Category Archives: Faith

Nine Years of Blogging

I Missed It

It is now September 5, and the only thing truly special about this day is that I’m writing this post while in a waiting room – a dreary one at that. My wife is having a scope done of her esophagus, and so I have nothing else to do but wait…I’ve already prayed, so I’ll write.

Anyway, I missed my WordPress anniversary on the 27th! 9 years ago last week I wrote my first blog post, and I still have those same Crocs! I have, however, retired them.

I Mused It

Looking back over the years, I’ve used this blog to share a lot of my thoughts about different things. Some of those things were current events which are no longer relevant, while others were topic of interest which will continue to be discussed – if not reposted.

But I’ve also used this blog to formulate my thoughts. I’ve used it as a test bed for my ideas, in the preparation of sermons, and as a way to hone my speech before it’s spoken.

Overall, blogging has probably helped me more than anyone else.

I Misused It

Right now I’m reading Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you haven’t read it, you should; the practical wisdom is invaluable.

In the first chapter Carnegie addresses the dangers of being critical of others and cites multiple examples. Towards the end of the chapter he says:

“If you and I want to stir up resentment tomorrow that may rankle across the decades and endure until death, just let us indulge in a little stinging criticism – no matter how certain we are that it is justified.”

Even though I’ve been convinced I was right, I may have been too critical of others at times, priding myself on the “stinging” part. Granted, much of that would have appeared while debating within the comment sections, but I’m sure I could have been more gracious at times. I apologize.

I’ll Make It

So, now that I’m into my tenth year of blogging, I look forward to writing even more about subjects that interest me and may interest others. In doing so, I hope that my transparency will not hurt my own reputation, but encourage others in their own walk of faith with grace.

Life is tough at times. Like I’ve mentioned before, I know full well the dangers of depression and an outlook that forgets Who is in control. Maybe more posts in the future will help others see and understand how good and faithful our God is. Maybe they’ll be less critical, less controversial, and more encouraging as the days get darker.

Sure, some things will have to be addressed or I’ll just explode – like how now that the mayor of Chicago and a black preacher at Aretha Franklin’s funeral said what needed to be said, but the culture is too far gone to accept it…and who’s fault is that? But, when all is said and done, the command of Philippians 4:8 must rule the day – we must think on those things.

In the end, Lord willing, I’ll make it safe and sound of mine to our 10th anniversary at The Recovering Legalist. If you’ll stick with me we’ll make it a celebration to remember!

Thank you for your friendships!

Anthony

PS, My wife is not yet out of surgery, and this waiting room is sadly depressing. No coffee!

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Filed under blogging, Faith, Future, grace, Struggles and Trials, writing

Sometimes I Feel Like a Failure

I am going to be very honest, as I’m sure you will appreciate: Sometimes I feel like a total failure.

You may have some impression of me, and that impression might be a good one. However, sometimes I see myself as a failure for not having accomplished a fraction of my stated goals, thereby leaving myself wondering, “Will I ever be able to do this?”

This morning has been difficult. It’s been a long time since any regular income has come in. And even though I felt sure I was supposed to be doing what I’m doing career-wise, it’s not put much money in the bank as of yet. I’m not talking about ministry; I’m talking about my work outside the pastorate (I’m bi-vocational).

So, I went to Blueletterbible.com and did a word search for “fail.” There were over 60 occurrences of the word, but two of them stood out to me.

The first one spoke of how David understood pain and doubt. He had questions about God’s compassion and promises.

Is his mercy clean gone forever? doth his promise fail for evermore? – Psalm 77:8

But then David went on to answer his own question by remembering what God has done and said:

Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. – Psalm 77:14

Then I came to the following verse:

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. – Isaiah 41:17

I am poor and needy. We have more than a water bill. I can’t do this on my own! Much of the help that should come from man is missing, but I have a God who hears my plea and has not forsaken me!

All I have to do is cry out to him!

I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. – Psalm 57:2

Lord, I am not a failure as long as there is still breath in my lungs and an opportunity for me to step forward to my Goliaths. My strength is small; my abilities are few; my vision is limited to the horizon, but You will not forsake me, and Your presence will go before me. You will get the credit for my successes, for Your name will be glorified as You help me stand, fight, conquer, and provide for my family (Deut. 8:18). I am not a failure because You are not.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, God, self-worth, worship

Phoenix Shmeonix, We Have a Pumpkin!

Mythical Birdie

Greek mythology tells of a bird that rises from its own ashes to live again. They call this kind of bird a pheonix.

Personally, I’ve never seen a pheonix, nor have I seen any bird rise up from the ashes of its own dead body – not even that turkey we burned to a crisp one year. I’ve seen some chicken go up in flames, but once the ashes were cleaned out of the grill, that was it.

