Resting Secure in His Arms

Our world has changed so much since the beginning of February when foster grand-babies entered our lives.   Yes, you did see that as plural . . . twin boys.  Born at 24 weeks and now moving toward seven months old.

As I fed one of the boys last Friday morning, burped him, and then felt him go to sleep on my shoulder, I began to pray with tears streaming down my cheeks.  In his attempt to drift off, he fought it for a while, whimpering, and moving his head back and forth.  It was then I drew him to my face and neck as I sang to him holding him ever so close.  After a few minutes, he was resting, breathing comfortably, and secure in Papaw’s arms.

My tears were not only because of our love for these boys, but also due to what the Lord reminded me as I prayed.  There are times I am fussy, discontent, worried, fretting, fearful, and questioning why.  Never leaving me or forsaking me, my Heavenly Father is there to draw me to His side.  I just need to stop fighting it.  I need to stop trying to hold up my own head and simply rest on His shoulder. There I always find Him to be that quiet place of refuge and strength; that eternal abode of contentment; that One Who accepts me in the Beloved . . . quiet and secure in my Heavenly Father’s arms.

Psalm 62:1           Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.

Psalm 119:114    You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

I Could Punch Him in the Mouth!

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Recently while listening to an angry man, those words were uttered and then ended with a bit of a smile as if it made his indignation acceptable.

Folks, we live in an angry world!  And you are asking me, “Did you just climb out from under a rock?!?!”

Well, truth is, in the past few weeks I have heard and seen the fruit that comes from that root.  Anger, wrath, bitterness from an evil heart destroys.

What does the Bible say about anger?  Please take time to read these passages and let them sink into your heart.

  • Psalm 37:8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
  • Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
  • Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
  • Proverbs 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
  • Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
  • Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
  • Ephesians 4:26-27, 31 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
  • Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
  • James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Anger rooted in a selfish, sinful, deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) always produces fruit that damages and often destroys lives, homes, churches, marriages, and the world around you.

If you are person given to anger, please soak your soul in these truths from God’s Word.  Repent, be reconciled, and memorize these passages.  Better to think on truth that sets you free than on the offense that will eat you up inside and cause your heart to be outwardly exposed.

To be angry about trifles is mean and childish; to rage and be furious is brutish; and to maintain perpetual wrath is akin to the practice and temper of devils; but to prevent and suppress rising resentment is wise and glorious, is manly and divine. (Isaac Watts)

Go ahead . . . punch him in the mouth.  Then, who’s the fool?

A Towers or Del-Mar Marriage

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Last week, my wife and I had a great time away for four days at our favorite beach location, Towers on the Grove, North Myrtle Beach, SC.  We like the fact that it’s located at the northeast end of the Grand Strand, that the people population is sparse, and that the facilities are always clean, updated, and given constant attention.

On a personal note, having lived in Myrtle Beach in the late 60’s, time spent at the beach brings back many memories.  In past vacation trips, I have driven by the house we lived in and found it in need of repair.  Last week while driving down Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach, I saw where one of the Del-Mar Motel that remained from the 50-60’s era had been leveled.  Then as we drove through other areas of the beach, we saw even more buildings that have deteriorated over the years.

Del Mar Inn

Marriage is like a drive around Myrtle Beach.  Just as a building/house needs constant upkeep to remain fresh, just like Towers on the Grove as opposed to the Del-Mar Inn, marriage needs daily attention to keep it fresh.

One truth, among others, that has guided Denise and me through our soon to be 36 years of marriage is this:  You must work at your marriage every day.  Marriage does not operate efficiently on auto-pilot.  As a matter of fact, there is no default setting for marriage called auto-pilot.  Today, your marriage is continuing to be fresh or it is deteriorating.  The choice is totally up to you.

Look at your marriage.  What areas need improvement, a “fresh coat of paint”?  Is there a squeaky board or door that needs attention?  How about some weeds in the front lawn that need to be replaced with some fresh flowers?

Ask the Lord in prayer to reveal what areas of your marriage need attention.  Talk about it with your spouse.  Come up with a plan of action, areas of change that will occur, what it will take to make this action work, and then dive into the project together!  Enjoy the work!  Stop and kiss every once-in-awhile.  Hug each other.  Text one another.  Go back to the sweetness of dating days and do it again!

May I also add, do not take for granted any successful area of your marriage.  As soon as you do, it won’t take long for the shutters to start clapping against the wall, if you know what I mean.

By the way, one of the major reasons Denise and I went away last week was to work on our marriage.  We intentionally put these times in our calendar.  Marriage is too precious of a gift from God to let it get old, cold, and decaying (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33).

A Towers marriage takes daily attention and prayer.  A Del-Mar marriage ends up like this motel that was once a new motel that became known in latter years for bed-begs, drugs, and prostitution. Now it is no longer standing. Sadly, too many marriages become like the Del-Mar Inn.

Get to work, folks!  The choice is yours.  Start today!

