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Archive for September, 2012

Family Time!

Well “Hello” again!! I’m back!!!

The last couple of weeks have been wonderful. We’ve had some great family time.

Let me bring you up to speed. We baptized four more precious souls and here’s Johnny and Jaheim.

What a blessing! Johnny desires to teach and train Jaheim and be the role model and mentor as a Father is called to be in Scripture (Deut. 6:7, Eph. 6:4). I love it!

A week ago I had the privilege of being with Pleasant Home Baptist Church in their revival. What a fantastic people! I believe we truly experienced revival. At least that’s what the people tell me. So, praise the Lord! On the last night of Revival I got to hear a super trio called “Caleb’s Crossing.”

They are marvelous. Mt. Pleasant, you’ll be seeing these boys sometime in the future. I love their tight harmonies. You can hear them here…

Well…in case you haven’t heard, Josh is now in Alaska. He arrived Thursday. That’s Josh Isaacs, Katy’s fiance, I’m talking about…of course. The Marines have shipped him off to an Air Force base near Fairbanks for a month. See below…

He’ll be back shortly before the wedding that will take place on November 10th. We’re praying for him and we love him dearly!

We got to see Josh right before we started our vacation. He had 24-hour duty and we blew into Cherry Point, NC at the end of that shift and we kept him up another 8 hours… We went furniture shopping for the future bride and groom, ate at Smithfield’s Chicken and BBQ… Pictures of course…

We also went to the MCX…(it’s kind of like a Wal-Mart on the Marine Base). Andrew and Clara sure do love Josh!!

Josh took us to the warehouse where he works checking in Marine Air Corps parts. He’s a whiz on the computer and is highly respected by those in command over him. He showed us all the parts he has checked in lately at the warehouse. I’m telling you, “Isaacs” was on about 80% of the parts. You can tell who is working hard. You can also tell I’m probably a bit biased…and perhaps a trifle proud…in a good way. 🙂

We also went bowling at the Marine Base. They had these neat little cage/ramp things that could help the children bowl. Here, Andrew is helping Clara or is that Clara helping Andrew…

Here’s Josh and Katy at a beautiful lake near the base. Aren’t they just the cutest couple…

And what about this wonderful couple…

Pam took a picture of me and my son-in-law to be. Truth is…he’s already a son to me. He’s like Timothy was to Paul. Timothy was a “spiritual son” to Paul. Josh is that to me. I love him like a son.

Can you see Andrew hiding behind me? I didn’t even realize it until I saw the picture. He wanted in on the act, of course… So, here are the three guys of the group!

I sure do love those two guys!

After seeing Josh, for all of about 8 hours (right after he got off a 24-hour “watch duty”), we headed to the coast with the family… Some of you might know that we go each September with my mom and dad and my sister and her family. This is the beach house we stayed in…

We had perfect weather! I mean perfect. Highs in the upper 70’s to low 80’s and sunshine every day. Best weather I can ever remember on a vacation. Not a drop of rain and guess what? No HURRICANES!! Woohoo! We’ve been run out of so many towns via hurricanes bearing down on us through the years that it was fantastic not having to deal with that this year! Thank you Lord!

More pics…

I even had the chance to grab and hold the sun! 🙂

And so did Andrew…

I’ve got to show you this! Clara and Andrew were attacked by a giant crab! I think Clara is a “ham” don’t you?

Dad and Clara made some great memories too. Grandpa and granddaughter…

Certainly a sandcastle was needed…

Here’s a foursome of us as we enjoyed a late September sunset on the beach. Dad took the photo…

Had a great time flying kites too! Here’s a shot of Andrew and Clara and then one of Andrew…I told him, “You are sitting down on the job.” 🙂

So, we had a fantastic and restful time and I can say that I was personally recharged.

Yep…we had some great family time and one of the best parts of that time was spending more time in prayer and reading and Scripture than normal. Yes, I read the Bible and pray a lot when I’m at home. That’s a given! I must if I’m going to lead as an elder. But, I want to be transparent here…the pressure of deadlines and many, many lives on my shoulders means that I’m usually on the “giving end” and not on the receiving end. I’m giving, giving and giving…and I love it…I really do. But, I needed some time to reload. My tank was getting low and so I unplugged and that was good for me, my family and yes, even the church, because it gave me time to fill the ole tank again. So, I’m ready to go. Go do what? Preach and teach the Gospel of course. Tomorrow is Sunday!!! Yeah!!!

