Practice, Brother!!

The oft-spoken adage and biblical advice for preachers is, “Practice what you preach!”

Well, since having completed an eleven blogpost series on overcoming discouragement in ministry, my wife and I put Post #7 to practice.

Last week we “got out of Dodge” and headed for a week of rest at Edisto Island, SC.

To make the week purposeful and full of memories, we took the word “READS” and used it as an acrostic for each day’s goal. After all, you usually spend time reading when you get away like this.

Here’s a sampling of our time with the hopes of encouraging you to “practice what you preach.”

R – REST

  • Each day, we did not let ourselves be driven by a clock. We had quiet, leisure mornings on the deck overlooking the golf course with our Bibles, journals, study books and coffee. We did read a lot on the beach, too!
  • When we went to the beach, which we had basically to ourselves, we just sat or strolled along the shore. One day I looked at Denise and said, as if I was being asked by someone at home, “Well, preacher, what did you do on vacation?” “Nothing!”
  • Wherever we went in the car, it was slow driving; no hurry.

E – EXERCISE

  • Although I did not get to run on the beach, I really enjoyed running through the Ocean Ridge Wyndham property!
  • Denise and I walked around the property hand-in-hand in the evenings!

A – ADVENTURE

  • Played Putt-Putt golf (Denise won, made four hole-in-one’s, just missed two others). So I bought her an ice cream cone for her “trophy”!)
  • Botany Bay shoreline at high tide with a storm brewing!
  • We have always said that the vacation begins when we leave home and ends when we arrive back home. Therefore, our “out-of-the-way” trip to Charleston, SC, was a great adventure: Handy & Hot Restaurant, King Street shopping, and strolling along King and Meeting Street to view the historic homes.

D – DINNER

  • We had seafood every day!! Some of the best was at Roxbury Mercantile (Twice), Edingsville Grocery Restaurant, and Pressley’s!!
Roxbury Mercantile

S – SPECIAL

  • The historic Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island is a must see! There is a small Prayer Chapel on the property. We stopped on Tuesday and Thursday (National Day of Prayer) for a time of prayer together that was very special!
  • Since we love ice cream, each evening I served Denise mint chocolate chip accompanied by a mint chocolate chip cookie served in a tall stemware glass. Cheap ice cream, Aldi’s cookies, but served up in special way.
  • Cheese sandwich picnic!!
  • Sunsets
Prayer Chapel

Practicing can be fun when you have your best friend, wife, and sweetheart of 41 years alongside!

Now! That was a great way to stay away from or overcome discouragement!!

Do you need to practice what you preach?

500+ Singing Men!!

“I was blown away by the singing from the very first song!”

That was the testimony from one of our men who attended Men’s Prayer Advance for the first time last week. Singing is one of the blessed ingredients of three days of the Advance in accordance to the Word of God.

Psalm 13: 6 – I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 30:4 – Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psalm 47:6 – Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

Psalm 89:1 – I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 149:1 – Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

Acts 16:25 – And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Colossians 3:16 – 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.

There are two threads woven through these Scripture passages.  First of all, singing is mentioned in each verse.  The second the point of this blog post.  These and many other references found in the Bible mention men who sang.  Some of these were David, Heman, Ethan, Jeduthun, Asaph, Paul, Silas and a host of others!  These men were not weak men, but men of God who fought, endured hardships, and stood for righteousness!

Men should be the spiritual leaders in every area of the Christian walk, and therefore, we should also be the leaders in singing praise to our God! 

In John MacArthur’s commentary on Ephesians 5:18-19, (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Ephesians [Moody Press], p. 256) he writes, “The first consequence of the Spirit-filled life that Paul mentioned was not mountain-moving faith, an ecstatic spiritual experience, dynamic speaking ability, or any other such thing. It was simply a heart that sings.”

