He Is Able

Posted: April 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Easter Sunday was an awesome service for the church I pastor, East Sanford Baptist Church.  No, it wasn’t because of me, but because God reminded us that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (NKJV).  If you were there, you would have heard about a lady who had been given no hope in her battle against cancer.  Her husband shared their story of struggle, strength and prayer.  He told of her last PET Scan and that the doctors had informed them that her cancer was gone.  It was indeed a great moment of miraculous proportion.  One would think that nothing could be greater, and for them, that probably was the case.

However, what struck me must about that awesome service was the lady who was sitting in the third row.  Like the first, she has a story of struggle, strength and prayer.  She has battled cancer before and won, temporarily.  Now, she is battling again.  This time, she has chosen not to undergo any treatments.  Back in November, when we had our delayed Homecoming service (a hurricane kind of altered our original schedule in October), she raised her hand in praise and thank God for just being there.  She had been given until October, and there she sat in November.  Fast forward to Easter.  There she sits, singing and praising God, looking as healthy and happy as she ever has.

Two different stories, one great God.  We often celebrate the miraculous healings and the unimaginable outcomes as the work of God, and they are, and we should celebrate.  However, what gives me the greatest peace is not when He gives complete healing, or He moves the mountain or stops the storm.  What gives me the greatest hope and peace is when I can see Him at work in the fights, storms and hardships of our life.  It reminds me of what Paul say, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’.”  While I always pray for healing and for God to remove mountains and stop storms, I can have confidence that even if He does not, His grace is sufficient and He is still able to exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever imagine.

I thank both of these ladies for living their lives out before our church, letting us see their struggles and their strength.  Because of them, I am ever more confident in Jesus Christ, my strength and comforter.

Why I am voting in this election

Posted: November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

One week from today America will have chosen a new president. Many have posted of the horrors of both a Clinton or Trump presidency. I understand. Many of my pastoral friends have suggested they understood the dangers of a Clinton presidency but would not vote for Trump either, because voting for the “lesser of two evils is still voting for evil.” That is true, and I agree. However, a popular vote has been cast for a perfect man only once, and in unison they cried out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The only vote cast for a perfect man was not to elect Him leader, but to get rid of Him. Prior to that vote and every vote since, we have chosen between the lesser of two evils. Never has there been a perfect candidate, and we should remember, never has there been a perfect voter. We vote for the lesser of two evils because we are a fallen people in a fallen world.

So, I will be voting in this year’s election. I will be voting in light of 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” I have heard people make the argument that voting in light of the Supreme Court appointments or to lessen persecution of the church is for weak Christians. Some have suggested we want the government to make things easy for us. In light of 1 Timothy, I would suggest that is what we should be pursuing. We are to pray for and seek “peaceful and quiet lives” in our communities. In this country we have the privilege of choosing those in authority, not just praying for them. We should choose those who will make our lives most peaceful and quiet.

I will vote in light of Mark 12:17 “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.” Though I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God and all things are His, some things also belong to our life as citizens of a country. Those who “will not vote for the lesser of two evils” because they are citizens of His Kingdom still pay taxes to those committing that evil, those by their own standards are active participants in the evil. I am a citizen here as well as in His Kingdom. I have an obligation to prefer the better each time, in the hopes of preventing greater evil being done with money I provide (through taxes). It is not enough for me to withdraw from the process of choosing those in authority if I am going to turn around and support them financially in whatever evil they do. If withdrawing from the process is the answer for you, stop paying taxes. Obviously, none of us are going to do that, so, we should choose who is spending that money that we are going to send to those in authority.

So, I am voting. I am voting for Donald Trump, not because I believe that he is the answer to all of our problems, not because I support or endorse everything he says or does, not because I believe that he would be great for America or even good for America. I am voting for Donald Trump because he is the lesser of two evils, because his America will allow a more “peaceful and quiet” life for me in my Christian walk. I am voting for him because his Supreme Court appointments will mean a more “peaceful and quiet” Christian life for me than Hillary’s. I voting for him because in this nation I have the privilege of voting, of attempting to influence the direction of our nation, so I will not stand by and let it take a direction that is more dangerous. I once ran my Mustang off the road. It was going to be a wreck, there was no way to avoid it. I didn’t take my hands off the wheel and say, “Oh well, Lord, it is all up to you.” He gave me eyes to see and hands to steer, so I steered into the ditch rather than the woods. Yes, it damaged my car and required a tow, but it didn’t destroy the car. I chose a direction and accepted that it wasn’t the best option, but it was much better than the only other option at the time.

