TBC 50th Anniversary

TBC 50th Anniversary


March Madness and Shame . . .


Philippians 3:19, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”

As I write this blog post in advance of April, March Madness is still ongoing, down to the last two teams.  By the time you read it, you will know whether North Carolina or Gonzaga prevailed in the final!

I was recently pondering the nature of shame, particularly as I was reading Ed Welch’s “Shame Interrupted.” (I will put the usual statement here that his book does not agree with everything I—and my church—hold to theologically, but it is pretty awesome in its discussion of shame, which I was trying to understand.)  Using some thoughts in the book as a starting point, let me ask a couple of questions.

Would you say that all fifteen of the Sweet Sixteen teams who did *not win the championship should be ashamed?  Would you say they sinned because they did not emerge as the top team?

I hope you just answered “no.”

Yet that is one category of “shame” that is very common among people, even believers in Jesus.  We feel ashamed when we are not the best in our bracket.  We feel ashamed when we stumble and make mistakes and do not capture the championship in life.

In short, we feel ashamed because we are human and have human frailties.

That definition of shame tends to overshadow the real definition of shame.  Like the verse above shows, shame is a good gift God gives us to help bring us to repentance for our sins, for the wrong things we actually choose to do against God’s commandments and His will in our lives.

This comes more easily for me than for many other people—I see my sin so clearly, and I rejoice that God gives me the gift of shame so I will repent early rather than late.  Shame goes away after we repent because shame has then done its job.

But I have so many friends for whom shame is a constant companion.  They are the ones for whom shame has stopped being attached to their own personal sin and has started to constantly overshadow their lives.  Their shame has been replaced in its God-given role with other fake versions of shame which make fake claims of why they should be ashamed.

Some are ashamed for circumstances in their childhood that made them feel inferior to the other children around them.

Some are ashamed because they never felt love from those God intended to cherish and protect them.

Some are ashamed for sins that others did to them.

Some are ashamed, like the March Madness teams could be, merely because they are human and show weakness or don’t always win.

I urge you, my friends, if you find yourself stuck in any of the above states of fake shame for things that are not actually your personal sins, to seek God’s Word and good counsel about what shame actually is in your life and what it should do.

It is actually very freeing to get to the place where shame, when it occasionally arises, actually bids us into the presence of the Lord, to examine ourselves and see what we have done that needs repentance.

God is good to give us the good gift of appropriate shame.

 

Everyone Wants to be Free


John 8:32, “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Throughout the ages, man has been on a quest for freedom.  There are so many wonderful stories of how people achieved their freedom.  As a history teacher, I love reading about how the thirteen colonies decided  freedom was necessary  and how they finally achieved it from England. It was a grand day when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.  The liberation of Paris during World War II brought back freedom to millions of French people. Pictures show us how the French people were lined up along the streets very grateful and once again happy to be free. The world will never forget the pictures of those frail starved Jewish people slowly making their way through the open prison gate to freedom. Do you remember the POW’s from Vietnam when they landed on free soil?  Let’s move beyond those wonderful moments of freedom in time, and let’s talk about freedom both in time and in Eternity. I call this the ultimate freedom.

In John 8:32, we read that it is “the truth” that makes one free.  In chapter 8, there are those who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and those who did not believe. Verse 30 says, “as he spake these words, many believed on him” When an individual hears the Word of God and accepts or acts upon what he hears, that is belief or acceptance of the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus saith onto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man, cometh unto the father, but by me.”  The ultimate freedom was made manifest in Christ. He is all you need to be free.

We need to remember that every man is born in sin. Sin is his prison, his agony, and the roadblock that makes salvation impossible. The Bible was full of examples of those who heard the truth, accepted the truth, and were set free. I will reference just two examples: those who heard the Word in Acts2:41 (about 3000 souls) and the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31. The truth of the Word of God changed each life.  Have you allowed it to change yours?

Our world today is full of philosophies and ideologies and just plain craziness each claiming to be truth. I would challenge you to observe them and see how many lives they’ve made better, how many lost sinners have been saved and have the joy of knowing the reality of truth.  Mankind has always been free to accept or reject the truth. We read that in John 8, and we see it in our day. If you have chosen to accept Christ as Savior, you know exactly how the truth can change your life. If you’ve made the other choice, you know your life has not been changed. Today would be a wonderful day to accept the truth of God’s Word and Jesus Christ as your Savior. You have His promise that He will make you free indeed.