“Joyful, exuberant, heart-felt singing is one evidence that a church is Spirit-filled.” (Steven Cole, Spirit-Filled Singing, Bible.org)

Imagine being in a group of 500-700 men lifting their hearts and voices in song to God in praise and thanksgiving for Who He is and what He has done!! That’s Men’s Prayer Advance! Every service is one of anticipatory, expectant singing that causes you to long for Christ and the glorious worship in Heaven! Hands are raised, tears flow, shouts of joy ring out as men are edified and encouraged and God is glorified!!

Men, may I challenge you to be th e leader in singing at home and in church?  Will you join us this April 7-9, 2022 or January 2023 for Men’s Prayer Advance.  I have experienced this gathering over and again, and it is a bit of heaven on this side!

Men’s Prayer Advance Albemarle, NC

Men’s Prayer Advance, January 2023

Sing With Shiloh!

1 Who is he born in the stall,
at whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is he in deep distress,
fasting in the wilderness?
Refrain:
‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
At his feet we humbly fall,
crown him, crown him, Lord of all!
4 Lo! at midnight, who is he
prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is he upon the tree
dies in grief and agony? [Refrain]
5 Who is he that from the grave
comes to heal and help and save?
Who is he that from his throne
rules thro’ all the world alone? [Refrain]

Tears of joy ran down my face Sunday morning as we congregationally sang the rich text of Who Is He in Yonder Stall?. As the full song recounts the life of Christ, the refrain resounds with praise and attention given to the Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation and kingship! Indeed, He alone is worthy of our worship!

Joy also flowed because this was my first Sunday back in church since November 28th due to covid.

But that’s not all. Joy welled up in my heart in response to the congregation singing! From my vantage point on the back row, it sounded like a full choir seated in the pews ringing out praises to our matchless Savior and Lord!

Folks, that’s the way it should be in every Sunday gathering! Indeed, I am grateful for every aspect of music ministry in a service, but a congregation singing with all their hearts to the Lord is hard to beat! As each believer thinks through the words of each song while focusing their attention on singing to the Lord and to one another, something grand occurs . . . worship, discipleship, praise, presence, conviction, unity, encouragement, emotion and adoration! The issue is not talent but a heart engaged in proclaiming the greatness of our God and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

If you want an example of what I am describing, you need to join me on Sunday morning as my five year old grandson, Shiloh, gives uninhibited praise to God! Yesterday, he joined in as we sang:

I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

(Keith & Kristen Getty)

After the service, several folks mentioned to his mom and my wife that they could hear Shiloh singing! Where did he learn to sing like that? By being in church watching others around him as well as the influence of his home.

God wants us to sing, and He wants to hear you sing!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-2)

So, this Sunday, will you join with other believers around the world as well as those seated around you in singing praise to our God? I’m looking forward to singing with Shiloh this Sunday, too!

Joy Has Dawned

Christmas Carolers at our door Sunday night!

Joy has dawned upon the world,
Promised from creation—
God’s salvation now unfurled,
Hope for ev’ry nation.
Not with fanfares from above,
Not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love—
Jesus born of Mary.


Sounds of wonder fill the sky
With the songs of angels
As the mighty Prince of Life
Shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place,
Shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast,
Vuln’rable and helpless.


Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
Gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story.
Gold—a King is born today,
Incense—God is with us,
Myrrh—His death will make a way,
And by His blood He’ll win us.


Son of Adam, Son of heaven,
Given as a ransom;
Reconciling God and man,
Christ, our mighty champion!
What a Savior! What a Friend!
What a glorious myst’ry!
Once a babe in Bethlehem,
Now the Lord of hist’ry.

Keith & Kristyn Getty

Cancelember

Cancel and debt. Two words that loom heavily over this Christmas 2021.

Debt looks like that long line of overloaded, bulging Sam’s Club carts at the exit door that probably won’t be paid off before next Christmas.

Cancel looks like our holiday season due to Covid.