But, what about you? Is preaching (telling the truth about Jesus), just for preachers? No! Of course not. We are all ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5). Wherever God has placed you, you are a minister of the Gospel and you have a job to do with the people God has placed in your path. Are you carrying the torch or laid it down? It’s easy to get tired. I know. But, a little rest and some concentrated time with the Lord without all the distractions will get you back to the job. What’s the job? Simple.

To make Christ known!

Well…I’m blessed and it’s been a great couple of weeks and in case I haven’t made it abundantly clear, I sure do love these folks…

And, Mt. Pleasant…I sure love you church family and I can’t wait to jump back in that pulpit and share with my brothers and sisters in Christ…as one big ole family of God! 🙂

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Things That Drive Me Crazy!

Have you ever found yourself raising your voice at the TV? This is almost a nightly occurrence during the week as I watch the 10 o’clock news. Why am I having a conversation with an inanimate object like the TV? Well, now that I think about it, I can only smile. 🙂 But the truth is there are things going on in our nation that drive me crazy!

Want some examples? Did you hear about the 100+ men who have been laid off from working on a construction project in Texas because an endangered spider has to be protected? You can see the video here…rare-spider-shuts-down construction-project

Here’s a picture of the spider…

This spider, (called a Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver), is stopping a $15 million construction project and men are out of work because of a translucent spider! Oh and get this, they took the spider and dissected it to see what it was…so, it’s now dead! But, oh no…we can’t continue with the project and put the men back to work, because there might be others in the same hole. Oh please! Drives me crazy!

How about this one. Did you know that almost half of Americans pay no Federal income tax. Zero! Zip! Nothing! How can that be? In the mid-80’s 81% of American’s paid taxes. Now only 53% of Americans pay any Federal taxes. Folks, that’s 144,000,000 (that’s 144 million) people pay NO taxes in this country.

Now I understand there are those that don’t make enough money to pay taxes, but please…are you wanting me to believe half of Americans somehow can pay no taxes at all? I struggle with our tax code. There are large corporations in this country that pay no taxes. That’s wrong too! It drives me crazy. I feel like I’m bearing the burden for WAY too many people. I heard the other day about a 13-year old boy who got free braces (he lives with just his mom and they are on Food Stamps and Medicaid). And yet, I can’t afford to put braces on my kids’ teeth because I’m paying for his! Drives me crazy!

Ready for another? I got a letter in the mail the other day from the REVEREND Barry W. Lynn. Ever heard of him?

Lynn is the Executive Director of the group, “Americans United for Separation of Church and State.” The letter was addressed to: “Dear Religious Leader:” In it the Reverend tells me that I can’t talk about politics in a partisan way. Well, Mr. Reverend…I get that. And I don’t campaign for politicians. My job is to preach the Word of God, but that doesn’t mean that we are to check our politics at the door. How a person believes will govern how they govern. Why can’t we get that? Believing what a person believes (his/her religion or lack thereof) will totally influence how they govern. If you believe otherwise, you are fooling yourself.

I’ll tell you something else. Mr. Lynn is dead wrong when he talks about the so-called “separation of church and state.” He hearkens back to a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to a group of Baptists in Danbury, CT. Here’s the problem that drives me crazy.

The courts in America have mandated a “separation of church and state” based on Jefferson’s letter.  They cite the fact that the “founding fathers” intended for this separation to be had.  However, when reading the minutes of the meetings when the constitution was being framed from June 7 through September 25, 1789 we don’t see this mentioned anywhere.

In fact, in all the arguments and debates, not one of the 90 men that are considered our “founding fathers” every mentioned “separation of church and state.”  James Madison on August 15, 1789 said, “What we want here is what we did not have in Great Britain.  We don’t want government to make us all one denomination.  Not one denomination, not all Catholic, not all Anglicans…we want to choose our own denominations.”  This is why the first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” 

Madison and the founding fathers wanted to make sure no single denomination would control!  To say that we can’t pray in public or read the Bible in public or have crosses or the 10 commandments on public property is ridiculous.

