Trump is not Jesus…

That’s right.  I said it.

I’ll go further still, the visible celebration among the Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives gives visual authentication to their verbal assignations that they are blind, deaf, and dumb.  Putting a “face” on it, putting a “name” on it, the mask of hypocrisy and the name of injustice, is Nancy Pelosi.  And no, Trump isn’t Jesus, but what happened on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 could be viewed much like the drama that took place when an innocent man was nailed to a Roman cross. Yet, it was all on the allegations and nonsense of a 1st-century group of leaders who were also blind, deaf, and dumb.

The Pharisees didn’t want to hear the truth.  They had already made up their own “truth” with literally thousands of extra interpretations of the Laws God had already given them.  These “lawyers” were jealous of Jesus because He challenged their authority; because He intentionally disobeyed their man-made interpretations of God’s Law; but worse, because the common people loved Him.  Does that sound like anyone else you know?  Perhaps the one person who cares about the common man and woman in this country more than anyone else right now, is Donald J. Trump.

I’m not debating whether Trump is a true Christ-follower or not.  I know, because I’ve listened to him for the past three years. I’ve read much of his twitter feed.  Because I’ve done this, I can without equivocation say: President Trump is a mortal man, neither A god, nor The God.  In my view, He is a name-calling, intimidating, seemingly prideful and arrogant business man, with little regard for how he might make those who challenge him feel. In these ways, he is not at all like Jesus.  In these ways, he is just the opposite of Jesus.

That said, only a few people I know think he’s done anything that even resembles abuse of power or obstruction of Congress.  But that doesn’t matter.  What’s at stake here is whether the common people of the United States are going to allow an election to be overturned, just because a group of people who call themselves the nation’s leaders don’t “like” that duly elected President.  In fact, they don’t just “not like” him, they hate his guts with such passion and fervor, that given the opportunity, I honestly believe they would kill him… if they could get away with it.

Clearer minds must have prevailed, at least in the sense of eliminating him by taking his life.  But how is what they are doing now, not the equivalent of silencing him, destroying his reputation, and denying him the same honor and esteem due the office of the President when one of their own sits in that chair?

Look, I’m just one of the commoners.  I know my voice won’t change, alter, or even influence the events about to take place in the Senate as this impeachment trial gets underway.  I suppose by writing this blog post, I can at least vent a little, but that is not my primary motive for writing.  I’m sad, I’m mad, I’m hurt, but mostly I’m motivated to have whatever voice I can have.  What the political left is doing is wrong.  And when I say “political left” I’m not just talking about elected officials.

The television/radio media, social media, political pundits, and politicians who began this process within months of President Trump’s election, are all responsible for the destructive course this nation is traveling.  I’m concerned about future generations of Americans who will live with the consequences of next weeks actions.  We can’t go back and change all the rhetoric, no matter how badly we might want to.  Yesterday is gone forever.  The house passed their articles of impeachment, and that is over, in the past, it is history.

But the future remains uncertain.  We don’t see it yet.  We haven’t lived it yet.  And there is still time to do the right thing.  Love him or hate him, President Trump is not our enemy.  He is not the enemy of America in general, or you in particular.  President Trump cares about you and your family.  He wants you to have a job, to be free, and to provide for your families needs, without breaking your back or your will to do it.  Those who have passed articles designed to impeach him, then extricate him from office, want exactly the opposite for you.  They want to control what you think.  They want to control what you spend your money on.  They want to tax you so they can provide healthcare and rights and privileges to those who actually are enemies to our country.

I only know ONE way to effect change in this nation.  Pray.

I’m asking anyone who does read this blog post to pray.  Pray in your church, pray in your car, pray in your closet, wherever you are most comfortable pouring your heart out to God, just pray.  Please.

Pray.

In the book of James it says:

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

 

Acts 13:1-13

ActsBibleStudyWebpage_Email Header

Bible Study resumes!  We begin the next leg of our journey through the Book of Acts in chapter 13.  Below are the links for the recording, the handouts, and a map to aid in our study.

Share these links with someone you would like to study with!

 

 

Acts 13_1-13 FBO Antioch MAP

Acts 13_1-13 FBO Antioch Outline

Acts 13_1-13 FBO Antioch TakeAway

Describing God

Most churches have an internet presence, and on their website post a series of belief statements.  Many if not most will have a belief statement describing God including how God describes Himself.  The church talks about “who God is” by a listing a series of attributes of God found in Scripture.

