Saturday, August 19, 2017

What Does This Eclipse Mean?

With all the speculation, analysis, and interest in Monday’s coming Eclipse; how are you and I to view this?  Is this a fulfillment of prophecy, after all Jesus did say in Luke 21:25-28  "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26  men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. 27  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.". 

With all the speculation, analysis, and interest in Monday’s coming Eclipse; how are you and I to view this?  Is this a fulfillment of prophecy, after all Jesus did say in Luke 21:25-28  "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26  men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. 27  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.". 

Is it a ‘get ready’ for the rapture of the church is nigh and then the great tribulation will begin?  Is it a ‘labor pain’ that foretells what the world is going to feel with the coming judgment of this planet and its inhabitants?

I’ve read several articles, and most very good ones, speculating that this could be a warning to America to repent and turn back to God or feel the wrath of His judgment. I’ve also read a few that wonder if this could be one of the ‘signs’ that Jesus spoke about. I’ll be honest, I don’t know and neither do you.  But how should we react to all of this? Should we blow it off as just another natural phenomena and ignore it? Should we marvel and put on our special glasses and say ‘wow, that was amazing’ and then go about our normal ways?

Let me share my heart on how I think God wants us to react. Why don’t we ask ourselves the question, “If this is warning of the coming judgment on our nation and or of this world, how should I live today, tomorrow, and Monday”? If this is a sign that Jesus is giving us that His calling out of His church is about to occur, would I change anything in my life, will I change anything?  Would I make sure I told my friends and family that Jesus could and would save them? If God’s calendar says this is the beginning of the great tribulation do I know Jesus as my Savior or will I be ‘left behind’ to face a horrible judgment on this planet?

We’re going to experience something Monday that probably most of us have never seen and will most likely never have an opportunity to see again.  I don’t know if it will change our world Monday or not, but are you ready if it does?  The clock is definitely ticking.  Let’s be ready for Jesus’ return.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Our Money Fails!

I have made a habit of reading a Proverb each day corresponding with the day of the month for several years. I rotate between five Psalms a day one month and then one Proverb a day the next month.  Then I start again. It seems I learn something new, or am reminded of a truth, or principle that I had put on the shelf in my mind and forgotten.

This morning I read this - Proverbs 27:23-27 (NKJV)  Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds; 24  For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. 25  When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, 26  The lambs will provide your clothing, And the goats the price of a field; 27  You shall have enough goats' milk for your food, For the food of your household, And the nourishment of your maidservants.

The application of these verses as it relates to our money and livelihood caught my attention again. Here was some Godly wisdom, from probably Solomon, on the foundation of living in his world, and it also applies to ours today. Three principles stood out to me and I pray will encourage you today as we realize that the value of our dollars and our assets can change very quickly. Here is what God revealed to me:

1.  We need to develop a dedication to our vocations.
Solomon advises us to be diligent and watchful in our work. A good work ethic and commitment is of great value as it will pay dividends down the road. A person who is talented, but not dependable, will always take a back seat to someone who will be there when you need them.

2.  We should realize our money may not always be there.
We are all aware of how our economy can go from robust to recession in just a few short weeks. Inflation can take its toll on our purchasing ability and cash flow. With everything that is going on in our nation and world we know we cannot depend too much on the value of our dollars.

3.  We can trust that our effort and commitment will be worth it.
Solomon tells us that this man’s flocks (his work) will sustain him in the tough times. His flock will provide clothing, money for the purchase of a field, milk for their food, and nourishment for his servants. Our money could be worth nothing one day, but someone who has shown an ability and desire to work for his/her living will find opportunities to meet their needs.

Our world constantly speaks of investing in things, but maybe God is saying it is of far greater value to invest in our commitment to what He has given us. Always remember that He is in control.  Trust in Him most of all. Just saying…

Monday, February 9, 2015

Let’s Go Fishing!

I love to fish!  My mind is full of memories of fishing when I was child with my Dad, then as a teenager going and checking out all the local farm ponds in East Knox County.  Later as an adult taking one of my children or grandchildren fishing and watching them catch their first fish.  But do you and I remember that Jesus told us to be ‘fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19)? 
There are a lot of similarities to fishing for fish and fishing for men.  The principles that make someone a good fisherman and a great soulwinner are the same.  Let me recount four things I have learned in fishing that are true to fishing for men.

