Monday, May 21, 2007

Remembering the Courageous

Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.”  Those men and women who died in military service for the United States lead all of us to greater courage.  And so we remember them and honor them this weekend.


The US Army website offers this statement about courage:

Personal courage has long been associated with our Army.  With physical courage, it is a matter of enduring physical duress and at times risking personal safety.  Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others.  You can build your personal courage daily by standing up for and acting upon the things that you know are  honorable.  (


Many who gave their lives defending freedom did so with great courage standing up for what is right.  Others showed the same courage and returned home to family and friends.  To each person who has courageously defending our freedom we say,


“Thank you and God bless you.”


As a Christian, we have someone to help us stand up for and act upon those things which we believe.  Jesus Christ is the perfect example and the Holy Spirit is our source of courage.  And when one of us takes a courageous stand, the rest of us gain the courage to do the same.


Memorial Day is reserved for remembering the courageous who died defending our freedom.  Praise God for them!  Now, let us remember to be courageous as we follow Christ.



Sunday, May 13, 2007

Unbelievable Experience

Every pastor enjoys baptizing new believers. I guess we should. I can’t imagine not enjoying it.

Today was kicked up a notch more. My youngest son, Riley, accepted Christ as Savior last Sunday night – my birthday. Today – Mothers Day – I baptized him.

I have baptized three couples. I have baptized older men whose wives had been praying for them for years. I’ve baptized children, teenagers, and young and old adults. I’ve enjoyed them all. It’s a special feeling to stand waist deep in water (sometimes warm, sometimes not!) with someone you’ve recently helped in the journey to Christ and share that moment.

For me, baptism has always been about celebration because someone has accepted Christ and is starting out on this fantastic journey. Today’s celebration was extra special.

Monday, May 07, 2007


As a pastor, I am cautious when a child comes forward to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. My experience tells me that certainly a child can be truly saved. I was 8 years old when I was saved. I knew very little about God, Jesus, and salvation at that time. I only knew that I was a sinner and that sin was a problem between God and me. I knew that Jesus was God’s son and that he died on the cross for me. There’s a lot I still don’t understand!

But I also know people who walked the aisle at a young age, were baptized, and thought they were saved. Salvation is an act of the will to agree with God about your sinfulness and to accept his resolution for that problem: Jesus’ death on the cross. Upon confessing Christ as your Savior and committing your life to him, you are saved. It can only be accomplished by grace through faith. Grace is where you don’t deserve what you get. Mercy is where you don’t get what you deserve. Many folks think grace and mercy are the same but there is a subtle yet significant difference! I not only want mercy (not getting what I deserve – punishment and hell) but I also want grace (not deserving what I get – forgiveness and Heaven)! Faith is believing that God is exactly who he says he is and that he will do exactly what he says he will do. Salvation is by grace through faith.

What an awful thing to do to a child to allow him to run through the motions of walking the aisle and being baptized without ever having a true salvation experience! Many adults think they are saved because they walked the aisle, repeated a prayer, and were baptized when a child. They believe they have their ticket to Heaven punched and don’t really care about how they live or living for Christ. That false sense of security that churches place on them can be an eternal disaster.

I don’t want that to happen to any child. So when my son Riley started asking questions about salvation, being a Christian, being baptized, and taking the Lord’s Supper, I was cautious. This has been going on for several months but I just didn’t think he understood the basics: what sin is, that he is a sinner, that Jesus died on the cross as punishment for his sins, that being a Christian is about more than baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Last night I sat on the edge of the bed with him as we said our bedtime prayers. After I said mine he asked me what sin is. He pronounced it with a “d” on the end of it (“send”) so I answered based on that. He corrected me. I wanted to see if he really understood; his correction let me know he had a good idea of what sin is. We talked for a while and also talked with Deana (my wife, his mother). We finally felt comfortable with him praying to receive Christ as Savior.

I think it’s real. And I’m real happy. There is nothing like helping your child be birthed into God’s family. I’ve been privileged to be present when all my sons were born into my family and born into God’s family.