Happy Dependence Day

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The world’s No’s

“You’ll never be a writer?” “They won’t hire you.” “”That house is too expensive.” “You’re a woman.” “They can’t do that.” “It can’t last.” “No! That’s impossible.” “We just don’t have the right people.”

“So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.


“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)e.

For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)

We don’t like to hear NO! It means we’re not going to get our way. It can mean we feel rejection. It can hurt. It can mean we made a mistake or a bad decision. “No” is usually negative in our lives. And sometimes during our waiting process God must say, “No.” We may not be ready to receive his blessing. It may be because God has to prune us more. For whatever reason God chooses to say no for our own good.

I don’t know about you but waiting on God is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest things I must do to remain faithful and trusting in God. I’ve learned over the years though that there is real reward and blessing for waiting until God intervenes in my life.

I mess everything up though when I get tired of waiting and try to solve problems and seek blessings with my own resources.

How to follow “For His Glory”

I’ve talked with several followers who have missed some of our posts. I encouraged them to become followers so they wouldn’t miss any more posts. I’m sticking yo my Monday-Wednesday-Friday post schedule with John Ed Mathison’s weekly blog post on Thursday or Friday.

It’s real easy to follow my blog. in just 3 easy steps you can join hundreds of others following our For His Glory blog.

  1. Go to my homepage https://stevensawyer.wordpress.com/
  2. Click on the folder icon in the upper left corner of the page
  3. In the blue rectangle enter your email address and hit enter.

You will automatically begin receiving email links to me blog and current posts. Enjoy!

What is hope?

For more than a year I’ve been in a quandary about understanding the true meaning of hope for the authentic follower of Jesus. I’ve read a book on hope, I’ve read scripture on hope, I’ve listened to messages on hope, I’ve read teachings on hope.

I’ve finally found an explanation of authentic hope I can embrace and claim as my own. I found it in a book by Lloyd Ogilvy, A Future and a Hope.

Some folks water down hope and use it in a purely worldly way– “I hope I pass my English test.” or “She’s lost all hope.” or “We hope the future will be bright.

But here’s the definition I found in Mr. Ogilvy’s book

Authentic hope is a gift from God through Jesus Christ that produces a confident, unshakable trust in His timely interventions in keeping with His gracious promises to us. Authentic hope is always a bi-product of a personal relationship with God. It comes from knowing God (not knowing about God). “Authentic hope is a confident expectation that God is going to do exactly what He says He is going to do.” Lloyd Ogilvy.

And that works for me ever time.

What can I do?

WHAT CAN I DO? – PART III: LEAN & Love

My first two steps are to listen and to learn. These lead me to lean on God and love all people.

3. LEAN.

It is tempting in our day and age to think that we humans are so smart we can figure out all the answers. We have smart people, but the answers to the greatest issues of life come from God!

“Trust in God and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

The Bible also teaches us that God has a much bigger plan for us than we can even imagine. We can have big thoughts and dreams, but His are bigger. God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

Facing the task of dealing with COVID-19, and challenging race relationships, and trying to balance all of that with the economy and the political situation – it’s tempting to rely on what we think is best. I’m learning that I must lean on God.

As we celebrate our nations’ birthday, I’m reminded that our forefathers leaned on God for everything.  They trusted Him and gave Him the credit for all of the victories.  David said, “Unless the Lord guards a city, those who guard it do so in vain.”  (Psalm 127:1)  We must learn to lean on Him. 

4. LOVE.

When I listen, learn, and lean on God, I begin to see that loving all people is a possibility.  Love is not a noun. It is a verb. It is a powerful force that we put into action.

Today, I see many people on medical teams and first responders who are living out love as they put their lives in danger so that we might see victory over the coronavirus. Many people of all races are wearing law enforcement uniforms and are ready to lay down their life for any citizen in Montgomery. There are many men and women of all races who are willing to protest injustice by showing love.

Montgomery is the home of Dr. Martin Luther King. His dream helped change the world. That dream was partially conceived on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery. His message was one of love rather than hate. He reminded us that you can’t eliminate hate with hate, but only with love.

I’ve had some people from different races say to me that the idea that Dr. King had about love was for his day, but not for our day. They propose that change will come through violence, conflict, destruction, and eliminating people that stand in the way.  They are wrong!! Representative John Lewis says, “Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way.  Be constructive, not destructive.  History has proved time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve.” 

Dr. King had the best way. His way was constructive – not destructive. His strategy was love. He quoted Jesus as our Authority (read Matthew 22:36-40), and Jesus is still right today!

I’m praying for an epidemic of love to be let loose in my city, state, nation, and world that will spread more rapidly and more powerfully than the coronavirus and make our economic downturn look like an insignificant blip on the screen of life in 2020. That epidemic of love will help people of all colors of the world live in unity. Love paves the way for people of all races to live together in peace and unity.  

What can I do? – Listen to God and people, learn what God can do, lean on God, and love all people.

Next week – Part IV Back to my blog

A better way to think do ya think?

I heard a great analogy the other day when I was listening to Pastor Adrian Roger’s daily devotional, Love Worth Finding. Pastor Rogers is a wonderful, Spirit-filled Bible teacher. If you read his teaching you will be blessed.

He equated the way we can choose to think like one of those electronic scanners at the airport. You put all your loose stuff in one of those trays on a conveyer belt with your shoes and belt and loose change. And then you walk through.

If you have anything on you that’s not supposed to be on the plane you’ll hear that annoying beep. So you search yourself for the forbidden item. The scanner acts as a filter to identify forbidden items we have to discard or leave behind.

What a great new way to think. We think a lot of good thoughts during our day. But sometimes, some times more than others, a bad thought, a hateful thought, a resentful or angry thought creeps into our thinking.

Wouldn’t it be good for us if one of those negative thoughts snuck into our thinking we could bat it down or chase it away so it would be forbidden from getting into our thinking? We have that scanner available to us. With every thought we think we have the choice to accept it or reject it with our scanner.

I’m going to try this scanner business on my thinking. God’s word gives us some positive things to think about in Philippians: 8-9. I’m going to start thinkin about those things too to see if I can improve my thinking.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

What can I do

WHAT CAN I DO? – PART II: LEARN

Last week, I wrote about how I have been listening. My next step is to learn.

2. LEARN.

Authentic listening creates a platform for learning. I’ve learned so much about what many of my friends have been exposed to in this community – some really tough things. The best way to learn about people of another race is to sit down and listen to their stories.

