Tag Archives: God

Recalling Sunday Morning

Dark and early this morning I was feeling discouraged, a little down. I needed to vent a little, to share my feelings in a vulnerable sort of way. Some of you let me know you would be praying, and I appreciated it.

The service went well, the sermon was from the Lord, and I felt the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit as I preached.

Many times, when I am at my weakest, the temptation to feel defeated overwhelms me. What I have a hard time describing is the weighty burden of the task ahead, a task with eternal implications. No one can convince me that in my own strength I can effectively expound the living Word of God and connect with a multi-generational congregation. To do so is akin to feeding 5,000 with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

That’s why I rely on Jesus.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:21-23

 

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Filed under Faith, God, ministry, Preaching

What Are You Worth?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? If so, you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Pretty foolish.

What about non-concrete items, such as pride? Some people are willing to fight to the death, or kill others, when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be wrongly perceived.

Is family worth risking your life?

Photo: Andy Britt

Photo: Andy Britt

Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society has a difficult time determining the value of life; one life is not as valuable as another if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.

I would risk my life to protect my family, and if you doubt it, try to hurt them – I carry more than a big stick.

Many, however, kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that society values gold more consistently than life itself.

Are you willing to die for what you believe?

Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s OK. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who would rather die for what he believes than deny it.

Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

How much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s. Your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make your worth INCALCULABLE! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilt and failures as His own, and payed the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable; Jesus unique. How many others have done what He did for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that? And how wonderful?

Let’s Review

  • "Forgiven" by Thomas Blackshear

    “Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

    Jesus Christ suffered the most excruciating death Rome could conceive, crucifixion…for you.

  • The Prince of Peace was shredded by a “cat of nine tails”…for you.
  • The King of Kings wore a crown of 4″ thorns…for you.
  • God became flesh so the world could know Him…including you.

Don’t believe the lies told to you by Satan, the culture, or your depressed emotions. Your life is of immeasurable worth because of the immeasurable price offered for it.

If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

 

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.  Your life is worth it.

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, Love of God, salvation, self-worth, Uncategorized, World View

Re-Examining the Divorce Controversy

Recently, I have been asked about the issue of divorce and whether or not it ultimately disqualifies one from ministry, especially the pastorate. Even though I know there will be many of you who disagree with me on this, here are my thoughts on the subject. Please understand that I did not come by them lightly.

My Story

I will never forget the phone call I got from a church in Rome, GA about 16 years ago. Someone on the other end of the line was part of a search committee looking for a new pastor.  They had gotten my resume and were impressed enough to give me a call.  Everything was going well until they asked a very pointed question, “Bro. Anthony, does your wife have a spouse that is still living?”  I responded coldly, with squinted eyes and through clinched-teeth, “Yes, ME.”  Unfortunately, this would not be the last time something like that happened.

What I encountered on the telephone that day was not unusual, nor unexpected, but it stung, nevertheless. I had chosen to marry a woman who had been divorced and it cost me. But even though our (then) pastor told me marrying Valerie would “put the final nail in the coffin” of my ministry hopes, I was aware the scripture (1 Tim. 3:2) being used against me was lacking in exposition, and it was ultimately up to God whether or not I pastored a church.  So, after much study, I felt peace that what I was doing was right (but it didn’t hurt when the late Dr. Spiros Zodhiates gave us his approval).

But let me be clear about a few things…

wedding picture fourFirst,  I have never been divorced, so for me the whole argument of 1 Timothy 3:2 should be moot.  Second, my wife was left with no choice but to divorce; furthermore, it happened before she was a believer.  Third, my wife’s ex-husband remarried and divorced again before I even met her. By all accounts my wife was free to remarry, so both she and I were clear from any “adultery” issues.  

Also, I am “the husband of one wife,” and Scripture NEVER said a bishop “must be the husband of one wife who was the wife of only one husband, ever.” Just a minor observation.

So, what DOES the Bible say?

1 Timothy 3:2 says,  “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...”  Also, verse 12 says, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife...”  The difficulty with these verses is not what is being said, but how it is interpreted.  

Is Paul telling Timothy that in order to be a pastor, deacon, or elder in a church, you must have only been married once?  Could it even be possible that Paul is saying that a man of God MUST have a wife, because being single would disqualify one from ministry?  These are things that have been debated for centuries.  

Some believe that a pastor, deacon, or elder should have never been divorced (or married to a divorcee) . Others believe that in order to be a proper leader, one must be married.  Still, many commentators believe that the proper rendering of the Greek is “one-woman man,” implying faithfulness and character over the number of wives.  In reality, what the Bible says is one thing, but as William D. Mounce put it, “The Greek gives us a range of possibilities, but our theology is going to determine our interpretation.” 

I think there’s another way to look at it…

Take a look at 1 Timothy 3 and read through verse 12.  The best I can figure is that there are between 16 and 17 qualifications for the bishop, and between 6 and 8 for the deacons.  All of these are preceded with a literal or an implied “must be,” as in “must be blameless,” or a “must have.”  How does this affect the argument that an elder “must have” only been married once, never remarried, or never divorced?    

