Showing posts from 2017

Christmas Traditions

If your family does not already have
some Christmas traditions, let me recommend that you start some this year.  And in your traditions, don’t forget the “reason for the season”. 

Quite often our family meets at an
“away from home” site so our traditions have to be portable.  One year when we couldn’t find a Christmas
Eve Service to attend in Myrtle Beach, we went back to the condo and did our
own service.  This went so well that our
youngest grandson planned a service for a couple of years in Orlando.  Everyone had a part either reading scripture
or singing or playing Christmas music. 

When we were early in our marriage and were able to make it from California to
Mississippi, we always attended the Christmas Eve service at Harrisburg Baptist
Church in Tupelo.  We have memories of
communion where when everyone bit down on the “bread” it sounded like
thunder.  Then there was the year that
during the candle lighting part of the service a little boy got his candle too
close to his siste…

The Great Smoke Screen

Every day in the media we are apprised of some new allegation against a politician, athlete or Hollywood personality.  The public gets all up in arms and people take sides via social media.  In the meantime millions across the world are dying of starvation, diseases that could be curtailed and the violence of rampant dictators and movements.  Where is the outrage that people are dying without Christ and will spend eternity in Hell?  Where are the voices raised against the idolatry of modern man?  In some cases even the pulpit is silent.

Everything that is wrong with the NFL, NBA, Major League baseball, college sports, Hollywood and Washington D. C. would be solved if Spiritual Renewal swept across America.  The epidemic of poverty and hunger in our nation would disappear if God ruled in the hearts of mankind.  The drug and alcohol problem would disappear if the Holy Spirit resided in the lives of people.  Yet we spend untold time, energy and money (over 3M spent by the special counsel…


Trump, Corker feud reignites hours before critical meeting | TheHill:

Perhaps you've seen the letters "TMI" on Facebook or Twitter.  They stand for "too much information".  This article falls into that realm.  So called "journalists" delight in fomenting public spats that should be settled privately.  The scriptural method of settling differences is for the offended one to go personally to the offender and seek a solution.  Or, if one becomes aware that something they have said or done has offended another, they have the responsibility for privately seeking a resolution.  Instead our leaders are engaging in middle-school verbal one up-man-ship in public venues.  The end result is that young people see this and deem it as a license to do the same thing.  While these same leaders would decry "cyber-bullying" they do so while participating in it.  We are rapidly losing the art of conversation as a means of communication and many of our elected…

Thoughts on the Vegas Massacre

All last week I struggled with whether to express my opinion about the NFL protests during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.  I finally decided that enough opinions had been recorded on FaceBook, Twitter, etc.  This morning I awoke to the news of the shooting in Las Vegas.  The “talking heads” on TV have been vomiting verbiage while they know very little about what really transpired and especially why it happened.  There are a few things that I do know, so I decided to weigh in.
·Anyone, anywhere at any time could become a victim, so it is important to ‘live ready”. ·Because of the rise of vehement tirades of hatred that we are exposed to almost daily, those who are prone to violence are easily set off.  Words do lead to actions.  Words pack more power than most people think.  Words created the universe. ·We do have a responsibility to alert authorities if we know of someone who may have expressed extreme views or threats. ·With the rise of anarchy, where many feel that they are ab…

America the Ugly!

Almost every patriotic occasion includes the singing of "America, the Beautiful".  Of course this refers mainly to the landscape.  There is something in this country to appeal to almost everyone.  However, from the standpoint of the citizenry, we have become "America, the Ugly".  We are divided politically, racially, financially and worst of all, spiritually.  Those who do not look like, act like or agree with us we consider to be enemies.  We lambaste each other with rhetoric that would peel the paint off a wall.  Anytime someone dares to question the scathing things we say, we loudly proclaim our "freedom of speech".
What used to be news reporting has degenerated into opinionated verbiage espousing the reporter's own political stance or that of the media that pays them.  Listening is a lost art. When someone else is speaking we often are waiting for a brief lapse so that we can jump in with our opinion which we deem to be the only one worth hearing.

