Kindled But a Little

This morning I left home early to retrieve my daughter from the college where she attends and resides. On the ride up to Bryan College, and then on the way back with her in the van, I listened to a sermon delivered years ago by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Taken from Psalm chapter 2,  the title was “Why Do the Heathen Rage?”

One particular point that the great old preacher stressed was that God has allowed many things to happen to men and nations, all because they have spurned His guidance. The heathen of the world, those that want nothing to do with God, conspire with each other, plan together, and do all they can do to live without God’s Law.

They raise their unified voices in harmonious rebellion as they cry out, “Let us break free from the restraints of this imaginary “lawgiver” and cast them utterly aside!”

Yet, God laughs.

And then He lets them see how life works with no restraints, no laws, no God.

When His anger is kindled but just a little, He takes away His providential hand and lets man destroy himself. Is this not what we see even today? Men destroying themselves because they refuse to live by God’s most simple commands?

But even yet, we have only seen God’s wrath kindled but a little, and men “perish from the way.”

OH! What it will be like when God pours out His wrath upon men? How will they that mock Him stand? They won’t.

Oh, if they could only get a glimpse of the mighty terror of the Creator!

Then, on the way back home this morning, as the sun was rising over a cold, cloudy Chattanooga, I saw light break through the gray and stream upon the city below.

From one small, blazingly-bright spot emanated white beams. At this sight I said to Katie, “You know, that sort of looks like an eye, but instead of a black pupil, the pupil is light, and the streams of light make up the iris.”

Then I thought of the descriptions of the returning Christ as spoken of in the Book of Revelation. Fire. Righteousness.

I drove home as fast as I could and started drawing this picture. It’s the best I could do. And then I began to write what you are reading.

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And this was but one eye.

And it was only the sun in the sky, not the Son.

And on Him was the wrath of God poured out for me! OH, the GRACE OF GOD that He would love me! “What is man that Thou are mindful of him?”

And then once more I contemplated the text Dr. Lloyd-Jones read…

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him. – Psalm 2:12

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those that are wise fear Him. Those that fear Him love Him. Those that love Him rest in His mercy and grace.

And all this made me shudder as tears came into my own eyes.

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Filed under current events, Faith, General Observations, God, worship

Rude Witnessing

Justification?

There are some people in the Christian world who think making people angry is doing God’s work. Some Christians are convinced that they are fulfilling the Great Commission by crashing public events and barking out, “Repent! Repent!” In reality, many just come off as being inconsiderate, impolite, and obnoxious.

In defense of their actions, many street preachers and their followers (but not all) have suggested the following points:

  • “The Gospel is more important than ______.” (whatever is going on that is being interrupted, such as music, fireworks, etc.)
  • “We’re here to get sinners saved, not to make friends.”
  • “100 years from now the crowd will forget [the event], but they will be happy they heard the Gospel.”
  • “The Gospel (and Bible in general) is supposed to offend. Jesus said, ‘They hated me, so they’ll hate you.’ Jesus never held back when He talked to the Pharisees, did He?”

In response, let me share…

A Few Thoughts

First. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But in Romans 12:18 we are told, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Even though we are commanded to preach the gospel, we’re not commanded to stir up strife.

Second. Paul told the Romans, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (14:19).” Maybe that’s because Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek (Matt. 5:5),” and “Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).”

Third. Even though Jesus never pulled any punches with the Pharisees, it is never recorded where He went to a Pharisee picnic with a bull horn blasting out “Repent, you serpent-breathed, white-washed tombs!” As a matter of fact, as best I can tell, it was the Pharisees who came to Jesus in order to stir up trouble, not the other way around (Matt. 3:7; 15:1; 16:1; 19:3). It should even be noted that all the words Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 were spoken in the temple (Matt. 21:23), not on the street.

It’s Just Manners

Folks, it’s really a matter of decency, respect, and good manners. Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” A Christian should be the most mannerly person in the world! Jesus was never rude or obnoxious, so why should we?

The English novelist and war correspondent Maurice Baring is quoted as saying, “Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” That should be a lesson to us.

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It doesn’t matter how great the message or how right the cause, rudeness is the Great Negator.

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7 Reasons Why Bald Pastors Are Better

The List Poster

We have a new Director of Missions (DOM) in my county. His name is Dr. Dennis Culbreth, and so far he has been a great blessing to our Baptist association, especially to us pastors.