Think of any great man of God you know that has stood behind the pulpit and faithfully proclaimed the Word of God.  Has he always been blameless?  Has he always been on his best behavior?  Did he ever get drunk, covet, lose his patience, or curse his wife or children in anger?  Was he ever a novice, a beginner subject to pride? If so, then according to the logic of some, he should never be able to preach or lead in God’s church, for just as a man “must be the husband of one wife,” so he also must be “blameless, vigilant, sober, well-behaved, given to hospitality, patient, never greedy, and always in control of his house and children.”  

Do you see it?  If your interpretation leads you to believe that the bishop must have only had one wife – ever – then the same hermeneutic (the study of the principles of interpretation) should apply to the other “must be’s.”  “Must be the husband of one wife” = never divorced.  “Not a novice” = never been a beginner in the faith. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

1 Timothy 3:1-12 is in the present infinitive tense (i.e., must be / dei einai).  The requirements listed are ones that describe a man of character and faithfulness, of sobriety and gravitas; not a beginner or one untried and unproven.  What I see is a list of requirements that may not have always been present in a man, but should be NOW, after God has done a verifiable work in his life.  In other words, the Bible says a bishop “must be,” not “must have always been,” or “must have never done.”  Paul said, “and such were some of you:  but ye were washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

Here’s my point…

I believe that there are plenty who are sitting back or hiding out because someone has convinced them that they are used up and un-usable.  For example, I can think of men right now who, for whatever reason, are divorced.  Yet, these men, now Christians, are sold-out, God-fearing, faithful, Spirit-filled fathers and husbands with proven testimonies and unimpeachable character.  Sadly, however, because of mistakes made when they were young, unsaved, and stupid, they cannot serve as deacons, much less as pastors.  

On the other hand, I can think of several pastors today who were once murderers, drug dealers, fornicators, extortioners, and abusers of mankind (do I need to explain that last one?). Yet, only because they don’t have “divorced” to add to the list of past sins, they are accepted and given full reign as leaders in the church. 

Sad.

It’s time the body of Christ re-examine this issue in the light of GRACE.

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Filed under baptist, Divorce, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

Life Lesson from the School Bus #9 (Making a Way)

This post is one in a series I did back in 2011. And yes, I drew the bus.

Trying to Merge

Have you ever tried to merge into traffic, only to find that everyone else is in a bigger hurry than you? Try convincing a bunch of motorists on their way home that your school bus needs to jump into the flow.

Every time people see my kid transporter attempting to enter traffic from a side street, they say to themselves, “Oh no! I can’t get stuck behind a bus!

So, without any compassion for me and my nerves, they pretend that they don’t see me. Better yet, they hold up a hand, wave slightly, and give me a look that says, “Sorry, but my schedule is too hectic to let you in front of me.” Jerks.

Making a Way

That’s when a school bus driver has to be proactive…he has to make a way into traffic. By being assertive with 35,ooo pounds of deisel-powered intimidation, one can MAKE motorist slow down and be polite. Making a way into traffic is possible because of a simple fact of life – getting put on the local news for hitting a school bus full of children is NOT in one’s best interest.

Life Lesson

God can make a way, when there seems to be no way.

Isaiah 43:16, 20 KJV – [16] Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; … [20] The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

When God chooses to do something, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop Him. God can make a way. No decree of man or law of nature is an obstacle to the LORD of creation. If God has told you to go somewhere, do some work, or reach some person, even if the way seems impossible, He is God…He will MAKE a way. Are you going through a valley? Are you on a stormy sea and can’t see past the waves? Do you think that there is no hope, no way out of it this time? Trust in Jesus – He can make a way, where there seems to be no way. He can give rivers of hope in the midst of your wilderness.

Hope you enjoy this short video of a beautiful song by Don Moen.

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons, the future, Uncategorized

Resurection Day

Bunny Eggs

Today is the most holy day in Christendom. Today is the day we celebrate the coming of a large cotton-tailed bunny bearing colored eggs and lots of candy.

It’s not? Oh, my bad! Please excuse me if I misunderstood.

There are some who don’t celebrate any holidays. There are others who celebrate every holiday with festivities galore, including eggs that are used to represent new life and bunnies that represent…I don’t know what.

Oh! I do know! Bunnies have always been a symbol of fertility (among pagans). They are linked to eggs because pagans must like omelettes.

But still, it’s never really made sense. Why bunnies and eggs together? Do bunnies lay eggs? Do bunnies have a natural affinity for eggs? Chickens?

Here’s a thought. What would happen if children were told the following?

  • The Obama administration has mandated, along with other mandates, that all animals must unionize. The result will guarantee that chickens will no longer be forced out of delivery jobs by rabbits who have nothing to do with eggs.
  • Instead of Peter Cottontail, large, 200 lb. chickens will be delivering their own eggs. Of course, chickens have not mastered the ancient art of decorating eggs, so they will have to rely on natural decoration. Natural decorating will prove economically beneficial because brown coloring is free.
  • Because discrimination will not be allowed under the new Obama administration mandates, “cute and fluffy” will bill replaced by “any rabbit capable.” Therefore, along with 200 lb. chickens, there will be large, ugly rabbits with 4-incisors leaping carelessly through living rooms come Easter morning. But instead of colorful eggs, they will be delivering tiny, naked bunny babies – by the millions.

