Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy New Year!

We are on the threshold of a new year. There is always an element of fear associated with the unknown. The Bible teaches that we know not what a day may bring. The story is told of some men out at sea on an old leaky ship. A storm came up and the men feared for their lives. They went up to the sea captain. He told them, “The boilers are weak and may explode at any moment. The ship is old and she’s taking on water. We may have an explosion or we may sink. We may go up or we may go down. But until then we are going on.”

That’s how we are to face the New Year. We may go up or we may go down; but until then we are going on. The old gospel hymn says it this way:

I’m pressing on the upward way
New heights I’m gaining every day
Still praying as I’m onward bound
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

The old mapmakers would make a map just as far as they had been. Then they would write “Beyond this there be dragons”. They were obviously afraid of the unknown. Actually, there were golden beaches, verdant fields, and beautiful mountains.

That’s how we are to feel about the future. What a year 2012 has been. We all would change some things if we could, but we can’t. We need to be trustful with our future and give it over to God.

As Americans we have great gain. Be thankful and not boastful of all God has given to you. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. But praise God we know Who holds tomorrow.

See ya Sunday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Good To Be Home!

It sure is good to be home! My recent missions’ trip was as exciting as any I’ve been on. I was in five different countries with four different missionaries. I was in Thailand with our missionary Kiatisak Siripanadorn. He has a great work going in the heart of Bangkok. He has also started three orphanages for the hill tribe people of Northern Thailand. These children are such a blessing to be around.

In Burma I taught a room packed with young students studying for the ministry. We were there for several days. They sat on a dirt floors, in 100 degree heat, from 8 in morning till late in the afternoon. Most of these men will take their education back to their tribe of people.

It was a tremendous blessing to be with a Pastor in the Philippines, his wonderful people and students. I had never been to the Philippines. I was not expecting what I found. Pastor Dimver Andeles has a thriving church of 1500 people in a very poor and down-trodden area. It is a great church in an open-air building. The college has over 100 students who sleep on the church pews at night. There is also a thriving day school. This work was started by our missionary Bruce Rice. We have supported Bruce for 25 years. We have had a great part in this ministry. Pastor Andeles has asked us to come back next year to speak at his Pastor’s Conference. He told me he would have over 400 pastors from the Philippines there.

All in all, God blessed us. We were stuck for two days in typhoon Pablo. However, God spared us from any harm.

Thank you for praying for us. We took twelve flights in two weeks. Our bodies were tired but our spirits were quickened when we saw what God is doing around the world.

Keep on praying for our missionaries. And keep on giving. Believe me I have seen first-hand the wonderful job they are doing.

I’m glad to be home. I love you all! Merry Christmas and God bless you!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our Fall Bible Conference!

I read a story of an English boy from Liverpool. One day he went for a swim. He stripped off his clothes and jumped into the water. It was not long before he felt himself being carried by the tide into the sea. He struggled long and hard, but was not able to swim against the ebbing tide. At last he was picked up by a boat bound for Dublin. The sailors were kind and gave him clothes to wear.

That evening a man was walking along the shore and found the boy's clothing lying on the beach. Inside the boy's coat he found his name on a piece of paper. The man assumed the boy had drowned and with a heavy heart went to bear the bad news to his parents. He told his father, "I am very sorry to tell you, I found these clothes on the shore and could not find the lad to whom they belong. I fear he has drowned." The father could not speak. He was overcome with grief. The parents began to search for the body of their son but to no avail. A memorial service was scheduled. The parents were grief-stricken.

Meanwhile, the boy was on his way to Dublin. As soon as the ship reached Dublin he headed for home. He arrived the day of the memorial service. He walked up to his house and when his mother saw her son she sobbed and cried. It was a grand reunion!

We all love stories with happy endings. However, for many it will not be so. Many are broken-hearted on the road of life. Seeking good news for their weary soul. We have the good news but often fail to tell it. Let's share the good news of the gospel with those who are hurting!

This Sunday is the beginning of our Fall Bible Conference. Three nights of spectacular music and preaching. Let's all be there and let's invite those around us. Let's pray for God's spirit to be poured out and for personal revival to take place.

See ya Sunday!


Friday, September 7, 2012

How do you define success?

