Podcast Friday

I promised a few weeks ago that occasionally on Friday, I would post the link to a podcast that I believed would be a blessing in your life as you study God’s Word. I began by pointing you to Dr. Adrian Rogers’ Love Worth Finding (www.lwf.org). If you don’t have time to listen to any other messages online — listen to Dr. Rogers. He’s the best…PERIOD.

There are many wonderful people who are preaching and teaching God’s Word out there. You know about Dr. Charles Stanley and Dr. Chuck Swindoll and the standards on Christian radio, but one you may not be as familiar with is the ministry I highlight today. 

It’s called Moving Forward and the web address is

http://www.stephenrummage.publishpath.com

This is the ministry of Dr. Stephen Rummage, Senior Pastor of the Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida. I became aware of Dr. Rummage several years ago while he was professor of preaching at SEBTS. I actually started following his preaching while he was Senior Pastor at Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. You will find Dr. Rummage to be one of the finest expositors of God’s Word out there today. I enjoy listening to every message he preaches. I believe you will as well.

I pray you have a great Friday. Pray for your pastor today as he prepares to preach on Sunday morning. Make sure you support him with your attendance at church this week. Ask God to prepare your heart today for what He wants you to hear on Sunday.

O Be Careful Little Mouth…

“Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Did you hear about the preacher who just wouldn’t shut up? One of the folks in the congregation finally threw a hymnal at him. The book didn’t fly far enough and instead of hitting the preacher, it hit a little old lady on the second row. When the folks finally reached her, she looked up and said, “Hit me again, I can still hear him talking!”

One more…I’m on a roll…

On one occasion, a dull and long-winded member of Congress (isn’t that redundant — dull, long-winded and member of Congress) said to Henry Clay, “You, sir speak for the present generation, but I speak for posterity.” To which Clay responded, “And it seems that you are resolved to keep on speaking until your audience arrives!”

Do you remember the little song we sang as children?

“Oh be careful little mouth what you say,

Oh be careful little mouth what you say.

For the Father up above, is looking down in love,

Oh be careful little mouth what you say.”

We all like to listen to people who get to the point and actually have a point to what they are saying. In Matthew 12:36, Jesus said, “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.” I believe it would serve us all well to pause and think before we speak.

Think about your speech. What is the subject of your discussions during the day? Do you talk too much? Is your speech profitable and encouraging to others? More important than anything else — does your speech glorify God?

Perhaps Psalm 141:3 should be our motto. It says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

I’m done talking now…have a good day.

A Perfect Match

Image“A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)

I distinctly remember the first time I ever saw Edna. I was visiting the church she attended and as I sat on the piano bench playing the piano, I looked out and saw Miss Edna and I KNEW I was going to marry that girl! The process of convincing her to marry me took about 4 years, but on Sunday, May 29, 1983, I “obtained favor from the Lord.”

It is impossible for me to put into words the last 30 years. As a 16 year old boy, I never imagined how God would bless my by bringing Edna into my life. She wasn’t sure she was “cut out” to be a preacher’s wife. But she has blazed a trail that truly has endeared her to every congregation I have served. I truly could not have survived 30 years of ministry without her. When God called me — He called and prepared my wife as well.

As a mother, Edna was the “mamma bear” long before Sarah Palin coined the term. She loves Danielle and Dustin unconditionally, she prays for them relentlessly and she is quick to let you know that you don’t mess with her children. She has shown Danielle what it means to be a supportive and loving wife and she has taught Dustin how he should treat his wife after he is married.

I believe that the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant Word. There are absolutely no errors in the Bible. When God speaks, you can take it to the bank — it is absolutely true. So, when you read Proverbs 18:22 and it says that the man who finds a wife is blessed — you can believe it. I am a living testimony that when you are joined with the woman God has for you — there are blessings untold that await you.

In a little over a week, I’ll be standing before a young couple celebrating the vows of Christian marriage with them. It will be extra special for me because the man getting married is my son Dustin. I have no doubt that God brought Emily into Dustin’s life to bless him. I also know that because Dustin has watched his mother through the years — he knows what is expected of him as a husband and later a father. God bless you PeeWee. I love you and I look forward to seeing you and Em on your 30th wedding anniversary and saying to you, “A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

Thank you Lord for putting that beautiful young woman in my line of sight 34 years ago and for the 30 years of marriage. I truly have a wonderfully blessed life. I love you Edna — always have, always will.

Have a great day everyone.

The Definition of Greatness

“It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)

A classic book that every Christian should read is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. In that book, Sanders says this about greatness. “True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you. True service is never without cost. Often it comes with a painful baptism of suffering. But the true spiritual leader is focused on the service he and she can render to God and other people, not on the residuals and perks of high office or holy title.”

