I Should Be in Hell: My Pre-Salvation Testimony (on video)

I’m going to go ahead and tell you something upfront – this story has a twist.

If you have not already read the post I first published a few years ago, then this will REALLY be worth watching.

But even if you have read the post on which this video was based, I would still ask you watch it and share it. Thanks 🙂

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The Doctrine of Separation (Video Version)

What I did was take the text from the paper I wrote years ago, which I also turned into a post and a page on this blog and do a video version of it.

There were a few places that could have been and should have been updated, but I left things mostly as they were for simplicity’s sake.

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Why Some People are Legalists

A new video based on a post I first published in 2010.

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“Not For Sale” Metropolitan

Just down the road and around the corner is a yellow Nash Metropolitan. I don’t know what year model it is.

I don’t know how long it has sat there in the yard, but it’s been there a long time.

One day a few weeks ago I drove by it on the way out and thought to myself, “I ought to try to do a painting of that.” So, as you can see, I did!

I changed the background a little and left out personal things belonging to the homeowner, but the tree and the car are as they are, just there.

I can only imagine how many people over the years have knocked on the door of the house and inquired about purchasing the old Nash only to here, “Well, it’s not for sale. I plan on fixing it up one day.”

Yeah, right. Heard THAT before.

So, after doing this painting, I’m considering doing more of other kinds of automobiles.

Any suggestions?

Any “not for sale” stories you’d like to share?

“Not for Sale”

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The Benefit of Darkness

Some people will insist that a Christian should never go through a dark time in his life. The idea is that “joy unspeakable” should empower a perpetual smile even in the middle of imminent doom.

What’s more, it’s the people in the Church who most often criticize the discouraged and depressed, treating them like whatever is bothering them could not be bad enough to challenge their faith, that is, if their faith was genuine.

It doesn’t help, either, when the rest of the world’s problems are weighed in the balance with ours. It’s like, “There are people being burned alive for their faith and you’re having a spiritual identity crisis?” It’s no different than saying, “If you think YOUR pain is bad, you should feel MINE.”

There’s songs and sermons galore about persevering through the storms of life and coming out stronger on the other side. There’s even much talk about joy in the midst of sorrow, about peace in the midst of spiritual attack. But what I don’t think I’ve ever heard is a recognition of the value or benefits of the “dark” times we may experience.

When I say I’m in “a dark place,” what does that mean? For different people it can mean different things, of course, but what do you typically think about? What do you associate with dark places?

I’ll tell you what I’ve seen in the dark places: anger, regret, sorrow, resentment, bitterness, resignation, self-doubt, self-hate, weariness, loneliness, helplessness, worthlessness, and a “deaf heaven” and “bootless cries” (to borrow from Shakespeare). It’s probably not necessary to tell you of the thoughts that accompany such darkness.

So how could there be any benefit to such darkness, such despair? How could there be any value to such moments? Well, I’ve wondered that, myself. Yet is our God not sovereign? If truly redeemed, am I ever out of His hand?

There exist rare and refined elements which offer solutions to problems yet to be discovered. In other words, there are things that, until they were discovered, we didn’t even know we had a need for them. Sometimes these things are discovered in the remains of previous failures.

I have come to believe that the strongest faith is produced in the dark, when all appears lost, when all efforts have failed, and when there’s nothing solid left on which to stand. Faith is then the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

The strongest faith can only be found, not in just weakness, but when there’s no strength at all.

When I’ve messed up so much and so many times that I’ve not even a single seed to plant in a dry field with no rain in sight, faith is the evidence of the crop to come.

The benefit of darkness is the failure of myself and the hope of Him who will not let me go.

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Filed under Depression, Faith, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

Five Things I Expect from a Sermon

Not long ago my wife and I visited a particular church for the first time. I don’t want to tell you where it was or who did the preaching because what I’m about to write is not flattering. And should I tell you where we went, you might think what we experienced was the norm, when it might have not been.

Believe me, I know what it is like to be judged by one poorly delivered sermon. Heck, I’ve even been misjudged by an expertly delivered and totally biblical sermon! Therefore, I don’t want to disparage a pastor after hearing him only once.

However, what I expect from a preacher is rarely delivered these days. Honestly, it’s like every time a new preacher steps up to the pulpit, the voice of the Dread Pirate Roberts whispers in my ear, “Get used to disappointment.”

What I typically receive is a topical sermon based on a topical series that starts with a text and only comes back to it when mentioning the sermon title.

Sadly, what I have grown accustomed to are “how to” sermons loosely based on biblical principles but often drawn from Scripture verses taken out of context.

But what is it that I expect? Not much, just five simple things.

