Thursday, April 12, 2018

I Stand At The Door And Knock

Very early this morning while I was still in bed, my wife texted me from the living room and said "someone is knocking on the front door!" My wife and I have an agreement that she does not answer the door if she isn't expecting someone to come over. So, I got up and went to the living room and sure enough there was a "knock, knock, knock," at our front door. I always like to be cautious so instead of opening the front door, I went around to the side door and walked around the house to the front. There standing on our front porch was a very angry robin. She had seen her own reflection on our front storm door and was trying to protect her young ones that were in a nest in a bush beside the porch. When she saw me, she darted off toward the bush in full parental protection mode. I chuckled and went back into the house.

"Who was it," my wife asked? "Just a bird," I replied. We both laughed about it for a while but then we heard it again; "knock, knock, knock, knock," really persistent this time. I walked over and flung the door open scaring the bird off the porch. Two minutes later there she was again; "knock, knock, knock." We both knew that this bird was not going to quit knocking. So, I devised a plan. I printed out a big scary eyeball picture on a piece of paper and taped it to the bottom of the door thinking that would surely make the bird go away. Nope, a minute later she was back, "knock, knock, knock," madder than ever.

I was really getting steamed now. "I think I'll just get my pellet gun and shoot that bird," I exclaimed! "No, you can't do that," my wife said, "you're not supposed to shoot robins." Well, of course I knew that but come on, would anyone really blame me? So, I just walked away and let the bird continue to knock on our door. After some time, I got used to the knocking and learned to ignore it and it didn't really bother me anymore. Eventually the knocking stopped completely.

Then it all of a sudden hit me, you know, that bird is a whole lot like Jesus. Now stop laughing at me and give me a chance to prove it.

In the very last Book of the Bible in Revelation 3:20, we find Jesus talking to the Church at Laodicea, you know, that "lukewarm" Church. After he called them out for their Luke warmness, he said this: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Now, that robin didn't want to come in and sup with us (at least I don't think she did) but I treated that bird the same way many people treat Jesus when he comes knocking on their heart's door.

1. They see Him as an unwanted stranger.
2. They try to think of easy ways to get rid of him.
3. They try to use harsh means to get rid of him.
4. They finally just get used to it and it doesn't bother them anymore and they ignore him and he eventually just goes away.

How sad to think of the missed opportunities to sup with Jesus, simply because we refused to open the door. One thing that I've learned over the years is that He doesn't force the door, or kick the door open, he simply knocks and desires for you to let him in.

What about you? How long will you continue to refuse Him? Is he just an unwanted stranger to you? The truth is Jesus is our only way to Heaven. He is the One that was sent by God to pay our sin debt and make a way for us to live forever. Will you continue to refuse him? Don't keep ignoring him, let him into your heart while he is still knocking. The second worst sound you will ever hear is deathly silence, the first worst sound will be your own voice weeping from hell.

Romans 10:9-13  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Critical Spirit

One of the things that each and every Christian must strive to avoid is having a critical spirit. There is a big difference between constructive criticism and being critical. Constructive criticism is generally done out of a loving heart from someone that is seeking the best for you, however, the critical spirit is only meant to tear down, shame, or condemn others.

The Word of God warns against having a critical spirit in the form of wrongful judging of others:
Romans 14:10-12 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

If we aren’t careful we will find ourselves guilty of being critical of those that do things differently than we do them.  Many times, we criticize those that worship differently than we do, not because what they are doing is heretical or unbiblical, but because it’s not our preference or the way we were taught. So, instead of praying for them and lifting up our brother, we criticize them and condemn them. This is having a critical sprit.

Some things that cause us to have a critical spirit are; immaturity, lack of spiritual depth, not walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, being insecure, and feeling unsuccessful. These things can build up inside of us cause us to become unloving and critical of others.

Often times we do not even notice that we have become a critical spirit but others recognize it right away.  It often takes a friend or a loved one to say something to those being critical in order for them to realize what they are doing. Thank the LORD there is a way to overcome a critical spirit and it is also found in the Word of God:

Ephesians 4:23-32
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27 Neither give place to the devil.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

Perhaps you have a critical spirit and that is the reason you have read this post. I encourage you to read over the words from the Scripture again and meditate upon them and pray to the LORD and ask Him to help you overcome this critical spirit in your life.  If you would like me to pray for you, please send me an email and I would be thrilled to bring your name up before the LORD when I pray. ~ Pastor Byron

Monday, January 19, 2015

Don't Let Your Past Define You

Don't let your past define you.
In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul whom we all know as one of the greatest missionaries, preachers, and witnesses for Christ who ever lived, wrote the following: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

If you know the history of Paul before he gloriously met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, then you know he was a man better known by his Hebrew name of Saul. Saul of Tarsus was filled with bitter hatred toward Christians. He had taken it upon himself to single-handedly drive the Christians out of existence, whether it meant beating them, imprisoning them, or even taking their life.

Paul's past would come back to haunt him over and over as he strove to work in the ministry of the Lord. There were many people who could not forget his once evil ways and would always doubt his conversion and sincerity. In fact, even Jesus' own disciples didn't believe he was truly saved because in Acts 9:26 the Bible says: "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple."

But, praise the Lord there were some who did not hold Paul's past against him, such as a man named Barnabas. Acts 9:27 says: "But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."

