I Say, Let Freedom Ring!

Happy 4th of July! I am thankful to live in the “land of the free and home the brave!” By God’s grace, I live in a land stained with the blood of patriots, which paved the way for me to possess the freedom to write this post. Thank you, Lord!

I love living in America. However, we have drifted away from you. In America, we are blinded by our unchecked individualism. We are known for our pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstrap mentality. We can do anything we put our minds too. The problem is our thoughts are corrupt. Like the men in Nimrod’s day, we long to erect a tower to make a name for ourselves. However, you call us to humility, if we are to enter the everlasting kingdom, which is coming. Have mercy on us, Lord.

We boast of our freedom as we dance in the shackles of sin. The clanging chains of hypocrisy can be heard around the globe. We claim to be a Christian nation, but we slaughter our unborn. We claim to be the example for others to follow and neglect the orphans and widows. Have mercy on us, Lord.

Once we stood united, but now we are polarized demonizing anyone that has a different perspective. What is wrong with us? Is it the economy? Undoubtedly, more money in our purses will make us a better nation, right? No! Then it must be education. Let’s overhaul the system streamlining it to as close to perfection. Only to have our new intellectual society, redefine our conundrum, but provide no answer.

What is wrong with us? Hear me clearly, fellow Americans. Many of you will reject my counsel, but I must share this burden with you. We are sinful. No, I am not speaking of mere mistakes. I declare we are sinners. We are a rebellious and stiff-necked people that have turned from the One that granted us freedom. We must return.  Have mercy on us, Lord.

Where is the Tower of Babel? It cannot be found. All monuments erected in vainglory will fall. This is our fate if we continue on this path.  Only what is done for Christ has eternal value. Am I calling a nation to repentance? Am I calling for the masses to call on the Lord? Yes, but it begins with you (and me.)

For far too long, we have smeared lipstick on a pig. We have tried to be respectable. Nevertheless, a pig delights in the mud and relishes the slop because it’s in its nature. Swine will act like a swine because it has the heart of a pig.  Our problem in America is not the economy or education, but our spiritual depravity.

We inherited this depravity long before the year 1776. It began in a garden of perfection. Humanity rebelled against the command of God, ate from a forbidden tree, and fell from their rightful place of dominion. We were made in the image of God, but the fall marred this image. We are innately corrupt. We cannot change ourselves. We are in bondage. Death reigns over us, because of our sin.

What is the answer? Simply put, Jesus. Jesus – God wrapped in human flesh – came to Earth to live without sin, so that his life could be substituted for ours. He took our sins by nailing them to cross. Jesus paid our debt. He purchased your freedom; true freedom.

How do you receive this freedom? Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (CSB)  To be born again, you must realize your sinfulness. The Apostle Paul writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (CSB)  If you do not think you’re a sinner then review your life in light of the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:3-17). We are all sinful. However, there is a solution.

The Bible states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (CSB)  You deserve God’s wrath for your crimes against Him. But He has extended grace through Christ instead! Will you receive this gift of grace?

In Romans 10:9-10, Paul gives us instructions on how to receive Christ or be born again. He writes, “9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (CSB)   Don’t harden your heart to His call. Again, will you accept his invitation? Will you place our faith in Christ’s substitution?  Real freedom comes through faith in Christ!

Look around you. If you want to change the culture, you must first change your heart. America is great, but God’s kingdom is greater. No politician can make America great again. Or at least, in the way that matters most.

Have mercy on us, Lord. Tear down our idols so we can be rebuilt anew. I am grateful for the sacrifice of patriots past and the political freedom I have as an American. However, let us never forget the origins of genuine freedom, YOU. I say, let freedom ring!

Stick a Fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

Stick a Fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

This post completes the 2018 June Blogging Challenge! There was a new post every day in June. I must admit it is a small accomplishment, but an achievement none the less. I have learned celebrating the little victories motivates me to press on to the more considerable triumphs.

