Glorious Day, Yet Grieving…

Today will go down in history, at least in my own little world, as a radical rollercoaster. We had an incredible day at First Baptist Church, Cave Springs today, including the addition of a new church member and a discussion with another couple who expressed their intent to join next week.

We had a fabulous lunch fellowship and then the crowning time of the day – the ordination of my brother in Christ, friend, and servant-minded man Roger Meredith to the deacon ministry (my first such service to lead). It all was quite wonderful!  Yet while all of this was unfolding in our little neck of the woods, in Sutherland Springs, Texas – a young man, Devin Kelley carried out a horrific and apparently planned attack on the First Baptist Church in that small community.  A church with just over 100 members, and an average Sunday attendance around 50…  Reports so far are that at least 27 are dead and possibly 20 others wounded/injured.  The victims at this point range as young as 5 years old.  And particularly heartbreaking for me – the pastor’s daughter, Annabelle, only 14 years old, was among those murdered. In fact, this particular detail is the one that kicked me in the stomach the hardest – bringing this story FAR too close to home…

At the same time – while I grieve for Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife as they have to struggle to come to grips with the loss of their youngest daughter – maybe this extremely ugly, evil, and sad event serves as a bit of an illustration. You see – this morning, preached a message from Luke 9:57-62 titled “No Excuse Faith” (should be posted on the church Facebook page in the next 24 hours or so). The basic message in a nutshell – Jesus wants followers who have a a No Excuse Faith – who step up and follow Him TODAY- because we really don’t know what tomorrow may hold – or even if we will HAVE a tomorrow.  It shadows Paul’s statement to the Corinthians that “TODAY is the day of salvation!”

How many who were gathered together for worship with FBC Sutherland Springs had a clue that today would be their last? How many put off decisions the Lord had been leading them towards? How many went to their grave having shrugged off the conviction of the Spirit?  How many had a conflict with a brother or sister in Christ – that they carried to the grave because they thought they would deal with reconciliation “tomorrow”?

How many of the young victims among them didn’t hear their mom or day tell them they loved them this morning? How many forgot to tell their spouses how much they loved them? Who among them possibly put off turning to Jesus until a “tomorrow” that, for them, won’t come?

The reality is – today is the day to take a step of faith to follow Christ with everything you have in you – to trust in Him, because you may never find  another opportunity.

The same goes for our loved ones – have you hugged your wife/husband’s neck and simply told them “I love you”? Do you sometimes skip telling your kids the same? Take the opportunity you have right now to tell those you love just how much you do!

Stop making excuses – make the most of today, because we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. It’s a shame we sometimes have to be reminded by such shocking events.

Make a difference today!

Who Is Jesus (Deity of Christ) Part 2 Who Is I Am?

Originally published by the author on his old blog.

Part 2: Who is “I AM?”

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:18

I often hear said that “Jesus never claimed to be God”. While in a very limited and literal sense, Jesus didn’t use that exact phrase to describe Himself, between the above actions that the Jews were complaining of were understood in their time and context as laying claims to being “equal” with God – Yet there is non other. There is none like God.

“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he* you will die in your sins.” John 8:24

(*of note – in the original language, there is no personal pronoun “he” there. Rendering literally “believe that I am”.)

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

Compare this direct statement by Jesus to Exodus 3:14

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’.”

Or in John 10:30-33, when Jesus said “I and the Father are one”, The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
 
To lay any claim to being God or equal TO God would be a brazen sin – Yet Jesus is commended for the claim.
Jesus identified Himself with the name/title of “I Am”, which is one of the most powerful names God revealed of Himself.

Filled With Joy

As I sit here on our couch, after spending nearly all day at First Baptist Church Cave Springs, I sit in wonder, awe, and with tears…

Today has been a blessed day for the memory book in so many ways.

From our services this morning, with the LORD filling my head in an amazing way, to the incredible hands and hearts of love by “my” church family…

To the Spirit-filled Worship…

Even to the meeting with our deacons and elders to plan out next week’s ordination service for our newest deacon candidate…

To this evening’s SINGSPIRATION! 5th Sunday singing and spoken word worship…

To the brotherly love-filled fellowship time afterward.