This belief statement usually contains all or most of these thoughts:

God is a Spirit and is the Creator of all things. He alone is eternal (has always existed) and is the self–existing one (He is completely self–sufficient and independent of anything else for His existence). He is loving, all–knowing, all–powerful, omnipresent (present everywhere at all times), unchanging, holy (without sin), just, long–suffering, gracious, righteous, and merciful. He is the One True God (all other so–called gods are nothing but man–made idols) who reveals Himself in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Here is one Example:link

What is most interesting to me is that when we examine the Biblical text which define and authenticate these ideas, God is not simply giving us a list of His attributes.  God is actually defining Himself in the context of activities or events, as well as dealings with us individually and corporately as human beings.

Look at these brief examples:

Genesis 15:7 “I am the LORD, who brought you out…”
Genesis 26:24 “I am the God of your father Abraham…”
Genesis 28:13 “I am the God of Abraham…and the God of Isaac…”
Genesis 46:3 “I am God, the God of your father…”
Exodus 3:6 “I am the God of…Abraham…Isaac…and Jacob”
Exodus 6:7  “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.”
John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”

Do you see the pattern here?  God’s definition of Himself is found in relationships, and His own actions within those relationships.

Should someone ask me, “Who is your best friend?”, I would not respond, “She is this wonderful, 5 ft. 4 in. female, approximately 66 years old, brunet, hazel eyes, and a smile that never ends.”  These are attributes of my friend, but they don’t really answer the question.  So, my answer would be “She’s my wife.”  I find the answer in relationship, not attributes, although the attributes are fantastic!

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is completely filled with God desiring to reveal Himself in relationship with individuals and with mankind as a whole.  He reveals Himself through these relationships and His actions.  In thousands of stories and interactions with humanity, the divine God, the LORD of all creation reveals Himself in control, as authoritative, and always present among us.

Is God eternal?  Is He self-sufficient?  Is He loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent, unchanging, without sin, just, long-suffering, gracious, righteous, and merciful?  Without a doubt, the LORD is all this and more!

However, the only way to realize or experience these truth-statements, is in a personal faith act of your choosing to believe God is who He claims to be!

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

This means that to be properly in relationship with God a person has to move beyond the intellectual assent of knowing facts about God’s attributes, to a place of believing God has revealed all this information just for you; so that you can know, then believe it to be so.

The ultimate revelation of Himself to humanity is the Man/God, Jesus.  In His physical presence on earth, He established one simple fact: the LORD desires relationship with individual human beings.  Jesus demonstrated in very clear actions and words, that God loves every one of us.  He said He wouldn’t leave us as orphans on this worn out, sin-filled planet. He said, one day He would return to take us where He is.

The questions posed in all this information:

Do you know God, or know about God?
Are you in relationship with God, or are you hung up on His attributes?
Who is God to you?

He is here..

IMG_3352

Christmas morning, 2019.  People all over the world are challenged today with the reality that celebrating a birthday is not the same as celebrating a person.  But hey, any ole excuse for a gift right?  Forget for a minute the Person, whose birthday is being celebrated, created everything we see or know, or believe we see or know.  Just skate right past the truth that this birth was talked about almost 700 years before it happened.  Ignore the fact that the conversation during that time was so specific that it could not have been missed or misinterpreted by any sane human being.  Don’t bother focusing on the supernatural nature of an angel announcing the event had actually occurred. And finally, whatever you do, don’t challenge the idea that we might have gotten the actual date of the event wrong, both in terms of timing or importance.  After all, it’s all about me, and what I got for Christmas this year… right?

Without sounding too much like Ebenezer Scrooge, allow me to share what I didn’t get this year.  I didn’t receive a call from my estranged children to say, “We forgive you dad, and we were wrong too.”  The one call I long for, yearn for, pray for, and hope for… didn’t come.  The photos of years gone by, of happy times celebrating together, are but distant memories that cloud my emotions, and make my eyes start leaking again.  Those who know me well, know my story, also know I understand the significance of unintended consequences.  On this Christmas morning, I also didn’t have the opportunity to call my dad, and say, “Merry Christmas.”  Because he now resides in the kingdom of the Father.  The call I would have made to my mother, whom I still miss everyday, is one I’ve gone over in my head a thousand times, for 37 years now.  Sometimes, the silence is deafening.  The longing for reconciliation is paralyzing.

However, allow me to return to the springboard of my thoughts, and share with you what I did receive this year.  It is a gift that continues giving every day, with renewed nuances affecting every area of my life.  In fact, this gift came months ago, without my even recognizing its arrival.  One day, months and months ago, I was studying for a Bible Study I was to present.  Whether I actually heard the words, or whether these words were just suddenly real to my mind as I studied, He said, “I’m right here.”