  1. WHAT I EXPECT… are sermons that exegete the Holy Word of God, even without artistic and often unnecessary alliterations.
  2. WHAT I EXPECT… is a preacher who will take the Bible, read it, explain it, then make application, not the other way around.
  3. WHAT I EXPECT… is to be wowed and amazed by the wonderous, Holy Spirit-inspired, inerrant Word of God, not the delivery of the one tasked to preach it.
  4. WHAT I EXPECT… is a sermon that treats passages from the Bible as revealed Scripture, not just supporting references.
  5. WHAT I EXPECT… is nothing more and nothing less than what we read of in the book of Nehemiah. There we read of when Ezra built a “pulpit” of wood (a raised place from which to be heard) and, along with a few others, opened up the long-forgotten Law of God and read it to an attentive, standing crowd.

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Nehemiah 8:8 KJV

If the above verse isn’t clear enough, the CSB renders it, “They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.”

When you add application to the above formula, that’s when you get good preaching.

That’s what I expect.

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Filed under General Observations, Preaching

More Offensive Words, More SMH

The University of Southern California School of Social Work has decided to eliminate the world “field” from its curriculum and replace with language that is “more inclusive” and less likely to offend.

To be clear, it is not USC as a whole, only the School of Social Work.

The reasoning is simple: going out into “the field” to work “may have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign.” In other words, using “field,” as in going out into the field to do social work, is racist, specifically anti-black and anti-immigrant.

I’m not making this up. Unfortunately, it’s not joke, either.

Folks, how much more of this are we going to have to endure? Would it help if we simply did away with that nasty, imperialistic, white privilege language of English and replace it with something else? That might be the easiest and least offensive option!

For example, we could go back the native languages of the American continent since they were here first. We could switch from English to Cherokee or Creek.

Or, since we are including immigrants in this, not just slaves, we could surrender the English language to Spanish! Because, as we all know, the Hispanic and Latin nations never sent slaves into the “campo” to work.

Wait! Doesn’t “campo” sound a lot like “campus”? It definitely sounds like “camp.” Do you know how many people have been placed in camps to work? We can’t use that word anymore because there are connotations for Russians, Jews, Christians, Japanese, and Muslim terrorists that are not benign.

Maybe this is more complicated than I thought!

Just think for a second of how many other words are also racist! What kind of language will we have left if we ban them all?

  • Cotton
  • Hoe
  • Whip
  • White
  • Pick
  • Row
  • Soil/Dirt
  • Beat
  • fence
  • chain
  • link
  • guard
  • dog/hound
  • rope
  • knot
  • string
  • up

Because, when you’re already thinking about something, when it’s on your mind all the time, just about any word can be associated with that something.

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The Downward Spiral of Admitting Depression

Dear readers, now that the end of the year is upon us, I know that many people in the world aren’t feeling excited about tomorrow. I get it. Even as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I still feel an underlying sense of foreboding.

But what about all that stuff like “God is in control” and “God’s got a plan”? If that’s true, why feel down, discouraged, or depressed? And why, of all things, feel a sense of dread?

Well, all I can say is that if you feel both ways at the same time, you and King David (the Psalmist), a few prophets, and I have something in common.

Knowing that the Lord’s hand is not weak and His arm not short does not change the fact that you and I are living in mortal bodies affected by the constant onslaught of circumstances which drain us, both physically and mentally.

The sad truth is that even though you and I may believe there is hope, for our Hope is Jesus, we may still find ourselves battling the feeling of hopelessness.

Now, who am I to suggest how another comes to be in this situation? It’s hard enough to explain my own feelings, emotions, and circumstances, much less try to piece together the puzzle pieces of someone else’s life. However, I do want to attempt to validate what some of you might be feeling if you are at the point of needing help.

The problem with admitting you are depressed, especially to the point of danger, is that by doing so one risks making things even worse. Admitting depression often takes away the very things for which we fight to hold onto, the things that give meaning to our existence. Therefore, in order to maintain a sense of purpose and keep the light at the end of the tunnel lit, we hide the pain, hope to God things get better, and force our faith to the surface for others to see, essentially faking it, sort of, until we make it.

Why is this? I’m not a licensed therapist or clinical psychologist, but my best guess is because what we believe, albeit true, is always in a fight with perception, pride, physiology (and I didn’t plan on alliterating those points, but it would make a good sermon outline, wouldn’t it?).

Therefore, what do we do? We leak as little as possible without spilling our guts, just enough to put a few more gallons in the tank so as to make it through the desert.

Can you relate? If so, let’s encourage one another. God does still reign, His mercies endure forever, and because of His steadfast love and faithfulness we are not condemned.

Faking it till we make it isn’t really the best option.

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Let’s Talk Pronouns

You know, it’s been a while since my last contribution, but you can chalk that up to new living and working conditions, along with much more time spent on my new YouTube channel.

But here I am, an hour and fifteen minutes away from time to walk out the door, so why not address one of the big topics of the day?… PRONOUNS.

