Category Archives: General Observations

Just things I see that make me think.

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Hope In Death

Let’s get right to the point –

Today, I watched a man die, and I’m happy.

At this point you’re thinking: “Who in his right mind would admit to being happy he saw a man die?” Well, without the proper context, only a sick man, that’s for sure!

But here’s the context: I was with a family from my church as a 51 year-old son, father, brother, and grandfather breathed his last breath, and I was able to rejoice with them in the hope of Jesus Christ.

Meeting Joey: the 1st Time

Joey and his dog, Willie

Several months ago, I was able to talk with Joey Armor for the first time. He was sitting on the tailgate of his truck, taking a break from welding. As we got to talking, he apologized for not coming to church more often, but he appreciated that I was the new pastor, and he hoped to become more regular. He also told me how sick he was.

Joey had battled with a lot of health issues over the last few years, and at that point he was not doing bad enough to keep him in bed. As a matter of fact, he was the type of person that not only avoided pain medication as long as possible; he never wanted to stop being active doing something, even if only a little welding here and there. The day I first talked with him, he was having a hard time breathing, but he was happy to be doing something he enjoyed.

Faith, Assurance, and Hope

The next few times I saw Joey Armor was in the hospital. It seemed that his body all of a sudden decided to give up, even though he was not willing to. The doctors had hope that he would recover, and for a little while it looked like he would, but it wasn’t long before things began to look dire.

The last few times I saw Brother Joey was when he was at home, a couple of times sitting in his recliner, a couple of times in his bed. On one occasion, I felt compelled to lead Joey through the plan of salvation. Because I had never seen him make a profession of faith, and since I could tell he was nervous about dying, I had to make sure he had an opportunity to accept Christ as his Savior.

Come to find out, Joey had indeed put his faith in Jesus, but he had come to the point where he was scared of what was to come. He had made some mistakes, not been perfect, and now he was facing death head-on. He needed to be reassured God did indeed love him and was faithful, as He always is, even when we are not.

Another time I took a communion kit, and with a deacon from our church I shared with him the elements and together rejoiced in the goodness of our Savior! We talked about Christ’s body and His blood, how each was given for us, and how by taking part in communion we proclaim his death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:24). Even though he could barely swallow anything (he even had a feeding tube inserted into his abdomen), he took the little piece of matzoh and the tiny cup of grape juice and consumed them both. It was a special moment, indeed.

Talking About Home

The last time I saw him before today, the Holy Spirit had placed in my heart the urgent desire to go talk with him about Heaven. Joey new he was going, and he knew it wouldn’t be that long. So, I wanted to go by and encourage him with the facts about the place he was about to see. He asked for his large-print Bible so he could read along with me.

First, I turned to John chapter fourteen:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.” – John 14:1-3

These verses deserved a little amplification, and I knew Joey would appreciate it. I focused on the words “mansions” and “place.” Jesus wasn’t telling Peter he would have a four-story house of gold in Heaven; Jesus was telling him not to worry, for even though he’d mess up by soon denying Him, there was already a place in His Father’s house prepared – a room of his own! Compared to here, that room might be a mansion. But how much more wonderful is the promise that God wants us to live in HIS house with HIM forever??

And when it came to the word “place” (τόπος tópos), heaven is more than spirits floating on clouds; it is more than a feeling; it is more than being absorbed into the infinite: Jesus said it is a PLACE! I said, “Just like Chicago or Atlanta, Heaven is a place just like any place on a map down here. It is a place, and you are going there!” 

Next, I turned – we turned – to Revelation 21 and 22. There, within the verses of those chapters we read of a holy city, a heavenly city, that God has prepared for those whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Joey listen as I read, awake, but with his eyes closed, resting.

I said, “Well, Joey, I guess it’s about time we get out of here and let you rest.” He nodded.

Then, with weak voice and a slight smile, Joey said,

“I’m looking forward to seeing what my Father has for me.”

