Tag Archives: life

He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest…

Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain (especially with it being April Fool’s Day).

But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life for those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

Also, here’s a group that’s new to me singing a medley of Easter-related songs (none of them about a bunny).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

It All Started With, “Let’s Go Get Breakfast!”

I have been accused of giving too many details and making my stories too long, so I will spare you many of the details and try to make this story short.  Nevertheless, just remember, leave out just one little detail, and instead of a cake, you get a brick.

But anyway…

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my wife woke me up with a smile and said, “Let’s go get breakfast!”  It sounded like a good idea, as many good ideas do, but it was a Saturday morning, and there was little on our schedule (for a change), so I should’ve known something was about to go wrong.

The only thing we needed to do before heading out to a place that sold pancakes was to go into a room in the basement of our church building – to a small room where we were storing some boxes of personal items during our move to the parsonage –  and retrieve one small file for my daughter. When we saw that the file was wet, we knew something was terribly wrong.

Just as soon as we started moving a few boxes around, we found out that the whole floor was soaking wet, and every box that was anywhere close to the floor was wet, too.  And not only was everything wet, but there was mold all over the boxes. Why did my wife get my hopes up? I was really looking forward to those pancakes.

Needless to say, the rest of that Saturday morning consisted of unpacking a room full of boxes, including separating all the items, and making sure nothing was ruined.  Unfortunately and tragically, there were some casualties. Pictures.

How it was that boxes full of of priceless and irreplaceable photographs ended up in the boxes closest to the wet floor, I will never know.  What I do know is that that afternoon we were forced to take a melancholy trip down memory lane.

At one point my wife wept like someone had died. One of the photographs that was nearly completely ruined was a one-of-a-kind of her mother and father. It was impossible for me to reassure her that everything would be OK, because I couldn’t; that was the only photograph of its kind.

They were also other items that were either ruined or nearly destroyed. Some of those were keepsakes that were created by our children when they were very young, and one item was a construction-paper-version of Noah’s Ark that our nephew made.  But even though there were some tragic losses, most of the photographs were only wet and a little moldy around the edges. So, what we had to do at that point was rescue what we could  before they dried and stuck together.

My wife and daughters and I began taking photographs out, one by one, laying them out to dry.  The only  place we had to do that was in another Sunday school room across the hallway.  What started out as a family outing in search of breakfast, ended up being a family project: create the largest display of damp photographs in our family’s history.

Now, on a sidenote, I took some photos of all the photos, just like my daughter Katie did. But, as always, Katie cannot just take a picture, she has to create photographic art.

So, again, what started out as a quest for breakfast ended up being something else: a time to make memories out of memories.

If I wanted to take more time, I could list several lessons that could be learned from what happened that Saturday morning when breakfast was skipped and photos were saved.  But there’s one lesson that should be pretty obvious from what happened that day, and the truth of it can be found in Proverbs 27, verse one:

Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Sometimes breakfast will have to wait.

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Filed under Future, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

Don’t Be a Whiner

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by | October 27, 2017 · 9:34 am

A Thought for Thursday

Why do we ever treat any day like it’s “just another day”? This day was created by God as a unique, one-of-a-kind event never to be repeated, and possibly our last. Would you treat your last day as any other day?

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, grace, Life/Death, wisdom, worship

When I Die, Have Church!

Don’t Make Her Buy the Car Alone

My feelings are pretty raw at the moment. It was today that I presided over the funeral for the father of a 16-year-old girl. It broke my heart as I watched her weep over his casket. My own eyes filled with tears.

Several years ago I used to be in the funeral pre-planning business. Even to this day I firmly believe making funeral preparations in advance is a very wise and loving thing to do. That was especially evident this week when I talked with the 16-year-old who had to handle all the arrangements for her deceased daddy. She literally had no idea what to do.

Do you have children? Would you force your teenage daughter to buy a new car… after a couple of hours of sleep… an emotional wreck… and whatever she purchases, if she makes a poor decision, spends too much money, or does anything she regrets, too bad – no returns?