Here’s a copy of Jefferson’s letter. Read it for yourself and see what you think…

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.

Jefferson stated quite simply that the Government needs to stay out of the Church so we don’t have another problem like we had in England (that’s why the Puritans left you remember…the Government was intruding on Religion). People today are so deceived when it comes to this issue because they don’t know history and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! The government should stay out of religion, but certainly, what one believes about God will carry over (as I said earlier) into how they govern. This is common sense.

But to show you the hypocrisy of our nation and our government when it comes to religion and the tenets on which this nation was founded, just take a look at this.

That’s the Ten Commandments carved into the doors of the Supreme Court leading into the justices chambers. That’s right! The very court that handed down the ruling years ago that told Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore…

…to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom is the same court that has them carved in their doors! Oh my! It drives me crazy!

Here’s another one. Go to Google and type in “How Do I qualify for…” and stop typing and see what pops up. Want to know? I’ll tell you. What pops up is:

How do I qualify for food stamps…

How do I qualify for Medicaid…

How do I qualify for unemployment…

How do I qualify for disability…

And on and on it goes. Did you know that 41% of all births in America and 60% of all elderly long-term care is paid for by the government? Talk about “womb to the tomb,” and “cradle to the grave.” The government has become our “nanny.”

Get this. One out of every three Americans live in a home that one of these: food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid or all the above. The USDA now calls Food Stamps, “SNAP” to give it a better sounding name. There is even an ad campaign out by the government encouraging others to get on the SNAP program. It drives me crazy! George Bernard Shaw said, “He who borrows from Peter to pay Paul will always get the support of Paul.” Ain’t that the truth!

Folks, we are broke in this nation and it’s because we can’t tell ourselves: “NO!” From the halls of government to the halls of our homes, we can’t stop spending and say: “NO!” It drives me crazy! What will change it? I don’t know, but this I do know… I’m going to have to stop watching the news…

Why?

Because it’s driving me CRAZY!!

A quick programming note…I’m going to be taking a hiatus for a few days to get some rest…and that includes blogging. I need some time to recharge the old batteries and refuel the tank. So, I’ll see you back in a few days. Blessings!

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Is there hope for America? Well, as long as God is on the throne and His Son has not returned, there is hope for any nation. When God looks down from His throne I believe He sees people and not national boundaries. He desires that no one perish and all come to repentance, but the choice is ours. I think about our nation and our people and I believe we are a very lost nation and adrift in our own pleasure and entertainment.

I was emailing with a friend this morning and he and I agreed that the only hope for our nation is a spiritual awakening…a revival. There have been two in this nation and I believe there needs to be a third.

I was reading about a book by Dr. Jerry Newcombe entitled, Answers from the Founding Fathers. In the book Newcombe says, “The Great Awakening, a gale force storm of holiness that began in New England and swept across the colonies, laid the spiritual foundation for the birth of freedom three decades later. That foundation, now under assault, won’t be restored unless our land experiences a ‘third great awakening.’ The Great Awakening, a movement based in prayer, helped unite the colonies in the first place. The Continental Congress called for days of fasting and prayer. Ben Franklin called for prayer at the Constitutional convention, when the whole thing seemed to be grinding to a halt. Prayer and the Scriptures were key to the founding of our nation.”

Newcombe notes that historian Paul Johnson calls the First Great Awakening “the formative movement in American history, preceding the political drive for independence, and making it possible. The Revolution could not have taken place without this religious background. The essential difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution is that the American Revolution, in its origins, was a religious event, whereas the French Revolution was an anti-religious event.”

John Adams, our second president…

…assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence and followed George Washington in the presidency, said: “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the mind and hearts of the people: and change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.”

Some have asked, “Well, what would a Great Awakening look like? What does Revival look like?” Well, here’s an interesting quote from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography describing evidence of this change:  “It seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.” Isn’t that amazing!

