The First Thanksgiving

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What day is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is not a day on the calendar but rather an attitude towards life. I think it was Mark Twain who said we ought not to have a day of thanksgiving, but instead have a day of grumbling. His point was that we should confine our grumbling to just one day and our thanksgiving to the other 364 days!

I read about a man who decided to put thanksgiving into practice. Every time he wrote a check, he put a little notation in the bottom left-hand corner. He wrote, “Thank you.” He did this when he wrote his power bill. He oftentimes felt that the power bill was more than it should be, but he was thankful that he had power so he could have heat, air conditioning, and lights.

He put “thank you” on every check that he wrote for his mortgage. Again, he felt like the interest rate was too high and his mortgage payment was more than it should be, but he was grateful that he was able to own a house.

He even wrote “thank you” at the bottom of every check that he wrote to the IRS. Now, that is really being thankful! It seemed to be an awfully big portion of his income, but he was thankful that he lived in America and that he enjoyed all of the things that the United States government provided for him. He was even grateful that he could pay taxes!

G. K. Chesterton said, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Thanksgiving is an attitude that we should express in all of our relationships. If you feel grateful and don’t express it, it’s like buying and wrapping a birthday present but not giving it!

What does it take to help us become more thankful? Why is it that we have to get flat on our backs before we are able to look up? Why is it that we oftentimes have to become desperate before we realize that God has given us everything that we have? If you complain about how little you have, you’ll never have enough. If you are thankful for what you do have, you will have more than you need. Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:20)

I read about a mother who decided she would no longer remind her children to write thank you notes for the Christmas presents they received. As a result, the grandmother never received a thank you note for the very generous Christmas checks she had given.

The next year, things were quite different. The children came over one-by-one in person to thank the grandmother. Hearing this, a friend said, “That is wonderful. What do you think caused the change in their behavior?  ”The grandmother replied, “Oh that is easy. This year, I didn’t sign the checks.”

God has signed His check. He is so good! Don’t forget to say “thank you!” Commit this season to doing all your grumbling on one day (preferably when you are by yourself), then spend the rest of the days giving thanks to God and to people.

It’s not happy people who are thankful – it’s thankful people who are happy. Grateful people are so much more enjoyable than grumbling people. My dad said, “Some people cause happiness wherever they go – others, whenever they go!”

You are reading this on Thanksgiving Day! Make every day a Thanksgiving Day!

My life is in your hands

Thank veterans today

dad


My dad was a proud World War II veteran. Like most of his friends and young men in the 1940’s, Japan’s invasion of Pearl Harbor shocked him. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps (to eventually become the Air Force) in early 1942.

Dad rarely discussed his tour of duty defending our country. He saw plenty and did plenty, but was reluctant to ever talk about it. I think his contemporaries felt the same way. One day, before he became ill, I asked him flat out, “Dad, would you write your thoughts about your World War II experiences?” I told him I wanted a written account of his career in the military. I wanted a record of his own memories and experiences. He agreed. I thought after so many years he might not remember much. His mind was slowly slipping away. He was having trouble remembering lots of things.

But what he wrote surprised me to the core.

Dad wrote, from memory, every mission (19 total) he flew and the dates he flew them. He remembered the target and the details of every mission he and his crew flew. Dad was the radio man on a photo reconnaissance squadron.  His crew flew in ahead of the combat missions to photograph the locations and areas around potential bombing targets. Dad and his crew flew missions out of Guam and several other South Pacific locations into Japan. On one or two missions they took anti-aircraft fire and feared for their lives.

Dad’s photo reconnaissance crew developed their own film. Dad asked my grandpa to send him a camera, which he did, and dad took more than 2000 personal pictures during his tour, many of them mission oriented. A typhoon pounded the base, however, and destroyed his pictures and everything else on the island. Dad said he escaped the typhoon with only the shirt on his back.

Dad was very proud of his service. He joined the American Legion when he returned from the war and was a faithful member and servant for 50 years. He earned a burial with full military honors, including a flag-draped coffin, taps and a 21-gun salute.

My dad was one of many honorable veterans in our family, including my grandfather, Uncle John and great uncles. I was proud to serve a tour in the Air Force during the Vietnam War in Selma, Alabama (uneventful as it may have been). I didn’t see combat like my dad, but served plenty of airmen and officers who had been in the thick of battle in the Vietnam War.

Dad is and will always be one of my heroes.

Many other sons my age can recall stories (different details, different missions, different theaters of war) about their fathers’ or uncles’ military service in World War II or Korea.

And today we have lots more veterans still serving here at home and far from home. Whatever our political views, or opinions about our United States military, we remain the most independent, blessed nation on the planet. We have all those who currently serve, have served, or died in battle to thank for that.

Every Praise

A chink in our armor

chink

I was backing down my driveway on my way to work one day and noticed the expansion joint nearest the street was damp in one small spot. When I got home from work the entire expansion joint (those dividers that allow the concrete to expand without ruining the driveway) was wet.

The next morning a whole section of driveway was wet thanks to a two-inch spout of water bubbling up where the driveway met the street.

Long story short–to fix it, a county road crew tore up my driveway and half my front yard. They had to replace a 15-foot section of pipe ten feet below ground.  When they got to the pipe they showed me the chink that caused the trouble — a barely visible hairline fracture in the pipe.  That tiny chink seeped water for days and saturated the ground above it all the way to my driveway.

Are we like that sometimes? Chinks in our armor can be dangerous, even deadly.

Ephesians 4:27 tells us, “do not give Satan a foothold.” In other words don’t give Satan a chance to take advantage of those areas where we might be vulnerable.

A chink is a potentially fatal vulnerability or flaw in a protection system.

Satan is constantly looking for chinks and vulnerabilities. Remember he wants to kill, steal and destroy us. It’s all he lives for.He’ll do whatever it takes to gain a foothold. Once he gets his foot in the door, over time pressure build. If we don’t do something to fix the chink Satan will attack it, expose it, and use it to destroy our witness He’ll use the chink to force a wedge in our relationship to God, seeking to destroy us. Before you know it, the evil stench is bubbling down our driveways and we’ve got major sin and disobedience to deal with.

The only chink fix I know is Jesus. When chinks allow Satan to get a foothold, I need to immerse myself in His word, study it, memorize it, dwell on it and allow Jesus to fix it.. I need to be obedient to His word, pray and trust God.

Who’s in charge?)

What a mess!!!

So many conflicts. ballot challenges, accusations of cheating, stealing votes, lying politicians (of course that’s nothing new), more wild demonstrations, law suits, divisiveness, hate, protests, racism, a fractured church, a polarized society and culture, failure to communicate, a media gone mad…

How and when will it ever end? In my opinion it won’t. It Can’t. We’ve gone too far. I believe our wonderful constitutional democracy is witnessing it’s waning days. Congress can’t fix it, the courts can’t fix it, the president can’t fix it, Billy Graham or James Dobson or Dr. Phil can’t fix it.

I’m even beginning to wonder if 1st Chronicles 7:14 will still work:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” My people” can’t even agree with each other. The church today is about as fractured as it’s ever been. How are they ever going to be unified enough to humble themselves and pray as a unified body of believers–the church?

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

There are oodles of scriptures in God’s Word that affirm God’s absolute sovereignty and that Almighty God is still on the throne and in complete control of everything.

Remembering that and abiding in it, I believe, is our only hope today and in the future.

Everyone lives forever

If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And this bread, which I will give for the life of the world, is My flesh.” John 6:51

Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die. John 11:26

The bible is crystal clear–everyone who has ever been born on this planet will live forever. We will choose which of two places will be our forever home. Those of us who have a personal relationship with Christ (John 3:16) will stand before the judgement seat of Christ. We will receive rewards from the Father that we earned for living our lives in Christ on earth. And our eternal home will be in the Kingdom of God with Jesus.

