Category Archives: the future

How to be a Free and Happy Nation

Ever wonder what preachers used to preach around this time of the year? Check out a few excerpts from a message preached only 18 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

We could learn a few things.

“A people under a free government will be happy, as long as they are virtuous and wise.  They may become vicious and corrupt.  They are then liable to be influenced by private connections, party spirit, bribery or flattery, promises or rewards, or the artifice and intrigue of crafty and designing men.

When this is the case, they give up their security, lose their liberty, and sink into slavery….

“…Our free government was a happy, but a costly purchase; let it not be lost by drowsy inattention, and implicit confidence…

The day is coming, when liberty and peace shall bless the human race.  But previous to this, truth and virtue must prevail, and the religion of Jesus must govern men’s hearts. Then the horrors of war will cease, and the groans of slavery will no more be heard.  The rod of the oppressor will be broken, and the yoke will be removed from the shoulders of the oppressed.  The scepter will be wrested from the hands of the wicked, and the pomp of  the proud will be brought down to the dust.  The whole earth will rest and be quiet: they will break forth into singing…” 

– from “The Happiness of Free Government and the Means of Preserving It,” preached by JOSEPH LATHROP, D. D. on July 4th, 1794

I think the “vicious and corrupt” are now running the show. As a result of our “drowsy attention” we have elected men and women of the lowest character, thereby giving up our security, our liberty, and the hope of freedom-loving people around the world who look to us as a shining city on a hill.

We are sinking into slavery.

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Filed under America, current events, the future, voting

The Day After Christmas Is Proof We Need to Be Redeemed

I know that the title was a little long, but don’t let it intimidate you. Yes, for some of you what you are about to read will be profound – it may even hurt your head.

Yet, despite how much you’ve endured this week, please take just a minute or two, read on, and consider the following thought:

The feelings we have after Christmas point to the fact that we have not been fully redeemed. Our bodies are still waiting for that final transformation.

[We] also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23b CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 CSB

What does this have to do with “after Christmas“?

Celebrating Christmas has completely worn me out. I’m tired of carols, smiles, joy, and jingle bells… even eggnog. I need a break.

So, just imagine how difficult it would be to survive heaven for more than a day or two?

Not only will we need new bodies that never grow old, get weak, or want to go to bed before sundown, but we will need to be set free from all the chains of this mortal flesh! In other words, everything that turns an elf into a Grinch around December 26th or 27th.

Last week I conducted a funeral service for the wife of a dear friend. I spoke of her death as a process we all must go through: a process of putting off this mortal, corruptible body and putting on an immortal one. I spoke of how we would either all have to die or be changed in the “twinkling of an eye,” but none of us are ready for heaven as is.

Our corruptible minds and bodies must be exchanged for that which is incorruptible, else we won’t be able to endure the celebration that is to come.

Without being changed, heaven would be full of worn-out billion-year-olds leaving the dirty dishes for the angels to deal with.

Heaven will be a celebration of the Redeemer by the redeemed.

If the corruptible got in, it wouldn’t be long before they felt like hell.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, clothing, salvation, the future, worship

He’ll Listen to the Science

Lately, it’s been both a jab and a stinging response, the punchline of President Trump’s that’s become sort of a campaign slogan for Joe Biden: “He’ll listen to the science.”

Trump’s point is that Biden will make decisions based on bad science from bad scientists; Biden’s point is that Trump doesn’t care about scientific facts.

In my opinion, neither their arguments are going to make much of a difference right now. However, there’s a much more disturbing truth to the statement that, if Biden really does “listen to the science,” could potentially lead us down a very dark and sinister path.

Which Science?

To be fair to President Trump, it’s not that he doesn’t listen to science, it’s that he listens to the science he believes.

Stop for a moment and think about what is really meant when we use the word science. Science is NOT truth. Science is NOT immutable. Science is NOT determined by consensus (or vote). Scientific data CAN be interpreted differently.

When a person says he will listen to science, what exactly does that mean? Let us not forget the facts of “science” have often changed. Consider this tiny list of examples:

  • The coming ice age
  • The earth is flat
  • Piltdown Man
  • The benefits of smoking
  • Bloodletting

So, it’s certainly forgivable and understandable for the President to question certain scientists and listen to others. What proof does Biden have that his scientific advisors are infallible?