Franklin himself knew one of the Great Awakening’s most famous preachers, George Whitefield…

…and published his sermons. Whitefield urged Franklin to study the new birth available in Christ but, sadly there is little evidence that Franklin ever heeded those words. But, thousands of others did. In Newcombe’s book, he notes that one historian states that between 1740 and 1742 alone, out of a population of 300,000 in New England, 25,000 to 50,000 joined churches.

The question is: How did it start? What starts a Great Awakening? History records that what became a massive movement across the colonies, started with just a few people praying. Initially, the sparks of revival began with young people in the Northampton church of Jonathan Edwards—regarded by many as America’s greatest theologian.

File:Jonathan Edwards.jpgEdwards preached the now famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards was preaching that salvation came by God’s grace through personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—a doctrine foreign to many in the New England churches who considered church membership a right and how a person entered heaven.

Historians record, that the young people, after responding to Edwards’ call, began holding prayer meetings and praying for revival in their church and community. Within six months almost every adult in town had professed faith in Christ. Not only Northampton, but its surrounding area was transformed.

Newcombe states, “Too often we forget that America became a nation soon after a spiritual revival, the First Great Awakening. Then in the 1800s, America experienced a Second Great Awakening, which helped bring about a moral revolution—particularly in addressing the evil of slavery. But now we are in need of a Third Great Awakening.”

I know we have an election coming up in November, but Romney nor Obama will be able to change this country. Only a spiritual awakening can turn this nation around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discounting the fact that I believe the country will go down very different paths under the direction of these two men. They are polar opposites in how they view the role of government and religious liberty in this nation. But, in the end, I’m convinced our only hope is in Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world (not just America). He is our ONLY hope! Would you join me in praying for a third GREAT AWAKENING, for without one, I’m afraid we will continue to disintegrate within.

 

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What’s important in life? Let’s see. Food, water, sleep. Pretty simple stuff, right? I mean to the spider that caught this grasshopper (mostly eaten), food is essential to living…

Yikes! These yellow jackets need a nest. Problem was…the nest they wanted was near our rose-bush and that was causing a problem so…sorry yellow jackets…your need for a nest beside of my house and my children…well…that’s not going to work…

For all the yellow jacket bee lovers out there…no hate mail please…it had to be done! As a kid I was stung half to death by those things at a family reunion and my dad rescued me by pulling my shirt off of me and getting stung on his hand, face and neck to get them off of me (they were embedded in my t-shirt). That’s what a father does. He takes the stings for his child. Thanks again, Pop!

Speaking of children. We have children in our services at church. That’s right. No children’s church and get this. Hold on to your seats. We don’t even have a nursery! Are we crazy? No. I don’t think so. Just trying to follow the Scriptures. In the meeting on the Lord’s Day the children were present. How do we know? Paul’s writings tell us so. In Ephesians 6:1 he says to the church at Ephesus, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). You see the children were in the hearing of the letter being read by one of the elders of the church. Paul never assumed the children were to be siphoned out of the church meeting and given crafts, cool-aid and Cheetos to entertain them. No. It was expected for them to be in the meeting and learn and grow (just as their parents). Did Jesus ask the disciples to take the children down to the bottom of the hill when He taught the sermon on the mount and play kickball with them to entertain them? Of course not. Is having children in the meeting messy? Sure it is. Is it noisy at times? Sure it is. But it’s how they learn.

Do you know when children will learn to sit still in church and listen?

Drum roll please…

Children will learn to sit still and listen when we EXPECT them to. When you take them to a restaurant, do you have the waitress take them off to another room to serve them? No. That’s crazy. You cut up their food and feed them (if you have toddlers for instance). Is this messy? Sure it is. But it’s expected. How about when you go to a movie? Rated G of course. 🙂  Do you expect someone to take your child to a separate room to watch the movie? Of course not. Church should be no different. I thank God for things like this…

I found this little bunny after the service on Sunday as I was heading out… How cute! What does that mean? It means children are in the meeting. It’s a wonderful thing! It’s such a joy to see things like this as well…

