Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If Life Is Supposed to Be Good, Why Do I Get the Business?

I was watching a football blooper reel and there were some hilarious moments. That comes from someone who played football all his life. I even played one year in college, but gave it up for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was I was a human tackling dummy every single day of practice. You should have seen the bruises. I still suffer from a crooked nose that I broke at those same practices on a hot August day. Anyway, if anyone knows what it's like to get the business in football, I do. Back to the blooper reel. Here's one line that I remember when all the other images have long since faded away:
There was a huge pile of football players who had made a tackle. To me it looked clean enough, but then a referee threw a flag. Once they got the players off the pile, I waited to hear the call, "5 yard penalty on the red team. Underneath the pile, giving him the business." That call was the first and only time I had ever heard it. I laughed till my sides split.You see, I knew what it was like to be given the business.
Have you ever felt like you're at a bottom of a pile and life is giving you the business? I can assure you, even as though that call was only made once by any referee, it had happened many times before and would happen many times again. What I'm trying to say is, whatever is giving you the business right now, you can be assured that this is the norm of life and not the exception. Anyone who tells you different is full of bologna (why do we spell that word that way and pronounce in baloni?)

What does God tell us about the life? Have you ever read Job 5:1-18? Verse 7 kind of sums it up..."man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." (v. 7)

Here's some thoughts...
How do we, as Christians, cope with the problem of undeserved suffering? The main thing we must do is recognize that in a universe whose balance has been greatly upset by sin, this kind of suffering is bound to come. It is the norm and not the exception. It is because we live in a fallen world marred by sin. If you will face this, you are halfway to turning the problem into a possibility. When you are not willing to face it, it brings all kinds of misgivings into our life. Ever heard of nirvana? (The concept , not the band).

What you're about to read is for real, not some "preacher" story. Here's what happened to a child who was born into royalty. His parents decided to keep all signs of decay and death from him. When he was taken into the garden, maids were sent before him to remove all the decaying flowers and fallen leaves, so that he would be protected from all signs of suffering and death. One day, however, he left his home and, while wandering through the streets, came across a corpse. His reaction was so strong that he set about establishing the teaching that, as life is fundamentally suffering, the only thing to do is to escape into nirvana, the state of extinction of self. The young man was Guatama Buddha, whose beliefs are shared by millions of his followers around the world. His philosophy is a dramatic and tragic result of trying to protect oneself from the realities of life, one of which is suffering.

The Christian faith is the opposite of that: it exposes us to the very heart of suffering - the cross of Christ. It is the cross that takes suffering, and turns it into salvation. This is why Christians should not be afraid to face the worst that can happen - because with God it can be turned into the best.

If you'd like to pray for God's understanding, you might want to voice a prayer like this...
Father, I am so thankful for the cross - what is my suffering compared to that? And even if I have to bear similar suffering, I know that out of it will come to me what came to You - a resurrection. Blessed be Your Name, Jesus, forever. Amen.

If you want to study more about what the Bible has to say, you might want to read these Scriptures. They are as diverse as an Old Testament prophet, to our New Testament Savior, to a church leader letting the flock know that God understands the impact of our suffering. You see, our Lord also knows what it's like to hurt. He knows and cares. Remember, it's not over until we see Him.
Isa. 53; Luke 22:40; Heb. 2:9-10; 5:8; 8:1
My thanks to Selwyn Hughes who provided the  thoughts for this enlightening devotion.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


With all the surprising uproar concerning Congressman Anthony Weiner's sexting escapades, it seems that we should find out what makes such a thing wrong. On one of the news shows this morning there was a panel debating as to whether or not sexting constituted adultery. The woman said it did; the man said it didn't (or if it did, that's just how men are and get over it).

What Makes It Right?
As we debate the issue, I have divided it into some of the arguments I have heard. Although not exhaustive, it is a good representation.
So, maybe it's...
Stupidity - What if he had just not posted on his public twitter account? If he could have kept it all private, then maybe this would have been just fine.
Admission - If he had just come out and been honest from the beginning, then it would not have been near as bad.
Age - at least it wasn't done with someone underage. (although there is evidence that he was texting at least some underage girls) So, is that what makes it wrong...age?
Forgiveness - it seems his wife graociously is willing to forgive and stand by her man. As long as you are forgiven by those who love you most, is it then okay?
Public opinion - Is it okay if a large majority of the voting public say it's okay? Over 50% of his constituency believes he has done nothing to jeopardize his job. They approve of the job he is doing regardless of the latest disclosures.