How To Overcome Dull, Lifeless Prayer

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Read carefully Paul’s words in reference to the church at Philippi:  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1:3-5).

Look at those words, making my prayer with joy.  Is prayer a joy in your life?  Do you have a joy-filled time praying?  In others words, is praying a happy time for you?  Is it a time of rejoicing, praise, thanksgiving, and sweet communion with your Heavenly Father?

If you pray in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20), you will be praying with joy because it is a fruit of the Spirit.

For many, prayer is a burden, a drudgery, and/or a duty.  May I encourage you today to find a place to meet with God and enjoy His presence?

  • Praise Him for Who He is and thank Him for how He has shown His character to you through answered prayer. (Psalm 145:3)
  • Thank Him for what He taught you in His Word. (Psalm 19:7-11)
  • Rejoice in a promise that He has shown you; that you can hang onto today. (Matthew 7:7-11)
  • Sing to Him. (Psalm 96:1)
  • Raise your hands in adoration and submission to Him. (1 Timothy 2:8)
  • Thank God in advance for how He is going to answer prayer, save souls, lead you through the day, give wisdom and grace,

I believe if you will make prayer with joy this morning, it will set your day to be one of joy and blessing.  Try it!  (Philippians 4:4-7)

Take a Vacation from the Lord

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Come on now.  Don’t deny it.  You’ve been thinking about that annual summer vacation to the beach, Disney World, Pigeon Forge, etc.  Vacations are a good thing.  We all need our physical, mental, and spiritual batteries recharged!

Question.  When you go on vacation, do you plan for those special daily times to build your relationship with the Lord?  Do you take your Bible, journals, and books so you can feed your soul? Can you say when you have returned that you and your family love the Lord more or less?  Do you research the area before you arrive to find a solid Bible preaching/teaching church where you and your family can worship on Sunday morning?

I will submit to you without reservation, the best parts of our vacations over the years have been our time in the mornings in the Word and prayer.  Vacation must not be a time to leave the Lord at home. Vacations should be a time where everyday distractions are removed, and you can enjoy His presence and His precepts!

I hear so often from so many that due to their work, school, recreation, and church schedules, they struggle to get time in the Word and prayer.  And believe it or not, it shows (I know by experience in my own life).  Vacation is a time for you to unplug from all the aforementioned things and be refreshed.  What better way to do so than to meet with Jesus everyday as an individual, as a couple and as a family.   Even Jesus Himself went apart from the crowd to meet with His Father (Matthew 14:23).

Furthermore, because you are in such a relaxed mode on vacation, that’s even more reason you need the Word of God to ward off the attacks of your flesh, the world and the devil.  I promise you, they never take a vacation.

And finally look at the effect the intake of the Word will have upon you:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.  (Psalm 19:7-11)

97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. 102 I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.  (Psalm 119:97-104)

So, as you plan for all the places you will eat, recreate, lodge and relax, be sure to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33).  By the way, He’s the One Who gives you the strength, provides the funds, and watches over you for your vacation.

Don’t take a vacation from the Lord when you are on your vacation!

Let’s Carterize!

wp-1463974026394.jpg How would you respond if you heard this statement about your church  “I would never be accepted at __________Church because I could not break through the clique.” 

For years as a pastor, one thing I have pushed for so much is that our church be really friendly.  Without sounding arrogant or haughty, I believe we are an extremely friendly church. When you walk through the front door, you will be warmly greeted and then by many others.

So, why would such a statement be made?

I’ll answer it this way:  We must do a better job of “Carterizing” others!

Rod and Hope Carter have been married for 70 years and charter members of BCBC for 60 years.  Their health has failed them greatly, so they are not able to do as they once did.

For years, I have watched Rod “campout” in the church foyer just looking for visitors, especially young singles and/or young couples as well as others.  As soon as they entered the building, he was getting acquainted with them.  His greeting was only the beginning of what I am calling here, “Carterizing.”  He would invite them to his house for dinner or out to a restaurant after the morning service and would do the same in the evening.  He made sure some other BCBC folks were invited to join the group.  He wanted folks to go to the next level of relationship and communication.  He wanted those guests to know he cared; that they needed to become a part of the BCBC family of believers.  The bottom line is, he went beyond just a greeting. He was willing to get involved in their lives.  I can call the roll of those who would testify right here!

How do you Carterize?

  1. You come to church expecting to meet visitors, sit with them during the service, and have your meal planned and prepared so you can invite them to your home. If it is not a visitor, it is someone who has been attending for a period of time, yet you haven’t gotten to know them.
  2. When you plan your weekly calendar, you build in an evening to have guests in your home or meet them out for a meal or ice cream or time at the park.
  3. When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
  4. Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
  5. Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
  6. When at church, do not gravitate to the folks who make you comfortable. You reserve your personal conversations for a later time.  You are there to minister to others like Jesus did.
  7. Make your guests believe they are the most important people on the planet.

You see, getting involved in people’s lives takes planning, preparation, prayer and perspiration.  Instead of coming to church and just being friendly, you must “Carterize!”