The More Serious Question

But what really scares me is that Joe Biden says that yes, he WILL listen to science. And based on what I’ve already heard and read, if current science (or should I say, “scientists”) believe it or promote it, then that’s all ol’ Joe needs. Listening means acquiescing.

Therefore, even if the “science” proves valid, what of the ethics? What of the morality? That’s the serious question.

Already it’s been announced that – because of science – Biden will make all sports and restrooms accessible to transgender and gender-fluid students. Because of science, abortion will be allowed far beyond any previous limitations. And based on the scientific advisors around him, Biden will more than likely impose a national mask mandate and mandatory shutdowns.

Disturbing? Yes! Because if all it takes to enact public policy is the consensus of politically motivated scientists, then what is out of the question? What moral or ethical line is out of bounds?

What freedoms are on the chopping block?

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Filed under America, community, Culture Wars, politics, the future

Some Things I Will Remember, Even If the NFL Won’t

Nineteen years have come and gone, and many have already forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001, including the BLM-supporting NFL millionaires.

But I won’t forget.

Not only will I not forget, I will choose to remember.

I will remember…

  • that freedom isn’t free, and there are those who want to steal it.
  • that Christ came “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;” therefore America is never more “Christ-like” than when its people shed their blood for the freedom of others, whether they love us, or not.
  • that it wasn’t secularists, militarists, or a bunch of Baptist preachers who crashed four aircraft on that day, killing thousands.
  • the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople – they weren’t converted to Islam through peaceful conversion.
  • who is considered the “Great Satan” and what countries are truly religiously intolerant.
  • the heroes who went back into those buildings to rescue anyone they could.
  • the heroes who fought back and said, “Let’s roll!”
  • the heroes who go into harm’s way for freedom every day.
  • that America was founded by men who knew God; who recognized the hand of Providence; and who knew when to bow a knee and call to God for deliverance.
  • that we (and all freedom-loving people) are in a life-and-death struggle between opposing worldviews – a war. Losing can’t be an option.

I will also choose to remember, and not forget, that America, no matter its current faults and flaws, is made up of a people, who, when push comes to shove, will take the fight for freedom anywhere in the world. We will also defend it. That’s who we are.

Yet, on the day before this anniversary, a bunch of over-paid pigskin passers decided to stay in the locker room while the anthem of the nation that made them rich was played.

I won’t forget that, either.

God Bless America!

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, the future, World View

An Open Letter to Pastors (and ministers) Delivering Regular Content During the Pandemic

Dear Pastors (and fellow Ministers)

As I write this, it is late Saturday night and I am thinking about my sermon for tomorrow. I’ve been looking at my notes, the Scripture, and thinking about the overall theme, paying particular attention to how I might be able to draw the sermon to a close. For some reason, I don’t know why, invitations have become more difficult for me in the last year or so.

But it’s not the Sunday morning sermon that concerns me – at least that’s not the reason for me writing this letter to you. It’s the content that you and I are expected to deliver to those watching on Facebook, YouTube, or whatever other streaming service you prefer.

I don’t want you to get tired of doing it. I don’t want you to get discouraged and give up too soon!

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been producing more Bible teaching since the pandemic began than any other time in my life! I literally post online content 6 days a week, twice on Sunday and Wednesday! That’s EIGHT original content presentations a week! Granted, what I produce during the week is not as deep as what I might deliver on a Sunday or Wednesday night, but sometimes it is deeper. Sometimes it could qualify for a full-fledged sermon. But is 8 times a week a little much?

Especially if you feel nobody is watching? Anybody with me?

Without a doubt we pastors are working harder than ever before. One reason I can say that with complete confidence is that we are, at the very least, using spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles we’ve never used before. We are in uncharted territory most days. That can drain a person.

Yet, what does your congregation expect out of you? How else are you able to stay in touch or connected throughout the week? I know this might sound self-serving or vain, but is what you are doing online partly due to the fact that you don’t want to appear as idle or taking advantage of the social distancing?

