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Archive for November, 2015

A True Reason To Be Thankful

Jesus Equality With God in A Culture That Worships Self-Sufficiency

John 5: 18

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

For the unbeliever, Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God is foolishness. For, there is no God to this person, aside from the god of their own good intentions and good works. They enthrone upon their lives their feelings, their experience and their opinion as king. And, they worship this idol as such! But, we know, that there is no true God but Yahweh!

For the self-righteous, it is a stumbling block. For, their self-sufficiency is king.

But, for the blood bought, for the elect, for the child of God… This truth is the glorious POWER OF GOD! For, in this truth is the glorious revelation that God chose to become like us. That He is Triune… Appearing as the Father, who gave Himself as the Son, who then gave Himself to us in the form of the Holy Spirit to be our counselor and comforter! Oh, what glorious reason we have to be thankful today!

But, engrained within our fallen nature is the tendency to love self-sufficiency. We worship it in America! We are told, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” And, if we are not careful, we can allow this to embolden us to believe that we are sufficient enough to earn or attain salvation.

And, in the face of all this enters Jesus Christ! He not only proved to us that we are wholly insufficient for attaining our own salvation, but he proved to us that HE is merciful enough to become that atonement for us!

In order for this truth to penetrate our human condition, it requires a laying down of our self-sufficiency, and a giving over of our supremacy upon our lives.

For some, this truth is embraced, and they throw their pride and self-sufficiency aside and run to the arms of this merciful and holy God!

But, sadly, for others… they lament Jesus’ supreme sufficiency for attaining salvation, and they see it as a direct threat to their façade of self-sufficiency and their resume for good works.

This was the case for the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jerusalem. When being so intimately confronted with Jesus’ ministry, an appropriate response should have been one of authentic humility, and immense joy! But, instead they rejected Jesus.

They were correct in assuming that Jesus was directly and intentionally challenging their façade, their established order, their inauthentic traditions, and their repressive authority over God’s chosen people. But what frustrated them most was when Jesus claimed to be the very Son of God. When he laid claim to equality with God, it beckoned them to worship Him as such.

And, this was a great stumbling block to these men.

And, today it is still a stumbling block to countless others.

1 Corinthians 1: 23

…but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, as the incarnate form of the Triune God, as the flesh and blood of God Himself, is a doctrine that many religions and ideologies find reprehensible.

Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other people groups, stumble over this idea that God is Triune, appearing as The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. One of Islam’s core claims is that there is no God but Allah, and that he has no son. Likewise those part of the cults of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons also believe that Jesus was simply a good man or a helpful prophet, but not God in human form.

Oh, that God would open their eyes to see that this could not be!!!!!

Jesus made clear his claim to be God in the flesh. He made this claim throughout His ministry. He said that He was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. He said that He was the Son of God. He said that He was the Word, and that He was present with God in the beginning, before there was even time itself!

But, He not only claimed it… He proved it. He proved it through his many miracles. Even more so, He proved it through his atoning death. His death can only be satisfactory for our atonement if He is God himself, for this is the only way by which God’s supreme justice and unconditional mercy can be satisfied simultaneously. And, if Jesus were not God, then this would not be possible!

There are some who claim that they are willing to accept Jesus as a good man or faithful prophet, but not as Lord.  And it is blasphemy! It is heresy! But, it is also illogical!

C.S. Lewis sums it up better than I could ever dream of in this quote below:

 “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S. Lewis

So, on this eve of the day that we celebrate a national day of thankfulness to God, I want to encourage you to thank Him with immense joy that He chose to appear in this dirty, rotten world as a human like you and me. But, more than that… he chose to take upon himself the punishment and wrath due us, as God Himself, in order to atone for our sins… Not only for our good, but for His glory!

Oh, what a glorious God we worship, and what a beautiful Savior we serve! He gives us unending mercies that we do not deserve. His mercies are of old, and they are new each morning! For the Christian, we can be thankful for God’s past mercies, but also trust in future mercies! How can it be, that God would love a wretch like you and me? Thank Him today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Caleb

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Thankful for this…

My post for the week is this week’s Two-Minute Tuesday: “Thankful for this…”

I hope you enjoy it and that you and your family have a wonderful and “thankful” Happy Thanksgiving!

Kevin

http://subsplash.com/mpbc/v/df51fb6

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You know sometimes in life, you get your socks blessed off. You didn’t ask for it and you really don’t feel you have earned it. You just get blessed. I attribute that to the Lord’s blessings. Sometimes He will bless us above and beyond what we can imagine.

Pam and I have had that happen to us recently. We had a friend who blessed us immensely. Here’s the story. I was communicating with this friend via email and was asked, “When is your anniversary by the way?” I replied back, “Dec. 22nd the Big 25.” He replied back, “Wow! What a milestone! Would you and Pam like to visit Oahu?” Here was my reply:

“Uhhhh! Pardon me while I pick my tongue up off the floor and put it back in my mouth! 🙂 I’m literally speechless. Seriously! I am so blown away right now that I have a lump in my throat!!! Oh my! Oh my!!! Pam and I were talking about maybe going a couple of days to Charleston…but…wait a minute…Oahu or Charleston!!?? Duh!!! Okay…so let me see if I can think…”

We went on to communicate back and forth and ultimately, this is the gist: Pam and I are going to Hawaii for a week Dec. 8-15 all expense paid. Can you believe that!! I feel so guilty even typing those words. We don’t deserve something like that, but let me tell you something  I’ve learned: Be willing to be humble enough to accept the blessings the Lord brings. The Lord uses people and circumstances to bless us beyond anything we deserve.

