Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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!!

Coupon #2: Souls Coming to Christ

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!!!!

Coupon #3:  Grace Investments

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)

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.

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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Life is all about the grace of God.  We do not deserve anything except hell because of our sinful state.  But in His grace, God has provided salvation for all men (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-4, 8-9; Titus 3:5).  Then, in and through His grace, He provides so many undeserving gifts everyday of our lives (John 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:4-7).  How easy it is to dwell on all the bad around us that we forget to focus on the grace of God which is transcendent over all (Romans 5:20).  So with that in mind, my goal for Friday’s blog is to share with you from a pastor’s heart some of the “grace coupons” in ministry that I’ve been able to “clip” over the past seven days. So here we go!

  1. Worshipping on Sunday at Boones Creek Bible Church! One of the many true blessings of a Sunday at BCBC is joining with our congregation as they sing.  With raised voices, uplifted hands and glowing countenances, praise is abundant!  Many Sunday mornings on my way to church I find myself saying, “I can hardly wait to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ today!”   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).
  2. Seeing ladies cry out in prayer, singing, and worship as they joined together for three hours in the presence of the Lord at BCBC. You can read a bit more about it on my wife’s blog post Friday Favorites.
  3. When I was an earlier teen, my dad pastored a church here in south Johnson City, TN. Words cannot describe what a grace blessing it is to be living and pastoring in the same area that has always been so special to me.  When we moved here from Bluefield, West Virginia, two men, Stacey Tester and Ralph Gouge, came from Johnson City to assist us.  They made a huge impression on me.  Stacey and Ralph have since gone on to Glory, but today, I have the privilege of participating in the funeral for Dixie Gouge, Ralph’s precious wife.  Furthermore, Ralph and Dixie’s daughter and three of their children are part of the BCBC family.  Also, I saw Ralph and Dixie’s son this week which was the first time since we moved away.  As we sat in the Gouge’s living room and reminisced about our time here and about my parents, I thought, “Lord, how good you are to me, and how good to be still connected to my dad’s ministry in such a blessed way!”
  4. Joy in ministry is often mixed with sadness and sorrow as even mentioned above. Yesterday I stood by the bedside of a dear man whose body is riddled with Alzheimer’s. His wife has faithfully stood by his side and cared for him with love and great compassion for several years.  With Bernice on one side and me on the other, we shared Psalm 23 and then sang several songs:  In the Sweet By and By, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Heaven Is a Wonderful Place, Until Then, I Have Found a Hiding Place, and others.  As a pastor, I am so grateful for the opportunity to minister the balm of God’s Word and the blessed encouragement of song that gives encouragement for today and expectation for the future.  It is all by His grace!
  5. Finally, there’s the blessing of preaching and teaching the Word of God!! Currently, I am preaching through Revelation . . . the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How timely; how sobering; how hope-filled!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ . . . . To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3, 6)

#mondaymarriagematterspart4

Bike Ride
Continuing the journey of intimacy

Today I will end the week of posts with the last of six reasons why marriage matters (#mondaymarriagematters).

Marriage matters because of its unique intimacy.

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).

The greatest relationship in all the world is found in the redemptive, justifying work of Jesus Christ on the cross that makes us, who were at one time enemies of God, now reconciled to God, and no longer at enmity with God but set apart to Him for eternity (Romans 3:9-31; 5:1-11; Colossians 1:20-22).  That relationship is offered to all men by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Peter 1:2-4).  The cross and resurrection proves that God the Father sent His Son to reconcile the world back to Himself to be restored to eternal fellowship (John 3:16).

There is another special relationship that cannot be duplicated on this planet in any other union except between what God has ordained between only a man and a woman.  That uniqueness is the intimacy found in a husband-wife relationship.  For intimacy to flourish in a marriage relationship to its highest level there must be integrity, trust, and openness.  Adam and Eve were completely at ease with each other at this highest level because at this point in the narrative there was no evil.  There was genuine, pure openness.  Even though evil abounds in our world and in our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), genuine believers in Christ have the power through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to experience blessed intimacy with God the Father and in marriage (John 14:16-23; 15:1-27; Romans 8:1-39; Ephesians 5:18-33).