That’s Jonah Horton playing his mandolin in church on Sunday. He’s being trained and mentored in our Praise Team and yes…he’s only 11 years old! Now ask him if he loves his church? You better believe it! Why? Because he is plugged in. He has a role in the church. We don’t have to bribe young people to come to church. No way! That’s a broken model. 90% of our young people are walking away from the faith by their 20th birthday. Pizza blasts and paint ball… Wii’s and youth rooms with ping-pong tables won’t guarantee their involvement. But, if you give them a job, then all of a sudden you will hear them say, “MY church,” instead of “Mom and Dad’s church.” I think I know a guy who has written a book about all this. Let me see… Oh yeah…

Rite of Passage for the Home and ChurchThat’s right! It’s on Kindle now for just $7.99. A real bargain!

What else is important? Well…the list would be as endless as the number of people reading this. Well, a couple of other thoughts. I saw this last week. We love sports in America and it’s important. But this is even more important…

Here’s the scoop from a CBS article about it…

Clemson wide receivers coach Jeff Scott tweeted this photo of junior wideout DeAndre Hopkins getting baptized on Thursday – apparently in a Rubbermaid ice tub. In his tweet, Scott called the baptism the “highlight of my week.” Two days after the Christian rite, Hopkins made his own highlight of the week — catching a school-record 13 passes, including a 4-yard touchdown, as the Tigers beat Auburn 26-19. Hopkins is the second Clemson player to be baptized in a month.

Now I’m glad (I like Clemson) that the Tigers beat Auburn (also the Tigers), but I’m even more excited that DeAndre is going to heaven. That’s more important, wouldn’t you say?

Speaking of sports…check out this double rainbow at last Saturday’s Appalachian State vs. Montana game in Boone.

I guess we know who the Lord is pulling for!

You know there are many, many things that are important in life. But, my grandfather told me the three most important things to remember about life. Want to hear them?

Ok…

#1 People are more important than things.

#2 People are more important than things.

Guess what #3 is?

Yep…you got it…

In life, my grandpa said, “People are more important than things.”

It’s my I love David and Becky Lynn Black so much. They love people. They are constantly mentoring and training people. David is a professor at Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Yet, even with a busy teaching schedule, Dave makes time to mentor. It’s important to him. Last weekend many of these students (and some of their spouses) gave back and came to the Black’s farm and helped out…

There were so many of them, they that had to camp out at the farm. Fun, fun!

And then Dave cooked up some burgers to feed the hungry workers. Just like Jesus…serving…stooping…bending…not with a towel and a basin, but with a spatula…

Here’s the group…

Why do I share this? Because it’s important. Mentoring is so important. It’s a “walk along…talk along” faith that we have. It’s what Jesus did. He lived among us. He is Immanuel, “God with us.” Are you mentoring? If you are a parent or grandparent you are.

Every home is a classroom. What is yours teaching?

What’s important?

What’s REALLY important?

Grandpa got it right…

PEOPLE.

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Waiting

Don’t you hate waiting? Waiting for your name to be called at a restaurant. Then waiting on the food. Kids hating waiting for Christmas. We hate waiting in line at Wal-Mart. Waiting…waiting…waiting… I dislike it immensely. However waiting teaches us patience, and patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

As a family we are now in waiting for November 10th. But let me tell there is a ton of preparation going on. There is the rehearsal dinner, reception, invitations, ceremony program, etc., etc. Much to do! But, it’s an exciting time nonetheless.

Katy has chosen to wait and to save herself for Josh and in so doing she has been a lady in waiting. She is waiting for her groom. Here’s a picture she put on Facebook of the countdown charts she has used over the months for how long it would be before they saw each other again…

You know as a Church, we are waiting for our groom. We are the bride and Jesus is the groom and we are waiting for His return. So, what do we do in our waiting? We continue to serve Him, right? We continue to work for His kingdom and we long for the day when He will come and we will be snatched off this earth and taken to heaven and then be married to our groom. What a joy that will be and then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19). We will celebrate with the most wonderful and fantastic reception you could ever imagine! I literally can’t wait!

