Feeble and weak, he shuffled a bit wobbly toward the couch carrying a prized possession. In my 89 year old father-in-law’s hand was a photo mousepad. As he sat down on the couch next to me he said, “This is a picture of Mil (Mildred) and me after our first date.” He then proceeded to tell, with great delight, a bit of laughter, and a tear of joy how he got his sister to sit in the back seat of the car so the girl of his dreams would join him in the front seat. And as they say, “The rest is history.”Continue reading “He Adores Her”
My dad had many sayings. When my friends and I got rowdy as a kid, he would sometimes utter, “You boys need to settle down.”
Now in my 60’s and having been exposed to so much in the Christian and religious world for these years, could we as pastors/Christian leaders just settle down?
My background is one of . . . growing up in a pastor’s home (My dad was Church of the Nazarene until his Army days in Korea, and then came to understand the security of believer in Christ, thanks to a godly chaplain who taught him the Word!); The Wilds Christian Camp (Doc Hay, Rock Royer, Major Brooks, etc.); Bob Jones University (college and seminary plus a host of its graduates including all of its presidents to date, Bible Conference speakers, faculty, etc.); Tennessee Temple University graduates; the Sword of the Lord crowd; my Southern Baptist grandfather who pastored in Kentucky and southwest Virginia; the GARBC; the many men who fellowshipped in what was for years known as the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (Now Foundations Baptist Fellowship); Dallas Theological Seminary grads; being mentored personally by the likes of J.B. Williams, J. Robert Martin, Randy Patten, Reynold Lemp and many others; plus being influenced from a distance by the likes of Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Adrian Rogers, Henry Blackaby, David Jeremiah, and more.
In more recent years, my background continues to be of the many mentioned above plus Men’s Prayer Advance, 9Marks, T4G, CoRE Conferences, plus many, many books authored by Tripp, Ortlund, Wells, Bridges, Payne & Marshall, Thomas, Huegal, Ryrie, Walvord, Pickering, etc.
“What’s the point?’, you may ask.
Well, I want to say that for all of us in ministry, none of us have it all figured out; none of us knows all the facts about everyone or every situation; none of us know more than our God; none of us have the absolute right methodology; none of us are the standard; and none of us have arrived!
For all of us in ministry, none of us have it all figured out . . . none of us have arrived!
We all come from various backgrounds and are all influenced by a diverse group of people, churches, institutions and movements, but we are saved by grace through faith alone in the cross work and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are one in Christ. We are made complete in Christ. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are children of the living God!
Therefore, understanding that there are clear, biblical points of separation and the application thereof, such as preeminently, the Gospel (Galatians 1:1-10), may I say that we need to . . .
- Give one another the benefit of the doubt.
- Be gracious and kind.
- Stop making fun of our brothers on social media whether you agree with him or not. (No wonder the lost world doesn’t want our Jesus, seeing the way we lampoon one another.)
- Throw away our Pharisaical microscope.
- Give one another space to grow in sanctification.
- Cheer our brother on when he’s down. When revival breaks out where he pastors but not where you serve, rejoice and praise God with him!
- Personally call up the brother we have issue with instead of talking about him behind his back or on social media.
- Exchange the time of criticizing and posting for time on our knees in prayer.
- Let God handle error by His righteous standard rather than us being “the enforcer.”
- Meet with your brother for coffee; get to know him and disciple each other.
- Confess and repent of our arrogance and pride.
- Exercise grace.
- Remember, we will live forever together in Glory!
Throw away your Pharisaical microscope.
In times past, I have jokingly said, for instance to a group of four men, “There are only four people in the world that’s perfect. That’s me and you three, and . . . I am doubtful about you three!”
Proverbs 22:4 recently challenged my heart again . . . By humility and the fear of the LORD (not man) are riches and honor and life.
May I suggest that we soak our soul often in the truths of Colossians 1:15-18 and go deep in meditation and prayer in Philippians 1:1-2:18?
Let’s join Paul in prayer . . . And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
Let’s just settle down.
Two marriage failures. One sexual abuse. One suicide.
I heard about these four tragedies in a two day period. These were all ministry leaders.