Everyone will live forever somewhere. Either with Jesus in the Kingdom of God or in constant turmoil separated from G

Those who lived on earth but rejected the Gospel and did not have a personal relationship with Jesus will stand before Christ at the White Throne Judgement to give an account for why they chose not to have a relationship with Jesus. Then they will be judged for their sins and decision not to follow Jesus. Then they will eventually suffer the second death when they are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20) where they will suffer perpetual torment forever separated from God.

The truth about salvation

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John3:16

It’s not complicated people. And it’s the fundamental truth of the entire Gospel. And it is true whether you believe it or not.

If you reject God’s free gift of the promise of eternal life through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead you will spend eternity separated from God and suffer perpetual excruciating never- ending torment, pain and anguish.

Readers please forward this warning on to all of your followers or anyone you might know who doesn’t know or believe this truth.

Just a second

My good friend Scott told me he and God had a very interesting conversation the other night during his quiet time. He said it was so good he wanted to share it with me. Here goes:

Scott: God can I ask you a question? What’s a million dollars like, God?

God: Well, Scott a million dollars is like a dollar and a dollar is like a million dollars.

Scott: Okay, God, What’s a million years like?

God: Scott, a million years is like a second and a second is like a million years.

Scott: Well, then, God could you give me a million dollar?

God: Sure, Scott, just a second.

Plop plop fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is


Many of you probably remember what comes after the “pop pop fizz fizz”. It’s “Oh, what a relief it is” from the iconic Alka Seltzer commercials. Ol’ Speedy has been hawking his antacid since 1951, although the product launched in the 1930’s. According to Advertising Age, the campaign is one of the most popular in advertising history.

Alka Seltzer promises fast relief from acid indigestion, heartburn and pain. The effervescent tablets break up and dissolves away the acid indigestion and pain, according to some of their advertising.

Don’t we live in an Alka Seltzer society today? Most of us crave relief from our trials. Right now! If someone could invent a tablet to help dissipate our trials in 30 minutes, they’d be a bazillionaire faster than you could say “antacid”.

Unfortunately, we know that won’t happen. Trials are a natural part of life. If you’re breathing as you read this, you’ve had trials. And you’ll have more. Don’t we often try to get out from under the pressures of our trials? Wouldn’t we rather avoid suffering than accept our trials?  Do we often pray, “God, get me out of this mess!”?

The Bible tells us God wants us to rejoice in our trials. God’s word shows us the purpose for our trials, how God sees them and uses them.

” . . .now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”1 Peter 1:6-7. If we could live a trial-free life (fat chance) it would stunt our spiritual growth. God allows trials in our life to test our faith.

James tells us, “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4.

Something good always comes after we go through trials that tests our faith. We may not see the good right away. God does not allow us to experience Alka Seltzer trials. Have you ever endured a trial that only lasted a few hours or a few days? I haven’t and I don’t know anyone who has.

God allows our trials so we can choose to trust Him in the midst of them, remember that He loves us. Remember, in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28). God urges us to rejoice  in our trials because they will increase our faith and mold us into the image of Christ.  That is cause for praise and rejoicing in the midst of our gravest trials.

Did you enjoy reading FHG today? If you did, why not send the link out to your friends. Maybe they’ll enjoy reading Plop Plop Fizz Fizz. They may get blessed.

How big is our God part 2

This week on For His Glory we’re looking at some stars in our Mllky Way Galaxy to get some inkling (a very tiny inkling) of how big our God really is. Monday we looked at a huge star in our galaxy called Beetlejuice.

It is monstrous. In fact we discovered that if our planet Earth were the size of a golf ball we could fit 262 trillion earths inside Beetlejuice. Now that’s big.

Or think about this. If the earth were the size of a golf ball you could put it on the ground and stack 6 Empire State Buildings on top of it.

Scientists and astronomers estimate (roughly) The operative word here is roughly. there are 1 followed by 24 zeros stars in the known universe. That’s 1,000.000.000.000.000.000,000,000. But many astronomers say there’s probably many more stars out there we haven’t discovered yet.

Get this– Psalm 33:6 tells us that God created ALL the starry hosts by the breath of his mouth. Doesn’t that make you catch your breath? Or at least gasp a bit.

A star called Canus Majores is the largest star they’ve discovered so far. It is so big that if the earth were the size a golf ball you’d have to travel to the Himalayas and find Mt Everest. Put your golf ball down at the foot of the mountain and climb all  29,029 feet to the top of the tallest mountain on planet. Don’t even think about figuring out how many golf balls that really is. Just know that God is infinitely bigger than all the stars in the heavens put together.

Are we a Christian nation?

Many religion groups got real upset when the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage across the land.

Personally, I don’t understand why religious folks are surprised that the world keeps acting like the world. The Supreme Court based their decision on their interpretation of the law, as written in the U.S. Constitution. Man-made law.

I’m sure the judges didn’t sit in chambers and flip back and forth between Romans 1 or Corinthians 13 and the Constitution to help them decide.

I know some folks might argue, “The Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution were strong Christians.” Or “We’re a Christian nation.”

However polling groups such as PewResearch and Gallop. PewResearch claims, “The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing”

bride

I’ve never put much stock in the “Christian” label anyway. “Christianity” is so fragmented now it’s hard to tell who believes what? You can define “Christian” several dozen ways. I don’t think any of them define “The Church”

I don’t refer to myself as a Christian. I am an authentic, committed disciple of Jesus Christ. I am a member of the body of Christ with all my committed brothers and sisters in Christ. THAT, in my opinion, defines THE Church. The Bride of Christ, best described, I believe, in Acts 2.

Instead of wrangling over social issues in the world, we ought to be The Church. We ought to act like The Church. We ought to consider others needs more important than our own like The Church. We ought to share the love of Christ like The Church. We need to develop servant hears like The Church.  We ought to share the Gospel like The Church.

We need, in my opinion, to accept that the world is going to act like the world. I just wish the Church would start more like the Church than the world.

Focus on what God can do

During tough times, it’s easy to focus on how bad things are and forget how big God is. Your focus has a big influence on your future. Focusing on the stormy waves of life will put you underwater – focusing on the God who made the waves can allow you to walk on the water! It’s your choice.

We shouldn’t tell God how big our problem is – rather we need to tell our problem how big our God is! (Tweet this!) In Psalm 107, David shares some descriptions of God on which I invite you to focus:

1 – SAFETY GUIDE. “God led them straight to safety to a city where they could live.” (v.7) The people of Israel were in trouble. God guided them to safety. God’s desire is to always guide us to safety. Notice that God guides us straight to safety.

2 – THIRST SATISFIER. “He satisfies our thirst.” (v.9) The thirst is both physical and spiritual. I remember Jesus told the woman at the well that He could give her water that would satisfy her thirst forever. (John 4:13-15) Jesus began the sermon to the multitudes by saying, “Happy are you if you thirst after righteousness.” (Matthew 5:6) Drinking natural water satisfies physical thirst temporarily. Drinking God’s water satisfies our most important thirst forever!

3 – CHAIN SNAPPER. “He snaps our chains.” (v.14) The people were in bondage and could only see darkness and gloom. God snapped those chains. Chains represent oppression and captivity – God represents freedom and victory. There are no chains that He can’t snap!

4 – DISTRESS DELIVERER. “He delivered them from their distress.” (v.19) Distress is stress multiplied. Today, people are stressed about their employment, the economy, the coronavirus, racial unrest, etc. The world creates distress – God dissolves distress.