The same words God had spoken thousands of years before to the first couple in the Garden of Eden, I heard in my mind spoken to me.  “I’m right here.”  This has been His message for all of human history.  This statement is a truth which cannot be undermined by the countless hordes who don’t even believe He exists.  The statement is just as true as when Jesus arrived, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.  The statement is just as true as when Jesus walked into that locked room after he had risen from the tomb, appearing to His most trusted friends.  The statement is just as true as when I heard or read it some months ago. The result for me was peace. It is true for me.  It is true for you.  The Prince of Peace said to me, to you, “I’m right here.”

The message of Christmas of course is to bring tangible evidence to what God has said for thousands of years.  This is why the angel announced, “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” [Matthew 1:23]

Get it?  “God with us,” translates, “I’m right here.”

What God gave me that day, and continues to give me every day since, is the awareness of what makes Him LORD.  One of the characteristics of Jesus as LORD is His abiding presence in our world.  He didn’t just create us, then leave us to determine our own destiny.  He didn’t just come as a baby, only to be crucified as a heretic, and leave us to figure out who He really was.  He came to announce, “I’m right here.”  And the ongoing promise of these words is found in the realization that every day the message is exactly the same.  “I’m right here.”

Do you want to bring joy to someone this year?  Call your dad.  Call your mom.  Call your son.  Call your daughter.  Reach out to them, one more time, and just say, “I’m right here.”  And allow God’s peace to reign supreme in your life and theirs.

The photo image above is a tribute to my sister.  She is the living example of forgiveness and grace, and believes with all her heart, the words of Jesus.  “I’m right here.”

Acts 12:1-25

ActsBibleStudyWebpage_Email Header

Hello Bible Study Family!

This lesson on Acts 12 will be the final fall lesson of 2019.

We will resume our study on January 12, 2020 at 4:30pm.

Click below for the handouts and click play to listen to the Acts 12 study.

Merry Christmas!  Share these links with friends or family who might want to join this study online!!

 

Acts 12-1-25 Outline

Acts 12_1-25 Takeaway

 

Acts 11:1-30

Transmogrification

ActsBibleStudyWebpage_Email Header

Just a reminder there will be no study lesson on November 24th, 2019.

On December 1st, we will finish the lessons for this fall, and continue again on January 12th after the holidays.

Also, feel free to share this post or these links on your social media for your friends or loved ones who want to join the study!

Lesson:

Acts 11_1-30 outline

Acts 11_1-30 Takeaway

 

All the Colors

Leaves 1

More than anything else, this image reminds us that things change.  Time marches on. The grains of sand in an hour glass fall painfully slow at times.  Then, when you least expect it, you observe there’s very little sand in the upper globe indicating a “season” of time is almost at an end.  When Fall begins, the same thing is true.  What was green turns to a rainbow array of colors in the trees.  The leaves fall over time, sometimes slowly, other times in a day. Things change.

Depending on whether  you are a “glass-half-full” or “glass-half-empty” sort of person significantly affects your view of this tree, and its many colors.  On a recent trip to Arkansas I had high hopes of catching a view of the fall foliage from Mount Magazine, north of Hot Springs.  I’m sure it would have been a lovely drive, and the view would have been spectacular, were it not for the dense fog encompassing the mountain.  When we arrived at the peak, we could see less than 40 feet in any direction we looked.  Since we were only there for a day, we hoped it would burn off quickly.  The reality is it didn’t, so we left, with a tiny bit of sadness and sense of loss.

I took the photo image above, looking North from my backdoor, on Sunday morning.  It reminded me of the singular truth found in the first 11 verses of Ecclesiastes 3.  “There is an appointed time for everything” (vs.1)… and … “He has made everything appropriate in its time” (vs.11).  In between these two statements are couplets of contrasting thoughts describing almost every aspect of human life on earth.  The dichotomy of living a human existence here on earth is captured in the joy and sorrow juxtaposed in the words, “a time to…”

Give birth vs. die, plant vs. uproot, kill vs. heal, tear down vs. build up.
Weep vs. laugh, mourn vs. dance, thrown stones vs. gather stones.
Embrace vs. shun embracing, search vs. give up as lost, keep vs. throw away.
Tear apart vs. sew together, be silent vs. speak, love vs. hate, war vs. peace.

