Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Have You Found Your Way, Yet?

In 1989, while we were still in transition in Lima, the mission board gave us a Nissan, double-cab pickup for our family, and pointed us south to the city of Arequipa. They gave us general directions to the Pan American Highway and said, “Follow the signs.” Lima was in chaos in those days. Thanks to terrorism, most lights were out at the major intersections. You had to drive with two sets of eyes. As hard as that was, that was the easy part. We knew at the other end of that long, two-day drive, we had a home. Figuring out how to get to that home is another story. Our truck was loaded to the top of the camper shell on our new truck. And off we drove, headed to our new place of ministry.

On the second day we made it to Arequipa. We had visited the city. We had visited the house that would be our home. But we rode in taxis and we had only been from downtown to the street we lived on. We were acquainted with the city and the general way to our house; but we did not know it. It was only general information for us. There was no such thing as a Garmin. No such thing as access to GPS. No such thing as a cell phone. You just drove, stopped, and asked. People pointed in a general direction and you drove, only to have to stop and ask again. We got there finally. But someone had to show us the way.

Sometimes, in our rush to live life, we assume we will find our way. It's human nature for many of us, after all, to be independent and figure things out for ourselves. But there are some things you simply can't figure out for yourself. You need someone to show you the way. When it comes to eternal life, God has taken care of that.

First, God expects those who understand the way to tell others about the way. And why wouldn't we want to do that? Think about it. You know the way to the greatest place and the greatest person; why wouldn't you want to show others that way?

Second, God sent the Holy Spirit to show you (us) the way. It's not enough that I tell you. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the convincing and teaching about the way. He is even the one who makes you want to find the way. He is the one who illuminates your heart so that you can see the way. He is the "GPS" we didn't have when we went to Arequipa. 

Third, if you want to be in that place of eternal rest and joy, and in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords, then God expects you to take the one way he has provided. The Lord may point out the way, but you have to choose to travel down that way. 

By the way, if you are looking for eternal life, Jesus is the way. There is no other way. 
Jesus is the Truth. He has answers some of you are looking for. Jesus is the life. You want to be satisfied? You will find the most satisfying life in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Virginia Murders: A Perspective

If you saw or read yesterday's reports about the cold-blooded killing of two Virginia television reporters (the reporter and her cameraman), you may have been stunned, sickened, and likely angry. There is quite a bit about it that still sickens me. I think it is sick that the media concentrated their reporting time on this, largely ignoring the rest of the nation and world. How many of you were aware that yet another Louisiana patrolman was murdered yesterday? A largely unreported story about Boko Haram crossed some news wires 3 days ago; how many of you heard about that one? What's my point? My point is that when it was a journalist who died, it was suddenly "breaking news."

Here's a news flash: all lives matter! The nearly 60 million aborted lives matter. The black on black, white on white--whatever the racial background or combination thereof--murders should alarm us. But it seems to me that they don't matter until the media tell us they matter. It's almost as though they get to do the thinking for us.

The fact that too many want to escalate this issue and create unrest through it also matters. Prejudice is a multi-lane highway, folks. It runs several different ways. And it is repugnant in its many forms.

At the same time, under-reporting and misreporting the facts behind the heinous crime that took place matters. Did political correctness drive some of the declarations and stories? Without a doubt! After all, the media get to do our thinking for us...; and the agenda of many of them is not kind to conservatives. So when I linked a story from a largely conservative site that revealed the background story of the murderer, I took a little heat from it. Oh, well; that's the price for thinking for myself, I guess.

Now that I have ranted about the junk surrounding this despicable act of violence, one that broke my heart to hear and see on video reports, let me get to the bottom line. The bottom line is this: we witnessed the tragedy of a life darkened by sin. The sun set on this man's thinking. He was given over to a mind filled with all kinds of horrid and unspeakable thoughts. When a nation forgets God, this is what happens. Unless we Christ-followers repent and unless God Almighty sends revival to the church, I fear we will see even more of the same. After all, we are the salt and light of the world. Unsavory salt is worthless. Stained and dirty lamp shades don't let out much light. And the nation won't seek God until the church leads the way.