5 – STORM CALMER. “God calms the storms to a whisper.” (v.29) Today, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires, etc. can be devastating. How do you handle those? Trust in the God who can calm the storm to a whisper. God doesn’t always take us out of a storm – but He can always take the storm out of us! (Tweet this!)

6 – DESERT DEVELOPER. “He turns deserts into pools of water and dry land into flowing streams.”(v.35) The desert and dry land are symbols of death – not much lives. But God can take what is death and develop it into luscious green land where people can settle, flourish, be fruitful, and live.

7 – SILENCE STRIKER. “God calls the wicked to be stricken silent.” (v.42) Troubling times love to create chaos and a lot of noise because it appears to be victorious. When God strikes silent the tough times, you can begin to hear the victory of God’s cheers breaking the silence of the wicked.

8 – HISTORY MAKER. “They will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.” (v.43) History is being made every day. There are dark moments in history, but we are thankful today for people in the past who let God create a different history. His history is His-story. What kind of history are we making that future generations will study?

What is your focus today?

Going to heaven; living like hell

I used to live like that.

I was saved. I made a decision to accept Jesus as my Savior in High School. But He wasn’t my Lord. And I didn’t find out the difference until I was in my 50’s.

Being saved, to me, gave me false comfort that no matter what happened here on earth, no matter what i did, I was going to heaven and, at that time, that’s all that mattered to me.

Being saved didn’t keep me from doing anything I wanted (much of which was sinful disobedience to God). I went to church, prayed, sang in the choir, even taught teenagers in Sunday School–on Sunday. But Monday through Saturday belonged to me and my worldly pleasures.

I was going to heaven but living like someone going to hell.

abundant life 2

However, once I experienced the true love, grace and mercy of Christ, I discovered the abundant life He offers, I could tell folks I knew what Romans 12:2 was about. That’s the life I’m living today. Jesus is my Savior AND my LORD!

Unfortunately, lots of folks today say they’re saved and going to heaven, but they’re living like hell. I go to church with some of them. All I know to do is love them with the same authentic love Christ showed me. Then I can pray they’ll see enough difference in us to want the same abundant life I enjoy now.

The truth about truth

Fake news has emerged as a hot trending topic these days. Discussions about the veracity of “news” and its sources dot the blogosphere, social, political and mainstream media landscapes.

In my view (my opinion, not fact), mainstream broadcast, print and online media have all slithered into a quagmire of unreliability and an egregious lack of accountability. Now fake news is raising its ugly head; and the press and left-leaning political establishment can’t figure out a way to bite it off.

The mainstream media and fake news outlets make it difficult, if not impossible sometimes, to decide what’s true, what’s fake and what’s slanted towards an irrevocably entrenched liberal bias.

The only truth we can all rely on ever is the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus Christ. And we find His Truth in God’s word, and nowhere else.

Stop messin’ with our planet

Since Eve bit into the apple way back in Genesis 3 mankind has been trying to wrestle control of life from God. Now, after 2,000 years of reckless stewardship and royally screwing up the environment a contingent of liberal pinhead scientists and self-absorbed politicians think they’re going to fix the planet. . .

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Does age matter?

COVID-19 has taught us a lot of things about life. One thing we’ve learned is that age is not a factor when we need to reach out and help other people. (Read Job 12:12; 32: 6-10.) Here are four quick examples:

Cavanaugh Bell is a first-grader in Maryland. He heard about the coronavirus, and he started thinking about what he could do. He had $600 in savings. He asked his mom to go shopping with him. He bought cartloads of hand sanitizer, snacks, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. He made 65 care packages.

Cavanaugh then went to his grandmother’s senior living community and passed them out. He observed all the social distancing guidelines. He wore gloves and a mask and kept his distance. He said, “I like giving back. That’s my passion.”  How passionate are you about giving back?  

10-year-old Chelsea Phaire was quarantined at home when she decided to use her time wisely to find a way to turn a tough situation into a terrific solution. She started Chelsea’s Charity. She sends out art kits to kids in homeless shelters and foster care facilities. In the past three months, this first-grader from Danbury, CT, has shipped more than 1,500 packages containing coloring books, crayons, markers, and other materials.

Chelsea says that she hopes her kits will give other children something creative and fun to do when they’re feeling down. She said, “Whether I’m happy or sad, art is always there for me.” God has something there for you. Are you willing to see it, use it, and make somebody else’s life better?

Meet Anna Adcox and her sister, Francis Trimble. They live in Dadeville, Alabama. They are 95 and 87 years old respectively. They are very productive. They spend their mornings working in their garden, and in the afternoon, they sew dresses and shorts for children around the world. These two ladies have finished about 7,000 dresses!

You’ll never hear Anna and Francis saying, “I’m too old, I can’t do that, I don’t know how.” They are continually learning, serving, and making a difference in the world. Several thousand boys and girls are glad they didn’t know how old they were!

Tom Moore is a 99-year-old World War II veteran who wanted to do something for Britain’s National Health Service. He decided to walk 10 laps around his garden every day and complete 100 laps by his 100th birthday on April 30,2020. His goal was to raise $1,000. Tom’s 16-year-old grandson, Benji, shared his vision on social media. Donations started pouring in. I saw the TV clip of him walking his laps with his walker and several British Military officers saluting him. He raised over $36,000,000!

In July, Queen Elizabeth II used the royal sword to bestow knighthood upon Tom Moore. At 100 years old, he did ask if he could remain standing during the ceremony, saying, “If I kneel down, I may never get up again.”

If your age is between Cavanaugh and Tom – you’re the right age to make a difference!

God called the expanse heaven

God called the expanse Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. Genesis 1:8 MEV

The X factor

The X Factor is a photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of an image 31 million light years from earth in the core black hole of the Whirlpool Galaxy. We can’t even see it.

To give us some perspective light in a vacuum travels 186,000 miles per second. If you could travel at the speed of light, you could go around the Earth 7.5 times in one second. In one year (365.25 days) that is equivalent to 5,869,713,600,,000 miles in one year. (5.86 trillion). This structure is 31 of those.

Christ is all and in all. He is love, he is grace, he is mercy, he is justice, he is peace he is compassion, he is our hope, he is Sovereign, he is forgiveness, he is all things to all people. he is our salvation, he is King of Kings, he is Lord of Lords, he is The Almighty Father, he is the Prince of Peace, he is Messiah, He is Everything.

Do you know what strikes me about this photo?

Look closely at the photo. There is blackness all around it and blackness and deep space beyond it. It’s not the edge of heaven. God is beyond it.

He’s still creating. He’s still working beyond all we could ever think or imagine. There’s even more God is doing, way beyond the X Factor. That thought just blows my mind.

Greener grass or artificial turf

Some people go through life trying to find a reason why they’re not successful where they are. They feel like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. It may look greener, but it is usually artificial turf! God’s greenest grass is right where you are standing. Produce where you are planted!

For years, I went to Larry Brown at Kut Above to get my hair cut. I was always fascinated by a sign that he had right in front of the barber’s chair. In the center was a picture of him and his grandchildren. The plaque was a quote from George Moore which said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs – and returns home to find it.”

5 years ago, I was in Zurich, Switzerland, with some other pastors working with the Billion Soul Initiative. We’d spent a couple of days making strategic plans to carry out Dr. Bill Bright’s goal of starting 5 million churches and winning 1 billion people to Christ. When we finished our meeting, a couple of Pastors from the U.S. said that we ought to go and visit Ulrich Zwingly’s church. One person, who claimed to be an expert on church history, said that it was in Lucerne, which was about an hour away by train.

I responded that I would not be able to go because my plane would be leaving in a couple of hours. They had more time, so they caught the train and went to Lucerne. On my way to the airport, I asked the cab driver about Ulrich Zwingly’s church, and the driver told me that it was one block from where he picked me up! I asked him if he was sure, and he told me that he’d lived there all of his life, had been to the church, and he was certain.

