Category Archives: worship

Hide Thou Me

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 murmer, 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

The Great Adventure

Friends, I would like to ask you simply to keep me in your prayers the next couple of weeks. I’m going on a great adventure and even though I’m not fearful, I am nervous.

Some of you may know where I am going. However, because of the sensitive nature of the adventure, I would appreciate you not publicly spilling the beans as I try to remain under the radar. It doesn’t help matters that Putin has started his nonsense and put the world on alert.

Despite what is happening in the geopolitical world, there is a fundamental truth that will never change: People need Jesus! Beyond that, churches still need pastors and pastors need encouragement, along with all the help they can get to combat against doctrinal and theological error.

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

1 Timothy 4:16

Therefore, I am going alone – physically – to a place I’ve never been to before. I’m going alone, quite frankly, because nobody else dares go with me. That’s OK, and I don’t blame them, especially those who feel confident that God is not leading them to accompany me. Yet, I know I won’t be totally alone, and I am not even referring to the armed security that will be accompanying me the whole time.

The Holy Spirit will be with me!

And I know many, many brothers and sisters will be praying for me, too.

And speaking of prayer, may I ask that you pray for the following?

  • That all the COVID-19 rapid tests will come back negative for COVID.
  • That I will be able to bring all that I need in the luggage I am taking.
  • For safety to and from the airport Monday morning, and that includes the safety of my dear wife who will be taking me.
  • For my family to rest in the peace of Christ while I’m gone.
  • That my dog George will not be depressed and stop eating while I am gone – seriously.
  • For safe travels to and from the destination. I hate flying these days.
  • For safe commuting while abroad, for where I am going traffic rules barely exist.
  • For a clear understanding of what God wants me to preach and teach while there.
  • For me not to get sick from any contaminated water or food.
  • For the safety of the pastors who will be attending meetings.
  • That funding will be more than adequate for the needs.
  • That lasting relationships will be fostered.
  • That the sermons and lectures (i.e., during the pastors’ conferences) will be seamlessly translated and understood.
  • That all involved will experience spiritual revival (including YOU).
  • That God will bless all those who have generously contributed to the needs of this Great Adventure.

Now, to sum this up for today, back in the 1990’s Steven Curtis Chapman released a great song along with a great music video. It was called “The Great Adventure.” This will be my theme.

This is the Great Adventure!

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Filed under ministry, Revival, worship

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 year 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

Psalm 100 for Thanksgiving

As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, I believe it would be very helpful to look at what God’s Word says. People can debate the story of the Pilgrims, their survival, and the relationship they had with the native people after that first deadly winter, but there should be no debate that God deserves ALL our praise, obedience, worship, and thanksgiving.

Therefore, I would ask you to take a few minutes to walk with me through a short Psalm of thanksgiving: Psalm 100.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations. – Psalm 100:1-5 KJV

The Divisions

When I break down Psalm 100, I see it divided into two distinct sets of 3, a middle, and a prelude consisting of three reasons for our thanksgiving, worship, and praise.

The prelude to which I refer is not at the beginning of the chapter, but at the end. It is verse 5 that gives us the reasons for why we should be thankful. However, when delivering this outline in sermon form, moving verse 5 to the beginning keeps us focused on God’s goodness, His mercy, and His immutability throughout the discourse.

Therefore, observe below how the entirety of Psalm 100 could be (and was) preached.

  • Because (“for”) the LORD is good
  • Because … His mercy is everlasting
  • Because … His truth endureth to all generations

            The Christian’s Invitation

            1.  Praise! “Make a joyful noise…”

            2.  Obey! “…serve the LORD with gladness…”

            3.  Worship! “…com before his presence with singing…”

                        A) Know the LORD he is God

                        B) [Know] it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves

                        C) [Know] we are His people and the sheep of His pasture

            The Stranger’s Invitation

            1.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving

            2.  Enter His courts with praise

            3.  Be thankful and bless His name

The Citizen’s Invitation

The reason I think we can divide the psalm into the described divisions is based on the context in which David wrote Psalm 100. The imagery is that of a king and his kingdom. In this case we are talking about the King of Kings who is Sovereign over all the Earth.

Therefore, when we look at verses 1 and 2, we can see actions implored of citizens, while verse 4 can be seen as an invitation to those “on the outside looking in.”

