How I’d vote in the Alabama senatorial election

I’m completely aware that the title is presumputous!  I don’t live or vote in Alabama–although it is my native state–and in some ways might as well be chiming in on the alderman’s race in Jasper, Alabama.

But a pastor friend in that state sent the question: “How would you vote if you lived here?”

The quandary–for those who live outside the western hemisphere or in some distant future–is that the two primary candidates are Judge Roy Moore, Republican, who has been accused by a number of women of sexual overtures of one kind or other years ago when they were minors and he was an adult of 30 or so, and Doug Jones, Democrat, who espouses the party line in support of abortion and the usual liberal politics.  There are a thousand details, but these two matters cause the ethical dilemma of my friend and many others like him.

The charges and counter charges, accusations and denials, have been swift and many concerning Judge Moore.  Proving something that was merely verbal and occurred forty years ago is next to impossible. This means–unless I’m missing something–Judge Moore can do what Supreme Court nominee (and later Justice) Clarence Thomas did: deny, deny, and deny.  It was Thomas’ word against Anita Hill.  In this case, it’s Moore’s word against a half-dozen women.

The voters become the jury.

Continue reading

The credentials of those making huge claims

“Trust. But verify.”  –sign on the desk of President Ronald Reagan

Someone wants to invest your money and offers big rewards.  A person has offered to babysit your child for little or nothing.  A stranger wants to tell you how to get to Heaven.

Can you trust them?

How do you know?

The credentials of one making big claims or offering great rewards are everything.  We must not assume because they seem okay, look impressive, drive a big car or live in a huge house, and everyone speaks well of them, that they are trustworthy.  Con men and scam artists succeed by big talk, great confidence, appearing successful, and winning your confidence.  They depend on your naivete, and count on you not asking the big questions.

Credentials.  How do you know this person is who they say they are, that they are trustworthy?

Continue reading

100 things we do by faith

“The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; quoted in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We are all about faith.

Every human on the planet lives by faith.  There is no one, no matter how scientifically driven or how agnostically-convicted, who does not live by faith in those around him–the druggist, the chef, the doctor, the other motorists.

Almost everything Christians do, we do by faith.  This means the presence of two huge elements: A strong confidence in Jesus Christ (the very essence of faith) and the absence of something (which is what makes this faith, not sight).

We believe…yet we still have unanswered questions or doubts arise or fears persist.  We believe…but we don’t have enough resources to go forward, or the vote was negative, or our advisors counsel against it.

Continue reading

People who need to tremble

“The devils believe and tremble.”  –James 2:19

The devils shudder, my NASB says.

I know some people who need to be shuddering and shaking in their boots.  They are going to stand before the Lord and give account–as we all are–for the deeds and words they have used as weapons. They’re going to be called to account for the disrupted churches and destroyed lives in their wake.  Harvey and Irma have nothing on these people.

The prospect of that ought to leave them trembling and shivering in their boots.

I think I know why they don’t.

“By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, Till my guilty soul imploring turned, to Calvary.” (Hymn by William Newell, 1895)

Asked for the greatest thought he’d ever had, Andrew Murray is said to have answered, “My accountability to God.”

That’s what is missing in the minds and hearts and lives of some of the fiercest of troublemakers who wreak havoc in the Lord’s churches.

They do not believe in God.

Continue reading

Five good, strong biblical reasons not to fear

The Lord Jesus Christ took it personally when those closest to Him ordered their lives according to fear.  A cowering believer is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.

Faith in the Heavenly Father should banish all fears, He thought.

Scripture brims with injunctions not to fear but to show faith.  Here are five of what may be five hundred such reminders…

Continue reading

How to dismiss a scripture that nails you to the wall

On our website, we welcome comments from friends who disagree, so long as they do so graciously.  But from time to time, we receive tirades from the angry, onslaughts from the dark side, hurling slanderous accusations at us for daring to suggest that (take your pick) Christians should go to church, the faithful should tithe their income, or the Lord’s salvation is for all time.  Such heretical positions, to be sure. (Not!)  I’ve noticed a trend in some of these mean-spirited commenters, which provoked the following little essay…. 

“I know I’m right! I’m not going to change!”

When you are wedded to your position, you tend to a) become angry at anyone taking a contrary position, particularly if their point of view is the historically orthodox view with Scriptural support.  In that case, you will need to b)  justify your position and c) deal with scriptures that say something different.

a) You become angry with contrary views. 