He is Risen!

Just forget all of the above nonsese! Easter, Resurrection Day, is about only one thing: the tomb is empty and Jesus is ALIVE!

The fact that we can find so many other things to distract us on this day is totally amazing. Why isn’t the story of the resurrection enough? Is the proof of Christianity and the hope of the ages so dull of a story that we have to suppliment it with candy? And rabbits?

OH! Praise God that we have hope! Death is defeated! He lives!

And if Christ be NOT risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not…And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now IS Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept…O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:14-15, 17-20, 55-57 [emphasis mine]

 

(Originally Posted 4/08/12)

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Filed under Easter, God, Preaching, Theology, worship

Movies We Should Make!

Noah

noah-280314I know, we’ve heard about all we want to hear about Noah, the unbelievably un-biblical movie meant to be a slap in the face to Bible-believers everywhere. That’s why I am not going to give you any commentary; you’ve probably read it all by now.

One thing is for sure (and this movie proves it in spades), whenever you go to a movie you’re likely to be disappointed if you think the screen adaptation is going to be as good as the book. Seriously, how often are movies as good as the books they are loosely based on? About the only ones I can think of are the first Narnia movie (Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe) and the version of A Christmas Carol that had George C. Scott in it. That’s about it.

Noah’s story, as found in the Bible, is perfectly exciting. It is full of all the things that make a great movie a great movie: drama, action, animals, exotic locations, suspense, larger-than-life sets, and colorful characters. It even has its share of death, destruction, pathos, and the miraculous. So why change all of that? Why trash the written account in order to create a fictitious, over-the-top, insulting flop?

Knoahk-offs

Maybe it’s time we go ahead and make more movies using the Noah template? Instead of calling these new movies knock-offs, we could call them knoahk-offs! I mean, why not take the stories atheists and humanists know and love and turn them into evangelical sermons?

Let me see if I can come up with a few ideas off the top of my head…

  • The God Delusion (by Richard Dawkins). In this movie, a must-see by Dawkins’ fans, Yahweh actually sits down with Little Richard (the singer) to compose a musical called “The Delusion of Unbelief.” In this unique creation (pun intended), God describes Himself to the world as a loving, sacrificial Sovereign that wants to open the eyes of unbelieving vegans.
  • God Is Not Great (by Christopher Hitchens). This movie version of a classic by the late, great Hitchens will have audiences rolling in the aisles. God Is Not Great is a Christian comedy featuring the humorous, yet humble side of the Creator. Movie attenders will laugh along with God as He mocks those who deny His existence and get a kick at how He plays practical jokes on unsuspecting, self-deluded college professors at UC Berkeley.
  • Harry Potter (by J.K. Rowling). Atheists and lukewarm Christians everywhere love the Harry Potter series of books and movies, but a remake was inevitable. Yes, a truly accurate depiction of the books (with some creative licence, of course) will be brought to the screen. Instead of witchcraft, Harry will be filled with the Holy Spirit, lead Hermione (who played in Noah) to the Lord, get married, attend Moody Bible Institute, then start Hogwarts Baptist Church in Herefordshire, UK.

So, what do you think? I don’t think anybody will be offended, do you? Freethinkers should applaud trashing the writings of their favorite authors, don’t you think? I mean, at least that’s what people are saying we Christians should do with Noah.

If Darren Aronofsky can create a Noah “for the 21st century,” there’s a lot more stories needing an update. Can you think of a few?

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Humor, Movie review

Thursday Thoughts (Frogs and Fears)

What in the world does a preacher think about on Thursdays? Let’s find out!

Does water fall sideways?

My wife and I were taken to dinner the other day by a very nice couple who appreciate fine dining – they took us to Cracker Barrel. While in the gift shop, I noticed two frogs continually spitting into a small pond.

photo (24)First, what is so attractive about a fountain with spitting frogs? I mean, do frogs spit? And if they do, wouldn’t that much be a sign of impending kidney failure and death? What would make an amphibian with projectile saliva be your first choice of lawn decoration?

Secondly, notice the water. The little stream from froggy on the right is obviously falling at an angle due to the position in which he/she is sitting. What might not be as noticeable is that the one on the left, as I was standing there watching, was really, literally falling to the left, i.e. NOT straight down! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

So, another couple walks up behind me and I say to the husband, “Does the water coming out of the frog’s mouth on the left look like it’s falling straight down?” “Huh, no it doesn’t,” he said.

Then the man’s wife walked up and asked what he was looking at. He asked, “Doesn’t that water look like it’s falling to the left? How’s that possible?” No joke, the wife replied, “Well, it would if the hose was curved.”

I looked at the guy and asked, “Can I quote her on that?

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Thinking about the frogs and the crazy water, I was reminded that our eyes can play tricks on us. In reality, based on what we see, our understanding of the world can be very misleading.

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.” – Isaiah 50:10 NLT

That is why, even in the darkest nights of life, I trust God: He knows what’s really going on.

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