Only the Lord knows all the facts about each of these scenarios, but the following is for certain:
- These sins could have been prevented.
- The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.
- Men in ministry are not above temptation.
- The root cause is unbelief in God which leads to discontentment which leads to discouragement which leads to despondency/depression which leads to despair.
This is why I have written these several recent blog posts about overcoming discouragement in ministry. As I heard of the aforementioned moral failures, my heart ached. I wept. I realized again how susceptible I am in my own heart to fail. Everyone of us is one decision away from bringing reproach on the name of Christ, destroying our testimony, marriage, family and ministry.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)
Ministry is made up of two worlds, public and private. Public ministry life has its share of hurts and struggles which brings the temptation to deal with it in a sinful way in the private world, where there is no accountability.
Will you read the following from Paul Tripp and soak your soul in the grace of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Who has brought deliverance and rescue to us all?
“Why do I struggle with the same sin over and over again, and how can I break the cycle?”
Someone submitted this question not too long ago. I could feel their discouragement through the email. Have you ever felt stuck in a cycle of sin, seemingly unable to break a pattern that dishonors the Lord and reaps a harmful harvest?
I know I have, and when I do, my mind immediately jumps to Romans 7. “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (vv. 18-19)
So what do we do when we hit that wall? I think Romans 7 provides us with some practical steps and encouragement to break the cycle of sin.
The first is this: Don’t sign a premature armistice agreement with our sinful nature.
As believers, the Bible declares that our heart of stone has been removed and replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Yes, we are new creatures, and yes, the controlling power of sin over us has been broken … but the presence of sin remains.
I think many of us have seriously underestimated the drama, the power, and the depth of remaining sin—how deep it is inside of us and how it infiltrates every aspect of our being. There is a tremendous moral and spiritual war still raging on within us.
I am surprised by how many Christians, myself included, live with a peacetime mentality. While we might be active fighting our culture or protesting outside evil, some of us seem to expect the luxuries and leisure of peace in our heart—where the war rages most fiercely.
And then suddenly, we get surprised or discouraged when sin starts winning!
Don’t misunderstand: because of the wonderful atoning work of the Prince of Peace, the war between God and us has ended. And when Christ returns, our struggle with sin and the Enemy will be complete. But until then, a battle of hostility inside us still rages. Perhaps the problem is that we think that the adversary within—remaining sin— has been conquered long before it actually has.
In the middle of this spiritual war, there’s a second thing you must do: Don’t argue for your own righteousness.
Perhaps the biggest and most tempting lie that all of us tend to embrace is that our most significant problems exist somewhere outside. This is partially true because, in a fallen world, people sin against us and we experience bodily pain and suffering. The Apostle Paul experienced both of these and doesn’t minimize them by writing about them elsewhere in Scripture, but in this particular passage, he’s only concerned about his own sin and heart. He doesn’t argue for his righteousness.
On the contrary, in Romans 7, Paul locates his struggle inside himself. He knows that when you argue for your righteousness, you convince yourself that you don’t need the grace of God—the only thing that can protect you from sin.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
Are you feeling discouraged in your battle with sin? At first glance, Romans 7 can be a pretty discouraging passage! Paul exclaims, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
But the passage doesn’t end there: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Eternal rescue has been supplied, but rescuing grace is still necessary every day. What we have received in Christ, we still desperately need. Romans 7 calls us to be aware and serious; the war for our hearts is not over. Our need for a conquering Savior has not ended.
- What sin have you conquered or left behind by God’s grace since becoming a believer? How have you become a new creation by being in Christ?
- What sins or weaknesses do you find yourself still struggling with? When was the last time you wrestled with the flesh because of it? What was the outcome? Do others know of this consistent battle?
- Are you more committed to fighting the sins of the culture than you are fighting remaining sin in your heart? Why is the latter more of a danger to you?
- Consider a recent time when you deceived yourself by arguing for your own righteousness. Who, or what, did you blame? How did you justify your selfishness or sin?
- What does the daily rescuing grace of Christ look like in your life? How can you pursue it today? Be specific.
Ministry friend, if I can be a listening ear for you with a heart of compassion and truth, please contact me at email@example.com. Let me help you before you become a statistic.
