In 2010 I started writing articles on a rotational basis for our local newspaper, The Derrick. The articles cover a variety of topics and my goal is for the readers to be encouraged, challenged, and enlightened. I hope that you enjoy them also in addition to the rest of the information on Custom Scars.
A Valentine’s Day Wife must be God’s Will? February 13, 2016
Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Be careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” My birthday is tomorrow. Yep, I’m a 1978 Valentine’s baby. Unfortunately that fact held no advantages when it came to dating as I never had a girlfriend in high school. But what was unique was that my maternal AND paternal grandfather’s birthday’s were on Valentine’s Day! At least I had that going for me. Jump ahead to 1993, my mother died of cancer and that next year my father started his search for a new wife. When Kathy, my now step-mother, was brought over to the house for the first time to meet me and my sister, she saw on the calendar on June 25 was written “Dad’s birthday”. She inquired about what dad, and I said it was my father. Incredibly her birthday was on that same day, and they married on June 5 that following year. (So my dad wouldn’t forget his anniversary) Then my only sibling, my sister, met and married a man who birthday in August was the same as hers. I’m serious. You can’t make this stuff up even if you tried. All of these birthdays landing on the same date must be a “sign” that my future wife will be born on Valentine’s Day. During my second year of Bible college a girl started attending whose birthday was on Valentine’s Day. Can you believe it. She must be the one. All of the shared birthdays in the family must be coming to the culmination of me and this other Valentine’s baby getting married.
(Please refer to the verse at the beginning as my thought process wasn’t on understanding the will of God)
After six months, and a feeble attempt by myself to try to date a different girl at the college, this girl and I became a couple. She had to be the one. Forget about all the other dynamics that a relationship consists of, her birthday is on Valentine’s Day so it must be God’s will for us to marry! Days became weeks. Weeks became months. . . well not too many months. Less then six months after “God’s-will-is-revealed-through-birthday’s” I found myself knowing that she wasn’t the one for me. After a horrible breakup, I realized that I made an unwise/foolish decision based off of everything else other than God’s will. The moral of today’s column, thanks to my mistakes, is for each of us not to look at all the externals and assume that God’s will for us is through a “sign” or by “chance”. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Seek God first (Matthew 6:33) and let Him take care of your life. I’m proud to say that I’ll be celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary this summer with my wife who was born on January 2nd.
Whiter Than Snow January 10, 2016
It seems as if winter has finally arrived. The beauty of God’s creation is again made manifest when the ground is covered with snow. To look out my office window and not see the brown and gray landscape brings a smile to my face. Some of the bitter cold that has come along with it has been a challenge to handle, but the whiteness of the land is beautiful. When my wife and I were missionaries to Papua New Guinea in 2002 we would talk to our national staff about snow. They had read about snow in the Bible and had seen pictures on television and in books, but had never in their lives saw or touched snow. To even try to explain the texture of snow isn’t easy (because it can vary so much), let alone the temperature, and even sledding down a hill on a piece of plastic! I also attended a semester of college in Colorado where a girl from south Florida saw snow for the first time and was absolutely ecstatic. Those questions and reactions seem hard to imagine for those of us who have lived in this region for any length of time. Snow is just a part of winter here. Let’s shift gears now, and I want you to separate the cold of the snow with its color. I just want us to focus on the white of snow. As I am writing this the snow is glistening in the sunshine. It looks as if someone laid a pure white blanket across the ground and then spread a consistent layer of the purest glitter on top. It looks flawless, perfect, pure. Incredibly, what I am looking outside at is exactly how clean you and I can be on the inside . . . our hearts. Psalm 51:7 says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” In the Old Testament, hyssop is mentioned a number of times and is describing a minty herb that was used in the ceremonial cleansing of houses and people. David now relates to it the cleansing of our hearts when they are given over to God. But let’s look at snow, since we have some outside, and that we can be whiter on the inside than it is on the outside. We live in a sinful world. Man’s heart is naturally bent toward sin and evil. It’s bent toward selfish motives. That’s not where God desires any of our hearts to be, but they can only be changed by Him. The only way that your heart can be clean is by allowing God to purify it through the work of Jesus Christ. Incredibly you can be whiter than the snow you see on the ground on the inside. Jesus and the work He did on the cross is the means by which anyone of us can be whiter than snow. All we have to do is ask and believe. The choice is yours though. You can stay dirty on the inside or ask Jesus into your heart and He will make you whiter than snow.