Each of us could learn a lot about ourselves by noticing what views on Facebook or in blogs pluck our strings.  There has to be a trend, and that trend will reveal great insights about us.

Continue reading

Greater is He who is in you. Therefore….

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  I John 4:4

I was a 20-year-old college sophomore and still 15 months shy of receiving a call into the ministry when our church selected me as “pastor” for the annual Youth Week. Basically, that meant I was to preach a sermon that Sunday night. Yikes.  That was excitingly scary.

The text was this verse. I’ve never forgotten it, primarily because I never quite got the significance of its meaning.  It sounded wonderful and encouraging, even motivating. But what little I was able to glean from its riches is thankfully gone and erased from the minds and memories of those present that night in the Spring of 1960.

I love the promise.  “Greater is He who is in you than the one in the world.”

The Lord is with you, He is in you, and He is for you.  Scripture declares each one in no uncertain terms..  Need some verses for those?

Continue reading

Ten biblical truths a lot of God’s people don’t really believe

From the beginning, the Lord’s people talk a better game than we live.

So many biblical truths look good on paper and sound great when we’re spouting them.  And yet, judging by the way we live, the Lord’s people probably do not believe the following…

One.  God sends the pastor to the church. 

Churches survey their congregation to find the kind of pastor everyone wants in the next guy.  People lobby for a candidate they like and rally against one they don’t.  And they vote on the recommendation of their committee.  And after he arrives, when some turn against him, they send him on his way.

Do we really believe God sends pastors to churches?  They are God’s undershepherds (see I Peter 5:1-4) and appointed by the Holy Spirit as overseers of the church (Acts 20:28).

Two.  God hears our prayers, cares for our needs, and answers our prayers.

In the typical congregation, what percentage of the people are serious about their prayer life?

If we believed that God hears, cares, and answers, we would be praying over every detail of our lives.  “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) would define our very existence.

Continue reading

Write a play for your church. A short, fun one that fits the sermon.

In the church I was pastoring in the 1990s, we began inserting the occasional drama into the morning worship service, something we had created to fit the sermon.

(Note:  If you do brief dramas like this, you don’t have to purchase them.  And neither do you have to buy videos.  You have a few people in the congregation who would love to do something creative and helpful like this.  Don’t do it more often than monthly, lest it grow old.)

Here’s one from Sunday, July 11, 1993.  We called it the “Low Self-Esteem Anonymous Group.”

Margaret called the meeting to order.

Julie stood and said, “My name is Dummy–and I have low self-esteem.  I’d planned to look for a job this week.  But I didn’t.  Probably wouldn’t have done any good anyway.”

David stood to his feet. “My name is Invisible and I have low self-esteem.  I thought about asking a girl for a date this week. But I didn’t.  Who would want to go out with me?”

Jennifer said, “My name is Zero–and I have low self-esteem.  I thought about going to church.  But I probably wouldn’t fit in, so I stayed at home.”

Throughout this, Neil sits aloof, off to one side, making derogatory comments (which brought laughter).  Finally, he has enough.  He stands up, points to the sign and says, “Look at that–‘Low Self-Esteem!’ I love the initials–L.O.S.E.  That’s what you all are. A bunch of losers! I’m out of here.”

As he turns to leave, Jesse calls to him, “Hey Buddy–Egomaniac Anonymous meets down the hall, third door on the left.”

Continue reading

Stepping out of the boat: Something Simon Peter did a hundred times

Sometimes it’s scary obeying Jesus.

The incident recorded in Matthew 14–in the darkest part of the night,  the Lord came walking across the wind-tossed sea to the disciples and Peter is allowed, nay encouraged, to leave the boat and walk to Him, managing to take a few tentative steps over the sea before his fears got the best of him–turns out to have been the story of the rest of Peter’s life.

In a manner of speaking.

Leaving his comfort zone to come to Jesus, stepping out of the metaphorical boat and onto the watery surface where no visible means of support presented themselves, thus risking everything, is what Peter did–or was called on to do–again and again for the rest of his life.

One.  Peter, will you confess Jesus?  “Well, normally I would–but today it’s scary!”

He was warming himself at the fire in the courtyard while, not far away, the Lord was on trial. Three times Peter has the opportunity to confess Jesus.  The problem is that was a most scary thing to do.  He would have been hanging himself out there for all to see, he would have made a target of himself, and it would have been uncomfortable.  Luke tells us what happened at the end….

Continue reading