Category Archives: Future

Beware of False Cookies

A little Wednesday wisdom from way back when. This post was first published in June of 2011. 

The Chinese Restaurant

This afternoon, after Sunday morning services, we went to a Chinese restaurant. There with some of our youth and their parents, we made multiple trips back and forth to the only kind of bar a Baptist is expected to frequent – one that has food.

Usually I eat a little of everything at a Chinese restaurant, except sushi – that stuff is just plain nasty. But today, because I decided I had not eaten fish in a long time, I felt compelled to stay with just one subset of the universal set of oriental cuisine: seafood…(how’s that for a math reference?). I’d had my share of deep-fried battered chicken, beef, and whatever.

Sweet and Sour What?

On a side note, have you ever stopped to think about how much trust one puts in the food he is eating? Just because a label says “Sweet and Sour Chicken,” does it mean “Sweet and Sour Rat, Cat, Snake, Penguin, Leopard, Iguana, etc.” taste any different? From what I have been told, everything not pork, beef, or duck tastes like chicken. Put enough breading on little pieces of meat and it’s all the same.

I say let’s become legalistic about this issue, if nothing else. Certain meats should have certain shapes, or at least keep the skin on it. How else are we supposed to know what has been deep fried and covered in some exotic sauce that smells so good you forget your neighbor’s chihuahua went missing. Everything chicken should look like a chicken or have a feather sticking out of it. If I’m gonna be eating rattlesnake, at least give me a rattle to take home and play with. If they don’t start doing this, I may have to quit eating at Chinese restaurants and stick with the BBQ place – you know, the one conveniently located next to the emergency animal clinic?

Edible Fortunes

Seriously, I can’t stop eating at the the  Numba Won Happy Mandarin Peking Garden of Panda Love Restaurant. Where else could I find a cookie with wisdom? Chinese Restaurants are the only places I know with fortune cookies, and somehow they really know me.

Now, some people open up a fortune cookie only to find stupid stuff like, “The sky will be blue for you today, unless you cloud it with doubt.Riiiight. Like, could you be any more vague?

On the other hand, my wife got one today that said, “Soon you will inherit land.” What? From whom? If she has a relative that has land to give away that’s not already promised to whiter sheep, then I’ll be really amazed. But mine are different. Mine are…

Scary Fortunes

One time I was just finishing up my road training before I started driving school buses in Tennessee. I went to a Chinese buffet for lunch, after which I got a fortune cookie. I am not lying, the piece of paper said, “You are about to enjoy success at a new job.” But what was more creepy was the Chinese word of the day was the word for “school bus.” N o  j o k e !

Today was another example of scary cookie wisdom. Would you believe that it knew I was a pastor? Would you believe that it knew I like to speak in front of large crowds? Amazingly, it knew that I am “the center of attention” whenever I am in a crowd (which is true at least three times a week). What is it supposed to mean?

False Cookies

It means that even a stupid cookie can get something right every now and then, especially if the statement enclosed is vague enough. On the other hand, it should be a reminder that there are forces at work in this world trying to deceive those with “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3).

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” – Mark 13:22

Don’t believe ’em, just eat ’em.

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Filed under baptist, Food, Future, General Observations, the future, World View

2017, Here I Come!

My Short List

You knew it would come sooner or later, right? Well, this morning I wanted to throw together a short list of things I’d like to do in 2017. Don’t call them “resolutions,” just things I want to do or accomplish.

  • Read through my Bible more than once. Part of that will consist of reading through many of the books in a single sitting.
  • Finish reading some books I started last year… and the years before.
  • Pray “evening, morning, and at noon.”
  • Take my wife to Ruth’s Chris for the first time (maybe for her 50th birthday in February?). But that will depend on whether or not I find another job.
  • Lose some weight.
  • Build a bed frame for my daughter, Haley.
  • Change the brakes on every dadgum vehicle we own 😦 At least we have transportation, true? Well, as long as we can keep up the payment, that is.
  • Bring honor and praise to Jesus. The last thing I want to do is be an embarrassment to His name.