Practical Ways to Make Your Decision
I write this today with great empathy. There is not one of us that has done something that we would be ashamed of if the entire "twitterverse" knew about it. Yet I still have to ask, where do we draw the line? How can we really know what's wrong? Is there anything in my own life that I need to heed?

My wife would be a good start. What would she think? I would hope that I would be doing the kind of things that she would give hearty approval to. Something that she could participate in with me...if she wanted to.

My conscience should be another way of making this decision. Is it something that I think is right. Before you get upset with me, this is not final way I should determine my activity. But the reason I include this is because we can knoow osomething is wrong before anyone because we know how it makes us feel. We know our own hearts and minds better than anyone else. We live with ourselves. If your conscience tells you, "No," then it should be a no.

My friends can help me as well. There are things they can see in my life that I am blind to. So, find out from them how far you should be going. Then be willing to listen to what they have to tell you. Also, if you can't or won't tell your friend, then it is probably a "no-go" already.

My Lord is the ultimate standard in my life. To use a NASCAR term, He is the "go, no-go" template for my life. 

Here's how that template works. When the race car is brought to inspection, the inspectors have a metal standard that goes over the car to determine if it is within parameters given by the rules committee. When that template is placed over the car, it either touches the body of the car (that's a go), or it doesn't (that's a no-go). If it's a no-go, then there is work to do before the inspectors give approval for the race. 

Go or No-Go?
That's very similar to the understanding we are given in 1 Corinthians 9:
"you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize." (v. 24)

Then the Bible goes on to say:
"I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (v. 27)

So then, what should be my template for adultery?

1. When I look at or think about someone, do I want to have sex with them? 
It's what Jesus described as lust in your heart. He simply is speaking to the religious, self-righteous people of His day that thought they had it all together and challenged them by saying if you don't have a physical relationship with someone, that's fine, but if you think you can lust after them and think you're doing okay with God, you're in trouble. 
Here are the words of Jesus:
But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

2. Can you lawfully fulfill what you are suggesting with your words or actions?
That means, do you say things to another or do activities with another that you can't fulfill with them and still adhere to the standard God gave us? 

For instance, you might say to someone, "I want to have sex with you." Is that wrong if you have no intention of having sex with them?

Another example is this. Are you kissing and caressing another person in such a way that causes them to want  more than the standard will allow?

The standard we are given tells us:
this is God's will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don't know God. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Sexual Immorality Defined
In case there is any misunderstanding, sexual immorality means sex that cannot be done when God is the moral gate-keeper. It includes any sex that is done with any one that is not your husband or wife. It also includes any sex act that has the word sex in it. That is all sexual immorality.

But you say, as did the congressman, I never met them and had sex, so is it adultery? If you are asking another person to do something that you cannot physically fulfill with them, then it is defrauding them. I Thessalonians 4 goes on to warn us:
"one must not transgress against and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification. Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God" 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8

if you would like to do more more study, then go to Bible Gateway and search for the words sexual immorality, fornication, and adultery. I know you will see what kind of standard God has for us.

Our Loving Heavenly Father
One final thought, God is not a cosmic killjoy. To the contrary, God created sex. He thinks it is wonderful. He even included a book that tells us of the bliss of a faithful, loving sexual relationship with our husband or wife. He created us to enjoy our husband and wife in marital bliss all of our lives. He loves us so much that He gives us right and wrong so we can live the best life possible (Ask the congressman if he would recommend what he has done to others to help spice up their life). God gives us these standards because He wants to provide for us and protect us. That's a Father's heart for His child. 

So, is sexting adultery? Yes, it is.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beware the "New" NIV

Are all translations the same?
The Bible is God's Word, plain and simple. We believe that God superintended the writers through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to write it without error in their own personalities as given to us in the original manuscripts. That means that God inspired the Bible, not any translation. But are there better translations for us to read and study than others? Yes, it does make a difference whet we study and read.

