Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Break Time"

It nice to know that many read my blog. It is definitely not an ego thing with me. If I felt this wasn't helping some, I would simply quit! However, I do get a number of personal emails that never post on the blog. Thank you. I am not the best at writing and I am learning as I go. Many say I write like I that has me concerned! I spend more time on content than the wording of how something is said but I do need to get a little stronger at my wording. I have had the blessing of some English majors correct me on grammar over the years and I am thankful for them. One dear lady who was an English teacher, while laying in a hospital bed days from her passing could barely whisper. I leaned over to hear what she was saying. The words, "It's me..." then she paused. I couldn't figure it out. Again she said, "It's's me!" I looked at her daughter who was by her side and she leaned over her mother to figure out what she was trying to say. She put her ear almost directly over her mouth, stood back up and said, "Mom said it is 'Jesus and me', not 'Jesus and I'. Teaching me to speak better and I was listening.
Well, I will be away and not post again until Sept. 12. May God richly bless each that read and I give thanks to everyone who helps me and is patient with my weaknesses. Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace to a weak and struggling man! Be fervent in prayer. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


How many times have you wanted the approval of someone? I know I have been there. It's where you maybe have been a flop in many areas, you know you're not smart, good looking or surrounded by many friends. Approval, if you could only find approval. You get around those who spout of big words or have a mind to think so clearly and expound upon things you cannot even imagine. You see them and see your self that you're incapable of such thinking. Approval, if you could only find approval.
Some call it low self-esteem and it seems everyone has their personal input to how you might have felt. But then something marvelous happened that it hard to put into words. No person raised you up. No words of encouragement came from any human. Someone didn't shower you with love or seek your approval. It is called simply the love of God. "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Rom. 5:5) The love of God poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit? Can this really be true? Does God really love me and accept me? If we dare to believe that profoundly astonishing fact your shackles of wanting the approval of others will dissolve! The love of God frees one from ourselves and paralyzing ugliness we think we possess. Your peers don't matter any longer and those who despised you taking every opportunity to bury you become as nothing. Our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Lord, our Messiah, our God outflanked every person on this earth and made their views meaningless.Christ came to us, gentle and humble in heart and we found rest for our souls! The love of God upholds us and says, "You're Mine and Mine alone!" "See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it does not know Him." (I John 3:1)
Freedom! The approval of God is all one needs. As far as others are concerned, they may still see me (us) as nothing and cast us aside but the love of God...what a blessing of freedom!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Jesus the Life"

It is so sad to see people thrust Jesus aside as if He is nothing. The state of the heart and soul have become so black and sin-filled they do not know what they are doing. Jesus recognized that on the cross when He cried out for the ignorance of the people.
The madness of sin in the final thrust is the flinging away from Jesus. We see it in Judas. When are we going to learn? Here was a man, not just any man but an apostle, seeing the miracles, watching how the Lord dealt and moved among the people. Somehow his thinking became so tainted and misdirected that he thought he could set up a nice bank account and still be bound to God! Standing, looking at 30 pieces of silver in his hands and reality hit. He hated himself and what he had done. He choose sin over the Lord and it had such an impact he hurled his  future plans of wealth into the pavement and went out an ended his life. I realize it doesn't always end so dramatic for others but nonetheless people get caught up into sin, trade Jesus for the world and it hits them like a ton of bricks. They are trapped by sins deceit and many times they cannot find the strength to break its hold. That's the power of sin and thrusting Jesus aside.
Looking around at our co-workers, our neighbors and friends it makes you wonder how so many can live their lives in the party mode while Jesus is nothing to them! He means so little they refuse to give up sin. Many find Jesus a 'bore' or a 'party-killer.' Some see there is too much life to enjoy while not wasting it on Jesus. 
There is no life without Jesus! Too many pretend they have the life but live lives that are disturbing and haunting  because they know they have traded Jesus for sin. It is a struggle but somehow they realize they need Jesus but won't surrender their heart completely. We need to stop trying to compete with the lost religions around us trying to make Jesus and our lives 'user-friendly'. We need to stop entertaining to make Jesus look attractive. Only in Jesus there is life! Only in Jesus can one find a soul content and happy! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior, our Lord, our LIFE!

