Apologize For What, Exactly?

He Won’t Apologize!

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing: CNN reported that Trump would not apologize after being acquitted. I literally laughed out loud and asked, “Why would he?!”

Seriously, if you think I’m joking, here’s a screen shot I took of the headline…

Say what you want, but if I was one who was accused of something I swore I didn’t do, why would I stand in front of the world after I was acquitted and say I’m sorry for doing what I previously swore I didn’t do? If they wanted to paint Trump as insane, that would have been a good time to do it, because that would have been crazy!

Accused and Reminded

But as soon as I heard about this story and the stupidity of it all, I couldn’t help but think of what Satan does to you and me: he accuses, then he reminds.

The name “Satan” means “accuser.” That’s what he does all the time; he accuses us of all kinds of things, maybe even things we’ve done. Thankfully, one day he will be “cast down” and won’t be able to keep up the accusations.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. – Revelation 12:10

But Satan not only accuses us before the Judge, he tries to make us feel guilty for things for which we’ve already been forgiven. He wakes us up in the middle of the night, or puts something in our paths that will trigger a flashback of some sin we did, and then he revels in making us feel guilty and dirty all over again.

“You call yourself a Christian?” he’ll ask. “Then why did you do that?” “What makes you think God would really forgive you? How do you even know you’ve been forgiven?” And then, like what you did was just yesterday, you feel sick, nasty, and afraid God might not love you as much as He promised.

Before long we find ourselves begging God to forgive us for something long forgiven, questioning His Word, or else we feel too ashamed to even believe we can be forgiven, then wind up doubting our salvation.

Justified!

Folks, if Trump doesn’t think he did anything wrong, why on earth would anyone expect him to get in front of the cameras of his accusers and apologize?

But for you and I, what a joy it is – or should be – to know full well that what we have been accused of, we were guilty! Yet, through faith in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary atonement, we are not only forgiven, but we are JUSTIFIED (acquitted) by grace!

  • Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: – Romans 3:24
  • Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: … Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. – Romans 5:1, 9

So, if the Devil’s CNN ever questions you about some sin you may have committed in the past, some sin that might get God to change His mind about acquitting you, remind them that whatever they are trying, it won’t work:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, – Romans 8:1 CSB

You’ve been acquitted!

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Anti-Christian latest intolerance: Swiss Christian Chocolate Company

The age of tolerance has become nearly intolerable.

The Domain for Truth

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Were the Democrats Better Than Jesus and Paul?: A Look At the State of the Union Sit-Fest

Politics

You know what they say, don’t you? “A pastor should avoid politics at all costs.” Or, maybe it’s, “Never talk about politics from the pulpit…or online…or at the dinner table…or with a friend…”

The reason is because I am called to minister to people of all political persuasions. It’s foolish to alienate potentially half the people I address by offending them with an opposing political view, ESPECIALLY if that political opinion has nothing to do with the Bible, particularly the Gospel.

But what am I to do when something happens in the political realm and Scripture has something to say? Do I remain silent? Do I avoid even the least offense? Do I say, “That’s only for you people to discuss on your own, not in church, and not with me”?

What if the Bible offers advice that could radically change the negative atmosphere of politics and actually bring our nation’s leaders closer together for the sake of our nation?

Well, it does!

Broken Legs

If you had the opportunity to watch President Trump’s third State of the Union Address (the one where Nancy Pelosi ripped up the paper she fumbled with for an hour), what you saw was a sad, sad sight: nearly all the Democrats had broken legs. It’s true! Hardly any of them could stand up for anything, even news that the state of the Union was great!

Oh, the Republicans in the room were quick to leap to their feet when they heard African-American unemployment was at an all-time low, but the party of 90% of blacks remained in their seats! You KNOW that had to be painful! Broken legs, I tell you.

And what about that time it was announced that we are no longer dependent on foreign oil (the thing that nearly crippled us back in the 1970’s)? What about the news that manufacturing jobs had increased (along with factories coming back to America)? What about the news of lowered prescription drug prices and fairer trade deals with China? For each one of these bits of great news, the Democrats remained in their seats, groaning from the pain in their broken legs, unable to stand and celebrate the common good of our country.