 

The Gospel of the Eye


Exodus 25:1-9

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.  According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

The Tabernacle has been called “The Gospel of the Eye.”  Everywhere we look, we see Jesus.  There is only one entrance into the Tabernacle; the first object one sees is the brazen altar of sacrifice; the seven pieces of furniture form a cross; the burning coals taken off the brazen altar of sacrifice kindle the incense upon the golden altar of prayer.  These are just a few of the dazzling details.  The whole splendid structure sparkles with the glory of Calvary!

Day after day, year after year, the Lord must have been saying to Himself:  “I can hardly wait till Christ comes and Israel sees the significance of all this!”

Psalm 119:18

God Is Good All the Time!


 

God is good all the time…

            On January 15 of this year, our Pastor and his wife were on a trip to the Holy Land, and as is most of the time when my Pastor is gone, I had the opportunity to preach that Sunday since I am the assistant.  I preached that morning, went home, ate lunch with my family, and headed back to the office to study as I always do.  I am a creature of habit and do the same thing the same way as much as I can so as to perfect things and not mess up.  I got a call a little after 4:00 pm that Sunday afternoon that would disrupt not only my day but my life. 

God is good all the time…      

            A few hours prior my brother, unknowing to our family, had been tragically taken from this world at the age of 21.  He was found dead by his landlord because a presumed robbery at his home that afternoon.  The gentleman called and informed my father, and, in return, my Dad called my brothers and me.  See, that day was changed; the plans I had for that week were changed, but you know what?  The past could not be changed.  The memories I had shared with my brother and the good times would always be in my heart but also the regret for the times I should have called or texted and let him know I loved him also would remain in my heart.

God is good all the time…      

            There are three areas to God’s will – His sovereign will, His moral will and the individual will He has for each of us.  God tells us in His Word that there are some events in the past that had to happen, and there are some events in the future that will happen, and this is part of God’s sovereign will.  He also has a plan, or moral will, that all would be saved and follow Him in His way, but this may not happen.  Then we each have a direction in life that God has for us, but it is our choice if we do His individual will for our lives.   

God is good all the time…      

            It was God’s sovereign will that His Son would come and die for us, and He did die, and one day He will return for us (Matt. 1:20-21; I Thes. 4:16-18).  It was God’s moral will that my brother would be saved.  He made a profession of faith as a child (John 3:16).  It was never part of God’s individual will though for my brother to take the route he did in his life and get involved in things that would hurt him and those around him (II Tim. 2:20-22).  See, God is a just God, and He has given us a free will to make our choices, and we all do (Prov. 3).  The consequences stemming from those choices are not ours to make (Isaiah 59:1-2).  Although my brother is gone, our family rests assured in God’s perfect will, and this is how we are able to get through this situation.            

God is good all the time…      

            I know you may say that this is more of a snippet of someone’s life rather than a devotion, but, in reality, it is all of our lives.  Sometimes, we are busy and happy, but when life turns on a dime, we are devastated (John 11:21).  Sometimes there are have consequences that catch up to us from past decisions that are not pleasant (II Sam 12).  Sometimes God stops us in our tracks to make us realize He is in control, and we need to make sure our lives are right in all areas (Matt. 14:25-33).  God is good all the time, in the seemingly good and bad in our lives, and we need to grow our faith in Him till we believe it.  I may have lost a brother on January 15, 2017, but the funeral was paid for completely by the generous hearts of God’s saints.  We got complete assurance through letters and testimonies that my brother knew Christ as his Savior and eleven souls have joined the family of God since his death because of this.  Some would still call it a tragedy, but, in reality, God brought beauty from ashes; and we trust our Lord is in control. He is always good!                    

Should Believers Observe Lent?


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The Lenten Season is named for the period of the year when the daylight part of the days is lengthening in the Northern hemisphere.  Liturgical churches observe the period as the time Christ drew closer and closer to the Cross.  Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial by many professing Christians.  It was established in the fourth century as forty-six days, forty days not counting Sundays.  It begins with Ash Wednesday and Ends on Easter Sunday.  During this time those who participate give up food or a habit for six weeks of disciplining themselves to earn God’s blessing.

Believers should be celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ every day of the week and not only on Easter.  Sunday became a day set aside by the early churches in observance of the Resurrection on the first day of the week.  Believers should find it difficult to enter into the feelings of deprivation, sorrow, and remorse to earn God’s favor.  Christ is raised and is the Victor over death, sin, and the grave.

