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When Things Are Out of Control…

Yes, this Sunday is “Resurrection Sunday” and yes, I want to write a lengthy article elaborating on the dates, history, scriptures, events and evidence behind the resurrection; but I do not have peace about it. I feel an urgency in writing rather what I sense the Lord would have me to write – and that is: there are those reading this who, right this moment, are desperate and discouraged and in a ‘deep dark pit’. Some are even thinking of “putting an end to it all”! God would have me say to you “NO”! Wait! Things will change soon.

I want to urge you to turn in a King James Bible to Isaiah 41 verse 10 and read these words carefully “Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness”. Now just slow down and take a few moments and read that nice and slow and let it sink in. “Fear thou not….for I am with thee” Maybe you’re thinking ‘well pastor I don’t feel God’s presence in my life right now’! Friend, let’s be thankful that you can still sense when you’re not close to God nor He to you. May I suggest that even though you don’t feel the presence of your heart – it’s there! Maybe you can’t sense your soul’s presence but let me assure you, it is there!

Can I tell you something else? It is very special to God! You are very special to Him, have no doubt of it. God, who holds your life in the palm of His hand, loves you far more than you can imagine. In fact He loves you more than anyone else ever has or ever will. Maybe you’re thinking ‘no not me, I’ve done terrible things, I’ve made a mess of my life’. Well you and I have a lot in common then, because we’ve both done terrible things and made a mess. Perhaps things look completely out of control right now in your life? Perhaps things really are terrible and perhaps there is no one who can help you. Want some good news for a change? Sometimes God lets us get into a deep dark pit where no one can help…where there is no hope! Why? Because when we realize that no one can help us then we turn to God and when He helps us we know it was no one else but God that helped us. That’s when we realize that when everyone else has abandoned us, God still loves us and He’s still with us.

If you would let me I would like to meet with you and tell you many wonderful things the Great “I AM” has to say to you. You’ll find, as many millions have found, that He is full of compassion and mercy, quick to forgive and slow to wrath. I can tell you that there is room for only one on the throne in your life – God will not share the throne or the crown with you.

When Christians Talk Like Lost People…

Although I use it to some degree, I personally hate Nose-book {Facebook}. One of the reasons is that I find myself constantly being disappointed by some of the things professing Christians write and ‘share’; among them, profanity. Profanity is a very filthy and sinful thing which Christians have no business being part of or using. Psalm 59:12 says “For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak”. James 3:10 adds “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be”.

Lend me your imagination for a moment. When our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed he was taken to a mock trial at a synagogue and the disciple (which means follower) Peter, followed along and blended into the gathering crowd. However, as Jesus had prophesied earlier in the evening, Peter was confronted and denied that he was a follower of Jesus. The third person to accuse Peter of being a disciple was a young woman who had spotted him in the crowd and recognized him as a follower of Jesus. Afraid for his life, Peter denied it just as he had denied it twice earlier that night. However she persisted so Peter, desperate to save his own life, began to curse and swear [Matthew 26:74] to ‘prove’ that he wasn’t a follower of Christ. Let me stress that! In order to prove that he WAS NOT a follower of Jesus, Peter laced his denial with curse words. Why did he do that preacher? Simple, because he knew what any serious Christian knows in their heart today; that profanity, cursing or swearing is part of the fallen world…it’s the way a lost man talks. It has no place in the Christians mouth.

Nonetheless Christians saturate themselves with profanity – they watch movies and television and read books filled with profanity which then gets into their hearts and soon comes out of their mouths. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”. It is as if they think nothing of the impact it is making on themselves and on their children. It’s almost like they don’t even care. Not only their children, but it seems as if some Christians don’t care what other believers will think or how their cursing will reflect upon Christ Jesus.

As for me, I don’t want to hear it! I don’t want my ears used like trash cans. Some say well preacher people have the right to cuss if they want to. I know, but does that mean that my right to not hear it goes out the window? I read once that a psychologist had coined the phrase “profanity is what happens when a shallow mind is trying to express itself”. Should children be subjected to the cursing of adults and thereby have their own heart defiled? I am old enough to remember when teachers made children wash their mouth out with soap (which they should still do), but the sad thing is if their heart was washed the mouth wouldn’t be a problem!

The Fatted Calf Needs a Bigger Stall!

In Luke chapter fifteen we have one of the greatest known accounts of God’s love in the New Testament. The famous story that is known as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. If you don’t know the story, I urge you to read it before you go any further here.