Oh, and I didn’t even mention the silent auction bake sale quickly organized this week to help with my mission trip expenses for next April with the Arkansas Master’Singers to Ukraine.

I am just humbled, overwhelmed, and filled with joy. Seeing church members step up in service to God through serving their brothers and sisters and other.  There is just so much to fill this “Lonely Pastor’s” heart.  All I can do is praise God for leading us here!

To serve God in a church that has a sincere desire to hear the Word of God, who gives me the freedom to speak the truth, to proclaim what is right, to call sin what it is – sin, and to not feel pressure to skip the uncomfortable parts of the Word, is a set of blessings that many pastors don’t have.

I firmly believe, the Lord has great things in store for FBC Cave Springs. He is moving among us, in us, and with us for His Kingdom! Praise be to God!

Oh – and I didn’t even mention that after all the blessings this day already poured out, I got a call from my mom to let me know she believes she has finally found a church she feels called to be an active part of –  a church where she can serve and be in a real church family!

Yes – my heart is filled with Joy! It might even be hard going to sleep tonight!

Who Is Jesus (The Deity of Christ) Part 1

Originally published on the author’s old blog.
Among the great theological debates that rage regarding Jesus and who He is, the greatest is whether or not Jesus IS God. There are some who would profess Jesus to be something less than fully God. They claim faith, yet in “who” are they believing? This short piece is designed simply to answer this incredible question – “Is Jesus God?” Further, to briefly answer the question of “why is this so important?”
 
Simply put, only the pure, holy, and completely uncorrupted by sin blood could possibly atone for sin. The blood of countless animals and birds never paid the sin debt for Israel. Only the pure, spotless Lamb could pay that sin debt.
And who but God is totally pure and righteous?
 
To that end, I am going to post a series of entries that deal with Scripture passages that, when taken all together, present a beautiful picture of the real Jesus, who is fully God.
Some say that Jesus never claimed to be God. Others rely on creative translation of selected verses to shore up their claim that Jesus is not God (or Yahweh/Jehovah). Yet a simple review of the Bible reveals a pattern that cannot be dismissed, a pattern that clearly makes the case for Jesus Christ as God.
 
Over the next few days, I plan to post a series of passages and a bit of comment on each in an effort to stitch together the greater picture of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who IS the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is worthy of all praise and worship. My challenge to the reader – read them, ponder on them, and pray about it, particularly as you accumulate these passages, who is Jesus?
 
We begin with one of the most clear, yet still controversial passages pointing to the deity of Jesus Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

Now, some like to move the comma, or add the word “a” based on the lack of a “definite article”, yet the original language gives NO convincing reason to do either. In fact, there are several examples elsewhere that do not create controversy where there is a lack of a definite article. Yet the preponderance of Christian history and understanding agrees that the reference to “the Word” is a reference to Jesus as having the same quality as God the Father.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3

What we see here, is that the reference back to “The Word” here is clearly identifying Jesus as the Creator of all, which in the Old Testament is 100% identified as God/Jehovah.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:3

And to further reinforce this idea, let us thing a bit about one of the most powerful names God used in the Old Testament to reveal Himself – “I Am”. This will be the subject of Episode 2 in this series.

California, Gender Identity, and Rebellion

Not surprisingly, California has again jumped into the headlines over gender issues in recent months. First with legislation passed what began as Senate Bill 219 – a measure to legislate the use of gender pronouns (specifically geared to nursing and care facilities), but with far-reaching fallout possible. The legislation actually codifies as a crime punishable by up to a year in jail, the use of the wrong gender pronoun!

As if this wasn’t disturbing enough in many ways, the same California legislature has now passed SB179 – an additional legislation that formally and legally recognizes three gender identities: male, female, and non-binary (also sometimes known as gender-queer) for state identification and other purposes. Not only does this fly in the face of reality and facts, it flies in the face of sanity!

unidentifiable-genders.pngOne can rebel all day long against God and His design – but one thing remains true, regardless of what a state wants to “recognize” – and that is DNA. Our DNA clearly and consistently identifies us as either “Male” or “Female“. Period.