Despite the fact that not everyone accepted Paul and would always hold his past against him, the most important thing was that he found forgiveness for himself and did not let his past define him. He boldly declared; "but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Does that mean that he somehow blanked all of his past out of his mind never to remembered again? Absolutely not! What he means is that despite his past, despite what others may say or think, he is not going to allow that to define who he is today. He will not allow his past to hinder his relationship or his calling to share the Gospel.

Now, what about you friend? Are you living in the past and allowing it to define you? When you stand before others that you once mistreated or acted foolishly or sinfully in front of, do you allow those past actions to keep you from being a witness? Everyone has a past and things in their past that they deeply regret. We cannot go back and change these things or make it as if they never happened but we do not have to allow them to define us. There will always be those who are too petty and arrogant to forgive you, we must pray for them and realize that they haven't yet grasped the true teachings of Christ. Why don't you put your past behind you and reach unto those things which are before? Don't let your past define you!

Monday, January 5, 2015

We Need Healed

I know many people who have cancer, had cancer, or have died from cancer. Cancer is probably the most dreaded word in the world. It's the last word you want to hear from your doctor after having an exam. Just the very mention of the word cancer literally scares us to death. It sends shocks of dread and fear through us. If we are diagnosed with cancer we do everything in our power to try to find a cure for it. We will go to great lengths and expense to be healed. We will travel across the country or even around the world to any treatment center we think will give us hope. We try a host of regimes and techniques; chemotherapy, radiation treatments, pills, experimental drugs, whatever we can try we will try to rid ourselves of this deadly disease.

While preaching a message at Church last night I was reading from 1 Peter 2:21-25. The subject of the message was "because Christ." Because Christ died for us and took our punishment, we can be free from the penalty and bondage of sin. Verse 24 of our text says: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." As I read those words the last part of that verse ("by whose stripes ye were healed") really jumped out at me and for the first time I realized the deep implications that it had for us.

Whether you realize it or not every man and woman on the face of this earth is stricken with a deadly disease. This disease is much more dangerous than even cancer. It is a blackness inside of us eating away day by day. We all need to be healed from this disease. This terrible disease that I'm speaking of is the disease of sin. Ever since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden when man first rebelled against God and sin entered into man's existence, we have all inherited the disease of sin.

The Bible says in Romans 5:12: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" Therefore we have a real problem. Just like cancer, the disease of sin has to be removed from our bodies. But how are we to rid ourselves of sin? How can we be healed of this terrible disease? Well, that's where the message I preached last night comes into play. Look at the verse again: 1 Peter 2:24:  "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."

There is a remedy already out there for us. A cure like no other cure has been prepared for us. The only way we can be healed from the black canker of sin is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through his stripes, his death, his blood, that we are healed. Romans 6:23 says: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

So, how do we accept this free gift of eternal life and rid ourselves of the ugly disease of sin?
First we must clearly understand that the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ.
The Bible says in John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Jesus is the exclusive way to be saved and go to Heaven. You cannot get there any other way, it must be through Him.

 We must repent of our sins: The Bible says in Acts 3:19: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Jesus said in Luke 5:32: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Repentance is not just a feeling of guilt or shame. Feeling guilty of sin may terrify you but being terrified is not repenting. A man can feel guilty and terrified of his sin but go right along sinning. True repentance comes from your heart, it is much more than just being sorry, it is a brokenness and a sickness over the fact that you are a sinner and a overwhelming desire to not sin anymore. So repentance is turning from sin and to the loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

We must believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins and by faith trust Him as our Savior.
The Bible says in John 3:16-17: 16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9: 8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Finally, the Bible says in Romans 10:9-11: 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Just use your own words and speak to God just like you would to anyone. An example prayer could be: “Dear God, I repent of my sins, I believe in my heart that Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins. By faith I trust you as my Savior. Amen."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Worst and the Best Thanksgiving Ever

(Photo: Brian Holt) from WBIR.COM
Today is Thanksgiving, the day that we set aside to be thankful for the blessings that God has bestowed on us. Typically we spend it with family and friends and bask in the bountiful supply that God has blessed us with.

I was sitting in my chair working on Seminary work this Thanksgiving morning, when my phone rang and one of my Church members asked me about a house that had burnt down in the early morning hours this morning. She was checking on my family to see if we were okay since the house was on the same road that we live on and that our Church is on. This was the first that I had heard of it.

When I got off the phone I immediately jumped in the car to find out where the house was and if I knew anyone that lived in it. The house was less than a mile from us. I was unable to get close to it because the fire dept. had the road shutdown in both directions. I went back home and tried to get more information on the police scanner and through the local news. I read in the news that a lone man had survived the fire. When I read that my heart went out to this man. I didn't know him, in fact, I didn't even know his name but I was burdened for him. 

As I sat in my comfortable chair in my nice warm home with my computer in my lap, the Lord kept speaking to me; "Go find that man." I almost felt like Paul being beckoned by the man from Macedonia to come and help. I jumped back in my car and drove back to the house. By this time the fire dept. was gone, there were no news crews or photographers, there was only a handful of family members that were going through the rubble that was still smoking, looking for anything that they might be able to salvage. I inquired about the owner and they pointed me to a vehicle in the driveway where I saw an older gentleman sitting in the passenger seat eating a sandwich. I approached the vehicle and he opened the door. This was the man the Lord had led me to see. 