I really like Eugene Petersen’s “The Message” translation of the Bible for passages like Ecclesiastes.  It is just easier to relate to I guess.  In each of these verses Petersen’s translation begins, “A right time …”  These words help us see that God designed all of these events into the human existence and we really don’t have any control over them. Today, see if you can hear God speak to you through Solomon, in verses 14-15 of The Message.

I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God.

Trusting in Jesus as LORD, in its essence, is knowing these words Solomon wrote are true absolutely.  Proclaiming Jesus as LORD is declaring He is in Control of all things, all the events of my life.  Serving Jesus as LORD requires an understanding and commitment that He is the sole Authority in my life today.  Knowing in fact, that I am alive and serve at His pleasure, whatever may come my way.  The third, and maybe the most awesome truth of declaring Jesus as LORD, is knowing and believing, the Living LORD Jesus is present right now with me.  When one of the “a time to…”-events happens in my life, I am not alone to face them.  Jesus is with me continually.

It’s fall, and the LORD is demonstrating His Creative power in all the colors.  As the blustery North wind blows creating a sea of leaves ripping through the air, do you see Him?  Do you know Him?  Is He LORD of your life today?

Acts 7:1-53 : Apologetics 101

In this lesson we see Stephen brilliantly defend the faith before the Sanhedrin.  The recording of the lesson, the outline to print out, and the take away handout links are all below.

Acts 7_1-53 Outline

Acts 7_1-53 Discussion Guide

Feel free to share these links with your friends who want to study the Book of Acts with you!

Acts Bible Study Resumes!!

Hello friends.  This past Sunday afternoon we resumed our study of the Acts of the Apostles.

The title of the study is: “Acts – the Unfinished work of Jesus”

The theme of the study is to see the LORDSHIP attributes of Jesus displayed in all the activities of the early 1st century church.

This week’s start was a little rough in the technology department.  The recorder was goofy again, but it could have been operator error for all I know.

That said, to receive the lesson simply click on the link below and read the notes I used to present the study.

This will at least allow you to be caught up and ready for next week’s lesson.

Thank you for your patience while I figure this out.

Lesson for Acts 6:8-15 …  August 8 2019

Acts 6_8-15 outline

Acts 6_8-15 takeaway handout

The Last Flight of the Lone Cicada

It’s summer in Texas, which brings not only heat, thunderstorms and tornadoes, but also the drum-like song of thousands of Cicadas.  These little bugs arrived in the trees in our neck of the woods around mid-June.  It seems there must be hundreds if not thousands in our neighborhood, because the volume of noise these creatures put out is deafening at times.  My habit lately has been to go out early in the morning for some quiet-time around the pool, and just thank God for all my blessings.  By 9:30-10:00 a.m. the sun is burning brightly, the temperature is rising, and the cicada-band starts blowing their horns.

The cicadas where we live must be of the variety that isn’t synchronized in their emergence from hibernation.  Apparently different species of cicadas are found all over the earth, many having different traits, habitats, and emerging cycles.  They spend from one to nine years (or more) underground as larvae, appearing as adults above ground in due time.  These strange and wonderful creatures are seen in literature from the time of Homer’s Iliad.  They are featured in works of art from the Chinese Shang dynasty.  In mythology and storytelling they are seen to be a metaphor for easy living and life eternal.

So… I’m in the pool, enjoying the coolest July since 2007 in Texas, just watching the world go by. and listening to the cicadas singing.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a lone cicada on a downward flight path across the length the pool.  My first impression is of an airplane on a steep descent about to make a crash landing.  In my mind I thought, “that little guy is never going to make it.”  Yet, somehow, perhaps through a tiny gust of wind that gave that final lift effect, the cicada cleared the water, and dropped, no bounced several times on the deck, before coming to rest.  I image the cicada saying, “I made it!”

Enter, Sugar.  Sugar is our dog.  A little Shih Tzu rescue who is all lap-dog.  Well, not all.  One theory about Shih Tzu’s is they were bread and given to Chinese emperors near the last part of the 17th-century.  They are loyal, loving, smart and cute.  But the one characteristic of most Shih Tzu’s is their alertness.  Take our little Sugar for example.  She loves to sit between us while watching TV, and any time, ANY TIME, a program or a commercial has a dog in the frame, Sugar leaps off the sofa, charges the television, and begins barking until we make her stop.  If we don’t stop her, well, it’s just unbearable at times.