Before I offer any advice, we should back up for a second and look at the definition of the word.

pronoun

■ noun a word used instead of a noun to indicate someone or something already mentioned or known, e.g. I, she, this.
—ORIGIN Middle English: from PRO-1 + NOUN, suggested by French pronom, Latin pronomen (from pro- ‘for, in place of’ + nomen ‘name’).

Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

It’s only when you get into the kaleidoscope personal pronouns that things get crazy – and yes, I used that word.

I mean, it’s one thing to learn the proper usage of words that already exist, but when people just start making up words, it’s nearly impossible to avoid offending someone!

So, I have a suggestion. Why not go back to biblical (as in KJV style) English of centuries ago? Let’s start referring to people as “thee” and “thou.”

But what about when we are talking about thee in the third person? Oh, I got that, too!

We could use words like the one, the ones, the fool, the sinner, the Gentile, the lost, the one vexed by demons, or even the one in darkness.

Here is an example of how that could work:

Three people are standing in the mall. One is eating godly food and drinking sweet tea from a certain chicken restaurant, while the others are eating warm sushi and drinking bubble tea.

  • Girl(?) with blue hair says, “Hello, my name is Brill and I identify as a bug.”
  • Guy(?) standing next to the bug says, “Hello my name is Susan, and you look hot in your black sport coat and jeans. What’s your name and what pronouns to you prefer?”
  • I respond in the following way. I reply with, “Thou art kind for noticing. I thank thee,” then ask the one with blue hair, “Did thou say that thou art a bug?”
  • “Yes,” answers the blue-haired one vexed with demons, “and my preferred pronouns are bug, bug’s, and bzzzt.”
  • “Get thee behind me, Susan,” I exclaim! “There’s a 5-foot insect about to steal thine sticky fish flesh!” Then, calling upon my exterminator skills, I spray Raid in the bug’s face and proceed to stomp her when she falls to the ground.

Or, I could just refuse to play the game and use the language that reflects reality.

What think thou?

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When Sheep Attack the Shepherd

Another pastor was asked to resign. Why? Because of moral failure? No. Because of unethical practices? No. Because of poorly performing his duties? No.

He changed some things. He wanted to do some things that the deacons didn’t. Oh, it didn’t matter what the congregation thought or what impact the pastor’s ministry was making on the community; he went afoul of the deacon body and was asked to resign.

Men … and I’m talking to all you deacons out there… you seriously need to go back to the locker room, sit down on the benches, and let your Coach – GOD – explain to you how the game is supposed to be played. He wrote the Rules, rules which are never to be overruled by your bylaws.

First, there is no place in all of Scripture where you will find justification for deacons running a church. The fact that so many do is a sad testament to how poorly the Word of God has been taught in so many of our congregations. If you really want to get specific, there are no biblical examples of committees making unilateral decisions, either. The ONLY biblical example is that of pastoral leadership with deacon support WHEN NEEDED. See the 6th chapter of the Book of Acts.

Second, should a congregation follow the biblical guidelines and select men to be deacons, they should only do so because the administration of resources meant to minister to the needy within the congregation has become too burdensome for the pastoral leadership and is thereby distracting from the study of the Word and prayer. There is NO biblical precedent for the pastoral leadership of a congregation to be in any way handicapped by the decisions of those elected to serve the congregation and assist the pastoral leadership. There is NO biblical precedent for committees within the congregation to have veto power over pastoral leadership, either.

Third, there is very little evidence in Scripture to support unlimited tenure for those who serve in the role of deacon. On the contrary, biblical precedent leans more heavily toward deacons serving only when there is a need, and only when the pastoral leadership deems it necessary (again, see Acts 6). There is even reason to argue that new deacons should be selected by the congregation and approved by the pastoral leadership every time there is a change in pastoral leadership (compare Acts 6 with 1 Timothy 3).

Fourth, there is no biblical precedent for deacons to be self-governed, mutually accountable, or convenable as a body. Doing so adopts a secular business model that may promote efficiency and manageable productivity, but it in nowise mirrors the pattern of congregational and pastoral oversight as found in Acts 6.

Fifth, the spiritual requirements of deacons (AND their wives) should be taken as seriously as that of a pastor.

Therefore, based on the above points, there is no more biblical support for a group of deacons – servants – to request the resignation of pastor any more than they would request the revocation of a fellow congregant’s membership within the local assembly of believers. It is not the role of the servant to negate the role of the one/ones served.

To conclude, in local congregations where the ecclesiastical structure is autonomous and limited (i.e., Baptist, etc.), thereby affording the body the right to elect the pastoral leadership deemed sent by God and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, beware how you treat the man of God. Although he be only a man, by your common vote you have affirmed before God and heavenly witnesses that he is to be your shepherd, subject to the Great Shepherd, and that you will submit to his leadership where it is biblical, and Spirit led. To conspire, undermine, and circumvent his leadership is to invite discipline from the one who sent the “gift” (Ephesians 4:11-12) to you.

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