Tag Archives: God

Roseburg Realities

So much has been said about the tragic murder of 9 innocent students and teachers in Roseburg, Oregon, that probably nothing I can say will be new.

However, I feel I must say something. Why not just point out a few realities?

  1. Innocent people were murdered.
  2. Innocent people are murdered every day in the womb, just not by a gun…but we can’t “politicize” that.
  3. The President said that “political will” was to blame for “allowing” another shooting.
  4. “Political will” was responsible for no one being able to shoot back.
  5. Most people who use guns to kill other people are not “mentally ill.”
  6. Most people who own guns never kill people.
  7. Though shalt not kill” was too offensive to post on the front door.
  8. The first chapter of Romans has never been more true in America.

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” – Romans 1:28-31 NIV

Forget God, mock God, and run God out on a rail as a nation, and this is what you get – depravity. What more should we expect?

Guns don’t kill people; sinful, angry, prideful, self-centered, wicked people do.


Filed under America, current events, General Observations, Life/Death

What to Wear to Church?

“What to Wear to Church?” has consistently been the number one search entry leading people to this site. What does that tell you?

If you’ve never read my thoughts on this before, this is the post all the search engines bring up. It was originally written in 2010 and has been re-posted a couple of times, but it has been updated.


A while back I was asked to be the guest speaker at a larger, more contemporary church. Out of respect for each other, the pastor of that church and I jokingly discussed what I should wear. You see, he never wears a suit, while I almost always do. His congregation has become more “contemporary,” while my congregation remains more “traditional.” So, to make me comfortable, the pastor told me whatever I wanted to wear was fine. Therefore, I will compromise – I will probably wear a sport coat, khakis, and flip flops…not really.

The way I dress to go to church may not be the way you dress. My style may not suit your tastes, nor yours mine. But the fact of the matter is that unless you’re totally too liberal, or don’t go at all, you wear some kind of clothing to church, correct? Well, have you ever wondered if what you wear to church is appropriate?

Below are some of my thoughts on the subject.

It’s Not About You

If you are planning to attend a worship service where God is supposed to be the center of attention, don’t dress like a clown! Or, in other words, don’t dress like you’re the star – going to church shouldn’t be a fashion show.

Some cultures believe people should come to church in clothing that could damage someone’s retina. Gettin’ “fancied up” is what’s expected. But it’s this type of clothing, in most cases, that draws attention to the congregant, not Christ. My advice is to stay away from neon suits and flashing bow ties. Church clothing should be a covering, not a calling card.

Show Some Respect

Some people think it is totally appropriate to wear enough jewelry and feathers to keep pawn shops in business and all geese naked. Others think it is completely acceptable to look like a drunk that slept in an alley all night (no offense to the drunk). Neither shows a sense of respect. The first steals God’s glory, while the second implies God’s house is no different than anywhere else.

Here’s a couple suggestions. Try going to a White House dinner looking like a hobo or a hippie from the 60’s. Receive an invitation to tea from Queen Elizabeth and show up looking like you just got out of bed and never took a shower. Unless you’re a bona fide rock star, or simply Bono, security personnel may escort you to a private room to “get acquainted.” Therefore, if dignitaries of earthly kingdoms demand respect, why shouldn’t we offer it to our Heavenly King? Is God not greater than Obama? (clear throat)

Beware of Legalistic Standards

However, whatever you wear, don’t be too quick to judge another’s spiritual condition by what they wear. Only God knows the heart.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. – Rom 14:4 KJV

Sadly, I have been around many believers who consider one style of clothing a sign of spiritual maturity, while another style a sign of spiritual waywardness.  And you know what’s funny? It doesn’t matter which side of the spiritual tracks, there’s always somebody looking at another thinking, “They’re not right with God.”

Legalism cuts both ways, dear friend. For example, I have been to churches that ridiculed any woman who wears pants, or a man who never tucks in his shirt. On the other hand, I have been in congregations that blatantly condemned all dress and tie-wearers as right-wing, self-righteous, fundamentalist, nut jobs. In both cases someone judged another’s spirituality based on outward appearances, alone. In both cases one group’s set of standards were being used as a guide to what is spiritual behavior and what is not. That’s LEGALISM!

Believe it or not, the most modern, non-denominational, praise-and-worship-style congregation can be just as legalistic as the narrow-minded traditionalist. I may not prefer to preach in blue jeans on Sunday morning, but I’m not going to condemn someone who does. Likewise, when I don’t wear a suit and tie on Sunday night, I am not going to condemn someone who dresses like he’s going to a funeral.

Context, Context, Context

Ultimately, how you dress should be determined by the context of your community. Small, rural congregations might not feel comfortable dressing for church in the same way a metropolitan First Baptist may. Similarly, churches in depressed economies may adopt different dress codes than upwardly mobile societies. The key is to be respectful, honorable, and considerate of the holy moment at hand. Whatever fits that bill is good enough.