I introduced myself, letting him know that I was the pastor of Highland Baptist Church, just down the road. He looked up at me as tears began flowing down his cheeks, he grabbed my hand and said. "I've lost everything." My heart was churning for him. He proceeded to tell me that he was also legally blind. I began telling him that I had been praying for him and that I was thankful that God allowed him to get out alive. By this time he was sobbing and he said "please pray for me." As I stood there in a muddy driveway in 30 degree temperatures with snow flakes falling around me, I held onto his arm and petitioned the Lord on his behalf. It was at that moment that I realized that this was the worst and the best Thanksgiving that this man had ever had. 

I am reminded of a verse of Scripture written by David in Psalm 69:30: "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving."

This may not have started out being the kind of Thanksgiving that I am used to or that I even wanted, but I am thankful for the Lord's blessings. Houses and things can be replaced but you only live once here on this earth. We should take the time out today and every day to be thankful unto the Lord and magnify his holy name.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Hate You

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." 1 John 4:20-21

How sad to see family members that hate each other. How tragic it is to witness such hatred displayed from people that proclaim to be Christians and love God. The truth is, we cannot claim that we love God and go through life hating members of our own family and despising them (even if they have done you wrong). That is a fact straight from God's own Word. If we say we love God yet we hate our brother (this includes sister, mother, father, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, cousin, and even people outside of your own family) then God says we are liars.  The Bible says that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ one day and then all will be revealed.

When you look at life from the grand scheme of things and try to put into perspective what is really important and what isn't, it makes you feel really silly when you realize how much time you have wasted dwelling on things that are not important. So someone cheated you out of some money...the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil. So someone said something negative about you or even lied about you... the Lord Jesus was condemned to death over lies and negative things that were said about Him, yet he bore the cross, the pain, the suffering and still loved those liars. Are you saying you are better than Jesus? That you are so important that you are unable to forgive someone? Wow, how highly you must think of yourself!

Perhaps you are reading this blog post today and you have been living with hatred in your heart toward a member of your own family. That hatred is eating you up inside. It is an ugly black cancer that spreads. It not only affects you but it affects everyone around you; your husband, your wife, your children, your friends, and yes, even your Church family. Whether you realize it or not everyone can see this hatred in you. It is very revealing and it is very ugly. But, there is a remedy! Thank God there is a remedy! It is found in one simple word, one simple deed, and it is called... FORGIVENESS.

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15

The Bible also says this:
"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:6-10

So, what about you? Can you stand before God with a clean heart, understanding that he knows your every thought, he knows the recesses of your heart? If you can't, you need to repent and ask the Lord to forgive you and help you with your hatred. How about praying a simple prayer such as this: "Heavenly Father, you know the struggles that I am going through with __________. Please forgive me for my hatred of them. Lord forgive me for sinning against you. Make within me a clean heart and a forgiving spirit. Guide my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Would You Watch That If the Lord Jesus Was Beside You?

As I was preparing my sermon last week about Christian Separation, I was  wondering about some popular television shows that some of my Christian friends seem to enjoy so much, so I did a little investigating.

One show in particular is called "Game of Thrones." This is an HBO show which is one of the most popular shows on cable television. It was just nominated for 19 Emmy Awards. I was absolutely shocked and sickened when I read the Parental Rating information on

Another one is a show called "True Blood." This is apparently a show about Vampires which should immediately throw up red flags to any true Christian as we are not to have anything to do with things like that. However, as I mentioned, some of my Christian friends talk about this show like it is the best thing on television. Again, reading the Parental Ratings on this show will turn one's stomach:

Quite frankly I am saddened and burdened that some of my friends seem to be okay with allowing this into their homes and lives. You can get mad at me all you want for saying this but our Christian liberty does not make it okay to watch such filth. We can't allow our eyes to see such things and ears to hear such things and minds to absorb such things and still be in fellowship with the Lord. "...what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? ~2 Corinthians 6:14b"

As I said in my sermon on Sunday, if you are ever in doubt to whether or not you should watch something, simply imagine that the Lord Jesus was sitting beside you on the couch or in the movie theater while you are watching it. If you could not sit there with the Lord and watch it then you have no business watching it at all. Living under Grace and not the law does not relieve us from our moral consciousness. The Apostle Paul writes this in Romans 6:15: "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid."

Perhaps you have fallen into the trap of thinking it is okay to allow sinful things into your life? If you have, you need to understand that you are living in sin and you need to repent and seek forgiveness from the Lord. To repent from such a thing means that you never intend to do it again. You have had a change of mind and heart and are turning from that and to the Lord. Would you please consider what I have written and be honest with yourself and the Lord today?

If you would like to listen to the message that I preached on Christian Separation, please click on the sermon link below for the sermon titled: Operation Separation. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

What God Does With Confessed Sin

A couple of years ago I preached a message concerning sin. After the service a lady that has been a member of our church for many many years came up to me and wanted to know if I could give her a copy of my notes that dealt with confessed sin. She said in all of her years she had never heard a message that explained it so clearly. I was happy to provide her with a copy of that portion of my sermon and afterwards I found there were other people that were interested in them as well. So, I thought I would share this with the readers of this blog. I pray that it is a blessing to you. Feel free to use this and share with others.

What God Does With Confessed Sin.

The Bible promises: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9).

By confession, sin is placed under the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and when it is under the blood, it does not condemn any longer.

