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Showing posts from January, 2021

Can You Always Be About What You've Always Been About?

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Paul lived a great adventure, but he is running out of opportunities. Paul had a bloody past when he persecuted the church but experienced a miraculous conversion in a blinding encounter with the resurrected Christ along the Damascus Road (Acts 22:1-11). In his new life, he has spanned the Roman Empire planting churches for the cause of Christ. But presently, there is no opportunity for travel. He is not planting churches. He is in prison. He would like to see the Philippians again, but he makes no plans. He is left only now to prayer and his pen as he senses that he may be nearing the end. He would like to head toward them, but he will most likely be heading off into eternity. With the limitation of incarceration upon him, Paul sees only two options. He is either going to live or die. That’s it. And it is in the context of limited opportunities that Paul makes one of his most powerful statements. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed,

Hand-Me-Downs

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I gave my daughter a wedding gift that I had been working on for over 12 years. I gave her my words written in the margins of a Bible. In those margins were my observations and applications of God’s Word to everyday life. In that Bible are Holy Scriptures and personal prayers. That Bible was an important hand me down. Hand-me-downs are items passed along from one person to another. Hand-me-downs can be anything from clothing items to automobiles. They can come from  parents to children  or can be exchanges made between friends. Whatever they are and whoever they move between, it’s always nice when someone is mindful about something that may be helpful. The Book of Proverbs is 31 chapters of hand-me-downs. The first 30 chapters are the  wisdom  of a father passed along to his son. The final chapter is the voice of a mother doing the same. The Bible’s Proverbs are the words of wisdom we should hand down to our children. Here are some words of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs that parents

The Billionaire Gift

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  In 2019 multi-billionaire CEO   Robert F. Smith   delivered the main address to the graduates of   Morehouse College . In the video, it appears to be going about as well as any other graduation speech. Most of the students look dutifully attentive to his words but more than ready to receive their degrees and let the celebration begin. But Robert Smith did something unexpected that gained the attention of the audience.  Robert Smith announced that he was paying off the student loans of all 396 graduates.  The faces of those in attendance go from “I can’t wait for this to be over” to “I can’t believe this is happening.” I think that we would all love to be the beneficiaries of an unexpected, undeserved, lavish, life-changing gift. Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to suddenly agree to pay off your mortgage or to cover your bills for the rest of your life? That kind of gift would undoubtedly be a reason for celebration. But we have been given an incredible gift. Paul begins the Book of Ep

Commotion When Trump Came to Town

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On January 4, 2021, President Trump came to my town and it caused quite a commotion. I live in a small town. In most of the local restaurants, the same waitresses have been serving the same tables for years. Children attend the same school systems as their parents and grandparents. Around here, people still refer to a trip to the store as "going to town." So you can imagine what it must have been like on January 4, 2021, when President Trump came to town . There were blacked out Secret Service vehicles in the area, barricaded roads, and our small airport was transformed into a stadium. The President's arrival was preceded by three military helicopters. Even inside my home, I could hear their blades cutting the air as they escorted Marine One in for a landing. When the President of the United States of America comes to Dalton, GA, the preparations are noticeable. The day is different. The Gospel of Mark begins with the job description of John the Baptist. His task was to p

A Biblical Response to the Storming of Capitol Hill

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On Wednesday, January 6, a group of people stormed Capitol Hill in Washington DC. I would describe the scene with one word, sad. Another word I might use would be, disturbing. But I want to interject another word, a much-needed word, discernment. Discernment doesn't ask the question, "what do I think?" as in what is your reaction or opinion. It isn't even as concerned with how you feel. Discernment asks instead, "What do I see, and am I seeing it clearly?" When you remove the lens of personal opinion or political party, you realize that what we saw yesterday was nothing new. Whether it is right or left, black or white, Republican or Democrat, what we saw was what we have seen since the early summer. You could interject those same scenes in light or dark, black or white, January or June, and they are essentially the same. Once again, people turned a protest into a riot. Once again, a peaceful but angry march turned into an all-out assault of

How to Cry Part 2

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There is a book of the Bible dedicated to sorrow. Lamentations is the Scripture's record of the mournful reflections of the grief-stricken prophet Jeremiah following Jerusalem's destruction. It is a Holy Spirit inspired lesson on crying. Yesterday I shared two takeaways from the Bible's book of tears. Here are two more. Even in What You Don't Like, There is Something to Learn I don't want to mislead you into thinking that Jeremiah is sadistic. He weeps well, but he isn't enjoying it. Lamentations is emotionally difficult to read. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live through. But it is in his Lament that Jeremiah learns. For years his preaching has been in hopes that it would turn the hearts of others to God. Jeremiah has poured out. Jeremiah is now wrung out.  But his weeping is not wasted. The Lord works to deepen Jeremiah's relationship with Him. It is in this dark book of the Bible that we get one of the Holy Spirit's marvelous beams

How to Cry Part 1

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There is a book of the Bible that teaches us how to cry. Lamentations is the Scripture's record of the mournful reflections of the grief-stricken prophet Jeremiah following Jerusalem's destruction. Here are some takeaways from the Bible's book of tears. Embrace It, Don't Avoid It In a hedonistic culture, we put a premium on pleasure and the avoidance of pain. When there is a loss, we want to rush through it and get back to life. Jeremiah doesn't rush through his sorrow; he records it. He shares the sights, sounds, and emotions of the moment. He reflects on what brought him to this place and sees the Lord's purpose in it. "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger." Lamentations 1:12 When it comes to sorrow, don't rush it. Embrace it. Pause. Look around. Listen. Write it down. Answer the question, "Why am I her