The Unfaithful Preacher

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The unfaithful preacher

(David Porter, “The Nature and Power of Truth“)

Ministers of the gospel hold a place of immense responsibility to God and the souls of men. If they suppress the truth as it is in Jesus, for fear of offending their hearers; if they substitute laxness of principle, for the doctrines of the cross; dry external morality for practical godliness–they do it at an awful peril. They are not placed on Jerusalem’s wall to amuse the multitude with a mock religion in human attire. They are not sent forth to fabricate new theories, or gloss the truth, to render it less offensive to the carnal heart. For no such end was the Christian ministry instituted. The gospel heralds are not at liberty thus to aspire. They are ambassadors from God to deliver His message in its true spirit and genuine simplicity. If they depart…

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Could You Forgive a Murderer?

I recently ran across this post on forgivness. Our God is so good and he promises us that, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Even In This

Could you forgive someone who killed your loved one? A few years ago, I reconnected with a long-distant friend on Facebook and phoned her to catch up. She told me about her husband’s heinous murder and the heartache that followed his death which included her grown son’s drug addiction. I sat there, glued to the phone. But it wasn’t the details of his murder or her son’s addiction that captivated me as much as her response to these events.

Time passed and I was inspired as I watched my friend get involved in prison ministries. I asked if I could write her story and share the message of God’s grace and forgiveness with others. This is Wendi’s incredible story Inside Job that was published in the online magazine: Now What?

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Bridge The Divide

BRIDGES – If you are following us in the Bridges series, here
is our next post, by Pete Gardner. Thanks Pete!

Walking In Christ

­­This post is being written as part of the Bridges group, seeking to close the divide that is creeping into our society.  I want to thank Susan Irene Fox, Andy Oldham and Lilka Raphael for their work on this project and for inviting me to be a part.

I will l readily admit that I have prejudice in my blood.  I have long been leery of other races and religions, of people who speak in a foreign accent, or who speak another language when I am present, and of people who may not be as responsible as I in finding work and getting their lives in proper order.  Yes, I have a lot of problems in this area.  I joined the Bridges group to try and get some direction and answers to deal with this prejudice, and it has helped tremendously.  I have been pondering this post for a while…

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Made to Love

This is a continuation of our discussion on Bridges.

Please join in the conversation.

Reblogged from susanirenefox.com

January 6, 2017 · by Susan Irene Fox · in Bridges, Christianity ·

glassofwaterJesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Think about this: rather than love our neighbor with the same amount of love as we love ourselves, what if Jesus meant for us to love our neighbor from the same Spirit who allows us to love ourselves? The same Spirit who allows us to forgive, offer grace and receive spiritual wisdom?

After all, aren’t we capable of loving in this way because God loved us first?

File written by Adobe Photoshop¨ 5.2

Sometimes we get so full of our own offenses we end up wearing blinders to the pain and injustice raining down around us. We can no longer stand by the sidelines with impunity, for this is the opposite of love. We can no longer hasten to react in anger or call someone out of their name when Jesus clearly told us these things were unacceptable. We can no longer extend fingers of accusation instead of extending offers of invitation to know someone’s heart.

In order to love as God loves, we must first understand we are not the center of the universe. If we hinder our vision due to fear or hate, we hinder our experience of God. Only with hearts, minds and eyes wide open can we hope to embrace the fullness of God’s love and grace continually poured to overflowing into us and through us via His Spirit.

God is love, and we who live in love live in God, and God lives in us. And as we live in God, our love grows more mature in us. So we are free from fear on the Day of Judgment. We can face Him with confidence because we base our identification with the love of Jesus in this world. Such love has no fear, because mature, compassionate love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully embraced and experienced God’s perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. (1 John 4:16-19)

As we experience the fullness of God, we begin to mature in our relationship with Him. We start to comprehend the complexity of humanity, the sacredness of our unique and ineffable creation, the dignity and value of who we are as children of The Potter who designed us. We are no longer unworthy, for through Christ, the Father has adopted us into His family. We are beloved in His embrace. All of us.

Therefore, as He has declared us His heirs, we are to live up to His expectation of loving each other through His unconditional love. We are to offer each other forgiveness and grace through the grace He has given us before we deserved it. We are to mirror God’s image, not our own.

And God, through Jesus, always stood up for the broken-hearted, the outcasts, and those singled out by injustice.

Yes, at times we feel tired and hopeless; at times we feel frustrated or disappointed. But our task here and now is to draw others to the heart of Jesus, and to reconcile all people to our Father. As we surrender to the Spirit in us, He helps our hearts to stay open; He prays for us; He strengthens us; He connects our heart to the heart of the One who wraps us in His everlasting love.

corporal-montrell-jackson“I’m tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends and officers for some reckless comments. I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart. I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you.” Corporal Montrell Jackson, Aurora PD, Baton Rouge, LA, written on his Facebook page July 8, 2016, three days before he was shot to death in the line of duty.