From a pastor’s heart!
I am so glad my wife and I like each other.
We have spent many hours together this month due to my bout with covid.
So what have we done to merry up Christmas and keep our marriage on the scenic route?
- Trust in forgiveness and the grace of God. When you are not feeling well, you can be demanding and words can have an edge. Throw in our hearing issues, and . . . . Therefore, just like every day of marriage, you must rest in the grace of God and forgive, not apologize.
- Give each other space. My wife has taken up the hobby of water color painting. She has received refreshment from going to her craft room in the afternoons and/or evenings and losing herself in a winter scene.
- Read Paul David Tripp’s, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, that our daughter gave to us.
- Go for a drive just for some sunshine and a change of scenery. My wife’s Jeep is good for that. Now that I am gaining ground, I feel like driving. So, I’m her chauffer dropping her off at the door as I wait in the car.
- Movies. Denise and I are not TV watchers, but we have joined the ranks as we viewed many Christmas movies as well as some others. In the early going of this bout, I had to just sit and be still. No movement. We enjoyed White Christmas, Mrs. Miracle, The Christmas Edition, Elf, The Christmas Lodge, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Christopher Robin, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life (my very first time), etc. Miracle on 34th Street awaits.
- 12 Days of Christmas. Denise and I have shared in this way of exchanging gifts several times over the years. For twelve days, before going to bed, we give a gift to each other. In the early days, we kept it to around $1-5 gifts. Of course, inflation has struck and it’s around $1-$20. How did I shop? Thank you Amazon delivery and Walgreen’s curbside pick-up services!
- Listen to hours of Christmas music via Amazon Music on Alexa. This has helped with a light-hearted atmosphere all through our home.
- Enjoy the fireplace at our meals.
- Share with each other what the Lord said to us through our daily Bible reading or sermon podcasts. This has been a blessing of joy, tears, conviction, challenge and encouragement.
- Nothing much. A few days, my wife was on her own. Well, she had Liza Jane, family communication, friends and the rigors of being a sweet caregiver. But as for us, some lonely hours.
Well, here it is two days before Christmas, and we still like each other! (And love one another, too!) God is so very good. Merry Christmas!!
Yesterday, my cousin in West Virginia forwarded the following to me. Here’s a portion of that email, written by Larry Pratt, for your encouragement on this Thanksgiving Day.
Several years ago a good friend of ours, Mary, shared this following
email. It was found on a relative who had passed on. He had it printed
on a card that he carried in his wallet.
His name was Jim. He is dead now, but his message lives on. I hope
you enjoy it.
I am thankful . . . . . .
. . . . for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been
surrounded by friends.
. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have
enough to eat.
. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and
gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
. . . for all the complaining I hear about government because it means
we have freedom of speech.
. . . for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means
I am capable of walking.
. . .for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
. . . for the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it
means I can hear.
. . . for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes
. . . for weariness and aching at the end of the day because it means I
have been productive.
. . . for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means
that I am alive.
. . . for all the right and wrong in the world because it means I can tell
May we, too, find our lives lived with an attitude of gratitude, a heart full of grace and words of continual praise to our God!
I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100).
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1).
HAPPY, BLESSED, PRAISE-FILLED THANKSGIVING DAY!!!
The longer I strolled through the amusement park, the more burdened and sad I became. Everywhere I turned, people were trying to fit in, wanting to be accepted, living a lifestyle of sin, provoking their children to anger, flaunting their assumed freedom, living for the moment, trying to buy happiness, bowing down to the idols of their heart, motivated as described in Jeremiah 17:9
Then, the next morning while reading Ephesians 4:17-19, my mind was transported back to the day before and those dear soul’s greatest need . . . the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Why? Because they are living in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (4:17b-19).
If it were not for the grace of God, Ephesians 4:17-19 would describe me. But, how marvelous is the mercy and grace of God that has transferred me from darkness to light! As an old song written by Rusty Goodman says,
Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
Then forever my soul would be lost,
The change this world needs can only be found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ!! But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).
Protesting on the street corner, shaking your head in disgust, or responding in anger or arguing will not change sinful hearts. These dear souls, just like you did, need someone to love them enough for God’s glory to share the love of God through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can radically change their life for eternity. Real life and adventure is only found in following Jesus Christ!