Like those ancient “lion dogs” of the Chinese dynasty, Sugar likes to do patrol several times a day.  We have a “doggie door” so she pretty much comes and goes as she pleases.  She’ll bark at people passing by, she’ll bark at other dogs barking, she is very alert.  She also, like many other dog breeds, enjoys finding little creatures in the yard to play with.  By play with, I mean capture and torture until the bug, frog, or tiny garden snake is so traumatized it can no longer move.  It may not be dead, it may just be playing-dead, so Sugar will stop the torture.

The last flight of the lone cicada I mentioned before landed within about 10 feet of where sugar was resting in the shade.  I believe she must have watched the bug on its descent, because at the first bounce she was up and moving rapidly to “play” with her new-found toy.  The thing is, Sugar isn’t mean, or vicious.  She doesn’t like to kill the other animals.  The torture they must feel, comes in not knowing how to analyze Sugar’s intentions.  Well, image you’re the cicada.  How would you feel if some large unknowable creature held you in its paws, sat on you, rolled on you, and slowly picked off your wings with its teeth? That cicada might be saying, “I made it all the way across that ocean, only to find myself tortured by this giant!”

Now, here’s my question.  Watching this event unfold, I couldn’t help but ask, “Did God just see what I saw?  Does God care about that poor cicada?  Why would God allow that bug to be tortured in this way?  What good does that do?  Does God see me as just another distant creature, like this cicada?  Does God care about me?”

Right about now, some of you reading this are thinking perhaps I’ve lost my mind, or gone of the deep end of the pool one too many times.  Stay with me.

Remember what Jesus said?

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear HIM who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.  [Matthew 10:28-31]

We live in uncertain times.  Sometimes, I feel like I’ve made it across the ocean of pain and misery, only to be brutally assaulted by another unforeseeable oppression.  I know the LORD God of heaven cares for me.  I’ve trusted Him with my life.  But the pain is still real.  The hurt sometimes won’t go away.  But I refuse to let it kill me.  I won’t be afraid of the next trial to come, or the one I’m in right now.  He has delivered me before, He will deliver me again.  This deliverance in the now, while very temporary, will one day be permanent, and I will be with HIM forever!

You too, are so much more valuable to God than a cicada or a sparrow, or a little lion-dog.  You are the creature God intended to rule the earth.  Whatever it is you are going through, put your trust in the LORD Jesus.  Claim this truth today:

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”  [2 Chronicles 16:9]

God Only Knows

How long will it take to get over this pain?  God only knows.
When will people stop hating each other and live in love? God only knows.
Why are people so cruel?  God only knows.
Is there an answer that will bring true peace and hope to our world?

God only knows.

This is an idiom used by many people to answer questions posed, for which no one really knows the answer.  But don’t be mistaken that it is only used by people of faith who believe there IS a God… who knows.  Much like many people use the name of Jesus, Christ, or God today as expletives in their speech to make a point, so also many people profanely but unwittingly use this phrase, “God only knows” to answer inane questions they can’t answer themselves.

A simple read through the article by Terri Black titled, “The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time,”(link) will expose how each person listed, from Democritus to Mark Zuckerbeg, who self-identifies as an atheist, lives out their belief, there is no God.  These so-called brilliant minds have been deluded by the god of this world (see 2 Corinthians 4:4) to promote themselves or their satan-inspired agendas far and wide.  We don’t want to hear it, but FaceBook is a platform for this atheistic purpose today.  Has it changed in its original intent and purpose by the Harvard graduate now turned billionaire? God only knows.  And God says “yes.”

Atheist don’t believe in the theological terminology defining God, because they don’t believe in God.  For example, the Scripture teaches that the LORD GOD is omniscient.  This is just a fancy term meaning, God is all-knowing.  But wrapped up in this simple explanation of the theological term is a mind-blowing truth… if it is true.  Omniscience carries with it the idea that God doesn’t just know the actual events that happen, in the past, present or future.  Omniscience also means that God knows the “possible” of what could happen, could have happened, or what would be happening right now, if different choices were made in the past that changed the history of our world, or will be made next week which could change our future.  Is it possible that one Designer/Creator could have this kind of knowledge?  God only knows.  And God says, “yes.”