Because the LORD is good…because His mercy is everlasting…because His truth endureth to all generations, the citizens of His kingdom can and should praise, obey, and worship with a joy that only comes with the realization and wonder developed in relationship with the King.

The Middle

Like I mentioned at the first, there is a middle part. This is the part that separates the citizen’s invitation and the stranger’s invitation. It is found in verse 3.

  • Know the LORD he is God
  • [Know] it is he that hath made us, not we ourselves
  • [Know] we are his people, the sheep of his pasture

Proper theology, the biblical kind, is essential to not only knowing who God is, but knowing Him personally. The word translated “know” is the same word used in Genesis 3:7 which described how Adam and Eve felt upon realizing their nakedness – their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked. Until we open our eyes and see who God is, not a man-made version, then our worship will not only be incomplete, but it will be powerless.

(See Elohiym in Genesis 1:1. See also how Jesus describes the Triune God in Matthew 28:19.)

The Stranger’s Invitation

By “stranger” I mean the one on the outside looking in, the non-citizen. The invitation in verse 4 can be seen as calling out to the ones who long to be part of such a nation of people as the children of God. It is an invitation to “enter the gates.”

When you think of an old, biblical-type city, don’t you think of walled cities with gates? Well, when one was outside the gate, locked outside, entering in without an invitation would be called an invasion, right? That is why Jesus said that “no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus IS the Door, the Gate. But, the invitation is there. “Enter with thanksgiving!”

Why enter with thanksgiving? Because you have heard the great noise of the shouts of praise! The joyful roo-ah’ that was the war cry of praise shouted out by the Israelites in Joshua 6:16 and 20 has been ringing in your ears. YOUR king isn’t good. Your king isn’t merciful. Your king is always changing his mind, always unpredictable. Enter? Why YES! Joyfully and thankfully!

Why enter His courts with praise? The stranger no longer has to worry about being brought into the throne room to be judged. The poor and needy, mourning over sin, needs not worry about his countenance when stepping into the presence of Majesty! No, the invitation is to “enter his courts with praise,” because this King is merciful beyond compare and “willing that none should perish!”

The invitation is there, so “be thankful and bless his name.”

And it can ONLY be done, both citizen and stranger, because the LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Bible Study, Thanksgiving, worship

A Thought on Real Forgiveness: To Worship with the Predator

A while back, but less than 10 years, my family fell prey to a sexual predator. Some of you may know what that is like, what the roller coaster of emotions one must endure feels like, and how violated you feel when the one that did the harm was supposed to have been a friend.

I’m not going to share many details, but I am thankful for the fact that our loved one didn’t go missing or wasn’t found dead in a ditch. It could have been much worse.

Regardless, as a pastor, I learned some hard lessons about how sexual predators prey on children by infiltrating congregations while disguised as the best church members you could ever want. I also learned that forgiving a sexual predator does NOT translate into wiping the slate clean and “forgetting” in the same way God does our sin.

Initially, even though it’s hard to say with certainty because a man doesn’t truly know what he will do until he’s put in a situation, if given the opportunity I would have killed the man. As a matter of fact, there have been times when I doubted my manhood because I didn’t kill him. But that desire for vengeance has passed.

Do I want the man to be released from prison? Not any time soon. That’s because I don’t want him to have the chance to do more harm, to abuse more young girls. But do I want him to stay in prison forever? Honestly, not really. Actually, it’s not something I think about anymore.

Granted, if he showed up at my door unannounced, there would likely be bloodshed. Just saying. Why? Because I’ll never be able to trust him again. Period.

But do I hate him? No, I don’t. Have I forgiven him? Yes, I have. And I love him, too.

How is this possible? Well, to begin with, I gave him over to the authorities to deal with. They were the ones set up by God to carry out justice on this earth. Taking justice into my own hands would be contrary to God’s law, therefore a sin. I’m not seeking more punishment, for to do so would be seeking vengeance, not justice.

Next, my prayer is that one day this man would genuinely recognize the harm he has done and call out to God for mercy and forgiveness. I want him to feel remorse, but I also want him to bring God glory by calling out to Him in faith.

But this is how I know my heart is right, at least as right as can be considering the circumstances. I would love to see this predator in heaven one day. And do you know what I want to do when I see him there? I want to smile and say to him, “Isn’t God good!”

The greatest end to this tragic story would be to stand there with that sinner and recognize that my own sins would have damned me to hell just like him . . . if not for God’s grace, if not for Jesus!