Learning brings change. I believe that God can change anybody, anytime, anywhere! I believe it is essential to allow God to change our hearts before our attitudes and actions will change. Changed hearts and minds will change relationships!

Governor George C. Wallace was the icon of segregation when he stood in the schoolhouse door in Tuscaloosa and said, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” As he grew older, Gov. Wallace began to listen to God and listen to people. He learned that he was wrong about racial relationships. God changed his heart!

Wallace watched our Frazer worship services on television because, following the attempted assassination on his life, his hearing had become severely impaired. He invited me many times to visit him. He wanted to know if God would forgive him and if black people would forgive him. Wallace even showed me a letter from the Pope and a letter from Billy Graham telling him that God would forgive him, but he still wasn’t completely convinced.

When visiting with him, he would use a blackboard and chalk to write. Some of the best words I’ve ever seen written were those the Governor wrote a few months before he died, “I know that God has forgiven me, and I know that the black people I harmed have forgiven me. I really know it!!!”

Last week, I was in a meeting with a wonderful black minister who told of going to visit George Wallace. He was very skeptical about this dramatic change, but he heard Wallace’s witness and was totally convinced that he was sincere. The pastor started crying. He realized what God had done in Wallace’s life – and what he now had to do.

The past few years, I’ve spoken at racial reconciliation rallies in the Mississippi Delta, Selma, and Lowndesboro. To each of these, I carried Tommy Waites, a big black man who served time in prison and hated whites – especially policemen – and Wes Strane, a big white former policeman who openly confessed that he hated blacks – especially convicts.

These two men – a black prisoner who hated white policemen and a white policeman who hated black prisoners – testified how God turned them from hatred to love. They would look at each other and say, “I love you, brother,” and then bear hug! Only God could make that happen!!

I’m learning that if God can change me, George Wallace, Tommy Waites, and Wes Strane – he can change anybody, anytime, anywhere! And I am going into the future based on that assurance!

What can I do? – listen and continue learning what God can do!!

Part III next week.Back to my blog

Nobody listens

“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.” Mark:7:14

We’re in the mess we’re in culturally and socially today because nobody listens anymore. Oh, we hear each other ramble on and shout at one another. We hear protesters spew anger and frustration. We hear all the politicians ramble ramble ramble on communicating absolutely nothing significant. They’re all hearing but nobody’s listening.

Hearing is unilateral–it only goes one way. I listen to the radio.

Listening on the other hand goes both ways it is transactional. It requires a response. It requires one person to say something and another person or persons to respond–then “listening” has taken place.

But no one no group no faction no protesters, no race, no religious group, no politician, no legislator–NO ONE is genuinely listening.

No committee, no symposium, no focus group, no town hall, no bi-racial commission will ever bridge the divide or solve the problems we face today. If we’re going to solve anything or make any progress at all it’s going to be one person at a time reaching out to someone different and truly listening to them. One on one. One person at a time.

The dot and the line

What’s your perspective?

Let’s imagine for a moment that the dot on the line in the image above represents all of time from Genesis 3, when God created Adam and Eve all the way until God’s new earth descended from heaven in Revelation.

Then assume that the line represents eternity which has no beginning or ending because the Bible teaches that eternity is uncreated and has always been.

Do you think more about time and your mundane life in time? Or do you think more about eternity? You probably think about tine and life and consider eternity a concept to think about in your future?

Of course you probably think more about time and life here on earth because you have to fix dinner tonight and go to work tomorrow.

But the bible teaches that God has placed eternity in our hearts Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, 

Here’s a question: When will you make eternity your perspective? When you die and begin to live in eternity? No! Remember–God has placed eternity in our hearts! It’s there now

Paul teaches us in Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

We have all the riches in Christ available to us to feast on right now.We don’t have to wait to die to live in eternity. We can live in our blessed eternity today.

So can you imagine a different perspective now?

A list of the Christian’s rights

2.

3.

4.

5

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Christians (authentic followers of Jesus) have no rights. They have surrendered all rights to Him.

Christians become willing to give up control.

Christians don’t believe in living by feelings or old patters of behavior

Christians are obedient because they want to be not because the think they have to be.

Christians don’t perform for God, they actively allow Christ in then to live his life in them, for him and through him.

The Jesus Way

We have our way of doing things. And Jesus has His way of doing things.

Our ways are always worldly and self-centered. Jesus’ ways are always eternal and God-centered.

Take the feeding of the 5,000 for example in John  6.  When the crowds gathered, his disciples didn’t have a way.  They thought the people should all go home and feed themselves.

When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

Andrew found a young boy with five small barley loaves and two fishes. He gave them to Andrew and Andrew gave them to Jesus.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. – Matthew 14:13-21

The Jesus way of doing things is not our way. In fact, Jesus doesn’t even want us to try our way.  His desire is for us to allow His life to flow through us and out of us in love to others. If we do that it won’t leave any room for our ways.

Jesus’ heartfelt desire


Do you know what one of Jesus’ great desires is?  He wants to be with me!  He wants to be with you!  He desires our fellowship and companionship

We are going to be good friends.   Think of all the things you do with good friends now. All the candid conversations. The friendly chats The meaningful discussions.  Well, Jesus wants to be a friend to do all that with me and you too. He wants to spend precious time with you and me and be with us for fellowship and real intimate friendship.

In John 14:2-3 Jesus is teaching and tells the crowd, “I go to prepare a place for you, “And if I go to prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be also.”

Then as Jesus is wrapping up his ministry here on earth he’s praying to the Father and says, “Father I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory which Thou hast given Me.”

It is highly inconceivable to me as I stumble through life here in this earth suit that one day very soon the glory of heaven, Jesus himself and me are going to be good friends and that He’ll look forward to spending time with me.

Good advice–don’t give it

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is to refrain from ever giving advice. In high school, for some reason some girls liked  to ask me for my opinion, usually about an issue they were having with a boyfriend.

I lapped it up in my best Ann Landers imitation. “Steve, what do you think I ought to do}?” “Oh, Steve, what would you do if you were me? (which obviously I wasn’t) “Steve, would you talk to ____________ for me and see if he really likes me?

As I recall none of my advice ever panned out and in a few cases some angry boyfriends cautioned (threatened) me to mind my own business. It took me several decades and years in recovery rooms to learn that lesson–to mind my own business.