If you are searching today, my friend, read these scripture verses again and again until your eyes are opened to see your condition before God. Watch the video “How can I go to Heaven?” at the top of the sidebar.
I share this because I care for you. No critical judgment toward you. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) Everyone must go by the way of the cross or forever be lost, . . . and Jesus Christ did all that was necessary for you to have a life worth living here and for all eternity!
Singing In Christ Alone, The Solid Rock, Nothing Ever Can Nothing Ever Will, Be Still My Soul, He Will Hold Me Fast, the reading of Galatians 5:16-26; preaching from Romans 8:5-11, Sunday School & Adult Bible Fellowships, hearing of gospel ministry in Brazil to the deaf, and corporate prayer, these were some of the components of the last time we met in March as a corporate body in our church building. I’ve intentionally kept the hard copy of the Sunday Gathering Order in the flyleaf of my Bible. Good memories!
Yes, we have missed the many ingredients of a Sunday at BCBC as well as other gatherings. Nevertheless, God in His grace and mercy has been so very good to us!
In this midst of this quarantine, what have we enjoyed? What blessings have been graced upon us?
- Zoom Services. Thank the Lord for technology that has kept us connected. With all the push toward social distancing, the Lord has enabled us as a congregation to stay close. Through Zoom, we see/hear each other, chat with one another, share blessings, fellowship with our missionaries (Asia and Europe), rejoice over the salvation of a precious soul, evangelize those who would not attend a gathering in person, and . . . wave at each other when we “leave the meeting.” 🙂
- Zoom Prayer Meetings. What a blessing to hear adults, young people, and children pray for the salvation of lost souls, spiritual awakening in the world, America, and the Tri-Cities, and revival for BCBC!
- Zoom Small Groups. Each week when groups have chosen to meet, they have experienced the presence of the Lord as they pray, discuss the Romans passage from the previous Sunday’s message, share burdens, simply chat, and encourage one another. Once again, the grace provisions have been rich!
- Zoom Sunday School. The upper grade school class has been meeting after the morning service. Last Sunday, they were able to have a “visitor” from Germany participate in their class as they even did an outdoor activity. How cool is that?!?!
- Zoom Teen Meetings. Pastor Andrew has been able to continue teen ministry through meetings at various times through the week, even reading through Mere Christianity with some guys. So good to see a passion to continue to disciple.
- Zoom Apples of Gold. My wife loves to disciple ladies through this ministry. The past three Sunday afternoons, she has given a cooking lesson (jam, donuts, biscuits and sausage gravy) for the purpose of creating hospitality and gospel conversation times going forward. There has been teaching and questions from the participants, laughter, encouragement, and even the fulfillment of given opportunities to be a blessing to others during week.
Indeed, there are many other grace blessings that I am not aware of because our God is bigger than the coronavirus and social distancing, and He is fulfilling the promise of Matthew 16:18 around the world! I am certainly looking forward to meeting again in a corporate setting at our building to sing, pray, fellowship and hear God’s Word proclaimed, but in the meantime, we rejoice in how God accomplishes His will and work no matter the circumstances.
Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise? (Psalm 106:1-2)
For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)
But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God. (Luke 18:27)
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)
Different languages and accents. Various colors of skin. Diverse worship styles. Different college backgrounds. Varied cultural differences.
That’s what I saw in South Africa and Malawi among the natives, the missionaries, the transplants and the travelers.
Whether it was on a plane, in a mission compound, in a Sunday morning service, at a café for breakfast, in the middle of a bunch of teens, or gathered at a camp, I saw something that touched my heart in some very special ways. It was a foretaste of Revelation 5:8-9 which reads,
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
For sixteen days I had the blessed privilege to experience the multi-faceted family of God all radically changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ; people from varying tribes and tongues and people and nations.
The family of God needs no introductions; our spirit bears witness with each other (Romans 8:16).
The family of God doesn’t see race but grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The family of God loves one another (John 13:35).
The family of God honors one another (Romans 12:10).
The family of God rejoices and weeps together (Romans 12:15).
The family of God serves one another in love (Galatians 5:13).
