God delights in you.

•November 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Old Testament prophet Zephaniah proclaimed “The Lord is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Zephaniah says 1) God is with you – that’s presence, 2) God is mighty to save you – that’s power, 3) God takes delight in you – that’s pleasure 4) God quiets you with his love – that’s peace, and 5) God rejoices over you with singing – that’s proof!

If God’s speaking voice created universes, imagine what his singing voice can do!  And he sings over his children.

But you say, “I’m too guilty”.  Verse 15 says God has taken away your punishment.

But you say, “I am surrounded by my enemies”.  Verses 15, 17, & 19 say God has cast out your enemies.

But you say, “God feels far away”.  Verse 15 & 17 say God is in your midst.

But you say, “I am enslaved to shame”. Verses 11 & 19 say you are no longer put to shame.

But you say, “I feel disconnected and homeless”.  Verses 20 says that God will bring you home.

You just need to face it and accept the fact that God not only loves you – he delights in you.  You’ve not gone too far, stayed too long, or sinned too much to exceed his love, mercy, and grace.

Think about that.

Biblical faith

•November 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Biblical faith is not about living a moral life … that’s RELIGION.

Biblical faith is not about living the good life … that’s CAPITALISM.

Bbilical faith is not about becoming a better you … that’s SELF-HELP.

Biblical faith is about living the God-life … that’s ABUNDANT LIFE.

Should I “Halloween”?

•October 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Should I “Halloween”?  Many Christians immediately say “absolutely not”.  They tell horrific stories of Satanists sacrificing babies on Halloween (although to my knowledge we’ve never been able to actually document that) or of how we shouldn’t promote the devil, etc. Churches (bless our hearts) have tried to soften the blow with Hallelujah Festivals, Harvest Festivals, Trunk O’ Treats, or by ignoring Halloween altogether.

I can’t help but wonder why so many Christians are so scared of the devil.  They look for him behind every bush and in every rock and roll lyric. Be assured, I believe in a personal devil.  I also believe that Jesus bashed out his brains at the Cross and rubbed his face in it at the Resurrection. We Christians have heard the sound of a stone rolling away.  We have seen death die.  We have confirmed that Satan has been defeated by a carpenter from Nazareth…who is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Halloween can be fun it you let it.  If you don’t get bogged down in Druid this and Satanic that.  It’s a time to LAUGH at defeated demons, MOCK at a powerless DEVIL, and PAT death on the head like the stuffed trophy kill it is.

It is we Christians who should laugh the loudest and dance the hardest at Halloween.   Through Christ, our strong and sufficient Redeemer, we have been delivered from the one who steals, kills, and destroys.

Additionally, October 31 is also Reformation Day.  You can read about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation_Day.  It is a celebration of the Protestant Reformation in which we, um, Protestants, celebrate our divorce from works-based Christianity (which is no Christianity at all) found in Roman Catholicism and our return to grace-based Christianity that is found in the Gospel of Christ.   It seems Halloween and Reformation Day can compliment each other.

Jesus is Lord.  Satan is defeated.  Death has died. So, “Halloween” it up!

 

 

“But I don’t like to read.”

•October 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

“But I don’t like to read.”  This is the favorite excuse of lazy Christians who don’t read the Bible.  Interesting.  It’s also interesting how many Christians who don’t read the Bible … have so many theological opinions!  I always want to ask them, “What’s your source?”

One reason we have so much “weirdness” in Christianity is because so many Christians don’t read their Bibles and interpret what they read correctly.

When Joshua was about to enter Canaan, God told him to read his Bible.  You will find that story in the Old Testament book of Joshua  (of course, you’ll have to read the Bible to get it!).  God told Joshua to “meditate” and “do according to all that is written” (1:7-8).  Joshua had a Bible … it was Genesis through Deuteronomy …. and God told him to read it.

God didn’t command Joshua to …

seek a spiritual experience,

pursue a personal “revelation”,

or engage in goose bumps-giving emotional worship.

God’s word to Joshua is his same word to us today:     OPEN YOUR BIBLE.