The very essence of Jesus’ teaching is found in our verse today. Jesus never taught that position or power or prestige were the ultimate goals for our lives. He lived His life and He taught us that true greatness is found in our willingness to serve others. 

The world that you and I live in has somehow decided that the more talent you have, the greater you are. The more money you have, the greater you are. The greater your position the greater you are. Jesus teaches us just the opposite. He says that humility is the hallmark of a great leader. The Bible clearly teaches us to turn away from the worldly attitudes and live differently.

By His example, Jesus taught us that the definition of greatness is one word — SERVICE!

Evangelist Vance Havner said, “A ship is safe in a harbor but ships are made for the seas. Harbors are not only destinations for incoming ships; they are ports from which ships go out. The church is indeed a haven where weary souls may come for strength and comfort, but churches are also starting points from which we go out to serve. It has been said that the Gospel is not merely something to come to church to hear; it is something to go from the church to tell. Too many smug Sunday morning churchgoers never dream that they were meant to go out of church to practice what was preached inside.”

Today, instead of trying harder and harder to achieve the worldly standard of greatness — “only the strong survive” — let’s put into practice what Jesus taught about greatness — service to others. I have a feeling that when we are obedient to what Jesus taught, there will be blessings given to us that we never imagined. I’ve learned that when I do things God’s way — I get God’s blessings and they are ALWAYS greater than anything the world has to offer.

Have a great Tuesday.

It’s Not Just Words — It Is ACTION!

“Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.'” (Luke 19:8)

Zaccheus was a wee little man,

A wee little man was he.

He climbed up in the sycamore tree,

For the Lord he wanted to see.

And as the Savior passed that way,

He looked up in that tree.

And He said, “Zaccheus, you come down,

For I’m going to you house today.

Remember that song? Even today, I find myself singing it from time to time. Zaccheus was a famous fellow. He was a well-known sinner. He was a publican, which means he was a Jew who collected taxes for Rome from his own people. Zaccheus had gained much wealth by padding the tax collection. Rome gave him a certain amount that he was to collect from each individual and if Zaccheus could collect more than what was owed, he pocketed the difference.

I don’t think Zaccheus had a list of conservative groups that he targeted — but he was certainly unpopular with his neighbors nonetheless.

When he heard that Jesus was going to be passing by on that particular day, Zaccheus really wanted to see him. We usually think that Zaccheus got up in the tree merely because he was too short to see over the crowd. While that is certainly true, I wonder if the tree was actually a safer place for Zaccheus. My guess is that when the townspeople saw him, they would have kicked and pushed and shoved him right out of the way. They literally hated Zaccheus.

And yet, Zaccheus was miserable in his sin. He was searching for meaning in his life. My guess is that his job as a tax collector was not nearly as fulfilling as he would have led you to believe. He had heard about Jesus. He heard about the wonderful things He was doing in other people’s lives. And Zaccheus was curious. He wanted to see. It’s a shame that nobody actually invited Zaccheus to join them in going to see Jesus . In a way, it woudl be like me or you going to a Billy Graham crusade and failing to invite our lost neighbor who lives right next door to go with us!

While others didn’t care about Zaccheus, Jesus sure did. He looked up in that tree and told Zaccheus to get down — he was going to have company at his house that day. The Lord was going to eat with Zaccheus. 

After meeting Jesus, Zaccheus made a decision. He wanted all the people who hated him to know that his life had been dramatically changed. But how could he convince them that his conversion was real?

Simple! Give back all the money he had stolen from them. And not only did Zaccheus give it back, he went far beyond the demand of the law of Moses. He actually gave back 4 times as much and he used the other half of his ill-gotten wealth to help the needy. Zaccheus was indeed a “new creation”(II Corinthians 5:17).

How many of our testimonies are just words — no action? I wonder how many people look at you and me and say, “His words sound nice, but I just don’t see any change.” Isn’t that sad? Zaccheus’ testimony was more than just words — he put it into action!

Today, remember that our testimony has very little value unless we can back up our words with our actions. We are not here to impress others — we are here to impact their lives for Jesus Christ!

Have a great day.

 

Don’t Deceive Yourself

“For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3)

I heard about a little woodpecker who was tapping away at a dead tree one morning. As he tapped along, the clouds began to gather overhead and the thunder began to roll. The woodpecker paid no attention to his surroundings — he just kept on pecking away at the tree. All of a sudden — a bolt of lightening struck the old dead tree, splintering it into thousands of pieces. Startled, but unhurt, the little woodpecker flew off, screeching to all the other birds — “Hey, everybody look what I did!”

