Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

You’re Following a Follower

I Have Followers

The number of followers and subscribers this blog has just amazes me. I mean, no, it’s not a huge number, but still. At least it’s more than the 100 I was trying to reach my first year doing this! And to be sure, I appreciate every one!

But besides the number of people following, the type of people who follow this blog amazes me. For example, it doesn’t shock me to see fellow believers subscribe to my blog, but why all the Muslim, pagan, and atheist followers? ¬†What have I done to cause them to click here?

Seriously, I would love to hear from you. Why did you subscribe? Was it just to get me to visit your website, or are you legitimately interested in what this crazy Baptist preacher has to say?

Was it Mr. Monkey that brought you here? A sermon? A friend who sent you a link? I really want to know.

But I Will Follow

Regardless, I would like to make one thing absolutely clear – I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and for that, I make no apology. I hope everything I write ultimately reflects that fact.

Many times people in the public eye are hesitant to take a stand or draw a line in the sand for fear of public opinion. And, if the truth is known, thanks to my critics, sometimes I have cowered. But this should not be. I should always speak with love and respect to all who may disagree with me, but I should never shy away from biblical truths, even if they are currently politically incorrect.

crossSo, I am glad to have a few followers, and I would love to have more, but I would gladly see them all go away before I deny my Lord and Savior. Jesus said (Mt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23) that anyone who would be his servant must “take up his cross” and follow.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though no one join me, still I will follow;
Though no one join me, still I will follow;
Though no one join me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Sadhu Sundar Singh – Indian Christian missionary

Crosses are not fun, or popular … neither are the ones who carry them.

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Filed under Alcohol, Christmas, clothing, Countries, current events, Easter, Faith, Guest Posts, scary new year

It Really Does Matter Who’s At the Wheel

It’s a Friday, but some of you need a smile. I can see your faces.

About the video: This was the second video in a long series I did with a puppet named Buddy (a.k.a., Mr. Monkey). Seven years ago it took me 2 hours to film it (on my iPhone 4s), then more to edit it. On top of that, I convinced a former American Idol contestant to sing the reworked lyrics as I played the guitar. My only regret is that I didn’t make it a little longer ūüôā

One of the greatest country songs to come out of Nashville in the last, oh, 20 years was Jesus Take the Wheel. This video is not meant to make fun of that song, but pay tribute to it while making fun of Monday-morning drivers.

However, it should also remind us that it really does matter Who’s at the wheel.

“There’s a Monkey at the Wheel”

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Filed under Humor, Monday Monkey

Life Lesson from the School Bus (#9) “Making a Way”

Trying to Merge

Have you ever tried to merge into traffic, only to find that everyone else is in a bigger hurry than you? Try convincing a bunch of motorists on their way home that your school bus needs to jump into the flow.

Every time people see my kid transporter attempting to enter traffic from a side street, they say to themselves, “Oh no! I can’t get stuck behind a bus!

So, without any compassion for me and my nerves, they pretend that they don’t see me. Better yet, they hold up a hand, wave slightly, and give me a look that says, “Sorry, but my schedule is too hectic to let you in front of me.” Jerks.

Making a Way

That’s when a school bus driver has to be proactive…he has to make a way into traffic. By being assertive with 35,ooo pounds of diesel-powered intimidation, one can MAKE motorist slow down and be polite. Making a way into traffic is possible because of a simple fact of life – getting put on the local news for hitting a school bus full of children is NOT in one’s best interest.

Life Lesson

God can make a way, when there seems to be no way.

Isaiah 43:16, 20 – [16] Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; … [20] The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

When God chooses to do something, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop Him. God can make a way. No decree of man or law of nature is an¬†obstacle to the LORD of creation. If God has told you to go somewhere, do some work, or reach some person, even if the way seems impossible, He is God…He will MAKE a way.

Are you going through a valley? Are you on a stormy sea and can’t see past the waves? Do you think that there is no hope, no way out of it this time? Trust in Jesus – He can make a way, where there seems to be no way. He can give rivers of hope in the midst of your wilderness.

Hope you enjoy this short video of a beautiful song by Don Moen.

 

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons, the future, Uncategorized

What Underground Churches Don’t Worry About

In a sermon I preached not long ago, I made mention of the fact that you never see “First Baptist,” “Methodist,” or “Community Non-Denominational” plastered above an underground church. When all one wants to do is worship God without being imprisoned or killed, denominational distinction is one of the least of their worries.