Why Go to Church? - Craig Blomberg

Why Go to Church? - Craig Blomberg:

Recently I wrote a blog post on the importance of church attendance.  This post by Craig Blomberg goes even deeper than I did.
Just this past Sunday we experienced our low attendance for the year in our little church.  Only 13 people gathered for the evening service. (Yes, we still have one)  Some of the "reasons" (excuses) that good people give for not attending would come off as very lame when they stand before God and give an answer as to why they only attended when "convenient".

I predict that unless the LORD comes back soon believers in America will not enjoy the freedom to worship that we have had in the past.  We will begin to experience what our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, parts of Africa, China and North Korea have been experiencing for years.  Our "take it or leave it" attitude toward church attendance is in direct violation of scripture, as Blomberg points out in his article.  Violating scriptura…

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13  "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." I believe that what Paul wrote is applicable in the life of any Christian.  We have all been called by Christ to a new life in Him.  At the moment we received Christ as Lord and Savior, we were also called to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8). Some would like to say that this only applied to the apostles.  If that were the case, Holy Spirit would not have preserved the message for you and me today.  Regret is a tool that the devil uses to derail Christians in their pursuit of the prize.  We often live in an "if only" world.  "If only I had done this" or "if only I hadn't done that."  If Jesus had that attitude, He would never have gone to the cross for us.  If Paul had tha…

Is Church Attendance a Priority?

New polls show that many people who attend church once a month or quarter or maybe even twice a year consider themselves to be "regular attenders".  This has resulted in a new classification of church attenders called "Chresters"  (Christmas and Easter attenders).  It seems that the younger generation does not see church attendance as a priority.  Perhaps they have forgotten that the fact of their parents or grandparents being consistent in their church attendance is a factor in their coming into a relationship with God.  It doesn't take much for such people to miss church; visiting relatives, hobbies, family time, preparation for the coming work week all take precedence over church attendance.
Once when I was a Youth Pastor, I devised a plan to emphasize the flippant attitude many of them had toward church.  With only a couple of people being aware of what was up, I did not show up for Youth Group on a Wednesday evening.  After waiting for about 10 minutes, on…

A Parable of Good News

Once there was a man who visited every bank, savings and loan, and business in the world and made arrangements to pay all the debts of all the people who owed anything.  This information was made public, and some people took advantage by ceasing to struggle to pay their debts and just acting as if they owed nothing.  Some of those who were thus relieved of debt told their friends and family members. Some even told strangers they met this good news.  However, others said nothing to anyone.  They knew they had neighbors and friends who were weighed down with debt, but they didn't think it was any of their business to interfere.  Eventually many people who had accepted this freedom from debt got together with others who also were now debt-free.  They met weekly to talk about their new freedom and celebrate it.  On very rare occasions debt-ridden people found their way into these meetings and discovered how to be debt-free.A few of those who were freed from debt felt strongly that the…

Scripture Impetus for Prayer and Worship

It seems that anything we do over a long period of time can become tedious and stale.  That is true even with personal devotions.  Anyone who denies ever going through a "dry" period in their devotional life, would probably lie about other things as well.  Recently I was reminded of the benefit of praying from scripture.  Prayer that springs FROM Scripture is a bit different from praying Scripture.  It means that the Scripture you read provokes prayer that may even take a different direction. The video specifically mentioned using the Psalms and  epistles as a springboard for praying.  As I thought about this, I realized that we can actually do that with every book of the Bible. Then I also realized that using the Scriptures is a great way to freshen my praise and worship (that phrase includes more than just music).
For example, take a look at Genesis 1:1  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  That sentence alone could lead you to praise God fo…

Kick Back, Look Up and THINK!