Atheist also don’t believe the Scriptural theological teaching regarding God as omnipotent.  Again, omnipotent just means, God is all-powerful.  And yes, again, wrapped up in this simple explanation is another mind-blowing truth… if it is true.  Omnipotence means that while God has the knowledge of not just the actual but also all of the possible, God alone has the power/authority to take each choice made by a human individual and still work that choice into His plan for all of mankind.  Just one example will suffice, since there are literally thousands of stories in the Bible which prove this point.   God knew that at exactly the right time in history that Caesar Augustus would demand to know how many subjects were in his empire, so he ordered a head-count of the whole inhabited earth. And it was these circumstances which resulted in Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem when it was time for the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, to be born as a human being.  God knew the “possible”, before it became the “actual” choice of Caesar Augustus to make this happen.  In this way, God fulfilled an ancient promise He had made to the people of Israel, that their Savior would be born in Bethlehem. [Luke 2:1-6, Micah 5:2]

So here’s the thing…

If it’s true… God is Omniscient and Omnipotent…  then He is IN FACT the only one who knows what you’ve been through… where you hurt, the source of your pain, what makes you so frustrated, or the agony that pierces your heart right now as you read these words.

Now let me give you another simple truth found in Scripture…

NO ONE could love you more….

Golf Humor

Golf is a lot like life.

If you’re a golfer, you already know what I mean.  If you’ve never played golf, or played golf only a few times in your life, this statement will need a little explaining.  Stay with me, I promise you’ll understand it better towards the end.

As a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I trailed my dad and my uncles around the public links in Andrews, Texas.  These crazy men would get up before daybreak, reach the links when my eyes were barely open, and the sun wasn’t up yet.  They would tee off, play 9 holes, then go pay their fees at the clubhouse at “the turn.”  Nobody rode carts then, except maybe the old farts.  But 8 year-old-legs were not made for 27 to 36 holes of golf in a day.  I loved every minute of it though.

Now I am the old fart.  This cartoon captures innocently enough the round of golf with my father-in-law last week.

By the way, I’m the bow-legged guy on the right, but I don’t have that much hair!

Years ago I had Lasic surgery on my eyes, so I can see down the fairway quite a distance. While I helped Bob see where his ball went several times, he would always try to get in my head about the hazards of my next shot, or the difficulty of the hole.

Getting old isn’t very fun, unless you’re doing something you really love to do.

I gained some clarity about this over the weekend, as I began to evaluate what was important to me in this life.

In golf, the integrity of the game is maintained as each player calls penalties on himself, rather than pointing out other player’s infractions.  That’s what yesterday’s blog post was really all about, “owning it” you might say.

In golf, every day, whether on the same golf course, or on a golf course you’ve never played before… every round offers new opportunities to succeed or fail to make a good score.

In golf, as Ben Hogan is famous for saying, “The most important shot… is the next one.”

Here’s the thing, in LIFE

  • The integrity of your character is owning your own sin, not pointing out someone else’s.
  • Every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, and to bring God glory in doing this.
  • Today, right now, this minute … is the equivalent of Ben Hogan’s “the next one.”

Now, here’s the clarity I found.

I enjoy these things today:

  • playing golf
  • teaching the Bible
  • projects around the house
  • being in love
  • laughing and loving

And you don’t have to be young to do any of these things.

So, find the things you enjoy, the Grace that God extends to you every single day, and live!

Really live.

Hall of Honor

Honor.

Noun: high respect, greet esteem.

Synonyms:  distinction, glory, tribute, prestige, fame.

Sometimes we use this word in sadness, as when we honor our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day.

Other times we use it as a description of our reactions to the great achievements of someone we know or deem worthy of this praise.

IMG-2556Over this past weekend, my Father-in-Law was recognized in a very special and specific kind of way.  He is 87 years old now, but back in the day Bob Brown was quite an athlete.  In his high school heyday, Bob lettered in Football and Baseball from 1947-1950.  The Lubbock ISD held their annual Hall of Honor Banquet on Saturday, June 15, 2019 to induct 8 individuals and teams into the Hall of Honor.  Each inductee was described in a video which included photographs of their athletic contributions, and an overview of their life since high school. In Bob’s case it was a well deserved tribute to a humble man who kept insisting it was all his teammates which deserved the credit for his accomplishments.

Honor.  In this case it was well-earned and well-recognized.  My wife and I honored him on “Father’s Day” as well, by sharing this weekend with him, and encouraging him in different ways all along the way.  It is my honor to know this man.

God intended us to honor our dads this way.  In fact, it was written in stone, by the very finger of God Himself, as He instructed Moses to tell his people how to behave in their family relationships.

Exodus 20:12 says…

Honor you father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

In this instruction, we see God the Creator, not so much giving us suggestions about how to live, as it is a command accompanied by a carrot and a stick.

The carrot is easy… just honor your mom and dad, and you will live long, happy, protected lives because you live believing this is God’s will for you.

The stick is hard… when you fail to live by God’s commands, there will be hardship, unintended consequences you couldn’t foresee, and unexpected results which often result in tears of sadness.