Why did I set this goal? It’s all summed up in the word: discipline. I tend to have too many “good ideas” when it comes to writing. I chase after them like an indecisive bird dog flushing out a covey of quail. I suffer from A.D.D. However, I am not talking about Attention Deficit Disorder, but instead, I have Acute Deficiency of  Discipline. I have a problem with placing my butt in the chair and writing. This self-imposed challenge, although my content varied, forced me to sit and write with consistency.

The consistency of posting daily strengthened my “writing muscles.” These blog posts were extra created content. I typically preach three times a week, and a majority of these sermons are written as a full manuscript. I find it helpful after outlining a sermon to write myself clear, so when I approach the pulpit I have wrestled with the text all week.  I know the meaning for the people then, and I have the message for God’s people now. Therefore, this challenge was very challenging at times. But its over. Done. Finished. I have conquered June.

However, I confess I did not do it alone. You – the readers – were in my study or beside me on the couch encouraging me to keep pecking away at this keyboard. I thought of you often as I pushed against the resistance of the blinking cursor. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for liking, commenting, and sharing my words with others. It means more to me than I can express.

Moreover, I would be amiss not to mention my biggest supporter in this world. Red, thank you for not killing me when I disturbed your sleep as I slid out of bed at five o’clock in the morning to pray and write. We all know how much you enjoy mornings. I appreciate the grace extended to me when I was working late to meet the deadline of the day.

Red, believe it or not, you inspired this month’s adventure. Over the years, I have watched you hone your craft and become a phenomenal photographer by challenging yourself to be better. You may not remember the conversation – I know there are so many – but when I told you I wanted to become an author I was gauging myself. I wondered if I had what it takes to pursue this dream. I understand now, although my aspiration is lofty, I have God and you on my side. I know both of you believe in me. Watching you and having you in my corner, I know I will succeed by God’s grace. With you, I am a better me. Again, thank you for believing in me. Even when I have too many “good ideas” that wake me before daybreak.

So where do I go from here? I am committed to becoming a better writer; to find my voice. This challenge has revealed that I can carve out the time needed to write and still fulfill my other obligations. Yes, I may need to drink more coffee, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

In the future, I will not be posting daily. However, rest assured I am writing. Now, my challenge is to use the daily writing habit established this month to work on my first novel. Watch your inbox because I may post a sample chapter soon. As far as the blogging, the posts will slow to a weekly rhythm instead of the daily hustle. I hope you have enjoyed the June Blogging Challenge as much as I have but stick a fork in June, it’s D-O-N-E!

 

 

What God Says Goes!

What God Says Goes!

Daily Reading

89 LORD, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. 90 Your faithfulness is for all generations; you established the earth, and it stands firm.91 Your judgments stand firm today for all things are your servants. 92 If your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction. 93 I will never forget your precepts, for you have given me life through them. 94 I am yours; save me, for I have studied your precepts. 95 The wicked hope to destroy me, but I contemplate your decrees. 96 I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your command is without limit. Psalm 119:89-96 (CSB)

Daily Reflection

Be encouraged! God’s Word is firmly fixed in heaven.

What does David mean when he says, ” LORD, your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven” (89).  Eugene Peterson’s rendering illuminates the meaning of this verse. Peterson translates it as, “What you say goes, GOD, and stays, as permanent as the heavens.” Psalm 119:89 (MSG)  In other words, God is sovereign and what He decrees is settled. Nothing can change it!

What difference does that make for us as believers? God’s Word is full of promises for us. Paul says, “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (CSB) If you find a promise in the Bible, then you can stand on it. God will come through for you! We should all be encouraged by the fact God’s Word is firmly fixed in heaven.

 

 Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for His sovereign decrees and ask for the faith to keep believing! 

 


If you have found this post to be encouraging, please like, comment, and share it. Also, consider subscribing to the blog to have exciting content delivered to your inbox. If nothing else, take few seconds to say, Hello! I like it when people say, Hello.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

I Love My Church Family

I Love My Church Family

It’s the 24th day of my June Blogging Challenge. So what am going to write about today? My mind keeps drifting to my flock at West Green Baptist Church. I am privileged to pastor these people. They’re not perfect. They are broken people, but I have jagged edges too. Nevertheless, we are traveling this road of faith together.

