Submitting to Authority

Romans 13:1-4

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

I had a conversation with a friend today who couldn’t get enough of bashing our President, Mr. Donald J. Trump.  I politely referred my friend to the passage of scripture referenced above.

You see, regardless of what anyone thinks of the President of the United States, he is the most powerful man in the world.  He has the one of the most technologically advanced militia at his disposal.  He oversees the every day comings and goings of the most prosperous country in the world.  He has the power to destroy many more nations than I care to think about, and all of those reasons are still not why we need to submit to his authority.

God’s Word says that we are to “…be subject to the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God…”  My friend’s argument was that our “free will” vote at the polls placed our president in office, as if God had no control over who would be president!  I cannot believe that any Christian who has ever read a word out of God’s Word could think that way.  Yes, we do have free will.  Yes, we did go to the polls.  Yes, we have the freedom to vote for whomever we choose.  But no, ultimately, God decides who is going to be president or king or prime minister or ruler over any nation.  And for this season of time, God chose President Trump.

“Whoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God…”  We do not have to like the president or any other authority figure, but we do have to respect him.  God placed him in office, no matter what anyone says or thinks.  God is in control of what happens.  I believe that the believers who were praying that Hilary Clinton would not get in the White House bombarded heaven, and I believe that God responded to those prayers.  I believe that God placed President Trump in office for the good of those who do good, and for the terror of those who do wickedness.

The long and short of it is, regardless of who is in office, they deserve our respect.  God demands that we give them our respect.  If we disrespect them, we are bucking against God and He is not pleased with that.  God will not be mocked, and if we think so, we are in for a rude awakening.

Romans 10:9-10 says “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the LORD Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto salvation, and with the mouth confession is made.”  If you are reading these words and have never confessed that Jesus is LORD and Master of your life, do not let this moment pass without doing so.  One day you will stand in judgment in front of Him, and you will be judged on what you believed about Him.  If you were correct in your belief, you will spend eternity with Him, but if not….you are destined for hell.


How To Raise A Godly Man

Proverbs 10:13

In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.

Proverbs 13:24

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 22:6, 15

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

After my son’s basketball game yesterday, one of his teammate’s mom and I had a chance to chat.  She commented on his behavior.  She told me that she had had several interactions with my son, where he opened doors for her.  She also commented on his sharing the ball with his teammates when he could have scored himself.  She mentioned several things that she noticed, and then she asked this question: “What do you do?”

For a millisecond my mind raced.  “What do I do?”  I thought.  I don’t really DO anything anymore.  My son is the person that he will become, being that he is eleven years old.  The personality that he will have is already formed.  The opinions that he has about the big things in life is already formed.  His likes and dislikes are already formed.  He already knows that he likes hot dogs and he hates cheese.  He already knows he likes basketball and baseball but does not like football.  He already knows that he is male and his sisters are female.  I really don’t DO anything anymore.

To answer her question, however, I thought on the things that I DID…the things that I was led of the LORD to do when he was a baby, a toddler, and a little boy.  I was led by the LORD to have a time of daily Bible study with my son and his three sisters.  Each day, we began sitting on the floor in their bedroom, with all of our Bibles open, even though, at the time, he and his sisters could not read.  I taught them to open up the Bible to the passage of the day, and we would go through a chapter, 12 verses at a time.  At that time, I figured that 12 verses would be all that their little minds could comprehend.  We would have prayer before we began, and after we finished we would pray as a family.  Each child, beginning with my son, would thank the LORD for His death on the cross, His daily provision, and the forgiveness of our sins.  Then we would ask Him to save or bless those whose names crossed our minds, and we would ask Him to provide those needs that we had in our personal lives.  We have kept up this pattern of worship from their infancy to the present, and they are all pre-teens and teenagers now.  We eventually graduated from 12 verses to whole chapters, and we discuss each verse because I do not want my children have surface knowledge of God’s Word….I want them to understand in depth what God’s Word says to us.

The other main thing that I did was discipline my children.  Discipline and disciple are two words that are closely related.  Jesus kept His disciples close to Him, and when they needed correcting, He corrected them.  The same applies to my children.  When they would disobey, they would get warnings, but when they didn’t listen to the warnings, they would get what we called “Miss Do Right”.  Miss Do Right was applied to their “seat of knowledge”, and normally, once Miss Do Right spoke, the problem was solved.  I thank God for “Miss Do Right” and I think my children do also, because at this point in our lives, we don’t have a Miss Do Right in our home.  When I speak, they listen.  When I give instruction, usually they obey.  Very seldom do we have big issues with obedience in our home based on the fact that instruction was given in the beginning, and now the lessons have already been learned.

