Tag Archives: God

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.

IMG_4052

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

Worship

Think of the following quote as you prepare for Sunday – if you prepare for Sunday…

“Worship on Sunday that does not lead to worship on Monday is not real worship; it’s religious activity.” – Chuck Lawless

Please, oh please, make it a point to attend corporate worship with other believers this Sunday! And when you do, determine not to be distracted by people, things, or anything else – worship God, not man. Don’t make going to church an “activity” you do, make it a relationship you renew.

Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about HIM.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Faith, God, worship

“Let God be True, and Luther a Liar”

The following post (and it’s a long one) was written 5 years ago in 2011, shortly after returning from Florida where I officiated a beach wedding. Being that today is Martin Luther King, Jr’s holiday, I thought this piece might be a nice reminder that racism, regardless of the race, is sin. Dr. King knew that in order to change things, men’s hearts had to change. Unfortunately, the best we can do is still going to be flawed. Our only hope is found in God, our Mighty Fortress and Strength.

St. Petersburg, FL

Forgive me, but I am not a big fan of St. Petersburg, especially in the winter when it is 45 degrees. To me, Florida is supposed to be HOT. The warmest it got last week was in the low 70’s. The water on both coasts was terribly cold; therefore, sightseeing was more appropriate than sunbathing on the beach (which I don’t prefer, anyway). But aside from all of that, I still don’t think I would have liked St. Petersburg, even if it had been in the dead of summer.

However, they did have a few nice museums.

From books to IPhones

One museum we (Katie and I) enjoyed was the Museum of Fine Arts (http://www.fine-arts.org/). Believe it or not, it was the first time that I ever had the chance to stand in a room full of paintings by Monet. It was impressive, especially when you consider how close a teenager could stand next to objects worth multiple millions of dollars. Fortunately for the paintings, teenagers have touch-screen phones to keep their fingers occupied.

Another place we went, at my insistence, was the Florida Holocaust Museum (http://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/). I felt that it was important for the girls to see with their own eyes what true hatred and bigotry, even false religion can do. Not as big, nor as impressive as the museum in Washington, D.C., this museum still told the story well and featured an original cattle car that once carried Jews to the concentration camps.

Amelia Island, FL

When we left St. Petersburg, in order to find another beach to help Haley with her science project, at the advice of my brother-in-law, we went to Amelia Island in Fernandina, Florida. Now THAT was a change from St. Petersburg. Through priceline.com we even got a 3-star hotel for $52 a night! Not bad for a place with a huge, clean beach and a small-town feel.

“Big Guns on the Wall”

The highlight to the trip, for me, was when we got to visit Fort Clinch on Amelia Island. The fort was built back in the 1800’s and served both the Conferderate (1861) and the Union troops. It was a massive, red brick fortress overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and was meant to protect the Cumberland Sound. Fully restored, with reenactors playing the part, it was meant to give you the feel of stepping back in time to 1864.

I was really impressed with the fort. Even my wife was amazed. As I stood on its walls with huge canons, or on its proud bastions, I could not help but remember the words to the famous hymn by Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress.”

 

“A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing.
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.”

A Painful Thought

But while at Fort Clinch a painful thought crossed my mind. Just the day before, my girls were able to read other words from Martin Luther in the Florida Holocaust Museum. You see, even though Luther has been regarded as the father of the Reformation, he was a rabid anti-semite. In one display chronicling centuries of hatred toward the Jewish people, the words from Luther’s book, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” was written in bold for every Christian to see. Here are some quotes from that book:

“He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away.”

“If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country.”

“Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.”

“My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to become the foe of the Jews’ malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that they are surely possessed by all devils. May Christ, our dear Lord, convert them mercifully and preserve us steadfastly and immovably in the knowledge of him, which is eternal life. Amen.”

What a contrast! One moment I am being inspired by a fortress that reminds me of the greatness of God, the next I am being reminded of the painful truth that men are sinners – all with the same song. How could the words of one man inspire both the Church and the Nazi party at the same time?