My Translation History
Let me give you a little of my history. For many years I used the King James Version. Most everything I memorized and studied came from that version. Then in college, for the sake of study and the use of the original language, I used the New American Standard Version. When I got into the ministry in the 80's, my pastor used it as well. I was very happy. Soon, when I went to seminary, my new pastor used the New International Version. I soon grew to appreciate it. I especially liked these verses:

  • 2 Peter 1:21, "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." and 
  • 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness"
I especially liked the way it explained inspiration of the Bible by saying that it was "God-breathed." What a powerful translation! I was happy and recommended the NIV to others, used it in my preaching, and studied and read it as well.

The First Updated NIV
Then, the translators of the NIV told us that they were going to begin work on a newer more up to date version that was much more gender neutral than the 1984 version. Many were not pleased. If the Bible's is gender neutral, then that's fine, but for man to translate a word that was intended to be gender specific into something the original had no intention of saying...big problem.

So the company, because of the uproar, scuttled the change and simply made it a new version called the TNIV. It was not received well. No one seemed kto like it, and it didn't sell. It was a marketing disaster. In the mean time, many had been working on much more faithful translations like the ESV and the HCSB (my personal favorite). The people had been given some good, viable choices and many gravitated to those translations. the result was the TNIV sales waned and its days were numbered. The idea of getting people to switch over failed as the church found other versions that affirmed the historical Christian faith.

With all that said, I must ask, "Is the new NIV 2011 more the 1984 version we have all come to know, love, and appreciate or more like the TNIV which was panned by scholars and laity alike?"

Here's an article I just read that compared all the differences between the 1984 NIV and the New 2011 NIV. Here are their findings:

 An example of the way the translators of the NIV 2011
take liberties with. Other translations say simply "fishers of men".
This is but the tip of the iceberg.
"The 2011 NIV makes several noteworthy improvements over the 1984 NIV and the 2005 TNIV, including 933 improvements in accuracy in translating gender language in places where CBMW had criticized the TNIV in 2002 and 2005. And the entire translation process was carried on in a commendable spirit of transparency and openness, for which Zondervan and the NIV's Committee on Bible Translation are to be appreciated.

"However, the 2011 NIV was based not on the current NIV (1984) but on the TNIV (2005). The 2011 NIV retains 2,766 (or 75%) of the TNIV's problematic gender-related translations that led CBMW, and eventually the larger evangelical world, to reject the TNIV in 2002 and 2005. We still consider these 2,766 examples to be inaccurate translations of terms that have male meaning in the original Hebrew or Greek, male meaning that is lost in this new NIV. Therefore, this translation cannot be considered sufficiently trustworthy in its translation of gender language or in its translation of singular and plural pronouns generally. We consider this too high a price to pay for attaining gender-inclusiveness in a translation.

"In addition, the 2011 NIV changes some key verses on women's role in the church so that they favor an evangelical feminist position, especially in translating 1 Timothy 2:12 in a way that differs with all other commonly-used modern English translations and that gives women a wide open door to serve as pastors and elders in churches, contrary to the actual teaching of the New Testament.

"We regret, therefore, that we cannot recommend the 2011 NIV as a sufficiently reliable English translation. (bold mine) And unless Zondervan changes its mind and keeps the current edition of the 1984 NIV in print, the 2011 NIV will soon be the only edition of the NIV that is available. Therefore, unless Zondervan changes its mind, we cannot recommend the NIV itself.
This report was published by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), 2825 Lexington Road, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40280. (502) 897-4065.

Go here for more of this article that actually does a verse by verse comparison:
An Evaluation of Gender Language in the in the 2011 Edition of the NIV Bible

So here is my conclusion, translators that present to the laity the word of God have a sacred trust. This is the Bible, not Shakespeare. That is, good translators can't just change the intent ofnthe manuscript to suit the culture. Otherwise, once this path is taken, there would no point at which to stop pleasing that same culture. What would be the next target? You see, whenever culture demands we loosen up on the language of the Bible to make it more culturally relevant, we are then allowing a standard to conform to the culture rather than the culture conforming to the standard. The Bible's original manuscripts are our standard. These cannot be changed because our culture demands more relevance. Church of Jesus Christ, be aware!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The High Cost of Freedom Must Never Be Taken for Granted

I found this online and on this Memorial Day weekend, I thought it was important enough to share what our founding fathers faced when they signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of them gave up everything.
When I finished reading it, I was surprised to see who's father had written this piece (not that I would expect any different).
Finally, I want to thank the families of those whose loved one gave the ultimate price of their lives. I want you to know that this American Patriot will never forget.