A Harmless Lie December 20, 2015
I can’t believe it’s only six days until Christmas! For our family we have a handful of extra activities, but we don’t get uptight about the commercialization of Christmas because that’s not why we celebrate it. Also, none of the “traditions” that are so frequently celebrated at this time are of a religious or Christian origin. They are mainly attempts generations ago to Christianize pagan practices around this season. Sorry if I just crushed you, but you’ll find nothing in the Bible about a Christmas celebration. The hubbub is mostly man’s traditions. I encourage you to redeem this season and make sure it all points to Jesus. One area of perplexing concern is parents who lie to their children each and every year and believe that it’s harmless. What do you mean lie to their children? Well, when I was a child it was just Santa Claus that parents told their children was real, but now you have the “Elf on the Shelf” and the first time that I’ve seen is the elf’s reindeer. I want to focus on mainly Ol’ Saint Nick, but I do want to say that if my parents had done an “Elf on the Shelf” when I was a child I would have been terrified. If it truly came alive at night, like most parents lie to their kids about, I would have lied in bed fearful my door would slowly open, the elf would stealthily creep up to my face, and with glowing red eyes he would use his hard plastic hands to gouge my eyes out! A creepy elf moving around the house by itself is the LAST thing I would have wanted growing up. I get goosebumps just writing about the creature. Back to the round man in the red suit. My parents told me that Santa wasn’t real from the start. He has nothing to do with Christmas, so why do many parents lie to their children about Santa being real and bringing them gifts? “It’s just so fun” or “It’s harmless” is the response that so many give. As a Christian, I believe that God is my provider and how does that provision get interpreted when Santa is involved? What about celebrating the gift of Jesus and the giving of the gifts by the wise men? Santa has no basis in that so why give an imaginary man credit? It’s sad that I’ve had to tell my children for years not to tell their friends at school and even church that Santa isn’t real because their parents are okay with lying to them about him. If you tell your children that Santa is real year after year, bringing them gifts on Christmas, and then you share the truth with them (aka – stop lying to them), how can they trust you to be telling them the truth about Jesus? If you lie to them about one man that they’ve never seen, how can you expect them to believe you about another man, Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, whom they’ve also never seen? It’s heartbreaking that more children are in awe and wonder over Santa Claus on Christmas morning than the birth of the Savior of the world. It’s just a harmless lie . . .right?
Four in Under 40 November 22, 2015
The wonderful busyness of the holiday season is among us. So from the start: Happy Thanksgiving, Happy first day of deer season, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Four holiday’s in a span of less than 40 days. For some of you there are only three holidays in this time frame, but for many of us who grew up in this region there are a total of four. Personally, Christmas is ranked #1 due to the awesome celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Without the birth of Jesus we wouldn’t have the death and resurrection of Jesus. It all started in that stable where it probably wasn’t a very silent night. (It was noisy when each of my five kids were born and none of them were born in an animal stable . . . Just saying.) My #2 favorite is the first day of deer season. I know, how could I ever place trying to shoot a prancing animal as a greater day of celebration than Thanksgiving. . . especially if it’s freezing outside! I would say #3 is New Year’s Day, the starting of another year. No one told me when I was a teenager that the older I got it seemed as if the years go by quicker and quicker. In 2016 I’ll only be 2 years away from my 40th birthday. I’m already having a hard time processing that one. So now we get to my #4 selection of holiday’s in under 40 days - Thanksgiving. It’s the first in this string of festivities over the next month or so. I have nothing against the celebration of Thanksgiving. In all reality I believe it’s a wonderful time of Thanksgiving for the provision of the Pilgrims and the Indians many years ago. A celebration of brotherhood with games, the sharing of food, and the bond of faith. With Christmas, the first day of Deer Season, and New Year’s Day they are a single day that comes and goes. Maybe for you Thanksgiving is the same way, it just comes and goes, but I don’t think we are to live our lives that way. I don’t think we should be thankful for only one day out of 365 do you? Thanksgiving should be a daily way of life. Regardless of how much or how little you have, be thankful for what has been given to you. Most importantly for a Christian, how often do you take the time to thank Jesus for saving you? Do you take it for granted most days and forget to even say, “Thank you God for loving me. Thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for saving me.” Why only be thankful for one day? Be thankful for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Deer Season, and New Year’s, but every other day as well. No need to wait until Thursday to be thankful but start today and continue each day of your life. Psalm 107:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving.