So, when it comes to freshly-feathered foul flying from the fire, I’m kinda skeptical.

But when it comes to pumpkins, that’s a different story.

Mysterious Gourd

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I might have thought some muffaletta-munching Greek had been up to another one of his tall tells. Yet, there it was, right there, smack dab in the middle of our burn pit… a pumpkin!

You see, down in a field we have a place where we burn stuff like wood and brush, and the occasional box of paperwork that’s too sensitive too be trusted to a shredder. When not being used as document destroyer, the pit is perfect for cookouts and hanging out while listening to the crackling of the fire on a cool night.

What the fire pit is NOT used for is a garden. On top of that, the last time the fire pit was used, no produce was harmed and no seeds were sown. As a matter of fact the last thing that was torched was about a hundred pounds of sensitive files and a couple of trash bags filled with shredded bills.

So where on earth did the pumpkin come from? Charlie Brown?

Don’t Lose Hope

Here’s the thing: you never know what might unexpectedly spring up from the ashes. Even your wildest imagination may fail to prepare you for what might grow out of the remains of total decimation.

It might be nothing like anything that was burned, not even remotely, but it will have been planted by God and nourished by what you thought was worthless.

I literally don’t know where that pumpkin could have come from or how it managed to grow. However, later on, when I’m eating pumpkin pie, I’ll be thanking the Lord it was a gourd that rose from the ashes, and not a pheonix…

The last thing you want to eat is a regenerating hot wing! 

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Filed under Faith, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

Even Mondays Are Made By God

Today is Monday, but I guess you knew that.

Coffee always helps.

Coffee always helps.

How did you wake up? Was it with a sense of dread? Instead of turning off the alarm clock that woke you up, did you strike it like a mosquito that had been buzzing around your head for an hour?

I don’t like Mondays any more than you. As a matter of fact, Mondays are pretty rough. Mondays should be my day off, but I am (was) what they call a bivocational pastor; therefore, my alarm clock feels like a mosquito, too.

However, the Psalmist (David) says…

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 

Today…this Monday…every Monday…this is the day which the Lord has made. As a matter of fact, He has made every day. So, what will we do? Will we bemoan the blessing of waking up? Will we cry “foul” even before we enter the game? Will we start the day with the expectation that Monday will be like every other Monday?

This day was made by God. He knows what He is doing. Nothing will come our way that God is not already planning to use for our good – for those who love Him.

Today you may face a storm that leaves you feeling abandoned by God. You may feel like the disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee all night fighting winds and waves. You may think that your Savior has forgotten you. Just remember that even in the worst storm, on the worst day, Jesus knows where you are.

When the time is right you might even get an invitation to surf the waves of adversity (Matthew 14:27).

So, rejoice! Be glad! Seize the day! It’s been custom-made for you!

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Faith, God, Life Lessons, worship

How to Avoid Marrying a Snake-Handling Preacher

Pastor Coots

Let me start off by saying that I am not going to be writing about the biblicality of taking up serpents during a church service. The purpose of this post is not to run down and disparage anyone’s heartfelt religious belief. I’m not here today to call someone an idiot for doing something that is clearly foolish – that could be another post for another day.

Right now let’s just pray for Cody Coots. I mean, just four years ago his father, the former pastor, died (age 42) after being bitten by a rattlesnake – only five minutes after being bitten in the hand during a worship service.

Now, the young Pastor Coots – the still-living pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle In Jesus Name Church – is recovering from a near-fatal bite to the ear from a rattlesnake (click HERE to see the video). Sadly, there must have been sin in his life, the fact made unfortunately obvious right when a bunch of cameras from a world-famous news organization were filming.

That must have been a bummer. We really need to pray for him and his health, and his family.

But, like I said, this post isn’t about Pastor Coots’ religious beliefs or health – it’s about his poor sweet wife and all the other ladies out there who might be concerned with marrying a snake-handling preacher.

Don’t Let Love Be Blind

What I want to do for now is offer a little advice to the lovelorn, the lovesick, and those blinded by love. You see, what really got me about the story of Pastor Cody Coots is what his wife, Tammy said:

“Me and Cody didn’t talk about religion until after we got married and all I said is, ‘God, what did I get myself into?'” (source: The Sun)

Excuse me? 

Pastor Cody Coots

You were introduced by a relative, then you immediately fell in love, but you didn’t know anything about what he believed? You had no idea he went to a snake-handling church?

I mean, seriously, Tammy, what did you do for dates. go out hunting Copperheads? You visited his garage and saw cases of snakes, and thought what? Or did you even visit his home? Didn’t you think it wise to visit your prospective groom’s church just once before walking down the aisle? During the wedding rehearsal, did you think the rattling sound was from a wedding present?

