Free Indeed!

Let me begin this week’s post by apologizing for not getting it out last night. It has been a hectic weekend and yesterday was full of events. I am taking care of three grandsons this weekend while my wife and daughter is at the Women of Joy Conference in Pigeon Forge. In addition, the boy’s dad is in Oklahoma City attending a work related training school. Yesterday started with our weekly Saturday morning bible study, then back home to fix breakfast for the boys, then off to a birthday party for another one and then to McDonald’s, of course for a late lunch. To top it off our group had a singing event in Lexington last night so I had to leave the boys under the supervision of Chad whose wife (my daughter) is also in Pigeon Forge at the conference. The event was a fundraiser that involved two other groups and by the time I got back, picked up the boys, got something to eat and then got home it was quite late. And boy was I beat! I just could not stay awake long enough to get the post done. I realize that one excuse is no better than another but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

On Friday afternoon I had to take care of some business in Florence and eventually the boys and I ended up at Sam’s to replenish our candy stock. I keep a supply of candy at our house to give the grandkids when they come. I work hard at sending them home all wired up so their parents can have the same wonderful experiences that Becky and I had while we were raising them. What goes around comes around!

When we arrived at Wal Mart I noticed that the local veterans had tables set up at the doors requesting donations and I was again reminded of the great price that has been paid for the freedom we have in this country. So many gave the ultimate sacrifice but we have no real way to thank them because they are with us no more. So I make every effort to acknowledge veterans when I see them and shake their hand, thank them for their service, and let them know that I pray for them on a regular basis. For any of you reading this post that have served in our military, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Freedom only comes by way of sacrifice and in our country, even with its problems, we are truly free indeed.

But we can’t stop there. We must remember that here was another who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you are like me, there was a time we were bound by the chains of sin. Prisoners of war in the battle between good and evil with no hope of rescue. we certainly could not free ourselves and our future looked bleak. But God had a battle plan. His plan required a perfect sacrifice and there was only One who could fulfill the demands of the task. His name is Jesus, what a wonderful name! By His death on the cross the price was completely paid for our release. He met God’s requirements of righteousness for us and therefore the door of our prison was opened. We could walk through that door to freedom. For those of us who have chosen to walk through that door, we are free indeed! Even more than our veterans, we should thank Him continuously for the price He paid for our freedom. And we can do so because He’s alive and well, seated at the right hand of the Father, ever interceding on our behalf. Oh what a Savior!    

Love Is More Than Words

It has been a great week! It’s been quite some time since it seemed like my whole week was divinely designed to teach me something or remind me of something that God felt like I needed. But this week has been one. As I reflected back on the week this evening it sure became obvious that He was intent on doing a work in my heart. And it didn’t take long for me to realize it.

It all started early in the week when I was listening to the radio and one of my favorite songs came on. The song “The Love Of God” has been very special to me for a long time. The words of the song so aptly describe the enormity and vastness of God’s love and in such a way that no other words have ever been penned to match them. And those of us who have experienced that love certainly understand how true those words are. And to be honest, I don’t think anyone could pen words like that without experiencing that love. However, the problem is that I have heard that song so many times I had become almost deaf to the words. So God, in His mercy, got my attention again by reminding me in His way of what He did for me. There’s no doubt it took that kind of love for Him to give His only Son as the sacrifice needed for us to be reconciled to Him. Such an amazing love! Lesson 1 and that was just the beginning.

Later in the week I had a conversation with one of my work associates, actually my boss, about our wives and how much they mean to us. Both of us have been married for many years and we have come to realize how much we love them. We discussed how there are no real words to describe how we feel about them or any actions that we could perform that could possibly explain how we feel. And as the conversation progressed I began to think about that same relationship between Christ Jesus and His bride, the Church. The difference is that He demonstrated His love for His bride by giving His very life for Her. And that, ,my friend, is real love. So God, in His grace, again reminded me of how much He loves me. Lesson 2 but He’s not finished.

