SHOP
0
New Free Shipping All Orders $69+
Christ Centered Life Store
Community Info
Online Shopping
Featured Shopping
Spiritual Helps
Inside Scoop

Our Blog

Christ Centered Life Store

Welcome to our new Blog! We are excited to have this opportunity to interact with you and help keep you informed on all the great things that are going on. Our site is a great place to discover the many ways we can help you with books for leisure or study, music for a long car trip or to sing along to in your car, DVDs for you and the kids and more! Check back often for new information and leave us questions or comments so we can help serve you better.

Are You Missing The Signs? Part 4: Posted 10/15/2018 6:23:37 PM

Now, let’s get personal for a minute, at least as personal as we can be over written correspondence. Let me ask you. Are you missing the signs? Do you know who Jesus is? Do you believe in Him as a good man, as a great preacher, as a grand miracle worker, but fail to put your trust in Him as the only Savior, the promised Messiah, the only acceptable Sacrifice for sinners, the One Who is the way, the truth, the life, and apart from Whom no one will come to God the Father and inherit the bliss of Heaven? Do you know who you are apart from Christ? Do you see yourself as an imperfect person, but still a good person, or at least a better than average person who certainly deserves Heaven and definitely doesn’t deserve Hell? Or do you have the biblical picture of yourself as one who has fallen short of the glory of God, one who has earned the wage of death for your sins, one whose best righteousness is as filthy rags in the eyes the Holy Lord of Eternity, one who justly deserves the righteous condemnation of the Almighty and the subsequent sentence of Hell where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die for the unrighteous words, thoughts, and deeds you have spoken with your mouth, harbored in your heart, believed in your head, and performed with your hands? The signs are there. The conviction you’ve felt when you’ve done what you know isn’t right. The 10 Commandments of God that you’ve broken time and time again. The Sermon on the Mount where Jesus elevated the concept of God’s law clearly teaching it’s not just murder but anger, not just adultery but lust, that makes one worthy of hell-fire. Don’t miss the signs that you’re guilty! As for the signs of who Jesus is, they’re right before your eyes too. Remember all of those prophecies He fulfilled and the Apostles who gave up their lives for the message that He had really risen from the dead. Christ offers the gift of salvation if you will but repent of sin (turn sincerely away from it) and put faith (absolute, exclusive trust) in Him as Savior. See Him for who He is! See yourself for who you are! Follow the signs of Scripture leading to salvation! Finally, if today, or perhaps even decades ago, you saw these signs and now genuinely know the Savior, then rejoice and give glory to God Who opened your eyes and for the faith and grace by which you have received His wondrous mercy! Indeed, the song of the saved, the song of the seers of the signs, shall ever be, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see!”

Are You Missing The Signs? Part 3: Posted 10/15/2018 6:23:04 PM

Time would fail to speak of all the Old Testament Messianic prophecies fulfilled by Christ, but let’s just look at a few. It was foretold that the Messiah would be Virgin born, and of course Jesus is the only One ever Who fulfilled this requirement (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14). Micah 5:2 prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Hosea 11:1 speaks of the Messiah being called out of Egypt, fulfilled of course by Joseph fleeing with Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod the Great slaying the babies in Bethlehem. Furthermore, the Messiah would be: rejected by His own people (Isa. 53:1); betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Psalm 41:9; Zech. 11:12-13); remain silent before His accusers (Isa. 53:7-8); mocked, taunted and spit upon (Isa. 50:6; Psalm 22:7-8); die among the wicked and buried in the tomb of the rich (Isa. 53:9); and raised to life in that He would “see His offspring” even after His substitutionary death (Isa. 53: 10). Read Psalm 22 (written some 1,000 years before Christ) and Isaiah 53 (written some 750 years before Christ) and you would think you were reading a New Testament gospel passage because of its miraculous prophesying of the details of Jesus’ crucifixion! When John the Baptist asked for confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah (a fact to which which he being the prophesied forerunner had already attested—Mal. 3:1; Isa. 40:3; John 1:29), the Lord graciously replied that He was fulfilling the Old Testament Messianic prophecies of the blind receiving their sight, the lepers being cleansed, the deaf hearing again, the dead being raised up, and the poor having the gospel preached to them (Isa. 35:5ff; Isa. 61:1ff.; Matt. 11:5)! Someone has calculated that the odds of any one person fulfilling all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, as Christ did, is 1 in 10157. That’s one out of 10 with 157 zeroes behind it! If the Pharisees and Sadducees would have simply opened their hearts, opened their minds, opened their eyes, and yes, opened their Bibles, which they claimed to be experts in, and actually believed that the Word of God was true, they would have seen the signs that the promised Messiah was indeed standing right in front of them! But they were blinded by their brazen unbelief and they missed the signs!

Jesus’ response to the religious leaders not only rejects their demands, but rebukes them in the strongest possible language calling them “an evil and adulterous generation.” Now, the men in these groups would never have described themselves in such terms. Like mankind in general, they would have declared their own righteousness; being quick to point out their good deeds, not recognizing their evil ones, and certainly seeing themselves as in the upper 10% of humanity in general while looking down their noses at the remaining 90% (see Luke 18:9-12). In their own eyes, they weren’t evil and they weren’t adulterous. But what do you call a religious leader who won’t go to Heaven and by his teaching blocks the way for others as well (Matt. 23:13)? What adjective adequately describes someone who puts their fallible-manmade traditions above the infallible-divinely inspired Word of God (Matt. 15:1-9)? Where are the words to tell the horror of “ministers” (more like mercenaries!) who steal from people in the name of the Lord, turning the house of God into a den of robbers (Matt. 21:13)? What language could be utilized to speak of those who would trump up charges against an innocent Man, stir up a mob to call for the release of a murderer over the Messiah, and would ultimately have the Son of God, Who only went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil, sadistically slain upon a cruel wooden cross? Jesus certainly had it right when He called them “evil and adulterous.” Truly, as always is the case, those who miss the signs about who Jesus is, invariably miss the signs about who they are!

Are You Missing The Signs? Part 2: Posted 10/15/2018 6:22:32 PM

The chapter opens by saying that “The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.” The Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t much like each other and hardly ever got together for anything. The Pharisees were the conservatives of the day. They largely came from the ranks of economically common people and had a trade. Pharisees ruled the synagogues (the local churches of the day), widely despised the heathen ways of the Romans, and viewed themselves as highly moral separatists. Theologically, they believed in angels and demons, in a bodily resurrection, and in the afterlife. Pharisees not only had a concern for the word and law of God, but also accepted and adhered to the rabbinical traditions (Indeed, Jesus would scold them for their self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and holding to traditions of men above the Scripture from God). The Sadducees were the liberals of the day. They were the aristocrats. Sadducees ruled the Temple and had a lucrative business based on robbing the people in the name of religion (they ran the money changing racket that Jesus condemned so strongly). Far from loathing the Romans, they weren’t opposed to snuggling up to them politically if it meant their power and pocketbooks could be increased. Sadducees did not believe in angels and demons, did not accept a bodily resurrection or afterlife, did not take the Bible literally (especially when it fit their worldly interests to not do so), did not adhere to rabbinical traditions, and weren’t afraid to live a little morally lax (okay, maybe more than a little lax at times!). The Pharisees and Sadducees were two decidedly disparate divisions of Judaism who didn’t care much for one another. However, when it came to coming against Jesus, the two groups were singing Kum-Ba-Ya from the same song sheet!

The two religious factions came together to “test” Jesus. They weren’t genuine seekers coming with open hearts and open minds willing to receive revelation from Christ. They asked Him for a “sign from heaven”, literally requesting a sign in the sky (note: it is important to notice that rather than asking for a fulfillment of some sign prophesied in Scripture, they asked for a sign in the stars that would have been more in line with a pagan calling on the Zodiac). The Lord could have provided a fireworks display that would put Disney World to shame, He could have caused Jupiter to trade places with Mars, He could have made the Sun and the Moon be partners in a square dance, and still the Sadducees and Pharisees would have found reason not to believe that Jesus was the Messiah! The religious leaders asked for signs from Christ on five separate occasions. While He refused to kowtow to their demands, Jesus gave plenty of miraculous and mighty markers pointing to His Messiahship for anyone open to receive.

Are You Missing The Signs? Part 1: Posted 10/15/2018 6:21:54 PM

I had to go (I mean got to go!) to jury duty a few weeks back. I received my summons in the mail, I put in for the day off from work, I prepared my lesson plans and accompanying materials for the substitute teacher who would fill in for me (trust me, with all the paperwork you have to fill out to take a day off, it’s less work to go to work!), I got my travel bag ready filling it with a couple Bible commentaries and my laptop computer so I could fill the waiting time studying and working on upcoming sermons-I was ready to go! But to go where? By that I don’t mean the Justice Center where I would go to perform my civic duty, I know where that’s at and have passed by it many times. I simply mean where would I park?! The summons had a map of where to go on it but rather than giving directions from my house to the jurors lot saying turn right here and then turn left there and so on, it contained confusing diagrams and befuddling words such as North and South and East and West! I couldn’t seem to figure it out, so what did I do? What any directionally challenged, navigationally unconfident man would do; I asked my wonderful wife! She explained it to me and all was clear. Or so it seemed to be until the next morning. I got up and took a shower. I grabbed my prepared bag. I remembered to pick up the summons that I needed to show the clerk upon arrival. I pulled out of the driveway and drove towards downtown (from my house, go to the big street and take a right-or in the words of the map they sent, go West on Palm Beach Blvd!). I got close to my destination but apparently took a wrong turn somewhere because I passed the Justice Center (it was on my right, or on my North side if you want to be technical!) and that meant I had gone too far for the jurors lot. I turned around and upon coming back the same way I had just been, I saw road signs with accompanying arrows telling me where to park for jury duty (someone must have installed them into the ground sometime between my first and second time around the block!). The map they sent me on my summons had no doubt been right all along for those who could properly read it, my wonderful wife’s verbal description and directions had no doubt been right all along for anyone who could remember and follow them, and the downtown road signs pointing to the correct lot were visible for all to see (even the first time around the block), but I still had trouble finding the right spot! I missed the signs! All of them!

Missing the signs did cause me some trouble. It delayed my arrival. I barely had enough time to walk the 5 miles from the juror parking lot to the Justice Center (okay, maybe it’s not quite 5 miles away but, trust me, if you have jury duty bring your walking shoes and eat your Wheaties!), make it through security (showing my ID, taking off my belt and shoes, emptying my pockets of cell phone and wallet and car keys and napkins, and then putting it all back on/in), go up the escalator to the second floor (thankfully it wasn’t stairs!), and then proceed to the big room at the end of the hall (why is it always at the end of the hall?!) before the 8:00 am deadline! Had it not been for leaving home a little early (yes, I anticipated I would have trouble finding the place), I would have been late. I’m not sure what the ramifications of that might have been. (My wife might have gotten a robo- call saying that she would have to pay $1,000 in gift cards to a foreign account so that the IRS wouldn’t allow the Sheriff to keep me in the pokey for not showing up for jury duty!-I think I heard about something like that happening in the news!). However, what we are going to look at in this month’s newsletter is a much more severe case of missing the signs, with much more dire consequences from Matthew 16:1-4.

If You Dont Have Some Fire & Brimstone, Then Youve Probably Got A Bunch Of Phony & Baloney 5: Posted 10/2/2018 9:08:53 PM

The Judgment Of God Is Forever, It Will Never End (Mark 9:43-44)…In case you haven’t heard me say it in church and you haven’t seen it announced on the news and you don’t have kids or grandkids affected by it and you don’t notice the yellow buses on the road, let me tell you here in bold print, school has started! (Keep reading, though some teachers and students might disagree with me, I’m not calling school the judgment of God! I’m going somewhere else with this). As a teacher at the beginning of a new year, I put the bell schedule in big print on the board for all to see. I can lose track of time (as some of you who hear my sermons can testify) and having the schedule visible is a necessity. It helps me know when to wrap it up so that students can get to their next class on time. Now..confession..in addition to helping me with time management, the posted bell schedule, depending upon the behaviors of certain classes throughout the years, has also been a source of great hope. However bad the group of students may have been, there is a constant countdown reminding me that it won’t last forever! (Of course, there are some students that no doubt have felt the same way about not having to be in my class forever!)

The judgment of God, on the other hand, has no bell schedule. There’s no time clock pressing you ever closer towards 5 pm and a relaxing evening after the daily grind. Jesus puts it plainly, without nuance or qualification, telling us that Hell is a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not! The judgment of God cannot be fled, the judgment of God is final, the judgment of God is full, and the judgment of God is forever. People may not like this “fire and brimstone”, but to deny it would be “phony and baloney.” That being said, the good news is that the salvation of God is free, a free offer that is extended to all who will repent of sin and turn in genuine faith to Christ alone as Savior!

If You Dont Have Some Fire & Brimstone, Then Youve Probably Got A Bunch Of Phony & Baloney 4: Posted 9/21/2018 10:13:24 PM

The Judgment Of God Is Full, Affecting Every Part Of Your Being (John 5:29; Acts 24:15; Mark 9:43-44; Heb. 10:28-29)… Nearly 20 years ago (a little over truth be told!), I was privileged to be a part of a group of college students that went to a local retirement/nursing home on Sunday afternoons to conduct church services. We would sing hymns, offer a short Biblical message/devotion, and then visit residents individually. I remember giving a brief sermon on Biblical love one day and then having a woman named Ina complimenting me about its eloquence and organization. (I know some of you are thinking, “what happened?!”). Ina was nearly 100 years old and had been an English teacher for 60 years! She was a wonderful woman to get to know and I appreciated her compliment and kindness. Ina was 103 the last time I saw her in this life. Her physical health was such that she could no longer get out of bed, but her mental health was still strong as evidenced by the stack of books by her bedside that she was in process of consuming. During our conversation she told me, “I still remember how eloquent and organized your message on Biblical love was when you first began coming here (that had been 4 or 5 years earlier).”

Throughout my years in ministry I’ve seen people who are mentally afflicted (such as my grandma (mama) who was plagued with Alzheimer’s) but their bodies are in pretty fair condition. I’ve been with others, such as Ina, with bodies that are failing but with minds that are fertile. I am thankful for the assurances of Scripture that those who are in Christ, those who have repented of sin and put genuine faith in Him as the Savior, will one day have a physical resurrection where they will enjoy a glorified body with no physical ailments and an understanding mind with no mental diminutions. As glorious as is that truth, it is also true that unbelievers will have a bodily resurrection. The suffering that they will forever endure will affect every part of their being; their physical pain, their mental stability, their emotional torment, every facet of their existence will be fully touched by the eternal conscious torment that is the righteous wrath of God!

If You Dont Have Some Fire & Brimstone, Then Youve Probably Got A Bunch Of Phony & Baloney 3: Posted 9/8/2018 10:34:16 PM

The Judgment Of God Is Final, There’s No Appeal (Heb. 9:27)… I recently saw a popular news host interviewing a woman with a terminal disease, at least medically speaking. She had just won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a large corporation that manufactures a product which she blames for her malady. (I don’t know anything about the merits of the case one way or the other and either way I certainly pray for the healing of the woman.) One of the exchanges between her and the host that stood out to me revealed that, barring miraculous intervention, the afflicted woman would not live long enough to see a penny of her judgment. The large corporation is going to appeal the decision, and then there will be an appeal of the appeal, and then an appeal of the appeal of the appeal; and on and on it goes for perhaps a decade or more before any ultimate resolution truly solidifies.

Of course that’s the way it is with our judicial system in America. We’ve all heard of some terrible murderer who’s been proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, sometimes caught in the very act itself on videotape and affirmed by the culprit’s own confession of his sordid deeds. They are sentenced to death row. And then there’s the appeal, and the appeal of the appeal, and the appeal of the appeal of the appeal, etc.; and decades later the sentence is finally carried out. It seems that very few verdicts are actually final, there’s nearly always a future appeal that awaits. The judgment of God, however, is far different. Hebrews 9:27 puts it as succinctly as possible, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” God is the judge. He knows all. There is nothing to add to His knowledge of your case. God is the judge. He is all powerful. There is no higher authority you can appeal to. God is the judge. He is righteous. There are no mistakes or iniquities in His decisions. If you have not genuinely repented of sins, if you have not genuinely put faith in Christ as Savior, if you have not been genuinely born again, then the wrath of God will abide on you. You have this life and this life alone to surrender to Christ and receive His pardon, one life to submit to His lordship willingly. When your days here are done, your judgment will take place. Either you will be received into everlasting glory by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, or you will be condemned to eternal damnation because you have rejected our Lord’s sweet offer of salvation. Either way, there will be no appeal. The judgment of God is final!

If You Dont Have Some Fire & Brimstone, Then Youve Probably Got A Bunch Of Phony & Baloney 2: Posted 9/1/2018 7:48:33 PM

The Judgement Of God Cannot Be Fled, No One Gets Away (Matt. 13:47-53)… Have you ever played one of those “stuffed animal in the box-claw games”? (I’m sure they have an official name but I’m unsure what it is.) Let me describe. There is a big clear box with stuffed animals in it. You put a quarter in the machine and get the privilege of using a joystick to guide a claw to a certain area of the box. When you think you have the claw positioned correctly over the desired prize you hit a button and the claw descends. Most of the time the claw gets nothing at all. Sometimes it picks up a stuffed animal, perhaps not even the one you were aiming for, but drops it in transit before it can be successfully deposited into the pick-up bin. Only occasionally does the player ever successfully get the prize he wanted. Only every now and then does a stuffed animal ever get caught by the claw. In fact you can play the game one week, come back the next, and find that most of the prizes are safer in that “stuffed animal in the box-claw game” than any real animal in a wildlife refuge could ever hope to be!

When Jesus describes judgment He doesn’t use the parable of the “stuffed animal in the box-claw game.” He instead teaches us the parable of the dragnet. This kind of fishing net was large and all inclusive. It took two teams of fisherman to operate. Its ends were dropped from two far away locations and it would catch everything and anything in its path for as much as half of a square mile of sea. No doubt there were some fish who felt the edges of the net and swam away from it. They thought they were getting away from its clutches, but in reality they were only swimming deeper into the very thing they were trying to escape. When the net was brought to shore it would contain anything from sea-trash to seaweed, everything from bad fish to good fish. The fishermen would separate out the good from the bad and throw the bad away. Jesus said this was akin to what would be done at the end of the age, where the righteous would be separated from the unrighteous and the unrighteous then be thrown into a furnace of fire where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The judgment of God CANNOT BE FLED, no one escapes. Every sin, be it in word, thought, or deed, will be punished. Either you will put faith in Christ who took the wrath of God upon Himself for the benefit of believers, or you will be justly and righteously punished forever and ever and ever and ever in a fiery Hell for the transgressions you have committed against a holy God. Like some of those fish, you may think that you can swim away, but if you are denying Christ then you are simply going deeper into the very thing you think you’re escaping. The judgment of God CANNOT BE FLED, the only way to be saved is to turn to Christ!

If You Dont Have Some Fire & Brimstone, Then Youve Probably Got A Bunch Of Phony & Baloney 1: Posted 9/1/2018 7:47:58 PM

Every now and then the school where I teach asks me to offer a prayer (or “to say a few words”) before certain events. Last year after hearing one such invocation and discovering that I’m a minister, a colleague asked me what church I pastored. I answered and then inquired as to what church he attended. The man told me what denomination he had been brought up in (I’m not sure that he still goes there) and followed it with a somewhat snarky remark declaring that all he heard in the church of his youth was “fire and brimstone.” He was somewhat surprised with my response of “we need more of that!”

My co-worker is not alone in his disdain for and dismissal of “fire and brimstone” preaching. Non-Christians of course have many reasons for denying the doctrine of Hell. Some disbelieve anything spiritual while others don’t want judged for their own sins so they don’t want to judge anybody else for anything either (they do tend to lose their distaste for judgmentalism when it comes to judging those who judge—I know that’s a lot of “judging” but just reread the sentence a few times and you’ll be nodding Amen!) Some non-Christian religious folks believe in Hell, but rather than making faith in Jesus the issue upon which eternity rests they subscribe to a works based mentality where following a man-made moral code or worshipping a man-made god forms the dividing line between bliss and damnation. More troubling than the aforementioned groups, however, are the many professing Christians who either disbelieve in or are embarrassed by the doctrine of Hell and shy away from preaching on the evils of sin, the necessity of repentance, the exclusive salvation found in Jesus alone, and the eternal judgment that awaits unbelievers. Indeed, if one wants to be a Bible-Believing Christian, then the doctrine of Hell is a nonnegotiable. Jesus spoke more of Hell than He did of Heaven, and He spoke more on Hell and more vividly on Hell than did all other prophets and apostles combined. So, while there no doubt has been “fire and brimstone” preaching that has been poorly done, merely advocating some legalistic holier than thou attitudes while manipulating guilt ridden and gullible people; if you don’t have a measure of “fire and brimstone” preaching, then you’ve probably fallen for a bunch of “phony and baloney” platitudes. For the next few paragraphs we will take a brief look at some salient points regarding the Judgment of God.

Lessons From The Road 2018 Part 5: Posted 8/9/2018 7:17:19 PM

Lessons from the Destination… I remember pulling into mamaw’s and papaw’s driveway in Ohio after our long trip from Florida when I was a kid. Sis still lived with my grandparents at that time (she’s really my aunt but if I call her “Aunt Angie” that would be the last you would see of me!). When we called and let them know that we were close, she would begin looking out the window. When our car came into view, she’d run out of the house and welcome us with hugs and kisses. We crawled out of the vehicle and limped inside. As the blood began circulating and the numbness went out of our legs, we would find that mamaw had been hard at work. She had all of our favorites waiting for us in the kitchen—her famous macaroni vegetable soup was simmering on the stove, a freshly topped apple sauce cake lay on the counter, homemade cornbread was awaiting to go into the oven, and freshly cut potatoes were ready to take a plunge into a lard laden iron skillet. (Anyone getting hungry right about now!) Papaw was sitting in his blue rocking chair on the front porch. He’d give us a hug and say hello before taking our car down to his garage (an immense structure that he had built himself out of leftover telephone polls). After he was finished with the car he’d make time to pick on dad for having his hair too long while simultaneously loading me up in the car to take me to the barber! But, just before we left, he let dad know what project we’d be working on when we got back from town. (It wouldn’t have been a trip to Ohio without fixing the well, or rebuilding a motor, or poring a cement walkway, or shingling the roof, etc).

Sis has been married for 17 years now to a godly man who used to be my Sunday School teacher. They live in a little town about 25 minutes (or 15 minutes if you drive like they do!) away from mamaw’s and papaw’s old house. They are blessed with 2 young girls of their own, one who just received the Lord this past Easter! Mamaw, now in her 80’s, lives in an assisted living facility close to them. She has Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, she is doing fairly well physically. She still remembers our faces and is in pretty good spirits, especially before sunset (those who know someone with Alzheimer’s know what I’m talking about). Papaw, a Baptist minister who made a great impact upon my life, went home to be with the Lord almost a decade ago now.

I would love to see papaw again. I’d love to see my mamaw with her full faculties again. I’d love for them both to meet and remember the wonderful wife God has blessed me with and the fabulous great grandchild they have. I won’t find that to be a reality when we reach our destination in Ohio this year. However, one day, when we reach the final destination for those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, those dreams along with others that have never crossed my mind nor entered my heart will be realized in full forever. Not only will my relatives be there with great excitement (I am so thankful to have a family that is mostly comprised of believers—there is truly no greater blessing!), but our Heavenly Father will be awaiting us! I don’t know if He’ll have soup, cake, cornbread, fried potatoes, haircuts, or projects, but I do know that the God who loved us so much to give His only Son, who has a celebration in Heaven each time a lost sinner asks for forgiveness, will surely have a welcome home bash beyond our wildest imagination!

Lessons From The Road 2018 Part 4: Posted 8/4/2018 9:23:25 PM

Lessons from the Journey… Before leaving on vacation, it takes about a week to get ready to go and a week to catch up when you get back. (I think I see a bunch of heads nodding and hear several “amen’s” being said right now!) Going on the trip is a big chore. Traveling is tiring. You measure your progress in mile markers. You see the sign for Cleveland, but just as you get a little excited you realize that it’s Cleveland, Tennessee instead of Cleveland, Ohio! Several hundreds of miles yet to go! However, in the midst of the long, arduous, seemingly never-ending journey, there are things to be enjoyed and not overlooked. I get to spend hours and hours holding the hand of my love, the best wife that anyone could ever ask for, as she sits next to me in the front seat. I get to look in the rearview mirror and gaze upon the precious boy the Lord has blessed us with. I get to see my sweet mom enjoy being the best grandmother a boy could ever hope to have as she plays with Benji in the backseat. I get to hear stories from my dad (assuming I can get him to come out of his shell!) that I wondered if I would ever get to hear again a few years ago as we sat at the foot of a hospital bed after he had a massive heart attack.

Life can be tiring and tedious. Sometimes progress is slow and taxing. The destination that awaits us as believers is something to be longed for with great anticipation. However, don’t overlook the joy of the journey. As we serve the Lord, the Father of lights gives us every good and perfect gift to enjoy and for which to be grateful!

Lessons From The Road 2018 Part 3: Posted 7/29/2018 10:50:25 PM

Lessons from the Front Seat… For the past several years of our excursions up north I’ve been the one doing the driving. Terry, mom, and dad all offer to take over so that I can rest. (I always tell them that I can rest better when I’m driving!) We don’t make the trip as fast now as we used to when I was a kid. Dad could drive all night, sleep a couple hours at a rest area, and then finish the journey. I can drive all day with no problem, but when the sun goes down I begin to get tired and need to pull over sometime before midnight to get a little shut eye at a motel. You see, when you’re in the front seat, you can’t sleep all day. You have responsibilities. You have to pay attention. It’s not all about you. You have to think about the welfare of your passengers. Have you double checked that it’s safe to pass? Are you looking in the rearview mirror to see if there are any crazy drivers coming up behind you? Did you watch the road signs closely enough to make sure that you’re on the right highway? Does somebody need to stop for a rest bit? Have you reached the limit of time you can safely continue driving before pulling over for the evening?

We do well to remember that we are not the only ones we need to consider when making decisions. Life is not all about us! The Lord is surely the One who is always in control, but through His providence we have God-given responsibilities that, when carried out according to His strength and wisdom, bring more fulfillment to our lives than we could have ever dreamed. The life spent on selfishness and self-centered concerns is an empty one indeed. The life invested in loving and serving God and loving and serving others is one filled with true abundance!

Lessons From The Road 2018 Part 2: Posted 7/24/2018 10:10:59 PM

Lessons from the Back Seat… Dad did most of the driving in the early years of our travels from Florida to Ohio. I wasn’t old enough to drive then and mom, well she was old enough but, let’s just say, she wasn’t given too much opportunity! I “sat” in the backseat. I use the word “sat” loosely because mostly I laid down in the backseat and slept! If I tried to read, I would get sick. If I watched the scenery, I would get bored. If I watched dad’s driving, I would get scared! So, even though I wasn’t one to sleep for long periods of time, I trained myself to rest for about 15 of the 20 hours of the Ohio Road Trip. The only times you could be sure I would be awake on the road was when I was hungry for a hamburger or needed to go to the restroom!

There are times in life when we may be sick, sometimes we may be bored (although I find those moments are fewer and farther between as I get older), sometimes we may be scared, and almost all times we find ourselves not being in the driver’s seat! However, we have a Heavenly Father who is good, who can be trusted, who is all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful, and faithful! He’s got everything under control! So “sit” back (lay down if you’d like!) and rest soundly knowing that every need is supplied and you are in His care.

Lessons From The Road 2018 Part 1: Posted 7/24/2018 10:10:30 PM

(*My family used to take an expedition from Florida to Ohio nearly every year to visit relatives. For various reasons we haven’t kept that tradition with as much continuity over the past decade or so. Thankfully, they’ve started to come down and see us fairly frequently so that we still get to see them on a nearly annual basis. We won’t be traveling there this Summer but last year we had the opportunity to go up, though unexpectedly so. Hurricane Irma (Sister Irma as we’ve nicknamed the storm) came through and we evacuated to Ohio and got to see our precious relatives for a few days…In July of 2011 I wrote an article gleaning some spiritual lessons from these many road trips up North. With minor edits the work you see here is just as it originally appeared. Benji was 3 then, now he’s 10 (officially 10 ½ as he let me know this week!). My mamaw was living in Ohio then, now she’s REALLY living in Heaven! One of my aunt’s two little girls was saved then, both of those young ladies now know the Lord! My waistline was thin then and my hair was thick, now those two commodities have switched adjectives! But with all the things that may have changed in the past 7 years, our great God remains faithful down every road. I pray you enjoy this flashback.*)

My dad, mom, and I moved to Florida when I was 10. With much of our family still living up north, we began the tradition of going on an almost annual road trip to Ohio to see them. We’ve trekked up and down I-75 so many times that we know where the best places are to get gas, where all the White Castle Restaurants are located (did I just mention places where you can get gas?), where the most affordable motel rooms can be found, some key states to look out for the Highway Patrol, and some key cities not to hit at 5 in the afternoon. Getting ready for this year’s trip got me thinking about some lessons I’ve learned from the road north that are good lessons for the road of life when you are a child of God.

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 7: Posted 7/15/2018 10:16:13 PM

Jesus Shows His Greatness (Matthew 12:9-16)… After the verbal exchanges with the Pharisees, Jesus comes across a situation where He will show the truth of the words He had just spoken. Christ is attending a synagogue where there providentially happens to be a man with a withered hand. The religious leaders had apparently learned nothing from Jesus’ teaching and rebuke in the first 8 verses as verse 10 finds them asking the Lord if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath Day? Their man-made tradition taught that it was unrighteous to practice medicine on the Sabbath except in the case of life threatening situations. Now mind you, the Old Testament never made such a prohibition, for it is always the right time to do good.

The Lord knew the hypocrisy of their question for the Pharisees were only looking for an occasion to accuse Him of wrongdoing. He answered their question by asking them who among them would not do the work of rescuing one of their sheep from a pit, even if it happened on the Sabbath Day. Jesus next exclaims that a man is far more valuable than a sheep and declares that it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Then, even knowing that healing the man would cause the Pharisees to want to destroy Him, Christ commands the man to stretch forth his hand and it was made whole just like the other! Jesus Showed His Greatness! Jesus Is The Greatest!

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 6: Posted 7/15/2018 10:15:49 PM

Jesus Is Greater Than The Sabbath (Matthew 12:8)… Jesus concludes His reply to the Pharisee’s accusations by stating, “the Son of Man (speaking of Himself) is Lord of the Sabbath.” The Sabbath Day was given by God to man. It was a day where man could rest and it also served as a covenant mark between God and His people. The Pharisees, in an attempt to “elevate” the law of God, made all kinds of extra rules regarding the Sabbath. They took it upon themselves and their own wisdom to define what “honoring the Sabbath” would look like. When Jesus calls Himself the Lord of the Sabbath, He is rebuking the Pharisees for overstepping their bounds by adding to God’s law and He is clearly making a claim to be God as only God could accurately make such a claim.

The book of Hebrews teaches us about Jesus being our ultimate Sabbath rest. Indeed, the Sabbath provided in the Old Testament was only temporary. When the holy day was over, work and toil would begin afresh and anew at the start of the next week. Jesus, however, in the salvation that He purchased upon the cross provides an eternal spiritual rest for all who will repent of sin and put faith in Christ. Jesus Is Greater Than The Sabbath! Jesus Is The Greatest!

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 5: Posted 7/15/2018 10:15:21 PM

Jesus Is Greater Than The Prophets (Matthew 12:7, 17-21)… After declaring that He was greater than the Temple, Jesus tells the leaders to go and learn what Hosea 6:6 means when it said of God, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice.” Basically He was quoting Scripture to them, Scripture that they claimed to be experts in, and He was telling them that they had missed it! A few verses later in Matthew 12 the Pharisees get so upset with Jesus that they begin seeking how they might destroy Him. In response, Christ withdraws from that region and Matthew cites that this was to fulfill the Messianic passage of Isaiah 42:1-4.

The true Old Testament prophet was one who spoke for God, who could genuinely declare “thus saith the Lord.” Their writings and their teachings were inspired by the Lord Himself and were true in all that they taught. However, although Hosea was seen as a great prophet, and Isaiah viewed as a greater prophet still, it’s one thing to be a spokesman, it’s another to be the Man Himself (of course, the God-Man in this case). It’s one thing to be a prophet who was part of foretelling the coming advent and mission of a Messiah, it’s another level altogether to be the fulfillment of all those prophecies individually and collectively! Jesus Is Greater Than The Prophets! Jesus Is The Greatest!

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 4: Posted 7/1/2018 10:35:39 PM

Jesus Is Greater Than The Temple (Matthew 12:6)… Jesus’ rebuttal to the Pharisees’ accusations next finds Him declaring openly, explicitly, and unequivocally that He is greater than even the Temple! King Solomon, roughly 1,000 years before Christ, had been used by God to build a massive Temple. Unfortunately, Israel (and Judah) sinned against the law of the Lord and through the instrument of the Babylonians encountered a severe judgment that would include the utter destruction of Solomon’s then 400 year old magnificent edifice and an exile away from the Promised Land. God was merciful and brought His people back to their homeland in the century that followed. They eventually constructed a new Temple (often referred to as Zerubbabel’s Temple), though it was architecturally far inferior than its predecessor, God promised that His Presence would honor the place. At the time of Christ, Herod’s Temple now stood. It was an enlarged and refurbished version of Zerubbabel’s rebuild. The Jews of Jesus’ day resented, even hated, being under Roman control. They largely resented and hated Herod as well, a terrible tyrant who ruled their region of Judea. In the midst of all this humiliation and angst the Temple was a great source of pride for them, a house that would honor their God and pay homage to the greatness of their people.

The Temple down through the ages was indeed meant to be a place ordained by God where required sacrifices and reverent worship would be offered. However, Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by man (and Herod’s Temple would be as well in 70 AD), and had to be rebuilt by man. The Temple of Jesus’ body was freely offered up by His own will and was raised three days later by His own power! The Temple was a place where a veil spoke of God’s righteousness being so high that man must be kept at a distance, but when Jesus died that veil was rent from top to bottom, declaring that the barrier had been removed. Man could now be close to God as those who are in Christ have His righteousness imputed to them! Jesus Is Greater Than The Temple! Jesus Is The Greatest!

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 3: Posted 6/23/2018 9:06:52 PM

Jesus Is The Greatest Sacrifice and The Greatest Priest (Matthew 12:5)… Matthew 12 next tells of our Lord responding to the accusations of the Pharisees by citing the fact that the priests do work on the Sabbath as they offer up various sacrifices to God. This kind of labor was obviously not in violation of the Sabbath, but was actually ordained and ordered by the law of God to be accomplished on this set aside day. Now, the offering of bulls and goats was important for many reasons. It was a way that God’s people could acknowledge His righteous law and humbly admit their sins. However, the main purpose that these sacrifices would serve was to point to THE Lamb of God who was to come who would take away the sins of all of those who would repent of sin and put their faith in Him. The animal sacrifices had to be offered on a regular basis and could never take away sin, but Jesus offered Himself once and for all, a sacrifice never to be repeated, and His blood doesn’t just cover sin but cleanses from sin! Jesus Is The Greatest Sacrifice! Jesus Is The Greatest!

The priests who offered up these sacrifices as prescribed by Mosaic Law were certainly performing a service to God and to His people. However, their work was never done as evidenced not only by the repeating of the sacrifices but also by the fact that there was no chair provided in Scriptures for the priests to sit down. Also, the priests, even the good ones, were not great ones because they were sinners who had to offer up sacrifices for their own sins as well as for those of the people at large. Jesus, the great High Priest, offered up Himself as a sacrifice to end all sacrifices and has sat down (something that the earthly priests could not do) at the right hand of the Father where He ever lives to make intercession for His children. Jesus, the great High Priest, had no need to offer up a sacrifice for His own transgressions for He was spotless and blameless! Jesus Is The Greatest Priest! Jesus Is The Greatest!

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 2: Posted 6/19/2018 2:38:26 PM

Jesus Is The Greatest King (Matthew 12:1-4)… Matthew 12 opens with the disciples becoming hungry and picking some heads of grain from the fields to eat on the Sabbath Day. The religious leaders taught that this sort of activity was classified as work and therefore was a violation of the command to keep the Sabbath holy and to do no work on this set aside day. Now mind you, if they had been as expert in the actual word of God as they were in their man-made laws and traditions, then they would know that gleaning from a neighbor’s field to satisfy your immediate hunger was expressly allowed for in Deuteronomy 23:25. However, the Pharisees had long held their traditions above God’s actual Word, esteeming themselves and their thoughts above God and His thoughts.

The Pharisees confront Jesus about this supposed transgression asking Him why His disciples did that which was unlawful to do on the Sabbath. The Lord responds by referencing 1 Samuel 21:1-6 where David and his men were given consecrated bread by Ahimelech to meet their hunger pains. This bread was only to be eaten by the priests; however God allowed and endorsed it to be consumed by David’s forces to fulfill their immediate and necessary need. King David of course was a man after God’s own heart, one used mightily to bring many victories to the people of Israel, a man who authored many of the Psalms we have in Scripture some 3,000 years after his passing, and the one through whose lineage the Messiah was prophesied to come. Yet, as great as David was, Christ is infinitely greater. David was a king, but Jesus is the King of kings! David brought temporal military victories, but Jesus brings eternal victory over death, hell, and the grave; over Satan and over sin, both its penalty and its power! David’s pen was inspired by God to author small portions of Scripture, but Jesus is the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us and whose glory we beheld, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth! David was the one whose natural lineage would lead to the promised Messiah, but Jesus is the promised Messiah who eternally exists before time began, through whom every family on earth is named, and through whose blood the people of God have been purchased and redeemed from their sins! Jesus Is the Greatest King! Jesus Is The Greatest!

Jesus Is The Greatest Part 1: Posted 6/19/2018 2:37:52 PM

I remember Saturday mornings when I was a kid. My parents would take me bowling at Gold Crown Lanes, a bowling alley in East Ft. Myers off of Palm Beach Boulevard. (It’s since been torn down and now a small grassy field sits next to a cell phone store in its former location.) While we were away from the house at the youth leagues, my family would tape the ABC sponsored pro-bowling show on VHS tape so that we could watch it later. (For the young people reading this, VHS is what we used some years ago to record television programs we wanted to see and save—it was invented long before DVR and sometime after 8-Track!) While viewing those programs I became a big fan of a bowler named Walter Ray Williams, Jr. It seemed that he would make the show (which meant he would be in the top 5 qualifiers out of a field ranging from 160 to over 200 professionals) nearly every week and just tossed strike after strike after strike against all of his “inferior” opponents.

I’ve long since lost track of those VHS recordings but recently discovered that the bowling telecasts of yesteryear are now available on YouTube. Through the advent of technology I also came upon THE Walter Ray Williams, Jr. Facebook page. While scrolling through the various posts I saw that someone had the gall and audacity to publish a comment where they called THE Walter Ray Williams, Jr. a GOAT. I was aghast that someone would call the bowler with the most titles ever, the bowler who’s won the most money ever, the bowler who’s made the most telecasts ever, the bowler with the most player of the year awards ever, the bowler who was my hero with regard to the sport a GOAT. How dare they?! You might say that their remark got my GOAT! Then as I read farther I became educated to the fact that GOAT is a phrase the young people use as a shorthand method to speak of the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)! (Language isn’t the same these days is it?-I guess I’ve reached the age where I’m a VHS man living in a DVR World!)..

The Scriptures use the term “goat” to describe a person who does not genuinely know God nor keep His law. In contrast the word “sheep” is utilized to refer to a true follower of the LORD and one who has been initiated into the flock and family of God. In the twelfth chapter of Matthew we come across some scenes that pit the religious leaders of the day against our Lord. The Pharisees would accuse Jesus of breaking the law of God in various ways. They would likely think of Christ and His disciples as goats; not as the greatest of all time, but as people who did not know God nor follow His commands. However, Jesus of course was the only One who ever walked the face of this earth who never sinned, who never violated righteousness in any way, shape, manner or form in word, thought, or deed. This would not make Him a “goat”, but would indeed show Him to be the greatest of all time.

Depression Part 4: Posted 6/8/2018 8:48:34 PM

The Disciples On The Road To Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)… Jesus had been crucified in a very public way; that He was dead was easy to see and easy to believe. Jesus had been buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea; that He was dead was easy to see and easy to believe. On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave; prophesied by the Old Testament, foretold by Christ Himself during His earthly incarnate ministry, witnessed and testified to by Mary Magdalene and some other women; that He was alive was not yet seen by many (though He would eventually appear to as many as 500 at once before ascending back to the Father) and was hard to believe. In fact it was unbelievable for two relatively unknown disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus as recorded in Luke 24.

No doubt they wanted Him to be alive. They had believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament; a deliverer in the spirit and power of King David of old who would free Israel from Roman rule and establish a kingdom of God on Earth in the here and now. However, when the One hailed as King on Palm Sunday ended up with a rugged cross instead of a royal crown, was buried in a tomb instead of seated on a throne, the hopes and aspirations that such a lowly One could bring about such a mighty Kingdom were shattered into oblivion. The fact that some were now saying that the tomb was empty and that He had risen from the dead seemed to these two Emmaus disciples to be wishful thinking. Their hopes had already been crushed once; they could not bring themselves to invest their strength, devotion, and faith into such an unbelievable proposition.

As they walk on the road together sharing their dejection, united in sorrow, a Stranger approaches and asks them why they are so downcast. They are amazed that anyone could have escaped hearing about the crucifixion of Jesus, the powerful prophet and mighty miracle worker that so many had thought to be the promised Christ. The two men share their tragic story with their newfound Traveler. Now of course when we read Luke 24 we know straightway that this man is the resurrected Jesus, but they are unaware. I’ve often wondered why the Lord didn’t just declare to them from the start that He was Jesus. Maybe show them the nail prints in His hands and feet, maybe show them the place where the spear was thrust in His side. He could have pulled off some brilliant light show perhaps something akin to the Mount of Transfiguration replete with Moses and Elijah and an angelic choir. Being fully God, Jesus could have given the Emmaus disciples any number of manifestations to prove that He was indeed alive and they would have likely been instantly cheered. But He didn’t choose any of these courses of action. Instead our Lord simply kept walking with them, teaching them the Scriptures, the Scriptures that when properly understood had prophesied for centuries that the Messiah would be a suffering servant who would endure a cruel death but then would be raised unto life, bringing the offer of eternal life to all who would repent of sin and put faith in Him.

As they draw nearer their destination this Stranger seems as though He will continue on down the road. The Emmaus disciples ask Him to stay with them. Then, as Jesus says a blessing and breaks some bread, their eyes are opened to see Him for who He is and He vanishes from their sight. They turn to one another in amazement, not at His disappearance, but from the fact that they recognize how their hearts burned within them while He explained the Scriptures to them. The disciples once in the doldrums now race exuberantly back to Jerusalem to deliver the news that they too are now witnesses that He Is Alive!

Do you find yourself being a depressed and downcast disciple of Christ? Know that the Lord is walking beside you even though you might not realize it at this time. Even better know that God lives inside of His children through the person of the Holy Spirit. Know that staying in the Scriptures will eventually cause your broken heart to be a burning heart. Know that the same God who wrought the resurrection of Christ can raise your spirit as well.

Depression Part 3: Posted 6/1/2018 7:48:42 PM

The Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18 and 19; especially 1 Kings 19:13-18)… Unlike Psalms 42 and 43 where scholars are unsure about the immediate historical context, we are well aware of what was going on in the nation of Israel during the 18th and 19th chapters of 1 Kings. Ahab, the king who did more than any other to provoke God’s anger, was on the throne with his wife Jezebel. They led the people towards evil and Baal worship was at an all-time high. Amid this tidal wave of unrighteousness and idolatry the Lord provided His chosen people with the ministry of Elijah, one of the most powerful prophets recorded in the pages of Scripture.

In 1 Kings 18 Elijah, at the leading and direction of God, challenges the false prophets of Baal to a contest on Mt. Carmel. The rules of the challenge were that sacrifices would be offered to both Baal and to Yahweh, and the one who answered by fire would be considered the true and living God. The 450 prophets of Baal went first. They offered up their animal sacrifice and called upon their god. They cried and cried-louder and louder, danced and danced-stronger and stronger, from morning until noon and yet nothing happened. Finally Elijah called an end to their farce. He offered up an ox to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Elijah had the sacrifice drenched with water. He then, following what God had revealed to him, called upon the Name of the LORD and asked for fire to come from Heaven. The fire fell, the water-logged ox was consumed, and the credentials of the one true and living God were unquestionably confirmed. The people declared their allegiance to the LORD, with their lips anyway, and obeyed Elijah’s command to seize and slay the false prophets.

One would think that Elijah would be on top of the mountain of ministry and life for years to come. However, in the very next chapter devastating depression would hit this powerful prophet. 1 Kings 19 records that when Jezebel heard of the killing of the false prophets, in large part “her” false prophets, she vowed to kill Elijah. When the true prophet heard of it, he was afraid and went running. For at least the next 40 days Elijah experienced despair, even of life. What did God do? He provided food and strength for His prophet. He gave Elijah time, and in some ways space, to be depressed. When the Lord came to Elijah after these 40 days, He helped the man of God by assuring him that he wasn’t alone in his despair or in his service to God, and then He gave him a future work to do.

For those who preach that God’s people don’t ever get depressed, the prophet Elijah should be example enough to forever dispel their distortions of Scripture. For those who find themselves depressed or know of someone who’s in despair, know that sometimes the downcast need some time and space. For those who feel that “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen”, know that that view is a lie from the pit of perdition; you have other brothers and sisters who have experienced the same sufferings (and even worse) as you (1 Peter 5:8-9). For those in despair, know that after a season you need to get back to work. Knowing that God’s got a work for you to do and getting about the business of doing it is a key to genuine hope.

Depression Part 2: Posted 5/25/2018 6:53:47 PM

The Sons Of Korah (Psalm 42 and Psalm 43)… If you’ve read through the Old Testament then the name “Korah” probably rings a negative bell in your mind. He was the leader of a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, God’s appointed leaders. The Lord was enraged and Numbers 16 records that He caused Korah and the rebels to be swallowed up by the Earth. However, a thread of hope for the family name shows up when you get towards the middle of the Bible (hundreds of years later) as the “Sons of Korah” became worship leaders for the people of God and were used to author more than 10 Psalms, of which Psalms 42 and 43 are a part.

The two Psalms were likely one unit originally. Three times in these 16 verses (Psalm 42:5; Psalm 42:11; Psalm 43) the Psalmists express, “why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.” How many have been down, discouraged, and depressed and you’re not even 100% sure why? How many believers know that they can hope in God and believe they should not be in despair, and then when they find themselves still being in despair feel even more depressed for being depressed? It happens to God’s people. God knows it happens to His people. And God allowed for it to be written about in the Psalms to bring us comfort and strength.

We’re not sure how long it took the Sons of Korah, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of course, to pen these two Psalms. Maybe minutes, maybe months, maybe days, maybe years; but if you’ll take the few moments to give the 16 verses even a cursory read you’ll discover that the authors are in a different place, a better place, a brighter place at the end of Psalm 43 than they were at the beginning of Psalm 42. When was the exact moment that things at least began to turn around? How long did it take? We don’t know. But what we can discern is that with God and time, with prayer and praise in the midst of problems, with study and Scripture through the heart of the storm, with willingness to trust, with being honest about our despair and willing to receive His hope, things will get better..eventually.

Depression Part 1: Posted 5/25/2018 6:53:04 PM

One Monday several years ago a preacher friend of mine asked me if I was having a “Blue Monday.” I had never heard that particular expression before and wondered if perhaps, unbeknownst to me, I was not being my normal cheery self! After putting a big (and quick) smile on my face, I asked him what he meant by the particular phrase “Blue Monday.” He said he thought all preachers were familiar with the term and went on to inform me that “Blue Monday”, as it applies to ministry, referred to the valley of letdown and mundaneness that a preacher can experience on Monday after the mountaintop of being used by God to deliver His Word to His people on Sunday..Those who read and remember last month’s newsletter are probably thinking that this opening illustration sounds very familiar (and if you didn’t read and remember last month’s newsletter, then REPENT and go read it right now, either from the hardcopy mailed to you or from the website : gcmfm.com!). However, in April I used it as a segue to speak about what Jesus did in Matthew Chapter 8 when He came down from the Mountain after delivering the most famous sermon ever. This month I give the same opening illustration as a lead in to discussing the topic of depression.

There are many confessing Christians, especially in light of the popular “happy slappy” and “positive thinking” preaching that dominates much of the landscape of our day, who would say that no believer (certainly not themselves of course and certainly not any minister worth his salt) ever experiences emotionally down times, and definitely not anything close to depression. Some “super-spiritual saints” even go so far as to assume that anyone who is ever downcast is only in that condition due to sin and that their being in that condition is actually a sin in itself. These “happier than thou” folks (closely associated to the “holier than thou” faction) might even question whether anybody who gets downcast or depressed is a genuine Christian.

Well, at the risk of being judged negatively, let me personally testify that I’ve had many “blue Mondays-and other days that end in y”, not necessarily over the letdown from “Super Ministry” Sunday to Mundane Menial Monday described above, but rather due to the hard things of life lived in a fallen world that are common to humanity at large, both believers and unbelievers. And I’m in good company. Charles Spurgeon, often called the prince of preachers, who ministered the gospel to untold multitudes through his sermons and books, though known as a joyful servant of God also had many well documented bouts with depression. If Spurgeon is not high enough example to use, I’ll go to the even greater biblical illustrations of godly people who struggled with a sadness deeper than “the blues.” There are many to pick from but for the scope of this newsletter we will look at four.

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 6: Posted 4/27/2018 7:07:13 PM

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain… We’ve looked at some scenes from the eighth chapter of Matthew, “when Jesus came down from the Mountain” after giving the most famous sermon of all time (the Sermon on the Mount). However, as great as that was, there was a greater moment “when Jesus came down from the mountain.” The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the one and only Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Seed of Abraham, the Root of Jesse, the Son of David, became flesh and dwelt among us! He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Yet, this Greatest One Who did the greatest things, rather than be accepted, was rejected by His own and ended up crucified upon a cruel wooden cross on a skull-shaped Mount called Calvary. His critics mocked and chastised Him even while He was dying, saying that if He would use His power to bring Himself down from that cross, down from that mountain, then they would believe in Him. But Jesus did not bring Himself down; He suffered and He died. Christ’s body had to be taken down from that cross, down from that mountain, by the hands of others, those of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The power of that Sermon on the Mount years ago now seemed gone, the power of the miracles that followed seemed gone, the hope of a Messiah seemed gone. However what in the eyes of the world, in the mind of Satan, in the wisdom of this world, and in the schemes of the hypocritical religious leaders looked like the ultimate let-down, the ultimate defeat, would prove to be the greatest victory! For through the blood of that cross and the moments on that mountain, through the vindication of the resurrection and the moments after He came down from that mountain, salvation was purchased for all who would believe, peace being made between sinners who would come to faith and the God against whom they had so terribly sinned. Indeed, “when Jesus came down from the mountain” He was willing to save (having laid down His life on His own accord—John 10:18), authoritative to save (for He alone is the way, the truth, and the life; the only way to the Father—John 14:6); inclusive in His offer of salvation (all who would believe in Him, whether Jew or Greek, could be saved—John 3:16; Rom. 1:16-17); and the salvation that He offered was grounded in the Word of God (Gen. 3:15; Gen. 12:1-3; Isaiah 53)! Thanks be to God for all that occurred, “when Jesus came down from the mountain!”

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 5: Posted 4/27/2018 6:35:53 PM

He Was Grounded (Matt. 8:14-17)… Now we look at the last portion of Matthew 8 that we will consider here. Jesus comes to the house of Peter and finds the disciple’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a terrible fever. The Lord touches her hand, the fever flees, and the woman of God gets up and begins to wait on Jesus. This healing in one woman’s life led to a multitude of miracles in the lives of others. At evening time the people of the town brought the demon-possessed and ill to Jesus; and He healed them and set them free! Matthew 8:17 follows a pattern found in the gospel as a whole when it declares that, “this (the healing of the multitudes) was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet (Isa. 53:4): “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” Far from having a ministry based upon the latest greatest popular fad, the life and work of Christ were grounded in the prophecies of Scripture since the first promise of redemption issued forth in Genesis 3:15. “When Jesus came down from the mountain”, He showed He was grounded!

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 5: Posted 4/27/2018 6:34:29 PM

He Was Grounded (Matt. 8:14-17)… Now we look at the last portion of Matthew 8 that we will consider here. Jesus comes to the house of Peter and finds the disciple’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a terrible fever. The Lord touches her hand, the fever flees, and the woman of God gets up and begins to wait on Jesus. This healing in one woman’s life led to a multitude of miracles in the lives of others. At evening time the people of the town brought the demon-possessed and ill to Jesus; and He healed them and set them free! Matthew 8:17 follows a pattern found in the gospel as a whole when it declares that, “this (the healing of the multitudes) was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet (Isa. 53:4): “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” Far from having a ministry based upon the latest greatest popular fad, the life and work of Christ were grounded in the prophecies of Scripture since the first promise of redemption issued forth in Genesis 3:15. “When Jesus came down from the mountain”, He showed He was grounded!

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 4: Posted 4/27/2018 6:29:02 PM

He Was Grounded (Matt. 8:14-17)… Now we look at the last portion of Matthew 8 that we will consider here. Jesus comes to the house of Peter and finds the disciple’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a terrible fever. The Lord touches her hand, the fever flees, and the woman of God gets up and begins to wait on Jesus. This healing in one woman’s life led to a multitude of miracles in the lives of others. At evening time the people of the town brought the demon-possessed and ill to Jesus; and He healed them and set them free! Matthew 8:17 follows a pattern found in the gospel as a whole when it declares that, “this (the healing of the multitudes) was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet (Isa. 53:4): “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” Far from having a ministry based upon the latest greatest popular fad, the life and work of Christ were grounded in the prophecies of Scripture since the first promise of redemption issued forth in Genesis 3:15. “When Jesus came down from the mountain”, He showed He was grounded!

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 4: Posted 4/19/2018 9:38:59 PM

He Was Inclusive (Matt. 8:5-13)… Had Jesus went to the Roman centurion’s house; the tradition of the religious leaders would have considered Him to be unclean. This was not the teaching of Scriptures, but only a man-made tradition. Unfortunately, however, the Jewish religious leaders had come to hold their traditions in higher regard than Scripture, and certainly in higher regard than the need of a Gentile servant boy. Many times Jesus healed on the Sabbath and the religious hierarchy of Judea raised their energies to accuse Him of mutiny to the rabbinical traditions rather than to laud Him for miracles to the sick. What misplaced priorities! What misinterpretation of Scripture! What arrogance!

How sad that the Roman centurion had a better take on Scripture, a higher humility, a deeper compassion, and most importantly a more accurate view and greater faith in Jesus Christ the Messiah than did the supposed religious elite! The Lord commended the Gentile leader declaring that He had not found such a great faith in all of Israel! Way back in Genesis 12:1-3 God promised that all of the nations of the world would be blessed through the lineage of Abraham. Christ of course was the ultimate fulfillment of that promise. The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day by and large missed these truths and thought of themselves as the exclusive club of God’s people; Gentiles were seen as dogs! Christ sets the record straight when He responds to the faith of the centurion by saying, “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:11-12).” “When Jesus came down from the mountain”, He showed He was inclusive! (*IMPORTANT NOTE: by the use of the word “inclusive”, I do not mean to imply “inclusive” as popular culture would define it. They tend to view “inclusive” as everything goes, there is no right or wrong, we make no judgments about anything, and everybody is going to Heaven. All of these pop-culture views are of course anti-biblical and false. When I use the word “inclusive”, I mean that Jesus came for all who would believe in Him and that He will not cast aside any who come to Him (John 3:16; John 6:37)).

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 3: Posted 4/10/2018 6:32:01 PM

He Was Authoritative (Matt. 8:5-13)… The next scene in the eighth chapter of Matthew’s gospel finds a centurion coming to engage in conversation with Christ. A centurion was a prominent Roman military official in charge of 100 soldiers. He was a man who had paid his dues, learned his lessons, achieved great success, and now commanded great influence and authority. Not all powerful people have tender hearts, but apparently this centurion possessed this rare combination of attributes. The leader had a servant, a cherished servant, a young man who was laying paralyzed back at home. If the centurion could have fought someone to gain the servant’s healing, he would have taken up arms. If the centurion could have paid someone for the servant’s healing, he would have written the check. If the centurion could have commanded someone to bring the servant’s healing, he would have decreed the order. But, alas, no matter how much authority one may have in this life, every man sooner or later ultimately discovers that there is a limit to the domain of his power. So, the Roman centurion comes to Christ and tells the Lord of the fearfully tormented condition of his servant. The centurion did not come asking for a higher position for himself, for greater riches for him to personally enjoy, or for any blessing for himself at all for that matter, but rather for a blessing to be extended to another. Jesus compassionately responds by immediately saying that He will go and heal the youth.

Surprisingly, the centurion does not take the Lord up on His offer as extended, but rather replies that he is unworthy for Jesus to come under his roof. The centurion did not come trying to wield his authority in an attempt to command Christ, but rather with an attitude of humility to One who was of infinitely higher rank. The military commander continues, “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” The centurion knew his power and authority weren’t enough to heal his cherished servant, but Christ’s power and authority were more than up to the task. Verse 13 gives the conclusion of the matter, “Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.” “When Jesus came down from the mountain”, He showed He was authoritative!

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 2: Posted 4/1/2018 9:01:14 PM

He Was Willing (Matt. 8:1-4)… Leprosy was a dreaded disease in both Old Testament and New Testament times. Typically the first indications of the ailment were breakouts of irregular white splotches on the skin. A person who suspected they had contracted the disease would turn themselves in, or perhaps be turned in by others, to undergo a series of inspections by the priests to see if indeed it was leprosy or not. Upon determining that someone was infected, the individual would be forced to separate from society at large, quarantined even from their own families due to the highly contagious contagion. As the leprosy progressed the afflicted would eventually lose feeling in their extremities, such as their fingers and toes, then their hands and feet. Many lepers lost their lives due to simple cuts. The disease left them so numb that they could bleed out before they even knew that they were injured. It’s hard to say which was worse, the physical punishment that pummeled the leper or the mental and emotional toil dished out by the dreaded disease.

When Jesus came down from the mountain He is met by a leper. The man wasn’t supposed to be out in public. But when you’re in his condition, there’s a part of you that wants to follow the rules, yet another part that figures you’ve got nothing to lose. The leper doesn’t come to Jesus blaming God for his malady. He doesn’t come to Christ pleading the case that he deserves to be healed because he’s a really good person, or at least he’s a better person than a lot of people who don’t have the disease. The leper falls down and worships before Jesus with the simple declaration, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” The man may have the lost the health of his body, lost any wealth he had in his bank account, and even lost the comfort of relationships with friends and family; but he did have something far more valuable and eternal than all that he had lost, a revelation of the Lordship of Christ, the omnipotence of God, and the sovereignty of His will. Jesus tenderly stretches out His hand and touches the leper, a practice expressly prohibited because of the ease with which the pernicious plague could be passed. However, rather than Jesus becoming detrimentally infected, the leper became gloriously affected by the healing power of the Lord’s touch as well as His declarative words, “I am willing; be cleansed!” He then instructed the leper, or better said the former leper, to go and show himself to the priest as commanded in the Old Testament (Lev. 14:4-7). An inspection would be done and a ceremony performed serving as a glorious depiction of the gospel, given by Moses some 1500 years before Christ, where one bird is killed while another is alive and allowed to go free! “When Jesus came down from the mountain”, He showed He was willing!

When Jesus Came Down From The Mountain Part 1: Posted 4/1/2018 9:00:47 PM

One Monday several years ago a preacher friend of mine asked me if I was having a “Blue Monday.” I had never heard that particular expression before and wondered if perhaps, unbeknownst to me, I was not being my normal cheery self! After putting a big (and quick) smile on my face, I asked him what he meant by the particular phrase “Blue Monday.” He said he thought all preachers were familiar with the term and went on to inform me that “Blue Monday”, as it applies to ministry, referred to the valley of letdown and mundaneness that a preacher can experience on Monday after the mountaintop of being used by God to deliver His Word to His people on Sunday. Immediately after the recounting of the greatest sermon ever preached from the greatest Preacher who ever lived (recounted to us in Matthew chapters 5 through 7), the eighth chapter of Matthew’s gospel begins with the words, “when Jesus came down from the mountain.” Far from having a letdown and reentering the world of the mundane, our Lord performs a series of miracles that tell us about the character of God.

Escalate Part 5: Posted 3/17/2018 8:08:41 PM

Escalate Our View Of Repentance (Going From Mere Words To Mighty Actions)…Many people say they’re sorry but they don’t show they’re sorry. One of the more famous (perhaps better said “infamous”) prosperity preachers recently said that he and others of his ilk probably took the message of prosperity a little too far and that they had lived in ways that were probably a little over the top. Reading some of the interview he gave made me think he was close to saying he was sorry. However, as a well-versed critic wrote in response, if the “minister” were truly repentant, he would follow in the example of Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10) and make an effort to give back some funds to the people he had defrauded (it should be noted that it is mostly poor people who give to these prosperity wolves, just like its mostly poor people who play the lottery and such things). In short, genuine repentance involves more than just saying you’re sorry, it involves showing you’re sorry. That’s not a works based salvation message, that’s simply saying that the root of genuine salvation (which comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) will lead to genuine good fruit in a person’s life. No fruit clearly indicates there’s no root! In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus teaches that we should leave presenting our offering in order to make peace with our brother, we should be willing to lose our appendages to avoid adultery, our marriage vows should mean something more than words, our promises ought to be taken seriously and followed through on, and we may have to give up our shirt and coat to enemies that we are called to love. In other words, escalating our view of repentance, indeed our entire view of Christian spirituality, involves going from mere words to mighty actions!

Escalate Part 4: Posted 3/17/2018 8:08:11 PM

Escalate Our View Of The Battle With Sin (Going From Diplomatic Negotiations To Scorched Earth Warfare)… There used to be a view of international relations known as the Mad Dog theory. This is where it would be determined that someone or some country was too dangerous, irrational, and erratic to have any kind of diplomatic relations with them. The only viable option available was to do to the threat what you would do to a mad dog. Kill it. I’m not a Secretary of State or a Foreign Affairs expert; however I do know what the Bible says about sin. In the words of an old southern gospel song, “sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.” Many professing Christians try to be in diplomatic negotiations with sin, trying to ride the line between giving in totally to it but yet not being too harsh against it because they want some “benefits” from it every now and again. Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-30 that if our right eye or our right hand causes us to sin, then we ought to cut off those body parts if that’s what it takes to keep us from going to Hell! Sin is deadly dangerous and we must escalate our view of the battle it entails. We should not engage in diplomatic relations but rather enforce, through the power of the Holy Spirit, a policy of scorched earth warfare!

Escalate Part 3: Posted 3/4/2018 9:17:25 PM

Escalate Our View Of Punishment (Going From A Slap On The Wrist To Eternal Conscious Torment)… Many people (unfortunately even many who profess to be Christians) do not believe in the biblical view of Hell. Some think there’s no afterlife at all and don’t believe in God at all, so they “eat, drink, and are merry for tomorrow they may die.” Others believe an Almighty does exist and that there is a recompense for what we do, but any Hell or punishment is all experienced in this life with no eternal factor associated. Some hold to the view that “God is so good that He would never send anybody to Hell” (of course what they don’t realize is that if God is good then He must punish sin, and do so severely. Nobody thinks a judge that lets the criminal go free is good). There are those who believe that if you have sinned so much that Heaven won’t take you, then you go to purgatory where you can atone for your sins and get to the Promised Land on a delayed payment schedule of sorts (note: the idea of purgatory is a thoroughly unbiblical idea; no Scriptural support whatsoever). Some think that there is a Hell, and some people go there (after all, nobody wants to be around Hitler for eternity!), but the place really isn’t too bad, and all this talk of fire that goes on forever is overblown. I could go on and on telling of what various groups of people think about Hell, but there’s only one view that matters, that of the Lord Jesus Christ! In our newsletter passage (Matthew 5:21-48), Jesus twice refers to Hell and describes it as a place of eternal, conscious torment with everlasting fire. Hell is not a slap on the wrist and we do well to escalate our view of its terror. Only then will it serve its proper place as a deterrent for people in their personal faith and serve its rightful role as a motivation to witness the gospel to others.

Escalate Part 2: Posted 2/26/2018 9:26:00 PM

Escalate Our View Of God’s Commands (Going From Externals To Internals)… The Lord’s pattern in this passage is to declare to His audience, “you have heard it said” and then He quotes some commandment from the Old Testament, “but I say to you” something that escalates said commandment. We’ll deal with the first two points Jesus made in this passage using this pattern. The first law addressed is that of murder. Now, most people have not committed homicide, at least as they would define it. (Indeed, if you’ve ever asked anyone why they think they’re going to Heaven they often will reply “well, I never killed anybody!”) However, Jesus says that if we are angry with our brother, or if we call him “a good for nothing” or “a fool” then we are guilty enough to go to the Supreme Court and potentially to a fiery hell! Many might not be guilty of following through on murder with their hands, but who could say they’re not guilty of harboring anger in their hearts. Notice how the Lord escalates the focus from mere externals to internals.

In Matthew 5:27-30 Christ deals with the sin of adultery. In the world we live in, I’m not sure I could say that most people are innocent of adultery, even by their own definition. However, those who haven’t committed the physical act of infidelity find no sigh of relief in Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord teaches that if we look on someone with lust then we have committed adultery in our hearts! Some might not have committed adultery with their outer man, but who could say they haven’t had lust in their inner man! Again, Jesus escalates the focus from mere externals to internals.

Most folks have a low view of God’s laws and a high view of how well they’ve kept them. We would do well to escalate our view of the Lord’s commands because only then will He be seen as high and holy, only then will sinners be convicted of their need for the Savior, and only then will saints be convicted of their need for ever increasing sanctification.

Escalate Part 1: Posted 2/26/2018 9:25:21 PM

I recently had to call our tv-provider about a discrepancy in our bill. I won’t tell you what company we’re with, but let’s just say I phoned in hoping to speak to someone DirectLy! The issue was that we had signed up for a plan six or eight weeks ago that was supposed to lessen our fees by $30 per month. We were very pleased when we received our next invoice and it indeed reflected the discount. We happily paid it when it was due and felt very thankful to be saving nearly $360 per year! However, our elation was soon tempered by the arrival of the next month’s bill. It not only didn’t include our $30 discount, but it was $5 more than what it had been before we signed up for the savings program! I called in. You might be surprised to know that I wasn’t able to speak to someone DirectLy! I spent several minutes answering the questions of an automated female voice informing me the reason I couldn’t converse with a real person right away was because they wanted to “know how to properly Direct my call.” Finally, thankfully, perhaps even miraculously, I did get another human (at least I think it was, but who knows for sure, maybe it was one of these artificial intelligent Google or Amazon machines that can turn off the iron you left on in the bedroom while you’re in the bath tub!). He said his name was Mike. (Likely story!). I told Mike our issue. He thanked me for calling, told me he understood my concern, and assured me that he was going to escalate my grievance. Mike typed feverishly for a few moments electronic messaging his supervisors, those higher up on the escalator than he. When Mike’s attention returned to me he said he was informed by his managers that all of the charges were valid. I asked him how that could be since I agreed to a contract that would lower our bill, then we received a lower bill for one month, and then the next month received the highest bill we had ever had from their company. He asked me to wait while he again escalated my issue. More typing. More waiting. More escalating. Mike came back to me and said that he had an explanation from his supervisors. Whether these were the same escalated supervisors or ones a tier or two up on the escalator I don’t know. Apparently, I had not been properly educated by the representative I had spoken with some weeks ago about the discount program. Apparently, one of their computer systems improperly gave us the discount a month early. Apparently, their other computer system (how many systems they have I do not know) picked up on this error and charged our account with the amount we had improperly received from the first computer system and that’s what made our subsequent bill so high. Apparently, their new computer system was going to show the amount of discount recharge as a past due balance. However, we should not be alarmed because we wouldn’t be charged a late fee on this amount.


So, I calmly and Christianly (so my wife confirmed when I double-checked with her afterwards) said to Mike. “So, what you’re telling me is that I need to be properly educated because your representative didn’t tell me right the first time; our bill is showing a past due amount even though my wife promptly paid the entire amount showing on the invoice you sent us; we now have to pay a higher bill because one of your computer systems caught a mistake that another one of your computer systems made; and I should feel happy about paying a high bill because at least you’re not charging us a late fee on a past due amount that we had never been told we owed.” Mike listened, and as you may have guessed, assured me he would again escalate my concerns. (By this point the only thing escalating was my blood pressure!) Escalating didn’t mean much to the company I was dealing with. We have to pay the higher bill and basically have no recourse. In this series of blogs, we will look at a passage from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-48) where Jesus tells us to escalate, in a way that is meaningful, our view on some spiritual issues.

Begin With The End In Mind Part 4: Posted 2/10/2018 8:48:52 PM

Keeping The Return Of Christ In Mind Helps To Comfort Our Afflictions (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)… The Apostle Paul had been used to start the church in Thessalonica but only remained there himself for a brief period of time. He had personally taught them the basics of salvation and other core Christian doctrines, including that of the return of the Lord. Unfortunately, in the Apostle’s absence false ministers had come along and infiltrated the hearts of minds of the young in the faith with some incorrect beliefs. These false teachers had caused much confusion concerning the subject of Jesus’ return. Some believed that Christ had already come back and that they and their fellow believers who had already died had missed out. That view led many to despair and some to immorality as they questioned, “what was the use in living the Christian life if they had missed out on the reward?” Others believed, rightly so, that the coming of the Lord was so imminent (that is that it could happen immediately or sooner!) but then took that view to its wrong conclusion becoming either lazy doing no work or busybodies engaged in gossip as they thought they would be taken away at any moment. Paul, through the inspiration of the Spirit, corrects the false teaching on the coming of the Lord. He declares that though Christ could come at any moment to rapture the church, He had not come as of yet. The Apostle then teaches that when Jesus does come, the dead in Christ will not miss out but will be raised up first and then those of us who are still alive will also be called up with them in the air to forever be with the Lord. (*Note: Additionally, Paul will go on to correct those who have taken the coming of the Lord as an excuse to be lazy by declaring that able people who don’t work should not eat in 2 Thessalonians 3:10*). The church at Thessalonica was facing false teaching from within and persecution from without; staying grounded in the truth that Christ would come for them, that they would be reunited with beloved believers who had gone on before, and that they would all be together with Jesus one day was a great comfort in their afflictions.

I remember being at a concert where, just before a song about Jesus’ return, the emcee of the Southern Gospel group quoted from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. The gentleman gave a brief testimony/teaching on the Rapture stating that the Church would be called away in the air prior to the Great Tribulation and that because of this we can “comfort one another with these words.” After the program was over I heard a minister in attendance who did not believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture come close to mocking the view of the singer saying that “some people are just looking for an escape, and we shouldn’t comfort one another with that!” Now, while I agree with the eschatology (view of the “end times”) of the singer (that is that there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, or catching away, of the saints), I do believe there are some who share other views on the subject that I could certainly call brother or sister in Christ. However, for someone to come close to mocking the comfort we get from the Lord’s coming again made me more than a little upset and I believe the “minister” who did so should not have. I’m not looking for an escape, I’m looking for a promise fulfilled and a reunion experienced! I’m not looking for pie in the sky, but for my Savior to come again and receive us unto Himself that where He is there we may also be! “Just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay!” If we begin with the end in mind, if we truly believe in the biblical return of Christ, then we will be comforted in our afflictions!

Begin With The End In Mind Part 3: Posted 2/1/2018 9:32:49 PM

Keeping The Return Of Christ In Mind Helps To Convict Our Actions (Luke 12:42-46)… About three weeks ago I had a parent-teacher conference scheduled in the midst of a class that I teach. Most of these meetings, in which all eight to ten of a student’s teachers attend, occur after school but this parent was unable to make it at that time. So administration made arrangements where our classes would be covered by a substitute while we were away. Now, I know that “while the cat’s away the mice will play,” so before I left the room I threatened (I mean informed) my students that they had better behave because I would be coming back before the end of class. The sub filling in might not know their name but they would be able to point any troublesome student out to me when I came back and I KNOW THEIR NAME AND HOW TO PUT IT ON A REFERRAL! I did everything I could to keep the students out of trouble and set them up for success while I was gone to my meeting. I told them the truth that I was coming back and would be back before the end of class. Apparently, some did not believe me. Even before I returned into the room I could see through the small glass pane in the door that some were acting up. When I made my grand entrance you should have seen some of them “snap to.” And, as I suspected, the substitute pointed out to me those who had not been on their best behavior. As promised, disciplinary actions ensued.

In Luke 12:42-46, our Lord tells a parable about the Master of an estate who goes away on a journey. He leaves his affairs in the hands of a manager ensuring the employee that He will be returning at a future date. The manager who sincerely believes that his Master is coming back is faithful in the discharging of his duties to provide rations to his fellow servants at the proper time. However, a foolish manager who thinks the Master will delay his coming back indefinitely eventually begins to waste resources on his own drunkenness and revelry while beating and neglecting his fellow servants. The Master, as promised, does return. The wise manager will be rewarded and blessed while the foolish manager is cut in pieces and assigned a placed with the unbelievers in eternity. If we begin with the end in mind, if we truly believe in the biblical return of Christ, then our actions will be convicted and we will treat our fellow man with the dignity God demands.

