Call It All James

This morning (Sunday) I am beginning a new sermon series through the book of James. It will be a verse-by-verse expository series and one that I’m excited about.

If everything goes well I will be posting recordings of the sermons on my “Sermon Archive” page. I’d like to post them on the same day they’re preached, but editing takes a little time, so give it a day or two (like Monday or Tuesday) before expecting to see them.

UPDATE: Click HERE to go to the Sermon Archive page.

One of the main themes – if not THE main theme – in James is the idea of enduring while having our faith tested. So many people get discouraged when their faith is tried by circumstances, yet James reminds us to “count it all joy” (James 1:2).

Another reason James writes is to offer practical instruction on displaying a living faith through what we do. James argues that “faith without works is dead,” meaning that a living faith does something.

So, in this upcoming series of sermons, as I try to exegete the letter of James to those “scattered abroad,” I hope you will be encouraged to keep your faith as you work it out for others to see.

If you don’t regularly attend a church, and if you’re a little skeptical of the big TV-type ministries, I would encourage you to visit the website of the church where I pastor. Go to http://www.SouthSoddyBaptist.org. It’s not a big website, but it’s growing in content – simple, basic stuff meant to encourage and keep things real.

Have a great Lord’s Day!

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, Church, Preaching, wisdom

Hiding In Plain Sight

Back in 2010 (Sept. 14th, to be specific) I wrote a post that later became the basis for a story in my book, Life Lessons from the School Bus. If you don’t yet have a copy (you can order one), the following story, “Stop #13,” can be found on pages 45-46.

I am no longer a school bus driver, but the truth of this story remains the same: Sometimes bad things can hide in plain sight.

The Story

As you can see in the picture, a typical school bus has two mirrors immediately to the left of the driver window (besides the convex mirror below). With mirrors everywhere, driving is made much safer and easier, even in heavy traffic. What you don’t see is what is on the other side of the mirrors.

(This picture at the very spot an accident could have taken place.)

I was beginning to exit a gas station directly across the street from another station, and a Hardee’s. I looked in every direction and checked my mirrors. Then, as I started to pull out, an 18-wheeler appeared out of nowhere…directly in front of me! It had been hiding behind the mirrors.

Take a look at the picture. Right behind the top mirror sat a Peterbilt. I never saw it. What saved me was taking my time and being cautious. Had I rushed on forward I may have pulled right into the path of that big truck. Only going slow and expecting the unexpected made the difference.

The Lesson

So many tragedies in life could be avoided if only we would take the time to “consider our ways.”

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5 KJV).

Do we stop to think about where we are going? Do we take the time to make sure there is nothing hidden behind the obvious? Sometimes our judgment can be clouded by the determination to move forward with our plans. Wisdom understands that the Enemy loves to capitalize on things hidden.

For example, how many people have fallen into financial ruin because they rushed into a business deal or bought something too expensive? Many times there are dangers lurking in the fine print or hidden in words we don’t take time to understand. Even though the path may look clear, it never hurts to take one more look before proceeding.

Ironically, big dangers can hide behind the very things meant to point them out.

Route Suggestions

The following are a few suggestions to help you navigate the route of life:

  • Never get too comfortable behind the wheel.
  • Never make quick assumptions based on past experiences.
  • Never let someone rush you into making an uninformed decision.
  • Read Psalm 119:105…”Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” How important is it to have a light when driving down a dark and unfamiliar road? Where does this verse say we can find light for the road of life?

The road of life can be a dangerous place, dear reader. Why not follow the One who not only knows the way but IS the Way?

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Five Things About God’s Hands

Maybe you are at a point in your life where you doubt God. Maybe you doubt He cares. Or, even if He cares, you wonder why you can’t see it.

I hope the following list of what God’s hands do will bring you some comfort and encouragement.

  1. They Created Man (Gen. 2:7). As much as we would like to think that we are self-made, there is a Hand that formed us from the dust of the earth. We are not like the rest of creation which was simply spoken into existence; we were fashioned by the loving, artistic hand of the Creator, and His fingerprints are all over us.
  2. They Contain the Believer (John 10:27-29). The believer should never worry about his salvation. He should never worry about being stolen away. Thank God that we are in His hand, and nothing, not even ourselves, can remove us from His omnipotent protection.
  3. They Chastise the Child (Prov. 3:12; 13:24; 22:15; 19:18; Deut. 8:5; Rev. 3:19). God is not a Father who encourages “timeouts;” He knows how to apply loving discipline to our seats of instruction. If more parents would worry less about the world’s wisdom and suggestions and follow the wise instruction of Scripture, we might not have as many entitlement-claiming, over-grown bratty children running the streets demanding their own way.
  4. They Carry the Broken (Isa. 40:11). Praise the Lord for His mercy and love! As the gentle shepherd who must sometimes break the leg of the wandering lamb, God must discipline us. However, it is then that He carries us close to his bosom where we learn to love being in His presence.
  5. They Catch the Stumbler (Psa. 37:23-24). There are times when we stumble, but because He is holding our hand, we will not “utterly” fall.

Jonathan Edwards preached in 1741, it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.” But as a child of God, there is no better place to be!

David said, even after he had sinned, “Let me fall into the hand of the Lord…” (1 Chron. 21:13). He knew the truth that brought comfort, a comfort the world does not know: “The LORD will not cast off his people…” (Psa. 94:14).

Praise God for His loving, providing, protecting, parenting, and guiding hand! 