Dr. Culbreth takes every opportunity to make good use of social media, such as Facebook. Every day he posts helpful hints and strategies from various ministries, websites, and blogs (but not mine – I wonder why?).

Many of the posts to which he links are lists. On any given day you may discover “7 Ways to Impress Your Deacons,” “5 Ways to Destroy Your Church Bus,” or “10 Reasons Why Pastors Should Make More Money than Politicians.” You just never know what he’ll post.

But because Dr. Culbreth is always posting new lists from everybody but me, I think it’s time to provide one which none of those other Lifeway-like ministries are reporting. Time to raise some eyebrows.

7 Reasons Why Bald Pastors Are Better

  1. A bald pastor never has to go to a barber or hair salon. Why is this a good thing? He can save anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a year, thereby reducing the need to pay a higher salary. Also, a manly pastor should never set foot inside a hair salon.
  2. Bald pastors are cleaner pastors.  “And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he [is] bald; [yet is] he clean.” – Leviticus 13:40
  3. Bald is a sign of leadership. As it has been said before, “The reason some men are bald is because they have their heads out the window driving this planet.” Bald pastors aren’t afraid to lead through the storms of life…unless they wear a wig.
  4. Bald pastors have more brains. Seminary is helpful, but pastors without hair have already demonstrated that their brains have left no room for follicles.
  5. Bald pastors never get into disagreements with dissenters. Just think, no church fights; no church splits; no angry deacons or pushy purse string holders! No, God just sends bears down from the woods…problems solved and a circus for free (2 Kings 2:23-24)!
  6. Bald is beautiful! Isaiah 52:7 declares, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings…” And since God only shows off the more perfect of His cranial creations, why not hire the complete beauty package? Beautiful from head to toe!
  7. Church buildings remain safe. Just think, having a bald pastor means never having to worry about his righteous indignation turning into a Samson-like catastrophe.

Be thankful for your pastor, but even MORE so if he’s bald! 

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Filed under baptist, blogging, Humor, ministry, Preaching

“Real” Men of God

Genuine Articles

This past weekend I went with my wife to a retreat/conference for bivocational pastors and their wives. It was sponsored by the Tennessee Baptist Convention and was held in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Believe it or not, not all pastors fly jets, have mansions, drive new cars, or wear $1,000 suits. Most pastors drive used cars, live modestly, fly only when they have to, and get their suits only when they’re on sale.

Even though the pastors most people see on television have thousands of members in their churches, the average size of the typical congregation is only in the 80’s or less. The average pastor has to work a second job, does not have a secretary, and can’t afford a personal hair stylist.

The men I spent time with last weekend were the real deal: humble, hardworking, men of God. They were the real deal, the genuine article.

Genuine People

One thing that people tend to forget is that pastors are people, too. They have families, bills, and a list of their own issues. They have problems like the rest of everybody, it’s just that it’s hard to share them with the congregations they serve.

A lot of people accuse Christians of thinking we have it all together, but we don’t. As a matter of fact, what makes us better pastors is when God allows us to go through struggles and trials and all the associated pain in order for us to have first-hand knowledge of His grace.

On the first night of the conference I attended, in a breakout session for the men, one particular pastor poured his heart out about his wayward 19-year-old son. He wept as he said, “What I need is some hope.” It didn’t take long before this brother, this wounded spiritual warrior, was brought up to the front of the room. There, as he knelt beside a table, the rest of us wept with him, prayed with him, and encouraged him.

How did we encourage him? It’s because we were real people fighting some of the same battles, feeling some of the same hurts, and he knew he was not alone.

praying pastors

THESE are the REAL pastors. These are the real deal. These are NOT the men wanting your money; they’re the ones who’d give you their last dollar. These are the men who care for your souls. These are the real men of God you should get behind and support.

I am so thankful to the TBC and all those who made this minister’s and wives retreat possible. I’m also thankful for the grace of God. We are not alone, even when no one else will stand with us.

But when we do stand, and kneel, and weep, and rejoice with each other…oh, what a formidable force we are!


 

“Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. “ – 1 Peter 5:2-4 HCSB

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Filed under ministry, Parenting, Preaching, Southern Baptist, Struggles and Trials

A Man’s Got To Do What A Man’s Got To Do

Who Said It First?