Then, at that moment, the only right thing to do will be to turn toward the Throne and worship the One who saves to the uttermost!

What glory is there in seeing someone burn in hell for an eternity? God doesn’t want that, for He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The glory comes when God is praised for his grace and mercy that is greater than all our sin! The glory comes when God is praised for eternity and His goodness and wisdom is displayed to all the principalities and powers in heavenly places!

"At the Cross"

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

- Isaac Watts (1707)

Real forgiveness starts at the foot of the Cross.

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Filed under abuse, Christianity, grace, Love of God, worship

They Stabbed Me 3 Times While I Slept

Yes, I was stabbed three times in my sleep this past Friday morning. And if you count the 3 IV’s I got on top of everything else, then I was stabbed a total of 6 times!

Now, I assume you get the joke, right? I WAS stabbed in my sleep, but it was with robotic tools meant to save my life, not take it. I went under the knife and laparoscopic surgery to remove a 3-inch tumor in my chest, and, thank God, I survived.

But I’ve got some really good news to share! What they removed when they took out my thymus gland was NOT a tumor, but a large cyst! Yay!

Sure, a 3-inch cyst pressing against your aorta isn’t exactly a wonderful thing, so it still needed to come out. However, a cyst is much less likely than a tumor to come back from testing as cancerous. I know a whole lot of people all over the world were praying for me, and I am very grateful.

Yet, it really is amazing when I look at my reflection in the mirror – they really messed me up! I mean, really, there are 3 major wounds in my side, How a person can have all that done to him and survive will always be amazing to me. I’ve just got to take it easy and not overdo things while I’m at home recovering.

The only thing I’m really dealing with is a heck of a lot of pain in my left side, everything from the searing jabs where nerves are reconnecting, to muscles around my ribs cramping when it’s already painful enough to take a deep breath.

And then there’s the itching and burning! Why, with all the technology available to them these days, did they have to shave my body?

Well, tomorrow I will share a new watch story. Until then, again, thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I am unworthy, but I appreciate the grace. My wife sends thanks, also (and I’m more than thankful for her!).

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Filed under Christianity, Struggles and Trials, worship

Sunday’s Sermons from the Back Porch

Good Monday morning! I pray you are doing well and are excited for what God has in store for us, today!

I know, it’s a Monday.

I know, there are a lot of sad things going on in the world.

But, you know what? We can still find encouragement in God’s Word! That is why I want to share with you the Facebook videos from yesterdays messages I preached from my back porch.

Why the back porch? Because we had cancelled in-person services last week because of COVID-19 cases. Hopefully we will be back together as a congregation this Sunday.

In the morning sermon I preached from Ephesians 1:3-7 and outlined 5 benefits that come with being “in Christ.”

In the evening video I continued our study into the the book of Romans. Good stuff. Really good stuff 😉

Please pray for those who are sick.

Please pray for the poor souls in Afghanistan.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Preaching, worship

Are You Glad?

Let’s go!

church glad to go

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Filed under Church, worship

Good Morning!

green trees under blue and orange sky during sunset

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Good Morning?

How often do you say that? How often do you hear it said to you? “Good morning!”

Funny thing is that those same two words can be spoken in so many ways. How many of the following do you think express the true meaning of the salutation?

  • “Good morning.” – as spoken by a husband to his wife after waking up sore, sleep-deprived, and just slightly damp after a night camping under the stars.
  • “Good morning!” – as expressed through the sinister grin of a drill seargent on the first morning after arriving at boot camp.
  • “Good morning.” – growled by a teenager the morning after being threatened with the loss of her cell phone if one more disrespectful word spewed from her lips.
  • “Good morning!!” – as exclaimed by a “Karen” the first morning on the job after being hired as a quality control manager with the business at which she had recently voiced her disapproval of employees’ customer service.

Correct, none of the above examples express the intended (or at least commonly understood) meaning of the greeting.

So, what is saying “Good morning!” supposed to mean?

Unless I’m sorely mistaken, when you say “Good morning” to someone, what you are doing is one of two things:

  • a) stating a fact; or
  • b) wishing for, or blessing another with a desire that their morning actually be a good one.

Based on the above definition, I want to wish you a “Good morning!” I also want to say that it IS a “Good morning!” This is the day that the Lord has made, remember? Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Sure, I know you might have aches and pains, but you woke up! You’ve been given another day to do something with those talents God has intrusted to you. Invest them!

