I Don’t Like All The Seasons.

ecclesiastes 3Ecclesiastes 3 is  a very familiar chapter in the Bible. For those of us who study the Word we understand the wisdom found in this chapter. Solomon writes a beautiful poem consisting of 14 pairs of opposites. These opposites share Solomon’s reflections on a person’s entire life. These opposite events also point out to us that God has a sovereign plan. A second reason this chapter is familiar to many is because in 1965 the Byrds released a song entitled “Turn Turn Turn” which contained much of this chapter in the lyrics.

My heart has been heavy for a couple of weeks now. Tragedy has struck my hometown, Purvis, MS, with the deaths of 4 young people. Three of these young people I have had a relationship with in the past. From a distance I have prayed for people I care for who are dealing with broken hearts and tragedy. Solomon’s words in chapter 3 begin by telling us that in a person’s life there is a season for everything. Solomon lists 28 seasons in a person’s life in these 14 pairs of opposites. For example, verse 8 says there is a time to love and a time to hate. Never doubt there are times when it is appropriate for a believer to hate. In these verses Solomon shares that in our life we will have seasons that are enjoyable and some that are difficult. In verse 11 Solomon says that He (God) has made all things beautiful in His time. I will be candid and transparent, I don’t always like some of these seasons that are difficult to experience. In time God will make all things beautiful but for a while some things are ugly. I want to discuss a couple of those difficult seasons for some people who right now are heartbroken. I trust God’s Word will help.

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I Can’t Believe That Is In The Bible!

NormanRockwell1There are many things attributed to the Bible that simply are not found in the Holy Word of God. I have heard many wonderful people offer the advice, “You know the Bible says God helps those who help themselves.” Rest assured there are many passages that teach a person is to be industrious and hard working. However, there is no passage that says God only helps those who help themselves. Those of us who are Christians know God has saved us who could do nothing to save ourselves. God often helps those who can’t help themselves.

Shakespeare, in Hamlet, provided a comment that is often attributed to Bible, “To thine own self be true.” This is really great advice but not from the Bible. Another “verse” attributed to the Bible but not in the Scripture is, “Money is the root of all evil.” I Timothy 6:10 says something close, “The love of money is the root of all kids of evil.”

I will share just one more “verse” that is not actually in the Bible. I even read this quote in a commentary recently, “God will not put more on you than you can handle.” I hear this quote at least every month. Unfortunately for those who use this quote it is not found in the Bible. I remember a man arguing me up and down one day it was in the Bible. He thought I needed to turn my ordination papers in and tear up my two degrees for saying it wasn’t. I asked him to provide for me chapter and verse. He still hasn’t shown up with the verse. I promise you God will not put more on you than He can handle. That is far more comforting.

Having looked at a few thoughts attributed to the Bible that are not actually in the Bible I now share with you one thought that is going to break your heart because it is in the Bible. Read Ecclesiastes 7:10  “Don’t say, ‘Why were the former days better than these? For it is not wise of you to ask this.'”

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We Have Been At War

honey maidHoney Maid, the graham cracker maker, has aired a commercial that should motivate Christians to understand that we have been at war, a cultural war for some time. The commercial which depicts two gay dads raising a son as being a wholesome family began running in April and most of us have missed it because of DVR’S and a general dislike for commercials. The commercial was brought to my attention by Denny Burk, a professor at Boyce College of the Southern Baptist Seminary. Dr. Burk’s article can be read here.  Take a moment to watch the video.

I have a few thoughts on where we are as believers and society in America.

1. Consider this declaration of the Lord. In John 15:18,19, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.” Jesus says the world hates His followers because we are not of this world. We are in a war with a society that hates us and what we believe in. As followers of Christ we  must fight this war with love while society fights it with hatred and bitterness. As believers we must get our head out of the sand and understand that all around us our core values and beliefs are under attack. Even graham cracker commercials are now being used by our enemy.

2. Who gets to decide what is wholesome? The minds that put this commercial together believe they get to redefine what is wholesome. “Wholesome” means what is sound or sensible. As believers in Christ we believe God gets to decide what is wholesome. He has informed us what is wholesome through His Holy Word. Ecclesiastes 12:13 records wise Solomon as saying, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” God’s ways are wholesome and man’s duty is to fear Him and keep His commandments. God defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Bible is clear on this matter and Honey Maid can air a million commercials and homosexual marriage will not be wholesome. It is not sound nor sensible. It is true Christians often fail to keep God’s standards for our lives. What is not true is that we attempt to change His standards. We struggle to bring our lives into submission to His will for our lives. Thank God for the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

3. Consider Paul’s warnings to Timothy. In I Timothy 6:3 and 4 Paul says, “If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that promotes godliness he is conceited, understanding nothing…” One must be incredibly arrogant to tell God His ideas of what is wholesome are wrong. Paul says the one who teaches contrary to the sound teaching of Jesus understands nothing. Paul goes on to warn Timothy these false teachers will promote division and quarrels. If you pay careful attention to Honey Maid’s commercial it is somewhat sinister. It celebrates the “love” of the two men as wholesome. Deny Burk says this tactic will isolate and marginalize those who oppose this gay marriage. If we oppose this picture they submit as loving wholesomeness we will be seen as hateful, intolerant and crude. As we fight this culture war rest assured believers will have to pay a price.