NO ONE EVEN ASKED ME MY NAME October 24, 2015
Last week my family headed out on a four day mini-vacation. It was filled with an exhausting amount of activity and over 1,000 miles driven. Sunday morning we wanted to attend church before we headed home. Just because one is on vacation doesn’t mean you vacation from being fed at church on Sunday. So we searched church websites and found one we agreed on and where I had met the pastor in the past. We arrived at 10:45AM for the 11AM service and were greeted by an elderly man who handed us a bulletin and welcomed us to the church. We then entered the larger sanctuary saying hello to people who walked by us and sat halfway down, in the middle section of pews. We sat there as the worship team was going over some final preparations for the service and more people were making their way in around us. By the time the service started none of the 150 congregants had come over to introduce themselves or greet us. The pastor shook our hands, but he made his way to everyone in attendance to shake their hands. No one, not even the pastor who had forgotten meeting me once, asked what my name was or any of my family’s. No one asked us where we lived or what brought us to that church. One woman did come over to us before church began to comment on how cute our five year old was and talk about her. Our five year old got more attention than we did. Things were said and done in the service and we headed out to get lunch at Bonanza and then drive home. My heart sunk as I really looked forward to being spiritually fed on vacation at church, but I felt like an outsider looking in. I looked over at Amanda, my wife, in the van and with disappointment I said, “No one even asked me my name.” In Matthew 10 and Luke 12 Jesus speaks of God knowing and caring about the selling of sparrows and that even the very hairs on one’s head God knows about. How much more precious and valuable are you and I then a sparrow? Even though no one at church on Sunday asked me my name, there is one who knows my name and cares about everything in my life. Even though man WILL fail you, God NEVER will. He loves each of us so much that even if we were the only person on this earth he still would have given his Son, Jesus, to die for your sins in order for you to live eternally in heaven. He Knows My Name by Tommy Walker gives us this reassurance: I have a maker He formed my heart, Before even time began my life was in his hands. I have a Father He calls me his own, He'll never leave me no matter where I go. He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls and hears me when I call.
Throwing Stones/Swinging Beams August 29, 2015
I enjoy watching the NFL. More precisely, I am a Steelers fan and love a good game. For those reading this who aren’t a Steelers fan, please read to the end. Hopefully we can still come to the same conclusion although we cheer for a different team.
On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed a backup quarterback for a one year deal. I’m sure you’ve heard the news, but why is a backup quarterback getting so much buzz? I guess it’s because of who it is . . . Michael Vick.
I remember when Vick played for the Atlanta Falcons and I was amazed at his athletic ability. He was a gifted athlete and his running agility made it difficult for the defense to try to read the offense he ran. I loved watching Vick play, and I was shocked in 2007 when an illegal dog fighting compound was uncovered on his property. It was a heinous crime that deserved punishment. Vick lost his professional career, his wealth, and any good reputation he had. He spent 548 days in prison and asked for forgiveness.
It seems like after eight years that people who have planks in their own eyes still enjoy crucifying Michael Vick. (Matthew 7:3 & Luke 6:41) I guess he hasn’t “done” enough to be forgiven? He’s asked for forgiveness, served time, even worked with the Humane Society, yet we just can’t forgive him. I’ve read some comments that he doesn’t EVER deserve forgiveness. Really? A petition has been signed by over 15,000 Steelers fans to have him removed from the team.
Innocent dogs did die. A number of buried dogs were found on his property along with the 53 that were alive. These actions were evil and sinful and innocent animals paid the price for this man’s depravity. Michael Vick would say the same thing about dog fighting now.
Answer this question: Have you ever done anything wrong? You know that answer. How many reading this today would like someone to bring up the sin and the things you did wrong from eight years ago? (Not me) Some of you are cringing at the spiritual condition you were in eight years ago. Did you appreciate forgiveness?
I look at the judgment calls that so many are making, especially Christians, and it breaks my heart. Michael Vick wrote a book, Finally Free, about his changed life for God. Tony Dungy had a tremendous influence on Vick and his life has changed, but we so often don’t want to focus on the change (or redemption) but we want to focus on the juicy story (or sin) and condemn him as if we have never done anything wrong.
So for all the Christians who are so upset that a good quarterback (Michael Vick) was signed to the Steelers because of his sins of eight years ago, you just need to keep quiet. Are you God? Do you even believe in forgiveness and life change? In John 8 a woman was caught in adultery and the “religious leaders” wanted to stone her and Jesus asked which of them was without sin? They all dropped their stones and walked away. Only Jesus had the authority to stone her, yet what did he do? He forgave her and instructed her to sin no more. So unless you’re Jesus I recommend you drop the stones and focus on the plank in your own eye.
