Value from a brief vacation


Our vacation was brief this year. The prices for gas and lodging were not conducive for long stays. Although our vacation was short, the time off was a great benefit for two reasons.

First, I enjoyed the sermons I heard during our vacation. It is good for preachers to sit and listen to faithful gospel preaching at every possible opportunity. Preachers need to be taught just as much as anyone else. There is a certain danger in a gospel preacher always talking and never listening to anyone else.

Second, I benefited from being from my great wife, Judy. I enjoyed eating three-meals-a-day with her again. Vacation gave us a chance to do what she wanted to do and I found myself happy to go along. We chatted through meals, we talked in the car, and we sat by the pool and talked. I think we reconnected in a very positive way.

Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather, try to become a man of value.” I think this vacation helped me to become a man of value to the church and to my wife. For that, I am thankful to a kind and loving God.

Just a Mistake


This week, the National Football League decided to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice two games for punching his fiancé and knocking her unconscious.

While Rice’s action was illegal and terrible, the reaction of his coach, John Harbaugh, is worthy of our notice. Thursday, Harbaugh told reporters Rice was a “nice guy” who has done everything right since the event. “He makes a mistake, alright?” the coach said.

The coach views assault not as a violation of the law and a moral wrong. He sees it as a mistake, like 3+3=7 is a mistake. Oops. He knocked out his fiancé and dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator. According to Harbaugh, that’s a mistake. It’s not a moral wrong. Not a question of bad morals or of inappropriate behavior by Rice at all. It’s just a mistake.

According to the coach, finding Rice responsible for wrong doing is, as he put it, “There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray.” Evidently, for Rice the consequences for something that would have landed you and me in jail with a trip before a judge is just a “mistake,” and the consequences are just a “process.”

All of this proves how much the world wants to minimize sin and its true consequences. What happens when sin is minimized and dismissed?

More sin is committed. When people dismiss the serious nature of sin, any sin, then more sin is committed. The Jews during the divided kingdom hid behind what they thought was the protection of Egypt so they could continue to sin (Isaiah 30:1-2). They had long ago taught themselves to minimize their sins so they could continue. The same thing is happening in this country now that people are learning that minimizing sin makes it easy to live in it.

The truth is obfuscated. When sin is minimized and dismissed, the laws of the Bible regarding transgression is obscured and muddled. All Coach Harbaugh had done was repeat humanistic doctrine. What Rice had done was not sin; it was a mistake. God does not minimize sin. “Though your sins be as scarlet,” the prophet wrote, (Isaiah 1:18). There is no mistaking the color red. Sins can’t be diminished. The truth cannot be obfuscated. The apostle Paul wrote, “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile,” (Romans 2:8-9).

Men learn to call evil good. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 KJV). What Rice did was simply a mistake. Someone wrote a comment on the news story on NBC.com that said, “Come on, people. Rice’s fiancé has already apologized for letting her face get in the way of Rice’s fist.” That absurdity is, oddly enough, a good explanation for the way people often learn to call evil good.

There is only one solution for the humanistic, simplistic, and senseless way people view sin. Repent of it. Get rid of it. Let the word of God fill your heart and mind and see the truth as it really is: it is the word of God!

What to Do


I don’t know about you, but is it becoming more common to find people who are more than willing to determine how people are going to think, which political decisions to make, what opinions to have, etc.?

Almost every day, somebody wants to tell me what to do. There is someone who tells me that I need to think more conservatively, or more liberally. There is someone who tells me what I should read, view on television. They are willing to shove their nose in my business and demand to know for whom I voted.

Just the other day, there was this one guy who said I couldn’t teach what Jesus said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

So, here’s what I intend to do with some of these people: I’m going to ignore them. I’m going to do what Jesus said, live the way he said, and remain faithful as he said my whole life. As for these other people who are so intently interested in making me think their way: forget it!

 

Great Day


Today has been so rewarding. But, of course, every Sunday… every opportunity I’ve had to preach or teach the gospel since 1988 has been rewarding. It’s just today, well, today we had three responses in two services.

It’s really interesting because even though it’s been a very humbling day: the power of God’s word is responsible for every response visible or invisible. But what happened was so attributed to the word, and not anything I did. In fact, my preaching was probably some of the most subdued I’ve ever done.

The young man who came for baptism this morning I had never met, but several people in the church had known him, prayed for him and were so happy when they saw him step out into the aisle. Evidently, some of our folks had known his need to obey the gospel and were rejoicing that he came.

The other young man who was baptized tonight walked up to one of our members last week and talked with him for some time. I had never met him, either. The Christian man who talked to him had several things in common with the young man and asked him to come to services. His choice to obey the gospel was unexpected from our vantage, but he knew it was time to surrender his life to God.

It’s humbling to see the providence of God working in humans. Sure, I’d like to take credit for what happened, but I can’t. The Lord God has been working providentially in the hearts of honest men. They chose to obey God. That was it.

I’m just thankful I was an instrument used to help these two complete their obedience. May God give me time and life so I can help them become his sons with powerful faith in their hearts.

We Submit!


Some people pride themselves on being speed readers. They are able to comb through documents at break-neck speed. It is indeed a truly talented person who can read dozens of words a minute and comprehend everything completely.

Sometimes, though, in the haste of scanning a document some valuable details may be lost. Small words may be overlooked that have important meaning.

In the second chapter of First Peter, there are a number of very small words that some may push out of the way that are important. The small contrasting conjunction, “but,” occurs nine times in the second chapter of that book. Contrast is important because we learn so much from it. Read the passage and then we’ll look into the importance of the little term the apostle used nine times.

Jesus was the living stone disallowed by men and crucified. Yet, he is the one who, as the cornerstone of God’s house, gives life to all who obey him. He was set aside by men, but chosen by God and precious.

Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 in 2 Peter 2:6 to show some eternal truths. Christ submitted himself to the men who killed him in order to save us all. Humans believe when a person is punished it is because of guilt. But, Jesus was innocent. We, like Christ, if we have obeyed him and live as God’s children, will find ourselves set aside as he was. Notice how the apostle used the contrasting conjunctions in verses seven through ten to delineate the difference between the disobedient and the obedient.

Verse 13 is the heart. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance for the Lord’s sake,” the apostle wrote. The sum of the passage is simple: Christ submitted, and so we must submit. This is what Christians do, friends. We submit.

There are some who would like to fight every law, or grumble at every supervisor they have because they disagree. Christians can disagree, but we submit. We submit to the head of the government (1 Peter 2:17) or each other (1 Peter 5:5).

We submit because submission teaches the lost. It teaches other people what God prizes most highly: he prizes those who will obey him simply because they love him (John 14:15).

Submission has indeed been overlooked by the world, just as the people of Jesus’ day overlooked him. Instead of realizing he was the creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16), they dismissed him as an itinerant preacher. How wrong they were!

Let us remember the hallmark of the faithful children of God, the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, is that we submit.

The Lord’s Cup


Can’t say too much about the World Cup. I’ve never been too interested in soccer. Baseball and golf are my games. Although I can’t get that excited about the World Cup, I appreciate the fanatics who do.

It’s great to have a fervor for something. What happens when the season ends? Let me suggest a fervor that never needs to be reheated.

Learn to love Jesus Christ and make him the center of your life. Focus on his teachings, his words. Develop a fervor for what he offers: eternal life. Make sure everyone else knows how much you love and want to obey him.

Obey the gospel by believing in him, repenting of your sins, confessing his name and becoming immersed into him (Galatians 3:26-27). Then wear him all your life. He’s worth your time, your work, your excitement. You’ll never “cool off.”