My friends spent several hours of valuable time going to look for a famous church, and they were standing one block away from it all the time!

I remember hearing a great story about a farmer who got tired of the hard work on the farm and wanted to go find his fortune. He sold his farm and set out to search for diamonds. He spent his life going to different parts of the world, but never did find any diamonds. He returned to his hometown and went back to see his old farm. He was shocked to see that the man who had bought the farm had discovered one of the largest and most valuable collections of diamonds right in his own backyard! The farmer had swapped green grass for artificial turf!

In Luke 15, Jesus told about a boy who wanted greener pastures. He got his inheritance, went to a new pasture, wasted all he had, and wound up in a pigpen. His greener pasture was artificial turf!

One of the most beautiful verses of scripture is Luke 15:17, “He came to himself.” The Greek translation literally means he “woke up” and started thinking correctly. He decided to go home where his father gladly received him and threw a big party for him. God still gives wake-up calls today!

It’s easy to think that things could be better if we were elsewhere. God might be saying to us – “think correctly – come to yourself – realize that I put you where you are for a certain reason, and your greatest joy and happiness always occurs where I put you. You are standing in green grass! Bloom where you’re planted.”

God’s grass is never artificial turf, but always greenest where He puts us!!

I Know exactly who will be our next president

It’s no secret. And fairly obvious if you think about it. A Democrat? Joe Biden? A Republican? Donald Trump? A woman? A dark horse Independent?

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Giving or Getting

Doris Buffett was the older sister of Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world. Warren announced in 2006 that he wanted to donate most of his $77 billion fortune before he died. Doris volunteered to sift through all of the requests and to make recommendations to her brother.

Doris was interested in helping people who really needed it, such as paying for dentures, wheelchairs, automobile repairs, etc. She did give money to some big organizations that do things like aid victims of domestic violence, improve the lives of the mentally ill, educate prisoners, etc. Doris also gave away $200 billion dollars of her own wealth. She said, “The plan is for my last check to bounce.”

She didn’t want to just give to things like the symphony, opera, and ballet. She wanted to give to ordinary people. She would also advise recipients how they could make extra money, use what they had more effectively, etc.

She said she wanted her epitaph on her grave to read, “She made a difference.” When questioned about it, she explained, “Unless you do, why were you here?”

Giving is a life or death matter. Consider two bodies of water in the Holy Land. One is the Sea of Galilee. The other is the Dead Sea. Both of them receive their water from the same source. But each body of water produces drastically different results.

The Sea of Galilee is surrounded by luscious green grass and trees and has many fish living within it. Its water is very pure. It also is used to fertilize the fields around it to produce fruit. The Sea of Galilee doesn’t keep the water it receives but has an outlet to send the water forward. The Sea of Galilee produces life!

The Dead Sea has nothing living in it or around it. It is so salty that you can literally float in it. I’ve done that! It has no outlet. It keeps the water for itself and therefore becomes impure. It produces death.

Getting without giving can turn life into death. It’s more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) I’ve had many funerals during my 60 years of ministry. In the funeral procession, the minister’s car is always placed just behind the hearse carrying the body to the gravesite. I’ve never seen a U-Haul hooked up to the back of the hearse because somebody wanted to “carry it with them.” Read Psalm 49:14-17.

We need to be careful about which groups we give to so we can be certain that our gift is used for its intended purposes. I’m reminded that the people who emphasize that “you can’t take it with you” might be trying to “take it with them!”

Billy Graham started an organization called ECFA – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. They have stringent requirements for membership, but it helps to ensure donors that their gifts will be used in accordance with the purpose of the organization. Joining ECFA was the first thing we did when the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries was established. I advise all nonprofit ministries and religious groups to join it.

Doris Buffett died this year. Let’s learn her legacy lesson on giving!

Politics and Religion

Character

My friends over at Webster’s Dictionary define character as doing the right thing when no one is looking. Character, they say, is the way you treat people who can do nothing for you.

My dear friend Richard Sudderth was a brilliant, shining example of someone who had more character in his little finger than I have in my whole body.

Richard went home to be with Jesus on Tuesday. He passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 95.

Richard was among the very first friends I met when my church, One Heart, merged with First Baptist Norcross seven years ago. We struck up a close friendship right away. We both were an active part of the Saturday morning small group men’s Bible study until it became too much of a struggle for him to make it by 8 a.m. on Saturdays. Richard was also a member in good standing of the older mens’ Bible study on Sundays.

I never heard Richard utter a negative word or comment about another human being EVER! He ALWAYS found a way to say something positive or encouraging in every situation.

Richard and I enjoyed some wonderful fellowship and friendship around his kitchen table. He would invite me over or I’d stop by and we’d gab over big bowls of ice cream and A & W root beer (the only brand he’d allow in the house).

On more than one occasion after church on Sunday Richard would invite me and Marie and our daughter Lois and our two granddaughters out for dinner. The dinner was always a time of great fun and laughter. Richard enjoyed it because he got to shoot spit balls through his straw at our granddaughters while we ate. He still had a big kid inside himself into his 90’s.

I cried when I got word of his death. I’m choking up tears as I write this now. I will miss everything about my dear friend. But he has left an indelible mark of his integrity, his sense of humor, and his shining character on me. I can only hope and pray that my family and friends remember me with one one/hundredth of the character Richard showed me.

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Hospital pause

Last week I spent three days in the hospital dealing with some painful bladder and prostate issues. So I’m playing catch up this week with posts I had planned for last week.

Southern Comfort

In the South we’re big on comfort. Especially some of the things we call comfort food. We like to take our time at the dinner table and enjoy our comfort food.

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Sweet tea and Jesus

(Editor’s note) I wrote Sweet Tea and Jesus several years ago. It remains one of my readers’ most liked posts.

Folks who live outside the Deep South don’t understand Sweet Tea. If you go to most restaurants or truck stops north of the Tennessee line and ask if they have Sweet Tea, they’ll say, “Sure, sugar’s on the table.” (That means, “No.  We don’t have sweet tea. Sugar’s on the table.”)

When you make real Sweet Tea, first dump two cups of sugar into a pitcher. Bring a half gallon of water to a boil. When it boils put in three family-sized tea bags. Leave it alone for five or six minutes. Remove the tea bags and bring the tea to a boil. Pour the tea into the pitcher and stir it until the sugar melts. Fill the pitcher half way with ice and stir until the ice melts. Then fill the pitcher with cold water. Stir until blended.

Something real scientific happens when you make Sweet Tea. When the sugar dissolves in the tea, you no longer have sugar and tea, you have Sweet Tea. It is a different mixture. Two separate ingredients mix together to form a new substance. It’s no longer sugar, and no longer tea. It’s Sweet Tea. The sugar won’t settle on the bottom of the pitcher, because it’s not sugar any more. The liquid will always be Sweet Tea to the last sweet drop in the pitcher.

The Bible teaches us that’s the same thing that happens when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and invite Him into our hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man (water) be in Christ, (sugar) he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Sweet Tea).

As born again believers we are now spiritually in Christ, and will be forever. God has already guaranteed our position in Christ for eternity.  Ephesians 2:5-6 proclaims, “even when we were dead in our transgressions (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

As a new creation in Christ, He wants to live His life in us, through us and as us to bring glory to God. As part of our true identity we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We’re new creations.

The next time you drink a big glass of Sweet Tea, think about being a new creation with Christ living in you and you in Christ. And for all you Yankees, I hope y’all get to visit us down here one day and savor a tall cool glass of this delicious nectar us Southern folks call Sweet Tea. Y’all will just love it.

