This 3 minute video may be the shortest message you hear this Thanksgiving. it is a simple reminder of three things for which we must give our undying thanks to God. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving.
This 3 minute video may be the shortest message you hear this Thanksgiving. it is a simple reminder of three things for which we must give our undying thanks to God. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving.
For a number of years as my father-in-law’s health declined and his Homegoing drew closer, I felt compelled to have our families spend ‘my’ Father’s Day honoring him by traveling to his nursing home in the Memphis area to love on him because we never know when it’s going to be the last time. As Spurgeon said so well. “Our duty is our delight…”
My last act as the next senior dad in our families was to gather all of us around Dadaw, as he is known to his grands, lay hands on him, and pray. The most important part of my prayer was answered this morning. Dadaw was ushered gently Home – his spirit safely in the presence the Savior he loved so much.
We are so blessed our entire family was able to make the trip to be with him one more time this side of Heaven. My daughter was very excited to take our new grandson to meet his great grandfather. He seemed alert enough to know we were there. His quips slowed over the years, but he still had the occasional one that defined his wry sense of humor.
My dear brothers, do not take such days and times for granted. We have no promise of a next day or even our next breath. But if you are in Christ, you have the most important promise of all – eternal life spent in Heaven with Jesus and all the saints who have gone before and those who will follow us Home. It was a…
Happy Father’s Day indeed,
Another Father’s Day is upon us, and, honestly, I am not sure what else can be said on the subject. Many books have been written and sermons preached. Having grown up in the church, I have literally heard them all my life. With multiple teaching times just ahead, I had no intention of adding more to that. My journal is full of other thoughts and verses written down believing one day they will encourage and equip men in our walks with the Lord. But today my focus was turned to this timely subject—fathers and sons.
I have been a son since the day I was born and a father more than thirty years. I recently became a “grand”-father. Being a father is a great honor and privilege, yet our high office is not without trials and tribulations. The responsibilities can be intimidating—sometimes overwhelming. Most of us men do not want to let cracks in the armor of our manhood become exposed. But at some point in our lives as fathers, they are.
The Bible contains many examples of fathers and sons. My mind was taken to three that give us much to read, chew on, and digest as we consider them in the context of our own experiences as fathers and sons.
Abraham and Isaac. The faith of a father—the love and trust of a son.
The story of Abraham spans Genesis 12 – 25. Much of that covers the twenty-five years from God’s promise he would have an heir and descendants “as numerous as the stars”. Abram was 75 when he received the promise—100 when he received his son, Isaac.
While his age is a great conversation among biblical apologists, Isaac was young man when God gave his father the most incredible order in biblical history. God commanded Abraham to “take his son, his only son whom you love (and had waited on for 25 years) and sacrifice him” (Genesis 22:2) – a burnt offering at that!
In the next verse we read the most amazing act of obedience in all of Scripture apart from Jesus Himself. Abraham packed up what he needed, got Isaac, and headed for Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son. The most incredible thing that is easy to miss (because it is not there) is this—no argument from Abraham. As fathers, we would have been screaming, crying, and begging God to relent on such a ridiculous command.
It is probably safe to say no father ever loved his son more than Abraham loved Isaac. Yet in complete and swift obedience, he prepared to kill him. But do not forget about Isaac. We know he questioned his father about where the sacrifice was. Abraham simply told him God would provide (Jehovah Jireh). The love and trust of Isaac for his father is obvious in his obedience. He was old enough to have resisted being placed on a pile of wood to be the sacrifice. Abraham was old. Isaac probably could have taken away the knife. But he did not.
We know how the story turned out. God stayed the hand of Abraham, sparing the life of Isaac and immeasurable grief for his father. What did we learn?
David and Solomon. A Portrait of Contradiction and Consistency
That is an odd way to position this part of our lesson. But the Bible clearly teaches that David was indeed both. He was an amazing young man who began writing worship songs watching sheep and continued throughout his life. He believed God completely and stepped in to kill a giant who defied Him as the ‘real’ Israeli soldiers cowered in fear. He loved His Lord God with all his heart. He is the only man in the Bible that God Himself called, “a man after My own Heart”. (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)
But O did David have issues!!! Lust surrendered to that led to adultery and murder. That followed by the death of his child. Too many wives and too many dysfunctional sons. One who raped his sister. Another killed him for that. Later he led a rebellion against his father.