That led me to think of other things that an underground church might not worry about:

  • The color of the carpet
  • The font on the church bulletin
  • Whether or not they sing a hymn or a praise song
  • Whether or not the pulpit is made of wood or etched glass
  • Business meetings
  • Bible Versions
  • Post-graduate or seminary training
  • Projection screens
  • Padded pews
  • Pews
  • A family activity building
  • Gold or silver communion accessories
  • How long the worship lasts
  • What people wear
  • Parking

No, I don’t think underground churches ever have time to worry about all these things. They are more concerned with fellowship, encouragement, prayer, reading God’s Word in any version they can get their hands on, and keeping each other alive.

Does having things over which to argue make us more spiritual?

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, God, legalism, Uncategorized, worship

Re-Examining the Divorce Controversy

The following subject comes up periodically, requiring me to give a biblical explanation.  Therefore, for those who may not have done much study on it, let us consider the question of divorce and the pastorate.

My Story

I will never forget the phone call I got from a church in Rome, GA over 20 years ago. Someone on the other end of the line was part of a search committee looking for a new pastor. ¬†They had gotten my resume and were impressed enough to give me a call. ¬†Everything was going well until they asked a very pointed question, “Bro. Anthony, does your wife have a spouse that is still living?” ¬†With an undeniable tone of frustration, I replied, “Yes,¬†ME.” ¬†

Unfortunately, this would not be the last time something like that happened.

What I encountered on the telephone that day was not unusual, nor unexpected, but it stung. You see, even though our (then) pastor told me marrying Valerie would “put the final nail in the coffin” of my ministry hopes, I chose to marry a woman who had been divorced – and there were consequences.

However,¬†I was aware the scripture (1 Tim. 3:2) being used against me was lacking in exposition, and it was ultimately up to God whether or not I pastored a church. ¬†So, after much study, I felt peace that what I was doing was right (but it didn’t hurt when the late Dr. Spiros Zodhiates¬†gave us his approval).

But let me be clear about a few things…

wedding picture fourFirst, ¬†I have never been divorced, so for me the whole argument of 1 Timothy 3:2 should be moot. ¬†Second, my wife was left with no choice but to divorce; furthermore, it happened before she was a believer. ¬†Third, my wife’s ex-husband remarried and divorced again before I even met her. By all accounts my wife was free to remarry, so both she and I were clear from any “adultery” issues. ¬†

Also, I am “the husband of one wife,” and Scripture NEVER said a bishop “must be the husband of one wife who was the wife of only one husband, ever.” Just a minor observation.

So, what DOES the Bible say?

1 Timothy 3:2 says, ¬†“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...” ¬†Also, verse 12 says, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife...” ¬†The difficulty with these verses is not what is being said, but how it is¬†interpreted. ¬†

Is Paul telling Timothy that in order to be a pastor, deacon, or elder in a church, you must have only been married once?  Could it even be possible that Paul is saying that a man of God MUST have a wife, because being single would disqualify one from ministry?  These are things that have been debated for centuries.  

Some believe that a pastor, deacon, or elder should have never been divorced (or married to a¬†divorcee) . Others believe that in order to be a proper leader, one must be married. ¬†Still, many commentators believe that the proper rendering of the Greek is “one-woman man,” implying faithfulness and character over the number of wives. ¬†

In reality, what the Bible says is one thing, but as William D. Mounce put it, “The Greek gives us a range of possibilities, but our theology is going to determine our interpretation.”¬†

I think there’s another way to look at it…

Take a look at 1 Timothy 3 and read through verse 12. ¬†The best I can figure is that there are between 16 and 17 qualifications for the bishop, and between 6 and 8 for the deacons. ¬†All of these are preceded with a literal or an implied “must be,” as in “must be blameless,” or a “must have.” ¬†How does this affect the argument that an elder “must have” only been married once, never remarried, or never divorced? ¬† ¬†

Think of any great man of God you know that has stood behind the pulpit and faithfully proclaimed the Word of God. ¬†Has he always been blameless? ¬†Has he always been on his best behavior? ¬†Did he ever get drunk, covet, lose his patience, or curse his wife or children in anger? ¬†Was he ever a novice, a beginner subject to pride? If so, then according to the logic of some, he should never be able to preach or lead in God’s church, for just as a man “must be the husband of one wife,” so he also must be “blameless, vigilant, sober, well-behaved, given to hospitality, patient, never greedy, and always in control of his house and children.” ¬†