Gender is not something one chooses (though many choose to act in rebellion to what they are biologically). Even if one submits to surgical mutilation to remove or create gender-identifying body parts, you still, biologically, are either male or female – and that remains unchanged.

Yet another reality is – even if you go through hormone treatments and surgical mutilation, the record is clear – you will never have peace with yourself – and it makes finding peace with God even more difficult. Depression rages on in those who have attempted to change their gender. And it goes back to – we are created by God as male or female. It is WHO you are, even if you “don’t feel like that gender”. Attempts to side-step that and self-identify or even “reassign” your gender to match your personal preference only makes things more complicated and damaging to the very soul.

And this is why we must seek our identity, not in our gender feelings, in our personal preferences, or in other people’s opinions, but in the God who created us…Male and Female.

What we see unfolding before us is what happens when mankind decides he (or she) knows better than the One who created us. We decide to go “our own way” (Isaiah 53:6). What began primarily with adults who decided that their feminine feelings (for men, male feelings for women) were more than simply strengths to be appreciated – they became more who they thought they were.  Our society had for so long lifted up men as only REALLY men if they “never cry”, to “never eat quiche” – and any softness – any emotion was taboo.  Likewise, women who felt strong, who were natural leaders, who enjoyed traditionally male work, hobbies, or activities were somehow looked down on.

Then came the Women’s Liberation Movement, which went from simply making sure women had equal rights, to the radical, rabid feminism of today – that actually encourages women to rebel against not only biblical gender roles, but to subject men and ultimately eliminate gender identities altogether.

And along comes a movement to legitimize same-sex attraction and sexuality – which,

Rebellion-650-x-433.jpg

despite the adamant declarations to the contrary, were voluntarily merged into the same umbrella as the whole gender dysphoria debacle to produce the ever-growing alphabet identity war (LGBTQ). And all support each other because of one commonality – rebellionagainst the God-cr

eated, God-ordained order of things. And while it was one thing when restricted to adults who have a right to be wrong, to do wrong, and to make bad decisions (and face a consequence for those), the movement to totally legitimize the movement ultimately led, as many predicted, to spread it intentionally to ever-younger children. What use to be seen as absolutely normal – little girls who were “tomboys” – often all the way to adulthood, and little boys who enjoyed playing with girls, dolls, and more “feminine”-identified activities, are not immediately scooped up and wedged in to the LGBTQ moniker – and being subjected to medical procedures, hormone abuse, and essentially brainwashing – all to firmly anchor them in this identity.  Last year, a 4 year-old underwent gender reassignment procedures – Yes, 4 years old! Exactly what does a 4 year old know of gender?

The reality is – all of this ongoing battle, and the ever-younger victim base of those involved in the war, are trying to legitimize their own fleshly desires – that they know, down deep in their heart, are wrong. But they also have succumbed to the deception that simply forcing the world to “accept” their choices and behavior will somehow alleviate the deep guilty and conviction that they experience. It is all an effort to smother the pain – equal to the effort to use alcohol,  illegal drugs, or opiates to dull the pain.

Gender identity debate reflects broken, corrupt, prideful, and unregenerate souls who are in desperate need of hope and restoration that can only be found in a right relationship with their Creator. And this right relationship will never be found in hormones, surgery, or legalizing your feelings over what is true and right. Peace will never be obtained by forcing others to accept your choices. Comfort cannot be found in the arms of laws that squash the rights of others (for legalizing what is wrong does not make it right).

Genuine peace, comfort, and security can only be found in Christ Jesus. Repent, believe that He died to break the chains of our sin – including our sinful desires and lusts, and trust Him to work all things out to the good. For the same God that gave us Jesus Christ to suffer and die in our place, is the same God who can liberate us from our sinful desires, and give us the strength to walk upright – and He is the same God who can be our true source of value and identity.

Destruction of a Nation and the Christian’s Responsibility

This post originally appeared on the author’s old blog.