Yesterday, Katy wrote a beautiful blog post about waiting. I’m going to post it below. I hope if you have young children in your family or you have grandchildren that you will forward this to them. Parents, what you will read below should be the goal for our children regarding “waiting.” Take a look and see if you agree.

The Thing About Waiting

I just read a blog post entitled, I don’t wait anymore. If you have time, read the link below…. if not, skip and I’ll explain. I realize by saying that none of you will read the link… It’s okay! I appreciate you for coming to Hearts On Things Above in general!
 
 
I guess when I first read this I was expecting to shoot it down with my comebacks of non-dating jargon (but, it’s not really jargon!).
 
It’s a pretty long blog post from February 3, 2012, by a girl that I know almost nothing about. I read a few more of her posts just to get to know her better. I couldn’t find anything about her though. I really expected to majorly disagree with this post.
 
For those who don’t have time to read it, I’ll sum it up. She started out by saying that she as a 25-year-old woman took off the “True Love Waits” ring she had on her finger since she was 16. She said that she decided that she is “not waiting anymore.” My first thought was that she just wanted to be “wild.” But no. She said that years of waiting seems to be wrecking many girl’s view of God. How? Well, she says that all of these Youth Pastor’s encouragement to “love God first if you want a husband” seems like a bribe to God. Her exact words were, “A lot of girls were sold on a deal not on a Savior.”
 
Hmm.
She said that it begins back a decade ago for most of these women. They filled out a piece of paper with True Love Waits on it and laid it on an altar somewhere. After years trusting and waiting and waiting on God to bring them someone, they chuck it. They find that if this God is connected to this inability to get a guy, then they don’t really want Him either… or church.
 
Heavy, right? Well, if a girl is that shallow then she has a problem anyway. I don’t believe that not getting a boyfriend should make a Christian girl want to chuck the Church and God altogether. That’s nuts.
 
But hang on… I also think that the obsession with “waiting” is wrong. It’s not a bribe with God. Just because we love Him, it doesn’t mean we’ll get the love of a husband within this certain time period we predetermine. She said that she lived like she was waiting for something.
 
So here is where my thoughts come in. Her post made me think about the attitude I’ve seen in “waiting” girls on occasion. It’s not universal, but I see it a lot more than I used to. What? The near obsession with being in a relationship. It becomes a fantasy world. They aren’t dating and they say that they want to “wait,” yet many, many comments out of their mouths is about some hot guy or a girl they’re trying to set up with a cute guy they know. But “I’M WAITING”, they say!
 
The struggle is in the mind. I know from experience. You can not do a lot, but your mind can take you where your body would love to be. One has to be careful. It’s not just for guys… girls deal with that too.
 
To finish up, she then said, “If I’d learned that it’s not bad to pray for a husband, but that my greater prayer should be for Him to spend my life as He chooses for His glory. If we as believers make that our message, things could be drastically different for a lot of girls wondering why the God they think they learned to follow doesn’t compute. It doesn’t necessarily stop the desire for a husband or end all feelings of loneliness, but it does show a God who provides, loves and gives infinite purpose even to our singleness rather than a God who categorically denies some who pray for husbands while seemingly giving freely to others.”
 
So, though her title seems brash and honestly, her story quite the opposite of mine, it got me thinking. I still support “waiting.” With all of my heart! It’s the reason mine and Josh’s story is the way it is. But I guess I saw for the first time that waiting is not what we live for. And, it’s not a bribe with God.
 
God’s love is enough. Just His love. And it’s not a “just”… it’s everything!
I couldn’t have said it better myself Katy! I’m proud of you my lovely daughter! If you would like to read more of Katy’s blog posts, you can click here for her blog: Hearts on Things Above.

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Have you ever heard that statement? Please don’t confuse me with the facts.  Well, I’m very concerned about the direction of our nation and the facts are important for us to consider. Let’s look at some facts that you might find interesting. I sure did. Take a look at this map.