Well, forcing your teenage daughter to handle your funeral arrangements after you die is not much different from forcing her buy a new on the worst day of her life. How is that being responsible? How is that taking care of those you love? It’s not! And that is why I want to make it very clear right now what I want for my funeral.

My Wishes

The following is not meant to be an official funeral pre-arrangement, but it will give you an idea of what I want to take place after I die. My wife and children, should they outlive me, will obviously have the right to do whatever they desire, but the following is what I want, if possible, to take place.

  • Music. I want good music. I don’t want canned music from the funeral home’s collection; I want LIVE music! The only exception to the live music would be a recording of Building 429 singing “Where I Belong” somewhere in the service. I will leave it up to my family to call on the groups that I want to be there, but I want God-honoring, Spirit-filled, praise-filled music that sets a tone of victory and celebration.
  • Preaching. Yes, I want somebody to preach. And when I say “preach,” I want somebody who’s fought a few battles, spit in the eye of the devil, experienced amazing grace, and is unflinching in presenting the life-changing, soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want someone who will be able to open up the Holy Writ and let it fly. But I don’t want some guy who’s all emotion; I wan’t someone who can rightly divide the word of Truth. My life is a testimony to God’s amazing grace, and I want someone who can tell what that’s all about.
  • Shouting. Friends, today I instructed my youngest daughter to have at least one Church of God lady standing by (with a $50 retainer, if necessary) to belt out a few hallelujah’s and praise God’s if the crowd gets too quiet. I would be very disappointed to find out the people at my funeral were sad, downtrodden, mournful, and blue. Seriously! Rejoice in hope! Shout with joy! Give glory to God! Make my funeral a celebration of salvation! A celebration of Jesus! I want some hankey-waving, chandelier-swinging, back-of-pew running, excitement in the place 🙂
  • Shout at my casket. No joke, I want everyone in the place to face the casket and yell my name. Then, I want you to wait. Why? Because I want you to hear the silence – because I won’t be there! Yell my name and see if I’ll respond, then make it known that what’s in that casket is nothing more than an empty shell; Anthony’s not there – he’s gone!
  • Bag Pipes. There’s just something special about “Amazing Grace” played on bag pipes. That’s what I want at the cemetery.
  • An Invitation to Accept Jesus as Savior. Folks, I’m a preacher. What else would honor my memory more than to have someone be born again at my funeral? It happened when I preached at my father’s funeral back in 1991, so shouldn’t I hope for the same at mine? You see, therein lies the hope…the joy…the expectation…the comfort…the consolation…the peace that passes all understanding.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. – 1 Corinthians 15:19-20

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 KJV

When I die, put away the timer, tell the funeral director to go eat lunch or dinner, and… JUST. HAVE. CHURCH!

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Life/Death

Imperfect Me

Are any of you perfect? You might think you are, but I’d bet you’re not. I know I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty messed up.

Just today I was reminded how flawed I am. I’ve screwed up so much it ain’t even funny.

For one, I got into a heated argument with my wife which led me to say things in anger, things I wish I’d not said. Two, it was made obvious that I’ve made some poor decisions in parenting, some of which will haunt me till the day I die. Third, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, and tonight I wish I could roll back time (cue the Cher music).

On top of all the above, I’m facing issues for which I have no good answers, and I’m not even sure there are any. Do you know how helpless that can make one feel?

Wednesday night I shared an impromptu sermon based on something I had written earlier in the day, and today I was reminded of it. I had been to the church parsonage and seen the work being done, took a picture, and wrote the following.

This a blessing to behold, and further confirmation that God is not only doing something now, but will be doing something more in the future to bring glory to the wonderful name of Jesus.

And to be honest, I’m as clueless as anyone to what plans the Lord has for this little old church, but plans He has. We are just going to be faithful, prayerful, worshipful, and hopeful (not with an earthly hope, but one that rests in His promises that never fail)!”

Faithful. Just keep doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. Don’t be like the one who gets inpatient and steps out in his own strength to accomplish what is not in God’s timing. The results of faithless action never produce a positive outcome. See Proverbs 28:20.