What God does with sin when it is confessed is explained in various passages:

Isaiah 43:25  I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Isaiah 44:22 says, I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

Hebrews 8:12 says: For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Micah 7:19  He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Psalm 103:12  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Once you are forgiven, God never brings that sin up again. He doesn't hold it against you to use at a later date. It is gone forever. The only way it comes back up is if YOU choose to do so. If you are saved, Satan cannot touch your soul or spirit but he will do his dead level best to try to make you bring those past sins back up to try and damage your Christian walk.

The best way to defeat Satan is the same way that Jesus and Paul did:

The Apostle Paul writes this:
Philippians 3:13-14: 13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Jesus when tempted in the desert by Satan said this: Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Luke 4:8b

Also when Satan tried to use Peter to tempt Jesus, Jesus told the Devil this: Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Mark 8:33b

Tell the Devil to get lost! Pray to the Lord and He will help you. Sin does not have to defeat you!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When A Pastor Falls

It is a fact that we, as humans, are always looking for a hero. We want to believe there is someone out there that stands for the truth and never falters or waivers. Someone that we can lift up and hold to a higher standard and trust that he or she will never fall. This is just our human nature to desire someone like that.

Often times we think of pastors and preachers like that. We expect them to always walk the straight and narrow and to cautiously guard against sin and never let it into their lives. Then when something happens and we find out that our "hero" wasn't as heroic as what we thought, we are extremely let down and hurt. We looked up to them and they let us down. We put our trust in them but they became untrustworthy. We held them to a higher standard but they fell. When this happens it causes us to be more cautious and it makes us build up walls around our hearts and less trusting of anyone.

I'm reminded of several examples in the Bible where mighty men of God faltered; Moses, Aaron, Saul, Peter, etc... But, of course the greatest example has to be King David, a man that God said was a man after his own heart. (...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.  ~Acts 12:22). I mean, David was a hero from just a young lad. Conquering the wild animals, slaying a mighty giant and saving the Army of God. God himself chose David to be the leader of His people. (I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: ~Psalm 89:20) But David was only human. David swayed under the great influence of sin and transgressed against God when he conceived lust in his heart and committed adultery with his neighbors wife and then had him killed. We can only imagine the number of people that felt betrayed when their great hero fell.

There is a passage of Scripture in Acts 10:34 where the Apostle Peter makes this statement: "...Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons."

As I was meditating upon those words and the meaning behind them, it struck me that not only is God no respecter of persons, neither is sin. Sin effects every single person on the face of this earth and has ever since it entered into man in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Even sinned against God. Ever since then sin has been like an ugly, black cancer that has spread throughout the entire human race. It doesn't matter if you are the most insignificant person or one of the mighty ones like King David. Sin is no respecter of persons.

From a pastor's perspective, I can tell you that we are not immune to sin. In fact, Satan works overtime on the man of God, knowing that if he can possibly destroy his testimony and walk with the Lord that he can do the most damage. Sin not only damages the person that commits the sin, it damages each and every person that he or she is associated with; spouses, children, church members, friends, co-workers, etc...   

So, what can we do when someone lets us down? When someone that you once greatly respected and admired and had your trust in has fallen? First of all, remember that everyone is human and subject to sin. Sin is no respecter of persons. It effects everyone from the least to the greatest. Don't run to Facebook or Twitter to post about them. Don't pick up the phone and start spreading gossip and doing more damage. Instead, turn to the Scriptures for the answers on what to do:

Pray for them: Remember that pastors, preachers, and leaders are constantly dealing with other people's problems and they often tend to neglect their own problems or put them off thinking that they will have time to deal with them later. Bathe them in prayer and pray that the Lord will give them strength to resist sin and temptation. Remember also what Scripture says: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." ~James 5:16

Restore them: This does not necessarily mean that they should be restored as pastor, depending on the circumstances and if they are disqualified from the pastorate, but it certainly does mean that we are to restore them back into the loving family of God and Christian fellowship. Remember what the Scriptures say: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." ~Galatians 6:1.

Forgive them: This is often the hardest thing to do, however, the Bible is very clear on this: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ~Matthew 6:14-15

Love them: Regardless of their failures or the hurt they may have placed on others, we must love them. The Bible says: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" ~1 John 4:20

If you are a fallen pastor or someone who wants to understand more about this subject, you should visit a great website that I found after writing this article. I found it to be an excellent resource on the subject: 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lessons from an old leather belt

6. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8.  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9.  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10.  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. ~ Hebrews 12:6-11
 "This is going to hurt you more than it's going to hurt me."
Boy, that was a big lie I thought to myself. Dad is getting pleasure out of whipping me with that old leather belt. I can tell by the way he jingles the buckle when he takes it off and by the way he snaps the leather making a loud cracking sound as he approaches me. Oh sure, I deserved to be punished, I had done something wrong again but is a whipping really necessary?

Of course that was my way of thinking when I was an 8-years old getting into mischief and being caught. My dad had some kind of 6th sense when it came to figuring out who had done the dirty deeds around the house.

I was born in 1966 and was a child of the 70's. It was a carefree time and I lived in the country away from all of the attractions of the city. I was more drawn to creeks, barns, woods, and dogs than anything else in the world. I didn't realize back then how lucky I was to grow up in a Christian home. Both of my parents were Christians and they made sure that we went to Church when the doors were open. There was no discussion or choices to be made, we went and that was final. I would have had to been running a high fever or severely bleeding to be able to stay out of Church. In my small way of thinking, I felt I was being punished by being raised this way.

"When I grow up I'm going to do whatever I want to do and nobody can tell me otherwise." Little did I know that when I would grow up the things I wanted to do were the things my parents raised me to do.