In the story a foolish son has taken his inheritance, made a terrible decision to go far away, and it had cost him all he had. Shamed, starved, impoverished, humiliated and with a broken spirit he had finally woken up to reality and decided to go home and ask his father’s mercy. When he arrived home, instead of the harsh rebuke he deserved and expected, his father fell on him, loved him, kissed him and welcomed him back. He ordered his servants to kill and cook the “fatted calf” (a tender calf kept stalled and fattened up; readied for a celebration in case his son returned).

It is this fatted calf I want to direct your attention to this week. I wonder how long the father must’ve waited and hoped and looked longingly up the road as he dreamt of his son’s return. How long had the calf languished in the barn just getting fatter and fatter? I don’t know, but I do know that is where many prodigal sons and daughters are as you read this. Afar off in sin, humiliated and shamed and crushed under the weight of this sin-sick world. All that remains is that they should “come to themselves” as this son did. That they should finally admit their terrible decisions had been costly and moreover that they should finally set out for home and a father’s love. Many such sons and daughters have we met out in life. Ruined, shamed, defiled by either themselves or their ‘so-called friends’ and sent into life’s pig’s pen.
Many longing fathers and brokenhearted mothers have we met who watch and wait, who glance hopefully at a silent phone and listen daily for the knock at the door announcing a wayward child’s return. Are there not many such sons’ and daughters’ overdue now? Ah for some the calf has been fattened so long he needs a bigger stall! How much longer will they sit in the pig’s pen chained there by their own stubborn pride? What will it take to rouse them? Our great Father too has many such sons and daughters who have taken their inheritance of eternal life and gone on their own journey out of his will. But even sitting out there out of church and out of his will they are no less sons.
Come home I say!! If as a preacher I could take you a letter from our Father I can tell you what it would say! “COME HOME SON”! COME HOME DAUGHTER! Make our Father wait no longer. If you’re one of those prodigals who is ready to come home I invite you to come and celebrate your return at Calvary Baptist Church! We’ll celebrate your return as many of us have celebrated our own homecoming.

How Long Will It Be Until Time to Forgive?…

When Jesus was sent from God the Father into the virgin womb of Mary during her engagement to Joseph, such a thing had never happened before. Who could blame him for contemplating divorcing her secretly? What a relief must’ve been the visit and explanation by the “angel of the Lord” [Matthew 1:20] assuring him of the truth.

Fast forward 30 years to John chapter 8 where we read of a conversation between the Lord Jesus and a bunch of religious idiots. Throughout the chapter Jesus has demonstrated his great mercy and spoken repeatedly of His Father [John 8:18, 19, 28 and 38 for example]. Ultimately, He condemned these Pharisees and told them plainly [verse 38] “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen of your father”.
Offended by the truth, they resorted to a 30 year old accusation. They said [verse 41] “we be not born of fornication…” {as though to say “like you were”}. Wow, it has been 30 years and yet they still haven’t “dropped their rocks” [John 8:7] as to His mother’s (alleged) fornication {as they see it}. They’re still punishing Him for being, they think, the offspring of some cur dog Mary slept with while she was engaged to Joseph. Imagine it! Thirty years have lapsed and they still won’t forgive. I wonder how many times he’d heard that trash growing up. I wonder how many times Joseph must have heard it? How many snide comments and looks did sweet Mary endure during those 30 years? Isn’t it sad?!

Some people never find the heart to forgive. There are so many verses dealing with this subject in the Bible. It is better to cover a transgression…if ye forgive not men their trespasses… on and on and on the list goes. But no…some people never forgive anyone anything. Oh they forgive themselves their own transgressions…but they’ll punish you for yours until they’re in the grave. It’s so sad to see such bitter and hateful accusing. Why, here is the very sinless lamb of Almighty God being insulted and accused of sin by the most murderous conniving treacherous lot in the whole Bible.