How many of you are beginning to question the efficacy of all the online content we are producing? How many of you are beginning to feel like you’re having little to no impact? I’m not going to lie; I’ve been feeling that way more often each day.

Nevertheless, what I don’t know is what God knows. What I am doing is the best I can with what I’ve been given. I am using every means possible to keep church (and all that’s involved with that word) in the lives of my flock. I’m doing all I can to make holy lemonade out of COVID-19 lemons. And only God knows what really happens on the other side of the computer or smartphone screen.

Though not exactly the same context, I am reminded of the following verse:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

No farmer expects to make pie out of the fruit of his labor the day after he plants the first seed. Likewise, we don’t have any idea what this surge of biblical content is going to affect in the future: no one has ever had the opportunity to calculate the germination times.

We are planting and watering in fields where the Word of God has never been sown. We are flooding the airwaves and the internet with more of the Gospel message than at any other single time in history! And all that we are doing, all that we are sowing, and in all the areas and hearts where our ministry is reaching… Have we forgotten it is guaranteed to produce fruit of some kind? His Word does not return void!.

Maybe you didn’t need the reminder. Maybe it’s just me. But I just want you to know that we were put here for this time. What we do in this time will affect not only today, but tomorrow, too. We may never live to see the results of our plowing and cultivating and planting, but future generations may be feeding on the fruit decades after we have left the plow.

Don’t grow weary, gentlemen. Be encouraged! Stay strong! Keep up the good work!

Sometimes the only one in the field is the farmer. Keep farming while the weather permits.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Christianity, Church, coronavirus, ministry, Preaching, the future

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Spice Girls

Do you remember the Spice Girls? Here today, gone tomorrow girl band from the U.K.? They were the ones who recorded the catchy and famous pop song “Wannabe” (I’ll spare you the video).

What was the catchiest part of the whole song? The part that goes:

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

As a matter of fact, just for fun, here’s a link from the movie Chicken Little. The pig and chicken characters do a pretty good cover.

Honestly, I’m not totally clear as to what the Spice Girls wanted. I wouldn’t know a “zigga” from zagga. On the other hand, I bet what they wanted was not what poor Job (in the Bible) wanted, but we’ll get to him in a minute.

Heaven

Have you ever thought about what you would want to see most in Heaven? Assuming Heaven will be your home after this life (don’t assume – eternity is too long for a mistake of that nature), what would you want to see first? Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

Do you look forward to walking on a street of pure gold? Are you excited about seeing things that can hardly be imagined, much less described? What about gates of pearl? An emerald sea? Do you really, really want to meet all the saints of old, including relatives who have gone on before. Angels? A mansion?

Job

Do you remember Job? He was the guy in the Bible (with the book named after him) that lost everything he owned, including his wealth, family, and health. He even lost his friends, especially if you consider all they did was accuse him of wrongdoing.

Job wound up in such a state that his own wife even begged him to just curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job was a miserable wreck of a man who had every reason to want to go to Heaven. Yet, what Job really, really wanted to see first was not golden, bejeweled, or even a thing…He wanted to see God.

Remember, what you want tells a lot about your heart. Instead of wanting to exchange his suffering for a new body; his poverty for wealth; his loneliness for a reunion with loved ones, all Job wanted was to see God with his own eyes, in his own flesh. This was his hope and desire all wrapped up in one.

For I know [that] my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this [I know], That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. [How] my heart yearns within me! – Job 19:25-27 NKJV

What we fail to think about is that when we see God, all the other joys of Heaven will have to seem secondary! God, the highest of all that is good and lovely, the depth of Whose attributes can never be plumbed, will one day look into our eyes in a moment of total realization, understanding, and belonging. What else could compare? Sure, there will be other things in Heaven, but who will care if it takes a million years to get around to some of them?

Tell me what you want. What do you really, really want.

Do you want Heaven, or Him? There is a difference.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Future, God, salvation, the future, Uncategorized, worship

Where Do You Go When You Hide?

I was thinking of the words to an old hymn, Hide Thou Me

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my life in vain,
I’m tempted oft to murmur, to grumble and complain;
But when I think of Jesus and what He’s done for me,
Then I cry, to the Rock of Ages, hide thou me.

