“The last thing I want to do is offend anyone with my words, but even that will offend somebody. Therefore, I must speak the truth in love, even when love is misinterpreted as hate.” – A. Baker
Category Archives: Do not judge
An add I’m about to place:
“Desperate Baptist school bus driver is actively seeking a Greek scholar who can verify στόμαχος (stomachos) also refers to one’s nerves.”
It’s been that kind of day.
From a Sermon
Four years ago I preached a sermon to close out the year of 2012. The following 13 points were what I decided I did NOT want to do in 2013. The same could be said for 2017.
Unfortunately, numbers 10, 11, & 12 are the only ones I’ve not done; the rest were failures. Just goes to show you why a preacher needs to preach to himself more often.
I Don’t Want To…
1. Believe another politician. Why did I ever? I won’t do it this year, that’s for sure. Even if he/she is telling the truth, how would I know? Let God be true, and every man a liar, especially those running for office (Romans 3:4).
2. Eat more in one sitting than the average family in Africa eats in a week. (Prov. 23:21; 21:17)
3. Lie, cheat, or steal, even when it’s socially acceptable. This is especially important during tax season, but there are many times we lie to each other, deprive each other, and take what isn’t ours. Have you ever told someone you were “fine” when you actually weren’t? You lied. Used two coupons instead of one, just because the cashier didn’t notice? You stole.
4. Be angry. Anger rarely solves anything. Angry people are miserable and always finding fault. Angry people turn a leisurely drive into a demolition derby. “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).
5. Whine or complain. What do I have to complain about? Really?
6. Tell people how stupid they are. I don’t understand why some people act the way they do, but I need to be a little more understanding of idiots, morons, ignoramuses, and bone-headed nincompoops. They must answer to God, not me, for their actions (Rom 14).
7. Add another x to my large. I can’t afford any more clothing. Even now I must wear Hawaiian shirts year-round because nothing will stay tucked in. I mean, seriously! The last thing I need is to expand the “temple.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
8. Lose another favorite sock. I can’t figure out how it happens, but something has to be done.
9. Waste time. Today I listened to my two girls play with a new ukulele. They laughed and sang. Soon they will be grown, and there will be no more music, games, or bedtime stories. “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psalm 144:4).
10. Get a divorce. Many do it because the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. They don’t realize the unnatural stuff has a nasty aftertaste. I want to stay with the woman God gave me. Who could be better than a gift from God? “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18).
11. Give one more dollar to a guy on the street….without offering the gospel as a condition. If he wants a dollar, then fine. I’ll give him $5 if he lets me tell him about Jesus.
12. Be on a reality TV show. So many people say, “Anthony, your family would make a great reality show.” I say, “Yes, I know.” However, it ain’t gonna happen. The world isn’t ready for it.
13. Forget to pray. I don’t pray enough. More is better. What I need is to follow David’s example and pray morning, noon, and evening (Psalm 55:17). I shudder to think how much I’ve given up by forgetting to spend time with God.
James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
I Went to a Movie
Being the “recovering legalist” that I am, let me start off this brief little post with a brave confession: I went to a movie on a Sunday night.
That’s right, instead of going to church somewhere last night, my daughter Haley and I used a gift card that was given to her and went to see Hacksaw Ridge. Because I am not pastoring anywhere at the moment, and because I was not scheduled to preach anywhere last night, a daddy/daughter date made for a great conclusion to a week full of stress and uncertainty.
What’s even better is that it only cost me $2 for the movie and $7 for both of us to eat at Taco Bell!
My Daughter’s Thoughts
Before I share with you my thoughts about Hacksaw Ridge, why don’t I share what my daughter posted on Facebook as we left the theater?
“Update: Hacksaw Ridge is The Best movie I have ever seen.”
“Everyone please if you can go see Hacksaw Ridge. You won’t regret it.”
There was literally a physical change in her expression toward the end of the movie. At the very end she sat there with her mouth agape with this look that silently screamed out, “Unbelievable!”
I am not a professional movie critic. Sure, I can be critical, but I am not adept at pointing out all the nuances of plot, imagery, and blah blah blah. All I can do is tell you what I think, how I felt, and what I would recommend.