That little woodpecker reminds me of a lot of people I know. They spend the majority of their time bragging about all the things they have accomplished and all the places they have gone and they fail to recognize that God is the source of everything they have and all that they are.

I heard a preacher say once, “You impress others with what you know. You impact others with how you love.” When you are conceited — you are deceiving yourself. The person who constantly toots his own horn is usually the one in the deepest fog!

Paul reminds us in our verse today that when we are conceited, we develop an unfounded belief that we are above failure. He actually goes on to say in verse 4 that we can overcome this conceited attitude by examining our own work. We don’t compare our accomplishments with those of others. Instead, we examine our accomplishments objectively and then rejoice in how God has blessed us an used us.

Anything that I have that is worthy of commendation comes from God. Rather than fooling myself and making everybody else avoid me — I need to follow another admonition given by Paul in the Scripture. In I Corinthians 1:31, Paul writes, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

I pray that in all things that I do today and every day — I will glory not in myself but in Him! He alone is worthy of my praise.

Have a great day.

 

 

A Perfect Shelter for the Storm

“For You have been a stronghold for the poor, a stronghold for the needy person in his distress, a refuge from the rain, a shade from the heat. When the breath of the violent is like rain against a wall, like heat in a dry land, You subdue the uproar of barbarians. As the shade of a cloud cools the heat of the day, so He silences the song of the violent.” (Isaiah 25:4-5)

Like all of you, my prayers and thoughts go out today to the people of Moore, Oklahoma. What a devastating storm and my heart aches for those who lost loved ones. THINGS can be replaced — but the loss of human life is a heartache that only God’s grace can soothe. Let me begin by encouraging you to give generously to disaster relief. If you are looking for a place where 100% of your donation will go directly to disaster relief and recovery, please visit http://www.namb.net. This is the website of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Every penny given to disaster relief goes directly to the affected areas to provide for those who have been so devastated by the storm. Not one single penny is used for salaries or any other administrative costs. You can give with confidence when you give through NAMB. Please join Edna and me in giving as generously as you possibly can.

You know, I’ve learned from almost 30 years of ministry that everybody experiences some type of storm in their life at some time. Even the most spiritual people you know do not escape the sorrow of earth or the testing of trying times. Yet, in my understanding of God, I believe that every trouble that we face as Christians is allowed by God and is intended to make us more like Christ. When we experience these storms — whether literal storms like tornados, or personal storms dealing with family, friends or finances — as believers we are driven to our knees to find comfort, refuge and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Years ago, a young missionary had to flee from western China. An infuriated mob hotly pursued him. He hastily boarded a river boat. The mob, too, came on the boat. Then he jumped into the river. The mob began to throw spears at him. Miraculously he escaped, unharmed. When he was telling of the ordeal later, a friend asked, “What verse from the Bible came to you as you were darting beneath the boat to escape the spears of the mob?” “Verse?” he asked in astonishment, “why the Lord Himself was right there with me!”

I’m so thankful today that my God is a perfect shelter int he midst of life’s storms. I’ve come to believe that god sends the storms so that He can prove that He is the only shelter we need. Charles Wesley said it this way in a hymn: 

“Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters rolls, while the tempest still is high: Hide me, O my Savior, hide, Till the storm of life is past; Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last. Other refuge have I none; hangs my helpless soul on Thee; Leave, O leave me not alone, still support and comfort me: All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring; Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.”

I pray today that those who were in the path of the latest storm in Oklahoma will find comfort and strength in the shadow of the Lord’s wing. I also pray that if you are a Christian — you will rejoice today in the fact that God brings great strength and comfort when you make His bosom your pillow! Rest in Him today.

 

Why I Don’t Quit

This is a wonderful explanation of why Pastors just keep going…even when they are tempted to quit.

The Unappreciated Pastor

It was a cold Friday morning. As a bi-vocational pastor, Friday was my day off. The kids were in school & my wife was at work. I like to do two things on my day off: fish and hunt. Hunting season wasn’t in so I headed to the Suwanee river. I don’t have a boat so I’d be fishing off the bank. I would get to the river by passing through a church members private property and then driving down a trail in the woods. My spot was very secluded and very quiet. Just the way I like it.

My wife had already told me I shouldn’t go fishing. She is a city girl. She believes that one day I will get eaten by some wild animal or killed by an escape convict hiding in the woods. Plus she told me it was too cold and I would get sick. Now don’t misunderstand me…

View original post 482 more words

How about a little encouragement…

“Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement, sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:36-37)

Two buffaloes were standing out in the field as the deer and antelope played around them. Over at a nearby fence stood two cowboys. One said to the other, “Look at those buffaloes over there. Have you EVER seen an uglier animal in your life? Look at those pretty deer playing over there. Buffaloes are just UGLY.”