1.      To catch fish you have to go fishing.
It’s simple, but you’re not going to catch a mess of fish sitting in your living room discussing the joy of catching fish.  You can talk about it all you want, but you will not catch fish just talking about them.  We can dream about going and catching the biggest bass in the county, but he’s not going to come to your house.  Let’s face it, we are not going to catch fish staying in our homes or churches and hanging an ‘Everyone Welcome’ sign over the door.  We have to go fishing to catch fish.

2.      We need to go where the fish are.
Last time I checked fish live in lakes and streams.  You have to go there to catch them.  Putting it in modern day terms we have to go fishing at work, at school, at Walmart, in our neighborhoods, and as the great commission alludes to ‘as you go’.  That is wherever we go we are to fish for men.  As a pastor said in a sermon I heard, “they’re everywhere, go catch you some”!

3.      We need to use the right bait if you want to catch fish.
Fish don’t bite what they’re not hungry for.  You’ve got to find what they are looking for and put that bait in front of them.  Mankind is looking for hope, peace, purpose, and joy.  Those things are only found in Christ.  The world may not realize it, but they are looking and hungry for Jesus!  Sadly we tend to try to use the world’s marketing schemes to catch men.  We want to talk with them about our programs, music, worship, and what great fellowships we have.  Those things are well and good, but only the gospel is what catches men.  You may draw a crowd with those things, but only Jesus will change their lives.

4.      We will need persistence to catch fish.

I’ve fished many a day and caught very few, if any fish.  Sadly, many people give up after the first trip and never fish again because they didn’t catch anything.  I know if I keep going I will catch some fish and what a joy it is to catch some really good ones!  But you know, that’s not really my main motivation to catch fish for Jesus.  My main reason is that He told me to go fishing for Him!  And if I do, I know I will catch some.  And they’re not going to be just some fish, they are going to be men, women, and children who will get to spend eternity with Him and us.  You see, when you catch a fish for Jesus you have made a friend for eternity!  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Things I’ve learned in the Past Six Months

As many of you are well aware of in October of 2011 I accepted the pastorate of Second Baptist Church in Russellville, Kentucky.  In August of 2014 I resigned that position and moved back to Morristown, Tennessee.  The last six months have been a whirlwind and in retrospect I have tried to analyze each step of the journey.  One of the main questions that I have continued to ask myself was this, “God, what was the lesson or lessons that I need or needed to learn”?

I have not and do not question the conviction that God called me to Kentucky.  I do not doubt that He also called me to leave when I did.  So, I ask myself, what was the purpose of my spending three years in Russellville, Kentucky?  I’m not sure I can fully answer that question as I am very well aware of the fact that I am not God and much of His will may not be revealed until we reach Heaven.  But there are some things that have become clear to me in these last few months.  Let me share them with you and I pray that they will also encourage you in your walk with our Lord.

1.     People are people.
I would be the first to tell you that Kentuckians and Tennesseans are vastly different birds.  There is no debating that, but for all their unique characteristics they are still people.  Their preferences change in everything from who their favorite sports team is to what music they like.  From styles of worship to the way a funeral service is to be conducted, but in all of that they have more in common than they do differences.
I have learned that wherever you go people still want to be loved, respected, encouraged, and appreciated.  Friends are friends wherever you go.  I have many friends in Kentucky and I came back to many friends in East Tennessee.  I have made an assortment of new friends at my new church and gotten to know better others here that I only knew from a distance.
I’m glad people are still people.  Friends are worth more than their weight in gold when your life is in transition.  I thank God for each one of you!

2.     God is still God.
Wherever you and I go Jesus is still the same and I am forever grateful for that.  He still loves people.  Don’t ever forget that.  None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t stop Him from loving us and it didn’t stop Him in spite of our faults from going to the Cross for us.  His desire to save people doesn’t change when you cross a state line or go to another country.  As the children’s song says, ‘Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight’.
I remind myself daily that God still has the final say in the affairs of men.  Some folks have great intentions and will do anything they can to help you while others, well, let’s just say run on a different track, but God is still in charge.  I’m just thankful that He didn’t put me in control.  What a mess that would be!

