God

God’s grace

You can’t out-sin God’s grace.

You can’t deny God’s existence long enough to miss His grace. You can’t hate enough to avoid God’s grace. You can’t discriminate against people of other races or color enough or long enough to avoid the grace of God. You can’t think of an act you can commit or behavior you can exhibit that will outreach or out-distance the reach of the grace of God.

Here’s something adamant non-believers and Atheists don’t understand: You can sin every day commit adultery, rob banks, commit murder, get sent to prison, lie, cheat steal, act like a total amoral evil person. But if you are someone God wants to love as one of his children, He will pursue you, chase you save you and call you his own in his time and in his way–his choice, not yours.

God

Resurrection Day

Let’s get the record straight for all you non-believer friends out there.

We committed believers who have a personnel relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, know for certain what happened on Resurrection Day. We also know for certain what happened on Easter Sunday.

Here in America we’ve been celebrating these two Holy days for centuries. One would think that everyone, believer or not, would at least know what the two Holy days represent. Not so fast.

Mary and the resurrected Christ

I was watching Fox news Good Friday and in one segment they were doing one of those man on the street interviews with some random men and women what they knew about Easter and what it was all about. Handing our country over to this generation is a scary proposition These youngsters were clueless.

Question: Why did they crucify Jesus? Millennial answer: Because he made the Romans mad

Question: Why do they call it Good Friday? Millennial answer: Because it was just a really good day.

What is Easter all about? Lets see: ah . . . well . . it means . . ah . . .It means . . .ah . . .

Question: What is Easter all about? Millennial answer: Well, let’s see there’s the Easter Bunny . . .and Easter eggs . . . and chocolate .

And we’re going to turn control of our nation to this generation?

Good Friday–The Friday before Easter. The Jews (his own people) insisted that he be crucified because he claimed to be the Son of God and the Jews considered that blasphemy. So Herod had Jesus crucified, even though Herod claimed he could not find any crucifiable offense in Jesus.His body was brought down from the Cross, wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb, owned by Joseph of Arimathea. It was then sealed by a massive stone. This day is marked as Good Friday. His body was brought down from the Cross, wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb, owned by Joseph of Arimathea. It was then sealed by a massive stone. This day is marked as Good Friday.

Easter Sunday–(Also known as Resurrection Day) When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away ythe stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And aentering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, bdressed in ca white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were sore afraid.

God

How awesome, big, grand, able, gigantic, powerful, all-seeing, majestic, kind, forgiving creative, loving, wise, all-knowing is God?

Think about this: God never has to go anywhere. He’s already there! He’s already here. He’s everywhere at the same time. There is no place in the universe God is not.

He knows everything about you. David proclaims in Psalm 139, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.

God knows your next thought before you think it. God knows when you’re sad or happy and why. God knows what you think of him. He knows when you pray, He knows when you think you’re going to hide something from him. (You’re not)

He created you. David said in Psalm 139:13-15

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

The body contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels, and an estimated 30 trillion cells.

The human brain can contain about 100 trillion facts. The brain can handle 15,000 decisions in a single second. The nose can detect up to 10,000 distinct odors, and a touch can detect something 1/25,000th of an inch thick. The light from some stars we see at night took 12.3 billion light years to get here so we could see them shining in the night sky.

Some folks believe all this stuff got created in an evolutionary (theory) over time. That’s like saying there was an explosion at Walmart and all their inventory appeared on the sales floor all put together and ready to buy.

Here’s what George Gallup said about God and creation.

“I could prove God statistically if I had to take the human body alone–The chance that all the functions of the individual human being would just happen is a statistical monstrosity.

Let me ask you one question.

If God is all that we believe Him to be here is there a single problem in the entire universe you might have that God couldn’t solve?

The inspiration for tis post was a message by Pastor James Merritt, Touching Lives Ministry

God

Looking Back

Roger Bannister

In 1954 Roger Bannister set a world record. Bannister became the first track and field athlete to run a mile under 4 minutes. His time was 3:59:4.

In Australia another runner, Bannister’s rival, John Landy took note of Bannister’s record. A month later Landy beat Bannister’s record by about a second.

The press went nuts. Later that Summer the two runners were scheduled to face off at the British Empire games in Vancouver. The media dubbed the race the Mile of the Century. Thousands of spectators watched the race.

As the runners took off Landy took the lead and kept it.

But then Landy made a fatal mistake. With only 90 yards to go Landy looked back. At that very moment Bannister shot past Landy and won the race.

Looking back is never a good idea. Lot’s wife looked back and look what happened to her. She was turned into a pillar of salt.

Leave what’s behind leave it there. 1

1The inspiration for this blog post came from David Jeremiah’s book, Forward , W Publishing, 2020 ©David Jeremiah 2020

1The inspiration for this blog post came from David Jeremiah’s book, Forward , W Publishing, 2020 ©David Jeremiah 2020

God

Shameless

God

Listen and Obey

God can change anybody, anytime, anywhere, and I think God has a sense of humor in doing what He does in the lives of people.

I attended the men’s “What’s at Stake” dinner recently. A friend of mine was the speaker. I learned things about him I never knew. He is an example of what God can do.

When he was six years old, his mom and dad divorced. His dad had custody, and his mother had visiting rights. She illegally took him to Pensacola where they lived as homeless people for a few years. One day, the little boy fell in the water and was miraculously saved by a man who dove in after him.

The father found the location of his son and brought him back to the Montgomery area. The young boy had not been to school. Later, he got involved with the wrong group and was drinking. When he was 17, his grandaddy hired a lady to help him study and get his GED. The teenager went to meet the lady. They were married five weeks later. His teacher became his wife! They have now been married 40 years. Would anybody had given that marriage a chance – other than God?

His life became a story of working hard, trusting God, becoming a Christian, making mistakes, but all the time learning the power of what God can do. He said, “I listened to God – and I always followed God.”

That’s a formula for success – listen to God, and then follow Him. It carried him to several different cities and two or three different endeavors in business. God led him to customizing vans, working on automobiles, and eventually starting a restaurant. He had never worked in a restaurant before.

He always knew it was important to follow God. He didn’t understand where God was leading him, but he followed. Today, he still doesn’t have a formal education, but he always believed that God could make something out of him. He tells every young person to be open to what God could do with them.

Because he wanted to improve conditions in Montgomery County, he decided to run for political office and get something done. God has a sense of humor. He was elected as a County Commissioner, where he served faithfully, and then he ran for the Alabama State Legislature and was elected in 2014!

When he was a teenager, he got drunk, borrowed a car, and crashed it into the Governor’s Mansion. Today, he is chairman of a couple of super important Alabama legislative committees. God does have a sense of humor!

His restaurant and farmer’s market is known as “Sweet Creek” on the Troy Highway and helps over 100 young people with various jobs supplying eggs, vegetables, etc. for his restaurant.

I, like most other people, knew nothing of the story of Reed Ingram. He and his wife have two wonderful sons and two grandchildren. He is just a humble man who listens to God and follows Him. God has put him in important places! We need more leaders like him.

Everyone reading this probably has more education than Reed Ingram. God can do in your life what he did in Reed’s life. Read Genesis 12:1-4; Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 1:13-16; Ecclesiastes 5:1-5.

Are you willing to listen – and obey?

God

My 7-ups

EDITORS NOTE: Somehow I overlooked one of Dr. John Ed Mathison’s weekly blog posts and it didn’t get published the week he sent it. His blog posts are always popular with me readers. So today’s blog post is my way of hopefully making up for the oversight.

Everyone needs a plan for living each day in 2022. My plan includes “7 ups” to help me move up each day. These “7 ups” do not refer to the drink you purchase from a machine, nor the delivery service that’s dependent on a human supply chain. My “7 ups” are God and I working together. I share them to ask you to help hold me accountable and consider joining me in this plan.

  1. WAKE UP. Wake up and remember that David said “Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Begin each day with a decision that God has something good in store for us today and we are going to be committed to following His will.
  2. GET UP. It’s always easy to lie in bed and daydream about what could be. It’s another thing to get up and let God begin to use us. The prodigal son in Luke 15 found himself in a pig pen. He woke up (vs. 17) and then got up (vs. 18, 20) and went home to his father! Check out what his “ups” led to. (vs. 21-24)
  3. FILL UP. Something is going to occupy our thinking today. It could be very negative or very positive. It can be self-centered, or it can be outwardly focused. Paul says, “Whatever is true, good, lovely, good in others . . . brings joy and praise …let your mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians4:8)
  4. SHUT UP. It’s always easy to speak before we think. We have two ears and only one mouth. We need to listen a lot more and speak a lot less. Solomon reminds us that “He who guards his lips guards his soul.” (Proverbs 13:3) Think twice before you speak, and think three times or more before you send an email or text or Twitter message!
  5. LOOK UP. If you walk through life looking down, you will never see a rainbow or the many doors that God wants to open every day. Remember that our strength does not come from other people or ourselves down here, but it comes from God above. Look up to Him. David wrote “I will look up to the mountains from where my help comes. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1,2)
  6. REACH UP. Always be reaching upward. Every day, we need to have some goal that’s just beyond our reach and will cause us to stretch to reach it. Be sure that it is God’s goal and not yours. Paul said, “I reach forward to what lies ahead. I strain toward the prize of the upward call of God.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
  7. LIFT UP. Focus on someone to lift up in prayer. When you see a person who is down emotionally, financially, spiritually, or psychologically, lift them up. “Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one. If one falls, the others lift him up. One standing alone can be defeated, but two standing back-to-back can conquer, and three is even better!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

What is your daily plan for 2022?

God

Seven Things God detests

You must not worship the Lord your God in the way the pagan nations do because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. Deuteronomy 12:31

Here are the seven things God detests (some translations say (God “hates”) them.

However you say it, God has no use for any of them.