Today, around 12 p.m., my brother in Christ, Joey Armor, exhaled one last time, only to inhale for the very first time the celestial air of his new home.

I am glad his family was able to be there. I’m glad I got to see him off.

He’s seeing what his Father has prepared for him, and even more importantly, he’s hugging Jesus.

I’m happy for him!

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Family, General Observations, Life/Death, salvation

Prayers for Nashville

Tornadoes

Image result for nashville tornado

ABC News

Last night one of the most terrifying things in nature descended upon the capital of my home state of Tennessee. Destructive and deadly storms brought tornadoes right through Nashville, leaving (as of this writing) 9 people dead, possibly more. As of this moment, several of my friends have already checked in as “safe,” but a few more have not responded.

I hate tornadoes! I’ve been close to 4 or 5 and actually been in a hotel in Clarksville, TN when it was damaged by one that destroyed houses across the street. Tornadoes scare the crap out of me. I think that might be one reason why I experience feelings of panic or anxiety when I feel/hear a train (because the sound of a freight train is very similar). In a matter of seconds, everything can be gone.

I’m thankful to God that what came through Nashville last night was not as destructive as what destroyed so much of Georgia back in April of 2011. That storm, if you remember, killed nearly 300 people and decimated Ringgold, GA. But for Nashville, our prayers and thoughts are with them.

Thoughts and Prayers

What about those “thoughts and prayers”? What does that even mean?

As of late, many in the media have started to publically make fun of and shame those who say “our thoughts and prayers.” Some politicians have even been so bold (and arrogantly foolish) to stand up and declare that our prayers are worthless; we need action!

Granted, thoughts don’t do much other than say, “We’re thinking about you.” Unless that thinking leads to help in some tangible way, what good are the thoughts except to let the people who are suffering know that others know they are hurting?

And what about the prayers? First off, unless the Object of our prayers is capable of doing anything, they are actually of less value than “thoughts.” Keeping someone who is hurting on your mind might lead you to do something to alleviate the suffering. However, prayer is calling upon the aid of Another, or those whom He will send to address the need.

Yet, if the prayers are made by those whom God hears, then they are not worthless, but helpful and empowering. God moves on the backs of our prayers, and godly prayer has a tendency to become self-fulfilling (i.e., when we pray for workers to collect the harvest, we often become the workers). That’s one of the ways He works “mysteriously.”

So, my thoughts and prayers this morning concern Nashville.

Help me pray, would you?

  • Heavenly Father, nothing that happens in this world catches you by surprise – You know all things. There is nothing outside of your all-seeing, all-caring, all-judging eye. I am thankful you already know what has happened in Nashville, and even long before last night you were working in ways we will never comprehend.
  • Lord, comfort the ones who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Bring peace to them through the power of your Spirit.
  • Ease the pain of those who are wounded, and give the medical personnel added measures of endurance as they are pressed into longer shifts and greater stress.
  • Please protect those who are on the ground clearing debris, directing traffic, and protecting the most vulnerable.
  • Give a mighty voice to those who survived! Like so often is the case, send the reporters and news crews to the places where survivors give You the glory so the world may hear your name praised.
  • Jesus, as we know you have the power to calm storms, You also have the power to use storms. you know the hearts of the people of Nashville. Open their eyes to your mercy and grace.

Amen.

 

3 Comments

Filed under community, General Observations, places, Struggles and Trials, Weather

A Doctrinally-Worthless Bumper Sticker

I’m facing a pretty busy weekend, so instead of writing something new for today, here’s an observation and commentary, more like an open letter to my readers, that I wrote back in 2018. It’s an example of what can wake me up when I’m tired: stupidity and shallow doctrine. Enjoy!

Happy Friday, everybody! 🙂


Dear blogger friends,

Have you ever had so much to write, but being sleepy, tired, worn out and ready for bed kept you from it?

Have you ever wanted to launch into the deep waters of controversial topics only to realize the sails of your little boat were too tattered to catch the wind?