Every one of us, no matter our vocation or life-calling, has an innate desire to be successful. Of course, how “success” is defined and measured will vary, and will largely depend on the viewpoint of the individual. This world we live in, and our culture here in America in particular, has an altogether different standard for determining success than the God of the Bible. Our culture says success is setting a goal, one that will typically be financially rewarding, and then accomplishing it, regardless of the means which are utilized to reach the goal. Or, to put it bluntly, the end justifies the means.

Is a Politician successful if he obtains an office through falsehoods and by compromising his own principles? Or what about the pervasive notion in society which believes “He who dies with the most toys wins”? Hugh Hefner has been highly successful by this philosophy, having accumulated wealth, material gain, and notoriety; many others today would appear, by that standard, to be successful. But in God’s economy, they are sorely mistaken, for by God’s yardstick success is not measured so much by achieving the goal, it is the purity of the motives and the integrity of the means used to reach the goal which will be measured. Jesus succinctly captured this concept in Mark 8:36 when he said “What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world but lost his own soul”.

God has made us all in his image, and has placed us as his stewards over this earthly realm. Obviously, he wants us to be successful. However, what should be a concern for we Christians is the fact that many of us have succumbed, to some degree, to the same notion of “success” as the culture in general, rather than being in line with God’s standards. What do you live for? What gets you out of bed? By what means do you pursue your goals? Better check. You may not be as successful as you may think, especially by God’s measuring rod.

Perhaps it may be time to re-evaluate what motivates you and how you see success. A good place to start is Matthew 6:19-21 :

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

See ya Sunday!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Proud to be an American

If you are an American you have something to be proud of. Some call it “American exceptionalism.” I call it a privilege to live in this great land. There has been for some time now, the idea that it’s a shameful thing to be an American. The pressures and problems we experience cause some to shy away from their national pride.

The Liberal ideology of our day causes some to do this. However, we want to be proud of our country and America is an exceptional country. No nation on earth can compare.

Personally, I feel we Americans should be proud of who we are and of this great land. The majority of Christian missionaries around the world came from America. The majority of food based subsidies feeding millions come from America. America has sent her young boys and girls into battle defending freedoms’ cause. We have never asked anything of those nations we’ve helped except some land on which to bury our dead.

In recent years we have called peace-keeping missions in a conjoined effort to keep the United Nations pacified. Truth be told, the UN would fall into the Hudson if it wasn’t for America. We are not perfect but we are a sure sight better than any other land.

The story is told of our old grandmother sitting on the porch. The confederate army came marching through. She grabbed a broomstick and jumped in line whooping and hollering! A soldier told her, “Granny, you can’t shoot anybody with that broomstick.” Granny replied, “I know, I just want folks to know whose army I’m with.”

Instead of apologizing for America we ought to let people know this is a special God- blessed country and we are sure proud to be Americans.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Election Season!

As we move into this presidential election season, prepare yourself. The political posturing and party rhetoric with which we are certain to be inundated will be a virtual tsunami of name-calling and mudslinging, and it is poised to flood every form of media known to man. Amidst this cacophonic wave of negativity, there will also be abundant promises from both sides of the political fence that “our goal is to get America back on track”! Evidently, both Democrats and Republicans believe their “plan” for government is necessary to rescue us from the current economic crisis, and for that matter all the other maladies which plague our society. But the big question confronting us as citizens is not which candidate/party to believe or support, but this: exactly what is the role and purpose of our government, and at what point do we become concerned that it is becoming too “big”?

History has shown repeatedly that “big” government is often the enemy of free enterprise, and freedom in general. So while we are to be thankful for government protection, we must guard against government’s intrusion into our personal lives. There is a necessary balance which must be achieved in order for government to perform its primary function without overstepping its bounds and infringing upon its citizens freedoms. This is one reason the founding fathers labored so diligently to develop the concept of the three distinct branches of our government; a built-in system of checks and balances, as it were.