If you are the parent of an out of control teenager, and you did not use these methods in their developmental years, I am sure you are regretting that at this point.  But never fear:  as long as they are alive, it is not too late.  You can begin teaching them God’s Word, talking about the things of God every chance you get.  At dinner, assuming that you have dinner with your teenager, talk about how good God is, and how He has blessed your family and saved you from hell and gave you your family and your home and all of the tangible things that your teenager takes for granted.  Talk to them about how Jesus died on the cross at Calvary, bearing the weight of the sin of the world on His body, and how that is terribly difficult to understand without faith in Jesus Christ.  Tell them that Jesus is coming again, and no matter how they try to deny Him or avoid Him or hide from Him, they will answer to Him one day, by choice or by force.  Tell them that He loves them, and no matter how much the world tries to deny Him, He is real, He is sovereign, and He is coming again to judge the world, living and dead, for all they have done on this earth.

This is my suggestion for raising a Godly man.

I Am A Role Model

Philippians 3:17

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example.

My pastor taught on this passage of scripture this morning in church.  He talked to us about Paul’s challenge to Timothy about being a good example to those who were following him, as Paul had done his best to be a good example to Timothy and others who had followed him.

As usual, my mind began to wander.  I asked myself if I had been a good example to my children.  They know how much I love them because I tell them all the time, I try to show them by my acts of service, and I defend them with my very life.  I also discipline them, and I explain to them that there is no greater love than one who is willing to tell you what you need to hear when you don’t want to hear it.  Proverbs 27:6 says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” They know I tell them hard things to make them better people.  But I had to ask myself if there is more that I can do.  I am still asking myself the question.  I don’t want to be that person who screams at another driver on the road, or that person who mistreats someone in front of my children.  I want to be the person that I want them to become:  compassionate, loving, giving, humble and honest.

My greatest desire on this side of heaven is to see my children live an authentic Christian life.  I want to see my daughters honor the LORD with their lives, marry Godly men, and raise up Godly children of their own.  I want to see my son live as a Godly young man should live, take a Godly young woman as his wife, and raise up Godly children of his own.  I want to leave a legacy of Godliness for my children.  I want to be the example that Paul told Timothy about, the one whose life was a shining example of the way it ought to be.

The Suffering of the Saints

Romans 8:18

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

This has been the BSF verse of the week.  We have learned about all kinds of suffering and the reasons for it.  It has given me varied perspectives on my own suffering.  It has not been easy for think about.  As a matter of fact, it has been downright painful.

There can be different reasons for suffering.  Sometimes we bring it on ourselves.  Our choices have consequences.  Sometimes we make decisions without thinking them through, without taking stock of the impact that they will have on our lives and the lives of the people around us, those that we love the most.  It can be difficult to endure when we realize that the suffering that we and our loves ones suffer is caused by something that we did.

Sometimes suffering is caused by others’ decisions.  People that we love or people that we don’t even know can make decisions that cause suffering in our lives.  Both can be equally as difficult to endure.  I have had neighbors that I did not know whose decisions caused living near them to become miserable.  I have also had neighbors who were very kind, and when I had to move, I wished I could bring them with me.  It was these neighbors’ decisions that resulted in the experience that I had with them.  I had no control over their decisions, but the result was mine to endure just the same.

Suffering can also be for God’s glory.  I must admit, this is the most difficult one to swallow.  I have not been able to reconcile God’s love with suffering.  I think of my own precious children.  I would never allow them to suffer for any reason, other than to chastise them for something they did to help them learn not to do that thing again.  But that is not the way God works.  Sometimes we suffer for His glory.  I don’t fully understand that, but since He is God and I am not, He doesn’t owe me an explanation for that.

The scripture teaches us that the suffering that we endure here is not worth being compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in our eternal life.  The worst that we can suffer here, including sickness, heartbreak, divorce, broken family relationships, war, poverty, abortion, crime, child abuse, robbery, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, homosexuality, same gender “marriages”, false teachers in the pulpit, unsaved persons masking as Christians, “fake” news, pornographic websites and reality tv is nothing compared to what God has in store for us in heaven. One day, we will live in all perfection.  My grandmother used to say that in heaven “every day will be like Sunday”.  I remember Sundays as a child were very special.  Every family member was off work, we all gathered at my grandmother’s house, where she cooked a huge meal, and we ate and talked and laughed and played and enjoyed each other’s company.  Sunday was my favorite day of the week as a child.  The eternal glory that I look forward to will be my childhood Sundays on steroids!

