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Friday, August 26, 2011

Every Day, Every Hour


Romans 8:38-39

King James Version (KJV)

 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These verses indicate that nothing has the ability to separate us from the love of God that is expressed through Christ Jesus. The richness and depth of God's love is astounding. Nothing dilutes it. Nothing thwarts or diminishes its power. Nothing can stamp it out or prevent us from experiencing it.

This concept is important to remember. Love is perhaps the most powerful force on earth, yet so many feel as if they are forced to go through life without it.

It is then that it is vital that we change our focus away from that which we think we lack in order to recognize that God's love is ever-present, ever-powerful, and everlasting.

Song: 'Every Day, Every Hour' by the Cathedrals. This song is one of the best they ever recorded, and it is presented just as it was first recorded in 1993. The album on which it appeared was entitled, 'High and Lifted Up,' and it  received a significant amount of acclaim not only among Gospel music critics but in sales as well. You won't be disappointed.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The City Called 'Home'

Revelation 21: 10-25


10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
 11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
 12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
 15And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
 16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
 17And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
 18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
 22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
 23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
 24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
 25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

Human language cannot begin to describe the beauty, majesty, and awesomeness that awaits believers when they arrive at their final destination--a city called 'Home.'

These words in Revelation are but a mere reflection of the splendor, much of it symbolic. The real thing is beyond words and infinitely better than mere symbols.

As Christians draw closer to the Lord we no longer fear death but look forward to 'going home.' This does not mean we long for death or that we have nothing in this life to look forward to. I intend to live a long time, and I have no plans to get up a group and go to Heaven now.

But when my time comes, I am ready. I will see dear loved ones that I miss. I will meet great men and women of faith who left behind a legacy that helped get me to that home. And best of all, I will see Jesus.

Song: 'Thinking About Home' by the Talley Trio.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Knowing vs. Knowing About

2 Timothy 1:12
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which have committed unto him against that day.



The wording of this verse of scripture points to a profound concept. Note that it does NOT say, 'I know in whom I have believed, ' but I know whom I have believed.' The difference is remarkably significant.


The writer is not simply declaring that he knows in whom he believes, that is, he knows he believes in Christ. He goes much further than that. He says he knows the one he has believed in!


In the first instance, the wrong assumption is being made that the writer is simply putting forth a supposition, an intellectual conclusion, that he knows he believes in Christ, the connotation being that he has no cognitive doubt that he believes. In the second instance, which is the correct understanding of this verse, the writer declares that he knows the one in whom he has believed.


That is, he knows Christ personally. He has met Him face to face, through faith. He has encountered Him on a personal level and has intimate knowledge of Christ.


This is much, much more than an intellectual exercise or a cognitive declaration of what one believes. This is stating that Christ can be known on a personal basis.


I know a lot about Ronald Reagan. I loved Reagan. I believed in him from a political standpoint. But I did not know the man personally. I never met him.


One can know a lot about Christ and never meet Him personally. The personal experience of Christ is key to understanding the essence of the Christian faith.


My friend, Rev. Paul, way up north in Alaska, posted a moving blog this week on the nature of the Christian faith...one of the best I've ever read. I encourage you to read it here. 


Song: 'Then I Met the Master' by the Statesmen Quartet, featuring the late, great Jake Hess. Another classic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Does Anyone Care?


I Peter 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.


Life is sometimes a lonely thing. When troubles pile on it is easy to fall into despair and assume that no one cares. Compounding this sense of alone-ness is the experience of many persons who are abandoned by their friends and family, sometimes through no fault of their own. The person may not even be aware of what they have done to merit such treatment.


Whether it is the circumstances of life or simply a state of mind that is captured by despair that prompts one to wonder about these things, the question as to whether anyone cares is a most troubling question to ask. The abject loneliness that leads to the question is one of the worst feelings one can experience.


The Bible answers that question by telling us we are never alone and that someone does, indeed, care. Even when one feels that no one in the world cares about them at all--which in all likelihood is not true--the Bible assures us that God cares about each of us individually. And He never leaves us alone.


Song: 'O How Much He Cares For Me' by Smitty Gatlin and the Oak Ridge Boys. This one is a classic from the old days of 'quartet music'...a black and white clip of the Oak Ridge when they were a Southern Gospel Quartet. This is as good as it gets.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fear Not

Hebrews 13:6
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.



The early Christian were the victims of persecution that would make most modern people of faith cower in the face of such a scourge. Their families often disowned them. They were shunned by friends. They were arrested and thrown into jail for sharing the Gospel with others. And they were tortured and killed.


As events in the world grow more dangerous, seemingly by the day, many Christians, Jews, and other persons of faith find themselves wondering if perhaps we will witness another great scourge 20 centuries later.


Governments become more oppressive and dangerous by the day. Extremists within Islam threaten freedom-loving people and those who adhere to the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths.


Today's scripture verse tells us what to do in the face of such growing danger. We ought to fear God more than man. We must not fear what man can do to us. We must proceed boldly carrying the torch of salvation, love, and freedom.


Song: 'My God Is Real.' This is a great video. There is some comedy in the introduction as Bill Gaither interviews Florida Boys pianist and comedian Derrell Stewart and Florida Boys manager Les Beasley. Then the group sings their great song before a large crowd at one of Gaither's massive Homecoming gatherings.   

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Remember Who You Are

Acts 17:28
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.



One of my teachers back in the day used to constantly remind us of our standing in the school. We were in the advanced classes, which were separate from what was known at the time as the 'slower' track.