Over the past several years we have seen our national debt sky rocket, in large part due to what have become known as “entitlement programs” funded by various government entities. We essentially are gambling on our children’s future if we continue down this path (see Proverbs 22:7 if you want to see what the Bible has to say about this!). Perhaps even more concerning for Christians is the recent trend of government restrictions on our constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Although no one would argue government is not necessary for the ordering of society, it is incumbent upon the citizenry to hold the government, and politicians in particular, accountable. As Christians, we need to be keenly aware of the issues which challenge this country, and we should strive to educate ourselves on the proper biblical approach to respond to these challenges. We should make it a priority to be actively involved in the democratic process and cast our votes accordingly, and to make certain our voices are heard in the public square. It is not only a God given right; it is our obligation to our children to ensure that America remains, as Abraham Lincoln phrased it in The Gettysburg Address, a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,”

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Taking Troubles in Stride

We often find ourselves in one form of trouble or another. It may be a spiritual struggle, an emotional crisis, or a physical ailment that besets us or a loved one. It may be brought into our lives by circumstances beyond our control, or it may be self-inflicted. What is surprising is that we, especially as Christians, are bewildered as to why “our” lives have been inconvenienced by these unwelcome intrusions. Many seem to believe that once we profess Christ we will be immune to any of the hardships of life, and all our troubles will fade away. But this line of thinking overlooks two inescapable (and Biblical) truths.

First: It is an inevitable fact of life - trouble is going to happen; as Job said, “Man born of woman is few of days and full of trouble”. In John 16:33, Our Lord Himself declares: “In the world ye shall have tribulation”. Philosophers and theologians have debated for centuries about “why bad things happen to good people”, but there is no avoiding it, trials, tribulations, and trouble will invade every single one of our lives.

Second: It is through trials that the greatest life lessons are learned. The type of character which demonstrates the ‘fruit of the spirit” is seldom, if ever, developed when things are going smoothly. Even a quick survey of the New Testament will underscore this fact, as it is a common theme among the authors that true faith will be challenged, but this is necessary for faith to mature. A poet put it in these words:

I walked a mile with pleasure
She chatted all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say
I walked a mile with sorrow
Not a word said she
But oh the things I learned from sorrow
When sorrow walked with me.

If this is true for individuals, then it is no surprise America as a nation has been through a storm or two, and has endured through times of great difficulty: The War Between the States; the two World Wars; the Great Depression, to name but a few. These all evoke dreadful memories of rather desperate historic periods when this country struggled to survive. But it is also as a result of these times that the “never–say-die” character which is emblematic of the American people was forged. And though the present social climate within the country is somewhat daunting, it is noteworthy that when tragedies strike, Americans rise to the occasion. Churches, civic groups, and communities band together, striving to collectively serve the common good. We will come through our down-turn; not because of any measures enacted by our government, but because of the selfless acts and characteristic resolve of the American people, which is rooted in our Christian heritage.

See Ya Sunday!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Heart Issues

When our founding fathers gathered together to draw up the Declaration of Independence, this somewhat peculiar statement seemed to be the foundational precept upon which they supported the political weight of this historic document. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I say “peculiar” because when you ponder the inherent implications of this statement, it is easy to question how these men arrived at this conclusion. After all, it is rather obvious men (and women!) are not equal in many areas: we are not all equal physically - in many areas of life, such as athletics, this is obviously true; we are not all equal intellectually – some are naturally superior in IQ, possessing the ability to grasp difficult concepts in math, physics, philosophy, etc.; some have mechanical aptitudes, while others are all thumbs! Our differences seem to strongly suggest men are certainly not equal!

So what standard were our forefathers utilizing when they were developing this principle? The statement which immediately follows provides the answer: “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. They were using the Biblical teaching that God created man in His image, and thus all men have equal value in His sight; from this premise it was rather easy to formulate the corollary that all men deserve equal opportunity to prosper, and the primary function of government was to assure this opportunity prevailed. (As a side note, I have always found it intriguing our founding fathers used the word “created”, as opposed to “evolved”!).

There is, unfortunately, another area of human nature in which we are all equal; our sin nature. The Bible emphatically informs us of this fact in the book of Romans “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God “. It has been said the best of men are men at best; we are all bound by the limitations of our human shortcomings.

As graphic evidence of this inclination, consider the horrific massacre we recently witnessed in a movie theater in Colorado. When such senseless tragedies occur, we ask “How could these events happen? Shouldn’t we have laws against people securing firearms to prevent violent acts of this nature?” But ladies and gentlemen, the problem in our society is not that people have guns. The problem we have is intrinsic to our human condition; it is a sin problem. It is the hearts of individuals that must be changed in order for a society to flourish. Our founding fathers recognized the Bible provided the basis for establishing the principles upon which our liberty is founded, but they also understood the Bible presented the means by which hearts are transformed, and it was only through this heart transformation that this liberty would be secure.