Yes, you may have lost everything in a bankruptcy, a divorce, or a tragedy of some kind. But you survived! You’re alive! Now’s the moment when you can start seeing the miraculous hand of God work! You might have been so caught up in other things that you failed to see how good God is, but now you can better focus on the grace and mercy of the One who clothes the flowers and really does care about you!

The Bible says that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning”! This is a brand new day. You may have really, without a doubt, messed up yesterday. But, you know what? If you are a born-again, blood-washed, redeemed child of God, the Cross means that what Jesus did has already atoned for your mess up. You’re forgiven! Now, walk in forgiveness and grace while giving God the glory!

Instead of reading this, you COULD be in eternal torment, separated from the loving presence of God. begging for just a single drop of water to cool your tongue, but you’re not! It’s not a matter of luck; there’s a reason.

So, I’d say, without a doubt, no matter who you are, it is … and I bless you with these words …

Good morning!

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Filed under Christianity, Depression, Divorce, Life Lessons, salvation, Thanksgiving, worship

We Preach Jesus! (Revival In Africa – and Needed in Georgia)

The following post is not new, but one from a year or so ago, maybe longer. But here are the basics…

  1. It’s been around 5 years since I went to Africa (August, 2016) and I’ve still not gotten over it.
  2. I was supposed to go to Jamaica this time last year, but then you-know-what happened. Nobody went anywhere.
  3. We are now praying for revival. The Church of God, the Body of Christ, but particularly we Southern Baptists here in Georgia, need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, a move of God among our congregations!
  4. Sometimes we need to go to other places, like Zimbabwe or Pakistan, to be reminded how big our God is and how powerfully He wants to work in our lives if we’d just let Him.
  5. Having a fired-up preacher serve as your interpreter can rock your world! And shake the Devil’s!!

So, the following post is about my trip to Zimbabwe, but the best part is the audio of the final sermon preached. I am amazed that the Lord could even use someone like me, especially back then when I (capitalized) was the one in need of revival (that’s really why I went on this trip in the first place). But if you want a real blessing, scroll down and click on the link to the sermon.

Be sure to listen to the sermon at the end!


Revival

It has been [five] years since I went to Zimbabwe. I went there to preach in a series of revival services in two different Baptist churches, both of which were started along with several others by Chinhoyi Baptist in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. Of course, preaching wasn’t all I did; I went with different pastors into various villages, visiting and praying with Christians, evangelizing those who’d never heard the gospel.

The other reason I went to Zimbabwe was to get revived myself. I needed this trip! And, praise be to God, it was life-changing!

Here are some photos from different services.

People starting to show up for church. River of Life met in a tent in a member's front yard.

People starting to show up for church. River of Life met in a tent in a member’s front yard.

image

Worshiping Sunday morning at Dolomite Baptist.

Worshiping Sunday morning at Dolomite Baptist.

Lively and energetic African worship at Chinhoyi Baptist.

Lively and energetic African worship at Chinhoyi Baptist.

Being introduced at Chinhoyi Baptist.

Being introduced at Chinhoyi Baptist.

The Final Service

The final service in which I preached was at Chinhoyi Baptist Church. It was a celebratory farewell service where all of the churches which had hosted our team of three (Dr. Eddy Rushing, Marshall Kellett, and myself) came together as one. And man, was it a service!

The honor was mine to be selected to preach the final service, and what an honor it was. Dr. Rushing and Bro. Kellett were responsible for personally leading scores of people to Christ during this trip, so who was I to be the one to preach? Nevertheless, they asked me, and I jumped at it!

The beginning of the service was full of extremely lively music and dancing – not something the average Baptist in America is used to 😉 When all of that was over, the music shifted to hymns. Dr. Rushing and Bro. Kellett both gave stirring testimonies before the final hymn “Higher Ground” (sung in the native language of Shona) set the tone for the sermon to follow.

Oh, Rev. Luckmann Chiasaru was my interpreter for this service, and man was he good! He even sang with me! Awesome!

Chinhoyi Baptist Church in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. This congregation hopes to plant a total of 50 new churches in 10 years. They're well on their way!

Chinhoyi Baptist Church in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. This congregation hopes to plant a total of 50 new churches in 10 years. They’re well on their way!

The following was recorded on an iPhone 6s, then edited on Audacity. I wish it could have been a better recording, but it was all I had. I pray it is a blessing 🙂

CLICK HERE for link to the audio of “We Preach Jesus!”

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