Some Video

Now, just to finish out this first post of the year, I want to leave you with some video moments from my trip to Zimbabwe last year (August). That was truly the highlight of my year, and I do appreciate all of your help getting there.

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Filed under Christian Living, Countries, Future, Monday Monkey, places, the future

Escapist or Expectant?

As I was lying in bed this morning, shivering in the cold – the house is like a dadgum freezer – I proceeded to do an mental inventory. No, it wasn’t an inventory of all the things that need to be organized and packed for our upcoming move in a few days. I wasn’t even thinking about all the bills that need to be paid with money we don’t have (that’s a growing list too depressing to think about). Actually, it was a mental inventory of pain. 

It’s the last day of 2016 – this is the last post of the year – and with every day that passes I’m acquiring a new pain. As I lay there covered up, not wanting to get out of bed, I came to the realization that there was not one part of my body that didn’t hurt – literally. 

I’m not yet fifty years old, but I hurt from head to toe. Seriously, I’m looking forward to that “new body” the Bible says I’ll have one day. Maybe that is why I’m not as critical as I used to be of certain hymnals that have more songs about heaven than other, more weighty themes. Maybe it’s because I wake up and go to sleep with pain that I look forward heaven a little more than my younger, healthier theologians. 

One of the criticisms leveled at Christians is that we are “escapists” (i.e., those who care more about escaping this world than saving it). Sometimes we are accused of being so “heavenly-minded” that we’re no earthly good, all because we believe there’s a place to go after the cares of this life are over. Well, I’ve got news for everybody: I’m ready to go!!

No, I don’t want to die. No, I don’t want to give up on reaching the lost in order to selfishly escape to paradise. However, with each new day that passes by…with every New Year’s celebration that comes and goes…I’m that much closer to my faith becoming sight. …And no more pain. 

No, I don’t want to escape, but my expectations are pretty high. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for those who love Him… and believe it or not, that includes 2017. 

Happy New Year, my friends! 

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Filed under current events, Future, the future

Blues and Better

The following post was originally posted in 2013. The truth of it is even more relevant today.


Post-Christmas Blues

At some point in your life you have probably experienced the “blues” after Christmas. You know, those sad, melancholy feelings that come after all the expectations of Christmas day are over? They’re the “now what?” feelings.

Well, it took a while, but sometime this afternoon I began to feel depressed and kinda sad. In one way I was glad everything was over, but then I was also sad that there was nothing more to look forward to.

Next on the list? Clean house, clean carpet, paint a cabinet, plan sermons, clean a garage, wash windows and blinds, and wonder how to repay what we just borrowed to make people happy for one day.

Post-Christmas Perspective

But if you have experienced the blues after Christmas, be thankful. Being sad that the expectations of this world only bring temporary happiness is a good thing – actually, it’s a great thing! It means that there is something else…something more…something better…something that won’t get old the next day…something that will leave you never having to wish for anything ever again.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

The post-Christmas blues are just reminders that I haven’t made it home.

“I’ll Rise”

Several years ago I wrote a song talking about a place better than this one, a place called Heaven. This year, standing beside a Christmas tree and surrounded by crumpled wrapping paper, my daughter wanted to sing it.

You can believe that this world is all that there is, and that’s OK. If you are right, then an infinity of nothingness won’t bother either of us. However, since no experience in this world, even the best Christmas present, can satisfy for long, I am going to assume there is better place, somewhere beyond the “blues.”

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Filed under Christmas, Faith, Future, Relationships and Family, the future, Uncategorized, World View

13 Things I DON’T Want To Do In 2017

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.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Defending Traditional Marriage, Divorce, Do not judge, Future, God, Life Lessons, Preaching, Relationships and Family, scary new year, the future, Uncategorized

From Fear to Joy

An Update

It is truly wonderful to sit down and type on a real keyboard, not an iPhone! I finally picked up my computer yesterday, new hard drive and all, and just plugged it in. It’s like Christmas came early 😉

The only downside is that my wife now thinks I will never get anything done around the house, because I will be here clicking away for the next two days 😦 Wait! why a frowny face? Typing is good for the soul! 🙂

Actually, if you want to know the truth, we have a whole house full of life that has to be packed and moved by December 29th; I don’t have time to sit and write a lot. We were finally able to secure a place to live just yesterday, so we will be moving out of the parsonage after Christmas. What a way to spend your Christmas break, right?