O Be Careful Little . . . July 25, 2015
If you attended Sunday School as a child you probably sang a simple yet potent song that went like, “O be careful little eyes what you see. O be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love. O be careful little eyes what you see.” It then goes on and addresses other areas to be careful with. We must be careful where our feet go, what our words are, what our ears hear, and what our hands do. It’s plain that as a child of God we must always be aware of the sin that surrounds us and can easily ensnare us. We must be careful.
Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:15 to “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” All of our senses must be aligned with the truth of God’s Word in order to be careful in all areas of life.
The truth of God’s Word doesn’t change, but so many people in church, and even entire denominations for that matter, seem to feel free to change or water down the truth of God’s Word. (Pastor’s are guilty of this as well for a variety of reasons) I can’t figure out why Christians are okay with this dumbing down of the truth?
This past Easter many churched and non-churched people watched “AD – The Bible Continues” A number of large Christian ministries embraced its airing and even interviewed the directors for their radio programs. One even created a church curriculum to use weekly when each episode aired for twelve weeks. To be honest, I am always skeptical about these types of programs, especially when it’s broadcast on network TV.
I watched for twelve weeks, with Bible in hand, desiring to follow along with the narrative. I assumed that it would follow the storyline of the book of Acts as that is where the story continued! It wasn’t long into the first episode that I realized to my dismay that following along was going to be very difficult since this show wasn’t a continuation that stuck very closely to the text of the Bible.
Albeit, there were some very solid storylines that are found in the book of Acts that were presented strongly, but on multiple occasions Scripture was misquoted, misrepresented, and even flat out incorrect. (Well over 50% wasn’t even storylines found in Scripture) I was appalled by one sequence where one of the disciples went to a bar, had his fill, and then made a deal with the zealots to participate in a violent revolt. My wife got upset when I watched it because of its un-Biblical narrative and my 13 year old would ask frequently, “That’s not in the Bible is it?” as she is very Biblically literate yet knew what was being portrayed wasn’t scriptural.
Anyhow, I always seem to run out of space, but I want to make it clear that the purpose of this article isn’t to bash the show or other Christian outlets who supported it. My purpose is to challenge you to know what is in God’s Word. To be careful with what you see, hear, touch, say, and where you go. Just because the mainstream falls in love with something doesn’t mean that it aligns with Scripture. The best way you can know is to read and study the Bible yourself. We must be careful and never allow God’s Truth to be compromised.
Transforming “Males” to “Men” June 20, 2015
I was torn between two trains of thought for this week’s column. It being Father’s Day tomorrow, I had some things I wanted to share about becoming a man and about a father’s role BUT I also felt very strongly about addressing the entertainment world and its attempts to create Biblical (I use that word loosely) TV shows and movies. I stuck with the man one and will address the other topic in a future column.
If you can’t tell, not only locally but nationally, we have an issue with men. Let me rephrase that, we have an issue with males because so many of them aren’t willing to become men. We have a generation of young people whose father’s were males but not men. Boys aren’t being taught by their father’s on how to be responsible or respectful. They are finding their “manhood” from what their friends are saying and so many teenage girls are in relationships with boys that know nothing of how a woman is to be treated. In the end, we end up having a boys immaturity stuck in a man’s body.
So how does a male become a man? First it typically takes a real man to be involved in his life. Back in Genesis (and also in other places in Scripture) it is clear that God created two genders – male and female. Also throughout Scripture we find many exhortations and instructions for how to be a man and a women. Some individuals like to pick a verse or two and create a stink about them as being sexist or haters, but when you look at Scripture as a whole you will find that women are lifted up as well as men as wonderful creations of God. No other religion in the world values women as highly as Christianity.
So how do males become men? One key area is that your top priority isn’t on yourself but on others. Taking care of your wife and children. Keeping a job regardless of weather you enjoy it or not because you want to provide. Helping your neighbors and family without seeking recognition or praise, but out of a heart for others. Stop thinking about yourself. Where is your money and time spent?
I had a phone call a while ago from a woman who was seeking help with a utility bill. I asked some questions and I found out her husband didn’t work. I asked if he was disabled and she replied that he wasn’t. “Why doesn’t he find a job?” I questioned. Her reply I will never forget. She said, “I’ve gotten him interviews before and even a job. He worked there for a few days and then quit. He just doesn’t want to work.” I was shocked at her honesty, but that is the product of males not becoming men.
This Father’s Day thank the males who are also men. The men who lead and strive for the betterment of their family and for those who they come into contact with.
Let’s Remove the Label of Race May 16, 2015 America is different than when I was a child. Recent surveys show that racial tensions are at some of the highest levels since the Civil Rights movement. I actually don’t like to use the words “racial” or “race” because they are unbiblical. According to the Bible there is no such thing as race. The word “race” as it is used today doesn’t appear in language until about the 16th century.