3.     I can still trust Him.
Being called to Kentucky, being called back to Tennessee, not knowing your future can leave you with a sense of isolation and loneliness.  Through it all though, He quietly continued to speak to my heart, “trust me”.  When you don’t have a job or a church, when you don’t know how long your money will last, when you are not sure where you’re supposed to live, His word was “trust me”. 
My dear friend Dean Haun has told me that his life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.   
I may not have thought of it as this verse states it, but it was in a nutshell what my Lord kept reminding me.   Trust me, I got this.

You may be going through something that may seem like a dark tunnel, but let me reassure you.  He’s still in charge.  Trust Him.  Do I have it all together?  Of course not, but that’s the essence of the Christian life.  Trust Him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do We Learn from our Mistakes?

When I was a young man working as a Material Manager/Purchasing Agent for a Furniture manufacturer I made a horrible blunder by forgetting to order some material for a job we were to run.  I just totally overlooked the job.  Hence I didn’t order any of the plywood for an order of 1,000 bunk beds that we were to produce.  I also was in charge of scheduling the plant and while updating the schedule I discovered my error.  Immediately I called the Vice-President of Manufacturing and told him that I had blown it.  He gave me instructions on reworking the schedule while he called the Plant Managers to inform them of our change in plans.
Later that day when he was at the plant were I was headquartered I again apologized for my mistake.  He looked me straight in the eye and said this (which I have never forgotten though that was approximately thirty eight years ago), “everyone makes mistakes, but it would be to your advantage not to make the same mistake twice”.
I’ve been reading through Kings and Chronicles that last few weeks and continue to see a recurring theme.  The children of Israel would be living in faithfulness to God and then slowly begin to drift into idolatry and all sorts of sinfulness.  God would give them the space to repent, but when they would not He would bring judgment upon them. 
Sometimes it would be through a famine (drought), a pestilence (disease), or maybe by the sword (an invading army).  God would bring them to their knees, they would repent, and God would deliver them.  His blessings would flow and everyone would be at peace for a time and then the cycle would start to repeat itself.  The Book of Judges is a continual saga of the same issue.
One thing I have tried to remember from the admonishment of our Vice-President that day is that if I had been a little more diligent to review my work I could have avoided the mistake that so embarrassed me, and cost my company a great deal of money.  From that point on I made very sure that I didn’t repeat that blunder.  Because of that I never had to face the result of making that mistake again and seeing how my boss would deal with me. 
I’ll never know how he would have handled that, but I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father forgives my sin the first, and second, and third, and fourth, and you get the picture, every time I cry out to Him for His forgiveness.  You see, the penalty was paid for my errors in life when God sent His Son to pay the price for my past sin.  And not only for my past sin, but every mistake I have made, and ever will make.  Not because of anything I have done, can do, or will do, but because of the Cross my sin is already paid for!  There are already covered by the blood of His Son.  Makes me mighty grateful, aren’t you thankful too?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What does Living a Revived Life Look Like?

We have just finished a series of Revival Meetings in our church.  As I write this I do not know how our Revival concluded or all that God did in our hearts, but I do know what Revival should look like.  If you follow the birth of the church in the Book of Acts, and other instances of God reviving and refreshing His people you will see several common denominators.  One, revival always begins with God’s people being broken over their sin.  Then there is abundant joy is His people when they realize and understand that God can and will forgive their sin.  The third thing they experience is a oneness with each other.  They are in one accord as a family of believers.  The last thing that marks true, heartfelt revival is a boldness to go and declare His salvation to all those around them.  The end result of all this is that Jesus is honored and others come to know His grace and love.
Have we experienced true revival?  I hope so, I pray so.  Life is too short to waste on frivolous things.  There are too many lives being spent on things that have no eternal significance.  I want to share a true story I read a few years ago from the book ‘Crazy Love’ by Francis Chan.  Francis is the narrator of the story.  Read his words and let them sink in.
Brooke Bronkowski was a beautiful fourteen-year old girl who was in love with Jesus.  When she was in junior high, she started a Bible study on her campus.  She spent her babysitting money on Bibles so she could give them out to her unsaved friends.  Youth pastors who heard about this brought her boxes of Bibles to give away.
Brooke wrote the following essay when she was about twelve; it will give you an idea of the kind of girl she was.