The major reason giving advice is wrong and usually harmful is you (I) can never know all the circumstances and details of the other side of the situation in order to render objective advice. You won’t know all the people involved or the impact your advice may have on others or the situation. You can’t know the biases or prejudices of others in the situation.

But God does. He knows all the players, their motivations, their hearts, all the circumstances, the decisions the players will make, and the impact of those decision.

And guess what? God already knows the outcome.

He.’s known it all along. He knew the outcome before there was even a question.

We can avoid a bunch of time consuming energy if we just stop giving advice all together and trust God to handle situations we need answers for. God has a much better plan ( it’s a perfect plan) than we could ever devise with our own advice.

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Open Book Test

Remember all those tests we took in school? Those fill in the blanks tests and those awful essay tests. I could never copy the answers across the aisle because Nancy Ross and Kathy Anderson on the other side wrote way too small for me to see their answers.

Then there were multiple choice tests (my favorites). If I didn’t know the answer outright I had a good chance of being right Easier to copy answers. If I picked C. My friend Roger, the class Brainiac, told me I had a 37% better chance of being right if I picked C.

And of course some teachers liked to surprise us with open book tests sometimes.

God has an open book test for each of us as well. And he has all the answers right along with any question we might have.

When it’s all said there’s only one question on God’s open book test

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Oh, my brothers and sisters, listen to me. God longs, even yearns for you to pass this test. God wants to love you. He longs to have fellowship with you. He wrote his story in the book so you might read the book and discover how very much he loves you and wants you to be one of his precious children and spend eternity with him.

How much does God love you? He gave his only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believeth in him shall never perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16.

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Nancy or Katy

What can we do?

Pastors’ response to what we can do now

America can never be the same following the fight against COVID-19 and the expressions of racism and protests. Injustice against anybody at any level must be eliminated! Arriving at that victory is possible – but it must be approached with integrity, love, forgiveness, and respect for others. I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have some things that I’m going to practice myself.

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, a couple of us pastors responded to requests for a press conference. We had 6 pastors – 3 white and 3 black. Several other pastors came downtown at the last minute. We spoke about how we could work together to make the City of Montgomery what God envisions. We have tremendous resources in the leadership of our mayor, police chief, sheriff, politicians, pastors, and good laypeople.

That press conference was placed on the social media pages of WSFA Channel 12 and CBS Channel 8. On those two Facebook pages alone, the press conference has been viewed by over 96,000 people! And that’s not counting the radio stations, individual videos, etc. Montgomery has a lot of problems, but we want to make progress so that every citizen in Montgomery can receive and enjoy the privileges that we have.

My comments at the press conference centered around how we need to listen, learn, and love. I’m trying to practice those things now. I reflected on them and feel even more convinced that for me, and maybe for others, these are some things I can do. I’ve expanded my thinking in the last few days. Let me share where I am today:

1. LISTEN.

A little boy was tired of a long sermon. He asked his dad what else the preacher did besides preach. His dad listed several things and then said he had to rest up because preaching isn’t easy. The little boy quickly said, “Well, listening ain’t easy either!” He’s right. Listening ain’t easy!

When I speak, I only repeat things that I already know. When I listen, I learn things I did not know. I’ve got two ears and only one mouth – I need to listen twice as much as I speak. A high school teacher asked the class to define the difference between listening and hearing. At first, there was no response. Finally, a hand went up, and a student offered this wise definition: “Listening is wanting to hear.”

We must first listen to God. God has spoken very clearly about all relationships. Moses said, “Israel, be quiet and listen.” (Deuteronomy 27:9) God said, “For all who listen to Me will live in peace.” (Proverbs 1:33) God has all the answers for us if we are willing to listen to Him.

We need to listen to each other. I’ve been sitting down with some persons of other races and just listening. Many of us don’t act correctly because we haven’t listened.

I’ve listened to some of my black friends who are pastors and laypeople. I’ve listened to what they’ve experienced. I have tried to see life through their eyes. I’m learning a lot!

I believe that violence and destruction have been avoided in Montgomery because our mayor, police, pastors, politicians, and good people have been willing to listen. Be quick to listen! (James 1:19)

What can I do? – LISTEN

Look for Part II next week!

What do you need?

What do you need right now? Whatever you need, a job, more income, freedom from anxiety, less stress, more patience, victory over temptation, a new kidney, peace and quiet?

Whatever your need…the resources are already there to meet it. (2 Peter 1:3)

Paul teaches us in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING in the heavenly places IN CHRIST.

So…whatever you ever need, whenever you need it, wherever you need it, God’s riches in Christ are available to meet your need.

And consider this: God’s resources are available to meet your need before you even know you have a need.

In Genesis 3 when God created Adam and Eve, they had air to breathe and water to drink. Had they not had air to breathe they would have had only a minute or two to live. If they hadn’t had water, they could only hope to live for a couple of days to live at best.

Jesus’ heartfelt desire

Do you know what one of Jesus’ great desires is?  He wants to be with me!  He wants to be with you!  He desires our fellowship and companionship

We are going to be good friends.   Think of all the things you do with good friends now. All the candid conversations. The friendly chats The meaningful discussions.  Well, Jesus wants to be a friend to do all that with me and you too. He wants to spend precious time with you and me and be with us for fellowship and real intimate friendship.

In John 14:2-3 Jesus is teaching and tells the crowd, “I go to prepare a place for you, “And if I go to prepaare a place for you I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be also.”

Then as Jesus is wrapping up his ministry here on earth he’s praying to the Father and says, “Father I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory which Thou hast given Me.”

It is highly inconceivable to me as I stumble through life here in this earth suit that one day very soon the glory of heaven, Jesus himself and me are going to be good friends and that He’ll look forward to spending time with me.

An instrument of peace

I believe that when this Covid-19-trial is over we’ll all have at least some say in how our personal “new” normal looks.

I grew up in an alcoholic home. It was dysfunctional but it was our normal. Years later in ACOA (Adult Children Of Alcoholics) 12-step recovery rooms I learned that all four of us in our family played certain dysfunctional roles.

My role was that of the family clown/peacemaker. During family confrontations and conflicts I would use jokes and humor to try to diffuse the tension. That’s how I honed my polished sense of humor people say I have.