If you believe in evolution then I could see where you may believe in different races. According to evolution, humans are just byproducts of millions of years of evolving from an amoeba, to a fish, to a monkey, and then POOF to humans. Racism makes sense when it’s looked at through evolutionistic lenses. Since scores of humans came from the evolving gene pools around the world to produce themselves, then skin color, from an evolution viewpoint, is a byproduct of those changes over millions of years.
Personally, I find evolution impossible to believe. Not just because of having a Christian worldview, but because there is no evidence. (My challenge to you is to find just one transitional form where a fish is transitioning into a mammal. Those fossils don’t exist because those transitions never happened.)
Do we have different ethnicities in America and around the world? Yes, but not different races. So much of the media and many political leaders are thriving off of “racism” these days. They are propagating battles about an issue that if we would get back to Genesis, The Beginning, we would find that racism is non-existent when it comes to God.
Genesis 1:26 through all of chapter 2 talks about the creation of man and woman. Adam and Eve were created by God and the entire human race is derived from them. So if one man and one woman were created by God to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) then wouldn’t it be clear that racism is a man made problem because all of humankind are derived from these two?
We’re all part of the human race! I was talking to two individuals this weekend, one’s skin color was white and the other was black. I was talking to two people, created in the image of God, who are of the SAME RACE! Skin color different? Yes, but still the same race. Their wasn’t even an ethnic difference because they were both born Americans. Same race and same ethnicity as myself. Skin color doesn’t change any of that.
In college I roomed with someone from Honduras. His skin color was brown, but we were both the same race. Different ethnicities but the same race. Originating from Adam and Eve, not by random chance over millions of years.
My wife and I lived in Papua New Guinea for a year. We were of a different ethnicity, and the minority ethnicity, but we were all part of the same race that started with Adam and Eve.
Jesus died for us all, regardless of ethnicity or your nation of origin. Racism is ungodly and unbiblical and it isn’t until people go back to the truth in God’s Word that this issue will be resolved. Rev. Martin Luther King was a man who used the truth of God’s Word regarding racism and it’s time we do to.
Spring Into Church Tomorrow April 11, 2015 The word “denomination” often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouth. A few years ago a man asked me why there are so many denominations when we are all supposed to be serving the same Jesus. It was a very good point. Of course, I gave him the good preacher answer that different churches have differences in theology (eternal security, entire sanctification, speaking in tongues, etc.) so specific denominations embrace the certain theology that they sincerely believe to be true. He again asked if the same Jesus is being preached and I said that in most churches that he is. So why do we have denominations? Doesn’t it all just come down to what one does with Jesus?
I thought about that for a while. I don’t see an evil in having denominations, but I see an evil when one believes that their denomination or church is the ONLY church. You see, denominations may have some variances about some doctrines but that doesn’t make us enemies. If we have the foundation of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation and only through accepting Him will one ever spend eternity in heaven then we are one in the body of Christ.
Two weeks ago during the community Palm Sunday service at the Cranberry High School auditorium was a perfect example. We had many denominations: United Methodist, Nazarene, Baptist, United Brethren, Independent, Charismatic, and others. We worshiped together, were taught from God’s Word together, prayed together, and fellowshipped together. Our foundation was our relationship with Jesus. That joined us together.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” As a Christian we are instructed to meet together in church. This might upset some, but nowhere in Scripture are we commanded of even encouraged to stay at home and have a personal Bible study instead of attending church. Work and health concerns are a given that one cannot attend church, but I get frustrated at those who can, and know they should, be at church and make the choice not to. That is disobedience.
Maybe you have neglected to get connected with a church. Maybe you have had a bad experience with a “denomination” or even a pastor. I want to encourage you to take the steps forward to get back to church this week. All the Easter hoopla is over so when you walk through the doors of a church this Sunday you should be able to experience what a typical worship service consists of.
Many of the writer’s of these weekly articles, although from a different denomination then the one I serve in, are wonderful pastors. You may have a small or large church just down the road. Attend for a month and see what happens. As long as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached from the Bible then you have a good shot at finding a good church.
Seek God on Behalf of the Poor March 7, 2015
Today is the 18th day in the Seek God for the City 2015 prayer schedule. The prayer session on behalf of the poor is slated for 8:30AM at the Oil City Salvation Army. As with the previous prayer sessions, today’s focus will be on another topic: the poor. Within our communities, this is a very relevant request.