When Pam and I were married all I could afford was a 2-night, 3 day honeymoon to Pigeon Forge. Many of our friends had these exotic honeymoons to very nice places and well…Pigeon Forge is nice…but, not exactly exotic. 🙂 So, for years, I’ve told Pam, “Maybe one of these days we can go someplace nice.” Well, the years have passed and the best I’ve been able to do is a meal and a card. Now, don’t get me wrong… Pam is grateful and so am I. We are blessed beyond measure.

Here’s what’s really cool. When I was talking to this family friend via email, it was about 9:00 at night. So, when we were finished communicating, I said, “Pam do you have a second you could look at something on the computer for me?” She said, “Sure.” I stood beside of her and watched her facial expression change as she read the email…

“Wow! What a milestone! Would you and Pam like to visit Oahu?”

Pam turned and looked at me with this look of bewildered excitement. She said, “What in the world!! Is he serious!!” I said, “Keep reading.” She did and when she was finished she was like me: speechless. I wish I could have captured that look. I should have videoed it or taken her picture. But, the truth is: I’ll always remember that look. It will be etched in my brain forever.

We will be going to the island of Oahu. See it below…

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We will be staying in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Again…even typing those words literally blows my mind and I’m not sure it’s even sunk in yet. Honestly, I could never thank our family friend enough for this privilege for this “once in a lifetime” opportunity. He is an amazing man. And no…he doesn’t go to our church or for that matter, he doesn’t even live in this county. No, check that…he doesn’t even live in this state. So, let your mind rest. 🙂

The timing couldn’t be better. We have Josh and Katy here and they can help with things here at home, along with Kandace, of course, while we are away. And things tend to slow down a bit (at the church during December) because there is so much that families are doing with their work, school, parties, etc.

You know, this just goes to show when you try to put the Lord first in your life (and by no means have Pam and I been perfect), the Lord blesses. And the truth is, those blessings aren’t all relegated to heaven. They can be bestowed upon us here as well. For years and years Pam and I have tried to faithfully give to the church and to the Lord’s work. We’ve been giving to a Building Fund for 20+ years and that would have paid for about 30 trips to Hawaii. Yet, we wanted to “store up for ourselves treasures in heaven” and honor the Lord with the money He has given us to steward. And what do you know… He chose to bless us (even here and now) for that sacrifice. I’m convinced of that. I’m convinced as His children, He will go above and beyond what you can think, dream or imagine. But, sometimes you just have to wait. You have to be patient. You do the right things and your sacrifice. And in the end…well, things like this come and it blows you away.

So, I pray that this news of our blessing comes to you as an encouragement. Maybe you won’t be going to Hawaii some day. I’m certainly not guaranteeing that. But, I am convinced the Lord will provide and sustain us and as we choose to seek Him and put His kingdom first, He will often times in His mercy, faithfulness and goodness…bless our socks off!

So, Hawaii…here we come!!! Thank you Lord for your kindness to us!!!

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Have you ever been slapped in the face with “THEN” and “NOW?” I was last week. I had to get my license renewed. I mentioned that to you last time. And I got my new license in the mail on Monday. Take a look at 8 years ago versus now.

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Quite a change, huh? As I looked at those photos, the kind of stopped me in my tracks and my thought was “Man, I’m getting old!”

So I pondered my life. (I can do that you know…because I’m mid-life now.) And NO! I’m not having a mid-life crises. I promise you that you won’t be seeing me driving a red sports car, while having my shirt unbuttoned to my navel. (Gross!) But, I do believe I’ve learned some things through the years.

I’ve learned that…

Life is not perfect even if you are a Christian. There will be times of struggles and ups and downs.

Concentrate on WHO you will marry. That one decision (and you should be shooting for it to be only ONE decision…not multiple) will impact your life (short of your salvation) more than anything. (The Lord blessed my socks off in my case!)

Don’t worry about money. Face this fact today: You’ll never have enough. But, if you trust the Lord, He will always provide what you need (Matthew 6:33). If you can pay your bills, you are blessed. Be frugal and you will see that it will pay off. Remember, the concept of retirement as we know it in America today didn’t exist in the Bible. So, don’t get so locked into the future that you don’t live for now. Yet, don’t live so much in the “now” that you don’t prepare for the future. There is a balance. (If you find it…let me know. :))

Say: “NO” a lot! Especially when you have kids. And no…I’m not talking about to your kids. I’m talking about saying, “NO” to people and to the things that will take you away from your kids. I didn’t do a good job with Katy and Kandace and because of those mistakes, I’m doing a bit better with Clara and Andrew. But, it’s a constant battle.