Begin With The End In Mind Part 2: Posted 1/21/2018 7:51:50 PM

Keeping The Return Of Christ In Mind Helps The Things Of God To Command Our Attention (Matt. 25:1-13)… Okay, I won’t hold out any longer. The number one thing, the most important truth each instructor wants us teachers to know on the aforementioned annual trainings is “THE WAY YOU LEARNED MATH (or whatever the subject at hand might be, Math in my case) WAS ALL WRONG AND YOU CAN’T TEACH IT THAT WAY ANYMORE!!!!” As you might guess I, along with many other of my colleagues, often disagree with this assessment. One of the main reasons these “know-it- all trainers” (okay, some of them are good) think that the way we teach must change is because they say kids don’t have the attention spans they used to. (Hence, teachers who lecture and students who take notes give way to students in groups talking to and supposedly “learning” from each other while the teacher “facilitates”; whatever that means!) Now, I don’t want to demean or dismiss everything we teachers may learn at these educational seminars, but I do take issue with the idea that kids can’t stay focused on anything for too long anymore. Just give one of them a cell phone and they’ll be busy texting, talking, and You-Tubing for hours on end! Sit them in front of a gaming system and they’ll stay up all night just trying to make it from level 101 to level 102! Give them a pair of headphones with some “beats” on the other end and they’ll tune out the whole world around them to focus on the lyrics of the songs for as long as you let them. Now, before you think I’m just picking on the kids, when I began seminary in preparation for ministry over 20 years ago (I started when I was 9!), the professors would tell us that our sermons should be no longer than 20 to 25 minutes in length because the people in the pews (yes, the adults) couldn’t handle much longer than that. You’ve got to be kidding me! I know of adults who can spend multiplied hours “binge” watching DVD sets (or perhaps DVR recordings these days) of their favorite TV shows. I’ve watched as people who can’t seem to sit through a whole hour-and-a-half church service without going to the bathroom for twenty minutes of that time, miraculously become able to refrain from the restroom at a two-and-a-half hour movie even though they’ve been downing a large Coca Cola the entire time! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s necessarily ungodly for kids to listen to music and play computer games, or for adults to watch tv shows and movies and to have to go to the restroom during church; but what I am saying is that all of us have attention and focus for what we’re interested in.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable we’ve come to call that of the wise and foolish virgins. It tells the story of some bridesmaids back in New Testament times. In those days, after the groom and bride were engaged the man would go away for a period of time and prepare a place for him and his bride to live in. After all the preparations were made, at an undisclosed time, the groom along with his side of the wedding party would go to the bride’s house to take away his darling and her bridesmaids for the ceremony. Oft times the groom delighted in coming in the middle of the night to see if his bride and her attendants were eagerly anticipating his coming. Because of this, the women would often have lamps at their sides so that they would be adequately prepared at a moment’s notice. In our Lord’s parable the groom indeed comes in the middle of the night. Five of the bridesmaids had lamps with oil in them; giving the momentous event at hand the proper attention it was due. However, five others, while having lamps, had no oil; they had grown bored and drowsy and were not captivated by the grandeur and privilege of the wedding to which they were to be a part. The foolish maidens tried to buy some oil at the last moment but alas it was too late; the door had been shut and the groom firmly replies to them that He did not know them. If we begin with the end in mind, if we truly believe in the biblical return of Christ, then the things of God will command our attention.

Begin With The End In Mind Part 1: Posted 1/21/2018 7:51:16 PM

As most of you know, in addition to pastoring I also teach Math to Middle Schoolers. Each August before the school year officially begins for students, the teachers come in a week ahead of time and go through various trainings. The title and subject matter of these annual sessions may change but there are some common elements that remain the same. I’ll hold off telling you the first and most important thing each of these instructors wants us teachers to know (a little tease to hopefully keep you reading more paragraphs!), but for now will speak of something they almost always say that is actually helpful. These trainers tell us that as educators we must “begin with the end in mind.” What they mean by that is that you should make up your test first and then plan the lessons that will lead up to the exam, instead of the other way around. Beginning with the end in mind, making the test first and then developing your lessons, keeps you focused, makes sure you’re teaching the students the most important information, and helps give the pupils the best chance to be successful in your course. As we begin a New Year we will look at how keeping the Return of Christ in view helps us to develop in our current Christian walk. Essentially, let us begin 2018 with the end in mind!

What To Do After Christmas Part 3: Posted 12/30/2017 9:53:50 PM

THE GRACE OF GOD Was Upon Him… I took a tumble on the bus ramp about three weeks ago (or as my son says, I had a Jack and Jill—the “Jack fell down” and “came tumbling after” parts are especially in view here!). My right arm was injured, sustaining a deep bruise and joint injury in the elbow. I’m right handed, so having my right arm partially disabled for these weeks has made me feel not just one handed, but half-handed (which, thankfully, is still better than being underhanded!). Were it not for my wonderful wife, I would be wearing shorts with elastic waistbands, flip flops with no socks, and sporting the closest thing to a beard that I could ever hope to have! One little tumble, one arm injury, split seconds in the making, and I’m having to depend on someone else for several of the basic functions of life. I am more fragile than I realized, more dependent than I ever dreamed.

Rich Mullins, writer of many famous Christian songs (perhaps “Awesome God” being the most well-known), penned a profound lyric simply stating that spiritually “we are not as strong as we think we are.” None less than the Apostle Paul acknowledged this truth in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. This great man of God, empowered to perform mighty miracles, inspired to author the very words of Scripture, emboldened to preach the gospel even at threats of his very life, was afflicted with some thorn in the flesh. We’re not sure what that thorn was (many theories abound), but what we do know is that though he entreated the Lord to remove it, He did not and simply told Paul that His grace was sufficient! No matter how much Paul knew or how much ministry he had been used to perform, the great Apostle fully realized that he would never outgrow a firm reliance upon God’s grace! And neither do we! What to do after Christmas? Grow In Reliance Upon God’s Grace!

What To Do After Christmas Part 2: Posted 12/30/2017 9:53:23 PM

The Child Continued To GROW AND BECOME STRONG… New Year’s Day eight years ago was very eventful for my wonderful wife and me. Our baby boy was officially due on January 11th but we knew on the morning of the 1st that things were changing and that he must be on his way. We went to the hospital that night and by 5:50 pm the next evening our son had come into the world! I love to tell the story of his birth: from my sweating during a noonish whirlwind shopping trip to make sure we had all the items we needed to go and give birth, to the un-Florida like bitter cold weather we walked through at around midnight in the hospital parking lot; from the less than friendly nurse who raised my blood pressure while turning my love’s arm purple checking hers, to the kindest nurse telling me I could kiss our baby; from my wife gripping my hand because of the pain of childbirth, to our baby holding my finger-his first anchor in this world-as tightly as he could with his whole little hand; from seeing our son on monitors to monitoring him with my very own eyes! I could go on and on; filling up this article and several others recounting to you the details I recall from our son’s birth, truly one of the most momentous and memorable events of my life. But there have been a lot of uneventful days since that precious event, and our 8 lb. 4 oz. blessing has grown and become strong, in oh so many ways!

The only event greater than being born is being born again, coming spiritually alive through repentance from sin and faith in Christ. After that experience, what do we do? We grow and become strong! How? We could list many factors here but I’ll limit it to three. First, we grow strong by eating. Jesus said that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).” It is impossible, yes impossible, to mature as a believer without a dedication to the Word of God! Second, we grow strong through prayer. In the words of Jude 20, praying in the Spirit helps us in “building ourselves up in our most holy faith.” Finally, we grow strong in the good works to which the Lord has called us through regular fellowship with others of the like same faith, “not forsaking the assemblying of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Heb. 10:24-25).” What to do after Christmas? Grow and Become Strong! The Child Continued INCREASING IN WISDOM… I was on Math Team in High School. I wasn’t the best in the country or anything but I was blessed to be able to go to four state competitions and two national competitions during the course of my Mu Alpha Theta career (the name for high school math clubs; note the letters MATH are part of the name; very clever indeed!). Math Team students weren’t necessarily the most popular on campus (but hey, we did get to go to Hawaii!). But one member of our team really raised the ire of many at school, even that of some of his fellow compatriots in the cause of mathematics! He was two years younger than me and yet was in the same level of competition. He was truly smart, brilliant even. In fact, he was a bona fide genius, and had the IQ test results to prove it. He often bragged about how smart he was and, though perhaps not always intentionally (though oft times it was on purpose), made others feel inferior in the realm of intelligence. He was smart and young, but his knowledge and intelligence quotient far outpaced his wisdom and level of maturity.

There is truly a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Scripture tells us that “knowledge puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1).” Conversely wisdom has its foundation in the fear of God (Prov. 1:7) which necessarily involves a humility acknowledging that we are not the Sovereign of the universe. This humility, this godly fear, causes us to have the wisdom to believe what God says over and against any other authority. I will not tarry upon this point long but I cannot stress it enough, to grow in true wisdom means to recognize and submit to the number one theological truth of the universe, “God is smarter than we are!” What He says in His Word is truth, and if it rubs our societal norms or personal views the wrong way, then it is not the Bible that is in error; it is whatever high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5) that shall and must give way! What to do after Christmas? Increase In Genuine Wisdom!

What To Do After Christmas Part 1: Posted 12/30/2017 9:52:38 PM

COLLAPSE of course! Most people stay so busy this time of year with gift buying, party going, tree trimming, dinner planning, house cleaning, light decorating, card addressing, carol singing, cookie baking, and, if there was time, even a little bit of church going that they just COLLAPSE and wait for the event of next year’s Christmas! Indeed, we live in an event centered culture. As much as folks may complain about the busyness of life, they tend to live from one event to the other, neglecting the importance of the in-between times which is the space where most of our lives are spent. How many people spend much time and money planning the one-day event of their wedding, but put very little investment into the years (what should be a lifetime) of their marriage? How much energy is placed into the plotting of the minutest details of what is viewed as a magnificent week long vacation while such pitiful preparation is put into the planning of the years of one’s life that are often seen as mundane? On a spiritual note, I remember seeing many of my peers from the days of my youth center their Christianity around two annual retreats (which we called Chrysalis’). These were indeed powerful experiences which blessed my heart significantly, but they took up a total of 6 days a year and there were still 359 to go! As I’ve grown older, I’ve watched people of all ages fall into the destructiveness of event centered living. They remember great spiritual experiences from the past and perhaps even hold out hope for new ones in the future, but day in and day out faithfulness is far from their view. They have COLLAPSED and I’m afraid should the event of the Second Coming occur they would be ill prepared.

Read through the passages that give us the “Christmas” story (Luke 1 and 2, Matthew 1 and 2) and you may think that it’s just one event after another. The angel Gabriel appears unto Zacharias and tells the elder minister that he and his barren wife Elizabeth would conceive John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. Next, the same heavenly messenger announces to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God who would take away the sins of His people. Before you know it, an entire band of angels are appearing unto shepherds on a hillside declaring that the Savior is being born in Bethlehem, the city of David. The shepherds go and find Joseph and Mary and the Babe lying in a manger at a stable because there was no room for them at the inn due to so many people, holy family included, that had come to the small town obeying the tax law that had just come down from Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. As if that weren’t enough, Matthew tells us that wise men from the East, having found Jesus’ remote location by following a Divinely inspired star, showed up bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Child (note: most scholars think the Wise Men didn’t show up until Christ was around 2 years of age so they weren’t there at His birth). To top it all off, when Joseph and Mary take Jesus on the eighth day to have him dedicated according to Old Testament law, two of God’s senior servants, Simeon and Anna, testify that this Babe is the long awaited Messiah prophesied throughout the whole of Scripture. It sure seems like one significant and glorious event after another after another after another take place surrounding the birth of Christ. But then what?! The next specific glimpse into the life of Christ is when He teaches in the Temple at age 12 and then we hear nothing more until about age 30. What happened in the in-betweens? What to do after Christmas indeed? In this month’s newsletter we will briefly look at a post-Christmas verse to teach us what to do after Christmas; how to lead a faithful life regardless of the presence or lack thereof of seemingly sensational events. Luke 2:40 reads, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

The Importance Of Gratitude Part 4: Posted 12/5/2017 6:09:58 PM

Finally, gratitude produces passion. There are many motivators that can be used to engage people in various activities. Money, position, pride, fear, guilt, etc. can all be powerful influences. However, at the top of the Godly taxonomy of motivators sits gratitude. When someone does something good for you, you generally want to do something good back because you’re grateful. When someone loves you, gratitude makes it easier to love that person back.

Unfortunately, much of what passes for the modern day gospel has degraded the magnitude of the love of God and has consequently diminished the gratitude people have for what He has done. How so you might ask? Many, I would say most, contemporary “Christian” messages portray humanity as people who are mostly good. We just slip and fall now and then. With just a little more information and inspiration we would go from being good to great! Who can give us that information and inspiration? The Person of Christ and the Words of Scripture. Someone taught us and inspired us. We’re grateful, but not passionately grateful.

Fortunately, the truth of the gospel presents what Christ has done for us as much more than what a life coach could provide. The human race, every member of it, yes that includes you (and me!), is sinful and hopelessly lost and undone without God or His Son. We are destined for trials on every hand in this life and more tragically doomed for hell in the life that is to come. We need more than information and inspiration, we need salvation! In steps the Savior! Jesus laid down His life for us, bearing the penalty for our sin and shame, dying so that we may live, descending in the temporal that we might rise in the eternal (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; Isaiah 53; Philippians 2)! Blessed be His Name forevermore! When we realize what we were truly in need of and what Christ has truly provided, then we can’t help but be thankful. As I’ve oft said, “the life that has genuinely been infiltrated by grace can’t help but to exude gratitude.” No one has done more for you or loved you more than God. Knowing this, truly knowing this, makes it easier to live for Jesus with the gusto that He so richly deserves!

The Importance Of Gratitude Part 3: Posted 12/5/2017 6:09:18 PM

Secondly, gratitude provides purpose. Machiavelli, a political philosopher from centuries past, most famously proclaimed, “the ends justify the means.” The idea here is that if what you want to achieve is good (at least you or your country or your political party deemed it to be good), then whatever you have to do to accomplish that goal is justified. Many nations and powerful leaders have followed this line of reasoning throughout history committing terrible, tragic travesties all in the name of a good overarching purpose.

That having been said, many individuals who never lead countries or corporations live their personal lives in a similar fashion. They may never have murdered anybody or stolen from anyone but they have stepped on people on their way up a ladder of success. They have kept themselves away from meaningful relationships and family ties because such entanglements only get in the way of achieving their personal dreams. No price is too high, no deed is too low; all must be sacrificed and done in service to what they deem as their ultimate purpose.

What we view as our purpose affects our lives as believers as well. If we see the goal of our prayer life and church discipleship as simply to get requests answered, see needs met, and to become better people, then our devotional life will be molded into incessant beseeching homilies and a desire to bend God’s Word and will to match our own. However, if we see the endgame of our spiritual experience as getting to know God and His attributes better and developing a closer relationship with Him, then our prayers are formed into times of powerful praise along with penitent petition. If our life’s purpose is biblically informed, pressing towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, then we will walk in thanksgiving towards Him (Phil. 3:14; 1 Thess. 5:18).

The Importance Of Gratitude Part 2: Posted 11/25/2017 10:36:25 PM

There are many points that could be made about gratitude, but here we shall focus on three. The first is that gratitude comes from perspective. There’s an old sentiment that, “I thought I was bad off because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” We may not be the richest person in the world, but likely no one reading this is the poorest either. We may not be eating filet mignon, but we probably aren’t eating the “leftovers” out of a trash can. We tend to call places where people have no shelter and very little food “third” world countries. Truth is, those folks are part of the “two-thirds” world, we in America and other western civilizations are actually the third (“one-thirds”) world. Most people on the planet live in squalor and poverty that the poorest among us in the USA will likely never experience. Whatever you have or don’t have, whatever you’re going through, knowing that there are others, likely millions of others, who have much less and are going through far worse can help make you grateful.

That being said, as much as considering the material and physical realm can give bring us into thankfulness, how much more should a spiritual perspective instill a grateful heart? We who are genuinely redeemed were once a child of wrath but are now children of God (Eph. 2:3; 1 John 3:1)! We who once had a rap sheet before the Almighty now have the resume of Christ through His sacrifice if indeed we have repented of sin and put trust in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21)! We who deserve eternal, conscious torment in a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm dies not have inherited everlasting life in the presence of the glorious Lord of All! No matter what our situation or circumstance, the child of God who is saved and heaven bound has much more to be thankful for than they will ever have to complain about. Indeed, in the same Epistle where the Apostle Paul recounted the hardships he had been through for the sake of the gospel of Christ (such as receiving 39 lashes on five different occasions, being beaten with rods three times, being stoned and left for dead, going through three shipwrecks, spending many nights in cold and exposure, etc.), he also stated that these are momentary and light afflictions compared to the eternal weight of glory that awaits the genuine believer (2 Cor. 11:22-33; 2 Cor. 4:17)! Truly, gratitude comes from perspective!

The Importance Of Gratitude Part 1: Posted 11/25/2017 10:35:53 PM

Many Americans, especially church going folk, are concerned about the cultural decay and moral decline in our country today. Never before have we seen movies more violent, advertising more suggestive, video games more shocking, language more profane, pornography more acceptable and available, music so contemptible, and the list could go on and on. However, what I want to focus on for the next few paragraphs is a malignancy far worse than all the violent movies, skimpy outfits, murderous video games, trash talk, porn magazines, and vulgar music CD’s combined. It is as much if not more a sign of the End Times than violence, homosexuality, wars and rumors of wars, and man’s inhumanity to man. What is this devastating, deplorable, destructive force? Quite simply, a lack of gratitude!

Romans 1:21-32 clearly states that what we believe to be the vilest vices (i.e. murder, homosexuality, etc.) stem from two factors. The first is worshipping the creation instead of the Creator, and the second is failure to give thanks. Believers are quite right to rant and rail against the sensational sins of our day, but do we spend enough time nipping these headliner sins in the bud by focusing on the underlying gangrene of ingratitude?

I remember a time in my life when the Lord strongly convicted me about the need to be thankful. It was as if a searchlight were put on the focus of my devotions. A Holy Ghost Google search on the content of my prayers discovered a whole heap of requests, some flowery introductions with attempts to sound eloquent, a few blustery excoriations of the devil (which I deleted from my prayer life after intently studying the book of Jude), and some obligatory “amen’s” and “in the name of Jesus’.” However, seldom appearing on the radar screen were offerings of thanks. In short, I was giving God a great deal of attitude, but very little gratitude. I sensed the Lord instructing me to lay off my laundry list of prayer requests for a while and to simply pray for a grateful heart. To this day, hardly any other prayer has made such a change in my life! (*note: there is nothing wrong with making requests to God, in fact there is everything right about it. However, I do believe God is grieved when requests are perpetually made without the accompaniment of praise/thanksgiving.*)

A study of the prayers recorded in the Bible reveals the fact that most of the air time was given to thanksgiving and praise. The length of this article does not permit an exhaustive listing of passages, but I encourage you to look at Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Mary’s prayer (The Magnificat) in Luke 1:46-55, and the prayers of Jesus (Matt. 6:9-13; Mark 6:41; John 6:11; Matt. 15:36; John 11:41-42; Luke 9:21; Luke 22:19). All of these and many more that could be cited contain a deliberate expression of gratitude. Indeed, giving thanks is an imperative for the child of God who longs to walk close to Jesus. The psalmist declares that we enter the gates of God’s domain with thanksgiving, and that we enter His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4). The obvious, glaring, and true converse is that if we do not have gratitude, then we are not near as near the vicinity of God as we may think!

Keep Reading Part 6: Posted 11/4/2017 2:14:16 PM

Philippians 4:13 : “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”… I don’t know how much Disney Jr., Sprout, or PBS Kids TV you may watch. (Unless you have a child under double digits probably not too much!) Our sweet boy loves these three channels and, though they need some censoring, the stations mostly televise content that’s not too bad. Except for the summers I don’t catch much of it myself. Still, even though I might not see some of the shows for days at a time, a common theme that always shows up is teaching the kids that they can accomplish anything they want to as long as they set their mind to it and believe in themselves. As the old Disney “hymn” declares, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true!”

Go to many churches today and they may not sing that “hymn” but they do teach the same doctrine; you can do whatever you set your heart and mind to do. A verse they often use to support such a view is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” However, if we just read even a little of the surrounding passage it is clear that the verse isn’t supporting such a self-help or success mentality. The Apostle Paul was in prison at the time that the Spirit inspired him to write the book of Philippians. He had done nothing wrong other than preaching and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. Paul writes to the church at Philippi for the purpose of speaking of Christ, addressing some specific issues of concern to the congregation, to encourage them in their faith, and to let them know how he himself is doing. Beginning in verse 11 the Apostle informs the beloved church that he has learned to be content in all circumstances, whether being prosperous or poor, hungry or fed, having needs met or being without. He then comes to the conclusion that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So, far from this verse supporting the idea that we can accomplish all of our dreams if we only believe in ourselves, it actually teaches that we can bear up under hardship and remain faithful even in the good times through the power of Christ. (Scripture as well as life experience shows us that our commitment to God is much more likely to waver when things are going well than when times are tough).

Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to be the wet blanket to people’s hopes and aspirations. However, while we certainly want to encourage our children (and our fellow man in general), we all know the “when you wish upon a star your dreams come true” theology is simply not true. People obviously have different talents, giftings, abilities, and opportunities and not everyone can do everything. And more importantly, as Christians we know that believers should seek out the will of God versus our own wills and should trust in Jesus Who is virtuous and powerful instead of in our own hearts which can be deceitful and our own strength which is fleeting and failing (Luke 22:42; Prov. 3:5-6; Jer. 17:9; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Keep Reading Part 5: Posted 10/27/2017 9:19:17 PM

Romans 10:9 : “if you confess Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”… I remember attempting to witness to a dear friend when I was a teenager. She was several decades older than myself and I had tried to tell her of Christ for some time. I believe the Spirit was working on her heart because one night, without any provocation from myself, she asked me directly “what must I do to be saved?” Although I had long sought to point her to Jesus, at my young age (both chronologically and spiritually) I wasn’t fully prepared for such a question. The verse that came to my mind in that moment was Romans 10:9 and I quoted it to her. She replied to me that she had believed in Jesus and His resurrection her entire life, since hearing of it in church when she was a little child. Now, although she was what would be considered a good moral person, and certainly she was very good to me, this precious woman hadn’t attended church in quite some time, took no concern to read the Bible or pray, gave nothing to the work of the Lord, and didn’t seem terribly troubled about sin in her life. I wasn’t exactly sure what to say and didn’t have many other verses in my arsenal, but I knew that Romans 10:9 surely had to mean something more than just intellectual assent and lip service to the idea that Jesus is Lord and that God had raised Him from the dead. I explained as well and as genteel as I could that, although salvation wasn’t based upon works or church attendance or spiritual disciplines, if someone was really saved then some of these changes would at least start showing up in that person’s life. She wasn’t offended and we remained friends for the rest of her life, however neither did she start going to church and showing concern about the things of the Lord right away. I probably didn’t do a very good job in my explanation but I do believe the Spirit used our conversation that night to at least plant some seeds. Years later, after moving to another state, she did genuinely receive the Lord and became faithful to a local church and to the development of Christian fruit.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I knew from a young age that there had to be more to being saved than simply saying Jesus is Lord and giving an intellectual nod to the idea that He had risen. I didn’t have the words to say or the bank of verses to fully explain it, but I knew there had to be more. Yet, what can be so easily perceived (though not necessarily described) by a teenager, often averts many ministers. How many sermons have you heard where the climax is getting people to come down front, repeat a prayer where Jesus is acknowledged as Lord and Savior, and then being assured by the minister that they are now children of God? Now I don’t mean to totally criticize such tactics lock, stock, and barrel, but I do think there is something more that needs to be said and explained about salvation and that to believe that simply saying words puts someone’s name in the Book of Life is misunderstanding Romans 10:9.

If you read Romans 10 beginning in verse 1 you will see that Paul is pointing out that Israel (descendants of Abraham), even when trying to keep the works of the Old Testament law had fallen woefully short of obtaining the righteousness necessary for salvation. To be saved one must do more than they ever did! What is that “more”? To genuinely confess Christ as Lord and believe in His resurrection! This will lead to the genuine root of salvation which will produce the genuine fruit of salvation! Fruit that will exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees all the while giving praise to God for His grace instead of trying to establish a righteousness of our own apart from Christ (Matt. 5:20)!

As much as the mere context of the chapter dispels the notion that Romans 10:9 is supporting easy-believism, considering it in light of the totality of Scripture shatters the false concept even more. Jesus said that if anyone desired to come after Him they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). Also, if anyone put their hand to the plow and then turned back or if they did not hate their family in comparison to their love for the Lord then they were unworthy of Christ (Luke 9:62; Luke 14:26).

Keep Reading Part 4: Posted 10/17/2017 7:02:47 PM

Acts 16:31 : “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”… This verse is often used to imply to people that if they are saved then they have a guarantee from God that everyone in their family will be saved. (Years ago I even heard one television minister ask people to send him an offering of $16.31 to show that they had faith in this verse that their lost loved ones would come to a saving faith in Christ.) If we read this verse alone we might come to this conclusion, but as we consider the context in terms of the entire related passage in Acts 16 and especially in terms of the whole of Scripture, we see that the belief that if you get saved then your family will surely be saved is indeed off the mark.

Acts 16 records Paul and Silas being put in a Philippian jail for the cause of the gospel of Christ. Along about the midnight hour the two ministers, in spite of the trial of their imprisonment and the pain of the beating they had unjustly received, begin singing hymns of praise. The other prisoners heard these praises and the power of God came on the scene, bringing an earthquake that opened the doors of all the cells and unfastened the chains of all those incarcerated. The jailer in charge was awakened by the shaking of the ground. He saw the doors opened and assumed that those in his charge had all escaped. Back in Bible days any Roman officer allowing prisoners to escape was cruelly killed. Rather than face this humiliation and execution the Philippian jailer straightway set out to kill himself. The Apostle Paul cried out with a loud voice telling the jailer not to harm himself because all the prisoners were still present. The Roman official raises the lights, sees that what Paul has told him is indeed true, and then falls down asking what he must do to be saved. Paul and Silas respond by telling THE JAILER, “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” The jailer takes the two ministers to his home and they speak the word of the Lord to his household (his family, his servants, and his guests) and they all believed the gospel and were baptized. The promise, perhaps better said word of prophesy, of Acts 16:31 was made to THE JAILER and it was fulfilled in short order, it was not meant to be a promise that everyone who becomes a Christian can bank on the fact that all of their relatives will definitely be saved (and certainly wasn’t meant to serve as a basis for asking people to send in an offering of $16.31!).

We’ve looked at the passage as a whole that contains Acts 16:31 but now let’s consider the teaching of Scripture at large. If someone coming to faith means that their whole family will assuredly come to faith as well then: Why are we commanded to preach the gospel to every man (literally every creature) instead of just one from each family (Mark 16:15)? How could Jesus call the descendants of Abraham, who is seen as the father of faith, children of the devil (John 8:44)? Why would Jesus tell us that the gospel would be a matter that would make divisions in households setting fathers against sons and mothers against daughters, etc. (Luke 12:49-53)?

Now don’t get me wrong, does God care about the salvation of your family? Yes, more than you and I do or could ever have the capacity to! He sends His Spirit to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment that they may turn from sin and put faith in the Son of God Who was sent so that those who believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 16:8-11; John 3:16). He sends us to pray and witness and calls preachers to deliver the true gospel (James 5:16; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:9-17). Indeed, the Lord’s love and actions for the lost to be saved shows that it is indeed His will that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). That being said, God doesn’t have any grandchildren. Each person must come to Christ individually by grace through faith and no one from their circle of family or friends can make that saving decision for them!

Keep Reading Part 3: Posted 10/5/2017 9:50:28 PM

Matthew 7:1 : “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”… It used to be that a person could merely put the reference of John 3:16 on a banner at a football game and nearly everyone in the country, even if they had no allegiance to Christ and His church, would have the words of that verse go through their mind because they had heard it quoted so many times in their lives. Those days are long gone. A recent survey asking U.S. citizens of their favorite Bible verse produced the following result. The majority of people said they could not tell you where it came from in Scripture but that they knew somewhere in the Bible we were told that we weren’t supposed to judge. Of course the verse they’re referencing comes to us from Matthew 7:1 and has indeed become the battle cry for lost sinners who don’t want to be condemned in their sinful behaviors and for professing believers who don’t want to take a stand on any contemporary controversial cultural issue or any doctrinal divide no matter how consequential.

Of course Matthew 7:1 is part of the Sermon on the Mount. A big theme in that most famous message is that people should not be hypocritical, that our religion should not be centered solely around external appearances to be noticed by others so that we receive glory but on inward realities to be seen first and foremost by God that He might garner praise. Matthew 7:1-6 does not teach us not to make any judgments, but rather not to be judgmental. That is, we are to make judgments, not only about issues but also about people. However, we are not to throw judgments towards others that aren’t biblical and that we don’t first apply to ourselves. To use our Lord’s analogy here, we don’t try to get the speck out of our brother’s eye without first dealing with the log that’s in our own.

If Jesus were telling us not to judge anything or anyone the way the world interprets it, then what sense does it make for Him to say a mere 5 verses later not to throw what is holy to dogs or to cast our pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6)? He’s talking about us discerning people here and likening some folks to canines and pigs! That sounds to me like He’s calling us to make judgments! If we’re not to make judgments then why have 10 Commandments telling us what’s right and wrong (Ex. 20:1-17); why have a church discipline procedure where leaders can make the determination for someone to be excommunicated (Matt. 18:15-20); and why would people be commanded to repent at all if there was nothing that could be judged as sin (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30)? So we are certainly to make judgements. Not for the purpose of somehow thinking of ourselves as being above others or for the purpose of rejoicing in the certain punishment of those who do not repent but rather for the reason of avoiding sin ourselves and calling all sinners to come to the same Savior and salvation which genuine believers have come to know.

Keep Reading Part 2: Posted 9/25/2017 9:21:44 PM

Psalm 50:10 : God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.”… I love southern gospel music. I think of it as the music of Heaven. However, sometimes even the best of music styles can miss the mark. There’s an old tune that says, “my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and I believe I own at least one.” Quoting from Psalm 50:10 the lyric tends to give the idea that God owns all of this world’s substance and that He’s going to give at least some of it to His children. As off base as this interpretation may be, the prosperity preachers of our day have done Psalm 50:10 an even greater disservice. Many reading this article have doubtless heard this verse cited in what I would loosely call a sermon to proclaim an idea something along the lines of “give to my ministry and the God who owns all the cattle of a thousand hills is going to bless you with getting rich! After all, He blessed me with a jet plane!”

If you read all of Psalm 50 (especially the first 15 verses), you will discover that God is not really talking to His people about providing for their needs and He certainly isn’t trying to take up an offering. The Israelites have fallen into a mindset of empty religious ritualism instead of a heartfelt relationship to God and commitment to His Word and His will. They were thinking that as long as they went to church and gave in the offering then the Lord would be satisfied with them and would accept and bless them. They fell prey to believing that somehow God needs them and is so blessed to have them marking off various items on the religious checklist. The Lord corrects these false beliefs through the Psalmist by declaring that He owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” and doesn’t need their offerings or anything they have for Him to exist. If He were hungry (speaking as an analogy of course) He would never let them know. God would meet His own needs! This fact isn’t intended to keep the Lord’s people from giving the prescribed offerings in the Old Testament, but is meant to give them a reality check as to who’s in charge and who really is blessed to know who! It is a call away from mere ritual and to meaningful relationship!

Keep Reading Part 1: Posted 9/25/2017 9:21:15 PM

There’s an old story of a well-to-do Ambassador’s wife who was known for giving large stately dinner parties. In fact her events were so grand that she employed a head chef, a full serving staff, and a valet service. On the evening of her premier dinner party of the year the unexpected happened, her head chef quit giving no notice. Out of desperation the woman called a local restaurant owner who agreed to loan out his executive chef to her for the night. Upon arriving at the Ambassador’s luxurious home the chef immediately went to the walk-in fridge and the pantry to see what was available so he could compose a menu. He went to the lady of the house and informed her that he had a dynamite dish that he could make for the evening but there was one catch. The recipe required mushrooms and the only ones he could find in the house had been left unlabeled by the previous chef. This left him wandering if the mushrooms were the kind safe for consumption or the kind that could make people very ill.

With no time to run to town and get new provisions from the store, the woman came up with a plan. She told her new chef to make a small batch of the recipe and she would give it to her dog. They would watch the canine for a couple of hours. If he showed no signs of sickness then they would know the mushrooms were okay and that the dish could be served to the guests that night. If the dog did fall ill then they would simply have to scrap the main dish and improvise as fast as they could. The new chef agreed, made a sampling of his star dish with the mushrooms and fed it to the dog. They observed him for the next two hours and he seemed nothing but happy and healthy. Problem solved, or so they thought. The dish with mushrooms would be made and served to the many dignitaries coming for the dinner party that night.

As the evening progressed everything seemed to be going quite swimmingly. The guests were raving to the woman that this was the best dinner party she had ever given and the main course served by her new chef was receiving five star reviews. Then, just before dessert was to be served, one of the valets came to the woman and asked for her immediate attention. She was somewhat annoyed but agreed to pull away from the party for a minute to hear what he seemed to think so urgent. When they reached a room away from the guests the valet proceeded to ask the lady what she wanted done with her dog. She said, “what do you mean?” The man then informed her that her dog was dead. Without waiting to hear another word the woman hysterically ran back to the main banquet room and informed her guests that they may have just ingested poisonous mushrooms. Within moments the same folks who had just been gushing about how wonderful the meal was were now complaining of stomach pain. A call was made to 911 and medical staff were en route immediately.

About this time the valet caught back up with the lady of the house. He complained to her that she had left him so quickly that she had not answered his question about what she wanted done with her dog. She angrily turned toward the man and shouted, “can’t you see that I’m busy here, the dog’s dead so bury the dog and leave me alone!” The valet responded, “mam I’ll try to bury him but it’s kind of messy.” She said, “what do you mean it’s kind of messy?” He replied, “well, he got ran over by an 18 wheeler!”

Now, while I hope this story may have brought some humor to your day (laughter does good like a medicine; and in case you were wondering, no dogs were hurt in the retelling of this joke!), I share it as an illustration to lead to a great truth of biblical interpretation. The woman misunderstood what the valet was trying to tell her and consequently misapplied the information he was attempting to convey. What caused all the confusion for her and subsequently to others wasn’t that the valet was unclear or had bad motives or was unstable or deficient in some other way, it was the fact that the woman didn’t listen long enough to hear the whole story so she could accurately understand and then act upon what she was being told. The same often happens in Bible reading. People misunderstand what the Bible is saying, believe something the Bible hasn’t actually said, act wrongly upon what they think the Bible said, and then share inaccurately what they believed the Bible said, all because they didn’t keep reading what the Bible says! Most doctrinal errors and bad teaching would be cleared up if we just took the time to read the whole chapter instead of pulling one verse out of context. Even more error gets eliminated when we read the whole book that contains the verse and still more is cleared up when we read the whole of Scripture so we have a good foundation upon which to understand and interpret individual verses. We will spend the remainder of this month’s newsletter looking at three verses that have often been misinterpreted and misapplied. It all becomes clear when we just keep reading!

What''s Keeping You Back From Going Forward? Part 6: Posted 8/29/2017 7:09:42 PM

You Can Be Held Back Because You Stubbornly Do It Your Own Way.. The ten spies were struck with a plague and died. The unbelieving generation of the Israelites who had believed their bad report were disciplined by God and told that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years, one year for each day that the spies had been on their reconnaissance mission. Furthermore, not one of the Israelites more than 20 years old (except for Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who brought back a faithful report) would even see the Promised Land for they would perish in the desert. The people heard these words of punishment and mourned greatly, not because they were sorry for their sin, but because they were sorry for the consequences. Rather than genuinely repent and ask for forgiveness, they stubbornly decided that they would go forth towards the Promised Land despite the declaration of punishment that God had given them. Moses warned them but they went their own way, thinking they could thwart the judgment of God. They were soundly defeated and chased as many as 100 miles in the wrong direction!

I was a part of the Math Team in high school. Most of our competitions were in Tampa but some were out of state. One such event occurred in Birmingham, Alabama. Our team rented two cars, Crown Victorias. I had never been in such a big and luxurious vehicle before. Our math coach wasn’t familiar with the town and this was before the days of GPS. He ended up going the wrong way on a one way road which quickly turned scary for us in that big city. Our car was big, but not big enough to handle several oncoming vehicles! Thankfully he discovered his error quickly and went about the process of correcting our course.

As silly as it may sound, there are people who persist going the wrong way on a one way. They are so stubborn about doing it their own way that they care not the consequences. There are many unbelievers who think they can approach Heaven any way they wish, even though Jesus says that He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him? How many professing Christians think that they can live however they want and God will be okay with it? How many professing Christians think that they will somehow grow spiritually apart from the disciplines of Scripture reading, prayer, and church faithfulness? If you stubbornly persist in doing it your own way, it’ll keep you from moving forward in life, in godliness, and in love for Christ.

What''s Keeping You Back From Going Forward? Part 5: Posted 8/21/2017 9:36:14 PM

You Can Be Held Back Because You Pine For The Past.. The spies, and under their influence the Israelites as a whole, so disbelieved the Lord’s Promise that they yearned for their life back in Egypt. Now their past was one of bondage, yet they said that they’d rather return to slavery where at least they knew they’d have a penance of food and a veneer of safety, than to go forward by faith into the freedom that God would provide. The people even went so far as to pine for a replacement leader for Moses to take them back to Egypt!

We won a GPS a year ago; well, more rightly said our sweet nine year old won a GPS. He was so excited to get it hooked up and to see how it works. Now I had heard of a GPS before but I had never had one personally (and certainly wouldn’t have been willing to pay the price for one!). I didn’t know what to do with it but my wonderful wife and our precious boy had it up and going in no time. We tried it out on the next trip that we took. I knew one way to go but the GPS had a different idea. The woman’s voice coming out of that machine kept telling me, “perform a u-turn whenever possible”, “perform a u-turn whenever possible”, “perform a u-turn whenever possible.” And on and on it droned on. She (the GPS woman) is nothing if not persistent! But I didn’t want to perform a u-turn! I knew the way and I wanted to go forward, not backward!

The Bible (our heavenly GPS!) clearly teaches us that we are to forget the things that are behind and press forward towards the mark of the high calling of God that is in Christ Jesus. The time we spent in the things of this world apart from the Lord is sufficient—not one more day, not one more thought, not one more word, not one more deed should be spent going down the path we were on before we were made a new creation in Christ! For the child of God “the glory days” are always in the future, never in the past! Whatever trouble you may have experienced in life, be encouraged, there is no earthly hurt that Heaven can’t heal. Whatever triumphs you may have enjoyed, be encouraged, the very best that you may have known on Earth is but a down payment of what Heaven holds, merely a foretaste of glory divine! If you pine for the past, it’ll keep you from moving forward in life, in godliness, and in love for Christ.

What''s Keeping You Back From Going Forward? Part 4: Posted 8/12/2017 1:30:53 PM

You Can Be Held Back Because You Lead Others Astray.. The Scriptures record that 600,000 men were led out of Egyptian bondage by Moses. This number would rise dramatically of course when you take women and children into account. Twelve spies were sent out, ten of which came back with a faithless report. These ten not only refused to go forward, but their words were so convincing that they led nearly the whole of the rest of their people to go astray as well. The Israelites disbelieved the Word of God, started an uprising against Moses, and would have stoned him and Aaron were it not for the Lord’s intervention.

I remember preaching a message years ago entitled “Drownings and Amputations: Seriously.” The text came from Matthew 18 where Jesus instructs that those leading others astray (little ones are especially in view in this passage) would do well to have a millstone hung around their neck and then be hurled into the sea! Scriptures repeatedly record that as bad as it is for an individual to rebel against God and to disbelieve His Word, it is multiple times worse for that individual to lead others away from the Lord down a road of unbelief.

When someone has influenced others in a certain direction, it becomes hard for that person to repent from falsehood, to go a different way, because even if they were convinced they were wrong and wanted to turn around, to do so would cause them to “lose face” in front of their followers. When an individual has led others astray they are under a heavy hand of God’s judgement should they not repent. If you lead others away from God, it’ll keep you from moving forward in life, in godliness, and in love for Christ.

What''s Keeping You Back From Going Forward? Part 3: Posted 8/5/2017 8:00:11 PM

You Can Be Held Back Because You Focus On The Greatness Of Your Enemies.. After the word “nevertheless” the 10 spies began to tell Moses and their fellow Israelites about how great their enemies were who currently dwelt in the land. The Canaanites were certainly big enough on their own but became even larger as the ten faithless agents used exaggeration comparing them to the Nephilim, the giants from the pre-flood world mentioned in Genesis 6:4. As the people of God focused on the enormity of their enemies, they viewed themselves and, more importantly, the Lord as not being up to the task.

We have an adversary, the Devil, who roars around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The smartest and strongest man, indeed the smartest and strongest collective of men from all time, could not stand up to the wiles and warfare of Satan. This Fallen Angel is not to be taken lightly and any Christian who does so has made a perilous decision. That having been said, I know of believers who are looking for the Devil under every bush. More of their prayer time is spent trying to discern the power of Satan rather than proclaiming the power of God! A seminary professor of mine wisely instructed that “whoever has your attention has you”, and sadly for many professing believers they give more time and attention (and truth be told more credence) to the workings of the eternal Liar than the work of the eternal Lord!

C.S. Lewis had it right when he said that the two mistakes we can make with regards to the Devil are first not to take him seriously and second to take him too seriously. Facing Satan on our own we will fail, both individually and collectively. Facing Satan as believers in Christ empowered with the Spirit and informed by the Word we know that “if God is for us who can be against us” and that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church.” Are you enamored by demons? Do you look for one around every corner? Do you focus on the Devil and the power of his work? If you overly focus on the “greatness” of the enemy, it’ll keep you from moving forward in life, in godliness, and in love for Christ.

What''s Keeping You Back From Going Forward? Part 2: Posted 7/31/2017 6:38:05 PM

You Can Be Held Back Because You Are Looking For A Backup Plan.. God had long promised to give His people the land of Canaan. As Moses and the Israelites were marching out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land, 12 hand-picked spies, one from each tribe, were sent out to do recon work. They were gone forty days and returned back with a report declaring that, just as God had said, the land was good and flowing with milk and honey. So far so good! Then with one word the report of 10 of the spies turned south, that one word was “nevertheless.” In essence they were saying, “God has told the truth about so many things, BUT”; “God has a plan but it CAN’T work so we’ve got to go to a fallback position, let’s go find a backup plan.”

I remember a man coming to me 15 or so years ago. His marriage was in trouble. As we began to talk to one another his conversation seemed to be dominated by thoughts such as “if she divorces me then I can do thus and so about such and such.” I stopped him partway through our session together and told the precious young man that as long as he was looking for a backdoor he couldn’t be fully committed to the house. In other words, if his heart and mind were taken over by thoughts preparing for the aftermath if things didn’t work out, then he couldn’t possibly put forth all the effort, love, affection, kindness, and commitment he should to help save his family and follow after God’s Word.

I could not guarantee the young man that even if he did give his best that his marriage would work out because there was another party involved that may or may not seek to go after God’s Word and God’s will. However, the spies weren’t dealing with the promises of a fallen human lacking in wisdom, power, and virtue, but with the promises of the one, true, living, Almighty God! Yet they were looking for a back door as revealed by their “nevertheless.” Are you looking for a backup plan if this “Christian thing” doesn’t work out? Do you believe that God has told the truth about so many things BUT? If you’re interested in a backup plan it’ll keep you from moving forward in life, in godliness, and in love for Christ.

What''s Keeping You Back From Going Forward? Part 1: Posted 7/31/2017 6:37:12 PM

Our family went to see Cars 3 a few weeks ago (just a tip-the AMC in North Ft. Myers has a cheap rate-about half the price of anywhere else-being frugal is a Christian virtue!). For those who don’t have a wonderful nine year old and may not have seen the movie, the plot is something like this. Lightning McQueen, a rising rookie in the first installment of the series in 2006, has achieved much success. However, the more than decade that has passed since his debut has also led to McQueen getting passed by a new generation of racers. Lightning is given one more chance to strike a win by an auto executive named Sterling. Part of Sterling’s plan to restore McQueen to his former glory is to put him on a training regimen which involves seeing Cruz Ramirez, a new school master motivator used to train many of the modern top racers. Ramirez, though an animated toy car, encourages the racers under her tutelage to use every experience in life to help bring them success going forward. She has all the one liners of worldly wisdom, wit, and attitude that fully display the classic hallmarks of today’s life coaches, self-help gurus, and sadly, many pastors as well.

I give that as an introduction because someone looking at the title of the article this month may think that I’m going to give some witty one liners and succinct self-help fodder, but I assure you I am not. When I ask the question, “what’s keeping you back from going forward?”, I’m not speaking of going forward into a new job promotion, going forward into a new relationship, or going forward into a new season of wealth or favor. As a Christian minister, my concern is “what’s keeping you back from going forward” into a deeper relationship with God, going forward into a greater knowledge of His Word, going forward in your Christian service, and going forward into a greater lifestyle of holiness. We are going to look at this issue by examining Numbers chapters 13 and 14 which recount to us the story of the 12 spies Moses sent out to survey the Promised Land.

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 7: Posted 7/15/2017 7:43:16 PM

Our Heavenly Father Knows Our Needs (Matthew 6:8)… One thing fatherhood has taught me is that children have lots of questions, lots and lots of questions. Many times our son asks for some toy. He thinks he needs it. Sometimes we get it for him but sometimes we don’t knowing that the toy, while it may be something he wants, is not as important as what he needs, which is to learn the value of a dollar and the importance of patience and self-control. Often times our boy asks for knowledge about certain subjects. He thinks he needs to know, and now. Sometimes we tell him but sometimes we don’t knowing that the answer, while it may be something he wants, is not what he needs because he’s not ready for certain knowledge yet, it would be too heavy for him to carry or process. You see our son, at 9, doesn’t always know the difference between needs and wants. As his parents my wife and I being older and wiser are charged by God for a period of time to make these decisions and distinctions for him.

Jesus declares confidently that our Heavenly Father knows our needs even before we ask. My wonderful wife and I are not perfect in wisdom, knowledge, or power (though she is much closer to perfection than I am), but God is perfect in every way. He knows what we need before we ask, we don’t have to question if He hears us. He knows what we need, not just what we want, and though we may not always understand we can trust His goodness, power, and grace extended on our behalf.

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 6: Posted 7/15/2017 7:42:45 PM

Our Heavenly Father Hears Our Prayers (Matthew 6:6)… Several years ago I was riding in the car with a friend of mine when his wife called on the cell phone. He said a few words and then she said a few words. She either must have talked longer than he desired or was talking about a subject he didn’t care to hear about because he moved the phone away from his ear for what seemed a couple of minutes while she continued speaking. He then picked the phone back up and said something to the effect, “alright, love you, see you later.”

Some people think God is that way. We pray, but is He listening or has He “put the phone down”? Things that we pray for don’t always happen as we think they should or certainly in the timeframe that we think they should. Sometimes Heaven seems silent and it feels like we are at best on one of those forever “holds”. Any genuine child of God has felt hopelessness or futility in prayer at some point or other. However, Jesus, the One who never sinned or lied, the One who reveals the Father to us, tells us quite clearly that our Father hears our prayers! What a joy it is to know that, even when we may not understand or get the response we like or as fast as we like, that we are heard by God!

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 5: Posted 7/6/2017 8:27:21 PM

Our Heavenly Father Sees What We Do (and cares what we do!) (Matthew 6:4, 6)… Our son, ever the announcer, has started a pretend tv show called “Our Family History.” The series covers from the time that his mom and I met and goes through the day of his birth (at least for now). He introduces himself as the host, gives a recap of where we left off last episode, and then turns it over to his co-hosts (aka his mommy and daddy!). When we came to the point of describing the day of his birth, our boy asks what we did after he was born. One of the main things we tell him is that we just stared and stared, watching his every move. We are also quick to tell our son not to forget that we are still watching his every move!

Jesus tells us quite plainly in Matthew 5-7 (especially in chapter 6) that our Heavenly Father sees everything we do, even that which is done in secret. And not only does He see what we do, He cares what we do. He cares enough to discipline us when we are astray and to reward us when we obey!

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 4: Posted 6/28/2017 2:40:59 PM

Our Heavenly Father Rewards Us (Matthew 6:1, 4, 6)… As a kid I had a habit of giving away my toys and/or not being able to find them. My dad, though he’s always been a man willing to give you the shirt off his back, grew weary of me not having something to play with when he knew that he and mom had bought me things. One day he came to me with an orange Hotwheels truck that I had been asking for. Dad gave it to me along with the instructions that if I ever wanted anything in the future then I had to be able to produce this orange truck first. Basically, if I obeyed then I would be rewarded.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives instructions on praying, fasting, and giving. He tells believers that if they engage in these disciplines in such a way as to be showy or seen by others then they have only a temporary reward from men. However, if they pray, fast, and give in such a “secret” way that is concerned with giving God glory, then they will be rewarded from the Heavenly Father with enduring blessings.

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 3: Posted 6/28/2017 2:40:32 PM

Our Heavenly Father Is Perfect (Matthew 5:48)… Being a middle school teacher for several years has allotted me the opportunity to hear many teenage conversations. One of the famous discourses amongst this age group goes something like this, “my dad is stronger than your dad”, “oh yeh, my dad is better looking than your dad”, “that’s nothing, my dad makes more money than your dad”, “my dad is bigger than your dad”, “ well, my dad is stronger than your dad”, “my dad can beat up your dad!” and on and on goes the pointless patriarchal punditry. While some of those kids may have good dads, there is no small percentage, especially in our day and age, that don’t even know who their father is, who if they do haven’t heard from him in years, or who may have had their dad abuse them physically and emotionally. Still they tend to make grandiose statements about their fathers because they don’t want to look bad themselves and because in their heart of hearts every child likes the idea of having a good dad even if they haven’t known that to be the reality in their lives.

Whether you’ve enjoyed having a good father or endured having a bad father or been stuck somewhere in between, I’ve got good news. Jesus made a statement in Matthew 5:48 that puts an end to all comparisons between dads when our Lord clearly declared that the Heavenly Father is PERFECT, not just great, but also good, not just better than, but the best! If you’ve been born again, that is if you’ve truly repented from sin and put faith in Christ as Savior, then you have God, the Heavenly Father of which Christ spoke, as your Father, your PERFECT Father!

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 2: Posted 6/21/2017 5:25:23 PM

Jesus Is Willing To “Share” His Heavenly Father… ”Baby” is the most common nickname that I have for our son. Now, he just turned 9 back in January. I don’t know if he will allow me to call him “baby” when he gets up to double digits, but I’m gonna use it for as long as it lasts! “Buddy” is a nickname I use as a term of endearment for boys I know and, truth be told, sometimes for boys whose names I might have forgotten! One day a couple of years or so ago, I had been talking to some adults at a gathering and our boy came up to me along with some of his friends. In a moment of distractedness I turned to my son and told him, “I’ll be with you in a minute buddy.” Normally a joyful boy, he suddenly turned sullen and serious. He looked up at me with those big brown eyes Jesus has blessed him with and said, “daddy, I’m your baby, not your buddy.” My son is used to sharing his daddy with people both in the church setting and in a school setting, but he’s not used to having me call him “buddy” or anybody else “baby.” My son will share his daddy, but only up to a point.

In the three chapters containing the Sermon on the Mount Jesus mentions the Father seventeen times. Once He uses the phrase “My Father”, once He uses the phrase “Our Father”, and the other fifteen times He uses the phrase “Your Father”. You see, Jesus not only told us of His Father, but our Lord is willing to “share” His Father! Of course, only Jesus is the “capital S” Son of God, but He died on the cross that we who were by nature children of wrath might be translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light to become “lower case s” sons (and daughters) of God!

Insights Into Our Heavenly Father Part 1: Posted 6/21/2017 5:24:54 PM

A few years ago I preached a series of messages entitled, “The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached.” Now before you think that I have too high an estimation of my preaching abilities, I did not choose the title based on any feelings about my oratorical skills but because of the passage upon which the series was based, that of the Sermon on the Mount spoken to us by Christ Himself as recorded in chapters 5 through 7 in the gospel of Matthew. Our Lord spoke volumes in these three chapters that would take infinite lifetimes of diligent study to fully digest. He spoke with conviction and clarity, with authority and absoluteness, with succinctness and sincerity on a multitude of issues including (but not limited to) the right interpretation of the law, the responsibility of man to God and to our fellow man, the right way to pray and give, and the source of and cure for anxiety. However, a somewhat neglected subject that was at the fore of our Lord’s most famous sermon was that of giving insights into the Heavenly Father. In this Father’s Day Month series of blogs we will focus on some of these insights.

A Worthy Sacrifice! Part 6: Posted 6/8/2017 6:04:39 PM

Christ’s Worthy Sacrifice Reconciles Us (Col. 1:20)… Redemption is a transactional term. Reconciliation is a relational term. Redemption is difficult. Reconciliation, if it’s possible or proper to say, is even more difficult. It’s one thing to forgive a debt that’s owed to you. It’s one thing to pay a debt that you don’t owe. It’s another thing entirely to take the one who has sinned against you, the one who owed you an immeasurable debt, the one who has rebelled against you time and time again in every way imaginable, the one who whose debt you paid, the one who has scorned you and slandered you with vile profanity, and welcome him to your table and regard him as a full-fledged member of your family.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells a story that we have come to call the Parable of the Prodigal Son. A young man, the youngest of two brothers, comes to their benevolent father and asks for his share of the inheritance to be given to him in advance. This was like the son saying to his father, “I wish you were dead already so I could have what’s mine, so I could get what’s really important to me.” The dad yields to his son’s request and the young Jewish man sins in many ways. He goes to a Gentile region and takes up residence (something a Jew was not to do). He then wastes his inheritance on what the KJV simply calls “riotous living” (breaking the 10 Commandments no doubt). When his money is all gone so too were his friends. The young man then ends up working for a Gentile at a pig farm and finding himself so hungry that he wanted to eat the slop given to the swine (perhaps the lowest of the lowest positions a Jew could find himself in). One day the prodigal son “came to himself”, remembered his father’s house and concocted a plan whereby he hoped to be received back. He would go to his dad, confess his sin, declare that he was unworthy to be called a son any longer, and humbly ask to be treated as one of his father’s hired servants. Not sure of what the outcome might be he heads towards the old home place. Things didn’t go exactly as planned. They went BETTER than planned! The loving father runs to him before he reaches the house and embraces him. The son isn’t even able to get out the entirety of his prepared speech before the dad sets in motion a plan whereby the young man would receive a new robe, a new pair of shoes, a new signet ring on his finger, and a party where the fatted calf would be slain to celebrate the coming home of one who was dead but is now alive, one who was lost but is now found. No recriminations; that’s true reconciliation.

Reconciliation means God not only pays our debt, but He wants no distance between us. It means He not only gives us a pardon, but He sets us a place at the table. Reconciliation means there are no second class citizens of the Kingdom and no black sheep children in the family. There’s no “elephant in the room” when we approach the throne of grace through the sacrifice of the Son and in the power of the Spirit (Heb. 4:14-16).

A Worthy Sacrifice! Part 5: Posted 5/22/2017 7:10:46 PM

Christ’s Worthy Sacrifice Redeems Us (Col. 1:14)… Perhaps you’ve been in a hard place financially in life and been forced into pawning some items for money to pay a pressing bill or to buy needed groceries. You know how it works. You take in things that you probably payed quite a bit for and the pawn broker gives you pennies on the dollar. If you wish to “redeem” your possessions then you must pay back all of the price the broker gave you plus additional interest. Most of the items brought into the pawn shop never return to their original owner. If they didn’t have enough money to live on before they pawned their possessions, then they seldom have all the money necessary for their needs plus extra to pay off interest to the pawn broker.

We, the human race, sold not just our possessions into sin’s pawn shop, but indeed we sold our very selves into the slavery of sin. All of us individually, indeed all of us combined, could not muster near the required funds of righteousness to “redeem” ourselves out of bondage. We were hopelessly lost and undone without God and His Son. Jesus, the second Adam, the perfect and spotless Lamb of God, the One who was fully God and fully man, the One tempted in every way such as we are and yet without sin, was the only One who could pay the price for our redemption (Heb. 4:15). He did so willingly (John 10:18)! All who genuinely repent and put trust in Christ can be redeemed out of sin’s bondage and set free from sin’s power.

A Worthy Sacrifice! Part 4: Posted 5/11/2017 8:17:34 PM

Christ’s Worthy Sacrifice Transfers Us Into His Kingdom (Col. 1:13)… Undoubtedly you’ve seen pictures and videos of the recent horrors in Syria. How vicious must a dictator be to unleash chemical weapons on his own people, even upon women and children?! If the scenes of toddlers and babies choking to death due to poisonous vapors doesn’t move your heart, then I would question if you have one beating inside of your chest. I’m not saying here that the U.S. should bomb or not bomb, send soldiers or not send soldiers, etc.; I’m simply saying that the injustice of babies and children dying in such a horrific way ought to grip us all and send us to our knees.

Long before the events of the past couple of weeks erupted in Syria, a matter of political debate in our country is whether or not refugees from war torn countries in the Middle East should be admitted into America. There are those who believe that for humanitarian reasons we should allow pretty much anyone into our borders to save them from their life-threatening situations. Others, while certainly not wanting to be inhumane, caution that we must have a sure system of background checks in place before admitting refugees to our shores because while there are many in genuine need there will doubtless be some who make it in with desires to cause trouble, perhaps massive trouble, to Americans. I don’t seek to make any political point or policy one way or the other here, but I do think these events provide a powerful illustration with regard to Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Scriptures tell us that through the cross believers have not only been rescued, but we have been transferred into the Kingdom of God’s Beloved Son! Think of it, those who are Christians are not only rescued from the dangerous perils of the world system and the kingdom of darkness, but we have been transferred into the kingdom of light with a full citizenship in Heaven (1 Peter 2:9; Philippians 3:20)!

A Worthy Sacrifice! Part 3: Posted 5/5/2017 7:19:20 PM

Christ’s Worthy Sacrifice Rescued Us (Col. 1:13)… The local tv news crew was out and about filming a segment on the dangers of “thin ice” forming over some bodies of water. Their work probably would have never made it to national news except for the unexpected event that unfolded before their eyes and camera lenses. A man was walking his dog when somehow the canine got away from him and ran onto an iced-over pond. The pooch didn’t make it very far before the surface cracked and he found himself underwater. The dog’s owner, without hesitation or care for himself, plunged in immediately, swam to his precious pet and thrust him back towards the safety of the shore. The man put his own life in peril, but not without a purpose. The dog would have been lost had it not been for his intervention.

Although you might need to be a dog lover to fully understand an owner jumping in icy water to save their pet (if it had been me, I might have been saying a fond farewell to Fido!), one can sympathize with the desire to rescue an innocent animal that has unwittingly put itself in a compromising position. That being said, we might think of the situation differently if the canine were known to have been a constant thorn in its owner’s side, always barking late into the night, turning over the trash cans, making a mess of the carpets in the house, and even biting the hand that feeds it. We might expect the owner to throw such a dog into icy water, not jump in to save it!

The Scriptures don’t refer to us as lost dogs, but they do liken us to sheep who have gone astray. However, unlike dogs andsheep who may wander away from safety and sense unintentionally, we have a mind and a will that deliberately choose to go against the ways and will of God. Our forefather Adam originated sin and all of us ever since have been making “noble” attempts to perfect it! Humanity has rebelled against our Maker time and time again. He shows us the way, He sends us His Word, He promises eternal blessings when we follow Him and warns of the dire consequences that materialize when we do not. Still, we turn every one to our own way and follow after that which we deem right in our own eyes (Isaiah 53:6; Judges 21:25). Yet, seeing our sinful history and knowing the evil that lurks in our hearts, God still so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life (Matt. 15:18-19; Romans 5:8; John 3:16)! We didn’t fall in the ice of sin and its consequences, we jumped in. Jesus, knowingly and voluntarily, jumped in the ice Himself to rescue the perishing if we but repent and put our trust in Him!

A Worthy Sacrifice! Part 2: Posted 4/25/2017 4:38:20 PM

Christ’s Sacrifice is Worthy (Col. 1:13-20)… Though we will devote the least amount of space in this article to this point, it is the most important to be made. In this short little passage from a book which only totals four chapters, we find that Jesus is the exact image of the invisible God, over and above all of Creation, the One through Whom all things were Created, the One who holds all things together, the Head of the Church, the firstborn from the dead never to die again, the One who has first place in everything, and the One in Whom dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily! Indeed such a grand One, the Greatest of the great, the King of kings and the Lord of lords is without question a worthy sacrifice! Whatever He would devote Himself to must then be worthy in the estimation of He whose judgement is beyond reproach, whose character is without blemish, whose love is without guile, whose power is beyond limit, and whose knowledge is unsearchable.

A Worthy Sacrifice! Part 1: Posted 4/25/2017 4:37:50 PM

The 30th of this month will commemorate the anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War. Of all the conflicts our country has been involved in, perhaps none has stirred so much controversy. Not only were there battles fought overseas but protests, sometimes violent in nature, broke out on the streets of the U.S. homeland. There were those who supported the war because they thought the spread of communism had to be stopped. However, few were willing to advocate an all-out effort to win the conflict because that kind of escalation could lead to the use of nuclear weapons and the end of the world as we know it. Some opposed the war believing that if the United States wasn’t going to utilize all its resources to win, then we shouldn’t allocate the lives of our soldiers in an attempt to merely support the status quo. Whichever side one may come out on with regard to being for or against the Vietnam War, one thing that shouldn’t have been up for debate was support and appreciation for American soldiers who fought so valiantly in such harsh conditions. One may question the worthiness of the war’s goals and the wisdom of the leaders making the decisions, but the worthiness of the sacrifice of those fighting on behalf of the interests of our country should never have been up for debate. Yet sadly the pages of history and the memories of many who returned record being welcomed back home with scorn and disdain rather than with the deserved honor and the earned ticker tape parade of conflicts past.

On the 16th of April we remembered the anniversary of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. There is no more consequential nor controversial event in all of human history. Unbelievers look upon “the word of the cross” as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). To them Jesus, if He existed at all, was merely a poor Jewish carpenter turned rabbi who fell victim to the finicky nature of a mob and the powerful cruelty of an immense empire. However, to those who are genuine Christians, “the word of the cross” is the power of God unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:18). Jesus’ sacrifice was a worthy one, THE only worthy one, that could redeem a fallen humanity. Who Christ is and what He has done is something, in fact THE THING, to be celebrated and honored both now and forevermore! In this series of blogs we will look at Colossians 1:13-20 to see that Christ’s sacrifice is worthy and to know what that worthy sacrifice on the cross availed to all who will believe.

Jesus Is Part 5: Posted 4/15/2017 2:58:07 PM

I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). Jesus said these words to Martha whose brother Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. The situation looked hopeless. Lazarus had been dead for so long that His body had begun to decay and smell. Yet, no matter how dead, decayed, and smelly a situation may be, when the giver of Life (both natural and spiritual life) comes on the scene, things are subject to change. Jesus said, “Lazarus, Come Forth!” and blood began to rush through the veins again, air began to circulate through the lungs, feeling rushed into limbs that had been numb! He who had been dead was raised at the very command of the Lord! Jesus is the One who can raise the natural dead, but more importantly is the One who can raise the spiritually dead! Need a resurrection in your heart (and I’m not just talking about the one in your chest!), Jesus is the only One who can accommodate! Need life (not just the one represented on your birth certificate), then listen and hear Jesus calling you to come forth!

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). I remember my first long trip driving by myself from my grandparent’s house in Ohio to Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. I can be directionally challenged, but my grandpa; he seemingly always knew how to get where he was going. So I asked him to help me plot a way to get back to ORU from his house. He set me down and showed me several ways to get there. He finally decided upon a route, that though perhaps not the quickest, was the one with the fewest twists and turns and the one that he thought his grandson could actually follow! I loved my grandpa, he was a godly man, and he showed me a way to get to ORU that day (and showed me much about life and the Lord as well during his life). However, Jesus said there was only ONE way to the Father! Furthermore, He didn’t say that He came to show us that way, but that He was that ONE way! In the words of C.S. Lewis, someone who would make such a claim is either liar, lunatic, or Lord! I hope you have put your trust in Him as the latter!

I AM the True Vine (John 15:1). I don’t know much about vines, but I do know a little bit about flowers. I don’t do it enough, but I do occasionally get flowers for my wonderful wife, my gift from God, the best help mate any man could ever hope for, and I could go on… However, no matter what kind of flower, how beautiful its smell or colorful its appearance, it is in a state of dying when I give it to her. Why? Because it has been cut off from its roots. It may last a couple days; some last a week, one bunch Benji and I got her for Mother’s Day this year lasted over two weeks! Still, its ultimate fate is death when disconnected from its roots. So too it is with our relationship with Jesus. He is the True Vine and apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Oh, we may look okay for a brief period of time, but apart from Him we will die and will bear the fruits of sin and death (Gal. 5:19-21). But connected to Him, rightly related to Him, we will live and will bear the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58). The 59th verse of this chapter finds the crowd taking up stones to throw at Jesus. Why? Because they understood that when Jesus said “I AM”, He was referring to the Old Testament name for God (Exodus 3:14). In essence, Jesus was saying that He was God. That would be improper for any man to say and indeed anyone who would say that is worthy of either severe scorn or severe pity. However, Jesus was and is God! No man ever becomes God, but God did become man (John 1:1-14). Jesus was fully God, thus having the resources to pay for man’s sin, and He was also fully man, thus related to the race that should pay for man’s sin. When we put our trust and faith in Him, the “I AM”, and ask Him to forgive our sins, then we can rest assured that we are saved, that we will not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Jesus Is Part 4: Posted 4/11/2017 5:10:09 PM

I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Any business owner will tell you that finding good employees is tough! It’s hard to get “hirelings” (the words of Jesus) to catch the vision, run after it, and dedicate themselves to it. They don’t have as high a personal stake as the owner does. Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep (those that believe in Him). He is personally invested in them. Jesus, unlike the “hireling” who is more concerned with his own self preservation and prosperity than with the care of the flock, is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.

I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). Jesus said these words to Martha whose brother Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. The situation looked hopeless. Lazarus had been dead for so long that His body had begun to decay and smell. Yet, no matter how dead, decayed, and smelly a situation may be, when the giver of Life (both natural and spiritual life) comes on the scene, things are subject to change. Jesus said, “Lazarus, Come Forth!” and blood began to rush through the veins again, air began to circulate through the lungs, feeling rushed into limbs that had been numb! He who had been dead was raised at the very command of the Lord! Jesus is the One who can raise the natural dead, but more importantly is the One who can raise the spiritually dead! Need a resurrection in your heart (and I’m not just talking about the one in your chest!), Jesus is the only One who can accommodate! Need life (not just the one represented on your birth certificate), then listen and hear Jesus calling you to come forth!

Jesus Is Part 3: Posted 3/31/2017 9:12:29 PM

I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12). Have you ever felt “in the dark”? Oh, the sun comes up in the morning and you can turn your high beams on at night, but the darkness I’m talking about is one that follows you around no matter the time of day or what light source you switch on. Jesus said that He is the true light for that kind of darkness. Only He can give the spiritual light needed to make good decisions, to have proper understanding, and to give strength for right living.

I AM the Door of the Sheep (John 10:7, 9). In Jesus’ day, shepherds would look for various areas where they could pin their sheep in at night. Then, those who were good shepherds would lay down at the front (the door) of these areas to serve as a barrier to keep the sheep in and to keep various dangers out. Jesus said that any that came before (or after) promising to be able to save were robbers; robbers who fleeced the sheep instead of protect them. But Jesus is the true door of the sheep; He will be our strong tower from outside dangers and from our own propensity to wander from the fold.

Jesus Is Part 2: Posted 3/25/2017 8:20:04 PM

I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48, 51). When God brought His people out of Egyptian bondage under Moses’ leadership (some 1500 years before Christ), they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. During this time of wandering, the Lord provided manna, a bread like substance that would appear every morning (except on the Sabbath) for their sustenance. God was faithful to meet the needs of His people, yet they doubted Him and murmured against Him time and time and time again. As a result of their perpetual unbelief, everyone 40 and over (except for Joshua and Caleb) at the time of the Exodus from Egypt died in the wilderness leaving only the younger generation to inherit the Promised Land. Jesus refers to this Old Testament scene when He calls Himself the Bread of Life. He declares to His audience that their ancestors ate the manna and died, but those that eat of Him, the true and living bread, will never die! (John 6:49-50) The manna gave natural strength, Jesus gives spiritual strength. We “eat” of Jesus, the living bread, by being in His Word (see John 1:1; Matt. 4:4), by asking Him into our heart, and by the daily relationship of prayer.

Jesus Is Part 1: Posted 3/25/2017 8:19:32 PM

Who is Jesus really? Any counselor will tell you that when determining “who a person is”, there are four views to be considered. The first is who others think that person is, the second is who that person thinks they are, next is who that person thinks others think they are, and fourth is who that person really is, which is seen to be some combination of the other three views. (Confused, don’t feel alone. However, if you read that sentence about the four views over a time or two, it’ll probably sink in and you may even get a couple of chuckles about it!) However, while who a person really is may involve some combination of views when speaking of the human race, when speaking of Jesus there is no higher authority, no other considerations needed, than what He said about Himself. What He said about Himself is who He really is! Jesus said..

Love Part 4: Posted 3/6/2017 5:37:20 PM

Love Is Sacrificial, Not Selfish (John 15:13; Rom. 5:8)… One of the most respected and admired professions in the world is that of what we have come to call “a first responder.” Nearly everyone alive at the time will well remember where they were on September 11th, 2001. I was working in the receiving department at the Christ Centered Book and Music (as it was known then-currently called Christ Centered Life Store). At least two shipments arrived every day, one from UPS and one from RPS (now called FedEx Ground). We were doing the best we could to get out as much as we could but still it seemed the boxes were rising and rising. In the middle of these rising boxes the store owner came over and informed me that he had heard from his wife about the falling towers. We followed the breaking news of the rest of the day on the radio but I didn’t see any visual representations until I got home late that night and turned on the television news. Among the most powerful of the images from that dreaded day is that of the firefighters and policemen running towards buildings while others were running away. I certainly don’t write a statement like that to criticize those fleeing, but to commend the remarkableness of those who with reckless and selfless abandon rushed toward danger in an attempt to save the lives of people they didn’t even know. Jesus said in John 15:1 that “greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Firefighters, Policemen, and Soldiers-truly those who serve in such occupations are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, not only for friends, but for absolute strangers.

Jesus of course is the ultimate example of sacrifice. In the words of a Fanny Crosby hymn, Jesus is the One who “yielded His life, an atonement for sin”, dying to “open the life gate, that all may go in.” However, unlike the solely human first responders, Jesus did know who He was sacrificing for. He knew of the evil hearts of humanity as well as the evil lips, of the wicked deeds done in darkness as well as the ungodly works done seen by the eyes of all. But knowing that we were sinful, Christ still died for us. As Romans 5:8 teaches, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If you want to know real love, if you want to be able to give genuine love to someone else, then you must know that love is sacrificial, not selfish!

Love Part 3: Posted 2/27/2017 9:20:44 PM


Love Is A Choice, Not A Feeling (John 3:16) I remember well the first wedding I ever officiated. I knew they would have all kinds of questions about where to stand, when to come in, and what to say (And I wanted to have answers!) Having never married anyone before, I bought a Ministers Handbook on Wedding Services and read it over and over again until I had nearly every line of the ceremony memorized. Rehearsal night came and, though I was probably the most nervous person of the wedding party, things went fairly swimmingly as I answered all of their questions about the particulars of marriage protocol and as I rather seamlessly went through the lines I had committed to memory. Then wedding day came. The couple wanted to be married at a gazebo on the grounds where they had first met. It was Florida. It was summertime. It was 2 in the afternoon. It was outside. Can you guess what happened? Thats right, it rained. It didnt just sprinkle. It poured. The original plan was for the wedding party to be inside the gazebo and for the guests to be gathered around the outside. But when it started raining cats and dogs, everyone jammed inside as close as they could. I didnt so much mind the closeness of the quarters that now presented itself (I think everyone close to me had used deodorant that day!), but what was hard to overcome was the roaring sound of the rain as it pounded and reverberated on the gazebo roof. All of my well-practiced lines and phrases, rehearsed enunciations and dramatic pauses, were hardly audible more than six inches away. I was thankful that the bride and groom at least heard me when I yelled at them the questions asking if they would take one another to be their lawfully married husband and wife. They responded with an I Do, or at least I think they did. I couldnt hear their voices (they couldnt yell as loud as a preacher) but I watched them closely and read their lips! It made them quite a wedding memory no doubt, and it gave me quite a story to tell!