Perhaps it is time for America to revisit the historic roots which transformed this country into the greatest nation on earth. For until we deal with the condition of our hearts, we will not solve the heart of our problems.

See ya Sunday!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Be the light...

Several years ago a religious research group conducted a survey asking baby-boomers what they expected to find in a church. The top answers were high quality preaching, good music, social groups, adequate space, parking and clean restrooms.

While all the things listed are important, they are not paramount for the health of a church. The health of a church is measured of course, by good biblical preaching, spirit-filled singing and the wonderful fellowship of believers.

However, one eternal truth was left off the list. An endeavor to reach the community around the church is one of the most important qualities of a church.
It is so easy to think of "us four and no more". The "Great Commission" in many churches has become the "great omission".

Let's remember that God has not called us to sit on the promises while we sing "Standing on the Promises". He has not called us to sit, soak and sour. He has called us to carry the light to our friends, relatives associates and our neighbors.

When was the last time you gave a witness for our Lord? When was the last time you brought someone to church? Let's all enjoy what we have here at C.B.C. But let's remember there are others who need what we have.

I sure do love and appreciate each one of you. Great days lie ahead! Stay faithful!

See ya Sunday!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Christ the solid Rock I stand....

No one and I do mean no one, sojourns through this life without encountering some difficulties. Some may experience issues with their health, even when young. Some, even the wealthiest among us, may suddenly find themselves financially ruined. Some who simply seek to love and be loved are confronted with rejection again and again.

Recently the world witnessed a 9.0 earthquake, and the ensuing massive tsunami which battered the island nation of Japan. It caused thousands of deaths and inflicted massive damage. It was a catastrophic event of such enormous scale that it even induced a slight shifting of the earth’s axis. I thought of all those many precious people who suffered the dramatic effects of this disaster, some who lost everything they possessed in a relatively short period of time.

These illustrations remind us of the frailty of this life, and the tempestuous nature of this earthly realm is a constant reminder we can face hardship at any moment. Tragically, many never stop and truly examine the type of foundation upon which they are building to withstand these storms of life. As Christians, we should be encouraged that God has a purpose for us, and he has provided the foundation which will support us in the time of trouble. Jesus Himself reveals this truth in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 6:48 -49:

He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Difficulty will come; however, if we have prepared by building on a solid foundation, we will see a way through. That foundation is none other than Jesus Christ. The famous evangelist D.L. Moody aptly said, “Give your life to Christ; he can do more with it than you can.” Or, as the refrain of one of the most beloved hymns so succinctly puts it:

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Coronation Day

In Second Timothy chapter four, the Apostle Paul is preparing for his trip to heaven. He states, “I am ready to be offered. I have fought a good fight, kept the faith and finished my course.” What a life he had led. It is said that the test of religion is not whether you can live by it, but can you die by it. The old hymn, “Old Time Religion” says, “It will do when I am dying.” The great Methodist preacher said of the Methodist people “Our people die well”. D.L. Moody said, “One day you will read that I am dead. Don’t believe it. I will be more alive than ever before.” When he came to the end of his earthly life he said, “Earth is receding, God is calling, I am going. Is this death? Why, this is not bad. This is glorious, this is my Coronation Day.”

Yesterday our family placed in the ground the earthly body of our saintly father and husband. He was one of the Godliest men I have ever met. Married for over 60 years with five children who love and serve the Lord! For over 40 years he was the Pastor of Bible Baptist Church in New Jersey. He will be missed sorely. The scores of people that showed up yesterday are a testimony to the influence of his life.

He was prepared to go! As it says in the book of Hebrews, “He being dead yet speaketh”. The influence of his words and his wonderful example will live on in our lives. I love you Dad and look forward to seeing you in the morning.

See ya Sunday!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I recently went to Six Flags with my speech class. We had a good time. What a great bunch of young people. Against my better judgment, I even rode many of the rollercoasters.

However, that did not prepare me for the rollercoaster of emotions I went through last week. My precious father took sick. He injured his spine a week ago. Within 2 days he became disoriented and began a rapid decline. At present he is unconscious and on a ventilator. The kidney doctor told us he contracted an infection and this is the reason for the decline. So far there is no change, although the doctor said he has seen people in a worse state come out of it.

My Dad is a good man. He loves the Lord and his family. He pastored for most of his life. He has been married to the same woman over 60 years and raised five Christian children.