This is called a datamap. It shows the number of tweets from Twitter. This datamap was created by www.floatingsheep.org. To create this map, they selected all geotagged tweets sent within the continental US between June 22 and June 28 (about 10 million in total) and extracted all tweets containing the word “church” (17,686 tweets of which half originated on Sunday) or “beer” (14,405 tweets which are much more evenly distributed  throughout the week). You can see that there are many more tweets about church in the south than in the northeast and upper midwest and west, which is “beer country.” Red and orange means more “church” tweets and blue and light blue more “beer” tweets. You know this kind of looks like an election map of red and blue states. Red=Republicans and Blue=Democrats. Interesting.

You know we have an election coming up on November 6th, right at two months away. Are you going to vote? I am. It’s my civic duty. God established government and according to Romans 13, I should submit to those authorities. I certainly do so when I pay my taxes and drive the speed limit.

Romans 13:1-7 says:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

So, I pay my taxes and I obey the laws of the land and I vote. But, I said a moment ago that I’m very concerned about our nation. Did you know that we topped $16 trillion in debt yesterday? We sure did. A whopping $5.4 trillion of that has been added in the last 3 1/2 years. That concerns me greatly for my children. We are headed toward a cliff and the government must stop spending money that we don’t have or we are doomed.

Yet, there are 46 million Americans on food stamps. That’s up 64% (according to World Magazine, August 11, 2012 article “Food Stamp Bubble”) since 2008. The cost of the program in 2011 was $72 billion. Folks, I’m all for feeding the poor, but there are people pulling out WIC cards at my local grocery store who are driving $40,000 cars while I drive my $600, 1995 Ford Taurus so I can pay my taxes to feed the people driving brand new SUV’s. Something is desperately wrong with this picture.

You know it used to be that a man wouldn’t take a hand out. Not today! It’s a multi-generational thing and it’s expected. It’s called an entitlement and folks feel “entitled” to it. Thus, they live off the government. The government is their provider. Friends, this is not Scriptural. Paul told Timothy, “If a man won’t work…let him not eat.” In America, if a man won’t work, we’ll give him food stamps while he sits at home and watches TV all day. Now is this true of everyone on Food Stamps? Of course not. There are those who legitimately need help. But, that’s what the church is for, right? Yet, the church has given over to the government the responsibility of taking care of the people.

Speaking of the church. The Episcopal Church in its General Convention early this year took another step toward “full inclusion” of homosexuals, overwhelmingly approving a liturgy to bless same-sex couples. Oh my!

Folks, these are facts and they are scary. Where are we headed?

I think about what our children are learning in schools and it scares me to death. In a World Magazine article (8.25.12) that you can find here: called “Changes in the Weather.

Here’s a section of the article…

As kindergartners and high-school students return to public schools this fall, a team of 41 writers will be busy editing national curriculum standards that, as early as next year, could change how science teachers instruct their classes. The so-called “Next Generation Science Standards,” which all 50 states will have the option of adopting or not, are intended to provide a universal framework for science education. They explicitly emphasize Darwinism and climate change. 

Based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, the standards reflect consensus (that is, majority) views. For instance, according to an 87-page draft the writing team presented for public comment in May, middle-school students are supposed to learn “how human activities significantly impact the geosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the biosphere, and global temperatures,” such as by the “release of greenhouse gases.” They’re supposed to learn about the effects of “increases in human population,” and about “evidence” supporting the Big Bang. High-school students will be taught that fossil and DNA discoveries support common ancestry, and that one species can evolve into two.

That’s scary! Our kids are going to be taught as “fact” that we got here on this earth based on a “THEORY” called the Big Bang. Praise the Lord for Virginia, South Carolina and Texas, who say they will not adopt these new “standards.” Texas adopted state standards in 2009 requiring students to learn the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. Well, way to go Texas! That’s how it ought to be. I don’t have a problem with teaching evolution, but give the other side…allow creation to be taught as well, and let the student decide.

But, please don’t confuse me with the facts, right?

So, what must we do? Several things.

#1 Pray for our nation and this upcoming election

#2 Be informed. Don’t just get your news from a single source such as NBC, CBS and ABC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc. If you do, you’ll get a slanted view. Solution…look at several sources. Every morning I read the headlines from FOX and CNN. One is conservative and the other is more liberal. Read good magazines like “World” magazine, which will give you information from a Christian perspective. Is it slanted? Sure! It’s Christian. So, it will have a “Christian” slant. If you want a liberal slant, read Newsweek or the N.Y. Times.

