Category Archives: 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

Do You Have After-Christmas Gifts?

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

Late-Comers

Part of the Christmas story can be found in the book of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. There, in chapter two, we read of several wise men, Magi, who followed the star till it rested over the place where the young Jesus was living.

But what most people fail to notice is that only the shepherds came to visit Jesus while he was still a baby in a manger. The Magi came later, once they were living “in the house” and Jesus was a “young child.” And, based on Herod’s decree that all male children 2 years old and younger should be killed (Matt. 2:16), Jesus could have been a toddler up and walking.

Simply put, generally, every manger scene protested against by atheists is not a faithful representation of the Christmas story. How ironic is that? But I digress…

The Gifts

When the Magi came to Bethlehem in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2), they brought with them three very rare and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were not random gifts, but ones with specific political, spiritual, and practical importance; they were meant to recognize a literal, earthly, but also heavenly King.

gold frankincense and myrrhGold was a universally recognized precious metal, symbolic of all wealth. Frankincense was a substance primarily used as incense, but also mixed with other substances to create the holy anointing oil placed on high priests and kings. Myrrh was a substance used for things ranging all the way from cosmetics and antiseptics, to perfuming the living and embalming the dead.

According to Matthew 2:11, the Magi fell down before Jesus, which would have been an appropriate response when in the presence of royalty (and these men knew the difference). But the wise men did more than fall prostrate before royalty, they “worshiped him.”  This young king was more than just “King of the Jews,” but the long-promised Messiah, and they offered their gift to the Son of God.

Are You Wise?

As long as I can remember there have been sermons preached during and before Christmas entitled, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” The sermons focus primarily on the seeking leading up to Christmas, but rarely, if ever, on the gifts given after the celebration is over. But today is different.

Today, I am going to ask you to consider three gifts we should give, now that the birthday celebration is over.

  • Gold. Gold represented wealth. In your worship of the King, will you give Him your wealth? In reality, God owns everything, including everything He loans unto you. But with your heart, are you willing to lay everything that is most valuable to you at His feet?
  • Frankincense. Frankincense represented worship. Would you be willing to fall down before Jesus, or do you hold back some of your Frankincense in reserve? Are there idols in your life – people or things – for which you reserve a little of that anointing oil, making those things lords of your life? Would you be willing to make Jesus Lord of all? Will you worship him without reservation?
  • Myrrh. Myrrh was symbolic of the beauty of life, from beginning to end. Would you give to Jesus everything that makes you happy? Everything that brings you hope? Everything that is sweet-smelling? Everything that hides your faults and failures, disguising your true self? Would you give Jesus your life? He can do more with it than you can do on your own.

Returns

For several days after Christmas people will stand in line to return and/or exchange unwanted gifts. Many will trade what others gave them for something they want more. Others will just ask for a refund or in-store credit.

Rest assured that when you give your gifts to Jesus, he will not return them, exchange them, or re-gift them next year. But will you, once you realize what you’ve given, want to take something back?

Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution. Now that Christmas is over, be like the Magi and leave everything at Jesus’ feet, then “depart…another way.” Once you give Jesus those three gifts, you’ll never be the same.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christmas, God, Love of God, salvation, wisdom, 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

Graduation 2019 and a Walk Through Musical Memory Lane

I haven’t been writing much, lately. It’s been pretty busy around here.

One thing that just happened was the graduation from college by my daughter Katie.

Katie’s first day at Bryan college was back in September of 2014 when we dropped her off at the dorms. I still remember getting back home, walking down the hall and looking into her freshly-painted, peach-colored, sparkly room, knowing those days were over. I cried a river as I leaned against her door frame.

The first picture was taken on that first day at Bryan. Here is myself, Haley (our youngest), and Katie, all sporting our brand new t-shirts to celebrate and remember the day.

Can you believe these are the same two girls?

Here is Katie with Dr. Stephen Livesay, the President of Bryan College.

Now, here’s the proud dad and mom with the graduate 🙂

So, Katie got a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and Vocal. She could always sing, and she can write some beautiful music. Let’s view some performance history on YouTube 🙂 See if you can tell how much she’s matured by the last one.

Here is a video of Katie back in November of 2011 (8 years ago). This was the first video of her singing I ever posted on YouTube.

Here is a video of Katie from December of 2012 singing an original, one of the first songs she ever wrote.

Here she is from before her college days in a high school talent show playing guitar (they won 1st place).

Now, the video is not the best quality, but here is Katie and I playing for her high school graduation banquet. Again, this is a song she wrote…and she’s playing the uke better than I played the bass.