Monday, August 22, 2011


I guess it is one of those mornings! You know the kind where you try to get things going and you feel like you have been used as a whipping post. Sometimes is gets mighty discouraging in the church of our Lord. Well, maybe that's just me.
Recently speaking with a dear fellow preacher, he shared with me how he had worked hard on a lesson that needed to be addressed in the congregation. He was careful and meticulous in what he said but was straight-forward with the truth. He spoke, people listened and the problem that was addressed went unrecognized. People simply didn't take the truth to heart. He was really discouraged. I can identify with him!
Maybe it's me. I don't know but it seems the longer you stay the less people listen. To speak the truth in love, to point people to the reality of life and try to help in truth and in return, emptiness in a lot of cases. But then again there is the Lord and how He must have felt. To pour your heart into something and only find disgruntled people about this and that, the Lord knew it well. As I get older I am seeing it happen.
Well, I guess today's blog isn't good at all. I just penned some of my thoughts wondering where all this will lead. I know, I need to go to the Lord in prayer and lay it at His feet. It's His body! It's His truth! I am just a lowly servant, not good sometimes, struggling at other time wondering and watching for open doors. I think I'll go back and read some of the things I have written and make sure I am practicing what I believe.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Mapped Out Lives?"

You have heard it and so have I. People speak that God has a plan for each of us. I sure want to accept that fact. Wouldn't it be great to know that God has a plan worked out for us and all we do is live and let Him work out that plan? Let's be honest with this. If God has a specific plan for every step of our lives why hasn't He given us more direction to work with that fact?
Things get a little muddled and complicated if we start believing that God has an exhaustive plan for our lives as if He has this graph on each person with our lives mapped out step by step. The Lord wants us to go this direction and off we take in another. How are we to really know what the Lord has planned in our lives? When we take off on our own, what does that do with the graph?
I do not know of any Scriptural text that tells us the Lord has such a plan for our lives. I don't know if people just want to believe that for the messes they find themselves in or not but sometimes we are being told things that simply do not line up with Scripture. I do know this, the Lord God does care about the decisions we make. Our Lord's main concern is the kind of decision we make rather than what decisions we make!
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." (Col. 3:23-24) "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Cor. 10:31)
Verses like the above point out one message. Our decisions should always be affected by our relationship with the Lord! That's not saying that God has our lives mapped out. That is simply saying we do what we do to please Him by making decisions and working that honor Him. It's like walking up to the Lord with a decision and saying, "What we have done we have done with You in mind to please and glorify You!" rather than trying to figure out the blueprint line by line.
We have the freedom to make such choices! The Lord is trying to shape our lives into the image of Jesus and the choices we make has great effect on our lives. We choose with the Lord in mind or we simply don't. It really comes down to that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"The Present Past"

Too many live haunting lives of their past in the present. I see it all the time. They seem to be stifled in the present because of their past. Their fears and struggle in certain situations they blame because of something in their past. Marriages are ruined because of someone living in their past. Children are not trained in the instruction and discipline of the Lord because a parent (or both) had something so difficult in their past that was molding their present thinking vowing to not have that done to their children. (In fact, their children end up worse off in many cases as the result.)
Here is Paul, the apostle we read about that took so much for the name of the Lord. Look at his past. His zeal for the Lord, his great education and a list of accomplishments most people would be proud to hold. But there was one thing we seem to miss. He was personally responsible for the loss of families and others because he had them jailed or killed because of Christ. Can you imagine after his conversion, standing up among the people of God to proclaim Jesus and Him crucified only to hear afterward, "Why did you haul my mom and dad off to jail and have them killed for Christ?" I know those words aren't penned but there had to be some of that. Paul saw himself as a blasphemer, persecutor and violent aggressor (I Tim. 1:13). But there is one little note, one little word: "formerly".
How could Paul overcome such a past and look people in the eyes that he had personally hurt their loved ones? He was Christ's and Christ was his! Understanding the change, the newness of life that came to him as a result of his union with Jesus (Rom. 6). The old things were dead, buried and new things had come. The reality of being in Jesus was held to and it meant every thing to him.
Today, many in Christ turn to the world for counsel and what do they do? Dig up the past. Let's talk about your youth, your family and push you behavior on that. I know many have been hurt by past but that's the point, the past continues to live in the present. We believe it to be so and that's why we walk so wounded the rest of our lives. When one enters Christ, the past is buried! Why can't we believe that? To go back and dig it all up means a person must go back under their death in sin. We are in Christ. We have a new Master and new life from God. Why can't we grasp that and live right there right now?
Here was Paul's answer to his past: "Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead."  (Phil. 3:13) The power of the Lord is real and life changing if we would only grab hold of the Lord!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Speaking of the Cross"