Just keep this principle in mind:  Grace accepts, Maturity develops, and Love constrains.

Don’t make appearances the only thing about which you’re concerned. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is far too important a message to be drowned in petty arguments about whether it is appropriate to dress up for church, or go dress-casual. Many people in the world have to worship Christ underground – literally. Dress codes are the least of their worries. Additionally, the drug addict who needs hope and help may not have any clothes left that he hasn’t already sold to get high. The single mother of five that walks into your church may have barely enough energy to survive, much less do her hair.

Do all things to the glory of the Lord, but keep things in perspective, OK?

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism [or be legalistic]. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? – Jam 2:1-5 NIV

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Culture Wars, Do not judge, legalism, wisdom, worship

De Nyew Testament 

Once again I am composing a post upon my old iPhone (would someone set up a GoFundAnthony account and buy me an iPhone 6?). 

I’m sitting in a school bus, under a bridge, all alone, after dropping off a bunch of kids on a summer field trip. They are riding the Riverboat while I sit here waiting. But, it’s a great opportunity to read and study. 


One of the treasures I picked up the last time I was in Charleston was a new Bible. But this Bible is a little different – no, it’s a LOT different – from others I have: it’s in a different language! And I am reading it! 

De Nyew Testament is a translation of the New Testament into the Gullah language. No, it’s not a paraphrase or a for-fun parody of the KJV; it’s a literal translation of the NT into a genuine language. Gullah (also known as Geechee or Sea Island Creole) is a language “traditionally spoken along the coastal area of South Carolina and Georgia.” 

According to the preface, it took more than 25 years for folks from Wycliffe Bible Translators and the American Bible Society to pull this translation together. And let me tell you something: it’s worth getting. 

If you are a fluent reader of English, then you can read Gullah. It will take some practice, but you’ll get used to it and start to pick up on its rhythm. 

So, here I was under a bridge, in a school bus, next to the riverfront, reading a little from the Gullah version of the NT, when tears filled my eyes. And because of that, I wanted to write this post so I could share with you the particular verse of Scripture that got me. Read it through a few times, then let me know if it blessed you the way it blessed me :-) 

“Look yah! We oughta study pon how de Fada da bless we wid e lob! E da lob we sommuch dat e call we e own chullun, an we e chullun fa true. People ob de wol ain been know who God da, an cause ob dat, dey ain know we.” 1 John 3:1 (Gullah)

“Look yah!” We ought to be studyin’ about how the Father has done blessed us with His love! Glory be to God! 




Filed under Bible Study, blogging, book review, God, translations, Uncategorized, worship

My [Mirrors] Are Above Your [Mirrors]

A Little Context

I would like to set the scene, to provide you with a little context, before I continue with this totally off-the-wall (or maybe on-the-wall) post.

First, I am sitting in the dining area of a large hospital in Chattanooga (the one in the news, actually), sipping on a hot cup of coffee (it’s 100 degrees outside, but it is stinking cold inside). The coffee was for drinking while waiting on my daughter – she is here doing some stuff, the details of which would probably bore you.

Second, I am writing this on my cell phone – my dependable little iPhone 4S with a cracked screen – causing my eyes to lose their ability to focus at a distance.

Third, as a matter most important to the context, I had to go to the men’s room. That’s where I took the accompanying photo, the impetus for this post.

Lots of Questions

Because I am a man of proper upbringing, after making use of the facilities, I stepped up to the sink to wash my hands. However, before I could begin, before I could even turn on the water, I was taken aback by something my mind had a hard time comprehending – a space between the back of the sink and the mirror on the wall.

photo (61)

Hawaiian shirt and New Balance shoes: I’m stylin’.

I must have looked like a dog hearing a strange, new sound. Fortunately, no one else was in the room, so I stood there, perplexed, wondering to myself, “What the heck?” Why was there a space? What would happen if I placed my marbles on the counter? Was there really that big of a gap, or was it just  an illusion? Was I being pranked? Was I on television?!

For a couple of minutes all I could do as I stood at the sink was wonder why anyone would build it this way.  When I finally leaned forward to wash my hands, I saw my feet and thought, “Maybe doctors designed this to see if their shoes needed polishing?” Then I realized I don’t even know what kind of shoes doctors wear. Don’t they usually cover their shoes with footies? Maybe the architects had full-length mirrors to sell? Maybe somebody wanted to show off his plumbing?

Anyway, a simple trip to the bathroom turned into a list of questions. Instead of just accepting things as they were, my questioning nearly led me to spread unhealthy germs by nearly forgetting to wash my hands! So many questions, and I’ll probably never get a satisfactory answer.