But was it broken legs? Or, was it nothing more than hurt feelings, bitterness, anger, hatred, and spite? What if they were thinking that any good news is bad news as long as Trump is still the President? What if they were unwilling to celebrate anything, or anybody (even a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman that got promoted to General), if it meant admitting Trump was responsible? Their broken legs (or angry feelings) were more important than the people who sent them to Washington.

Jesus and Paul

But I would like to direct your attention to a couple of different instances where both the followers of Jesus and the friends of the Apostle Paul found themselves in a similar situation as the poor, crippled Democrats.

In one case, John came to Jesus upset that there was “one casting out devils” in His name (Mark 9:38-40; Luke 9:49-50). He told Jesus [paraphrased], “We told him to ‘Stop it!” because he wasn’t part of our group.” How did Jesus reply?

Forbid [him] not: for he that is not against us is for us. – Luke 9:50

Then later, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul confirmed that there were some people preaching Jesus, but with selfish motives. Did he protest? Did he let his broken legs keep him in his seat? Not hardly!

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. – Philippians 1:15-18 NLT

Do the Democrats think they are better than Jesus and Paul?

The Common Good

Who are these people that go to Washington, D.C.? Are they not servants of the people who sent them there? Do they represent political parties alone, or do they each take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, the place where ALL Americans live, regardless their party affiliation?

Jesus and Paul understood that there were people out there who didn’t belong to their inner circles, some of which even had impure motives for what they were doing. Yet, both Jesus and Paul rejoiced that good was being done, nevertheless. People were being freed from demons in the name of Jesus, and people were getting saved after hearing the gospel preached by jealous, self-serving preachers.

Why is it, then, that the Democrats sat like they had broken legs when news of the common good was rampant? Why is it that they could not rejoice at an improved economy, decreased poverty, or lower drug prices that ease the burden of sick people in every political party?

The Answer?

I really don’t have an official answer; I can’t see inside their hearts. However, we could rephrase the question and ask John and the concerned Christians in Philippi why they had problems with people doing the right thing?

Maybe John thought: “Hey! That guy with the orange hair is casting out demons in Jesus’ name!

Maybe the Philippians said: “Dear Paul, there’s a guy over there who said bad things about you, even called you names, and he’s telling people about Christ!

All we know for sure is that both John and the Philippians were wrong for not clapping their hands, as both Jesus and Paul made clear.

Therefore, if the nation as a whole, both the just and the unjust, felt the rain of prosperity as the result of an orange-headed, egotistic outsider, not celebrating the common good makes the Democrats who refused to stand appear petty, childish, and motivated by something other than the people’s best interests.

Maybe they need to hate President Trump less and love our country more.

NOTE: If you don’t like what I just wrote, simply print it off and rip it in two.

Image result for pelosi rips

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A Man’s Gotta Do What A Man’s Gotta Do

Who Said It First?

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

It’s a pretty well-known idiom. It’s been credited to everyone from John Steinbeck to John Wayne. But who said it first? I have no idea. I’ve searched the internet – which is the fountain of all knowledge, correct? – and have found plenty of opinions, but no definitive answers.

John-Wayne-cowboyWhat I do know for a fact is that my own father used to say, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do when a man’s gotta do it.” That’s where I first heard it. My dad was my source.

But you’ve gotta admit, it sounds like something John Wayne would say.

From the Pulpit

I think the reason the “A man’s gotta..” phrase sounds so much like John Wayne is that it’s a statement only a real man would make. It’s the kind of thing a tough man, a rugged man, the kind of man that takes responsibility for his actions would say.

It’s also the thing a preacher might say. Not the milk-toast, yellow-spined, liberal, crowd-pleasing hireling of a preacher or pastor; he wouldn’t dare ruffle a feather. No, it’s the thing a John Wayne, Sam Elliot, Jack Bauer, of a preacher would say. It’s the thing my dad would and did say. It’s what I’m saying.

And if you’re a preacher worth you’re salt, you’d better say it, too…or a least a variation of the theme.

A man’s gotta preach what a man’s gotta preach when a man’s gotta preach it.