 

The Legend of the Dogwood

  Dogwood_4905_edited-1

“When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven,
And for Christ’s cross its timbers were chosen.

dogwood_trunk_Cornus_florida

“Being distressed at the use of the wood,
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
‘Never again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so,
Slender and twisted it shall always be,
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

Dogwood_4897_edited-2

“’The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown,
And in the blossom’s center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be,
A reflection to all of my agony.’”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more about this legend:

http://www.creationtips.com/dogwood.html

It’s Friday……..But Sunday Is Coming!!!

I am sure that many of you have heard this message before. It is always worth hearing again. When I was in college back in the 1970’s I was privileged to hear Dr. Anthony Compollo preach this sermon. It is one I have never forgotten, especially when Easter comes each year. He preached it for many years on Good Friday. Read and enjoy.

Andy

Taken from the following website: http://apologetica.us/2009/04/10/its-friday-but-sundays-coming-2/

The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

Cross_3904_edited-2

It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now, it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday.

He Has Risen_3856_edited-1

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

Cross_3825_edited-1

If you would like to listen to the entire sermon you can find it here at this link (the last 5 minutes will have this part in it).

http://tonycampolo.org/its-friday-but-sundays-coming/#.VRRQBGaYI7A

 

 

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

In the early 1960’s my Dad was privileged to go on the mission field in British Guiana, SA. While he ministered and supported existing churches and their native pastors there was a need for a new congregation in the back-country. Many hours were spent on a ferry that took him sixty miles inland and up the Demerara River.

There was a new excitement in this mostly Hindu community of Linden. When Dad first arrived in this small village he was placed on a donkey cart and taken to where he would stay. After a year, someone in the church loaned an older vehicle for Dads use when he was there.

The enthusiasm in Linden was contagious. The native pastor, Mr. Watson, insisted that Dad hold prayer meetings each time he came. The church was praying for the growth of the church in their community. This small congregation, on their knees in prayer, became the engine of growth in the area. There was no more room under the little house on stilts, or even in the yard. The congregation to continue growing and running out of room. They kept on praying anyway. They began petitioning God to relieve them by starting a new congregation. There was no one willing to lead the new one church so they began to pray for this new leader to emerge. No one knew who he was. No one knew where he would come from. They just to prayed.

 “…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 ESV

Dad was invited to speak under another house on stilts about 10 miles deeper into the interior. Upon arrival he and Pastor Watson were met with animosity. A curious crowd formed around the house. Dad said he preached…and he preached…and he preached. He felt the Holy Spirit moving upon his sermon that day and knew something wonderful was going to happen. He was excited. Nothing happened.

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18 NIV

After the service, and a curry dinner, he went to the car and found one of the tires had been slashed. He opened the trunk to remove the spare when a man walked up to him and insisted that Dad let him change the tire. Once the man began removing the lug nuts he began to share with Dad that he did not appreciate his coming to his village and preaching a foreign religion that no one wanted to hear. He confessed that he was the one who had slashed the tire in attempt to send an unwelcomed message not to come back. However, after he heard Dad’s sermon he realized he was wrong and wanted to hear more. Dad won that man to the Lord that day and he became a member of the Church. Dad worked with him for a few weeks, teaching the Gospel and with Dads continued guidance, he became the new pastor of this new church. The church in both in villages continued to grow.

You see, something wonderful did happen that day. It was not when Dad expected it…during the service. No, it happened when God wanted it to, with a man who stood against God, and slashed a tire.

The church in Linden did not know the answer to their prayer. They only knew and believed and expected the answer. They knew the answer would come. In their diligence and steadfast faith the answer came. Like Daniel, they did not stop praying. The fighting in the spirit world was intense. But as always, God won, and the answer came at the right time, and in the right place.

His timing is His timing. Not ours

 “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “

Habakkuk 2:3 ESV

Mistakes Should Not Take You Out of the Game

My son got up early and joined me this morning. We chatted about Saturday’s game at Southern Miss. We sipped a little coffee and laughed together about the game. It reminded me of when I played football. At sixty-four, that seems so long ago.

When I was a junior in high school I played defensive nose guard and was also the long punt center. As a nose guard I was the antagonist. My job was to harass, intimidate and literally destroy the opposing center’s confidence while hiking the ball. I told him there was nothing he could do to keep me from charging right through him to take out the quarterback. I would knock him on his butt and it would be his fault they lost yardage. I swung my forearm in his face to terrorize and convince him that he was a failure.