I know this to be a fact.  I’ve lived it.  I’ve walked in it.  I’m walking through it now.

I can’t go back in time and change how poor a son I was to my own father at times past.  And I can’t make it up to him now because he has graduated to be with the Father who loves us best!  All I can do now, in that relationship, is try to learn from it, and try my best not to make those same mistakes again.

I can’t go back in time to change how poor a father I was at times in the past, to my three children.  I can’t make it up to them in any tangible way, until they decide to open the channels of communication I’ve tried for years to establish.  All I can do now, in each of those relationships, is wait, hope, and trust in the Sovereignty of God to bring us back together.

It’s sad at times, this “honor” thing.

So what’s the point?

When it’s all said and done, the lessons we are learning here have direct application to what happens in eternity.

Jesus said we should pray according to His “Model” of prayer.  Do you remember how it starts?

“Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name…”

Hallowed. Holy.  Sacred. Blessed. Revered.  Honored.

We do our best living, when we determine by our own choosing, to honor God our heavenly Father with our lives.

I trust today that on the heals of Father’s Day weekend, you find yourself in God’s will, having honored your earthly father as he deserves, and your heavenly Father who deserves it even more.

On Sunday, I thanked God for my earthly father, and trusted Him to tell my dad how much I love him still, and miss him now.

Did you do something similar?  Just as God commanded?

I hope so.

 

Did Honest Abe Really Say This?

“You can’t help the poor by destroying the rich. You can’t strengthen the weak weakening the strong. You can’t achieve prosperity by discouraging savings. You can’t lift the employee by destroying those who hire him. You can’t promote man’s fraternity by inciting the hate of classes. You can’t form character and value by eliminating the initiative and independence of people. You can’t help people permanently by doing for them what they can and must do for themselves. “

— Abraham Lincoln.

I saw this quote on FaceBook, so naturally I decided to check it out.  We want to believe it.  It sounds so good, and just like something Abraham Lincoln might have said.  President Ronald Reagan used the quote in his speech to the Republican National Convention in Houston.

However, none of that makes it true.  The man who actually penned these immortalized words, attributed to Lincoln, was an ex-clergyman from Erie, Pennsylvania, by the name of William J. H. Boetcker.  Boetcker left the church to take a more lucrative position as labor relations advisor for employers.  He wrote a small booklet titled “Inside Maxims, Gold Nuggets Taken From the Boetcker Lectures.”

One of these nuggets was:

We cannot strengthen the weak
By weakening the strong.
We cannot help the Poor
By kicking the Rich.

After a while, Boetcker expanded the list to “The Industrial Decalogue: Ten Don’ts”.  In this work are points 2,4,5, and 10 which Reagan attributes to Abraham Lincoln.

So… here’s the thing.

As a speaker, teacher, it is imperative that I continue to “fact check” what I teach and follow every attribution to its source if possible.  In this way I at least pursue the idea of excellence in speaking the truth, the factual truth, not the made-up truth so popular today.

For example, some say Jesus never actually claimed to be God, the Messiah, or the Savior of the world.  I would offer these simple words, often misquoted, often used to spin some agenda, but when taken at face value, are the absolute truth.

John 14:6 – Jesus says:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life,
and no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Believe it.
Don’t believe it.

Neither response changes the FACTS of its TRUTHFULNESS, or that He indeed spoke these words.

 

 

“-ation” Truths of Easter

We dress up in our newest and finest to once again celebrate the most important event of history.  We do this because our mom’s or dad’s taught us how important it is.  We do this because as adults we choose to honor the One who rose again.

We can talk about deep theological truths, looking into Sal”vation” – Propiti”ation” – Reconcili”ation” … but in the end, when the dust and smoke has cleared, when it really sets in, and sinks deep into our being…

Easter is about Rel”ation” [RELATION].

Jesus came so we could stand before God in a right relationship.

What relationship?

God relating to His created being; you… me… us.

Without Jesus there is no relationship to the Lord of the Hosts of Heaven.

Without Jesus there is no meaning or purpose to our lives.

Without Jesus I am undone, with no escape from my own choices, and the consequences of my actions.

In my relationship with Jesus, I am whole, I receive forgiveness for my stubborn choices, and receive grace to see me through the consequences of my ill-chosen actions.

How does one arrive at such a relationship?

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

When you see “salvation” here … think “right relationship.”

Easter is about how Jesus provide a path to God, by coming to God with an attitude of total submission, because He wants my best life for me.

What is your “-ation” (relationship) with God today?

