Tag Archives: God

How Badly Do You Want to Be Loved?

Jingles (not the bell kind)

Do you ever catch yourself singing commercial jingles for no apparent reason? Well, when I am driving, bored, and a little (or a lot) sleepy, I tend to start singing songs I learned as a child. In particular, one song is tops on my repertoire

The Oscar Mayer Wiener Song.

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / That is what I’d truly like to be ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / Everyone would be in love with me.

First appearing in 1965, this song has become boiled, grilled, steamed, fried, and even micro-waved into our memories. But recently it struck me…what in the world am I saying? Am I so desperate for the attention of others that I would be willing to become an unhealthy food source?

The Need for Love

There are many hurting people in the world who would wish for nothing more than someone to love them. They go to great lengths to be prettier, richer, more popular, or even more “available” – all to find love. But do you really think it’s a good idea to wish you were a hot dog?

What most people don’t know is that there was a second verse to the Oscar Mayer wiener song. In the 1965 commercial a truly intelligent boy quickly understood the true ramifications of the song’s wish and sang the following:

Oh, I’m glad I’m not an Oscar Mayer wiener / That is what I’d never want to be/ ‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener / There would soon be nothing left of me.

Sing it, brother! You tell ’em! Why would anyone want to be a hot dog? Do you really want to be loved so badly that you would sacrifice your humanity and allow yourself to be eaten? It’s not worth it, people…believe me!

The lyrics to this song could be re-written to expose what people are really saying. “Oh I wish I was something else instead of human / A tube of meat is what I want to be / I’d gladly die alone in boiling water / If you would only say that you loved me.

in potLook, there is no reason to want to become a hot dog (you might get eaten by one). Really, there is nothing to be gained by having your body boiled or grilled on an open flame; covered in chili, relish, mustard, and onions; then chewed repeatedly until you’re swallowed by someone who will forget you an hour later (unless the chili upsets them). Stay human. It’s better that way! 

You ARE Loved!

Ironically, someone did become something He was not in order to die for love. The big difference is that He was God and became Human, not a hot dog. And what’s more, He didn’t die to be loved – He died because He loved. His name is Jesus, and He died for you.

“For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 KJV

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 NIV

You are VERY loved!

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Filed under Food, General Observations, salvation, Uncategorized, Witnessing

Perfection Not Required

Jesus Said…

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

The Perfect Candidate

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.  

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

An Impromptu Invocaton

Last night (Monday night) I went to a political fundraiser, which was also a campaign kickoff meeting. It was for a local mayoral candidate and current Chattanooga City Councilman, Larry Grohn. I went because I was invited by a Facebook friend whom I wanted to meet in person, and also because I wanted to hear what the candidate had to say.

Here in my city we are fortunate to have some good leadership. No matter what political party, most of the people in leadership are decent people with the good of our city at heart. Are they perfect? No. But none are Clinton or Trump, either (thank God!). Nevertheless, I wanted to hear good reasons why I should vote for Mr. Grohn, not for the incumbent.

Upon entering the meeting hall downtown I was greeted by the candidate’s wife. Once I told her who I was and why I was there, she said to me, “The person you need to be speaking to is my husband…let me introduce you to him.” She did, and that led to a very interesting conversation which must have lasted around 5 minutes. Thankfully, some of my questions were answered.

After speaking with Councilman Grohn, I went to the food bar and filled my little paper plate with chicken nuggets, celery, a few little tomatoes, and a cookie. After that I got my glass of unsweetened iced tea, found a seat at a table, and began a nice theological/political conversation with some very intelligent college students.

Shortly before 7 pm, the time when the speaking part of this meeting was to begin, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone whispered in my ear, “Pastor Baker,” so I turned around.

“Pastor,” the candidate himself said, “would you be willing to give the invocation tonight?” I don’t know if I looked surprised, or not, but my eyebrows must have raised as I was asked this question. I mean, seriously, who was I that he should come to me and ask me to open up his campaign’s inaugural event with prayer? Yet, what was I supposed to do, say “no”?

“Sure,” I replied. “I’d be happy to.”

“Thank you, Pastor,” he then said. “We want to start things off right, you know?”

“Absolutely,” I said with a nod.

Next, as I stood up, from behind me came the campaign manager. He thanked me for being willing to give the invocation at such short notice, then proceeded to tell me the order in which I was to do what. Then he said, “Say whatever you want to say…if you want to say anything…then pray…it’s up to you, just say whatever you want. Thank you for doing this.”

Yes, I was asked to pray at a political event and was given complete freedom to say whatever I wanted to say. And they didn’t know me from the man in the moon! Unbelievable!