#3 Train your children. I make my kids sit down and watch the NBC Nightly News and then FOX News. Then I ask them to think critically about what they’ve heard on both. This trains them to think.

#4 Vote. It’s our civic duty.

The facts. Well, we’re in trouble. That’s a fact. Yet, the fact is…God is still on the throne and the tomb is empty, so we need not fear. But, we must be diligent in our call to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our troubles in this nation pushes me to share the Gospel with an even greater sense of urgency than ever before. The clock is ticking. Any way you slice it, Jesus is coming soon, so we must be on mission to see as many souls brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as possible before it’s eternally too late…and that’s a fact.

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What does it mean?

I love Bible Studies! They bring such a closeness and vitality. That’s what Sunday School classes do. It’s a shame that in most churches only about half of those who come and worship on Sunday mornings come to Bible Study during the “Sunday School hour.”

One of the questions that is legitimately asked quite often in Bible studies today while studying the Bible is “What does it mean?” Great question. What does it mean? Well, we must become students of the Bible and dig. We must be careful just asking each other what the other person “thinks.” I hear this often said today: “What do you think it means?” Or “What does it mean to you?” That’s potentially scary stuff.

But, the question remains: “What does it mean?” How do we determine what Scripture means? Well, what about the clear reading of the Scripture. In other words, when the Bible says “God created everything in six days,” then I have no problem believing that as it reads. God created everything in six days. Yet some say that’s millions of years per day or that there are gaps in the days and fit in millions of years. I struggle with that. How do we know how to take Scripture? Do we take it literally or not? Certainly there is figurative language used in apocalyptic writing like the book of Daniel and the book of the Revelation. Yet, in general, I subscribe to the “clear reading” of Scripture principle and go with that.

Now I know many perhaps won’t agree with me on this. That’s fine. No hate mail, please. Remember this is a blog (so it’s my opinions, right), it’s not a treatise or a dissertation.

Let me show you something I saw recently in Nashville at the Adventure Science Museum.

Can you read that? Wow! What a stretch! An asteroid killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. I’m amazed at this hypothesis. Did all the dinosaurs get into a huddle and the 6-mile-wide asteroid squash them as they were roasting s’mores? This is an example of really “reaching” and really “stretching.” I pray we don’t do this with Scripture.

Last week when I was at the Marine Base at Cherry Point, NC I was in the MCX store and I saw this sign. Needless to say I loved it…

Awesome! No baggie pants, showing your underwear for our Marines. No thug hats. No tattoos! Can I ask a question? If this is what our military expects, what about within Christendom?

Want some other random thoughts on this Labor Day evening? How about beauty…

This double rainbow was literally almost sitting on my house a couple of weeks ago. Did you know I found what was at the end of the rainbow. Want to know what it was? Nope…not a pot of gold. Nope…it was a cow pasture across the road. 🙂

How about this beautiful sunset…

I love the beauty of God’s creation and because I spent so many nights shooting hoops as a boy, this scene brought back many memories for me.

Speaking of sports, I love this guy tossing balls in the air to his daughter Ashley…

That’s Steve Bryan, a dear, dear friend and Brother in Christ. He has been coaching his daughter’s volleyball team at West Wilkes High School for several years. They are good! I saw them demolish a team last week. What I love about Steve is that he has invested in his daughter’s life greatly and this picture said a lot to me. I sent this to my Brother and I hope he enjoys these wonderful days of Ashley’s senior year in highs school.

Last but not least is what I found in a bowl of shelled beans that I will use for my “seed beans” for next spring’s planting. See that black bean…

That black bean is what a Christian should look like. We should stand out…should we not? We are to be light in the darkness. In this case it’s the opposite, but it is a great reminder nonetheless.

One last thing. I’m sitting here watching news about the upcoming Democratic National Convention that will take place tomorrow in Charlotte. I watched last week’s Republican convention in Tampa. I hope that you will watch as well and be an informed voter, because we have a mammoth election coming up in just over two months. By the way, the nation’s debt will top $16 trillion tomorrow.

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