This is her senior (college) recital in January of this year. I get to play with her at the very end – because I played for her when she first auditioned for a music scholarship…which she received 🙂

 

Which brings us to the last video – the one made tonight at a church in Soddy-Daisy, TN. Now that Katie is on her own, a college graduate, and living back in Chattanooga with her sister, Haley, I don’t get to perform with her anymore, nor hear her sing in church. So, it sure was a blessing to see this video of Katie doing a wonderful performance of “Breath of Heaven.

This is what loving the Lord, 6 years of college, a lot of prayer, and tons of perseverance will get you. I’m a blessed dad to have such beautiful and talented daughters.

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Filed under Christmas, Family, music, Parenting, Relationships and Family, worship

Under the Light On the Tree

We had just finished putting up our first Christmas tree here in Georgia.

So, after getting the lights and ornaments set, it was time to move it out of the middle of the floor. While under the tree, pushing it closer to the window of the living room, I looked up and thought, “Isn’t that beautiful!”

Then, like any good blogger, I decided I wanted the world to see the pretty photo I took with my iPhone. It was when I titled the post that I thought of the beauty of another tree.

“In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine, such a wonderful beauty I see; for t’was on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.” – George Bennard, The Old Rugged Cross

The only reason we have a Christmas tree is to celebrate the One who came to offer us eternal life, and that only could have happened by Christ being crucified.

I probably wouldn’t have thought “Isn’t that beautiful!” when standing underneath the cross, but in retrospect, that would have been a wondrous sight to behold!

The Light … on a tree.

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Filed under Christmas, salvation, worship

Should We Celebrate Christmas?

Sunday evening I shared some interesting things with our congregation at Bethlehem Baptist. They were reasons why some people choose not to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Now, I’m no historian, so if you find fault with any of my research, you are welcome to correct me, especially when it comes to Oliver Cromwell and English history. However, I think what I shared in this sermon regarding the history of Christmas and why some oppose the holiday is pretty accurate.

If you’re interested, take a few moments to listen to the sermon linked below and let me know what you think.

Click on the picture to listen to the sermon.

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Filed under Christmas, Preaching, worship

Thanking and the Thankee

I’m Thankful For…

So many people will be celebrating tomorrow (Thanksgiving) by starting off sentences with the words, “I’m thankful for…” Traditionalists will say it before carving a turkey. Vegans will say it before carving a large piece of vegetable protein disguised as something they secretly wish they could eat. Children will even say it just to please their grandparents and to be assured an extra scoop of Cool Whip on their pumpkin pie.

But one thing’s for sure, being thankful implies the influence of an outside source and suggests things could have been different, despite a person’s will. And even though it might sound crazy, being thankful suggests there is someone to be thankful to.

Thankful to Whom?

Maybe you have never stopped to think about it, but being thankful for anything is pretty ridiculous when there is no one to be thankful to. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary* defines “thanks” as  a “plural noun…an expression of gratitude…another way of saying THANK YOU.” So, who is the “YOU” that you are thankful to?

According to many of the stories I have heard, especially in public schools, the original celebrants of Thanksgiving were thankful only to the Indians (Native Americans). According to many accounts, the Pilgrims were so happy that the Indians provided them with food and land that a party was necessary. So, in other words, the first “thanks” of Thanksgiving was given to Squanto and the Wampanoag people.

That’s not totally correct.

Thankful to God

Like those who celebrated in 1623, I am thankful to God. Unlike the common history lessons, the Pilgrims recognized the true Source of blessing.

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

‎ Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

‎—William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye Colony

If I am going to be thankful, I am going to be thankful to the “great Father…who has granted us freedom to worship [Him] according to the dictates of our own conscience.” As a pastor, I will lead my congregants in praise to the “Almighty God for all His blessings.

What am I thankful for?

I am most thankful for those things which I could not have had if it were not for the grace of God. Among those things are mercy and forgiveness; a family; a peace that passes all understanding; joy unspeakable and full of glory; and even a love for my enemies.

I am also thankful for and to those who serve this great nation, putting their lives at risk for my (and others’) freedom.

I am thankful for and to those who enforce the laws and keep the peace here at home, and for those who brave dangers to rescue us from harm.

“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” – Psalm 107:1

And ultimately, I am thankful for all the blessings which I do not deserve, including all of you who read this blog, even those who do not believe a word of what I am saying.

One More Thing

One more thing…being that I have some Cherokee blood in me, I understand that Thanksgiving may not be a Native American’s favorite holiday, but the principle of thanksgiving remains. When we give thanks, to whom do we give it?

“All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.” – Psalm 86:9 

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” – Psalm 117:1 

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” – Revelation 7:9 

One day, when all is said and done, we all will stand before God and give thanks, for He is the God of us all, despite what we have done to each other.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

*Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

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Filed under America, Christian Living, Culture Wars, Faith, God, Thanksgiving, worship