The cross Jesus speaks things we cannot even imagine. Jesus was dying for the sins of the world but His dying was for our living. It took His death to bring about our life and righteousness! It was His dying that brings about our fullness of life. The death of Jesus is about reconciliation of sinful man to a holy and righteous God. The cross of Jesus is about defeating all the spiritual powers and bringing them down. The cross speaks about life not in the future but here and now!
It was Jesus who said, "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) The cross is our way to life and shows God's obsession to defeat the sin that brought us, created in His image, into death. The cross redeemed us from death and brought life.
The cross of Jesus speaks more than I can even understand. It speaks of holiness, righteousness and love. The cross reveals man's utter sinfulness and depravity while speaking life from heaven. There was that day, a day like no other where an angry mob traded a murderer and insurrectionist for a Savior. That Lord went without a fight because the weight of all mankind stood on His shoulders. He was beaten, mocked, spit on and a host of things we don't even know and for what reason? LIFE! Throwing the Lord to the ground, pounding nails in His hands and feet, treating Him as a most sick and depraved criminal and man unaware of what was really happening. The soldier lifts up his hand to raise that cross above the earth. There, right then and there, before so many witnesses was a beaten, bloodied Lord that took it all for life, our life. For next hours the world was at the feet of the dying Savior and they didn't even know it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Funerals Teach"

Over the last week I have been at 3 funerals involving people I loved. In observation, it struck me how great an opportunity a funeral gives each and every one from the Lord. Death saddens us and it takes many by surprise because it can come as a shock when people are in relatively good health and sudden pass. Even though we know, we live as if death will not come. That's a mistake!
Funerals teach because it shows us how frail we as humans really are. We're not strong or powerful no matter how someone may act. In the striking of a second, you're life is over never to return on this earth! That's why the Lord is so important.
Funerals teach because it shows us the real purpose is not about things, retirement or money. It is about life! We groan over the death of a loved one because life is precious to us. Life, not things, are what matters.
Funerals teach because life continues. Life continues in the weak sense for those of still living. Life continues in the eternal sense because we cannot see what those who passed see or experience but they are living....somewhere.
Funerals teach to make the most of lives spiritually while we are here temporally. The memories that are shared are just memories. There can be no more made and those who are behind can regret not taking full advantage of spiritually relationships that matter.
Funerals teach because there will be no more assemblies with the saints, no more prayers offered, no more Lord's Supper celebrated and no more faith tried. You leave all that behind and enter reality!
Funerals teach that once the last breath is taken, every detail is set! There will be nothing to change and no opportunity to change anything. Your eternal living is set permanently! Your existence will continue as it is where you end up.
Funerals teach that we need to wade through the emotions and grasp the reality of Jesus. He is alive and well and is the ONLY guarantee of your eternal life. A relationship, a true, honest, sincere relationship is the ONLY thing that matters. Not lip service.
Funerals teach that you better not be harboring any bitterness or resentments in the heart. There is too much at stake.
Funerals teach that we need God period!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Sinful Nature?"

I keep hearing it from others over and over. I'm not real sure where it started. It just seems when those that stand before us keep reminding us about our "sinful nature" we have no choice but to sin. There is one Bible version in particular that consistently translates the term "flesh" into "sinful nature."
I have been told by others that we all have a "sinful nature" and are destined to sin. There was a time I believed that but not any more. All have sinned (Rom. 3:23). We know that. One man brought sin into the world and death came as a result of sin. Death spread to all because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). Death is the result of man sinning, not man's sinful nature. It seems to easy to excuse our sin as if we have no choice in the matter. One man brought sin into God's creation and ever since man makes a choice to sin. Sinful ways and habits are placed before the eyes of our children who know no sin. They reach out and grab hold and become part of the sin filled society. They move from purity to defilement because we hold sin before them.
Suddenly, born into our world is the Savior. He entered as a baby, born of woman, had a childhood and teen years and grew into a man. Jesus Christ was man in ever single way but did not sin (Heb.2:14-18). Jesus emptied Himself of equality with God and was found as man (Phil. 2:6-8). I do not believe Jesus had a "sinful nature", do you? Jesus proved as man that man didn't have to sin. It does teach us the power of sin. Jesus kept the Law perfectly,  never sinning and becoming the perfect sacrifice for God. It is through Jesus that God is just and the justifier of us the sinful.
Maybe we need to re-think our idea that we have no choice but to sin because we have a sinful nature. I'm open for your thoughts but not any attacks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Where Has Holiness Gone?"