We all know God is able and we are praying for his recovery. Please pray with me in this regard.

Thank you for your patience. I have had to be there for my Mom and family. It is one of those events you are never prepared for. I will be back in the pulpit on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning.

Please know that I love and appreciate each one of you. May God strengthen each of us for His work! God bless you abundantly is my prayer.

See you Sunday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When life gives you lemons...

Many years ago a preacher went to the World’s Fair. From a distance he saw a man pumping water with one of those old hand pumps. The water was pouring out and he said as he looked, “That man is really pumping water.” However, when he got closer, he discovered that it was a wooden man connected to a pump powered by electricity. The man was not pumping the water, the water was pumping him.

I’m sure all of us have felt the same way. We find ourselves controlled by problems, pressures and the perplexities of life.

I read of a counseling center’s hotline voicemail message that correctly sums up how we often feel. “Thank you for calling. If you are obsessive-compulsive press one repeatedly. If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press two for you. If you have multiple personalities please press 4, 5 and 6. If you are paranoid or delusional, remember, we know who you are, even while you’re on hold; we have been tracing this call. If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully to the little voice and it will tell you what number to push. If you are manic-depressive it doesn’t matter what number you press, no one is going to answer. Have a good day!"

The Bible is full of people who persevered through adversity. Job said it best when he said, “Man born of woman is few of days and full of trouble.”

I’m sure many reading this today are in the midst of some adversity. It is a fact of life. My Mama used to say “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Hang tough and persevere. You can’t stop a man that won’t quit!

Our fathers were such a people. May we follow their example.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Do you have a right spirit?

The person who desires to live an unshakable, spirit filled life, one that is resilient against the tumultuous nature of the times which exist in today’s world, must build his life upon a firm foundation. As Christians, we should inherently recognize in order to be successful in this endeavor, our lives need to be built up and anchored in God’s word. When we study the Bible and actively seek to apply its precepts and principles to life, we will develop the proper spirit necessary to achieve this goal. As the wise man Solomon said, “The spirit of a man shall sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who shall bear.” In other words, when your spirit is right, you will be able to handle the difficulties and adversity that life may hurl at you. Of course the antithesis to this is, when you do not have a proper spirit, you will fall apart in the time of trouble.

There are many voices in the public square advocating a multitude of philosophies, all of them competing to get our attention and seeking to shape our lives and how we perceive the world around us. However, as the adopted sons and daughters of the living God, it is His voice speaking to our hearts that is most important. And God’s voice will only be properly heard when our spirit is right within us. The peculiar thing here is, we attain this right spirit by earnestly seeking God’s face. As King David beseeched the Lord in Psalms 51:”Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”.

I have been the pastor of the same church for close to 30 years, and during this time I have dealt with quite a few people. Some have had wonderful spirits, and this was always quite obvious just by the manner in which they carried themselves. It was equally evident these dear souls were attuned to hearing God’s voice. Unfortunately, I have also dealt with some whose actions and countenance betrayed a wrong spirit, and they themselves and those around them suffered because of it. I am sad to say, I would question upon what foundation they were building, and how well their spirit would sustain them in difficult times.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Why not stop today, bow your head and ask God to give you a proper spirit so that you would more clearly hear His voice.

See ya Sunday!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Be An Encourager!

The ability to encourage others is a rare gift. Those of us who grew up in a home with a positive parent or who have met someone who encouraged us need to thank the Lord. Henry Ford said, “The ability to encourage others is one of life’s greatest assets.” Fortunately, Ford knew firsthand the power of encouragement. Ford had drawn a picture of his newly built engine for Thomas Edison. Henry Ford endured much criticism and ridicule in regard to his gas generated motor car. Most engineers believed that electrical cars would be the mode of transportation. One night at a dinner Ford was explaining his invention to Edison. After explaining it Edison slammed his fist on the table and said, “That’s the thing young man”. In later years Henry Ford said, “The thump of that fist on the table was worth worlds to me.” That is the power of encouragement! To those who work for us, to our families, just a fit word can change destiny. Perhaps today you will be allowed to lift up, encourage, and help someone through the power of an encouraging word. Don’t pass up the opportunity. Where would we be if Edison hadn’t put his fist on that table! See ya Sunday! Pastor

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

He is Risen!