A friend of mine posted his astonishment that America could be on the cusp of electing a bonafide “Socialist” to the office of President, from either primary party. I began to formulate a response then realized that my reply would be far more suited to a full-on blog post, so thank you Donny Parrish for kick-starting this!

“Christians” have remained silent too long. Notice that the paths of ungodliness our nation has actively pursued are 100% based in the “squeaky wheel” principal— homosexuals have “gay marriage” because they screamed and hollered the loudest. God was “banned” from schools because the haters if God screamed and hollered the loudest.
60 million + babies have been murdered in this nation, perfectly legally because the worshippers of self/Molich screamed, hollered, and put their money where their mouth was and swayed the courts (without a single genuine constitutional basis).

And we have become (or are in the edge of) becoming a socialist nation all because of a direct violation of the 10 commandments, particularly the commandment against “covetousness”…  Those who covet what others have are screaming and hollering loudly to get what you have (without working for it). And that gave us the current President, and a few candidates who are now unapologetically pandering to the covetous culture.

And so much more.
There are three fronts in the war for the very soul of this nation—

1. We must begin ON OUR KNEES as God’s children, humbling ourselves in out very knees in repentance for our own sin and ungodliness and for our failure to be the “watchmen on the wall”.

2. We must be far more proactive in sharing Jesus Christ with this list and dying world. It IS NOT ENOUGH to “invite people to church”.  That has NEVER been enough, not does it fulfill the Great Commission.  But just as the first front (and step) towards actually doingsomething is humility before God, we m

salt-and-light

ust also BE the salt and light as Jesus Commanded. We cannot live like the world, yet expect the world to act like Jesus. It just doesn’t work that way! Repeat the first front!

3. And we must be willing to stand for the TRUTH, live out the TRUTH, vote for the TRUTH, even if it means our pocketbooks are affected, even if it means our “friends” might reject us, and even if it is inconvenient and painful (I do not believe Jesus promised an easy road!). Every time we bend our morality for financial or social gain, we betray our hearts and faith. The “fruits” of our faith become very evident – by their lacking of real impact.

Christianity is not a passive spectator sport, it is a way of life. If our hearts are not absolutely broken for the ungodliness (and what the Bible clearly spells out is the coming result for it), if we don’t grieve for the lostness all around us, if we are not so broken that we are willing to speak up for the TRUTH, then stop pretending to be offended by all the garbage around us, and by path this nation is traveling. You are part of the problem. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (and be a part of the solution).

A Challenge for Today and Beyond: CD!

This post was originally published by the author on his old blog page.

Here is a thought for today (and every day) – maybe better a challenge: Corum Deo- to live your life each and every day before the LORD.

What does this mean? After all, God sees all things – so everything is done and lived out “before God”! Coram Deo, simply put, is to intentionally live out our lives, our decisions, our words, and our hearts with God at the forefront. It is to really grasp that God is really Omnipresent, and so we also must come to grips with the fact that not a single action or thought in our lives is beyond God’s view! It is also the vivid reminder that we all must give an account one day. Whether we be lost headed for eternal judgment in Hell and the Lake of fire because we are unregenerate sinners, or we are born-again, yet living outside of our professed faith (Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commands! – John 14:15). All must give an account.

Corum_Deo_Master_with_script
Living Coram Deo means to live out our entire lives, every moment of every day, in the presence of, and in submission to God and His Sovereign authority.

To live a life of Coram Deo means to live a life of integrity. It means we will recognize that our lives paint a picture to the world (I have preached it as our lives as a living epistle to the lost world).

Living Coram Deo means that we not only keep Christ’s commands, but that we most importantly act out of love, and speak Truth even in the face of opposition.

Coram Deo will rarely be the easy way. Indeed, living every moment of our lives under awareness of God’s oversight and authority will indeed put all of the trifles and struggles, temptations and frustrations in proper perspective.

How has my life today honored and glorified God? Are my decisions today pleasing to God? Are the words I choose to use going to point others to the Savior? Are the priorities I set, God’s priorities?

Won’t you prayerfully contemplate the challenge?