The Burden

Real men do what they have to do. Real men do what’s necessary, even when it’s not pleasant. Real men look a challenge in the eye, grit their teeth, and plow forward. Real men do things others are not willing to do, even when it hurts – because it’s gotta get done.

The Prophet Malachi was a man who had to preach what needed to be preached, even though no one wanted to hear it. It was the “burden of the word of the LORD” that he had to deliver to a people who’s worship was tainted, second-rate, and offensive to God. But it wasn’t pleasant; it wasn’t nice; it was the least seeker-friendly thing a man could say.

“How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.” – Malachi 1:10 NLT

What??? What did he say??? Yes, he said it. With true grit the prophet essentially proclaimed, “It would be better that we close the church doors and go home than continue with the worthless stuff we’ve been doing – God ain’t happy!

The Advice

Preaching the tough stuff isn’t for wimps. People may get mad at you. They may even try to shoot you – no joke. But if there was ever a John Wayne-like preacher, it was the Apostle Paul.

Imagine old Paul, dusty from a long cattle run, sitting on the ground and leaning back on his saddle, cleaning his Colt six-shooter. It’s late in the evening, the fire is crackling, beans are simmering, and Paul clears his throat.

Timothy…” he begins, then after a pause, “Boy, let me give you some advice: ‘Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine‘” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Timothy tilts his hat back a little to expose his forehead, then leans in and asks, “What will people think? It could get tough doing that all the time.

“Yeah,” replies the old Apostle with a nod and a painful, grimaced look that came from years of experience, “But sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” 

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Responding to Cruella: Advice for Dealing With Evil Comments In a Christian Manner

A Quick Recap

In a recent post, I talked about Dealing With Threats and Demands, and in that post, I wrote the following:

One of the big moments of last week was when I was threatened over a post I had written here on this blog. I was attacked for the truth I had written and was told in no uncertain terms that I should take it down, or else. I replied with something akin to,

“Nope. Ain’t gonna do it.”

The threatening person in question, up until that point, never actually approached me; the person simply tried to get word to me second hand. The person didn’t have the courage to address me directly, either by email, comment, text, Messenger, phone, pigeon, smoke signal, or telegram; they obviously felt safer using other people.

My accurate and factual post remains, in perpetuity, unchanged and unedited.

Then Came a Comment!

But then, like out of the blue – albeit the height from a dog’s tail would be more likely –  a twisted, half-digested gift fell right into my lap! The person who made threats finally got up the gumption to submit a comment on this blog! Should I approve the comment? Should I take advantage of the opportunity to publically correct some wrongs?

Unfortunately, not only because of spelling and grammatical errors which might confuse a visiting reader (what is it with people who don’t even bother to use spellcheck?), the commenter’s accusations, although hilariously inaccurate, were too slanderous and risked divulging personal information and names that would embarrass or hurt innocent people.  Therefore, as much as I wanted to allow the comment in order to publically address the person’s asinine deposit of verbal bovine excrement, prudence demanded otherwise and it remains in the “unapproved” file.

After all, it’s my blog; I can decide what’s allowed.

What Would You Do?

But imagine for a moment that you received a vulgar, vile, insulting, even threatening comment on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. What if you were accused of spreading lies? What if you were accused of being party to unethical or criminal behavior, or worse?

Believe it or not, most veteran Christian bloggers have encountered that stuff with those who hate religion, think teaching your children about Jesus is child abuse, and insinuate everyone in ministry is up to no good, even dangerous. But what we’ve learned is that there’s a time to respond and there’s a time to walk away. Consider the following two proverbs:

Proverbs 26:4 – Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Proverbs 26:5 – Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

It’s a matter of context. 

In Proverbs 26:5 what we see is a situation where a foolish person needs to be corrected, else he will go on thinking what he believes is the best thing since sliced bread. He needs to be put in his place by those who know what they’re talking about.

On the other hand, Proverbs 26:4 addresses a different situation, like one in which many Christian bloggers find themselves when debating antagonistic atheists. The atheist will constantly ask for proofs which they summarily declare invalid, intentionally push your buttons, misrepresent your beliefs, and ultimately try to humiliate you by causing you to act un-Christlike and lash out in anger. In these cases, it’s better to walk away and ignore or block the troll.

