Grace to Go!

Stretching out his hand and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Soon this hand will touch the hand of my Jesus.”

These words were spoken last Saturday by a dear man of God who has given his life to faithfully proclaim and live out the excellencies of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Bud Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor that is affecting his mobility and vision. As I sat by his side in his humble mountain home, the affects of cancer were readily seen, but the grace of God was much more manifest. It didn’t take long to realize I was seated in the presence of a man who is ready to go Home to Glory!

There were many more times of rejoicing than notes of sorrow as we conversed. During his lengthy stay in the hospital, the Lord enabled him to share the gospel with many, and three precious souls came to salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We talked of the ministry joys of past years, the privilege of preaching the Word of God, the joy of mentoring so many men in the ministry, as well as rejoicing in all the folks who had come by to visit.

With his precious wife, Mildred, seated across the room, he looked at me and then her and said, “I am ready to go to heaven, but I don’t want to leave my bride of 58 years. The other night, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. She was My bride before she became your bride. She is the apple of my eye’.”

Especially at a time like this, the Word of God is the very best comfort, assurance, and hope. While reading 1 Peter 1:1-8, Pastor Parker’s eyes would glisten and then fill with tears. Some of the passages he quoted along with me as best he could. At one point, he raised his hand to rejoice!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Near the end of our visit, I noticed that his wife, two of his daughters and other family members were on the front porch. I invited them to gather in the living room, and we sang a medley of songs about heaven. My, what a glorious time we had as we lifted our voices and hands in praise to our great God! Indeed, what a day it will be when our Jesus we will see!!

Watching the grace of God in its total sufficiency from my front row seat was an honor and a blessed encouragement! This dear man of God is living out the words of Tom Hayes’ song, New Grace.

All of grace is my story
All the way from earth to glory,
Since by grace He lifted me from sin and woe;
Living grace He has extended
As on Him my heart depended,
And He’ll give new grace when it’s my time to go.

CHORUS:
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.

VERSE 2:
There’s been grace for every trial,
There’s been grace for every mile,
There’s been grace sufficient from His vast supply;
Grace to make my heart more tender,
Grace to love and pray for sinners,
But there’ll be new grace when it’s my time to die.

CHORUS:
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.

Grace to go!!

Wonder What Its Like

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Wonder what it’s like to know that you are just hours, days from seeing Jesus face-to-face?

That was the question posed by wife as we drove to see a friend who is living out his last earthly days. Cancer has crept in upon him and left him in a swiftly weakened condition. He is now under hospice care.

As we entered his living room, now serving as a “hospital room,” we were greeted by a sedated, yet peaceful friend who managed a bit of a smile. His weakened voice spoke in soften tones. His dear wife stood on the other side of his bed tenderly stroking his arm and speaking words of encouragement to her longtime companion and friend.

After my wife and I shared, with tears, words of love and appreciation from our heart, I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and Psalm 73:23-26, 28. Our friend drifted in-and-out as I read. His dear wife acknowledged certain truths here-and-there. I watched God’s Word bring sweet reminders and grace-filled assurances to both of these precious believers in Christ.

We concluded with prayer and then we sang two stanzas of Blessed Assurance. Our friend’s wife joined in as she said to her husband, “We know that song, don’t we?”

Before we departed, I reached down and touch my friend’s shoulder and reminded him again what he meant to us, that we loved him, and that we were praying for him. With that, he gave me a wink and softly spoke, “I love you. Praying for you, too.”

To answer my wife’s question, neither of us know personally because we are not in that condition at the moment. From watching my friend and his wife, I can say, there is grace for the journey, peace for the soul, a song for the heart, a balm for the hurt, truth for the mind, a glorious reunion to come, and a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, because blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

Indeed, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15).

I’ll see you on the other side, friend; then I too will be seeing Jesus face-to-face.

Watching the Body at Work

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As we entered the hospital room, we were greeted with the sin-curse of death.  Another child of God was soon to “drop this robe of flesh” and rise to meet the Lord.

With hearts touched by the reality in front of us, we surrounded the bed and read Scripture.  Then we broke into song.  “In the Sweet By and By,” “It is Well With My Soul,” “When We All Get to Heaven,”  “Blessed Assurance”  and a few more.

As we sang, one would be overcome by emotion for a bit and their voice would fade or quiver.  It was at that point that someone else would carry the lead.

After a song or two, some other folks dropped by and joined the bedside choir.

Standing there, I was reminded that this is how the Body of Christ operates.

First of all, we are to sing to one another. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:16-17).

Second, when a brother or sister is faltering, overcome by emotion, or in various situations of need, we do not criticize them, we just “take the lead” and help them bear their burden.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Third, what a  blessing it is when others refuse to just stand back and intentionally join the choir! Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord (Romans 12:11).

May I also add that the lady in the room next to us heard our singing which opened a later door for her to hear the gospel the next day.