Do you see it? ¬†If your interpretation leads you to believe that the bishop must have only had one wife – ever – then the same hermeneutic (the study of the principles of interpretation)¬†should apply to the other “must be’s.” ¬†

  • Must be the husband of one wife” = never divorced. ¬†
  • Not a novice” = never been a beginner in the faith.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

1 Timothy 3:1-12 is in the present infinitive tense (i.e., must be / dei einai). ¬†The requirements listed are ones that describe a man of character and faithfulness, of sobriety and gravitas; not a beginner or one untried and unproven. ¬†What I see is a list of requirements that may not have always been present in a man, but should be NOW, after God has done a verifiable work in his life. ¬†In other words, the Bible says a bishop “must be,” not “must have always been,” or “must have never done.” ¬†

Paul said, “and such were some of you: ¬†but ye were washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

Here’s my point…

I believe that there are plenty who are sitting back or hiding out because someone has convinced them that they are used up and un-usable.  For example, I can think of men right now who, for whatever reason, are divorced.  Yet, these men, now Christians, are sold-out, God-fearing, faithful, Spirit-filled fathers and husbands with proven testimonies and unimpeachable character.  Sadly, however, because of mistakes made when they were young, unsaved, and stupid, they cannot serve as deacons, much less as pastors.  

On the other hand, I can think of several pastors today who were once murderers, drug dealers, fornicators, extortioners, and abusers of mankind (do I need to explain that last one?). Yet, only because they don’t have “divorced” to add to the list of past sins, they are accepted and given full authority as leaders in the church.¬†

Sad.

It’s time the body of Christ re-examine this issue in the light of GRACE.

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Filed under baptist, Divorce, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

What Underground Churches Don’t Worry About

In a sermon I preached not long ago, I made mention of the fact that you never see “First Baptist,” “Methodist,” or “Community Non-Denominational” plastered above an underground church. When all one wants to do is worship God without being imprisoned or killed, denominational distinction is one of the least of their worries.

That led me to think of other things that an underground church might not worry about:

  • The color of the carpet
  • The font on the church bulletin
  • Whether or not they sing a hymn or a praise song
  • Whether or not the pulpit is made of wood or etched glass
  • Cassette tapes or CD’s
  • Bible Versions
  • Post-graduate or seminary training
  • Projection screens
  • Padded pews
  • Pews
  • A family activity building
  • Gold or silver communion accessories
  • How long the worship lasts
  • What people wear
  • Parking
  • Youth activities
  • Revival Meetings

No, I don’t think underground churches ever have time to worry about all these things. They are more concerned with fellowship, encouragement, prayer, reading God’s Word in any version they can get their hands on, and staying alive.

Yet, it would seem we think we are closer to God than the underground, persecuted church because, after all, we have more things to worry about.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Jesus  (John 17:20-21)

Maybe we should concentrate more on what really matters…”that the world may believe.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, God, legalism, Uncategorized, worship

Just Be Thankful You’re Alive

It is a little after 1 PM in the afternoon, and I’m sitting in our van reading my Bible. Not long from now I will go back to work and drive the school bus, completing my afternoon routes. 

As I was reading I came across a verse in the book of Lamentations, and I thought I would share it with you. 

Lamentations 3:39 (CSB) Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins?

Here the idea is that if you have been punished for your sins by a Holy God, and are still alive, you have nothing to complain about! Seriously, too often we gripe and moan about the circumstances which we must endure, and yet those circumstances are so often the result of our own sinful decisions. Is it not a wonderful thing that we are so loved by our heavenly Father? He does not pour out on us the punishment we deserve, because he is rich in mercy. We are alive! We should be grateful!

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. – Lamentations 3:41-42

There are so many things in this world we could complain about. So often those who complain the most are the ones who have the most. But if there’s anything worth rejoicing about, it is the fact that we serve a God who is rich in mercy. We don’t deserve anything good, no matter how small or insignificant; we deserve judgement. 

However, if I just turn back one page in my Bible I can read verse 22, where it says, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” And, thankfully, they are new every morning! 

If you are reading this, then you are alive! Why not take a moment and praise Him?

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Filed under Bible Study, God, grace, Uncategorized