Martin Luther

Martin Luther wrote “A Mighty Fortress” based on Psalm 46:11, “The LORD of hosts [is] with us; the God of Jacob [is] our refuge. Selah.” God is our refuge and our hope in time of trouble. The Psalmist also said, agreeing with Luther,

I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. – Psa 91:2 KJV

What are we to make of this, then? Is my hope in God supposed to be dashed all because of the actions of some (or all) of his followers? Are we to assume the truth of God is a lie because of the hateful words of Luther, as opposed to his hymns and 95 theses? Martin Luther was terribly wrong in his observations of the Jews. For that matter, David wasn’t perfect, either. No, God is God. Man is man. That is why it is so important to keep in mind the following words from the Apostle Paul:

…[Let] God be true, and every man a liar…” – Romans 3:4 KJV

When Peter got it right, Jesus called him “blessed” and praised the fact that the Father gave him the words (Matthew 16:17). However, when Peter spoke in the flesh, out of his own selfish desires, Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” (verse 23). When we speak out of hand about God, that does not change the truth about God.  Luther got some things right.  Luther also got some things wrong in a very bad way.

My God IS a mighty fortress…and He loves the people of Israel.  He has made that abundantly clear, despite the ramblings and false doctrines of men. God said, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” – Gen 12:3 KJV  Nothing has changed.  Let God be true, and Luther be a liar. Let God be true, and Peter a liar. Let God be true, and every one of us a liar. God is Who He is, whether we get it right or not. But because of Luther’s mistaken words, may we be ever more diligent to heed these words:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2Ti 2:15 KJV

Why? Because Jesus said it right, and He ALWAYS got it right, when He said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – Jhn 17:17 KJV

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. – Pro 30:5-6 ESV

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Filed under God, Martin Luther, salvation, Uncategorized, World View

Where Was God?

The Phone Call

I will never forget the phone call my wife answered early that morning of January 16, 2006 – ten years ago today. It was the kind of phone call that scars you for the rest of your life, making every other call that comes in the middle of the night one you’re afraid to answer.

The phone rang, my wife answered, and all I could hear were screams coming from the receiver. What could finally be understood through the uncontrollable crying were words one’s brain has a hard time processing…and then the words from someone less hysterical saying, “They’re dead.

It was a murder-suicide.

Back to Chattanooga

In just a few hours, or less, my wife and I were in Chattanooga (we broke a few speed limits). By the time we arrived the bodies were gone, but not the results of the shooting. It was a sight nothing on television or in the movies can adequately recreate. It was literally dumbfounding how much damage, how much carnage, could be unleashed by one person with just one handgun.

The walls, the ceiling, the floors, the floor on the level below, and even the garage below that – the effects were everywhere. Even the third floor of the massive home was not immune to the damage; that’s where I found a bullet lodged in a child’s bean bag.

Where Was God?

“Where was God?” some people asked. You might be tempted to ask the same thing. If God was real, why didn’t He do something?  Why didn’t He stop this? Why did He let this happen to such a likable, popular couple?  Why did children lose a father and a stepmother? Where was God?

Believe it or not, He was there the whole time, even long before the tragedy took place. He was there, letting a man and wife live as they chose, loving them by giving them their free will. He was there every time the conscience was stung, and every time it was seared. He was there, speaking through His Word, offering to guide, but never forcing.

God was there in the voice of those saying, “Don’t drink like that.” He was there in the voice of those saying, “Don’t stay here; he’s going to hurt you.” He was even there in the the last-second pleas to not shoot. Yes, God was there.

Here’s a question: Where was God the last time you made a bad choice? Where was God when you last idolized yourself by putting your wishes first? Where was God the last time you got angry and sinned, wounding your wife, your children, or a friend with an outburst you now regret? He was there; you just chose to do things your way, not His.

That’s what happened 10 years ago; God’s way was avoided and man’s way was chosen.   And on a stand adjacent to where the murder and suicide took place, on January 16, there was an open Bible…opened to Jeremiah 16. Read it for yourself.

Where was God? A better question might be, “Where are you?”

 

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Filed under abuse, Life/Death, wisdom

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.

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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.

Clothing

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. 

Anyway

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! 

   

 

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