  1. Haughty eyes–Haughty eyes are full of pride and arrogance. They look down on others as better than or superior to. The word haut which is Anglo-Saxon for “high” and the Latin word “altus” which is where we get the word “altitude”. Proverbs 6:16
  2. lying tongue–A lie is saying something that is false even when you know the person you are telling this knows it is a lie. One who tells lies. Psalm 109:2
  3. A hand that sheds innocent blood–To shed innocent blood is to take the life of one who has done nothing worthy of death. God will not hold any blameless for the deaths of ‘Innocents’. Deuteronomy 19:13
  4. A heart that devises wicked schemes— therefore speaks of a person who deliberately plans to act wickedly, who spends his time devising wickedness upon others. Nehemiah 1:7
  5. Feet that are quick to run into evil–Feet that are quick to rush into evil: To rush into evil is to demonstrate a great delight and enjoyment of evil and an eagerness to participate in it. God hates the enjoyment of evil. Matthew 12:34-37
  6. A false witness who pours out lies–An honest witness does not deceive, but a dishonest witness pours forth lies.  A false witness will not go unpunished, and one who utters lies will not escape. They will perish. Proverbs 19:9
  7. A person who stirs up conflict in the communityProverbs 10:12
God

WAR!

God

From Discarded to Displayed

It’s amazing how God can take insignificant things, many of which have been discarded, and display them for positive results! God does that with people and places.

My office is a good example. Mike Henig is the chairman of my non-profit board. Mike has a beautiful building which is the home office for Henig Furs. On each side of the home office, he has built commercial office buildings. I had an office in one of those buildings for eleven years until Mike sold the entire building two years ago.

His other office building is partially occupied by a large accounting firm, Bern, Butler, Capilouto, & Massey P.C. They have about 30 employees. Accounting firms have to have strict security.

On the main floor, there is an area across the hall with two offices, a waiting area, and a training room. Since security was an issue, the offices and waiting area were never used. For 15 years, the area became storage for old files, junk, and other things that were being discarded.

Mike told me that if we could work with the accounting firm to clean out the offices, I could use them. The firm has been super helpful in doing that. We cleaned them out, and my wife, Lynn, came and decorated them. I now have one of the finest office areas in the whole city! The area has gone from a place for the discarded to a place proud to be displayed!

The accounting firm also allows me to use their training room, which accommodates about 50 people, for meetings with pastors. Pastors prefer not to go to another pastor’s church for a meeting, so this is a “safe place” to come. We have had some powerful meetings with leading pastors in the area, both black and white, and developed strategies for improving race relations.

Another great example is Crampton Bowl in Montgomery. My friend, Tim Gayle, has written a fascinating and interesting book, Crampton Bowl, about its history. In 1921, the area of Crampton Bowl was a garbage dump, but creative people turned that garbage dump into a wonderful stadium for baseball and football. In the early half of the twentieth century, Crampton Bowl was one of the premier venues for sporting events. The old garbage dump became a great stadium–from the discarded to the displayed!

I serve on the River Region Sports Commission. A new multiplex building was constructed as a part of the Crampton Bowl complex. It needed to be named. It is a huge venue where you can play multiple basketball games and volleyball games at one time. It is a square building. As you know, it is located on Madison Avenue. I thought I had the best idea for a name for it. If we could plant a little shrubbery around the side, a great name for it would be, “Montgomery’s Madison Square Garden.” Obviously, my name wasn’t selected.

The Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, and other major league baseball teams would stop in Montgomery and play games following spring training. One game was played at Crampton Bowl, and there were nine future Hall-of-Famers on the field! It was the site for the first football game and the second pro baseball game under the lights in the South–from a garbage dump to a great sporting venue.

God delights in turning the discarded into the displayed!

God

What’s wrong with tolerance?–PLENTY

Lots of liberal, left-wing ideologues in our society today couch a lot of toxic behaviors and beliefs in what they label as “tolerance

For instance, as I wrote on this blog last week, the liberals “tolerate” gay marriage. They say things like, “If two people rally love each other what difference does it make if they’re the same gender? See this post.

When is the last time you were at a dinner party when there was the same number of Blacks as there were White folks?

Liberals believe we ought to tolerate diverse political views in our mixed conversations and large diverse gatherings? ARE YOU KIDDING. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS. We’re living in the most politically polarized political environment in history. And we’re doing a terrible job tolerating it.

When is the last time you sat down with a person who held diametrically opposing views on a mutually agreed upon topic and gained a mutual understanding and appreciation of the other person’s beliefs after the discussion?

Let’s try to do this.

Let’s say you’re a committed, saved follower of Jesus Christ, and an active church goer.

Your next door neighbor is an atheist who does not believe in God, heaven or salvation or life after death..

OK now let’s try to have that “tolerant” discussion around his or your kitchen table.

God

Underrated to Overcomer!

He came out of high school, and no big colleges were interested in him. He wasn’t fast enough, big enough, or talented enough. He was just a skinny kid about six feet tall and 170 pounds and played football in an area that wasn’t known for great competition. Only two small schools from the FCS offered him a scholarship. He accepted one to Eastern Washington.

When he came out of college, not many pro teams were interested in him. He was underrated and overlooked, but the Los Angeles Rams took a chance and drafted him. Wow, what a great move!

In the 2021 football season, he was the best receiver in the NFL. He achieved the triple crown of catches (145), touchdown catches (16), and receiving yards (1947). In the Super Bowl, he led a last-minute comeback by catching multiple passes despite double coverage. He caught the winning touchdown pass with just over a minute to go. He was voted the most valuable player in Super Bowl LVI!

He is a strong Christian. He places Bible verses on his helmet and his sleeve. He always gives a Christian witness when being interviewed. When asked about his Super Bowl ring, he said that, as a Christian, he wanted to win in the game of life where he would receive a trophy that would never perish.

Cooper Kupp

Look what God can do! God took Cooper Kupp from an underrated and overlooked player to the best player on the biggest stage in pro football, and Cooper gives God all the credit.

Last year, Zaila Avant-garde became the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She is not just a great speller, but she also holds three Guinness World Records for basketball. Zaila dribbled simultaneously the most basketballs (six for 30 seconds), the most basketball bounces (307 in 30 seconds), and the most bounce juggles in 1 minute (255 with four basketballs).

A lot of people said she couldn’t do much. She was underrated but became an overcomer. She excelled beyond people’s expectations.

One of my favorite basketball players is Steph Curry. He is always inspiring people who have felt overlooked, unappreciated, and underrated. Steph Curry was a 3-star recruit, considered the #52 high school point guard in the country, and attended Davidson after being turned down by all the top college programs.

But Curry refused to see himself as underrated. He has a strong Christian faith. He believed God saw him as an overcomer and helped him develop an elite positive attitude about shooting a basketball.

Curry has risen to a level where he is considered the greatest shooter in basketball history. On December 14, 2021, the Warriors were playing the New York Knicks. With 7:33 remaining in the first quarter of the game, Curry hit a 3 pointer which broke Ray Allen’s all-time 3-point field goal record of 2,973. He set a record that people think will never be broken. And he still has a lot of games to play!

Steph Curry has a strong faith and believes that nobody should accept less than what God created them to be. There is no room for excuses. You can’t listen to all the people who tell you what you can’t do. Listen to God and learn what He can do through you!

God delights in turning the underrated into overcomers!

God

If you claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior do you realize. . .

The minute you take your last breath here you’ll be with Jesus in heaven FOREVER!

You’ll never be tired or lonely or hungry or confused or dismayed again.

Joy will never end.

You will NEVER want for anything. You will never know discouragement or depression or doubt.

You won’t ever feel sorrow or pain or disappointment or boredom.

You will thrive on fellowship with lots of other saints.

You can talk to and be with Jesus anytime you want.

You will always be happy and never sad. You will always be content.

You won’t be reading the Bible–you’ll be living with the Author.

God

When God Whispers

In the book of 1st Kings chapter 19 Elijah had just survived a debilitating depression that was so dark Elijah wanted to die. He told an angel of the Lord, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under a bush and fell asleep. Eventually the Lord showed up and asked Elijah what was he doing there.

The Lord instructed Elijah, “Get up and get out of this cave. Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. “

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 

Why did the Lord choose to speak to Elijah in a gentle whisper? He could have spoken powerfully in a wind or an earthquake or a fire. But he didn’t

Why not? Think about it.

When you want to whisper something to someone, isn’t it because the info you whisper is confidential, and you only want to share it with the person you’re whispering to?

When God whispers to us He wants to draw us into that intimate, close private fellowship between just Him and us. There’s no more wonderful fellowship with Jesus, this side of heaven, than when Jesus whispers our name and draws us to Himself to share His love.

God

Willpower Christianity

In his best-selling book, Yes, you really can change, Chip Ingram discusses willpower Christianity, a frustrating condition many well-meaning Christians often find themselves slipping into. Have you ever been there? Are you there now?

This is what willpower Christianity looks like–

You’re going to try hard to be more patient, especially with the kids; you’re going to watch how you talk and stop swearing so much; you’re going to stop stretching the truth; you’re going to be kinder to your wife/husband. You will stop smoking.

Instead of focusing all your energy and willpower trying to do things you’re incapable of why not focus on God and the promises He makes in his Word addressing your issues you’re trying to solve with all your willpower.

Willpower Christianity leads to frustration and discouragement because we just don’t have enough power in our will to get the job done. Only God and his power inside us working his will can change us.

God

Good Christians just don’t exist

Lots of folks who want to improve their lives (e.g. to be accepted by God, to get closer to God, to be loved more by God,  to gain God’s approval and blessing) try real hard to be a good Christian. The operative word here is “try“.

But “good” Christians don’t exist. In addition, if someone is declared a ” Good”  Christian  that means somewhere there has to be a bad Christian and a better Christian and a poor Christian. Do you see the judgmental comparison trap we’d get ourselves into?

The moment we “try” to improve our lot as a “Christian” we take the focus off God and place it squarely on our self effort.

In God’s Kingdom what we do on our own doesn’t count for anything.  The only thing that counts in God’s Kingdom is surrender to Christ’s life allowing him to live His life through us. Christ wants to live His life (not ours) in us, through us, and as us to bring Glory to God. Period.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remains in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.