First, this movie had a whole lot more gore than Saving Private Ryan, if you can believe it. But being that this was directed by Mel Gibson, well… Let’s just say that if you have a weak stomach, you might want to take a barf bag – the battle scenes are meant to shock.
Second, I went to this movie with the preconceived understanding that there would be a spiritual application somewhere; I was not disappointed. Besides the overall theme of being faithful to one’s personal God-given convictions, there was an undeniable linkability (my word) between Desmond Doss’ prayer to rescue “just one more” and the way we should be about reaching the lost.
Third, the first half of the movie is a bona fide chick-flick. Nevertheless, the sweet romance portrayed during the character-building phase of the movie was a pleasant contrast to the hell of war. Some have labeled this movie – at least the first part – too “sentimental.” Whatever. At least it wasn’t your typical get drunk and have sex before you know someone’s name Hollywood script.
Fourth, I wish the context of the battle could have been better explained. I know it might have run the risk of coming across as a history lesson, but it would have been helpful to understand a little better the “why” and the “where” of what was going on in the second half of the movie. Very little was done to explain the battle – it was almost like the fighting took place for the sake of fighting.
Fifth, this was an R-rated film, so beware. There was no sex or graphic nudity, but there was some language (not near as much as other war movies), a lot of violence (duh), and a scene where a particular recruit shows his bare behind (he was an exhibitionist, but that gets corrected in a humorous way).
Overall, this movie is about convictions, honor, duty, God, country, love, and not judging a book by its cover. Even though Doss was a Seventh Day Adventist, nothing about this movie made it come across as proselytizing. It truly was just a great movie and a great testament to a genuine hero, Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who never fired a shot, but single-handedly saved over 75 lives during the battle of Okinawa. If anyone deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor, he did.
A while back I there was a conversation in which I was asked, “Tell me, name one thing I do well?” Distraught and depressed, broken and humiliated by disabling pain, feeling like a burden to everyone else, this person said, “I’m worthless. I can’t do anything.”
As I remembered those words, especially at this time in my life, the image of a musical instrument, a violin, came to mind. Then I thought of my guitar and other instruments; each one capable of making beautiful, worshipful music, but only in the hands of one with talent enough to play.
I imagined the violin asking, “Tell me, name one thing I do well?” All I could think to reply was, “Nothing.” What can a violin do on it’s own but rest in a case, sit on a shelf, or gather dust in a closet? In the hands of one with no skill, with other things to do, and with no love for music, the violin could even become a wearisome burden over time.
In the wrong hands the violin is “worthless.” It has no value, no worth, no ability, no projection, no tone, and no song on it’s own. Alone, it really can’t do anything.
Then, right on cue, another thought exploded in my brain: What are we but instruments in the Master’s hands? We have no ability on our own. The violin never plays itself. The only way a musical instrument can ring out notes of joyous praise is when it is given life by the energy of the Musician.
But some may say, “I’m not a violin, a guitar, or anything like that.” Maybe so, but in the hands of a skilled musician even a trash can can bring an audience to its feet.
You may not feel like you’re valuable. You may feel worthless. But don’t believe the lie of the Enemy! Your value is not determined by what you can do, or what you look like, or by what others think, but by how much the Master was willing to pay.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV
Dear friend, don’t let your inadequacies, your mistakes, or your disabilities make you feel worthless. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, thought you were worth dying for, and willingly shed His blood to purchase your soul. In your own strength you may be incapable of anything but being a burden on others, but in the hands of the Master, your life can be an instrument of praise in the concert of the ages.
Who knows? You may already be on stage … so don’t give up … the audience may be ready to applaud.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”
“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13
The Perfect Candidate
Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting. They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.
Which one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.
But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church. They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.
Genesis of Dysfunction
A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings. Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective. This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were! There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!
Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems. At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes. Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…
Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field. When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband? Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?“
“Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB
Check this out…
- Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
- Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
- Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
- Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.
And there’s more!
- Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
- The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.
It just goes on and on. Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!
God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 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.” How is this even possible?
If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!