The scripture passage selected for today’s prayer focus is Psalm 140:12, “I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” Regardless of your financial situation, God cares about you deeply. He hasn’t forgotten about you. He will always love you.
I remember over ten years ago when my wife and I moved to Syracuse, NY because I had just gotten a new job. I worked at a Christian radio network, but with one small child and another on the way, my income was minimal and overtime wasn’t available. My wife and I both believed that we wanted to have mom to stay at home with the children, but $11 an hour wasn’t much to pay the bills with. Of course, we got connected with a great church in the area, and found wonderful spiritual and emotional support there.
We didn’t share our financial needs with others, but God would often lay it on people’s hearts to purchase diapers for us and anonymously put them in front of the door at the apartment complex we lived in. We couldn’t afford a house, and the apartment complex we lived in had mold, chipping paint, and we typically had to contact the police every couple months because of some neighbors domestic disputes.
We had one vehicle and I took it to work each day and my wife and children were confined to the apartment area. We purchased the staples we needed to eat if possible, but we had seasons that were really financially challenging and didn’t have much food in the house. Did we lose heart? Honestly, sometimes we did. Did we know that God was in control? That assurance never left us although it might have been hard to see in that present situation.
I know what it is like to not have much. Our kids used to play with empty boxes and juice jugs because they didn’t have many toys! I can understand what it is like to be in need and I understand the frustration of wanting to be able to provide for one’s family. Many people who are labeled as poor are not there by choice, but because of uncontrollable situations or even work limitations. We need to pray that those situations will change.
For those who are participating in the 40 days of prayer in the Cranberry, Oil City, and Franklin areas but might not have your book handy, today’s prayer is this: “For God to establish the poor so that their spiritual and physical needs are met with dignity and stability; that God will release them from cycles of oppression and despair; that God will reverse every curse and multiply blessing.”
Men Love Jesus January 31, 2015
Those four words are poignant. Not
really any wiggle room with such a brazen phrase. Real Men Love Jesus. I have a
bumper sticker with those four words on it stuck to my guitar case. But what do
those words mean? What do those words look like?
On Tuesday, January 13, Daryl “Red”
Davis, a man I have known since early childhood, entered eternity at the age of
82. He and his wife, Joan, lived down in Emlenton and, as a child, Joan was my
piano teacher. We went to church with them and Red made a huge impact on the
lives that he came into contact with including my own.
His one son shared a few words
during the service holding up one of his father’s Bible’s. It was covered in duct tape and read front
cover to back multiple times with innumerable notes and underlines
throughout. Red was a Real Man who Loved
Jesus. He dug into the Word for wisdom,
strength, and understanding.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All
Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and
training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.” Red Davis was one
of only a few men that I know who this was their life passion.
Yes, he taught at AC Valley for over
30 years and was their JV basketball coach for almost two decades, but everyone
knew that those things weren’t Red’s highest priority. He loved his wife and
children, but they weren’t his highest priority either. His top priority was to
lead people to Jesus. Red would use the platforms that he was given to share
the love of Jesus daily. He is one of less than a handful of men who I remember
sharing about praying with someone to ask Christ into their hearts. He was a
Real Man who Loved Jesus.
Men like Red need to be our hero’s.
It has nothing to do with fame, possessions, or talents. Our hero’s need to be
men like Red Davis. Red studied, memorized, applied, and lived the words of
Scripture. He was a man who was thoroughly equipped to share his faith to
anyone at anytime.
I asked Joan if I could share about
Red in this week’s article because he impacted so many within Clarion and
Venango counties as well as other places across the US and around the
world. During the service my heart was
saddened by the loss, but overjoyed with the knowledge that Red is with Jesus,
the author and finisher of his faith.
Real Men Love Jesus with all of
their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Red should not be the exception of a Christian man, but he should be the
norm. He was a spiritual example. He was a spiritual hero.
Red isn’t experiencing anymore pain and I can
only imagine the crown that was placed upon his head by Jesus when He looked
into Red’s eyes and said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
What will be Your Status Next Year? December 27, 2014
It’s interesting for anyone who has Facebook that at the end of each year there is some type of FB reflection back on the year that passed. Places you have been, pictures that were taken, and updates that MUST be shared. I find it disheartening throughout the year when I read posts of individuals who find their identity for living based on the record of their favorite sports team, what vacation spot they went too, or the one that disappoints me the most is what type of alcohol they got to consume.
Are these really the most important things in life? Are these the things that we hang our hat on at the end of the day and say, “I am fulfilled now”? Why does so much of our status have nothing to do with eternal or spiritual things? Why are we so bent on the things of this world and get so wrapped up in stuff?