The name and escapades of Harry Houdini are familiar to most of us. He was a magician whose claim to fame was especially associated with spectacular escapes from what would seem to be impossible situations. It is said that he laughed at locks and sneered at fetters, and that he had the flexibility of an eel and the lives of a cat.

Those who desired to challenge his capabilities manufactured all types of contraptions in an attempt to incarcerate him. He was sealed in a coffin and sewn into canvas bags; secured with iron chains and locks; they even locked him in a milk can. But every time he escaped. They sealed him in a beer barrel only to see him set himself free. They even put him in a maximum security prison but somehow old Harry still managed to work his way to freedom.

Harry was so confident in his own talents that he had told his wife if there was any way to come back after death, he would find it. He actually informed her he would try to make contact with her on the anniversary of his death. Then in October of 1926 old man death laid his hands on Harry Houdini and put him in a grave. For the next ten years, his wife kept a light burning over his portrait, expecting the great master would find a way to escape the clutches of the grim reaper! But at the end of those 10 years, she despondently turned the light out. She had come to realize Death had Houdini, and this time he wasn’t going to escape.

Death also laid its hands on Jesus. Death put Him in a rock hewn tomb, which was then further affirmed by the seal of the Roman government. But, despite these “official” pronouncements, on the 3rd day Jesus stirred Himself, and He arose, victorious over Death! He left behind the grave clothes that were wrapped around His lifeless body, and He arose! The stone in front of the tomb had been rolled away, but not so much as to let Jesus out; no, it was moved to show the disciples He was no longer swallowed up by Death, but that He had triumphed over Death!

Easter is the greatest time for believers. As the Apostle Paul clearly emphasizes in 1 Corinthians 15, it is the salient point upon which Christianity is established, and provided the early Christians the impetus to “turn the world upside down”, as they proclaimed “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

I trust that, as a Christian, your life was changed because of the resurrection. And I trust that the truth of the risen Christ lives all year long in your heart. Jesus did what no other could do, not even the great Houdini; He triumphed over Death. This is the foundational hope of the Christian faith, for as the scriptures say, “because He lives, we also shall live”.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

God is Love

Four times in the New Testament the expression “This is a faithful saying" is utilized as an introduction to underscore the trustworthy nature of the ensuing statement. The first time we encounter this is in regard to Christ’s singular purpose in coming to earth. Timothy 1:15 tells us: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”. (Note: Paul was identifying himself with the phrase “of whom I am chief”, but I have no doubt that any and all of us would certainly admit we also fit the bill!). This would seem to be the most important truth that has ever reached the human ear or been entrusted by the human heart of man; that Jesus Christ, son of God, became incarnate, lived a sinless life, suffered, died, was buried, but rose again, and by His grace saves mankind from their sins.

This is the great picture, the wondrous manifestation, of God’s love in composite form. In the fourth chapter of his first letter, John emphatically declares “God is love”, not just once, but twice! For centuries, theologians have wrestled with precisely how this attribute of the divine nature is revealed in our mortal realm. Unfortunately, we often develop misperceptions regarding God’s love, tending to distort it according to our human situation. We often equate our individual well-being, whether it is wealth or a good doctor’s report, as an indication of God’s love. But the true, objective demonstration of God’s love was exhibited through Jesus Christ’s willingness to descend from the throne of deity to the depths of this world’s depravity, from heavens adoration to earth’s abomination, from heavens glory to earth’s gory. God’s love was abundantly revealed not through mere words, but through deliberate and selfless action. As one songwriter put it:

What condescension, bringing us salvation
That in the dead of night
Not one faint hope in sight
God, glorious and tender, laid aside His splendor
Stooping to woe, to win, my soul.

“God is love”, three words packed with theological ramifications. But the economy of God’s love can be distilled down to this basic formula: We are all sinners. We need a savior. Jesus Christ embodied God’s love in action, and became that Savior. It’s that simple.

See ya Sunday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sacred Vocations

As Moses marveled incredulously at the burning bush in the wilderness, God spoke to him. Imagine, Moses actually heard the voice of the omnipotent, omniscient, all sovereign God Himself, and quite understandably, the prophet would never be the same. God had spoken and Moses would obey.

It is not difficult, based on this and other similar stories from the Bible of God’s direct interactions with specific individuals, to derive the notion that God is only concerned with the pursuits of those who are engaged in full-time service (i.e. preachers and missionaries), and that He doesn’t waste His time on the more mundane activities of your “average, everyday Christian”. But nothing could be further from the truth. God is interested in each and every one of us. We are, after all, made in His image, and He does intend for each of us to have a purpose in life to fulfill to His glory, whether it be as a preacher or as a farmer.