When I studied the various Christian wedding ceremonies, one thing I noticed is that when the vows are presented to the couple the response from the man and woman being wed is either I Do or I Will, depending upon which particular ceremony you read. Notice, the response is either I Do or I Will, not I Feel. We tend to associate love with feelings, and certainly love affects and involves our feelings in powerful ways. However, the essence of love is not a feeling or an emotion, it is a choice. Put another way, the nature of genuine love is not I Feel, but I Will. Emotions come and go due to a disagreement, a challenging circumstance, or some other momentary matter. Sometimes people do lose that loving feeling-woe-a-woe-o (I think thats how the song goes!). But genuine love has a stronger foundation than fleeting emotions. Love is a decision of the will. Genuine love should not be characterized by the phrase falling in love but rather by the description jumping in love. Falling happens by accident, jumping happens on purpose!

Perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible is John 3:16. It declares that For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God so loved the world. But why? Nobody could force God to love the world. He is ruler of all that is and holds ultimate power and authority. The world certainly isnt loveable. The world repeatedly breaks Gods commands, worshipping other false gods and treating their fellow man in ungodly ways, shaking their fists in Gods face, in their pride thinking they can somehow displace God, feebly trying to take over His throne and attempting to replace His word and standards with their own. Indeed, I repeat, the world (and yes that includes you and me) is not so loveable. So why does God love the world? Not because anyone can make Him, not because the world is loveable, but because He freely chooses to do so. Gods love, true and genuine love, is a choice, not a feeling! If you want to know real love, if you want to be able to give genuine love to someone else, then you must make the choice to receive and give love, not wait around for a feeling.

Love Part 2: Posted 2/19/2017 9:47:16 PM


I love White Castle Hamburgers. My affinity for the one-of-a-kind sandwich began when I was about 7 years old. My grandfather (papa as I called him) lived and worked in Kentucky but owned a house in Ohio that he planned to retire to one day. He and mama along with my aunt would take a six hour trek once every few weeks to go between the two residences to check and make sure everything was okay. Once ever so often I would go on the ride with them. Papa wasnt much for eating out at any kind of restaurant, but he would make an exception for White Castles. The company, in business since 1921, had been one of the first places my papa ever worked. He loved the burgers and wanted to introduce them to his grandson. And Im so glad he did! The combination of the steamed bun, the grilled onions, the square burger, and the pickle slice is pretty near perfect, often imitated but never duplicated! This slider is truly a gift! (In fact, for those who along with me crave this one of a kind taste you know its not just a gift, its a gift that keeps on giving!)

Unfortunately, if you look on the White Castle website you will find that the nearest restaurant location to Florida is in Tennessee. Thats a little too far to commute for lunch or dinner from our Ft. Myers home! Over the years Ive tried getting the frozen burgers available at the grocery store. But its just not the same! Zapping the two-pack slider bag into the microwave at home doesnt come out with the same taste as the burgers do from the grill behind the restaurant counter. Theres something about going to the source thats better than trying to receive it from a second hand retailer.

When I meet with couples in premarital conversations or marital counseling settings, the most important thing I can address with them is the nature of their relationship with the Lord. I have had people over the years question as to why discussing their walk with Christ is so important when the nature of their problem seems to be something else; such as financial disagreements, personality conflicts, or contention with raising the kids. While the Bible certainly gives wisdom into all of those issues of love and marriage and life in general, if you want to experience true love and therefore have the capacity to genuinely love each other more, then your life must be rooted and grounded in the only source of true love, that of knowing Christ as Savior and Lord and experiencing a growing relationship with Him! Can people who dont know Jesus love each other, have a good relationship with their spouse, raise good kids, and even have a marriage that lasts a lifetime? Sure, though its rare. However, the very best love that someone who doesnt confess Christ can know is a mere shadow of the real thing. Apart from Jesus, any love we know comes from a second hand retailer so to speak. If you want to know real love, if you want to be able to give genuine love to someone else, then you must start with the source! And the source is none other than God Almighty! As 1 John 3:7-8 clearly tells us, God is love.

Love Part 1: Posted 2/19/2017 9:46:44 PM

If youve walked through the door of any store (and I do mean any store-from the department store to the drug store to the grocery store, etc.) youve been inundated by red things, heart shaped things, flowery things, and lots of chocolate things. February is the month when the country celebrates Valentines Day (a day dedicated to red hearts, pretty flowers, and sweet chocolates) and a day dedicated to love, so they say. Yet with all the cards and decoration, with all the gifts and gift cards, the truth is this world knows next to nothing about the nature of real, genuine, and abiding love. The world has holidays to celebrate the word, they have songs on the radio that mention the word, and their lips too often so easily say the word, but apart from knowing Christ one cannot know the true meaning of love and the duration of what the world calls love frequently lasts no longer than the wilting flowers and devoured chocolates. This month were going to look at some aspects of genuine love as presented to us in the Word of God, the Word of the Only One from Whom real love truly springs!

Jesus, The Best Valentine Part 2: Posted 2/7/2017 8:16:28 PM


I dont know what position you may be in today, but I do know that God has been in your place before. Jesus can relate to all of our joys, and to all of our infirmities. He knows what its like to have His people, His bride, love Him and declare that I am my beloveds and He is mine. He knows the joy of pursuing an intimate relationship with a person and having them finally come to the altar to say I do to the offer of His grace. He knows what its like to work through members of His bride to bring other children into the kingdom of God. He has felt the warm embrace of His beloved in dedicated prayer, worship, and service. He has heard the tender words of praise and the undying expressions of gratitude. He knows what its like to have the special places and the cherished memories and the exchanged gifts. He knows the yearning in His heart and in the heart of His beloved bride for a Valentines Day engagement that will be special and momentous.

Yet, Christ also knows what its like to give His heart and Hand to His beloved and be spurned. He is familiar with the feeling of being talked to when His lover wants to get something, but hearing a deafening silence when it comes to just communicating or giving something to Him in return. Jesus has been alone at night crying out for His beloved as a mother hen would for her little ones, and yet His beloved would not come. He knows what its like to hear words that say I do, and yet see actions that prove that the heart of His bride is far away from Him. He can relate to having cherished memories that He dwells on all alone because a love that once burned white hot for Him has waxed cold.

Again, I dont know what your situation may be this Valentines Day or how it may or may not affect you. But what I do know is that there is a Valentine who is waiting for you with open arms. If you have received Him, you are His precious Beloved. He has written you a card called the Bible that is sweeter and tenderer than any sonnet ever composed. He has given His life for you and showered you with the greatest love ever known. He has sent flowers and sunrises and sunsets and oceans and rocks and hills and plains, indeed all creation, as a box of assorted chocolates to say I LOVE YOU! He longs to have intimate relationship with you. You can make His Valentines Day a good one, and I know He will do the same for you!

Jesus, The Best Valentine Part 1: Posted 2/7/2017 8:16:00 PM

br>As with any holiday, Valentines Day is a double edged sword. To the couple in love, whose relationship is deepening, who might even be pursuing marriage; its a joyous occasion with opportunity to give that special gift and visit that special restaurant. To the married couple whose love has blossomed through tragedy and triumph, whose kids and possibly grandkids are playing in the backyard, whose hair may have turned gray (or turned loose!) together, who have cherished one another since they said I do; its a wonderful time to remember and perhaps go to the place where they first met, to renew vows, to get away from those kids and grandkids for a night out alone, to enjoy one anothers company on a special night.

However, to the single who desires a relationship, who longs to have a spouse to prize and children to cuddle and bring up in the fear and admonition of God, who yearns to have a hand to hold and a heart to cherish and to be cherished by; Valentines Day can be rather lonely and depressing. To the divorcee who once had that hand to hold, who once went to the special places filled with cherished memories, who may even have had children with someone that they thought would be faithful, tried and true for a lifetime, who may have given many years of their life, both in terms of quantity and quality, to someone who proved to give far less in return; the warmth of that special day in February is found to hold a cold, harsh reality that where there used to be a feeling of fullness, now there is a void. To the unhappily married, who share the same name, the same house, and maybe even the same bed, but who have long since ceased to really share much that has significant value, who heard the words I do but have seen actions perpetually say I dont, who want for things to be right again but are given no guarantees as to what the future will be; Valentines Day holds the stark contrast of what should be to what actually is up to an intense light that can blind instead of buoy ones hope. To those who lost their spouse by way of death, Valentines Day may carry the realization that the only time you and the love of your life will ever share the same table again, or smell the flowers together, or walk by the sea in a warm embrace, will be on the other side along the golden shore.

Biblical Bulletpoints From Our Baby''s Birth Part 6: Posted 1/29/2017 8:17:39 PM

The Love Of Our Heavenly Father Runs Deep (1 John 3:1) I would lay down my life for my son. This little one stole my heart from the moment I saw his heart beat on the ultrasound screen. My love for him has only grown over these nine years as Ive held him, fed him, changed him, kissed him, taught him, and seen him grow more and more into who God is making him to be. I can understand why God would choose to call Himself titles as Lord, Almighty, and King, but He also has freely chosen to call Himself Father to all of those who repent and put their trust in Christ. The Apostle John shares this wonderment that we would be called Gods children and that He would be called our Father in 1 John 3:1 when he states see how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God. Now my son has gains from me, but I also gain from him. He was cute and cuddly when born, and in my sincere, humble, and unbiased opinion remains the sweetest nine year old you could ever lay your eyes upon! I, on the other hand, could give God nothing. For Him to be my Father, the gain is all mine, the loss is all His! I wasnt cute and cuddly nor sweet, all my righteousness being as filthy rags in the eyes of a holy God! Yet out of love He has chosen to give His Son to pay my sin debt, to give His Holy Spirit to live inside me, and to call me, by nature a child of wrath, a child of God if I but repent of sin and put faith in Christ!

Biblical Bulletpoints From Our Baby''s Birth Part 5: Posted 1/21/2017 5:53:21 PM

Apart From Jesus We Can Do Nothing (John 15:5) Our son just turned nine! I tried to talk him into going back to seven but he would have no part of it! Our precocious blessing firmly informed me that only God has a vote when it comes to our ages and He has decided that we must keep moving forward, not backward. Being nine he has reached that age where I start asking him if he needs help with something, and he often says no. I realize its a normal part of growing up to reach for a level of independence and to obtain a degree of competence, but it used to be different. When he was born, all he could do to help himself with anything was cry! He couldnt tell us what he needed when he cried, he may not have even known what he needed. For everything from food to changing diapers, our baby could do next to nothing to help himself; he had to depend upon us. If you think a newborn baby is helpless in the natural realm, I assure you that we are even more helpless in the spiritual realm (and not nearly as cute)! Believers certainly grow in their walk with Christ and gain strength through the Word and the power of the Spirit, but we must never forget the true words of our Lord that apart from Him we can do nothing.

Biblical Bulletpoints From Our Baby''s Birth Part 4: Posted 1/14/2017 5:12:50 PM

God Tells The Truth (Gen. 3:16-19)... My wonderful wife and I took some pregnancy classes when we discovered we were expecting. One of the lessons instructed husbands on how to coach their wife through the painful process of contractions. They told us that they would begin and be several minutes apart and then gradually graduate to coming more and more frequently. Like any good husband, I paid attention and formulated a plan. When the contractions began coming I would count how long in between each one and then comfort my wonderful wife by telling her to just hold on for relief would come as I counted down the time intervals.

My plan, though well intentioned and well thought out, didnt exactly pan out. We knew the birthing process was beginning and went into the hospital on January 1st. However, my wonderful wife was not having any contractions. The medical staff eventually determined that things needed to start moving faster so they gave her a medicine to induce labor. They kept increasing her dosages of this inducing medication every 20 minutes or so. Everything was fine, until it wasnt! The medicine they gave her took effect in what seemed like an instant. Her pain level went from 0 to 60 in about 2.4 seconds! We sent all our visitors out of the room and I discovered that I never wanted to arm wrestle my sweet wife! She squeezed my hand so hard that it turned several shades of red and purple from distress! (Okay, I might have exaggerated slightly, but just slightly!). I know my love would agree with me that our boy was worth infinite times the amount of pain involved but indeed God was telling the truth when He said that as a result of the fall women would have great pain! Thankfully, they gave her something for the pain an hour or so later! She felt much better, and my hand got some feeling back into it!

A week or so after our sweet boy was born and we took him home, we received a letter in the mail from the hospital. They congratulated us and said all kinds of nice things before coming to the bottom line that we owed them a little over 2,000! Now, we had insurance and everything, and they still wanted over two grand! I was now looking for some of that pain reducing medication! Our boy was certainly worth that infinite times over and God provided for our need, but the work we must do to pay the bills does show that God told the truth when He said that as a result of the fall we would earn our living through sweat and toil.

Biblical Bulletpoints From Our Baby''s Birth Part 3: Posted 1/7/2017 3:15:23 PM

As I grew into my late teens and early twenties and, more importantly, as my Christian walk began to mature and develop; I discovered that I had a far greater reason for being pro-life than the words and pictures delivered to me during that church service in the late 80s. The ultimate authority, the ultimate ground of truth, for us as Christians is not what society says, not what philosophy teaches, not what professional speakers emote, now what pictures show, and not even what our personal experience or reasoning relays to us; our ultimate authority for all matters of faith and practice is what the Bible declares for it is the very Word of the only true and living God! I could take up far more space than the rest of this newsletter allows giving and describing Bible verses that support the pro-life position, but Ill only list two of the more famous passages here. In Jeremiah 1:4-5 God speaks to the Old Testament prophet and declares to him that the Lord has known him since before God formed him in his mothers womb. What does this mean? It means that babies are persons even before they are born. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks similarly with David declaring that he was fearfully and wonderfully woven in his mothers womb by the hand of God and that the Lord knew Davids frame while in his mothers womb. Again, the Bible clearly teaches that a baby is a person even before they are born. If life begins at conception, if a baby is a person before they are born, then abortion is wrong because it is the intentional taking of a human life. (Before moving on here, let me repeat that the main reason I am pro-life is because the Bible, our ultimate authority, clearly teaches that babies are persons in the mothers womb. However, even science is now teaching that all the DNA, all the necessary material for life, is present at conception. As time goes on the baby will grow in Size, will move to a higher Level of development, will change Environments-when it passes through the birth canal, and will have a lower degree of Dependency, but it is never more a person than when it is conceived. Scott Klusendorf, noted pro-life apologist, calls this the SLED argument against abortion. That is, we would never call for the end of a life because it was smaller than another life (Size), had a less developed IQ or other sense than another person (Level of Development), lived in a different location than another individual (Environment), or had a higher dependence on certain medicines, etc. to live than another person (Degree of Dependency)).

When my wonderful wife, the most wonderful in all the world in my sincerely humble and totally unbiased opinion, thought that she was pregnant, we contacted the doctor. Much to our consternation, rather than set up an appointment for the next day, his office instructed us that they did not want to see us until she was seven weeks in because that was about the earliest time they would be able to profit us medically in any way. When the day finally came for our visit, the doctor hooked up an ultrasound and we could see our little baby (he looked like a little peanut at the time; peanut was a nickname my mother-in-law gave to him when she saw the picture) and hear his heart pounding a perfect 150 beats per minute! It would be awhile before my love could feel him kick and even longer before I could feel him move (usually when my wife and I would pray together!). As much as I know there are difficult situations into which babies can be born and burdens that newborns can produce on people perhaps not ready or able on their own to bear, I even more cannot imagine the trauma that a woman (and a man for that matter) would go through to see the ultrasounds, hear the heartbeats, feel the movement, and then, at ones own choosing-not because of a medical emergency or miscarriage, to have nothing to see in an ultrasound picture, to have no heart present to hear beat, and to have no feet present to kick your inners.

Within the next few weeks our main physician recommended that we see an additional doctor. He wanted this other specialized doctor to examine our baby more fully than he was able. Upon seeing this advanced doctor they informed us that we had some risk factors that could cause our child to be born with Downs Syndrome. They asked us if we would like to have a certain conclusive test performed so that we could make an informed decision going forward. The test had some risk factors itself and, whatever it would have told us, while it would perhaps have assisted us in preparing for the future care we would have to provide for our child, would not in any way have informed our decision on whether or not to have our baby. We did not have the test performed.

Our bouncing baby was born the day after New Years, and what an event to be celebrated indeed (not New Years; the birth of our sweet baby!). As he looked into his mothers eyes, as I kissed his face, as we held him close, squeezed him tight, and stared, stared, and stared some more; I could see in vivid detail the value and joy of new life described in Scripture. I am pro-life.

Biblical Bulletpoints From Our Baby''s Birth Part 2: Posted 1/7/2017 3:14:55 PM

I Am Pro-Life (Jeremiah 1:4-5; Psalm 139:13-16) Before I even officially begin the paragraphs devoted to this bullet point, let me say that Gods salvation by grace through faith in Christ extends to anyone who has had an abortion, as it does to all who have sinned in whatever ways they have broken Gods laws, if they will only respond to the gospel in repentance and faith. Let me also say that while there are those who are pro-abortion because they seek the financial profit the industry entails or because they desire to make it possible for themselves and others to live loose and promiscuous lifestyles with no repercussions, most people who are pro-choice have what they perceive as compassion for their motivation in that they want to spare unwanted children the plight they will endure at the hands of terrible parents or that they want to spare a woman the burden of an unwanted child when she is unable and unprepared for motherhood. Finally, let me also say that while being pro-life certainly informs the way I vote, I do not believe that any pro-life politician or any anti-abortion law is the ultimate answer. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying transformation that occurs as we walk with Him, follow His Spirit, and grow in His Word is the only true and lasting solution for a fallen world, whatever the manifestation of that fallen world may be. With those opening caveats, let me officially begin with this first Biblical Bullet-point from Our Babys Birth.

January is not only the birth month of our huggable, loveable, snuggable, kissable, and squeezable boy, it is also national pro-life month. I have personally been pro-life ever since I was old enough to understand the issue. A spokesperson from a local pro-life group came to address our church during an evening service when I was 13 or 14 years old. I dont remember everything that was said that night, but I will never forget the visceral horror that I felt as the procedure of abortion was described and as some vivid, gruesome pictures of the process were shown. Most people in our country, and indeed around the world, know what abortion is on a basic level. However, that three-syllable word, like most terms and concepts comes into a much clearer focus to the human mind and consciousness when we see it visually depicted.

Biblical Bulletpoints From Our Baby''s Birth Part 1: Posted 1/7/2017 3:14:10 PM

On a cold winter night (freezing by Florida standards) nine years ago one of the most significant events in my life occurred. My wonderful wife and I witnessed the birth of our baby boy! At 5:50 pm on a Wednesday evening (yes, we missed church that night) the sweetest 8 pound 4 ounce package you could ever see or hold was delivered into our lives! As most reading this article are aware, our boy has grown to be quite a reader with quite a personality (quite and quiet use the same letters in their spelling, but they have quite different meanings!). Several weeks ago our gift from God asked if daddy could include him in the writing of the January newsletter since that is his birth month. As a happy (and proud) father, I was glad to oblige. For this series of blogs we will look at some biblical truths that were magnified to me at the birth of our son.

Luke, The Man God Used To Write The Christmas Story Part 4: Posted 12/23/2016 7:58:17 PM

Luke Was A Faithful Friend (Col. 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:9-11) A faithful friend is a treasure indeed. We may have many acquaintances in life, but close friends, tried and true friends, faithful til the end friends, tend to be few and precious. Luke was just such a faithful friend, companion, and ministry supporter to Paul. The beloved physician was with the Apostle through the highs of preaching the gospel, establishing churches, casting out devils, and even the raising of the dead. But Luke was also there, perhaps more importantly so, with Paul through the lows of being rejected, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and finally even martyred for the cause of Christ.

I encourage you to read Colossians 1:14 and 2 Timothy 4:9-11 and focus on the names of Demas and Luke. The former (Demas) is named as an associate of Paul in Colossians but as an apostate in 2 Timothy who has not only left the Apostle Paul but also left the Christian faith he once espoused because of his love for this present world. The latter (Luke) was called beloved in Colossians and named as the sole individual who was still with Paul (at least in physical presence) in 2 Timothy, a book written by the Apostle as he was in prison and perhaps within 2 weeks of being beheaded for the gospels sake. Indeed, Luke was faithful to Paul, and more importantly Luke was faithful to the faith. May we love the Lord Jesus Christ with all that we are, with all that we have, and through all of our days!

Luke, The Man God Used To Write The Christmas Story Part 3: Posted 12/23/2016 7:57:42 PM

Luke Was A Great Historian (Luke 1:1-4) It is notable that the man used by God to author two books of the Bible, including the gospel which contains the most famous Christmas passages, wasnt one of the original 12 Disciples and wasnt there to personally witness most of the events about which he wrote. So, where did Luke get his information? Of course, the overarching source of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts is God Himself, Who superintended and inspired all of the canonical writings. That being said, it cannot be overlooked that part of the process the Lord used to bring about Lukes writings was that the beloved physician traveled alongside Paul to many places, including Jerusalem, and in the course of these travels was able to interview many people who were eyewitnesses of the life of Christ. Can you imagine being in the same room with Mary as she tells you of the angelic visitation declaring to her that though she was a Virgin she would conceive and give birth to the Son of God who would be her Savior and the Savior for all who would believe?! Lukes declaration that he was careful in his investigation of the matters about which he spoke and his giving of many historical facts such as places and names of rulers of the day open his writings up to historical scrutiny.

Sir William Ramsey (1852-1916) was a noted historian and scholar. He did not believe in the Bible or in Christ as Savior and determined to take an expedition to the regions of biblical times in an effort to prove that Lukes writings were false. Much to his surprise, the more he studied the more he found that Luke was a historian of the highest degree. Far from discrediting Christianity, Ramsay became a convert to the Christian faith! Now, the Bible is not primarily a history textbook, but when it does speak to history it is accurate and without error in all that it affirms. The Bible also is not primarily a science textbook, but when it does speak to science it is accurate and without error in all that it affirms. (I am amazed at how quickly Christians think they need to change what unchanging Scripture is clearly teaching in order to be respected by the field of science when the science of today is far different from the science of 100 years ago and the science of 100 years from now will be much different than the science of today!) And still better news, the Bible IS primarily a book telling us of Redemptive History, and what it says concerning sin and the Savior is accurate and without error and will be for all of eternity!

Luke, The Man God Used To Write The Christmas Story Part 2: Posted 12/19/2016 7:21:15 PM

Luke Was A Beloved Physician (Col. 4:14) Luke was a physician! WOW! Now I will admit that I dont find as much profundity or praise in the fact that Luke was a physician as I do in the truth that he was a Gentile. Still, I do believe its worth mentioning. Now in order to receive salvation Luke certainly had to repent of sin, but he did not need to repent for being a physician because being a physician is not a sin! Why do I bring this point out? There seems to be a mindset among some Christians that doctors are somehow evil and that a believer going to see one is showing a lack of faith in some way. Search the Scriptures and you will find that there were doctors who charged for their services and yet were not able to help the physical condition of their patient (Mark 5:26). You will also discover that people were rebuked for putting their trust solely in physicians while neglecting to seek the Lord (2 Chr. 16:12). But you can scan from Genesis to Revelation and you will not find a single verse that commands doctors not be seen or that condemns doctors for the sole reason of being doctors or that implies that someone who sees a doctor is to be viewed as lacking in faith. The Christian certainly seeks God first and foremost about all issues of life, including the physical realm. The Christian puts faith in the truths that Jesus took stripes for our healing and that His power is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Isa. 53:5; Heb. 13:8). However, the Christian also knows that every good and perfect gift, even if it were to come through the hands of a physician that may even deny Gods existence (though there are certainly many godly doctors), ultimately comes from the hand of Almighty God (James 1:17)! Miracles and Medicine need not be viewed as enemies or as mutually exclusive quantities.

Luke, The Man God Used To Write The Christmas Story Part 1: Posted 12/15/2016 5:40:38 PM

Even those not in church have likely heard these famous words during the Christmas Season, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. This well-known phrase comes as part of the angels discourse to the shepherds announcing that the promised Messiah from the pages of the Old Testament was being born to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. The entire passage can be found in the gospel of Luke, the most commonly quoted book in Christmas plays and the like. God of course is the ultimate Author of all Scripture, but He did choose to work through persons and personalities to bring about the Word which He superintended. During this series of blogs we will focus on looking at Luke, the man used to write two important books in the canon of Scripture.

Luke Was A Gentile (Acts 16:9-10) Luke was a Gentile! WOW! You may wonder why I place such an exclamation and emphasis upon such a simple fact. But trust me, it is a simple fact worth much laud and fanfare. In Genesis 3:15, just after the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God promised a Messiah who would come to redeem mankind. Beginning in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, it becomes clear that the Lord has chosen the line of Abraham through which to bring the promised Messiah. Though the Deliverer would be of the Jews (according to the flesh), the Deliverance He would win would be a blessing to all people who would receive (Gen. 12:3)! The rest of the Old Testament unfolds telling the ups and downs of the Jews with the clear underlying theme that in the midst of Gods chosen peoples internal failings and external persecutions the promised Messiah was still assuredly on the way! By the time Jesus was born in the flesh the prevailing ideology of the Jewish religious leaders (and of the Jews as a whole) was that the Messiah was coming to deliver the Children of Abraham from the Romans and any power that would persecute or dominate them. They thought He would be a King like David or Solomon who would put Jerusalem and the Jewish race at large back on the map. A spiritual emphasis on deliverance from sin and the inclusion of Gentiles (whom many Jews referred to as dogs) in the prophesied blessing was far from the minds of most of Abrahams descendants of Jesus day. However, as God had promised, the salvation from sin that Jesus would bring and buy with His own blood, a deliverance far greater than any earthly exodus or exaltation could afford, was indeed extended to ALL who would believe, both Jew and Gentile alike (John 3:16; Romans 1:16)! The fact that Luke was a Gentile who was not only saved, who was not only used as a minister of the gospel, but who was also Divinely chosen to write the Book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke shows that God fulfills His promises to the uttermost! (note: these two books together are greater in length than the writings of the Apostle Paul) Glory to God in the highest indeed! The Savior born truly was for ALL people! (Luke 2:10-11).

What Makes Someone The Greatest? Part 5: Posted 12/6/2016 5:04:06 PM

John The Baptist Was Great Because He Testified Of Jesus (John 1:15; John 1:36; Matt. 3:11-12) An old hymn rightly declares, tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word, tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard. As unfortunate as it is that youd be hard-pressed to hear that hymn in many churches today, it is even far more unfortunate that youd often be hard-pressed to hear the story of Jesus there as well! I listened to a sermon recently where the pastor of a megachurch in a major denomination in the United States preached a message where his thesis was God gave me a Ferrari because I am a Ferrari, and youre a Ferrari too. That may be an extreme example, but I submit to you that sermons telling you how to be healthy and wealthy and how to be a better this and that are legion, while sermons declaring Christ and Him Crucified are largely lost (1 Cor. 2:2). Not so with John the Baptist. The greatest born of woman testified of Jesus!

John 1:15 records John the Baptist testifying to the Deity of Christ. He said of Jesus that He has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me. Now those familiar with the opening chapters of Lukes gospel know that John was actually six months older than Jesus according to the flesh. Seeing how their mothers were relatives who discussed the births of their babies with one another, John would have been keenly aware of the fact that he was the oldest. So why would he declare that Jesus existed before him? For the same reason that Christ would speak of Himself, Before Abraham was, I Am! (John 8:58). Jesus was fully man but also fully God, and as fully God He has always been, eternally existing from everlasting to everlasting, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8)!

John the Baptist not only testified of the Person of Christ, but also to the atoning work of Christ when he proclaimed of Jesus, Behold, the Lamb of God! (John 1:36). Beginning with the sacrifice of the animals to provide skin coverings for the fallen Adam and Eve, to the offering of the Passover Lamb during the Exodus from Egypt, to the prescribed animal sacrifices issued forth in the book of Leviticus, to the system of sacrifices offered at Solomons Temple near 1000 BC to those lifted up at Herods Temple in Jesus day; they all pointed to the facts that without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin and that animal blood was insufficient to pay the penalty to atone for sin and to satisfy the righteous wrath of God (Heb. 9:22). Only Jesus, the sinless Son of God, would be the worthy sacrifice, whose death alone could cleanse the sinful souls of all who would believe in Him so definitively that no more sacrifice would ever be needed to purchase our pardon (Heb. 9:28; Heb. 10:4)!

Finally, we will speak of Johns testifying of Jesus right to judge the souls of humanity. In Matthew 3:11-12, John The Baptist proclaims that Jesus will come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. What does this mean? All of those who are genuine children of God, who truly repent of sin and put faith in Christ as Savior, receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity (Rom. 8:9). So John telling that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit foretells of the saved being judged as righteous due to Christs atoning work and thus receiving Heavens reward. The fact that the Lord will also baptize with fire, though often misinterpreted as a positive thing, is speaking of Jesus separating the wheat from the chaff and then burning that chaff with fire! Unbelievers, those who have not repented of sin and put trust in Christ, those who have rejected Jesus and His salvation, will be righteously judged as unrighteous and will be in the place where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die!

What Makes Someone The Greatest? Part 4: Posted 12/1/2016 7:30:42 PM

However, John the Baptist didnt just preach repentance to the people, he also preached repentance to the powerful in religious circles. There are many preachers who are firebrands against sin from a pulpit, but then see themselves as being above the rules they lay down for others. How many ministers have you heard of who fell privately into the very sins about which they railed publicly? I remember being invited to a luncheon with two evangelists and two other pastors. For some reason I was the last one to arrive. The group seemed rather jovial and light until I walked up to the table. One of the evangelists immediately stopped mid-sentence from speaking and told the others that he would have finished the joke but now wasnt going to because he (me) just sees things too black and white. Now, I dont know what he was going to say but it did stand out to me that there seemed to be an attitude that theres one standard for the people, and another standard for ministers. Perhaps thats true. But if it is true, theres not a lower standard for ministers, theres a higher one! John the Baptist saw religious leaders coming to him and called them a brood of vipers, admonishing them that they had better be truly repentant!


Still, John the Baptist didnt just preach repentance to the people and the religiously powerful, he also preached repentance to the politically powerful . We are just wrapping up an election season (at the moment Im writing this I dont know the results, but by the time you read it the returns are probably in). I always encourage people to pray, read their Bible, and vote. Then go home and pray and read your Bible again (perhaps in some precincts you could vote again as well!). Though I will speak on what have become known as social issues from a biblical perspective at church, I dont talk political candidates from the pulpit. This isnt because Im in any way afraid that the government would come down on me, but because I dont believe that we should associate the honor and glory of the gospel of the King of kings and Lord of lords with the platform of any party or politician. I am saddened, and in some way sickened, to see national televised video of those running for office quite regularly standing behind a pulpit during a Sunday morning worship service (with full choir in tow) and addressing the congregation. Those politicians arent going to preach the gospel, arent going to exposit Scripture in any way, and many times (I dare say most times) arent even Christians themselves! Yet they are given prime billing in a worship service that should always be centered around honoring Jesus, preaching the Bible, and calling people to repentance from sin and to faith in Christ. It is troubling that believers today are much more willing to court political power than they are to confront it. Not so with John the Baptist. The ruler Herod Antipas divorced his wife so that he could seduce his brothers wife to leave her husband and marry him. A terribly tawdry situation indeed! Although Herod had the worldly power and authority to either ruin or raise the fortunes of any man in his realm, John the Baptist chose to confront the man about his sin and call him to repentance. This stand quite literally ended up costing John his head, but he would rather be true to the message of THE ETERNAL KING than to cater to the sinful whims of earths unruly rulers.

What Makes Someone The Greatest? Part 3: Posted 11/25/2016 11:11:14 PM

John The Baptist Was Great Because He Preached Repentance To All (Matt. 3:1-7; Mark 6:16-18) Sin and Repentance. Two words youll find many times in the pages of the Bible but hardly ever coming off the lips of preachers or the pens of Christian authors today. What words do we hear most often now? Euphemisms like mess, indiscretions, or poor choices. A mess is what a three year old makes when they knock over their milk at the breakfast table. An indiscretion is something so minor that it hardly bears mentioning. A poor choice is simply not making the best choice. Sin is more than a mess, more than an indiscretion, more than a poor choice. Sin is wretched, pitiful humanity in open rebellion against holy, almighty God! We have all sinned and fall short of His glory (Rom. 3:23). We have all gone astray and decidedly turned from the way of the Lord (Isa. 53:6). There is none righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). The very best that we could do on our best day is as filthy rags in the eyes of God (Isa. 64:6). We have worshipped the creation rather than the Creator and have failed to give the proper thanks and praise due to the Sovereign of the universe (Rom. 1:21-23). We have all broken the Lords Commandments in word, thought, and deed. The just penalty for those who sin is eternal, conscience torment in a place called Hell where the fire is not quenched and the worm doesnt die (Mark 9:48). With all guilty before God and with the punishment so severe, should not ministers emphasize the sinfulness of sin and the desperate need for repentance? John The Baptist, the greatest born of woman, certainly didnt make light of sin. He called sin for the dreadful thing it is and preached to the people, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! When one came to John to be baptized, they were confessing that they were a sinner, they were throwing themselves on the mercies of God, and they were going to walk in a newness of life.

What Makes Someone The Greatest? Part 2: Posted 11/18/2016 8:47:02 PM

John The Baptist Was Great Because He Wasnt Concerned With Being Hip (Matthew 3:4) There are many pastors today who think that being hip is a priority. A popular slogan for multitudes of contemporary churches is some version of this aint your grandmothers church! The idea seems to be that if you play the worlds kind of music, wear the worlds kind of clothes, and use the worlds kind of words, then theyll think church people are cool; and if they think Christians are cool then theyll think that Jesus is cool too! Now dont get me wrong, I dont think Christian men have to wear jackets, shirts and ties nor do I think Christian women have to wear skirts down to their ankles and bonnets on their heads, but I do think that a middle-aged pastor wearing skinny jeans and a low cut t-shirt or a female singer donning a mini-skirt and a spaghetti strapped top have violated the Scriptural mandate of modesty and have lost any semblance of genuine credibility. Im not saying that every song we sing has to come out of a hard covered hymnal, but if an outsider observing a worship service cant tell a difference between our church on the corner and their club down the street then perhaps we should take a step back and see if were not of the world as well as being in it. I also dont believe that we have to use the King James English every time we speak, but when the words of preachers from the pulpit have to be beeped out when used on radio (and Im not making this up) then we have become profane and certainly stand guilty of unedifying, ungraceful speech (Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6). We certainly shouldnt hold to traditions for the mere sake of being traditional, but believers are called to be a city set on a hill, a peculiar people that stand out like a sore thumb, or perhaps like a camel-garment wearing-locust-honey-eating believer in Jesus (Matt. 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:9).

What Makes Someone The Greatest? Part 1: Posted 11/18/2016 8:46:32 PM

You may not be able to tell by looking at my physique, but I used to be an avid sportsman. Okay, actually I was only good at one sport, that of bowling. I loved to play the game and to watch the professionals on TV. I havent laced up a pair of shoes myself now for years but I still like to catch the broadcast when I have opportunity. During the last three years or so Jason Belmonte, a new sensation from Australia, has been taking the American tour by storm. He bowls like no one Ive ever seen before. The Thunder from Down Under uses two hands producing so many revolutions and so much power that he most often makes shrapnel of all ten pins. Belmonte is so striking that some are already beginning talks labeling him the greatest of all time! Now, Im amazed by what he can do with a bowling ball, but from an observer of the sport for the past three decades (not just the last 3 years), I think its a little premature for quite such grandiose proclamations. I believe the best ever is right hander Walter Ray Williams, Jr. He dominated the PBA for more than two decades holding records for the most titles, most prize money won, and most Bowler of the Year awards. That being said, the last poll taken of sportswriters familiar with the sport actually said that the top kegler was Earl Anthony, a south paw known for his multiple wins in major tournaments and for being the face of bowling in the 70s. You see, whos the greatest at anything is often up for debate. People have different opinions based upon varying criterion and dissimilar preferences. Wouldnt it be great if there was an ultimate authority on whos the greatest? Well, there may not be such a ruling on bowlers, but the greatest authority, the ultimate authority, the Lord Jesus Himself did give us a definitive answer as to who was the greatest one born of woman. That man was John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11). In this months newsletter well look at the life of this man to see some reasons why he could be considered in such high regard.

The Example Of Daniel Part 5: Posted 11/10/2016 10:07:14 PM

Daniel Trusted And Seved God His Whole Life (Daniel 6) Ive made it no secret that I have a great affinity for the Gaither Videos. Not only do I like the music, which I think must be the music of Heaven, but I love to see some folks who have served in music ministry faithfully for so many years, long before there was great money to be made in the industry. As one of my professors often said, a faith that falters before the finish had a fatal flaw from the first. And havent we seen too many examples, from both pew and pulpit, of people denying with words and actions the faith they once professed. Yet, how beautiful it is to see a silver haired saint whose life and testimony tell you that life is hard but God is good, that our journey in this world isnt all roses but that the Rose of Sharon who has overcome the world is always faithful and true!

When the story of Daniel and the Lions Den is told we often get the idea that he was a young man. But on the contrary, at the time of this famous scene Daniel was likely a man in his seventies! Some young up and coming men in the service of King Darius (of the Medes and the Persians) resented being under the supervision of an aged exile from the foreign land of Judah and wanted to take the old man down. They knew that Daniel was an upright man and could not be found guilty of any crime. So they concocted a plan whereby they would get King Darius to sign a law saying that any person who prayed to anyone other than Darius for the next 30 days should be thrown into a lions den. Daniels custom was to pray to the one true and living God three times a day, and his young detractors knew he would not stop this practice and certainly would not pray to any man no matter the consequence. Indeed, their plan progressed as they thought, at least to a point. Daniel was caught praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and, though Darius loved Daniel, the king had the prophet thrown into the lions den. Come next morning, Darius went to the lions den and found that Daniel was alive and well. Daniel trusted and served God his entire life, may we do the same.

The Example Of Daniel Part 4: Posted 10/29/2016 9:43:34 PM

Daniel Represented God Boldly And Accurately (Daniel 5) A recent survey from a respected polling group found that Americans today are unconcerned about Heaven and Hell and the afterlife, if they even believe in such things at all. Some Christian ministers, well-meaning no doubt, read those results and concluded that what the church needs to do in response is to focus its messaging on giving advice on relationships, family, finance, career, and social justice while completely jettisoning speaking on matters of eternity and sin and righteousness and faith. The only problem with that is that it completely misses the focus of Scripture! What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world (has great relationships, a wonderful family, a prosperous career, a charitable attitude towards his fellow man, during his short earthly existence) and yet loses his eternal soul having never repented of sin and come to faith in Christ (Mark 8:36)! It takes courage and conviction to stand up and proclaim the gospel, that is that all are sinners and that Christ is the only Savior and that unless one repents of sin and puts faith in Jesus then they will spend an eternity in a lake of fire, especially in the midst of a secular culture that doesnt want to hear it and a church culture that is often filled with many self-professed ministers who have set their minds on things below instead of on things above! We should be far more concerned with what God has said than with what people want to hear!

Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzars son, was a very proud and profane man. He took the vessels that had been confiscated from the Temple in Jerusalem and used them to serve his own drunkenness as well as that of his guests as they partied and praised the false idolatrous Babylonian gods of wood and stone and silver and gold. In the midst of these blasphemous festivities what appeared to be a mans hand came and wrote a message on the plaster of the kings wall. It must have been a powerful scene for it caused Belshazzar to tremble, with even his knees beginning to knock together in fear. The king sent word to all of his conjurers and the like that he wanted an interpretation of what had been written by the mysterious hand. Belshazzar offered a great reward but to no avail as his wise men were unable to read the message. This caused the king to become more concerned and perplexed until the queen came forward and told him to be comforted for she had heard of Daniel of old who would be able to make the interpretation known. Belshazzar summoned Daniel and told him that great riches and power would be his if he could only reveal the message of the writing on the wall. The prophet could have made up something of his own mind. He could have heralded the greatness of Belshazzar and been richly rewarded, for even if it was a false message every man, especially kings, love to hear their greatness proclaimed and are willing to reward those who sing their praises. However, rather than go after the riches of this world and the favor of men, Daniel told Belshazzar that he could keep his reward and relayed to him that the writing on the wall was from God, the true King who held Belshazzars very breath in His hand! The message was that Belshazzar had been weighed in the balances and found wanting and that as a result he would be deposed and his kingdom given over to the Medes and the Persians. Fulfillment of the prophecy was swift as Belshazzar was slain that very night (historians believe it to be Oct. 16th, 539 BC). Daniel boldly and accurately represented God and His Word, may we do the same.

The Example Of Daniel Part 3: Posted 10/21/2016 9:34:42 PM

Daniel Gave Glory To God Instead Of Boasting In Himself (Daniel 2) In case you havent heard, were in an election year. There are many things that can trouble me during the political season (especially in the current election cycle), but one thing that disturbs me the most is the tremendous boasting that goes on. Each candidate declares that they are the best thing since sliced bread (or perhaps their greatness even predates the existence of sliced bread) and view their opponent as pond scum! They will take credit for everything from a good economy to a simple sunrise, and will blame the one running against them for anything from falling median incomes to the last time someone in the country stumped their toe! Truth be told, those who have the most to do with positive things happening are probably not in the spotlight. The whole truth be told, if there is any good thing that happens at all to or for anyone it is only as a result of the grace, power, and love of our Heavenly Father (James 1:17). All of mankind (and womankind), not just politicians, left to their own deceitful hearts are proud, arrogant, lovers of self who think they are the source of all things good and right (2 Tim. 3:2). Their demented thinking being more foolish than if the donkey upon which Jesus rode heard the cheers of the multitudes and believed that he, not Christ, was the rightful object of adulation!

There came a time when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream. He was deeply troubled by it and his sleep left him. He put out a call to all of his wise men, sorcerers, and soothsayers asking them not only to interpret the dream but to tell him his dream as well. A high call indeed. Anyone can hear a dream and then give some kind of fanciful interpretation of their own creation. But to tell the dreams contents without being told them by the one who dreamed it, thats pretty near impossible! Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill all of his advisors if someone could not step up to the plate and meet the challenge. None able was found until Daniel and his friends prayed that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would bring the revelation that He and only He could give. God came through and gave Daniel the kings dream and its interpretation. Unlike so many of our day, and indeed throughout all time, Daniel did not use that gift to make a name for himself or to gain personal fortune and fame, but rather proclaimed both privately and publicly that the only way he could have such wisdom was through the power of the Lord of all who is King over all! Daniel gave glory to God instead of boasting in himself, may we do the same.

The Example Of Daniel Part 2: Posted 10/17/2016 6:46:07 PM

Daniel Obeyed God Even When Far Away From Home (Daniel 1) Ive called many a parent over the years to report their childs conduct and some have been shocked that their precious angel while at home had engaged in such un-angelic behavior while in class. Ive witnessed many a young person who go off to college and seemingly lose their minds (and some the faith they once professed) when they experience the freedom of being out from under their parents roof, having left the safeguards of longstanding family, friends, and community. Dont think however that going crazy while away from home is a characteristic reserved for the young, or even for the seemingly spiritually immature. I went to seminary in a city that was known to have a number of ministerial conferences during the course of a year. Shamefully enough, it was no secret to the town that when these pastors came in from all over the country and even around the world that there would not only be an uptick in the local hotel industry, but also in the sales of pay per view movies in those hotels that would be unfit for any Christian to watch! People will do strange things when away from home, often yielding to their sinful desires rather than obeying God.

Gods people in Judah had sinned for many years. He had warned them through Jeremiah and other prophets that if they did not repent judgment was soon to come. The people did not repent and, true to His Word, the Lord brought the hammer down in the form of Judah being conquered by the Babylonian Empire. Unlike the Assyrians (the nation used to punish Israel in the North) who would spread a conquered people group to various corners of its kingdom to keep them from uniting again, the Babylonians would pick the best and brightest of a conquered land, bring them to their capital, and then enculturate and indoctrinate them to make them good Babylonians. Daniel was one of these best and brightest Jews that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon selected to become part of his elite. These chosen ones were to be fed the finest of foods and the best of wines. However, partaking of these grand provisions of food and drink would have caused Daniel to violate the dietary restrictions of the Old Testament. How easy it would have been for the young man to live it up on the kings food! The Temple had been ransacked and destroyed and the faith of his fathers seemed on the decline. Whats the need to hold to ancient beliefs that seem to be fading away? Daniel was far away from a devastated homeland. What Jerusalem elder would know he was breaking the religious law? And of course he could have used the age old justification, everybody else is doing it! But Daniel did not fall for the sinister schemes of sin; he obeyed God even though far away from home. The Temple might have fallen along with the faith of many, but the one true and living God still stood tall as ever. He might be away from his homeland and the sight of any respected elders he used to know, but he realized he was never unseen by the watchful eyes of Almighty God! Daniel also knew that right is right even if nobodys doing it and that wrong is wrong even if everybodys doing it. However, not everyone is doing it, for God always has a remnant people even in the midst of the darkest, most powerful undercurrents of spiritual and cultural wickedness. Daniel obeyed God even away from home, may we do the same.

The Example Of Daniel Part 1: Posted 10/17/2016 6:45:34 PM

I have taught Math in some form or other for over 20 years (must have started when I was 9!). When instructing students I give them plenty of facts and lists of steps to solve certain types of problems and to perform specific kinds of calculations. Still, facts and formulas often arent enough for pupils to clearly understand the subject of mathematics; it usually takes several worked out examples to make the material come clearly into view. The Bible, the Lords Holy and inerrant Word, gives us plenty of straight up doctrinal truth that must be believed and dictates that are to be lived by. That being said, God, in His graciousness, also provides for us in Scripture many examples of what a godly life should be. One of the greatest of these living illustrations of godliness comes to us in the person of Daniel.

Thou Shall Not Murder Part 4: Posted 10/9/2016 8:31:40 PM

The Supreme Murder : The Crucifixion Of Christ (Acts 2:22-23) The most well-known rendering of the 6th Commandment is Thou shalt not kill. However, I think You shall not murder is probably a better translation. Killing and murder are not the same thing. Murder is prohibited, killing is not. A soldier at war taking the life of enemy combatants who are trying to destroy his country is certainly involved in killing, but not in murdering. A police officer defends himself in the heat of battle responding to a crime and the malefactor doesnt make it through. Killing has taken place, but murder has not. A man defends his home and family from the schemes of an armed intruder and the invader is mortally wounded. Killing occurred, but murder did not. The State executes a convicted murderer who has gone through due process. Certainly a life has been taken in the course of the electrocution or lethal injection, but what took place is killing, not murder. As Scripture says, the State doesnt bear the sword for no reason (Rom. 13:4).

Jesus was the Word of God made flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). Christ fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead, and taught the truth. Indeed, He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). The Lord never did wrong to anyone and yet humanitys ultimate response to the sinless Son of God was to cry out for His crucifixion! The religious leaders couldnt find any agreeing testimony that He had committed any crime. Pilate declared that he could find no fault in Christ. Yet they murdered Him just the same! The Pharisees and Sadducees were jealous that Jesus was taking their crowds and had hatred for Him as He pointed out their errors in interpreting the Scriptures they claimed to know so expertly. Pilate may not have hated Jesus, but he was jealous to keep his power and was afraid if he didnt yield to authorizing Christs murder then a riot would start that would threaten his position. Still, dont think that were off the hook simply because we werent there 2,000 years ago to either call for or carry out the crucifixion. Christ didnt die because the religious leaders or Pilate had the power to hold Him to the cross, but rather because a payment had to be made for the sins of mankind. So, if you have ever sinned, in a very real sense you are guilty of the murder of Christ! (By the way, dont be so sure you wouldnt have called for the Lords crucifixion or wouldnt have been the one hammering in His hands and feet if you had been around at the time.) However, I have good news! What the devil meant for evil, what the religious leaders meant for evil, what Pilate meant for evil, and yes, what we meant for evil, God the Father and God the Son in infinite knowledge and sacrifice planned before the foundation of the world to be the means by which the price for sin would be paid and the offer of salvation made for all who would repent of sin and put their trust in Christ!

Thou Shall Not Murder Part 3: Posted 10/4/2016 8:08:03 PM

The Source That Leads To Murder : Jealousy and Hatred (Genesis 4; James 4:1-3; 1 John 3:15-16; Matt. 5:21-26) The first murder on record comes to us from the fourth chapter of Genesis. Cain and Abel were brothers. Cain was a farmer while Abel was a shepherd. Both of them were brought up with a knowledge of God. Both of them had heard of their parents disastrous fall from the Garden of Eden and of the terrible punishment for sin. Both of them knew, either from their parents or from the mouth of the Lord Himself, what kind of offering would be acceptable to God. Abel brought the required animal sacrifices, foreshadowing the necessity of the shedding of blood for the remission of sins and giving a firm picture of the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Cain, however, brought an offering of vegetation, the fruit of the ground. The Lord accepted Abels offering but rejected that of Cain. In His graciousness, instead of bringing fire and brimstone on Cains head immediately for his blatant disobedience, God confronted Cain, told him what he needed to do that could make things right, and warned him that if he rebelled instead of repented, sin was crouching at the door, ever ready to attack and devour. Rather than heed the Lords rebuke, Cain decided to kill his brother. Why would Cain do such a thing? He was jealous of Abels acceptance, and that jealousy led to murder! James 4:2 lays this out succinctly, you lust (are jealous for pleasures) and do not have; so you commit murder. Some people kill for money. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder. Some people kill for fame. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder. Some people kill for romantic relationships. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder. Some people kill for what they perceive as respect. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder. Some people kill for vengeance. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder. Some people kill for a better position on the highway. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder. Some people kill for quiet during their video game playing. They want it and dont have it, so their jealousy leads them to murder.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says that the biblical prohibition against murder shouldnt just be viewed in light of shootings or stabbings and the like, but also in terms of anger and insults. Our Lord, in addition to raising the standards of character for His followers, is also pointing out that if we allow ourselves to harbor hatred and dehumanize our fellow man, then we can easily fall into murder. How many people have committed acts of violence, even murder, because they allow small seeds of anger to grow into bigger weeds of hatred and ultimately into a huge harvest of homicide?! Therefore, Jesus warns us of the danger of hell fire for hatred (yes, He actually wielded Hell as a deterrent for bad behavior!), and then goes on to instruct us that we should settle disputes with our brother quickly, even if it costs us something, even if that cost is a big dollop of humility. Settle quickly, then no seeds of anger blossom into the weeds of hate and have no opportunity to yield the harvest of homicide.

Thou Shall Not Murder Part 2: Posted 9/23/2016 7:09:20 PM

The Only Source For Anti-Murder : The Bible (Gen. 9:6; Gen. 1:26-27; Psalm 8) Those who watch the news, our local news that is, are well aware of these stories of murder that have plagued and shocked our own community over the recent past. We are struck by the horror of these terrible crimes. Our hearts go out to the victims and we long for justice to be rendered to the evildoers. But why? Why are we so moved to sympathy for those murdered and for their families? Why do we want those responsible to be captured and punished? Evolution teaches that mankind is just an animal. We, along with all other species that currently exist, are only here because of survival of the fittest. If those who were murdered were physically unable to protect themselves from their attackers or were intellectually deficient so as to be smart enough to escape those who plotted their doom, then why shouldnt these weak ones be eliminated and why should these strong killers be punished? The harsh truth is that evolution, the dominant belief of human origins by those in the United States and Europe, provides absolutely no basis for saying that murder is bad and murderers should be punished. When a society buys into the views that humans are just another animal, that right and wrong are only relative, that there is no such thing as an afterlife with Hell as a punishment rendered by an Almighty and Righteous Judge for violations of His immutable law, then we should not be surprised when there is a rise in cold-blooded, heartless killing. Yet, even with these terrible repercussions, evolution is taught as more than a theory in our public schools and universities. In fact, if you dare to disagree with Darwin youre labeled a Dunce! More than one politician has had their mental status and fitness for office, indeed even their fitness for life, questioned if they dare to publicly express their view in Biblical Creation. Yet, sadder than the fact that many in the public eye will not openly defy Darwin and confess Creationism is the fact that the church (at least the professing church) tends to stay silent on such matters anymore. Many believers are more than willing to discard the Genesis accounts in favor of turning the Bible into a book of fables teaching moralisms but deficient in historical fact or scientific truth. (And our youth, especially our youth, are paying the price. A dear brother recently sent me a survey of young people leaving the Christianity they were brought up with, and they are leaving in droves, and one of the main reasons why they were leaving, as described by them, is the teaching of evolution that they receive in schools and universities).

The Bible is true because its true, so we dont proclaim it as true merely as a means to the end that we would have less murders. That having been said, only Christianity, only the Bible, provide the foundation that gives value to human lives. Only Scripture instructs us that God made all that is by saying let there be and then at the end of Creation week made man in His own image and likeness as the crown of that Creation to rule and have dominion over it. I know evolutionists will dismiss faith in Someone who made everything, but I wonder if they have ever considered what great faith they must have to believe that everything came from nothing and No one! I know evolution would shudder to think that humans are more valuable than other animals and that mankind should have rule over the Earth, but still the facts remain that we have humans who run zoos while animals are in cages and we have humans saving endangered species while the endangered species show, as best as I can tell, little concern for us! The fact that any person is concerned about the welfare of another, even about the taking of another human life, stands in agreement with Gods Word that He has given each man a conscience (Rom. 2:14-15). (That conscience can be seared as with a hot iron, as seen in our societys increasingly low view of human life.) May we pray that the church would return to a biblical view on Creation and the value of mankind, and may the church spread that view near and far. Otherwise, I assure you, the killings will only get worse and murder will forever be on the rise.

Thou Shall Not Murder Part 1: Posted 9/23/2016 7:08:34 PM

A high school senior, lettering in two sports, sits in a car with a friend. Before either knows what hit them, the athletes life is snuffed out and the other is wounded by gunshots. Two young men attend a party at a club. They and their families assumed they would be home later that night. The facility had armed security and everything was supposed to be wrapped up by midnight. But the two teenagers didnt make it home as bullets littered the parking lot of the club sending the young men to early graves. A man dresses up and goes downtown to join hundreds of others in an annual Halloween party. He thought it might be fun to enjoy the food and festivities, never imagining that the evening would be interrupted by gunshots, one of which tore through his body and left him for dead. A successful doctor returns home early from a family vacation. She left her loved ones to enjoy a few more days away while she came home to tend to her practice and livelihood. She comes through the door after a late night flight expecting to get some rest before going back to the grind the next morning. Instead she finds two men with hammers who beat the life out of her. In this series of blogs we will look at Commandment Number Six, Thou shall not murder.

The Power Of The Name Part 4: Posted 9/16/2016 8:18:04 PM

Name Dropping Doesnt Mean Genuine Relationship (Matthew 7:15-23) I could tell you that Ive worked hand in hand with Bill Gaither and that he loves to play with our precious boy. However, thatd be stretching the truth more than a little. I did meet Mr. Gaither once at a product table after a Gaither Vocal Band Concert. Bill was selling the music himself and reached across the table to shake my hand. I took his hand but was so star struck that I couldnt even answer his simple question of, how may I help you? As far as Gaither loving to play with our precious boy, thats maybe a little stretch as well. One year the Vocal Band came to Barbara B. Mann for a concert. My wife and I splurged to get ourselves front row seats as a mutual anniversary present (have I ever told you what a wonderful wife I have?!). Our sweet boy knew all the music and sang along in such an exuberant manner that it caught Bills eye and he gave our son a glance, a wink, and a smile. I could tell you that The Martins and I actually go on road trips together. Thats kind of true because when they came to Ft. Myers for a concert years ago me and a fellow coworker picked them up from their motel to drive them to a preconcert meet and greet at the bookstore. I could tell you that Michael English personally called me to sing a duet with him and that we thrilled audiences with our amazing performance. Thats kind of true because years ago a dear friend arranged for Michael to come for my birthday. He did call me up on stage to sing with him and Im sure at least some of the audience was thrilled because I had many friends and relatives in attendance. You see, I know who Bill Gaither, The Martins, and Michael English are, but they dont know who I am. I could drop their names, but that doesnt mean that I have genuine relationship with them.

Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus delivers powerful teaching that has come to influence every sermon Ive preached for the last several years. In Matthew 7:15-23 (I encourage you to read those verses) the Lord tells of those who werent allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They attempt to make a case for their admittance by saying to Jesus, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name cast out demons, and in Your Name perform many miracles? The Lord doesnt say that these false converts never uttered the Name of Jesus, nor does He even debate the power of the prophecies, deliverances, or miracles performed. Christ merely replies to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness. These folks were good at name dropping, or at least tacking the Name of Jesus on the end of their prayers. They may even have been involved in and perhaps even known for performing exhibitions of power. However, the Lord did not know them and they did not genuinely know the Lord. These false converts knew of the Name of Jesus and knew how to speak the Name of Jesus, but they did not know Jesus. They were taking His Name in vain. The passage has such great influence on me because while many think of profaning Gods name as cursing and swearing (and that behavior is certainly sinful and concerning), I am convinced that of far greater concern are folks who claim to know Christ but are actually false converts. 70% of people in America declare that they are Christians. They claim the Name of Jesus. But does anyone think that number is anywhere near accurate? There are many people who pray and then tack the phrase in Jesus Name at the end of it. Yet those prayers are often filled with self-centered and self-glorifying phrases primarily concerned with the riches and fame of this world rather than being biblically informed petitions raised in an earnest desire for God to be exalted and the Kingdom of Heaven to be expanded. It is not enough to name drop the Name of Jesus, we must actually know Him and be committed to Him. It is not enough to profess the Name of Jesus and the title of Christian, we must actually possess Christ, be born again through repentance and faith, in order to be genuine believers. Lets not take the Name of our Lord in vain!

The Power Of The Name Part 3: Posted 9/13/2016 6:48:06 PM

Dont Offer God Less Than Your Best (Malachi 1:6-14) Ive taught Math in some capacity for nearly 20 years. Perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with from an academic perspective is when you have a student that you know is not giving it their best. If their best is a C then its okay when they get a C. However, if you know their best is an A but theyre satisfied to just get a C, then thats irritating. It shows that they dont care enough about their academic success or the subject at hand or, to some degree, even about me as their teacher to give it their best. Theyre apathy is irritating in the present moment but will eventually look bad on me at some level when the end of the year test results come back and my grade as an educator is partly dependent upon a student who I know did not give it their best!

The book of Malachi, contrary to popular opinion, deals with more than just money! In fact, a large part of the four chapter unit which completes the Old Testament speaks primarily to the negligence and profaneness of those who were in ministerial positions. In Malachi 1:6-14 the Lord declares in no uncertain terms that He is unhappy with the priests allowing the people to offer sacrifices that were not up to the standards of that which the law demanded. Gods Word clearly instructed that the animals offered had to be without blemish, yet the people brought substandard animals with glaring imperfectionsand the ministers not only allowed it but let the people think the Lord was alright with it! Why would the people bring less than what God commanded, less than their best, to the Lord? Obviously, they wanted to keep the best for themselves. They didnt recognize Gods holiness or His power as the sole source for any and all blessings they were privileged to enjoy. Likely the only reasons they gave anything at all to the Lord was because they wanted to keep up appearances in their community or perhaps because they thought their pittance would at least keep God from bringing judgment against them. Why would the priests accept any offering other than what God prescribed? I think perhaps the biggest reason why the priests let the people give less than their best to the Lord is because the priests themselves werent giving their best to the Lord! Also, the ministers might have made the calculation that having a whole lot of less than the best offerings come in was better than having very few come in that were the best. In short, accepting less than the best (which God commanded) worked out better for their own prosperity and popularity than taking a stand for the true Word of the Lord! What was Gods perspective on the whole situation? He told them that He was not going to always put up with the profaning of His Name and His Honor. The Lord even said He would prefer that the whole church be shut down rather than for them to continue not following after His Word and His commands and making people think that He was okay with their disobedience. In the New Testament, Jesus commands those who are His children to follow after Him with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37; Luke 9:23-27). Anything less than that is not honoring the Name of the Lord as He is to be honored! Lets not take the Name of our Lord in vain!

The Power Of The Name Part 2: Posted 9/8/2016 9:18:16 PM

Dont Say God Said What He Didnt Say (Zechariah 13:1-3) I remember being asked to teach a Sunday School Class at the church I was attending while in Seminary. Memory fails as to what the main thrust of my lesson was one week but I clearly remember that somewhere during the course of the teaching I brought out the point that the phrase thus saith the Lord, which was emblematic for Old Testament Prophets, was not a common New Testament phrase (the giving of the Spirit to indwell all genuine believers is the reason for this change). I went on to say that I believed the reason so many people in modern day church give a prophecy with the phrase thus saith the Lord at the end of their proclamations is because they know no one would believe or take seriously what was just stated if it was simply based on the character of the person saying it themselves. By using the Old Testament phrase they are trying to invoke the authority of God rather than merely their own behind what they just said. Can God use someone in the gift of prophecy in the present day? I believe so (though I do think the word prophecy in the New Testament is much more likely to speak of preaching Gods Word accurately), but if the gift of prophecy is genuinely occurring then what is being said must not in any way be contradictory to Scripture (along with some other qualifying characteristics that time doesnt permit to mention). The pastor of the church, who was attending my class that morning, came up to me afterwards and thanked me for making that point. Unbeknownst to me there was a woman visiting that day who in the past (before I began attending there) had frequently made prophetic declarations invoking the Name of the Lord and her prophecies were often antithetical to Gods Word and the movement of the Spirit during church services.

Zechariah is a book that doesnt get much air play but, in addition to making many Messianic Prophecies, contains a powerful passage telling of the judgment of false prophets. The opening three verses of chapter 13 declare that there will be a time when those who have prophesied falsely in the Name of the Lord will be so derided that they will be turned in for the death penalty by their own father and mother who gave them birth! God warns us of saying that God said things He didnt say! He takes His Name seriously and will not allow for it to be dragged through the mud by being used as the basis of authority for lies! Lets not take the Name of our Lord in vain!

The Power Of The Name Part 1: Posted 9/3/2016 9:41:20 PM

A few years back my wife and I received a surprise when submitting our taxes. We were notified that our filing would be delayed until we went through a process of proving that I am me. The IRS questioned my identity because someone else had already submitted a return with my name and Social Security Number. We knew that surely wasnt the case because any tax return submitted before April 15th couldnt possibly be ours and because Ive been me ever since Ive known me so someone else couldnt be me! We did some research and quickly discovered that people trying to take the identities of others to get refunds or file fraudulent returns (not to mention other nefarious acts) is not all that uncommon. Thankfully, the problem was cleared up and the IRS set up a PIN number system for subsequent years that has protected our name from future attempts at identity thievery.

No one likes to have their identity taken or their good name tarnished. Fortunately for us things worked out okay, but weve all heard horror stories on the news and perhaps even know of someone (or even are that someone) who hasnt had near as favorable of an outcome when dealing with the issue of identity theft. Still, as much as we may not like having our good name dragged through the mud, on a spiritual level there is really only One who is truly good and only He has a good Name (Mark 10:18; Rom. 3:10). It is in that Name and that Name alone that salvation can come to mankind (Acts 4:8-12). It is to that Name and that Name alone to which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:5-11). God has not, does not, and will not take His Name and the honor due to His Name lightly. So serious does the LORD take His Name that the third of the Ten Commandments provides the prohibition against using His Name in vain (Ex. 20:7). We will look at three passages of Scripture that help identify for us ways that Gods Name can be taken in vain and that point to the serious nature and necessity of reverence for the Name of our Lord!

Lessons From The Road Part 5: Posted 8/25/2016 5:39:59 PM

Lessons from the Destination I remember pulling into mamaws and papaws driveway in Ohio after our long trip from Florida when I was a kid. Sis (shes really my aunt but if I call her Aunt instead of sis that would be the last you would see of me!) still lived with my grandparents at that time. When we called and let them know that we were close, she would begin looking out the window. When our car came into view, shed run out of the house and welcome us with hugs and kisses. We crawled out of the vehicle and limped inside. As the blood began circulating and the numbness went out of our legs, we would find that mamaw had been hard at work. She had all of our favorites waiting for us in the kitchen; her famous macaroni vegetable soup was simmering on the stove, a freshly topped apple sauce cake lay on the counter, homemade cornbread was awaiting to go into the oven, and freshly cut potatoes were ready to take a plunge into a lard laden iron skillet. (Anyone getting hungry right about now!) Papaw was sitting in his blue rocking chair on the front porch. Hed give us a hug and say hello before taking our car down to his garage (an immense structure that he had built himself out of leftover telephone polls). After he was finished with the car hed make time to pick on dad for having his hair too long while simultaneously loading me up in the car to take me to the barber! But, just before we left, he let dad know what project wed be working on when we got back from town. (It wouldnt have been a trip to Ohio without fixing the well, or rebuilding a motor, or poring a cement walkway, or shingling the roof, etc)

Sis has been married for 17 years now to a godly man who used to be my Sunday School teacher. They live in a little town about 25 minutes (or 15 minutes if you drive like they do!) away from mamaws and papaws old house. They are blessed with 2 young girls of their own, one who just received the Lord this past Easter! Mamaw, now in her 80s, lives in an assisted living facility close to them. She has Alzheimers. Thankfully, she is doing fairly well physically. She still remembers our faces and is in pretty good spirits, especially before sunset (those who know someone with Alzheimers know what Im talking about). Papaw, a Baptist minister who made a great impact upon my life, went home to be with the Lord almost a decade ago now.

I would love to see papaw again. Id love to see my mamaw with her full faculties again. Id love for them both to meet and remember the wonderful wife God has blessed me with and the fabulous great grandchild they have. I wont find that to be a reality when we reach our destination in Ohio this year. However, one day, when we reach the final destination for those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, those dreams along with others that have never crossed my mind nor entered my heart will be realized in full forever. Not only will my relatives be there with great excitement (I am so thankful to have a family that is mostly comprised of believers; there is truly no greater blessing!), but our Heavenly Father will be awaiting us! I dont know if He will have soup, cake, cornbread, fried potatoes, haircuts, or projects, but I do know that the God who loved us so much to give His only Son, who has a party in heaven each time a lost sinner asks for forgiveness, will surely have a welcome home bash beyond our wildest imagination!

Lessons From The Road Part 4: Posted 8/18/2016 5:54:20 PM

Lessons from the Journey Before leaving on vacation, it takes about a week to get ready to go and a week to catch up when you get back. (All through the blogosphere I think I see a bunch of heads nodding and hear several amens being said right now!) Going on the trip is a big chore. Traveling is tiring. You measure your progress in mile markers and sometimes it seems they will never end. You see the sign for Cleveland, but just as you get a little excited you realize that its Cleveland, Tennessee being advertised instead of Cleveland, Ohio! Several hundreds of miles yet to go! However, in the midst of the long, arduous, seemingly never-ending journey, there are things to be enjoyed and not overlooked. I get to spend hours and hours holding the hand of my love, the best wife that anyone could ever ask for, as she sits next to me in the front seat. I get to look in the rearview mirror and gaze upon the precious boy the Lord has blessed us with. I get to see my sweet mom enjoy being the best grandmother a boy could ever hope to have as she plays with our boy in the backseat. I get to hear stories from my dad (assuming I can get him to come out of his shell!) that I wandered if I would ever get to hear again a few years ago as we sat at the foot of a hospital bed.

Life can be tiring and tedious. Sometimes progress is slow and taxing. The destination that awaits us as believers is something to be longed for with great anticipation. However, dont overlook the joy of the journey. As we serve the Lord, the Father of lights gives us every good and perfect gift to enjoy and for which to be grateful!

Lessons From The Road Part 3: Posted 8/12/2016 10:29:37 PM

Lessons from the Front Seat For the past several years of our excursions up north Ive been the one doing the driving. My wife, my mom, and my dad all offer to take over so that I can rest. (I always tell them that I can rest better when Im driving!) We dont make the trip as fast now as we used to when I was a kid. Dad could drive all night, sleep a couple hours at a rest area, and then finish the journey. I can drive all day with no problem, but when the sun goes down I begin to get tired and need to pull over sometime before midnight to get a little shut eye at a motel. You see, when youre in the front seat, you cant sleep all day. You have responsibilities. You have to pay attention. Its not all about you. You have to think about the welfare of your passengers. Have you double checked that its safe to pass? Are you looking in the rearview mirror to see if there are any crazy drivers coming up behind you? Did you watch the road signs closely enough to make sure that youre on the right highway? Does somebody need to stop for a rest bit? Have you reached the limit of time you can safely continue driving before pulling over for the evening?

We do well to remember that we are not the only ones we need to consider when making decisions. Life is not all about us! The Lord is surely the One who is always in control, but through His providence we have God-given responsibilities that, when carried out according to His strength and wisdom, bring more fulfillment to our lives than we could have ever dreamed. The life spent on selfishness and self-centered concerns is an empty one indeed. The life invested in loving and serving God and loving and serving others is one filled with abundance!

Lessons From The Road Part 2: Posted 8/5/2016 7:50:30 PM

Lessons from the Back Seat Dad did most of the driving in the early years of our travels from Florida to Ohio. I wasnt old enough to drive then and mom, well she was old enough but, lets just say, she wasnt given too much opportunity! I sat in the backseat. I use the word sat loosely because mostly I laid down in the backseat and slept! If I tried to read, I would get sick. If I watched the scenery, I would get bored. If I watched dads driving, I would get scared! So, even though I wasnt one to sleep for long periods of time, I trained myself to rest for about 15 of the 20 hours of the Ohio Road Trip. The only times you could be sure I would be awake on the road was when I was hungry for a hamburger or needed to go to the restroom!
There are times in life when we may be sick, sometimes we may be bored (although I find those are fewer and farther between as I get older), sometimes we may be scared, and almost all times we find ourselves not being in the drivers seat! However, we have a Heavenly Father who is good, who can be trusted, who is all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful, and faithful! Hes got everything under control! So sit back (lay down if youd like!) and rest soundly knowing that every need is supplied and you are secure. (Just be sure and wake up at the next White Castle Restaurant!)

Lessons From The Road Part 1: Posted 8/5/2016 7:49:57 PM

My dad, mom, and I moved to Florida when I was 10. With much of our family still living up north, we began the tradition of going on an almost annual road trip to Ohio to see them. Weve trekked up and down I-75 so many times that we know where the best places are to get gas, where all the White Castle Restaurants are located (did I just mention places where you can get gas?), where the most affordable motel rooms can be found, some key states to look out for the Highway Patrol, and some key cities not to hit at 5 in the afternoon. This is the time of year that many of us here at the store are taking vacations (and some of us are working extra hours to cover; oh the sacrifice!). That got me thinking about some lessons Ive learned from the road north on our vacations through the years that are good lessons for the road of life.

Declaration Of Doctrine Part 4: Posted 7/24/2016 10:14:06 PM


With certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness The Founders held the belief that human rights extend from the hand of God, not from the halls of government. The three rights they focused on in this most famous excerpt from the Declaration of Independence were the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness. In this blog, we only have time to focus on the first, the right to life. It stands to reason that if someone doesnt have this most basic right, then any and all others are meaningless. The Founders would have been horrified to think that the Supreme Court of our nation found the right to an abortion to be contained in the privacy clause of the Constitution. Any intellectually honest person who actually reads the Constitution would never come up with the conclusion that our Founding Fathers or that document in any way supported abortion. A baby, from the moment of conception, is alive! You can see the heart clearly beating on an ultrasound as early as 7 weeks into pregnancy. Psalm 91:13-14 declares that God formed us in our mothers womb and that every human is fearfully and wonderfully made. When a government steps in to take away this most basic right to life from the most vulnerable among us, its only a matter of time before it will step in to take away the other God-ordained rights found in our Declaration. Indeed, the doctrine of the sanctity of life espoused by our founders and expressed in our Declaration of Independence, need to be reiterated to our current culture which has aborted 56,000,000 and counting.

Declaration Of Doctrine Part 3: Posted 7/16/2016 6:32:59 PM


That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator One of the self-evident truths espoused in the Declaration was the idea that everyone is created equal. Acts 10:34 teaches that God does not show partiality, or in KJV language, that He is not a respecter of persons. We all know what it feels like to be misjudged or misunderstood. We all know what it feels like to be treated unfairly or unjustly because of our appearance or our heritage or our background. Laws against discrimination abound in our books but still dont keep it from happening on the streets, at the schoolhouse, on the playground, or in the workplace. Governments and political systems throughout the ages, but especially in more modern times, think that the way to make all men be treated equal is to deny God and religion and make man the measure of all things. However, any serious student of history will find that once the Creator is done away with and religious thought is no longer welcomed in the public square, when the government instead of God becomes the source from which citizens are seen to derive their rights and liberties, when the concept of mankind being a Divine creation gives way to the view that the human race is the mere product of evolution and cosmic chance, then the concepts of equality among men, basic decency, and foundational human rights are dealt mortal blows. George Washington asserted in his Farewell Address that morality and decency cannot exist apart from religious principle. The pages of the Bible, as well as the annals of history, show that he was right.