Right into the storm

One of Jesus’ most memorable miracles occured when The Savior fed 5,000 men and their women and children in a remote location as night was approaching. From Mark 6; Matthew 14:13-21;, Mark 6:31-44;

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A little goes a long way

One of Jesus’ most amazing miracles was the feeding of the 5,000. And he did it with five loaves and two fishes. Mathematically speaking that makes no sense at all–except that Jesus knew a principle his Father taught him. With God a little goes a long way.

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Leftovers

My all-time favorite meal growing up was my mom’s leftover hash from her pot roast.

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How big is your but?

In his book, The Rest of the Gospel, author Dan Stone writes a chapter called, “The Holy But”¹. Stone writes that the Holy But originated in the Garden of Gasthemene,

“Going a little farther, he (Jesus) fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, ΒUT as You will.’ ” (Matthew 26:39)

Jesus was suffering and grieving about what He was about to do. His circumstances led Him to the cross to die a painful, bloody, lonely death. In spite of the horrible agony He suffered, Jesus lived behind the Holy But. “Yet not my will BUT Yours be done.” Jesus put His life in the hands of His Heavenly Father. He focused on His Father, not His circumstances. Jesus chose God’s will over His own.

Stone says we all live behind our buts.

For example,

  • “I like our pastor, but he’s too long-winded.”
  • “I’d volunteer in the nursery, but Sunday’s my only day off.”
  • “Our atheist neighbors are facing a crisis, but I’m afraid to talk to him about Jesus.”
  • “We’d like to tithe, but we barely make enough to pay the bills.”

Do we know some Christians with big buts like these?

  • “I know Jesus loves me, but you don’t know what I’ve done.”
  • “The Bible says Jesus freed me from sin, but I still sin.”
  • “I believe in Jesus, but church people are hypocrites.”
  • “I know I need to forgive my dad for abandoning us, but I just can’t.”
  • “I know I need to pray more, but I just don’t have the time.”
  • “The Bible tells me God accepts me completely, but I don’t feel accepted.”
  • “God’s grace may work for some people, but not for me.”

The Apostle Paul lived after his but as well. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 Paul says,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 48-9

Paul faced dreadful, seemingly hopeless circumstances, but he chose to live behind his buts and above beyone his circumstances.

Later in that chapter, Paul writes,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Vs 16-18

Paul put the trouble in front of his buts and put God, or God’s perspective, after the but. He was still afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But, his perspective and his focus was on God and what God could do.

God’s word teaches us we are totally loved, totally accepted, children of the eternal God? Let’s start putting our circumstances before our “buts” and our faith (and God’s truth about us) behind them.

If we know who we are in Christ, isn’t it time we get off our big but?

1The Rest of the Gospel, Dan Stone, One Press, Dallas, Texas <&copy;> 2000

The “D” word

We don’t like to think about it. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t know when it will visit us.

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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.

Never call a sweet hot drink at Christmas time hot cocoa

That’s like asking for a mustard when you want a hotdog, Mustard is an ingredient on a hotdog. Cocoa is an ingredient of hot chocolate. The drink is ALWAYS referred to as hot chocolate. Never hot cocoa. If you were to drink a cup of cocoa it would make you gag. You would spit it out. It is bitter. It tastes like dust.

The thing about corn

I grew up in Shenandoah, a small farming town in Southwest Iowa,

35 miles from Nebraska and 13 miles from Missouri. Corn is the primary agricultural crop in the state.

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Our afflictions

I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction
. Isaiah 48:10

Raise your hand if you like afflictions

Nobody. Right? Well guess what? Afflictions are good for us. So are trials and tribulations and struggles. Before you click off my blog and tell me I’m crazy. . .

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Losing it all

What do you do, where do you go, how do you find solace and comfort when you lose something or someone you really love?

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What if . . .

. . .the stock market crashed?

. . . your 401k lost ALL its value?

. . .grocery stores ran out of food and closed?

‘ ‘ ‘they cancelled Dancing With The Stars?

. . .the Covid 19 virus didn’t end?

. . .anarchists shut down the government?

. . .every member of your family, except you, died in a tragic accident?

. . .your business collapsed and you had to declare bankruptcy?

. . .the Russians invaded the U.S.?

. . .two/thirds of the U.S. population died in a single day from a nuclear poison gas bomb?

. . .some or all of the things above came true?

What would you do?

Is any of the stuff above so far-fetched?

The main thing

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!

If you’re anything like me lots of times we get distracted by things we consider real important. For instance every Saturday in the Fall you’ll find me parked in front of the TV from noon till well into the night watching college football ( the SEC and of course Alabama). For several hours I slip into an activity that becomes the main thing in my life.

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Hello, my name is . . .

It’s so important for every person to return the Census information so that they are counted. Your name counts! It’s important for you, for our state, and our nation.

A census worker came to an unpretentious house. When he knocked on the door, he was greeted by a weary mother. He said, “Lady, I want to know how many there are in this family. How many children do you have?” 

“Well…” she said in a leisurely fashion, “there’s Johnny, and Mary, and Charles, and…”

“No, no, no,” interrupted the census taker impatiently. “I don’t want to know their names, just the number.”

The lady replied indignantly, “They ain’t got numbers. They all got names!”

A name is so important. Everybody gets one. Last year, American babies were given 1,100 brand new names that hadn’t appeared in data before. There were a lot of unique names given. On March 27, 2020, a couple in India gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl. They named them “Corona” and “Covid.” Now, those are names that nobody will forget.

Billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and his girlfriend, electronic musician Grimes, have a newborn son. While they weren’t sure the name would be accepted by California officials (and I understand it was not), they named him X Æ A-12. One new mother said that she would name her new infant MNLEFXZP, in honor of his father. When asked if the baby’s father was Polish, the mother replied, “No, he’s an optometrist!” Remember Johnny Cash’s hit song – “A Boy Named Sue?”

Some interesting names have popped up in politics. Recently, the Democratic representative, Paul Ruiz, of CA was challenged by Republican Paul Ruiz. Same name – the Republican Ruiz brags that he is 57, which is 10 years his opponent’s senior, and he had the name first.

Recently, in Arizona, a congressional candidate changed his name to Cesar Chavez in order to appeal to Hispanic voters. He was formerly known as Scott Firstler, but he had lost two previous elections as a Republican. He changed his name and his political party. The candidate said he wanted “a name people can feel comfortable with.”

Today’s culture can create challenges with names. A New Jersey woman’s name is Alexa Seary. That sounds just like the two most popular virtual assistants – Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. She’s 21 years old and claims that coworkers order her around as if she was a soulless machine. She’s tired of hearing “Siri, do this. Siri, do that. Alexa, get this.”

Covid, Inc. is a successful Arizona-based manufacturer of audiovisual cables.  When the World Health Organization named this coronavirus COVID-19, it greatly affected that business.

We had no choice in the name we received. We have every choice in what it comes to mean. “A good name is more important than riches” (Prov. 22:1) We should protect our name. A name is something that we pass on to our children. We need to be very careful to protect the reputation of our name.

I am blessed that so many people in my family in the past made the name Mathison a good name. It was always known in communities as the names of people who were God-fearing, honest, excellent citizens, and church members, and people who had a positive influence. I’m blessed to have that name.

The most important thing is that my name “is in the Book of Life.” (Phil 4:3)

Starry starry night

I live outside Atlanta. We live with an abundance of light pollution. So much so that we can only see a handful of stars in our sky most nights.

But if you lived in Death Valley California, one of the darkest cities in the U.S., your night sky will resemble the picture above, because Death Valley has virtually no light pollution. Behind the stars in the picture are billions more stars even further out in the universe that we can’t see..