On that note, I’ve heard the story of a farmer who left it all one day to go to seminary and become a minister. Shortly after he began his studies, he realized it was going to be a real struggle. Grades down and growing discouraged, he went to see the Dean. The Dean asked him what had motivated him to decide to leave farming and become a minister. He responded “I was in the field one day and had a vision. Two clouds in the sky had formed the initials P.C. I took it as a sign that God was telling me to “preach Christ”, so off to school I went”. The Dean told him that being a farmer was just as important as being a preacher. He then said “Did you ever think that perhaps the initials in the sky meant “plow corn”?

We were designed to work (see Genesis 2:15 if you doubt this!), to take dominion over all areas of the life we have been given, and commanded to be good and faithful stewards. Directly in keeping with this mandate, what we do for a livelihood should be done in earnest. These words from the essay “Why Work?” by Dorothy Sayers seem most appropriate:

"I ask that [work] should be looked upon—not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing."

Regardless of our life’s vocation, every Christian should be of the mind that all ground is sacred ground. Whether a doctor, a lawyer, and yes, a farmer or a preacher, all these when performed with the proper motivation, are sacred to God.

See ya Sunday!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I recently read of a woman at home doing some spring cleaning when the telephone rang. In going to answer it she tripped on a scatter rug and grasping for something to hold onto seized the telephone table. It fell over with a crash, knocking the receiver off the hook. As it fell it hit the family dog, who leaped up howling and barking. The women’s three year old son, startled by the noise, broke out into loud screams. The woman mumbled some words. She finally managed to pick up the receiver and lift it to her ear just in time to hear her husband’s voice on the other end say, “Nobody said hello yet but I’m positive I have the right number.”

Spring is right around the corner. It's time to clean out the dirt, dust and debris and thank the Lord the winter is past.

Farmers will soon be planting and breaking up the fallow ground in hopes of a good harvest in the fall. Spiritually speaking, we all need to clean up different things in our lives. Over time we allow things to go unchecked. As the old time preachers would say “an unguarded heart is a double weakness.”

It could possibly be a habit that needs to be escorted out of our lives. Possibly a relationship we have allowed to go sour. A debt we need to pay to God or perhaps a rekindling of our love for God. It is time to open up the windows of our hearts and clean up what has been idle. We do not enjoy living in a dirty house. The reality TV program “Hoarders” shocks us when we see people holding onto junk that clutters and accumulates, leaving no place to live. Spiritually we have to remove that which hinders and hurts us.

The Bible says,” Little foxes spoil the vine”. Let’s remove that which hinders us and hurts us. There is nothing like the freshness of spring!

See ya Sunday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are you facing a giant today?

Most of us remember these familiar lines from a popular children’s story:
“Fee Fi Fo Fum
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Be he alive or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

The lines actually come from an old English fairy tale “Jack and the Giant Killer”. The story begins with the words, “When King Arthur reigned, there lived near lands’ end of England, in the country of Cornwall, a farmer who had an only son called Jack.” Shortly thereafter follows a rather comprehensive description of a huge giant named Comoran, which includes the detailed measurements of his massive frame: Eighteen feet tall and 3 yards about the waist! He was notorious for terrorizing the people of Cornwall, and had done so for a long time. With no end in sight to his rampaging deeds, the locals were in complete despair. Enter Jack, who comes to the rescue, and through a combination of courage and cunning, kills the giant Comoran, and seizes his treasure, thus earning himself the nickname “Jack the Giant killer”.

The Bible relates a very similar encounter from centuries ago about a young boy named David who valiantly stood against a menacing giant named Goliath. But point in fact is, this is a true story, an actual historic event, not a fairy tale. In an old edition of the monthly periodical “The Prairie Overcomer” an article appeared which contained within it a thesis stating the reason for David’s victory: that Goliath suffered from “tunnel vision”, and David won the battle that day as Jack the Giant Killer had done in the fairy tale, through superior knowledge, skill and agility. I would have to respectfully, but totally disagree. The Bible clearly states, and I am certain David himself would concur, that he was victorious because the Lord was with him.