Declaration Of Doctrine Part 2: Posted 7/12/2016 12:18:43 AM


We hold these truths to be self-evident The concept of self-evident truth is known by theologians as the doctrine of general revelation. Its the idea that all people, whether they are Christians or not, whether they possess a copy of the Bible or not, can still know some truth about God and about life through the agents of creation and conscience. Psalm 19:1 states that the heavens are telling the glory of God. When you look up into the starry night sky, when you see a magnificent sunrise or view a picturesque sunset, when you sense the freshness of the breeze or the refreshment of the sea; even without looking into the pages of the Old or New Testament or hearing a sermon from a pulpit, you know that theres a God who is bigger, stronger, and smarter than any human could ever be. Romans 2:15 gives us the second-half of the general revelation duo when it states that every person has a conscience, a basic knowing of right and wrong that internally either defends or accuses them for their thoughts, words, and deeds. In the words of The Message, a paraphrase of Scripture written by Eugene Peterson, there is something deep within them (every man) that echoes Gods yes and no, right and wrong. Again, without ever turning to a verse in the Bible, every man has been given a conscience by the Creator that tells them some basic truths about right and wrong. The presence of this moral code in human hearts is another testimony that there is a God who implanted this code and that there is an absolute truth to be followed. In our present day, there are many who deny the existence of God and disavow the existence of any absolute truth, they hold to a belief that man is the center of the universe and that whats right and wrong for one person may not be whats right and wrong for another person. Our Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence are sources from which our modern thinkers could learn a great deal.

Declaration Of Doctrine Part 1: Posted 7/12/2016 12:18:12 AM

br>Just reading the title of this blog is probably enough to send some into immediate snooze mode. Doctrine is a word that has unfortunately gotten a bad rap in our modern Christian culture. It carries such a negative connotation that some take a great amount of time, a great amount of volume, and, truth be told, a great amount of pride as well, in boldly declaring that they arent into doctrine; that they just want to talk about love or spirituality or some other subject that tends to have a more emotional appeal than the cold, sterile, concept of doctrine. However, I assure you that everyone has. That is, everyone believes something and what they believe impacts all that they do and all that they are. In this month that we celebrate the 4th of July holiday, I want to take a brief look at some of the doctrines of our Founding Fathers as expressed in the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence. (just a note: if you want a good doctrinal textbook, there is perhaps none better than Wayne Grudems book entitled Systematic Theology; its one of those classics that we always keep on the shelf).

Faith Of Our Fathers Part 4: Posted 7/4/2016 8:20:58 PM

Jacob : Steadfast Endurance (Gen. 32:24-32) Perhaps the most famous person to ever call Ft. Myers home was the great inventor Thomas Edison. His work gave us the light bulb, the phonograph, the movie camera and countless other modern conveniences that have become cornerstones to contemporary living. One of the last projects he endeavored to complete was to come up with a source of rubber that could be mass produced in the United States. If you visit his Winter Home as we did this past Christmas (if you decide to go, start saving now, tickets cost more than they used to!), you will find that right across the street from his residence was his lab. The famed inventor spent hour after hour after hour focusing on his work so he wanted his lab close to where he lived. In fact, Edison worked so much it might have been hard to tell whether his lab or his house would be more appropriately called his home! Rightly looked upon as a brilliant and innovative man, Edison would say that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration and credited his success to diligence, focus, and the refusal to give up. Indeed, in a microwave world of short attention spans and 140 characters for a Tweet (someone who understands how to do that can enlighten me someday) we would do well to revisit the traits of focus and stick-to-it-iveness!

There were certainly many famous events in the life of Jacob (even beginning from birth), but perhaps the scene that rises to the top is recorded for us in the 32nd chapter of Genesis. Jacob was on his way back to the land of his fathers, and that would mean he would have to meet up again with his brother. Esau, the elder brother by just a few moments, had some 20 years before vowed to kill his younger sibling for deceiving their father Isaac into giving him the blessing that Esau wanted to claim for his own. Jacob was hoping the next sunrise would bring a day of reunion but feared the more likely possibility was that it would bring a day of reckoning. As night fell and Jacob was left alone there was a man who came and wrestled with him. This man was a heavenly being, perhaps an Angel of the Lord and, as many scholars think, maybe even a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ! The struggle lasted all night, but despite the long hours involved and even the sustaining of a limp inducing hip injury, Jacob steadfastly endured and would not let go until he received a blessing. In the course of the meeting Jacob confesses his real name when asked by the Angel of the Lord (the last time in Scripture he had been asked his name was when he lied to his father Isaac claiming to be his brother EsauGen. 27:19) and ends up having his named changed to Israel (he who strives with God) because he had wrestled with God and with men and had prevailed. Now certainly God could have seen to it that Jacob was overpowered at any moment, but the Lord doesnt turn aside those who come to Him and rewards those who diligently seek His face (John 6:37; Hebrews 11:6). In years past Jacob thought he could bring about blessing by his own conniving; now he had come to know that true blessing only comes from God above (Gen. 31:42; James 1:17). This revelation kept him holding to the hand of the Lord with steadfast endurance. May we have the same revelation and follow in the same action come what may during our days and times!

Faith Of Our Fathers Part 3: Posted 7/1/2016 11:50:10 AM

Isaac : Willing Sacrifice (Gen. 22:5-14) I remember one time many years ago seeing, or perhaps better said hearing, a sister in the Lord (who will remain nameless) vacuuming the church. It wasnt necessarily her job or responsibility, but it needed done. Someone else had made the mess. Someone else besides her was supposed to be cleaning it up but was negligent in their duties. So she took it upon herself to get it done. You could almost hear her irritable huffing and puffing over the running engine of the vacuum cleaner! You could certainly hear her verbal complaints of how this wasnt fair and of how something needed to be done to eliminate this situation from happening in the future during the intervals when she had to move the vacuum cord from one wall plug to another. I would have gladly taken over the job (which is certainly how she was viewing it) from her but I was afraid I might get swept away in her anger (pun intended)! She sacrificed her time and performed a needed function, but it wasnt a willing sacrifice with a righteous attitude. Im fairly certain it will end up on the wood, hay, and stubble pile instead of the stack of gold, silver, and precious stones when it comes to the day of reward (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

The 22nd Chapter of Genesis tells us of the story of Abrahams willingness to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. God had promised that Abraham would be an exalted father of many. Yet 25 years passed between the giving of this promise and the birthing of the child (Abraham was 75 years old when he received the promise and was 100 years old when Isaac was born). As much as any father rejoices in the birth of his son, Abraham must have rejoiced all the more as he not only saw a natural baby born but also a divine promise fulfilled. Imagine then the shock and potential dismay that Abraham encountered when the Lord told him to sacrifice his only son (thats what God called Isaac) on Mt. Moriah as a burnt offering. Still, even with the hardness and seemingly unreasonable nature of this command, nowhere does Scripture record that Abraham ever questioned the Word of God in this matter. He got the necessary provisions together and headed up the mountain with his son. This passage contains a number of meaningful correlations to the sacrifice of Christ that would occur nearly 2000 years later; however the point I want to focus on is the willingness of Isaac to be sacrificed. As he and his father walked up the mountain, Isaac looks at the provisions his dad has prepared for them to bring along and notices that they have everything except for the animal to be offered. So the son asked his father, where is the lamb for the burnt offering? Abraham responds by simply saying that, God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering. That was good enough for Isaac and the two continued walking on. At what moment it set into Isaacs mind that he himself was going to be the sacrifice we dont know, but it must have occurred to him at some point as he was bound and placed into position to be slain. Isaacs age at the time is unknown but most think he was anywhere from late teens to as old as his late thirties (many rabbinical scholars projected that Isaac was 37 at the time basing it on the events of the next chapter in Genesis). Abraham was by now well over 100. Isaac surely could have tried to resist his father and likely would have prevailed. Isaac could have been screaming as the knife drew ever closer to taking his life. However, Scripture records neither struggle nor strife between the father and the son. Abraham was amazingly willing to sacrifice and Isaac was amazingly willing to be sacrificed. A glorious picture of the gospel indeed! Of course the sacrifice of Isaac was cut short; the sacrifice of Jesus went to full measure! And thanks be to God it was not a begrudging sacrifice, but a willing one with the power to save all who repent of sin and put their trust in Christ!

Faith Of Our Fathers Part 2: Posted 6/23/2016 9:45:34 PM

Abraham : Simple Faith (Gen. 12:1-4) Theres a familiar story used to illustrate faith that you may have heard of before. It goes something like this. A man fell off a cliff. About halfway down the several hundred yard drop to certain doom, he happened to catch hold of a limb sticking out the side of the mountain. Thankful to have stopped his descent but recognizing that apart from external assistance he had only delayed the inevitable, the man cried out desperately and in high decibels, is there anybody up there who can help me? Much to his surprise, he immediately received a response. A loud and clear voice replied, this is God speaking, let go of the limb and I will catch you and bring you to safety. The man thought for a moment, strengthened his grip on the limb, and then yelled out even louder than before, Is there anyone else up there who can help me?!

The twelfth chapter of Genesis recounts to us the beginning of Gods choice of and dealings with a man named Abraham (though he was known as Abram at the time). Verses 1 to 3 tell of the Lords first communication with the man who would become known as the father of our faith (the Bible describes 7 times altogether that God spoke to Abraham7 times in 100 years; from age 75 to 175). God promised to bless Abraham and commanded him to leave his homeland to go to a land that would be shown to him. Hebrews 11:8 makes it clear that Abraham did not even know where he was to go at the time, just simply that he was to leave. Imagine being in such a spot; commanded to go but not told where to go to. Going back to our opening illustration, it would be worse than falling off a cliff and being told by God to let go of the branch you were clinging on to, it would be more like being safe at the top of the mountain and being told by God to jump off the cliff! But jump he did! Verse 4 declares that Abraham went forth as the LORD had spoken to him. Abraham was not like a child who obeys out of ignorance. At 75 years of age he had lived long enough to know that the world was a dangerous place and that the unknown could be especially perilous. Yet he chose to move in faith instead of remaining in unbelief. As Warren Wiersbe, one of my favorite commentators, wisely writes, faith is not believing in spite of evidence, it is obeying in spite of consequence. It is interesting to juxtapose the let us mentality of the Tower of Babel builders in Genesis 11 with the simple faith of Abraham in Genesis 12. The former was a works based system that disobeyed God and believed in the greatness of man. It ended with the Lord showing who was boss as He dispersed the peoples and confused the languages. The latter was a grace based system that focused on the greatness of God, believing that He was good to His Word and that His commands were to be followed. It ended with Abraham believing God and having it accounted to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6) and continues on to us today as a foreshadowing that salvation cannot come from the works of mans hands but by grace alone, by faith alone, and by Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-10; Gal. 3:6; Rom. 4:3).

Faith Of Our Fathers Part 1: Posted 6/23/2016 9:44:57 PM

An old hymn begins with the lyric, Faith of our fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword, o how our hearts beat high with joy, wheneer we hear that glorious word! I am thankful to have had a Christian grandfather. Papa(w), as I called him, was a Baptist minister. Two things I never doubted about him was that he loved Jesus and that he loved me. I am also grateful to have a Christian father. Daddy, as I still call him though Im now 29 (plus a few!) and hes 29 (plus a few more!), has fixed, without complaint or charge, tons of things that I either broke or failed to maintain. Folks may think Im kidding around when I say that when something doesnt work I call 1-800-DAD, but I assure you its the truth! More importantly, my daddy was a big part of instilling in me a love for old hymns, even at a time in his life when he wasnt following after the Lord. Thankfully, for more than a decade now, I have been privileged to know and serve Jesus alongside a dad who is dedicated to the purposes of Christ. I have been blessed to be a dad myself for over 8 years now and it is truly one of the most amazing joys and greatest responsibilities that I have ever known. Of all the things that I could pass on to my son as a heritage, there is none more important than that of faith in Christ as described in that grand old hymn and as I have seen in the lives of both my papa(w) and daddy. In this months newsletter we will look at three aspects of a genuine faith that we should strive to model before our children as manifested in the lives of The Fathers (The Patriarchs-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

''Your'' Father Part 2: Posted 6/15/2016 2:27:09 PM

In our present age fatherhood, even masculinity as a whole, has been degenerated to abysmal levels. Just think if an alien (from outer space) were to come to America and watch the average situation comedy on television. If he heard that God was his Father, then he would probably think of the Lord as some bumbling buffoon who was really being manipulated by others while being under the delusion that he was the man of the house. Let this same alien look at some of the requirements to receive government assistance and he would probably think that God as Father would mean that the human family would really rather not have Him around. Just think if the alien looked at a certain television commercial depicting a dad telling his children that they could text message and have unlimited wireless phone minutes at a reduced rate due to a great new deal from the cell phone company. When the kids tell their father that they already had text messaging and unlimited minutes on their current plan, the fathers response (as his wife comes in sporting some silly suit shes been wearing working at advertising some fast food item) was that the difference is that at the new reduced rate the mom could quit her second job! If this commercial served as the input forming the aliens opinion of fatherhood, when told God was his father he would likely have the idea that the Almighty was some deadbeat who got all the benefits of life and bossed everyone around while letting others do all the work!

Indeed, the image of father portrayed in our society is alien (forgive the pun, but I couldnt resist!) to the glorious picture of our heavenly Father painted for us in Scripture. In the Sermon on the Mount alone Jesus reveals that your heavenly Father affirms that: we are salt and light that bring Him glory (Matt. 5:16); we are to show others the grace He has shown us (Matt. 5:45; Matt. 6:14-15); He wants us to grow up to be just like Him (Matt. 5:48); He cares enough to notice what others miss and rewards us openly, unashamedly in front of everyone, for the good we have done (Matt. 6:4; Matt. 6:6; Matt. 6:18); He knows our every need and is on the way to meeting it before we even ask (Matt. 6:8; Matt. 6:32); He will give us our daily bread, forgive our sins, and lead us into righteousness (Matt. 6:9-13); He will give good gifts to His children when we pray (Matt. 7:11); and that He will accept as His children all who come to Him and by His grace do His will, regardless of their backgrounds (Matt. 7:21). Truly, the picture of our Heavenly Father in Scripture is much different than the picture of earthly fathers presented by popular culture.

My old notes also reminded me of the fact that on Friday, May 25th, 2007 at approximately 4:21 p.m., I saw my baby for the first time. Though we were only seven weeks along, the doctor was able to perform an ultrasound and Terry and I saw our little one. He was only a little blip on the screen. Still, in real time, we could see the heart beat at what was determined to be 154 awesome beats per minute. I cannot explain the joy that filled our hearts! We loved this little one so much though all we knew of him was a little blinking dot on the screen. We immediately went out looking at the baby sections in the department stores and showing off our first pictures! If we, being finite, human, and sinful by nature, were able to love with such great capacity our little one that we did not even yet know (of course, now that hes eight years old and the most precious, most handsome, and smartest boy in all the world-in my totally unbiased opinion-we love him even more now than then), how much more does God, our Heavenly Father, who is infinite, holy, and good, love you and me, His children that He has known since before we were in our mothers womb (Jeremiah 1:5)!

''Your'' Father Part 1: Posted 6/15/2016 2:25:44 PM

With summertime in full swing, one of the things Ive been doing is organizing some of my sermon notes from past years. It has been both challenging and rewarding: challenging because my previous organization system consisted of the well thought out and high tech strategy of stuffing my notes into a box (or should I say into various boxes!); rewarding because as I sort through I relive the joy of studying Scripture and the gratitude I feel in my heart for the Lord caring enough for us to speak to us through His Holy Word. With Fathers Day approaching, one particular note from the past that stood out to me came from a series I prepared on the Beatitudes. I noticed that Christ uses the term Father seventeen times in the three chapters (Matthew 5-7) that compose the Sermon on the Mount. One of the distinctives of Jesus ministry was that He dared to call the Almighty God His Father (or literally Daddy) in a more intimate way than any of His contemporary rabbis. However, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus only says My Father once. He uses Our Father one time in the giving of the Lords Prayer. The other fifteen times that the word Father is used, it is preceded by the second person, plural possessive pronoun, your.

This forever changed my perspective on the Sermon on the Mount. It is more than just a message from a great preacher to His followers. It is more than just a prescription on how to receive miracles and heavenly rewards from a heavenly miracle worker. It is more than just ethical considerations or moral imperatives given from the mouth of the only truly righteous One to ever walk the human planet. It is the love and wisdom of a heavenly Father passed on to His children.

Now, Jesus is Gods Son in a way that defies an exhaustive human explanation. He is one of a kind and unique. He was God made flesh dwelling among us (John 1:14)! He is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16)! However, while there is only one THE Son of God, the Lord desires to make all of us A son of God (Romans 8:14). Jesus use of your Father in the Sermon on the Mount makes it quite clear that God cares about and desires an intimate, filial, paternal relationship with each of us. The Father that God was to Jesus, THE Son, is the Father that God wants to be to all His children!

M.O.T.H.E.R Part 2: Posted 5/9/2016 7:49:09 PM

Tough One of the most thrilling moments of my life was witnessing the birth of our son. Among the many things I learned on that glorious day was that mothers have to be one of the toughest members of Creation! If they can give birth, then nothing is beyond their grasp! However, their labor of toughness is a chore that will continue for a lifetime. We may not always enjoy the discipline our moms deliver, but time has a way of making us better appreciate their wisdom and causing us to give thanks for the work ethic, manners, and life skills they imparted. Singer/comedian Mark Lowry once said that the answer to the societal ills plaguing our country was for a bunch of tough moms like his to go around our cities and do drive-by whoopings! (and there is a difference between a whipping and a whooping!) I think hes right!

Hungry I didnt choose to talk about moms being hungry because I was speaking to them at a brunch, but rather due to my observation that moms seem to always be the last to eat! They cook the dinner, set the table, get the drinks, load up the kids plates, cool down the hot stuff, cut up the big stuff, make sure the vegetables are eaten; and then finally, maybe, assuming no surprises have taken place in the meantime, they set down to dinner. Mothers are the very embodiment of servanthood. Their willingness to put others before themselves is an admirable trait commended to us in Scripture. Their stomachs might be a little emptier than everyone else at the table, but their hearts are probably much fuller. Moms, remember and be encouraged by the words of Jesus, the last shall one day be first!

Example I have always had an affinity for Timothy, the young understudy of Paul to whom the Apostle wrote two letters included in the canon of Scripture. One of Pauls strongest encouragements to the young minister was for him to continue in the Christian faith which his grandmother and mother had personified before him. The power of example holds much greater influence than the power of mere words. I have been blessed to be a minister of the gospel, to have the opportunity to deliver Gods Word. However, while Ive preached many sermons, heard many sermons, and read piles of books, Ive never heard a clearer message of Christian faith, hope, and love than what Ive seen in the life and example of a godly mother. I could never thank the Lord enough for the fact that I have such a mother and that my son has such a mother too!

Remarkable I didnt choose to call moms remarkable because they are able (and often very willing! just kidding!) to make remarks. I chose this word as the last adjective here because something remarkable is worth taking note of. It makes you stop in your tracks and say WOW! Its out of the ordinary and off the beaten path. There is nothing more special, more noteworthy, more WOWING, than you moms. In the words of Proverbs 31, charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised; her children rise up and bless her. May all our moms be blessed, on Mothers Day and every day!

M.O.T.H.E.R Part 1: Posted 5/3/2016 6:15:20 PM

I once had the privileged opportunity to speak to those in attendance at a Mothers Day Brunch (and to get in and eat the food without having to wear a dress or speak in a high pitched voice!). The Lord placed upon my heart an acronym using the word MOTHER to say some things about them that they probably would not say about themselves (because of their humility of course!). I wanted to share these words of encouragement in this series of blogs as a written reminder to moms that they are greatly loved and appreciated.

Majestic Our family enjoys traveling to Busch Gardens. One of my favorite times of the day is when we take the train ride. We get to see so many exotic animals, enjoy the humor and information provided by the tour guide, and, last but not least, we get to sit down! On the train ride you see antelope effortlessly gliding along the grassy plains, giraffes extending their beautiful necks to eat some foliage off the trees, tigers displaying their glorious stripes as they sunbathe on the rocks, and the list could go on and on describing these majestic creatures. Now, if you could speak animal language and talk to the antelope, giraffes, and tigers; I doubt they would call themselves majestic. They probably would say that theyre just being who they are and are just doing what they do. Likewise you moms, who know how to simultaneously keep the childs hands in the cart while getting the groceries off the shelves and sorting the coupons in your purse and are still able to make it home without breaking the eggs (or losing your marbles), probably would say youre just being who you are and doing what you do. But those who watch from the outside know, you are majestic!

Omnipresent This is a word you wont see on many Mothers Day cards. Its usually reserved for theological circles and speaks of the attribute of God in which He is always present in every place at the same time. Now, I know moms arent God and that they really cant be everywhere at once, but sometimes it sure seems that they are! I remember a mirror that my grandmother, in all of her motherly wisdom and perhaps with some intelligence from the CIA, strategically placed between the dining room and living room of her house in Ohio. Through the use of this well-placed mirror she could be in the kitchen and see everything you were doing! Her keen voice would ask you to stop doing this or to start doing that and you would wander, does she see and know everything?! There may have been times in our lives when we may not have appreciated moms seeming to be everywhere all at once. But, I would guess most of us can say that there have been many moments since when she would call on the phone, knowing we had a hard day, though we had said nothing, that we were glad shes everywhere and knows all!

NO! Part 4: Posted 4/25/2016 6:32:53 PM

NO TO THE SINFUL DESIRES OF THE FLESHAnd YES To The Spirit! (Rom. 8:5-11) Though certainly not a new doctrine, the idea of The Carnal Christian has become increasingly popular in the past 20 or so years. The teaching basically divides people up into three groups. The first group would be Unbelievers. These have rejected the gospel of Christ; they are unrepentant of sin and have not placed faith and trust in Jesus as the only Savior for man. Their end, should they remain in their unbelieving condition, is eternal, conscious torment in the fires of hell. The second group of people are Bonafide Christians. They have turned from sin and put their faith in Christ. These folks read their Bibles regularly and take what it says seriously. They do things like go to church, pray, give of their substance, care for their brothers and sisters in the Lord, and even share their faith as God would provide opportunity. Then theres the third group of people. These are the Carnal Christians. Theyve heard the gospel message, repeated a prayer after someone, maybe theyve even walked the aisle and perhaps even got baptized. However, their commitment to Jesus, or at least any continuous and abiding commitment, is quite lacking. They own a Bible, but dont much read it. They go to church, sometimes. Maybe at Christmas or Easter, perhaps when theyre going through a really difficult time, maybe when theres a funeral or wedding, or perhaps when theres absolutely no other work related event or sporting championship taking place, when the weather is a perfect 75 degrees, when 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep occurred on Saturday night, when all the traffic lights are guaranteed to be green, and if it happens to be a leap year ending in an odd number (dont think about that last one too deeply)! They pray when they need something..I mean when they need to..I mean..well I think you get what I mean. They give in the offering, on the occasion that they actually made it to church and feel especially generous and if theyve already taken care of all their personal financial needs and several of their financial greeds. They maybe even tell someone else about Jesus from time to time, but it might be wise to make sure that the person theyre speaking to is sitting down because theyll be surprised to find out that someone theyve heard profane the Lords name and live an ungodly life in various and sundry kind of ways is actually claiming to be a follower of His! The Carnal Christian doctrine says that these folks have accepted Christ as Savior but do not know Him as Lord. They dont live holy lives or seek after God but should the trumpet sound theyre going to rise with Jesus; should they die today then their eyes will open to see the glories of Heaven.

Theres only one thing wrong with the Carnal Christian Doctrine; ITS WRONG! The Bible clearly teaches us that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the saved and the lost; the blessed and the damned; the sheep and the goats; the believer and the unbeliever; the wise and the foolish; those going to Heaven and those going to Hell! Many people rejoice in the Romans 8 idea that being in Christ means that there is NO CONDEMNATION for the sins that theyve committed. Jesus sacrifice has paid the penalty for sin! Hallelujah! However, so few keep reading in the chapter to discover that being in Christ, being a genuine believer, also means that they now are empowered through the Holy Spirit to say NO TO THE SINFUL DESIRES OF THE FLESH! Jesus sacrifice has not only paid the penalty for sin, but has also broken the power of sin! To be a Christian means we now have the power to have a mindset on the things of God instead of on the things of this world. To be In Christ means we are now at peace with God instead of in a state of enmity with Him. To be a child of God means that we seek to please Him instead of living to please ourselves (or worse yet trying to twist His Word and His Arm trying to get God to please our selfish whims). Now dont get me wrong, salvation is not based on our works, it is on the basis of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! I know my flesh (at least to a degree) and what I know makes me have absolutely no confidence in myself to merit any benefit from God, much less the benefit of glorious salvation and a place in Heaven. That being said, I know Christ and who He is and what He has done is so powerful that I have every confidence that a genuine believer in Him cannot help but to have their lives changed towards the holiness of God! Some may grow fast and some may grow slow, but everyone that is born again must grow! If were not growing then we must question our birth! If our lives have no fruit, then we must question if theres really a root! No one living comfortably in perpetual and unrepentant sin should have any assurance of salvation. We must make our calling and election sure.

THANKS BE TO GOD THAT THOSE IN CHRIST HAVE NO CONDEMNATION AND ARE EMPOWERED TO SAY NO TO THE SINFUL DESIRES OF THE FLESH!

NO! Part 3: Posted 4/19/2016 8:08:53 PM

NO CONDEMNATION Part 2 : Were In A Different Jurisdiction (Rom. 8:2) About a year or so ago my wonderful wife was driving down Glenwood Avenue in East Ft. Myers when out of nowhere she heard and felt something hit the side of our car. It was pouring rain so she didnt get out. She drove around the block a couple of times trying to find what it might have been but saw nothing. She came home and we drove back to the scene together. Nothing was there, but something had hit our car as evidenced by the huge dent in the passenger side! In an attempt to make sure the event was reported I called the Ft. Myers Police Department. They asked me where the incident occurred and when I told the operator they informed me that City jurisdiction ended at Prospect so it was a County issue. As soon as the city operator gave me a hasty, but pleasant goodbye I dialed the Lee County Sheriffs Office. The county operator began by asking me where we lived. When I gave her my home address she informed me that I needed to call the Ft. Myers Police Department because I lived in the city! (I then called 911 to report a medical emergency due to my suddenly elevated blood pressure! Just kidding!) Before the LCSO operator could give me a hasty, but pleasant goodbye I interjected that the incident had occurred within County borders. She then took my information and eventually we were contacted by a Sheriffs Deputy to get the report dealt with sufficiently. It was a hassle being transferred back and forth between departments, especially when in a time of need. That being said, I recognize the necessity to make sure that they were the authority in charge in the location where the scene occurred. Jurisdiction is important. Romans 8:2 declares that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. If you are a genuine child of God then there is no condemnation for you! Why?! Because you have been set free and transferred into a new jurisdiction!

NO! Part 2: Posted 4/14/2016 8:03:07 PM

NO CONDEMNATION Part 1 : Our Debts Been Paid (Rom. 8:1) Romans 8 begins by telling us that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! The word therefore implies that a conclusion is being made from information that has previously been given. So to fully appreciate the crescendo conclusion of Romans 8:1 we must look to the prelude verses leading up to it. Romans 7 finds Paul lamenting that he struggles with sin. He wants to do what is right but the fallen nature that has infected every member of the human race pulls him toward sin. In a somewhat exasperated tone he finally calls himself a wretched man and wonders who can set him free from what he calls this body of death. Now there was a known tradition by a people group of ancient days whereby if a murderer was caught in time enough the punishment he would receive was to be tied to the body of the one he had killed. The decay of the dead body would seep into the body of the murderer and the criminal would over time die from being tied (literally) to the carnage he himself had caused. Paul knew he was a sinner who would be lost and undone apart from the work of Christ. The law that he had based his righteousness on before coming to know the Lord was sufficient to convict him as guilty but was not up to the task of providing a way to clear him as innocent. Im glad the post-conversion Paul had an answer to the question of who could set him free from this body of death, it was none other than Jesus Christ our Lord! Jesus died the terrible death on the cross, showing the heinous nature of sin and the high penalty that it must incur. However, Christ was not paying a price for His own sins, for the spotless Lamb of God never sinned in word, thought, or deed! So, whose sins was He paying for? The sins of all of those who would repent and put their faith in Him as THE Savior! If youre a genuine child of God then the rap sheet of your sins has been washed whiter than sin, your iniquities have been pardoned, your transgressions have been cast as far away as the East is from the West to be remembered against you no more! You dont have to worry that your sins are halfway forgiven and that our Heavenly Father sees you as a second class member of the family of God. There is no elephant in the room holding you forever at arms length from the Presence of the Almighty because of your past if you are now In Christ! If youre a blood bought child of the living God then the law has convicted you but Christ has cleared you. The debt has been paid! Weve been set free from the body of death that our sins caused through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus! Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow! Indeed, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

NO! Part 1: Posted 4/14/2016 8:02:34 PM

A Christian radio show host I enjoy listening to recently shared a story about his daughter looking for a job to help put herself through college. She applied at a local daycare and had success getting an interview. However, during the interview she was shocked to be informed by the supervisor that one of the core values of the institution was that a child under their care must never be told NO! about anything! I guess they were concerned that hearing the word NO! might squash the childrens personalities or scar them for life. (Maybe its just me, but by that definition I think I was benefitted by being squashed and scarred!) In this series of blogs we will look at Romans 8:1-17 in terms of three NOs! that children of God should be encouraged, convicted, and strengthened by.

Christianity and Politics Part 5: Posted 4/8/2016 5:28:04 PM

Point 5 : Christians Are Called To Submit, Stand, and Make Supplications As this article comes to a close, I want to be sure that no one has misunderstood me. Im not saying Christians shouldnt be politically involved. God has providentially allowed for us to live in a land where we can have a say, both through voting and even activism should one choose, and we should not abdicate that privilege and responsibility. However, it has been my aim to point out a proper perspective on politics and its limitations and to point us towards what is most important, biblical concerns and Christian commitments. So, however politically active one may choose to be, let me end with three roles that the Bible spells out for all Christians.

Paul lived under the reigns of Roman emperors far worse than any U.S. leader one could imagine. In fact, he would be beheaded by Nero, an emperor who would feed Christians to the lions and light them on fire as street lamps during his parties. Yet still, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of course, Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-7 that we are to submit to authorities and give honor (taxes, etc.) to whom honor is due.

That having been said, our submission to authorities does have some limits to it. Peter and John were called before the Council for speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus. The leaders commanded them not to preach Jesus and threatened them with dire consequences. Peter and Johns response was to tell the Council that they would obey God rather than men and let the ramifications be what they may (Acts 4:19-20). The principle is clear, we submit to those in power unless they clearly and specifically command something that goes against Scripture, then we must stand and obey God.

Finally, Christians are called to make supplications for those in power. Paul instructed in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 that we pray for all, including kings and those in authority, (and I remind you this included wicked Roman emperors at the time), not so that the church could have a powerful political voice but so that believers might live quiet and peaceable lives and so that Gods good will of people being saved would go forth.

Christianity and Politics Part 4: Posted 4/4/2016 4:13:39 PM

Point 4 : The Leaders Of The Day Tend To Reveal The Hearts Of The People More Than They Direct The Hearts Of The People After Moses and Joshua died, Gods people in the Old Testament were led by charismatic leaders called Judges. They ruled the loose configuration of the tribes of Israel for about three centuries. The last Judge was Samuel (who was also a prophet and a priest). As he was entering his later years the people went to him and cried out to have a king so that they could be like other nations. Samuel prayed to the Lord about the situation. God told Samuel that the people would indeed be given a king; not because He wanted them to have one, but because the idolatrous hearts of the people and their rejection of the Lord would be revealed in their rejection of Samuel and in the faulty character of the king they would be given (1 Samuel 8:1-22). This would lead to disastrous results. Fast forward several hundred years, through a line of mostly bad kings, and you will find the story of Josiah. He came to the throne at a young age and in the midst of a people who had long since forgotten their spiritual roots, even losing the very book of the Law of Moses in the Temple where God was to be worshipped! Josiah tore his clothes and repented when he realized just how far the people had strayed from the ways that God had commanded. He instituted several reforms: tearing down altars to false gods, observance of the Passover again where it had long been neglected, and the bringing in of genuine spiritual leaders such as Huldah and Jeremiah to stand for God. Yet, the peoples hearts were far away from the Lord and the revival the good king tried to bring to the land, though real to him, was a farce to his constituents. Josiah was killed by Neco of Egypt after reigning for over 30 years and was promised by God to be blessed with a heavenly reward with his fathers. The unrepentant people, on the other hand, had set a destructive course straight for the Babylonian Exile (2 Chronicles 34 and 35).

I would love to elect Presidents, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, and Councilmen that would: do away with the horrors of abortion, define marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, defeat every racist word and deed, and deny the occurrence of senseless, mass shootings. I could list more things that I would love to elect someone or some group of people to do. But you know as well as do I that no leader, from an elected President in this country to a despotic dictator in another nation, can change the hearts of people or keep them away from the sinful actions upon which they have their wills, quite literally, dead set. I could list the names of some biblical and historical leaders that have had an impact, but it is largely true that leaders reflect the hearts, minds, and will of a people more than they direct them. So, who or what can direct the hearts of a person. Only one Person and one Message have that power. The Person is Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and that Message is the gospel of Jesus Christ which can translate a person out of the kingdom of darkness and make everything new (Rev. 19:16; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:17)!

Christianity and Politics Part 3: Posted 3/31/2016 5:08:57 PM

Point 3 : The American Dream Is Not The Gospel Of Jesus Christ The American experiment, as some would call it, is truly a marvel to behold. Our country certainly has many, many faults. However, theres no other country where so many people want to get in and so few want to get out. Theres no other nation in existence where people can come with nothing and in a generation leave their children with an inheritance. Only America has the nickname of land of opportunity, and for good reason. Most people in the USA have a roof over their head, food on their table, and shoes on their feet. There are certainly many families within our shores that struggle with basic necessities of life, but at least in America there are charities and programs available to assist in many ways. Ive known of several folks who have gone on missions trips to report back that even the poorest in our country are among the richest people in the world! Certainly Im grateful to live in such a nation where food, shelter, clothing, education, etc. are mostly readily available. However, the American Dream is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A car in every driveway and a chicken in every pot is not what success for an individual or a nation truly looks like in the scope of eternity. Im glad the USA is a place where people, including myself and my children and my grandchildren to come, can prosper, but in the words of Jesus, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul (Mark 8:36)?

The gospel, for those who havent received it, is far from a dream, its more like a nightmare. The gospel calls for people to repent (Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30). To repent means that folks have to do what we are so irrationally hesitant to do, admit that we have done wrong and be willing to turn away from the sins which we coddle and justify. Then, as if that werent enough, the gospel goes on to tell us to put faith in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, forsaking all others, as the One who is the Savior, who is THE way, THE truth, and THE life and THE ONE without Whom no one will see the Heavenly Father (Acts 4:12; John 14:6)! The so called prosperity gospel of our day (though its not the gospel and is nothing new) promises health and wealth and every other blessing (more material blessings than the American Dream could ever begin to promise!). This prosperity gospel is quite popular, but Jesus genuine call that if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me; for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it is one that still sounds as foolishness in the eyes of this world (Luke 9:23-24; 1 Cor. 1:18). Yet the gospel, the true gospel of Christ, that of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus, to those who are being saved is still the power of God unto salvation and is what should be the primary and unashamed focus of every Christian no matter what nation in which they happen to reside (1 Cor. 1:18; Rom. 1:16-17; Luke 9:26).

Christianity and Politics Part 2: Posted 3/24/2016 7:03:48 PM

Point 2 : The USA Is Not The Kingdom of God Scripture had promised a coming Messiah since Genesis 3:15. Throughout Old Testament history the people of God longingly looked for the One who was to come and sit on the throne of King David. Indeed what we call Passion Week (which culminated with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord) began with the Triumphal Entry, where the people en masse praised Jesus and declared Him to be king as He fulfilled the prophecy of riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (John 12:12-15; Zech. 9:9). Any politician would have relished such a rally taking place on their behalf and would have led a revolution to depose Pilate, Herods family, and Caesar from their respective positions. The crowd hated the Romans who were in power and were chomping at the bit to find someone who would defeat them and bring a rise to the ancient glories of Israel. But the next chapter in Johns gospel, far from finding Jesus ascending to a throne on the shoulders of others, instead depicts Him descending to the floor to personally wash the feet of His disciples (John 13:1-20). Christ is King, but He would not be the king that people wanted Him to be (John 6:15). Rome was not the kingdom that Jesus was most concerned about nor was it the kingdom that John the Baptist and Christ came proclaiming. His Kingdom was not Rome then and it is not the United States now. His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The foe Jesus would defeat was far viler than Pilate, Herod, and Caesar (and far viler any politician of today that we may think is terrible and dangerous). The foe Christ defeated was none less than the devil himself (Col. 2:15). The citizenship He would purchase for those who repent and believe in Him was of far greater worth than any national credentials this world could, can, or ever will be able to afford (Phil. 3:20). The freedom our Lord bestows far surpasses any emancipation proclamation that an earthly leader could declare or a national military could win (John 8:36; Gal. 5:1).

Christianity and Politics Part 1: Posted 3/18/2016 9:23:26 PM

In case you havent heard, this is an election year. I thought it might be a good time to take a look at politics through the lens that shows us all things good and right and true (and that certainly is not the platform of any party or the policy websites of any candidate) but is of course the infallible and inerrant Holy Bible! Well look at 5 points regarding Christianity and politics that are helpful to keep in mind as we approach the election season.

Point 1 : A Christians Highest Commitment Is To Christ, Not To Country Passions tend to run high in politics (though civility seems to run increasingly ever lower!). Supporters become so convinced that their candidate is best and become so invested in him (or her) that normal, thinking, rational people can become somewhat unhinged. Candidates can do or say no wrong in the eyes of their devotees while any competitor or opponent is seen as evil through and through! I have never been a political activist but I can sympathize with the strong feelings in support of what and who I believe is good and right. I too am not immune to a sense of bewilderment at how anyone could possibly support the opposing view. Indeed, there are grand issues at stake, the choosing of who we call the leader of the free world is serious business, wanting to leave behind a better country for our children is a noble goal, and standing for morality in the midst of rampant sinful behavior is an enterprise in which few are willing to engage. As Christians we should desire to be the best citizens we can be to the glory of God. To the best of our ability, after biblical and prayerful consideration, we should vote in a way we believe would be pleasing to our Lord. I stand when the national anthem is sung, I put my hand over my heart when we say the Pledge of Allegiance, I study and have taught the history of our country, I give great honor to those who so valiantly serve in our armed forces, Ive sang the lyrics of God Bless The USA!, and Im thankful that the Lord in His providence has allowed me to live in what I consider the greatest nation on the planet. That having been said, where is the primary allegiance of any true child of God to be placed, not to country but to Christ!

Jesus declared in Luke 14:26, If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Was the Lord telling the large crowd He was speaking to that they literally had to hate their families and their own lives? No, but He was declaring in the strongest possible terms that any allegiance or relationship must pale, must strongly pale, in comparison to our allegiance and relationship to Him! One more verse and then well move on to the next point. When asked by a religious leader what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded by saying that we were to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matt. 22:37; Deut. 6:5). Passion for politics is not wrong (or at least not necessarily wrong), but if we find our heart, mind, soul, and strength worked up more about the politics of our country than the person of Christ, then we have misplaced priorities.

How Does God Judge Part 6: Posted 3/15/2016 9:30:18 PM

Principle 5 God Judges On Basis Of Motive (Rom. 2:16) People love to say God knows my heart. That phrase is usually used in the context of a situation where someone meant to do good and right but things didnt turn out so well. Something unintended took place. Some misunderstanding occurred. Things went south when we intended the best so we say God knows my heart. Theres certainly truth in that sentiment but let us not forget that God also knows our hearts when we didnt intend the best, when we sinned and fell short, when our hearts werent in the right place and no one noticed the shortcomings of our insides by what they saw on the outside. God, the One who searches the heart and looks at the heart (Rom. 8:27; 1 Sam. 16:7), does know our hearts, our deepest motivations, and that is likely more a reason for conviction than for comfort. The Lord will judge according to a full and righteous knowledge of all external deeds and internal motivations.

Let me close by saying that no one apart from Christ will be judged by God and found righteous and by citing one of my favorite portions of Scripture. John 3:17-18, God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him (Christ) is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

How Does God Judge Part 5: Posted 3/8/2016 9:42:50 PM

Principle 4 God Judges Impartially (Rom. 2:11-15)... In the United States court system justice is supposed to be blind, but all of us probably know of famous cases where it seems justice peeks out of one eye or another! That being said, before we judge our justice system too harshly, lets consider how impartially we judge on a daily basis. If we run through a red light then its okay because we were in a hurry; if someone else does it then theyre an irresponsible idiot (though I dont encourage you to call anyone an idiot). If were driving too slowly seeing the sites then we think no one should be upset because they can just go around; if someone else is driving too slowly then we think the gas pedal is on the right, some of us have to get to work here! If we run late to work then its justified because we had things happening at home; but if a store we want to go to opens a few minutes late (perhaps because their employees were running behind getting to work) then were frustrated and may never shop there again! We like to think we judge impartially, but we tend to judge ourselves favorably and in the best light while judging others unfavorably and always assuming the worst. With God, there is no partiality. He is not a respector of persons. He will judge impartially, in the light of total truth and real righteousness!

How Does God Judge Part 4: Posted 3/1/2016 6:43:14 PM

Principle 3 God Judges On The Basis Of Deeds (Rom. 2:6-10) This principle may seem strange to ears used to hearing the truth that we are not saved by works but by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone! However, though the Bible never says that we are saved by works, indeed it is quite clear that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified before God (Rom. 3:20); the Word of God does teach that He judges on the basis of deeds. Well discuss two passages briefly here. Matthew 25:31-46 finds Jesus teaching that on the day of judgment the sheep (representing Gods children) will be separated from the goats (representing those who are not Gods children-though they thought they were). The goats are led away into everlasting punishment on the basis of their works, or perhaps better said their lack of works, in that they did not feed the hungry, did not give drink to the thirsty, did not provide shelter to the stranger, did not care for the sick, and did not visit the imprisoned. Another powerful passage speaking to the principle that God judges on the basis of deeds and which concurrently also clearly points out that we are saved by grace is Revelation 20:11-15. Here the facts of the future Great White Throne Judgment are relayed to us. Those whose names were not written in the Lambs Book of life (singular-just one book) were judged by their deeds which were written in the books (plural-many of them) and were subsequently cast into the lake of fire. Notice, those who were saved by the grace of Christ simply had their names in one book, the Lambs Book of Life. Those who rejected the grace of Jesus, those unredeemed by His blood, were judged by their deeds which took many books to record!

How Does God Judge Part 3: Posted 2/25/2016 7:30:43 PM

Principle 2 God Judges On The Basis Of A Persons Contempt (Rom. 2:4-5) I was blessed to be involved in jail ministry for a number of years. My goal was simply to preach the gospel and to lead the men in worship. I never asked them what they were incarcerated for but there were times over the years when they would offer what had landed them in jail. One occasion an inmate told me what he did and asked for me to come to his court date. He had confessed to a fairly serious crime and there would be no trial with witnesses and the like. He didnt want me to testify or anything, but just to give him the encouragement that there was someone in the courtroom who would be praying for him and his family. I agreed and went to the proceedings. I had never been in a courtroom before when judgments were taking place. Before the judge came in, the bailiff gave us instructions to turn off our cellphones. We were told in no uncertain terms that if our cellphone happened to ring then it would be confiscated and any attempt to resist would be grounds for arrest as we would be in contempt of court. The officers were very serious about upholding the dignity of the proceedings and the esteem of the one who would soon enter who would reverentially be called Your Honor! Almighty God is of course the only One who is truly honorable. He has poured out common grace (kindness, tolerance, and patience) on all of humanity. Every day that anyone opens their eyes, every breath that one takes in their nostrils, every beat that ones heart makes are all a gift from the Lords almighty hand! So those who close their eyes to Gods Word, who use their breath to curse Gods Name, and who choose a stony heart refusing to repent and trust in Christ are utterly contemptible! God is not to be trifled with! He is to be praised and adored! His blessings are not to be taken for granted and His salvation is not to be neglected! To be contemptible towards Him will not go unnoticed!

How Does God Judge Part 2: Posted 2/19/2016 9:59:10 PM

Principle 1 God Judges On The Basis Of Amount Of Knowledge (Rom. 2:1) I have a dear friend who teaches Middle Schoolers. He teaches 8th graders and makes a conscious decision at the beginning of second semester to treat them more like high schoolers since they are less than 18 weeks (of academic time) from entering 9th grade. Most would agree that this is a good tactic to take because these students are getting older, they have learned more, and they should be growing in maturity. Now, if a first grade teacher started treating their students like high schoolers when second semester hits, we would look upon that as unfair and unjust. A toddler struggling with potty training is one thing, a teenager wrestling with the same issue is quite another (barring any kind of disability or disease of course). An elementary student who opens up a book on Physics is likely looking at the pictures (unless they were extremely prodigious in some way) whereas a college student should probably be looking at more than captions in order to pass their course. You see, we judge on the basis of amount of knowledge. So too it is spiritually. The Bible makes it clear that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). The tenth chapters of both the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Luke recount to us Jesus giving the disciples power over demons and ability to heal the sick as they went about preaching the message of the kingdom. Our Lord tells them that anyone who does not receive them and their proclamation will be more harshly condemned than Tyre and Sidon in the judgment because if the message and miracles of Christ and His disciples would have occurred in those infamous cities then they would have repented (Matt. 101-15; Luke 10:1-16; Matt. 11:21). Do you know a lot about God? Have you read a great deal of Scripture? Have you heard the gospel of Jesus again and again? How much knowledge do you have about the things of the Lord? How great is the accountability we have?!

How Does God Judge Part 1: Posted 2/19/2016 9:58:36 PM

Ive been involved in education for much of my life in some form or fashion. Back in my seminary days I was blessed to be the teaching assistant for Old Testament Introduction. The main professor allowed me to deliver lectures on the Kings of Israel and Judah as well as on the books of the Megilloth (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) but my primary responsibility was consulting with the students and grading their papers. I personally had professors in the past that graded my papers and simply put a grade on the front of it without any specific comments. Although I was thankful to do well as a student, their manner of grading left me questioning if they ever read my composition. I was determined not to do that. I took my grading responsibilities seriously (perhaps some pupils would have said too seriously!), looking upon it as my first pastorate of sorts, and read every word of every line of every paper from every student. I made multiple comments on student essays and gave them a very specific rubric (grading criteria) in advance so they would know exactly where their points would come from. Nothing in the grading process would take them by surprise if they simply took the time to read the grading criteria and then aligned their paper accordingly. A major theme in the book of Romans is Gods judgment and the fact that every human being is found guilty before His throne. How does God judge guilt? How can one be declared innocent? God doesnt leave it to question but tells us clearly in His word. Though much more could be said of Gods judgment and the way He judges than what we can look at in a series of blogs, we will take a quick look at 5 principles by which the Lord judges found in Romans 2:1-16.

What To Do After Christmas? Part 4: Posted 2/4/2016 7:45:47 PM

THE GRACE OF GOD Was Upon Him I took a tumble on the bus ramp about three weeks ago (or as my son says, I had a Jack and Jillthe Jack fell down and came tumbling after parts are especially in view here!). My right arm was injured, sustaining a deep bruise and joint injury in the elbow. Im right handed, so having my right arm partially disabled for these weeks has made me feel not just one handed, but half-handed (which, thankfully, is still better than being underhanded!). Were it not for my wonderful wife, I would be wearing shorts with elastic waistbands, flip flops with no socks, and sporting the closest thing to a beard that I could ever hope to have! One little tumble, one arm injury, split seconds in the making, and Im having to depend on someone else for several of the basic functions of life. I am more fragile than I realized, more dependent than I ever dreamed.

Rich Mullins, writer of many famous Christian songs (perhaps Awesome God being the most well-known), penned a profound lyric simply stating that spiritually we are not as strong as we think we are. None less than the Apostle Paul acknowledged this truth in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. This great man of God, empowered to perform mighty miracles, inspired to author the very words of Scripture, emboldened to preach the gospel even at threats of his very life, was afflicted with some thorn in the flesh. Were not sure what that thorn was (many theories abound), but what we do know is that though he entreated the Lord to remove it, He did not and simply told Paul that His grace was sufficient! No matter how much Paul knew or how much ministry he had been used to perform, the great Apostle fully realized that he would never outgrow a firm reliance upon Gods grace! And neither do we! What to do after Christmas? Grow In Reliance Upon Gods Grace!

What To Do After Christmas? Part 3: Posted 1/28/2016 10:19:14 PM

The Child Continued INCREASING IN WISDOM I was on Math Team in High School. I wasnt the best in the country or anything but I was blessed to be able to go to four state competitions and two national competitions during the course of my Mu Alpha Theta career (the name for high school math clubs; note the letters MATH are part of the name; very clever indeed!). Math Team students werent necessarily the most popular on campus (but hey, we did get to go to Hawaii!). But one member of our team really raised the ire of many at school, even that of some of his fellow compatriots in the cause of mathematics! He was two years younger than me and yet was in the same level of competition. He was truly smart, brilliant even. In fact, he was a bona fide genius, and had the IQ test results to prove it. He often bragged about how smart he was and, though perhaps not always intentionally (though oft times it was on purpose), made others feel inferior in the realm of intelligence. He was smart and young, but his knowledge and intelligence quotient far outpaced his wisdom and level of maturity.

There is truly a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Scripture tells us that knowledge puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1). Conversely wisdom has its foundation in the fear of God (Prov. 1:7) which necessarily involves a humility acknowledging that we are not the Sovereign of the universe. This humility, this godly fear, causes us to have the wisdom to believe what God says over and against any other authority. I will not tarry upon this point long but I cannot stress it enough, to grow in true wisdom means to recognize and submit to the number one theological truth of the universe, God is smarter than we are! What He says in His Word is truth, and if it rubs our societal norms or personal views the wrong way, then it is not the Bible that is in error; it is whatever high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5) that shall and must give way! What to do after Christmas? Increase In Genuine Wisdom!

What To Do After Christmas? Part 2: Posted 1/22/2016 6:52:17 PM

The Child Continued To GROW AND BECOME STRONG New Years Day eight years ago was very eventful for my wonderful wife and me. Our baby boy was officially due on January 11th but we knew on the morning of the 1st that things were changing and that he must be on his way. We went to the hospital that night and by 5:50 pm the next evening our son had come into the world! I love to tell the story of his birth: from my sweating during a noonish whirlwind shopping trip to make sure we had all the items we needed to go and give birth, to the un-Florida like bitter cold weather we walked through at around midnight in the hospital parking lot; from the less than friendly nurse who raised my blood pressure while turning my loves arm purple checking hers, to the kindest nurse telling me I could kiss our baby; from my wife gripping my hand because of the pain of childbirth, to our baby holding my finger-his first anchor in this world-as tightly as he could with his whole little hand; from seeing our son on monitors to monitoring him with my very own eyes! I could go on and on; filling up this article and several others recounting to you the details I recall from our sons birth, truly one of the most momentous and memorable events of my life. But there have been a lot of uneventful days since that precious event, and our 8 lb. 4 oz. blessing has grown and become strong, in oh so many ways!

The only event greater than being born is being born again, coming spiritually alive through repentance from sin and faith in Christ. After that experience, what do we do? We grow and become strong! How? We could list many factors here but Ill limit it to three. First, we grow strong by eating. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). It is impossible, yes impossible, to mature as a believer without a dedication to the Word of God! Second, we grow strong through prayer. In the words of Jude 20, praying in the Spirit helps us in building ourselves up in our most holy faith. Finally, we grow strong in the good works to which the Lord has called us through regular fellowship with others of the like same faith, not forsaking the assemblying of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Heb. 10:24-25). What to do after Christmas? Grow and Become Strong!

What To Do After Christmas? Part 1: Posted 1/19/2016 6:16:00 PM

COLLAPSE of course! Most people stay so busy this time of year with gift buying, party going, tree trimming, dinner planning, house cleaning, light decorating, card addressing, carol singing, cookie baking, and, if there was time, even a little bit of church going that they just COLLAPSE and wait for the event of next years Christmas! Indeed, we live in an event centered culture. As much as folks may complain about the busyness of life, they tend to live from one event to the other, neglecting the importance of the in-between times which is the space where most of our lives are spent. How many people spend much time and money planning the one-day event of their wedding, but put very little investment into the years (what should be a lifetime) of their marriage? How much energy is placed into the plotting of the minutest details of what is viewed as a magnificent week long vacation while such pitiful preparation is put into the planning of the years of ones life that are often seen as mundane? On a spiritual note, I remember seeing many of my peers from the days of my youth center their Christianity around two annual retreats (which we called Chrysalis). These were indeed powerful experiences which blessed my heart significantly, but they took up a total of 6 days a year and there were still 359 to go! As Ive grown older, Ive watched people of all ages fall into the destructiveness of event centered living. They remember great spiritual experiences from the past and perhaps even hold out hope for new ones in the future, but day in and day out faithfulness is far from their view. They have COLLAPSED and Im afraid should the event of the Second Coming occur they would be ill prepared.

Read through the passages that give us the Christmas story (Luke 1 and 2, Matthew 1 and 2) and you may think that its just one event after another. The angel Gabriel appears unto Zacharias and tells the elder minister that he and his barren wife Elizabeth would conceive John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah. Next, the same heavenly messenger announces to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God who would take away the sins of His people. Before you know it, an entire band of angels are appearing unto shepherds on a hillside declaring that the Savior is being born in Bethlehem, the city of David. The shepherds go and find Joseph and Mary and the Babe lying in a manger at a stable because there was no room for them at the inn due to so many people, holy family included, that had come to the small town obeying the tax law that had just come down from Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. As if that werent enough, Matthew tells us that wise men from the East, having found Jesus remote location by following a Divinely inspired star, showed up bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Child (note: most scholars think the Wise Men didnt show up until Christ was around 2 years of age so they werent there at His birth). To top it all off, when Joseph and Mary take Jesus on the eighth day to have him dedicated according to Old Testament law, two of Gods senior servants, Simeon and Anna, testify that this Babe is the long awaited Messiah prophesied throughout the whole of Scripture. It sure seems like one significant and glorious event after another after another after another take place surrounding the birth of Christ. But then what?! The next specific glimpse into the life of Christ is when He teaches in the Temple at age 12 and then we hear nothing more until about age 30. What happened in the in-betweens? What to do after Christmas indeed? In this months newsletter we will briefly look at a post-Christmas verse to teach us what to do after Christmas; how to lead a faithful life regardless of the presence or lack thereof of seemingly sensational events. Luke 2:40 reads, The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

There Is A Redeemer! Part 4: Posted 1/14/2016 8:46:42 PM

There Is A Redeemer Have you ever been driving down the road, feeling hungry, and pass by a McDonalds delivery truck? Painted on the side is an enlarged picture of a Big Mac. The meat, perfectly cooked, is hanging off the sides of the gloriously toasted roll. The heavenly sauce is oozing out over the top of the beef and the beautifully melted cheese is only made better by the onions and lettuce that surround and protrude it. All of a sudden you break out in song, joyfully uttering the words of that famous anthem, two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun! The crescendo continues rising making you painfully aware that you are in the middle of a Big Mac Attack! Theres a McDonalds just around the corner (as there is on the corner of any road you might be traveling), so you pull in, jump out of the car, scurry into the lobby and bound to the counter. You order the number one (yes, Big Mac is number one!) and wait with great expectations and watering taste buds. Finally, you get your order, go to a table, open the box, and then; well, disappointment sets in. What you have in front of you is not what was on the side of that truck. The hamburger patties (or is that cardboard slices!) have shriveled and hidden themselves under a bun that is cold and tough. The sauce is almost nonexistent, you wander if theres cheese on there at all or is it just yellow food coloring? The only thing Big about the Big Mac seems to be the half a head of lettuce that you see before your eyes (take it from one whos worked at McDonalds, the only thing they tell you to be generous with is the lettuce!). Still, although you didnt get the Big Mac that was advertised on the truck, you know it must exist somewhere because somebody took its picture! So it is with redemption. Just as every human heart feels the sting of guilt that comes from the filth of sin, every human heart also has a vision of being forgiven, standing upright and clean. Every religion tries to get you to the place of redemption advertised in the recesses of the human consciousness. Those who focus on human works always leave you short and disillusioned. You either recognize you fail and give up, hope you did enough but never know for sure, or think you did do enough and thus fall into the most heinous sin of all, that of pride. Conversely, Christianity declares that the redemption, the forgiveness, we seek comes not through any work that we have done, but through the work of Jesus, Gods only Son. The only One who was ever perfect in word, thought, and deed, took the penalty justly due to all of us imperfect ones. He offers forgiveness and grace to all who will simply receive. And those who do receive find that there is a Redeemer who more than lives up to the advertisement.

There Is A Redeemer! Part 3: Posted 1/7/2016 8:08:12 PM

There Is A Judge Our society has increasingly become very enthralled by legal drama. Largely unknown people like Drew Peterson, George Zimmerman, Casey Anthony, and the list could go on and on have become household names due to the public courtroom proceedings they have been through. Undoubtedly one reason people pay such close attention to these legal cases is the sinful nature of human beings that desires to know all the seedy details of every sordid event that results from someone elses depravity. However, another factor is the divinely implanted, innate human desire to see justice served. I well remember being in college during the mid 90s when the OJ verdict came down. After months of a seemingly endless court proceeding, the jury took just a short time to render the verdict of not guilty; the glove didnt fit so they did acquit! I recall the outcry of the public at large who, after seeing the overwhelming evidence presented by the media, were incensed that the guilty who had committed such a heinous act could go free as if nothing had happened at all. Why such outrage, that still persists in the minds of many until this day, at the verdict? Because there is a sense of justice, of right and wrong that has been hidden in the hearts (granted, some have it hidden deeper in their hearts than others!) of every man by Almighty God. And when that law is violated, we know there must be recompense for righteousness to be upheld. If there is a law, then there is a judge. A judge who is always just, who by no means will declare the guilty innocent or the innocent guilty. We will all stand before God without excuse. There is none righteous, no not one. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None of us are innocent, all of us are guilty. There is a Judge, and there must be recompense.

There Is A Redeemer! Part 2: Posted 12/28/2015 7:18:58 PM

There Is A Creator Our four year old (closing in on five; my, they grow too fast), loves to go to the park. A couple of weeks ago we decided to try out a new one. About a mile away from the house, right on the banks of the Caloosahatchee, is Riverside Park. We had planned to be there early enough to have plenty of daylight remaining, but the time change had us arriving right at sunset. As our boy slid down (and climbed up) the slides, my love and I held hands and looked with amazement at the bold oranges, deep reds, royal purples, and blissful blues painted on the canvas of the sky. My wife gazed to our left and saw the Oasis Towers and remarked what a view it must be every night from the top floor when the sun goes down. That got me thinking. If someone were to come up to you and say that the Oasis complex had just appeared by accident, by chance over the course of time, that there was no set of plans by which it was built, and no architect had been involved, you would probably smile and nod, walk away and question their sanity. However, our culture at large today looks at the sunset, which is infinitely more massive in size and complex in design than any human edifice, and ridicules anyone who thinks that it must have a design and more importantly a designer, believing that the universe we see has come to be by means of a cosmic accident. I think that takes more faith than to believe what the Bible says and what every human knows whos ever looked at the sparks of a dazzling sunset, the expanse of a deep ravine, or the heights of a snow capped mountain, there is a Creator!

There Is A Redeemer! Part 1: Posted 12/22/2015 7:08:21 PM

As many of you know I work at a Christian bookstore. A couple of weeks ago I was paged to the front to help a customer find a book. I went to the appropriate department, introduced myself, and asked how I could help him. He was a very nice young man (probably in his early twenties) and was interested in a book he could give to a lady friend of his who was not yet a Christian. This is not an uncommon request and several suggestions immediately came to my mind. I took him to C.S. Lewis section. The former atheist and esteemed English professor from an earlier generation penned Mere Christianity, perhaps the greatest philosophical defense of the Christian faith ever produced, a book used by God to help bring many people to faith, perhaps most notably Chuck Colson. That wasnt exactly what he was looking for. I next recommended the Case For Faith by Lee Strobel. Strobel, a former atheist and high profile newspaper columnist in Chicago, finally came to faith after decades of stubborn unbelief. His well-documented books center on making a case for the truthfulness of Christianity from a journalistic point of view. That wasnt exactly what he was looking for either. Finally, I offered some Josh McDowell books such as More Than A Carpenter and Evidence That Demands A Verdict. McDowell, another former atheist and very intellectual man, set out to prove Christianity false, but instead came to a faith in Christ and authored the previously mentioned works from his research that convinced him Christianity must be true. Still, the young man, though polite and appreciative of my efforts, wasnt exactly satisfied with my suggestions. He finally said, what Im looking for is something that will tell her what Christianity will do for her personally. His statement struck me in a powerful way. He wasnt concerned about establishing the truth of Christianity, but about promoting its personal benefits. Put another way, his interest wasnt in whats true, but in what works. Now, do I believe that there are benefits to following Jesus? Yes! Do I think that Jesus will give you peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory, and countless other blessings? Absolutely! However, there are things other than Christianity (possessions, positions, relationships, other belief systems, etc.) that can make a person feel good, joyful, peaceful, fulfilled, successful, and all the rest ad nauseam; at least for a temporary time. I dont doubt the young mans sincerity, nor did I then nor do I now desire in any way to come down on him harshly, but heres some brass tacks. If the only reason to believe in the Christian faith is that it works in obtaining benefits (at least the benefits perceived by a carnal mind) one can receive, then our foundation is truly weak and Christianity becomes only one of many other possible paths to worldly success and happiness. However, if we claim that there is only one truth, a truth that instead of merely giving temporal benefits may actually demand earthly sacrifice on the journey of eternal life, then we have a belief system worth shouting from the mountaintops and calling all to adherence. In this series of blogs, we will look at three eternal truths found in the Bible, the ultimate source of all truth.

How To Not Fail At Faithfulness Part 4: Posted 12/14/2015 8:07:06 PM

Being Rewarded With What You Value (2 Timothy 4:7-8) The Apostle Paul has a life worthy of study. Before he became a preacher of Christ, he was a persecutor of Christians. He was in the upper echelon of Jewish religious leadership. Some scholars even believe that he might have been on track to eventually become the high priest. Saul, as he was also called, once viewed Jesus as a false messiah. Surely the true deliverer promised throughout the Old Testament was not one who would die, but one who would triumph! In Sauls eyes, those preaching that Jesus was the Christ were dangerous and deceitful people who were leading multitudes astray from the true faith of Judaism. Saul was committed to stamping out this heresy and wasnt above using jailing and stoning and all other means to accomplish his will. Then, by the grace of God, Paul was knocked off of his high horse...quite literally! After being a leader in the martyrdom of Stephen in Jerusalem, he was on the road to Damascus to inflict further devastation on the Christian church when Jesus miraculously appeared to him. Paul lost his natural sight for a period of time due to the blinding vision, but thankfully gained his spiritual sight forevermore, coming to know Christ as the genuine Messiah, the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament promises that he knew and cherished from his youth up. The newly converted Paul thought for sure that his friends who had sought the lives of Christians with him would be thrilled to hear about the revelation he had received concerning the Lordship of Jesus and the misguidedness of their persecuting ways. He was wrong. His friends became his foes, vowing to kill him. These former friends and those like them followed his ministry around much of the known world attempting to destroy all that he was trying to build. The man once on the fast track to stardom in Judaism found himself on a rocky road to eventual martyrdom; denying himself, taking up his cross, and following Christ. Still, through every trial that Paul encountered for the remaining decades of his life (which included but were not limited to: being stoned and left for dead, being shipwrecked, being imprisoned, being in famine and distress, being followed by persecutors and having to correct false teachers who tried to take over the church), the Apostle never yearned to go back to his pre-believing days, always pressing toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus and counting what he had lost along the way as mere rubbish compared to the excellency of knowing the Lord in the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His sufferings. When it does come his time to depart this world, far from bemoaning lifes tribulations, he is praising God that he has finished his course, he has fought the good fight, he has kept the faith, and he was soon to receive the crown of righteousness which the Lord Himself was going to give to His faithful servant. How was Paul able to be faithful and not long for the world that was behind him? Because he was being rewarded with what he valued; a relationship with Christ and a crown of righteousness! Finding it hard to be faithful to Jesus and press towards Heaven? Then ask yourself, do you value being rewarded Him?! May we be faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

How To Not Fail At Faithfulness Part 3: Posted 12/3/2015 9:28:21 PM

Chasing What You Cherish! (Luke 15:1-10) Jesus never compromised the character of God nor the content of the gospel. That having been said, He could attract a group of sinners, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders of His day. Such was the case in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. Here Jesus addressed spiritual snobbery with three famous parables. The first was the story of the lost sheep. There was a shepherd, a good shepherd, who owned 100 sheep. 99 of them were safe in the fold, but one was lost. Now sheep arent the smartest of animals, nor the best smelling either! It might not have intended on getting lost, but it got lost nonetheless. Most any businessman would be thrilled with a 99% success rate! But not this shepherd! He leaves the ninety and nine to go after the one who was lost. Hardly any businessman would put 99% of his assets at risk to chase after 1%! But this shepherd would! Why would he gladly be faithful to go after the one lost sheep? Because he was chasing what he cherished!

The second of Luke 15s parables tells of a woman with ten silver coins. One of them got lost. Certainly the coin did not willfully intend on being lost, but it got lost nonetheless. She lit a lamp to see and got a broom to sweep. She looked high and she looked low. She scoured every nook and cranny of her dwelling. She left no stone unturned. We arent told how long she had to search, but we know she didnt give up searching until she found what she was looking for. Why did she persevere? Because she was chasing what she cherished.

Up until this point, the religious leaders listening to Jesus message could have nodded their heads in agreement and lifted their voices to say the amen. Sheep are valuable. Coins are valuable. Theyre worthy to be chased. Then comes the final parable from what I affectionately call the lost chapter of Scripture, that of the lost son (more commonly referred to as the parable of the prodigal son). Christ tells of a wealthy Jewish father with two sons. The younger, bound by the foolishness of youth and captivated by the entrapments of worldly lusts, asks for his portion of his fathers inheritance while his dad was still living. This was tantamount to saying to his father, I wish you were dead. The elder man did the unthinkable; he gave in to his sons wishes and gave the boy his inheritance. The son did the even more unthinkable; he moved to a Gentile land (a sinful place to live for a religious Jew); he spent up all his inheritance on what the King James Version calls riotous living (falling deeper into a life of sin); and ultimately, when his fortune was all wasted, he found himself at a job cleaning a pig pen, being filled with such hunger that he desired to eat of its slop (the lowest of the low for a Jew!). One morning he comes to himself, his mind blessedly haunted by the memory of the goodness that he had enjoyed from the hand of his father. He decides to go back home and ask his dad to be just a servant in the household. However, the young man finds that his father, upon seeing his son coming towards home, chases him down, falls on his neck, and offers forgiveness. This loving restoration faithfully evidenced by the provision of new shoes, a new ring, a new pair of clothes, and a welcome back party replete with serving of the fatted calf. This sensational story caught the religious leaders off guard. The boy deserved judgment, not grace. He had earned the back of his fathers hand, not the warmth of his fathers embrace. The father should be forcing him to bow down and kiss the ring, not running to him with gifts. But why was the father faithful to forgive and restore? Why was he willing to run to his son, an act seen as beneath the position of a patriarch for it would have caused the older man to hold up his robe in a potentially undignified way? Because he was chasing what he cherished! Having trouble being faithful to the things of God? Ask yourself, do you cherish Him?!

How To Not Fail At Faithfulness Part 2: Posted 11/27/2015 8:40:22 PM

Doing What You Love! (Luke 7:40-50) Jesus was invited to dinner by a Pharisee named Simon. Of all the groups that opposed Christ during His ministry, the Pharisees were the most strident. Yet Jesus still went to Simons house, knowing that they needed the word of God as much as anyone and knowing that there was a certain divine encounter with a sinner woman that awaited him there. Part way through dinner the evening was interrupted by the aforementioned sinner woman. Simon hadnt invited her but she came into the room and began kissing Jesus feet, washing them with her tears, wiping them with her hair, and anointing them with an alabaster vial of perfume. The self-righteous Pharisee hosting the party was not only unappreciative of the extra guest but began to question whether or not Jesus was truly a man of God. Surely, thought Simon, if He were a prophet, much more if He were the Christ, Jesus would know that the woman who came and displayed such emotion at His feet was a sinner woman, unworthy of being in such close proximity to One who was holy! The host didnt verbally express this sentiment, but that didnt keep Jesus from hearing him loud and clear. Jesus answered Simons accusatory thoughts by telling a story. The Lord told of a banker who had given loans to two individuals, one who borrowed 500 denarii and another who borrowed 50 denarii (a denarii was a days wage). Both debtors ended up in bad situations and neither was able to repay. The creditor, in mercy, forgave both of them. Christ then concludes the short illustration with a probing question, asking Simon which of the borrowers would love the banker more. The host responds with the obvious answer that the one who had been forgiven the most would love the most. Jesus commends Simon for his reply and then applies the story in a rather convicting manner. The Lord tells the proud, high reputation Pharisee that he had not provided water for Jesus feet to be washed, he had not greeted Jesus with a kiss, nor had he anointed Jesus head with oilall common courtesies of the time that the respected host should have extended to a guest worthy of honor. On the other hand, Christ points out that the uninvited, lowly, crying sinner woman had not ceased to wash His feet with her hair and anoint them with perfume from the time she made her humble entrance. Jesus concludes by forgiving the woman her sins and teaching the truth that the one who has been forgiven much loves much, but the one who has been forgiven little loves little.

Was the Lord implying in any way that Simon only needed a little forgiveness and was therefore excused from his lack of love and service? No! The Pharisaic Host was a sinner who needed forgiveness from the greatest of vices, that of pride! (see James 4:6) The reason Simon didnt love much, and consequently was unfaithful in his service, wasnt because he did not need grace, but because he did not recognize his great need for grace. The reason the sinner woman did love much, and consequently served faithfully, was that she did recognize her need for grace, was humble enough to receive it, and showed the gratitude that naturally (or perhaps we should say supernaturally) accompanies the life of the forgiven follower of Christ. She was faithful, without having to be told. Why? Because she was doing what she loved! Having trouble being faithful serving the Lord? Ask yourself, do you love Him?!

How To Not Fail At Faithfulness Part 1: Posted 11/21/2015 7:04:27 PM

I used to own a bowling ball with a picture of Jeff Gordon on it. I didnt know whether he was a good guy or not, all I knew is that the ball helped me convert many a spare shot. Later on, I found out that a dear sister in Christ liked Jeff Gordon, so I knew he couldnt be all bad! I have never developed an interest for NASCAR, but having a dear friend and sister in Christ that enjoys it and having a bowling ball with a drivers picture on it has caused me to at least pay attention to the sport when it is mentioned at the end of the local news programs over the years. So, my ears perked up a month or so ago when I heard the sports broadcaster mention that Jeff Gordon was getting ready to break a record, he would be making his 789th consecutive race, going over 20 years without missing a contest! I learned something about Jeff Gordon right then and it struck me so much that I immediately turned to my wonderful wife and said; Now Thats Faithful! Im sure that there were days when he didnt feel the best, days when he and his pit crew werent getting along, days when pressures of life from off the road were driving at him, but still he was faithful; to racing at least (maybe so in other areas as well, I just dont know that much about the man.) As I thought about it more over the next days the thought came to me that, though it certainly must have been difficult to have such a record of sticking to it, that its easy (or at least easier) to be faithful when youre doing what you love, seeking what you cherish, and being rewarded with what you value. These three points encourage us to be faithful to Jesus and well look at these areas in this series of blogs.

God Will Not Part 5: Posted 11/10/2015 7:16:56 PM

God Will Not Ultimately Allow The Holy To Be Profaned (1 Samuel 6:1-21) After the devastation of the plagues they experienced, the Philistines were anxious to return the Ark of the Covenant. (I encourage you to read all of 1 Samuel chapter 6 so that you see how the Lord miraculously worked in specific ways to show the pagan Philistines that the destruction they had endured came from the hand of the one true and living God!) The Israelites in the city of Beth-Shemesh were the ones to whom the Ark was returned. These were Gods people, they had heard of the commandments and of the law of Moses, they knew that the Ark of the Covenant was the most holy place and that only the high priest was to approach it and then only once a year. Yet, the people who were supposed to be Gods people did the unthinkable; they opened up the Ark of the Covenant and looked inside. The revelation they had of the Lord was much greater than that of the Philistines, and so too much greater was their accountability for breaking Gods law. The Lord struck down over 50,000 of the inhabitants of Beth-Shemesh and they discovered what all who fail to bow their knee in this life to the King of kings, what all who scoff and mock and use the name of Jesus merely as a byword will learn. GOD WILL NOT ULTIMATELY ALLOW THE HOLY TO BE PROFANED!

Yet, how many people claiming to be the people of God treat the holy as if it were profane (as if it were common). This John Doe Profane Christian does a lot of the things youd expect a believer to do. He goes to church, reads his Bible, prays, and gives to the cause of Christ. (Or at least he has done all those things in the past anywayuntil he grew out of the need for such a regular routine.) He knows some scripture and probably even thinks himself advanced in matters of spirituality and biblical knowledge. So advanced in fact that he begins to trivialize the importance of not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together. (Why should he be committed to being in church? Especially since he knows more than all those other people in the pews anyway!) He becomes so self-centered, so self-satisfied, and so self-confident that he looks down his nose at others thinking that his judgments are so sure that he can neglect the commands (not suggestions, but commands!) to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; to love your neighbor as yourself; and to love others in the family of God as Christ did. By not loving God and not loving the family of God this John Doe Profane Christian, who should know better, is living in utter profanity (as biblically defined) in that he is treating that which God calls holy as if it were common and that which is precious as if it were worthless. Pray to God he would repent for if it not he will surprisingly discover along with the people of Beth-Shemesh, GOD WILL NOT ULTIMATELY ALLOW THE HOLY TO BE PROFANED!