Enjoy the journey: today. Enjoy each day as if it’s your last, because you never know when it will be. Truly, being in rest homes and hospitals each week helps me to stay keenly aware of the brevity of life.

Jesus Christ is THE LIFE. If you think that you will find happiness in this life apart from Jesus Christ…you just might. But, that “happiness” won’t last long. You will chase it like a balloon that’s slipped from a child’s hand. You’ll watch it fly away and you’ll never catch it. Because it’s not happiness that will satisfy you, it’s joy. Only Jesus can bring you joy. He created you and He can give you what you can never give yourself: JOY!

Well, thanks for listening to my rambling. It’s a bit cooky! But, I hope it might encourage in some way. And the next time you are slapped in the face by the “Then” and “Now,” please know that you are loved by the Lord! If you’ve never trusted Him with your life, I pray you’ll consider it today.

Kevin

 

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Persecution

I’ve been thinking a lot about persecution lately. This past Sunday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We prayed for our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing life-threatening persecution. This map shows the current level of persecution around the world.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 1.25.19 PM copy

You’ll see the United States is not in blue at this point. But, I believe with the trajectory we’re on, it’s just a matter of time.

In an article in Decision Magazine, Billy Graham warns that the immunity to persecution that Christians in our country have enjoyed over the last few centuries is unusual. He says there is no scriptural foundation for a belief that we can forever escape being persecuted for Christ’s sake. In fact, Christ strongly warns his followers that becoming His disciple would not be a popular decision.

I have only felt minor persecution compared to those throughout the world who are being tortured and killed for their faith in Christ. What about you? How much persecution have you felt in your lifetime? The truth is: If we’re not experiencing some level of persecution, we’re likely not standing very strong for Christ and His teachings. That’s pretty blunt, but I believe it’s a true statement.

Most people would almost rather be shot than to look strange or weird by the world. The world system has petrified most Christians with the fear that they will be seen as ignorant or mean if they stand for orthodox Biblical teaching.

Does anything rile you up? Do you have a burning in your soul for injustice? How about the plight of the unborn and the Planned Parenthood situation? Have you emailed your congressman or congresswoman? If you don’t do it, who will? Somebody else is waiting on you. Are you upset that our religious freedoms are going down the tube? Are you concerned at all that our children and grandchildren will likely grow up in a country where they can’t openly speak the name of Jesus in public when they are adults? Yes, you can say, “Well, times are supposed to get worse and I guess it’s God’s will.” But, that’s nothing more than a coward’s cop-out. Why do we, as Christians, continue to give up ground that was taken from Satan only to give it back because we’re scared to stand for truth?

I remember years ago, in 1999, I started hearing about a man in our county who decided that he was offended because the Ten Commandments were displayed in our courthouse. It was this man (this is from our local paper):

IMG_3111

One man was creating a ruckus and because of that the Ten Commandments were going to have to be removed from the Courthouse. This went back and forth for several weeks until Feb. 2000. Well, I couldn’t take it. I said, “Somebody has to do something.” So, I wrote a letter and mailed it to the County Commissioner’s. Here it is:

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I was quoted in the paper…

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You see, at some point, somebody has got to do something. We’re called by Jesus to be salt and light in the world and yet for most Christians, we just like hanging out in the salt shaker. We don’t want to expose ourselves outside the shaker.

Well, ultimately the Ten Commandments were allowed to stay. They had to be posted along with the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights and a couple of other “historic documents.” Yet, they were allowed to stay.

Guess what’s on the outside of our county courthouse today…

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And the very building from which I spoke on February 22, 2000 now has “In God We Trust” adorned on the front of it as well.

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When I came out of that building on the night of Tuesday, February 22, 2000, I must admit, that I was afraid. Upon arriving (before I was to address the County Commissioners and the media), I was escorted in the back door with a police escort. It was quite intimidating. I was told by one Sheriff’s Deputy, “You better watch your back, son.” Can you hear me swallowing hard? But, I knew for my children’s sake (at the time I just had Katy and Kandace…they were 5 and 2 years of age) that I had to stand upon principle. I was not going to be bullied or cower in fear. And so, yes…I was afraid when I came out of those glass doors (above) of that County Office Building. But, little did I know there was over 2,000 people outside cheering me on! The local radio station was there and news trucks from Winston-Salem was there. I was interviewed by many people, including our local paper. It was amazing. And it was worth it.

Did I look over my shoulder after that? Yes, you better believe I did. The man who was fighting the posting of the Ten Commandments was a black belt in Karate. However, I wrote him a letter and told him that I had no hard feelings toward him, and I shared the gospel with him. I never heard back. But, at least I tried.

And folks, that’s my point. Don’t we at least have to try to do what is in our power to stand for what is right, good and just? Don’t we need to stop watching TV and get off the gadgets long enough to make a difference in our country? The truth is this…if you won’t write a letter to the editor of a newspaper, I doubt you’ll ever board a plane to go to a foreign country or even walk across the yard to share the Gospel with your neighbor. It’s that simple and that blunt.

I hope you are inspired. I hope you will stand for truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all!

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