Don’t have one?  It’s Easter!  He’s waiting for you now with open arms!

Come to Jesus!  He is Alive!

Maranatha!

 

Still here…

About this time last week (10:30am Wednesday morning), I was experiencing a type of pain that is hard to describe.  While working with a shovel, turning and tilling the flowerbed soil in front of our house, I was going at it pretty hard.  The bed was filled with roots from the pre-existing shrubbery and plants, and all that had to go if our beautification effort was to proceed as planned.  Unlike in the movies, the pain came on gradually, not suddenly.  What began as a somewhat minor irritation, within about 10 minutes became a debilitating squeeze around my chest and both arms, as I was acutely aware of my second heart attack.

In April 2005, while simply making the bed, I was struck with shortness of breath, and experienced something like an imaginary elephant sitting on my chest.  After driving myself to the emergency room, resulting in an indeterminate diagnosis since my EKG was normal, and going through enough blood work to fund a small blood bank, it was finally determined later that evening I did indeed have my first heart attack.  The cardiac surgeon put in a stent in my right lower artery, and after a few weeks I was pretty much back to normal.

Last week, the pain was more like being slowly squeezed by a giant anaconda, every breath another shocking nuance of the increasing attack on my heart.  This time I was smarter and asked my wife to take my blood pressure (you don’t want to know), and immediately take me to the ER… again.  The team was very professional.  From the young man who took the original EKG reading, to the ER Doctor who leaped into action, and the other 14-15 people who hooked me up, took past information, or stood there monitoring everything going on, each individual seemed to know exactly what to do with speed and precision.

Less than 20-30 minutes later I was in the Cath Lab prepped and receiving meds, while a different cardiac surgeon looked at my heart for the second time.  The original stent was blocked, so they put the ole ballon in the artery, opened it up, removed the blockage, and I was good to go.  Literally.  I mean it.  Within minutes of the end of the procedure itself, I felt no different than any other day over the last 14 years since the first stent was put in.  Unfortunately, everyone else thought it was a good idea to keep me for 48 hours (precisely) from the end of the procedure to monitor my vitals, blood, and strength.

Looking back on the whole thing, it’s more like a dream than an actual event.  Oh, the pain was real enough, but in hindsight, it really lasted less than two and a half hours, from start to finish.  I ate well, all my bodily functions were working fine.  By the time I left the hospital I was a little sleep deprived, but what are hospitals for except making you stand up out of bed at 4am to take a weight measurement from a heart patient?

I don’t know why it happened again, neither did the Doctor.  She indicated stents are not necessarily designed to last forever so I need to keep constant vigilance on my diet, exercise, and body awareness… pretty much like I have for 14 years now.  All things being equal, I’m no worse for the experience, but I’d rather not do it again.

So, here’s the thing.

When events like this occur, I often ponder, sometimes out loud (to make sure I’m not just daydreaming), “Lord, why did this happen?  Did you CAUSE this to get my attention?  Did you ALLOW this to teach me something?  What are you saying to me today through this event?”

The answer for me may sound simple to you, but here is what I believe:

  • Whether caused or allowed, what I know is that God was in CONTROL from start to finish during the whole thing.  I know this because He is my LORD, and one of the attributes of His Lordship is:  God is in Control all the time.
  • I’m not the most patient person in the world, and perhaps one of the worlds worst patients when I’m actually sick, much less hospitalized.  So, it doesn’t escape me that perhaps this is just another way for God to say, “Jim, here’s another lesson on how to slow down and let ME be in Control.”
  • In this matter of my heart, and heart condition, I know that the LORD has sole authority over my life.  I know he has counted the days of my life, and the fleeting nature of my existence. (Psalm 39:4)
  • Because I am still here, the LORD’s desire for me is to be faithful to spread His Word and His love through this blog.  As LORD, He has promised never to leave me, nor forsake me.

 

So, here I am.  I’m still here.  I’m still writing.  I’m still teaching.

And I will until He calls me home.

Right now, my heart is good to go … one way, or another.

 

Acts 4:1-31

ActsBibleStudyWebpage_Email Header

Well… here we go again.

We had technical difficulties with the recording process in our study on Acts 4:1-31.  As a result the recording failed.  However, in order to make the study available to all who are listening on line, or who missed the lesson, below is a link to download the notes I used to teach this lesson.  As always I have included an outline for your own notes, and the take-away handout we gave out at the end of the class.

My apologies for this glitch.

Acts 4_1-31 R

Acts 4_1-31 outline

Acts 4_1-31 takeaway handout