 

On turning 54…

•October 11, 2016 • 1 Comment

I turn 54 years old today.  Some things I’ve learned…

I’m a bigger sinner than I ever thought I was but God’s grace is more than enough to cover it.

I’m broken in more ways than I can imagine but Jesus loves me anyway.

I don’t like the gray hair that’s coming in but somehow it’s a trophy for battles fought, scars attained, pain endured, and lessons learned.

It’s not the quantity of your friends…it’s the quality of your friends…that counts. 

People need less condemnation and more compassion.

I’m sure there’s more but that’s it for now.

Lost

•October 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Bible describes people outside of Christ as blind, lost, dead.  These are not condemning terms.  It’s just the way Scripture uses metaphor to describe life without Christ.  Christians are never to use these terms in derision, condemnation, or in an “us vs. them” manner.  We have ALL been “lost”.

The good news is JESUS LOVES LOST PEOPLE.  Jesus told three stories (Luke 15) about things that were lost.  A lost sheep; a lost coin; a lost son.  In each story…

  1. Something of value is lost.  Be it the sheep, the coin, or the son.
  2. The owner goes to great lengths to find the lost thing.
  3. When the lost thing is found … a great party is thrown.

We are the sheep, the coin, and the son.  Jesus is the Shepherd who finds the lost sheep, the woman who finds the lost coin, and the Father who embraces the lost son.

We don’t “find” Jesus.  Jesus finds us.  We are the ones who are lost.

And when he finds us, he brings us home … where he throws an outrageous party for us.

I once was lost … but now I’m found.

We need deeper preaching.

•September 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Deep preaching flows from a life that has been deepened by pain, suffering, failure, repentance, and a persistent cry for God’s mercy.  You can’t get to depth by taking a homiletics class, crafting amazing outlines, finding killer illustrations…or dressing “cool”.  Deep preaching flows from a heart wrecked by the realization of one’s own sinfulness and suffering, and a heart shaped by God’s stubborn grace.

Pete, Perry, and Pastors in general.

•September 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Pastor Pete Wilson resigned from Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee…the church he founded in 2003 and which grew into a congregation of 7000 people.  He’s a great pastor, author, and person.  The reason for the resignation?  Weariness, burnout, tiredness, and brokenness brought on by the pressures of being a pastor.

Pastor Perry Noble resigned from New Spring Church in Anderson, South Carolina…the church he founded in 2000 and which grew into a congregation of 32,000 people.  He’s a great pastor, author, and person.  The reason for his resignation?  Alcohol abuse brought on by the pressures of being a pastor.

Two fine preachers.  Two fine pastors.  Two burned-out lives.  Two suffering families.  Two empty pulpits.

And it’s not just the “big church” pastors.  Sadly, this is becoming the norm in American churches.

Some people say pastors have it easy.  Hey, they only work one day a week, right?  (By the way, pastors HATE that “joke”.)  Pastors see and deal with more pain, grief, blood, gore, chaos, craziness,and death in a month than the average person will see and deal with in a lifetime.

Granted, some pastors DO have it easy.  They’ve built churches on great marketing and “how to have a great life” preaching that tickles the ears of their congregants. They set their own salaries, make lots of money, drive nice cars, live in gated communities, send their kids to the best schools, have the best health care, and travel the world.

But this is NOT the norm for most pastors.

While ALL jobs are hard (including yours), a pastor’s job, while maybe not harder than your job, is at least as hard as your job.  You try…

  • keeping wandering people lined up with the vision God has given you for the church,
  • resolving conflicts between selfish congregants,
  • challenging people to say “no” to their comfort, consumerism, and convenience and say “yes” to following Jesus,
  • attempting to make 50, 500, or 5000 people happy all the time,
  • changing your personality to adapt to the personalities of 50, 500, or 5000 other people,
  • making sure the church’s bills get paid,
  • exhorting people to read their Bibles, pray, and be generous,
  • and then, spending 15-20 hours a week hovering over the Bible and theology books preparing a sermon that they pray with every fiber of their being will point someone to Jesus that weekend.