Are we missing something? I believe so! It's called holiness. Pursuing and living holy, sacred lives. Maybe we have become too cerebral for our own good! We seem to think that we have come to more modern things and ways and dismiss the idea of holy living and pursuit is something outdated. The sacred life seems to be diminishing more and more in the lives of those in Christ, the church.
We know well that God doesn't dwell in buildings made with hands. How many times have we heard or said the church is the people not the building? But somewhere in this teaching, these thoughts gets lost the idea of holiness. When the OT Scriptures are approached, they are dismissed as a carnival of ceremonial actions by many. I recently had an individual tell me we need to take the OT out of our Bibles. Too much ceremony, too boring! It reveals where our minds have headed.
God is holy and He dwells in His people. We need to grasp and understand the idea of being holy and sacred in our lives. It's not just about being pure but treating our lives and one another as something more than just common. Holiness is a recognition of God! God told Moses to get his sandals off because when he approached the holy God in the burning bush, it's not common ground you are standing on any longer! Show some respect and reverence.
Because we know the building isn't the holy dwelling of God we have seem to make everything we do a place that's not holy, sacred. We stand and make jokes, talk about sports, munch on donuts and slurp our coffee. We have built into our complexes areas to play ball, to play cards and eat meals. The sense of holiness seems to get lost in all the common things. The attire many wear when approaching the holy Father is something that is no longer helping the idea of the pursuit of holiness. Too many seem to have the mind set that if we assemble in holiness at our multi-function complexes we become stagnant, rigid, gloomy and predictable. There is no room for spontaneity. The laid back desire makes us more consumer-friendly and brings an element of entertainment into our assemblies. In other words, more man centered and less God centered.
Where is our sense of holiness? I am not sure many even know what holiness is anymore. came by grace. Grace is not cheap and free. Grace is life changing and holy!! It required the OT temple, Bethlehem, Gethsemane and Golgotha. Maybe we need to revisit these because we have grown so accustomed to the lack of reverence. Take in the pictures, these moments of grace and realize we are standing on holy ground and that should reflect holy behavior!

Monday, August 8, 2011

"God's Promise"

There must be something about being in the presence of God for eternity that is magnificent beyond words. For God to go through all the troubles to send His Son on a death mission as our substitute tells us there is something that is waiting that is indescribable to us! There must be a glorious filled eternity waiting.
The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Is this place God desires to bring us to really worth all the trouble it takes to get us there? There are a lot of unanswered questions about eternity but we have an extended hand from heaven putting His Son in harms way for our well being. Sometimes I think it a mystery but that shouldn't surprise me. I have had socks mysteriously disappear after washing and drying so what's so mysterious about there being a mystery?
The words of Paul come to mind: "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (I Cor. 15:19) We look at the injustices, the suffering, the loneliness, the sicknesses, the diseases and the deaths. We get discouraged and wonder what is it all about? God won't allow us to sit and settle for this temporary life! He calls us, exhorts us and brings pain sometimes to get our attention calling us to Himself through Jesus. "Things which the eyes has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him."  (I Cor. 2:9)
We struggle with things and grapple at times with our faith. Don't lose heart! Don't give up on the Lord Jesus. When we feel the welling pain of the loss of a loved one or the disappointment of another human soul that did you so wrong, look to the Lord. Place your complete faith in Him to the best of your ability. The God who brought us into existence upon this sin-filled earth will make certain because of our love for Him and His Son to bring us home. That's going to be something I'm told. That's going to be something to behold.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"What About John 3:5?"

I just want to make a few quick observations surrounding John 3:5. "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." I think I have heard every idea that people have purposed what the "water" in this text means. Is Jesus really speaking about immersion, water baptism in this verse? Let's be honest and see.
In John 1:19-34 it speaks of the ministry of John who came baptizing those repentant for the remission of sins to prepare the way for them to receive the Messaih (Mark 1:4/Acts 19:3-4). John 3:22-23 tells us that after the coversersion of Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples went into Judea and were baptizing (water immersion) while John was baptizing Aenon near Salim. This bothered John's disciples because the people were coming to Jesus to be baptized (John 3:25-27). In John 4:1-3 we find that the Pharisees took note that Jesus was baptizing and making more disciples than John. It's noted that Jesus Himself was not baptizing but His disciples were.
Sandwiched between all this talk about John's baptizing many and the disciples of Jesus was baptizing many is Jesus' discussion with the Pharisee Nicodemus. This wasn't just some empty words stretched to mean something else. I was a practice because people were coming from everywhere to be baptized in response to God's call in connection with the kingdom of God (See Matt. 3:1-2/Luke 3:4-6).
Here comes a man, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel speaking to Jesus. The country is filled with the gospel teaching that the kingdom of God is about it be unveiled and Nicodemus approaches Jesus wanting to know for himself. Every day people are flocking to John and Jesus and in repentance they are being baptized in connection with the kingdom message, committing themselves to the Messiah who is about to be revealed. John had prepared the way well!
Remember, Nicodemus is of the sect that refuses John's baptism teachings (Luke 7:29-30). They had demanded from John how he got his authority to baptize (John 1:24-26). They took note that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (John 4:1-2). They demanded where Jesus got His authority from (Matt. 21:23) and Jesus speaks of John's baptism asking them if it was from heaven or from men (Matt. 21:28-32)? They refused to answer!
Here is Nicodemus speaking face to face with Jesus. What do you think they are speaking about? Water immersion? Why do people try to do everything they can to demote Biblical baptism in the way it was intended to be understood and believed? Jesus was speaking of water baptism in John 3:5 just as plain as the other places. Here's the real issue: up until the days of John Calvin and the Reformation period the issue of water immersion was never in dispute. Go ahead and do a little research. You will find that it wasn't until Calvin forward that all the debates began to take place. It should also be noted that the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 was NEVER thought to be the Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation period. Wonder why that is? And no one thought that John 3:5 was anything but baptism until the work/grace wars of the Reformation period. It is amazing how people over-look Scripture and find another way to justify their belief system.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