Fear

There is a great temptation to fear the future. For example, I recently suffered two/third’s cut in annual pay with no idea how I’m going to make that up; we are moving into a house that is not ours and is only guaranteed through April or May; and the company I drive school buses for is now facing huge law suits because of the Woodmore bus crash. The future is definitely uncertain.

But fear is nothing new. Take the time to read the Christmas story in its entirety and you will find several times where true, bone-shaking fear engulfed many. First there was Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, then Joseph in Matthew chapter one, and then Mary and the shepherds in Luke 2. Each of them, when confronted with angelic messages, were greatly troubled. And why not?

Have you ever been confronted by a real angel in all its glory? Me neither. I have gotten messages from God, though. Yep, I sure have. For example, resigning the pastorate of one church without anywhere else to go was a clear message from heaven saying, “Trust me.” At first the message brought fear, but when I heard His voice saying, “Fear not,” I was able to begin to enjoy the thrill of a new chapter in life.

Joy

Believe me, I have every reason in the world to worry about the future. I had every reason to tremble in fear when I learned I would be homeless by the end of the year. But just like the shepherds tending their sheep, I have been comforted with the knowledge that my Savior was born. He was the fulfillment of the promises of God, and the promises of God are still true.

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? … 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. … 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Mat 6:25-26, 28, 33-34 HCSB

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. If Joseph and Mary could carry on with life after such shocking announcements, surely I can carry on with wondrous expectation.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Jesus

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Filed under Christmas, Faith, Future

Resigning to Trust My Shepherd

Most of the time I can enter the title of a post before I begin to write it. In this case I don’t know what to call it. All I know to to do is start writing and let things fall into place.

That’s sort of where I am in life, right now; I don’t know where I am going, but I had to get going to find out.

Old News

By the time you read this post, someone in my former congregation will have read aloud my formal resignation as Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church – at least I hope they read it…all of it. It took me a couple of hours to craft it, all 1,026 words worth, and some of the words were painful to write. However, it had to be done.

Themes

In my resignation letter I focused on two main themes. First, it was important to note that the Church, including the local body of believers I pastored, did not belong to any of us; it belongs to Jesus Christ. Secondly, I stressed the importance of effective leadership: both the need to have it, and the willingness to accept it.

If either one is dysfunctional with either party (the pastor or the congregation), tension will grow…even worse, the power of the Holy Spirit will fade.

Feels like…

Therefore, based on several reasons, I had to accept the fact that my leadership was no longer effective, thereby necessitating a change, however painful and scary it may be. Unfortunately, it feels like a divorce (even though I’ve never experienced one). Maybe I could say it feels like a death, but that’s not really true – I have experience that kind of loss many times.

What it does feel like, however, is a missed opportunity…an “Oh, well” moment. I guess that’s why it’s called a “resignation.”

More to Do

Nevertheless, I will share with you the closing words of my resignation letter, for they express something that is more important than anything else – God is still sovereign! He’s got this! None of this caught Him by surprise, for He already has been working to make things new.

If you will remember, the Mission Statement of Riverside is as follows:

Reach the Lost, Rescue the Perishing, and Restore the Wounded for the Glory of God.”

Continue to reach the lost… We will. Endeavor to rescue the perishing… We will. And especially today, seek to restore the wounded, heal divisions, and move forward with grace and forgiveness… We will.

Pray for Us

Please, please, pray for my family and me as we seek to follow God to the next field of service, wherever that may be. Please pray for my former flock that they will find a more suitable shepherd and follow his leading.

Also, please pray that I will be able to put in to practice the lessons I have learned over the last eight years, thereby being able to replace the “missed opportunity” feeling with assurance that all things work together for good, to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

After all, there are still plenty of lost, perishing, and wounded out there.

 

Now I know how to title this post 🙂

 

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Filed under baptist, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Church, Future, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, the future