  • Vacation (Cancelled)
  • Pigeon Forge/Dollywood Lights/Time with friends (Cancelled)
  • Hike (Cancelled)
  • Christmas shopping (Cancelled)
  • Haircut (Cancelled)
  • Perform wedding, Dec. 17-18 (Cancelled)
  • Christmas caroling (Cancelled)
  • Game date to Blackbird Bakery (Cancelled)
  • Getty Christmas Concert, Greenville (Cancelled)
  • December corporate worship with brothers & sisters in Christ (Cancelled)
  • And there is more, but . . .

Cancel and debt are GREAT words at Christmas! Quite frankly, what we would consider to be two negative, disappointing words are instead words that are full of hope and joy!

Christmas is preeminently and transcendently about the Lord Jesus Christ. Due to the sinful condition of mankind (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23), Christ in His glorious humiliation entered into the chaos of our depraved, full of death condition (Philippians 2:6-8) and cancelled the debt of our sin against us that He might reveal God to us (Matthew 1:21-23).

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him (Christ), having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Colossians 2:13-15).

Christ came to experience all that experience, die for our sins, and then return to Heaven to represent us before the Father. He is willing to save and able to save (Warren Wiersbe). [Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25]

Therefore because my life is secure in Christ today and for all eternity, the words “cancel” and “debt” remind me of Christmas, the Gospel!

On this day in “Cancelember” I can sing the following old song of praise and testimony!

He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

My debt He paid upon the cross
He cleansed my soul from all its dross
I tho’t that no one could all my sins erase
But now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

O such great pain my Lord endured
When He my sinful soul secured
I should have died there but Jesus took my place
So now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

He didn’t give to me a loan
He gave Himself now He’s my own
He’s gone to Heaven to make for me a place
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

21 Days of Prayer (Day #8)

THE GRATITUDE PROTOCOL (Harold Vaughan)

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving.”  Psalm 100:4

Psalm 100 contains three protocols for prayer. The first is the gratitude protocol. Our initial approach toward heaven must always be with thankfulness: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving” (Ps. 100:4). The “gates” represent the doorway into God’s presence—the threshold to the throne of God. Man’s initial approach to God should be with gratitude. Psalm 100:4 goes further by saying, “Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

We can take things for granted, or we can take things with gratitude, but we can’t take them both ways. Daily God heaps blessings upon us and bears our burdens (see Ps. 68:19). Gratitude is the pathway into God’s blessings as we acknowledge His favor. Psalm 103 directs us to “bless the Lord” and not forget His many benefits (Ps. 103:2). Gratitude is simply rehearsing all the advantages, favors, kindnesses, and mercies God has bestowed upon us. We must not get so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Thanking God will move us from a mentality of defeat into a stance of faith. The psalmist said, “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Ps. 116:17).

But what about those times when we are overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted, perplexed, and baffled? In our heart we do not feel grateful. In times like this, we should pray out loud, “Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus.” As we keep repeating this faith-based prayer, it will bless God’s heart and help us. Thanking God should be a deliberate, willful act in times when our emotions are lacking.

We should not fall for the notion that we should not say thank you unless we feel thankful. Our emotions are ever changing and unreliable. We should pay no attention to our feelings. Spiritual maturity does what is right because it is right. Eventually, our emotions will catch up with our verbalized thanksgiving. Gratitude is habit forming. We must daily enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving.

We should thank God not only when things are good but choose to thank Him because He is good, especially when our circumstances are bad. Most anybody can thank God when He gives us things, but Job praised the Lord when He took things from him. Job blessed the Lord in the worst of times and refused to think the worst about God (see Job 1:21). Job chose to bless the Lord in his misery, and so can we! Thanking God with no emotional backup is not hypocrisy. It demonstrates trust in God.

We should never begin our prayer time with a “grocery list” of requests. We should always consider our present position (we are forgiven, justified, adopted, and accepted) in light of our former condition (we were lost, estranged from God, and doomed). Then we should enter His gates with gratitude.

God gives and forgives, so we should give thanks! When God gives, we should thank Him. When God forgives, we should thank Him. Both God’s giving and forgiving call for thanksgiving. “Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of heaven,” said William Romaine.1

We should not only thank God for forgiving the sins we’ve committed and confessed, but we should also thank Him for the sins we did not commit. We may have done badly, but we could have done much worse! What we have done is insignificant compared to what we might have done. We can express our appreciation for God’s restraining grace in our lives.