Christian, I encourage you to vote.

Unto Him be glory

Posted: April 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

What is the purpose of church?  Why do we even bother?  The music has changed, the people aren’t what they used to be, it is just not the same!  The preacher is too young or too old; he doesn’t know what he is doing or he tries to control everything!  There is nothing there for me or for my age group of for my children, etc.

These are some of the complaints we hear (or use) when discussing church.  Maybe you have used one or two of them yourself.  So, what is the problem with stating the “problem” with church?  Each of these complaints make church into something that is designed for us – for me.  Each of the statements above may be true for you, but each of them is based on YOU being the focus of church.  May I share a little secret with you?  Church is not about you!  No, it is not about me, either, even as pastor.  It is solely about Him.  Paul writes “unto Him be glory,” not unto me or you.

Why do I go to church?  Because it is where I find Him among HIs people.  Why do I go to church?  Because it is where I can lift His name above all other names with others who are lifting Him up as well.  Why do I go to church?  Because it is where He says that He will be glorified (Ephesians 3:21).  The church is where I go because He says He will be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations.

What about you?  Where will you be this weekend and what will you be doing?  There will be those who will stay at home, but declare they are just as much a Christian as everyone else.  There will be those who go to church, but only for what the get out of it, not for Him to be glorified in it.  A right attitude and understanding of worship requires me to forget about me and focus on Him.

Pray that God will be glorified in and through your church this weekend.  Then, go and make it happen.

150 years ago this weekend, a great battle took place just down the road from here. It was a place called Bentonville, now known as Bentonville Battlefield. Two sides met in a fierce conflict that would be the final conflict and lead to the ultimate surrender and end of a great war.

Some would classify one side or the other as good or evil. In fact, for some, the battle still hasn’t ended. They fight it in their minds and traditions and attitudes daily, despite the fact that no matter what they do, say or think, they will never change the outcome.

In fact, this afternoon, there will be yet another re-enactment of that battle, another playing it over again. Even if in the make believe world of that re-enactment, by some “miracle” the south were to win, it would not change the final outcome – for that battle has already been fought and that war has already been won. As a result of that “victory” the chains of slavery would fall silent across this great land. People who had been captive for their whole lives would now be free. For those freed slaves, the battle was well worth it, and in many cases, they had done nothing for the fight.

It would have been around the year 30AD that another battle was being fought, another war coming to an end. The sides were fierce enemies and each had its mighty weapons. On that day, though, a final battle was won that would free slaves of a different kind. These slaves, like many in the southern states of the Confederacy, did not really participate in the battle. Oh, yes, the battle was fought for them, but not by them.

In this battle there were easily identifiable sides of good and evil, or God and Satan. The battle was not fought over a vast field or community, but rather on a hillside, on a plot of land just a few hundred yards by a few hundred yards. This battle did not leave thousands lying wounded or dead, but all of mankind, past, present and future, either living abundantly or dead spiritually. This battle was not about the shape of a country for the next 150 years, nor 300 or 500 years, but about the shape of a soul for all of eternity.

At Bentonville, great generals challenged and called upon their men to defend and die for the cause. At Calvary, Christ challenged great men and women of faith to stand up, defend and live for their way of life. At Bentonville, it might be said that many men died for the cause of a greater number, either the US or the Confederacy. At Calvary, it is said that one man died for all – or maybe even just one. At Calvary, Christ died for me.

What we can learn from Bentonville this weekend – that there really is no need to refight an already won battle. What we must learn from the cross of Calvary – that there really is no need to refight an already won battle. Stop trying to fight the battle of your life over and over. Rest in the victory that has already been won. You have been freed and the chains of slavery loosened for all eternity. Claim the prize.

The arena of worship!

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Written March 2012 during the ACC Tournament: Tonight in North Carolina there are two sports arenas filled. One worshipping entertainment and sports, the other worshipping the one true God. Sixteen of us from East Sanford are at the RBC Center listening to Matthew West, Lindsay McCaul, Royal Taylor and Casting Crowns. We can choose to bow down at the altar of the world, or we can choose to worship the one true God. Tonight, the choice could not be more clear, yet thousands upon thousands chose to cheer for a team of this world. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.