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:41-47)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

The Message of Good Friday

 

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Golgotha, the Place of the Skull
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:6-11)

It’s About the Cross

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Want to know more about Christ’s death for you?

Men, Your Daughters Are Watching You

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To balance the scales in reference to yesterday’s post, may I, from my heart, challenge dads to consider their impact upon their daughters?

God graciously lent us three daughters to raise for His glory.  He saw fit to take our middle daughter before she ever experienced the outside world of sin.  She was stillborn twenty-nine years ago.  What a reunion awaits us in Glory when our family will be together again for all eternity!

In spite of all the trials, bumps, mistakes, tears, miscalculations, and naivety of raising two girls, I assure you that the blessings far outweigh all the aforementioned.   We are richly blessed!  But . . . it takes hard work, time in the Word, and MUCH PRAYER!!!

So with that said, men, may I ask . . . what are your daughters learning from you by your example and through your instruction?

May I strongly encourage you to go back through yesterday’s list and replace all the boy/son references to girl/daughter?

And let’s add the following.

  1. Men, do you want your daughters to marry a man like you? They are watching how you treat their mother, how you honor or dishonor her and what you say about and to her.  They hear your vocal tones, your words of endearment or criticism as well as your body actions.  Men, do you seat your wife at the table, open the car door for her, send her loving texts, bring her flowers, buy her a new dress, etc.?
  2. Men, do you “date” your daughters? Some of the best times of my life have been spent at a gas station eating a donut with my oldest daughter . . . an every Friday morning school day routine when she was in junior high, attending a Southern Gospel concert together, driving through the night to deliver a package to a plant in Chicago, etc.  And then, there was the joy of a Starbucks chat with my youngest or the meal date before heading off to college or a meal date with both girls when they were in college, or a trip to Dairy Queen.  Men, you need to date your wife and your daughters.
  3. Men, your daughters need time with you because they need your security, your listening ear, your loving heart, your connection with their lives. If they don’t get it from you . . . then they will seek it from some fella at school or on the internet.
  4. Men, do you encourage your daughters; do you affirm them? (Ephesians 6:4)
  5. Do you show them unconditional love? (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
  6. Dads, in an absolutely appropriate way, do you still hold your daughters, hug them, kiss them on the cheek, and express your love for them?
  7. Do you treat your daughters with respect or talk down to them?
  8. Do you bring them flowers every-once-in-awhile?

To my two daughters who are now married, how blessed to be your dad!!  My heart is full when you and your husbands are able to visit and we gather around our table or sit in our living room, to hear the laughter, quote our Andy lines, share our joys and heartaches, laugh at each other and just be family.  How awesome to see you continue to grow in your relationships with God and your husbands!!

Accomplishing anything good as a father is ONLY by the grace of God and His sovereign leadership.

Men, your daughters are watching you.

Here are two recommend links that offer further insight:

Why Daughters Need Their Dads

Dads and the Daughters They Love

Men, Your Sons Are Watching You

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Men, may I ask you some questions?  These are not accusatory questions.  They are truly questions from my heart after 35 years as a senior pastor.

  1. What are your sons learning from you about a vibrant, personal, daily, dependent walk with Christ? (Job 23:12; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 11:1)
  2. Have you taught your sons to pray? (Matthew 6:6-8; Luke 18:1)
  3. Do your sons know how to study and apply the Word of God to their daily life? (Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:15)
  4. Are you memorizing Scripture with them? (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:11)
  5. Do your sons bring their Bibles to church, use their Bibles during the message, and take notes from the message because you do? Do you discuss the sermon with them afterwards? (Ephesians 6:4; Psalms 19:7-14; 119:97)
  6. Do you and your sons sing with all your heart in church? Are you engaged mentally, physically and emotionally in the presence of God?  (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)
  7. What have your sons learned from you about serving in the local church? (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Peter 4:10-11)
  8. Are your sons solid in their personal salvation testimony? Are they able to give a Bible reason for the assurance of their salvation? (1 Peter 3:15)
  9. Have you taught them how to share the Gospel with the unsaved? (Matthew 28:18-20)
  10. Do your sons have a critical spirit toward Christ, His Church, and other believers or are they deeply in love with Christ, His Church and other believers because of you? (Ephesians 4)
  11. Are you sons learning that you love Christ with all your heart, that you are seeking Him first, and that in all things He is the preeminent One? (Matthew 22:37-40; 6:33; Colossians 1:15-18)

Men, your sons are watching you, imitating you, and learning from you . . . and you don’t have to say a thing.  The old saying goes, “what you do in moderation, your children will take to excess.”

Men, it is important that our sons learn how to work, drive a car, be a gentleman, and make a living, but it most important they learn about the One Who is Life and how to really live by divine viewpoint.  When they stand before the Lord at the Bema, they will be so glad that Dad walked the talk and taught them eternal values.

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
  (Proverbs 2:1-9)