Now that I'm a grown man with a wife and three children, I can look back on those days of my childhood and just smile. I never heard my father raise his voice to my mother, he never cursed, he never struck her out of anger, he never abandoned us. He was a solid rock and still is. The lessons he taught me from the strap of that old leather belt are precious to me now. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change a single thing (well except I think I would try not to be so mischievous.)

I had the joy of preaching a message this past Sunday on Father's Day. There was my dad sitting in the congregation on the 5th pew from the front, right beside my mother. I used my life lessons from dad throughout my sermon in illustrations. It wasn't really until I was preaching that I realized how much in common my earthly father has with my Heavenly Father. Oh, I know he wouldn't think so but I can't imagine having a better dad. I just hope I can be half of the man that he has been during his lifetime.

Give this message a listen and see if you can relate your father with the Heavenly Father: 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

God loves us more than a Mustang!

Some of my favorite times of sharing the Gospel is when I get to share it with children. Vacation Bible school and our annual Easter Egg Hunt are always great. It never ceases to amaze me at some of the things kids will say. This year I heard one I had not heard before.

All the kids were gathered around in a circle in front of me. I started off asking them what they knew about sin. Several of their little hands raised and they began naming off different sins. After this I went into how sin separates us from God and how we needed to repent and trust Christ as our Savior. Afterwards I handed out small slips of paper with John 3:16 printed on them and on the other side I wrote out John 3:16 and had them insert their names in place of "whosoever." They had a fun time doing that. One little guy that could barely read began reading it off and every time he said his name he would grin from ear to ear. I've got to tell you it really blessed my heart.

Then I made the statement to them that God loved them more than anything in the world. Several of them looked surprised but one young man said: "you mean God loves me even more than a Mustang?" I replied, "yep, believe it or not, even more than a Mustang!" He looked at me with his mouth dropped open and said "WOW!"

Sometimes I get a hard time from some people for giving the kids candy and letting them hunt Eggs. "Those are pagan traditions and have no place in the church," they say... Well, I don't know all about that but what I do know is that I was able to take 20 minutes and clearly share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and explain to each one of those children about the love of God. If it means that that they ate a little too much candy and spent 15 minutes hunting plastic eggs in the Church yard then so be it. You know why? Because God loves us even more than a Mustang!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ask not what your Church can do for you...

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." ~ John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.
Those famous words have rang out in our great nation for the past 53-years. At the time they were spoken, the country was in great turmoil. It was the middle of the Cold War as well as many problems with Cuba and Fidel Castro. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing and violence was sweeping the country. During the midst of all of the turmoil it would be real easy to ask the question; "what can my country do for me." But instead, the newly elected President of the United States was rallying people by appealing to their love for their country and urging them to ask instead; "what can I do for my country?"

As the Pastor of a small Baptist Church, I often have folks that visit, call, or email, asking what our Church can offer them? One recent visitor wrote a large list of things that she wanted in a Church. I couldn't help but notice that everything on the list was centered on herself. It was all about "me, myself, and I." There was not one single thing on her list asking about any opportunities that were available for her to help out in. It was just a large list of her selfish wants. Needless to say we didn't have any of the things on her grocery list.

Sadly, that is what the majority of people are doing nowadays when it comes to finding a Church. This is called "consumerism" and sadly some Churches are just desperate enough to give into it. They are offering a hodge-podge of customer friendly activities and programs. "Don't like Church? You'll love ours because we are nothing like a Church." "Tired of hearing sermons about sin? No worries, our Pastor never mentions them." In fact, some Churches are going as far as to remove the Church steeple from the top of the building so that they do not resemble a Church at all in order to appeal more to the world and this consumer driven mentality.

In one of my Seminary classes Pastor Clarence Sexton when speaking about the Church and how we are to be separated and different than the world, made a comment that will forever stay with me. He said: "The world does not need another copy of itself." How true that is!

I pray that God would raise up some men and women who are more in love with the Lord than they are of themselves. I pray that more Church Pastors and Preachers would stand firm on the Word of God and not give in to the world and the selfishness of mankind. I'm not worried about the true Church because I know it is protected by God Almighty Himself. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew: "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." ~Matthew. 16:18b KJV. But I am worried about the future of my children and my grandchildren if this current trend of consumer driven religion continues. Would to God that our motto be: "Ask not what your Church can do for you - ask what you can do for your Church."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dear Savior Thou Art Mine

My family and I enjoy singing an old hymn titled, Dear Savior Thou Art Mine, written by Anna Hudson. We learned it after hearing it performed by the Temple Baptist Church choir during one of their meetings that was broadcast online. The words of this song really speak to me and reveal such wonderful Biblical truths. I'm reminded of these words from Isaiah 43:11: "I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour."

The video below is my family singing this hymn:

Dear Savior Thou Art Mine (download sheet music here)
by A. Hudson

1. Dear Savior, Thou art mine,
How sweet the thought to me;
Let me repeat Thy name,
And lift my heart to Thee.

Mine! Mine! Mine!
I know Thou art mine;
Savior, dear Savior,
I know Thou art mine.