Our sun is like a star. It is a paltry 93 million miles from earth. The nearest star to earth is Alpha Centauri. It is 4.3 million light years from Earth. Light travel at a rate of approximately 186,000 miles a second. Light travels about 5.8 trillion miles in one earth year. Do the math.

This picture is from the Whirlpool galaxy. It is 31million light years away.

To me it is God’s reminder to us that Christ is all and in all. He gave his life to give us His life.

I imagine that the white shading around the cross is more space, more universe, more stars, more creation beyond what we can’t see or imagine–more of God continuing to create His universe for us.

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Spiritual blessings

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

We have a universally accepted funny saying here in the South. It goes like this: “You can say anything you want, good or bad, about anyone and it will be alright as long as you follow it up by saying, “Bless his/her heart.”

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Idols

My wife had one of her keen observations the other day during one our frequent discussions about the pandemic and the state of our nation. “What if God is working in this pandemic to tear down our idols?”

“What a thought,” I said. I suppose that may be what’s going on,” I said.

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A bright light in History

Are you aware of the important place that the Bible played in the early history of our nation? What influence does the Bible have today in governing our personal lives and governmental practices?

The Continental Congress was closely related to the American Bible Society. Elias Boudinot was the president of the Continental Congress in 1782 and the first president of the American Bible Society.

Our sixth U.S. President, John Quincy Adams, also had a role in the American Bible Society. On April 27, 1837, Adams wrote, “The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this—it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the precepts of Christianity.” The author of our National Anthem, Francis Scott Key, was the vice president of the American Bible Society from 1817 until his death in 1843. It has been reported that the Continental Congress purchased 2,000 copies of the Bible from the American Bible Society for the people of this nation.

On September 19, 1796, George Washington indicated the impossibility of trying to govern the world without God and the Bible. He said, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

One of the most influential educational tools was they Readere McGuffey Reader, written by William Holmes McGuffey. Public schools used it for over 100 years. It sold over one million copies each year. President Lincoln called him, “the Schoolmaster to the Nation.” McGuffey said, “From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology.”

In 1782, the Congress authorized the first American printing of an English language Bible in the U.S. In response to a lawsuit in 1844 involving the teaching of the Bible in a school, the Supreme Court ruled, “Why should not the Bible and especially the New Testament…be read and taught as a divine revelation in the school? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”   

Do you remember singing a little song as a child, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me! I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!” Could there be more wisdom in that verse of that childhood song than the advanced degrees of education that we are issuing today?Discuss with your friends, family, coworkers, these questions: 

1.) Are we smarter than our forefathers? 

2.) Has the Bible changed or have we changed?

3.) What place do you think the Bible should play in our political and educational system today?

4.) What are some things our 116th Congress today could learn from the leaders of the Continental Congress?

How bright is the light for your path today? (Psalm 119:105)

Without Love

The Doobie Brothers recorded a song in 1973 called “Long Train Runnin”. One of the lyrics in the song is “Without Love, where would you be right now?” Think of all the things, places and people in our lives to which we ascribe love.

That lyric begs the question, “Without love where would we be right now?

Imagine for a moment marriages without love. Think of all the people places and things to which we ascribe some form of what we believe is love.

I love my wife with compassionate, unconditional devoted love. I love my children. I love to listen to Gospel music. I love rock and roll. I love fried chicken and corn on the cob.

I love pizza, I love chicken salad. I love to watch college football, I love our church family, I love chocolate. I could go and on about the things in my life to which I attach the emotion of love.

It is a worldly misconception that love means different things to different people.

ALL love of every kind, for any person, place or thing comes from God in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no other source. There is no other definition or meaning.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

God is the creator and source for all love.

THE Way

Jesus proclaimed in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes t0 the Father except through me.”

He didn’t say, “I am a way.” He didn’t say, “I am the best way.” He didn’t say, Why don’t you try my way and see if you like it”

Heo said, “I am THE way. Period. Do not pass go and collect $two hundred dollars. He is the ONLY way.

I know folks, I have family members and friends who say there’s several ways to get to heaven. They can’t explain what they are, but they are sure there are some.

I have a close relative who asks me,”What about Buddhists and Muslims and harry krishnans” This is a popular secular defense against hearing or believing the Gospel or admitting that Jesus is the only way. When I hear this defense I respond with a question, “What about them?” They change the subject. They don’t offer any defense for their supposition.

The bottom line is: Jesus said it and He is truth. So I’m going to go with Jesus. Some day soon it will all be over. And we’ll find out whether the world was right and there are lots of ways to get to heaven; or Jesus is right and, like He says He is the one and only way to spend eternity with him and the Father in heaven.

I’ll choose Jesus every time. How about you?

Why ask when life begins?

I have no clue when this whole debate about the origin of life began. If I had to guess I’d say it started with an atheist’s wild theory or a liberal’s convoluted attempt to poke fun at the Gospel.

The answer to the question, “When does life begin?” is right there in front of us in black and white and has been for centuries.

A potion of Psalm 139 that David wrote by inspiration from Almighty God reads,

“For you (God) created my (yours and my) inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and( wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful I know that full well,

My frame (my body, your body) was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place (what else could the secret place be but (my, your) mom’s womb.) when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your (God’s) eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written for me before one of them came to be.”

And we know that it was Almighty God who orchestrated the works that brought the miracle of life to earth. And gave each of us life even before the foundations of the earth. Who can challenge what God says about the beginning of life when it is so clearly spelled out here in His word in Psalm 139.

Happy Birthday Quentin

Today marks my son Quentin’s 48th birthday. No, I’m not happy about it. Do you folks know how old that makes me? No, I’m not going to tell you.

All kidding aside I’m so proud of the man he has grown into I can’t say. He has been a blessing to me every day of his life. And after all is said at least I can say I had one chromosome to do with it.

Accountability partner

Every breathing soul who ever draws a breath on this planet, whether they believe in God or not, will one day give an account to God about how they live their life down here on planet Earth.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

One of my richest blessings as a Christian is the continued blessings I receive from my understanding and application of accountability in my everyday walk with God. Hopefully what I’m going to share with you today might bless you on your walk with the Lord as well.

First of all, and most importantly, we must all believe and embrace the God truth that we are all accountable to God for every deed we perform, every word we utter and every thought we think.

Secondly we must realize that we are also accountable to each other if we are going to live in harmony with our fellow man and live to love and serve each other.

Thirdly (and here’s where accountability has served me well and contributed greatly to my growth in the Lord over the years) I have engaged several accountability partners who have become intimate transparent vulnerable lifelong best friends.

One of my accountable partners I’ve been friends with for almost 40 years. We lived in the same city in Alabama for 25 years. We spent untold hours in lawn chairs on his patio for years spilling our guts and sharing our struggles and our trials, our weaknesses and victories, and our marriage relationships–being totally transparent, vulnerable and totally honest with each other. What a blessing to have an accountability partner like that.

One of the tools that enhanced our efforts as partners in accountability was a list of questions we would ask each other and answer each week. These questions were powerful, penetrating questions that forced each of us to be honest. I’m praying that you might find value in your own walk with the Lord.

I’m including that list of questions here. I’m hoping you’ll find value in the questions and value in the blessings of engaging an accountability partner to embellish and enrich your own walk with the Lord.

Accountability Questions

1. Have you prayed for your wife and children today?

2. Have you said or done anything for which you need to ask for forgiveness?

3. Have you read and studied God’s word today?

4. What are you anxious or worried about right now?

5. Are you more focused on the world than on God and eternity right now? Why?

6. Have you served, blessed, or encouraged anyone this week without expecting anything in return?

7. Is anything keeping you from being obedient to God’s word and allowing Jesus to live his life through you?

8 Have you answered all 7 of these questions completely honestly?

My favorite music

I could listen to choirs and music groups sing worship music for hours, and often have.