Prayerful. If Dory had been a Christian fish, she might have said, “Just keep praying, praying, praying.” Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).

Worshipful. God deserves our worship. But not only that, some of the Israelite’s greatests battles were won when, instead of swords and spears, the first line of offence – their Spec Ops Choir – carried trumpets and lyrics into combat.

Hopeful. Why be worshipful? Why praise? Because we have a hope that is different from the world’s kind, the kind that is more like wishful thinking – like, “Now that I’ve picked the numbers, I HOPE I win the lottery.” No, we can be hopeful in fact, because God’s promises, when made, are as good as done – actually, they’re already done – in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20)!

I’m not perfect. I’m not a source of unfailing wisdom. I’m not the best husband, father, preacher, pastor, or anything. I have no clue how God is going to get glory from what He has planned to accomplish in my life, but I’ve read the first chapter of Ephesians, and one promise is that I’m going to bring him glory and praise (v. 12). It’s as good as done!

And, even though I feel pretty weak and helpless, He wants me to understand that what’s going to be accomplished will not be determined by my own ability, but His “exceeding greatness and power” which raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-20)!

So, even though I’m not perfect (which is an understatement), my faith is in One who is, and He keeps his promises (Prov. 22:6; Isaiah 55:11; Matt. 16:18).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family, self-worth, worship

Flawed and Loved

Here’s another insightful guest post. I’m so glad God loves me, flaws and all!


Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover

“Duh!” “How Stupid!” “Dummy!” These words are the words that fly through my head when I’ve made a silly mistake.

I would never, ever talk to anyone else that way, but, for whatever reason, I feel quite free to berate myself soundly at any time or at any place. I simply cannot cut myself any slack – especially when I goof.

I would really like to blame my upbringing. Maybe my parents are the ones who turned this horrible voice on inside my head. No, it wasn’t them. They tried their very best to make me feel good about myself. This voice is one I developed all by myself!

“She’s just being kind.”  These are the words in my head when someone pays me a compliment. If someone says my hair looks nice, I run to the bathroom mirror to try to figure out what my hair has done with itself since I sprayed it this morning – didn’t look so hot to me then.  I love compliments, don’t get me wrong―it’s just that even if I was tempted to believe them, I probably couldn’t see what was worth complimenting. I mean really, my hair looks nice – um – must be something wrong with her eyesight! 

We’ve all probably heard that it takes 10 positives to outweigh one negative. I believe it.  If ten people complimented me on my appearance and one person looked straight into my eyes and said, “You look tired. Are you feeling okay?”,  I would run to the mirror to check out the tired eyes.

I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who looks for the flaws instead of the attributes when I’m evaluating myself. I’m trying to figure out how to stop it before it gets way too far out of hand.

The first step for me is to remember, “God didn’t make any junk.”  I’ve always known that’s true, especially when I look at my husband or my sons and their families. They are absolutely wonderful people and I’m so very proud of them. I need to remind myself that God created me, too. He loves me, even though I’m flawed.

The next step for me is to be as kind and gentle with my words to myself as I am to others. Have you ever tried to list five good qualities about yourself? I could list many more than that for the other people in my life, but to find five really good qualities about myself is a bit of a stretch. I’ll need to work on that.

The best step I can take is to trust that God has a plan for my life. He put me here for a reason or reasons that I may, or may not, get to know. If I stay focused on Him and His goodness, I won’t have too much time to worry about myself and my flaws.

The final step is to realize that the Bible is very plain about loving others as we love ourselves. Well, guess what? If I don’t have a healthy self-esteem, if I don’t value myself, how will I be able to value others? If I’m always looking inward at myself, how will I be able to hold my head high, look into the faces of the people God sends my way, and share with them all the love God has shared with me?

So, for today, my plan is to prayerfully focus on God and His mercy, treating each of His children, even myself, with the love He expects us to show.

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Filed under abuse, Depression, Guest Posts, Love of God, self-worth