That's my perspective, for what it's worth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lessons from Ashley

There are a lot of newsworthy stories out there, so much so that writing about something like this seems to be very unnecessary and insignificant. In some ways, that would be true. I want to help us focus, however, on the truth that we can learn from the dreadful (to many) Ashley Madison Scandal. If you live in a vacuum, or are just coming back from a coma, or maybe lived in the jungles of a remote part of the world, follow the link above; they will summarize what happened for you.

Millions of men and women are cowering in a corner right now. They tremble with fear that they will be found out by their significant other. Or maybe they are single and looking for a man or woman out for a "cheat" thrill; but now they tremble as well.

Who is on the list? In short, people from virtually every walk of life. I can't find it now, but one Imam (a Muslim leader) insisted he never put his name out there. I'm not saying he did; I am only demonstrating they are from every walk of life.

What can we learn from this, as we read and hear about this person and that person being outed? What can we learn when place by place, country, state, and city, names are splashed all over the internet for others to see? One place will tell you not to look at the list; let it be. Another tells you to go ahead and take a look; you may find that special loved one's fidelity is in words only. What to do with all that conflicting counsel?

Here is the lesson I draw from Ashley:

As men and women, married and single cringe in fear that their secret is out of the bag, their greater fear is yet to come--unless they repent and believe the gospel. Rev. 20:11, 12 reveal a day when all the earth will try to hide from the Lord God, who will judge all men.  Verse 15 in the same book promises that those whose names are not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire; eternally separated from God. Eternally punished for their sins, both public and secret.

Second, I am reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 13:1-5. Instead of a direct quote, let me paraphrase it for you. There were millions whose identities were divulged from a website designed for adulterers, and whose lives were ruined by their foolish choice. Do you think you are more righteous than they? I tell you, no; unless you also repent you will perish, too. 

Finally, I am reminded that forgiveness is available to all who will turn to Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that Jesus paid for my sin; not just mine, but the sins of the whole world. Anyone who will come to Jesus will find him ready to pardon and cleanse from the pollution, stench, and stain of sin. I suspect a lot of men and women are scrambling to find a good lawyer. Let me recommend the best lawyer of all. His name is Jesus. Come to him and let him plead your case before the Father in heaven.

And that is what I can take away from Ashley Madison.

Friday, June 26, 2015

SCOTUS, Thy Name is Treason and a Millstone Awaits Thee

Our hearts were crushed today. We had held out hope against hope that some modicum of wisdom still prevailed in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). They ably demonstrated, however, that their minds and hearts have been darkened by the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air. No man or woman with common sense can possibly look at any body of thought and conclude that marriage must be redefined. But one who follows the twisted, dark, ungodly logic of the prince of the power of the air will most certainly swim in the cesspool of perversion of thought that 5 justices chose to swim in.

At great risk and personal peril, in a time when 1st Amendment rights have been sorely erode and expunged from society, I say that at least 5 of our SCOTUS justices will face the fierce, unrelenting wrath of God, unless they repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. I do not say this with vitriol. I speak it with a broken heart. The Holy Spirit who lives within me is grieved. As a consequence, I am grieved, albeit not to the extent He is.

That being said, I issue a warning straight from Jesus' mouth: 1He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2"It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Dishonorable Justices, you have caused many to stumble today. I admonish you to repent. Repent or perish.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Worshipping Jesus

I want to take you to a passage in John 12 that I hope will speak to your heart. It's about worship. It's about loving Jesus. In case someone gets confused, I am speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ, the one true Savior. The one born of a virgin. The one who died on the cross and was raised from the dead. I hope this blesses you...