As time moves forward toward eternity people will pass away and slowly their memory will fade too. I can remember when the Beetles, Elvis Presley, John Wayne and many others that were before us it seemed almost daily. Today, the only time our minds remember is when someone calls our attention to pay tribute to them. Presidents, explorers, athletes, writers and movie stars all lie in the dust of oblivion by and by.
We read in history about Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare and Homer but they too are not household names that mean too much. I realize some are studied in universities and a movies hits now and then but they are relatively obscure.
But there was One, a name given to the birth of a Jew, who lived like a peasant, without His own home, personal possessions that we remember and talk about. The name Jesus Christ has not and will not fade. Just listen to how many who try to compare Him to others as just a prophet, not the Son of God or the Messiah. His name is above every name and time has not diminished Him. Jesus Christ wrote no books, made no discoveries, never invented a philosphy while dying the death of a criminal. Why is He remembered? Why hasn't His insight to our God and Father faded with time?'
Maybe we are missing something. What if we carefully took a closer look at Jesus Christ of Nazareth as to why time hasn't had any effect on Him or His name? Maybe we would come to the conclusion of Thomas who stood before a living, resurrected Savior stating, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) His name written on time, not controlled by time and nothing time can do to erase Him is just simply one of the most astounding things about Him. What are we really missing about Jesus? What many are trying to connect in intellect needs to be connected in heart. The Prince of Peace that connects to our social and emotional needs is something to be looked at more closely. What do you think?

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Six Minutes"

There were 21 of us that went to Joplin, Mo. Thursday, July 28 and worked in the relief effort from the May 22 tornado. I was completely taken as I thought we were at the end of the clean up only to discover it is still a mess! We worked Friday and Saturday, staying in a building at the Mt. Hope church of Christ. It was long and tiring not to mention the 100 degree temperature each day. But the devastation is just incredible.
We took down and cleaned up some 6 different homes in those days along with one rock wall. It was dirty and they warned us about a lot of contamination within the structures we cleaned up. Sometimes the stench was great in certain parts. While we worked at the sites, I took a picture of our work area. Then someone pulled up from Google maps the site before the tornado and we compared. It was amazing what was and what is.
At one place where a home existed, the homeowner came out and described how he and his family had escaped into a closet in the home only to have the roof and walls ripped away while they covered themselves with just carpet. As I listened to different stories and related clean-up projects it struck me at what was really happening. It made me stand in wonder at the great and majestic power of God. I don't know if others thought that but I did. Here we were, mere humans laboring by the sweat of our brows and many many more months to continue. In a matter of six minutes, the Lord's power demonstrated that He can altar lives that would take years to recover. My mind shifted to Nahum 1:3 where God is described as the storm is His way and clouds are the dust beneath His feet. I thought of Job 38-39 where God uses the storm and commands the lightening. I know there are people who don't believe that but I do! It brings the awesome presence of God into focus. 
As more and more stores came forth, I was focused on the mighty hand of God. As people spoke of the lives taken, I saw something different. We were standing in front of the high school. The gymnasium looked like it was actually blown up. Two sides missing, the roof caved in and a pile of bricks. The time of the tornado, they were to have the graduation at this gym but because of such a crowd of people, they moved it to the north part of town at the college. Thousands were spared because of this. It was incredible that more lives weren't lost but then I think of mercy of God in such a disaster. I sang a song, several songs as I helped with clean-up.
Six minutes and man is working for years to recover. Six minutes and the course of lives were changed. Six minutes, that's how long this tornado lasted taking out a one mile wide stretch and 6 miles long. Six minutes and heaven speaks: I am the Lord God, the Almighty! Six minutes...