“He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness,” said Neil Strait.2 Our happiness in life is in direct proportion to our gratitude.

When I was in high school, a special speaker came to our church. I visited with him, and he recommended that I go on a “quarantine of thanksgiving”—go three days without asking God for anything. I thought this was a strange idea, so I asked him, “Are you telling me not to pray for three days?”

“No,” he said. “I am recommending that you spend the next three days thanking God and not asking for anything.”

I decided to give it a try. It seemed awkward at first, because most of my praying had consisted of asking God for things. Now I was forced to think about what I was praying. It required effort to isolate my blessings and benefits and thank God for them individually. But the longer I thanked God, the more I realized how fortunate I was.

Not only did I thank God for all His benefits to me, but I also started thanking God for my problems. The Bible says that we should be “giving thanks always for all things unto God” (Eph. 5:20). This verse does not make any distinction between good things and bad things. It says to be constantly giving thanks “for all things.” First Thessalonians 5:18 states, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Not everything is good, but God is good all the time. So I thanked God for problems, difficulties, convictions over sin, and even temptations. I began to view these adversities as opportunities to trust the Lord.

After three days of intentional gratitude, I realized how blessed I was. I also began to grasp that when I spent time thanking God for my blessings and problems, I would never run out of material to thank Him for!

Reflection

  1. We can take things for granted, or we can take things with gratitude, but we can’t take them both ways.
  2. We should not get so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings.
  3. We should always consider our present position in light of our former condition.
  4. Our happiness in life is in direct proportion to our gratitude.

Application

  1. Count your blessings. Thank God for the mercies and benefits you have received from Him.
  2. Tell the Lord thank you for forgiving the sins you have confessed. Then thank God for the sins you have not committed.
  3. Dedicate yourself to a three-day quarantine of thanksgiving, or at least a season of gratitude—thanking God only.
  4. Practice the gratitude protocol as you rise every morning. Better yet, thank God for a new day before you rise.

Taken from “Approaching God‘s Throne: Biblical Protocols for Prayer”. CLICK HERE to order your copy TODAY!

Notes:

1. William Romaine, “William Romaine Quotes,” AZquotes, www.azquotes.com/author/30002-William_Romaine (accessed October 28, 2019).

2. C. Neil Strait, ed., The Speaker’s Book of Inspiration: A Treasury of Contemporary Religious and Inspirational Thought (Atlanta: Droke, 1972).

Let’s Have a Monday!

Sunrise in the country.

How sad that so many in the world look at the second day of the week, Monday, as a downer, a negative. How many times have you heard someone respond to a bad day or rough situation as “I’ve had a MONDAY!”?

For born again believers, Mondays should be a launching pad for a week of ministry, a week of walking with Christ! Having gathering on Sunday around the person of Jesus Christ by singing, by praying, by participating in corporate worship, by fellowship, by responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the preached Word, by confession of sin, and by being encouraged to see Christ live His life out through us each day should cause us to arise on Monday morning ready to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20, Psalm 34:1-3, and Ephesians 4:12-16, 5:19, Colossians 1:15-18.

In particular, today, on this Monday, when someone inquires about your weekend, what will you say?

Will you share what God taught you about Himself, about Christ, and/or about yourself? Will you talk about the song lyric the Holy Spirit used to cause you to rejoice? Will you honestly share how you repented and changed via the conviction of the Holy Spirit through hearing the proclamation of God’s Word? Will you share how blessed it was to pray with a hurting brother or sister in Christ? Will you make much of the greatness of your God, the blessing of walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the joy of the Holy Spirit?

Mondays are created by God. Mondays are as fresh and new as Christ is because we walk every day in newness of life in and through Christ (Romans 6:1-14). As my friend Evangelist Ron Lynch says, “Christ gave Himself for you in order to give Himself to you that He by the Spirit of God might live His life through you. To live the Christian life is not for you to live but for you to die so Christ can live through you (Galatians 2:20).

