The life of another is worth those thousand words you and I must speak in sharing the Good News of our Redeeming Savior and Living Lord.
"A picture is worth a thousand words."
For many things that is true. I would rather soak in a picture of a gorgeous landscape, than try to imagine it through a thousand words working in vain to fully describe it. I would rather be knocked back by a graphic photo of a catastrophe, than try to understand it through a thousand words working in vain to fully capture it. Pictures have a wonderful way of bringing us into an experience of things, which would otherwise be out of reach. For this reason, they have a prominent place for capturing memories and moments to be shared and passed on. However, pictures can only go so far.
We only want features that are helpful to us in overcoming our deficiencies, not any implied (deliberately or not) deficiencies in the Bible itself.
This last Saturday, I was browsing the Bible section in Mardel Christian Bookstore. I picked up a hardcover NIV Study Bible and was struck funny by a gold, circular call-out declaring “COLOR on EVERY PAGE”. I thought, “Does that really need to be a key marketing point for Bibles now?” Does that really need to be a key design point for Bible design committees now, because “plain” black-and-white Bibles won’t do anymore? Do we now need to dress up the Bible, reaching a point when the Word of God is not enough of an attraction without colorful accents and accessories? These questions are not as much for those designing and selling Bibles as they are for us buying and reading Bibles.
When I was a kid I used to go to Six Flags Over Texas with my dad, and our favorite ride was the Judge Roy Scream. It was a standard traditional wooden roller coaster, no loops, no crazy twists or barrel loops. I loved this ride because of two reasons: my dad would tell me the story of why it was called the "Judge Roy Scream" before we rode it and because my dad loved the ride. The Judge Roy Scream is named after Judge Roy Bean, an eccentric justice of the peace in the 1800's known for his odd rulings and ruthless judgments. Here is an excerpt from his Wikipedia page which matches the stories my dad used to tell:
Even in this, we can trust God for His goodness and seek Him for His purpose in His all-sufficient grace.
He is 76 and just a bent, bony shadow of the strong, rough-sawn man he used to be. He unsteadily shuffles instead of walking now, always looking a little uncertain about where he’s going and what’s going on around him on the way. Along with his body, his mind is fading away. He has Alzheimer’s.
I have said often (and hopefully loudly) lately via Facebook that the biggest issue we have as a country, as a people, as Christians, and as individuals, is a lack of FEAR of God.
Would any of us, singularly or collectively, make some of the silly, stupid, sinful, and/or blasphemous mistakes we make if we truly feared an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God? Would we as a country not repent and turn from things we have allowed and accepted as the supposed "norm" if we knew God could do the same to us that He did to Babylon, to Sodom and Gomorrah, to Israel? And not that we just "know" it casually like, "oh sure, that COULD happen, but God is a God of love, he wouldn't punish us," as if God's primary attribute was singularly love, and no other trait.
I have received a response to my expressed concern about K-LOVE Christian Radio having Mike Fisher on their Fan Awards in light of his wife, Carrie Underwood announcing her support for gay "marriage". Below are the K-LOVE president's response and my reply to him.
My truck was overdue for a set of shocks. So, I parked in the shade, turned on K-LOVE Radio, and rolled the window down. They were re-airing the K-LOVE Fan Awards. As I was shuffling around on the ground to start on the second shock, Brandon Heath came on with NHL player Mike Fisher (Nashville Predators), interviewing him regarding his nomination for the Sports Impact award as a Christian athlete. And there is my concern.
God is using this valley for some necessary works of grace, changing me in some necessary ways.
"And now, LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:3 HCSB)
There was a time I could not understand how Jonah prayed. That was a time when everything was looking like it was on the way up. Well…when everything was looking like I was on my way up - in the ministry, that is.
For the first eight years of being in the ministry, I was growing and progressing. I do not mean that in some superficial, social way. I was gaining real ground spiritually and influentially. My walk with my Lord was genuine, and He was leading me right along. Those first eight years were no walk in the park, but I thought I had nothing ahead of me but growth and progress. I had no idea how deep and dark of a valley lay before me.
We live with our fingers uncrossed, in the shadow of the Cross, realizing the covenantal certainty of everything our Lord and Savior died and rose to guarantee in our Heavenly Father’s plans for us.
I was watching a movie on Netflix, and in the previewing banners of those responsible for the production of the movie, one in particular grabbed my attention. It was of the UK Film Council, and in the lower right, it had an inset picturing a hand with crossed fingers and reading “Awarding funds from The National Lottery”.
On seeing that picture, I was struck by a jolting reminder of a dominant philosophy, which that little picture represents for millions of people - a philosophy driving the success of lotteries, as well as the life-shaping decisions of multitudes worldwide. Rather than a sticker of the fish symbol, or the Cross (or any other religious symbol), they could put a sticker of that crossed-finger hand on their bumper to represent the philosophy they live by every day: the luck of the draw.
I knew I was. They made sure of it - no airs - just authentic welcomes and worship. My hand was shaken, and my heart was stirred.
I was recently asked this good question: "Why must we strive for eternal life? Is one lifetime not enough?" I'm glad to see someone thinking rationally about our mortality, because too many people choose to ignore it, thinking and living like they will never die. As for answering the question on why we should strive to live forever after having lived once, I pointed this inquirer to a few things the Lord Jesus has to say about this, and I want to share them here.
First, the choice of whether to live forever or not is not a choice of immortality versus annihilation (not existing anymore). It is a choice between the eternal life of salvation and the eternal death of judgment. Everyone is actually going to live forever whether they want to or not. The question is what state - what destiny - we are going to live in:
Image credit: chepko / 123RF Stock Photo
One day at my desk, my almost-four-year-old son climbed into my lap and told me that Jesus is in his fingers. He also told me that Jesus made him and had put a door in his back that isn't there anymore. I think in his little mind, he was meaning to convey that Jesus put the door in his back, stepped through the door into him, and then took the door out once He was inside. Great stuff. His face was lit up while he was telling me all of that.
AVOIDING THE TRAP OF UNMET EXPECTATIONS IN MERE APPEARANCES: SEEING GOD AT WORK IN PREACHING BY FAITH
Image credit: gordo25 / 123RF Stock Photo
Time out of the pulpit has given me good opportunity to reflect on myself and others in the pulpit. In my hiatus from the weekly demands of preaching, I have been able to gain some fresh perspective on preaching, having had much more time to listen than speak. I have been both blessed and troubled. If you will bear with me, I want to address here something that is troubling me now. In looking back at myself in hindsight and up at others in my front-sight, I have seen something detrimental to our enduring effectiveness—to our faithful fruitfulness—as ministers of the Word.
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38–42)
He thought he saw a good man—the best man he had ever seen—a truly righteous man. He thought to himself, Surely if anyone can tell me exactly what it takes to be right with God and gain eternal life, this man can. So, he ran up to Jesus, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17) You would think that Jesus would have been eager to answer his question directly—“Well, let me tell you the A-B-C, step 1-2-3, of getting saved.” Instead, Jesus asked him a seemingly off-the-wall question and followed with a seemingly critical statement: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One~God.” (Mark 10:18)
Let us aspire to understand the times and know what we
(1 Chronicles 12:32)