I say #1. How Long Are We Going To Punish Someone For Sin? How many lashes and for how many years do we beat a man with the whip? Yes, sin is wrong and yes, there is accountability and consequences, but reconciliation is our goal.
#2 When Do We Move On and Forgive? Remember our Lord’s words earlier in the chapter: Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? Neither do I condemn thee…
And Lastly #3 Who Among Us Is Without Sin? How quick we are to gather a pile of stones. Jesus told those Pharisees that he who was without sin should cast the first stone. None of us is without sin and none of us is blameless. Start this New Year off by granting forgiveness, deserved or no, for that is what the Lord gave us! Underserved Mercy and Forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Four Portraits of Christ

It has been said that most seminaries {pronounced cemetery} is a like a dark alley into which many good young men have been led and quietly had their faith strangled to death. One of the ways this is done is by educating them out of believing the old King James Bible. Those who’ve been ‘educated’ are easy enough to spot – they’ll invariably speak in favor of and justify embracing things God is against. They’ll contradict the Bible. One such example is found in allusions to the so-called “synoptic gospels”. This popular ‘cemetery’ teaching holds that Matthew Mark and Luke are all in agreement and seem to complement each other; but that John is an anomaly filled with questionable and impossible events. However, these four glorious mountains provide us, just as God intended, with four very different portraits of our Lord. In Ezekiel chapter 1 we read of the four living creatures each of which has four faces [verse 10] The face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox and the face of an eagle. The parallels are uncanny at best and at the very least depict four allegories of the gospels. These four creatures are unwavering in purpose (like the four gospels). They are joined and move together (like the gospels). They are very interesting and majestic in their parallels of the four Gospels. Consider, Matthew – the transition book from the Old Testament to the New Testament – presenting the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people. Known as the “King Book” of the “Lion of Judah” [Rev 5:5]. Matthew presents us with Jesus Christ the King more than any other book and the scripture themselves name the lion as the king of beasts. Then notice that the gospel of Mark provides no blood line, no lineage, he just dives right in and shows us the Saviour-servanthood and humility and lowliness of Jesus Christ in his incessant laboring in the harvest fields of God, like an ox, working and working and working. Then notice how the gospel of Luke presents us with our Lord Jesus Christ the son of ‘man’. Luke’s portrait of the ‘son of man’ shows us Jesus Christ the man like no other book. Then of course consider how John shows us Jesus Christ the ‘son of God’ in a majestic depiction of his deity. This is the God man, soaring high and lifted up like an eagle above all. These four creatures are also found standing before the throne in the Revelation of Jesus Christ where in chapter 4 they give praise and glory to Him who sits on the throne! No friends there are not 3 gospels in agreement and one questionable gospel record any more than those four creatures of Ezekiel are questionable, NO! All four creatures agree together, move together, work together and are connected. The FOUR portraits of the Lamb of God (The Gospels) are joined in perfection and tell all who have ears to hear “Trust the Bible”.

Too Close to Escape

Back many years ago I was a bit of a prankster. One night while out on patrol with my K-9 “Sampson” {a large and particularly aggressive Rottweiler} I happened to see two men fishing with lanterns and gigs. It was late at night, a perfect time for a good prank. So I parked, snuck to an advantageous spot and hid in some high bulrushes along the water’s edge to wait for them too wander to close. Between their talking, the water and lantern noise they couldn’t hear or see me. When they got within 20 feet I hissed at my dog – a que we’d rehearsed many times. Sampson immediately launched into his snapping snarling barking rage with his huge teeth gleaming in the moonlight. The noise was deafening and horrifying. I let him jump to the end of the 6 ft leash while I yelled “HALT POLICE”. He was like a furry black nightmare. The reaction was priceless! The men were screaming like school girls while climbing each other to escape “the monster” they later said they’d thought was a huge ‘gator’. The next morning I was sore from laughing! They had been caught totally unprepared and the “monster” was upon them before they knew it was there.
The Bible says that is how it will be for many people when Jesus comes at the “Rapture”; only it won’t be a prank and there won’t be any laughing. 1st Thessalonians 5:3 says in the “day of the Lord” they’ll think everything is peaceful and safe until all of a sudden, like a thief in the night, it will flash upon them like “sudden destruction” because they were UNAWARE, UNPREPARED “and they shall not escape”. The Bible says God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked [Ezekiel 33:11] nor is He willing that “ANY” should perish but that “ALL” should come to repentance. 2nd Peter 3:9 says the choice to receive God’s only begotten Son the Lord Jesus Christ is entirely up to each man and woman [John 1:12]. Everyone [Acts 17:30] has the power to accept, repent, believe and receive OR to ignore, reject, deny and face God’s wrath [John 3:36] when they die [Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 20:11-15].
As a Pastor I meet men & women regularly who are so focused on unimportant things that they are totally oblivious to what is going on around them. God is calling and sending them warnings but they don’t see, don’t hear, don’t know and before they know it – it is upon them. {Unfortunately some have heard, and heard, and heard God’s call and they’ve ignored it so many times He’s stopped calling. According to the Bible THERE WILL BE NO ESCAPE! I fear some reading this article are not even aware of just how close they are to the horrible wrath of God.