I don’t play that role anymore and Marie and I don’t have a dysfunctional family, but I still enjoy playing the role of peacemaker, but in a totally different context. In our 12-step recovery rooms I learned an invaluable recovery tool. It’s a poem by St. Frances of Assisi, I rely on it regularly to make peace with my family, friends, believers and everyone I meet. And I certainly would love for peacemaker to remain a part of my “new” normal.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace

Where there is injury, let me show pardon

where there is doubt, let me show faith

where there is despair, hope

where there is darkness, light

and where there is sadness, let me show joy 

O, Divine Master grant that I might seek

not so much to be consoled as to console

to be understood as to understand

to be loved as to love

for it is in giving that we receive

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned

and it in dying that we are born again.

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Knock, Knock

KNOCK, KNOCK – WHO’S THERE?

“When opportunity knocks.” That’s a phrase I’m hearing from high school and college graduates as they go out into the world – from business people as we are beginning to emerge from the shelter-in-place and look at doing business differently – from the church as it looks at how best to do ministry in the new normal.

The word opportunity is interesting. Before we had modern harbors, a ship would have to wait for the flood-tide before it could make its way to the pier or the port. The situation is described in Latin as ob portu, that is, a ship standing over against the port, waiting for the moment when it could ride the tide to the harbor. It was essential that everyone was ready. If you missed that moment, you had to wait for another tide to come in. When opportunity to do something good knocks – we must be ready to open the door.

Shakespeare used this image of opportunity in one of his most famous passages in Julius Caesar:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.  

Here are some essentials to get ready, recognize, and respond to opportunity’s knock:

  1. Create an attitude that is looking for an opportunity and listening for its knock. It will come. Some will see it – others will not because they are looking for some lucky or easy situation. When opportunity knocks, be sure you’re not out in the backyard looking for four-leaf clovers!
  2. Focus on the opportunity. Don’t get distracted with unimportant things and miss the opportunity to ride the tide. In south Alabama, there is a wonderful city named Opp. The sign entering the town says, “Welcome to Opp – the City of Opportunity!” Today, move mentally to Opp!
  3. Remember that opportunity will be in front of you. Many times, you don’t see a door opening because you’re still looking at the door that just closed. Don’t spend your time and energy focusing on things that you lost during the past months of the pandemic. Acknowledge what you lost but don’t miss what is in front of you. If you look in a mirror, all you see is yourself and what’s behind you. If you look through a window, you’ll see what’s in front of you. Keep looking forward!
  4. When opportunity knocks, it doesn’t wear a name-tag. Sometimes it is disguised as adversity. Sometimes it wears the costume of an unsolvable problem. It seldom comes as an easy, quick fix. Opportunity will be wearing work clothes!

“Be wise; make the most of every opportunity.” Eph. 4:5

“Pharaoh is just a big noise because he let his opportunity pass by.” Jeremiah 46:17

READY – RECOGNIZE – RESPOND!

Knock, knock – who’s there?

The rest of the Serenity Prayer

One of the most beneficial tools we learn in 12-step recovery rooms is to turn to the Serenity Prayer for comfort and peace in our lives. Some meetings open with everyone reciting it in unison.

Many of us commit the prayer to memory so we can call it to mind when we encounter situations or circumstances when we could use a dose of serenity, comfort or peace.

For most folks their serenity prayer is an abbreviated version

I have discovered over the years that the complete serenity prayer offers me more serenity and peace and the opportunity to fellowship with Jesus as I’m praying it. What do you think?

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change

 the courage to change the things I can

 and the wisdom to know the difference

 living one day at a time

 enjoying one moment at a time

 accepting hardship as the pathway to peace

taking as Jesus djd this sinful world as it is

rather than how I would have it

trusting that you will make everything light

as I turn my will over to you

so that II will be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy forever with You in the next.

The only solution

I think most people would agree that the days  we’re  living in now  are some of the darkest  in our nation’s history.  Many in the faith community tell us we’ll  get through this and be better off on the other side.  In the midst of this crisis our  Ieaders are looking for answers when at times they don’t even know what question to ask.

Confusion, misinformation, Martin-Luther-King–style leadership and mistrust rule the day.

How will we get out of this mess? Who will get us out of this mess? The president can’t do it. Democrats can’t do it, Republicans can’t,  the Pope can’t., Dr. Phil can’t,  Maek Zukerberg can’t, the CDC can’t, the WHO can’t, the UN can’t, not even the church can.

The only way out

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

HALT

The Holy Spirit  speaks to us in a still, small voice  to encourage us, teach us and guide us in righteous paths.

 But Satan speaks to us in a still small voice too.  But his motive is to confuse us, point out our failures, discourage us and destroy us. He prowls around looking for our weaknesses and the places in our lives where we are most vulnerable to attack. and he’s very good at finding them and exploiting them.

In 12-step recovery rooms we learn recovery tools and strategies to help us learn to live day to day and make healthy choices.

One of the most healthy strategies we learn to help keep Satan from attacking us is not to make big decisions when we’re vulnerable. We call it HALT. We learn not to make big choices, decisions or life changes when we are Hungry–Angry–Lonely or–Tired–HALT. We are all vulnerable at the times. some times more than others.

I’m most at risk when I’m tired. And Satan knows it. I need to get alone or go to bed, or take a nap when I’m tired. The older I get(73) the quicker I get tired so I try to take care of myself then and remember my vulnerability.

How about you? Why not share a comment with me about your vulnerability?

I did it my way

In 1969 Frank Sinatra  sang a song called I Did It My Way. He was coming to the end of his career  and wanted to  proclaim his satisfaction about the way he had lived his life.

If ever a  Jesus follower songwriter  wanted to respond to Sinatra’s secular swan song, he might write a song and title it  “Never Do It Frank’s Way.

Frank’s way  is a perfect  example of the self life, the self-centered life,  the self life,  the living in the flesh, the I’m going to put my needs before everyone else’s needs, life. Frank’s song, and in fact his life both are diametrically opposed  to everything Jesus taught us.  “

i

Memorial Day Tribute

This memoir may speak to and for lots of folks like me.

memorial day

My dad was a proud World War II veteran. Like most of his friends, and lots of young men in the 1940′s, the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor shocked him. He enlisted in the Air Corps in early 1942.

Dad rarely discussed his tour of duty defending our country. He saw plenty and did plenty, but refused to talk about it. I think lots of 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 WWII experiences?” I asked him if he would consider writing an account of his career in the military. 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 shocked 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.

Since Dad’s crew was photo reconnaissance, they 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. 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.