God Will Not Part 4: Posted 11/2/2015 9:44:04 PM

God Will Not Be One Of Many Gods (1 Samuel 5:1-4) The Philistines won the battle against the Israelites that day. They hadnt expected to. They thought they would be defeated by the God who had wrought such great devastation on Egypt, the mega-world superpower of the day. But when they were victorious, the Philistines came to the ill-conceived conclusion that the God they had feared they had feared for no reason. The Deity the Israelites worshipped was no greater than Dagon, the god the Philistines had made with their own hands; or so they thought! The Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in their temple beside Dagon, their false idol. When they awoke the next morning they found Dagon lying prostrate on the ground before the Ark. So the Philistines did for Dagon what must be done for every idol, they propped him up. (Now, just as a side note, one would think that if you served a god you had to stand back up, it might dawn on you that you had the wrong god!) However, Dagons situation only grew worse for the next morning when the Philistines came into the temple they found their false god not only lying on the ground, but with the palms of his hands cut off! Through this display of power and subsequent plagues of death that befell them, the Philistines learned what the first commandment should have taught the Israelites. GOD WILL NOT BE ONE OF MANY GODS!

Yet, how many professing believers treat God as if He is merely one of many compartments of their lives. This John Doe Many-gods Christian maybe comes to church fairly frequently, prays and reads his Bible at somewhat consistent intervals, and perhaps gives something quite regularly into the offering plate. That having been said, most of his Christianity stops at the walls of the church or at the doors of his home. When standing around the water cooler he is just as likely to get in on the telling of the inappropriate jokes as anyone else. When going to work hes just as prone as his coworkers to try and get away with doing the least while still complaining about being overworked and underpaid. The shows he watches on television or the movies he pays an increasingly extravagant amount to go see are just as R-rated and riddled with profanities and immoralities as those seen by people who profess no faith at all. This John Doe Many-gods Christian would tell you hes a Christian, and he acts like one, at least in certain places and at certain times. He is who he needs to be when and where he needs to be it to give off the impression he wants the people in front of him to have at the time. His life is much more likely to affect his faith than his faith is to affect his life. God, the Bible, and faith, rather than being most important to him and impacting every area of his life, are just one area of his life that are on a separate and equal footing with many others. On judgment day, if not at some point in this life, he will find that GOD WILL NOT BE ONE OF MANY GODS!

God Will Not Part 3: Posted 10/22/2015 8:20:29 PM

Yet, how many people today do think that God is their secret weapon. John Doe Secret Weapon Christian knows what the good book looks like, hes been down to an altar once (maybe even twice!), hes repeated the sinners prayer, maybe hes even signed a membership card, and then there was that one day his heart was so warm that he dropped a dollar (maybe even two!) into the offering plate! Is he a regular and faithful part of a local congregation? No! Does he read his Bible and pray daily? No! Does his checkbook show that he cares about the spreading of the gospel? No! Do his coworkers know that hes a Christian? No! Has he ever shared the Christian faith with anyone else? No! But find John Doe Secret Weapon Christian in a fix: the loss of his job; a death in his family; a divorce from his wife; a dire sickness in his body; or when it comes his own time to die; and he will call upon Jesus, at least in word, expecting he will find victory, not because he has genuinely been committed to Christ or even desires to be, but because he sees God as his secret weapon! Let me repeat; GOD WILL NOT BE OUR SECRET WEAPON!

God Will Not Part 3: Posted 10/22/2015 8:20:14 PM

Yet, how many people today do think that God is their secret weapon. John Doe Secret Weapon Christian knows what the good book looks like, hes been down to an altar once (maybe even twice!), hes repeated the sinners prayer, maybe hes even signed a membership card, and then there was that one day his heart was so warm that he dropped a dollar (maybe even two!) into the offering plate! Is he a regular and faithful part of a local congregation? No! Does he read his Bible and pray daily? No! Does his checkbook show that he cares about the spreading of the gospel? No! Do his coworkers know that hes a Christian? No! Has he ever shared the Christian faith with anyone else? No! But find John Doe Secret Weapon Christian in a fix: the loss of his job; a death in his family; a divorce from his wife; a dire sickness in his body; or when it comes his own time to die; and he will call upon Jesus, at least in word, expecting he will find victory, not because he has genuinely been committed to Christ or even desires to be, but because he sees God as his secret weapon! Let me repeat; GOD WILL NOT BE OUR SECRET WEAPON!

God Will Not Part 2: Posted 10/18/2015 7:52:48 PM

God Will Not Be Our Secret Weapon (1 Samuel 4:5-11) The people of God were in one of their frequent confrontations with the Philistines. They were losing and wondered why the Lord was allowing, indeed ordaining, that they be defeated by their enemies. However, while the Israelites had the insight to know that God holds victory and defeat in the palm of His hand, they did not have the wisdom, or perhaps the courage, to look inside their souls and see that their greatest foe was the evil within, not the enemy without. They would not confess that they were idolaters and adulterers with hearts far away from the Lord and His holy word. Even their spiritual leaders, Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli the high priest, were corrupt to the core, doing what false teachers have done for time immemorial, running away with the offerings and running around on their wives. Eli, though a fairly godly man in his own right, lacked the fortitude to discipline his sons, caring more for his family name than for the Name of God! So, in the midst of an abundance of corruption and a lack of conviction, rather than seek the remedy of repentance for their ruin, the people of God instead paraded to the battle the secret weapon they thought could never fail. The Ark of the Covenant, the holy box where the presence of the Lord was promised to abide between the wings of the cherubim, was brought to the front lines. The people shouted with such a great shout as the Ark was brought into the camp that Scripture records that the Earth resounded! The Philistines heard the shout and, in a response that showed a greater fear of the Lord than the people of God possessed, became terribly frightened and declared among themselves that the God who had brought such devastation and plagues to the Egyptians was now against them. The pagan forces then encouraged one another to fight like never before lest they become the slaves of the Israelites. The Philistines did fight, and they won decisively. Thirty thousand Israelite foot soldiers perished, Hophni and Phinehas (and soon after Eli, their father) were among the dead, and the Ark of the Covenant was taken for enemy spoil! The people of God discovered that day what Samson found out when he thought he could still fight after giving away his secret (Judges 16:20), what the seven sons of Sceva ran into when they believed simply saying the name of Jesus would give them power to cast out demons (Acts 19:14ff.), and what those who claim to prophesy and work miracles but have no genuine knowledge of Jesus and His gospel will have revealed to them (Matthew 7:21-23). GOD WILL NOT BE OUR SECRET WEAPON!

God Will Not Part 1: Posted 10/13/2015 7:05:45 PM

One of the most enduring and captivating posters to pass before my eyes during my more than a decade of working in Christian retail was composed of an artists rendering of Jesus saying the words I AM with several and various Scriptural names and descriptors of God superimposed in the background. Many of these names of God, especially in the Old Testament, were derived from who He is and what He does. For instance: Elohim speaks to His role as Creator of all that is; Yahweh (or Jehovah) Raffa depicts Him as the LORD our healer; Yahweh (or Jehovah) Rohi describes Him as the LORD our Shepherd; Yahweh (or Jehovah) Tsidkenu tells of His being our righteousness; Yahweh (or Jehovah) Jireh proclaims Him as the LORD our Provider; and Adonai declares His Lordship over all that is and was and is to come. As much as I liked that artwork, an idea for another poster came across my mind just the other day. How about a poster with an artists rendering of Jesus that tells what God Will Not Be and Will Not Do? Perhaps itll never be popular enough to hit the shelves, and Lord knows I could never draw anything, but I think its a concept worth pondering for there are certain things that God is not and that He will not do. We will explore this concept of God Will Not in this months newsletter by looking at three events involving the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the Lords presence was seen to dwell in the Old Testament.

Cast Your Vote Part 6: Posted 10/8/2015 9:40:00 PM

Cast Your Vote: The Best or The Worst (Matthew 27:25-26) Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. You would think that Someone who did so many great things for such a great many would have no enemies to speak of. However, as those familiar with the gospels well know, Jesus did have enemies, terrible enemies. The Christ who met the lame with unmerited compassion met the corrupt leadership with unyielding courage. From the second chapter of John detailing the Lords turning of the tables on the religious elite who made a living making merchandise of the people of God, the writing was on the wall concerning the fate of Jesus. Jewish denominations that were normally at continual and combative odds with each other as to who was right and who would rule, joined together in strange unanimity (and infamy!) in their view that this pesky Carpenter turned Rabbi from Nazareth must be done away with! They looked for opportunities to rid themselves of Christ but found that His astuteness in answering their gotcha questions and His astounding popularity among the masses He healed thwarted their diabolical plans. But they were nothing if not persistent. Eventually they found one of Christs disciples who would betray Him. They used Judas to find Him, Roman soldiers to arrest Him, false witnesses to make slanderous allegations against Him, and a moody and murderous mob to call for the crucifixion of the One that had less than a week before been hailed as King in the same citys streets down which He would soon carry His cross! But the Jewish religious leaders didnt have the authority to condemn Jesus to death in their trumped up trial. They had to bring Christ to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, in order to secure His execution. Pilate had run-ins with these hypocritical religious leaders in the past and, through his wifes dream and conversations with Jesus Himself, knew that their desire for Christs death was without warrant. The Governor thought he could go around the villainous plan of the Jewish hierarchies by appealing directly to the people. There was a tradition that the Roman official would release one prisoner at Passover; Pilate would offer the people a choice, should he release Jesus or Barabbas. Could there be any doubt as to who would be picked? One known to bring life or one known to bring death, the Christ or a criminal, the Son of God or a godless son. The choice seemed stark but the verdict surprising. The people rejected Jesus and released Barabbas. They voted for the worst over the best and Pilate followed their lead. And so too has everyone who refuses to repent and believe in Christ as Savior. There is no middle ground, its always a choice between Jesus, the best, and whatever else which is the worst. Cast your vote wisely!

Cast Your Vote Part 5: Posted 10/1/2015 10:05:44 PM

Cast Your Vote: Gods Kingdom or The Worlds Kingdom (Mark 10:17-23) Many people came to see Jesus during His incarnational time here on Earth. Thats understandable. When you have a reputation for giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, bringing mobility to the lame, cleansing the leper, delivering the demon possessed, and even raising the dead, you tend to draw a crowd. Now certainly not all of those coming were sincere or turned out to be Christ followers, but the people who came to see Jesus did number in the multiple thousands. However, with all of the masses who ventured to see the Lord out of their physical or material needs, one of the standout encounters someone had with Jesus came from a man who was doing great financially and physically. We dont know his name but we refer to him as the rich young ruler. He came to Jesus, bowed down before Him, and then asked the most important question, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? The Lord responds by telling the well-to-do man that he must keep the commandments, such as not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not lying, and honoring his father and mother. The rich young ruler replies that he has kept all of these commandments from his youth up. Now, let me ask you to be honest. Have you, or anyone that youve ever known, no matter how much you may respect them or have confidence in them (or yourself) ever kept all of those commandments from their youth up? (If you think the answer to that last question is anything but an emphatic NO!, then please see Romans 3:10-11immediately!) Jesus, who while doing the merciful and miraculous, was also no stranger to being courageous and confrontational. Still, though He certainly could have, Christ did not challenge the rich young rulers assertion that he had kept the commandments, but simply told him that he lacked one thing, and that was to sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and then to come and follow. What happens next is one of the saddest scenes in all of human history, the rich young ruler, though saying no words, votes with his feet and leaves the presence of Jesus, choosing to walk away from Gods eternal Kingdom and righteousness in order to hold on to this worlds temporary kingdom and its riches. This encounter took place 2,000 years ago. Yet the same choice extends to the human race for as long as time shall endure. Gods Kingdom or the Worlds Kingdom. Cast your vote wisely!

Cast Your Vote Part 4: Posted 9/25/2015 9:58:09 PM

Cast Your Vote: Victory or Defeat (Joshua 24:15) The daunting task of taking over leadership from Moses was divinely appointed to the great General Joshua. He led Gods people into the Promised Land, the Lord parting the waters of the Jordan River as the Israelites passed over on dry ground. This scene, similar to the crossing of the Red Sea under Moses, helped confirm the selection of Joshua as the new leader in the eyes of the people. Perhaps Joshuas most famous victory in the pages of Scripture occurred at the great walled fortress of Jericho. The inhabitants of the city were fearful because the renown of Gods deliverance of His people from Egypt had spread far and wide. That having been said, the Jerichoites (or perhaps Jerichoans) were confident they would be safe from any threat if they stayed inside the confines of their impenetrable wall. You probably know the rest of the story. God tells Joshua to have the people march around the city in silence for six days. On the seventh day they marched seven times around and then at the trumpeting of the rams horns they shouted with a great shout and watched as the walls fell down flat by the power of God! If Jericho was Joshuas most famous battle, Joshua 24:15 is likely the most famous verse of Scripture associated with his name. The passage finds Joshua near the end of his life and, following in the footsteps of Moses, he is exhorting the people one last time to follow after the LORD. Joshua tells them to put away false gods, for it was these false gods that they had seen defeated time and again by the power of the one true and living God of Israel. He cannot make the decision for them but in as strong a manner as possible Joshua tells them to choose this day whom they will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD! Serve the true God who brings victory, or serve the false gods who have been defeated. The Israelites cast their vote throughout the pages of the Old Testament, mostly with tragic results. We are faced with the same decision. We will serve somebody. Cast your vote wisely!

Cast Your Vote Part 3: Posted 9/20/2015 8:10:33 PM

Cast Your Vote: Life or Death (Deuteronomy 30:19) Moses had been used by the Lord to inflict terrible plagues upon the Egyptians, to lead the Israelites on a sea splitting exodus from bondage, to deliver Gods law on stone tablets to Gods people, and to lead that stony hearted people through a wilderness on a journey that was simultaneously littered with the tragedy of mans sin and filled with Gods merciful, miraculous provision. In the pages of Deuteronomy, this man, the most humble who ever lived and the greatest prophet of the Old Testament, was nearing 120 years of age. Though living a life of faithfulness and godliness and certainly promised the eternal reward thereof, Moses had sinned and disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of just speaking to it and received the consequence that he would not live to see the Israelites enter into the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses knew what his earthly end would be and accepted it. So what would this mighty man of God choose to do for his final acts as the great leader of the Lords people? He spends an entire book of the Bible repeating the same message that he had been giving them for the past 40 years! They didnt need something new, but they did need to be reminded of the importance of that which they had already received! Like a good lawyer, more like a prosecuting attorney, Moses concludes his remarks with a closing statement, calling heaven and earth as witnesses that he had given the people a choice between life and death, told them to choose life (in case they had any doubt as to which choice was best!), and yet bemoaning the awful truth that he knew they would choose death. That was then (about 1,500 BC), and this is now (some 3,500 years later). Yet the choice is still the same, life or death. Cast your vote wisely!

Cast Your Vote Part 2: Posted 9/14/2015 9:51:13 PM

Cast Your Vote: Truth or Lie (Genesis 3:4-6) So let us begin at the beginning. God created all that is by simply saying Let there be. Then, last of all, on day six of Creation the Lord makes the crown jewel of His work, that of mankind. Only to the male and female did He declare that they were made in His own image and likeness; only to the human race did God breathe the breath of life into his lungs from His very own nostrils. So much did the Father love man that He gave them authority over the rest of the created order, placing them in the beautiful Garden of Eden, and then affording them the privilege of walking with the Almighty in the glorious cool of the day! However, as you well know, the story doesnt continue on an upward path for long. One day, the woman and then later the man fell to the destructive deceit of the devil: choosing to eat from the one forbidden tree rather than be filled with the bounty of fruit God allowed and provided; electing to believe Satans lie that the Lord was somehow holding out on them and that there would be no penalty for sin instead of trusting the truth that, as a loving heavenly Father, God knows whats best for His children and, as the Righteous Judge of all, He will certainly not leave the guilty unpunished. Adam and Eve cast a vote for Satan, the master politician whose lie promised more than he could deliver as if no one would have to pay for it, instead of for God, the ultimate truth teller for He is at once the standard, source, and substance of all that is good and true. But dont think were off the hook. The same decision that the first couple had to make confronts each of us on a daily basis in every facet of life. The choice, truth or lie. Cast your vote wisely!

Cast Your Vote Part 1: Posted 9/8/2015 10:35:42 PM

I hope you have your voter registration card handy and have mapped out the location of your polling place. Maybe youre thinking, Now wait just a minute, it cant be that time again, it seems like only yesterday that we voted last! Exactly, the last election was just yesterday; so that means that at the speed of modern campaigns tomorrow must again be Decision Day America! Okay, Im exaggerating slightly but it does seem that the only enterprise that can get a jump ahead on actual start time quicker than a retailer setting up for Christmas is a politician running for President! That being said, while we may have a few months yet before picking from one of the 500 or so candidates vying to be the political leader of the free world, we cast a vote everyday through the decisions that we make that either take us closer to or farther away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

A "S"urvey of the Book of Job Part 6: Posted 8/31/2015 9:57:14 PM

Salvation (Job 42:5-6 and Job 19:25-26) Ask most people what the main theme of the book of Job is and they will likely tell you that its about suffering. Now suffering, while not being an S word that I chose for one of my main points in this article, is certainly a major factor in Job. However, it is my contention that all of the books of the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, while they may deal with several aspects of the Christian life, ultimately have as their main goal to point to Jesus the Savior. The book of Job is certainly no exception. Job 42:5-6 sees the title character repenting in dust and ashes in awe of the greatness of God. Job 19:25-26 finds him declaring that I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God. I dont believe that Job had a full revelation of the person and work of Christ during his day, but the book that bears his name without question emphasizes the requirements of salvation, that of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus!

A "S"urvey of the Book of Job Part 5: Posted 8/27/2015 6:58:09 PM

Sovereignty (Job 38:1ff) After much speaking by Job and his friends, God finally steps in and has His say. If Hollywood were scripting these final moments, we might expect that the Lord would now let Job know the real reason why he was suffering and might even offer him an apology. But thats not at all what happens. Far from being apologetic or even explanatory, the Lord doesnt answer the questions that have been posed to Him and about Him for the past 30 or so chapters but instead tells Job to gird up his loins like a man and begins questioning him! The Almighty asks Job where he was when the worlds were made, or the seas were measured out, or the stars set in motion. The Lord queries Job if he could make it rain, or start a flood, or change the seasons, or guide the constellations across the canvas of the sky. The answers to all of these questions of course are meant to lead Job to the conclusion that God is great and he, in comparison, is insignificant and should place his hand over his mouth when it comes to laying accusations or questions at the feet of the Lord (see Job 40:3-5). That God should respond in such a way strikes us as harsh and possibly even wrong. Doesnt Job deserve our expected explanation if not an all-out apology from the Lord for all the trouble that hes been put through?

Let me pose something that may hit a little hard. The reason we think Job deserves an explanation and an apology, why we believe God should be nicer and why we feel that Job has gotten the short end of the stick is because we think God owes us explanations and apologies for bad things that have happened in our lives and we believe that we have not received all that should have been ours. However, God is the Sovereign, He is the King, He has made all that is, including us, and who are we to instruct Him as to what He should do, much less what He could do, with what and who are His! I encourage you to read that last sentence slowly two or three times through; not because I wrote it, but because it is a truth of which we humans, who tend to want to make ourselves the king of the world and the center of the universe, need to be reminded. Gods sovereignty is indeed a hard doctrine that assaults our desire to be in control, but it is also a comforting doctrine that edifies as it reminds us that our Heavenly Father, Who while being incredibly powerful is also incredibly loving, is in utmost control!

A "S"urvey of the Book of Job Part 4: Posted 8/21/2015 8:01:20 PM

Sound (Job 4:1ff.) After the seven days, Job breaks his silence with a lament bemoaning his condition and cursing the day that he was born (though he does not curse God nor sin with his lips throughout his whole ordeal-Job 1:22; Job 2:10; Job 42:8). Beginning with chapter 4 Jobs friends begin to take multiple turns expressing their thoughts on the matter, mostly accusing their friend of some secret sin or lack of faith that has brought this devastation. One by one they urge Job to confess the hidden iniquity that must be the source of such great calamity. These friends made the common misjudgment that any bad thing that happens must be traced to some wrong thing in the life of the one who suffers.

Even the disciples of Jesus were prone to similarly make such a hasty estimation. John chapter 9 tells the story of a man born blind. When the disciples encounter the man, they ask Jesus if the blindness was due to a sin that the man himself committed or a sin that his parents performed. The Lord tells them that neither was the case but rather that the mans blindness was that the works of God might be displayed in him. Now, do sin and lack of faith bring dire consequences? Absolutely! Do we want to keep our sin meter low and our faith meter high? For sure! That having been said, we need to be careful not to automatically assume that tough times in life are due to transgressions in behavior or iniquity in a heart. We would not know of Job in Scripture were it not for his suffering. We would have no biblical record of the blind man from John 9 were it not for his being born without sight. Sometimes tough times grow us the most and are the instruments through which God causes all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). Though we may not understand it in this life, there will be a time when we will know as we are known and will see clearly what we now view through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12).

A "S"urvey of the Book of Job Part 3: Posted 8/15/2015 7:53:25 PM

Silence (Job 2:11-13) Three of Jobs friends hear about all the adversity that has come his way and go to see him. As is often the case with many tragedies, its one thing to hear of it but quite another to actually see it. When the men arrive and behold their friend with their own eyes, they are so overwhelmed by the devastation before them that they cant even speak. After weeping, tearing their robes, and throwing dust over their heads towards the sky, they sit on the ground in silence for seven days and seven nights.

There are many people, most of them well-meaning, who seem to have a lot to say when they encounter someone going through a tragedy. However, many times its not words that people need at the height of devastation; its simply the presence of someone who cares. I remember often feeling at a loss for words during a time of ministerial work with the chaplains office of Tulsa Regional Medical Center. A pastor is in contact on a regular basis with people going through difficult times of loss, but the chaplain of a hospital daily sees individuals and families walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing there werent any magical things to say to take away their pain and make everything alright, I found myself constantly praying that somehow and someway the Lord would allow the presence of the Holy Spirit Who indwells the lives of all believers (including me) to bring comfort and strength. There is certainly a time for words, but theres also a time for silence. Ill close this section with some song lyrics written by Larnelle Harris (who incidentally sang tenor for the Gaither Vocal Band during the mid-80s!), Ill help you cry, just lay your head on my shoulder and I wont let you shed tears alone, take my hand, only say the word and Ill stay right here by your side, I have no words to ease the pain, I dont know how it all will end, but Im your friend and Ill help you cry.

A "S"urvey of the Book of Job Part 2: Posted 8/10/2015 8:07:35 PM

Surprise (Job 1 and 2) The book of Job opens by describing its namesake as a man who was upright and blameless, fearing God and turning away from evil. As one might expect, he was thusly greatly blessed, enjoying great family and great fortune as the good fruit of his genuine faith. Man serves God and God blesses that man abundantly. Then verse 6 of the first chapter makes a transition with the recounting of a conversation that occurs between God and Satan. The evil one had been wondering to and fro around the Earth, undoubtedly seeking to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). The Lord asks the devil if he has considered His servant Job and brags about the fact that this man is one who follows after righteousness and turns away from sin. Satan rejects the nobility of Job saying that the man only serves God because the Lord has blessed him so mightily; surely no one would serve God for nothing! The devil defiantly declares to the Almighty that if He took away Jobs family and fortune, then the man would curse God to His face! The Lord answers this charge by allowing Satan to bring all kinds of suffering upon Job, the taking of his fortune and family and eventually even the taking of his health through terrible boils on the skin, stopping the enemys assault only with the prohibition of the taking of his life.

If I were to ask a group of professing Christians if they wanted to be the one that God would point out as being the most notable follower of Jesus in the world, one that was tried and true, faithful and fruitful, a standout servant, everyone would surely raise their hand! Most, in fact nearly all, of those hands would quickly go back down to their sides however if I told them it would mean losing everything, perhaps even their health. After all, we are constantly barraged with the false theology that if we follow God close enough, if we believe strong enough, if we read our Bibles long enough, if we pray hard enough, and if we give abundantly enough then all will go well with us and we will be blessed with favor that extends to everything from fame and fortune to the best parking spots at the Wal-Mart! However, a true reading of Scripture that does more than pull proof texts out of context actually reveals that the prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New Testament were largely penniless and persecuted. Being Gods choicest servant and going through Job-like troubles may seem surprising to us, but it shouldnt! In fact, quite the contrary, we should be surprised, indeed alarmed, if our Christian commitment is so weak that no one takes notice of it and that theres no price to pay for it (1 Peter 4:12-13).

A "S"urvey of the Book of Job Part 1: Posted 8/10/2015 8:07:06 PM

If someone were to take a poll of the least favorite books of the Bible, Job would probably land toward the top of the list, right alongside other popular contenders such as Leviticus and Ecclesiastes. However, the 42 chapters of this Old Testament work have great and significant teaching which should not be ignored. Job has been on my mind of late and this series of blogs will be a short survey of this important portion of Scripture.

What(''s) In The World? Part 5: Posted 8/3/2015 1:48:09 PM

Defilement Is Whats In The World One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is the fifth chapter of Marks gospel. The first 20 verses recount how one long possessed by a legion of unclean spirits that made him more of a monster than a man was set free by the authoritatively spoken commandment from the lips of Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords! The chapter then moves to tell of a woman who was made both ill and outcast for twelve years of her life by an unclean issue of blood. Earthly doctors had accomplished no benefit for her but when she caught one touch of the hem of the Great Physicians garment she was immediately delivered and made whole. Mark 5 ends with Jesus coming to the house of Jairus 12 year old daughter who had went from sick to dead during the delay caused by the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. Christ, after having been laughed at for saying that the girl was merely asleep instead of dead, proceeded into her bedroom with the parents and three of His disciples. One touch and two words later a lifeless heart began to beat again, cold stiff hands turned warm and nimble again, eyes closed now opened again, and hopeless parents now hoped again! If you havent read Mark 5 in a while, I hope youre inspired to do so just now! That being said, one may be asking what all these miracles from this blessed chapter have to do with our present point of the defilement thats in the world. Glad you asked! The demoniac man was possessed by a multitude of unclean spirits, the woman was made unclean by an issue of blood, according to Old Testament law the body of the young dead girl was unclean and would make anyone who touched her unclean for a number of days. The world defiles, the world makes unclean those who pass through it and are affected by it (James 1:27). Yet Jesus, rather than being made unclean by the unclean, made the defiled delivered when He came on the scene of their lives!

What(''s) In The World? Part 4: Posted 8/3/2015 1:46:37 PM

Danger Is Whats In The World Just over two decades after World War I had been billed as the war to end all wars came World War II in which millions upon millions of people were killed. The world, which had always been a dangerous place, now seemed much more so as mans inhumanity to man was put on open display in a way like never before and bombs that could potentially destroy pretty near the whole of the human race were beginning to be unveiled. In light of this danger and in the aftermath of World War II, two important alliances were formed. The first was NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the other was the Warsaw Pact. The former was led by the United States and consisted of mainly democratic nations in Western Europe and the latter, comprised of Eastern European communist and dictatorial regimes, saw the Soviet Union firmly ensconced in leadership. The idea behind both organizations was that if any member of their respective alliances were to be attacked, it would be seen as an act of war upon all the aligned nations and would incur the wrath of the group as a whole. Although this would lead to a multi-decade Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and though terrible battles would break out in Korea and Vietnam, the knowledge that a nuclear conflict would bring about a mutually assured destruction (a policy known as MAD) kept the hottest of wars from breaking out for the remainder of the twentieth century. Leaders in both prominent nations realized that the world was a very dangerous place; and that fear kept them from making certain cataclysmic decisions.

James 4:4 clearly tells us that friendship with the world system makes us an enemy of God. We could talk about many dangers that are in the world, but the main danger the world system contains is that to be in unity with it is to necessarily align ones self against the Lord! Far from the situation of mutually assured destruction that existed between the USA and the USSR, the world system will be destroyed by an enemy that is so far superior in every way that when He considers all His adversaries combined, He merely laughs (Psalm 2:4).

What(''s) In The World? Part 3: Posted 7/23/2015 2:18:03 PM

Deception Is Whats In The World Being at home more than normal these past couple of weeks, I have been taking some of the solicitation calls that usually fall to my wonderful wife. One day I answered the phone from an unidentified number on the caller ID (almost always a sure indicator of an unwanted call) and there was a delay between my hello and a response from the other end of the line (yet another tell-tale sign of an unwanted call!). When a foreign sounding voice finally did begin to speak, the gentleman told me that he was from Microsoft and asked if our computer was running slow. I told him that at times it did seem to take too long for certain operations to take place. (Of course most everybody would say that their computer runs slow, especially when you see that terrible spinning wheel that just keeps going and going and going and..!). He said that was confirmation of his diagnosis that our computer was in danger. But he had good news for us; he was there to help! All I had to do was go to my computer and follow a few simple instructions that would allow him to remotely correct the problem. Whether it was the Holy Spirit or just intuition or merely watching too many WINK News Call for Action spots on tv I do not know, but an immediate sinking feeling came into the pit of my stomach. I told the man as kindly as I knew how that I would not be allowing him remote access to my computer and that I would see a local technician if indeed there was a serious problem that manifested itself. He kept talking for a moment before I wished him a good evening and hung up the receiver. A couple of nights later I again took a similar phone call, with seemingly the same voice telling me the same information. This time I told him that in no way, shape, manner, or form was I going to do as he asked and wished him a good evening. I did not give him opportunity to say anything more before hanging up the receiver. A couple of nights after that, for the third time I again took a similar phone call with seemingly the same voice telling me the same information. I did not yell or scream but told the man in no uncertain terms that if he was legit then I doubted that his number would show up as unidentified and that he would be contacting me by phone asking me for remote access to my computer. I went on to say that I would never, under any circumstances, trust someone who behaved in such a way. Surprisingly, before I could hang up the receiver, he admitted to me that he was not legit and hung up the phone on me!.

Only a few days later while watching WINK News Call for Action my wife and I heard a report about a woman who got a phone call like the ones that I had received. She followed the mans instructions, gave him remote access, and in short order her computer that had been running a little slower than she liked was now not running at all and thousands of dollars were gone from accounts that she had linked to online banking. Maybe you hear that someone fell for such a deception and wonder how anyone could be so foolish and nave. However, before judging her too harshly, let me ask, havent you fallen for deceptions before? (If your answer is no, then youre probably deceived right now!). The Bible clearly tells us that the world system is under the deception of the evil one and seeks to deceive people in every way (1 John 5:19-20; Rev. 12:9), especially in the matter of blinding people to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4). The world will tell you that they have the answer to your problem, whether that problem be a computer that runs slow, a bank account thats empty, a heart that is lonely, or a life that is dull. All you have to do is follow a few simple instructions, make a few easy payments, lower a few standards, gulp a few beverages, or pop a few pills and all your problems will be over! Of course the world that is good at promoting the fleeting pleasures of the night of doesnt tell you about the lingering pains of the mornings after! Go after the worlds deceptions and, whether you recognize it now or later, you will find that your life is being remotely controlled, going places you never thought youd go and doing things you never thought youd do. Dont fall for the worlds deceptions! Follow after Gods truth (John 8:31-32)!

What(''s) In The World? Part 2: Posted 7/15/2015 1:31:32 PM

Definition Of The World Before we get to whats in the world, we need to take a moment and be clear about our definition of the world. The Bible speaks of the world as a generic term for the created universe (John 17:5). Genesis chapter one clearly states that God created all that is and when He took a moment to peruse His work He made the repeated conclusion that it was good. The world in this sense had no faults or fallen-ness at the start, but due to the following sin of man, the crown of Creation, the rest of the created order has since been held in bondage and is negatively impacted until the day of final and full redemption (Romans 8:18-25). The second definition of the world refers to humanity at large. When John 3:16 states that for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.., it does not mean that the Fathers primary concern in sending Jesus to die on the cross was His overwhelming love for rocks, hills, trees and streams. No, although Jesus work will affect all of Creation, the world spoken of in the Bibles most famous verse means humanity, those who by means of believing in Him do not perish but will have everlasting life. The third and final definition of the world is a system and society that is organized without God and which is set in its entirety against God (John 17:14). This is the operative meaning of the term for our purposes this month. So, that being said, whats in the world?!, this system and society that is against the Lord, His Word, and His Anointed One?

What(''s) In The World? Part 1: Posted 7/8/2015 2:09:15 PM

Perhaps its because I have a little bit more time in the Summer to watch too much of the news, but it seems to me that at an ever increasing rate we see things we never thought wed see and find ourselves asking what in the world?! However, while events such as: four U.S. citizens getting caught trying to organize ISIS like attacks on our own shores, two heinous murderers escaping from maximum security incarceration with the help of a prison worker who gave them power tools hidden in frozen meat, a young racist man with a deluded mind and a seared conscience executing nine people in a church one hour after being welcomed into their Bible study, and a famous older man who sadly and tragically thinks hes a woman and makes the magazine covers at every grocery checkout aisle may disappoint or discourage us, as believers in Christ and students of Gods Word these events should not surprise us. Why do things happen that cause us to ask what in the world?, its because of whats in the world!

Christianity Down 8 In America-What Should We Do? Part 5: Posted 6/25/2015 8:06:01 PM

Preach Christ Crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) Picture this. A man goes to see his doctor. Sometimes he feels sick, sometimes he feels fine. Maybe its nothing, maybe its something, but he decides to go in for a checkup. The well-trained physician performs a battery of tests and discovers that the patient is indeed sick; very, very sick. In fact, the man has a disease so deadly that left untreated no one has ever survived its devastating effects. Good news is there is a cure, just one cure, but it does have a 100% track record of healing those who take it. Bad news is that it has a strong taste, such a strong taste that anyone who takes it has a lifelong distinct smell to their breath that is quite noticeable to anyone they come into contact with. Perhaps as hard to deal with as having smelly breath for the rest of ones days is the stigma that everyone who does smell your breath knows that youve had the dreaded disease and that youve been willing to take the cure. Now imagine that the doctor is overwhelmingly fearful that the patient will be so upset by the diagnosis, so offended that there is just one cure, and so violently unwilling to take the strong medicine that the man will find some other physician to attend to his medical needs. So, in order to ensure he keeps his patient, the doctor makes the decision to authoritatively tell the man that there is really nothing wrong with him and that there are a number of possible medications that can be prescribed to help alleviate the pseudo-symptoms that he feels from time to time. The patient leaves the office, glad he has such a great physician, unoffended and unshaken by anything, and destined to die a terrible death!

Many commentators on the various news shows carrying the story of the 8 point loss in Christianity in the U.S. offered suggestions that could reverse the trend. Most of those proposals had to do with the church being more tolerant of sinful behavior, not being so dogmatic about Jesus being the only way, preaching on issues that are more relevant that deal less with eternity and the next life and more with how to be successful in this present life. Sadly, many who claim to be believers, even those in positions of leadership, several churches and even entire denominations, have fallen for these suggestions. They are unwilling to give the diagnosis of sin, the prognosis of death, the singular cure of Jesus Christ, and instead offer homilies that could just as easily be found on self-help, motivational-oriented daytime tv. Some leave these places of religion because they see someone who espouses no faith in Christ who is richer, who gets the promotion, who gets the better car and finds the better parking space and figure whats the use of professing a faith that isnt getting them the benefits they desire. Those who do stay in these gospel-less houses of worship may like their leaders and hype their experience, but apart from Christ they carry around a certain sentence of eternal death and damnationNow, the church doesnt need to be opposed to everything new. Some incidentals can change without wavering on fundamentals. Also, believers dont need to be hated for being hateful or held in contempt for being unnecessarily offensive. That being said, we have no cause but Christ and no cure but Him crucified. What should we do about Christianity in the U.S. losing eight points? As the Apostle Paul prescribed, determine to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. Apart from this message even if the polls on American Christianity go up, the numbers of those on Heavens roll will not.

Christianity Down 8 In America-What Should We Do? Part 4: Posted 6/19/2015 10:35:27 PM

Focus On The Church (Acts 2:41-47) I initially had this point labeled Focus On The Family Of God. That title seemed to flow better with the previous section of Focus On The Family. I decided to change it to Focus On The Church because I wanted to be emphasize the importance of the church and not allow for the misunderstanding that the family of God is somehow different from the church. Now of course not everyone who is on a membership roll of a church is part of the family of God. Also, is there the possibility that someone could be a member of the family of God but not be part of an organized church? Yes, theres a chance, but not much of one (if you think youre the exception, just remember statistics are filled with people who thought they were the exception!). For all the accusations leveled against the church, for all the hypocrisy which it has too long harbored in its walls, for all the hurt and pain and pettiness you may have experienced in the congregations of professing believers, let me remind you that it was for the church that Jesus died. The church is the only organization (perhaps better said organism; something living) that Christ came to establish. It is the church to which the word of God was written (just look at the title lines of the books of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc. and you will find it says the epistle to the CHURCH at _________). It is the church that will overcome the gates of hell. Without the church we cannot do the one anothers of scripture and we are removed from an authority that God intends to be used for the discipline and growth of the individual Christian.

In Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit descended upon believers on the Day of Pentecost. Peter preaches the inaugural message of the Christian church. Thousands are saved and the believers begin meeting together, praising God together, breaking bread together, studying the Apostles teaching together, and living Christianly together. As they did this, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Do we have a responsibility to take the gospel outside the four walls of the church? Certainly. But what should be an even more pressing response to Christianity losing 8 points in America? A fervent focus on the church. Be faithful to be together. Be faithful to pray for one another. Be faithful to hold the church to sound doctrine. Be willing to be disciplined and be used for discipline so that we all grow closer to Christ.

Christianity Down 8 In America-What Should We Do? Part 3: Posted 6/14/2015 11:05:19 PM

Focus On The Family (Deuteronomy 6:4-7) Ive been a school teacher for many years of my life, and as such Ive made many a phone call home to tell parents about their childs misdeeds. I remember one contact in particular that stands out to me, not so much for any shock value, but for the fact that its sadly indicative of the attitude of so many parents in todays world. A certain female student that did not think she needed to follow dress code, be to class on time, do her work, stay off her cell phone, or not carry on incessant conversations with her friends in the middle of the lesson said more than a few choice words to me on her way out of the classroom when I confronted her about her behavior. I went to the office and got a home number to call. Her mom answered and I told her the story of why her daughter would be coming home with a disciplinary referral. She listened to everything I had to say and agreed that I was justified in writing her daughter up. So far so good. Then she said something that floored me and has stuck with me to this day. The young ladys mother told me that I should do whatever I had to do; that she was not going to stand up for her daughters bad behavior. While there may seem to be nothing wrong in that response on the surface, the fact that she wasnt going to personally discipline her child in any way revealed the underlying assumption that her daughter was ultimately my responsibility, not hers! Now, as a teacher, as a concerned citizen, as a Christian minister, Im glad to do all that I can to help a student academically and in any other way. However, ultimately, until that young person reaches an age of accountability, the responsibility for a childs academics and well-being in any and every area of life resides firmly with their family. This is certainly true in the area of spirituality. Moses made it clear that parents were to teach their children the word of God in their homes, as they went on their way, when they lay down and when they rose up (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). Pastors can help, church leaders can help, brothers and sisters in the Lord can help, but no one has more influence over the spiritual development of a child than their parents. Kids get their first impression of who God is, of what God is like, of what holiness is, of what grace means, of what is true, of what is false, of what is right, and of what is wrong from their dad and mom. Certainly we try to reach anyone and everyone we can with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That having been said, we must be careful not to neglect the people we have the most influence over, those under our own roof! Our first ministry, the first converts we should wish to make, the first disciples we should wish to teach, are the precious ones who reside at our same address. What should we do about Christianity in the U.S. losing eight points? Focus on the family. Evangelize at home first. Pray and work towards our kids being genuinely converted why theyre young. And should those kids reach an age of accountability, grow to the point of making their own decisions, and then seemingly turn their backs on the truths upon which they were raised, then keep evangelizing and show through our words and deeds what a genuine believer in Jesus looks like.

Christianity Down 8 In America-What Should We Do? Part 2: Posted 6/9/2015 10:31:31 PM

Make Sure We Ourselves Are Saved (2 Peter 1:10-11) What surprised me most about the poll was not that Christianity in America was down 8 points, but was that anybody in their right mind could possibly ever believe that anywhere near 70% of people in our population are genuine believers! Ive driven down streets in large cities, mid-sized suburbs, and small towns in our great nation on Sunday mornings and have never seen 70% of the vehicles out on the road headed to the house of the Lord! 70% (or more) of our country may own a Bible but they certainly dont read the good book on any regular basis. 70% (or more) of Americans may use the Lords Name in vain on any given day, but nowhere near that number will utter a genuine prayer in that Name or offer a fervent praise to that Name today! 70% (or more) of U.S. citizens have one or more of the following: cable tv of some sort, cell phones aplenty, a personal computer, internet service, car (or perhaps even cars), take annual multi-day vacations, and the list could go on and on of pleasures we in this country are blessed to enjoy. That having been said, nothing approaching 70% of people who do go to church, much less those who dont, support a local congregation financially in any way (much less a tithe) in their efforts to spread the gospel! 70% (or more) of Americans will go out of their way by word of mouth or through modern day social media to tell somebody, even people they dont know, about their favorite restaurant or perhaps their most un-favorite restaurant. However, sadly, much less than that percentage of even church going folks would be willing to share their faith with anyone under any circumstance. Assuming youve read this far, some of you might be thinking, are you telling me that Ive got to go to church, read the Bible, pray, give of my substance, and witness in order to be saved?! No, thats not at all what Im saying. Although these are certainly characteristics that one would legitimately and biblically conclude should be associated with any Christian, there are many people who do all these things and more and yet will still hear the horrifying words depart from Me for I never knew you come from the mouth of the Lord on judgment day! Now, before we go down this line of thought any further, lets be assured that the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. It does not come as a result of any works that we could perform. Still, the same Bible that instructs us that salvation is a gift from God also clearly tells us that anyone who has genuinely received that gift will have a life that is changed, a life that bears the righteous fruits of obedience (to be in church, to read the Bible, to pray, to give, to witness, etc.) in ever increasing measure as evidence of being connected to Jesus the true vine! Those not growing in righteousness or living in a continual state of unrepentant sin have no biblical reason to believe that they are saved; and yet many do! Those who do have external and visible evidences that their lives are more righteous need to question if they are looking only to Jesus and His grace as the source for their salvation or if they are counting on their works for their heavenly reservation; yet they dont!

A closing illustration and challenge before moving onto our next point. Most people (probably far more than 70%) think that texting while driving is wrong and dangerous. Yet people still do it! Why?! Because they think that even though people at large shouldnt do it, they are the exception. They believe that they are exceptional (just a side note: people who believe they are the exception always believe they are exceptional) and, while others dont have the ability to text and still drive safely, they do have such an ability! They are the exception, they are exceptional! They wont be a statistic! Let me assure you, statistics are filled with people who thought themselves the exception! There is nothing more important than where you will spend eternity. Dont fool yourself or think yourself the exception, the Bible is true and every human imagination and empty commitment a liar. What should we do about Christianity in the U.S. losing eight points? We might be tempted to immediately focus on reaching others but, in the words of Peter (2 Peter 1:10-11), lets first be all the more diligent to make our own calling and election sure!

Christianity Down 8 In America-What Should We Do?: Posted 6/9/2015 10:30:32 PM

A couple of weeks ago the results of a recent poll concerning Christianity made the headlines of several newscasts. The survey showed that in less than a decade the percentage of professing believers in America dropped from 78% of the population to just 70%. Some of the talking heads on television, who may or may not be professing believers themselves, were aghast at the poll and were more than willing to offer up their opinions as to why this had happened and what the church should do about it. In this series of blogs were going to look at four biblical responses that the body of Christ should have to such an occurrence.

Lessons From Bad Moms Part 4: Posted 6/4/2015 6:31:15 PM

Lesson From Michal: Dont Begrudge The Lords Laud The first monarch of the United Kingdom was King Saul. He was a tall and handsome man who looked like a grand leader. Yet his heart was not turned to following the one true God. The second ruler of the United Kingdom was David. He was known as a man after Gods own heart. Saul was set after the advancement of his own kingdom and the glory of his own name; David was concerned with the proclamation of Gods rule and with the glory of the Lord. Though being different in so many ways, one link between Saul and David was that David married Sauls daughter Michal. One day when the ark of the covenant of the Lord was being brought into Jerusalem, David was so overcome with joy that he danced and praised the Lord openly, publicly, unashamedly, unreservedly, and with all of his might! (note: David was especially grateful because the first time he had attempted to bring the ark into Jerusalem hadnt went so wellread all of 2 Samuel 6 for more). His wife Michal saw her husbands public praise and thought it conduct unbecoming of a king. She confronted him about the matter and ridiculed him for looking so foolish in public. Like her father before her, Michal was concerned with her glory, not Gods.

I entitled this blog Lessons from Bad Moms. However, Michal never became a mom. Undoubtedly she desired to be one, especially since not to be a mother was considered a curse back in Old Testament times. But due to the fact that she begrudged the Lords laud (praise), Michal was stricken barren. Moms, know that there is nothing more important, no greater testimony that you could give, than to give God praise! Moms, dont begrudge the Lords laud!

Lessons From Bad Moms Part 3: Posted 5/30/2015 10:27:11 PM

Lesson From Athaliah: Dont Belittle Your Legacy When Ahab and Jezebel are your parents the chances youll have some challenges in life are pretty high. Athaliah, daughter of the infamous aforementioned duo that ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel, proved not to fall too far from her family tree. She was married to Jehoram, Jehoshaphats son, and became 1st lady of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Jehoram did not follow in the righteous ways of his father and because of his wicked actions the Lord smote him with dysentery (a dire dilemma with diarrhea; a ruinous run in with the runs) from which he died. Following him, both chronologically and spiritually, his son Ahaziah became king. Ahaziah was wicked and only had a short reign before being killed by Jehu, a man anointed to be the King of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). This left the Southern Kingdom without a monarch. Into this vacuum stepped Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah who had just been killed by Jehu and wife of Jehoram who had died of dysentery. She usurped the throne, becoming the only Queen who ever ruled Judah. In order to ensure that she would remain unchallenged in power, Athaliah had all of her grandchildren and anyone who could claim to be heir to the throne killed. By providence, one did escape, a baby named Joash who would later be installed as king during the midst of an uprising that would leave Athaliah dead.

If you had a hard time following all of that, let me summarize this way. A princess marries into the royal family of another kingdom. Her husband becomes king. That womans husband is wicked and dies as a result of a disease put upon him by God. Now that womans son becomes king. He too is wicked and is killed by an ordained plan of God. With husband and son both dead, that woman usurps the throne, becoming Queen, and has all her grandchildren (to the best of her knowledge) killed so that no one will threaten her monarchy. One grandchild did escape and the Queen is deposed and killed by an uprising a few years into her reign (see 2 Kings 8-11 and 2 Chronicles 21-24 for more information).

The Bible teaches us that we are to care not only for our children, but for our childrens children. Now that doesnt mean that all of you grandparents out there have to raise your kids kids too, but it does mean that every parent should care about the legacy that you leave knowing that your life and testimony will last long beyond your years on earth. Moms, know that you have a great impact upon your children and your grandchildren. Take the time; make the selfless sacrifice, to care for and to pray for your kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and maybe even great great grandkids! Moms, dont belittle your legacy!

Lessons From Bad Moms Part 2: Posted 5/25/2015 9:46:21 PM

Lesson From Eve : Dont Believe The Devils Lies A good place to start is with the first mom in history. She was truly a precious creation. Taken from the side of Adam by the Lord Almighty; she was formed and fashioned with great care and design. Indeed, she was made in the image and likeness of God. Her and Adam enjoyed fellowship with one another in a wonderful world and, more importantly, enjoyed fellowship with God Himself as they would walk together in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. All was truly a paradise, untainted by sin and its adverse effects. No wars, no sickness, no death, no conflict, no misunderstandings, no infidelities, no schedules to keep, no bills to pay. What more could one ask for? Perhaps you cant answer that question, and probably neither could Eve. But one day the serpent came to her and tried to give her his answer. The serpent told Eve that God had commanded that she and her husband not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because if they did they would become like God Himself. There was a bit of verbal sparring that went on between Eve and Satan, but eventually the woman fell for the devils deception and believed that even with all the pleasure she was allowed to enjoy, God was somehow holding out on her, keeping back something that would make her better, more fulfilled, and more enhanced than she had ever known. Scripture records when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (Gen. 3:6). And the rest, as they say, is history. Untold tragedy, injustice, cruelty, abuse, death, disease, and conflict were set in motion by the curse accompanying that original sin and the fallen nature of those who would follow after in the human race.

The Scriptures clearly point to children as a heritage from the Lord and to motherhood as being a most blessed and high calling. There is truly no more honorable duty, no more righteous privilege that a woman could have than being a mom. Now the world system will try to tell a woman that they arent all they can be unless they have a great career and make lots of money. Indeed, one of the greatest lies our culture sells is that if you are just a mom, then youre a nobody. There is something more, something better, something thats being withheld from you if youre just a mom. And like Eve who fell for such a lie, many women fall for this lie and abandon the treasure that is motherhood, perpetually reaching for the something more. The detriment to our society and culture that has been wrought by such a lie is easily seen. Now, dont get me wrong. I dont mean to sound chauvinistic. I know there are some moms who have to work outside the home, or who feel called to work outside the home, and who certainly can excel in pursuits outside the home. Im also not saying that it is a sin for a woman to do more than be a mom. But what I am saying is that there is nothing that a woman will do or be that is more important than being a mom. So moms, dont believe the devils lies!

Lessons From Bad Moms Part 1: Posted 5/21/2015 6:47:28 PM

A few years ago the family and I went to the Pizza Hut at the Morse Shores Shopping Center to enjoy their lunch buffet. (Yes, Palm Beach Boulevard used to have a Pizza Hut, just like it used to have a Pizza Inn, a Perkins, a Wendys, and a Sonnys!). We usually got carry-out to take home but my wonderful wife had spied out some coupons (frugality is a Proverbs 31 virtue!) which made the eat-in buffet such an attractive option that we couldnt pass it up. The server brought us our plates and took our drink order (they still serve Pepsi products at Pizza Hut!) and we were soon off to begin our journey through salad drenched with Ranch dressing, five specialty pizzas served at a time, and a choice between two dessert pies (and I dont mean the kind with the flaky crusts!). It was really an enjoyable experience until a loud, obnoxious woman came in. She wasnt wearing a blue dress as best as I can recall, but she was devilish nonetheless. You may think those are strong words, and perhaps they are, but the way this mom treated her three precious little children was truly pitiful. One was a baby, one was just above toddler stage, and the other couldnt have been any more than 10. This lady (and I do use that term loosely) and her kids were apparently having lunch with another mom and her two little ones. Im unsure if the other mom got any words of conversation in because the obnoxious one took up all the oxygen in the room not only complaining about her kids, but cursing at them as well. Now such a scene could get my dander up anyway, but the fact that our boy was just a couple of years old somehow made it even more maddening; and sorrowful. Though we felt like it, neither my wife nor I went over to give this outrageous mom a piece of our minds. But what we did do was pray; not only that her behavior would change but that someway, somehow, the other mom involved and the kids that were growing up would learn from any bad example they saw rather than follow after it. This year during Mothers Day month, I want to look at examples of bad moms (or at least bad moments from the lives of some moms) found in the Bible and what can be learned from them.

What Difference Does It Make? Part 6: Posted 5/17/2015 8:21:09 PM

The Resurrection Means We Should Always Be Abounding In The Work Of The Lord (1 Cor. 15:58) As most reading this article would know, I teach middle school math and my 2:30 class is particularly challenging. Ive been cussed at, lied to, had to break up fights, had the door of my portable repeatedly kicked, and even had pens hurled at my head (and I do mean hurled, not just thrown). So, needless to say, I try my best to always keep my eyes on that class and to turn my back on them as few times as I can get away with. Then, one day I got caught off guard when the Lead Teacher of our Math Team requested that I bring that class up to the media center to practice on the computers. I lined up the students (threatening them within an inch of my life; and no that was not a typo) and walked them as best I could (at least we all lived through it) up to the second floor. However, I made one tragic mistake. I chose to lead the line which meant that for 10 seconds or so I was outside the door of my portable while a couple of students had the opportunity to go to my computer and steal my USB drive. I had all the math work from my last two years of teaching saved on that drive and, unfortunately, I had not been wise enough to make a backup copy. I didnt realize it had been taken until after the end of that school day. I looked everywhere thinking that perhaps they had taken it and threw it somewhere nearby but couldnt find it. I reported it to the Assistant Principal. We tried every measure we could to locate it but to no avail. So much work, so much time invested, and in a moment it was gone, all goneJesus warned us in the Sermon on the Mount not to build up treasures for ourselves on this earth, where thieves can steal it and moths and rust can destroy, but to rather store up our treasure in Heaven, where no criminals (or misbehaved students!) can abscond with it and where no elements can decay (Matt. 6:19-21). Because Jesus has been raised, because only whats done for Christ will last, we should want to live for Him all of our days with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength!

What Difference Does It Make? Part 5: Posted 5/11/2015 8:54:32 PM

The Resurrection Means Believers Are Not To Be Pitied (1 Cor. 15:19) Those familiar with the field of Southern Gospel Music (and if youre truly saved, thats a given!) will know the names of Jeff and Sheri Easter. On one of the glorious Gaither DVDs (is it any wonder that Gaither and Glory start with the same letter?!), Jeff tells the story of a song entitled Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me! that was written by his father. Jeff relays that at the time his dad wrote the song they were living in an old wooden shack with hardly two nickels to rub together. The first verse of the famed tune declares while the world looks upon me, as I struggle along; they say I have nothing, but they are so wrong; in my heart Im rejoicing, how I wish they could see; thank You Lord, for Your blessings on me!. The world system will never see the blessings of being a believer and will always view Christians with some combination of indifference, pity, contempt, and scorn. There have been times when Christians have been fed to the lions, when they have been imprisoned for unjust causes, when they have been ridiculed for their lack of wealth, when even believers that have been blessed with financial substance are looked upon as being intellectually deficient for believing the antiquated-old school teachings of the Bible; and yet I tell you that whatever peril or persecution that befalls the true Christian pales in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that awaits them! The resurrection took place, the Bible is true, salvation is real, and Heaven is great to those who repent and place faith in Christ!

What Difference Does It Make? Part 4: Posted 5/5/2015 10:37:27 PM

The Resurrection Means Believers Will Not Perish (1 Cor. 15:18) Publix ran a BOGO on gallons of tea this past week. We went to the cooler by the deli and I reached to get one gallon of sweet and one gallon of unsweet (Benji drinks sweet tea and my love drinks unsweet; shes sweet enough already!). The jugs all looked the same except for the expiration dates. Some were printed with early May dates and others with mid-May dates. Of course, I picked up the tea with the latest expiration. Truth be told, no tea bought now has any chance of making it through mid-April in our house much less into any part of May, but still I wanted to choose the jugs that would last the longest. We do the same with milk, bread, meat, Little Debbie Cakes, and Hostess Twinkies; dont we?! Some foods last longer than others, but none of it is truly imperishable; even canned goods and expensive prepackaged prepper meals sold for thousands of dollars on certain Christian TV programs will one day pass away! And if humanity is somewhat obsessive about trying to get food that doesnt perish, we are even more so about trying to get ourselves not to perish. From Ponce de Leon discovering Florida while looking for the fountain of youth to Larry King and notable others checking out cryonics (freezing ones body when you die with hopes of being thawed out and revived at a later time; truly a chilling experience!), mankind will try anything to keep from perishing.

The resurrection of Christ, the first fruits of them that sleep (that died), ensures the resurrection of all those who have genuinely repented of sin and put faith in Him! Jesus resurrection makes it possible for us to be changed and raised imperishable, incorruptible, and with a glorified body! Jesus resurrection brings the ring of truth to Jobs claim that though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God!

What Difference Does It Make? Part 3: Posted 4/27/2015 8:00:03 PM

The Resurrection Fortifies Faith and Solves Sin (1 Cor. 15:17) I remember my first years teaching in a private school. There were certain rules and decorum that students were to follow in the curriculum that was used. I studied the protocols and procedures and, after much editing and practice, put together what I thought to be a flawless presentation that would teach the students how they were to behave and perform in class. I delivered my prepared remarks at a preschool event and thought the school year would go off without a hitch because of the clear and concise presentation that I had made. Then came the first day, week, and month of school! Needless to say I was surprised, shocked, and taken fully aback by the fact that my wonderful delivery at the preschool program did not keep Little Johnny from turning around in his seat and shooting spitballs at Little Sally who had earlier told me with a sheepish grin that the dog had eaten her homework.; again! At first I blamed myself. I might not have been as clear in explaining the rules as I thought I had been. Surely, if they knew better, then they would do better. As time went on I blamed the students. I didnt know how much clearer (or louder) I could say THOU SHALT NOT THROW SPITBALLS OR LIE ABOUT HOMEWORK! The problem that led to me being disillusioned with the results I was experiencing was that my faith was misplaced. I had faith in my ability to present clearly. I had faith in the students ability (and desire) to perform appropriately. Trouble was, neither myself nor the students were adequate to meet the quantity of faith I had in either at the first.

You see, faith is only as good as its object, its only as valid as what you put it in. Some seem to think that faith for faiths sake or having faith in their faith (Ive even heard that very phrase used before) has power in and of itself. They falsely teach that faith can be made even stronger than it already is by speaking certain phrases or increasing sincerity. Truth is, saying its so doesnt make it so, even if you increase repetition and volume. Believing its so doesnt make it so, for there are many people who are sincerely deceived on a daily basis about all sorts of things. You can call a chair a table, even believe that its a table, even sit on the floor and use it as a table, but at the end of the day its still a chair and doesnt have the power to become a tableThe truth of the resurrection means that our faith in it is well placed. Our faith is powerful because its object is powerful! And the power of that resurrection is enough to wash away the stains of sin and to regenerate the heart of a sinner who genuinely repents and believes!

What Difference Does It Make? Part 2: Posted 4/22/2015 10:44:33 PM

b>The Resurrection Makes Scripture Sure and Preaching Purposeful (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 12-14) A couple of years ago my wife and I went car shopping. Our Chevy Blazer had served us well but, after many repairs and the use of much duct tape, it was finally giving up the ghost! We were on a limited budget but had our heart set on trying to get an SUV if we could. We did some research online and discovered that the most economical vehicle of this style was the Jeep Patriot. My wonderful penny pinching, coupon clipping, BOGO buying wife (and Im thankful that she is all of that and more, a true Proverbs 31 woman of God!) spotted an ad in the News-Press from a car dealership that will remain nameless (but lets just say its far enough away from Ft. Myers to give you a better deal!). They were promoting a great price on the SUV we were looking for. We were ecstatic and skeptical all at the same time. Our doubts quickly outpaced our hopes when, after we had made the 30 minute trek to the country town, the first words we heard from the mouth of the salesman were you know you cant get all those discounts that are in the newspaper! Now, I dont know how much the ad in the paper had cost the dealership. It took up much of the page and was in full color so I assume it wasnt cheap. Yet for all the size, color, and grandeur of the ad, when you went to check out what it was promoting, what it was pointing to, you found it to be a deceptive lie and a terrible waste.

All of Scripture, from the Old Testament law, prophets, and festivals to the New Testament teachings of Jesus, point to and promote the coming of a Messiah, a Deliverer, a Conquering King and a Suffering Servant, who would live a holy life, die a horrendous death, and then triumphantly rise with eternal glory! Paul instructs the Corinthians that Christ died and was raised according to the Scriptures. The main event that had been advertised by Gods Word for centuries came true, so all that it purports about any and every subject is true and those who proclaim its truth can do so with ultimate confidence and powerful purpose.

What Difference Does It Make? Part 1: Posted 4/17/2015 7:25:59 PM

Oft times many of the seats in the committee room were empty, but not this day. Between the congressmen and reporters it was truly standing room only. The two sides of the political aisle were firmly ensconced in their respective trenches as the star cabinet member (with far reaching political aspirations) took center stage. She was testifying as part of an investigation into Benghazi and the events that occurred there on September 11th, 2012. Those of her ideological persuasion stood ready to defend. Those on the other end of the spectrum came loaded for bear. The questions and answers flew furiously as the combatants began to spar back and forth. The highlight reel, the soundbite extraordinaire, the verbal blow that caught the opposition flatfooted, at least for the moment, came when the witness answered a question with the clich ridden phrase, what difference does it make?
Rewind nearly 2,000 years. The Apostle Paul had preached the true gospel to the Corinthian Church and, as frequently happened, was soon followed by false teachers who adulterated the pure Word of God. These wolves crept into the fellowship and began propagating the belief that there was no resurrection from the dead and that not even Christ had been raised! As preposterous as that notion seems to conservative Christians today, it was not automatically discarded by the Corinthians of yesteryear or by many in our contemporary age. Some spiritualize the Bible to such a degree that a physical resurrection is explained away. Others see no need for a real resurrection because the end goal of Christianity is merely getting people to lead more moral lives. When confronted about their false teaching, many in these resurrection-denying heretical camps will ask, what difference does it make? The Apostle Paul gives us several answers to this query in the great resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15.

Church Discipline Part 6: Posted 4/11/2015 6:15:58 PM

The Perks : What Benefits Are In It First, youve been obedient. Follow the process of these six verses and you will have been obedient to the Lord which is what those who believe in Christ should always be seeking. Second, youre not falling into the sins (such as gossip, etc.) that inevitably occur when we attempt to handle such things our own way instead of Gods way. Third, you will be giving an opportunity for you, your brother, the church, indeed the family of God to grow in sanctification and be a better witness for the Lord. Finally, God will be glorified. If a brother who is in a genuine sin repents, then the forgiveness that extends to him in the course of this discipline process will glorify the mercy of God. If one who professed to be a brother does not repent and turns out to not be a brother, rejecting ultimately the mercy of Christ that has been made available to him by the Lord and brought to his attention by the Church, then the judgment of God that falls upon him will glorify the justice of God. May we all be disciplined by and for the Lord who loves His children enough to chasten His own (Hebrews 12:5-11)!

Church Discipline Part 5: Posted 4/7/2015 6:46:30 PM

The Process : How You Do It Says Everything Okay, lets get to it shall we. If you have considered yourself and believe that you have met the prerequisite of humility; if you can look at the other person as a brother or sister you should love and value as a member of the family of God; if you can confront your brother with a purpose of winning them and restoring them; and you are convinced that they are involved in unrepentant sin, then what should you do? Jesus doesnt leave it for us to decide. He clearly tells us that we go to our brother in private. What we have to speak to them about may be something of which theyre unaware. How many people have concocted false, even vicious pictures of others, going so far as to judge the thoughts and intentions of anothers heart over things that theyve never brought to that other persons attention?! The Lord leaves no place for holding brothers and sisters to account for that which theyve never even been told about. If you do go to the brother in private and they repent, then end of story. No need for anyone to know your brothers sinful transgression or your godly heroism. However, if you dont win your brother in private, then you take two or three with you to confront him. I dont think Im reading into Scripture here to suggest that the ones you take with you ought to be spiritually mature individuals, probably in church leadership in some respect, not just simply a couple of folks that like you better than the one you have issue with. If you win your brother there, then end of story. Again, no need to highlight your brothers awful sin any longer or to promote far and wide the righteousness of you and those who went with you. If your brother still has not been won, then you take it to the church. If he still refuses to listen, then he is to no longer be seen as a product of Christianity, but as a prospect for conversion. Hard stuff some may say. And indeed it is. That having been said, its a much better process than anything that man has manufactured. Man, left to his own devices, comes up with processes that hold others accountable for that which they might not even be aware, that gossip about a brother or sister assuming the worst rather than confronting their brother seeking the best, that take their ball and go home showing that they care little for their brothers own sanctification (and truth be told probably little for their own), and the list of sins could go on and on delineating the pitfalls into which we fall when we take things into our own hands rather than follow Gods instructions which, though not easy, are clear.

Church Discipline Part 4: Posted 4/3/2015 9:40:19 AM

The Purpose : Win Your Brother At every stage in the church discipline process Jesus is clear to point out that the purpose is to win your brother; not to win an argument. The goal is not to show that youre right, but that your brothers way be righted. How many battles do people fight, some real and some made up, for the sole purpose that they might be the hero who wins over some other person made out to be the villain who loses? Now dont get me wrong, there are times when having peace no longer depends upon us because the Word of God has been violated in a clear way (Rom. 12:18), but do understand that the purpose for standing up is not so our brother will be put down, but that, if possible, he too would be raised to where God has called him to be. Whether it be a parent-child relationship, a teacher-student relationship, or a church relationship, discipline is always to be seen as something done for a person, not to a person. The goal is to be restorative, not punitive. I repeat again before we move on, the purpose is to win your brother; not to win an argument.

Church Discipline Part 3: Posted 3/26/2015 10:03:13 PM

The People : Family Notice the first four words of Matthew 18:15 are if your brother sins. Dont skip over that word brother. Even if someone in the family of God has truly sinned, has actually broken Gods Word and not just offended your particular preferences or sensibilities, they are to be considered your brother or sister, a dear and beloved one, unless and until the process of discipline is carried through and you and the church have reason to believe otherwise. The people we gather with in the house of the Lord are not to be disdained as enemies or ignored like pesky telemarketers or condescended to like second class citizens; they are called brother, not red-headed stepchild! Most people will put up with more transgressions and downright foolishness from their natural family: their sons and daughters, their brothers and sisters, their nieces and nephews, and so on than they will from anybody else. In fact, the majority of folks will tolerate this kind of stuff from their family even when their friends and confidants are telling them how silly they are to keep having patience with such nonsense from their relatives. If the bond shared between those connected by natural ancestry is so strong, how much stronger should be the bond between those of a shared spiritual lineage! Indeed, the blood of Jesus should produce much more of a connection than the mere water of a womb!

Church Discipline Part 2: Posted 3/21/2015 7:59:49 PM

The Prerequisite : Humility Matthew 18 opens with the disciples pondering the age old universal question of whos the fairest of them all? Jesus, as was His modus operandi, answered their query with an illustration. He called a wee one over and told the twelve that unless they became humble as a little child that they could not even enter the Kingdom of Heaven, much less become great in that Kingdom. I dont think its by accident that just before launching into the teaching on what may seem by some to be the harsh process of church discipline, our Lord focused upon the importance of humility in the life of the believer. How many horrors in the area of discipline occur because parents dont take time to remember that they too were kids once, or a teacher doesnt pause to think back on the time when they were a student, or a manager forgets it was just a few short years ago that they were a lower level employee, or a self-described mature believer loses sight of the days when they were a mere babe in Christ? This concept of evaluating ourselves prior to evaluating another is perhaps most famously taught in Matthew 7:1-5. There Jesus clearly instructs that before we help our brother with the speck in his eye we must first deal with the log that is in our own. One who is undisciplined themselves should not count it their duty to discipline others. One who is not humble is more likely to be pointing out the sins of another for the purpose of covering or justifying their own transgressions. That being said, no believer should take this emphasis on the prerequisite of humility as a reason (or an excuse) to never be engaged in the discipline process for another Christian, but rather as an opportunity to grow their own selves in sanctification as it not only affects them but their brothers and sisters in the Lord as well!

Church Discipline Part 1: Posted 3/17/2015 10:02:03 PM

It occurred three decades ago, still its etched very vividly in my memory. There had been some kind of incident at recess that involved water balloons. I hadnt committed any malfeasance but because I was in the proximity of the heinous act I was sent along with others to sit on the bench outside of the principals office. That bench was the place where many a soul had been sit to nervously await interrogation, judgment, and potential corporal (or was that capital) punishment! Our principals name was Mr. Messer. (The student body at Cubbage Elementary School had oft wondered if that was his real name or just a pseudonym he adopted to match his intimidating mustache.) He had a paddle that hung on the wall at the entrance of his office; and he wasnt afraid to use it! Thankfully, the truth came to the forefront and I was exonerated of any wrongdoing. The malefactors who carried out the soaking sin were discovered and were appropriately inflicted with paddle pain! Fast forward to our present day and spanking is now seen as an antiquated, even barbaric form of punishment. It is considered by society at large to have little to no place in homes and given even less of a position in the repertoire of discipline that can be meted out in the schoolhouse. Corporal punishment is too harsh for us to impose on our children; at least thats what the experts say. Yet, years ago our schools had paddles, now they have police. We used to have problems with gum, now we have problems with guns. Perhaps the old way of discipline wasnt so bad and the so called experts of today dont have as much expertise as theyd like to have us think. In this series of blogs were going to look at the church discipline process from Matthew 18:15-20 (I encourage you to read the whole 18th chapter of Matthew). Some may view it as severe or outdated, but I suggest to you that any other process is not only sinful (because it is not obedient to scripture) but is more cruel, for the way of man is never as merciful as the way of God!

Why People Do Not Love God Part 3: Posted 3/7/2015 10:06:46 PM

Reason 3 : Antipathy (They Hate God) I had never really worked in a large company (or bureaucracy) until accepting a position in the public school system a little more than 5 years ago. I was working an open house night where parents and community members as well as students are invited in to meet the teachers and tour the building when I was introduced to a tension between a member of administration and one of the teachers. The assistant principal was complaining openly, to others primarily and to me peripherally, that she was so mad at this certain teacher who complained about everything she did, questioned all the decisions she made, and was trying to drive a wedge between her and the lead principal of the school. The assistant principal was convinced that this teacher was trying to take her position, and she had great antipathy (hatred might be a little too strong a word, but only a little!) towards this teacher. Weve talked about people not loving God because theyre ignorant of His love or apathetic towards His gospel, but I believe the main reason people dont love God is because they actually hate Him! You may think thats a strong statement, but I make it on the authority of the Word of God. Jesus said very plainly to His disciples that if the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before you and then went on to declare that he who hates Me hates My Father also (John 15:18, 23). The world hated Jesus so much that they nailed Him to a cross, mercilessly crucifying the Lord of glory who had only come doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). Some might say that was then and this is now; we would never do that to Jesus today. But, lets be honest, the last 2,000 years have only given man two millennia longer to further show their depravity. If the first coming of Jesus were to occur in present day instead of in yesteryear, a hating world would still call for His death. Why do people hate Christ you may ask? Because theyre convinced Hes trying to take their position! People want to be their own lord so they reject Jesus as Lord because He would take their place. The Bible, meant to tell of Gods love and truth, is rejected and ridiculed by people because they want to make their own rules and dont want Anyone else telling them what to do. Man wants to be his own boss, his own judge, and his own way-maker, so they reject and hate Jesus who declares Himself to be the Lord, the Judge, and the only way to the Father! If you hate God today, know that whether you believe it or not, Jesus is Lord and you are not; God is God and you are not. Dont try to hold on to a position that would only be yours in the delusion of your own mind. He will have no other gods before Him, those who try to take His place will have a ruinous fall, and those who conspire against Him and His Lordship will justly experience His ridicule and His wrath unless they repent (Exodus 20:3; Ezekiel 28:1-19; Psalm 2:1-12). Let us love God because He has so dearly first loved us!

Why People Do Not Love God Part 3: Posted 3/3/2015 7:28:52 PM

Reason 2 : Apathy (They Dont Care) One of the most famous teachings of our Lord is found in Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents. A wealthy man was going on a journey and left three of his servants with various sums of money. The first was given 5 talents, the second 2 talents, and the last was bestowed with 1 talent (a talent was worth about 6,000 days wages). The man returns after being gone an undisclosed amount of time and finds that the 5 talent man and the 2 talent man had used their talents (couldnt resist the play on words here) to double what had been entrusted to them. The master congratulated these faithful servants and rewarded them openly and generously. Last, and least, the third servant, the one talent man, tells his tale. He presents back to the master the one talent that he had been given. When questioned why he hadnt made efforts to garner some profit, the servant responded by saying that he knew the master was a hard man; so out of fear he had hid the talent in the ground and was now giving the master back what was his. Far from being happy with this explanation, the master responds by calling the man wicked and slothful and casts him into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This servant wasnt ignorant, he knew; he just did not care! And the results were tragic indeed! Apathy is one of the most destructive forces that could ever grasp a man, woman, or child in its sinister clutches. As a teacher, Ive seen many a student sit in their desk and do absolutely nothing. Its not that theyre not being taught, its not that not enough tax dollars are going to education, its not that they dont know that theyre actions will lead to them failing the class; its that they simply just dont care. Sadly, some (in fact most) of these students I dont care attitude seems to run in the family, because despite the fact that teachers and administrators make multiple calls home, print up interims every three weeks and snail mail report cards home every nine weeks that request parent conferences; and regardless of the districts investment in a Parentlink website that makes student grades electronically accessible with a few clinks of the mouse, very few parents of kids failing multiple subjects and kids receiving multiple disciplinary referrals care enough about their child to do anything about it. That being said, more sorrowful than seeing apathy in the course of my role as a school teacher, is seeing apathy in the course of my life as a pastor. There are people who have had the gospel of Jesus Christ ringing in their ears since the days of their childhood. They know the facts of the gospel, that we all deserve hell because of our sins, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, and that salvation can only be ours through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, and yet they do not respond in any way. They know the gospel, they know of the love of God; they simply dont care. Thats hard to take. Perhaps harder still is seeing those who claim to have faith in Christ, those who would confidently declare that they are bound for Heaven if you were to ask them; yet they care nothing of reading Gods Word, have no devotion to prayer, are strangers to the doors of the church, judge rather than love their brothers and sisters in the Lord, dedicate little to none of their resources or talents to the furtherance of the kingdom of God, and never share the message of the gospel which they claim has saved their lives eternally with another soul. Now, salvation is not works based, and your thing and my thing in serving God may not be the same thing, but it is a trustworthy statement that apathy has no place in the life of the Christian. How can one who truly knows Gods love care so little about His commands, His people, His gospel, and His Word? (John 14:15; 1 John 4:20-21; 2 Cor. 5:13-15; John 14:23 : please dont be apathetic in looking up these references!) If youve heard the gospel message of the love of God and have been apathetic to respond, then it is my prayer that you would sense the urgency of repenting of sin and putting faith in Christ. If youve confessed faith in Christ but an honest look at your life, between you and God, would say to Him and is saying to others (whether you realize it or not) that you are manifesting little to no commitment to the Lord, then it is my prayer that you would repent, deny yourself, take up your cross and love Jesus with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 9:23; Matt. 22:37).

