The Standard

  As a pastor, I’m often called upon to listen to explicit stories of lives made shipwreck by merciless waves of unfortunate circumstances.  The question generally follows, “What do you think I should do?”  Many times, before I am able to form the first word of response, I learn that I am only one of many, whose advice is being sought.  Though often my efforts prove futile, I generally add my comments to the collection of remedies being tabulated.

  It has become obvious to me that our multicultural, multilingual, multipurpose age has produced a society without a standard for measuring truth.  By standard, I mean a collection of proven and accepted facts, by which everyone answers life’s hard questions and deals with its problems.  

  I’m sure that you have noticed how we have departed from the moral, spiritual, social and political absolutes that made our nation great.  Ours is a day of moral relativism; everybody decides for themselves what is right or wrong, what works or doesn’t.  With everyone using a different yardstick, is there any wonder that we are so diverse and riddled with problems?  If we could only be united in our defining of right and wrong, perhaps life could improve in substantive ways for the masses.

  Just to put your mind at ease, I confess that my standard is no better than yours, or anyone else’s.  As a matter of fact, I’m sure that the elements of truth that are needed to insure success in every situation and in every walk of life, will not be the contrivances of men, but of God.

  If you are interested in discovering ways that work, you should take a look at the absolutes of the Bible.  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).”

  It would be a privilege to help you find God’s solution to your problems from His miraculous book, the Bible.  You have to start somewhere.

No Pain, No Gain

  Have you ever heard this old cliché?  Though it is very simple, this little phrase is actually profound, and its truth is applicable in nearly every discipline of life.

  Several years ago, we took a college tour to expose our church youth to the world of christian academia.  On one occasion, our group of potential scholars was led by a hopeful guide through his institution’s sports complex.  I was intrigued by the door marked “Weight Room.”  Occasionally, during our short visit, I would peek at the activity going on inside.  There were usually a couple of young men engaged in a routine they referred to as “pumping iron.”  I watched as they inflicted great pain upon themselves, induced by the vein popping strain of lifting weight laden bars.

  Something inside made me want to rush to their aid shouting “Hold on there, I’ll help you with that.”  No, I didn’t actually do it, but I did have the thought.  I knew that these men were athletes and they were there because they wanted to excel on the ball field.  They knew that stronger was better, and they were in the Weight Room by choice, ready to endure the pain, in hope of great gain—which had obviously started to materialize.

  Similarly, the Word of God reveals that spiritual fitness, especially of our faith, will cause us to excel in the “race of life” into which each of us is necessarily engaged.  You will need to embrace two important facts about faith if you desire to excel.  First, faith is believing what God says, and what God says can be found only in the Bible.  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)”  Get into the Word!

  Secondly, faith grows when it is exercised (No Pain, No Gain),  so James tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4).”  So, look for opportunities to exercise what you believe.

Lord, Bless My Sin, Amen

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. (Psalm 14:1).” Why would anyone choose not to believe in God? Because, if there is a God, He would determine what is right and wrong, we would be dependent upon Him and would have to answer to Him for what we are and do—and we would rather be captain of our own fate.

So, we ignore God and have it our way: we abuse our bodies with drugs and alcohol, we indulge in sexual pleasures outside of marriage and, for many, contrary to nature, we shirk the responsibilities required to subsist and look to government and good hearted neighbors to fill our stomachs and our gas or oil tanks. We work hard to keep from working, …after all, we say, “I have my rights.” We choose foolish independence and then, contrary to our philosophical moorings, we vote to make ourselves pawns in the hands of the governmental ruling class that lives in Washington and our state capitals.

In mass, we have turned from God to darkness. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (Jn 3:19)” We boast our faith that there is no God, and yet we curse Him when things don’t go our way. The people of God, we call fanatics, until hard times, and then we call them for help. My friends, we cannot have it both ways. Either there is a God and He calls the shots, or there is no God and we chart our own courses. How foolish to choose the latter and expect God’s blessing upon our sin. God’s word plainly says, “…be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)” and, “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)”

But it is not too late to change! While God continues to lend us breath, there is hope. “But God commendeth (reveals) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)” The Bible tells us that through His resurrected Son, we may know God personally by becoming dependent upon Him for forgiveness. He wants to bless you!

Ministering During Covid-19

 Having been the pastor of Corinth Baptist Church now for three and a half years, I had developed somewhat of a routine in order to conduct four services weekly, engage in counseling, pastoral hospital and shut-in visits, and helping to facilitate other ministries that are conducted by our church family.  There was always something constructive to do.  It has been a joy to watch the church grow spiritually and see people get involved in the ministry who were not aware that they could accomplish something for the Lord by simply making themselves available—enter Covid-19.  Now, though the work of the ministry must go on, everything is different.

  When the virus first started to make the news about seven or eight weeks ago, we decided to conduct our services with only 10 people present, allowing most of our folks to attend at least once in a week, utilizing our three services on Sunday and one on Wednesday evening.  When the mandate to stay at home was issued we began to conduct services either from my study at home or from the church via Live Streaming.  Having no experience with the required technologies, I, and the men who have stepped up to the plate to help, engaged in several self taught crash courses, each consisting of a rather steep learning curve.  Praise the Lord, we have been able to continue to affect the lives of a few people through the weeks of pandemic isolation.  He has even enabled us to initiate a new ministry by which our people can be edified (built up and encouraged) on a weekly basis by telephone.  It has been a real blessing to people on both ends of the conversation.  God is so good!

  On a personal level, like so many others, I have been disheartened by the sudden collapse of our social lives, resulting from the politicization of a serious illness, that has not proven itself unlike other illnesses that reached pandemic status without affecting a collapse of the world’s economies and social structure.  It is a disappointment to see the nation terrorized by news media, government officials and the professionals who have, overnight, become “the authorities” whose word seems to supersede law.  Perhaps most of all I am concerned about the fact that churches have been relegated to the status of “non-essential.”  In history, the Church and people of faith, were an essential part of helping to provide comfort and hope, as well as to minister to the physical needs of others in times of tragedy, pandemic or disaster.  Perhaps it is in part the fault of the people of God who have grown lethargic by years of ease.  Our lethargy has produced several generations who do not know God.  God forgive us.


  The word Revival conjures up nostalgic memories of yesteryear.  Some remember the “protracted meetings” of their childhood, held in big tents erected on vacant lots, featuring a well known evangelist.  Others, of the more emotional persuasion, think of a local event in which they claim some supernatural “manifestation of the Holy Spirit” prompted people to fall on the floor, speak in unknown tongues, or laugh hysterically.  But the revival that I long for, is not a social event, but an increased awareness of the presence of God, and a lasting resolve to live in the light of that presence.

   Something is desperately wrong with our Christianity when the people of God are content never to experience the presence of God.  O that we might develop a desire to Practice His Presence.  Interested?  Try this:

  First, you must examine your “want to,” or desire.  If you don’t care to live in the presence of God, you never will.  Consider the benefits for a moment. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11).”

   Secondly, confess your known sin.  Sin separates you from God and destroys your fellowship.  “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (1John 1:6).”

  Thirdly, set aside a time each day to have nothing on your mind but God.  Speak to Him in prayer and allow Him to speak to you through His Word.  David said, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Psalm 5:3).”

  Fourth, make a conscious effort in every event or activity of the day to remember that God is near.  Our Lord has promised, “…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20).”

  Finally, an act of total surrender. “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:5)

 By the way, these five steps are not my suggestions, but God’s instruction.