So, today, let’s have a “MONDAY” in Christ!!

We Are Where We Are

For a year or more, our world has been and continues to be consumed with COVID-19. It has rearranged our lives in so many ways in bringing fear, death, sorrow, loss, anger, masks, division, criticism, long lines, solitary living, confinement, quarantine, etc.

COVID as a word has probably been used more than any other word in our vocabulary. Somehow, some way it always finds a place of mention or domination in our conversations.

When you consider the baggage of COVID as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, look around you. We are where we are today because our minds and lives have been consumed with a topic of death, despair, division, and dread in every area of life.

Where are you today? Are you dwelling on the aforementioned “D‘s” of COVID or the life, hope, unity and joyful expectation found only a personal relationship with God the Father through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 10:10; 14:1-6; 15:1-11; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 1 John 5:11-13) ?

No matter what you have endured through this pandemic, may I encourage you to look to Psalms 42-43? Read these words over to yourself quietly and out loud; meditate on what you are reading; then pray through the passage. If you have such darkness pervading you that you want to run away to fleshly, worldly, sinful temptations, let Peter’s response to Christ be your response. After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:66-68).

You are where you are based upon where or to whom you have turned. Will you turn to Him Who has the words of eternal life? Cast all your care on Him (1 Peter 5:6-7, 10).

No matter what COVID brings, Christ is always the answer. Be found in Him.

He’s where you are . . . waiting on you to turn to Him.

Lighten Up!

When’s the last time you and your spouse just had a good ol’ belly laugh? Perhaps you even cried you laughed so hard!

With all the stuff that we have come through in 2020 and continue to do so, laughter is hard to find.

I remember as a boy sitting around the supper table after church on Sunday night hearing preachers, missionaries, church members, etc., telling jokes and stories which were accompanied with many moments of boisterous laughter! Nowadays you tell a joke and somebody’s gonna get offended.

I’m not discounting the seriousness of COVID, but with the masks and the accompanying fear, few people are having a good time, laughing, smiling, and enjoying life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. (Proverbs 15:13)

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

So, with that said, have you and your spouse been laughing lately? You know, it might be that your marriage is drying up (Prov. 17:22) because you have forgotten how to have fun; you’ve been too serious; you’ve just let 2020 get you in the heart!

Well, let’s fix that!

  • What did you do when you were dating that you might consider to be silly now? How ’bout rolling back the clock and do it again! Only you can decide what that is.
  • Watch a funny, wholesome movie or an episode of the Andy Griffith Show or the Tim Conway dentist routine on YouTube.
  • Pour water on your spouse while they are in the shower. Just be ready for the payback.
  • Go on a light-hearted date and stop by a card rack at a card shop or grocery store and read funny cards to each other!
  • Head on over to the ice cream store, local bakery, or restaurant. Each of you inconspicuously, of course, point out a couple nearby and make up a story about them by what you see. Have fun with it . . . just between the two of you. By the way, folks over the years have probably said some things about you! 🙂

One of the reasons I have loved the preaching of Chuck Swindoll over the years is his infectious laughter. In his book, Laugh Again, Hope Again, he says, Isn’t God the one who urges us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”? Why do we always think that means singing? Seems to me the most obvious joyful sound on earth is laughter… I’ve seen folks quote verses like “Rejoice in the Lord always” while their faces look like they just buried a rich uncle who willed everything to his pregnant guinea pig. Something is missing. Can’t you just hear him laughing?!?!

Image result for love is laughter

So, this week as we head into Valentine’s Day, how about taking a cue from Ken Davis’ radio program and “Lighten’ Up!” Have at it! It’s time! I’m sure your marriage could use a good dose of laughter meds!

Simply from a pastor’s heart!

Heart Counsel

We need this for our hearts today! Soak your soul in the Truth!

“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭112:1-10‬ ‭