Why People Do Not Love God Part 2: Posted 2/24/2015 8:44:25 PM

Reason 1 : Ignorance (They Dont Know)... If youre looking for a good movie for Valentines Day (or any day for that matter) I highly recommend the film Fireproof. Starring Kirk Cameron, of Growing Pains fame, the movie tells the story of a firefighter whose marriage, due to his internet activity and various other thorny issues, is about to go up in smoke. Through the providential friendship of a coworker and the wisdom of a respected father, Camerons character goes from being an unbeliever who despised and disparaged his wife to becoming a Christian who cherishes and values her, willing to fight for the marriage he had previously been so ready to see fail. Camerons wife, also an unbeliever throughout much of the film, has been so hurt by her husbands disrespect and wandering eyes that she takes off her wedding ring and convinces herself that its okay to be open to the advances of a doctor she works with at the hospital. Her husband begins to try to be nice to her at home, making her breakfast and coffee and other such things, but she doesnt trust him anymore and wont partake of nor believe in what she thinks is only a contrived change of heart. What she does believe in is an imaginary world where the grass is greener with this doctor that has seemingly taken such a shine to her. One climax of the movie comes when she goes to a medical center to check on getting a special bed for her mother who has been very ill. Much to her surprise, she discovers that the expensive bed has now been paid in full. Even more surprising is when she finds out that the price had been paid by her husband, not, as she had assumed, by the doctor that was piquing her interest. She turns away from the medical counter in tears, heart broken or perhaps better said heart melted, realizing that her husband, unbeknownst to her, had been showing her love in a powerful way. There are some people who dont love God because they are ignorant of His love. He shows them His love with a sunrise every morning, a sunset every night, with breath in the lungs and a beating in the heart. Yet, somehow, someway, they are blinded to the goodness of the Almighty. So the Father sends His ultimate expression of love, that of the gift of His Son, who would die on a cross to take the sin penalty of all who would believe, making the way that we could be transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light and could spend an eternity in heaven instead of an eternity in hell. What is Gods plan of making people aware of this love? Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment and to empower His children to spread the message of the gospel to the ends of the world (John 16:8-10; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:14-17). If you have been ignorant of the love of God, unversed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, now youve heard. I pray that you would repent of sin and put faith in Christ today.

Why People Do Not Love God Part 1: Posted 2/24/2015 8:43:53 PM

Perhaps there is no sadder story to tell than that of an unrequited love, a love that only goes one way. How many movies have been made, how many books have been written and, more importantly, how many hearts of real people have been broken from the reality that they had feelings for another that the other did not have for them? As hard as this may be to understand, its even more difficult to comprehend why someone wouldnt love God, who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). In a month where the world tends to focus on love (or at least what they call love), we will take a few paragraphs to look at three biblical reasons why people dont love God.

Jesus, The Best Valentine Part 2: Posted 2/14/2015 7:49:36 PM

br>I dont know what position you may be in today, but I do know that God has been in your place before. Jesus can relate to all of our joys, and to all of our infirmities. He knows what its like to have His people, His bride, love Him and declare that I am my beloveds and He is mine. He knows the joy of pursuing an intimate relationship with a person and having them finally come to the altar to say I do to the offer of His grace. He knows what its like to work through members of His bride to bring other children into the kingdom of God. He has felt the warm embrace of His beloved in dedicated prayer, worship, and service. He has heard the tender words of praise and the undying expressions of gratitude. He knows what its like to have the special places and the cherished memories and the exchanged gifts. He knows the yearning in His heart and in the heart of His beloved bride for a Valentines Day engagement that will be special and momentous.

Yet, Christ also knows what its like to give His heart and Hand to His beloved and be spurned. He is familiar with the feeling of being talked to when His lover wants to get something, but hearing a deafening silence when it comes to just communicating or giving something to Him in return. Jesus has been alone at night crying out for His beloved as a mother hen would for her little ones, and yet His beloved would not come. He knows what its like to hear words that say I do, and yet see actions that prove that the heart of His bride is far away from Him. He can relate to having cherished memories that He dwells on all alone because a love that once burned white hot for Him has waxed cold.

Again, I dont know what your situation may be this Valentines Day or how it may or may not affect you. But what I do know is that there is a Valentine who is waiting for you with open arms. If you have received Him, you are His precious Beloved. He has written you a card called the Bible that is sweeter and tenderer than any sonnet ever composed. He has given His life for you and showered you with the greatest love ever known. He has sent flowers and sunrises and sunsets and oceans and rocks and hills and plains, indeed all creation, as a box of assorted chocolates to say I LOVE YOU! He longs to have intimate relationship with you. You can make His Valentines Day a good one, and I know He will do the same for you!

Jesus, The Best Valentine Part 1: Posted 2/14/2015 7:48:52 PM


As with any holiday, Valentines Day is a double edged sword. To the couple in love, whose relationship is deepening, who might even be pursuing marriage; its a joyous occasion with opportunity to give that special gift and visit that special restaurant. To the married couple whose love has blossomed through tragedy and triumph, whose kids and possibly grandkids are playing in the backyard, whose hair may have turned gray (or turned loose!) together, who have cherished one another since they said I do; its a wonderful time to remember and perhaps go to the place where they first met, to renew vows, to get away from those kids and grandkids for a night out alone, to enjoy one anothers company on a special night.

However, to the single who desires a relationship, who longs to have a spouse to prize and children to cuddle and bring up in the fear and admonition of God, who yearns to have a hand to hold and a heart to cherish and to be cherished by; Valentines Day can be rather lonely and depressing. To the divorcee who once had that hand to hold, who once went to the special places filled with cherished memories, who may even have had children with someone that they thought would be faithful, tried and true for a lifetime, who may have given many years of their life, both in terms of quantity and quality, to someone who proved to give far less in return; the warmth of that special day in February is found to hold a cold, harsh reality that where there used to be a feeling of fullness, now there is a void. To the unhappily married, who share the same name, the same house, and maybe even the same bed, but who have long since ceased to really share much that has significant value, who heard the words I do but have seen actions perpetually say I dont, who want for things to be right again but are given no guarantees as to what the future will be; Valentines Day holds the stark contrast of what should be to what actually is up to an intense light that can blind instead of buoy ones hope. To those who lost their spouse by way of death, Valentines Day may carry the realization that the only time you and the love of your life will ever share the same table again, or smell the flowers together, or walk by the sea in a warm embrace, will be on the other side along the golden shore.

What''s New Part 7: Posted 2/3/2015 6:58:18 PM

A New Home (John 14:1-6; Revelation 21:1-5) Only hours before being arrested and taken to be crucified, Jesus instructed His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled. He promised them that though He was going away, He was going away for the purpose of preparing them a place in His Fathers house. He vowed to return again someday and receive them unto Himself, to take them to the Fathers house...I dont know about you, but the longer I live the more I need to hear and heed the words to not be troubled and the more grateful I am that this world is not my home. If you are a believer, rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for you will one day have a new home, a place in the Fathers house prepared by the Lord Jesus Himself! It will be a greater reveal than anything HGTV could ever conceive of! Thanks be to God for a new home!

What''s New Part 6: Posted 1/29/2015 10:24:52 PM

A New Life (Romans 6:1-4) Some people will hear that the new covenant is one of grace, that the new compassions are expressions of grace, that the new heart is a result of grace, and that the new birth is based on grace and then draw the conclusion that as long as we profess Jesus as Savior we can live like the devil and still go straight to heaven when we die. To this line of thought, Paul responds with the strong words of May it never be! (Rom. 6:2). Believers who have experienced a new birth to righteousness have also experienced a death to sin. Those who have truly been born again will walk in a newness of life! Let me close this section with a personal illustration. Our precious boy just celebrated his 7th birthday. It seems like yesterday that I was holding him in the space between my elbow and hand and now he stands up to my chest! He has heard us say the parental clich that hes growing too fast for so long that he has begun to tell it to others, even to the new friends he met at the Chick-Fil-A playland the other day! I could see he was concerned about growing too fast so I sat him down and, to the best of my ability, explained to him that though mommies and daddies always feel that their babies grow too fast, that they actually grow according to the good plan of God. Im not sure how well I succeeded, but it seemed to go okay because on his actual birthday he asked people if they could notice that he was growing and he seemed to be happy about it. As goes growth in the natural so too does growth in the spiritual. Some may grow slowly, some may grow quickly, not everyone grows in the same way at the same times, but everyone who has truly been born will be truly growing. If there is a new birth, it will be evidenced by a newness of life! Thanks be to God for the new life in which Gods children walk!

What''s New Part 5: Posted 1/23/2015 11:36:10 PM

A New Birth (John 3:1-4) The religions of men are based on works. We are told that if we do more of this and do less of that then we can be better and God will be pleased. Any notion of this type is thoroughly anti-biblical and insufficient for salvation. The underlying assumption to these systems of thought is that mankind is basically good but needs a little tweaking here and there. Unfortunately there are even those who espouse to be Christian ministers who put forth this kind of mentality. They seem to say that if you receive Jesus then He will help you live a more productive, purposeful, and prosperous life. If youre unhappy, He can make you happy. If youre in lack, He can give you plenty. If youre not fulfilled where youre at, then He can take you to the next level. While Jesus can do all of these things and even more, none of these man-centered concepts are why He came or representative of the primary thrust of His glorious gospel. Christ did not come to make bad men good and He certainly did not come to make good men (of which there are none: see Mark 10:18 and Romans 3:10-11) better; He came to make dead men live! He did not come to tweak men here and there or to simply smooth out the rough edges. He came to do something so transformational and revolutionary that it could only be called a new birth and could only be described as the forming of a new creature (John 3:1-4; 2 Cor. 5:17)! That one must be born again may seem elementary to those who have been in church for most of their lives, but it is definitely a foreign concept to much of the world and even to some who claim to be believers. Proof of this is found in the fact that the admonition that one must be born again was spoken by Jesus to a man who was viewed to be a gifted Bible teacher (John 3:10)! Men work for a paycheck, babies rejoice in the gift of life. Religions of men seek to make men better, the gospel of God seeks to make men alive! If you know Jesus, if you have repented from sin and put faith in Christ as the only Savior, then you are born again! Thanks be to God for the new birth!

What''s New Part 4: Posted 1/21/2015 11:02:58 PM

A New Heart (Ezekiel 36:22-28) Israel in the North and Judah in the South had sinned greatly; defiling the Holy Land and profaning Gods Holy Name among the Gentiles. They despised their inheritance and cared not for their witness. The promised destruction foretold by the prophet Jeremiah occurred at the hands of the Babylonians. Yet, even as Gods people were in a justly deserved exile, He sent them prophets to declare the word of the Lord. One of these exilic prophets was Ezekiel. Many well-known visions and verses reside in this famous book of prophecy. Perhaps the most important with regards to salvation is found in the 36th chapter. Here God tells His people that He is going to bless them, not due to their works, for they had been utterly sinful, not because of their faithfulness, for their infidelity was great, but because of the honor of His Great Name. How is He going to bless them? In many ways, but the greatest would be in giving them a new heart. The Lord promises that He is going to take their hardened hearts of stone which have been cold and negligent to the things of God and turn them into hearts of flesh that are warm and sensitive to the things of the Spirit. This passage teaches us many very important theological truths and practical lessons (yes, the two do go together!). Ever since the forbidden fruit came off the tree and across the lips mankind has lived in a fallen world and inherited a sin nature whereby he is in essence a being worthy of Gods wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). Man is incapable in and of himself of doing right, of seeking after God, or of even responding to an offer of grace (Rom. 3:10-11; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; John 15:16). So if God, Who promises to make a new covenant and seeks to express His compassions that are new every day, desires for man to receive this new covenant and experience these new compassions then He must by an act of His Spirit give man a new heart that is capable of responding affirmatively to this new covenant and appreciating these new compassions (John 6:44; John 16:5-11). If you know God, if you have experienced the salvation that is available through Christ, then rest assured that it is only because the Lord has initiated, enabled, and empowered the process. Thanks be to God for a new heart!

What''s New Part 3: Posted 1/14/2015 9:41:38 PM

A New Compassion (Lamentations 3:22-23) Due to the peoples continual sin and repeated lack of repentance (despite Jeremiahs admonitions), God finally sent judgment. The Babylonians conquered Judah in 586 BC, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple and taking the people into exile. Far from gloating about the fact that his prophecies of destruction had come true, the rejected prophet became the weeping prophet, not crying because of his lot but because of the devastation that unrepentance brought to the nation. The short book of Lamentations is written as a funeral dirge, giving us the lyrics of Jeremiahs sorrowful song. The song is written in the form of an acrostic where each verse begins with the next successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Hebrew has 22 letters so all chapters except chapter three contain 22 verses. Chapter 3 has 66 verses, three times through the alphabet. Yet right in the midst of a sorrow so deep, a melancholy so strong that it runs from A to Z, come the 22nd and 23rd verses of the longest chapter which state, the LORDS lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness! God had promised that a Savior would come all the way back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), He had promised a new covenant of coming grace throughout the Old Testament and He most famously reiterated it in the book of Jeremiah, and the fact that His people had failed once again was not going to change the truth that His compassions are new and His faithfulness is great! Thanks be to God for His new compassions!

What''s New Part 2: Posted 1/6/2015 9:55:25 PM

A New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:19-20) One of the more popular passages of the Old Testament is Deuteronomy 28:1-14. God promises His people that they will be the head and not the tail, that they will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country, blessed when they lay down and blessed when they rise up, blessed will be their farms and blessed will be their flocks IF they obey Him. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 delineates what will happen if they disobey: they would be the tail and not the head, they would be cursed in the city and cursed in the country, cursed when they lay down and cursed when they rise up, cursed would be their farms and cursed would be their flocks. The last 54 verses of Deuteronomy 28 arent as popular as the first 14 but are just as much the Word of God. Blessed for obedience, cursed for disobedience; this was the essence of the Mosaic Covenant. During the 800 years between Moses and Jeremiah, Gods people racked up a ruinous rap sheet filled with their voluminous violations of the covenant. Because of their multitude of sins they had seen foreign powers such as the Midianites and the Philistines plunder their lands during the period of the Judges, they had felt the cruel hand of a king (that they had asked for against Gods wishes) gone near insane, they witnessed the devastating decline from their golden age under David and Solomon as the latter married a multitude of wives and went after foreign and false gods, they went through the bitterness of one nation becoming divided into two, the Northern Kingdom of Israel endured the reigns of 19 wicked kings (with not one in their history being counted as good) before being viciously conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC, the Southern Kingdom of Judah would fair some better with 40% of their monarchs being counted as good but still were very sinful and were headed towards a doomed downfall at the time when Jeremiah came on the scene. This prophet was called by the Lord from his mothers womb to deliver an unpopular message. He told Judah that destruction was coming to them, just as it had to their brothers in the North, if they did not repent. Yet in the midst of a rebuke of a failing and sinning nation with an 800 year history of failing and sinning, God graciously spoke through Jeremiah of a new covenant that was to come. This covenant would not be based on the works of any fallen man who would surely fail, but on the work of the spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who would succeed in every way. This new covenant would not be one of law, but would be one of grace! A people in great depression would get a new deal! Thanks be to God for the New Covenant!

What''s New Part 1: Posted 1/6/2015 9:54:52 PM

Everyone reading this blog probably got something new in recent days. Maybe it was the new book by your favorite author or the new CD by your favorite artist (aka the Gaither Vocal Band for those of us led by the Spirit!). Perhaps it was a new recliner for relaxing, a new table for dining, or possibly new clothes (to accommodate the relaxing and dining you did this past year!). Whether or not you got the new things you wanted for Christmas, there are much more valuable new things provided for believers from the hand of God. We will look at six biblical new things in this series of blogs.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 10
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/22/2014 11:37:21 PM

Reason 10: We Read The Bible Because God Tells Us To (2 Timothy 2:15) Okay, if youve read the blogs on Why Do We Pray? and Why Do We Go To Church?, then this last reason comes as no surprise to you. Predictable? Perhaps. But I truly believe that there is no higher reason to do or be anything in the Christian life than simply because God tells us to. 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (For those whove ever been curious about the origins of the AWANA program for youth, here it isA Workman Approved Not Ashamed.) If God Himself has commanded us to study His Word, then we ought to be obedient to do so. Let me put it in a way that may stand out a little more. If we neglect the reading of Gods Word, then we are being disobedient and can expect the discipline of a loving Heavenly Father (if we are indeed His children). Want to be obedient unto God? The read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 9
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/20/2014 11:09:23 PM

Reason 9: We Read The Bible Because There Is Nowhere Else To Go (John 6:66-68) The content of Scripture is inspired, but the chapter and verse designations were created by man to make it easier to reference passages in the Bible. That being said, I believe verse 66 of chapter 6 in the gospel of John has providential numbering. The beginning of the chapter records Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the five thousand. This is followed by the account of the Lord walking on the water. Powerful miracles that should make anyone believe. (And of course Jesus had done many more!) Then He begins to speak. Among His teachings He told the people that I am the bread of life that came down out of heaven!; one of the 7 I AM statements found in the gospel of John in which Jesus clearly proclaims that He is God! As if claiming to be God wasnt bad enough, He went on to tell the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life! What was the peoples response to His sermon? The 66th verse of the 6th chapter sorrowfully records that as a result of this many of His disciples (nearly all) withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. How sad! How tragic! They had the worlds greatest miracle worker, the worlds greatest preacher, the worlds only sinless man before them and yet they turned away (perhaps a message of conviction and encouragement is to be found here for preachers of all times)Had Jesus been a false teacher, He would have changed His message totally and immediately to appeal to the selfish motives of the masses. Had He been overly sensitive (as even true preachers can be at times) He might not have changed the message but would have found a way to quickly qualify His preaching in some less offensive terms. But Jesus was not false nor overly sensitive. Instead of any of these expected responses, Christ turned to the disciples that remained and basically asked, are you going to leave too? Peter, who was known to fluctuate between brilliance and obtuseness, had one of his better moments here as he answers Jesus question by saying, Lord, to whom shall we go? You (alone) have words of eternal life. There may be times when we dont understand Scripture. I understand the lack of understanding those who left Jesus had at His Words. There may be times when we dont like the Scripture that we do understand. If youve never read a passage of the Bible and had your carnal mind revolt at its teaching, then I dare say you need to read your Bible closer. Our minds are crooked and when Gods Word comes to straighten them out there can be pain in the process. Still, understand it or not, like it or not, there is only one place to look for the words of eternal life; and thats in the pages of your Bible! Why do we read the Word of God? Because there is nowhere else to go for eternal life!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 8
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/13/2014 10:32:22 PM

Reason 8: We Read The Bible Because We Will Be Blessed (Revelation 1:1-3) God graciously saved me at the ripe old age of 13! I say old age of 13 because I had been in church since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and had undoubtedly heard the gospel many times before believing it. If you had asked people if I was saved, they probably would have said yes. I was a well behaved kid and tried to do what I knew and was taught were the right things to do. However, it wasnt until the beginning of my teenage years that I truly became convinced of my sinfulness under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and knew that I must repent and put faith in Christ, the only Savior. It was another couple of years before I started to study the Bible intently and personally. No one told me that I should begin in Johns gospel, so I started in Genesis. Some things I understood, most passages seemed over my head. I was relieved when I eventually got to the New Testament and the more familiar passages from the gospels and epistles. Finally, I hit the book of Revelation. And I do mean hit the book of Revelation. I began reading about bowls and plagues and dragons and judgments and scrolls. My mind was racing but my heart was racing even faster. Many times I turned away from finishing Revelation and went back to the gospel of John for comfort (and understanding). Then one day I paid closer attention to the first three verses of chapter 1 where the promise is given that we will be blessed if we read (and heed) the book of Revelation. It was then that I made the commitment to read the entire 22 chapters and learned something about Bible reading in general. Being blessed shouldnt be the main reason why we read Scripture, but it is an undeniable truth. We are blessed when we read Gods Word, even the passages we dont currently understand. As surely as a parent knows that their child will be bettered for obeying their instructions even though the child may be unaware of the benefits, as surely as a person may not understand all the biological processes involved in converting food into energy yet keeps being built up by eating, Gods children are blessed when we obey our Heavenly Father and feed our souls on the living bread of His Word! Want to be blessed? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 7
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/6/2014 7:36:58 PM

Reason 7: We Read The Bible Because There Will Be A Test (Deuteronomy 13:1-4) I have spent many years in education. I have never been one to give pop tests; my students usually know at least one week in advance when the exam will be, what format it will take, and what material will be covered. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how few students put in any study time and are caught off guard when the test is passed out. Moses told the Israelites that false prophets would arise to lead them astray from the true and living God. He clearly instructed them that any prophet who prophesied events that did not take place was not to be believed or feared and should be marked as false and punished. (I wont tell you the punishment, but lets just say there were rocks involved!) The great deliverer went on to tell the people that even if what a professed prophet said did take place or if he performed some great feat of power, he was still not to be followed if his teaching in any way led them astray from the clear and distinct word of God. Deuteronomy 13:3 clearly states that such false prophets would be a test to see if the people knew the Word of God and loved the God of the Word. Still, even with Moses notification of the upcoming tests, Israel more often than not failed to study and fell into the lairs of the liars. Fast forward to the New Testament and you will find Jesus warning His disciples that false Christs would come in future years (even performing great miracles) and Paul declaring that there would be a day when people would not endure sound doctrine but would go after false teachers who would tickle their ears making them feel good about themselves on the broad road to destruction (Matt. 24:23-25; 2 Tim. 4:3). Yet, even with these written admonitions in Scripture, there have been many professing believers over the centuries who have failed the test and gone after false Christs and false teachers, and the results are truly devastating. All this being said, lets not judge my pupils, Israel, or the New Testament readers of Jesus and Paul too harshly. In our present day, with Bibles aplenty, how many of us find ourselves not preparing for the teststhough we have been told with certainty that they will come? All of the exams of our spiritual lives are open book! There will be a test! Do you want to pass? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 6
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/24/2014 7:41:52 PM

Reason 6: We Read The Bible Because Its The Source Of Faith (Romans 10:17) My wife has roots in West Palm Beach. We travel there once or twice a year to visit some sites and to have lunch at a landmark sub shop. We love the sandwiches so much that we not only eat there but we bring home lunch (and/or dinner!) for the next two days after we get home! A couple of years ago after a trek to the east coast I took one of these culinary delights to work with me. A fellow coworker saw the bread, baked to a beautiful golden brown with just a touch of sugary sweetness; the fresh sliced ham, salami and provolone cheese; the crisp vibrant green lettuce and ripe red tomatoes; and a side of oil just to top it off to perfection! In between bites I could see the envy in her eyes! She asked me what Subway in town did you get that from?! I put down my sandwich for just a moment to tell her that no Subway shop had that kind of quality on a sandwich. I proudly went on to say you cant get this around here and let her know that it came from a specialty shop in West Palm BeachYou see, if you want something, youve got to know where it comes from, youve got to know the source. Every Christian I know, in fact some non-Christians I know, will say that they want more faith. They will do all sorts of things, some of them quite strange, in an effort to get more faith. However, Scripture is very clear, genuine faith doesnt come from sitting cross legged on the floor and humming in the key of screech, or from closing ones eyes so hard their retinas pop out, or from any other sensational kind of activity. The only true source of genuine faith is to be found in the pages of the Bible. (Romans 10:17: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.) Do you want more genuine faith? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/18/2014 8:21:51 PM

Reason 5: We Read The Bible Because It Gives Wisdom For Salvation (2 Timothy 3:15) I remember having to read a book on the art of biblical narrative and poetry of the Old Testament in seminary. I love to read but the reason I say I had to read these books was because they were written by an admitted unbeliever. He knew the Hebrew language, Old Testament customs and ancient people groups far better than I probably ever will. He maybe even knew the Bible better than me, but unless he comes to put faith in Christ all of his head knowledge will only serve to increase the degree of his accountability and condemnation on Judgment Day. There are many who look to the Bible for wisdom for various aspects of life but never speak of the necessity of Jesus for salvation that the Bible clearly proclaims. Sadly, there are many preachers who will wax eloquent on the wisdom of the Bible to make you a more successful businessperson, a better father, a better mother, a nicer coworker and a more well-mannered citizen, but never speak on scriptures main theme that all of us are sinners who will be cast into the lake of fire apart from the saving work of Christ. Certainly, the Bible gives wisdom in all areas of life and godliness, but apart from the wisdom it gives concerning salvation all else vanishes to nothing in the scope of eternity. Do you want to know and to share the wisdom leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/13/2014 8:43:32 PM

Reason 4: We Read The Bible Because Its Powerful (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 3:5-7) I remember learning to drive. However, my sweet momma probably remembers it even more vividly as the process of teaching me to drive still wakes her up with cold sweats in the middle of the night ever so often! Actually, I think I did pretty well when I first got under the wheel. Ive never been one to like to go fast, so riding with me is always mostly calm (do always and mostly used together cancel each other out?!) Even as a teenager the cops never had to be concerned about me speeding. Now I may run a red light here and there but I would never do it going over the posted limit! That having been said, there was one Friday night during my early driving days that proved to be a quite harrowing experience. Mom and I were on our way to a Bible Study. To get there we had to get on I-75. I had never driven on an interstate before but mom figured there must be a first time for everything. The difference in speed was a bit unnerving at first, but I eventually almost got used to it. I even proved to be a courteous driver, getting over into the left lane (out of my comfortable slow right lane), to let some drivers merge in from an off ramp. All was well and good until I got beside of a semi-truck. He was in the right lane and I was in the left lane and I was nervous. In fact, I was so nervous that it might be more accurate to describe my location as more in the left shoulder than in the left lane! The longer I stayed at the side of the massive truck and the closer the exit came into view that I needed to get off on, the more panicked I became. Eventually my racing heart worked its way down into my foot! I pressed the accelerator of that Oldsmobile Toronado to the floor and went past that semi like nobodys business! I think I stayed in the double digits but Im not 100% sure of that! I got back into the right lane just in time to make the exit! Thankfully we hit the red light at the bottom of the ramp before me or mom went into a code blue! Now, that semi-truck never did anything to me. He was on his side of the road and truth be told was undoubtedly a better and more experienced driver than I was at that time or perhaps will ever be. So what made me so nervous, what caused me to have such a strong reaction, what made me even notice that it was there? It was the fact that whether I trusted it or not, whether I liked it or not, whether it liked me or not, that semi was powerful and demanded my attention and respect. Hebrews 4:12 declares that Gods Word holds the power of life. Indeed it does for those who genuinely believe the gospel message it delivers will be born again and inherit everlasting life. 2 Peter 3:5-7 informs us that Gods Word accurately foretold the Old Testament destruction of the earth by water and just as accurately foretells a future destruction by fire. Thus Gods Word also holds the power of death. It is by this Word that believers will overcome and be saved and by this same Word that unbelievers will be judged and judicially condemned. Do you want to be a follower of that which has so much power it cannot be ignored? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/8/2014 9:56:43 PM

Reason 3: We Read The Bible Because It Lasts (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35) I currently have the opportunity to watch over a group of seventh graders for 15 minutes at the end of every day while they wait for their buses to come pick them up from school. The conversations they have amongst themselves can be very telling. One day in the past couple weeks I heard a boy bragging to his friends about the fact that he had 10 exes last year. True or not who knows, but this young man seemed to think that to have had 10 girlfriends come and go IN HIS SIXTH GRADE YEAR! was something to be proud of! I do not know whether this view comes from music that he listens to or TV shows that he watches or hanging out with the proverbial wrong crowd or a broken family background or some combination of all of these as well as other factors. However, the thought that struck me as I heard his words was that no matter how much the world may boast about such things, there is something deep inside of them that longs for a relationship that will last. There is a great comfort, joy, warmth and security that comes from knowing that you and the one you love are genuinely committed until death do you part. No one looks for a car that will break down in four years when theyre going to be paying five years for it. No battery is advertised as the one that will need replaced faster than the others. In all areas of life we are ultimately looking for something that will last! Isaiah 40:8 encourages believers to look around and see the grass that withers and the flowers that fade (and whither and fade as well would the powerful Babylonian empire that held Gods people in exile) but the Word of God would stand forever. In the 24th chapter of Matthew in the New Testament Jesus teaches His disciples about the multiple perils that will exist in the latter days, but He goes on to assure and comfort them that even though the very heavens above and the earth below may pass away, Gods Word will not pass away and will never fail! Do you want something that lasts FOREVER!? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/1/2014 8:38:30 PM

Reason 2: We Read The Bible Because Its True (John 17:17) You know were in the political season when you see the gubernatorial candidates on the TV screen more often than you see Billy Fuccillo! Each candidate tries to paint themselves in a positive light as the person who is simultaneously so down to earth that everyone can relate to them and the superman who being smarter and more powerful than everyone else can fix all the ills of the job market and the education system with the snap of a finger (or was that the snap of a cape!). Then theres the way they picture their opponents. The one theyre running against is pretty near evil, wanting kids out on the streets, willing to stack up budget deficits as far as the eye can see, letting vile criminals out on the street in record levels, making deals with crooks while being crooks themselves, and being so untrustworthy that the only way you can tell if their opponent is lying is if his lips are moving! Interestingly enough whether the ad is one that is good about themselves or bad about their opponent, they all sound just as confident as they cite newspapers or TV programs at the bottom of the screen as the authority that what theyre putting forth is accurate. Yet, when news organizations do fact checks into the political ads they find that theyre hardly ever 100% truthful! You see, not everything that claims to be authoritative or is accepted to be authoritative is actually true. In fact, I am convinced that one of the most dangerous things in life (even more so in matters of faith than in politics) is when lies are put forth with such confidence that they are accepted as authoritative. Indeed, confident deceptions are the ones most believedThe authoritative Word of God is not like political ads or the tales of men. It has no higher authority to cite than itself and what it declares is absolutely and positively trustworthy. It will tell us the truth about God, the truth about the world, the truth about life, the truth about others, and, lets not forget, the truth about ourselves! As part of the high priestly prayer in John 17 (I encourage you to study all of that chapter in depth), Jesus petitioned His Father on behalf of those who would believe in Him to sanctify them according to Your truth, Your Word is truth! Dont you want to know and believe what is true and trustworthy rather than be deceived by a lie? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Read The Bible Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/27/2014 10:36:50 PM

Whether its a teacher wanting to correct a students behavior, a husband or wife desiring to improve their marriage, a CEO trying to find out what will make their company better, or a Christian wanting to follow Christ more closely, no one will ever get to the deepest depth of any issue without asking the question of why? The past two series of blogs have dealt with this question in regards to prayer and church attendance. This series of blogs we will look at the subject of Why Do We Read The Bible?

Reason 1: We Read The Bible Because Its Authoritative (John 1:1) During my early years of high school I had my mind set on becoming a lawyer. I liked books, loved to study, and believed I could deliver a presentation somewhat effectively and persuasively. It didnt hurt either that two of my favorite shows were Perry Masonand Matlock. Thankfully I sensed the call to ministry in my junior year after having the privilege to minister at some youth retreats (and after reading the many woes Jesus gave to lawyersof course those were a different kind of lawyers I guess; though I think He might have some woes to deliver to some of our present day lawyers as well!). Anyone who studies law for any period of time, even as short of time as my interest, will find that lawyers are always looking for precedents to cite in their cases. They search for past rulings that have come down in other suits similar to theirs that agree with their point of view and use that as evidence that the judge should now currently rule in their favor. The higher court they can cite the better is the strength of their case. And if they can find a Supreme Court decision from the past that agrees with their perspective, thats pay dirt! The other side may have a lower courts opinion on their side but youve got the highest authority behind you if youve got the Supremes! John1:1 declares that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God! There is no higher authority than God, the Creator of all things, the Giver of life, and the Judge of the living and the dead! So, from John 1:1 it follows that there is no higher authority than the Word of God! Research studies may come to different conclusions about the same subjects at different times, courts (even the Supreme Court) may change their opinions, scientific theories come and go as fast as the new editions of textbooks can be produced, what was the authoritative view or opinion in one day may be discredited or fail in another day, but the Word of the living God will always be the final authority! Dont you want to know the bottom line authoritative word on life? Then read the Word of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 8
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/23/2014 7:46:32 PM

Reason 8: We Go To Church Because God Commands Us To (Heb. 10:23-25) Last months newsletter addressed the question, Why do we pray? and ended with the same reason as presented here, because God tells us to. Ultimately there can be no higher reason to pray, read the Bible, witness, go to church, etc. than because God has told us to. No reward we receive or notoriety to which we attain could ever do more than pale in comparison to the greatness of simply obeying the command of the Lord. Why do we got to church? Because He commands us to and as His children we want to be obedient!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 7
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/20/2014 7:23:40 PM

Reason 7: We Go To Church Because There Is Victory In The Church (Matthew 16:15-18) Everyone likes to root for a winner. Everyone likes a sure bet. Well, Jesus told us that the ultimate winner, the ultimate victor over the powers of death, hell, and the grave is the church. One of Jesus main missions was to build His church, and it is against that church that not even the gates of hell can prevail. Why do we go to church? Because there is victory in the church!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 6
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/14/2014 10:08:18 PM

Reason 6: We Go To Church Because We Want To Know That We Are Of The Faith (1 John 2:18-19) In combatting false teachings the Apostle John tells us in 1 John 2:18-19 that those who went from us (away from the church) left because they were never truly a part of us. Now before you turn away from my point here (or better said, the point made by the Apostle John!), let me clearly state that being part of a local church and staying in church all the days of your life does not automatically mean that you are a Christian. Indeed, being in church doesnt necessarily make you a Christian any more than being in water necessarily makes you a fish. That being said, I ask you to consider the following pictures and see which one you think is most accurately presented in the Bible. Picture 1 There are multitudes of people who go to church, read their Bibles, seem to care about the things of God, and yet in the end will hear from the Lord the sad words, Depart from Me for I never knew you. They thought they were sheep but turned out to be goats. They thought they were wheat but turned out to be tares. Picture 2 There are multitudes of people who hardly ever go to church, seldom read their Bibles, and though they say they believe in Jesus, show very little fruit in seemingly any area and yet they turn out to be true believers. Some are shocked that they are being forced by the Lord to spend eternity in Heaven with the family of God that they never found time to assemble with here on earth. Which picture do you think is more accurate? Anyone with even a scant knowledge of Scripture would know that the first picture accurately reflects the truth. This is not a works based righteousness Im presenting, it simply makes the point that if there is no fruit, then theres likely no root. If many who do go to church arent true believers, then whats the likelihood that many who dont go to church are? Salvation is based upon Christ not upon church attendance, but 1 John 2:18-19 ought to make those who profess belief in Jesus but dont go to church squirm. And it will, if they take the Bible seriously. Why do we go to church? Because we want to know that we are of the faith.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/7/2014 9:33:40 PM

Reason 5: We Go To Church Because We Want To Be About Kingdom Business (Acts 2:44-47) The first Christian message preached is recorded in Acts 2. Peter proclaimed the inaugural message of the Christian church and 3,000 people came to a faith in Jesus. These believers then continued in the Apostles teachings as they met together and broke bread with one another on a regular basis. As they engaged in being the church and in being together, the Lord brought others into the family of God who would be saved. Truly, the business of the Kingdom of God centers around the local church. If you dont believe that, dont just consider the Acts 2 passage but look at the fact that: all of Pauls missionary journeys were founded from the church at Antioch and had the goal of establishing a church in the cities to which he traveled; the epistles of the New Testament were written to the church at Ephesus, the church at Galatia, the church at Philippi, the 7 churches of Asia (Revelation), the leaders of the church at Ephesus and Crete (Timothy, Titus) and the list could go on. Indeed, the business of the Kingdom of God, the spreading of the Word of God, centers around the local church. Why do we go to church? Because we want to be about Kingdom Business!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/30/2014 8:10:05 PM

Reason 4: We Go To Church Because We Want To Grow Into Maturity (Eph. 4:11-16) Just because a person grows older doesnt mean that they grow up. All of us can probably think of numerous examples of a persons age quickly outpacing their sense of responsibility. Our society feels the ill effects of this reality on an ever growing basis. The same holds true in spirituality. Just because a person has known (or at least says they know) the Lord for a long period of time, does not mean that they have properly grown in sanctification. Paul makes it clear in the book of Ephesians (perhaps the book that gives the most thorough description of the church) that believers cannot grow in the Lord as they should apart from a relationship with and commitment to the local church. The Scriptural teaching is clear, we grow as we are together, not that we ever grow to a point where we can be alone. If we want to be who the Lord has called us to be and to grow in His calling and purpose, it happens as we live life together with a family of God devoted to the Word of God. Why do we go to church? Because we want to grow into maturity!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/26/2014 10:19:11 PM

Reason 3: We Go To Church Because We Are Needed (1 Cor. 12:19-21) Ive had some tooth issues in my life. I remember one abscess that I had a few years ago in particular. I was supposed to preach on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. I had all my notes ready. I had put in my study time. My mind was clear (I know some may debate that!) to speak, my legs were ready to walk me across the platform, my arms were good to go to turn the pages of my Bible, my eyes were focused to read, but my mouth was so swollen I could hardly open it to eat or stand the pain involved in swallowing or speaking. I had to cancel out speaking on Tuesday (thankfully I was able to make Wednesday) because of one little tooth. I needed that tooth to be present, better, and wholebut on Tuesday it was not. The Apostle Paul pictures the church as a body in 1 Corinthians 12. Some members are arms, some legs, some eyes, and Im sure some must be teeth! If the body of Christ is to operate fully, it needs all of its members present. The church has no spare parts. Dont fall for the devils lies that tell the believer that theyre not important. Dont fall for the selfish desire that has you thinking about the church when you are needy, but not when you are needed. Why go to church? Because we are needed!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/21/2014 8:18:32 PM

Reason 2: We Go To Church Because We Are Needy (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) The book of Ecclesiastes derives its name from the word ekklesia which means called out ones or church. It was named such because its literary structure is that of a preacher delivering a message to the people of God. The preacher in this case is King Solomon. This famous monarch started out as a humble young man, wisely asking God for wisdom in leading the Lords people rather than for personal riches or victories over enemies. However, as time marched on and his notoriety and wealth grew exponentially, so too did his pride. Solomon broke the divine directives for kings given in Deuteronomy 17: amassing riches beyond belief, taking unto himself many wives and concubines, and eventually even worshipping false gods. If anyone would have fit the worlds definition of a self-made, successful, self-sufficient man, it was Solomon. He had all the wealth, fame, and women that anyone could ever want. Yet, he was a sinful man who wrote the somber and pessimistic book of Ecclesiastes decrying the emptiness of a life filled with all this world has to offer but lived outside the reality of a relationship with God. The king had people all around him all the time, yet he was totally and utterly alone. He had no one who could truly speak into his life genuine conviction or encouragement. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 finds Solomon, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructing readers that two are better than one because when one falls the other can be there to assist. He then goes on to declare that a cord of three strands could not be easily broken, referring to the fact that when believers are joined together, the Lord is also in their midst. Solomon realized the need for fellowship, even declared the need for it, but did not act upon it (to his own peril). No man is an island; not even Solomon; not even you! Why go to church? Because we are needy!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

8 Reasons Why We Go To Church! Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/16/2014 9:12:32 PM

Reason 1: We Go To Church Because We Are The Church (John 16:7; Acts 7:48; 2 Cor. 5:17) In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would come upon people to perform great feats for the glory of God and for the good of Gods people. However, the Spirit could not reside inside of people because the Spirit Who is Holy would not be inside of humans who are UnHoly. Fast forward to the New Testament and the paradigm, the pattern, changes. Jesus died upon the cross for the sins of all who would believe in Him. The Father made The Son, who knew no sin, to bear our sin that Christians might become the righteousness of God in Him. In the eyes of the Father, those who are true believers, are now justified (just as if we never sinned) not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done. Since we are seen as holy ones (saints) in Heavens record book (though our becoming righteous as God has declared us righteous is a lifelong process called sanctification), the Holy Spirit now can live inside of those who are in Christ. This means that our view of the church is radically enhanced between Old Testament and New Testament. In the Old Testament, the presence of the Lord was seen to be contained in the Ark of the Covenant, a box that was in the innermost room of the Tabernacle/Temple building. When people came to church, they were coming to a building that housed God and they were always kept at a distance. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit dwells inside the lives of believers, not in any Temple made by human hands. So, we come to the church building bringing the presence of God with us. Why go to church? Because we are the church!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Pray? Part 6
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/12/2014 10:21:51 PM

Let me end this article on why we pray by asking two questions. If you remember, at the end of the introductory paragraph I asked you to consider why you pray and to ponder those reasons for a moment before we dove into the reasons I was going to talk about. The four responses we spoke on in the newsletter as to why we pray are all scripturally based. There are certainly more biblical reasons than these four as to why we pray, but the one challenge I have for you is this, are the reasons you pray biblically based? It is important in regards to prayer and indeed in regards to every concept we have as a Christian that it be biblically based, otherwise our thoughts, motivations, and actions, though sincere, may be wrong and misguided. The last question I have for us is this,why dont we pray? Let me offer some closing thoughts for our consideration. If we do pray because we are hopeless and needy, then perhaps we dont pray because we dont really believe that we are hopeless and needy. If we do pray because we believe it is effective, then perhaps we dont pray because we dont think our prayers are effective. If we do pray because we are simply being obedient to Gods command, then perhaps we dont pray because we think being willfully disobedient is okay. With all that being said let me encourage us all, let us pray!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Pray? Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/5/2014 10:07:09 PM

We Pray Because God Tells Us To (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Perhaps one of the greatest theologians of our contemporary day is R.C. Sproul. He tells a story of something he learned while studying the biblical doctrine of election in seminary. (note: how the doctrines of divine election, the concept that we do not choose God but He chooses us, and free will, the concept that we genuinely have a will that God commands us to use to repent of sin and put faith in Christ as a requirement for salvation, interact could be the subject of several newsletters.) One of Sprouls difficulties with the doctrine of election was that, if it were true, he could see no need for evangelism. He struggled with it for some time before he went to his professor and asked him point blank, If God chooses who will be saved, then what is the point in preaching the gospel to unbelievers? The response of his instructor was succinct and profound; he simply replied because God tells us to!

The same lesson that R.C. Sproul learned with regards to evangelism, we can apply to our study of reasons why we pray. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 the Word of God tells us plainly that we should pray without ceasing. This is the Lords will for us. Ultimately there can be no higher reason for praying or doing anything else in the Christian life than for the simple fact that the one and only Almighty God of the universe has told us to do so!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Pray? Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/2/2014 6:44:35 PM

We Pray Because Its Effective (James 5:13-16) You flip the light switch as you enter a dark room. You know nothing of the physics of electricity or about the details of wiring a house. You simply know that when you flip the switch the light comes on. A driver turns the key in the ignition of her vehicle. She may not know any more about a car or its parts than I do (which is next to nothingwhen I need car help all I know to do is call 1-800-DAD!), but she keeps turning the key because its worked so many times before. A child begins to cry when he wants a toy. They cause a scene in the store that upsets their parents and hinders the shopping experience of all of those within the 5 mile or so radius their lungs can extend to (okay, maybe 5 miles is stretching it, perhaps I should have lowered it to only 4!). Why do they do it? Partly because they havent learned any better yet and perhaps partly because they have learned that it works! We humans do many things not because we know how they work, but simply because we know that they do work

As little as I understand about the electrical wiring of a house, the mechanical operations of a car, or the wisdom of us parents giving our children at times what they want (instead of what they need; a spanking!) when they misbehave; I understand even less how the prayers that come from the lips of frail and finite human beings could avail anything of consequence in earthly realms, much less how these prayers avail anything in the heavenlies. Yet, we have Gods Word on it that the effectual and fervent prayers of the righteous accomplish much. Now, we should not view prayer as a means to get our own way from God or as an opportunity to tell the Almighty what to do. Also, praying simply because it works shouldnt be our primary motivation to talk to our Lord. However, we must never diminish the power that comes when we lift our prayers in trust and faith to our Heavenly Father!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Pray? Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/28/2014 7:49:25 PM

We Pray Because We Are Needy (Matthew 6:9-13) At first glance this may seem a repeat of our first point. However, the distinction Im making here is that the unbelieving sinner under the conviction of the Holy Spirit prays because he is hopeless, but the believing Christian who has their name written in the Lambs Book of Life with their eternal destiny secured continues to pray because we realize that we are still needy. What do we still need? Many things, but we can list three needs by simply looking at the pattern Jesus gave us in the Lords Prayer. Christ told believers to petition that God would give us our daily bread. Those listening to the Lords words 2,000 years ago were very acquainted with the sinking feeling of not knowing where their next meal was coming from. To pray for God to meet their need for daily sustenance made imminent sense to them. For most of us in 21st century America, to pray for food on an everyday basis seems an unnecessary request to make from God. We might not always have the meal we want but nearly all of us either have or have access to enough food to keep us from any real threat of starvation. However, as my wonderful wife reminds our son on the occasions when hes not paying good enough attention during grace at dinner time, we must lift our voice to God to request the meeting of our daily needs and in gratitude for His gift of this nights food because apart from Him we would have nothing. We who often times take for granted our ample pantries need to be reminded that apart from the Lords providence we would not have the ability to work to buy our food nor would there be fields or farms capable of producing the food. Anyone who thinks they dont need God for the meeting of their need for daily bread is only fooling themselves. We are needy; therefore we pray. The next need presented in the Lords Prayer is that we be forgiven of our debts. When we become born again, having repented of sin and placing faith in Jesus, we are seen as having the sinless record of Christ in the eyes of God the Father and are secured a place in Heaven, but we still find ourselves sinning in this life here on earth. None of us presently drawing a breath from Earths atmosphere or walking around in a body of flesh and blood go for very long without sinning in either word, thought, or deed (or perhaps the trifecta, sinning in all three areas at once!). Any believer who grows numb to the fact that they stand in constant need of repentance and forgiveness needs forgiven for the biggest sin of all, that of pride! We are needy; therefore we pray. The final need presented in the pattern of prayer given to us by Jesus is that of being lead out of temptation and delivered from evil. The Christian who loses sight of the truth that our human proclivities are sinful and that if at any moment we were separated from the power of the Holy Spirit we would again be as sheep who have gone astray has placed too much confidence in their own strength and abilities and has an overly elevated estimation of the human condition. We are needy; therefore we pray.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Pray? Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/23/2014 6:16:41 PM

We Pray Because We Are Hopeless (Luke 18:10-14) Imagine a little league team going up against the New York Yankees (or perhaps here in Lee County I should have used the Boston Red Sox for this illustration!). Now think about Pee Wee Herman in a boxing bout with Iron Mike Tyson (okay, maybe not the most pleasant thought, just hold on to your ears!). One more and then well be done. What about me (a driver who may occasionally cut it close on running red lights but nearly always obeys the speed limits) racing against Jeff Gordon (who I hear is one of the best Nascar drivers of all time winning 90 races in his career as of last Sunday). What do the little league team, Pee Wee Herman, and me have in common in the preceding illustrations? Most would say that none of us have a prayer against our opponents!

Now lets move from made up scenarios to ones that are very real, very spiritual, and very personal. Imagine yourself against the temptations of the world and the wiles of the devil. Think thats a daunting image?! How about the scarier thought of your thoughts, words, and deeds being weighed in the balances against the standard of Gods righteousness?! Truly hopeless indeed! However, Ive got good news for you and for all of us sinners. We DO have a prayer! Just ask the tax collector from Luke 18. He knew he was a sinner deserving of death, hell, and condemnation. He was so convicted of the exceeding sinfulness of his sin that he would not even lift his head towards Heaven. Yet, he still knew he had a prayer. It wasnt vocally fancy. It wasnt poetically impressive. No one would have included such a simple offering in their published book of prayers. Still his words, God, be merciful to me, the sinner!, contain the content of the first prayer any of us ever have answered from Heavens throne, a prayer that confesses our sins and pleads for Gods mercy and grace. Why do we pray? Because we know that we are sinners who have no hope apart from the mercies of the Lord!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Why Do We Pray? Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/16/2014 7:40:32 PM

As many of you know, school is getting ready to go back in session. A main emphasis of the school district this year will be on increasing the rigor of classes. In an effort to do this Ive seen some teachers print out long lists of tougher questions and post them around their room to make sure their minds are jogged into asking the higher level inquiries of students throughout the course of the school day. Though this technique may be helpful, perhaps the best way to ensure that a class is experiencing higher level rigor is wrapped up in asking one tiny question, that of why? Show me someone who can answer the question of why and Ill show you someone who not only understands the foundation of a subject, but who also has a better chance of approaching the material with purpose and of correctly anticipating the next phases of study. Before we look at four biblical answers to the question of why do we pray? (which will be the subject for this series of blogs), it might be helpful, if you have a minute, to take some time and think about why do you pray?.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Onward Christian Soldiers Part 6
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/4/2014 10:19:30 PM

The Christian Soldier Trusts His Commander (2 Timothy 2:11-13) I love to study American History. Once when going to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, I learned of the Newburgh Conspiracy. Its a long story but basically back in the days following Americas victory over the British in the Revolutionary War there was a group of soldiers who were contemplating an uprising due to the fact that Congress had reneged on several promises they had made to the military, especially in the area of pay and pensions. Washington discovered the plan and unexpectedly showed up at a meeting of the conspirators, many of them soldiers with which he had served. The General had a letter from a member of Congress to read to the assembly but upon pulling it out of his pocket discovered that he needed his spectacles to read it. Few had ever seen him need glasses before. Washington asked the men to be patient with him for apparently he had not only grown gray in service to his country, but nearly blind as well. The conspiracy was over; the Republic saved from potential implosion. Washington was trusted and well respected by his men; they knew of his great sacrifice. The Christian soldier has a commander that is far greater, wiser, more powerful, and sacrificial than any human general could ever be. Jesus is faithful, even when we have been faithless. May we be faithful Christian soldiers marching onward in the army of the Lord!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Onward Christian Soldiers Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/28/2014 11:28:13 PM

The Christian Soldier Thinks Of The Christian Army (2 Timothy 2:10) Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is a name most people have heard recently. He was the last prisoner of war held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US government traded five of the terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay in order to get Sergeant Bergdahl back home safely. While Americans are nearly unanimous in their joy at having one of our own come home, controversy arose over the circumstances of his initial capture by the Taliban as soldiers in his unit came out claiming that Bergdahl was taken hostage due to the fact that he deserted. Now, I dont know what may have happened half a world away; well let the authorities sort such things out. But what I do know is that I was captured by the remarks of those who served in his unit when they said that even though they had a low opinion of Bergdahl and believed (rightly or wrongly) that he deserted, they would give their lives for him and indeed for all of their fellow soldiers. The church is called the body of Christ with members who have need of each other. The church is called a building that needs all of its stones in place. The Christian soldier is one who keeps their brothers and sisters, their fellow soldiers, the whole army of God in view as we live our lives.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Onward Christian Soldiers Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/25/2014 9:14:10 PM

The Christian Soldier Remembers Jesus (2 Timothy 2:8-9) Pat Tillman is a name some may remember. He was a successful player in the NFL. However, following the September 11th attacks in 2001 he turned down a 3 year deal with the Arizona Cardinals that would have netted him 3.6 million in order to enlist in the armed forces. Tillman served several tours in combat before being killed in Afghanistan in 2002. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for his valiance. Whether you remembered his name or not was not Tillmans main goal. If he had wanted fame or fortune, the NFL would have been the place for him to stay. Pat Tillman was inspired, emboldened, and empowered by the memory of two towers in New York crashing to the ground, of people being pulled from the fires of the Pentagon in DC, and of a plane crashed into oblivion in the fields of Pennsylvania. He remembered what happened on 9/11 and that remembrance gave him a definitive purpose for the direction of his life. Christians are not called to live their lives for their own glory or renown. Believers in Jesus find the strength to renounce sin and run after righteousness, the boldness to declare the exclusivity of Gods Word and of salvation in Christ alone, and the humility to lovingly serve others instead of demanding that we be served by remembering Jesus and what He has done. If people forget our names, were okay with that. The important thing for the Christian soldier is that Christ be remembered (1 Cor. 11:23-25).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Onward Christian Soldiers Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/15/2014 11:55:57 PM

The Christian Soldier Avoids Worldly Distractions (2 Timothy 2:4) The families of those who serve in the armed forces of our country will tell you that there are times when their loved ones cannot contact them due to some training that theyre engaged in or mission that theyve been assigned to. The soldiers work can be at a level of such importance that there are no distractions allowed. Many times people think of being a Christian as something that they just add to their resume. To them being a believer in Jesus is one more thing on their list of things. However, the Bible points out that the LORD will have no other gods before Him (literally Exodus 20:3 says He will have no other gods beside Him). Jesus told a potential follower who asked to go and spend some time with his family before following Christ that anyone who turned back after putting their hand to the plow was not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:61-62). Now, I do think that followers of Jesus are to minister to their families and there are things such as jobs and the like that need tending to, but that having been said I do believe that those claiming to be Christians live too much of their lives in pursuit of the temporal instead of the eternal, of the worldly instead of the godly, of the self centered instead of the Christ centered. To be a Christian soldier means to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else must be peripheral (Matt. 6:33).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Onward Christian Soldiers Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/11/2014 12:21:43 AM

The Christian Soldier Endures Hardship (2 Timothy 2:3) Imagine a commercial trying to get folks to enlist in one of the branches of the military. Youve seen enough of them to know what to expect. Youre likely to hear slogans such as Be All That You Can Be or The Few, The Proud, The Marines. Youll probably see the imagery of swords going through a fiery refining process, of a brave soldier jumping from a helicopter into a raging ocean to save a helpless soul in need, or perhaps of a young private going through the rigors of rope climbing a high wall as part of a rigorous obstacle course. Now, imagine a commercial that would ask people to enlist as Christians and imagine that the commercial was to be based on much of what we see on Christian TV today. Would we be more likely to see people enduring hardship or people living without a care in the world? Do you think thered be a place for sweat in the ad or would the actors be cradled in the lap of luxury? Would the person portraying a Christian be liked by everybody or would they be hated by some for the stance theyve taken for Jesus? Would there be a place for grimaces or only for smiles? Now forget the commercial based on popular theology of the day and look at the biblical presentation of the life of the Apostle Paul. While in the service of Christ, Paul was stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, snake bitten, imprisoned on at least two occasions, worked as a tentmaker to support the ministry, and ended up being beheaded by the order of the Roman Emperor Nero. Jesus Himself said that those who desired to follow Him must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). The Lord clearly declared that those who believed in Him would be hated by the world and that while in the world His followers would have much trouble (Matt. 10:22; John 16:33). I dont know how many would enlist if told that the Christian would endure these kind of hardships, but it is part of the biblical picture of being a soldier for the Lord.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Onward Christian Soldiers Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/7/2014 3:41:32 PM

My wife and I watch the local newscast nearly every night. Most times it can be a fairly depressing endeavor filled with breaking news about home invasions, drug deals, child abuses, car thefts, and the list of tragedies goes on and on. A few weeks ago there was a distinct and notable bright spot filming at eleven when the news team covered the story of an Honor Flight coming in to Southwest Regional Airport. If youre not familiar with Honor Flights, they are trips where elderly veterans are given an expense paid ride to Washington, DC to view the monuments at our nations capital. It was indeed inspiring to see the videos of local veterans from wars past enjoying the history of DC and coming back to Southwest Florida to a heros welcome. As we celebrate the 4th of July, it is important to remember that freedom isnt free. The liberty that we enjoy here in the USA has been bought with the blood of American soldiers. Truly, the citizen owes the soldier an eternal debt of gratitude.

The image of the American soldier brings to mind chapter two of 2 Timothy where the picture of the Christian soldier is described. The Apostle Paul found himself in Roman imprisonment for the cause of the gospel and was perhaps within mere days of being beheaded for the sake of Jesus Christ when he wrote the second pastoral epistle to his understudy. Paul looked at the soldiers that served as his guards; he saw their power, their discipline, and their dedication to the greatest political power the world had ever seen up to that time. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote to young Timothy about the character that should be present in the Christian soldier as they serve a Kingdom that goes eternally and infinitely beyond the scope of any nation of man. We will explore five attributes of a believer in the Lords Army in this series of blogs.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

True Freedom Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/1/2014 5:54:19 PM


AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE FREE TO LOVE AND TO SERVE. Jesus Christ certainly paid the price for us to be free FROM all the bondages of sin. However, as great as that is, it is a negative blessing. By that I do not mean that it is bad, I simply mean that all the freedoms FROM this, that, and the other thing, bring us from being in spiritual deficit (the negative) up to a zero point. But Jesus didnt die just to bring us to a zero point, He died to bring us into the spiritual black a million times over. Thats where the freedom TOS come in. There are many freedom TOS verses we could discuss, but Im choosing Galatians 5:13 because here Paul deals with perhaps the most important freedom TOS we could enjoy, those of loving and serving. You may say, Well, I had freedom to love and to serve before coming to know Christ. Oh really! You may have had a desire to love and serve every now and then, but just as you lacked a freedom FROM sin before knowing Jesus you lacked the freedom TO genuinely love and serve with the right heart, motivation, attitude, and spirit. If you are in Christ, you now have the freedom TO really and truly love and serve. So lets get out there. Lets use our God given freedom. Find people to love, find people to serve. And if were not doing those two things for the glory of God, lets at least be honest enough to admit that were not as free as we need to be, that were at the zero point instead of in the black.

Let me close with the lyrics of an old spiritual. O freedom, O freedom, O freedom over me. And before Id be a slave, Id be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free! These words express the kind of determination and drive that we need to have as believers to be free. Dont live in bondage, and the first step is to admit that we need to be free, or at least we need to be more free! Dont live as the slave to sin; and when we do sin dont live as the slave to condemnation! Dont be satisfied with living in the freedom FROMS, live in the most glorious freedom of all, the freedom TOS!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

True Freedom Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 6/27/2014 8:12:51 PM


AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE FREE FROM SIN AND CONDEMNATION. A famous comedian used to say, the devil made me do it! As many laughs as he may have garnered, his statement has no validity for the Christian. Sin is a power, the devil is powerful, but compared to our God neither would even show up as a blimp on the screen. Romans 6:18 tells us that born again believers who have received Christ as Savior and have the Holy Spirit resident in their lives have been freed from sin. That means that the wrong behaviors that we could not change, the lying tongue we couldnt tame, the foul mind we couldnt control, the mean spirit we could not transform, and all other various and sundry manifestations of the power of sin have been broken by the power of Christ. We may still find ourselves in sins prison, but its because we have walked back into the cell, not because Christ didnt unlock the door. That being said, when we do sin, when we do fall short, we must never forget that our salvation didnt rest in our good works when we first received Christ and the ability to be forgiven after we received Him doesnt have to be earned either. In the words of John the Apostle, when we do sin (and if we say we havent sinned, then were a liar!), we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all our guilty stains (1 John 1:9-2:1). As Paul would state in Romans 8:1-2, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Christians have been set free from sin, but when we do sin, if we repent we are made free from condemnation. That sounds like a whole lot of freedom to me!!!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

True Freedom Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 6/23/2014 7:04:57 PM


Freedom. One simple word wrought with so much meaning. As Americans we enjoy the freest society on the face of this earth, a fact for which we should be thankful. I have spent much time over the years speaking about America and its Christian heritage and my appreciation for both has not diminished in any way. However, this July I feel led to speak about a freedom that is above national and political, one that is spiritual. Something which no man nor nation, no threat foreign nor domestic, no devil in hell or Satan himself can take away from the one who has it; the freedom that is in Jesus Christ. As we approach the 4th of July this series of blogs will speak on three key elements of this spiritual freedom

WE ALL NEED TO BE FREE, OR AT LEAST MORE FREE. John 8:32 records one of the most famous phrases uttered from the lips of Jesus. He told a group of religious Jewish folks that if they chose, they could know the truth, and the truth will make you free. To which their immediate response was, We are Abrahams descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone! Many of those Jesus was speaking to were alleged authorities on Scripture. Yet, anyone with even a scant knowledge of the Old Testament would know that the Jewish race (the descendants of Abraham) had in fact been in bondage for a great deal of their history. They had been enslaved to Egypt for 400 years before being led out by Moses, they were in bondage to various foreign nations during the subsequent 400 year period of the Judges, the ten Northern tribes were in bondage to/conquered by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the two Southern tribes were in bondage to/conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and at the very time when Jesus spoke these words in Johns gospel the Jews were in bondage to the Roman Empire. How could these religious leaders be so ignorant, so misguided, so oblivious to known facts as to make the blatantly false statement that they had never been in bondage? Well, before we judge them too harshly, havent we done the same? How many of us, before knowing Christ, spent all week earning money, wasted it all on Friday and Saturday nights (just to earn the privilege of being sick all day Sunday), turned around and did the same thing the next week, and told everybody were having a wonderful time!? Have we (perhaps even after becoming a Christian) been hateful to our spouses, hurtful to our children, depressed at our workplaces, worried in our thought life, hopeless in our spirits, and yet when someone asks us how were doing we say fine or good or even blessed? Why do we deny our bondage? Because to admit to the truth of our bondage would destroy the faade of our pride; and thats a price for freedom that we deem, perhaps subconsciously, too high to pay. Jesus, the glorious emancipator, the only liberator capable to unshackle the soul, stood before the crowd 2,000 years ago offering freedom. Yet, they chose lies over truth, pride over humility, and thus bondage over freedom. Lets not be like them. Lets receive the truth, admit that were bound, run to the Savior, and walk in the freedom Jesus so graciously affords!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Who Is Jesus Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 6/18/2014 3:26:04 PM

I AM the True Vine (John 15:1). I dont know much about vines, but I do know a little bit about flowers. I dont do it enough, but I do occasionally get flowers for my wonderful wife, my gift from God, the best help mate any man could ever hope for, and I could go on. However, no matter what kind of flower, how beautiful its smell or colorful its appearance, it is in a state of dying when I give it to her. Why? Because it has been cut off from its roots. It may last a couple days, some last a week, one bunch I got her for Mothers Day this year lasted over two weeks! Still, its ultimate fate is death when disconnected from its roots. So too it is with our relationship with Jesus. He is the True Vine and apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Oh, we may look okay for a brief period of time, but apart from Him we will die and will bear the fruits of sin and death (Gal. 5:19-21). But connected to Him, rightly related to Him, we will live and will bear the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58). The 59th verse of this chapter finds the crowd taking up stones to throw at Jesus. Why? Because they understood that when Jesus said I AM, He was referring to the Old Testament name for God (Exodus 3:14). In essence, Jesus was saying that He was God. That would be improper for any man to say and indeed anyone who would say that is worthy of either severe scorn or severe pity. However, Jesus was and is God! No man ever becomes God, but God did become man (John 1:1-14). Jesus was fully God, thus having the resources to pay for mans sin, and He was also fully man, thus related to the race that should pay for mans sin. When we put our trust and faith in Him, the I AM, and ask Him to forgive our sins, then we can rest assured that we are saved, that we will not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Who Is Jesus Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 6/12/2014 10:45:55 PM


I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). Jesus said these words to Martha whose brother Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. The situation looked hopeless. Lazarus had been dead for so long that His body had begun to decay and smell. Yet, no matter how dead, decayed, and smelly a situation may be, when the giver of Life (both natural and spiritual life) comes on the scene, things are subject to change. Jesus said, Lazarus, Come Forth! and blood began to rush through the veins again, air began to circulate through the lungs, feeling rushed into limbs that had been numb! He who had been dead was raised at the very command of the Lord! Jesus is the One who can raise the natural dead, but more importantly is the One who can raise the spiritually dead! Need a resurrection in your heart (and Im not just talking about the one in your chest!), Jesus is the only One who can accommodate! Need life (not just the one represented on your birth certificate), then listen and hear Jesus calling you to come forth!

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). I remember my first long trip driving by myself from my grandparents house in Ohio to Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. I can be directionally challenged, but my grandpa; he seemingly always knew how to get where he was going. So I asked him to help me plot a way to get back to ORU from his house. He set me down and showed me several ways to get there. He finally decided upon a route, that though perhaps not the quickest, was the one with the fewest twists and turns and the one that he thought his grandson could actually follow! I loved my grandpa, he was a godly man, and he showed me a way to get to ORU that day (and showed me much about life and the Lord as well during his life). However, Jesus said there was only ONE way to the Father! Furthermore, He didnt say that He came to show us that way, but that He was that ONE way! In the words of C.S. Lewis, someone who would make such a claim is liar, lunatic, or Lord! I hope you have put your trust in Him as the latter!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Who Is Jesus Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 6/9/2014 6:43:19 PM

I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12). Have you ever felt in the dark? Oh, the sun comes up in the morning and you can turn your high beams on at night, but the darkness Im talking about is one that follows you around no matter the time of day or what light source you switch on. Jesus said that He is the true light for that kind of darkness. Only He can give the spiritual light needed to make good decisions, to have proper understanding, and to give strength for right living.

I AM the Door of the Sheep (John 10:7, 9). In Jesus day, shepherds would look for various areas where they could pin their sheep in at night. Then, those who were good shepherds would lay down at the front (the door) of these areas to serve as a barrier to keep the sheep in and to keep various dangers out. Jesus said that any that came before (or after) promising to be able to save were robbers; robbers who fleece the sheep instead of protect them. But Jesus is the true door of the sheep; He will be our strong tower from outside dangers and from our own propensity to wander from the fold.

I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Any business owner will tell you that finding good employees is tough! Its hard to get hirelings (the words of Jesus) to catch the vision, run after it, and dedicate themselves to it. They dont have as high a personal stake as the owner does. Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep (those that believe in Him). He is personally invested in them. Jesus, unlike the hireling who is more concerned with his own self preservation and prosperity than with the care of the flock, is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Who Is Jesus Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 6/5/2014 10:23:48 PM

Who is Jesus really? Any counselor will tell you that when determining who a person is, there are four views to be considered. The first is who others think that person is, the second is who that person thinks they are, next is who that person thinks others think they are, and fourth is who that person really is, which is seen to be some combination of the other three views. (Confused, dont feel alone. However, if you read that sentence about the four views over a time or two, itll probably sink in and you may even get a couple of chuckles about it!) However, while who a person really is may involve some combination of views when speaking of the human race, when speaking of Jesus there is no higher authority, no other considerations needed, than what He said about Himself. What He said about Himself is who He really is! Jesus said

I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48, 51). When God brought His people out of Egyptian bondage under Moses leadership (some 1500 years before Christ), they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. During this time of wandering, the Lord provided manna, a bread like substance that would appear every morning (except on the Sabbath) for their sustenance. God was faithful to meet the needs of His people, yet they doubted Him and murmured against Him time and time and time again. As a result of their perpetual unbelief, everyone 40 and over (except for Joshua and Caleb) at the time of the Exodus from Egypt died in the wilderness leaving only the younger generation to inherit the Promised Land. Jesus refers to this Old Testament scene when He calls Himself the Bread of Life. He declares to His audience that their ancestors ate the manna and died, but those that eat of Him, the true and living bread, will never die! (John 6:49-50) The manna gave natural strength, Jesus gives spiritual strength. We eat of Jesus, the living bread, by being in His Word (see John 1:1; Matt. 4:4) and by the daily relationship of prayer empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Motherhood Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 5/26/2014 9:59:50 PM

Motherhood Is Discipleship (The Story of Lois and Eunice2 Timothy 2:1-7) The names Lois and Eunice arent as well known as those of Hannah and Mary. However, when the Apostle Paul was writing his last epistle mere days before being beheaded for the cause of Christ, they were names that he not only recognized but, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, found worth recommending as excellent examples of the faith. The elder statesmen is writing to his young understudy Timothy, trying to encourage and embolden the timid young man to faithfully proclaim and live the message of the gospel in the midst of a world of persecution and perversion. What better way to bolster and buoy Timothy in the faith than to remind him that this Christian message has been faithfully held to by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice? I can imagine being in the shoes of the young minister as you are reminded by your mentor of the godly testimony of your grandma and mom. As you reminisce you would be humbled by your heritage and have a desire to honor their legacy by honing your personal devotion unto Christ. Timothy had been brought up in the fear and admonition of God and in the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures. The matriarchal side of his family had discipled him in the faith and Paul was now exhorting him to continue in it and to grow ever stronger.


How many of us could point to the power of a praying mother or grandmother as being instrumental in our coming to faith in Jesus? How many of us could look back and say that the testimony of our mothers life and love has drawn us closer to the Savior? Ive often said that Ive read hundreds of books by some premier scholars and listened to thousands of sermons by some powerful preachers, yet I have learned more of Jesus, His righteousness, and His love through the example of my godly mother than through any other source. I am so glad that my son has the example of his mom, my wife, and of his grandmother, my mother, to help lead him to Christ and to disciple him in the goodness and gospel of the Lord. Motherhood is discipleship indeed!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Motherhood Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 5/23/2014 5:44:48 PM

Motherhood Is Divine (The Story of MaryLuke 1:26 to Luke 2:38) One of the more familiar passages of Scripture, especially at Christmas time, is the story of the angel Gabriel appearing unto the Virgin Mary announcing that she was going to bear a Son. The young and chaste maiden responds by asking how this was going to be seeing as she did not yet know a man. The angel then proclaims that Mary would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and that the Child would be the very Son of God! Nine months later, after many awkward glances and untold number of whispers behind the back by those who found her claim absurd, after a near divorce by the man to whom she was engaged was thwarted by him having his own angelic visitation supporting the veracity of the Babys supernatural origins, in a Bethlehem stable on a starry night in the midst of a journey to pay taxes, Mary miraculously partook of and witnessed the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us!


While no other birth will be miraculous in the same way as that of Jesus, every mother (and father for that matter) who goes through the wonderful experience of witnessing a child born into the world has to have a hardened heart and searing conscience to deny that the event is anything short of divine. We know about the birds and the bees and the act that leads to a babys conception. We understand the basics of biology. Yet, clear thinking men and women realize that they have no more power in and of themselves to make a baby grow inside the womb and become mature than a farmer does to make the seeds hes planted actually take root in the ground and eventually sprout into a full fledged fruit capable of being harvested. Im thankful for the holiness of marriage and for the Biblically based intimacy that it entails, but when you hold your newborn in your arms with 10 perfect tiny fingers and 10 perfect tiny toes, you know there has been a Divine mystery at work that is beyond the full scope of your capacity to conceive much less achieve. Motherhood is divine indeed!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Motherhood Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 5/20/2014 9:13:21 PM

Motherhood Is Desirable (The Story of Hannah1 Samuel 1:1 to 1 Samuel 2:10) Hannah was barren. She was loved very much by her husband, she had all of her physical needs cared for, she had enough resource to even enjoy some of the better things of this world. She should have been happy just to live her blessed, carefree, unencumbered, uninterrupted, uncomplicated life, but there was something deep inside her that wanted something more, something that could very well disrupt the good life as she knew it, tying her schedule in knots, taking away from time she could spend with her husband, depriving her of valued resource she could spend on her pleasures. Hannah wanted a child and she wanted a child in the worst way. So strong was her desire to be a mom that she wept bitterly and even refused to eat. Hannah prayed fervently to the Lord and promised that if He would open her womb then she would dedicate her son unto the service of God all of his days. She petitioned so strong that the high priest who saw her praying briefly thought that she was under the influence because even though her lips were moving her faint voice could not be heard by human ear. God, however, heard Hannahs cry and granted her the son of her hearts desire. She named him Samuel because she had asked him of the Lord. Hannah went on to be blessed with three sons and two daughters.