Heck, just try getting the average church member to come to worship two weeks in a row!

Perhaps it’s time for church Leadership Teams, Pastoral Search committees, Elders, Deacons, Finance Committees, and Personnel committees to get schooled in how to minister to and take care of their pastors and their families.

Pastors shouldn’t have to beg for a livable wage, decent healthcare, or time off.  He and his family should be able to live at least at the level the average person in his congregation lives.  Here’s two great links for more information…

http://www.lifeway.com/pastors/2016/09/16/6-things-church-members-need-to-know-about-pastor-burnout/

http://www.soulshepherding.org/pastors-under-stress

So we pray for Pete and Perry and a thousand other weary pastors today.

And for my fellow pastors:  Follow your God-given vision.  Preach well-prepared Gospel-centered messages that exalt Christ.   Shepherd the flock God has entrusted to you.  Take care of yourself and your family.  Finish the course.

 

 

Finger Dancin’

•March 19, 2016 • 1 Comment

dad 2

(My dad, me, my brother, circa 1964)

I wrote this for the old man several years ago…

______________________________________________________

FINGER DANCIN’

My father never danced, but his fingers did.

I remember seeing the muscles of my father’s sun-baked arms flex as his work-worn fingers danced upon the fret board of an old Martin guitar playing the bluegrass and gospels songs of his mountain youth.

I remember knowing that my father was an unemotional man except when he played his music and in hearing his music I could see the passion of his heart.

My father never danced, but his fingers did.

I remember as a child in the living room of our old home place watching him play and dancing to the music of my father – and nobody told me I couldn’t.

Time has taken my father from me and I wish I could have him back – if only for a moment, for I would once again like to dance to the music of my father.

My father never danced,  but his fingers did.

______________________________________________

Miss ya, Pop.

Bowing to Beyonce

•February 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Bruno Mars, Coldplay, and Beyonce brought the music (?) to the Superbowl half-time this year.  Not my taste … but that’s another discussion.  Just a few thoughts on Beyonce…or, more importantly, what she represents and serves as an illustration of…

Beyonce’s net worth is over $450 million dollars. She and husband Jay Z’s combined net worth is reported to be over $1 billion dollars. They seem to be doing pretty well in anti-black America.  Bow to Beyonce.

Michelle Obama is good friends with Beyonce and one of her ardent admirers calling her a “great role model” for her own daughters.  Bow to Beyonce.

The song Beyonce sang at this year’s Superbowl is called “FORMATION”.  It is an ode to black power, heritage, and race.  Fair enough.  It’s good to be proud of who you are and where you came from.  I celebrate with Beyonce who she is and where she came from.  But I wonder if the same latitude and opportunity would be afforded to someone celebrating a different race or heritage?  Bow to Beyonce.

Additionally, concerning this song, have you listened to all the lyrics?  You can read them here:  http://genius.com/Beyonce-formation-lyrics.  It is laden with profanity and one verse speaks of rewarding her significant other (?) with a trip to Red Lobster and the mall if he performs well during sex. How degrading to … men.  A male singer (even a rapper) wouldn’t be allowed to sing this way of a female at the Super Bowl (at least, I hope not) but we let Beyonce do it.  Bow to Beyonce.

Beyonce’s performance consisted of dancers admittedly dressed like Black Panthers.  You can read about the Black Panthers here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Panther_Party#Ten-point_program.  The Anti-Defamation League and The Southern Poverty Law Center include the Black Panthers in their list of hate groups.  But once again … bow to Beyonce.

Beyonce’s Super Bowl half-time performance solidifies that fact that you can say/sing what you want to say/sing in America (at one of the largest and most viewed events of the year, no less) as long as you are politically correct.   But in America, free speech is only for those who are saying/singing the politically correct things.  Bow to  Beyonce.

This is not an attack on Beyonce as a person.  She’s just another broken sinner like I am needing all the grace she can get from a loving God.   But it is an honest appraisal of current state of affairs in our society concerning race, heritage, money, entertainment and free speech – and the one-sidedness and hypocrisy of it all.

Bow to Beyonce.

 

 
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