Believers should be living a life pleasing unto the Lord all the time, not just a few weeks of the year.  If something is wrong during Lent, it is always wrong. Many believe that the period of self-denial brings one closer to Christ and makes him more worthy of receiving forgiveness and eternal life.  Denying oneself cannot enhance the worthiness of anyone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If it is wrong during Lent or even if something is right to do during Lent, believers should be following God’s Plan consistently in their lives.  Repenting of sin and following God’s Word for a life filled with service for Him is something we should be doing every day of the year, not just for the forty-six days of Lent.  We should be honoring the Lord with our presence in the services of our churches throughout the year as well and not just observe special times.  We should also be carrying out the Commission He has given to us on a continual basis.

Believers should be practicing the preeminence of Christ throughout their lives  (Colossians 1:18).  Enjoying Christ’s presence as we are obedient to His Word should be a daily practice.  We need to determine to do what is right all the time.  “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

 

 

 

Remember the old, grey head . . . and thy Creator!


 

Psalm 100

Each morning the old man would sit in his garden.  While patting his old dog, the old man’s thoughts would run to his children and of how he missed them so that his heart was pained.  He would lift them each, by name, unto his Heavenly Father to bless and keep them from sin.

Each day, he would check the mail for just some small note from them.  He would get excited as the phone would ring, hoping to hear their voice.  Always on his mind and lovingly in his heart, he would think of them.

How like our Heavenly father, who always has our best interest in mind, always desiring to hear our voice in prayer.  Our Lord God desires to commune with us.  While it pleases God for us to pray, it is truly for our benefit that we do so.  We have a “Father” in Heaven that loves us so!

Today and everyday …. Remember your Heavenly Father!  He is waiting to hear from you (Eccl.12:1)!

 

The Bible Teaches Science?


 

We’ve all heard the statement, the Bible isn’t a science book, but it teaches science.  We could insert any subject in place of science, and we would have a true statement. After hearing a recent sermon on Psalm 8, I remembered learning and teaching about Matthew Maury (1806-1873), the “pathfinder of the seas.”  He took seriously when he read about “paths of the sea” in Psalm 8:8 and “winds whirling continuously in his circuits” in Ecclesiastes 1:6. He figured he could find them if God said they were there. He dedicated his life to studying those sea and wind currents. He became known as the founder of modern oceanography. His studies and charting of the wind and sea currents transformed trans-Atlantic travel, reducing sailing times significantly, often times by weeks. Just as Maury used Psalm 8 and Ecclesiastes I, many Christian scientists were inspired by a particular verse to search deeper into what the Bible was teaching. Psalm 8 is inscribed on Matthew Maury’s tombstone – “whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”  So we can say whole-heartedly that our Bible is indeed a science book.

To Whom Do You Cry When Things Get Tough?


Exodus 2:23-25 – 23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Exodus 2 ends with the Israelites in what seemed like inescapable bondage.  The king died, and I can imagine that they thought they were going to be slaves in Egypt forever.  The circumstances they were in caused them to cry out to the Lord for help and for deliverance.  The Scripture tells us that when they cried out to Him that God brought to His thinking the covenant that He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  One commentator called this passage “the hinge” of the Israelites deliverance from bondage.  What caused this “hinge” to swing?  It was their crying out to the Lord.

Sometimes when we face difficult times in our lives, we cry to anyone who will listen other than our Lord.  We use prayer as a last resort instead of a first option!  I think we would do well to learn from accounts like this one in Scripture.  He longs to be our refuge in the storm.  The Psalmist put it this way – “1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For thou hast been a shelter for me, And a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” (Psalm 61:1-4).

 May the Lord help us to more quickly cry out to Him in our times of need!

Be Careful Where You Walk


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Do you remember the song “Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See” that you sang when you were little?  I remember all the verses – “Oh, be careful little hands what you touch” and “Oh, be careful little feet where you walk” – well, recently it meant more than usual!  I was visiting my grandchildren, and I was walking back to the house after being at the park with the kids.  They were riding bikes — two blocks between the park and the house there are no sidewalks – so I was walking trying to keep up and trying to remind them to ride safely, and down I went.  I fell on my hands, hit my knee, and then my head hit the asphalt – and the asphalt won!  I have bruises, abrasions, swollen knee, and a fractured left wrist.  (Of course, I’m left handed.)

Sometimes, we do get so distracted that we are not watching our steps.  At my age, watching where I am walking is important; but for all of us, it is important to watch where we walk spiritually.  So often, we “walk” away from the Lord and are too far away before we even realize it.  Or maybe, we “walk” in the right direction, but we get weary.  Be encouraged that our Lord is walking with us!

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). (emphasis mine)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23) (emphasis mine)