There are times to respond, like when you know it could make a difference. But there are other times when your accuser isn’t looking for common ground or a second opinion. Any response is equal to “casting your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Before long you’ll find yourself wallowing in the same stinky mud.

The Best Response

But let’s just say that a Cruella de Vil-like person (the Disney villain who had a thing for Dalmations) was your antagonist; hypothetically, of course. Cruel, evil, and devil-like (“if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will“), she enters the public square and demands you see things her way. She calls you names, insults your character and challenges you to prove she’s wrong. Do you respond in kind? Do you treat her with more disgust than the spotted dog skins around her neck?

It’s tempting, isn’t it? Yet, is she not created in the image of God. Is she not inherently valuable based on the precious blood of Christ that was shed to redeem her soul? If she’s real, not a cartoon character, then of course she is! So, despite however she may slander and misrepresent you, regardless of her depravity, God still loves her.

When we think of every person, including our enemies, as not only potentially lost souls facing an eternity in torment but souls Jesus came to save, it should soften our desire for vindication or revenge.

What if all the lies and attacks and smears were the result of a sick, bitter, and delusional mind incapable of rational understanding? Wouldn’t it just be best to stand down and let God handle it?

  • To me [belongeth] vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in [due] time: for the day of their calamity [is] at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” – Deuteronomy 32:35
  • “Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.” – Jeremiah 51:36
  • “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” – Romans 12:19

Too often, in a fit of indignation and pride, we think it appropriate to defend ourselves and our character. The only problem is that if we are not careful … really, really careful … we rob God of the glory by denying Him the opportunity to come to the aid of His saints and we make ourselves look mean, petty, and spiteful.

When all we’ve done is try to love and help other people with the truth; when, to the best of our knowledge, nothing we’ve done or said (or written) contradicts Scripture or relevant facts; when decisions were made only after seeking advice and wise counsel; then give the job of defense to God; the Lord knows how to silence our enemies better than we do. He may even change them.

Until then, show kindness to the Cruella de Vils whenever you can, even if it means laughing them off and blocking them (that’s what I’m going to do). Who knows, maybe they will see how you avoided humiliating them in front of the whole world and say as King Saul did to young David:

“Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the LORD reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today.” – 1 Samuel 24:19 NLT

For the record, King Saul later fell on his own sword and tongues can be sharp. Just saying.

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The Fatherly Voice Has Lung Cancer

1991, UTC

I can still see that green Datsun station wagon my dad used to drive. It was a beat up, light-metallic green B210, I believe. I don’t remember what year model. But it had tan cloth seat covers and a 5-speed, and you couldn’t kill it.

One day, when for whatever reason my own car wasn’t running, my dad got up early (or stayed up late – he worked 3rd shift) and waited in a gravel parking lot just outside of the building where I was attending a class at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. It was 1991.

I walked up to the car, opened the passenger-side door, and there was my dad … blue work pants, a light-colored shirt, jacket, and ball cap … sitting with the seat leaned slightly back, bill of his cap resting over his eyes, listening to someone on the radio (WGOW, 1150AM).

That person was Rush Limbaugh.

June, 1991

In June of 1991 my dad died of a heart attack at age 46. There were no goodbyes, see-you-laters, or even warnings; he was just gone. It’s a whole other story, but the last words I ever heard him speak to me, or anyone, were, “Boy! I don’t EVER want to see you do that again! (slight pause) But that was a good burnout.” I then pulled away in my blue ’77 280z and never saw him alive again.

Wow, this is painful to write.

Sometime later, maybe in June, maybe a little after, I was scrolling through stations on the radio (why on AM radio, I don’t know), and heard the voice of Rush Limbaugh once again. I wasn’t much into politics at that time, so the subject matter didn’t catch my attention. It was just the voice, the one my dad was listening to, that made me stop turning the dial.