There are times when the burdens of life get so heavy; when the struggles get so hard; when no matter what, we still worry; that we have to cry out to Jesus, “Hide me!” Thankfully, He does. Back around 1880 Vernon Charlesworth wrote, “The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm; Secure whatever ill betide, A Shelter in the time of storm.

How different it is for the unbeliever.

Where does the atheist turn when his world is falling apart? When all friends forsake him? When the doctors say, “I’m sorry, but we’ve done all we can do?” When someone sings “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow,” but he knows he won’t see it?”

Where does the unbeliever hide? In drugs? Alcohol? Meditation? Sex? Nietzsche? Nature (which he believes is nothing more than the product of random chance and void of meaning)?

Scripture (Revelation 6:16) speaks of a day when men who chose to run from the Rock will “cry to the mountains and rocks” to “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne…” Ironic, isn’t it?

Oh, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Future, God, music, salvation, the future, Uncategorized, World View, worship

After Christmas: Proof We Need Redemption

So, how was your Christmas?

Was it everything you dreamed it would be? Did everything go as planned without any family drama?

Were all the decorations beautiful?

Have you been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving? Have you been drinking egg nog for the last three weeks? Have you spent hours shopping while listening to Salvation Army bells ringing?

Are you glad it’s over?

Are you a little tired of the parties, the celebrations, the concerts, the pageants, the tons of gift wrapping, the crowds, and the never-ending tunes about lights, bells, joy, and Santa?

Fact is if you are tired of it all and are ready for life to get back to normal, then you’re human and not an elf, and that’s an important truth to consider.

Celebrating Christmas has completely worn me out. I’ve had my fill of carols, smiles, joy, and jingle bells… even eggnog. I need a break.

And believe it or not, these feelings we have after Christmas – the weariness of celebration –  point to the fact that we have not been fully redeemed; our bodies are still waiting for that final transformation.

[We] also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23b CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 CSB

So, just imagine how difficult it would be to survive heaven for more than a day or two?

Not only will we need new bodies that never grow old, get weak, and want to go to bed before sundown, but we will need to be set free from all the chains of this mortal flesh – everything that turns an elf into a Grinch around December 26th or 27th.

Our corruptible minds and bodies must be exchanged for that which is incorruptible, else we won’t be able to endure the eternal and glorious celebration that is to come.

Without being changed, heaven would be full of worn-out billion-year-olds leaving the dirty dishes for the angels to deal with.

Heaven will be a celebration of the Redeemer by the redeemed.

So don’t be surprised when I say, “You must be born again” (John 3:7 NLT). 

If the corruptible got in, heaven wouldn’t stay heaven for long; it would feel like hell.

Think about it: Are you ready for Heaven?

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, clothing, salvation, the future, worship

Time Passing By Too Quickly?

Only 6 Months

It’s June; he’s only six years old; and he’s just seen a commercial for the coolest, most awesome toy ever created by man. The problem is that Christmas is still 6 months away.

I could have used my grandaughter, Emma, for the illustration, but at less than a year old, she doesn’t have a concept of “6 months.” But ain’t she cute?

Little Billy (it’s always Billy, isn’t it?)  asked, no pleaded with his mom and dad to immediately go to the toy store. He HAD to have it. But mom and dad, with words that bring tears to any kid’s eyes, calmly, cruelly said, “You’ll have to wait till Christmas.”

What? NOOOO!” cried Billy. And so, in response to his anguish, what words did his dad choose to comfort poor Billy? “Now son, Christmas is only 6 months away.” Again, Billy cries out “NOOOO!”

What is Billy’s problem? To a child looking forward to the best day of the year, the day when his dreams will come true, six months seems like an eternity! Every day will pass by like snails on Valium.

Only 6 Months?

He’s only 60 years old. There are so many things he’d like to have done, but time just slipped away. Now it seems like every moment is picking up the pace. Time is flying by and he is scared.

Not long ago Bill went in for some tests, only to get a call from the doctor the next day. There were some results that needed to be talked about in person, so William was asked to come back into the office. With a sullen look, the oncologist said, “William, you’ve only got about 6 months to live.” Only 6 months?