I taught an adult Sunday School class for years. Our focus for the lessons was always centered on our identity in Christ. Our mission statement was helping each other know, believe, understand, and live out of our true identity in Christ. We taught that allowing Christ to do everything in us and for us and through us would be all we needed to live our lives as disciples o’re going to f Christ. During one our lessons about our true identity in Christ, a lady asked me, “But don’t we have to do SOMETHING? (she was coming out of a lifelong Catholic background).

“No, ” I said. “If we’re going to become authentic followers of Christ we have to surrender our old ways of self sufficiency and allow Jesus to live his life through us and do everything.”

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5ing Christ to live His life

So, if we are allowing Christ to live His life through us God’s Word calls us Saints, not Christians.

God

Do you wear a bib or an apron?

Great people become great because they have learned to wear an apron. Greatness never comes from wearing a bib. Coach Willie Spears and I wrote a book together in 2021, Bib or ApronIt’s available through our ministry office.

I love the Salvation Army and look forward to putting on an apron and ringing the kettlebells at Christmas. My dad, Si Mathison, was a great supporter of the Salvation Army. He received the highest award they give to volunteers. Frazer was a super supporter of the Salvation Army. We put together a talent show, sold tickets, and gave over $60,000 to the Salvation Army!

General William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. He went blind in his later years. His son, Bramwell, had to tell him that the doctor said he would soon be totally blind. 

The General asked, “You mean I’ll be blind? Does that mean that I shall never see your face again?”

His son replied, “That’s right, probably not in this world.”

Then General Booth moved his hand across the table and grasped his son. “Bramwell,” he said “I have done what I could for God and for people with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for God and for people without my eyes.”

Good eyesight is not a prerequisite for wearing an apron.

Jonathan Pinkard is a 27-year-old autistic man who lives in a shelter. He was carried to Georgia’s Piedmont Newnan Hospital and was told that he would need a heart transplant. Because of the fact that he lived in a shelter, he would have no one to help him out with the post-surgery care, so they couldn’t put him on the transplant waiting list.

A nurse, Lori Wood, was caring for him at the hospital and offered to become his legal guardian. Now, she’s white and he’s black. That didn’t matter. In January of 2019, he moved in with Lori.

He had his heart surgery in August. He hopes to recover well enough so that he can get back into society and work again. Lori made a huge difference not only in his life, but in the lives of many people whom Jonathan will serve. Nurses wear aprons!

Arthur Ashe was one of the first great African-American tennis players. The huge tennis complex in New York City is named after him. He talked about heroes and said that true heroism “is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

Arthur Ashe knew that it was in serving that we really find our greatest joy in life. Jesus said, “If you try to save your life, then you will lose it. If you are willing to lose your life in My service, you will find life.” (Matthew 16:25)

You don’t find life by surpassing others in categories that don’t matter – you find life and become a hero when you serve other people at whatever cost. Heroes wear aprons!!

Towards the end of Jesus’s ministry two of His disciples, James and John, were arguing about who was most important and should sit next to Jesus. While they were debating who should be at the top, Jesus took a towel and began to wash their feet. (John 13:1-17) The towel trumps the top in God’s kingdom!

Are you wearing a bib or an apron?

God

A new command

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

They had heard Jesus tell them to love one another before.

So what was new? Jesus is telling them to love “as I have loved you.”

So, how did Jesus love? One needy soul at a time.

Zacchaeus was a short, rich Jericho tax collector. In fact he was so short that when Jesus passed through Jericho, where

Zacchaeus was, the swarming crowds blocked his view so he could not see Jesus. He had to climb a sycamore tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus.

Jesus ignored the large crowds. He didn’t say a word to them. Instead he looked up at Zacchaeus and said, “Zacchaeus, come on down from that tree right away. I’m going to stay at your house today.”

Wait. Think about this scene for a minute. It’s the first time Zacchaeus has ever laid eyes on Jesus. Jesus ignores the huge crowds. Doesn’t say a word. He calls Zacchaeus by name and then says he’s going to spend the whole day with him at his house.

Later at his house Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

That’s how Jesus loved–one soul at a time. The Bible is full of stories of Jesus loving one person at a time. Think of the woman-at-the-well, the Centurion woman, The Roman centurion’s sick servant and many more one at a time.

God

What do you know about God?

If a stranger came up to you on the street and asked you to tell her all you know about God, what would you say?.

How would you respond? How long would it take you to tell the stranger all you know about God. If you’re anything like me it wouldn’t take much time at all.

I could tell you lots of stuff I know about God. Heck, we talk to each other every day. He shares all sorts of stuff with me. I love when He tells me how he’s answered my prayers. Of course I don’t know a centile of stuff that my Pastor knows or some Bible scholars. But God lets me know everything I need to know to help me navigate life today and hopefully be a blessing to others and honor Him and be grateful.

Of course I can never know all there is to know this side of heaven. But some day…some day I’ll know everything I’m suppose to know. God promises us through the Apostle Paul . . .

“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Some day we’ll understand it all by and by’

God

Covid here, Covid there, Covid, Covid everywhere

Where were you on February 10, 2020?

Would you have guessed in a thousand years that your life and the lives of your family and everyone you know would change forever the next day?

That’s the day the world was introduced to Covid.

Here’s a challenge for all you brainiacs out there. Can you name at least one person, place or thing, animal, vegetable or mineral Covid has not touched?

Times up. I didn’t think so.

It may very well be that Covid in some form or fashion will become a permanent part of our lives.

What we always need to remember is that God is sovereign, not just over some things. God is sovereign over EVERYthing. And He’s sovereign over Covid. God did not create Covid. But He is allowing it as part of his purpose for us all. And He will bring good out of Covid, even though we can’t see it now or believe it. God has promised that He will.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isiah 55:8-9

God

A visit I’ll never forget

When I finished college, I was invited to play basketball on the Venture for Victory Basketball Team, which traveled throughout Asian countries, playing basketball and presenting a Christian witness. We played about 75 games in ten weeks. Several of them were against Olympic teams from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, and Hong Kong. Thousands of people came to know Christ through that program.

One of my most unforgettable life experiences occurred in Taipei. We were playing each night against their Olympic team. Some missionaries invited us to visit a leprosarium that was run by Mrs. Lillian Dickson. She was a marvelous Presbyterian lady who had a remarkable ministry to lepers.

Basketball is really big in that part of the world. Even the leprosarium had a basketball court. It also had loud-speakers throughout the compound so that people could listen to the ball games. We gave a basketball demonstration at the court. Some of the residents not too badly affected by leprosy were able to walk to the court. Others brought their buddies on their backs.

We saw how leprosy affected people at different stages. Some were severely afflicted, while others were in the first stages. I met a man named Chhoe who had been a skilled wood carver. Leprosy took his fingers, so he strapped the chisel to the heel of one hand and the mallet to the heel of his other hand, and carved water buffaloes. He gave me one.

Mrs. Dickson invited us to go to the top of the compound to what she called the “ward nearest heaven.” The most severely afflicted lepers were there. There were eight lepers in the room. None of them had arms or feet. Someone had to feed them and care for them. It was a dimly lit room. None of these lepers would live very long, but the remarkable thing was that each of them had accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. They knew the real meaning of life, and their lives were effervescent with the hope of eternity.

I have been in a lot of prayer groups and religious settings in my life. Never had I been in any room where I felt the power of God so much as in that leprosarium. Mrs. Dickson called on one of our players to lead in prayer. Gary Cunningham, All-American basketball player from UCLA, began to pray, with the use of an interpreter, “Oh God, we thank you for Jesus Christ.”

All-of-a-sudden, the lepers started saying in English, “Hallelujah, hallelujah. Amen, amen.” They started praising God. Gary was unable to continue the prayer. It was just an outbreak of genuine praise to God.

Mrs. Dickson took us outside and explained that when Gary thanked God for Jesus Christ, he thanked God for the only hope those men had. Their focus was not on a basketball game, or earning money, or trying to establish a vocation–none of these were important at all to these lepers. Knowing Jesus and where they would spend eternity was the greatest news they could hear and share!

My life would never be the same after that experience. Today, what are you most thankful for? Where is your hope? What do you love more than anything else in the world? In what are you putting your trust? What is your focus in life today?

Learn from these lepers about real living!

God

Forgiving Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer

No. I’m not talking about forgiving Huck Finn’s fence-painting sidekick or Becky Thatcher’s boyfriend. I’m talking about my dad, Tom Sawyer. My middle name is Tom and I got kidded about it my whole life.

Dad was an alcoholic so our home was dysfunctional. I felt sorry for Mom–she took her share of verbal abuse and shaming from Dad but she showed me toughness despite all the eggshells we all had to walk on.

Dad never had THE TALK with me or had even a word to share with me about me becoming a man. Dad introduced me to pornography, which later became an addition of mine. Dad always favored my four-years-my-junior brother, Sam, in everything. I often felt like a lost child.

Dad was sober the last 20 years of his life, thanks to AA. And he turned semi-mellow but he and I remained strained. To be honest, the primary emotion we shared was, I think, resentment.

In a conversation with a counselor last week I realized that after all the ill-will baggage I’d been lugging around I had never forgiven him for all the ill-will he and I both had for each other. With my counselor and prayer and The Holy Spirit I was able to genuinely forgive my dad completely. I left all that baggage for good.

God

Charlton Heston and the 23rd psalm

Someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew Charlton Heston asked the actor if he would come to a party in his home town of Evanston, Illinois to honor a Baptist preacher retiring after serving 62 years as a pastor.

After several speeches and a roast, the MC of the party asked Charlton Heston if he would read the 23rd Psalm in character as Moses, which Heston played in the movie, “The Ten Commandments.”  After several protests Heston reluctantly agreed and came to the podium. He read the verses out of the open Bible on the podium and received polite applause from the folks in the audience.

Then the MC asked the retiring preacher if he would recite the familiar verses as his last official duty for the church.  The aging pastor walked to the podium and recited the 23rd Psalm.  However, when he finished there was not a sound in the hall. There were a few sniffles, lots of  tears, even a few sobs.

The retiring preacher read the verses with such passion and conviction and love for the Scripture that he touched the hearts of everyone, even the actor. Heston was so moved by the preacher’s rendition of the 23rd Psalm that he returned to the microphone for his parting words.