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

It’s a pretty well-known idiom. It’s been credited to everyone from John Steinbeck to John Wayne. But who said it first? I have no idea. I’ve searched the internet – which is the fountain of all knowledge, correct? – and have found plenty of opinions, but no definitive answers.

John-Wayne-cowboyWhat I do know for a fact is that my own father used to say, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do when a man’s gotta do it.” That’s where I first heard it. My dad was my source.

But you’ve gotta admit, it sounds like something John Wayne would say.

From the Pulpit

I think the reason the “A man’s gotta..” phrase sounds so much like John Wayne is that it’s a statement only a real man would make. It’s the kind of thing a tough man, a rugged man, the kind of man that takes responsibility for his actions would say.

It’s also the thing a preacher might say. Not the milk-toast, yellow-spined, liberal, crowd-pleasing hireling of a preacher or pastor; he wouldn’t dare ruffle a feather. No, it’s the thing a John Wayne, Sam Elliot, Jack Bauer, of a preacher would say. It’s the thing my dad would and did say. It’s what I’m saying.

And if you’re a preacher worth you’re salt, you’d better say it, too…or a least a variation of the theme.

A man’s gotta preach what a man’s gotta preach when a man’s gotta preach it.

The Burden

Real men do what they have to do. Real men do what’s necessary, even when it’s not pleasant. Real men look a challenge in the eye, grit their teeth, and plow forward. Real men do things others are not willing to do, even when it hurts – because it’s gotta get done.

The Prophet Malachi was a man who had to preach what needed to be preached, even though no one wanted to hear it. It was the “burden of the word of the LORD” that he had to deliver to a people who’s worship was tainted, second-rate, and offensive to God. But it wasn’t pleasant; it wasn’t nice; it was the least seeker-friendly thing a man could say.

“How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.” – Malachi 1:10 NLT

What??? What did he say??? Yes, he said it. With true grit the prophet essentially proclaimed, “It would be better that we close the church doors and go home than continue with the worthless stuff we’ve been doing – God ain’t happy!

The Advice

Preaching the tough stuff isn’t for wimps. People may get mad at you. They may even try to shoot you – no joke. But if there was ever a John Wayne-like preacher, it was the Apostle Paul.

Imagine old Paul, dusty from a long cattle run, sitting on the ground and leaning back on his saddle, cleaning his Colt six-shooter. It’s late in the evening, the fire is crackling, beans are simmering, and Paul clears his throat.

Timothy…” he begins, then after a pause, “Boy, let me give you some advice: ‘Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine‘” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Timothy tilts his hat back a little to expose his forehead, then leans in and asks, “What will people think? It could get tough doing that all the time.

“Yeah,” replies the old Apostle with a nod and a painful, grimaced look that came from years of experience, “But sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” 

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching

All You Do

Do What?

If all you can do is all you can do, then do all you can do to do all you can do.

But if you’re not doing all you can do to do all you can do, then how much do you really want what it is you do the thing you do for?

It’s not all about do, do, do; it’s about “whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the LORD, and not unto men” (Col. 3:23).

Now, go do the thing that you do! 

Time for a random picture taken by my daughter, Katie. :-) Enjoy!

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This Chick-fil-A manager did exactly what Jesus would do

Remember all those protests against Chick-fil-A? Remember how they called the management a bunch of haters, etc.? You know how all those same critics scream through clinched teeth, “Why don’t you Christians quit judging people and feed the hungry, or something…you know, like your Jesus would do?”

Observe….

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

My family and I spend a lot of time ministering to, praying with, and loving on the homeless and materialisticly poor in our community so stories like this warm my heart.

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

– Proverbs 14:31

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This is just one of the reasons I love Chick-fil-A.

During a daddy-daughter date Joey Mustain and his little girl, Stella, spotted a homeless man come in and ask if Chick-fil-A could give him any leftovers.

The Tennessee dad and daughter watched as the grungy man received sideways glances and cold shoulders while waiting for the manager. “Mud was wet and caked on his well-traveled shoes. His hair was matted, and his beard wasn’t a statement as much as it was a necessity and a sign that he doesn’t get to shave as often as most of us do. People near…

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