Marriage matters every day of the week, month, year and your life.  As you grow in your intimacy with your spouse, you will be glad you took intimacy seriously.

Here’s my testimony to intimacy that I hope will encourage you: The Gift of 35 Years

Better Be Ready!

A winter storm is coming!  Frigid temps, deep snow and ice are on their way.  Quick, get to the store!!  Gotta buy milk and bread! (Personally, I’ve never eaten a milk and bread sandwich, but when the snow flies, I guess it might be good.)  Nevertheless, I am intrigued at how glued we are to the forecast when we receive a winter storm warning.  That announcement has a controlling affect upon businesses, homes, churches, government, schools, highway crews and many others. Look at Facebook!  Try to shop in the grocery store.

How many times in your life have you heard, “There’s a winter storm warning in effect for . . . ,” or something similar?  And when you do, what is your response to such a predicted event?  What kind of planning begins to take place in your life?  Do you shrug your shoulders, run to the grocery story, look up in the skies, check your phone updates, begin to think of “Plan B,” and/or complain?

Seriously, there are two events that should grab our attention every day of our lives.  We were reminded of these in our “I Love Missions” Conference this past weekend.

1)  The promised return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

2)  The greatest tragedy of this life—a lost soul going to hell (Hebrews 9:27)

This most blessed event and the most tragic event could occur today!!!  What’s your response?  Are you moved more by the prediction of a weather forecast or the promises in God’s Word?  Something more eventful than a winter storm is coming.  Better be ready!

If you have never received Christ as your personal Savior and Lord; if you are not sure that heaven is your home, please go to the following link: The Exchange Message. Scroll down the page and watch the video entitled, “You Can Have a Relationship with God.”

If you are interested in what Scripture says about death and hell, please check out this brief biblical study found here: What Does the Bible Say About Hell

The Worst Call Ever

The “whole world” knew all the Seattle Seahawks would have to do to win last night’s Super Bowl was to simply give #24 the ball.  Instead, what is being called “the worst call ever” is now history.

Was it the worst call ever?  No.

The worst call ever is a no call.  Romans 10:13 says, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  For the man or woman who refuses to call upon Christ alone for salvation will spend eternity in hell with his/her sins paid for by the work of Christ on the cross (Romans 3:19-26; Hebrews 7:25-27; 9:11-15; 9:23-28; 1 Peter 1:18-23).  And today, Christ is calling you to come to Him for salvation that is free, eternal, and all of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  That’s the best call for every man.

Make that best call today.  Jesus Christ is all you need.  He is calling you today to come to Him now.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)

Genuine Freedom

My dad had many sayings throughout his lifetime that were oft repeated.  His word-picture definition of freedom was, “I have the freedom to walk down the street and swing my arms all I want, but if I happen to hit someone, my freedom ends where his nose begins.”  Everyone wants freedom.  Toddlers want to be free to whine and cry when then don’t get their way.  Grade-schoolers want their freedom to play rather than complete their school work.  Teens long for the day they will be out from under their parent’s authority, and in their minds, to be free at last!

Truth is, freedom comes by death—death to self.  We think freedom comes when we get our own way.  That is never the case.  A toddler, a grade-schooler, a teen or anyone enjoys freedom when they die to self and come under authority placed over them.

Philippians 2:6-11 describes the ultimate, supreme display of freedom produced by death when Jesus Christ, under His Father’s authority, died for the sins of all men to ransom them for absolute, true freedom.

Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (HCS)

Christ left the glories of Heaven to take on the form of man, live a sinless life, respond perfectly to all the sinful acts of man against Him, and then be obedient to God the Father by dying the worst of deaths which included bearing our sins and enduring the forsaking of His Father.  Christ did all this for every man to have the opportunity to be truly, genuinely set free.  He died that we might live.