All he could manage to say was, “I know the book,” Heston said. “But this preacher knows the Author.”

God

He’s Alive

God

He sought me

There’s a lyric in the great Gospel song Victory in Jesus that says, “Jesus sought me”. It ‘s in the chorus and it goes like this,

“O victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever!
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him.
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”

Think of those words for a minute. If you know Jesus, If you’re a child of the king,

He sought YOU. He sought me!

Jesus sought prostitutes and bums and crooked tax collectors. He sought the down-and-outers. He sought the woman at the well at midday who’d been married five times. He sought drunks and derelicts. The divorced. Why do you suppose He sought you? Or me?

It’s our brokenness, our heartaches our depression and our helplessness that attracts him to us; because he knows better than anyone or anything that Jesus is the only relief we can ever find. That’s why Jesus still seeks us. He knows we will not seek him. We’ll seek relief from the world because we’re all so dadgum stubborn and still think worldly.

If he didn’t seek after us we’d never find him on our own.

He’s Alive

God

Please pass the mustard seed

seed

Mustard seeds fascinate me.  They start as one of the smallest seeds in the world. Then they can grow into herbs larger than an adult with sturdy branches large enough for birds to nest in. Jesus taught the parable of the mustard seed in all three synoptic gospels.

In Matthew Jesus said, “. . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

When growers plant the mustard seed, the germination process begins. Only after it dies does it start to grow. All the growth and fruit from one tiny seed would not be possible unless the seed died.

We would not be proclaiming the Gospel if Jesus had not died.

We have to die too if we are going to bear fruit for God. We can do all sorts of “good” things. We can pray, read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, go to church, serve on committees, usher and more. None of it glorifies God, however, if we’re not willing to be crucified with Him. We have to die first if we’re going to live for Him.

That’s why Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

God

My 7 UPS

Everyone needs a plan for living each day in 2022. My plan includes “7 ups” to help me move up each day. These “7 ups” do not refer to the drink you purchase from a machine, nor the delivery service that’s dependent on a human supply chain. My “7 ups” are God and I working together. I share them to ask you to help hold me accountable and consider joining me in this plan.

  1. WAKE UP. Wake up and remember that David said “Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Begin each day with a decision that God has something good in store for us today and we are going to be committed to following His will.
  2. GET UP. It’s always easy to lie in bed and daydream about what could be. It’s another thing to get up and let God begin to use us. The prodigal son in Luke 15 found himself in a pig pen. He woke up (vs. 17) and then got up (vs. 18, 20) and went home to his father! Check out what his “ups” led to. (vs. 21-24)
  3. FILL UP. Something is going to occupy our thinking today. It could be very negative or very positive. It can be self-centered, or it can be outwardly focused. Paul says, “Whatever is true, good, lovely, good in others . . . brings joy and praise …let your mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians4:8)
  4. SHUT UP. It’s always easy to speak before we think. We have two ears and only one mouth. We need to listen a lot more and speak a lot less. Solomon reminds us that “He who guards his lips guards his soul.” (Proverbs 13:3) Think twice before you speak, and think three times or more before you send an email or text or Twitter message!
  5. LOOK UP. If you walk through life looking down, you will never see a rainbow or the many doors that God wants to open every day. Remember that our strength does not come from other people or ourselves down here, but it comes from God above. Look up to Him. David wrote “I will look up to the mountains from where my help comes. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1,2)
  6. REACH UP. Always be reaching upward. Every day, we need to have some goal that’s just beyond our reach and will cause us to stretch to reach it. Be sure that it is God’s goal and not yours. Paul said, “I reach forward to what lies ahead. I strain toward the prize of the upward call of God.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
  7. LIFT UP. Focus on someone to lift up in prayer. When you see a person who is down emotionally, financially, spiritually, or psychologically, lift them up. “Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one. If one falls, the others lift him up. One standing alone can be defeated, but two standing back-to-back can conquer, and three is even better!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

What is your daily plan for 2022?

God

What do you expect?

God

For His Glory

God

‘Twas the day after Christmas

God

A Stable tha brings stability

John Ed’s weekly blog. Merry Christmas

We need stability in a world of chaos, confusion, uncertainty, fear, and mistrust. I believe that stability can come from only one place – the Stable in Bethlehem. Here are six reasons why I believe that:

  1. Simple – It was a simple Stable. It was not designed by an architect nor built by a famous contractor. It didn’t have electricity; it didn’t have high-speed internet. There was no media center in it; it wasn’t on the Parade of Homes. It was just a simple stable with a feeding trough and a shelter for some animals and people. A stable Christmas is simple and is focused on Jesus.
  2. Serene – It was a serene Stable where peace prevailed. It was the birthplace of the Prince of Peace. The shepherds had just heard the angel say, “Don’t be afraid. I’ve got Good News for you!” (Luke 2:10) The Stable was the birthplace of the One who said, “My peace I give to you, not the kind of peace the world gives.” (John 14:27) This peace was later described as the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) That peace brings real stability!
  3. Singing – It was a singing Stable. The entire Christmas story is punctuated with music. Great musical compositions such as Ave Maria, The Benedictus, The Magnificat, and Gloria in Excelsis Deo come from the Christmas story recorded in Luke 1 & 2. Also, Christmas carols tell the Stable story, and Christmas songs are still being written today based on Luke’s account.
  4. Spacious – It was a spacious Stable. I don’t know how big your house is, but it isn’t as big as that first Stable. You might have more square feet, but the Stable where Jesus was born was bigger because it stretched out to the whole world. (John 3:16) The size of a house isn’t measured by square feet – but rather by the size of the welcome mat! Do we welcome people when we go outside our small, immediate family?
  5. Special – It was a special Stable because it was the place where God presented His Son to the world. It was used by God to become a man and live among us. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Our lives can be special because it is through us that the Light of Hope and Peace can shine today. We are the light to the world. (Mat. 5:16) Jesus has entrusted His Light and His Truth to us to share with others! That’s very special!
  6. Sacrificial – It was a sacrificial Stable because it was the birthplace of the One who would sacrifice His life for the sins of all mankind. The baby who was born was to become the perfect lamb to be sacrificed. Jesus was described as the Lamb that was unblemished and spotless. (I Peter 1:9) Luke 23 describes how they carried Him up to a cross and crucified Him. He was willing to sacrifice His life in order that we might have life. Are we willing to sacrifice our money, time, pleasure, ambition, and comfort so other people might find hope and help?

The only real stability for our world comes from that Stable!

God

Have a “Mary” Christmas

She was a teenager. A virgin. Engaged to be married. She lived a life of quiet faithfulness to God. We don’t read that she was extraordinarily beautiful, nor wise. Nor rich. Nor from royalty. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was, by all accounts, extraordinarily ordinary, yet humble. She lived in Nazareth. an out-of-the way village, probably just a few hundred folks. Nathanael once remarked to Phillip, “Can anything good ever come out of Nazareth?”. It was a place you’d want to drive through, not stop to visit.

After Gabriel announced to Mary that she had found favor with God, after he told her she would soon give birth to the Savior of the World, after Gabriel told Mary her Son would be extraordinary, her response was simply, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

I sometimes wonder why God didn’t choose the mother of the Savior of the world from higher up the social ladder.

I think it was Mary’s quiet faithfulness. Her total surrender to God’s news. Her servant’s attitude. Her humility. All found favor with God.

Have a “Mary” Christmas this year. Never ever feel ordinary. Never feel that you don’t matter or that you couldn’t glorify God with your life, regardless of your circumstances.

God can do extraordinary things through ordinary people who, like Mary, live in quiet faithfulness, humility and submission to God.

God

He’s Alive

God

A Two-Question Christmas Quiz

One of the real highlights of Christmas is the presentation of the animated classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. When Charles Schulz started thinking about creating this television possibility, all the major networks were hesitant. Finally, one network agreed, so the cartoonist proceeded.

Everybody has favorite parts of the classic. We love to see Lucy’s reaction as Snoopy kissed her. We all felt bad for Charlie Brown when the gang turned on him and called him a “blockhead.”

My favorite part of the classic is when a frustrated Charlie Brown steps up and cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Then Linus comes out to center stage, requests the spotlight, wraps his blanket around his head, and begins reciting Luke 2, the story of Jesus’s birth. Linus then says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Linus got it right! That is what Christmas is really about!

I have always been inspired by the boldness of Charles Schulz to include Charlie Brown’s question and Linus’s answer. I have read that while A Charlie Brown Christmas was being developed, the producers again warned Schulz that including the Luke 2 scene in the special would probably jeopardize its marketability. Some of the experts were convinced that the religious message would definitely cause it to be rejected by the networks.

I love Charles Schulz’s response. Those warnings did not deter him. He had conviction. His answer was a question, “If not us, then who is going to do it?”

We are at a point in history today where we need to stand up and share the real meaning of Christmas. We can’t let commercial enterprises or people committed to secular values keep us from correctly answering Charlie Brown’s question!

In December 2016, a nurse’s aide, Dedra Shannon, at Patterson Middle School in Killeen, Texas, was told she had to remove a homemade poster featuring Linus, a scrawny tree, and the Biblical recitation of the true meaning of Christmas. She was basically told that Linus could stay but Jesus and the Bible stuff had to go. Dedra Shannon refused to compromise her Christian belief.

When Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General, heard about it, he acted. He cited the “Merry Christmas Law of 2013” which prevented this kind of discrimination. Paxton said to leave the poster up.

I love the way Todd Starnes reported the situation: “Ken Paxton decided it was time to jingle somebody’s bells. He dropped a big Yuletide Truth bomb on Killeen Independence School District. His message was that you don’t mess with Texas, and you don’t mess with Christmas, or you might just find your tinsel in a twist!”

I’m glad that Linus, the nurse’s aide, the Attorney General of Texas, and many others have stepped up to correctly answer the question that Charles Schulz asked. May God increase their tribe!

Here are two quiz questions for Christmas: “What is Christmas all about?” and “If not us, then who is going to do it?” What are your answers?

What grade will God give you on your answers to this Christmas quiz?