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 our opinions about our United States military, we remain the most independent, blessed nation on the planet. And we have all those who are currently serving, have served, or died in battle whose sacrifices have helped us gain that freedom.

May God bless all our veterans and our active duty military today and forever, wherever they may be.https://www.youtube.com/embed/xf8hfZuzw_A?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparentAdvertisements

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Remembering my dad, active duty soldiers and veterans everywhere today

In “God”Remembering Dad And Veterans Everywhere On Veterans Day

Remembering Dad And Veterans Everywhere On Veterans Day

Falling apart or falling into place

For the past 6 weeks, I have been filming a brief “Good News” segment on social media every morning at 10 o’clock. I stand in front of bookshelves in my office where I have some pictures. Since many asked me about the people in the pictures, I decided to take a different picture each day and talk about the person in the picture and what good news they might share.

I did this from April 20th for 12 days through May 1st. I had pictures with Rod Laver, Bart Starr, George Beverly Shae, Bobby Richardson, Albert Long, Evander Holyfield, and six others. If you’re interested in seeing these videos, you can find them by using the search feature on my Facebook page.  

One person I shared about was Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter. She had invited me to speak at a retreat for some of her friends in North Carolina.

She recently was speaking to the employees at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina. My friend Wayne Atcheson leads the ministry of the Billy Graham Library. This is one of the most inspiring and informative places that I have ever visited. Wayne quoted Anne, saying, “Many people are saying the world is falling apart – the world is not falling apart – it’s falling into place.”

Wow! That’s a powerful statement. Many people today do think that the world is falling apart. The world is not falling apart – it is falling into place!! I want to focus on the place that the world is falling into. What could that place look like?

  1. “Obey all of the commandments.” (v.5) We should have learned that we don’t break God’s commandments – they break us. If you jump off a 5-story building, you don’t break the law of gravity – it breaks you! The world that God is putting in place is one where obedience is foundational.
  2. “Love the Lord.” (v.5) Early in his ministry, Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment. He said it is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” (Matthew 22:37) To love God means to give full devotion and commitment to Him.
  3. “Follow His plan.” (v.5) God has a plan for every person. If we follow His plan, we’ll discover life. There are a lot of plans people are promoting for the way we ought to live. God has the correct plan. If we deviate from that plan, we get lost and confused. Following God’s plan takes us where we need to be. Find God’s plan and follow it!
  4. “Cling to Him.” (v.5) The word picture here for me is holding onto something we know is secure. “Cling” means to hang on at all costs. Never let go. Clinging to Him is total security!“Serve Him enthusiastically.” (v.5) Serving Him is our DNA. Jesus said that when we lose our life in serving Him, it’s then that we truly find life. (Matt 16:25) Realizing that, we serve Him enthusiastically!

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Member of the ECFA – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability

© 2019 John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

“Self” is a 4-letter word

identity in Christ

When someone uses the word “try” that means that the focus is on “self”. And that is a bad thing. No brokenness on the horizon when self’s on the landscape.

Self tries to live the Christian life. Self does Christian work. Self likes to volunteer in the food pantry. Self likes to sing in the choir, and teach Bible study

Self likes to be in charge. Self gets envious and irritable and arrogant.  Self thinks it knows best. Self gets envious and resentful and critical. Self worries. Self gets full of self. Self stands up for her rights.

Self is such a failure.

No wonder we need breaking. As long as self is in control God can do little in us or through us. I can remember real prayers when I was in distress or my circumstances were choking me. I’d pray, “Lord, I’m (and I’d give God a laundry list of good deeds).

I spent several decades thinking my good deeds got me in good standing with God and my sins incurred his anger and disappointment in me. I was back and forth, up and down, in God’s good graces, then out of them again when I disobeyed.

Everything changed for me in August 11, 2000, the day I learned my true identity was in Christ. Knowing and living out of my true identity in Christ became my life, and has been since.

and but therefore

“and we know… “but now having been freed…”therefore now there is no…

They’re all over the place in the Bible.  Short but very meaningful– they are conjunctions. They join two parts of a sentence or thought.. They indicate that what you’re about to read is the tail end of a complete sentence or thought. To get the meaning of the words after the conjunction you need to find out what came before it to make sense of the context.

If that all sounds like a bunch of teacher English lingo it is. I used to be an English teacher and I’m trying to help us understand context in the Bible. Conjunctions play an integral part in understanding Bible context.

 For example if you read in Romans 8:28 ” and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to his purpose” Because it begins with “and” Paul wrote some stuff before it that helps us understand 28.

To understand the full meaning of that verse in its context we really have to go back and read the whole chapter or the sentences before it.. And even then some Bible teachers claim you have to go back and read chapters 5 through 8 to completely  understand verse 28 that probably goes with or helps explain verse 28.

 I guess the point of all this is that  if you run across one of these little conjunctions in your Bible reading there’s some stuff before it that might add to the meaning of what you’re reading.

Covid-19 can reveal the worst and the best

As restrictions are being loosened on large and small businesses and public gatherings, I pray that we will be very cautious and practice even more carefully the guidelines that have been put into place. We do need to see the economy rebound, but we cannot allow the coronavirus to rebound. 

COVID-19 is bringing out the best and worst in people. 43 employees at the Braskem petrochemical plant in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, clocked in on March 23rd and did not clock out for the next 28 days. Instead, they lived in the factory and pulled 12-hour shifts to meet the soaring demand for polypropylene, which is an important ingredient in protective medical masks and gowns. They produced tens of millions of pounds of this lifesaving material during their 28 days of living in the factory. They volunteered for this! One shift advisor, Joe Boise, said, “We were just happy to be able to help.”

Dr. Jason Barnes is a 39-year-old emergency room doctor in South Texas. He took up residency in his children’s backyard treehouse in order to self-isolate and has been staying there for 4 weeks in those cramped quarters to protect his patients, co-workers, and his family from coronavirus. He jokingly said that he wondered if his kids missed him as much as they miss their treehouse. Dr. Barnes said, “They love that thing, but they understand.”

It has created some adjustments that require creativity. People have learned how to cut a conversation short on video chats. The old excuse of “I have to go home and feed my dog” no longer works. New excuses have been creatively developed. Some people have learned how to quietly slip out of a group chat by using the “frozen face” technique. You “freeze” your face and body in place for a moment, to make it seem as if the WiFi has gone out, and then very carefully, off-camera, hit the end call button. I hope businesses will find employees that creative about making productive calls in the future!