Much of what befell David were consequences of his sin. Yet we know from the most powerful Psalm of all (Psalm 51), David was broken and repentant before the Lord in all of this. When confronted by the prophet of God attending him, he was accountable for his sins.
And who grew up in all of this? Solomon. Solomon was not in line to be David’s heir, but God selected him, and David honored that despite major ramifications from the “rightful heir” son.
David wanted most of all to build God a house – temple – worthy of His magnificence and made all the plans and preparations to do so. But God halted that; instead giving that honor to Solomon. Once again, as with Abraham, we do not read that David complained. Instead he wrote a psalm of praise to God.
When David was about to go Home to be with His Lord, he called Solomon to him and spoke these words.
“So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to Him, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go…” 1 Kings 2: 2-3
What do we learn from such a relationship filled with contradiction on one hand and consistency on the other?
The Father and the Son
God the Father and Jesus the Son. This might seem the more challenging and unusual of the three parts of this lesson. It turned out to be the easiest to write, but perhaps the most difficult for us fathers to apply. In the three examples that follow, it is not His Son that benefits. It is you and me! Consider,
– Sacrificial love. Most of the time when we think of this concept, the sacrificial love of Christ, the Son, for us comes to mind. That is supported by many scriptures. But in the best-known verse in the Bible, John 3: 16, Jesus speaks of the sacrificial love of God. He gave His Son to die as a sacrifice.
– Tough love. This concept was introduced to me through a book on parenting by James Dobson, PhD. It has since been applied to other areas of life including marriage. Reduced to a sentence,
Tough love means holding firm to (biblical) truths and convictions in relationships even when the impact on others may be painful and not seem “loving” in the cultural sense.
It was “tough love” of God that stayed His hand from bringing His Son down from that cross because it should have been you and me there. What He should have done was brought on mankind the judgement due after thousands of years of second chances and failed covenant relationships (on man’s part).
But He did not. Instead He listened as His Son cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27: 46) That, my dear brothers, is the toughest love ever applied which brings us to the third love that is the result of the first two.
– Saving love. Every Christian knows what this means. It is the saving love of God that the Apostle Paul talked about in Romans 5: 8.
“…God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It is the saving love of Jesus that Paul again described in Galatians 2: 20
“…but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
As fathers, lovers of our children (and their mothers), let us strongly take to heart these examples.
Yours for Christ’s sake,
Like many, I was moved to disgust and great sadness when I watched as elected government officials celebrated passing another law adding one more state to the list that can end the lives of babies up to their birthday. This is a message that (1) points all to biblical truth about life in our Creator’s words, His ultimate intolerance of such sin, (2) calls out the Christian church for its passivity, and (3) offers healing and hope to those considering abortion or suffering from its consequences.
Opposites That Do NOT Attract
Understanding This Spiritual Law Will Profoundly Change Your Life
You may (or may not) recall from science and chemistry classes how the phrase “Opposites attract” was derived. That principle helps things move, open or close, and even causes certain chemical compounds to form, like salt.
However moving from the physical laws of science and chemistry to God’s spiritual laws taught in His holy Word, we encounter a most amazing discovery. Not only do opposites not attract, they represent stark contrasts between how our lives, as biblical Christian men, should look to those who are lost—deny Christ thereby living apart from any relationship with God.
Following are two sets of opposites that clearly do not attract (chosen from many) that are simple, straightforward, and appear throughout the Bible straight from the mouth of God or Jesus. They serve to teach, correct, reprove, rebuke when required, and training (2 Timothy 3:16). My goal is to encourage you to examine your heart and life before Christ with a close eye or, if necessary, the higher power of magnifying glass to see what the evidence suggests.
Hot and Cold
HOT – The Bible often uses fire as a means of expressing the presence and power of God. Here are a few examples:
God’s presence before Moses was in a burning bush. When He had Moses’ attention, God spoke to him through the fire as the bush burned but was not consumed. (Exodus 3: 1-4)
“The angel of the LORD appeared to (Moses) in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.”
We read in Leviticus about burnt offerings God demanded from His people. We know that “fire came out from the presence of God” and consumed the offerings. (Leviticus 9: 24)
We also learn another key point that has been the text of many sermons over the years. In Leviticus 6:13, God instructed them to NEVER let the fire go out. We will come back to that.
