Fully Preventable

According to government statistics, 110 Americans die each day in car accidents. The three leading causes of traffic deaths are:

  • Distractions, like cell phones
  • Speeding
  • Substance intoxication

Each of these causes of death is completely preventable. The use of a phone is fully banned for drivers in 15 states, and 47 states ban texting while driving. Driving above the speed limit is illegal in all 50 states. Substance intoxication is against the law in all 50 states.

An eternity in Hell is also fully preventable.

The Bible says that Jesus surrendered His life on a cross, dying in the place of sinners. By trusting in Jesus alone to take your sins upon Himself, you can receive eternal life.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

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Resurrection from the Dead

It was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the American Republic, who wrote, Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Death and taxes are two sure components of every human life, but there is a third: the resurrection from the dead.

In the Old Testament, a man named Job asked the question: If a man dies, shall he live again? (Job 14:14). The answer from Jesus was a resounding “YES!” Jesus said that all of the dead shall indeed live again (John 5:29).

Every human comes into this world physically alive, but at the same time is spiritually dead because of sin (Ephesians 2:1).

At the new birth, through faith in Jesus, the sinner is given spiritual life (Ephesians 2:5). Though his physical life will come to an end and his body will decompose into the dirt from which he came, there will be a physical resurrection for him (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). These resurrected physical bodies will be suited for eternity with God in the New Heaven and New Earth.

The Bible also promises a physical resurrection for the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15), whose physical bodies will be suited for eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Jesus said, The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear My voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29).

You don’t just life today for this life; you are living and making decisions that will span eternity.

Qualified for President

The US Constitution lays out only 3 qualifications to be elected President of the United States of America. One must be:

  • A natural born citizen of the country;
  • A resident within the country for 14 years; and
  • At least 35 years old.

We expect qualifications for every position in society, and anyone who doesn’t meet the qualifications cannot legitimately serve in that capacity. Just as there are qualifications to be the American President, God gives 17 distinct qualifications for being a pastor in First Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. YES! It’s easier to qualify to serve as President of the United States than as a pastor.

Those whom God calls to the pastorate will meet His qualifications; so anyone who doesn’t meet God’s standards is not chosen by Christ but is self-appointed and therefore an impostor.

One of the qualifications is that the man hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict … (Titus 1:9). The reason is that a pastor must be able to rebuke false teaching and the false teacher (Titus 1:10-16).

You aren’t qualified as a dentist if you can’t tell the difference between a healthy tooth and a diseased tooth. In the same way, a pastor must be so familiar with the healthy truth found in Scripture that he can easily identify, rebuke, and correct diseased truth.

Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13).

Doubly Secure

My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).

My wife laughed uncontrollably as she watched the video of the grandson taking his first steps. Isaac stood on his own like a pro and then wobbled and hobbled a few steps before jerking and teetering like the toy tin robot I had as a child. Unable to control his speed, he finally fell.

Spiritually, I feel strong, but I know how truly weak and feeble I really am. I know the sin that so easily sits under the surface of every moment, ready to knock me to the ground and bloody my lip. I’m aware of the pride and self-sufficiency that follows me through my day, and the lusts and doubts that haunt my nights.

Jesus promised to give His sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:28). He holds me securely in His hand, and if that isn’t enough, as if His strength could ever fail or falter, I’m also held in the hand of the Father. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:29). I’m kept doubly secure.

My faith, my hope, and my eternal soul are not secure because of any strength in me. I have none. But I do trust and rejoice that I am kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).

Arrested in Kenya

We made our way home in a borrowed car after a lengthy day of ministry. It was late evening as we approached the often seen police barricades on the highway. Kenyan police usually wave passenger vehicles through, but not this night.

Two police officers with machine guns approached us; one to each side of the car. Looking at Matthew in the passenger seat and me in the back, an officer demanded to see our passports which we’d left at home. Pastor Mathembe was ordered out of the vehicle to a loud berating.

American police are commissioned to “protect and serve.” Unlike Americans, Kenyans live in fear of the police who are seldom friendly, helpful, or speak in gentle tones. They are paramilitary and prone at traffic stops to confiscate the vehicle, arrest the driver and his passengers, and ask questions later.

The female commander demanded Matthew provide his passport. Pastor Mathembe had already explained that our home was just a short distance away. He’d get the passports and return, but she wouldn’t hear of it; we might be terrorists who would flee.

Matthew explained who we were, what we’d been doing, and that we had the proper documents at the house. She yelled at Matthew, How do I know that I can trust you? 

Matthew answered as any good Calvinist preacher would: I guess you can’t. I’m a sinner just like you are. I later told him his reply was either the boldest or dumbest thing ever uttered; probably both. The gospel of Jesus isn’t seeker-friendly.

The officer pulled her head out of the car window and let us continue home.

The Bible condemns us all as sinners deserving the eternal wrath of God (Romans 3:23 and 6:23), but by personal faith in Jesus Christ, we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

The Freedom of Speech

… speaking the truth in love that they may grow up in all things … (Ephesians 4:15).

The United States Constitution is a remarkable document. It defines the role and function of government and lists the protections citizens have from their own government.

Our Declaration of Independence acknowledges that the rights of Americans are not concocted through a vote or dictated by any man or body, but come from our Creator.

