2017 Archives

2017 Archives

Thank You

  These are among the most powerful words known to man.  They have singly settled disputes, won battles, and changed the course of history.  These two words can melt an icy heart and make friends of enemies.  It is probable that your own life has been touched by these timely spoken words, and perhaps you have felt hurt or loss when they were lacking.

  It is distinctly Christian to say “thank you,” a virtue to be sought by every child of God.  And though we extol the virtues of thanksgiving among men, its first object and recipient must be God Himself.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4).  The reason is obvious.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17).

  Unbelievers are also capable of true thankfulness.  They give thanks for things that are pleasant and, in their estimation, beneficial.  But Christians have the capacity to be thankful even in the face of devastation and loss.  Giving thanks to God in every circumstance is a virtue that dazzles the minds of unbelievers.  Down through the centuries, many have been stirred to ask “Why?”  The answer, of course, is the believer’s faith.  Christians are the recipients of some very special promises.  Promises like, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).”   And then there is, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5).”

  As believers, we have confidence that God is in control and that, no matter what, He has our best interest in mind.  So, dear brother or sister, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18).” 

Warning

The memories are still vivid and real.  I shudder to recall what happened Sunday evening, July 17, 1988 on a country road just south of Winston Salem, NC where I grew up.  A lone gunman shot ten people as they casually drove by his place of business.  Five of the ten were dead within the hour and two others were fighting for their lives in a local hospital.  Perhaps the most troubling remembrance is that of a young lady of sixteen who drove around a roadblock where two men were trying to warn on-comers of the impending danger.

The two made every attempt to stop the young lady, including placing their cars across the road, waving their arms, and shouting their warning in slow, deliberate tones.  She simply drove around them on the shoulder of the road as if avoiding a trashcan that had inadvertently blown into her path.  They had done all that they could to warn her, but now she had passed and their attention was turned to the next car.

The young lady was shot once as she drove by and again when the gunman ran to the window of her stalled car to deliver another shot point blank.  She died at the scene.  I still shudder to think of the terror that embraced her as she realized what was happening.

This event illustrates perfectly what I feel as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You, my friend, are like this young lady, traveling on the road called Sin, and headed for certain eternal destruction.  It is my duty to sound the warning.  Your only hope is to turn from your sin and place your trust in Jesus Christ who has already endured your terror and offers you peace.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6). 

Designer

“Look, there’s Mount Katahdin.”  No, that’s Mount Coe, Katahdin is 5.5 miles to the southeast.”  “You need to brush up on your geography a bit.”  “I aced geography; maybe you would like to borrow my notes on the mountains of Maine.”

Now both of these men could be wrong, but both cannot be right.  The mountain that they see could be Katahdin or it could be Coe, or it could be neither, but it is not both.  Their positions are mutually exclusive.  If either is right, the other must be wrong.

And so it is with the many religions of the world.  If one world view is right, all others must be wrong.  World views are mutually exclusive.  For example, if Biblical Creationism correctly explains where we came from and where we are going, then the Theory of Evolution is nothing more than imaginative misinformation, or vice-versa.  Since nobody was there to observe the beginning, both positions require faith and in spite of what some pseudo scientist might say, both are tenets of religious world views.

One thing is certain, the observable laws of the universe require that there was a beginning.  So, the question is, did nothing create everything, or is their an omnipotent designer who is responsible for this great design?

The Bible says, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God… (Psalm 14:1).  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20).

Someone might say, “If only this supposed creator could be known.”  Good News!  He can be known!  The Bible tells us that He will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:4).  How can the creationists be so sure?  It’s because they know the Creator God personally, through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Fearing God

The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)”  Do you fear God?  

King Solomon, undoubtedly the wisest man who ever lived, afforded himself all of the pleasures his heart could desire, only to conclude, “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 12:8).”  And then he shared his life’s most valuable lesson, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”

So, the concept of fearing God is certainly taught in the scriptures, but it seems to have evolved over the years.  It is common in our day to hear preachers say that fear, when used with respect to God, should always be understood as reverence toward God.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is spiritually unhealthy to forget that our God hates sin.  To those who know Him well He cautions, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6).”  And to the unbeliever He gives notice, “…he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36).”  Obviously God takes our sin seriously, …maybe we should too.

Perhaps you have heard that in His great love God has provided an escape from the eternal consequences of sin.  The death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ has satisfied the requirements of God’s justice for everyone who will receive His forgiveness by faith.  You have a choice: Live in your sin to enjoy its pleasures for a season, or be saved from it.

God hates sin and what it has done to His creation.  Because you and I are sinners, maybe we should heed the words of the Psalmist, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom… (Psalm 111:10).” 

Why?

  We are just days removed from the shooting in Los Vegas that uselessly and shamefully took the lives of 59 people and injured 500 more.  Our hearts grieve with the families of the victims.  Many are asking, “Why do crimes like these continue to happen, and happen more frequently?”  Of course ideas abound, from lax gun laws to a lack of psychological counseling.  But there was a day when we had neither, and crimes of this nature were almost unheard of, at least in America.  Common sense suggests that we take a look at what has changed in the intervening era.

  Perhaps the most notable change in these passing years has been our bent on getting God and “religion” out of the hearts and minds of the cascading generations.  The premise for such a change has been the misconstrued and  misrepresented first amendment, which has been foolishly defined as “Separation of Church and State.”  These brief paragraphs are not sufficient to explain, but let it suffice to say that our founding fathers had something drastically different in mind.  They knew that a nation without God would soon cease to be a nation.

  Secondly, there was a day when even those who professed no faith in God were respectful of the principles of right and wrong found in His Word.  In our day, children and adults find murder, carnage and immorality entertaining.  Video games, movies, and other media bombard the moral gates of society.  Our unrestrained appetites of the flesh gorge themselves.  Shooting innocent people in real life is simply living out the fantasy that is composed in the minds of the godless.

  When Israel of old had strayed from God and were declining, God told them, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14).”