 13:10

When we have major life decisions that pop up in our life we can get excited. We can start to see how a job gives us more money or prestige and we can start to operate by sight. Our heart can have the tendency to lose track of the spiritual and all we can see is the worldly benefits that it brings. When we get to that point, we can have a hard time seeing that Sodom is waiting on the other side. Before we know it, we are living in the middle of Sodom. Lot never thought that one decision would eventually cost him EVERYTHING. We have to remember the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we are to “walk by faith and not by sight.” Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” When we make choices that are based on our emotions, we are going to be led astray. Instead, we should walk by faith and make decisions based on what Jesus spoke in Matthew 6:33. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” When we pray, fast, and seek godly council, we are aligning ourselves with God’s Word and will for our life.

laneRoy Lane and his wife, Melissa, are the Directors of Hyphen, the young adult ministry at Apostolic Life in Urbana, IL. They reside in Sidney, IL with their two children. Roy is also a firefighter with the Urbana Fire Department.

Legends of Faith


sermon-playlist-lcottonLes Cotton is the Pastor of Student Ministries at Apostolic Life in Urbana, IL. He and his wife, Emily, are also the pastors of the Mandarin language ministry and directors of Elevate Campus Ministry where they oversee weekly Bible studies at the University of Illinois and Parkland College campuses.

Blood is Thicker Than Water: What Does it Really Mean?

blood-is-thicker-than-water-1200x630At some point in time you have probably heard the phrase “blood is thicker than water.” The context of the meaning, the way we use it today, is blood-related family is more important than anyone else. Throughout time this phrase has lost its original covenant meaning which is, the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water in the womb. Meaning, the ones I’m in covenant with are to be considered of more value than the relationship with a brother I may have shared the womb.


God has been in covenant with his people from the beginning of time. God made a covenant with Noah never to destroy the earth with water again. God made a covenant with Abraham that He would give him a land for his descendents to come. And God has made a covenant with you and I.  Ephesians 2:11-13:

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

I’m thankful that God robed Himself in flesh and shed His blood so I can be in covenant with Him. I now  have a promise and hope in this world.

I heard a story of a man who was battling cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy treatments via IV. One day the IV port became dislodged and chemo got on his skin. It immediately damaged his flesh and he had to seek treatment at the hospital. While the doctor was cleaning up the wounds the man asked, “How can a medication that is suppose to be saving my life do so much damage to my flesh upon contact?”

The doctor looked at the man and said, “The blood can handle what the flesh can’t.”


No matter what you are facing in life remember that “blood is thicker than water!”

Listen to the full sermon “Blood is Thicker than Water” in the Apostolic Life sermon archive.
sermon-playlist-lcottonLes Cotton is the Pastor of Student Ministries at Apostolic Life in Urbana, IL. He and his wife, Emily, are also the pastors of the Mandarin language ministry and directors of Elevate Campus Ministry where they oversee weekly Bible studies at the University of Illinois and Parkland College campuses.

4 Characteristics of an Overcomer


4-characteristics-of-an-overcomer-1200x630An overcomer is defined as “someone who prevails.” If we are going rise above the hardships we face, endure until the end, and finish the course, we must overcome the challenges we find on our Christian walk. We will face times of turmoil and tragedy, but it is our reaction to those hard times that determines everything.
Job faced greater obstacles than any other biblical figure. He was pushed to the limit. He lost everything, and yet he found a way to be an overcomer. When we study the book of Job, we find important principles that can be applied directly to our lives. I want to share with you 4 characteristics of an overcomer that we can learn from the life of Job.


Characteristic #1: You must be a worshiper.

Immediately after finding out the news that he had lost his children and nearly all of his personal possessions, we can find Job’s initial reaction to this news in Job 1:21.
And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Job had learned of an unspeakable tragedy, something that would cripple any parent. Even after finding out this horrendous news, Job blessed the name of the Lord. He gave God the glory. Job had a made up mind that He would not allow his circumstances to dictate his worship. This is the first characteristic of an overcomer. 


Characteristic #2: You must have a relationship with God and a revelation of who He is.

Job 19:25 says:
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
Job had a revelation of Jesus Christ. He had an understanding about the very nature of God. Job didn’t curse God. Job didn’t blame God. He didn’t fold under the weight of his situation because he knew something that nobody else knew. Before God ever parted the Red Sea, Job knew that God was his Deliverer. Before Jesus ever shed His blood, Job knew that God was his Redeemer. Before John ever put pen to paper and wrote the inspired words “for God so loved the world,” Job had a revelation about the love of God. Had he looked at his situation without this revelation, it would have appeared that God had abandoned him. Job could trust God because he had peace through this revelation. If Job had not sought after God daily and developed a personal relationship with Him, Job wouldn’t have an understanding of the kind of God he served. And without this revelation, he would not have overcome.

Characteristic #3: You must respect and love God’s word.

The next characteristic of an overcomer is understanding the importance of the Word of God. Job understood the importance of the Bible…before there was a Bible. Job 23:12 says:
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Job said God’s word was more important for his survival than food was for his body. Job couldn’t pick up the books of Law and study them.  He couldn’t read from the words of the prophets and apply them to his life. He didn’t have the opportunity to read from the gospels or memorize verses from the epistles, yet he still had an understanding of the importance of the Word of God in his life. I wonder what Job would have done for the opportunity to pick up one of our bibles and be able to read from it when he was in the middle of this trial? How many times have we taken our Bible for granted? Job would have loved to read from it and study it and write it on the tablets of his heart. He would have done anything for that opportunity. If we are going to overcome, we must fall in love with the Word of God. 