This very morning, during our Saturday Bible study, we had finally come to the last half of John chapter 13. This is the passage where Jesus explains to His disciples that one of them is about to betray Him. He then bids Judas to go quickly and do what he is to do. After Judas leaves Jesus goes back to teaching His disciples how to act when He is gone. He had just minutes before washed the disciple’s feet and demonstrated His love for them by performing that menial task. As he reminds them of this He makes a profound statement that is in the form of a command. He states that He is giving them a new and additional commandment and that is to love one another just like He loved them. In so doing the world would know that they were His disciples. And here came Lesson 3. God, in His love, reminded me that true love is not words, not feelings, not attitude but is action. Every time he talked about love it was in the context of demonstrating it. And in every encounter He had with someone else He demonstrated His love for them by His actions. He did the same for me, and for you and for every person ever to be born; past, present, and future. To God be the glory and honor for ever and ever!

So, I’ve been reminded this week that love is more than words but real love is always shown through my actions. I pray that these lessons will stick with me for a long time and that I stay ready to act in such a way that the world knows I am one of His own.  

Troublesome Times Are Here

There was a gospel song composed in 1942, right in the middle of World War II, by Mr. R.E. Winsett that has been recorded by gospel singers, southern gospel quartets and many other singing groups over the last 50-60 years. It was originally recorded by the Sheltons in the 1960’s and was almost immediately followed suit by just about every gospel group during that time. The words to the song, especially the first verse, were applicable then and are still true in todays’ time. Maybe even more. You will certainly recognize the song as you read the following words of that first verse:

Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear
Freedom we all hold dear now is at stake
Humbling your hearts to God saves from the chastening rod
Seek the way pilgrims trod, Christians awake

The song of course is titled “Jesus Is Coming Soon” and I’m sure most of you have heard it many times. But what I want to consider this evening is that first verse and especially the first four words.

I think we can all surely agree that, indeed, troublesome times are here. I realize past generations have also believed the same thing. However, if we take a close look at  history it will show that the troubled times during those days do not really compare to what we see today. There has always been the same type of sin and perversion that goes on today but not to the degree and certainly not with the complacency and hardness of heart that is prevalent today. These things have become so accepted in our society that even the church has a tendency to overlook them and to convince themselves that it is not all that bad. So let’s just take a look at a few examples of what I am talking about.

The first institution that God created was marriage between one man and one woman for life. As stated, this implies there are numerous violations of this arrangement today. One is that is has become acceptable to engage in divorce for any reason or no reason at all. It is acceptable to just live together and engage in sex without marriage or even outside of marriage. Some people even believe that God ordains polygamy marriage. this is just the beginning of the list of perversions of the institute of Marriage.

The world wants us to accept that sex between two people of the same gender is normal if they say it is. They want us to believe that same-sex marriage is a right and that it should be a protected by our laws. The fact is, God says that homosexuality is an abomination in His eyes and man will reap what he sows in his own body besides spending eternity in the bottomless pit and the flames of hell’s fire designed for the Devil and his angels. For me this is the ultimate perversion of sex and marriage.

What about the sanctity of human life? Mass murder of innocent unborn babies is committed every day at government-funded clinics. The majority of the abortions performed are for reasons of convenience not for medical reasons. What a horrible atrocity this is! Precious innocent children that God Himself carefully formed in their mother’s womb but were never allowed to see the light of day. Anger should swell up inside of each one of us and our voices should be heard much louder that they are. God help us!

I have mentioned only a few of those things that prove we are certainly in those very troublesome times. It seems that the world is spinning out of control like of have stated in some of my previous posts. But what do we expect? Satan is the temporary ruler of this earth and he is certainly bent on doing what he can to destroy and at the very least render God’s people helpless to do anything about the situation. And, in fact, we don’t have the power in ourselves to withstand the wiles of the Devil but the Holy Spirit does. What we have to do is let Him take control of our lives instead of letting our flesh be in control. I don’t know about you but I get very angry when I see what is going on and I want to be able to do something about it but in my own way. And what a mistake that is.

But let’s finish this on a positive note. The second verse of the song along with the chorus tells us what is eventually going to happen and who is ultimately in control. And that is what made the song so popular and what led it to be named the gospel song of the year in 1969. I might mention that the Oak Ridge Boys recorded it in 2005 on their album Common Thread and it immediately was a hit again. It has also been recorded as recently as 2010. As you read the following words to the second verse and the chorus I hope  you, like me, are reminded of what we have to look forward to.