2. Thou art the sinner’s friend,
So I Thy friendship claim,
A sinner saved by grace,
When Thy sweet message came.

3. My hardened heart was touched;
Thy pard’ning voice I heard;
And joy and peace came in
While list’ning to Thy word.

4. So let me sing Thy praise,
So let me call Thee mine.
I cannot doubt Thy word,
I know that I am Thine.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

God cares

Driving in to work this morning the traffic was extremely heavy, patience was apparently very low as I saw many angry drivers passing and swerving in and out of traffic. I get to my office and the phone is already ringing with angry customers arguing and complaining. I check my email and it is filled with even more impatient people looking for support. I feel like I’m the only one working and no one cares. It's like there is a dark cloud hanging over my head. I count down the hours and minutes until lunch break which feels like an eternity away. As soon as the noon lunch hour hits I kick the door open and head outside to get away from it all. It is hot and humid outside and I start sweating as soon as I step in the parking lot.

 I drive to the back of the parking lot near a deserted area near the edge of the woods, pull my canvas camping chair from the trunk and sit down beneath a shade tree (this is my usual daily routine). I get settled into my chair and begin replaying the whole morning over in my head and feeling really frustrated. I close my eyes and begin praying and asking the Lord for strength to make it through the rest of the day.

 As I open my eyes, suddenly from out of nowhere a beautiful butterfly softly lights on my leg. I watch in amazement as it seems completely unafraid of me. It flutters it’s wings back and forth almost as if it is trying to talk to me. I pulled my cell phone out and began taking pictures of the butterfly so I could capture it’s beauty and remember it later. It walked around on my leg for a while, up my arm, across my shoulders, and then it fluttered into the sky and I watched it soar away out of sight. I was smiling, I felt a sense of freedom and renewed strength, and then I realized… God cares and He just answered my prayer! -- “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” ~1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beautiful Barbed-Wire

This morning I was looking at some photographs that I had taken a few years ago. They were of places around my home in the country where I grew up. One of the pictures was of an old fence post wrapped in barbed-wire. To most people that wouldn't be very appealing, but to me it brings back fond memories of being a young innocent boy running around on the farmlands that surrounded me.

 It dawned on me while looking at those picture that people see things differently because they have never experienced it. To some a barbed-wire fence is a symbol of danger, privacy, and something to avoid. But to others, like myself, it is an invitation to grab the post, climb the strands, and jump to the other side to see what wonderful things await me; beautiful cool running streams, cow pastures, fields of fresh cut hay, banks of lush green clovers...

 I suppose it is the same way with God. Some people see the LORD as someone to avoid, a symbol of danger, condemnation, and judgment. While others see Him as an invitation, a symbol of safety, compassion, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

 Maybe today will be the day that you put your fears of the unknown aside, grab that post, climb those strands and see what wonders await you. “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” ~Psalm 34:8 KJV

Friday, August 23, 2013

Waiting for the SON to shine

I took the attached picture today on my lunch break as I sat outside enjoying the beautiful day. I watched above me as the clouds would pass by overhead. One minute everything would be bright and sunny, the next it would be dim and shaded. I noticed as the dark storm clouds passed by, that the sun was still up there it was just not as obvious. It still provided warmth and light and I knew if I waited long enough the clouds would pass by and the sun would shine in all of its glory.

 Of course I couldn't help but be reminded of the times in my life when it seemed that everything was going good and then suddenly a storm arose. Why in those times do we feel like God is not there? Why do we question Him and wonder “why me?” If we would only stop and remember that even though things may look dark and stormy, He is still there providing us with the strength to go on. If we will just be patient and wait, eventually things will get better and the SON will still be there shining in all of His glory. “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” ~Isaiah 25:4 KJV

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We are all in this thing together

Being a preacher I often see things that a lot of people aren't privy to. For instance, get in a meeting with a bunch of preachers and you will understand why some churches are full of cliques; it comes from the top down. One group of supposedly “successful preachers” (running 150 or more) won’t have anything to do with the so-called “unsuccessful preachers” (running less than 100). It is sort of like being in high school with the popular kids and the unpopular kids. And there is always that one that is more popular than the rest because he had a sermon published in the Sword or spoke at one of the big conferences, and everyone clamors for his attention. If it wasn't so disgusting it would be humorous. Jealousy and envy has got to be some of the ugliest of all sins. The problem is that it reflects a man’s true heart. You can try to hide it all you want but eventually that green-eyed monster will pop up and reveal itself. Proverbs 14:30 says: “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.”

 For the past year I have made it a point to pray for the other churches and pastors around me. I pray that the Lord gives them good attendance in their services, gives them souls for their labor, and power behind the pulpit. I have found that by doing this God has given me peace during the times in my ministry when things aren't going as well as I expect; when the numbers are down and when it seems no one responds to the Gospel call. I think it would do us all good to remember we are in this thing together. It’s not about who has more, who did more, or how popular you are, but it’s about whether or not you stepped out on faith and obeyed the Lord. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” ~2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breakin' the law

This morning I was leaving the hospital after visiting my brother. I merged onto the interstate and was quickly going 65-mph. I looked in my rear-view mirror just as a policeman merged on behind me. Instinctively I let off the gas and got down to the 55-mph speed limit. I noticed other people on the interstate also slowing down. Suddenly it dawned on me; I could choose to ignore the law and go ahead and speed and most likely the policeman would pull me over and write me a ticket. But, if I obey the law and be a responsible driver I will receive no penalty. Just because I have the ability to break the law doesn't make it right.