There’s something about listening and watching music groups performing on YouTube videos that draws me into the presence of Jesus and warms my heart. Their singing often brings me to tears. Listening to their music is my absolutely favorite thing to do

I have half a dozen songs I call my “Cry songs” because every time I hear them I cry. And I don’t mean “tear up” or “whimper”. I mean cry, sometimes weep.

As I’m watching these groups perform I watch the members closely. They aren’t singing, they’re worshipping, pouring their hearts and souls out to God, praising Him and giving Him glory. It is wonderful to watch.

Music has always been one of God’s richest blessings in my life And it’s getting even richer the closer I get to home. And one day I hope to be singing baritone in God’s heavenly choir.

I can’t imagine anything sweeter

I hope every visitor today will listen to at least one if not allof these worship songs. I guarantee you will be blessed, even if you’re not musically inclined.

Midnight Cry

Hijinks in church

I never claimed to be an angel in children’s choir. In fact I did my share of fooling around–but hardly ever in church. Our children’s choir sat in the first two rows in our white and blue robes and a couple of mean moms sat right behind us within thumping distance of any kid’s head or ears.

Probably the dumbest thing I ever did on any Sunday in church was to sit beside David Stinnet. Rev. Jerry Rosenburger was preaching away this Sunday. I looked down and David was twirling a cap pistol in his hands. I elbowed him and whispered to him, “Put that thing away you dummy, It’s gonna go off.”

“No it won’t,” David said. “It doesn’t have any caps in it.”

“They’re gonna…” CRACK! . . .The “POP” echoed all across the sanctuary. Several ladies behind us got startled and flinched in their seats.

Dead silence

A ring of white smoke wafted above our heads. Stinnett was frozen.

The pastor turned his head in our direction. All he said was, “Let that be a lesson to you.” and went on preaching.

I kept wondering whether we were going to face a firing squad or get kicked out of choir after church. As it was, my mom was waiting for me downstairs. Before I could say a word my mom, believing I had done it, asked me why I took a cap gun to church.

I forgot what our consequences were that day. I shouldn’t have suffered at all, but I was guilty by association. I don’t know if mom ever believed it was Stinnet not me.

This was an unfortunate music experience for me in fourth grade but it is one of hundreds of wonderful music events and stories in my life story of music that enriched my whole life.

Stinnet and I became close friends and even keep in touch with each other occasionally today in our seventies. Neither of us has ever mentioned that cap gun Sunday ever again.

I will admit it’s one of my favorite music stories to recount among friends in casual conversation. And I’m always certain to point out that Stinnet was the kid who let the cap gun go off.

It’s gonna get better

The blessing of music

I’ve been in music groups, choirs, marching bands, singing quartets, concert bands, and combos since I was in the 4th grade.

The picture above is of the bell choir I was a member at our Methodist church in Shenandoah, Iowa for five years. Look carefully at the cute little guy (the second from the left on the front row) That’s yours truly.

One of the highlights for me for being in the bell choir was–the back of my head appeared in Life Magazine one time–really. As a choir the bell choir performed for civic groups and service clubs and churches all around Southwest Iowa, as well as Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

Mrs Winn Brown from our church became concerned because the boys were aging out of the children’s choir and she wanted to keep them active in church. So she traveled to London, England and bought a complete two-octave set of hand made hand bells for the bell choir. She taught us how to play and directed the choir. We could not touch the bells and had to wear white gloves when we played them. Mrs. Brown was a sweetheart of a lady and all of us in the choir loved her for her love and extraordinary commitment to all us kids.

She and the bell choir remain two of my richest growing up music blessings.

Visit my For His Glory blog again on Wednesday and Friday. I’m going to share more music blessings that play an integral part of my story.

Your Bible is useless

No need to look up scripture. Memorising passages or verses is a waste of time. Studying scripture has no value.

In the earliest days of the church they organised services into three categories: Scripture reading, prayer and worship.

But when we get to heaven things will be very different. For instance we will no longer need prayer. We will all have glorified bodies. We won’t have any needs. Everybody in heaven will be healed. Everyone who is supposed to be there will be there. No one will require the gospel to be saved. There will be no disease or conflict or ill will or anything even remotely needing praye

And there will not even be any bibles in heaven. We’ll feel fellowshipping with the book’s author and Jesus 24/7/365. Every minute of every day forevermore. And already know everything there is to know. We will know fully as we are fully known.

I will praise you forever. Psalm 52:9

That leaves only one thing to do–worship God all the time. It will be glorious!

In God we trust all day long and praise your name forever. Psalm 44:8

I will sing of your mercies of the Lord forever. Psalm 89:1

Stop prayer

Prayer is no longer necessary. Needed or effective. All your needs have been met. Nobody is sick. Nobody’s marriage is in trouble. No one needs the Lord. There is unity. Politicians are silent.

In heaven prayer is obsolete. So is studying God’s word. If you want to find something out about The Bible just ask the author He’s right next to you.

In heaven

Little things build big partnerships

Little things mean a lot. Most big things are made up of a lot of little things working together. Don’t ever get so big in life that you can’t participate in doing the little things. Little becomes a lot when God is in it! It even becomes the possibility of a partnership!

Jackson McKie is 8 years old and suffers from hydrocephalus. Dr. Daniel McNeely was preparing to operate on him. Jackson entered the operating room holding a toy, his furry friend, “Little Baby.” Jackson explained to Dr. McNeely that there was a little tear under the bear’s arm and wanted to know if he could fix it. So, after repairing a shunt in Jackson’s brain, he stitched up Little Baby. The surgery was successful on both Jackson and Little Baby! Jackson was more interested in Little Baby’s surgery than his own.

A famous neurosurgeon responded to a simple request, and it helped in the healing of a little boy. Often in life, we learn like Dr. McNeely that the best result doesn’t come from some extraordinary talent that we display but from some little thing that we do in response to the need of another person. Stitching a fuzzy friend enhanced the effectiveness of a little boy’s surgery.

Billy Flanigan has been an entertainer at Walt Disney World for almost 40 years. During the pandemic, he decided to get on his bicycle and go from place to place and do a song and dance routine. He started by visiting his friends all over Florida. Then he got on his bike and made a cross-country road trip to surprise friends in Texas, Arizona, and Los Angeles. Some of them had heard what he was doing and were hoping he would include them. Flanigan says, “I love to make people smile. If I can brighten someone’s day, I want to do it!”

Most of us can do something to brighten other people’s days. We can either sit and complain or we can get up and use our talents to help people smile. Everybody needs to smile more. In tough times, it’s easier to frown than to smile. Everybody needs somebody who can bring out a smile. Have you ever noticed how much better people look when they’re smiling? And it’s hard to make somebody smile without smiling yourself.

Latonya Young is a 43-year-old Georgia resident who dropped out of high school at age 16. She earned her GED in 2007 and enrolled at Georgia State in 2010 to earn a college degree. When she hit financial troubles and Georgia State couldn’t offer financial assistance, she got a job as an Uber driver.

In May 2018, she had the good fortune to pick up Kevin Esch as a passenger at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. During their conversation and many of his questions, she related her situation, and Kevin was touched by her story. Kevin then paid the school debt Latonya had so she could continue. She received her degree at the end of 2019. At graduation, Kevin sat with Latonya’s family and celebrated her accomplishment.

Offering a stitch, a smile, or a statement of concern – all of these little things can make a big difference in somebody’s life. If you think you can’t do big things, do little things in a big way!

Think about this – doing something for another person might place you in a position where God is using you to answer the prayers of somebody who has prayed for the person you are helping. That will make you a partner with God, and being God’s partner is a big, big thing!