Here’s some question’s for you to really think about. What were the significant spiritual milestones that you had in 2014? How have you significantly grown in your relationship with Jesus since January 1st of 2014? How have you impacted your kids, your community, your spouse, your family, your coworkers, or your classmates to take steps forward in their faith? I can’t answer your spiritual status updates of 2014, but I would venture to say that most have been more concerned about a touchdown being scored versus a soul being saved.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:32 & 33, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”
I don’t have to preach a sermon or give a dissertation about these verses. They speak clearly as to who a Christian is to be. For those who don’t know Jesus in a personal way, I can’t expect anything other than sports, or relationships, or even beer to become their status. I want to clearly state that when your status in life has everything to do with Jesus you then have an exciting and purposeful life.
We were all born with the ability and availability to have a real relationship with God. It comes down to the decision in your own heart as to what you want to do with this relationship. Accept it or reject it. The choice is yours. God will not force you to love Him, but God will never stop loving you. God’s love is so passionate for you that He sent His Son, Jesus, to take your sins and mine and forgive them. Belief in Him will change your status. Your status will be a child of the King instead of a child of self and sin.
This New Year make it a point to have many significant spiritual status updates. Don’t be the same person when the clock strikes 12AM on January 1st, 2016.
Give Thanks on
Thursday November 22, 2014
is this coming week and I imagine you have some type of plans. You may be traveling to see family out-of-state,
having family travel here, or just going to have a quiet day alone or with a
friend. Regardless, make sure you give
thanks for all you have and the blessings we enjoy in this great nation. I also want to encourage you to not go
shopping on Thanksgiving. Many of the
folks who are going to have to work retail on Thanksgiving would rather be home
with family, but as long as “the best deals” come in front of people, I’m
afraid it’s only going to get worse.
Make the right choice to not shop on Thursday.
at our consumer mindset this time of year it is clear that many have missed the
history and purpose of Thanksgiving. America’s first Thanksgiving festival with the
Wampanoag Indians was in December of 1621. Ninety Indians joined by fifty Pilgrims gave
thanks to God together for the bountiful harvest of that year. They feasted, played, and prayed together. From that time forward, proclamations of
Thanksgiving happened sporadically within our nation. . . even before we became
a nation. It was always a time that
Thanksgiving and prayer were offered up to God, as our ancestors knew that
their blessings came from Him.
It wasn’t until President Lincoln
responded to a Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale about a national Thanksgiving Day that
the tradition we know today started to more fully develop. In 1863, Lincoln set aside the last Thursday
in November for Thanksgiving, three months after the loss of 60,000 American’s
at the Battle of Gettysburg. This was
part of his proclamation:
“The year that is drawing toward
its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful
skies. To these bounties, which are so
constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come,
others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot
fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the
ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised
nor hath any mortal hand worked out these things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High
God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered
From that day forward, Presidents always declared a
proclamation of Thanksgiving but never on the same days. It wasn’t until 1933, with President Franklin
D. Roosevelt, that Thanksgiving Day was permanently established on the fourth
Thursday in November.
is the oldest American holiday and we must never neglect to give thanks to whom
it belongs. The above information and so
much more related to the history of Thanksgiving can be found at www.wallbuilders.com. I believe the Doxology is an appropriate
song to conclude:
God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise
Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Keep your eyes on the Road October 18, 2014
Although my children aren’t
driving age, I like to use our times in the vehicle to teach them responsible
driving tips. Maybe some reading this
today could even use these reminders. If
it is raining at all, I make sure my headlights are on. The same goes for work zones. Speed limits are very important too. I remember when I started to drive that my
father told me if I got a speeding ticket by going more than 4 miles over the
limit that it was my responsibility. Not
saying you should drive four miles an hour over the limit, but that was my
point of fear.
It would be nice if the
old-reliable driving laws and courtesies would be practiced by more
motorists. But the biggest problem today
is that blasted little box that has found its way onto many people’s belts, or
into their pockets and purses. It is the
cell phone. When I was a teenager way
back in the 90’s, cell phone didn’t even exist!
How could I have survived without a cell phone? Many of us 30+ in age remember the days when
you could actually get away from the stresses of life and didn’t have a little
box on them 24/7.
This little box has become a
problem for people in vehicles. Scores
of people have been killed by people taking their eyes off the road to talk or
text on their phone. Two weeks ago, when
I was driving home for lunch, a black van coming the opposite direction had a
driver who was more concerned about her text then about the road. When I talk to my children about driving, I
always talk to them about the other driver, and to watch what they do.