Troubles will soon be o’er, happy forevermore
When we meet on that shore, free from all care
Rising up in the sky, telling this world goodbye
Homeward we then shall fly, glory to share.

Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound
All of the dead shall rise, righteous meet in the skies
Going where no one dies, heavenward bound.

What a powerful song. Yes, troublesome times are here but, praise God, troubles will soon be o’er and Jesus is coming soon!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music In The Mountains

Good evening everyone. Obviously I missed getting the post out on Saturday (yesterday) so I am trying to catch up with a post tonight. This one will be quite short because I plan to update you on why the post is late. I haven’t missed one in a very long time but to be honest with you I simply forgot to do it last night because I was preoccupied with something else.

Reassurance was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee this weekend to sing in the morning service at Zion Grove Baptist Church. This is a small church up in the mountains and many of you know their pastor, Royce Bailey. Royce had asked us to come some time ago and we were finally able to make arrangements to do so. Saturday evening we met Royce at the church to check out the sound equipment and adjust volume levels for the service this morning. It took longer than expected and in addition to that we almost had church Saturday evening. We all were so excited about what God may do. By the time I got back to the hotel my mind was on what was coming up and I totally forgot the post.

This morning’s service was wonderful. It started with a baby dedication for one of the young couples there and it was a very sweet time. Immediately afterwards Reassurance began to sing and the folks were very receptive. They were truly worshipping and many hands were being raised in honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was present and what a blessing we received as we worshipped with these people. Royce felt led to give an invitation as soon as we finished instead of presenting the sermon he had prepared. I believe God did a work in many hearts including mine. I was reminded again of how much He loves us and the sacrifice He made so that we could be reconciled with the Father. Praise His holy name!

I realized later in the afternoon as we made our way back to Alabama that I did not write the post. But I think you can now understand why.

I hope each of you also had a great day in the Lord today and that you were blessed in ways beyond measure. I know I was.

 

The Easter Promise

Good evening everyone. It has been a long day of travel for our family as we have finally made our way back home from spending a week in Orlando with Mickey and all of his friends. The traffic on the way down last week and coming back today was horrible. It’s as if someone left the gate open at the farm and all of the cows have gotten out. But I am very thankful that we all made it back home safe and have once again made many memories that will last for a lifetime. I am so very blessed. God has been so good to me.

I hope this post finds you well and excited about celebrating the resurrection of our Lord tomorrow. I know many folks will be attending sunrise services while others will be going to church dressed to kill. Many that show up tomorrow will not be back in church until Christmas, maybe. Sad but true. But as I have contemplated this week the fact that Jesus really did arise after three days, I have been nagged by a thought that I just can’t seem to shake.

Most of us are familiar with several passages of scripture where Jesus mentions His coming death, burial and resurrection. In Mark chapter 10 and Luke chapter 18 Jesus is talking with His disciples about these upcoming events but He refers to Himself as a temple that will be destroyed then raised back up three days later. The Bible tells us that the disciples did not fully understand what He was talking about. In John chapter 2 He speaks to the jews immediately after turning over the moneychanger’s table’s and running them out of the temple.  He also uses the example of the temple being destroyed and then raised again to refer to Himself but they also have no idea what He is talking about. However, we understand that He was talking about His death, burial and His bodily resurrection because we have the scriptures that covers in detail those very events. But as we look at some of the scriptures surrounding these events I would like to focus on something a little different.

When the women went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus they found that the stone had been rolled away and He was gone. God had sent an angel from heaven to roll the stone away and the angel was sitting on it. The guards were so scared that they apparently fainted and were apparently unconscious. The angel then spoke to the women with the following words found in Matthew 28:5-6. “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen.” This is usually what we hear read or spoken but there is more to what the angel said. The next four words are what have really been working on my heart and mind because they are so true and powerful. “Just as He said.”  When I read this passage this time those four words just flew off the pages into my mind and with a booming voice shouting “When Jesus says it, it will happen.” In other words, the promises of God found in the Bible will always be kept. God never makes a promise that He doesn’t keep and what a promise it was when Jesus said that He would rise again. If that promise had not been kept our faith would be of little value because Christianity would be no different that any other world religion. But praise God, He did arise just like He said He would. And that my friends is the Easter Promise I’m talking about. Can I get a witness?