Things I’ve Committed to God’s Keeping

In 2nd Timothy the Apostle Paul said that ‘he knew whom he had believed {Our Lord Jesus Christ} and that he was persuaded that He was able to keep that which he had committed unto His trust against that day’. That is a great statement!
Great trials, deep troubles, intimidating situations, physical sufferings, family problems, marriage problems; certainly there is no end of things which can be deeply troubling. Paul lets us in on a great comfort in this scripture. He says he’s learned to trust that God is quite able to keep the things committed to His trust.

With that in mind let me give you 5 things I have committed to God’s trust: 1 My Soul: {John 3:16, Romans 10, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:20} 46 years ago I came under conviction, repented of myself & my sin and God adopted me. I’ve trusted my soul to his keeping. 2 My Marriage: My wife and I have committed our marriage to God’s keeping. We trust and obey the bible directions for Christian men & women in marriage (which by the way has no guidance for relationships outside the Scriptures). Marriage is hard but with Christ at its center it gets sweeter and sweeter. 3 My Children. They’re grown now and despite my many failings they’re saved and trusting Christ. Having now done all I can to present them to the Lord and Him to them, all I can do is commit them unto His keeping. 4 My Friendships & My Enemies: Everyone needs friends, real sincere, true friends are hard enough to come by but one thing I’ve learned is that my Christian friends point me to the Lord while my worldly friends inevitably point me to the carnal and base things. So I have trusted my God to bring me the friends He wants in my life. On the same note: The devil has brought me enemies often enough but I am thankful that God exposes them for what they are when I commit both friends and enemies to His keeping. How do you spot an enemy? When they are against Christian things like church and they pretend to love God while condemning things God is for you can be sure – that’s an enemy of the cross. These I have turned over to God’s keeping and I have seen many times the dreadful result of God’s dealing with them on my behalf. 5 My Finances: I’ve trust my God to put in my hand what He deems right. I’ve met many ‘rented’ professing Christians. Those who, as long as the church pays their bills on occasion, they’ll attend (not faithfully mind you). But as soon as they church cuts off the handouts – they won’t be back.
Praise God for those who, if they never get anything else from God, they’re thankful for His unspeakable gift of Salvation and they’re faithful to His church and His bible.

Repairing the Walls and Rebuilding the Gates

What with all the social misfits walking into churches and shooting innocent people in recent years, many churches have wisely opted to arm, train and prepare, as much as possible, in order to combat the possibility of such an event. As both a US Military veteran and a veteran police officer I openly commend and applaud anyone who takes seriously proactive precautions to defend themselves. I believe schools, day care centers, Churches and such places should, out of decency, be ‘off the table’ for targets even for a depraved madman.

Unfortunately events of late have demonstrated with stark reality that churches, schools, malls, concerts, theaters – nothing is safe. No big surprise there in light of Supreme Court rulings concerning prayer, schools, abortion and such. One societal degradation after another. One social, moral and spiritual defilement seems only to lay a foundation for the next and for most of us it seems the America we grew up in is under attack. As if some charlatan were trying to replace it with one where patriotism, decency, moral sensibility, backbone and courage are extinct. In months past I have spoken with a few who questioned churches preparing to defend those inside [which coincidentally includes infants, children, women, the elderly]. To such I say “we’ve put in smoke detectors, fire alarms and emergency exits to prepare for potential hazards. A systematic approach to preparedness, defense and training are much the same”. We’ve insured our vehicles in case of wrecks, our buildings in case of flood or storms – just in case something terrible happens. Shall we prepare for a storm outside and not for one inside?

As the minister of God, pastor of the church and one familiar with taking up arms under the flag of our country; I applaud those who arm themselves and train to respond to such as would harm a child, an elderly one…or other defenseless one, be it in a church, a school, or a grocery store. Our country has ever met tyranny with arms. In the Bible, cities had walls, gates and heavy doors, armed defenders, armed patrols…all ordained of God. King David, a type of Christ, went about with a sword which he used frequently. In fact the Lord Jesus Christ himself said in Luke 22:36 reads “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one”. Why? Because sometimes wicked people try to do wickedness upon those who cannot stop them.
My own view is that I had rather see a church defend its defenseless ones and suffer the criticisms of men than to refuse to do so and live with the resultant horrors and inconsolable conscience thereafter. Like farmers preparing a field for planting and yet trusting God for the harvest, or fisherman lowering their nets for a catch, but trusting the catch to God – so too must we all prepare the horse for the battle but trust the outcome thereof to our Great King.