Our text is that period of time between the end of Jesus’ public ministry and the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. When we see Jesus in Bethany, he has already been to Jericho where he healed Bartimaeus and saved Zacchaeus. Now we are at the home of the one they call Simon the Leper. Lazarus is one of the ones at the meal. What we are about to see is a thing of beauty. We are about to see two acts of worship, both done in very different ways; but both are perfectly appropriate according to God’s work in the hearts of each worshipper.
V1, 2 – Martha serves. I am not sure I would have seen this if I had not been in Rom. 12 today, preparing a devotional guide for our mission team to Peru. And on the drive over I heard a Bible teacher speaking of Romans 12 in his lesson. So my mind has been guided through some great words today. Look at them: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 
So Martha showed her gratitude and worship the best way she knew how. Did she understand everything that was about to happen? We don’t know. But we know she served. Why is this significant? I mean, I am speaking to a group of people who have served up many a meal. It’s common for us. So what’s the big deal? There is a strong likelihood that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were of sufficient means as to have servants to do this. After all, they had one who could work as a messenger in John 11.
But they aren’t the ones we see dishing out the food. It’s Martha. She is serving. Service is a good form of worship when it is done with joy and without complaining. The last time we saw Martha serving she complained about Mary not serving. The only thing her complaint got her was a rebuke from Jesus. So now here she is. Serving. With no words of complaint. No fussing that she is doing this alone. No fussing over being recognized. She is just serving.
V3 – Mary sacrificed. She poured out onto the Lord Jesus in one minute what it would take most people one year to earn. I don’t know how much that would be, maybe $20,000 in today’s average wages; maybe as much as $40,000. But I do know that even at that the low end of that, by the world’s standards, the sacrifice would be astounding for any of us. It begs the question, ladies and gents: how much is Jesus worth to you? Is He worth 10%? Is He worth more, or less? Is He worth your service? Remember, Martha served.
How much is the kingdom of God worth? What about the gospel?
There’s Jesus, reclining in the Middle-Eastern fashion around the dinner table. There is Mary, on her knees before Jesus, wiping his feet with her hair. Once more, this speaks volumes to me—more than I can possibly put into words. Slaves washed feet, not sisters of honored guests. Slaves touched nasty feet that had plodded across dusty trails. Mary takes her hair, which is her crown of glory, according to Scripture, and she uses it like a rag on the feet of Jesus. All the glory you have is only good enough to wash the feet of Jesus.
The fragrance of her sacrifice and worship filled the room. Let me ask you, when you worship each week, what fragrance fills the room? Is it the fragrance of presenting yourselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God? Or is it the fragrance of the “let’s get on with it” mentality of today’s society? I’m ashamed to say I have been guilty of uncorking a bottle of hurry-this-up anointing oil and stinking up the room with it.
V4-6 – The fragrance filled the room and the disciples smelled it. Especially Judas. And Judas wasn’t happy. Where others smelled the fragrance of devotion, Judas smelled the fragrance of denarii. Others saw and act of worship. Judas called it a waste. Some people feel that way about making any sacrifice to the Lord. To them, it is a total waste. It costs too much. It’s a waste to give one’s life to share the gospel across the seas. It costs too much to be involved in the things of God. It’s a waste to give tithes to a local church. It’s a waste to invest in the kingdom of God. Judas’ claim was without foundation; he was a lying, selfish thief. His pious words were really carefully disguised poison, meant to profit himself.

V7, 8 – Jesus gave a well-placed rebuke and a well-stated reminder to us. The rebuke serves to keep the focus on Jesus. The reminder is to teach us to take every advantage of the opportunity before us to worship Christ with all our mind, soul, heart, and strength. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Can We Clarify Marriage?

This next week is a big week in our part of the world. It may not seem big. In fact, for many, it would not even be a ripple on the water. But it's bigger than many may realize. Our great church is hosting a conference regarding the sanctity of marriage. See the information in this flyer:

I can't tell you how important the timing of the conference is. On April 28th the Supreme Court of the United States, will hear oral arguments regarding same-sex marriage. America has had 20 years of bombardment of television and movies, not to mention the push by main stream media pundits, all of which have tried to paint this normal view of the same sex lifestyle. An entire generation has been conditioned to see such lifestyles as normal. Are they? What does the Bible say about these and other lifestyles that have surfaced since then?

If in or near Hattiesburg, MS, come find out. Otherwise, sometime after the conference you will be able to watch the recorded sessions on our website:

I hope to see some of you there.