God

Battle Hymn of the Republic

God

Clinging to the vine

Tarzan, the ape-man of the jungle, performed all his feats of strength and bravery by clinging to an intricate system of vines. He swung from the west side to the upper east side of the jungle at will. No lights. No traffic jams. Saving damsels in distress, foiling poachers, saving animals, catching bad guys. All his good works (his purpose in life) made possible because Tarzan knew the importance of clinging to the vine.

Jesus knows how important it is that we cling to The Vine if we’re going to live our lives in God’s will.

Many good-meaning Christians still believe that for God to accept them, they must behave a certain way, do certain things, and be a good person. They believe we must read the Bible every day, pray every day, and serve the Lord with good works. On the “Can’t” side of the ledger they believe they can’t sin, can’t smoke, can’t drink, can’t cuss, can’t criticize others, can’t gossip, can’t envy, can’t commit adultery, can’t lie, can’t kill and a whole bunch of other cants. They think, if they do any of those things they will fall out of favor with God. (Paul addresses all those sins in Romans 7.)

The Bible teaches that nothing could be further from the truth. The very last lesson Jesus taught his disciples before He they led him to Golgotha to be crucified was about clinging to The Vine. Jesus said in John 15:5-8, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.”

What do branches do? Do they produce fruit? No. They do nothing. They cling to the vine. That’s it.  When they cling to the vine, Jesus life pours through them from The Vine, through the branches, out to the twigs and leaves and produces fruit. The branches are merely vessels. Clinging to the vine and allowing Jesus life to flow through them. Jesus gives life and bears fruit, but only if the branches remain clinging to the vine.

Apart from clinging to the vine, so Jesus can do His work us, we can do nothing of significance. If we try to break away from The Vine and do stuff on our own, it will amount to nothing.

Are you working hard to be a good Christian (by the way, there’s no such thing as a good Christian)? Are you feeding your Martha complex? Relax. Stop trying and start trusting.  All Jesus asks us to do is cling to the vine and let Him do His work through us.

God

Down in the weeds

Detasseling corn in an Iowa cornfield. It was a good paying summer job for me and my friends.

When I was a teenager growing up in the farmlands of Southwest Iowa I had two summer jobs at two different times. When the corn came in a corn company hired me and my friends to detassel corn. We would walk the corn in four rows and pull the tassels off the stalks all the wat down the rows. Many times the rows were one-half mile long. It was July in Iowa. Can you say “scorching hot“?. We’d detassel four female rows and leave one male row for cross-pollination. Don’t ask.

Walking Beans

Hoeing beans for farmers in summertime for Iowa farmers was work but was fun at times.. Girls could do it too so it wasn’t all work and no play.

Another summertime job we had was walking (hoeing) beans Weeds thrived in the bean fields and farmers had to keep cutting out the weeds. We would walk the rows and literally get down in the weeds and hoe the weeds out from among the healthy growing beans.

We feel “Down in the weeds” in life too sometimes don’t we? We say we’re down in the weeds when the bills just keep piling up and there’s not enough money to pay them. Don’t we feel down in the woods when the transmission goes out on the car when our teenage son just drove it to his girlfriend’s house? Don’t we feel down in the weeds when we hear the bank turned down our application for a loan? Or don’t we feel down in the weeds when the plumber tells us our new dryer is defective?

When we find ourselves deep down in the weeds and can’t see our way out. Let’s call on the Master Gardner to pull all the weeds up and tie them up in a bundle and burn them. He will if we just ask him.of

When we get way down in the weeds we need to always remember two promises God made to us:

  1. It’s going to be OK
  2. And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good for those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose.

By the way, I looked up the word ALL in mu Funk and Wagnall’s dictionary and do you know what it means? All.

God

There is power in the blood of Jesus

God

What part will you play?

John Ed

Today’s post is taken from Dr. John Ed Mathison‘s new book “Got a minute“–a 365 page-book of short devotional podcasts of one-minute inspirational thoughts and messages. Dr. Mathison also writes a weekly blog that I publish here on my blog site.

” I heard about a little girl who wanted to try out for” a part in the school play. Her mother commented how meaningful it would be for her to be in the play, but she knew that her daughter probably wouldn’t be chosen.

On the day that the parts were awarded, the mother and her friend went to pick up the little girl at school. The little girl rushed up to her mother with total excitement exuding from her personality. She said, “Guess what, mom? I’ve gotten a part in the play! I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer!”

To that little girl, that was a huge opportunity to serve. When we don’t get to be the lead in any situation, or in charge, are we willing to assume a secondary spot? Play second fiddle? It wouldn’t be glamorous. It wouldn’t bring much or any of notice, or recognition, or limelight or applause.

It would just be clapping and cheering. Would you be willing to just clap and cheer in God’s drama today”? For that little girl clapping and cheering could have been the starring role.

It is extremely important to have somebody that can clap and cheer. What’s your role in God’s great drama today?”

God

It’s dark outside

When I was growing up in Shenandoah, Iowa, one of the fun things we did in Summer time after dark was catch lightening bugs. We’d get a glass canning jar from Mom. Then we’d seek out the darkest place in the back yard, catch some lightening bugs in the jars and watch them flicker in the jar.

Unfortunately much of our country is living in darkness and getting darker. Our culture, our politics, our music, even some of our churches are turning worldly. our entertainment, our government, our social media, every aspect of our country is bent on wiping Jesus Christ out of our memory, minds and conscientiousness. If it weren’t for professional sports and college football we’d be completely ruined as a country. And I don’t say that flippantly. I mean it. As God’s children face this upheaval we realize that this push to rid the world of Jesus is as dangerous and evil and as wide spread as it has ever been in our lifetimes.

I don’t believe we’re going to have much success impacting our world. The last time Jesus was with his disciples at the last supper the night before his crucifixion, he said this, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This is a new command, not to be added to al the other commands we already have. “Tomorrow, I’m going to show you what I mean by loving one another. And Jesus example by his crucifixion would turn the world upside down.

What does Jesus’ brand of loving one another require? The Apostle Paul tells us what loving like Jesus looks like:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (from 1st Corinthians 13:4-8)
This is what Jesus’ kind of love requires.

In this ever darkening world, our only hope is to love everyone we encounter ( even those we are at odds with) for the rest of our lives with the same kind of sacrificial love Jesus shows us.

What kind of love do we show one another today?

I’m”

When I was growing up in Shenandoah, Iowa, one of the fun things we did in Summer time after dark was catch lightening bugs. We’d get a glass canning jar from Mom. Then we’d seek out the darkest place in the back yard, catch some lightening bugs in the jars and watch them flicker in the jar.

God

How do we remember people?

How well do we remember people who are no longer living who have made an impact on us, our families, and our nation? How do we adequately remember and honor them? 

I recently officiated at a funeral for a relative in a small town. It seems at funerals we see a lot of people we haven’t seen in years. There was an outstanding young couple there. I had officiated at their wedding. The couple had a little 5-year-old boy who was very cute and inquisitive.

As we left the funeral home to go to the cemetery a few miles away, I asked the young boy if he wanted to ride with me. He said, “Yes.” His parents said that it was ok. I tried to answer a lot of questions in that short ride.

When we arrived at the cemetery, there were gravesites well over one hundred years old. It was probably that little boy’s first trip to a cemetery. He was asking about all those old headstones that were hardly legible. He asked, “Is this the best way to remember people?”

Great question!

One of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation was John Knox, the founder of the Church in Scotland, which is Presbyterian. He was a well-loved and effective preacher. His ministry was so powerful that Mary, Queen of Scots, said that she feared the prayers of John Knox more than all of the armies of Europe!

When he died in 1572, he was buried at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. He is not remembered as he should be. The part of the cemetery where he was buried was eventually covered with blacktop to form a parking lot. Knox’s grave is thought to be under parking space number twenty-three. It actually has a small memorial plaque that can be seen only when a car is not parked in the space.

Wow – one of the great shapers of Protestant history – and his grave is now part of a parking lot.

I was shocked to read that the gravesite of Vince Lombardi has been in total disarray. 25 years ago, Gary Martin, not even a Packers fan, wanted to see the grave of the famous coach. He was appalled. Once a month, he drives three hours to keep the gravesite cleared and presentable. He said he just felt somebody ought to remember Lombardi in a better way.

Vince Lombardi
Until Nick Saban came on the scene in college football, Vince Lombardi was considered the greatest coach who ever lived.

Vince Lombardi was known for hard work, discipline, success, and playing the game right. The Super Bowl trophy is named “The Vince Lombardi Trophy.” It takes a NY Jets fan, Gary Martin, to help Lombardi be remembered in a better way. He said he even hopes to place a four-foot-high Super Bowl replica trophy made out of granite on the front of his tombstone.

We try to remember and appreciate people by designating a burial place, but obviously that’s not very effective as evidenced by some of my family, John Knox, and Vince Lombardi. The best way to remember and honor people is to live out the principles and values that they espoused. The best way to make this Christmas a great memory is to live out what Christmas is really about and be an example of what Jesus taught!

How will you remember people?

God

The Man Upstairs

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods gave a press conference recently to discus his recovery from a horrible automobile crash earlier this year that almost took his life. The crash did end his active pro golf career. During the Q and A session Woods made this statement, “I guess the Man upstairs was looking out for me. “I guess Woods was using a veiled reference to The Almighty Creator of the universe. But you can’t tell anything by Wood’s calling him “The Man upstairs.” That could be anyone, but it isn’t the God I know and love. Yes, Almighty God did take care of Tiger Woods in that crash and before that crash and before Woods ever thought about picking up a golf club. And God will look out for Woods until the day of reckoning. On that day Woods will hear the same question everyone who is not already a child of God (We’ll already be in heaven.) “Tiger have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? That’s a yes-or no question. Do I know you?” Wood’s answer will determine where he spends eternity.

How would you answer those two questions?

God

Born to Serve

 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

God has given every person a gift for serving others. It’s what we’ve been created to do. We’ve heard some folks say, “Oh I don’t think I have a gift to serve. I’m not really qualified to do anything. I don’t have any serving skills or training. We live too far from the church. How could we serve from so far away? I’d be hesitant to get out of my comfort zone. But I hear they have all the volunteers they need at church anyway.