We are learning to be gracious to each another as we continue to conform to the image of Christ. I love them for their honesty. I love the fact they allow me to be honest with them. Of course, we still wear some fig leaves, but we’re learning and growing in our intimacy.

I know some deny the importance of church family, but I cannot imagine my life without my church. I am their undershepherd who cherishes having the smell of sheep on my clothes. If you’re a pastor, you understand. It is the most demanding occupation at times. However, it is one of the most rewarding challenges in my life.

My church family inspires me to be my best. Keeps me accountable. Encourages me. Challenges me. They do life together with me. I am grateful. West Green Baptist, if you’re reading this, I love walking this journey called life with you.

What about you? Where do you fellowship? I would like to hear from you. If you’re reading this and do not have a church home, would you consider West Green Baptist? We not perfect, but we’re growing together in Christ.

 

Stop Looking for Perfection

Stop Looking for Perfection

If you have spent any time around this blog, you know that I love to read. Yesterday, I came across a quote in C. Fred Smith’s Developing a Biblical Worldview that smacked me between the eyes. Smith’s words made me stop and examine myself. He writes,

We should stop looking for perfection in others. We pay lip service to the biblical teaching regarding sin, but then we expect perfection from other people. If we incorporate the reality of our common falleness into our worldview, it will be easier to accept the faults of others. It will be easier to love people, even when they disappoint us. 1

I am not saying I go around measuring people’s spirituality with my religious ruler, but do I keep my failings in mind when dealing with others? Christ taught us to be merciful  (see Matthew 5:7).  Am I reciprocating the mercy and grace I received? Do I forgive others the way I was forgiven?

We know that all sin (see Romans 3:23), but we tend to hold others to a higher standard. That attitude is the epitome of hypocrisy.  And let’s face it we are all hypocritical at times.  As Christians, we are called to hold each other accountable, but after reading this Smith’s statement, I think I will pay closer attention to being merciful. Considering my own faults when I approach others. What about you? I would love to hear from you.

 

  1. C. Fred Smith, Developing a Biblical Worldview, Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015. 27.
Don’t Give Up in Dry Spells

Don’t Give Up in Dry Spells

Daily Reading

81 I long for your salvation; I put my hope in your word. 82 My eyes grow weary looking for what you have promised; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”83 Though I have become like a wineskin dried by smoke, I do not forget your statutes. 84 How many days must your servant wait? When will you execute judgment on my persecutors? 85 The arrogant have dug pits for me; they violate your instruction. 86 All your commands are true; people persecute me with lies — help me! 87 They almost ended my life on earth, but I did not abandon your precepts. 88 Give me life in accordance with your faithful love, and I will obey the decree you have spoken. Psalm 119:81-88 (CSB)

Daily Reflection

Don’t give up in dry spells because God is working.

As Christians, we all face seasons of spiritual dryness. There will be dark days where God seems aloof. However, He is present. Even, David – a man after God’s heart – experienced feeling “like a wineskin dried by smoke.” 

What are we to do when we walk through a spiritual drought? We are to put our hope in the promises of God. God will not break His assurance of salvation. Regardless, if fierce adversaries surround us, God will come through for us. Don’t give up in dry spells because God is working. He will use drought to grow our roots deeper. It is one thing to hear that God will send refreshing rains of deliverance and quite another to be drenched in the downpour. Don’t give up for I hear the sound of abundance of rain. 

 Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for the season you are in regardless of how you feel. Ask God to give you the grace to endure times dryness of soul.

 


If you have found this post to be encouraging, please like, comment, and share it. Also, consider subscribing to the blog to have exciting content delivered to your inbox. If nothing else, take few seconds to say, Hello! I like it when people say, Hello.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.