Monday, July 28, 2014

Love One Another

I'm drawn to John 13:34-35 again and again as I study the Bible and try to learn about the Christian life. Jesus said,

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Years after memorizing this passage during MasterLife, love for one another is in the front of my mind. I've found this principle in so many other passages. It's proven important in relationships and ministry. Clearly, God's people are to love one another.

For some reason that I do not know - I suppose God directed my thoughts - this morning I wanted to post quotes from Baptist leaders from generations ago. I went to Google and search for Luther Rice, one of the leaders in organizing Baptist work in the United States in the early 19th Century. As I browsed the search results and looked at a few sites, I thought I should move away from internet sources like wikipedia (Riley's school forbids him to use this as a source!) and use more credible sources.

I'm so thankful for Logos Bible Software! I digitally pulled Leon McBeth's two volumes on Baptist Heritage and quickly went to letters written by Luther Rice. I have both volumes on the bookshelf but like most of the hard copies there, I'd rather use the digital version. Agains, thanks, Logos!

In 1823 Rice wrote to his friend Adoniram Judson who was serving in Asia. The last paragraph in the letter led my thoughts to John 13:34-35. I can imagine that Luther Rice loved his Christian brother Adoniram Judson and the work he was doing spreading the gospel.

Your last letter to me is dated the 6th February 1822, and has been in hand several months. I have just read it afresh. I seldom weep, and almost never in sight of any one—but your letters I can never read without tears. I still cherish some hope of seeing you again even in this world, as well as of spending a blessed eternity with you in heaven!

The challenge to me - and I hope you'll accept it, too - is to love fellow Christians and the gospel mission in which they are engaged. May we shed tears of joy for the faithfulness of one another and tears of sorrow for those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Image courtesy of tungphoto /

Saturday, July 26, 2014


A headline this week highlighted an NBA star doing a freestyle rap song...or whatever that would be called. Freestyling is when a rapper makes up his song (or whatever) as he goes. It seems to be cool when a rapper can do this turning rhymes and staying in rhythm.

When you say "freestylin'" you'll probably get responses relating to rap music...or whatever.

Have you ever heard of Mac Davis? He's known for writing and recording songs like "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me," "Oh Lord, It's Hard to be Humble," and "Stop and Smell the Roses." Before his own recording career, he wrote hits for Elvis (yes, Presley). Do you remember, "Memories" and "In the Ghetto"? Those were written by Mac Davis.

What I most remember about Mac Davis was his variety show that aired on TV in the mid-70s. And my favorite part of the show was when he would sit on a barstool at center stage taking song ideas from the crowd. He'd hear an idea he liked and then sing a song about it. He made them up on the spot. Freestylin' before freestylin' was cool (if I may adapt a line from a Barbara Mandrell song).

King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. I'm pretty sure he was not thinking about 20th and 21st Century artists (although the Holy Spirit surely was) but that points out a truth regarding scripture. God's Word is relevant today and still speaks into our lives. We don't have to make up life as we go and figure out if there is a God or who he is, we have a guide that tells us who God is, what he is like, and how we can know him and please him.

I don't really care whether you are impressed with today's rappers or yesterday's balladeers. But I want you to be impressed with God the way I am. Styles of music - and virtually everything else - change, but God is always the same.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Job's Friends

I've been reading through the Book of Job in the Bible the last few days. Job was afflicted with all sorts of agony. He lost is children, his livelihood, his wealth, and his health. And he didn't know why.

Job was a righteous man. God knew it. Satan knew it. Everyone knew it. So his sudden losses were unexplainable.

But some people don't like for things to be unexplained. Job had some friends like this. They couldn't stay away and they couldn't just be there for him. They had to explain to Job why he was in his situation.

I've read this story several times but as I listened to them advise Job this time I realized that they do exactly what today's Christians might do.

Much of what they say about God, sin, judgment, and repentance is right on target. They often get the truth right but miss the application. Distorted truth makes for an awful personal application because distorted truth is really no truth at all.

Have you ever heard someone say, "He knows just enough to be dangerous"? That's a good description of Job's friends and it's a good description of some of us who profess to be Christians.

We are to live according to God's Word while living in this world. The life experiences you face each day must be viewed through the lens of the Bible. This is called a Biblical Worldview. We all use something as the primary lens through which everything else is viewed or filtered. Your worldview is extremely important!

Job's friends wanted to use Job's circumstances to describe or explain God. They looked through circumstances to see God. They should have seen the circumstances through the truth of who God is.

Circumstances change. God does not. Your lens or worldview must be fixed - that is God - or you'll constantly feel frustration and confusion.

Yes, circumstances impact decisions and actions, but those decisions and actions will be productive and God-honoring when God's will and purpose provide perspective.

Job's friends got it wrong even though they had a sense of truth. A Biblical Worldview allows you to both properly discover and properly apply truth.

I've decided that I should further ground my worldview in God's Word. I'll do that by continuing to study the Bible and asking the Holy Spirit to teach me truth and how to apply it.

Monday, July 07, 2014


I can be a better encourager.

One of my faults is that I expect the routine things to be done and to be done well. Not much wrong with that except that I neglect to thank those who did them or to encourage those doing them. I need to tie a string around my finger to remind me to be encouraging and thankful.

I'm especially convicted of this shortfall when others encourage me.

Within the last week I have been encouraged in some really phenomenal and right-on-time ways.

My friend Archie Mason is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He and his staff pray for other pastors regularly. I received a card in the mail from the CBC staff last week letting me know they had prayed for me and our church. Pastors have their ups and downs like anyone else in any other job. This card came at a perfect time for me. Thanks, Archie!

One of my mentors passed away last week and his funeral was Saturday. Wylie Jones was my pastor when I surrendered to the ministry. He was the first pastor I served under. He was the first pastor to mentor me in ministry. I owe a lot to him. The church where he and I served together was packed. His daughter and son-in-law led the service. As they talked about Wylie's life and his commitment to serving the Lord, I realized that any Christian's life should be marked by that kind of commitment. Even in his death Wylie Jones was still mentoring me. Thanks, Wylie.

I stepped onto the stage at church Sunday before the worship service started to put my things where I needed them. I noticed a mess on the pulpit! It was more than a dozen sticky notes that the children's Bible study class had put there. Each one had a note or a picture on it. The kids and their teachers had taken time to encourage me. I use a small, lightweight pulpit so before I took the notes off I picked up the pulpit and showed the whole church what the kids had done. That was a great pick-me-up. Thanks, kids!

Sunday afternoons usually provide me a very short period of time to sit in my recliner in gym shorts and tshirt. Sometimes I watch a little NASCAR. Sometimes I piddle online. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes I edit the audio from the morning sermon. Yesterday I was in between piddling online and editing the audio when the doorbell chimed. I opened the door and there stood a friend from my high school days in Dardanelle. Mitchell Smith and I played football together and hadn't seen each other in over 30 years. We are Facebook friends, so you know that means. Anyway, Mitchell had posted a few month ago that when he came to Arkansas this summer he would come to church with me. He lives in Washington and got in late Saturday night. He missed church but still came to see me.

Mitchell shared his testimony of turning to the Lord and the blessings he encountered since then. He said he's listened to just about everything I've posted in the sermon archives. We talked for about 45 minutes and just shared how good God has been to each of us. It was one of the best Sunday afternoons I've ever had since playing in Dado's cotton trailer with my cousins 40 years ago . That was such an encouragement. Thanks, Mitchell!

So now I want to encourage you. I don't know what you face today. Every circumstance is different. But I've found that a kind word goes a long way. My kind word to you is, "Keep going! And trust God to help you keep going."