Read I Thessalonians 5:11; II Samuel 11:25, I Peter 4:13, Hebrews 3:1, II Corinthians 8:23

It’s your choice

One of the most intriguing questions since Adam and Eve is: What happens when you die? The answer is simple but arguably one of the most hotly debated questions of our time, or any other time in history for that matter.

read more

A sad but glorious post

I’ve been blogging on For His Glory for almost 9 1/2 years. Along the way I’ve made some good friends I consider close. We’ve shared “Likes” regularly, commented on each other’s posts often, exchanged emails and in a few cases we’ve even chatted on the phone

continue reading

Athletic Accomplishments

COVID-19 has provided a platform for some people to really excel in athletics in unbelievable ways. They are turning the tough times into terrific things! Here are four examples to read:

A Chinese marathoner named Pan Shancu lives in a small apartment, but he decided to use the extra time running a marathon inside his apartment. It was a 26-foot course – that figures to be about 9 yards.

He ran 31 miles in that small circle, which required 6,250 laps. He did it in 4 hours, 48 minutes, and 44 seconds. Pan said, “I have not been outside for many days, but today I could not bear sitting around anymore. I am sweating all over, feels great!” That’s going around in a circle a lot of times! What are you accomplishing with your time every day?

I love reading about people who excel in some sporting event – especially if they are relatively new to the sport. That happened at the New York City Marathon in November 2019. A 25-year old Kenyan athlete, Joyciline Jepkosgei, had never competed in a 26.2-mile race before, but she had a goal to finish the race strong. She was focused on it.

At the 20-mile mark, Joyciline passed the 4-time champion, Mary Keitany. She then pulled ahead of all 52,000 runners and crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 38 seconds. It was the second-fastest time recorded for women on that course! Joyciline said that she didn’t feel any pressure, she just wanted to compete strong. She did! Whatever you’re engaged in – compete strong!

George Wood is a 62-year-old Marine veteran. He wanted to break the world record for holding a plank pose – that’s one of the toughest things in physical fitness where nothing but your toes and elbows touch the floor. Not many people can do it for 20 minutes. He assumed the plank position and held it for 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds! A new world record!

He spent 18 months training for this event. He did 2,000 sit-ups, 700 push-ups, and 500 leg squats every day. It took him 5 hours each day to train for a year and a half, but he did it! Guess what? When he broke the record, he celebrated by doing 75 push-ups! What’s your goal today? How disciplined are you to reach it?

Lloyd Black is 90 years old. He wanted to improve his health, so he joined a local gym. His first day there, he could not accomplish a 10-minute walk on the treadmill, but he continued showing up at Anytime Fitness in Semmes, AL. He now can go a half-hour of power walking and lift weights.

It’s really interesting to see him because he works out in overalls! When asked about it, he said, “Because I can’t keep my pants up!” He is enjoying teaching other seniors how to use exercise machines. Recently, he was recognized as “gym member of the month.” He gives some good advice to anybody who wants to get fit, “Go ahead – get started.”

Remember – in tough times or easy times, the most terrific thing is to win the imperishable wreath! (Read I Cor. 9:24-27)

A Chinese marathoner named Pan Shancu lives in a small apartment, but he decided to use the extra time running a marathon inside his apartment. It was a 26-foot course – that figures to be about 9 yards.

He ran 31 miles in that small circle, which required 6,250 laps. He did it in 4 hours, 48 minutes, and 44 seconds. Pan said, “I have not been outside for many days, but today I could not bear sitting around anymore. I am sweating all over, feels great!” That’s going around in a circle a lot of times! What are you accomplishing with your time every day?

I love reading about people who excel in some sporting event – especially if they are relatively new to the sport. That happened at the New York City Marathon in November 2019. A 25-year old Kenyan athlete, Joyciline Jepkosgei, had never competed in a 26.2-mile race before, but she had a goal to finish the race strong. She was focused on it.

At the 20-mile mark, Joyciline passed the 4-time champion, Mary Keitany. She then pulled ahead of all 52,000 runners and crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 38 seconds. It was the second-fastest time recorded for women on that course! Joyciline said that she didn’t feel any pressure, she just wanted to compete strong. She did! Whatever you’re engaged in – compete strong!

George Wood is a 62-year-old Marine veteran. He wanted to break the world record for holding a plank pose – that’s one of the toughest things in physical fitness where nothing but your toes and elbows touch the floor. Not many people can do it for 20 minutes. He assumed the plank position and held it for 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds! A new world record!

He spent 18 months training for this event. He did 2,000 sit-ups, 700 push-ups, and 500 leg squats every day. It took him 5 hours each day to train for a year and a half, but he did it! Guess what? When he broke the record, he celebrated by doing 75 push-ups! What’s your goal today? How disciplined are you to reach it?

Lloyd Black is 90 years old. He wanted to improve his health, so he joined a local gym. His first day there, he could not accomplish a 10-minute walk on the treadmill, but he continued showing up at Anytime Fitness in Semmes, AL. He now can go a half-hour of power walking and lift weights.

It’s really interesting to see him because he works out in overalls! When asked about it, he said, “Because I can’t keep my pants up!” He is enjoying teaching other seniors how to use exercise machines. Recently, he was recognized as “gym member of the month.” He gives some good advice to anybody who wants to get fit, “Go ahead – get started.”

Remember – in tough times or easy times, the most terrific thing is to win the imperishable wreath! (Read I Cor. 9:24-27)

We the people

On November 3rd, leaders at many levels of government will be elected. We have that election because our forefathers saw elections as a vital part of forming a “more perfect union,” which is the stated goal in the Preamble to our Constitution. A perfect union can never be attained, but leaders are elected to lead us towards a “more perfect” union. The 2020 election must do that.

I remember watching a very important college rivalry football game where the outcome would determine the success of each team’s season. Each side spent a lot of money hiring the best coaches, building the best facilities, scholarships, etc. The players gave every ounce of energy for sixty minutes. Everybody had decided who they wanted to see win. They cheered passionately for their team.

In the last few seconds, one team won and the other team lost. I then watched the opposing coaches shake hands and give a gentle hug. I saw players come across the field and speak to opposing players. I watched as players from both teams knelt in the middle of the field and prayed together. If that happens in football, why couldn’t it happen in politics?

On November 3rd, some people will win and some people will lose. That’s inevitable. It’s important before the election to make some commitments as to how I am going to respond following the election. I have the right to give money, energy, and influence to see certain candidates elected. But once the election is decided, I am a Christian first, an American second, then a member of a political persuasion third!!

I commit to the following 7 action points:

  • I will pray.
  • I will vote.
  • I will treat every person as I want to be treated.
  • I will not engage in taunting, accusing, blaming, an arrogant attitude, or a divisive spirit.
  • I will engage only in civil discourse and not listen to or perpetuate misinformation.
  • I will be a good winner – or a good loser, according to Biblical standards.
  • I will see this election as a process God will use to establish His kingdom on earth.

I have ten grandchildren who are in high school or college. What is the future for them? My parents, grandparents, and others before them gave me a beautiful country in which to live. It’s not perfect, but it has moved towards perfection. This coming election can either be a great step towards continuing to move towards a more perfect union or a huge step in dividing us. Your actions will help determine this!

Some people will win, and some people will lose on November 3rd. The Bible is clear. People are more important than politics. The outcome of the election is important, but it may not be as important as the way the winners and losers act on November 4th — and following!!  (Tweet this!)  

Now, here is the preacher’s invitation. We’re singing only one verse of Just as I Am. I’ve set-up a new number for the specific and only purpose of inviting you to a commitment to 7 action points that will help “We the people…form a more perfect union.” If you will join me in committing to these 7 action points, please text MOREPERFECT to 51555.