Our courts have long held that every person – citizen and visitor, child and adult – has the exact same constitutional rights of protection under our laws.

Among the first of these rights is that the Congress cannot abridge “the freedom of speech, or of the press.” This means that no law can be made to limit, restrict, or take away the right of any person to speak his mind freely without fear of government punishment … even if that speech hurts someone’s feelings.

In America, anyone can publicly and privately speak and write favorably or against the government, a government leader, a political party, or any policy or law. You can be a Muslim arriving from Syria, step into the airport and curse the President, call the Congress vile names, and chant “death to America.” Those around you will not like what you’re saying, but the government is legally required to protect your right to freely speak and print such things. The Freedom of Speech makes America unique in the world.

In Ephesians 4:14, Paul describes the spiritually immature as unstable, fickle, and easily fooled. Spiritual immaturity severely limits the useful ministry of a childish Christian. Paul’s remedy for Christian babies is Bible teaching followed by more Bible teaching, with an added dose of Bible teaching.

Spiritual leaders are given to the Church for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11). This is accomplished through speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Freely preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth without compromise; remembering that freely speaking the truth of God’s Word must be accompanied by love for those to whom you speak.

Beverly Miller’s Son

Beverly Miller

Bev slowly made her way to the front of the room Sunday morning after I’d finished my sermon and final prayer. She reached out her 87-year old hand and took mine, her skin so pale and thin that it’s almost see-through.

 

God gave me two daughters, and I’m old enough to be your grandmother, but if God had given me a son, I’d want him to be just like you. I’d still be lost if God hadn’t brought me to you and to our little church. 

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

Bev could think of reasons she’d want a son like me, but I continually wonder why God would want me in His family.

When God the Father gave me the gift of faith so that I could believe upon Jesus Christ as the only remedy for my sin, He brought me into His family. Before I trusted in Jesus, I was an enemy of God and a child of His wrath (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 2:3). Yet He gave up His only-begotten Son, sending Jesus to become a Man and die on a cross, so that I could become a child of God.

Why? Grace alone.

He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6).

Cowboy Boots

An American Cowboy

As long as I can remember I’ve been a flip-flop and tennis shoe wearer; but after years of trying, my wife finally convinced me to buy a pair of cowboy boots last week. Had I known how beautiful, comfortable, and supportive they are to my feet, I’d have been born wearing them! (Sorry Mom).

Cowboy boots are amazing! Now I wear them all the time. I’ve even worn them to bed a couple of times. And if I may say so, they look really good.

Isaiah 52:7 reads, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Honestly, feet are not very beautiful unless they’re in cowboy boots. Yet the Bible calls the feet of those who bring good news beautiful. Their feet aren’t attractive, but are made attractive by the news they carry.

For 43 years, the Athenians and Persians had been at war. Finally in 490 BC, a runner was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to proclaim the Greeks had defeated the Persians. The runner’s pathway was largely uphill and a difficult 26 mile journey. When he arrived in Athens, the herald shouted, “Victory!” and died. The man who ran the first “marathon” died bringing good news, but how lovely his feet must have been to the war-weary Athenians!

When Isaiah wrote, he was looking forward to the Good News of salvation in Jesus.  Through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39).

In the Beginning was Not the Video

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

My 18-year old will watch any video or GIF I send him, but anything longer than a few sentences he refuses to read. Even in his high school literature and writing classes, reading has been replaced with watching videos.

Can you see the implications of this? Ravi Zacharis did when he said, “In the beginning was the Word, not the video.

There’s been a dramatic shift thanks in large part to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat: the written word is becoming obsolete. Gone is researched data, reasoned argument, and logical conclusion; replaced by catchy images lasting milli-moments, creating emotioned response and experience, but conjuring no thought nor conveying truth. Pictures get “likes” but text is ignored.

The impact of the words, In the beginning was the Word, cannot be expressed with a catchy video clip.

Some argue that video didn’t exist in Jesus’ day. If it had …. We forget that they did have drawings, mosaics, paintings, and statues, yet God still chose to call Himself the Logos, the Word.

Video and picture have a place revealing information, but truth is different. Truth must be pondered, questioned, and internalized. The image of a rose may display beauty, but scant truth.

The living Truth in the Person of Jesus is revealed in the written Truth of God, the Bible. Yet in a world desperately seeking truth, God’s Word is ignored because we refuse to read. Eternal life is within the reach of our hands, but we can’t see it because of the video screen.

I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name (Psalm 138:2).

A Great Multitude

In the midst of Heaven is revealed a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues (Revelation 7:9). The passage goes on to identify this group as those who come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).

This group, obviously isn’t Jews, because they are of all nations, tribes and peoples. They are Gentiles who will be saved and martyred during the seven years of the Great Tribulation.

How will people be saved during this future episode of judgment against sin in God’s plan? The same way people were saved in the past and the same way we are saved today: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. His death didn’t appease Satan, for man’s sin isn’t an offense against the devil; he delights in your sin! Christ’s death was to satisfy the just wrath of the Father for the violation of His holy character and law.

By trusting in Jesus alone – not your prayers, your goodness, your religious deeds or your efforts – God the Father takes away your sins, forgives them, and places Christ’s rightness upon you. It is by faith in Jesus Christ where living begins.

God sent forth His Son to be a propitiation [satisfaction of a debt paid in full] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness (Romans 3:25).