Want to Slow Down Time?

For Billy, 6 months is an eternity. Nothing he can do will make time go by any quicker. It will seem like forever until Christmas.

For William, 6 months will seem like a blink of an eye. There will be nothing he can do to slow down the clock. Eternity will come knocking at his door.

How could William, then, become more like Billy? What would make William’s time seem like an eternity here on earth? The answer could be found in the truth of Colossians 3:2…”Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Oh, that our hearts could long for heaven the way we long for earthly pleasures! As a child longs for Christmas, why can’t we long for that celestial homecoming? The day that we set our affections on things above will be the day time down here slows down.

Need More Time?

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Watch the sands in your hour-glass multiply as you “look forward to a city whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Wouldn’t it be great if we could look toward the end of our lives with the same expectation of a child longing for Christmas?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christmas, Future, Life Lessons, the future

Music Flashback With Audio! The Album that Never Was

Nashville

Back in July of 2013, a year before Katie went to college for a music degree, we spent a couple of days sitting in front of microphones in a studio in Nashville.

My daughters and I, along with Daniel Ziegenmier and Steve Castlen, were creating what I believe could have been a surprise hit – Katie’s debut CD. But, alas, the finished product was not to be.

Below is the story, along with photos and music I just uploaded to YouTube (scroll down to listen to them).

Goat Farmer Records

goat farmer recordsBelieve it or not, Katie (the recent graduate from Bryan College) was picked up by Goat Farmer Records in Nashville, TN. Yes, Goat Farmer Records. GFR was an independent label focusing on alternative bluegrass and Americana, and we were the label’s first Christian artists!

Being that GFR was not Sony, Capital, or Sparrow Records, the recording budget was limited. We were not flown to Nashville, nor did we receive big bonuses and specially prepared food during sessions. No limo picked us up at the hotel, either. But, what we did receive was a warm welcome, a laid-back atmosphere, and the opportunity to have fun.

If nothing else, this poor preacher didn’t have to fork out $10K for studio time. Can I get an amen!?

Unfortunately, the Christian message and mission of Katie’s music developed an uncomfortable vibe, and the label’s owner and chief engineer (Joel Ziegenmier) thought it best to release Katie and not pursue finishing the project or promotion.

Future attempts at recording also proved unfruitful, so Katie never got to put out the CD that we thought would be a blessing.

Pictures

Everybody loves pictures, so here are a few images from our sessions.

IMG_0635

Mr. Monkey goes everywhere.

IMG_0639

Daniel on the cajon, Haley on the Uke, Katie on guitar, Joel setting up, and me on bass (out of view).

IMG_0641

It’s hard to explain.

IMG_0650

Katie likes the Neuman u87 (microphone).

IMG_9911

Steve Castlen on drums.

Unlike many other groups, we get to play our own instruments! No hired studio musicians to replace us – no sir! But of course, that means recording music takes longer and requires a lot of work. Amazingly, one can get tired while having fun.

The Present and Future

While Katie was in college for 5 1/2 years, she wasn’t able to focus on her own music much, even though it was partly her creativity and potential that earned her a music scholarship. Even though she has written a couple of songs in the last 5 years, most of her time was spent learning music, including operas in multiple languages.

Now that Katie and Haley are moved out and on their own, and now that Katie is done with college, my hope is that she will return to writing and recording, especially since her voice has matured and her musical knowledge has been expanded.

If you like what you hear in the links I’ve included below, please contact Katie and let her know. Encourage her to rekindle the gift that God has given her.

Bonus Picture

rockers

Mirror Image (1993). That’s me, my sister (Rebecca), Jody Gould, and Steve Castlen back in the day 🙂

The Album that Wasn’t

The following “studio roughs” were recorded at the now-defunct Goat Farmer Records in Nashville, TN. Even though the audio quality was good, no post-editing was ever completed, so the critical ear will hear a few mistakes.

Also, Katie was only 17 at the time of these recordings. Her vocal and music abilities have greatly improved over the last 6 years!

Don’t you think that last song would make a great video? Even a great commercial for a cute car?

If you are a record label, Katie’s available 🙂 

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Filed under music, places, the future