Why only after you got married did you ask, “God, what have I gotten myself into”?

That being said, I feel obligated to spare future Tammy’s from the fear of losing one’s husband to the venom of a faith-testing rattler from heaven.

6 Ways to Avoid Marrying a Snake-Handling Preacher

  1. Visit His Church. If you are a religious person, even in the least bit, never marry anyone without working through where you stand on spiritual issues. It is never a joke to be unequally yoked.
  2. Eat a Lot of Spaghetti. I have a feeling that the right kind of food could open up a deep conversation. Ask your potential groom, “Honey, I love the way you manipulate that noodle; it’s sorta like handling a snake…you don’t handle snakes, do you?”
  3. Go to the Zoo. Take your man to the zoo for an afternoon getaway. Enjoy yourself as the two of you admire God’s creatures. Then, guide your potential mate into the reptile exhibit and say, “Oh, sweetie, look at all those beautiful, holy, God-honoring testers of our faith!” If he replies with an “AAAAAMEN!” and wishes he could just grab one out of the aquarium and start preaching… head to the exit and call an Uber.
  4. Have a Bible Study. I know this might sound too obvious, but how about go to the local ice cream shop, get yourself a root beer, and open up your King James Version to Mark 16:18, then ask: “If this was real beer, and if it was spiked with strychnine, if I had no sin in my life, could I drink this while holding a King Cobra and still live?” If he looks at you like you’re a crazy cat lady on meth, you might have a keeper.
  5. Ask About His Parents. It’s been said that if you want to know what your future spouse will look like in 20 years, look at his parents – or in this case, his father. Ask what his dad does for a living. Ask if his father is still alive. If his father is dead, ask how he died. If he died by snake bite, ask if it happened while his father was screaming incoherently into a hot microphone while ear-splitting gospel music was blasting from speakers on the stage.
  6. Marry a Southern Baptist or Presbyterian. Enough said.

Well, I hope this helps. There’s no need for you to get into a marriage only to say the first Sunday, “God, what have I gotten myself into?”

Commentssssssssss would be nicccccccce 😉

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Filed under Faith, Humor, Life/Death, Marriage, Theology

There IS Purpose!

To Begin With…

The world is in a state of turmoil. Pain and suffering are everywhere. Worry and fear are some of the more common emotions among men and women these days. In the midst of all this unforgiving stress, the hurting need comfort; yet, where are they to find it?  I believe that comfort can be found in the belief that this world is not the result of an accident, but design. I believe that there is more to life than what we can see. I believe in a Creator. I believe in God. This belief gives me comfort in the midst of pain and suffering.

But…

Many (but not all) scientists, however, do not believe in a Creator, so they pursue meaning and purpose through the discovery of new things, improving mankind’s situation, and better anticipating the future of the universe. Even though great scientists of the past viewed science as a means to further understand God’s creation, leading them to give God praise for His magnificent design, many modern scientists see the universe through a naturalistic worldview. They tend to comfort themselves in the supposed fact that this universe, made of matter, is all that there is – nothing more. They reason that since life is just a natural process and that matter is all that there is, what does it matter (pun intended) if there is no purpose to life? To the naturalist (the typical scientist), it is all about the here-and-now, occasionally sprinkled with purposeless wonder and meaningless awe.

Science?

A recent “scientific” study was conducted that shed some interesting light on the reasons why people choose to believe that there is a Designer of the universe, rather than purposeless existence after death. Just consider the title of the study: “Death and Science: The Existential Underpinnings of Belief in Intelligent Design and Discomfort with Evolution.” (Tracy, Hart, Martens) This study showed that when faced with the ultimate reality of death, most choose to find comfort in the belief that there is a design to everything, which would suggest purpose, rather than hold to Darwin’s theory of evolution. When faced with what was called “mortality salience,” even the unreligious tended to be “uncomfortable” with the theory of evolution. The conductors of the experiment were amazed (I found it perfectly logical), even indignant at times (which I thought was funny). Sadly, the researchers who conducted the study were obviously predisposed to atheism and the idea that the universe is un-designed. Surely they included themselves in the category of “certain individuals who are more deeply invested in the scientific worldview (e.g., scientists),” and, like Carl Sagan, viewed “naturalism as providing human life with meaning and purpose.” (Tracy, Hart and Martens 10)