And now...
Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor
Trumbull's Declaration of Independence, 12' x 18' oil.
Located in the United States Capitol Rotunda

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who has ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stocking was nothing to them." All discussion was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the President's desk, was a panoply-consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year.

Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissention. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York."

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away.

They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut.

Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: " I am no longer a Virginian, Sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

Much To Lose

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock, and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words.

Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers.

Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half -24- were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, 9 were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property.

All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head.

He signed in enormous letters so "that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward." Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately." Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you , you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember: a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics, yammering for an explosion.

They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators.

One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers (it was he, Francis Hopkinson - not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag).

Richard Henry Lee, A delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks:

"Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."
Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2, that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.
William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear."

Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

"Most glorious service"

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

- Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered and his estates in what is now Harlem, completely destroyed by British soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners though the efforts of Congress she died from the effects of her abuse.

- William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

- Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

- Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

- John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

- Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

- Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

- Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

- George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

- Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

- John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

- William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

- Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

- Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

- Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

Lives, fortunes, honor

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes.

Twelve signers had their homes completely burned.

Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey Signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship "Jersey," where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father.

One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each and one of us down through 200 years with the answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

- Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr (The father of Rush, the radio talk show host)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Raising the Dead

God is all about life. I mean it in every since of the word. He cares about the newborn baby's life. God cares about sustaining that life through the trauma and difficulties of childhood. He cares enough to hurt when someone dies (remember the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept"?). He also cares when we are hurting in this life. Jesus reminds us, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10 (KJV).
When Jesus rose from the dead, it was to give us life forever, in Heaven. If you don't have that straight, then I challenge you to consider the claims of the Gospel. It is not about doing good deeds and believing, or going to church and believing, or even reading this blog and believing...Jesus tells us to believe in Him who sent me. There is nothing we have ever done or could do to get us into Heaven, and there is nothing we have done or could ever do to send us to hell if we trust Jesus Christ with our life. Not only that He was truly a part of history, but that He needs to be a part of your history. His death and resurrection is all about you believing that He took your place and paid your time. You can read here if you'd like to hear what God says about it: Romans 10:10-13
But the thing about our God is that good enough is never enough. What I mean is that He could've stopped with eternal life, but He gives us abundant life, in the present, in the here and now. So as we come to celebrate and commemorate the resurrection of Jesus on what has come to be known as Easter Sunday, His resurrection is proof that He cares about your life. God loves life so much that He can and does raise people to life every single day. That's resurrection. That's God. He's the God who is raising the dead!
For a further explanation of knowing Christ as your forgiver and leader, click on this link: plan of salvation

Plan B Promo Blooper Reel from Ivey Rhodes on Vimeo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Moving Forward

The older I get, the more I believe failure is God's way of steering us down His path. We often have a way that we think is right. After all, we have thought it through, asked for advice, been trained, studied demographics, and ultimately convinced ourselves that what we are doing is right.
I have a problem though. I doubt any of you have the same thing going on. You see, once I've made a decision, I feel like I've got to stick with it. Otherwise, to change my way of thinking is tantamount to admitting defeat. Thinking that way only makes me think I've failed. It is humiliating, and it is difficult to change your mind. Yet I get back to what I started this blog with, failure brings direction. It helps me see God's directing hand. There is great clarification that comes along with failure.
So, starting today, I want to look at failure differently. It is a blessing not a curse; it is God's grace, not His punishment. Failure is ultimately what drives us to be "Plan B" Christians, and it there that God uses us the greatest. That is how I can move forward and press on to God's purpose. Simply by making sure when I fail, I fail forward. It is then you can fail God's direction, and that is always best. So, there is hope for us all...those of us who have fallen short of God's glory. Welcome to "Plan B." It is God's way of dealing with every one of us. "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead."
Philippians 3:13 (HCSB)