In each of our lives there are times when “giants” may appear. Most often these are not necessarily physical in nature, but relational, emotional and spiritual. But they are no less imposing, no less foreboding, and they are just as threatening to our well being. But unlike fairy tales, the secret to confronting and defeating the seemingly unconquerable giants in life is the Lord. Victory is not in us, but in Him, as David would surely attest.

What giant do you face today? All things are possible to him that believeth. Put your faith, not in yourself, but in God and you will become a giant killer. You may not secure an earthly treasure like Jack, but you will have joy unspeakable, and peace that passes understanding.

See ya Sunday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stay fit - Spiritually!

It is incumbent upon all of us, as Christians, to cultivate our spiritual life. In his second epistle the Apostle Peter writes, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith”, and then a bit further on in the passage he continues, “If these things be in you and abound then you will not be barren, nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus”. Peter is exhorting us to “exercise” the spiritual area of our lives, for it is through these disciplines, such as prayer and Bible study, by which we add to our faith and knowledge of our Lord, which in return will provide us the basic tools to be effective in living our daily Christian walk. It is a task which requires dedication, similar to the principle often found stated by exercise gurus and in fitness rooms: “No pain, no gain”.

To emphasize further the importance of this practice, Peter adds, “He that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” We need to develop a certain mentality concerning spiritual things, and it must be an “I need this!” mentality. Physical science has demonstrated that nature abhors a vacuum; what this essentially means is an empty space will not remain empty long; eventually it will be filled by something. The spiritual corollary I am attempting to draw here is simply this; if we don’t take the time to exercise the spiritual area of our minds, the time will be filled by something else, and not always for the better.

In the pamphlet “Our Daily Bread”, there was a daily devotional which quoted a study from Karen Bolla, a Johns Hopkins researcher. She was performing an investigation on human memory. She came up with these statistics regarding “Things people forget most”: names, 83%, where something is, 60%, telephone numbers 57%, words, 53%, faces, 42%. Also this little gem (one I hate to admit I seem to be more familiar with as I get older): if you can’t remember whether you have just done something, you join company with 38% of the population.

Followers of Jesus also have a problem with forgetfulness. We often forget the great importance of tending to our spiritual life. David said, “Some trust in Chariots, some in horses. We will remember the name of the Lord.” In other words, some place their trust in man made things; we as Christians trust in the Lord. But the only way to sustain this trust is to strengthen our spiritual muscle, and this requires spiritual exercise.

This year let’s heed the Apostle Peter’s admonition. Add to your faith. Through daily “spiritual exercise” you can “grow” in the fruit of the spirit: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness and brotherly kindness. It’s up to us to develop a mindset of adding these to our Christian walk.

God bless you as you do. I love and appreciate you.
See ya Sunday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Faith, not fear!

Two words that are jam packed with significance for Christians, and often are juxtaposed against each other, are faith and fear. We know as Christians we are to possess an unshakable faith; a faith that will bolster us through the storms of life, a faith which lights the way when darkness shrouds our path. So important is faith to the victorious Christian life that Jesus emphasized the point when healing the blind men in Matthew 9:29, saying “According to your faith be it unto you.” Obviously derived from this passage is the fact that success in the Christian life is not measured according to fame or fortune, but by faith.

The enemy of faith is fear. As we look around us, there are many reasons which may cause us to become fearful. We may encounter obstacles which will make the road ahead difficult to traverse. We may hear the thunder and see the lightening of impending storms approaching on the horizon. At these times our faith may be shaken. Why? Because of fear. However, many of these things we can do little or nothing about. And in our daily walk we are not to fear, but rather we are to trust God. And we are assured in 2nd Tim 1:7 that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”.

The Bible also informs us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Faith therefore should be visibly evident in our lives, and clearly demonstrated through every area of life. Marriage, raising children, business ventures, relationships with family and friends. We need a strong, robust faith to navigate through all these successfully, the type of faith which will cast out all fear!

Let’s endeavor this year to feed our faith and starve our fears. A sure fire way to strengthen your faith is to have a quiet time with the Lord every day. Here is another idea – let’s be faithful to all of the services at church. Yes! Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night; being present whenever the doors are open and God’s word preached will feed your faith, as Rom 10:17 states: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God! And it wouldn’t hurt if you even threw in Sunday school once in awhile! ;)

Let’s make this year a life-changer – Faith, not fear!
See you Sunday!