So, when the time came I walked up to the microphone set up in the meeting hall full of people and cameras and introduced myself. The next thing I did was remind everyone of how and why Benjamin Franklin called the continental congress to stop what they were doing and pray to the Almighty for His help. I then said (to paraphrase myself):

“We are just men and women, and none of us are perfect. And just like those men back then at the founding of our nation, we have our flaws, and we need help – we need outside Help. So, let us now call upon Almighty God.”

I then prayed, beginning with a quote from Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…” I didn’t pray a prayer of blessing for the candidate, nor did I attempt to give the impression that my prayer was a form of support. Actually, the prayer that came out of me felt like it was not even me speaking, for it was full of authority and “otherness.” I felt like I was in the presence of the One who did not take sides, but was the One before whom all knees must bow. Therefore I said:

“If this man for whom these people have gathered here to honor be a righteous man…may all things done here tonight not be for our aggrandizement, but for Your glory…in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Sunday night some dear folk at another church, Mt. Carmel Baptist, had me come forward, after I spoke, and laid hands on me and prayed. They prayed, among other things, that God’s hand of blessing would be upon me, and that His calling upon my life would be evident – a “man of God.” Then, last night, something about me caused a political candidate to trust a total stranger to give the opening invocation at such an important event.

That, my friends, was a God thing.

 

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Filed under America, God, politics, Prayer

The Better Question

When looking for answers to our problems, many times we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

A better question might be, “What did Jesus do?”

“But we preach Christ crucified…” – 1 Corinthians 1:23

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Filed under Christianity, current events, Theology

Just Hupomenō

Writer’s Laziness

I don’t know that I would call it “writer’s block”; it’s more like “writer’s laziness.” You see, I have plenty of things to write about, but very little energy to attack them with the literary fervor each one deserves. Therefore, I am going to cut and paste something from a few years ago into a post for today.

A couple of years ago I told my daughter Katie (the one in college) that I was having a “form of writer’s block.” She asked, “Do you want me to give you a random suggestion?” I said, “sure.”

hupomenoTwo minutes later she comes to me with a picture and a word: hupomenō (ὑπομένω). “Write about this,” she said.

Hupomenō?

The word is a Greek word which means “to remain under,” or, “to remain under the test in a God-honoring manner, not seeking to escape it but eager to learn the lessons it was sent to teach.”*

But it could also mean standing firm by holding one’s ground (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13) and persevering in spite of difficulty (2 Tim 2:10).** The words that  hupomenō is most commonly translated into are “patience,” and “endure.”

Katie’s a godly young girl, so she wrote Hupomeno on her hand as a reminder to be patient and to “endure.”

Patiently Enduring

So how are you holding up? How are you enduring? Sometimes that’s all we can do, isn’t it? Sometimes all we can do when the winds are blowing, when the waves are crashing against us, and when the sand is shifting beneath our feet is to just endure the tempest while holding on for dear life to something…or Someone…unmovable and secure.

Whatever you are under right now, don’t give up – honor God with your faithfulness. Whatever you are fighting against, just hold your ground. Whatever road your traveling, even if it seems like it’s never going to end, persevere – don’t give up till you’re home.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4 HCSB

Just hang in there; God is still God.


*Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Ro 12:9.

**James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Faith

My God Is Faithful

I am going to church this morning.

I’m not going as one who wants to show off…as one who wants to be seen…as one who deserves any kind of blessing, healing, or anointing…as one who deserves anything at all.

I’m not going because it’s expected of me, even though it is – I’m the pastor, you know.

I’m not going to prove anything to anyone, especially God, because He knows my heart; He knows me better than I know myself.

I am going to church this morning because my God is faithful, despite my unfaithfulness.

I am going to church this morning because my God deserved to be praised by me in front of others, because I love Him, and I’m not ashamed.

I am going to church this morning. Are you?

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Filed under Christianity, Church

Four Observations On Isaiah 46:3-4

Sermons

In preparation for preaching in Africa, I’ve been going through some older outlines of sermons trying to stir up some thoughts. In the process I came across this one.

Here are just four simple point based on the following passage in Isaiah. I don’t usually preach from the New Living Translation, but for today that’s the translation I’ve decided to use.

Read the text, then take the points to heart.

Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight. Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” – Isaiah 46:1-4 NLT

1. If God is a burden to you, you’ve got the wrong god!

2. False gods sap our strength; the True God sustains us.

3. The True God doesn’t need saving.

4. You’re never too old to be a child of God.

Have a blessed day!

 

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Filed under God, Preaching