I'll live my lift to the fullest. I'll be happy. I'll brighten up. 1 will be more joyful than 1 have ever been. 1 will be kind to oth­ers. 1 will loosen up. 1 will tell others about Christ. 1 will go on adventures and change the world. 1 will be bold and not change who 1 really am. 1 will have no troubles but instead help others with their troubles.
You see, I'll be one of those people who live to be history makers at a young age. Oh, I'll have moments, good and bad, but 1 will wipe away the bad and only remember the good. In fact that's all 1 will remember, just good moments, nothing in between, just living my life to the fullest. I'll be one of those people who go somewhere with a mission, an awesome plan, a world-changing plan, and nothing will hold me back. I'll set an example for others, 1 will pray for direction.
1 have my life before me. 1 will give others the joy 1 have and God will give me more joy. 1 will do everything God tells me to do. 1 will follow the footsteps of God. 1 will do my best!!!

During her freshman year in high school, Brooke was in a car acci­dent while driving to the movies. Her life on earth ended when she was just fourteen, but her impact didn't. Nearly fifteen hundred people attended Brooke's memorial service. People from her public high school read poems she had written about her love for God. Everyone spoke of her example and her joy.
I shared the gospel and invited those who wanted to know Jesus to come up and give their lives to Him. There must have been at least two hundred students on their knees at the front of the church praying for salvation. Ushers gave a Bible to each of them. They were Bibles that Brooke had kept in her garage, hoping to give out to all of her unsaved friends. In one day, Brooke led more people to the Lord than most ever will.
In her brief fourteen years on earth, Brooke was faithful to Christ.  Her short life was not wasted. The words from her essay seem prophetic: “You see, I'll be one of those people who live to be history makers at a young age.”

That’s what a revived life looks like.  I pray we all have one.

Do We Have a Heart to Pray?

In the book of Matthew (Matthew 21:13) Jesus says that it is written that His house shall be called a House of Prayer referring to Isaiah 56:7.  Prayer and praying is referenced seventy-one times in the Gospels and most of those instances are referring to Jesus and His ministry.  It is very evident that prayer was very dear to the heart of the Son of God.  He prayed as He began His day, He prayed at the end of the day, He prayed all during the day to know the Father’s will, to give Him thanks, and to give Him the glory for what He (Jesus) was about to do (John 11:40-42). 
He taught His Disciples to pray, He told them to pray before beginning their ministry of sharing the Gospel with the world.  In the sermon on the Mount He said, “when you pray”.  It was not a suggestion, or a recommendation, but a statement alluding not only to the Jews practice of daily prayer, but to His instruction to make prayer a priority.  In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he tells them to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 
His prayer was always directed to the Father and He instructed us to pray likewise (Matthew 6:9).  He prayed to always be found in the Father’s will (not my will, but yours be done – Luke 22:42).  He prayed that He would glorify the Father in all that He did (see John 17).
He told us to pray with confidence (John 14:13-14) and the Apostle John wrote to us to pray with assurance (1 John 5:14).  I could go on and on, but the point I think is clear, Jesus wants us to pray and when we do He will do great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3). 
Do you have a heart to pray?  We are going to begin a Prayer Ministry on Sunday mornings from 11:00 am until 12 noon.  We need a Prayer Coordinator to schedule teams of three people each week to pray for our worship services as they are being held.  We need at least four teams that will commit to pray one morning a month during our services for God to speak to our hearts.  That He would anoint the singing and the preaching of His word that Jesus might be glorified in our services.  He told us to ‘watch and pray’.  Can you do that?  Can we do that?
There will be a sign up sheet on the bulletin board in the hallway or you can call the church office to volunteer to be on a team.  God needs a couple of His children to step up and step out for Him to be Coordinators of this Ministry.  Has He given you a heart to pray? 

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.  The ball is in our court, will we pray?  I’m already looking forward to what He will accomplish as we pray.