Cremation or Burial…What Does the Bible Say?

Because of the financially trying times we live in I have had quite a few people ask me about Cremation vs Burial. What does the Bible say? What should I do? Is there any guidance in the scripture on this subject? I am always reluctant to answer, but only out of a desire not to hurt someone who has already made this mistake. The Bible gives some very clear and plain guidance on how to “put away our dead”. The average Cremation with a family gathering and urn runs around $1200 or less while a burial will cost between $7000 and $10,000 depending upon particulars.

However, despite the exorbitant cost of a simple funeral, Cremation is not a Christian practice. For starters in the Old Testament we find many verses where the dead were ‘buried’. God commanded the dead to be buried. In Deuteronomy 21 for example, God himself ‘buried’ Moses. I think for me personally that makes clear enough the example God gave us. God punished Moab for “cremating” the king of Edom. In Joshua 7:25, 2 Samuel 23:7 and 2nd Kings 23:7 God’s people burned the dead to show contempt. In the New Testament our Lord Jesus Christ was buried, not burned – another overwhelming example. Burial after death depicts a very important spiritual truth – until one has been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) they cannot be ‘dead to self’ and follow that ‘death to self’ in the spiritual burial of baptism. Not only this but at physical death – the deceased is either destined for heaven or for ‘burning in hell’ depending upon what they’ve chosen to do with Jesus. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” and Colossians 2:12 says, “Buried with Him in baptism”. Burial is a part of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Read and notice verse 4 “And that He was buried, and that He arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures”. We find then of course the phrase often repeated “buried with his fathers” in scripture.
When I am asked for advice concerning what the Bible says on this matter, my advice is to follow God’s example and bury your dead. What if it is too late and you have already had a loved one Cremated? That is of no difficulty with God. He can transform ashes and dust into a glorified body. The same is true for those consumed by wild animals. God will raise all the bodies of His children, no matter what their manner of death or disposal and will fashion them, “like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” Philippians 3:21
Cremation should not be practiced by Christians. I urge you to pray & obey the Bible!

Some of Those Daily Benefits of Salvation!

As the new Christian studies the word of God they are inevitably drawn to the various topics that accompany their “salvation” {Notice that I did NOT say that accompanies their ‘water’ baptism} but their ‘salvation’ [their new birth, their new man, their new creature in Christ]. *Note that to study aright and understand as an adult; you have realized the monumental difference between the spiritual baptism by Grace through Faith in the blood of the Lamb of God which is figuratively depicted by the outward testimony (in other words by the water baptism). That outward demonstration of the inward event is not the event itself but as the Holy Ghost said “the like figure” of that inward baptism.

This saving faith is accompanied by tremendous blessings and benefits: Paul spoke much on these blessings in his letters (Epistles). For example in Romans he taught that JUSTFICATION has two elements ONE OF WHICH IS The Forgiveness of sin which includes the REMOVAL of the guilt & of the punishment of sin. SECOND IS THE Imputation of the Righteousness of His Lamb, His Son the Lord Jesus Christ and the RESTORATION of God’s favor. [See Psalm 32:2, Rom 3:24 and Gal 2:16]. These “rewards” as Paul called them in Romans 4:4 also benefit us in that ‘Our Iniquities Are Forgiven! Our Sins are Covered and Our Father no longer imputes our sins to us but rather, He imputes the righteousness of Christ to us! Glory!

As David, a type of Christ, said “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” Romans 4:8. This “imputation of righteousness” then we find is a benefit of being “justified by faith” and includes our having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). How exciting it is for not only the new Christian as they find and learn these sweet comforts in the Bible – but also for those of us who have been ‘standing on the promises of God’ these many years hence. How tearful is it to learn and come to the understanding that we all, before we trusted Christ (not the baptismal pool) were the enemies of Almighty God – and that it took the death of God’s own and only begotten Son (paying our condemnation) to reconcile that insurmountable debt! But oh what rejoicing and redemption is to be found in the resurrected life His Son provides us by His own resurrection [See Romans 5:10].

The Christian then, who has finally looked with new eyes at the old book, has begun to spiritually see old truths. Thus when you ask them “when did you get saved” they don’t try to remember when they got dunked in water; they go in their mind to that moment God imputed life changing righteousness to them by grace through faith!

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