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Misunderstanding a Christian’s Patriotism

Based on the comments I’ve read in response to a previous post of mine, along with others across the social media spectrum, there seems to be a misunderstanding – even a mischaracterization – of mine and others’ patriotism.

Believe it or not (and some will refuse to), a Christian can love his country, even to the point of sacrificing his life, without turning it into an idol and worshipping it.

I love my country and believe in what the original framers envisioned this nation to be. I believe there’s never been a better Constitution, nor has there ever been a nation whose laws better reflected the fact that all men (and women and children) are created in the image of God and therefore intrinsically valuable and endowed with “certain unalienable rights.”

I believe that the American flag means a lot more than color on cloth and borders within borders.

I’m proud of the fact that the American soldier, despite the failures of policy and leadership, is the first to shed his own blood for the freedom of another, even the one that might hate him. And, yes, I see that as a “Christ-like” quality, but one that is endemic to a Christian ethic, not a parallel worth of deification.

But even though I love my country, I do not worship her. Even though I stand when the National Anthem is played, it’s not a creed I recite. Even though I salute the American flag and am greatly offended when it is disrespected or defaced, it is not an idol – it is not Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.

As He changes the seasons, so God “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21). I worship Him. Before Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, Emanuel (God with us), I bend my knee.

Nations come and go, but the Lord of lords and King of kings remains the same; it is He that I serve.

Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. – 1 Peter 2:17

Don’t mischaracterize my patriotism: it’s not idol worship; it’s honor and familial love. But when this country and its founding documents have faded into the annals of history; when the only Old Glory still flying is over the old graves of citizens, His praise will be the only thing on my lips as I worship the Eternal King upon His throne.

I’m proud to be an American, but I’m a Christian first and foremost. Blue passport or not, I rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.

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Filed under America, Christianity, Countries, politics

I Will Remember

Seventeen years have come and gone, and many have already forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001. 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.

God Bless America!

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

A Bible Study Promo

I created a little commercial for our new Bible study on Sunday mornings (the Sunday school hour). 

If you are ever in the Chattanooga/Soddy-Daisy, TN area, why not stop by? 

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NIKE and My Thoughts

The following is social commentary which some may find disturbing. Proceed at your own risk, but be warned.


By now I”m sure most of you are aware of the new NIKE ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. How could you have missed it?

If you know about it, I’m sure you’ve already established an opinion, and that opinion is probably based on what you already thought about Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the playing of our national anthem.

The whole NIKE controversy centers around something Kaepernick says: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” In response, besides people burning their NIKE shoes and gear, folks on the internet have created alternative graphics featuring the photos of other people, such as Chris Kyle and Pat Tillman.

As stated in a CBS News story, the message of the ad campaign is pretty simple: “The spot’s universal theme is about athletes pushing for bigger dreams. It features young athletes who compete amid various challenges, touching on issues of gender, disabilities and weight loss, among others.”

And I guess that’s a noble theme because, after all, there’s nothing wrong with praising people for pushing through tough challenges to reach their dreams. But what does that have to do with believing in something so much you might even have to sacrifice everything?

And what is “everything,” anyway?

Essentially, what did Colin Kaepernick actually give up?

But let’s stop for a moment and move this in a different direction. What about the whole reason for kneeling in the first place? Are all police corrupt and intent on murdering anyone of color? Not all cops are white, you know. Heck, just this week I had a wonderful conversation with a black deputy who works with kids at a local high school. Is he the reason people are taking a knee?

Oh, I know, it’s all the white cops who are killing black men, right? Yeah, that’s it. That’s why our country is so bad. That’s why so many are taking a stand by not standing for the National Anthem.

But what about Planned Parenthood? What did the founder, Margaret Sanger, believe about blacks? What color of babies die most often in their clinics?

And the police are the problem?

I can think of a couple hundred officers who died while doing something they believed in on September 11, 2001. They sacrificed everything for total strangers. And, honestly, I could introduce you to scores of officers and deputies in my own county where I serve as a police chaplain who put their lives on the line every day for something they believe in.

You know, every time I hear the arguments for kneeling, specifically the race-related ones, I can’t help but remember those African-American heroes who flew in the Red Tail Squadron, those Tuskegee airmen who battled FAR more racism and bigotry to become some of the best pilots who ever defended this country during wartime. To loosely quote what I heard one of them say not too long ago in response to the whole kneeling thing,

“You have that right, but only because of those who fought and died to defend it. We may have our problems, but there’s no better country in the world. If you think it’s better somewhere else, you’re free to go there – which in its self is a freedom many don’t have.”

The Tuskegee Airmen didn’t take a knee; they took to the skies for the country the loved.

Yet, after all I’ve written, what if every policeman was corrupt? What if Colin Kaepernick is the best example of bravery?

There’s still someone who we’d all be better off emulating.

Instead of a football helmet and millions in lost contracts, He wore a crown of thorns and had a stone for a pillow. He could have been king of the world, but they called Him “King of the Jews” and crucified him on a real cross, not just one in social media.

And yet He said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25).

He also said:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5:44-45

Look, NIKE can use whomever they want in their ad campaigns. But I have a strong suspicion that if we would only choose some better heroes – like ones who actually DID sacrifice everything for what they believed (did anyone say Dietrich Bonhoeffer?) –  commercials like the one with Kaepernick wouldn’t even be an issue.

Maybe a better observation would be this: Make sure what you believe in is worth sacrificing everything.

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