4. We must convince our children and grandchildren to be warriors.  I know that many will take me to task for not having evangelism of the world as my goal. Today, my heart is stirred for my sons and the other youth I pastor. They are being inundated with message after message that God’s standards are subjective. I challenge you to pray over your children and grandchildren and to share with them the truth of God’s Word regularly.

As believers we have to recognize the battle that we are in. We also must realize that ever how we stand up to those who oppose us it must be done in the love of Christ.

Spare the Rod

spankingIn this blog I discuss what the Bible says about corporal punishment and what that means to Christians in America today when public opinion and maybe soon even the law of the land will say you are an unfit parent if you spank your child.

Adrian Peterson has been indicted by a Texas grand jury on child abuse charges. He was booked and released from jail on a $15,000 bond for abusing his four-year old son. Peterson has been placed on an exempt list by the Minnesota Vikings. This means he is suspended with pay. The fact that Peterson who can bench press 345 pounds and squat 530 pounds would strike a four-year old is appalling to many. As the story broke on Peterson Americans were inundated with all kinds of opinions on corporal punishment. I have read newspaper articles on corporal punishment. I have read blogs on corporal punishment. I have listened to sports call-in shows discuss corporal punishment. I remind you something I say often, no one’s opinion really matters on a subject unless they have the same opinion as God on that subject. Here is one pastor’s take on corporal punishment.

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Here’s A Tip For You, Christian.

tipPhiladelphia Eagle running back, LaSean McCoy recently visited a burger place, PYT,  in Philadelphia to enjoy a meal with three of his buddies. Something happened in PYT that has gotten McCoy some unwanted attention. McCoy is a very wealthy man. According to NBC sports he signed a  5 year/45 million dollar contract in 2012. He has had a nice NFL career rushing for over 1,600 yards last year. This celebrity football player did not get the service he felt he should and allegedly was rude to the wait staff, even insulting them. When the check was presented for $61.56 McCoy, allegedly, gave a 20 cent tip. That comes to a robust .03% tip.

To be honest, I have no desire to debate whether McCoy was justified in leaving a 20 cent tip. I am writing to believers, to followers of Jesus Christ. I would like to remind you that we carry with us the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What we do is a reflection on Him and can hurt His cause. Some may not be aware that Christians have the reputation of being some of the worst tippers. Thomas Steagald, a pastor, tells a story of his daughter working as a server when six Christians came in and told her, “We want to tell you up front that we will not be tipping you tonight because we do not believe in people working on Sunday.” You can read his account of that event here.  I read a blog by a Christian server named Guy Malone who shared how embarrassed he was when he heard his fellow restaurant staff talking about how poor religious people tip. They did not want to work a Sunday shift or a shift that coincided with a Christian event like a concert.

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Christian Courage on Display

Below is a video of Dave Benton announcing to his audience that he has brain cancer and doctors have given him 4 to 6 months to live. Dave’s testimony is he is a born again believer. He has been an anchor at WCIA Channel 3 News in Champaign, Illinois for 9 years. Take a moment to watch this video and I will share some thoughts on Dave Benton’s example of Christian courage.

Allow me to point a few things about Dave Benton that is true for every believer who is facing the possibility of death.

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When God Closes One Door Yada Yada Yada.

Dunster_Castle_gateSometimes we feel we just have to offer advice and counsel to our friends and family members in need and hurting. We have used some sayings so much that they have lost their effectiveness. For instance, though attributed to the Bible and not actually being in the Bible, many a person has been told, “God won’t put more on you than you can handle.” There is another phrase that sometimes does not have the effect that some intend, “When God closes one door He always opens another.” Now this statement is true. The Bible offers many verses that teach God has a plan for His children. Hebrews 13:5 teaches we should be content wherever we are for Jesus has promised, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Psalm 119:133 teaches God will, “Order my steps in thy word.” We can have the utmost confidence that God has a plan for the life of His children.

This truth sometimes fails to comfort. A person whose fiancé has just called off the marriage is heartbroken and devastated. Here comes a precious saint of God saying when God closes one door He will open another. Oh well, I see I’m all better now; let’s go get something to eat. Many dear men of God have been forced out of a pastorate by power brokers. Here comes a dear saint of God saying when God closes one door He will open another. Oh, I understand, now I am ready to jump right back into service. After 25 years of pastoring I have observed a few things about doors that I would like to share.

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Who Are You Imitating?

Who Are You Imitating?

Everyone allows others to influence them to a certain degree. From my observance as you get older people have less influence on you. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. It is good that when we get older people with ungodly habits and ideas can’t influence us. It is also a bad thing that we can get so set in our ways that our Christian growth slows down or stops because others can’t influence and lead us.

cam newton

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Do You Believe That Nonsense?

elvis
I saw Elvis in a Waffle House.

Did you know that every person has a palm print on their left palm that resembles the word gullible? Now that you have looked feverishly for the word in your palm allow me to tell you in loving kindness stop being so gullible. I remember a few years ago that near the check-out counters in every supermarket were tabloid newspapers. The headlines read Martians negotiate with president. Alligator gives birth to a human baby. Every week someone saw Elvis. These were harmless papers that allowed some of us a good laugh. They gave the not so stable thoughts to think for a while.

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