Characteristic #4: You must prioritize your life and live accordingly.

The last characteristic of an overcomer that Job demonstrated is that he lived a prioritized life. Job chapter 31 gives us the following facts about how Job lived his life:
He did not withhold from the poor.
He was a giver.
He didn’t put his hope in gold and didn’t rejoice because of his great wealth.
He served those that were in need.
He fed those that were hungry.
He clothed those that could not clothe themselves.
Job was a man who had his house in order. His priorities were the right priorities. He fully understood the concept of seeking first the Kingdom of God. Had riches and gold been Job’s top priority, I believe he would have cursed God when it was all taken away. Had Job loved his money and glorified himself in his success, he would have never been able to stand when pressure was applied to his life. Job had a solid foundation. He lived a prioritized life and as a result, he overcame tremendous adversity.
Job did not overcome by accident. He lived a Godly life and demonstrated these characteristics with consistency. We too can overcome any trial that might come our way if we follow the example that Job set.
  1. Be a worshiper
  2. Have a relationship with God and a revelation of who He is
  3. Respect and love God’s word
  4. Live a prioritized life
shoemakerShawn Shoemaker serves as the Director of Community Connections at Apostolic Life in Urbana, IL along with his wife, Sarah. Shawn is a strong believer in personal evangelism and loves teaching Bible studies and sharing his testimony with others. Shawn and Sarah reside in Champaign, IL with their 3 children.

How Could Uncomfortable Ever Be Good?

How-Could-Uncomfortable-Ever-Be-Good-1200x630Discomfort can actually become a good thing. We can react to uncomfortableness in one of two ways: 1 – we can stop doing what brought on the discomfort; or 2 – change, grow, adjust, learn, expand, and discover while experiencing discomfort.

One of the greatest misconceptions we can have is that we should be comfortable all the time. A significant amount of “life’s experience” is simply uncomfortable. Pain, sorrow, loss, grief, illness, fear, loneliness, anxiety, stress, worry, relationship dysfunction, etc. Looks like being uncomfortable is just a part of the process and we each will experience our share of it.

What is crucial for us to understand is how to make the best of our uncomfortable aspects of life. Let’s use fear as an example. Someone explained fear with this acronym: False Expectations Appearing Real.
Truly fear is the awareness (or the perceived awareness) of something that makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes fear is our “signal” that we are exiting our comfort zone.

Our personal comfort zone is that area of thoughts and actions within which we feel comfortable. It’s all the things we have done or thought often enough to feel comfortable doing or thinking. Anything we have not done often enough to feel comfortable doing lies outside the parameters of our comfort zone and makes us uncomfortable. Well…News Flash….if we continue to limit ourselves to our personal comfort zones, we will only continue to experience the same things we have already experienced, remaining within our familiar “safe” environments, and staying with the well-known/well-worn habits that keep us….yes, comfortable.

Of course, staying in our personal comfort zone is an option. For those of us who are more adventurous, comfort zone parameters seem to us as fences that may keep us from new experiences and discoveries. Case in point: a few months ago a friend told us about an opportunity to swim horses in the ocean. Yes, you read that correctly…swim horses.
This would be totally out of my personal comfort zone because first, I fear horses. Secondly, I was saved from drowning as a teenager, so I fear water that is over my head.

I committed my wife, Brenda, and myself to swimming the horses. When we arrived at the stables, I was further plunged into fear because of the wild dogs in the parking lot. Yes, I possess canine phobia. F.E.A.R. – False Expectations Appearing Real. These were real dogs. I escaped the parking lot into the horse stable where I discovered eight more real dogs. While preparing to ride the swimming horses, one of the dogs bit me with real teeth on the ankle. Uncomfortable was all over me.

We mounted and rode the horses down a most beautiful beach. Took the saddles off. Grabbed the mane with both hands and headed into the ocean. Once the horses couldn’t reach the bottom, they did what they said they would do…swim. Swimming a horse in ten feet deep water, 300 yards from the beach is out of my personal comfort zone. But then it happened. I realized that stepping through a pack of dogs (fear/discomfort), getting on a horse (fear/discomfort), and swimming a horse in deep water (fear/discomfort) was actually allowing me to do something I’d never done before.

I actually look back on that afternoon of adventure with a sense of accomplishment, excitement, exhilaration, and enjoyment; all because I risked going beyond my self-imposed boundaries of my personal comfort zone.

In my next post, you’ll find the spiritual application of “How Could Uncomfortable Ever Be Good?”

(In the meantime; don’t do anything crazy or dangerous just to prove you can get out of your personal comfort zone)
Image: By gire_3pich2005 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
D L Rogers is the Senior Pastor of Apostolic Life in Urbana, IL. He and his wife, Brenda, founded the church in 1991 and have seen it grow into a thriving multicultural, multilingual congregation. Pastor Rogers also serves as the Executive Director of Lifeline-connect, a residential recovery center for men struggling with addictions.