Have you noticed that there are few great "thinkers" in America today?  It seems that we put a premium on doing and not on thinking.  I heard a story once of a person who was being shown around a great business that occupied a skyscraper in a major city.  It seemed that on every floor and in every office people were scurrying around or pounding at computer keyboards or locked in intense discussions during meetings.  As they passed one office with the door slightly open, the guest noticed a man leaning back in his chair, with his feet propped on his desk, gazing out the window.  He couldn't help but ask why this would be allowed in the midst of such frenetic activity.  In answer, his guide said, "Oh, that is Mr. "So and So".  He is thinking.  One day when he was doing that he came up with an idea that has made the company twenty million dollars, so no one bothers him when he is thinking."
God gave us minds.  He intends for us to use them.  When we do He…

Jesus: Neither Hurried nor Harried

One of the unique things about Jesus is that He was never in too big a hurry to deal with interruptions.  On His way to heal a child who was dying, He stopped to find out who in a pressing crowd touched Him.  In the midst of what we would call a revival in Capernaum, He disappeared to pray alone and then moved on to another town with His message.  After feeding a great crowd of 5K men (probably 15K counting women and children) He went up on the mountain to pray.
Knowing that His time on earth was limited, He stuck to the main purpose for His being here in the first place.  He announced this purpose in the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown by quoting from Isa 61.  He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)On another occasion He said "For…

Don't Give Up

Recently I've been reminded that answers to prayer are worth the wait.  For almost 6 years we have been praying at Faith Baptist Church for God to send us some young families.  In the past two weeks He has sent us two such families.  We have also had a relative of mine by marriage on the "spiritual needs" prayer list.  On Easter Sunday he professed his faith in Christ.  Too often we tend to want to see answers yesterday to prayers we prayed today.  I'm reminded that God's timing is perfect, but mine isn't.
This has given me encouragement in prayer.  When I pray for those people or things that God brings to my attention, I can be assured of an His time.  My BIG prayer now is for Spiritual Awakening in America.  I don't care where it starts or whom God uses to bring it to pass...I just want to see it happen.  The first two "Great Awakenings" in America were each born through prayer.  I believe this next one will also come through praye…

Start a New Morning Routine

A lot is being written by productivity experts about developing morning routines to help you optimize your time.  I'd like to "piggy-back" on that idea with a suggestion for a morning routine that will revolutionize your life.  Even if you are not a "morning person" you can do this.  We usually plan for the important events & appointments in our lives.  Here is a plan to begin a routine Time Alone with God every morning.

Start the night before.  Place your Bible, notebook, devotional guide and a pen near the chair where you will meet with God.  (If you use your phone or tablet, make sure that it is charged up and ready)Go to bed at an hour that will allow you to get the optimum number of sleep hours.If you are not one who spontaneously wakes up, set your clock or phone to awaken you at the desired time.  (Don't hit "snooze")When you wake up, get up.  Tend to the necessary things (bathroom, brush teeth, start the coffee, etc.)Go directly to your…

Things Are Not Always What they Seem

Many times we interpret our circumstances through the lens of our past experience or our expectations.  I was reminded today that my interpretations are not fool-proof.  A couple of weeks ago I had a little A-Fib episode which entailed a trip to the ER, several tests and an overnight stay at the hospital.  With the exception of a few minutes that prompted the visit to the ER, I felt fine.  A day after getting out of the hospital I was back in the office; played golf on Saturday and preached twice on Sunday.  Today I went for a scheduled stress test that I was told would take about 4 hours.  Most of the other people in the waiting area went through the first segment of their test and were told to go eat something, drink some caffeine and return for the balance of the test.  When I finished my first segment, they told me that I was done for the day.  The only discomfort I felt was being mildly out of breath for a few moments.  I left thinking, "Boy, I aced this test."  About a…

Learn to Pray "Chain Prayers"

Recently, as I was thanking God for my bowl of cereal, I was reminded to thank Him for the farmer who prepared the land, planted the seed and tended the grain and then harvested the crop.  Then I was prompted to pray for the people who prepared the grain into cereal and the those who packaged it, those who transported it to market, those who stocked the shelves so that I could purchase the cereal.  That led to me giving thanks for the finances that enabled me to buy the food I need.  Before long, my "blessing" on my breakfast turned into an intercessory prayer session.  I didn't have to use a prayer list or a notebook.  I just allowed Holy Spirit to guide as one prayer led to another.
That experience has helped me understand Paul's admonition to "pray without ceasing".  It has also made my prayer time more exciting because I know I'm praying for those people and those things that Holy Spirit brings to mind.
Some time ago I told one of my granddaughters …