Josh Howard was like that in some ways. “I felt unqualified to serve anywhere at first,” he said. “I was really hesitant to try anything out of my comfort zone.

Somebody suggested he try the food pantry and that piqued his interest. “That might work,” Josh told himself. “It’s just handing out food.”

But Josh didn’t count on befriending a lady really down on her luck whose husband was in jail.

One of the volunteers suggested Josh go visit the lady’s husband in jail. Josh recoiled at the idea at first. But something (or Someone–can you say Holy Spirit) convinced Josh to take a giant leap out of his comfort zone and go visit the guy. So he did. But not just once. Josh went back several times and shared Josh’s faith and the gospel with the man and the man accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Josh returned to the food ministry and sought out the man’s wife to tell her the great news about her husband accepting Christ and becoming a Christian. Well, guess what. The wife accepted Christ as her Savior that very day.

The lady’s husband finally got out of jail. Five days after he walked out of jail he died.

That guy is in heaven today hanging out with Jesus because Josh Howard took a giant leap of faith out of his comfort zone in obedience to God!

Josh will tell you he still felt unqualified to do what he did. But I told him he was exactly the right person God chose for the job. Since this happened, Josh has signed up to write letters to prisoners.

So don’t tell me you’re unqualified to serve. If you’re destined to do God’s work (even if you think you aren’t)God will choose you and qualify you and equip you and instruct you and guide you every step of the way.

And don’t tell me you don’t have a gift enabling you to serve. God has given EVERYone a gift for service.

God

If I could. . .

comparison trap

If I could ever have . . .
If I could ever do . . .
If I could ever marry . . .
If I could ever own . . .
If I could ever accomplish . . .
If I could ever be . . .
If I could ever make . . .
If I could ever get his/her approval

then . . . maybe then . . .enough people . . .or that one person. . . would begin to look at me and say, “You know, you’re alright.”

And if they say that about me, then . . .maybe . . .just maybe . . .I’ll begin to feel “okay” about myself and it will fix whatever it is inside of me that’s broken.

Is this about anybody else out there besides me? Do we sometimes look around at other people and what they have and what they do and how much money they have to make us feel better about ourselves?  Do we sometimes compare our lives to others?

We all do it in some season in our lives. At our core, when we compare ourselves to others to make us feel alright about ourselves, it’s called envy.  Solomon, the wisest man in the world said this:

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4

If we believe Solomon, then every work of ours, every  job, every service, every use of our skills and talents is motivated by envy.
And it’s all worth nothing–like striving after wind.

Envy rots the bones.

There is no win comparing ourselves to those around us.

God

How’s your Christianity workin’ for you?

When folks see how you are living day-to-day now what evidence would they see that Christ is living in you? Or would folks see evidence that you are surrendered to God’s will in your life and allowing Jesus to live his life through you. If you went on trial for being a Christian would the prosecution have enough evidence to convict you?

I wonder just how many folks today who identity themselves as Christians are making an effort to follow Jesus, love one another, and consider the needs of others as more important than their own. Does your brand of Christianity look like that?

Does your lifestyle now look more like the Galatians 2:20 new man in Christ:  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Or does your lifestyle reflect worldly thinking like in 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

If you’re a believer and an earnest follower of Christ it is easy to fall back into a dangerous pattern of worldly thinking and behavior. The instant we realize we might be slipping down that slippery slope into the world Flee. right away. Get into God’s word. Pray. Call a friend.

Satan will try anything to keep you worldly. And the longer you stay the worse it will be and the harder it will be to extricate yourself

God

Remembering a friend

During the pandemic, I officiated at the home-going of a great Christian businessman and friend, Bobby Norment. He led Norment Industries in Montgomery to become a successful international business. They provided security products for government buildings, prisons, embassies, court houses, etc.

One Sunday in church, Bobby was challenged about his commitment to Jesus. He committed everything to Jesus Christ. He said, “From now on, Jesus will have first place in my life.” Bobby meant it.

Bobby then felt a call to do some kind of ministry. Rev. Cortez Frazier had moved to a large church in Florida. Bobby was a great businessman. He sold Norment Industries, and he and his family moved to Florida so he could become the business manager of a great church and school. You can imagine the difference in his salary.

He helped establish a strong church and gave leadership in the school to bring it to its strongest position ever. Then Bobby and his family felt a call to go with YWAM—Youth With A Mission. He and his family moved so he could use his business skills to help give direction to a huge nonprofit ministry.

Later, he felt God’s call for him and his family to help establish a different kind of educational model for students that would better prepare them to live in the 21st century. The result was CreatEd Institute. This model recognizes that students want what they learn to be related to life issues to help them relate more meaningfully to other people, and for their faith to relate to reality. It’s a model based on mentoring rather than lecturing. Bobby’s vision was to help develop an educational system that redefines the meaning of successful education.

Bobby was always totally supported by his family and his wonderful wife, Jean. She is an excellent teacher and has always been an active leader in women’s ministries.

A young businessman went to Bobby Norment and asked him, “How can I have a Christian business?”

Bobby shocked him by saying, “There’s no such thing as a Christian business. The business is neutral—neither Christian or not. It’s the people who direct the business that determines whether or not Christian principles will be enacted. Christians run a Christian business.”

That young businessman was shocked, but greatly influenced. He saw it! He got it! He started developing a business based on those principles.

Friends and family remember Bobby saying, “You only have one life to live—be sure to make it count. Go all out! Don’t ever leave anything on the field. Let God lead you. Give everything to God and obey him completely!”

Wow! That’s a philosophy that wins!

Bobby Norment’s company was tremendously successful. He was able to create bulletproof glass that is still used in the White House and various embassies. He helped make them safe, but he created a better safety shield when he began following Jesus and inviting others to join him. Following Jesus leads a person into safety, not just for this life, but for all eternity!

How will you and I be remembered?

God

God settled gender identity in the Garden

The culture has gone totally woke. Convention flew the coop. Reason took a hike. Common sense is so uncommon. Second and third graders don’t even know what their reproductive organs are for, let alone how to use them. The idea that schools should teach them their sexual identity is totally absurd.

Besides, God already settled sexual identity for every male and female in the world with Adam and Eve.

Gender expression is how you choose to express your gender identity through your name, pronouns, clothing, hair style, behaviour, voice, or body features.

Today folks would rather create designer identity rather than accept the true identity God gave them Gender expression is how lots of folks choose to express your gender identity through your name, pronouns, clothing, hair style, behavior, voice, or body features.

Why not call yourself a “nullgender, “genderless”, “butch”, “genderqueer”, “transgender”, how about claiming yourself a “gender outlaw”, these are all legitimate gender ID’s people are using today.

In the Garden of Eden God gave Adam a reproductive organ called a penis. God gave Eve, the mother of all women breasts (which, by the way are fun for men to play with). And God gave the woman a vagina or a vulva.

Every man and every woman is built the same exact way. This is their sexual identity. This has always been their sexual identity. And it will always be their sexual identity. Nothing or no one can ever change God’s design or plan.

God

St. Francis of Assisi Prayer

God

Testimony from God

A testimony from God

Me: Can I ask you a personal question?

Them: I may choose not to answer.

Me: That’s fine. Ignore it. Walk away. Call me crazy. Tell me it’s none of my business. Whatever.

Them: Okay go ahead.

Me: Do you know Jesus?

If they say YES

Thank them for their candor and acknowledge your relationship with them as brother or sister in Christ. This can initiate further discussions about fellow biblical topics, spiritual topics, or Christian fellowship. The door’s wide open.

At some point make sure to tell them this: Do you realize that if you and I never see each other again after today, we’ll see each other again and be brother/sister in Christ for FOREVER!. THINK OF THAT. Is that awesome or what.

IF THEY SAY NO, they don’t know Jesus, or they say they don’t want to know Jesus, you say, “Let me tell you why that question is so important to your life. Every person on earth will one day die. We can never predict when that will be. You might die right after lunch today. You might live to be 106. We just don’t know.

But the instant you die you’ll meet God standing there and He will ask you one question, are you one of my children? In other words, do you know my Son Jesus? And since you’ve said you don’t. Your fate is settled. You will burn in hell. God will turn a deaf ear to any of your pleas for mercy or a second chance.

How would you like to change your destiny? How would you like to avoid going to hell? How would you like to make sure you go to heaven when you die? We can make that happen right now? Let me pray with you  and we’ll change your destiny forever, or do you still want to go to hell when you die?

Take my hand and lets pray you out of hell and into heaven with Jesus.

God

My two favorite Mothers in the world

We’ve come a long long way since April 6, 1993. You are the greatest blessing God has ever given me. I thank God for you every single day. You are the reason I learned to allow Jesus to live in my heart and show his love to others through me.

I thought all my life that all I had to do to get to heaven was to be a “good” Christian.

Then I met you!

You showed me the love of Jesus by the life I saw you live and how you showed the love of Jesus to others. You have loved me and served me in ways and times I could never even fathom.

I’ve watched your skill and passion you express to your children since they were kids. Through good times and tough times you’ve always been there to love them and guide them with the love of Jesus. It has been remarkable to watch, Marie..

I hope this Mother’s day brings you joy and peace.

I will always love you and be in awe of you, my favorite mother.

You and I have come a long, long way together since you told me, “that pitch was a strike”. That phrase will always occupy a fond place in my memory and our story forever. Lois I don’t have enough space or time to tell you all the times and ways you have blessed me. You have always been the one I can count on for a fresh perspective in any situation. You always have suggestions on how I can do things better.

You ask me seven or eight times a day, “Do you need anything?” or “Can I get something for you?”

You will never understand how comforting and gratifying those questions are to me. Each time you say them I feel over the moon blessed. REALLY! And cared for and loved.

Don’t get me started on your model for a single mother. I would have to search far and wide to find a mother that could even come within a country mile to your example as a loving, nurturing mother. You exhibit a rare balance between love and discipline. Between teaching and playing. Between correcting and letting go. Nurturing Reina and Alex to love God. Accountability. Good character and much more.