I watched this van coming toward
me and I could tell the driver wasn’t looking at the road. The van started to drift over the double
yellow lines. Still not looking up, the
vehicle is now halfway across my lane now.
I quickly press my brakes to slow down as much as possible. The space to get off the road was minimal, so
I was just hoping the driver of the other vehicle would look up.
She glanced up, whipped the van
over to the other lane, and glared at me as she drove past! I wondered what the Derrick headline would
have been the next day? It could have
been something like, “Local pastor hurt in car accident due to other driver
So what is the spiritual value
or lesson with all of this? I guess I
did go on a little rant, but in closing I want to use one verse that has
multiple applications. I think you will
find some irony in it regarding my driving adventure. Proverbs 29:18 says “ Where there is no vision, the
people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Have We Forgotten? September 13, 2014
I don’t have to remind anyone
reading this that this past Thursday marked the 13th anniversary of
9/11. If you are 20 years old or older
you still remember where you were when this tragedy occurred. We all have the stories to tell. Back in September of 2001 I was working for
the Progress Newspaper in Emlenton selling ads that day. As I was traveling from business to business
people would ask me if I had heard what was going on. I didn’t have the means to keep up with that days
current events, but after a few business owners told me that I should head back
home I did.
To our horror, my wife and I
listened to the radio (we had no TV or internet) throughout the day and evening
as these events played out. The next day
I had an appointment in Philadelphia and we watched on the TV the evening of
9/11at the motel of what had happened that day.
I will never forget. You will
We have thus been in
a “War of terrorism” for over a decade.
I don’t want to get into if this or that was done right or wrong, but I
want to share a passage of Scripture that then President George W. Bush used in
one of his speeches not long after the events of 9/11. It is Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced
that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present
nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in
all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our national motto is “In God We
Trust”. When we fully trust in God we
can see and understand that the events of the past, present, and even the
future can be handled with Jesus leading your life.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms.” This world is
full of evil and sadly this great nation is allowing evil to prevail by taking
God out of the picture. We have the
freedoms today because of the godly foundation that this nation was built
upon. It doesn’t mean that everyone has
to accept them, but this nation is starting to shake because the foundation of
morality is being chipped away.
Let us not forget those who lost
their lives on that September morning in 2001.
Let us not forget those who willfully and courageously served in our
military after this tragic event. Let us
not forget those who are still serving to protect our country. Let us not forget that the battle is
ultimately spiritual warfare and I pray that each one reading this today still
says and believes “God Bless America.”
How did Jesus See the
Little Children? August 9, 2014
last couple of weeks I have been looking at a passage of Scripture in Mark
10:13-16. For many reading this today it
will be a familiar story. Let me
paraphrase it for you. Jesus was having
some pretty weighty discussions with huge crowds of people with some Pharisee’s
mixed in the bunch. Right in the middle
of Jesus’ answering session many parents thought that it would be a great idea
to have Jesus touch their children.
parents brought the children to Jesus for Him to touch, but the disciples
rebuked them and told them, in essence, that Jesus was too busy for their
children. The Bible says that when Jesus
saw this he was indignant with the disciples.
Jesus was hopping mad at His disciples for pushing the children
aside. He then proceeded to say that the
simple faith of a child is the faith that adults are to have and that if you
don’t have that kind of faith you will never enter heaven.
then picked the children up in his arms and lap and blessed them.
have heard people say that the children in our churches today are the church in
the future. I want to be straight with
you that the children in the churches today are not the future of the church. No matter how many children attend the church
you attend rest assure that they are not the future of your church. The children in the church today ARE the
church of TODAY not the future!
passage of Scripture is very clear that the heart of Jesus is drawn to
children. Never once in Scripture does it
talk about the faith of an adult in the same light as it talks about the faith
of a child. Our grown up faith can often
times be full on unnecessary rules and practices when Jesus clearly said that
unless we have the faith of a child one will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
is your attitude toward children? Is it
like the disciples or is it like Jesus’?
Jesus rebuked grown men in the same way that they rebuked the children. I assume their chastisement made them feel
about the size of an ant. But honestly
which attitude is yours regarding children and children in church?
and I can learn a lot from children.
Within your Sunday worship service is their time where the children are
involved on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis? Why do we think participating in church is
for adults only? It is a blessing to see
and hear our children growing in their faith as we love children with the same
heart as Jesus.
our churches children are to be SEEN and HEARD because that is reflective of the
heart of Jesus. Make sure your heart and
arms are open to the children just like Jesus.