To be a member of the Body of Christ and serve with others in His Body is the greatest privilege on earth!!

Helping Children Understand Easter

 

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Golgatha

This is an awesome time of the year!  The apex of history is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the tomb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26:57-28:10; 1 Corinthians 15).  This event sets Jesus Christ and Christianity apart from ALL other religions around the world.

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Outside the Empty Tomb, January 19, 2017

How important that our children understand the truth about Christ and Easter.  There is no problem with enjoying eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets, but our younger generation must know the truth, and Christ, Who is Truth.

My wife’s blog will help you accomplish this.  Be sure to take take to read and watch, Helping Children Understand Easter

Three Anchor Truths In the Middle of the Storm

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Lately I have found myself repeatedly singing,

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm.  (Ryan Stevenson)

The trials and hardships of life, others and mine, at times seem to be so burdensome, numerous, and troubling.

How do we press on in the eye of the storm?  How do we stay afloat?  As I pondered these things, three anchor truths came to mind that can be your stay in the middle of the storm.

#1 Christ suffered, bled and died for me and my sins.

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).

When I consider the pain of my trial, I must look to Christ Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself (Hebrews 12:3) to save me from my greatest crisis.  What is my greatest crisis?  The answer: How do I save myself from going to hell because I am a sinner?  Since Jesus Christ took care of my greatest crisis and the tomb is empty, He will enable me to make it through any other crisis.

#2 Christ’s resurrection gives me blazing hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Hope in the New Testament is a…

  • blessed hope (Titus 2:13)
  • joyful hope (1 Thess. 2:19; Rom. 12:12)
  • comforting hope (1Thess. 4:13-18)
  • hope of glory (Col. 1:27)
  • anchoring hope (Heb. 6:19)

“When a Christian truly understands the hope he has in Christ, it results in a steadfast sense of security and stability.” (Gene Getz) 

#3 Being in Christ promises me an awesome future!

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 20:1-4)

Jesus, being God and having been in a boat in the eye of a storm (Mark 4:35-41), is the only true Anchor for life, trouble, sorrow, persecution, misunderstanding, questions, death, pain, sin, etc.

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?

Been There . . . Sustained

 

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Memory flashback.  Aware that the potential was before them, the truth of her passing yesterday afternoon hit my heart with an aching pain of grief for them.

Yesterday, dear friends of ours held their 26-week-old daughter in their arms and watched as she slowly enter Heaven into the presence of the One Who had created her.  She, along with her twin sister, were born at 25 weeks and 2 days.

This family has been down this road before having seen their first son born at 22 weeks.  The only difference, after many, many weeks in the children’s hospital, he came home. Today he is an active, healthy little man . . . a trophy of God’s grace.  His younger brother was full-term and likewise is doing very well.

Why a memory flashback?  July 2, 2017, will mark 30 years that my wife and I held the precious lifeless body of our second daughter in our arms.  She was stillborn.  I so well remember her little rosy cheeks, head of hair, and tender lips.  My, how it hurt that night, just like I’m sure our friends hurt yesterday, and do today.

What sustains you in a time like this?  In spite of the tremendous grief and pain, these truths hold you together.  These were our rock in the midst of our storm.  These held us together as we departed from the hospital with an empty car seat, and then arrived home to see a vacant nursery.

Psalm 91:1-4       He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

2 Samuel 12:22-23            And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

2 Corinthians 1:3               Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

Psalm 73:22-26, 28           Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

Romans 8:26-31                Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Memory flashback?  Yes.  Tears, hurt, grief, and a hurting heart? Yes! Marvelous, unexplainable, sustaining grace?  YES!!!  A grand reunion awaits us and for our dear friends, too? YES!!!

 

Encouraging resources to offer further help:

Grief – Finding Hope in the Darkness

Blessings – Laura Story

I Will Rise

Dying to Self

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For seventeen Monday nights in-a-row which started January 1, men have been gathering at Boones Creek Bible Church for an intensive discipleship study entitled Men With a Mission.  The seventeen lessons are a serious call to commitment, dedication, and sacrifice with the goal of fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:2, And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. These lessons, if applied, will develop godly men, build strong leaders, build godly homes, help with the basics of the Christian life, and accomplish Christ’s final command.

Our study last night, Dying to Self, drew us to the Word of God to discover what it means to die to self and the process of dying to self (Matt. 6:19-33; 8:18-22; 10:32-39; 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-26; 14:25-33; John 13:13-17; Romans 6; 12:1-3; Philippians 2; Colossians 3; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 12:1-2).

Below you will find a pointed, helpful application of what “dying to self” looks like. May I challenge you, in prayer, to look at each point, meditate on it, let the Holy Spirit speak to you, and see where you need, by the grace of God, to die to self. . . minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. 