I gotta quit. I could get carried away.

Let me say this from deep in my heart. You are the best single mother I have ever known or will ever know. Thank you for loving me and serving me and taking such good care of me.

I love you more than words can say.

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed, Happy Mothers Day.

I

You and

God

Giving out Degrees

SEASON OF CONFERRING DEGREES

This is the season for conferring degrees. Centenary is a private college in Hackettstown, New Jersey. It has about 1,100 students. The university president, Bruce Murphy, made an announcement on March 18 that they would offer a new “Master of Arts in Happiness Studies” degree.

Wow, that’s interesting. The degree is offered online, and it is designed for people who are looking for personal, organizational, and societal happiness. The degree is intended to make folks happy in the tough times that we face, both on economic and emotional levels.

A master’s degree from a school won’t bring happiness. Jesus offers a Master’s degree that will bring happiness. Here is the curriculum for the happiness degree from the Master:

3“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor;

          the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

“Happy are those who mourn;

          God will comfort them!

“Happy are those who are humble;

          they will receive what God has promised!

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;

          God will satisfy them fully!

“Happy are those who are merciful to others;

          God will be merciful to them!

“Happy are the pure in heart;

          they will see God!

“Happy are those who work for peace;

          God will call them his children!

10 “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires;

            the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

11 “Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you….

                because you are my followers. 

12 Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Matthew 5:3-11 (GNT)

Jesus’ degree in happiness is referred to as the ‘Beatitudes.’ I like that name. It involves the words ‘attitude’ and ‘be.’ Paul wrote, “Let this attitude be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Happiness comes when the beatitudes are the attitudes that “be in us.”

The degree from Centenary will cost $17,700. A lot of people would be glad to pay $17,700 if they were guaranteed they would be happy. A master’s degree doesn’t guarantee that happiness. A degree from the Master does guarantee happiness.

This new master’s degree at Centenary isn’t offered until next October. The degree of the Master is offered today if you surrender your life completely to Him, ask Him to place His attitude in you, and then allow the Holy Spirit to live in your life and empower you to practice the Beatitudes. It can happen immediately!

Jesus is conferring happiness degrees right now!

God

God’s sovereignty–for our good and God’s glory

God’s Sovereignty controls all things.

There is nothing that is outside of God’s wise control, even the exact time and place for each person to live. No one tells God what to do. What God plans, happens. No event, no natural disaster, no person, not even Satan, can stop God’s plans. When God permits evil, we can trust He has planned to use it for His people’s good and His glory. God planned the time for His Son to come to earth the first time, and He has a time for His Son to return. God will accomplish His plan because He alone has power to do it.

.His sovereignty is the underpinning of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of all things for those that love Him and are called according to his purpose.” I have committed to some intimate brothers in Christ that I am going to dwell on God’s sovereignty and Romans 8:28 and watch what God is going to do in my life as a result of my commitment.

Chip Ingram writes and teaches a lot about God’s sovereignty. In a recent YouTube audio message on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWPmfU7oFjcon God’s sovereignty. Chip says “Nothing will come into your life today, tomorrow or next year that is not allowed or ascribed by our Awesome sovereign God. No person. No circumstance. No job. No job loss. No cancer. No relationship. No betrayal. No injustice. No terror attack. No hate. No evil. Nothing will come into your life that is not allowed or ascribed by the Almighty Sovereignty God.

God

Hopeful Hospital Stay

I just got home from a six-day stint in the Northside Hospital here in Atlanta. I don’t like hospitals, but I have to say my stay in Northside was a guanine blessing. No kidding.

First of all I can honestly testify that every EVERY EVERY nurse, technician, doctor, cleaning crew, physician’s assistant, security guard, (Everyone I encountered) for any medical, physical, emotional psychological or mental illness treatment. They’re the best.

God encouraged me to witness to and meet several of my genuine brothers and sisters in Christ. He also guided me to challenge several non-believers to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. What a blessing!

God

Everything is Broken

God

Got a minute

God

The Complete Message

This post appeared yesterday on my For His Glory website. It was written by Pastor John Ed Mathion my former pastor at Frazer Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama

.It is so good and timely for today that I wanted to share it with my readers. John Ed.s blog posts appear every Thursday on my For His Glory website https://stevensawyer.wordpress.com/.

By Dr. John Ed Mathison

I have had the opportunity to give training to about twelve thousand pastors since establishing this leadership ministry fourteen years ago. I think the area where this has made the biggest difference is in India. I have been to India five times and helped train over 3,000 pastors there. The church that hosted the conferences in northern India is New Life Assembly. It is huge. They average over 46,000 people in worship each Sunday.The biggest difference is in India. I have been to India five times and helped train over 3,000 pastors there. The church that hosted the conferences in northern India is New Life Assembly. It is huge. They average over 46,000 people in worship each Sunday.

One of the challenges is the language. It’s essential to use an interpreter since I don’t speak their language. Some of the pastors spoke some English. You can tell the ones who knew English because whenever I said something funny, you could see smiles and hear laughter before it was interpreted into their language.

The message of Easter that every believer interprets every day is extremely important. Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus and the hope for eternal life He gives to each of us. It’s a message that we need to know clearly and communicate completely.

Easter sends a clear message to the world that God is always victorious. Seemingly defeated on Friday when Jesus died, the victory cry came on Sunday morning when He was raised from the dead! The whole message is that Jesus is alive. He lives today. Get the whole message and communicate it to the people around you.

Years ago, England had a crucial battle with France at Waterloo. People in England were waiting for some news of the results of that battle. The news would be brought into the English Channel by a ship and sent by semaphore to spell out the message to the people on land.

Finally, one morning, the message was sent. It read WELLINGTON DEFEATED. Then a heavy fog came in, and that was all the message that the people saw. WELLINGTON DEFEATED.

There was a solemn dirge of defeat that covered London. People were in despair. Their hopes were dashed. Wellington had been defeated. They envisioned a terrible future of defeat.

After a few hours, the fog began to clear, and the message was continuing to be sent. WELLINGTON DEFEATED, but then they noticed that there were two more words that came across the water. The message read THE ENEMY. The complete message was WELLINGTON DEFEATED THE ENEMY.

Wild joy–hilarious joy–joy like England had never experienced broke out when the complete message was seen. There was dancing and rejoicing. The people of England had a future. Wellington had defeated the enemy!

Many people today allow foggy thinking, foggy circumstances, and foggy experiences to blot out the complete message. The message is very clear and simple. God has defeated the enemy! Jesus is alive! He lives! No need to live a defeated life! The final score of victory has been posted!

The complete message is the same for India, Montgomery, and every part of the world. Every believer is a minister who proclaims the complete message!

He is risen!

God

Communicating the whole message

I have had the opportunity to give training to about twelve thousand pastors since establishing this leadership ministry fourteen years ago. I think the area where this has made the biggest difference is in India. I have been to India five times and helped train over 3,000 pastors there. The church that hosted the conferences in northern India is New Life Assembly. It is huge. They average over 46,000 people in worship each Sunday.

One of the challenges is the language. It’s essential to use an interpreter since I don’t speak their language. Some of the pastors spoke some English. You can tell the ones who knew English because whenever I said something funny, you could see smiles and hear laughter before it was interpreted into their language.

The message of Easter that every believer interprets every day is extremely important. Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus and the hope for eternal life He gives to each of us. It’s a message that we need to know clearly and communicate completely.

Easter sends a clear message to the world that God is always victorious. Seemingly defeated on Friday when Jesus died, the victory cry came on Sunday morning when He was raised from the dead! The whole message is that Jesus is alive. He lives today. Get the whole message and communicate it to the people around you.

Years ago, England had a crucial battle with France at Waterloo. People in England were waiting for some news of the results of that battle. The news would be brought into the English Channel by a ship and sent by semaphore to spell out the message to the people on land.

Finally, one morning, the message was sent. It read WELLINGTON DEFEATED. Then a heavy fog came in, and that was all the message that the people saw. WELLINGTON DEFEATED.

There was a solemn dirge of defeat that covered London. People were in despair. Their hopes were dashed. Wellington had been defeated. They envisioned a terrible future of defeat.

After a few hours, the fog began to clear, and the message was continuing to be sent. WELLINGTON DEFEATED, but then they noticed that there were two more words that came across the water. The message read THE ENEMY. The complete message was WELLINGTON DEFEATED THE ENEMY.

Wild joy–hilarious joy–joy like England had never experienced broke out when the complete message was seen. There was dancing and rejoicing. The people of England had a future. Wellington had defeated the enemy!

Many people today allow foggy thinking, foggy circumstances, and foggy experiences to blot out the complete message. The message is very clear and simple. God has defeated the enemy! Jesus is alive! He lives! No need to live a defeated life! The final score of victory has been posted!

The complete message is the same for India, Montgomery, and every part of the world. Every believer is a minister who proclaims the complete message!

He is risen!

God

I was at the empty tomb on Resurrection Day–REALLY.

I was there. Personally!  Really.

angell

I saw Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome come to Jesus’ grave and discover He wasn’t there. Really. I did.

I saw the shock and fear; then I saw their joy and celebration.

I promise.

I saw Peter and the others dashing up the path. They looked inside in disbelief. I watched them ran away from the tomb and disappear into the dawn.

For four years I played roles in the Atlanta Passion Play at First Baptist Church. The play drew thousands of people to Atlanta during its three-weekend, 12-performance, 35-year run. One year I was cast as an angel in white at the empty tomb on Resurrection Sunday.  I saw everything.  The lines I spoke still give me chills years later. “Don’t be afraid.” I said. “Why are you looking for Jesus? He is not here.  He is risen. Just like He said He would.  Come see for yourselves at the empty tomb.. Now go tell Peter and the disciples.”

“Jesus is risen,” I announced it to the first visitors to the tomb. How blessed I was to have been there.  How fortunate that they chose me to speak those lines and impact those audiences and call attention to the resurrection Jesus in that way

I felt like I was really there. It was real to me. That scene in the performance made the Resurrection come alive for me as never before. And I’ll never think about the Resurrection the same again.