Only a fool could look at a working machine that had every feature capable of performing a particular task and call that machine a random collection of atoms without purpose or meaning. Even the Psalmist said, “the fool hath said in his heart, [there is] no God.” On the other hand, the logical person would conclude, at some point, that the universe machine must have been designed by a Designer. To illustrate this, William Paley (1743-1805) used a pocket watch as an analogy to describe what one should conclude when he looks at the universe. Like a lone watch found on a beach, the universe should be to the observer an intricate work of art made for a purpose. People that are logical also see themselves as instruments of purpose, because they can recognize things that bear the marks of design. Why should it be a surprise to anyone, that when faced with death, the need for meaning would be important to the same, thoughtful, logical observer? “When we see evidence of intelligent design…we naturally assume that an intelligent designer was responsible for constructing the object.” (Phillips, Brown and Stonestreet 78)

Ten Words

The Christian can find his whole sense of purpose in the ten words that make up Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Christian scientist can also read these words and find confirmation to his observations. It is the naturalistic scientist that looks at William Paley’s watch analogy (teleological argument) and comes to the illogical conclusion that “chance plus time” created a beautifully intricate machine out of nothing.

If the universe is Godless, and it was not designed for a purpose, then meaning is irrelevant. The thing that is designed for a purpose, even if only to amuse, has a purpose, which gives meaning to every aspect of its being. Something that was not designed, created, or brought about either in reality or in the abstract, exists, at best, by accident. There is no purpose inherent within an accident (accidents are by definition unplanned), unless, of course, the accident was caused. If an accident is caused, even if it was not purposeful, then it was at least caused, was it not? So, either way, it could be argued that whether the universe was designed or came about by accident, there was a Something that brought it about, for both are objects of a Creator, else neither would have existed.

Waxing Philosophical

In conclusion, I would now argue that if the universe was either designed or the result of an accident, and if both design and accident have to have a cause; and, since accidents usually don’t result in the promotion of life-sustaining details, but rather carnage; and, since the universe mirrors best an intricate machine full of life; therefore, it must be designed, not an accident. If, then, the universe was the product of a Designer, then there must be a purpose inherent in the design. In other words, there is a reason for everything we see. It may be hidden somewhere in the workings of this great machine. Or, it could be found in the revelation of the Designer – the Bible.

There is, according to Scripture, a purpose for everything. Even amidst all the turmoil of the Vietnam War era a song came out by a group call The Byrds entitled, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The lyrics included a line from Ecclesiastes 3:1 which said, “a time to every PURPOSE (emphasis mine) under heaven.” To everything there is a purpose, even though it may not be plain to the observer. For example, unless they are meant to be a prank, buttons and levers on a machine usually have a purpose. Even if they don’t do anything, they had the purpose to illicit a response of some kind from the observer. That being understood, if there seems to be any design to the universe, wouldn’t it make the most sense to assume there was a Designer? If there was a Designer, then there was a purpose for the design. And the Bible says that the purpose, if for no other reason, was to cause “…all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him [the LORD]. For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast.” – Psa 33: 8-9 KJV

God made everything for a reason. You have a purpose. There IS hope in Jesus Christ.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24 KJV


Works Cited

Tracy, J. L., J. Hart and J. P. Martens. 2011. Death and Science: The Existential Underpinnings of Belief in Intelligent Design and Discomfort with Evolution. PLoS ONE. 6 (3): e17349.

Phillips, W. Gary, William E. Brown and John Stonestreet. Making Sense of Your World, A Biblical Worldview. Salem, Wisconsin: Sheffield Publishing Company, 2008.

Here is a link to the Institute for Creation Research article addressing the study mentioned above: http://www.icr.org/article/6039/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+icrscienceupdate+%28Science+Update+from+ICR%29&utm_content=FaceBook

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith

Were You Spiritually Attacked?

Have you ever stopped to wonder whether or not you were under spiritual attack? Have you ever stopped to wonder what a spiritual attack actually is?

Let’s think about it for a moment.

We humans are made up of both spirit and flesh, and it is well understood that the flesh wars against the spirit. Sometimes a spiritual attack can come from our own fleshly desires; it doesn’t have to be from outside influences.

I believe there is an Enemy who wants to destroy our souls and thwart any effort to build the Kingdom of God. Certainly, any effort on his part would be considered a spiritual attack, no matter from which direction it comes. However, much of what wars against our spirit comes from the selfish desires we often refuse to battle.

The apostle Paul said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, but don’t let that statement for you. The flesh is weak when it comes to temptation, yet when it is the tempter it can be very, very strong.

Too often we give Satan and his minions far more credit than they deserve. More often than not the most dangerous enemy to our spirit is our own flesh. If you don’t believe me, then why else would we need to crucify it daily?

Focus on building up your spirit through prayer, faith, and obedience to Christ’s commands. Then remember that you put on the whole armor of God, not only to wage war against the Prince of Darkness, but also the petty, whining, selfish, lustful, envious flesh in which you reside.

You’re under more spiritual attack than you realize.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, Life Lessons