Dying to Self

When you are not forgiven,

or neglected,

or purposely set at naught,

and you sting and hurt

with the insult and the oversight,

but your heart is happy

because you count it worthy to suffer for Christ:

that is self-denial.

When your good is evil spoken of,

when your wishes are crossed,

your advice is disregarded,

your opinions are ridiculed,

you refuse to let anger rise in your heart

or even defend yourself,

you take it all in patient, loving silence:

that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder,

any irregularity,

or any annoyance,

when you can stand face to face with waste

and folly

and extravagance

and spiritual insensitivity,

and endure it as Jesus endured it:

that is dying to self.

When you’re content with any food,

any offering,

any clothes,

any climate,

any society,

any solitude,

any interruption by the will of God:

that is dying to self.

When you can never care to refer to yourself in conversation,

or to record your own good works,

or itch after commendation,

when you can love to be unknown:

that is dying to self.

When you see your brother prosper

and have his needs met,

and honestly rejoice with him in spirit

and feel no envy,

nor question God,

while your own needs are far greater and unmet:

that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof

from one of less stature than yourself,

and humbly submit

inwardly as well as outwardly,

finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart:

that is dying to self.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself,
and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world,
and loses or forfeits himself?
– Luke 9:23-25 –

Making Investments

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There she lay.  Her earthly labors were over.  Her bodily tent had been comfortably tucked inside a beautiful, stained wooden casket adorned with a regal spray of flowers.  Her days here were over, but her life in Heaven had only just begun for all eternity on Saturday (John 14:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

As her pastor approached the podium, he read from Proverbs 31 and then described her life by two words, one of which was, investments.

An investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”  This dear lady, 83 years old, had spent most of her making investments . . . into people.

She invested . . .

  • The gospel into lost souls of every walk of life not matter who they were, the color of their skin, or their lot in life.
  • Time and energy in prayer crying out to the Lord.
  • Time and effort in prayer crying out to the Lord for the salvation of her husband. God heard and answered her prayer!
  • The Word of God into her children, her grandchildren, and her Sunday School class by her teaching and her example.
  • In “throw aways,” people that others did not want to “touch.”
  • In her pastor by encouraging him and praying for him.

I am quickly reminded of what Jesus said as recorded in Mark 10:42-45, But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose from the tomb to make an eternal, soul-saving investment in any one who would receive Him (John 1:12).  Barbara Chandler, a devout follower of Christ, made investments in others for the cause of Christ to lead others to Christ because Christ lived in her (Colossians 1:27).

I never knew her in this life. No matter, even in death, she made an investment in me.

What are your plans in 2017 to make investments in people, to make a difference other’s lives, to make those eternal investments?  I believe it’s called laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)!

The Greatest Tragedy

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Almost every day, I scan through the headlines, Latest News and Watch Now sections of foxnews.com. Here are some of what made yesterday afternoon’s news:

  • An Execution: Hunt for criminal after sheriff’s deputy killed
  • At least 2 dead after magnitude-7.8 earthquake hits New Zealand
  • France remembers 130 killed in Paris attacks 1 year ago
  • Georgia prepares to execute man who killed ex-girlfriend 15 years ago
  • Pennsylvania inmate arrested in 2008 murder of New York teenager
  • 18-year-old charged with murder in road-rage beating
  • Father and son die in hiking accident near Northern California lake
  • Rocker Leon Russell dies in Nashville at 74
  • Four Americans killed by suicide bombing in Afghanistan

Wow! Deaths, killings, murders, . . . one tragedy after another.  The Word of God addresses these scenarios and gives us the root cause of them all.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man. (Matthew 15:19-20a)

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a)

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27).

How sad to see an innocent life snuffed out because of a selfish, wicked heart.  How painful to see the effects of sin! How awful to watch men and women play out the defilement of their hearts.  And we say, “How tragic!”  My friend, none of things in the aforementioned news headlines rank as the greatest tragedy.  And before I go any further, I am not heartless nor belittling the agony or pain described in those headlines.  Nevertheless, the greatest tragedy occurs every day on earth when a man or woman dies in their sins, rejecting the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Who paid for their sins, and therefore slips into eternity never again having the opportunity to accept the free-pardon of sin through Christ.  In short, the greatest tragedy today is when someone dies and goes to hell . . . and they do so by their own choosing.  Jesus Christ came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins as our substitute, and rose from the tomb to prove He is Who He said He was and is, and . . . He did it all for you. No one needs to die in his sins and go to hell, a place reserved for Satan and his demons, because God so loved you, my friend, that He gave His only Son, the only one like Him, to die in your place so you would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The greatest tragedy . . . an eternity in hell.

The greatest triumph . . . eternity in heaven.

If this post today has piqued your interest, has created within you a desire to know more, would you take 17 minutes to consider just Five Questions and their answers.

17 minutes vs. eternity?  Please take time to watch it now.