Well, that’s about how I feel right now. I’m tired, sleepy, and I need to get up early in the morning.

However, I saw a bumper sticker today that really got my goat, so I have to say something.

You see, just tonight I was going through a small book that was given to me by a Muslim “apologist,” and my head is still spinning from all the twisted scripture he used to “prove” his obscenely ignorant arguments. The former Baptist converted to Islam, then he wrote a book meant to “prove” that Jesus never claimed to be God nor died on the cross.

If there was one verse taken out of context, there were ten. If there were ten times he made ignorant inferences, there were a hundred where he proved nothing more than that he never studied the Bible as a Baptist, much less as a Muslim.

Maybe, just maybe, if this man had spent more time in the Word of God studying what it actually said instead of being caught up in some social or racial “gospel,” he might have never fallen victim to the foolishness he now believes.

And that’s where the above bumper sticker comes in… It’s about the most useless attempt at profundity I’ve ever seen; it makes no sense whatsoever.

You may think that “Jesus [loves] Feminists” is a wonderful truth, but let’s take a moment or two to unpack it.

First of all, Jesus loves feminists. Yes, He does.

However, Jesus also loves prostitutes and murderers, so what’s the point?

Jesus loves sinners, and that’s why He went to an old, rugged cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Are feminists sinners? Is that what they’re saying?

Or, is the bumper sticker implying that Jesus loves feminists, but not chauvinists? Is it saying that Jesus prefers tree-hugging egalitarians over traditionally conservative complementarians? Does Jesus love some people and not others? Is that the point?

On the other hand, maybe it’s simply trying to say that Jesus loves feminists, also. Like, Jesus loves the chauvinists, the complementarians, the macho men, AND the feminists.

If that’s the case, then Jesus loves everybody, right? So what’s the point of the bumper sticker?

Unfortunately, the above bumper sticker does nothing glorify the love of Christ. All it does is pander to those who need to be affirmed.

Truth is lost in ambiguity; the reader learns nothing.

What a doctrinally worthless bumper sticker!

I did say I was tired, didn’t I?

And just for fun… watch Allie Beth Stuckey as a feminist (thank the Lord she’s only acting!).

 

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Marriage, politics, self-worth

Breaking the Habit/Addiction (No mo nomophobia)

Stats Update

Last week I opened up and shared my iPhone usage stats for the week. I don’t know how they compare to other people (except one of our deacons), but they were, by estimation, a little high.

I said that I was going to try to cut back my usage my being a little more aware of what I was doing.

I did it! 

Down 37% from last week!

Last week was 7h 35m! Not a huge decrease, but a decrease, nonetheless.

Yes, I watch a lot of YouTube videos. But I also have YouTube music. And, I don’t watch much television. This is pretty much it for me.

In comparison, last week’s average was 74, with the most pickups in one day being 107! I spent less time looking at Facebook this week.

How did you do?

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Filed under fitness, General Observations

Love Is Love?

The following, posted in March of last year, holds profound meaning for a day like today.

Especially today.


Not long ago I was riding with my youngest daughter through the Nashville, TN area. We were visiting a couple of colleges that she is thinking of attending, one of them being MTSU.

Since I was the one riding, and since I wasn’t too afraid that Haley would get us killed, I felt more comfortable looking at the sights. One of the sights I saw was a little sticker placed on the back window of a vehicle in the lane next to us.

The first thing I did when I saw it was say out loud what I was thinking: “Love is love? What kind of definition is that?”

And that’s really the point of this little post (rant) of mine: What does it mean when you say “Love Is Love”?

Let’s change the words a little and see if the same way of defining love works with other stuff.

  • Rock is Rock.
  • Lamb is Lamb.
  • Bob is Bob.
  • Cola is Cola.
  • Dirt is Dirt.
  • Poison is Poison.
  • Hate is Hate.

As you can see, the words above are not as easy to define by stating that one is what it is. To say that a rock is a rock is to say a diamond is a piece of driveway gravel. To say that dirt is dirt is to equate what my flowers are growing in with stuff people dig up to smear politicians.