God

God is “Pro Choice”

When my daughter was 14 she decided to make Rice Krispies® Treats.  I told her to wait till I finished something and then I would help her make the tasty treats. She was making them for the first time. But my daughter, knowing everything there was to know about life and cooking, decided she could do it herself.

rice krispies

She dumped a box of Rice Krispies® into a pot on the stove and turned up the heat. Then she poured in the marshmallows. I walked into the kitchen and,

Of course I knew exactly what she was doing. She was ruining our Rice Krispies® and scorching a good cooking pot. But I wanted her to understand she disobeyed me and ruined desert for the family in the process.

I wonder if God felt as exasperated with Adam in the Garden as I did with my daughter that day? God witnessed Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden when He asked Adam, “Where are you?” God knew exactly where Adam was. God was always in Adam and Eve’s presence. God wanted Adam to understand exactly where He was–in Paradise. In God’s perfect garden where Adam and Eve COULD HAVE enjoyed peace with God. They COULD HAVE lived in God’s presence with all their needs met forever. Instead Adam ruined Paradise for God’s entire family he decided to do things his own way.

My daughter could have enjoyed the sumptuous, gooey treats we had planned for desert that night, if she had listened to her father. But she ruined desert for our family because she decided to do things her own way.

None of us can fathom how our lives would be different today if Adam and Eve had just listened to their Father in the Garden of Eden.

God

God is “Pro Choice

Yes He is! When my daughter was 14 she decided to make Rice Krispies® Treats.  I told her to wait till I finished something and then I would help her make the tasty treats. She was making them for the first time. But my daughter, knowing everything there was to know about life and cooking, decided she could do it herself.

rice krispies

She dumped a box of Rice Krispies® into a pot on the stove and turned up the heat. Then she poured in the marshmallows. I walked into the kitchen and,

Of course I knew exactly what she was doing. She was ruining our Rice Krispies® and scorching a good cooking pot. But I wanted her to understand she disobeyed me and ruined desert for the family in the process.

I wonder if God felt as exasperated with Adam in the Garden as I did with my daughter that day? God witnessed Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden when He asked Adam, “Where are you?” God knew exactly where Adam was. God was always in Adam and Eve’s presence. God wanted Adam to understand exactly where He was–in Paradise. In God’s perfect garden where Adam and Eve COULD HAVE enjoyed peace with God. They COULD HAVE lived in God’s presence with all their needs met forever. Instead Adam ruined Paradise for God’s entire family he decided to do things his own way.

My daughter could have enjoyed the sumptuous, gooey treats we had planned for desert that night, if she had listened to her father. But she ruined desert for our family because she decided to do things her own way.

None of us can fathom how our lives would be different today if Adam and Eve had just listened to their Father in the Garden of Eden.

God

Black Friday

Black Friday — It’s the biggest shopping day of the year. Thanksgiving weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Some retail analysts claim this weekend will represent between 15 and 30% of the year’s total revenues. The National Retail Federation claims that 226 million shoppers will spend an estimated $52.5 billion dollars that weekend, an average of $298.62 per shopper.

The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”, according to Wikipedia.

Our culture calls it Black Friday. It’s Black, they say, for three reasons: 1) our culture is materialistic; 2) our culture is greedy; and 3) God is nowhere to be found .

But Black Friday is not the blackest Friday. We read about the blackest Friday in Matthew:

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They spit on him. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: “this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. From Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 27.

For the women and His followers watching Jesus dying on the cross, it was not a good day. It was a day of pain, suffering, agony, doubt, death and loss.

I can’t call that Good Friday. To me, it was the blackest Friday in the history of the world. Jesus took our sins away that day and covered all of them in His precious blood. His death meant God forgave all our sins, past, present and future. But that’s nothing to shout about if you consider the price Jesus paid for our forgiveness.

Shame on us for calling it Good Friday. Let our depraved, materialistic, greedy, self-centered, godless do-what-feels-good culture call it Good Friday. To me it’s the real Black Friday. We need to spend it remembering how much our forgiveness cost God.

God

Black Friday

Black Friday — It’s the biggest shopping day of the year. Thanksgiving weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Some retail analysts claim this weekend will represent between 15 and 30% of the year’s total revenues. The National Retail Federation claims that 226 million shoppers will spend an estimated $52.5 billion dollars that weekend, an average of $298.62 per shopper.

The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1961 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”, according to Wikipedia.

Our culture calls it Black Friday. It’s Black, they say, for three reasons: 1) our culture is materialistic; 2) our culture is greedy; and 3) God is nowhere to be found .

But Black Friday is not the blackest Friday. We read about the blackest Friday in Matthew:

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They spit on him. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: “this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. From Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 27.

For the women and His followers watching Jesus dying on the cross, it was not a good day. It was a day of pain, suffering, agony, doubt, death and loss.

I can’t call that Good Friday. To me, it was the blackest Friday in the history of the world. Jesus took our sins away that day and covered all of them in His precious blood. His death meant God forgave all our sins, past, present and future. But that’s nothing to shout about if you consider the price Jesus paid for our forgiveness.

Shame on us for calling it Good Friday. Let our depraved, materialistic, greedy, self-centered, godless do-what-feels-good culture call it Good Friday. To me it’s the real Black Friday. We need to spend it remembering how much our forgiveness cost God.

God

Rice Krispy Treats and Original Sin

When my daughter was 14 she decided to make Rice Krispy Treats.  I told her to wait till I finished something and then I would help her make the tasty treats. She was making them for the first time. But my daughter, knowing everything there was to know about life and cooking, decided she could do it herself.

rice krispies

She dumped a box of Rice Krispies® into a pot on the stove and turned up the heat. Then she poured in the marshmallows. I walked into the kitchen and hollered, “What are you doing?”

Of course I knew exactly what she was doing. She was ruining our Rice Krispies® and scorching a good cooking pot. But I wanted her to understand she had disobeyed me and ruined desert for the family.

God witnessed Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden when He asked Adam, “Where are you?” God knew exactly where Adam was. God was always in Adam and Eve’s presence. God wanted Adam to understand exactly where He was–in Paradise. In God’s perfect garden where Adam and Eve COULD HAVE enjoyed peace with God. They COULD HAVE lived in God’s presence with all their needs met forever. Instead Adam ruined Paradise for God’s entire family he decided to do things his own way.

My daughter could have enjoyed the sumptuous, gooey treats we had planned for desert that night, if she had listened to her father. But she ruined desert for our family because she decided to do things her own way.

None of us can fathom how our lives would be different today if Adam and Eve had just listened to their Father in the Garden of Eden.

God

Seven Words From The Cross

Our salvation is through the cross. Let’s read and listen to the seven last words of Jesus on the cross:

  1. The PARDONING word: Luke 23:32-38

    Jesus was forced to carry His cross up to a place called Calvary. There, they crucified Him along with two thieves. Hear the pardoning words of Jesus, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” The cross is about how God forgives us.
  2. The PROMISING word: Luke 23:39-43

    One thief requested, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus then gave the beautiful promise, “I say unto you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” That’s the greatest promise that any person can ever receive. Jesus always keeps His promises!
  3. The PARENTAL word: John 19:25-27

    When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple John standing at the foot of the cross, He said, “Woman, this is your son.” He then said to the disciple John, “This is your mother.” In His dying moments, He wanted to care for His mother. The disciple John took her into his own home.
  4. The PERPLEXING word: Matthew 27:45-46

    During the six-hour darkness that covered all the land, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” There, Jesus momentarily experienced loneliness, but deep in His mind, He knew that He was doing His Father’s will.
  5. The PLEADING word: John 19-28-29

    Jesus said, “I thirst.” He wanted something to drink. The Romans filled a sponge with vinegar and put it on a stick and placed it up to His mouth. The very moment when He was pleading for water, the soldiers gave Him vinegar. Still, Jesus loved them and forgave them.
  6. The PRIESTLY word: John 17:1-8; 19:30

    Jesus had now completed His priestly task of offering His blood for the salvation of this world so that God might be glorified. He says, “It is finished.” He didn’t say “I am finished.” Jesus’s work on earth was finished, but He wasn’t finished. You will see that on Easter morning.
  7. The PARTING word: Matthew 23:44-46

    There was darkness over the earth. The veil of the temple was split. Jesus cried out, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus knew where He had come from, where He was, and where He was going. He invites us to go with Him. 

Derric Johnson reminds us that it took the manger to bring God to us, but it took the cross to bring us to God! The cross is the only way from “here” to “there.”

God

God left the 99 and came after me

I was trudging through a quire mire of sin and disgusting behavior and wild living and poor choices for decades, oblivious to the disastrous carnal life I was living and the pain and suffering I was causing my family and friends.

But God was after me. There wasn’t a wall He wouldn’t knock down, a lie He wouldn’t tear down, a mountain He wouldn’t climb, a pit He wouldn’t pull me out of, a battle He wouldn’t wage and win for me. He wanted to love me that bad.

And He finally caught me and saved me. I couldn’t earn His love. I didn’t deserve it. But He loves me anyway.

God

Why I cry–this is a true story.

When I hear or sing certain songs or see certain joyful, tearful scenes on TV (those surprise reunions when a soldier surprises his family or his flute playing daughter at halftime of a football game, I’m toast.) I tear up, sometimes I choke up, sometimes I just cry.

I saw a medical segment on TV some years ago about a condition that caused some people to spontaneously break out in tears. I thought that’s what I was doing. Well, I made an appointment with my VA phycologist because I wanted to find out if I had this condition or not. He and I talked for an hour. He asked me a ton of questions, listened to my heart, took my pulse, asked me a bunch of behavioral questions, even poked around.

After we were all through he told me “You definitely do not have that condition. I asked him, “Well what would make me cry like I do?” His answer shook me to my core. I didn’t ask him if he was a Christian (To this day, I regret not asking him.) He said it was the joy inside me that elicited my crying responses.

Okay, everybody, where does real joy come from? The Holy Spirit.

So I cry unashamedly on any occasion, or any time the Holy Spirit leads me.

Here’s one of my cry songs I can’t listen or sing without crying. Listen.