I don’t pretend to know what heaven will be like.  Even after studying the scriptures, I cannot comprehend what eternity in the Father’s presence will be like.  My imagination is not that vivid.  But I do praise the LORD that if my extreme suffering here on earth is not worth being compared to the glory that I can look forward to, then that glory is going to be out of this world!  And I will be too.

One Daughter’s Disillusionment…

Hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

It is 2018, a brand new year, and most folks are making (and breaking) new year’s resolutions, as is the tradition each year.  With each fresh year, we tend to want to do something new or better or different, and, of course, there is nothing wrong with that.  I made it a habit many years ago of NOT making new year’s resolutions to make sure that I didn’t lie to myself, to others and to God that I would do something that eventually I would stop doing.  But I find this year that I have fallen into just as bad a pattern as breaking new year’s resolutions:  I have developed a “dislike”, if you will, for going to church.

I love church.  I was raised in a little cinder block church in eastern Cumberland County. My grandmother took me there, she said, from the time I was a little baby, and I attended that church for the first 18 years of my life.  I sang in the choir, I attended Sunday School, Baptist Training Union, Church Traning Union, Wednesday night prayer, Saturday afternoon gathering and Sunday evening service.  I went to revival every year, which lasted an entire week, and a guest preacher came in and preached, mainly to the unsaved people that the church members dragged to service, and I remember the “mourning bench”, which was the pew in the very front of the church, being reserved for those who would “get saved” during the service.  I will never forget the night my grandmother told me that I was going to sit on that mourning bench.  I had to sit there for the whole service and afterward, I had to confess my sin to the church and tell them that I wanted the LORD to save me.  I remember standing there with tears streaming down my face, knowing that I was only doing what I had been told because I did not want to face my grandmother’s wrath.

Shortly afterward, I was baptized and I remember the people in the church, most of whom were extended family and distant relatives, clapping and celebrating, bragging about how they could tell there was a change in my life because of the look on my face when I came up out of the water.  I remember thinking, what could they have seen?  There was no change in anything except the fact that I escaped the punishment that I would have received had I not obeyed my grandmother.  I do not say these things to cast aspersions on my grandmother:  I know she was only doing what she was taught.  It was her belief that the sins a child committed were the responsibility of the parent until that child turned 12 years old, at which time the child became responsible for their own sins. I don’t know where they could have gotten that from in the Bible; I suspect it had something to do with the account in Luke 2 of Jesus teaching in the temple when He was 12 years old.  Anyway, she wanted to make sure that I was “saved” so that I would not spend eternity in hell because I had not confessed my sin to Jesus.

Long story short, it wasn’t until 7 years later that I actually became aware of my sin, confessed it sincerely and asked Jesus to be LORD of my life.  At that time, I knew that I needed to learn God’s Word, so I left that little cinderblock church and found a Bible teaching church across town, where I became involved, once again, with the Sunday School, Bible study, Choir, youth ministry, singles ministry and all aspects of church life.  The pastor of that church, I now know, didn’t really teach me anything from God’s Word, but he did teach me one thing:  he always insisted that the members of the church should study God’s Word on their own, and not rely completely on what he said on Sunday morning.  He said he was just a human being, and sometimes he might get it wrong, and he wanted us to equip ourselves through a steady diet of the Word.  I will thank him forever for that encouragement.

Fast forward fifteen to twenty years, when times were hard and life got complicated and the church had become an extension of my family.  All of my close friends are people that I met either in church or in Bible Study Fellowship; and in the tough times I was always encouraged by these people.  But I have learned in my latest trial a sad fact:  people want to help, but only for a short period of time.  Your trial better not last too long or your “friends” will get impatient with it and abandon you when you need them most.

What does that have to do with my growing disinterest in church attendance?  I’m glad you asked.  I remember Sundays within the last couple of years where I have gone to church literally holding my breath because my heart was so heavy and the tears wanted to flow and I wanted to be okay and hear from God, and I would get the obligatory “I’ll be praying for you” from one of my church friends, only to come home to my problems and my hurt and my disappointment and bear it all alone.  I get tired of trying to “fake it until I make it” on Sunday mornings…going to a place where I should be able to be honest about my pain, but instead having to pretend I am okay while listening to a man talk about how we should bear one another’s burdens.  One more disappointment.  I’m just tired of being disappointed one more time.