Then I laughed when I remembered the first time I hiked that long ball for a punt. In my face was the biggest, ugliest defensive nose guard I’d ever seen. He was force-feeding me a bucket of fear and discouragement. His battle worn arm displayed scrapes and bruises proving his proficiency. I was now the recipient of the same fear tactics I had used on others.

Football fumble-recovery

I told him he wasn’t getting through me. My heart was determined on taking care of this ape. I took that nose guard straight to the ground. There, I thought, he won’t try that again. When he jumped up laughing and pointing behind me I turned around to see a pile of players covering the ball. Because I was fixated on my opponent instead of my job, I had created a hole in the line for others to run through and the ball had only gone about four yards.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!…And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

I had lost focus and taken my eyes off of what was important. I realized then that it was not about my fear, but about the team. I had let the team down because I was afraid of my opponent. Oh yes, I had proved I could take him to the ground but I really hadn’t beaten him. The opposing team was in possession of the ball on the twelve-yard line. Do you know how I felt? It was my fault.

I dragged my tail to the sidelines. No one said a word, but I could feel the terror of the let down. Two plays later our opponents put seven points on the scoreboard. Coach Russo came over and stood by me without saying a word. Another punt situation had arrived. Without looking at me, he asked two simple questions.

“Do you have that out of your system now?
“Yes sir,”
“Do you know what to do next?”
“Yes Sir!”
“Then go out there and prove yourself.”

I knew he believed in me and that if we were to win I must give my best. Not doing so would put a heavier load on my team members. I hiked the ball, the punter kicked it and I had done my job.

Football for me is only a memory. We each make serious mistakes in our lives, and what we do with them not only determines how we will move forward, but how we affect the rest of the team. Whether it is church or family, we have to remove fear and misplaced aggression from our thoughts, and determine to get back in the game and give our best effort. Our church and family can’t afford to pull our load.

Man Consoled 2

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:1ff. ESV

Don’t let a mistakes take control of your life and keep you down. Get back up, face the fear and do what needs to be done. And when others have blown it, love tells us not to ridicule them and talk behind their back, but to forgive, and remember that we all make mistakes. Like Coach Russo, we need to stand by those people, believe in them, and say, “Forget what has happened and get back out there. You know what to do next.”

God Believes In You!

Now get back out there and prove yourself.

When Others Teach

 pearly-gates In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
(John 14:2,3)

     Believe it or not there was a time when the kids were young and so was I. A time when we sat on the porch laughing and cuttin’ up and enjoying our life. One of  those times we decided the old red oak in the back yard needed a tree house. With two young boys and the prettiest little tomboy God ever created, we climbed in the truck and headed for one of those local home improvement stores.

I was pushing a lumber cart and the kids were enjoying the ride. My middle son was singing and voicing the non-stop chat he was known for when from, I don’t know where, he said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

Now we have all heard that quote from time to time. I have a question for you. Have you ever stopped and taken the time to think what that may mean? I mean, really think about it, what does that statement say to you? I never took that time until an elderly gentleman heard my son say the quote. He stopped us, looked at my son, and with a smile on his face he said, “No son, that’s not the question. The real question is which way do the pearly gates swing?”

My son looked at me. We smiled at the gentleman and he turned and walked away.

We discussed this question while we were picking out supplies for the tree house. At first we decided that the pearly gates swung in and out. As we pushed along we decided, again, that the gates must swing back and forth. Now in the South, ya gotta get it right or you’re just plain wrong. The kids began to playfully argue over which was right when we bumped into the old gentleman, a second time, at the register.

“Did you come up with an answer?” He asked.

“Well not exactly,” replied my son, and explained the answers we had discussed.

The gentleman paid for his items, and looked into our eyes. His warm friendly gaze seemed to overtake us as he said, “You have it all wrong. It doesn’t matter if they swing in and out, or even if they swing back and forth. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if they are pearls and solid gold, or made of old barn wood. What matters is upon your arrival if they open or shut.”

He turned to walk away and the kids looked at me a little overwhelmed. That third possibility had completely escaped us.

As the day went on the kids helped build the tree house and played other games. I put the encounter aside until recently when a death in the family brought it to surface. As I began to think about the lesson the old gentleman taught me I realized he taught my children as well. I discovered that he must be right in that what really matters is when we get to those gates someday—will they be open or shut? It’s a sobering thought once you contemplate your life.

My Papaw used to say we shouldn’t worry about what others do or don’t do—only what we do. Either way if we don’t get it straight with the good Lord before we get there we will trip over it trying to get in. While we walk our individual road in this life we still must question our arrival at the pearly gates. Open or shut is determined by our relationship with others, and with our God. As the gentleman taught us that day, if we make others aware of the future and teach our children to live a righteous life before God, we will discover, together, the gates will be open, not shut, upon our arrival.

And that, my friends, is a promise from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
(1 Thessalonians 4:17)