Today, I am enjoying freedom in the United States of America due to the thousands who have given their lives.  I am enjoying freedom due to all those who set self aside to serve for a greater cause.  For all who have or are currently serving in our military, you have died to self to maintain or give us our freedom.  From my heart, I gladly and with utmost appreciation say, “Thank you!”  And, what thrills my patriotic heart so much is to say, “Thanks, Dad, for you years in the Army, in Japan and Korea, and for serving in the Korean War.  Also, a special thanks to my father-in-law who likewise served in the Army.  Two heroes.”

Being that I have been a born again child of God since the age of five, I understand true freedom because Truth has set me free from sin, death and hell.

John 8:31-36 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Romans 3:23-25  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.

Therefore, I am most grateful for Christ’s death on the cross.  But His life was not left on the battlefield of sin.  He went into the tomb of death, conquered its grisly hold, led captivity captive and came out victorious!   Now He lives to set men from free from sin, death and hell.  “Thank You, Jesus, for dying so that we could be made eternally free!”

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.  (Romans 5:6-11)

For freedom to be maintained in America, soldiers must continue to die to self and life.  Christ died once.  It is finished (John 19:30).  He now lives forever, never to die again, to give every man who receives Him genuine, eternal freedom.

A Glorious Sunday Morning!

My hope is in the Lord,

Who gave Himself for me,

And paid the price

Of all my sin at Calvary.

Chorus:

For me He died;

For me He lives,

And everlasting life

And light He freely gives.”

This was the first song we sang as a congregation yesterday morning.  Having been out of church for the past two Sundays (Chronicled in last week’s posts), my heart rejoiced as we declared our faith in the cross work of Jesus Christ!  (Romans 3:21-25; 5:6-11; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Next, we declared our position in Christ as complete because He has done all that is necessary for a sinner to be delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light (John 19:30; Colossians 1:12-14).

Complete in Thee! no work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.

Chorus:

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

We concluded our congregational singing with “His Robes for Mine.” The lyrics of this hymn describe the exchange that takes place when in my sinful state, by faith I receive Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), the Righteous One (1 John 2:1), and for all eternity my standing before God is that I am accepted (Ephesians 1:6), clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Romans 3:23-26; 5:9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!

Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.

Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.

In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Chorus:

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:

Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.

Bought by such love, my life is not my own.

My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

What caused such rejoicing in my heart was threefold:

  1. The doctrine in the lyrics resonated in my own heart because I know Christ as my very own personal, Lord and Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Timothy 1:12).
  2. There is something special about corporate worship that cannot be duplicated in the world (Psalm 100; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12), especially through doctrinal hymns and songs.
  3. The preparation of my own heart before coming to church. As I sat in the quiet of our family room, the sun pouring in, I read Psalm 147 and especially these words recorded in verses 1, 7a:

Praise the Lord!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;

For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;

Yes, it was glorious Sunday morning of worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and in anticipation of what it will be like for all eternity.  What a glorious forever day that will be!!

The Power of the Cross

Yesterday, we saw God work in so many ways throughout our Sunday at church, at home, and in our church’s neighborhood!  The greatest event of the day was a lost soul walking the aisle to receive Christ as her Savior.  The invitation was given prior to observing The Lord’s Supper.  While this dear lady was being shown the gospel from the Word of God and receiving Christ as her personal Savior in a side room of our auditorium, the congregation began to partake of the bread and sing “The Power of the Cross.”  To be singing these words and knowing a soul was being set free from sin, death, and hell by the wonderful work of Christ was a glorious moment indeed!!

So, to begin your Monday, listen to this song and consider the words.  Rejoice in the Lord and share with someone today who has never heard about our wonderful Savior!!  And when you do, make sure your countenance reflects the joy in your heart just as these students are doing.

The Power of the Cross