From that day until now, some 29 years later, I’ve been a faithful listener (whenever I could) to Rush Limbaugh, the most influential conservative radio personality in history. What’s more, with my father no longer in my life, tuning in to Rush each week day from noon till 3 was like having my dad in the car beside me. In a way, Rush Limbaugh (flaws and all) became a surrogate father figure to me.

Feb. 3, 2020

Here I am, sitting in my office at the church, struggling with some deep-seated emotions. My chest is heavy. I sorta feel a burning in my eyes, but no tears have swelled to cool them. A little while ago my wife called my on my cell phone and started off with the following words: “I don’t want to ruin your day, but…”

I have lived long enough to know that when my wife says something like that it usually has something to do with the kids or a bill that didn’t get paid. I literally had no way to be prepared for what she said next.

“Rush Limbaugh just announced that he has advanced lung cancer.”

That loneliness when my daddy died … that feeling that sucker punched me in the gut when my mother, tears in her eyes, greeted me at the hospital with a clear plastic baggie full of my father’s final effects and said, “This is all I have left” …  yeah, that kind of feeling hit me all over again, except this time I’m a little more calloused, so it doesn’t hurt as bad.

The Announcement

I don’t know what you think about the man, but he needs your prayers. I’ve prayed for him for years, actually, hoping that one day there would be proof, some evidence of him becoming a follower of Christ. His brother, David Limbaugh, after all, is a solid and out-spoken Christian lawyer, apologist, and author. Maybe my prayers were answered, today.

This afternoon, in the last segment of the Rush Limbaugh Radio Program, Rush let everyone know what was going on. Thankfully, since I am not a premium subscriber to his website and not able to watch the video of the show, the video of the last hour of the show was made available on YouTube.

If you’ve never listened to Rush, take advantage of this and listen to the whole hour – you might be surprised at what you hear. But if you want to get straight to the announcement (including a cryptic admission of his personal faith), go to the 45:46 mark and start watching there.

God speed, Rush. I’m praying for you.

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Hell, Fire, and Damnation?

Preaching

Have you ever heard of “hell, fire, and damnation preaching”? Or, maybe it should be spelled hell-fire and damnation.” I don’t know. Either way, the meaning is pretty much the same: it’s hardcore, old-fashioned, pulpit-whacking, snot-slinging, hankey-waving, chandelier-swinging preaching that unleashes the fear of righteous judgment. Haaaymen!

Well, that’s really not my style, for the most part. Believe me, I can do my fair share of pulpit banging, but I’m not the type to jump across the stage like the legendary evangelist Billy Sunday. I’m more like the picture of me in the sidebar of this blog; I usually keep both feet on the ground … usually.

That being said, what most people expect out of a Baptist preacher like me when preaching on the subject of Hell is the yelling, spitting, and pulpit banging associated with “hell, fire, and damnation,” not a heartfelt plea with a reasoned argument.

On the other hand, when pleading for the souls of those facing eternal damnation, shouldn’t a man have a right to get emotional?

Jesus Believed

Today (Sunday, 02/02/2020), I preached a sermon on Hell. The title of the sermon was “If Jesus Believed In Hell, So Should We.”

Many people refuse to accept Christianity because of the doctrine of hell. Just the thought of a place of eternal judgment has led some to walk away from the faith, even to judge God as immoral or evil. The thought of a literal Hell was so repugnant to Charles Darwin that he wrote the following:

“Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

But I was very unwilling to give up my belief… Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.

And this is a damnable doctrine.”― Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82

Then there was Bertrand Russell, the philosopher who could not accept Christianity, believe it or not, because of Jesus!

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching…” – Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian, 1927

Yes, Jesus DID believe in a literal place where the condemned spend an eternity in torment. Shocking, isn’t it?

So Should We

So, it only stands to reason that if Jesus – the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Word of God made flesh, the Way, the Truth, and the Life – believed and taught that there was a place called Hell, we should believe Him. Are you with me?

Therefore, even though I was in pain and taking meds for a broken and infected molar, and even though my tongue was hurting because I had severely bitten it on the same broken tooth, with all the passion and energy I could muster – but without jumping over anything – I preached what Jesus preached.

Hell is real, and you don’t want to go there.

Click on the picture for a link to the sermon.

Feel free to share your thoughts. 

 

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