The family of God encourages each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Why? Because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!! (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 3:9). What an awesome family around the world from every tribe, tongue, people and nation that will one day gather around the Throne in Heaven!!
From a Pastor’s Heart,
The focus of my blog posts this week has been on our Grace Giving Missions Sunday at BCBC. Truth is, every day of our life is a focus on the grace of God because by grace we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) and by grace we operate in life (2 Corinthians 9:8). Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. Grace is the principle upon which God operates in our life. Therefore, these “coupons” we clip are gifts of His grace to undeserving people who stand in Christ alone, redeemed, justified, and forgiven (Romans 3-5).
Coupon #1: Denise, My Wife
I certainly do not deserve such a godly, Word-filled, hard-working, caring, loving, lady of prayer and faith as my wife! For 35 years we have been working by grace on our marriage. One of the things that she has seen fit to do through the years is to make our house a home. A man cannot do that. Only a woman with her touch can make your home a place where you are accepted, love, and . . . fed as the picture shows. How cool to walk in the house this week and see fresh homemade French bread on the counter. She knows me so well. In moments she said, “You want a piece? Get some butter.” Wow! What a grace blessing Denise is to my life in so many ways!!
How awesome to hear the testimony of teens coming to Christ for salvation!! How awesome to hear when anyone comes to faith and repentance for salvation through Christ alone (Five Questions), but to hear about precious teens in their public schools coming to Christ is super-awesome!! My friend, there are no schools, work-places, government, or countries closed to the gospel (Romans 1:16). My, my, my what a thrill to hear of fifteen students getting saved in one school! Wow!! Glory!!!!
When you reach my age, you are able to look back over your life and rejoice in the people God put in your life to make spiritual and ministry life investments! Yesterday, we were able to have lunch with two faithful, glowing, caring servants of the Lord who made those investments in us while we were serving in Indiana from 1986-2000. One of the awesome blessings to our hearts is that these two servants have not really retired. Dr. Taylor is no longer the senior pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN, but he teaches a seniors Sunday School class and supports his pastor and the ministry that he loves so dearly. His dear wife, Joan, continues to serve alongside him in the class just as she has done for many years. These folks are investors, champions, encouragers, and trophies of God’s grace!
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
Every week ministry is filled and enriched by God’s grace. No matter what kind of week it has been, grace has been sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and overflowing (2 Corinthians 9:8). Here’s another peek into some of the grace coupons I clipped in recent days.
COUPON #1: COUPLES’ ADVANCE
Several years ago, I attended my first Men’s Prayer Advance, and I have never been the same since. The MPA is the highlight conference for me each year. Last week, my wife and I attended our first Couples Advance. The fact that is was held in Pigeon Forge, TN, made the event that much sweeter! How we love East Tennessee and the Smokies! More importantly, how wonderful to come apart for three days and intentionally work on our marriage by the grace of God. This past June we celebrated our 35th Anniversary, and we both love the gift of marriage and love being married! Seriously, sometimes I feel like we are still on our honeymoon. But, because we are two sinners saved by grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) and accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), we need the searchlight of God’s Word to show where we must grow and change to be more like Christ (Ephesians 5:18-33). Of course, the Word works (Hebrews 4:12)! What a blessing to get honest with God and each other. The marriage triangle says it all:
COUPON #2: PREACHING THROUGH REVELATION
He that can toy with his ministry and count it to be like a trade, or like any other profession, was never called of God. But he that has a charge pressing on his heart, and a woe ringing in his ear, and preaches as though he heard the cried of hell behind him, and saw his God looking down on him–oh, how that man entreats the Lord that his hearers may not hear in vain! – Charles Spurgeon
Preparing to preach from this awesome book every Sunday takes considerable time, prayer, and digging. To mine out the truths and deliver them without a sensational spin as well as be true to the text is a chore but a delightful one. I often think of a line from the movie, Sheffey, when he preaches his first sermon and runs out of the church in fear. Shed McCombs, in the face of Sheffey’s protests and not willing to let him quit, declares, “Tis a fearful thing to preach the Word of God!” Indeed it is, but I must say, how grateful to be grace-enabled to preach Revelation in these last days!