Current culture, perhaps especially in America, devalues motherhood. Much of the world sells the idea that being a mom is for those who cant do anything else (much along the same line of thought as the saying that those who can, dothose who cant, teach). If a woman does choose motherhood then it must be an add-on to other professional pursuits if the woman is to truly have worth and be more than just a mom. Children are largely viewed by present day society as a drag on an otherwise productive and enjoyable social and financial life. Dont buy into the worlds lies, motherhood is something to be desired, even greatly desired, even desired to the point of offering up prayers combined with fasting. And children, far from being focused on as a burden, are presented by the Bible as a blessing and as a heritage from the Lord. Please dont get me wrong, Im not saying that every woman has to be a mother. There are some who may be barren and are never able to have children for whatever reason. There are others who may be called to singleness. Im also not saying that women cant or even shouldnt pursue educational and work opportunities outside of the home. There are some moms who have to be employed outside of the home for various reasons and there are others who simply choose to because they either feel called to some particular profession or want to provide certain financial opportunities for themselves and their families. What I am saying is that there is no higher profession or calling than motherhood, that being a mom is something to be dearly desired and cherished, and that children are a greater gift and a more important treasure than all the goods of this world combined. Motherhood is desirable indeed!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Motherhood Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 5/15/2014 8:46:36 PM

A Christian radio show host that I frequently listen to turned me on to an internet video put out by a greeting card company. The company put a fake want ad in various newspapers and electronic media for a Director of Operations. Several folks applied for the position and interviews were set up. The short four minute video splices together clips of the prospective employees as they are told by the corporate executive that the position requirements include but are not limited to: having advanced degrees in negotiations, finance, and the culinary arts; standing on ones feet for multiple hours at a time; traveling anywhere at a moments notice; working all hours of the day, even staying up through the entire night; no weekends off and no holidays either, in fact extra work is required during Thanksgiving and Christmas; and working in excess of 100 hours a week! When the interviewees asked if they would receive a break here and there or at least be able to have a few minutes for lunch, they were told perhaps, but only if the associate with which they were working had eaten first and would allow for them to get a little shut eye. As if that werent bad enough, the interviewer then dropped the bomb that the position would pay absolutely nothing! The once excited faces of the applicants had turned to gloom, some even exclaiming thats crazy!, thats inhumane!, and asking is that legal?! Just before the prospects ran for the exits, the interviewer posed one last question asking them if they would be surprised to know that there was someone currently fulfilling the described position, in fact millions across the face of the globe were filling the director of operations profile under the less grand, non-corporate world title of MOM! At this point the previously frustrated applicants broke down, some beginning with laughter but all ending with tears as they said how great their moms were, how grateful they were for their mothers, and how that job description fit their moms to the T! Truly, no matter what ones abilities or talents or accomplishments, the Bible as well as our own experience tells us that there is no tougher job in the world and no more important work on earth than that of motherhood! In this series of blogs were going to celebrate a few of the aspects of being a mom as seen in the lives of some famous women from Scripture.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Mothers Day Messages Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 5/9/2014 11:25:03 PM

Example I have always had an affinity for Timothy, the young understudy of Paul to whom the Apostle wrote two letters included in the canon of Scripture. One of Pauls strongest encouragements to the young minister was for him to continue in the Christian faith which his grandmother and mother had personified before him. The power of example holds much greater influence than the power of mere words. I have been blessed to be a minister of the gospel, to have the opportunity to deliver Gods Word. However, while Ive preached many sermons, heard many sermons, and read piles of books, Ive never heard a clearer message of Christian faith, hope, and love than what Ive seen in the life and example of a godly mother. I could never thank the Lord enough for the fact that I have such a mother and that my son has such a mother too!

Remarkable I didnt choose to call moms remarkable because they are able (and often very willing! just kidding!) to make remarks. I chose this word as the last adjective here because something remarkable is worth taking note of. It makes you stop in your tracks and say WOW! Its out of the ordinary and off the beaten path. There is nothing more special, more noteworthy, more WOWING, than you moms. In the words of Proverbs 31, charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised; her children rise up and bless her. May all our moms be blessed, on Mothers Day and every day!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Mothers Day Messages Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 5/3/2014 8:40:51 PM

Tough One of the most thrilling moments of my life was witnessing the birth of our son. Among the many things I learned on that glorious day was that mothers have to be one of the toughest members of Creation! If they can give birth, then nothing is beyond their grasp! However, their labor of toughness is a chore that will continue for a lifetime. We may not always enjoy the discipline our moms deliver, but time has a way of making us better appreciate their wisdom and causing us to give thanks for the work ethic, manners, and life skills they imparted. Singer/comedian Mark Lowry once said that the answer to the societal ills plaguing our country was for a bunch of tough moms like his to go around our cities and do drive-by whoopings! (and there is a difference between a whipping and a whooping!) I think hes right!

Hungry I didnt choose to talk about moms being hungry because I was speaking to them at a brunch, but rather due to my observation that moms seem to always be the last to eat! They cook the dinner, set the table, get the drinks, load up the kids plates, cool down the hot stuff, cut up the big stuff, make sure the vegetables are eaten; and then finally, maybe, assuming no surprises have taken place in the meantime, they set down to dinner. Mothers are the very embodiment of servanthood. Their willingness to put others before themselves is an admirable trait commended to us in Scripture. Their stomachs might be a little emptier than everyone else at the table, but their hearts are probably much fuller. Moms, remember and be encouraged by the words of Jesus, the last shall one day be first!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Mothers Day Messages Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/28/2014 6:29:04 PM

Omnipresent This is a word you wont see on many Mothers Day cards. Its usually reserved for theological circles and speaks of the attribute of God in which He is always present in every place at the same time. Now, I know moms arent God and that they really cant be everywhere at once, but sometimes it sure seems that they are! I remember a mirror that my grandmother, in all of her motherly wisdom and perhaps with some intelligence from the CIA, strategically placed between the dining room and living room of her house in Ohio. Through the use of this well-placed mirror she could be in the kitchen and see everything you were doing! Her keen voice would ask you to stop doing this or to start doing that and you would wander, does she see and know everything?! There may have been times in our lives when we may not have appreciated moms seeming to be everywhere all at once. But, I would guess most of us can say that there have been many moments since when she would call on the phone, knowing we had a hard day, though we had said nothing, that we were glad shes everywhere and knows all!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Mothers Day Messages Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/22/2014 8:58:32 PM

I once had the privileged opportunity to speak to those in attendance at a Mothers Day Brunch (and to get in and eat the food without having to wear a dress or speak in a high pitched voice!). The Lord placed upon my heart an acronym using the word MOTHER to say some things about them that they probably would not say about themselves (because of their humility of course!). I wanted to share these words of encouragement in this series of blogs as a written reminder to moms that they are greatly loved and appreciated.

Majestic Our family enjoys traveling to Busch Gardens. One of my favorite times of the day is when we take the train ride. We get to see so many exotic animals, enjoy the humor and information provided by the tour guide, and, last but not least, we get to sit down! On the train ride you see antelope effortlessly gliding along the grassy plains, giraffes extending their beautiful necks to eat some foliage off the trees, tigers displaying their glorious stripes as they sunbathe on the rocks, and the list could go on and on describing these majestic creatures. Now, if you could speak animal language and talk to the antelope, giraffes, and tigers; I doubt they would call themselves majestic. They probably would say that theyre just being who they are and are just doing what they do. Likewise you moms, who know how to simultaneously keep the childs hands in the cart while getting the groceries off the shelves and sorting the coupons in your purse and are still able to make it home without breaking the eggs (or losing your marbles), probably would say youre just being who you are and doing what you do. But those who watch from the outside know, you are majestic!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Faulty Foundations Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/17/2014 6:39:19 PM

The Faithful Foundation of Christ The space in this series of blogs is fast coming to a close. So let me leave you with a verse that will hopefully serve as a truth and a tease. A truth that will give what we already know is the only faithful foundation for life and godliness and a tease that will hopefully lead you to reading all of 1 Corinthians chapter 3 where Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit waxes much more eloquent on foundations than could I. Okay, without further adieu, let us end with 1 Corinthians 3:11 which states that, no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. And all of Gods people said, Amen!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Faulty Foundations Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/15/2014 10:08:37 PM

The Faulty Foundation of Self Matthew 19:16-22 relays to us a meeting between Jesus and a man we have come to call the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler was a respected member of the community. You would have loved to have him as a neighbor. If you had a daughter you would have delighted to see him coming to the door to court her. You could have trusted him to look over the house when you were on vacation. He would have been there to help the old ladies cross the street, to courteously open every door, even to mow the grass when you were just too tired. He would have been in church every Sunday and been the first to volunteer for every religious function. Still, even with all of his good works, he wondered if there might be something missing.

He approached the Lord Jesus and asked what he must do to obtain eternal life. The very question implies that he thought he could earn eternal life in some way or, more likely, that he simply wanted the Lords confirmation that he had already done enough to pay for it. Christ responds by telling him to keep the commandments and ultimately begins listing some of them. For those familiar with the Decalogue (The 10 Commandments), you know that they are basically split into two categoriesthe first four deal with mans responsibilities to God and the last six basically cover mans responsibilities to his fellow man. The commandments Jesus begins citing to the rich young ruler are those of the second category. The Lord tells the man that he must not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie and that he should honor his father and mother and treat his neighbor as himself. A smile comes to the young mans face and from a confident (better said, cocky) heart he tells the Master that he has kept these commandments from his youth up and asks if theres something else hes lacking to earn eternal life. Jesus could have responded by letting the man know that he hadnt kept these commandments since sun up, much less from his youth up. The Lord could have re-preached the Sermon on the Mount reminding the man and all those gathered around that if they harbored anger for their brother then they were guilty of murder and if they had even looked upon a woman with lust then they were liable for adultery in their heart. However, instead of pushing back on the young mans assertion that he had kept these commandments, Jesus gives him a pass and cuts to the real chase telling the rich young ruler that if he wanted to be complete then he needed to sell all that he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow Christ. Matthew 19:22, one of the saddest verses in scripture, records that at that statement the young man went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. Had the Lord really offered the man a chance to buy eternal life with the riches of this world? Not at all! Christ was merely showing the rich young ruler that he was unwilling to obey the first commandment (and the first category of commandments), to have no other gods before the LORD.

The rich young ruler was trusting in his own goodness to obtain eternal life. He had become his own false god. He turned and walked away from the true One. There are many people who are trusting in themselves for the foundation of their faith. If they do enough good and stay away from enough bad then they are confident in their relationship with God. If they have enough of what the world calls success then they assume that they are doing great and the Lord is smiling on their efforts. However, if they dont do enough good or stay away from enough bad or if they experience failure as defined by this world, then they are not confident in their relationship with God and believe that He is frowning upon them. Trusting in ourselves will either lead to pride or despair, and both of those destinations are far from the port of righteousness. Our own works, our own possessions, our own character, apart from Christ, are a faulty foundation indeed upon which to build life and godliness.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Faulty Foundations Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/10/2014 10:16:31 PM

The Faulty Foundation of Others 2 Chronicles chapters 22 through 24 tell a tale that could easily be coming to a theater near you. Ahaziah, sovereign over the Southern Kingdom of Judah, was a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He ended up slain at the hands of Jehu while visiting with the ruler of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah (and the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel), didnt spend much time in sorrow and grief over the loss of her son. She was quick to grab the throne of Judah becoming its one and only female monarch. In order to help ensure that no threat would arise to her power and position, she had all her sons kids, her own grandkids, slain. However, Jehoshabeath, sister of Ahaziah, was able to stealthily rescue one of her brothers sons, a child named Joash, from Athaliahs murderous rage. Unbeknownst to the wicked queen, Jehoshabeath and her husband Jehoida, the high priest, raised young Joash in the house of God for the next six years. When Joash turns seven, Jehoida presents him as the rightful heir to the throne and the people displace the wicked and unpopular Queen Athaliah. In case you got lost somewhere in the storyline, let me recap the basics. The King gets murderedhis mother seizes the throne and tries to kill all her grandkids to keep them from threatening her reignone of the babies gets sneaked out and is raised by the high priest in the house of Godwhen the boy turns 7 he is presented by the high priest as the rightful heir of the thronethe people do away with the wicked Queen and install the boy as King.

Now let us continue. Joash was only 7 years old when he rose to the throne of Judah. The dominant, and perhaps only, male influence on the young boys life was Jehoida the high priest. Not everyone who served as high priest was worthy of that position, but Jehoida was a genuine man of God who served the Lord and the people rather than his own interests. He influenced the young monarch in the paths of righteousness leading to a turning of the people towards the Lord and a renewed focus on caring for and funding the house of God. Indeed, Joash, though young, was a good king: at least he was as long as Jehoida was living. Upon the death of his mentor Joash was approached by wicked officials of the kingdom. He quickly fell under their influence and the once godly monarch abandoned the house of the Lord and began to serve and lead the nation in worshipping idols (most notably the Asherimimages of female deities set up on wooden poles).

Scripture records that God sent prophets to try and steer the king and the people back to righteousness, yet to no avail. The ultimate representation of the fall of the nation and of the king was when Zechariah, son of Jehoida (the high priest who had spared, raised, and basically made it possible for Joash to be crowned king), was stoned to death in the very court of the house of the Lord at the command of Joash because he dared to declare that the nation was going to suffer terrible consequences for their evil ways. The terrible consequences did come, and swiftly. Aram (Syria) came into Judah and wrought much destruction, killing all the officials and leaving Joash very sick. Joashs own servants conspired against him and killed him on his sickbed. So hated was Joash that he was not buried in the tombs of the kings.

Joash was a king who seemingly had a great faith, but that faith had an improper foundation, that of another human being. Once Jehoida, the foundation of his faith, passed away, so too did his apparent godliness. There are many people who have others as the foundation for their faith. Some seemingly godly kids lose their faith when they go to college and are away from the foundation of their parents. Some seemingly righteous people go astray when the big-time minister they idolize (literally) or the local pastor who they thought they knew falls into some incredible sin. Still, others fall into shipwreck because someone they trusted betrayed them and the hurt is so deep that they blame the Lord and turn away from Him, showing that their belief in God was really ultimately dependent upon how others treated them. Whatever the case might be, the source of our faith cannot be in other human beings. Only God is God and other human beings are a faulty foundation upon which to build life and godliness.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Faulty Foundations Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/7/2014 6:43:58 PM

One of the shows my wife and I like to watch on HGTV (Homes and Gardens Television for the single men out there!) is Income Property. The premise of the program is that some investors (usually a married couple) are looking for a house that they can subdivide into at least two units so that they can live in one and then rent out the other, thereby lowering their monthly mortgage payments in the present and leading to residual income in future years. The host has dealt with rentals for some time and is an expert renovator. He shows the investors a few properties, telling them the pros and cons of each, estimating how much money it will take to get the place up to speed and how much they can expect to make from the rental unit. The investors decide on a property and then the host goes about renovating it to provide a place for the couple to live in and a legal rental unit for them to make money on. Unlike many politicians, I mean reality series hosts, Scott, the host of Income Property, tends to actually under-promise and over-deliver. He stays within budget and the rental is worth more than he anticipated. That being said, a couple of weeks ago we saw an exception to that rule. The couple investing picked a property that ended up having a faulty foundation. Scott couldnt tell this up front, but it was painfully evident when he went about digging around in the process of turning the basement into a rental unit. It had to be fixed. If not, then it was only a matter of time, and perhaps only a short time, before the water seeping in at the base of the house would not only make the basement unlivable, but could lead to a cracking in the walls of the upstairs floors as well. It was a costly fix, but it had to be fixed. The project ran significantly over budget and over time. The rental unit, as usual, ended up appraised more than anticipated, but the host was still upset that he was not able to live up to the budget he had promised for the investors.

You see, faulty foundations are serious things. And if you think they can be disastrous to homes, they are much more so to lives. Long before I knew much about the Bible, I remember learning a song as a child in church accurately instructing us about the results of a man who builds his house upon a rock versus a man who builds his house upon the sand. The lyrics of that simple, yet deeply profound, song come to us from Matthew 7:24-27. These verses form the conclusion of the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, as our Lord declares that those who have listened to His message (the whole Sermon extends from Matthew 5:1 to Matthew 7:27) and act accordingly are like a wise man who builds His house upon a rock, a sure foundation. Conversely, those who have heard His teaching and yet go about life with a business-as-usual attitude are like foolish men who build a house that, while perhaps looking beautiful on the outside, is constructed on sand, a faulty foundation that will surely crumble. In this series of blogs, we will look at a couple of faulty foundations and then turn back towards the one true bedrock sufficient for life and godliness.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Beware The Ides Of March Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/1/2014 9:30:48 PM

Topical or Textual (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) I dont want to leave the subject of bewaring without speaking on one more theme, that of topical versus textual. The topical sermon is one where Scripture verses, perhaps even several, that center around a similar theme are strewn together to make various points about a given subject such as salvation, sanctification, parenting, decision making, financial stewardship, etc. The textual sermon is one where a large portion of Scripture is taught line upon line, where the points given come from teaching one verse after another coming from the same chapter of the same book. Now, obviously there are many times when topical sermons are necessary and profitable. So, when I pose this last point as topical or textual, its not meant to imply that all topical sermons are bad. However, when topical sermons are preached, it is imperative to give at least some context to the verse youre quoting. If no context is given when a verse is cited, then there is a high possibility that its being used out of context. I had a professor who said once that a text without a context is a pretext. Topical sermons giving no context at all to the verses used are like an editor taping what you said in a 24 hour day and then stringing together your words and phrases willy nilly. How many know, that could be an ugly, untruthful mess of a tape portraying you saying what the editor wanted said instead of what you were actually saying? Also, those who deceive (whether intentionally or unintentionally) will seldom preach a series of messages based upon a whole book or even whole chapters of the Bible. Why? Because the Bible is so clear that if you just keep reading confusion and false teachings are often corrected and put into proper place and perspective. Beware of those who never give any context to the verses they preach and of those who never preach line upon line and precept upon precept.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Beware The Ides Of March Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 4/1/2014 9:30:05 PM

Give or Get (Matthew 23:14; 1 Timothy 6:6-7) We had a bad experience with a certain cable company. Actually, it was several bad experiences with this certain cable company. (No Im not going to name them, though I want to!) Our bill kept going up and our channels kept going down. And, when we moved and had to have our service set up at the new house, you would have thought we had asked for heaven and earth to be moved! Then, when what they promised for fees and such was far short of the actual bill we received, Id had enough and calmly called in. My calm was slightly disturbed when two hours and several doses of blood pressure medication later (just kidding about the medication!) all I had to show for my efforts was a low-level representative asking me if I wanted an email escalation of the issue! This eventually led to us switching to a satellite company that provides more channels at a lower price and, so far, accompanied by terrific customer service. I didnt think that we were the only ones who received such poor treatment by this cable company but wasnt sure until I saw a series of commercials for satellite services basically stating that if you switch to them you will have better customer service than you had with cable. You know the commercials Im talking about, the ones that say if you get frustrated with the cable company then you call off work and when you call off work then mistakes happen and when mistakes happen then the apes at the zoo get out of their cages and when the apes get out of their cages then traffic jams ensue and the couple isnt able to get to the hospital on time to deliver their baby and you cant get to the Home Depo to get your preparations for Hurricane Season. The ad closes by saying that if you want the couple to get to the hospital on time to deliver the baby and you want to have access to the Home Depot before Hurricane Season, then choose satellite over cable. Why would the satellite provider spend a ton of money on such an ad campaign? Because there is a ring of truth to the stereotype that cable companies give bad and frustrating customer service. Are there those who receive good service from the cable company? Im sure theyre out there somewhere, just like there might be a few who have gone to Publix and not found that shopping was a pleasure. Still, stereotypes, though not always fair or 100% accurate, usually have some kernels of truth to them.

You ask people what they think of ministers at large today and many (dare I say most) will say that preachers are money grubbers. Depending upon which poll you believe, some have ministers in the same ranks as politicians and lawyers when it comes to issues of character. Now, are these stereotypes 100% fair? No, of course not. However, are there kernels of truth to them? Embarrassingly and tragically, we must mournfully admit yes. Turn on the television to some Christian programs and you will see people being told that if they give a certain amount of money (its always a different, yet specific number) then they will receive the miracle theyve desired, whether its spiritual or financial or emotional or family related, within a certain number of days. People are promised that these gifts (seeds) will yield great returns for them personally and will help further the gospel around the world. Yet, one wonders if getting the gospel around the world is the ministers true focus when they fly around the world in their private jet planes dressed in Armani suits staying in hotel rooms that cost multiple thousands of dollars per night and owning multi-million dollar homes and vacation residences at various exotic locations. Now, is there anything wrong with people doing well financially? Absolutely not! (1 Tim. 6:17) Love God, work hard, play fair (in that order) and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Is there anything wrong with ministers making their living from the preaching of the gospel? Again, absolutely not! (1 Cor. 9:14) However, there is something unseemly about leaders who are supposed to represent Christ asking for people poorer than they to make sacrifices they themselves would not so that they can live high on the hog. These ministers continue their broadcasts, perpetually soliciting funds from gullible folks declaring gimmicky promises that God didnt make and they cant keep! (And often they do all of this with little-to-no financial accountability to their supporters). Jesus delivered a woe to ministers who would devour widows houses (its never good when you receive a woe from Jesus!) declaring that they would receive greater damnation (Mark 12:40). Paul warned of such false teachers who would be involved in the business of the kingdom of heaven solely out of a desire for financial gain rather than out of a calling from God and a concern for people (1 Tim. 6:6-7). Beware of those who constantly focus, in word, in deed, and in character, on conniving to get what they can from this worlds goods rather than concentrating on giving from that which they have freely received from the storehouse of the Lord (Matt. 10:8).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Beware The Ides Of March Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/28/2014 8:06:02 PM

Christ or Self (1 Cor. 2:1-5; John 3:30) I love to watch the political conventions every four years. (Please pray for me!) I attempt to stay aware of the presidential candidates from both parties and try to listen to all the keynote speakers during convention week. Some are inspiring, some are entertaining; some are powerful, others are pitiful; some I agree with, others I yell at (as if they can hear me or would care if they could). One keynote speaker during the 2012 election season was particularly memorable. He was not the presidential nominee, but if you just read the transcript of his speech you would have thought that he was. This man, who was supposed to herald the attributes of his partys nominee and rally the troops on his behalf, instead touted his own accomplishments and asked the assembled crowd and nationwide television audience if they were ready to stand up and fight with him. After repeating this stand up and fight with me mantra four or five times (or was that fourteen or fifteen!) and getting the party faithful to literally stand to their feet, he mentioned the name of the actual presidential nominee as a sort of obligatory afterthought. Those who knew the political landscape condemned (or at least looked down upon) the upstarts obvious upstaging of the main man. However, if any tuned in that were unaware of the identity of the official candidate, they might have left with the thought that the man giving the speech they just heard was the main attraction.

When you watch a sermon on television, or hear a message over radio, or attend a church service, I encourage you to ask yourself the question, who do you leave thinking the main attraction is? Are you more in awe of the amazing faith of the minister as illustrated by the many personal stories theyve delivered in the course of their message, or are you more in awe of the God who is faithful to His Word and to His people as Scripture has been taught? Does the afterglow of the service leave you with impressions of how great is the One to Whom we pray or how great is the one who was praying? Are you left with gratitude to the God whose grace forgives when we repent of sinful choices or are you enraptured by the grandeur of the minister who always seems to make the right choices? Do you pine for superstar perks encouraged by the human spirit or for the sanctifying power imparted by the Holy Spirit? Is there a Bible story on the coloring pages the kids get in the nursery or is there a picture of the pastor (not a picture of a generic pastor, but an artistic rendering of the specific pastor) along with the words we will unite behind the visionary given to them along with their Crayolas? (No, I did not make this up!) Paul, being an apostle used by God to start churches, write Scripture, and perform miracles even as great as raising the dead, told the Corinthians that he determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1-5). John the Baptist, called by the Lord Himself the greatest man ever born to woman (Matt. 11:11), pointed away from himself and to Christ declaring that He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). Beware those who preach self instead of Christ, throwing in the name of Jesus here and there to try to ride His coattails in the pursuit of their own fleshly ambitions.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Beware The Ides Of March Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/23/2014 9:08:06 PM

One of the most famous phrases from antiquity regarding this month comes to us from the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar. The title character is warned to beware the Ides of March (meaning March 15th) for there was a plan in the works to assassinate the powerful Roman Emperor on that date. The covert conspiracy was being hatched by many high ranking officials, including Julius Caesars best friend Brutus. As the leader of one of the most powerful empires the world has ever known discovered, the greatest threats come from within, not from without. I think theres a lesson for the church here. In this day and age of relativism and tolerance (though it has been my experience that those who most focus on tolerance tend to only be tolerant of those who agree with them), it has become out of style and even seen as downright mean-spirited to point out something or someone to beware. Yet, an oft repeated emphasis in both Old and New Testaments is the instruction for Gods children to look out for false teachings and false teachers. The greatest threats to the church come from within the ranks of those claiming to be believers. Indeed, Jesus sounds the alarm against wolves in sheeps clothing, religious leaders who did not go into the kingdom of God and didnt allow others to enter in either (Matt. 7:15; Matt. 23:13), whose teachings cited the Word of God yet devalued it by elevating their manmade traditions above it (Mark 7:8). Paul warns believers of false teachers who claimed to be Super Apostles but were not (2 Cor. 11:4-5) and Jude decries those perpetrating deceptive doctrines as clouds without water who are doubly dead (Jude 12). In this series of blogs we are going to beware the Ides of March by looking at a few tests that help us discern threats.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Are You Ready For The Flood-Insights on Noah the Movie
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/17/2014 5:41:18 PM

Some may have heard that the Noah movie is releasing on Friday, March 28th. We are mindful that there are differing opinions regarding whether or not you and your family should see this film. We have not seen the movie, but in an effort to be as helpful as we can and to provide our customers with information for their consideration, we are offering the following links to a series of blogs by Ed Stetzer where Dr. Jerry Johnson, President of the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters), a Christian leader who has seen Noah has published his thoughts.

Positive Features About This Film

Negative Features About This Film

Application for Christians and Hollywoood

Whether you decide to see the movie or not, it is our prayer that we would love the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and remain Christ Centered in all that we do.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

link try
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/17/2014 12:38:08 PM

Have you recently finished a New Book? Have you enjoyed watching a New Release DVD during your ?family movie night?? Maybe you?ve been touched by a new Worship CD. Whatever it may be, we?d love for you to take this opportunity to share your thoughts on any Christian product. Your feedback is important as we work to help others grow in Christ.

While you?re here, we encourage you to check out our wide variety of Just Released items featured on our website, including New Books, New Music, and much more! We also have a great selection of Bestselling Christian Products, and a fantastic Kids selection to choose from!

If you?re looking for information on a specific product, then look no further! You can use our Read A Chapter feature to sample many different books, Watch Trailers of Christian DVD?s, and listen to Music Samples of CD?s right here on the website! Also, don?t forget to check out our Meet The Author section to see a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of your favorite authors!

We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, opinions, and recommendations with us. It?s a pleasure serving you and look forward to seeing you again soon!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Beware The Ides Of March Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/14/2014 7:54:38 PM

One of the most famous phrases from antiquity regarding this month comes to us from the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar. The title character is warned to beware the Ides of March (meaning March 15th) for there was a plan in the works to assassinate the powerful Roman Emperor on that date. The covert conspiracy was being hatched by many high ranking officials, including Julius Caesars best friend Brutus. As the leader of one of the most powerful empires the world has ever known discovered, the greatest threats come from within, not from without. I think theres a lesson for the church here. In this day and age of relativism and tolerance (though it has been my experience that those who most focus on tolerance tend to only be tolerant of those who agree with them), it has become out of style and even seen as downright mean-spirited to point out something or someone to beware. Yet, an oft repeated emphasis in both Old and New Testaments is the instruction for Gods children to look out for false teachings and false teachers. The greatest threats to the church come from within the ranks of those claiming to be believers. Indeed, Jesus sounds the alarm against wolves in sheeps clothing, religious leaders who did not go into the kingdom of God and didnt allow others to enter in either (Matt. 7:15; Matt. 23:13), whose teachings cited the Word of God yet devalued it by elevating their manmade traditions above it (Mark 7:8). Paul warns believers of false teachers who claimed to be Super Apostles but were not (2 Cor. 11:4-5) and Jude decries those perpetrating deceptive doctrines as clouds without water who are doubly dead (Jude 12). In this series of blogs we are going to beware the Ides of March by looking at a few tests that help us discern threats.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Purchase Of The Lamb Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/6/2014 9:02:27 PM

The Wicked Man (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Our time together for this blog is drawing to a close. I wont belabor this last point but I do want to make it. The city of Corinth was a terribly sinful place. To put it in modern American vernacular it might have been said that what happens in Corinth stays in Corinth! Yet the Apostle Paul was used by God to start a church in this zenith of darkness. In the book of 1 Corinthians the Apostle reminds believers that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? He told the Corinthians, do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. If I stopped citing Scripture there we would surely end on a hopeless note. All of us can find ourselves somewhere in that description of the wicked. Im so glad that Paul goes on to say to those believers of yesteryear and to us believers today that such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. Those who come to Christ discover that He came to wash, to sanctify, to justify, and yes, to purchase, the wicked man!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Purchase Of The Lamb Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 3/3/2014 10:45:15 PM

The Wasteful Man (Luke 15:11-32) It seems that Jesus wasnt happy merely confronting the hypocritical religious leaders about their contrived constraints on the Sabbath, He also wanted to dispel their distortions about Gods view of sinners. The opening verses of Luke 15 finds the Lord telling a parable about a man who lost one sheep out of his hundred. Rather than cutting his losses and moving on the shepherd dropped everything and went looking after the one who had gone astray. Upon finding the wayward animal, the shepherd rejoiced and threw a party, inviting his friends to share in his exuberant joy! The religious leaders listening could easily, though perhaps reluctantly, nod their heads in agreement that livestock were indeed important. The Lord then goes on to speak of a woman who had lost one out of the ten silver coins she owned. In the same manner as the shepherd, she was not content to let it go. She searched high and low, sweeping every corner and leaving no stone unturned until she found the coin that had been lost. She invited her friends over to share in her joy! Jesus enemies might have found themselves saying an accidental yet hearty amen for they all believed that money was important. Having captured their attention with talk of sheep and coins, Christ now went in for the knock out punch to their unforgiving-sinner hating-ideology! The Lords third parable told about the youngest of two sons from a Jewish family who did the unthinkable, more than once! This young upstart went to his dignified father and asked if he could get his inheritance from the old man immediately. Back then, as now, inheritances were not given out until the testator had died. This kid was basically telling his dad that he wished he was dead! The father gave his disrespectful offspring the money he had requested. No sooner had the check cashed than the young man went off to a Gentile land, a terrible and tainting sin for a Jew. Not only did he go to a sinful land, but he began engaging in extremely sinful behavior. I like the King James Version here where it says that he wasted his inheritance on riotous living. Then one day he reaped the great harvest of wild oats that he had sown. His money all spent, his partying entourage all gone, he finds himself in a pig pen longing to eat their scraps. We understand this as a low estate but the Jewish audience hearing Jesus teaching would have been even more aghast because pigs were viewed by them as such unclean animals. At this point of the story the religious leaders were probably really into it. This young punk had bucked every system of respectability and was now getting the just desserts of his wanton and wasteful behavior. But then came the rest of the story. Jesus went on to tell of the day when the young man came to his senses. He remembered the days back at his fathers house and pined for the home he had so foolishly despised. He prepared a speech and garrisoned the strength and courage to return home and request to be made as one of his fathers servants. Climbing over the last hill before home his nervousness and fear rose to soaring heights. Yet, before he had time to gather all of his thoughts and give his prepared mea culpa, he found his father running to him and, to use another good King James phrase, falling on his neck. In Jewish culture it was undignified for the patriarch of the family to run, but the father cared more about being truly devoted than viewed as dignified. Not only did he run to his repentant son, not only did he forgive his returning child, but he restored the one who had been so wasteful by putting a new robe on his back, new shoes on his feet, and a new ring on his finger! You see, sheep were important, coins were important, but people, even wasteful people were most important! The outcome of the story left the religious leaders horrified and God glorified! Maybe youve never received an inheritance to waste. Perhaps youve never been known as a party animal. Maybe youve never dined with swine. But if you look back on your life I can guarantee that there have been many times when you, like me and all of us, have been wasteful of Gods goodness and dismissive of relationships that should be cherished. Take heart my brothers and sisters. Those who come in repentance to Christ will find that He came to purchase the wasteful man!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Purchase Of The Lamb Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/27/2014 9:38:43 PM

The Withered Man (Mark 3:1-6) Jesus came into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, as was His custom (note: the Lord was in church on a regular basis even though the religious leaders would be the ones who would call for His death and the people as a whole would end up rejecting Him). A man with a withered hand was there. We arent told what caused this condition. Perhaps he had been handicapped from birth. Perhaps it had happened from an injury while he was at work on the farm. Maybe it resulted from a debilitating disease that had eaten away at his strength and mobility over a long period of time. Whatever the case the man, who despite his malady kept attending church, ended up in the right place at the right time. The religious leaders saw Jesus coming. They had already had a dispute with the Lord regarding their man made regulations for the Sabbath Day. Though they spoke no words Christ read their hardened hearts and knew that they longed to accuse Him for breaking their commandments by healing the man with the withered hand on the wrong day. He confronted them openly asking the assembly if it was right to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to kill on the Sabbath Day. They answered Him not a word and Scripture records that Jesus was greatly grieved and angered by their devilish disposition. No matter. Christ called the man forward and told him to stretch out his hand. Gloriously and miraculously the muscles extended and the bones were released. Maybe you dont have a withered hand, at least physically. Perhaps you have no devastating disease, at least not one that can be seen by the naked eye. But, if one were able to pry a little deeper, they would see you have withered emotions, a withered soul, a worn out spirit. Im glad to report to you today, those who come to Jesus will find that He came to purchase the withered man!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Purchase Of The Lamb Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/24/2014 10:48:35 PM

The Wild Man (Mark 5:1-20) The latter part of Mark chapter 4 records that Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. The Lord was asleep in the back of the vessel when a violent storm arose. As water began to steadily fill the bottom of the boat, the faith of the disciples steadily fell from the bottom of their hearts. In desperation, the men awoke Jesus from His slumber asking Him if He even cared that they were perishing. Christ got up, spoke to the winds and the waves, and the tempest was stilled. Why go through such an ordeal? Perhaps for many reasons, but one primary reason met the Lord as soon as they disembarked on the other side of the Sea. The man that we have come to know as the Gerasene demoniac immediately came running to Jesus. I use the word man loosely because the devilish influences in his life had so taken control of his being that he could hardly be recognized as human. He lived among the tombs, largely unclothed, screaming like a wild animal, and cutting himself like one gone insane. Those who lived near him, perhaps because they were friends and neighbors trying to help, perhaps out of trying to protect themselves from one so crazy, tried to chain him down but to no avail. The demoniac would break every fetter and continue in an ever descending downward spiral. Jesus didnt go through a storm to try to chain the wild man down, He came through a storm to set the wild man free! The Lord casts the Legion of demons out of the man and into the pigs. The 2,000 swine instantly became mad and thrust themselves over a cliff and into the depths of the sea. The wild man was immediately delivered from darkness to light, gloriously and miraculously set free from the snares of Satan becoming clothed and in his right mind for the first time in a long time! Maybe youve never lived among the tombs or cut yourself out of torment or walked around unclothed and screaming like an irrational animal, but theres probably some reading this now who are either wild or praying for someone who is. Take heart, those who come to Christ will find that He came to purchase the wild man!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Purchase Of The Lamb Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/21/2014 10:40:13 PM


You can tell a great deal about a person by what they purchase. You know what I mean. Weve all been standing in the checkout grumbling on the inside (and perhaps on the outside) about the fact that weve once again chosen the wrong line (there were three others to pick from!) and let our eyes drift onto the carts of others. Some are buying Great Valu mustard while others are purchasing Grey Poupon (you know its fancy when they spell it Grey instead of Gray!). Some people buy K-Mart tennis shoes while others got to have K-Swiss. For some nothing but Pepsi will do but for others, for whom we are praying, its got to be Coke. Some folks will pull out the EBT Card (which is certainly a good help for those in genuine need) for their groceries and then buy their beverages for the weekend from the money they saved on food. Indeed, what we purchase can give insights about everything from our financial status to our tastes in food and fashion to the priorities that guide our lives. Revelation 5:9 declares that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is worthy to be praised for He was willing to be slain (literally slaughtered) in order to purchase men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. The kind of men (and women) that He was willing to purchase tells us much about our Lord and His love. We will look at some New Testament passages to describe 4 kinds of men Jesus was willing to purchase with His precious blood.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Jesus, The Best Valentine
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/15/2014 9:25:52 PM


As with any holiday, Valentines Day is a double edged sword. To the couple in love, whose relationship is deepening, who might even be pursuing marriage; its a joyous occasion with opportunity to give that special gift and visit that special restaurant. To the married couple whose love has blossomed through tragedy and triumph, whose kids and possibly grandkids are playing in the backyard, whose hair may have turned gray (or turned loose!) together, who have cherished one another since they said I do; its a wonderful time to remember and perhaps go to the place where they first met, to renew vows, to get away from those kids and grandkids for a night out alone, to enjoy one anothers company on a special night.

However, to the single who desires a relationship, who longs to have a spouse to prize and children to cuddle and bring up in the fear and admonition of God, who yearns to have a hand to hold and a heart to cherish and to be cherished by; Valentines Day can be rather lonely and depressing. To the divorcee who once had that hand to hold, who once went to the special places filled with cherished memories, who may even have had children with someone that they thought would be faithful, tried and true for a lifetime, who may have given many years of their life, both in terms of quantity and quality, to someone who proved to give far less in return; the warmth of that special day in February is found to hold a cold, harsh reality that where there used to be a feeling of fullness, now there is a void. To the unhappily married, who share the same name, the same house, and maybe even the same bed, but who have long since ceased to really share much that has significant value, who heard the words I do but have seen actions perpetually say I dont, who want for things to be right again but are given no guarantees as to what the future will be; Valentines Day holds the stark contrast of what should be to what actually is up to an intense light that can blind instead of buoy ones hope. To those who lost their spouse by way of death, Valentines Day may carry the realization that the only time you and the love of your life will ever share the same table again, or smell the flowers together, or walk by the sea in a warm embrace, will be on the other side along the golden shore.

I dont know what position you may be in today, but I do know that God has been in your place before. Jesus can relate to all of our joys, and to all of our infirmities. He knows what its like to have His people, His bride, love Him and declare that I am my beloveds and He is mine. He knows the joy of pursuing an intimate relationship with a person and having them finally come to the altar to say I do to the offer of His grace. He knows what its like to work through members of His bride to bring other children into the kingdom of God. He has felt the warm embrace of His beloved in dedicated prayer, worship, and service. He has heard the tender words of praise and the undying expressions of gratitude. He knows what its like to have the special places and the cherished memories and the exchanged gifts. He knows the yearning in His heart and in the heart of His beloved bride for a Valentines Day engagement that will be special and momentous.

Yet, Christ also knows what its like to give His heart and Hand to His beloved and be spurned. He is familiar with the feeling of being talked to when His lover wants to get something, but hearing a deafening silence when it comes to just communicating or giving something to Him in return. Jesus has been alone at night crying out for His beloved as a mother hen would for her little ones, and yet His beloved would not come. He knows what its like to hear words that say I do, and yet see actions that prove that the heart of His bride is far away from Him. He can relate to having cherished memories that He dwells on all alone because a love that once burned white hot for Him has waxed cold.

Again, I dont know what your situation may be this Valentines Day or how it may or may not affect you. But what I do know is that there is a Valentine who is waiting for you with open arms. If you have received Him, you are His precious Beloved. He has written you a card called the Bible that is sweeter and tenderer than any sonnet ever composed. He has given His life for you and showered you with the greatest love ever known. He has sent flowers and sunrises and sunsets and oceans and rocks and hills and plains, indeed all creation, as a box of assorted chocolates to say I LOVE YOU! He longs to have intimate relationship with you. You can make His Valentines Day a good one, and I know He will do the same for you!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

First Things First Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/10/2014 10:57:45 PM

Evangelism I read a statement once that the church is the only organization that exists primarily for the benefit of its nonmembers. Now, perhaps thats not completely true (for the church exists most importantly for loving God), but it does express a seminal point that was missed by the majority of the religious leaders in Jesus day. They were focused upon themselves and thought that they were due spiritual acceptance simply for being of the natural lineage of Abraham. They did not concern themselves much with the thought that the Word of God and the love of God were to be shared with others, especially not with folks like the Samaritans or the Gentiles that they looked down upon and saw as impure and unworthy (compare this mentality with Jesus explicit instructions to His disciples in Acts 1:8). Today Christendom is mostly comprised of Gentiles, so religious leaders obviously do not major on being part of Abrahams natural offspring. However, I would dare say that there are more messages today admonishing us to obtain the blessings of Abraham (which are often seen as material in nature) for ourselves than there are on how to bring the blessings of Abraham (which are of course most importantly spiritual in nature) to others. If the worship, instruction, and fellowship in which we engage do not instill in us a desire to have outreach ministries of some sort to help bring the gospel to those who do not know Christ, then we fall far short. Evangelism, going into all the world and preaching the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15), is an integral part of putting First Things First!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

First Things First Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/7/2014 8:25:36 PM

Fellowship I was privileged to work for a man named Dr. Lamp at ORU. In addition to teaching classes at the seminary, he also pastored a church in a small town an hour or so outside of Tulsa. Dr. Lamp grew up in Chicago, so ministering in a rural outpost in Oklahoma was a bit of a culture shock. Peoples excuses for not attending church in Chi Town tended to be something along the lines of, I would be there but Ive got tickets for the Bears game at Rigley Field; or was that the Cubs game at Soldier Field? Reasons for missing services in Oklahoma were more in the vein of, I would be there but I had to go fishing at Chitlinswitch Campground; or was that hunting at Podunk Creek? Dr. Lamp is a great teacher and preacher but not always the best diplomat. One day the pastor/professor had heard one excuse too many and replied to a habitually truant parishioner that what he was really saying was that he would rather be hunting or fishing than to spend some time worshipping God with the ones for whom Christ died!. Those who know me know that Im not legalistic when it comes to church attendance (although I used to be of that mindset). The truth is there are untold multitudes of people who fill a pew one, two, or even more times a week who have never truly put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That being said, even though you dont have to go to church to go to heaven, those who are going to heaven do have a desire to be in church on a regular basis with others of the like same faith. Watching Christian television, listening to Christian radio, following Christian websites and the like are great and wonderful things that I mostly encourage, but there is no substitute for being in a local church with fellow believers who know you, pray for you, and serve and worship the Lord together with you. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of many (Heb. 10:25), helps us put First Things First!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

First Things First Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 2/3/2014 10:06:39 PM

Instruction I once taught a math class to middle schoolers. The last unit we covered completely before Christmas break that year was how to calculate the surface areas of various solids. As a teacher, this is a chapter I approached with some sense of dread. Its not because surface area is incredibly difficult, its just that it involves a long and tedious process and there arent always neat and tidy formulas that can be used for every type of problem. Students quickly grew tired and weary of the amount of time it takes to complete these questions and soon cried out for me to teach them an easier and quicker way to get the right answer. Some mathematical concepts have shortcuts I could show them, but not surface area. The students griped and complained that the problems take too long to complete, yet they somehow always found time to text their friends, listen to their Ipods, play with their Ipads, watch their Youtubes, and update their Facebooks! When I told them they would need the math that I was teaching them to get a diploma in the future that could help lead them to eventual gainful employment more than all of this frivolous entertainment, most didnt believe me.

Paul, knowing that his last days on this earth were quickly coming to an end, thought it important to admonish Timothy, his understudy in ministry, to preach and teach the true Word of God because the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Timothy 4:2-3). We all want a shortcut to the Christian life. Better said, we want a shortcut to the blessings and success (often material) that we have been told by popular preaching of our day accompany growth in Christ. But, like with surface area, there are no shortcuts to becoming all that Jesus would have us to be. We tend to eat up false teachings telling us the quick way to become godly and how to possess what we confess (again, often material in orientation). But, tell us that we need to spend quality time, which is impossible to achieve without some measurable quantity of time, in Gods Word, and we quickly complain. Yet, we too somehow find time for Ipods, Ipads, Youtubes, Facebooks and the like. May we be more committed to His Word this year than ever before. Heeding true teaching and seeking biblical truth individually as well as collectively are part of keeping First Things First!.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

First Things First Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/30/2014 9:30:24 PM

Worship The last temptation of Christ, as recorded in the gospel of Matthew, saw Jesus being offered all the kingdoms of the world if He would only fall down and worship Satan (Matt. 4:8-10). Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, of course knew the written Word of God and refused the proposition by citing Deuteronomy 6:13, You shall worship the LORD your God, and serve Him only. Now, very few people I know, whether they are believers or not, would consciously consider worshipping Satan. However, I wonder how many Christians today (myself included) would be so doggedly determined to their worship of God that they would walk away from infinite fame and fortune in order to bless Him and Him alone. To be sure, some people get paid more than others, but no job gives all the kingdoms of this world for its compensation package. Most folks get a little squeamish about calling in to miss a days work, afraid that they may also miss a little something from their paycheck or even risk the possibility of losing their employment altogether. They can be sick and tired in body, or simply sick and tired of their job, but still they tend to get up and go. Now, giving an honest days work for an honest days wage is something everyone would do well to abide by (the Lord is certainly not pleased with laziness or shoddy labor), but do let me ask, are we as committed to or concerned about worshipping God as we are about our work (or perhaps better said, our paychecks)? Even more tragic, many of us are probably more intentional in making sure we dont miss the evening news or the football game or the reality show or whatever your favorite television program might be than we are in reserving even just a few minutes daily to lift our voice in praise to God. Do we put Him on a back burner knowing that He will understand? Do we expend all of our emotional, physical, and yes, even spiritual energy, in pursuits that, while important and perhaps even good, surely do not take the place of the most important work to which we are called? Worship is the only activity that will extend into all of eternity for those who believe. Making sure it is a priority in our lives today is an essential part of putting First Things First!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

First Things First Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/28/2014 9:15:44 PM

Some will remember a few years ago when the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl (a distinction that unfortunately the Dallas Cowboysnor happily the Chicago Bears!will have this season). The highly offensive minded team was called The Greatest Show on Turf due to their ability to seemingly produce touchdowns at will. At the helm of this scoring juggernaut was a man named Kurt Warner. The quarterback, whose road from grocery store clerk to NFL superstar is truly inspirational, won the MVP award at the Super Bowl that year. When the announcer (Jim Nance if memory serves) came to present the award, his introductory words to Warner were something along the line of First things first, lets give out this MVP trophy. To this the offensive general responded with the sentiment First things first, I want to give glory to God and to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the years that have followed the phrase First Things First has been used by Warner as a title for his business endeavors (with many products oriented to children and found in Christian bookstores) as well as his charitable interests. Now, I dont intend to speak about football for the rest of this blog (as a Dallas fan, that would be depressing, though perhaps not as depressing as it would be if I were a Chicago fan!), but what I do want to emphasize in this series of blogs around the Super Bowl time of year is putting First Things First by discussing the WIFE principle. The WIFE principle is not original to me, but I think it is an acronym that can help us as Christians to keep proper focus, to keep First Things First.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The King Is Coming Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/23/2014 10:04:37 PM


The King Despises Treachery The second chapter of John tells us about Jesus first cleansing of the Temple. Christs ministry had just officially begun. He walked into the House of the Lord and found the religious leaders taking financial advantage of the people by charging more than they should for sacrifices. Jesus response was to fashion a whip, turn over the tables of the money changers, and chase them out of the Temple while declaring that His Fathers House should be called a House of Prayer but that those in charge had turned it into a den of thieves. Not just a place where thieves live, but where they feel comfortable. Approximately three and a half years later the thieves had come back (they always do) and again turned the House of the Lord from a place of praying to a place of preying. Mark 11:15-18 gives us the accounting of Jesus second cleansing of the Temple during the last week of His earthly ministry. It reads much the same as the first time He took on the money changers but makes special note of those who were selling doves. Those familiar with the Old Testament will know that the poor people were the ones who offered doves. In fact, due to their humble means, it was doves that Joseph and Mary offered when Jesus was born (Luke 2:24). The religious leaders of Christs day would even take advantage of the poorest of the poor! Jesus detested the treachery going on then and responded in a strong way! And I have a feeling that He despises it no less in our present day when some high profile ministers continually ask for the elderly and downtrodden to send in their Social Security checks and put donations on their credit cards while they themselves globetrot in their private jets and don Armani suits, all in the name of the Lord! The King Came Once! The King Will Come Again! Maranatha!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The King Is Coming Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/20/2014 10:04:09 PM


The King Demands Fruitfulness The day after Jesus entry into Jerusalem He became hungry while He and the disciples were walking from Bethany. He noticed a fig tree. Now it was not yet the season for fig trees to be bearing fruit, but the leaves that this particularly tree was showing was a sign that it should have had figs that day. Yet, when Jesus went to the tree, He discovered that it was barren of fruit. Christ cursed the tree and said that no one would ever eat of it again. (Indeed, Jesus prophecy towards the fig tree came true for the next day the disciples noticed that it had withered from the roots up!). The lesson of the fig tree is this. Jesus was dealing with religious leaders (who would eventually plot to crucify Him) who loved the chief seats in the synagogues (churches), who enjoyed trumpeting their financial offerings, who shouted their prayers to be heard by men, and who dressed gloomily to make sure everyone knew when they were fasting (Matthew 6:1ff.). Yet, these same religious leaders held their own tradition above the word of God (Mark 7:13), placed heavy burdens on people and didnt lift a finger to help them (Matt. 23:4), judged others for the speck in their eyes without looking for the log that was in their own (Matt. 7:3), and took financial advantage of the people, even to the point of devouring the houses of widows (Matt. 23:14). They had the faade of leaves, but they did not bear the fullness of fruit, and what fruit they did bear was rotten to the core, devoid of repentance and faith. Before leaving this issue, let me quote a precious promise for true believers from the lips of Jesus as recorded in John 15:16, You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The King Is Coming Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/16/2014 6:48:52 PM


The King Deserves Praise I didnt know much about liberal theology (at least extreme liberal theology) until I went to seminary. The school I went to was conservative, but they did introduce me to the doctrines that some claiming to represent Christendom were propagating. One of the groups I was exposed to was The Jesus Seminar. With a name like that, what could be bad? The scholars who belong to this group basically assert that Jesus was a good man, great teacher, and powerful prophet whose death on the cross shows humanity the ultimate example of love. However, they dont believe that He was God or that His death on the cross was actually necessary to atone for the sins of man. They teach that Jesus never thought of Himself as God but was made Divine through the subsequent teachings of the Apostle Paul and others. Some of their Seminar meetings consist of members sitting around a table, going over the statements of Jesus in the gospels, and casting votes by way of different colored marbles on whether or not they believe it was something Jesus actually said! Put aside for the moment the foolishness and hubris of believing that we judge Scripture versus Scripture judging us, anyone who thinks they have the ability to look at the reported words of someone 2000 years ago and determine what they did and did not say is probably closer to having lost their marbles than they should be to voting with them.

Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey was met by adoring, worshipping crowds. Lukes account tells us that the religious leaders tried to get Jesus to hush the praise of the people because it was not right for a man to receive such adoration. Yet Christ responded by saying that if the crowds did not praise Him, the very rocks would cry out! (Luke 19:39-40) Far from denying His divinity, Jesus asserted it by receiving praise! (see also John 20:26-29). The King deserves praise, honor, and worship! Read the book of Revelation and you will see that praise is the enterprise in which Gods people will be engaged in for all eternity!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The King Is Coming Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/13/2014 6:05:39 PM


The King Disarms The Devil Back in my childhood I was afflicted with the privilege of watching Westerns. I say afflicted because with the exception of John Wayne movies, I didnt enjoy them much (if anyone doesnt like The Duke, the altars are of most churches are open for repentance every Wednesday and Sunday!). I say privilege because Lord knows there are a lot worse things that one could watch on television (and its getting worse everyday!). One thing I recall from those films were scenes where some group of cowboys would be gathered around a fenced-in area where a horse who had never been ridden before was going to be broken. Invariably, there was one young whipper-snapper (a word anyone whos watched Westerns would know) who thought he could break the horse. He usually ended up with a hard beating on the backside as the untame creature threw him soaring into the air for a less than graceful landing.

Wild animals are hard to break. Yet, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (thus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 9:9), Scripture makes it a point to tell us that it was an animal upon which no one had ever yet sat. Why did Jesus not have an ungraceful landing on the backside? Because the Lord of eternity, the God without Whom nothing was made that was made (John 1:3), the One who spoke peace to the wind and the waves and they obeyed (Mark 4:39), has no issue at all with instantly and totally taming a roaring, raging, wild beast. Though Scripture does not explicitly say so, there are many commentators who believe that the wild donkey represents the devil; a strong and terrible foe who has ravaged many a man, woman, and child and who is more powerful and cunning than any person could withstand in their own strength. Yet, the King came and showed that there is no comparison between Him and the evil one, and that all of those who put their trust and faith in Christ can partake of the same victory, overcoming the devil through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Rev. 12:11).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The King Is Coming Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/10/2014 10:38:56 PM

One of Bill and Gloria Gaithers masterful songs is entitled The King Is Coming. Written more than 30 years ago, the piece describes in soaring lyrics as well as orchestration what it will be like when Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, returns again to claim His own. Though no man knows the day nor the hour when that epic event will occur, when it does there will be no denying the supremacy of Christ, for every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). In these next series of blogs we will look at Mark 11:1-18 which describes the first triumphal coming of the King on Palm Sunday of Passion Week, a day when people two thousand years ago welcomed Jesus in the demeanor of a king at the first of a week that would culminate with His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Seeing Sandi Sing Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/7/2014 6:57:32 PM


Ive followed Sandi over all these years. Her life, lived in the public eye, has had its ups and downs, its failures as well as its successes. From the first time I saw her sing until this last time shes gone through a divorce, a moral failing, a near collapse of her career: a repentance, a remarriage, and a restoration. I realize I only know her from a distance, but I think that through it all she not only sounds better than ever, but is better than ever, and is blessing the hearts of people with the message of the gospel through song in a more powerful way than ever before.

Thinking about Sandi got me reflecting about my own life, as I am prone to do anyway at the beginning of a new year. I was a kid when I first heard her sing; now Im a married man with a child of my own. I was starting to take Jesus more seriously then, now I have been blessed to walk and talk with Him for over two decades. I was full of wonder then, and still get awestruck today, though Im a little less nave. Ive been blessed to know much joy and happiness but have also gone through my share of valleys. I know what its like to succeed and what its like to fail, what its like to fall and what its like to get back up again, what its like to think if only Id known then what I know now and what its like to realize that God even uses, perhaps especially uses, our trials to make us who He wants us to be and to prepare us for what He has planned ahead.

I encourage you to take some time. Reflect on where youve been and where youre going and, more importantly, reflect on what Gods doing in your life. Be thankful for the blessings, learn from the trials, and trust God with both, praising Him all the while. And, as a final admonition, next time Sandis in town, go see her sing! (just a reminder, she will be at First Assembly on Sunday, January 26th at 7 pm)

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Seeing Sandi Sing Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 1/1/2014 8:59:05 PM


I last saw Sandi sing a few weeks ago (remember this was originally written in January of 2010). We had heard that she was going to be doing a Christmas concert at Barbara B. Mann. We checked out ticket prices on-line and decided that it was too expensive to go this year. However, on the night of the concert, my wonderful wife sprung tickets on me! I was so surprised and so grateful. Even more surprised and grateful when I found out that we had actually gotten front row seats for half of what wed thought wed pay for the balcony! She sounded great from the first note of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee! to the last sighing syllable of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas! She still had the soaring range for a powerful rendition of O Holy Night!, the sweetness for a beautiful medley of Ill Be Home for Christmas and White Christmas and the soul for a bring down the house version of Jesus, What a Wonderful Child. In fact, truth be told, I think she sounds better now than ever, and thats saying something!

Sandis now in her mid-fifties, and Im roughly the same age as she was when I first saw her sing. I think shes lost weight since the last time I saw her live, though perhaps shes gained a few wrinkles (if anybody ever tells her I said that, Ill deny it!). She shared stories during this concert, as she always does. She told of how that elementary aged daughter from years ago had graduated university and just been married a few months back. She spoke about those newborn twins now both being in college along with two other kids from her husbands previous marriage and encouraged us audience members, in a tongue-in-cheek way, to buy lots of CDs to help fit the tuition bills! It was a wonderful night of music and memories.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Seeing Sandi Sing Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/30/2013 11:24:30 PM

I ran across an advertisement for Sandi Patty coming to First Assembly on Sunday, January 26th at 7 pm and it brought to my mind this article I originally wrote in January of 2010 upon going to a Christmas concert of hers and then thinking about the upcoming New Year. The next three blogs will relay this article from 2010.

I first saw Sandi sing 23 years ago. My family had just moved to Florida from Kentucky a few months before. I was getting used to a new school, a new home, new friends, and a new climate. We had tried a few churches and finally settled on Faith Chapel in North Fort Myers. I began to take the faith more seriously and with that came a newfound interest in Christian music and its various artists. The most frequently played singer on WSOR, the radio station we kept our dial on, was Sandi Patty (back in the day she used to spell it Sandi Patti, to learn more about that I encourage you to read her book Broken On The Back Row). Her vocal ability allowed her to seamlessly transition from soaring in operatic ranges to sounding as sweet as an angelic soloist to being as soulful as a black gospel choir leader. Though only in her early to mid-thirties Sandi had become the most popular Christian artist of the time, winning multiple Dove awards for vocalist of the year, garnering gold and platinum album sales, and having a multi-city tour complete with background singers, band, opening acts, and light shows.

I remember when the advertisement for her concert at Lee Civic Center came over the car radio. I could hardly believe that she was coming to our town! Sandi Patty! The one and only! And shell be here live and in person! Mom knew I wanted to go, so she got us some tickets. Ill never forget the gratitude I felt (and still feel) for mom getting those tickets. It was no small financial sacrifice and the concert was scheduled on moms bowling night. But, just to bless her boy, she very willingly gave up her night out and the extra money for the event!


We walked into the hall. The Civic Center arena seemed larger than life. There were thousands of other people there. The usher helped us find our seats and gave us our programs. The brochure was filled with pictures from Sandis previous tours and with the titles of her available albums. We looked through the materials and then, to ever increasing anticipation, the lights went down, and the opening music for Make His Praise Glorious began to resound. I knew every word of the title song of her tour and correctly anticipated when Sandi should begin to sing. Right on cue, a figure appeared on stage. The spotlight shone on her alone and she began to sing, Praise the Lord of heaven, Praise the Lord of earth, Praise Him for His mighty power, Praise Him for His worth The voice sounded the same, if not better, than what Id heard on the radio. However, the person I saw on the stage was not the person in the pictures of the program that the usher had given us. She was several pounds heavier in person than she was in the pictures and her hairdo was different.

I asked my mom about it after the first song and she told me that Sandi had become pregnant with and just given birth to twins and that the pictures in the program were taken prior to her pregnancy. As for the hairdo change, well I guess thats just a woman thing. Mom assured me that it was indeed the real Sandi Patty standing before us. Later on in that concert, Sandi introduced her husband, their elementary school aged daughter, and the two relatively newborn twins. It was a great night, filled with music and memories.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things That Do Not Go Together Part 16
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/24/2013 12:36:57 AM

John The Baptist Has A Name That Means God Is Gracious Anyone ever seen those little pocket cards with names on them telling you what the name means in the Hebrew or Greek along with an accompanying Scripture verse? People often get them for their family or friends, especially for their children. Well, if Zacharias and Elizabeth had a local Christian bookstore in their day and went down to get a name card for John (the name that Gabriel instructed for the child to be called), it would have read John means God is Gracious. Now, when the baby was born to the precious older couple, so cute and so cuddly, bringing them a joy they never dreamed would be their own, the name God is gracious seems quite appropriate. But later on when he dresses in camel hair clothes with a leather belt eating a diet of locusts and honey, when he confronts the religious leaders for their hypocrisy calling them a brood of vipers, when he declares that repentance must be in deed as well as in word, when he decries the powerful political leaders of the day for their adultery calling it the sin that it is, when his main message is REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!; it would perhaps seem harder to some to use the phrase God is gracious. Does being a little strange in clothing and diet, being one who calls out sinners no matter who they are, commanding people to truly repent in word and in deed go together with the concept of God being gracious? Not really, at least from a human perspective that refuses to call anything sin so that we can go on living as we want and that thinks of grace as simply an ooey, gooey, sloppy agape that says God just loves everybody and lets them into heaven no matter what they believe or how they live. However, from Gods point of view, from a biblical perspective, where we are all sinners who must confess sin, recognizing it as such and repenting of the same, before forgiveness can be received; a man who clearly points to our sin and calls us to repentance has a gracious ministry indeed.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things That Do Not Go Together Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/16/2013 10:57:41 PM

Blameless People Sometimes Doubt How many people do you know (or perhaps you are one) who says or at least thinks, if God would only appear to me in a miraculous and sensational way, then I would believe in Him, follow Him, and never doubt again? Do miracles happen? Absolutely! That having been said, Scripture as well as history both past and present is filled with people who have been beneficiaries of the miraculous hand of God, yet in their incessant unbelief and over a period of time choose to dismiss the goodness of the Lord as the randomness of the universe. (As Jesus said, if people dont believe the words of Scripture then they will not believe even if one rises from the dead.) Zacharias and his wife had long desired a child; as blameless people who genuinely loved God they had prayed for a child; yet when Gabriel appeared unto Zacharias proclaiming that they would conceive, he responded by saying, How will I know this is true, seeing as how my wife and I are both advanced in age? Not exactly the response of Abraham, the father of our faith (see Romans 4:19ff.)! Do blameless people and doubt go together? Not really, at least from a human, un-grace filled perspective. However, God knows and the Bible rightly illustrates, that even the most faithful of human hearts do doubt sometimes and go astray (yes, even Abraham, remember Ishmael!). Zacharias was struck dumb (mute) and possibly even deaf because of his unbelief, but God would restore His servant and use him again (see Luke 1:57-80).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things That Do Not Go Together Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/12/2013 7:26:11 PM

Blameless People Going Through Struggles We used to have Comcast but switched to Direct TV a couple years ago. (This is certainly not an advertisement either way though I will say that we far prefer our new arrangement over our former.) We used to only get one Christian channel, now we get about 15. While I am grateful for some Christian television I do think there is much that could be different; and Ill leave it at that. Tune in to any one of these faith based channels at nearly any time of day and it seems that there will be someone implying that if you come to Jesus then you will be rich, successful, happy, and problem free all the rest of your days! In fact, there seems to be more emphasis on success than there is on salvation, more focus on gimmicks than grace, and more instruction on how to be happy than on how to be holyjust saying, but again Ill leave it at that. Well, if youve never heard it before, then let me tell you now, the teaching that youll never have another care after believing in Jesus is a lie. You can be a believer, be striving to keep your sin level low and your faith level high, and quote all the Scriptures you have breath to utter and you will still have troubles. It rains on the just and the unjust. Just ask Zacharias and Elizabeth (and Job and Moses and Daniel and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Elijah and John the Baptist and Peter and John and James and Paul andwell, I think you get the picture). They (Zacharias and Elizabeth) were called blameless, not by themselves or by some person or by some committee, but by God Himself in His Holy Word. Yet, all was not well with them and they did not have everything for which they had prayed. In their time it was seen as a curse, almost as a condemnation showing Gods disapproval, not to have a child. Yet they were barren and were getting older in years. Surely there were more sinful people who had more money, more success, more fame, and more children; yet these blameless people were suffering, they were struggling. Does it go together that Gods people, faithful people, blameless people, should struggle? Especially since there were less righteous people, even really dirty-no good-rotten scoundrels who were seemingly more blessed than were they? Not really, from a human perspective, but God always works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things That Do Not Go Together Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 12/9/2013 10:17:01 PM

Blameless People In The Midst Of A Sinful World Watch your news at night and you can easily be overcome with the thought that I never thought Id see the day when ______________. It seems like the world is on an increasingly fast track to going to hell in a hand basket. That being said, a mere cursory study of history will reveal that the heinous sinfulness of man has been around since the first bite was taken out of the forbidden fruit. No historic period has a monopoly on the manifestations of the boundless evil in the corridors of the unredeemed heart. The time of Christ was no exception. The political leaders were not worthy of admiration. The emperor of the Roman Empire demanded worship as if he were a god. Herod, the king of the Jews and basically the governor of the holy land, had ten wives and was a murderous thug who killed people, even children, even some of his own kids, to ensure they would not try to overthrow him. Perhaps worse yet their religious leaders were unfit as well. They placed their own tradition above the Word of God, they hypocritically put rules on other people that they themselves did not follow (and did not intend to follow), and they took financial advantage of the common man; and all of this they did in the name of God! Yet in the midst of an idolatrous, murderous, perverse, and blasphemous society lived Zacharias and Elizabeth, described as blameless in the eyes of the Lord. That does not mean they did not sin nor does it mean that they did not need a Savior. But it does mean that they had faith in the one true God, had respect for His Word, and tried to live by His commands to the best of their ability. Does it go together that there could be blameless people in the midst of such a sinful world? Not really, at least from a human perspective, but God will always have a remnant people no matter how dark the days.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Could It Be You Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/29/2013 10:19:22 PM

Worship (Could it be you?) Recently I had a Monday as my day off from the bookstore. We decided to take a trip to West Palm Beach. My wifes family has roots there so we visit about once a year to see some landmarks and to go to what is perhaps the best sub shop in America, a little establishment name Russos that has been a fixture in the city for more than six decades. Their most popular offering is a sandwich named after the restaurant composed of freshly sliced ham, salami (not the spicy kind), provolone, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, chunks of onion, and dill pickle spear all encased in a freshly baked soft sub roll dashed with a touch of sweetness. (Hungry yet?!) The Russo Sandwich is so delicious and we get there so infrequently that when we do go we not only eat there that day but we bring several back home to eat in the days that follow. I took one of these sensational subs in for lunch the next day. I didnt know it at the time, though Im not surprised, but one of my coworkers noticed how delicious and genuine my sandwich looked. A couple days later they asked me what Subway in town I bought it from because it looked so much better than what they were used to getting. Of course, I launched into my story about Russos and let her know that what I had that day for lunch was something you couldnt get around here.. What does all of this have to do with worship? I have always been struck by Scripture making it a point to tell us that right after the Last Supper Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn before proceeding to the Mount of Olives. His followers certainly did not have a firm grasp on what the next hours would hold, but Jesus knew exactly what was in store. Yet, even with the knowledge that He was soon going to pass through the darkest valley ever known, He lifted His voice with others in worship to His Father. That kind of love for God. That kind of peace in the midst of a raging storm. That kind of desire to give God glory. Where does that come from? Well, lets just say its something you couldnt get around here; earth that is. Worshipping God no matter what. Setting an example that others recognize and ask about. Loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Being a worshipper is a wonderful thing. Could it be you?

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Could It Be You Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/26/2013 10:26:41 PM

Communion (Could it be you?) Jesus took the bread and the wine, gave thanks, and then served them to His disciples. They had partaken of Passover meals all of their lives but this night they heard some unfamiliar words mixed in with the familiar elements. We tend to look on events of the past through the lens of what we know in the present, but think of the strangeness of hearing someone hand you bread and saying that it was their body and telling you to take and eat, then dispensing some wine/juice saying that it was their blood and instructing you to take and drink. Perhaps it was sheer fear, genuine respect, uncaring indifference, or utter exhaustion (or some combination of all of the above) that kept the disciples from asking Christ at that moment to explain how partaking of the Passover Meal correlated with eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Whatever the reason, the picture the Bible paints is that the disciples didnt know the totality of what was meant by Jesus words at the Last Supper that evening. However, as the events of the night and the next day would unfold; as they saw the Lord, their friend, their teacher; betrayed, falsely tried, cruelly crucified, and finally buried, I think they began to see more clearly. The brutality that put all of His bones out of joint brought back the words of the broken bread as His broken body. The piercings that caused blood to drip and flow from His brow, His hands, His feet, His back, and His side brought back words of the wine/juice as His poured out blood. Their understanding of His words, those uttered at the Last Supper as well as other teachings of Christ that they had been blessed to hear during the Lords earthly ministry, would grow as they saw Him risen from the dead, were filled with the Spirit, and communed with Him and His Word throughout the remainder of their lives. Believing that we are all sinners who need saving. Knowing that Jesus is the only Savior, that His shed blood is the only means that can wash away our sins, that His broken body was for the healing of our lives. Growing in His grace and knowing more of Him and His word as time passes by. Communion is a wonderful thing for someone to be engaged in. Could it be you?

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Could It Be You Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/21/2013 6:50:01 PM

Betrayal (Could it be you?) Jesus had long been telling the disciples that one of them was going to be a traitor. As they sat down for the Passover Meal Jesus reiterates that someone at the table would commit the most heinous and infamous crime of history. Someone who had heard Christs teachings, who had seen Jesus calm the waves, cast out devils, heal the sick, and even raise the dead would not only walk away but would be an instrument through which the Lord would be brought to crucifixion. The disciples hearing this word at the table that evening began to say one after another, Surely not I? Yet it was one of them. The Lord prophesied it so it must be true, and of course it did turn out to be true. The Bible clearly prophecies that in the last days there will be a great apostasy, a falling away of those who claimed to be a part of the Christian faith. Scripture says it, so it must be true, and of course it will turn out to be true. Throughout my life I have seen people who hear about the warning signs as well as the consequences of sin, and yet fall into its clutches. I, like you, have known of many from afar and some from up close who not long before they committed egregious transgressions never thought that they would be the ones to cheat on their spouses, lie to their friends, or steal from their workplaces. I dont make such a statement to condemn those who fall for there is certainly forgiveness and restoration for those who repent. However, I do want to make the point that no one, or at least very few, ever wake up one day seeking a course to betray Christ or their Christian witness. They, like the 12 disciples, have read and heard time after time that there are those who will fall away assuming that it could never be them. Yet, little by little, day after day, over the course of months and years, find themselves drifting farther and farther away from the Lord and the things of God. And one day they end up being where they never thought theyd be, doing what they never thought theyd do. Hearing that there will be a falling away, yet not recognizing it even as the process is happening. Having a heart that is cold to the things of God. Selling out what you said you believed for something of such minimal (and temporal) value. Betrayal is a terrible thing. A falling away will happen as prophesied. Could it be you?

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Could It Be You Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/18/2013 10:29:24 PM

Service (Could it be you?) When Jesus was preparing to have the last Passover meal He would ever partake of with His disciples, He instructed them to go into town and look for a man carrying a pitcher of water. Now, someone may wander how such a man would stand out in a crowd. A knowledge of the culture and customs of the times of Christ helps shed light on this issue. Carrying water was considered to be womens work (that statement is not part of a war on women, its simply stating a historical truth). So, a man engaged in this particular labor would stand out like a sore thumb. Or should I say, like a fine gem on a piece of black velvet! The servant of God that the disciples would come into contact with was one willing to do the work of another, gladly doing a job that would be considered beneath the dignity of his position. Once members of Jesus inner circle came across this man carrying water, they were to ask him where the guest room was where the Lord could have the Passover with His disciples. The man would not only lead them to the large room, but the owner of the house would have it furnished and ready for the Masters use. The act of service that this man (perhaps two men were involved) performed would cost him something, it would mean labor and sacrifice, it would involve the willingness, resource, and attitude required to be genuinely hospitable. Who was this man who prepared the facilities in which Christ and His disciples would eat what we have come to call The Last Suppper? Speculations abound, but no one knows for sure. Why? Because Scripture doesnt tell us. This great servant, like so many greats in Gods Kingdom, is nameless; unknown to man, but known well by God! Being willing to do the work, no matter how menial; to sacrifice, no matter the cost; to serve, and only care for Gods glory. Service is a great calling for someone. Could it be you?

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Could It Be You Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/17/2013 9:42:24 PM

As Ive oft said, I have been in church since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I was blessed to attend a Christian university and earn degrees in church ministry. I have listened to hundreds (probably thousands) of sermons and read tons of books dealing with our faith. I am very grateful for my Christian heritage and wouldnt trade it for anything this world affords. That being said, I have heard/read/observed things throughout the years that make me sit back and go hummmmhh! One of those occasions is hearing amens resound when a preacher is giving somebody down the road for something from folks who think of themselves so highly that they assume that the somebody being talked about must be anybody but them. Conversely, and equally perplexing, are the silences I have heard when a feat or calling is being spoken of (such as being a missionary, witnessing to the community, etc.) from folks who have such a low view of themselves (really, truth be told, such a low view of God) that they assume that the somebody being talked about who should or could do something about something is nothing that they could do anything about. Well, Im not going to quote the title of a song, It had to be you!, but what I am going to say, and what I think Scripture points us to, whether it be for the good or the ill, is the question Could it be you? This is a concept we are going to look at with regard to four different areas from Mark 14:12-26.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Zaccheus Thankful Meal Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/12/2013 8:02:32 PM


Time passed and Matthew didnt return to my doorstep. I kept tabs on what this Jesus was doing. He raised the dead, He cleansed the lepers, He opened the blind eyes, He gave hearing to deaf ears. He preached that God loved people and would forgive the sins of all of those who would be humble enough to ask. I heard how He had spiritually restored so many, even a woman caught in the very act of adultery. I knew He had forgiven Matthew for his sins as a tax collector. My heart had burned inside me since hearing about Gods love and forgiveness back at Matthews dinner. I wished that I would have followed Matthews advice back then and followed Jesus. My sins were even bigger than my bank account and I needed forgiveness from Someone with enough spiritual capital to pay my debt.