The tough situation has brought out the best in some organizations. The Los Angeles Lakers received $4.6 million dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program. The Lakers are the NBA’s second most valuable franchise, worth $4.4 billion! Since they only have 300 employees, they qualified to apply. When they saw that the fund was depleted, the Lakers gave back the $4.6 million loan! Yea Lakers!

Some large businesses, such as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, AutoNation, and Shake Shack followed the Lakers lead and returned more than 170 million dollars to the program. That’s the right thing to do!

But a $2.2 billion hotel group, which owns 130 luxury resorts, was the biggest beneficiary of the PPP. They have no plans to return the $126 million dollars that they received. Just because something is legal does not make it right! There are so many small businesses in Montgomery that didn’t get any money because big companies got there first.

We did not desire the pandemic, but God can use it for something good. Moses told the children of Israel that God could take the intended curse from Balaam and turn that curse into a blessing. (Deuteronomy 23:5) He loves turning curses into blessings! And the good news is – He can do the same with COVID-19. Read Romans 8:28 and Genesis 45:1-8. 

Will COVID-19 bring out the best or the worst in you?

Who we are in Christ

We’re going to begin drilling down to our true identity in Christ on For His Glory. My mission statement makes it clear what the mission of this blog is to be.  I want to help us all  know, understand, believe, and live out of our true identity in Christ.

To begin, let’s see how much we know about our true identity. Below is a partial list of characteristics God has created in his children. This is the way God sees  all believers.  We will examine each of these in detail in future. blog posts.

as you read the list, ask yourself, “If this is the way God sees me, do I see myself the same way?  If not, why not? Is there a characteristic I don’t believe I have? Why not?

  1. I have a new identity since I became a believer.
  2. I am totally forgiven for any and all sins I’ve ever committed, may commit today or may commit in the future.
  3. I am totally righteous.
  4. Christ wants to live His life through me as me.
  5. I can never lose my salvation.
  6. God will NEVER stop loving me no matter what my actions are or my performance is here on earth.
  7. I am justified.

Where did we come from and When?

Some folks who call themselves Christians don’t know where they came from or WHEN?

A friend I sang in a choir with some years ago told me he knew Jesus did not exist before he was born on Christmas day in Bethlehem. I shared scripture with him to convince him how wrong he was but God’s word didn’t move him at all.

In Ephesians 1 Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he (God) chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

In Psalms 139 David writes, “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.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.”

If we are ever to know and understand our true identity in Christ, we need to know and believe in our hearts that God created each believer in Christ, and He created each believer before the foundation of the world.

Please leave a comment

Some readers may not know that many of us bloggers live and breathe by your comments. For many of us your comments are what motivate us to keep writing. Some of us would probably stop blogging if we stopped receiving comments. All comments   don’t have to be positive. In fact I’ve received my share of critical,  and negative comments. But I take all comments in stride and try to learn  from your comments and  become a better writer.

 Most of my posts  reflect some aspect of my mission statement, ” to help us all know, understand, believe, and live out of our true identity in Christ. Although I have been known to veer off the beaten path to write humorous posts or posts about interesting people or the oddities of life. But I value every comment and answer every one-encouraging or not.

So, let me ask you, the next time you read a post here on FHG, or another blog, whether you liked it or not, how about leaving a comment. I guarantee you’ll leave a smile on my face, and encourage me to keep blogging another day.

Happy Mothers Day, Marie

She’s a daughter to her mother

Marie

 a sister to Nancy and Peggi

 a mother to her children, Lois and Wesley

 Grandmother Mimi to Reina and Alex

 but most importantly she’s my loving wife Marie

 Marie  is Gods most precious gift to me ever.

 I can truthfully and honestly say she is my soulmate forever and  honestly my best friend.

 Our lives changed forever on February 3rd, 2018 when I suffered a bad stroke.

 On that day Marie assumed I roll she never imagined as my caretaker.

 Besides being my  wonderful loving wife, she now took over doing many things I used to do myself. And she became the best caretaker on the planet. She doesn’t get upset, except those times I’m a total jerk. She serves me everyday most often with her engaging smile. She loves me in so many ways. I could never ever survive without her. I thank God for His precious gift to me every day.

Marie, I love you more than words can say and will till Jesus takes us home.

Happy Mother’s Day.

So, what is a sinner exactly?

Everyone on planet Earth comes into this world a sinner, a child of Satan’s seed from Adam and Eve, separated entirely and hopelessly from God. 

 A sinner then is someone who has failed to accept the free gift of salvation from God by believing that Christ died for them on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand God Almighty,

Before the foundation of the Earth God chose those who would become his children as they accept his gift of eternal life offered by the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, God’s only son, on the cross of Calvary.

Some believers contend that we have both a spiritual nature and a sin nature. They are woefully misguided. We don’t have a sin nature. We addressed that error in another post on this blog recently–We are NOT sinners saved by grace.

Some sinners have heard the gospel message time and time again but just refuse to believe it and instead think they can use their own resources to get their needs met in life apart from God. I heard of a person once who went through Seminary and got a degree. But when he finished school he said he just couldn’t buy any of it and chose to remain a non-believer.

There is a very good passage in Ephesians 2 that describes sinners in Paul’s day and our day. He’s talking to Jesus followers about their condition and fate before they believed in the Gospel of Jesus.

“As for you,(followers) you were dead in your transgressions and sins, (sinners) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh  and following its desires and thoughts.”.

Good Christians are a myth

There is no such thing as a “good” Christian.


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 favor 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 superior 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. That’s called living in the flesh. It is contradictory to walking in the Spirit and has nothing to do with following Christ or honoring God

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.

 

Truth or Consequences

Truth or Consequences was a TV game show that ran in some form from 1950 until 1988. Contestants chosen from the audience would answer a silly question (truthfully)  or face the consequences,  usually a silly prank or trick.

Whether we walk in the light of the Spirit or in the darkness of our flesh, truth and consequences apply to both.  I used to tell my kids that there were good consequences for good actions and bad consequences for bad (sinful) actions.

We do not have a sinful nature. But even those of us who belong to Christ  disobey  and sin at times.  That’s because we still have flesh and it is battling with the Holy Spirit constantly. Our sins have all been forgiven at the cross. But we will not escape consequences for our actions–good or bad. It is the same for sinful or righteous behavior. There are simply consequences no matter which way we lean. We will not nor can we escape them.