The two cowboys walked away and one buffalo looked at the other and said, “I think I just heard a discouraging word.”

In his commentary on Hebrews, William Barclay wrote, “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement…It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

Joseph the Levite was such an encourager that the apostles gave him a new name — Barnabas! When the early church faced a need, it was Barnabas who stepped up to the plate and put action to his words. His attitude became “what’s mine is yours.” He sold a piece of property and then brought the money to the apostles. What an encouragement that must have been.

Throughout the book of Acts, you find that the early church had great confidence in Barnabas. When revival broke out at Antioch, the apostles sent Barnabas to investigate. He saw that the Holy Spirit was really involved in the work and he became an encourager to those new Christians. It was Barnabas who went over to Tarsus to talk to a new convert named Saul and convince him to come to Antioch. It was Barnabas who actually went with Paul (the former Saul) on the first missionary journey. When the time came for the second journey, Barnabas and Paul had a disagreement about a young fellow named Mark. Barnabas just couldn’t bring himself to discard Mark, even though Mark had gotten homesick on the first trip and turned back.

Barnabas and Paul parted ways over the incident, but the Holy Spirit blessed Barnabas’ decision not to give up on Mark. You have a book in your Bible today called the Gospel According to MARK! Yep — same guy! Paul even came around and spoke of Mark as a valued ministry partner in II Timothy 4:11.

Just look what one person can do when they are an encourager. The world is so full of negative people who try to destroy everything God is trying to do. I’ve found that there are never too many encouragers around. If you have that gift, USE IT! I promise you it is greatly needed.

I guess everybody would like to have a friend like Barnabas, but remember that the encouragement thing works both ways. Not only is it good to receive encouragement from someone else, but you should also be an encourager to someone today. You never know the kind of impact your words may have on someone who is going through a trial in their life. Don’t let your friends do all the encouraging — you should minister to their needs as well. Encouragement is well worth the investment in another life. It pays tremendous dividends!

I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll tell the story of a woman who committed suicide. She left an unfinished note that simply read, “They said…” She never finished her final thought, but whatever “they said” was painful enough for her to take her own life. Be careful with your words. Let’s make sure that when someone says “They said…” it is followed by some very encouraging words!

Thank you for your continued support of this blog and your encouraging words. You all are a blessing to me.

Have a great day.

Speaking the Truth in Love

“A wise heart instructs its mouth and increases learning with its speech.” (Proverbs 16:23)

The poet, William Norris said:

If your lips would keep from slips,

Five things observe with care:

To whom you speak; of whom you speak;

And how, and when and where.

One of the biggest struggles I have as a Christian, and especially as a preacher is the need to be both loving and truthful at the same time. There have been plenty of times over the years that I needed to say something to someone that may be true, but in the process may hurt him or her as well. The Bible says that we should be honest even if what we have to say is hurtful — BUT to speak kindly and with compassion. In so doing, we offer the individual the support they need to face reality.

The book of James teaches that when we have wisdom from God, we will speak effectively. James 3:17 says that God’s wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” If we will follow that simple rule and let it govern our speech, we will not have to hide behind the things we have said in an attempt to cover our tracks.

Solomon said that if we are going to be truly wise, we need to speak with “learning.” That word literally means “eloquent.” As Christians, when we speak, our words must be full of God’s grace and love so that even when we must tell another person something that may be hard to hear, we can do it in a spirit of compassion.

As I understand Proverbs 16:23, this is more than simply applying ointment to a guilty conscience by an occasional good deed or word for those less fortunate. The instruction and eloquence that Solomon speaks of causes us to take a real trip down inside the broken heart of a friend. It is that ability to share in sorrow or joy and be able to speak words that truthful and encouraging even when they are words we don’t especially want to hear. It isn’t the number of words we use to make our point; it is the spirit with which we deliver them.

In the world that I live in today, we need more straight talk. But one of the greatest needs in the world today is for people who can deliver those words in a way that will positively impact lives for Jesus Christ. We don’t need more people who just rant and rave about the latest thing they are against. We need compassionate Christians who can tell the truth from God’s Word, who will not compromise that Truth, but who display God’s wisdom and understanding in the proclamation. Remember, gentle words fall lightly, but they carry great weight.

In our conversations, we should remember that it is never advantageous to wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it. Pay attention to your words…

Have a great day.