Is every Bob the same as every other Bob? Is Coke really as nasty as the generic stuff? Is a stuffed lamb in a toy store the same as the living, breathing, pooping animal capable of growing wool?

If “hate is hate,” then is it equally immoral to hate murder as I could hate my neighbor?

LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing. All it does is confuse, belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.

Is there no standard for what love is supposed to be? Is self-love the same as sacrificial love? Stating that “love is love” doesn’t even clarify whether or not love is a verb or a noun?

That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write (1 John 4:8,16): “God is love.”

What love is supposed to be is directly related to the nature of God. God is the standard. God is the Definer.

Love without God in the equation is a scary, vague, unstable, dangerous, self-serving, undefinable, always-changing emotional term that can be used to justify anything (which can be verified by doing a Google search of “Love Is Love” memes).

Poison isn’t just poison, but love without God is a poison that blinds the heart. 

 

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Filed under Culture Wars, General Observations, God, Love of God

How Badly Do You Want to Be Loved?

Jingles (not the bell kind)

Do you ever catch yourself singing commercial jingles for no apparent reason? Well, when I am driving, bored, and a little (or a lot) sleepy, I tend to start singing songs I learned as a child. In particular, one song is tops on my repertoire

The Oscar Mayer Wiener Song.

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / That is what I’d truly like to be ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / Everyone would be in love with me.

First appearing in 1965, this song has become boiled, grilled, steamed, fried, and even micro-waved into our memories. But recently it struck me…what in the world am I saying? Am I so desperate for the attention of others that I would be willing to become an unhealthy food source?

The Need for Love

There are many hurting people in the world who would wish for nothing more than someone to love them. They go to great lengths to be prettier, richer, more popular, or even more “available” – all to find love. But do you really think it’s a good idea to wish you were a hot dog?

What most people don’t know is that there was a second verse to the Oscar Mayer wiener song. In the 1965 commercial a truly intelligent boy quickly understood the true ramifications of the song’s wish and sang the following:

Oh, I’m glad I’m not an Oscar Mayer wiener / That is what I’d never want to be/ ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / There would soon be nothing left of me.

Sing it, brother! You tell ’em! Why would anyone want to be a hot dog? Do you really want to be loved so badly that you would sacrifice your humanity and allow yourself to be eaten? It’s not worth it, people…believe me!

The lyrics to this song could be re-written to expose what people are really saying. “Oh I wish I was something else instead of human / A tube of meat is what I want to be / I’d gladly die alone in boiling water / If you would only say that you loved me.

in potLook, there is no reason to want to become a hot dog (you might get eaten by one). Really, there is nothing to be gained by having your body boiled or grilled on an open flame; covered in chili, relish, mustard, and onions; then chewed repeatedly until you’re swallowed by someone who will forget you an hour later (unless the chili upsets them). Stay human. It’s better that way! 

You ARE Loved!

Ironically, someone did become something He was not in order to die for love. The big difference is that He was God and became Human, not a hot dog. And what’s more, He didn’t die to be loved – He died because He loved. His name is Jesus, and He died for you.

“For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 KJV

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 NIV

You are VERY loved!

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Filed under Food, General Observations, salvation, Uncategorized, Witnessing

How Do You Treat Something Priceless?

Do you think of other people as valuable?

How valuable? Would you consider them priceless?

Just imagine, what if you could say you held in your hand a small item, a one-of-a-kind, totally unique, and personally made by God Himself? How would you treat it?

Would you hold it carefully, caress it, watch over it?

Would you toss it in the trash, make fun of it, or abuse it?

Are we not unique? Are we not “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God? Are we not valuable beyond compare? Did God not offer His own Son as a ransom for our souls?

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 CSB

Then why do we treat each other the way we do?

We should treat each other as priceless because we are!

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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Culture Wars, General Observations, ministry, World View