 The Holy Spirit may convict us of our sins and make them obvious to us. He will show us God’s truth and make it obvious to us when we sin.  That’s when we’ll have the choice of repenting or suffering the consequences for disregarding the truth and following our flesh. Even if we’ve repented from flesh behavior, and started sewing seed from the Spirit, we need to be aware that we may still reap consequences from PAST sowing after the flesh.

The war within all believers

God’s Holy Spirit and our flesh are at war with each other 24/7– 365. Our  Flesh craves attention from the world and all it has to offer. While the Holy Spirit seeks to teach us God’s perfect will and purpose for our lives and convict us of our sin.  The two are diametrically opposed to each other and wage war against each other at every turn. 

Monday we begin a new series on For His Glory We’ll  lay bare  some of the common struggles our flesh  goes through with the Holy Spirit.We’ll explore choices our flesh can make to walk in the light of the Spirit and God’s will and perfect plan for our lives.

See you all back here Monday

People helping People

FINDING THE GOOD

While there is daily bad news about COVID-19, there are also good stories of people helping people and making a difference. Helen Keller once said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of suffering.” She could see more about life than most people that have 20/20 vision!

Two medical students at the University of Minnesota Medical School saw they would have a little more time and wanted to use it wisely. So, Sruthi Shankar and Sara Lederman began recruiting med students to assist doctors, nurses, and pharmacists – not in the hospital, but in their homes. They had 280 people volunteer to serve with the Minnesota CovidSitter’s Program. They provide child and pet care, run errands, and do the shopping for healthcare workers. Letterman said, “Not only does it take a village, it takes a brilliant, humble, determined village.”

One simple thing that every person can do is refuse to participate in spreading half-truths or rumors about the virus. FEMA has added a page to its website called, “Coronavirus Rumor Control.” Here they dispel rumors such as “FEMA has military personnel and can impose martial law.” It dispels rumors about magical cures or treatments for COVID-19. Misinformation, half-truths, and rumors can make COVID-19 look a lot more powerful than it is!

This battle with COVID-19 has given opportunities for creative ways of sharing the Gospel. I have been involved in several presentations by Zoom. Live streaming has become the norm for churches. The pastors have seen attendance online more than double or triple in-person attendance. Most have reported that financial giving is more this year at this time than it was last year.

Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship Church, has seen online attendance during the mandated stay-at-home order go from about 8,000 to Palm Sunday with over 1.3 million people! They recorded 11,207 new decisions for Christ that day. 1.7 million people around the world viewed a Holy Week live stream event by Pulse, and over 100,000 people came to faith in Christ! Many are saying we are in a “Great Quarantine Revival.”

My friend, David Bush, serves First United Methodist El Dorado, Arkansas. People drive to the huge parking lots at the church, park at least 10 feet away from each other, roll down their windows, wave to each other, and listen to the sermon on the radio. When David says something powerful (which is very often), the people blink their lights or blow their horns indicating an “Amen!”

Also expanding are lifestyle changes brought on by home confinement. People are cooking more – especially homemade bread. Amazon reports that searches for “all-purpose flour” have increased by 3,618%. Queries for yeast have risen by 5,343%. Bread machines, which lost their popularity in the 90s, have bumped 652% in online sales.

Waistlines are probably expanding. A cartoon shows an extremely overweight couple facing a door that was far smaller than them. The husband said, “It’s great the quarantine will be over – but how will we get out of the house?”

My friend Derric Johnson says, “Bread is like the sun – it rises in the yeast and sets in the waist.”

What are you finding to do good during the pandemic?Back to my blog

Without Love

I was a teenager in the sixties  so I became a diehard rock and roll buff.  Today I love Good gospel music and worship music. But occasionally you can find me in front of my laptop at YouTube reminiscing with my favorite rock and roll tunes.  The Doobie Brothers (one of my two favorite bands) sang a song called Without Love Where Would We Be Now?

Doobie Brothers

I pondered that title for several days and asked that question of myself. ” where would I be now without love”?  The answer was bleak. I can’t thank of any situation among family or friends or church family for which I would be anything but miserable and hopeless and lost.  And it is absolutely unthinkable to consider being without God’s love for me that he shows me every second of every day.

It’s difficult for me to consider  that some people, even folks who call themselves believers,  reject or don’t believe that God loves them so totally and unconditionally and calls every believer one of His beloved children.

Sometimes we hear folks give the excuse ” Oh God couldn’t love me after what I’ve done.” Those folks don’t realize that God’s love for them is not based on performance–but it’s based on identity. Not on what we do or don’t do but who we are–God’s precious children.

If you want to listen to the Doobie Brothers perform the song just click on the picture above or here below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP_NE4XZGAc&list=PLXOixTHKXdx064u8XASbZ38jZlaSaIHTr

We are NOT sinners saved by grace

I can’t count the times I’ve heard folkswho claim to be believers claim, “I’m a sinner saved by grace.” That is not Biblical. Nor is it true.  There are no saved sinners. There are only saved saints. The only part of that statement that’s true is that all saints have been “saved by grace.”

Continue reading →

Wonderful, happy heartburn

I ate two too many pieces of pizza recently and they talked to me all night. Not a good night for pizza but a wonderful night for Pepto Bismol–and heartburn city.

I’ve never met anyone who likes heartburn. It is painful and aggravating and robs me of sleep every time. I think I can safely say there is nothing good about heartburn.

But there were a couple of guys in the Bible who loved heartburn. They loved their heartburn so much tthey wanted to share it with their friends.

These two disciples had been to Jerusalem and had  been a part of the festivities during Holy Week. They had listened to Jesus teachings,  followed the crowds, and witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus.  They were on their way home to the village of Emmaus. They were confused and bewildered trying to make sense of all that they had witnessed. 

 Suddenly Jesus was walking among them but they did not recognize him.The two tried to explain to this stranger what had happened but were doing a lousy job. “O foolish ones,” Jesus said to them, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.  Beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning him.

Jesus went home with them and took a meal with them.Beginning wi broke bread and gave it to them. As he did their eyes were opened and they Beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning him.

Jesus went home with them and had a meal with them Jesus blessed and broke bread with them and gave it to them. As he did their eyes were opened and the recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road and opened to us the Scriptures?”

They were so excited they immediately set out to return to Jerusalem to share with their friends what Jesus told them.