COLD – The Bible uses the word cold in some contexts we do today, e.g., temperature. However the analogies move to a more foreboding application when find the word used to describe that heart of man. It is particularly troubling when applied to someone who once had a fiery love for Jesus that has grown cold. Breaks the heart of God to when cares, concerns, bad things that happen, or even demonic attacks from our fierce enemy, cause that love to diminish and, in some hearts, grow altogether cold.
Jesus spoke on this subject, noting that as the end of time approaches it will become more prevalent and evident.
“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24: 12-13
Pretenders and cultural Christians will fall away and grow cold toward God because of all that happens around them. Many desert Him now as they did in the before and during His crucifixion. True believers endure to the end.
The “Why does a good God allow bad things to happen” question will cloud their minds and chill hearts toward a Father Who loves them through it all. We see this today every time a natural or man-made disaster occurs and God does not act as people think He should.
As blood-bought, born-again, biblical Christian men, we know and cling to the truth of God’s Word. In the OT, God supplied the fire He never wanted to see extinguished—a sign that His people must always recognize and confess our sins to stand and walk before Him.
In the NT, Jesus did the same by sending the Holy Spirit (fire). He supplies the never-ending fire – fuel, power, energy – we need to live and love like Christ all the way Home. Without Him, we only exist, and our lives are powerless and fruitless. Let Him have His way in your life and I promise the fire – though it wanes or flickers – will never go out. Rest in that and be at peace.
Light and Dark
This duo is the easiest couplet to comprehend for most people—saved or lost. Before any other sense are experienced in life, we are pushed or pulled from the security of our mothers’ wombs into the (sometimes) bright lights of the delivery room—that and someone whacking our buttocks for no apparent reason make for a rude awakening and arrival in this world.
Going back to science class, we learned darkness is the absence of light. (The converse is not true, by the way.) Light and dark cannot co-exist. We may argue we are able to see to some degree at night or in a dark room, but that is not real darkness. Partial darkness exists in that sense, but not in the Word of God. And that darkness is intolerable.
The Apostle John used this analogy on numerous occasions as well as quoting Jesus. In John 9:5, Jesus proclaimed what seemed bold and bodacious to those listening.
“While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
The crowd must have thought He was incredibly arrogant or a lunatic. The religious leaders knew what He meant and hated Him for it. Nowhere in the Bible is this analogy better explained or made clearer than in John’s first letter.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1: 5-6 (NASB)
To walk in darkness meant then what it does now—the person is lost and without hope. If you have ever been enclosed in a room of complete darkness where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, you know it can be very scary. Some even have panic attacks. Jesus talked about those who die apart from Him being cast into Hell and utter darkness for eternity.
Jesus’ words were meant to literally ”scare the Hell out of people”. Worked about as well then as it does now. Some listen receive Christ. Many mock Him and His words as they march right into such an ending.
Passing the Torch. In this verse, Jesus changed the narrative away from He is the Light of the world to you and me as biblical Christian men.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5: 14
This could read, We are light to the world to show others the way to the Cross of Christ.
My dear brothers, remember Whose you are and, therefore, who you are.
The Apostle Peter said it best.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2: 9
I close this discussion with one more vital lesson concerning light and darkness clearly expounded in God’s Word and so important to read, receive, and apply in our lives.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6: 14 (NIV)
The answer to this rhetorical question is clear—NONE! There are many arguments over this verse and its application in marriage (and some business relationships). We can clearly cite the ridiculously sad and disturbingly high divorce rate as a reason this verse is irrelevant today. Some will also note the successes of many marriages and other relationships between people who are not believers, and the very popular trend of living together among many millennials.
Gigi and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary this week. We both held this verse closely before we became seriously involved and taught our children to do the same. You may argue the above all you like, but one thing I can say with certainty. There is never any downside to obedience to Christ and His Word.
Missionary and Minister to Men
“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”… (from Psalm 14:1)
This is April Fool’s Day around the world. The origin is vague at best, with many stories and legends put forth as truth. One consistent theme apparently stems from people doing things to “prank or fool” people as far back as the 18th century. People were tricked into believing something was real that was, as we might call it today, “fake news”. For the most part, in fun, people did, and still do, their best to deceive others to make them look foolish.