I wasnt sure if Jesus would forgive me, especially since I had walked out on Him once. But I just had to find out. I knew that He was passing through town. I also knew that none of the people liked me enough to give this short man a place in the crowd where I could see the rabbi. So I climbed up a Sycamore tree, and waited. I was just hoping to see Jesus, I never dreamed that He would care enough to see me. But He did! He called my name! He said that He wanted to come to my house for dinner! I scrambled down the tree and received Jesus joyfully as He had so joyfully received me. That Something inside me crept up again and by Gods grace I yielded this time and said that I would repay those I had robbed fourfold and give half of all I owned to the poor. Jesus didnt make me do it, He didnt even ask. I did it out of gratitude for what Jesus had done for me. The Master came to my house for dinner and brought salvation with Him. I am full of much more than food and money as I lay my head down tonight. I will follow Him the rest of my life and I encourage everyone to do the same. Im forgiven and free! Thank you Jesus! Thank you!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Zaccheus Thankful Meal Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/7/2013 8:30:23 PM


I went to Matthews place that night expecting more of the same that I had experienced in the past at these tax collector get togethers. But, instead of Matthew having a dinner where he wanted to brag about his accomplishments, instead of having a meal in honor of some new member of the rob the people blind club, Matthews guest of honor was a new rabbi on the scene by the name of Jesus. A rabbi having dinner with tax collectors; now that was a new one. At first I thought, what self-righteous, I mean self-respecting rabbi would be here with us? Then, knowing Matthew as I did, I thought there must surely be some fine print somewhere. I could hardly wait to see what angle Matthew and Jesus had in mind to somehow combine our powers as government officials and his power as a religious influence to soak the people of even more cash.

But Matthew had no financial angle. And Jesus certainly had no selfish ambition. This preacher from Nazareth spoke of Gods grace and mercy. He didnt ask for a thing other than for us to consider how much Gods love and forgiveness will extend to all those who call upon His name. This Jesus said so much that spoke right to my heart. Compared to me, He had so little of this worlds goods, so little of this worlds fame, so little of its power. Yet the authority that He exuded in His speech, the gratitude that He exhibited toward God when He prayed over the meal, the power that radiated from His heart and touched my inner being when He told each of us tax collectors, and even me as chief, that God loves us, was something so genuine that I would have traded all the money in the world to possess. On my way out that night, Matthew told me that he was leaving tax collecting to follow Jesus and encouraged me to do the same. My pride, that had actually been under control during Jesus message, rose to the surface and I told Matthew that if he wanted to squander his financial success, that was his business. As for me, I had more people to steal from, more money to make, and more trainees to bring up to take his place. I assured Matthew that he would begging me for his position back in six months. Still, though my words were arrogant and harsh, that same something inside me that told me to go to Matthews dinner, let me know that he was the one who had made the more profitable decision that night.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Zaccheus Thankful Meal Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/4/2013 8:08:28 PM

(The next 3 blogs are a hypothetical rendering of the life of Zaccheus based on Mark 2:14-17 and Luke 19:1-10)

Thankful! Thank God Im thankful! Its been a long time since Ive been truly thankful! Tonight was the first night in years I had dinner with someone who didnt want something from me. It was also the first time in a long time I had dinner with someone I wasnt trying to impress and who wasnt trying to impress me. To some it may seem that Ive given more than Ive received tonight. But trust me; this cold, crusty, calloused heart has received a joy, a release, a forgiveness, a freedom that its never experienced before. My pockets are emptier, but my soul is full! I am truly thankful!

I remember my first meal as a new tax collector. All the others welcomed me to the club with a dinner in my honor. They boasted of the profits they had made and of the stature they had achieved. They encouraged me that I too could achieve such attainments if I followed in their footsteps. I felt so proud at that moment and was even more sure that I had made the right decision in leaving my old Jewish life behind and embracing this new Roman one. However, as time went on and I attended countless of these dinners, I discovered that those encouragements were simply opportunities for boasting about how my fellow tax collectors had cheated so and so out of such and such. Over the years I became more and more successful, I became one of the chief encouragers (akaboasters) at these dinners. (Its amazing how arrogance left such little room for genuine gratitude.) So much did I excel that I became chief tax collector of our region. My house was so extravagant, my furnishings so fancy, my foods so dainty, (and my pride so big) that I began to host many of these dinners at my house. I discouraged my underlings from having them at their places because their feeble parties would not compare to the spread that I would have prepared.

Then, one day I received an invitation for which I will be eternally grateful. Matthew, one of my subordinates that I had trained, invited me to his place for a dinner. I didnt want to go at first. He was an okay tax collector, but had not yet earned near enough money or engaged in near enough scandals to be a chief tax collector. Why should I go? It would surely be a waste of time. But something inside me that I didnt recognize at the time said that I should attend.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Judgment and Gratitude Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 11/2/2013 8:50:10 PM

Secondly, Our grateful response to Jesus in glory will be exuberant, not timid; and His response to us will be stronger still. Part of the heaven scene in the drama was scripted in such a way as for Jesus to come around individually to those attending the presentation (who were treated there as believers) and greet them. The actor playing the Lord had to quickly gauge the comfort/emotional level of the attendees. His snapshot assessment led him to welcome some with embraces, others with handshakes, and those who remained with loving, compassionate glances. While I enjoyed this part of the drama (it sure was good to get out of the hell scene and into the heaven one!) and understood the need for a somewhat reserved deportment, I couldnt help but thinking that this was not exactly how our reunion in heaven will be. The same God who throws a party every time a lost sinner receives salvation on earth (Luke 15:10), the same Father who runs to meet the returning wayward son with a fall-on-his-neck excitement (Luke 15:20please read this verse, and this time in the King James!), will surely outdo the grandest celebration we could ever anticipate when we are finally at home with Him forever! His joy at seeing us will be great and unreserved, and any inhibitions towards praise on our part will be instantly vanished at the sight of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Judgment and Gratitude Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/28/2013 11:18:21 PM

No one who enters into heaven will be anything but grateful. Ive done funerals/memorial services for various ages of people who died for various reasons. Ive officiated a service for a 6 year old boy who died due to inheriting HIV/AIDS from his mother when he passed though the birth canal, for a woman in her forties who lived much of her life in a group home because she was mentally retarded, for another middle aged woman who went into the hospital not being so sick but while there caught an infection that proved fatal, for a man who loved God and others who died from an infection after seemingly being on the road to recovery from a stroke, for my own beloved unclea dedicated father who never reached 50, dying before having a chance to see his own grandchildren. Ive been blessed to see the Lord perform many glorious healings; during these moments its easy to be grateful. But Ill confess, theres many times, such as when officiating at some of the services mentioned above, when I feel sorrowful, wondering why such a sad, yes even tragic, event occurred. I dont have the answers to all the questions, but what I do know is that those saved by the grace of Jesus who enter into the portals of heaven wont be spending their time asking questions about Gods wisdom, bemoaning their unfair lots in life, or crying about all the what ifs of earthly existence. The two young girls from the drama my wife and I attended were, in the eyes of the world, tragically taken before their time in such an unfair way. Yet, when they were welcomed into heaven as believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, they were praising Jesus and thanking Him for His goodness. So too it will be for all believers, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace for just one glimpse of Him in glory will all the toils of life repay!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Judgment and Gratitude Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/24/2013 10:20:56 PM


(This article was written about my 2010 experience of the Judgment House presentation by Crossroads Baptist Church). My wonderful wife and I had an experience a little over a week ago that made a connection for me between the two seldom joined together words in the title of these next three blogs. We went to a Christian Halloween alternative called Judgment House. The sponsoring church uses this time of year as an open door to get people into a dramatic, somewhat scary, presentation that illustrates the eternal importance of knowing Jesus and His saving gospel.

Every year the dramatized scenario at Judgment House changes slightly, but the themes of heaven and hell remain constant. This years presentation recounted the fictional life of your typical family of four: a mom and dad, an older teenage brother and a slightly younger sister. The family depicted is a loving one. The parents are committed to one another and to their children, they tell kindly jokes to one another, and actually seem to like each other even after several years of marriage. The brother and sister have friendly banter with one another, seem to look out for each other, and are both involved in extracurricular activities and honors programs at their high school. Indeed, it seems like a page right out of the TV family programs of yesteryear. However, as will soon unfold, this family is missing the most important element of all, that of a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The sister in the family has a Christian friend who invites her to a church activity. During the course of their time together, the young lady accepts Christ as her Savior. When her mom, who was more than glad to let her child attend the church activity with her friend (you knowit was a good social encounter with good moral people and all), comes to pick the pair up, she is surprised to hear from her daughter that she has actually taken the spiritual side of Jesus seriously and has believed the gospel. The mom doesnt want to belittle her daughter, especially in front of her church friend, but will talk her child back into rationality later on at home. For now, they will go and check out the cuisine at a popular new sidewalk caf.

While dining there, a sleek-and-stylish black sports car driven by a teenage girl surrounded by friends and loud music slams into the mom, daughter, and church friend when the driver drops her cell phone, losing sight of the road and control of the wheel while trying to retrieve it from the floor. The next scenes, as you can imagine, show the afterlives of the recently converted daughter and her Christian friend in heaven, and of the unbelieving mother in hell. The young ladies entrance into glory bring me to my first main point.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Confessions Part 5
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/21/2013 9:53:22 PM


The God-Given, Rock Solid Confession (Matthew 16:13-20) By this time in Jesus ministry He was well known by the public for His miracles and for His teachings. Some loved Him, some hated Him, some followed out of sincerity, some followed for ulterior motives. In Matthew 16 the Lord comes to His disciples and asks them what men are saying about Him. They give Him the scuttlebutt, the latest word on the street. After the opinions floating around are expressed, Jesus looks them in the eye and asks them directly, but who do you say that I am?! Peter famously responds with the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. The Lord commends Peter declaring that the fishermen is truly blessed because nothing fleshly or worldly has been responsible for this revelation, but the Heavenly Father has graciously opened his eyes to receive and believe and confess. This divine revelation is indeed the rock upon which Jesus will build His unstoppable church. If we want to have a good confession that will stand the test of time, then we must lean upon the sure strength of God and His Word, not upon any feeble, fleeting , faulty foundation of the flesh! If we want others lead to the good confession of Christ then we must be a people who both individually and corporately rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Holy Scriptures rather than upon any contrived convention from the corridors of the carnal minds of men.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Confessions Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/17/2013 11:17:21 PM


The Last Resort Confession (John 6:67-69) John chapter 6 is one of my favorite chapters in Scripture. It opens with Jesus performing signs and wonders and drawing crowds of thousands. The Lord sees how many people are there and takes up a triple-favor-seed-faith-offering promising twice the power of God they had just seen within 24 days if they gave their gift in the next 12 minutes! Just kidding, Jesus didnt do that back in the Bible days, and Hes not doing that now either! The Lord saw the crowds of people and wanted to feed them. By the genuine power of God He multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fishes, feeding 5,000 people all they wanted and having 12 baskets full of leftovers. Later on in the chapter Jesus uses this natural miracle as a segue to speak of the spiritual truth that He is the true bread that has come down from heaven and that those who seek spiritual life must drink of His blood and eat of His flesh. This was a hard saying that left Christ, who was just a short while earlier surrounded by thousands, with a group of only 12, and one of those was a devil. Far from shrinking from the truth He had just proclaimed to win back previous followers, Jesus turns to the 12 and asks them if they want to leave Him too. Peter, ever the bold, confesses that they will stay for Jesus alone has the words of eternal life and is the Holy One of God. Now, in all fairness to Peter, he was likely sincere in what he was saying at the moment and he certainly came to a genuine relationship with Christ. However, there are some preachers who seem to present Jesus as the offer of last resort. If youve tried everything else and it has failed you, then give Christ a shot. What have you got to lose? While there might be some validity to this approach, I think we are better served and Scripture better represented when we declare that Jesus is the only way and that He commands for men everywhere to repent of sin and put faith in Him. If Jesus is only the last shot to help make our lives better, then who knows, maybe well look for another last resort after this last resort. Jesus is Lord! He is the only One who can save us from the hell our works so justly deserve.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Confessions Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/15/2013 10:14:54 PM

The Recognition of Power Confession (John 1:47-49; Matthew 14:22-33) When I was a teenager I worked with my dad at the flea market. I remember being amazed at how many different kinds of wares were available all under one roof, albeit an outdoor roof. Yard sale items, fresh produce, sunglasses, old books, new books, old shoes, new shoes, old cars, new cars, tvs, handbags, seashells, haircuts, perms, fried foods of all varieties, air conditioning systems; you name it, they had it. I thought I had seen it all until one weekend a psychic booth opened up. I couldnt believe that such a place could stay in business cause they dont give flea market space out for free (and they had the extra expense of having a closed in booth with air conditioning); but then again theres no shortage of fortune telling 900 numbers and Im sure those lines arent given out for free either. I guess I shouldnt have been taken by surprise that people would pay money for such things. The Bible and all of human history are replete with examples of people being impressed by anyone claiming supernatural knowledge or exhibiting superhuman power whether that display be real or imagined.

In John 1:47-49 Nathanael confesses that Jesus is the Son of God after the Lord supernaturally says that He had seen the disciple-to-be under a fig tree prior to their meeting. In Matthew 14:22-33 the disciples witness Jesus walking upon a stormy sea, allowing Peter to do the same, and then calming the wind and the waves with the mere power of His word. This leads to them all declaring that Jesus must be Gods Son. Now the men in the boat, with the exception of Judas, would go on to have deep, genuine, abiding faith in Christ. However, there are many people who go after the supernatural, who are impressed by any display of power, and most of them end up with spiritually shallow lives. They will confess the greatness of the last great thing until the next great thing comes up and captures their attention.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Confessions Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/10/2013 10:38:25 PM


The Celebrity-Induced Confession (John 1:35-41) As many of you know, football season is now underway. I was watching a newscast last week and they did a segment on Peyton Manning. The famous all-pro quarterback, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts and presently of the Denver Broncos, certainly makes a grand fortune for his services on the field, but picks up just as many dollars for his off the field endeavors advertising everything from Papa Johns Pizza to Oreo Cookies. Now I dont need Peyton or anyone else to pass off pizza or cookies on me, I know they are good stuff by personal experience. However, the millions hes being paid by these companies are evidences they believe that he somehow helps sell their brand. Apparently, there are people out there who think that just because a celebrity says something, it must be true, and if they are endorsing something it must be good!

John the Baptist was the most famous prophet of his time, called by Jesus the greatest man ever born of woman. John was not a prophet of miracles, but one who spoke the truth to all, even the powerful, regardless of consequence. One day John the Baptist saw Jesus walking and declared, Behold the Lamb of God! Two of Johns disciples who heard this endorsement immediately began to follow Jesus. They didnt know who Jesus was yet, but the fact that John spoke highly of Him was enough to make them think the Lord was to be followed. Now in fairness to Andrew, his confession that Jesus was the Messiah (John 1:41) may have initially been Celebrity-Induced, but it did become deeper and more personal as he spent more time with Christ and became one of the twelve apostles. That being said, there are some people who will declare that they believe in Jesus or even say that He is Lord, but they only do so because their parents did or some well known person has or they feel that its the thing to do at the time, but their heart isnt really in it. Their Christian commitment is either weak or even nonexistent and when a leader they follow falls then their professed faith falters as well, when their parents are nowhere to be found their Christianity is nowhere to be found either, when they see an advantage in not being associated with Jesus their allegiance quickly changes to what they do deem as advantageous.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Confessions Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/7/2013 7:56:08 PM

If you watch the news at all youve probably heard a recent story about a young man who gave a stunning confession. Earlier in the year he had been out drinking one night, driving himself from one bar to the next. He blacked out at the wheel, drifted into oncoming traffic, and smashed head on into a vehicle carrying an older gentleman. As oft happens in accidents involving alcohol, the intoxicated offender survived but the sober victim did not. The district attorney was considering what specific charges to bring but had not yet officially filed them when the young man engaged in a rather unorthodox behavior; he confessed. The confession was taped and sent out across the World Wide Web. In his Youtube like presentation he proclaimed that he was guilty, admitted that he had been drunk on the night of the accident, and acknowledged that he was likely giving prosecutors all the information they would need to successfully put him behind bars for a number of years. With all of this at stake, why did he confess? He says its because he wanted to do whats right, warning others not to follow in his footsteps and honoring the memory of his victim regardless of the consequence. More cynical minds came out with articles suggesting that the young man confessed in such a way hoping to get mercy from the judge for his good work or at least throw the monkey wrench of a technicality into the prosecutions case whereby he could get a mistrial of some sort. Personally, I dont pretend to know why he came clean and I certainly pray for all involved in or affected by such a tragedy. However, the story got me thinking about the reasons for and circumstances surrounding confessions recorded in scripture, not confessions where someone came clean about some sinful behavior, but confessions where people stated what they believed concerning Christ.


The Angled Confession (Mark 1:21-28) There are some people we know that are as honest as the day is long. If they told us the sky was purple polka dot, we would believe that the sky had actually somehow turned purple polka dot or at least it must have appeared so. The thought that they would out and out lie to us would never cross our minds. Yet there are others we know who are so divorced from the truth that if they told us the sky was blue, their track record of lying would cause us to look outside to make sure it hadnt somehow turned purple polka dot! If we checked and the sky was still blue, wed wonder what the angle was for the habitual liar suddenly telling us the truth! You see, who says something is just as important as whats being said.

This is illustrated for us in Mark 1:21-28. The Lord went to a synagogue and while teaching was confronted by a man with an unclean spirit. The demonic forces asked Jesus if He had come to destroy them and then proclaimed Him to be the holy one of God! Now, on the surface this would be an amazing confession of Christs authority and deity. But again, any confession is only as good as the person who makes it. The devil seeks only to steal, kill and destroy; he is a liar and the truth is not in him, he is a murderer at heart who constantly stalks those he may devour. How Satan thought that his confession of who Christ was could assist his own diabolical plans may not be totally evident, but rest assured nothing but bad intentions comes from the mouth or mind of the enemy of our souls. Jesus, knowing the nature of the demonic, commanded the devils to be silent, rejecting their words. He had no need nor desire to have Satans confession to validate His identity as the holy one of God.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 10/3/2013 8:45:35 PM

FORMER AND FUTURE THINGS Paul was in jail for the gospel of Jesus when he wrote the epistle to the Philippians. He had experienced great success in ministry by this time, having established many churches, written many letters that would be ordained of God to be Scripture, having trained many leaders and performed many miracles. He had the mature perspective that being imprisoned for the sake of Christ left him freer than being on the outside apart from the Lord. Paul wasnt sure at this point whether his imprisonment would end in his being released to serve God longer in this life or if it would mean his death and the entering into of heavens portal. However, one thing Paul did know was this, he was not going to let the things that were behind (the former things) keep him from pressing more into Christ (the future things) (see Philippians 3:12-14). The shame of his life as a persecutor before knowing Jesus had been forgiven and the spiritual success of his life since knowing the Lord was not a cause for resting on laurels but a reason to believe that God had even greater in store! Thats a good lesson for us all, dont let the former things, neither shame nor success, keep us from growing in our walk with the Lord because the future things are always the best things for the child of God!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/30/2013 7:41:21 PM

GAINFUL THINGS In verses 4-11 (esp. v.7) the Apostle details the gainful things. I put gainful in italics because Paul eventually found out that what he used to think was important actually turned out to be not so valuable. He had been born a Hebrew, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the 8th day according to Scripture. He had become a Pharisee of Pharisees, a teacher of the law, an expert in the faith, and an exalted enemy of all that would come against that faith. His belief in and allegiance to the Pharisaical form of Judaism had led him to persecute those who believed in Jesus. To him the followers of the Way, as Christians were known at the time, were misguided people whose false doctrine needed to be stamped out with great force. Paul had excelled above all his contemporaries in matters of religion and some scholars even think that his abilities were so great and his reputation so respected that he was on his way to becoming the next high priest. Then, one day on the road to Damascus, on his way to further persecuting believers in Jesus, the Lord appeared unto him in a vision of blinding light (see Acts 9: 1-31). The one who had been the most vehement persecutor of Christ became gloriously converted and was made into one of the strongest preachers of Christs gospel the world would ever see. He thought his old friends would be so happy for him and so glad to receive his new revelation of the truth about Jesus. Instead, he discovered that the ones who used to respect him now wanted to kill him. The ones who used to be impressed by him were now repulsed by him. The ones he used to spend time with would now have no time for him. Pauls reputation, his career, his friendships, his notoriety, all of it was gone in a moment, in the moment that he met Christ. The Apostle was indeed great, but like us he was also human. Im sure the loss of all those things , the respect and the relationships, must have hurt. However, years have passed between his conversion and his writing to the Philippians. He has the right perspective now and tells his fellow believers that those things he previously considered gainful were actually rubbish that needed removed. All that he lost was nothing compared to the things he has now gained; a relationship with Christ, a salvation thats by grace through faith, a knowledge of the power of Christs resurrection, and a fellowship with the sufferings of His Lord. We do well to be reminded that some of the things we thought were gainful, actually turned out to be painful and not worth the investment of our time, talents, or treasures. In a day of easy believism and no-cost Christianity, we also do well to remember that following Jesus does have a price (see Luke 9:22-27). However, there is great joy in knowing the truth that with Christ on one side and all the world and its pleasures on the other, the scale of truly gainful things tips solely in one direction!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Things Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/26/2013 8:54:34 PM

Philippians 3:1-14 provides one of the most autobiographical sections in Scripture from the pen of the Apostle Paul. Like us, he did not always have a strong relationship with the Lord. He had days that were BC (Before Christ) and had done things he wasnt proud of. Like us, there were things that got in the way of his spiritual progress even after coming to salvation and things to which he aspired that he had not yet achieved nor experienced. By taking a look at the things presented in Pauls life in Philippians 3, we can have a better and more proper perspective on the things in our own lives.

SAME THINGS This chapter begins by the Apostle telling the church that it wasnt any trouble for him to write the same things to them again; in fact it was profitable for him to do so because it served as a safeguard for the congregation. Paul had spoken to them when he was in their midst and perhaps even written to them in prior times about the basic tenets of the Christian faith. The belief in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone could never be repeated enough. Especially since the church at the time was constantly berated by the Judaizers, a group who followed behind Pauls ministry and tried to get people to believe that salvation was through faith in Jesus plus adherence to certain laws, traditions, and moralities. Now, theres certainly nothing wrong with morality and doing good things, but to look to works as a basis for salvation was anathema to Paul and a false doctrine that was to be fought with the greatest intensity. So, the Apostle reminded the believers in Philippi about the truth of salvation by grace and excoriated the false teachers calling them dogs, evil workers, and the false circumcision. In todays world there are still those who try to add regulations and man made traditions to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but what they dont realize is that when they try to add to it, theyre actually taking away from it. To say that more is needed is to take away value from that which has been provided. There are others who, while believing truly about salvation, rarely speak on the subject, opting instead to focus on whats new, fanciful, or faddish. Christ is sufficient! Grace is where its at! Paul knew the believers needed reminded about this truth because it was this truth, these same things that he wrote to the church, that had so changed his own life.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Excuses Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/23/2013 7:37:31 PM

Life Application I read three well documented polls recently that said anywhere from 70 to 83 percent of Americans claim to be Christians. Now I realize that many of those people may not even know what it really means to be a Christian, and sadly they may never have heard of what it really means even from a house of worship with a cross or a fish in their logo. But for the sake of argument, lets take the low number and consider a few questions. Do seven out of every ten of your neighbors find themselves in church on Sunday? One might say, well a person doesnt have to attend services every week to be a Christian. True enough. But let me ask another question, have seven out of every ten people you know even made 5 services out of the last fifty?! Have seven out of every ten even cracked their Bibles open for five minutes out of the last fifty days, have they given fifty dollars out of the last five thousand theyve made to help spread the gospel message that is the source of the salvation they claim to be their only hope and the only hope of a lost and dying humanity, have they even bowed their head in prayer or lifted their voice in praise for five minutes out of the last 24 hours, and the list of questions could go on and on. Im not saying that a person doing all of the above mentioned things would for sure be a Christian, for there will be those seemingly doing good things, perhaps even what would be classified as great things, that will hear depart from me, for I never knew you for they were goats at heart and not true sheep (Matt. 7:21-23). Im also not saying that salvation is based upon the works that Ive spoken of here or upon any work except that of faith alone in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-10). But what I am saying is that those who have truly received Jesus and His offer of salvation will have lives that are changing. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always changing. And if there is no progression, no devotion to the things of God, then theres reason for grave concern. If theres no fruit, then theres probably no root! If something always comes up, then its more likely that were just always coming up with something. If we are fruitless, excuse riddled people who profess Christ, then we may need to question if were like those who accepted the invitation in word, but in deed rejected the dinner and the host choosing instead to worship the idol of self! Need I remind us of the Lords anger at such folks and their not so fortunate outcome? Some of us may need to repent. Some of us may need to pray more seriously for people we know and love.

If you made it through that last paragraph, let me now give a more celebrative word. The excuse mongers roused Gods ire, but His response was not to call the whole thing off. He instead sent His servant out to the highways and hedges to invite the poor, the lame, the blind, those with nothing, those often overlooked by the world, to His holy house to partake of His plenteous provisions. The door was swung open, wide open, for all those who would simply come. The Lord knew that many throughout history would outright deny and even mock Jesus and His gospel. It did not catch Him by surprise that of those who did claim allegiance to Him that many would be false converts, spiritual opportunists, goats instead of sheep, and tares instead of wheat. Yet, still Christ died for the sins of all who would believe that our relationship with God could be reconciled, our penalty paid, our record whiter than snow, our place at heavens table secured. We contribute nothing, other than repentance from sin and faith in Christ (which in themselves are gifts from God), and it can be well with our soul! All who call, truly call, upon the Name of the Lord will be saved, and those who come unto Him, He will in no way cast aside! (John 6:37; Rom. 10:13) All who know this promise and believe this truth should rejoice, the doors are open, wide open, to all who will come!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Excuses Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/19/2013 10:34:52 PM

Going Deeper When a person was going to have a big dinner 2,000 years ago (and mostly nowadays as well), they did not wait until the last minute to send out invitations. They would let guests know when the date for the dinner was well in advance and then those invited would RSVP in some fashion so that the man giving the meal would know how many to prepare for. Cooking a meal of such large proportions is no small task in our present day and was even more of an ordeal back then. It was impossible to know the exact hour the dinner would be fully ready to serve. So on the day of the meal, when the time came that everything was coming close to completion, the master of the house would send out a servant to tell those who had accepted the invitation that now was the time to come. This means that all of the original guests the servant went to on the day of the dinner had accepted the invitation from the master days or weeks before. They said they were coming and yet they did not! They had excusesvery lame excuses

As already stated, the first offered the excuse that he had just bought a piece of land and needed to survey it. So lets get this straight, he knew the day of the dinner in advance, he accepted the invitation, but something came up; he purchased a piece of property, sight unseen, and had to check it out at the exact time that he was summoned by the master. Buying a piece of property was an involved and expensive process back then as it is today. How many of us would buy a house without inspecting it? If you recall, the second guest also had an excuse. He too knew the day of the dinner well in advance, had accepted the invitation, but amazingly something came up; he bought five yolk of oxen and had to test them out. Having recently been car shopping myself, I know there are many factors to look at in such an endeavor. Theyre not giving them away. You need to consider interest rates, look at your budget, how much for insurance, who can you trust, what car is reliable, and the list goes on and on of factors to keep in mind. What are the odds that you would put out the kind of money they want for a vehicle these days and not even give it a test drive until after you signed on the dotted line of the contract? About the same as the odds of this man buying five yoke of oxen prior to assessing their strength and reliability. The final excuse is perhaps the most unbelievable. The third man told the summoning servant that he could not attend, even though he, like the first two, had plenty of notice about the date of the dinner and had accepted the invitation, because, well, you may have guessed it, something came up. He just got married and needed to spend time with his wife. Now Ive known of some men who forgot their anniversary, but I dont know of anyone who has ever failed to remember the day they were getting married! I dont know about you but if someone had accepted my dinner invitation but then gave me excuses like this, Id be more likely to think that they came up with something rather than believe that something came up!

All three of these men who accepted the invitation yet failed to come probably thought that the master would understand. They likely assumed that their absence would go unnoticed, thought the fact that others had come up with lamer excuses than they made their offense less offensive, and looked forward to future dinner opportunities that would better conform to the more important events of their lives. They were oblivious to the reality that the master was very angry at their rejection and definitively stated that they would receive no further invites. We dont often focus on the wrath of God nowadays, but that is part of His character. He would not be righteous if He did not have indignation and anger at injustice. If a man would be rightly upset that his dinner invitations had been accepted and then so flippantly rebuffed, how much more furious should God be when we have broken His holy law, He gives His only Son as a sacrifice to wash our sins away, and we respond by uncaringly turning away from His gracious offer of salvation? The master was upset that his invited guests had not come, but he would not allow his house to be empty nor his provisions to go to waste. He told his servant to go out and extend an invitation to all who would come, especially mentioning the blind, the poor, and the lame. Perhaps they would not have such other pressing and important events to attend to that they could not come to his feast; perhaps they would know what is truly pressing and important.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Excuses Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/16/2013 7:51:23 PM

(The following blog was written one year when I was involved in teaching Middle School Math). I gave the first math test of the academic year to my students this past Friday. Ive graded the exams, some students did okay, for others it wasnt pretty, but none of them have any legitimate excuse. Some might say the dog ate my notes, but that doesnt hold up because I offered them a copy of my exact notes if they had lost theirs for whatever reason. Others would suggest that they didnt know what would be on the test, but that fades away in light of the fact that Ive been giving sample questions for several days. Still, some might complain that they didnt know when the test would be given, but truth be told I gave them a full weeks notice that the day of reckoning was upon them. There may even be some students with the temerity to suggest that their teacher didnt do good enough of a job, but even if that were true it seems to pale in comparison to the fact that when I asked who had studied at least 15 minutes for the test less than 10% of my pupils raised their hands. (At least I can give them a thumbs up for being honest!) Now before we judge my students too harshly or begin saying things like, those kids these days, lets remember that excuse making is not unique to sixth graders, it is a detrimental factor common to the depraved DNA of all humanity, regardless of age. Were we to come clean, we could all confess many times in our lives when we have been put on the spot, palms sweating and minds racing to come up with some kind of excuse, no matter how lame or implausible it may be, just to make it through to the next minute. Jesus offered a tremendous teaching on excuses in Luke 14:16-21.

The Basic Story Line The parable in Luke speaks of a man who was giving a big dinner. He must have been a man of great means considering how many people he was willing to invite. Jesus doesnt tell us about all of the men who were originally asked to attend but does describe three who seemed to be representative of the whole lot. On the day of the dinner, the man sent his servant out to tell the guests that the meal was ready and it was time to come. The first asked to be excused because he had just bought a piece of land and needed time to survey it. The next requested a pass due to the fact that he just purchased five yoke of oxen and had to have time to test them. The final guest, in like fashion, wanted a reprieve from the dinner because he had just been married and would be spending the evening with his bride. When the servant reported the responses back to his master, the man became very angry that those invited were not coming and instructed his servant to go out into the highways and the hedges and invite the poor, the blind, the lame, and all who would come so that his house would be full and his dinner not wasted. The basic point of the man holding the dinner representing God and the three guests representing those who reject the Lord is quite obvious, however knowing some history of the Bible days heightens the severity of their excuse making from foolish to fatal, from dismissive to damning.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Speak...Think...Do...See! Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/12/2013 9:47:45 PM


SEE The last line of Joshua 1:8 promises that if we speak, think, and do Gods Word, then we shall prosper and have good success. God is not a man that He should lie. This promise, as are all others in Scripture, is true. If we are truly people of the Book as this verse instructs us to be, then we shall see prosperity and success! No question about it! Now, I dont mean prosperity and success the way the world defines it, nor the way some health and wealth preachers define it either. There are times we follow Gods Word and receive financial blessing, there are times we follow His Word and it costs us much. There are times we follow Gods Word and it brings sweet relationship, there are times we follow His Word and it means the severing of longstanding ties. Joshua 1:8 is talking about prosperity and success the way God defines it: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17); our names written down in the Lambs Book of Life (Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12-15); a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7); a joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8); a love thats true (1 Corinthians 13); a heart thats pure (Matthew 5:8); the kind of blessings that the world cant give and the world cant take away!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Speak...Think...Do...See! Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/9/2013 8:11:29 PM


DO Our precious 2 year old boy (when this article was written; hes five now) likes to climb up on the end table and play with the lamp shade. We have told him to Get Down! so many times that he has begun to say Get Down! to himself; all the while he remains dancing on top of the table and playing with the lamp shade! He thinks the words, he speaks the words, but his lack of obedience shows that he does not yet know the true meaning of the words. God did not command Joshua to speak the Word and think the Word just so he could mouth the right syllables. We are not to be engaged in serious study of the Bible just so we can pass a written test or so that we can win the Bible bowl. No, those who truly read the Word, speak the Word, and think the Word in the right spirit have the ultimate objective of doing the Word. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that those who heard His Words and obeyed would be like a man who built a house on the rock, but those who heard His Words and failed to obey would be like one who built his house on the sand. The storms of life came to both, but it was only the house of the doer that would stand (Matthew 7:24-27). James instructs us that we are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Those who hear but dont do are like someone who looks in a mirror and sees his messy hair but quickly turns away from the mirror and forgets what a mess he just saw, whereas those who hear and do Gods Word are ones who are constantly set free and getting their lives straightened out as they stare into the perfect law of liberty (James 1:22-25).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Speak...Think...Do...See! Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/5/2013 7:58:07 PM


THINK I used to teach Math to 8th graders. One day were going over linear equations and a girl sitting toward the back of the room begins swaying back and forth with her eyes closed and with a big grin on her face. Now I like Math and all, but its never been a subject to cause me to dance a jig, cut a rug, or, in the more modern vernacular, bust a move. I could tell that something was going on inside her head besides y = mx b. I went over to her desk and, although I couldnt understand the words (which was probably a blessing), I could tell she was singing to herself and moving to a beat. Her body was in a class on linear equations, but her mind was on disco fever! When God commanded Joshua to meditate on His Word day and night, He knew that Joshua had a lot of other tasks to do in the course of the day. When Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructs believers to pray without ceasing, hes not oblivious to the fact that theres jobs to go to, children that need fed, houses that need cleaning, and soccer games to attend. Verses like Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 arent commanding us to hide away in a monastery with an open Bible in front of us and hmmmmmm all day long in meditation. The true message of these verses is that we think about Gods Word all day, every day; that we cultivate a constant awareness of Gods presence; that we continually seek after an application of His Word to our everyday lives. In short, that we sing and move to the beat of Gods Word even in the midst of an ever oscillating humdrum and hysteria of the world in which we live. When we think Gods Word, our minds will be renewed and we will stand in awe at the marvelous works of the Lord (Romans 12:2; Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Speak...Think...Do...See! Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 9/2/2013 5:42:31 PM

One of the first verses I ever committed to memory was Joshua 1:8. The man for whom the book was named had just taken over as leader from Moses (Howd you like to have been in his shoes! Parting the Red Sea is a tough act to follow!). The first chapter begins with instructions from the Lord for the new leader to obey. Amongst the most important admonitions was verse 8 which reads, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.


SPEAK, God commanded Joshua that the Word of God was not to depart from His mouth. In other words, Joshua was to speak the Word! Unfortunately, when many today talk about speaking the Word of God it amounts to little more than a Christianized incantation whereby we quote enough Scriptures (often out of context) to twist Gods arm to do what we want. In truth, when we speak the Word (which is Gods will), it changes our desires to match His; it builds up our faith that He will do what He said He will do rather than us trying to tell Him what course of action He should pursue. That being said, the value of speaking the Word of God cannot be overstated. Truly, life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) When God created the heavens and the earth, He spoke! (Genesis 1) When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He spoke three verses from Deuteronomy and overcame Satans schemes! (Matthew 4: 4, 7, 10) When a person becomes saved, they must confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Romans 10:9-10) We are commanded not to neglect the reading of Gods Word in public! (1 Timothy 4:13) (How sad that many church services today are conducted without the Bible even being cracked open!) Jesus public ministry began by Him quoting verses from the prophetic book of Isaiah! (Luke 4:18-19) So often our own words (the words of man) are words of death, doubt, and discouragement. If we want words of life, faith, and edification to come from our lips, then we must speak the Word of God! (John 6:63; John 14:6; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 4:29).

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Gospel Illustrations Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/29/2013 9:37:34 PM

Jesus: Life Coach or Lord A businessman had reached a plateau in his enterprises. He tried everything that he knew to grow his business, but he couldnt seem to get to the next level. Believing that nothing is more painful for a company than stagnation, he decided to seek help from an outside source. Not knowing exactly where to go for assistance, he asked some of his successful friends if they could recommend someone. The name of one certain person, a life coach they called him, kept coming up in conversation, so the businessman determined to go to this individual for help. The life coach didnt have experience in the mans particular arena, but did have some principles that he assured would help any enterprise prosper. The businessman found much value in the life coachs advice. Many of the coachs suggestions could be directly applied to the mans company, others needed to be tweaked slightly to make them relevant. Still, there were some pieces of advice offered by the life coach that the businessman didnt agree with, or didnt deem important, that he decided to totally disregard. The mans company went to the next level of success and he was surely grateful for the help of the life coach his friends had recommended. However, there was a part of him that, at the end of the process, felt that he had outgrown the knowledge of his life coach. When his company reached the next plateau, he would seek out a new, more advanced advisor.

Imagine another scene. A businessman hits rock bottom in his company. He has tried to work out deals with creditors, but to no avail. He has attempted to get business loans from every bank imaginable, but still with no positive results. Hes at his wits end and doesnt know what to do. Doom and failure are imminently unavoidable. One day, an old friend tells the man about a rich man that not only can help, but that will help anyone who calls on him. Doubting but desperate, the businessman calls the number of the rich man recommended by his friend. Indeed, it was true, it was truer than true. The wealthy benefactor graciously declared that he would pay off all the debts the man had incurred. However, because the entrepreneur had proven he had no hope of ever running a successful business in his own abilities, the rich man, in addition to paying off the debts, would also take over ownership of the company. The rich man would make the decisions with regard to the companys future and would have the final say on all matters. The failed entrepreneur accepts the offer of the wealthy benefactor. Far from being disappointed, the man revels in knowing his debts have been paid by another and that he will never be in bondage again.

Is Jesus, the very Word of God, the only true source of eternal wisdom? Absolutely! Does Jesus through His Word give us great insight on how to live a better life, be a better parent, be a better friend, run a better business, and all the other betters one could think of? For sure! However, Christs most central message is that all are sinners who need saving (no matter how better they may be than others) and that He is the only Savior! Without repentance from sin and faith in Christ, there is no eternal better, only eternal bad. Jesus has no interest in being anyones life coach, you can go to Tony Robbins or Dr. Phil for that. A life coach, no matter how good, can at best be instructive, not authoritative. Jesus does not want an advisory role, He wants ownership of our lives, both here and now and in the hereafter!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Gospel Illustrations Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/26/2013 8:18:22 PM

The Gospel: Life-Enhancing or Life-Saving A man was waiting at the gate of an airport for his plane to begin boarding. The announcement finally came over the intercom that his seat number could enter the aircraft. He walks down the runway and is met by an attendant who hands him a parachute. He had never received such an item when he got on a plane before so he asked why it was being distributed to him today. The attendant got a huge smile on his face as he begin answering the question in a well rehearsed and pleasant tone. The man was told that the parachute he had just received was the most fashionable accessory in aeronautics today. This parachute would be the envy of everyone else on board the plane. Indeed, the parachute would be the key to being the most successful passenger on board. Those with the parachute would feel better about themselves, their trip would truly be wrought with friendly skies, and the parachute would make the ride more comfortable than any he had ever experienced before. Though the man had never had such an item offered him on any previous flight, he was intrigued by the promises made. He wanted the best, most comfortable, most fashionable, most successful ride possible, so he gladly took the parachute. His proud, hopeful, gleeful smile soon began to fade however when he sat in his seat and noticed that the parachute made the ride less comfortable, not more. His fellow passengers who were supposed to be envious of his parachute and marvel at his wisdom for having it were actually snickering behind his back and pointing fingers at the ignorance of the man wearing the cumbersome, ugly, unnecessary accessory on a perfectly fine plane. The promises of the attendant proved to be untrue, the blue skies quickly turned to gray. The man took off the parachute and held it in contempt, glad to be free of the discomfort and ridicule and feeling better for freeing himself of the naivety he had when he believed the bill of goods the attendant was selling him.

Imagine another scene. A man is sitting at the terminal waiting for his plane to board. When his seat number is called he walks down the runway and meets an attendant who hands him a parachute before he enters the aircraft. The man had never had such an item given him before on any of his previous flights, so he asked the steward why he was receiving a parachute this time. The attendant looked at him with a serious face and a slightly stern tone and told the man that at some point during the flight, he didnt know when, in fact no one knew when, but at some time the systems of the plane would fail. There was going to be a great crash; it wasnt a question of if, just a question of when. The passenger quickly put on his parachute and boarded the plane. The parachute was uncomfortable, those without parachutes (which were many in number), ridiculed him for wearing it. No matter, the man wasnt about to take it off. His flight might not be enhanced, but his life would be saved.

Does becoming a believer in Jesus make your life in this world better? Yes, I believe so. Jesus came to bring us life abundantly, literally life to the full (John 10:10). But that abundant life does not always equal success in terms of the American Dream, or a life free of cares and worries, or the absence of heartache, sorrow and pain, or perpetual clear skies void of pesky storm clouds. The Bible teaches that humanity is sinful to the core, unrighteous to the max, and totally without hope in their standing before God even when they are at their very best. (see Isaiah 64:6; Rom. 3:10) The gospel is not a parachute that will always make you popular, successful, or trouble free and anyone who tells you that it will doesnt truly understand it and is selling you a bill of goods that neither Christ nor His Word promise. If our hope is for this life alone, then we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). Truly, the gospel is the only parachute that will save you when the plane goes down; and it will go down!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Gospel Illustrations Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/22/2013 10:40:44 PM

Ive been reading Matt Chandlers new book entitled The Explicit Gospel (which I highly recommend!). The gospel is something that many Christians take for granted, we assume that everyone knows the essential elements which it contains. However, Chandler asserts, and I believe rightly so, that the gospel message has been so muddled that many dont know what it really is. The time has come for the gospel to be clear, to be laid out explicitly. Jesus often used parables (stories/illustrations) to make important points clear. In this series of blogs, we have three illustrations that I believe will help, at least in some small way, to clearly and poignantly address some critical (and muddying) issues concerning contemporary views on the atonement, the gospel, and the person of Christ.

The Atonement: Example or Essential A man and his wife were walking on the shore of a beautiful ocean one evening. With their hands tightly clasped and the moonlight gleaming on their brows, a sudden and overwhelming sense of romanticism floods the husband. Desiring to manifest his love for his wife, he stops in his tracks, turns to his side and looks her square in the eyes. He shouts out to the top of his lungs, I want to show you my love in the most special way I know how! Im going to express my love by giving my life for you! No sooner than he had uttered that last syllable, he let go of her hand, ran into the ocean, swam as far as he could and as long as he could until finally his strength failed, dreadfully succumbing to the currents and drowning in the depths of the deep. Do you think his wife, or anyone who may have witnessed the event from afar, would stand back in amazement with the thought, Oh how he loved her! Or do you think their jaws would drop in wonderment at the stupidity of what they had just seen and the sadness of such a needless waste.

Imagine another scene. A man is walking on the seashore by himself. He is at total peace and lacking nothing in any area when suddenly he gazes off in the distance and notices a disturbing sight. At what seems to be both a millisecond and an eternity, the realization comes to him that his wife somehow went swimming in the ocean and is now in danger of drowning. She is far away from the shore, the current is strong that shes facing, the husband knows there is no way she can even hope to make it to safety on her own. With total disregard for his own wellbeing, he hurls himself into the ocean, goes against the overwhelming tide, reaches the one he loves, carries her to safety, and loses his life in the process. Now, do you think this mans wife and other witnesses who may have seen what happened could in anyway doubt the love in the mans heart?!

Atonement is a theologically rich term basically meaning the price that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross to restore our relationship with God. The way some present the atonement (the work of the cross) gives the impression that Christ gave up His life to simply show us what love is like. If we follow in His example of love, then we will experience great blessings, feel good about ourselves, and somehow earn brownie points in the Lambs Book of Life. Is Jesus life worth emulating? Absolutely! However, if all we needed for salvation was an example, then He died needlessly. If all that was necessary to correct our sinful wanderings was for someone to show us the way (instead of someone to be the waysee John 14:6), Christ could have just taught us with words and deeds and stopped short of the cross. If Jesus death was merely for the purpose of example, then He threw His life away into the ocean for a bride who was safe on the shore! On the other hand, if we needed more than an example, if we were hopelessly separated from God because of our sin, if there is a Righteous Almighty Judge who will hold us to account for our transgressions and if a penalty has to be paid that we are unable to meet, then His substitutionary death on the cross to atone for our sins though He himself had never committed any error in thought, word, or deed, is truly the greatest love ever put on display! (Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21) He died for a bride that was drowning, not one who was safe on shore. The atonement is essential, not just example!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Take Time Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/19/2013 10:29:54 PM


Take Time To Remember The Gospel (Col. 1:5-7) Many (perhaps most) Christians think of the gospel as that which began their relationship with God. Repenting of sin and putting faith in Jesus is something that they did at a church once at some time in their life and now theyve moved on to new levels of advancement in their Christian walk. The Apostle Paul does not allow for this kind of mentality in his address to the Colossian believers. He does speak of the gospel as moving into new regions of the world to bring about the new births of those who had not yet believed, but he makes it quite clear in verse 6 of chapter 1 that the gospel has been bearing fruit and increasing in the lives of those who had already come to a faith in Christ. You see, Scripture clearly instructs us that no matter how long weve been believers, we must always remain gospel centered, not just for the sake of witnessing to others but for the purpose of allowing the message that made us born again lead us on into maturity.

For those who may be questioning what practical purpose there could be to taking time to remember the gospel, let me close this article with three illustrations. Situation number one. Lets say youre in the car with the kids or grandkids and rather than them being their normal, quiet, cooperative selves they begin incessantly asking you are we there yet?; then one child wants to listen to a certain radio station; the other child feels it their responsibility to demand that a different radio station be tuned in; their verbal exchanges rise to the level of shouting at each other; then one hits the other or the other hits the one; and then, next thing you know, pandemonium! How does remembering the gospel help you? Well, if you take time to recall Gods patience with you, dying for you while you were yet a sinner in constant rebellion against His laws and in constant resistance to His grace, then maybe youll be more inclined to handle the situation in a way that will have you (and maybe even your kids) sleeping good at eleven instead of being on the news at eleven! Situation number two. Youre in the line at Wal-Mart. Youre getting a little frustrated because more checkouts arent open. Still, your frustration level is nothing like a couple other customers in the line. Their faces turn various shades of red and their language is even a little more colorful than that. And, as if their language choices arent lacking enough, their clothing selection is even more lacking, literally lacking! Now, you might be tempted to let them have it for their sinful behavior, or at least go home and tell your friends and family what an awful display you were exposed to at the store today. However, while we certainly must stand for righteousness and cannot ignore the downward spiral of our culture, remembering the gospel and the fact that all of us apart from Christ are sinners who stand worthy of condemnation in hell and who devoid of the Holy Spirit would be unaware of our obvious depravity, might lead us to pray for and witness to unbelievers instead of just sticking a thumb in their eye. Finally, for our third illustration, lets say you blew it in the previous two cases. You yelled at your kids in the car, even saying some very mean things you wished you could take back. You looked down your nose at the people in line at Wal-Mart and said something that left them with the stench of a self-righteous hypocrite. You get ready for bed that evening knowing you failed, miserably. Think like the natural man and you may not have good night prayers because you feel unworthy to even lift your voice to God, you may feel your life hopeless, you probably end up giving yourself a worse beating than youve given anyone else that day. Think like the spiritual man who constantly remembers the gospel and you realize that the same God of grace who extends the offer of salvation extends the power for sanctification as well. The same love and forgiveness that was there when you first believed are there now that youve messed upagain. You repent and go to sleep that night knowing youre forgiven and you become ever more grateful to and dependent upon the God of your salvation. Let us make a conscious decision to always remember the gospel!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Take Time Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/15/2013 9:47:29 PM


Take Time To Pray For Others (Col. 1:3, 9-12) Through the years I have had many people come to me facing seemingly impossible situations. They are experiencing infirmities, discouragements, disappointments, betrayals, and various other types of trials and loss. They will ask for prayer and I certainly join my faith with theirs in intercession. That being said, one suggestion I always like to give them is to take time to pray for others. To the natural mind the hour of our struggles, the moments of our deepest needs, may seem like exactly the wrong time to be concerned about someone else. Why would we devote energy and resources that we seemingly cant afford to spare? Well, the primary reason is because its biblical. Philippians 2:3-4 clearly instructs us to put the interests of others above our own; the next four verses detail how Christ so fully exemplified that admonition. A secondary reason to pray for others even, or perhaps especially, in our deepest time of need is because it works. By focusing on issues other than our own we see things clearer, we better resist despair, and we know the power of God to a greater degree.


At the time of the writing of Colossians, the Apostle Paul was in a Roman prison for his crime of preaching the gospel. Now if I were in a cruel imprisonment for the cause of Christ and wrote a letter to my brothers and sisters in the Lord, I would probably begin my correspondence by telling them how bad my situation was, how good I was for bearing up under it, and requesting urgent prayer for myself! Now maybe Im the only one who would have those priorities, but I would guess Im not alone in having the tendency to think of my situations and needs first. However, the Spirit-led, though imprisoned, Apostle Paul made it a priority to pray for the Colossian believers in his epistle before he mentioned one word about his own predicament. Let us take time to pray for others! It sounds easy enough, but it will take intentionality to get our focus off ourselves and our own situations to care for the concerns of someone else.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Take Time Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/12/2013 6:40:29 PM


If youre like me, and like most people I would guess, your Make Time List is pretty long. That is, there are several things you would like to do, lots of places youd like to go, numerous people youd like to see, if only you could Make Time for them. (I think I see several heads nodding in agreement.) Sadly, however, there is no one, no matter what their status or station in life, with the ability to make their day any longer than 24 hours (and, if we could make it 36, wed probably find ourselves yearning for 48!). So, since we cant make time, we must decide, intentionally prioritize, what we are going to take time for. The Apostle Paul gives us some incite to spiritual priorities in Colossians chapter 1.


Take Time To Give Thanks (Col. 1:3) One of the most precious memories from my childhood is hearing my papaw say grace before meals. It did not matter whether it was at home or at a restaurant, whether anyone liked it or didnt like it, he was going to prayand his prayer was never short. Confession time: there were instances when it was hard for a young, hungry boy to stay focused through the entire prayer when mamaws fried potatoes and cornbread were sitting on the table right in front of my nose! There were nights when I wished that for just once he would make grace a little shorter! Though some of the prayers content would change depending upon the needs of the hour, many of the phrases stayed the same and I can still hear them ringing in my ear to this very day. One of those unalterable utterances was my papaws declaration that he would never fail, as long as in his right mind, to bow his unworthy head, and give thanks to God.

In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul needs to address heresies that are trying to invade the church. He must speak to important practical considerations of how Christians should treat their spouses, raise their children, manage those who work under them, and labor for those who are over them. He will present one of the clearest and strongest supports for the doctrine of Christs deity and delineate necessary elements for the doctrine of salvation. But, before he does any of these essential things, he pauses to praise; he takes time to give thanks! No matter what the importance of what we may be doing or need to get about doing, whatever the necessity of what must be addressed; regardless of the wonderful, dare I say glorious, smell of mamaws potatoes and cornbread, stop and take time to give thanks! Do it intentionally, do it on purpose, do it decidedly, do it with conviction! As long as in our right minds may we never fail to bow our unworthy heads and give God thanks!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Lessons From The Road Part 4
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/8/2013 9:38:41 PM


Lessons from the Destination I remember pulling into mamaws and papaws driveway in Ohio after our long trip from Florida when I was a kid. Sis (shes really my aunt but if I call her Aunt instead of sis that would be the last you would see of me!) still lived with my grandparents at that time. When we called and let them know that we were close, she would begin looking out the window. When our car came into view, shed run out of the house and welcome us with hugs and kisses. We crawled out of the vehicle and limped inside. As the blood began circulating and the numbness went out of our legs, we would find that mamaw had been hard at work. She had all of our favorites waiting for us in the kitchen; her famous macaroni vegetable soup was simmering on the stove, a freshly topped apple sauce cake lay on the counter, homemade cornbread was awaiting to go into the oven, and freshly cut potatoes were ready to take a plunge into a lard laden iron skillet. (Anyone getting hungry right about now!) Papaw was sitting in his blue rocking chair on the front porch. Hed give us a hug and say hello before taking our car down to his garage (an immense structure that he had built himself out of leftover telephone polls). After he was finished with the car hed make time to pick on dad for having his hair too long while simultaneously loading me up in the car to take me to the barber! But, just before we left, he let dad know what project wed be working on when we got back from town. (It wouldnt have been a trip to Ohio without fixing the well, or rebuilding a motor, or poring a cement walkway, or shingling the roof, etc)

Sis has been married for 17 years now to a godly man who used to be my Sunday School teacher. They live in a little town about 25 minutes (or 15 minutes if you drive like they do!) away from mamaws and papaws old house. They are blessed with 2 young girls of their own, one who just received the Lord this past Easter! Mamaw, now in her 80s, lives in an assisted living facility close to them. She has Alzheimers. Thankfully, she is doing fairly well physically. She still remembers our faces and is in pretty good spirits, especially before sunset (those who know someone with Alzheimers know what Im talking about). Papaw, a Baptist minister who made a great impact upon my life, went home to be with the Lord almost a decade ago now.

I would love to see papaw again. Id love to see my mamaw with her full faculties again. Id love for them both to meet and remember the wonderful wife God has blessed me with and the fabulous great grandchild they have. I wont find that to be a reality when we reach our destination in Ohio this year. However, one day, when we reach the final destination for those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, those dreams along with others that have never crossed my mind nor entered my heart will be realized in full forever. Not only will my relatives be there with great excitement (I am so thankful to have a family that is mostly comprised of believers; there is truly no greater blessing!), but our Heavenly Father will be awaiting us! I dont know if He will have soup, cake, cornbread, fried potatoes, haircuts, or projects, but I do know that the God who loved us so much to give His only Son, who has a party in heaven each time a lost sinner asks for forgiveness, will surely have a welcome home bash beyond our wildest imagination!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Lessons From The Road Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/5/2013 5:50:42 PM

Lessons from the Journey Before leaving on vacation, it takes about a week to get ready to go and a week to catch up when you get back. (All through the blogosphere I think I see a bunch of heads nodding and hear several amens being said right now!) Going on the trip is a big chore. Traveling is tiring. You measure your progress in mile markers and sometimes it seems they will never end. You see the sign for Cleveland, but just as you get a little excited you realize that its Cleveland, Tennessee being advertised instead of Cleveland, Ohio! Several hundreds of miles yet to go! However, in the midst of the long, arduous, seemingly never-ending journey, there are things to be enjoyed and not overlooked. I get to spend hours and hours holding the hand of my love, the best wife that anyone could ever ask for, as she sits next to me in the front seat. I get to look in the rear-view mirror and gaze upon the precious boy the Lord has blessed us with. I get to see my sweet mom enjoy being the best grandmother a boy could ever hope to have as she plays with our boy in the backseat. I get to hear stories from my dad (assuming I can get him to come out of his shell!) that I wandered if I would ever get to hear again a few years ago as we sat at the foot of a hospital bed.

Life can be tiring and tedious. Sometimes progress is slow and taxing. The destination that awaits us as believers is something to be longed for with great anticipation. However, dont overlook the joy of the journey. As we serve the Lord, the Father of lights gives us every good and perfect gift to enjoy and for which to be grateful!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Lessons From The Road Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 8/1/2013 9:04:04 PM

Lessons from the Front Seat For the past several years of our excursions up north Ive been the one doing the driving. My wife, my mom, and my dad all offer to take over so that I can rest. (I always tell them that I can rest better when Im driving!) We dont make the trip as fast now as we used to when I was a kid. Dad could drive all night, sleep a couple hours at a rest area, and then finish the journey. I can drive all day with no problem, but when the sun goes down I begin to get tired and need to pull over sometime before midnight to get a little shut eye at a motel. You see, when youre in the front seat, you cant sleep all day. You have responsibilities. You have to pay attention. Its not all about you. You have to think about the welfare of your passengers. Have you double checked that its safe to pass? Are you looking in the rearview mirror to see if there are any crazy drivers coming up behind you? Did you watch the road signs closely enough to make sure that youre on the right highway? Does somebody need to stop for a rest bit? Have you reached the limit of time you can safely continue driving before pulling over for the evening?

We do well to remember that we are not the only ones we need to consider when making decisions. Life is not all about us! The Lord is surely the One who is always in control, but through His providence we have God-given responsibilities that, when carried out according to His strength and wisdom, bring more fulfillment to our lives than we could have ever dreamed. The life spent on selfishness and self-centered concerns is an empty one indeed. The life invested in loving and serving God and loving and serving others is one filled with abundance!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Lessons From The Road Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/29/2013 6:57:11 PM

My dad, mom, and I moved to Florida when I was 10. With much of our family still living up north, we began the tradition of going on an almost annual road trip to Ohio to see them. Weve trekked up and down I-75 so many times that we know where the best places are to get gas, where all the White Castle Restaurants are located (did I just mention places where you can get gas?), where the most affordable motel rooms can be found, some key states to look out for the Highway Patrol, and some key cities not to hit at 5 in the afternoon. This is the time of year that many of us here at the store are taking vacations (and some of us are working extra hours to cover; oh the sacrifice!). That got me thinking about some lessons Ive learned from the road north on our vacations through the years that are good lessons for the road of life.

Lessons from the Back Seat Dad did most of the driving in the early years of our travels from Florida to Ohio. I wasnt old enough to drive then and mom, well she was old enough but, lets just say, she wasnt given too much opportunity! I sat in the backseat. I use the word sat loosely because mostly I laid down in the backseat and slept! If I tried to read, I would get sick. If I watched the scenery, I would get bored. If I watched dads driving, I would get scared! So, even though I wasnt one to sleep for long periods of time, I trained myself to rest for about 15 of the 20 hours of the Ohio Road Trip. The only times you could be sure I would be awake on the road was when I was hungry for a hamburger or needed to go to the restroom!

There are times in life when we may be sick, sometimes we may be bored (although I find those are fewer and farther between as I get older), sometimes we may be scared, and almost all times we find ourselves not being in the drivers seat! However, we have a Heavenly Father who is good, who can be trusted, who is all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful, and faithful! Hes got everything under control! So sit back (lay down if youd like!) and rest soundly knowing that every need is supplied and you are secure. (Just be sure and wake up at the next White Castle Restaurant!)

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Declaration of Doctrine Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/24/2013 3:14:55 PM


With certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness The Founders held the belief that human rights extend from the hand of God, not from the halls of government. The three rights they focused on in this most famous excerpt from the Declaration of Independence were the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness. In this blog, we only have time to focus on the first, the right to life. It stands to reason that if someone doesnt have this most basic right, then any and all others are meaningless. The Founders would have been horrified to think that the Supreme Court of our nation found the right to an abortion to be contained in the privacy clause of the Constitution. Any intellectually honest person who actually reads the Constitution would never come up with the conclusion that our Founding Fathers or that document in any way supported abortion. A baby, from the moment of conception, is alive! You can see the heart clearly beating on an ultrasound as early as 7 weeks into pregnancy. Psalm 91:13-14 declares that God formed us in our mothers womb and that every human is fearfully and wonderfully made. When a government steps in to take away this most basic right to life from the most vulnerable among us, its only a matter of time before it will step in to take away the other God-ordained rights found in our Declaration. Indeed, the doctrine of the sanctity of life espoused by our founders and expressed in our Declaration of Independence, need to be reiterated to our current culture which has aborted 56,000,000 and counting.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Declaration of Doctrine Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/18/2013 8:44:10 PM


That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator One of the self-evident truths espoused in the Declaration was the idea that everyone is created equal. Acts 10:34 teaches that God does not show partiality, or in KJV language, that He is not a respecter of persons. We all know what it feels like to be misjudged or misunderstood. We all know what it feels like to be treated unfairly or unjustly because of our appearance or our heritage or our background. Laws against discrimination abound in our books but still dont keep it from happening on the streets, at the schoolhouse, on the playground, or in the workplace. Governments and political systems throughout the ages, but especially in more modern times, think that the way to make all men be treated equal is to deny God and religion and make man the measure of all things. However, any serious student of history will find that once the Creator is done away with and religious thought is no longer welcomed in the public square, when the government instead of God becomes the source from which citizens are seen to derive their rights and liberties, when the concept of mankind being a Divine creation gives way to the view that the human race is the mere product of evolution and cosmic chance, then the concepts of equality among men, basic decency, and foundational human rights are dealt mortal blows. George Washington asserted in his Farewell Address that morality and decency cannot exist apart from religious principle. The pages of the Bible, as well as the annals of history, show that he was right.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

Declaration of Doctrine Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/16/2013 9:34:48 PM


Just reading the title of this blog is probably enough to send some into immediate snooze mode. Doctrine is a word that has unfortunately gotten a bad rap in our modern Christian culture. It carries such a negative connotation that some take a great amount of time, a great amount of volume, and, truth be told, a great amount of pride as well, in boldly declaring that they arent into doctrine; that they just want to talk about love or spirituality or some other subject that tends to have a more emotional appeal than the cold, sterile, concept of doctrine. However, I assure you that everyone has. That is, everyone believes something and what they believe impacts all that they do and all that they are. In this month that we celebrate the 4th of July holiday, I want to take a brief look at some of the doctrines of our Founding Fathers as expressed in the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence. (just a note: if you want a good doctrinal textbook, there is perhaps none better than Wayne Grudems book entitled Systematic Theology; its one of those classics that we always keep on the shelf).

We hold these truths to be self-evident The concept of self-evident truth is known by theologians as the doctrine of general revelation. Its the idea that all people, whether they are Christians or not, whether they possess a copy of the Bible or not, can still know some truth about God and about life through the agents of creation and conscience. Psalm 19:1 states that the heavens are telling the glory of God. When you look up into the starry night sky, when you see a magnificent sunrise or view a picturesque sunset, when you sense the freshness of the breeze or the refreshment of the sea; even without looking into the pages of the Old or New Testament or hearing a sermon from a pulpit, you know that theres a God who is bigger, stronger, and smarter than any human could ever be. Romans 2:15 gives us the second-half of the general revelation duo when it states that every person has a conscience, a basic knowing of right and wrong that internally either defends or accuses them for their thoughts, words, and deeds. In the words of The Message, a paraphrase of Scripture written by Eugene Peterson, there is something deep within them (every man) that echoes Gods yes and no, right and wrong. Again, without ever turning to a verse in the Bible, every man has been given a conscience by the Creator that tells them some basic truths about right and wrong. The presence of this moral code in human hearts is another testimony that there is a God who implanted this code and that there is an absolute truth to be followed. In our present day, there are many who deny the existence of God and disavow the existence of any absolute truth, they hold to a belief that man is the center of the universe and that whats right and wrong for one person may not be whats right and wrong for another person. Our Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence are sources from which our modern thinkers could learn a great deal.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

True Freedom Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/12/2013 9:47:59 AM

AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE FREE TO LOVE AND TO SERVE. Jesus Christ certainly paid the price for us to be free FROM all the bondages of sin. However, as great as that is, it is a negative blessing. By that I do not mean that it is bad, I simply mean that all the freedoms FROM this, that, and the other thing, bring us from being in spiritual deficit (the negative) up to a zero point. But Jesus didnt die just to bring us to a zero point, He died to bring us into the spiritual black a million times over. Thats where the freedom TOS come in. There are many freedom TOS verses we could discuss, but Im choosing Galatians 5:13 because here Paul deals with perhaps the most important freedom TOS we could enjoy, those of loving and serving. You may say, Well, I had freedom to love and to serve before coming to know Christ. Oh really! You may have had a desire to love and serve every now and then, but just as you lacked a freedom FROM sin before knowing Jesus you lacked the freedom TO genuinely love and serve with the right heart, motivation, attitude, and spirit. If you are in Christ, you now have the freedom TO really and truly love and serve. So lets get out there. Lets use our God given freedom. Find people to love, find people to serve. And if were not doing those two things for the glory of God, lets at least be honest enough to admit that were not as free as we need to be, that were at the zero point instead of in the black.

Let me close with the lyrics of an old spiritual. O freedom, O freedom, O freedom over me. And before Id be a slave, Id be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free! These words express the kind of determination and drive that we need to have as believers to be free. Dont live in bondage, and the first step is to admit that we need to be free, or at least we need to be more free! Dont live as the slave to sin; and when we do sin dont live as the slave to condemnation! Dont be satisfied with living in the freedom FROMS, live in the most glorious freedom of all, the freedom TOS!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

True Freedom Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/12/2013 9:46:38 AM

AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE FREE FROM SIN AND CONDEMNATION. A famous comedian used to say, the devil made me do it! As many laughs as he may have garnered, his statement has no validity for the Christian. Sin is a power, the devil is powerful, but compared to our God neither would even show up as a blimp on the screen. Romans 6:18 tells us that born again believers who have received Christ as Savior and have the Holy Spirit resident in their lives have been freed from sin. That means that the wrong behaviors that we could not change, the lying tongue we couldnt tame, the foul mind we couldnt control, the mean spirit we could not transform, and all other various and sundry manifestations of the power of sin have been broken by the power of Christ. We may still find ourselves in sins prison, but its because we have walked back into the cell, not because Christ didnt unlock the door. That being said, when we do sin, when we do fall short, we must never forget that our salvation didnt rest in our good works when we first received Christ and the ability to be forgiven after we received Him doesnt have to be earned either. In the words of John the Apostle, when we do sin (and if we say we havent sinned, then were a liar!), we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all our guilty stains (1 John 1:9-2:1). As Paul would state in Romans 8:1-2, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesusfor the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Christians have been set free from sin, but when we do sin, if we repent we are made free from condemnation. That sounds like a whole lot of freedom to me!!!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

True Freedom Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/9/2013 10:40:08 AM

Freedom. One simple word wrought with so much meaning. As Americans we enjoy the freest society on the face of this earth, a fact for which we should be thankful. However, as much as we delight in the natural freedom of being a citizen of the United States of America, those who are citizens of the kingdom of God should revel infinitely more in the spiritual freedom that is granted to us through Christ; a freedom which no man nor nation, no threat foreign nor domestic, no devil in hell or Satan himself can take away from the one who has it. In this weeks blog entries I want to share three aspects of this spiritual freedom.

WE ALL NEED TO BE FREE, OR AT LEAST MORE FREE. John 8:32 records one of the most famous phrases uttered from the lips of Jesus. He told a group of religious Jewish folks that if they chose, they could know the truth, and the truth will make you free. To which their immediate response was, We are Abrahams descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone! Many of those Jesus was speaking to were alleged authorities on Scripture. Yet, anyone with even a scant knowledge of the Old Testament would know that the Jewish race (the descendants of Abraham) had in fact been in bondage for a great deal of their history. They had been in bondage to Egypt for 400 years before being led out by Moses, they were in bondage to various foreign nations during the subsequent 400 year period of the Judges, the ten Northern tribes were in bondage to/conquered by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the two Southern tribes were in bondage to/conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and at the very time when Jesus spoke these words in Johns gospel the Jews were in bondage to the Roman Empire. How could these religious leaders be so ignorant, so misguided, so oblivious to known facts as to make the blatantly false statement that they had never been in bondage? Well, before we judge them too harshly, havent we done the same? How many of us, before knowing Christ, spent all week earning money, wasted it all on Friday and Saturday nights (just to earn the privilege of being sick all day Sunday), turned around and did the same thing the next week, and told everybody were having a wonderful time!? Have we (perhaps even after becoming a Christian) been hateful to our spouses, hurtful to our children, depressed at our workplaces, worried in our thought life, hopeless in our spirits, and yet when someone asks us how were doing we say fine or good or even blessed? Why do we deny our bondage? Because to admit to the truth of our bondage would destroy the faade of our pride; and thats a price for freedom that we deem, perhaps subconsciously, too high to pay. Jesus, the glorious emancipator, the only liberator capable to unshackle the soul, stood before the crowd 2,000 years ago offering freedom. Yet, they chose lies over truth, pride over humility, and thus bondage over freedom. Lets not be like them. Lets receive the truth, admit that were bound, run to the Savior, and walk in the freedom Jesus so graciously affords!

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Christian Heritage of America Part 3
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/1/2013 4:46:28 PM

Were the colonists not convinced of transcendent biblical truth and authority, they would not have had the courageous empowerment to fight against the evils of tyranny. Moral relativism (the view that there is no absolute right or wrong) and religious pluralism (the view that all religions are equal and will lead to heaven as long as they are followed sincerely) that are so popular in our day tend to have no backbone to even call anything evil, much less to stand against it at the cost of meaningful sacrifice. The words Creator, holy, Sacred honor, self- evident truth, God of hosts, salvation, etc. that were on the lips and pens of our founding fathers are now seen as politically incorrect in the very nation that they helped forge.

Before concluding this article I feel it necessary to make sure that a couple of things are perfectly clear. First, although I want laws passed that line up with the Bible and that elevate righteousness, as a Christian my hope does not lie in any legislation or government of men. We should vote, we should make our voices heard to our elected leaders, but when we rely more on these kind of efforts than we do upon prayer and the preaching of the gospel, then we have misplaced our faith. Second, though I present the good Christian heritage of our nations founding, I am not romanticizing all of Americas history. Like any enterprise that involves flawed humanity, our country has made many mistakes, oft sinning and failing to live up to the promise of our creeds. That being said, no nation in the annals of mankind has done more to procure freedom for its own citizens and propagate the ideas of freedom to other lands near and far. We are blessed to live in the USA and should be very thankful. May we first and foremost be good citizens of the household of God! May we as well be good citizens of America! And may we remember and stand up for the Christian underpinnings upon which this nation was founded!

(We have a year round section of Americana books. Also, during this time of year we carry some seasonal patriotic items. If you are interested in more facts about the Christian heritage of America, I encourage you to look into works by historian David Barton. We are currently carrying his book The Jefferson Lies as well as The Founders Bible, a NASB Bible with quotes from our Founding Fathers and with historical articles edited and authored by David Barton.)

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Christian Heritage of America Part 2
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/1/2013 4:45:53 PM

This oratorical spark would give rise to a conflagration for freedom. In June of 1776 the Continental Congress appointed a five man committee (Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston) to author a document that would delineate the grievances against Britain and declare a severing of the relationship between the American colonies and the mother country. All five men would provide valuable input, but they chose Jefferson as the one who would be responsible for the final draft. He worked hard on the document for two weeks but his first draft was rejected by the others because they did not see it as adequately reflecting the deeply held religious convictions of the colonists. Mind you, Jefferson had included such statements as the idea that Americans were subject to the laws of Nature and of Natures God, but the committee felt it still needed a more theistic (God-centered) tone. (Note: many scholars espouse the idea that Jefferson was not a Christian, and it is true that of the founding fathers he and Franklin are the two whose Christianity is most up for debate. Yet, that being said, Jefferson, who is also credited with the separation of church and state idea that has been so misrepresented in todays society, went to Christian church services held in the Capitol building every Sunday and supplied the services with paid government musicians to assist in worship during his presidency.)

The final draft of the Declaration contained more specific phrases such as We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and that the colonists were appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions and acting in firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence. The Declaration went on to list 28 violations of natural, biblical law that had been appropriated onto the colonists by the British Empire. The men concluded by saying that to the cause of freedom and with the support of Almighty God they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their Sacred honor. This was no feeble statement for in the Revolutionary War to follow, of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, 9 would be killed, 5 taken prisoner by the British, 12 had their homes sacked and/or destroyed, and 17 lost all they owned and were labeled as traitors.

Every day there was cash advance credit before.

The Christian Heritage of America Part 1
Every day there was cash advance credit before.
: Posted 7/1/2013 4:45:11 PM


The fourth of July is a special day in the history of America. It was on this day in 1776 that settlers who had been geographically in a New World but politically subjects of an old British Guard that ruled them in tyranny codified their determination to be free in the Declaration of Independence. Over two hundred and thirty years after its inscription, the Declaration remains one of the grandest documents of political and humanitarian philosophy in the history of civilization. However, none of its content or clarity would be possible without the conscience and conviction that comes from the Holy Scriptures.

Many of the colonists had been turned off by the heavy handedness of the British Empire and of King George in particular. The King basically viewed the American colonists as sources of revenue for the mother country who were sublevel citizens of England at best. Through a series of demoralizing acts, Englands Sovereign along with a consenting parliament alienated the American colonies and the cry of no taxation without representation began to rise among the settlers of the New World. Still, while many if not most wanted to be free from British tyranny, there were many if not most who did not relish in the idea of bucking the most powerful empire on the face of the planet. (Im reminded here of Benjamin Franklins statement regarding the revolutionists, We must all hang together or we shall surely hang separately!)

Americans received much of the needed catalyst for revolution from the eloquent lips of Patrick Henry, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. On March 23, 1775, he delivered his famous Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech. In this grand oratory, Henry used such biblical allusions as people who have ears but dont hear and eyes but dont see to describe those opposed to fighting Britain. He said they were so concerned about their temporal salvation in this physical life that they failed to see the higher salvation of freedom and the holy cause of liberty which God had ordained for man. Henry appealed to the God of hosts and to the just God who presides over the destinies of nations to fight against the forces of tyranny represented by the repressive regime of Britain and to fight for the cause of liberty. He was convinced that the God of Holy Scriptures would be on the side of the righteous, though weak versus the tyrannical, though strong.