I still love the church.  I love hearing God’s Word taught in expository fashion from the pulpit.  I love hearing the choir sing songs that contain the passages of scripture that I grew to love as a child, and I love fellowshipping with those whom I have the greatest thing in common:  we love Jesus Christ.  What I don’t love is that empty feeling when I enter and leave the edifice where I should be filled up with hope and encouragement.  I guess in my mind, believers should “put up or shut up” and because lots of times they don’t, I have become disillusioned with the church.

I do not want to “forsake the assembling” of myself and my children together with other believers on Sunday mornings.  It just hurts so badly to enter a leave a place where I have always been under the impression that I would meet the LORD, and people that LORD uses.  I feel so empty and detached from all that is the church until I simply do not want to attend any more.  I am content to watch services online on Sundays, where I can be comfortable in my own surroundings and with my family that I know loves me.  So I continue to wrestle with the disappointment that I face daily from the one place that I have grown to love over my lifetime, as it continues to be what it is, a group of imperfect people just like me, who obviously don’t know any better than I do.

A friend told me recently that I am vulnerable because of all my disappointments, and that may be true.  Vulnerability can be a dangerous thing, and I think of my friend’s comments ever day, because I know she made them out of concern for me.  I can take hearing that from someone who has shown their love for me by their actions.  What I cannot take is constantly going to a place where I keep hoping that I will find the answer that will make things better, and not only do things not get better, but I continue to keep coming up dry on answers.  So much for the “exhorting one another…”

Happy New Year!

Isaiah 43:18-19

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Today is the first day of 2018.  Quite frankly, when I went to bed last night, way before midnight, I felt burdened and despondent.  Last year was one of the most difficult years that I have lived in my entire life.   But then, this morning, I received a lot of encouragement from friends and Twitter followers who kept reminding my of Isaiah 43:18-19.  I usually roll my eyes when I hear people quote this scripture because I think they are using it for something totally irrelevant to its true meaning.  But now, I am thinking that maybe they are on to something.  Maybe God is going to do something different for me in 2018.  Maybe my situation is going to look up.  Maybe this year will be better than last year.  Maybe God is going to answer prayer this year.  Maybe things will be different in the new year.

It would be my pleasure to forget the trials that I endured in 2017.  I would love to forget the former things because they were not good.  I am trusting God to do something. If God doesn’t do it, it can’t be done. There is no place else to turn.

I pray that all who read this blog will have a blessed new year.  I pray that all the problems that you had last year will disappear, and that God’s best blessings will be yours.  Happy 2018.  God, please do a NEW THING in my life this year…

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:4-14

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…(because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.   And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Every year, there is a debate amongst Christians and non-Christians alike over the greetings “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays”.  I remember that once upon a time, I used to get all worked up over it.  I used to become offended because people did not want to acknowledge my favorite holiday.  I would deliberately respond to someone who wished me a “Happy Holiday” by saying “Merry Christmas”.

As the years have gone by, that has not changed.  I still don’t understand why people have such a difficult time saying “Merry Christmas”, but I don’t get quite as worked up about it.  I still respond to anyone who wishes me a “Happy Holiday” with a deliberate “Merry Christmas”.  Now, however, I respond with a kind heart, and not out of frustration.

The thing that I have come to understand is the fact that Jesus has already warned His followers that the attitudes that we experience at Christmas time would come.  He said in John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” Those persons who do not want to wish me a “Merry Christmas” also do not want to publicly acknowledge that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ.  They want to pretend that this time of year is all about children getting gifts from a man who emerges from his cottage in the North Pole to exhibit his omnipresence in the world in the middle of the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  Most parents teach their children about this fictitious person, leaving their child to learn the truth from an outside source.  (I purposely told my nephew, whom I babysitting a few weeks ago, that there is no such person as Santa Claus, and he looked at me like I had two heads!  He is seven years old.)  The truth is that the world hates Jesus so much that they will fight against Him using any tactic that they can think of, including not acknowledging the holiday reserved for celebrating His birth.

The bottom line is the world has to kick up its heels as much as possible in the time it has left, because the soon-coming King will put an end to all of their nonsense upon His return to the earth.  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says For the LORD Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the LORD in the air: and so shall we ever be with the LORD.”  Once He returns, His people will be out of here, the world will not know what to do or think, and He will reign on His throne forever and ever.

I anxiously await His coming.  Then every day will be like Christmas!