What would we do?

Wouldn’t our hearts burn and tingle inside us if Jesus showed up suddenly and revealed the Scriptures to us? For me, next to being raptured home to glory that would be the most wonderful thing that could happen to me.

What about you?

We are NOT sinners saved by grace!

I can’t count the times I’ve heard folkswho claim to be believers claim, “I’m a sinner saved by grace.” That is not Biblical. Nor is it true.  There are no saved sinners. There are only saved saints. The only part of that statement that’s true is that all saints have been “saved by grace.”

Continue reading →

The line between temporal and eternal realms

In their best-selling paperback The Rest of the Gospel Dan Stone and Greg Smith portray Christians existing in two different realms at the same time– the temporal realm here on earth, the realm of performance, and the realm of our eternal residence with God.

The authors illustrate these two realms with a diagram called The Line. Christians live and function in both realms simultaneously while non-Christians are limited to living below the line in the temporal realm only.

When God looks down at us he sees us only as we appear in the  Eternal Realm above-the-line. He doesn’t see our shortcomings because we have none from his point of view. He doesn’t see  our sin because we have none.  He sees us as sanctified ( not being sanctified). We are changeless, whole, justified, and here’s the showstopper–are you ready for this–He sees us as perfect in His eternal realm– the finished product.We will still go through trials, experience loss, feel pain, wade through waves of emotions, have unmet needs, make changes, relate to others, sin,

We  live out our daily lives in the flesh below the line in the realm of the flesh.  That’s the realm  where we  make life’s  everyday choices and decisions, express emotions, build relationships, work, endure trials make money, think, reason, play and more.

The glorious differencebetween the two realms is that everything below the line, all we do, all we accomplish, our performanceeverything we hold dear, is temporary, it won’t last, it will vanish. Everything below the line falls victim to the second law of thermodynamics–as soon as it’s created it begins to erode and decompose.

Everything above the line will never change and is eternal.It will last forever.

Potluck religious stew

Someone once told me we’ll be able to pick out the Baptists when we get to heaven. They’ll be the ones toting the covered dishes. Eating has always been a hallmark for us church folks. We love to eat and gather around the dinner table.

The trouble is, it seems to me the church is guilty of treating church like a pot luck supper.  More and more we’re ignoring God’s banquet table and cooking up our own “kitchen religion”.  The church would rather eat whatever tastes good than feast on God’s Word.  The church would rather roast a bunch of rules and regulations than feast on the Bread of Life. The church would rather gorge on opulence than taste obedience.

“I’ve made myself available
    to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
    by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
    to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
    to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
    who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
    are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
    a potluck religious stew.
Isaiah 65:1-3 MSG

yet…

What’s our response when all four walls come crashing in? What do we say when the bank forecloses on our home?  How do we respond when a state trooper at our front door tells us  our daughter was in an automobile crash and didn’t make it?  What do we say when  the surgeon tells us we have six months to live?

Habakkuk knew exactly what his response should be when his world came crashing down on him. Habakkuk watched as the Lord shook the nations, scatter the mountains. The sun and moon stood still, the Lord marched through the earth in fury, the Lord threshed the nations in anger. It was a tumultuous,, dangerous traumatic time for God’s people in Habakkuk’s day. Total despair spread across the land.

What was Habakkuk’s response?

Yet…I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my Salvation. God, the Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places.”

What will your response be? Who is bigger? God or your circumstances

How big is your but?

rest of the gospel

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 but?

The good, the bad and the sorely confused

Many well-intentioned believers labor under the false belief that we are both good and evil–that we have a good nature and a sinful nature. Those folks are sorely confused. We can’t have two natures. My friend Nathaniel over at Webster’ place defines nature as the basic or inherent features of a person or thing–what we’re made of.

 For instance,  I was born Steven Thomas Sawyer, the son of Tom and Alice Gail Sawyer. I will always be  their son. I can change a lot of things about myself– my name, my hairstyle, my occupation, my underwear, my opinion,  my residence,  my bank– but I can never change my inherent nature. I only have one.  I will always be  the son of Tom & Alice Gail Sawyer. My son ship was always my nature until God gave me new birth and a new nature in Jesus Christ. Jesus put to death all my sins and my old Adamic nature when he died on the cross.

We know God’s word testifies that before God gave us his gift of salvation we belonged to Satan and had the Adamic nature as children of wrath.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3

God introduced us to the ability to choose in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given the choice to eat from EITHER  the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil  OR the tree of life.  Not both. One or the other.  If they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God told them,  they would surely die. They would lose fellowship with God. They would lose their connection with God forever.  

We’d like to  think that we’re good most of the time; but we know that at times we are disobedient and sinful. But our sins don’t come from an evil nature. That Adamic nature and our old self died on the cross with Jesus. We can’t be both righteous and evil though  sometimes we can act sinful or rebellious.

For His Glory blog going offline April 4 to April 13 for maintenance and new PC

For His Glory blog going offline April 4 to April 9 for maintenance and new PC

For His Glory Going Offline from April 4 to April 13 for maintenance and new PC

Things we lose

My mom didn’t have much luck convincing me how important it was to pick up after myself.  I was continually losing things.It would be decades before I learned picking up after myself needed to be a priority  if I was ever to have clean clothes.  When I was in college I once lost 6 tickets to a Kansas City Chiefs pro football game I had invited several of my college buddies to go to the game with me. Understandably they were upset with me when we had to cancel the trip to the game.

We’ve all lost something some time.  At times the thing we lose is insignificant and we don’t think much about it. At other times  we lose something so variable we don’t think we can live without it.

 Once at school I thought I lost my car keys.  I went to the car to see if I had  left them there.  Sure enough.  There they were in the ignition with the car running.  I had to ask my wife to leave her job and drive across town and use her keys to unlock my door and retrieve my keys. Supper at home that night was not a happy meal.

Some folks did some research and determined  that 45% of Americans  lose their TV remote control  at least once a week. We lose our cell phones, our golf game, our temper, the family pet, our confidence, our sunglasses,  our perspective,  wedding ring, appetite,  socks, we lose our tongue,  our memory, our direction, our desire, our mind, and our way.

  • Americans spending 2.5 days a year looking for lost items
  • More than $2.7 billion a year is spent replacing misplaced possessions
  • Millennials are TWICE as likely as boomers to lose their stuff

But there’s one thing you will never lose:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us fr:om the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39