 I am all about grace. But let’s not forget that grace means “unmerited favor.” In other words, you did NOTHING to deserve it or earn it but God freely bestowed it on you. Too many people today have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. How it must break the Lord’s heart to look down on the people that He died for and watch them trample His blood under their feet and then proclaim that same blood gives them the right to sin. Just because we have the ability to break God’s laws does not make it right. The Apostle Paul says: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” ~Romans 6:15 KJV

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Take it to the Lord

When you have a problem with someone don't "take to twitter" or "complain on facebook" or any other public forum. First take it to the Lord in prayer and then take it to the person you have the problem with. Lots of times you can just write down all of your frustrations on a piece of paper and then destroy it afterwards and you will feel much better. That sure beats looking like a complete idiot or damaging someone's reputation or hurting your own testimony. " Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." ~1 Peter 5:7 KJV

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Still not perfect

I’m glad I can look back on my life in the ministry and see how the Lord has developed me. When I was a young immature preacher I had all of my priorities messed up. I used to think to be a successful preacher I needed to preach loud, hard, fast, get red faced, work up a sweat, jump high, get a lot of Amen’s, use a bunch of clich├ęs, tell funny jokes, wear white shirts, be well known, draw large crowds, have my name published, get a bunch of pats on the back and people telling me how good I preached... and then I realized that all of those things were about ME, and none of them were about Jesus.

 Sometimes I get so embarrassed when I listen to my old sermons or meet someone that knew me in those early days, but now I realize that he was just perfecting me, not that I’m perfect by any means but praise God I’m not the man I used to be! I am so glad the Lord humbled me and broke me from myself. The truth is, none of the things we do in the flesh are going to matter when we stand before Him naked. All that is going to matter is our personal relationship with Him and how we handled the truth of the Gospel. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” ~Hebrews 4:13 KJV

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beanee Weenees in Heaven

Yesterday morning at church there was a visiting family with 4 children. During fellowship time I shook each one of their hands. As I got down to the last little guy he stuck his hand out and with a huge smile said: "We're having Beanee Weenees for lunch!" I'm sure his parents were slightly embarrassed but they had no need to be. They have no idea how precious that little boy was to me. I squeezed his little hand and said, "Man, that sounds good! I love Beanee Weenees!" His face lit up in one of most beautiful smiles I've ever seen. I thought about it all day and started thinking how I wish everyone could be as innocent and truthful as that little guy. Then it struck me, that's what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Not that we will dine on Beanee Weenees, although I wouldn't mind, but that we will all be innocent, truthful, and loving. Thank you Lord for a gentle reminder through the life of a precious child.  
"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." ~Matthew 19:14 KJV

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Unto one of the least of these

"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." ~Matthew 25:40

Tonight as I was driving home from work. I was on a busy stretch of road with cars in front of me and behind me. We came to a red light at a very busy intersection. Up about five cars ahead of me there was a black man standing on the side of the road. I could tell by looking at him he was homeless or in a bad way. It was a hot day and nobody was rolling their windows down or looking in the man's direction. Yet he stood there hoping for someone to have mercy on him. 

I was in my nice comfortable air conditioned car heading to Krystal's to get my family some hamburgers for supper. The Lord had blessed me with a little extra cash this past week so I reached in the glove box and got  one of my favorite Bible tracts, stuck a five dollar bill in it and rolled down my window. When the light turned green I eased up with my hand out the window and the man stepped off the curb and took it with a very warm "thank you." I said "you're welcome buddy," and I drove on by. So, I was out five dollars, big deal. All  that means is that I might have to go without some small comfort, like a coke or a sausage biscuit. But, that five dollars could very well be the only money that man has to his name. Sure, the money won't change his life, but perhaps he will read the Bible tract and the Lord could get ahold of him and change him forever. 

The only reason I am writing about this is because I want to give you something to think about. Next time you see someone in need, someone less fortunate than you are, why not offer them something? Everybody needs to feel loved. Everybody wants to feel like they are worth something. You never know what little thing you do might do for someone else. 

In closing, I'd like to remind you of this passage of Scripture: 
Mat 25:33-46
33  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How are you redeeming the time?

‎I once knew a Pastor that was always down on other Pastors who were educated. In fact, he carried a real chip on his shoulder about it. He made the statement that he "didn't have time to go back to school" because he was just "too busy." The odd thing was he seemed to have a tremendous amount of time to do other things that were non church or work related. After knowing him for some time, I realized his real problem wasn't that he didn't have time, it was just that he was lazy. He didn't want to take time for an education.

The truth is, you will find the time to do the things you really want to do. If you want to know the Bible you will find time to read it. If you want to have a prayer life you will find time to pray. If you want to get an education you will find time to be educated. If you want to go to church you will find time to go to church. The same goes for fishing, eating, partying, shopping, watching television, sleeping etc.

The Apostle Paul in writing to the Church at Ephesus, writes this: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." ~Ephesians 5:15-16. 

Me graduating with my Bachelor's Degree
I was once a fool trying to make my way through life. When I was in high school all I wanted to do was get out. My parents warned me over and over that I should go to college immediately after school but I just assumed they were crazy. Instead, I got married and worked a minimum wage job. Every morning I would get up at 6:00 A.M. so I could be on the job at the nursing home to sweep, mop, and wax floors. I hated that job with all of my being; I was miserable. It finally dawned on me that if I didn't do something about it, I would be mopping floors the rest of my life. So, I enrolled in an Electronic school and earned my A.S. in Electronics. Soon afterwards, I was able to get a job working in that field. After a few years I decided that wasn't enough either, so I worked in my full time job and went to college in the evenings and earned a B.S. in Management. Soon afterwards I was able to get an even better job working for one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world. Eventually I felt God leading me to get even more education and I applied to Crown College & Seminary and was accepted. This coming May, after 3 years of Seminary studies, I plan to graduate with a Master's Degree in Ministry. I did this while working full time, pastoring full time, and being a full time husband and father to 3 children. Was this an easy feat? No! In fact, it was very difficult but somehow I found time to do it.