God’s Ways

I took a photo of the sink and mirror in question with the intent of quickly posting it to Facebook, including with it some quirky remark. That’s when the Holy Spirit interrupted my thinking and spoke to my heart. He said, “Men question the placement of a mirror, yet they dare to understand all my ways?”

I paused and looked at the picture I was editing on my photo app. Then, in my spirit, I heard, “My ways are higher than your ways. My mirrors are far higher than man’s mirrors.”

So often we question the ways of God, don’t we? Why not just admire the beauty of His Wisdom and rest in His provision? Why not accept the fact that we’re never going to understand why He does all He does, or allows all He allows, and just trust Him?

After all, the last thing we need to be doing in this sin-sick world is spreading germs. 

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Filed under blogging, current events, Faith, General Observations, God, Struggles and Trials, Uncategorized

Things I Don’t Know

As a husband, father, pastor, author, and perpetual student, I am constantly reminded of how much I really don’t know.

What if I made a list of all the things I don’t know? Well, that would be impossible, especially when there are so many things that I don’t know I don’t know.


Here are some things I wish I knew more about or could better understand. If it were possible to master these subjects, my self-esteem might go through the roof! Some may even call me a “know-it-all” in a non-derogatory way!

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

  • How can only three knobs (valves) and two lips play an infinite number of musical notes?
  • How do people get clean in dirty bath water?
  • What are hot flashes, and why women hate them in the winter?
  • Why are things like Pi (things that have no answer) so dadgum important?
  • If animals in cartoons and movies can talk to each other in English, not to mention read, why don’t they just write a note to humans when someone is in danger?
  • Why do women wear “natural” makeup to look natural, when natural was what they were before they put on the makeup?
  • Greek grammar – enough said.
  • Who killed Kennedy?
  • Why can’t I just decide to increase my debt limit, instead of balancing my budget?
  • Why do dogs and cats hate each other?
  • Why I could never pick up a snake by the tail, but Steve Irwin could?
  • How did the first person decide drinking something fermented, breathing something on fire, eating something coagulated, or using the anal glands of a beaver for flavoring (castorium) was an appetizing idea?

Life is full of persistent, nagging questions. Some questions may never be answered. I may never truly be a know-it-all. However, when it all comes down to what’s most important, I am reminded of the words of a man who was blind from birth: “I was blind…but now I see.”

I may not know everything, but I know that I will be OK when I die. I know that this world is not all there is. I know that heaven awaits me when I die. How? It’s all written in the Word of God.

 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

Did you know that?


Filed under Life Lessons, World View

Earth Day Was When?

When was Earth Day? The 22nd? Oh, you mean I missed it?

Darn it!

Yes, I was planning on celebrating Earth Day this year, but it totally slipped my mind. For some reason I was distracted. Dang it, what was I doing?

It must have been really important.

Oh, I know! I think, instead of worshiping the planet, I was worshiping its Creator, instead.

Silly me.


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Filed under current events, General Observations, God, worship

The Sunday Sermon

The Prayer

The last post I published was a literal prayer that I was praying as I wrote it. As a matter of fact, I wrote it on my iPhone as I was on my knees beside my bed.

The reason I did it? I don’t know. Maybe I just wanted you guys to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, when no one else is around. I guess I wanted you to get a sense of the humanity in ministry; I’m only human.

Now, thanks to the same iPhone and a little editing with Audacity (free software I would recommend), linked below is the sermon I preached Sunday morning. Incidentally, some of what I preach in this sermon reflects back to a previous post having to do with the “prayer of salvation.”

The Sermon

Since the second Sunday this month I have been preaching through the book of James in the morning services, one chapter a week. The focus has not been on doing a thorough exposition of each chapter, but to seek what it is God would have our congregation hear from Him for such a time as this. Therefore, don’t expect a glittering example of homiletical prowess; I didn’t even go to the pulpit with an outline, only a few notes. All I did was ask God to show me what we at Riverside needed hear.

bibleIf you haven’t read it yet, go back and read the prayer I prayed on Saturday night, then listen to the sermon. Then, from a purely academic perspective, try to answer the following questions: Did the message stay true to the text? Was the message clear and distinct? How might you approach the topic differently?

From a spiritual perspective, could you sense the Spirit moving through what was said? Was the prayer answered? Of course, it’s impossible to know what was going on the hearts of those present when this was preached, but what about your heart? Did God speak to you?

“The will of the Lord concerning pastors is made known through the prayerful judgment of his church. It is needful as a proof of your vocation that your preaching should be acceptable to the people of God.”  – Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students, Vol. 1

Your thoughts would be appreciated. :-)

Click HERE to listen to the sermon, “James 2”



NOTE: This post is not intended to stir up arguments, heated debates, etc. I will not allow comments which are antagonistic, hateful, or anything the like. This will not be allowed to turn into a battleground for trolls with no respect for faith. Comments will be carefully monitored.

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Filed under Faith, Preaching, salvation, Theology, worship