It may seem odd, even irreverent to some, to call attention to April Fool’s Day on this Resurrection Sunday. I believe the Holy Spirit brought this to mind to remind all of us on this holiest of days that brings eternal hope to all who have received Him, there still exists in this world a fierce, real enemy whose aim is to make us look foolish by convincing people his lies are the truth and that God’s truths are lies.
Jesus warned His followers about the devil and his armies on numerous occasions – calling him the prince of lies, father of lies (deception), and one who came to steal, kill, and destroy. He is clever and cunning, yet holds no power over true believers who can call on the name of Jesus and power of the Holy Spirit to resist and prevail.
If you are one of the billions of people who have been “fooled” into denying the truth of God’s love for you and believing the lies of Satan, I plead with you today to turn and see the empty cross and tomb and receive your salvation bought by the precious blood of Christ. He said these words Himself.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
No matter how big a fool you have been or how many foolish things you have done, know this: God loves you. Christ died for you. And He wants you to come to Him now, just as you are…
As I was having my quiet time this morning, and as we approach good Friday on this Maundy Thursday, I was reading a Spurgeon devotion the focus of which was the suffering of Jesus as spoken of by the writer of Hebrews in 5:8.
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
Bam! The Holy Spirit gave me the following words that pierced my spirit because, for me, they are both convicting and true. Perhaps they are not true for you, but I was led to share them anyway.
“There is a huge difference between suffering and whining.”
Interestingly enough, both have to do with me (and you). Jesus suffered horribly in unthinkable ways for me – my sins (and yours). But I assure you, my whining is all about me—my prayers that have gone unanswered, answers I did not like or agree with, even what someone else received that I had the pride and audacity to think should have come to me, not to mention other things that, if written, would embarrass me further.
In full disclosure, I had to remove my glasses and deal with the tears that would not stop flowing—that followed by a time of confession. Whining is all about me. Suffering is all about Jesus—His for me (and you). Because it is so contrary to our natures, the thought of suffering with or for Him is perhaps the hardest means of identification with Jesus we are given. James said, “Count it all joy...” What was he thinking? Obviously something very different than I was.
I hope this helps someone. But even if it does not, being faithful to write this brought one desperate man through the fire of conviction, confession, and confirmation that the love of Jesus brings forgives and restores the joy of His salvation bought for me (and you) on the Cross.
This is Maundy Thursday. Maundy means mandate or command. It was birthed from the passage in John 13 after Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. In verse 34, John wrote Jesus’ words to His closest followers:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Today (and every day), whether we wash someone else’s feet or not, let’s go figure out ways to love on them.
Your desperate brother in Christ,
So many great and wonderful things have been written, posted, and said concerning Billy Graham, such an amazing, faithful man of God who finally arrived safely Home today.
I can only add to such beautiful testimonials what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me this morning as I sat praying and praising the Lord for his life during my QT. I found myself in Isaiah 50—a passage that is both poetic and prophetic. The Servant (Jesus) spoke clearly—calling out the unfaithful nation of Israel, reminding them (us) of His power and willingness to help. He was faithful and obedient to the Father’s work. Verses 4-5 stood out to me.
“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back. ” (Isaiah 50: 4-5 NASB)
I could not help but think of Billy Graham and his amazing ministry of more than seventy years. I feel certain God would have no problem with me saying the words of verse 5 about this dear preacher and evangelist. For clearly the LORD God opened his ears, and Billy Graham was not disobedient – neither did he turn back away from this powerful and profound call on his life.
Praise God, not only for not turning away from our sinful nation, but loving us enough to send Jesus as our Savior to redeem us from death into life eternal. Those of us who are in Christ long to join you, our dear brother. And until He also calls us Home, may He find us faithful as you were.
For Christ’s sake
Homeless Men – Not all of them live on the street!
“Not all homeless men are without places to live” were the words the Holy Spirit brought to mind this morning as I sat praying and journaling. The fact of the matter is many “homeless” men live in mansions and palaces, mountain retreats and homes on the beach, rescue missions and prison cells. For the Word of God teaches us that
any man who lives without a relationship with Jesus Christ is “homeless” indeed.
But for those of us born-again in Christ, He gives us both provision of our home now and the promise of our Home to come.
Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14: 23 HCSB)
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14: 2 NASB)
Jesus lives in us now. AND we will live with Him forever. As Christians, the first should fill us with unspeakable joy—the second with unshakable expectation!
Missionary, Messenger, and Minister to Men
God has answers for desperate men from all walks of life…