Let me ask you something; are you satisfied with where you are in life right now? Are there things you wish you could do but it just seems that they are out of reach? Does it seem to you that everyone else is getting ahead or "much luckier" than you? Friend, luck has very little to do with it. The real question is, how are you redeeming the time?

Why don't you make the decision right now to turn things around? Pray and ask the Lord to help you to find time or to make time to walk circumspectly as He would have you to walk. He will help you, I am living proof!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Is Your Gethsemane Moment?

Matthew 26:36-45
36  Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37  And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39  And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40  And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42  He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43  And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44  And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45  Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

The above passage of Scripture has always lingered in the back of my mind. Our Lord Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray during one of the most agonizing times in his life. You must remember that Jesus was not only 100% God but he was also 100% man. That means that he had feelings, desires, wishes, and emotions like we have.

During his years of ministry he surrounded himself with a close band of disciples. You might call them His local church. These disciples, whom he called friends, were with him through nearly everything. Three of them, Peter, James, and John, he trusted to be his "inner circle" of friends, in which he shared the most with. These three friends were privileged to be with him on the Mount of Transfiguration, where he revealed His true Glory. It seemed they were inseparable and from all appearances they dearly loved Jesus. I guess that's why Matthew 26 weighs so heavily on my mind.

You see, this was the most horrific and terrifying day in the life of Jesus. It was the day that he knew he was going to be betrayed, taken into custody, brutally beaten, falsely accused of crimes, and crucified. That is why he asked his three closest friends to go with him to the Garden and pray. It was a simple prayer request really. He just wanted them to sit outside of the Garden and watch and pray. I mean, these were his three closest friend, right? Surely they could do this simple thing for the One they loved with all of their hearts...

But, they fell asleep. Can you imagine how Jesus felt as he was agonizing in the Garden, only to return to check on his friends and find them asleep?  We always think of Judas being the one that betrayed Christ but really, all of them betrayed him in some way. Their seemingly lack of concern for Him must have felt like a betrayal as well.

As a Pastor, I have had those Gethsemane moments as well. You would think that eventually you would get used to it but it is always a shock when someone that you thought loved you suddenly turns their back on you. The sad part is these are the very people that you love with all of your heart, you pray for every day, and you hurt for when they are hurting. My grandfather who was also a Pastor once said that the church where he was pastoring held an appreciation day for him and the members all gathered around and pinned flowers on him from head to toe and told him how much they loved him. He said it wasn't a week later that those same members wanted to take the flowers off and just stick the pins in him! 

So, why am I even writing this solemn Pastor's Pen? Well, the key is in verse 45, after the third time Jesus returned to them, he found them asleep yet again, but, notice that he did not yell, scream, and berate them for their slothfulness, he simply said, "Sleep on now, and take your rest." Even in his pain and agony and betrayal he still loved his friends enough to tell them to go ahead and get some sleep. That's the heart of a true Shepherd or Pastor. That is why I can still go and stand behind a pulpit and preach, sit beside the bedside of someone dying, hold the hand of those that are hurting, and pray for those that betray me, because I do love them and care for them. That is why I have always said a true Shepherd will feed and lead, not starve and beat.

So, what is your Gethsemane moment? Have you been betrayed by those you love and thought loved you just as much? If so, how did you handle it? I think we can all take a lesson from one of the worst days in our Lord's life and instead of retaliating, we should just love our betrayers even more. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The weight of words

Like most folks, I do a lot of social networking on the Internet. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger on a regular basis. It gives me the ability to interact with family, church members, old high school friends, and co-workers. This past week I posted something on Facebook not really expecting any feedback of what I posted. Much to my surprise I received an email from someone concerning my post. Unknowing to me, this person had been needing something in their life and the words that I posted was just what they had been looking for. I was both humbled and grateful that the Lord used something that I hadn't really put much thought into, to make a difference in someone else's life.

Well, all of this got me to thinking about the things that I say or write that others may read or hear. For you, dear reader, I want to offer a bit of advice: Before posting something on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, or any other Social network, take time to consider the ramifications your written words may have. What may seem frivolous to you could be life changing to someone else. You've heard it said that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me," but this is untrue. Words can and do hurt, and hurt bad. Words, both written and spoken, have the power to start wars and end wars, start relationships and end relationships, and save a life or end a life. You never know what is going on in the life of the person on the other end of your words. They may be hanging on by a thread and the words that you write or say may be the thing that cuts the thread or strengthens it.

Imagine if you will, someone sitting at their computer at home that does not have the ability to get out of the house. Perhaps they have very little personal interaction with anyone in life. They may be hanging on to every word that is written on a social network. It may be their source of companionship or may be the only relationship that they have with anyone. As you can imagine, for someone like this words are very important. They cannot see your facial expression or know your intent but they can read what you write and come to their own conclusions, whether right or wrong.

The same goes in the words that you speak with your mouth. You would never speak some of the things that you type on a social network because you realize it would offend, embarrass, or make you to be a total heal, so why do it on the computer? So, choose your words wisely and take heed of what the Bible says in James 3:2: 
"For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."