I can remember her now, 'Remember who you are.'


This directive was most often given just prior to our going into the hallway to go for lunch or a break, or on a field trip. She would say, 'You are our very best, the cream of the crop, the brightest and most well-behaved. So, remember who you are.'


The verse of scripture quoted above reminds us of who we are. We are God's, conceived, developed, born, and bred in the very heart of Deity.


This does not depend on your intellect, or achievements, or family heritage, or anything else. In fact, it depends on nothing whatsoever. It just is. You are God's workmanship, a reflection of His own qualities.


And that, my friends, is good news!


Song: 'Because of Whose I Am' by Reba Rambo McGuire, daughter of famous and prolific songwriter Dottie Rambo. Here Reba sings one of her own classic compositions.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Heal Our Land

I don't have to tell you that America needs healing. We are broken and ill. The following words from the Bible points the way to healing, and they are offered without comment:

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and willforgive their sin, and will heal their land.


Song: 'Heal our Land.'

Monday, August 8, 2011

Change

Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever."

It has been said that the one thing that never changes is change. Things are always changing, and in reality, very little can be done to stop it.

Sometimes change can happen so rapidly that a society can go into what one writer referred as 'culture shock.' People are so taken aback by rapid change that they actually go into a state of emotional shock.

In some ways we are in that very state today. Things are changing rapidly in the culture, in politics, in government, in the world markets, in the economy. It seems as if society has lost its footing as we stand on constantly shifting sands. There is no anchor of stability and security, or it would seem.

Except for one thing.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever."

God never changes. His love is constant. His presence is true. His tender care of His children never wavers or fades. If there is any 'hope' in the midst of this 'change,' it is in Christ alone.

Song: 'Yesterday' by the Cathedral Quartet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Very Present Help in Trouble


Psalm 46:1-3

King James Version (KJV)

 1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

 2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
 3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Troubles seem to be multiplying on every hand in modern America. People are out of work and many fear losing their jobs as rumors of more layoffs hit the news this week. For the first time in its history the U.S.'s credit rating was lowered due to the failure of Congress and the President to adequately address the mountain of debt that weighs us down.

This complicates our personal lives. Prices are up everywhere we turn. Fear and hopelessness have set in. Families wonder how they can possibly make ends meet. Uncertainty has infected the entire American landscape.

But, God....

The Bible often uses that term after it describes seemingly hopeless conditions. 'But God....'

With God all things are possible, and in the verses quoted above we are told that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the troubles of life.

So, when you feel overwhelmed, go to God. When you feel hopeless, go to God. When uncertainty overtakes you, go to God. And when you feel all alone and that no one cares or listens to your cries of pain, go to God, for He is listening.

Song: 'He's All I Need' by the Kingsmen Quartet

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Listen for the Sound


Matthew 24:41-43

King James Version (KJV)

 41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
 42Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
 43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

These verses are from Jesus Himself, encouraging His followers to 'watch.' That is, we are to be on the lookout, in great anticipation, for the coming of the Lord to set straight the problems of this world of woe.

One of the things by which music lovers are struck is that most of the songs of the old 'Negro Spirituals,' sung by black slaves, are about the heavenly home, the coming of the Lord, and the setting of the world on the right course in the new heaven and new earth. This was due to the fact that in this present world their existence was no place in which to have any hope. Life was hard and no change was anticipated. So, they set their sights on heaven and the coming of the Lord.

We also find this to be the case with much of the Gospel music white people sang in the early to mid 20th century. Many of these had been hit hard by two world wars and a depression. Life was hard, and they longed for heaven.

It was during this era that a phenomenon arose that came to known as 'the old convention songs' that were common at 'singing conventions and dinner on the grounds' in the south.

The following is a perfect example of one of those songs. And remember, my friend, we have a promise of better days ahead, if not here, then in the life to come!

Song: 'Listen for the Sound' by the fabulous Florida Boys.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1

King James Version (KJV)

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.


God is loving and true, filled with kindness and goodness. This manifests itself in the fact that we flawed human beings, who have sinned against God and our fellow human beings in many ways, are not condemned but stand forgiven in Christ Jesus.

This means that through faith in Christ, there is not a 50% chance that you may be condemned, not even a 40%, 30%, 20%, and not even a mere 10% chance. But there is a ZERO percent chance. 'NO condemnation.'

That means full, complete, free forgiveness and mercy through Christ.

Song: 'Sinner Saved by Grace' by the legendary Cathedral Quartet. I get goosebumps listening to George Younce and Glen Payne on this song. Outstanding.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Don't Work? Then You Don't Eat

2 Thessalonians 3:10

King James Version (KJV)

 10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

In spite of the fact that I suffer from a debilitating condition that could qualify me for disability, I choose instead to work 3 jobs in an attempt to scrap together enough money to maintain my meager existence.

This is my choice, and I do it for a moral, ethical, and spiritual purpose.

I don't believe in living off the government dole. And I believe the Bible when it says that if anyone would not work, then neither should he eat.

That statement alone, if followed in America, would solve 90% of the debt stemming from our entitlement programs which exist only on borrowed money--mainly from China. No, our politicians did not put your SS contributions in a locked box. They robbed it to pay for their out-of-control spending. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are called 'unfunded liabilities' because every single penny that is paid to recipients is borrowed from other nations.

Granted, there are cases where the social safety net serves a valid purpose. If a person absolutely cannot work at all, in any way, then I am not going to begrudge their receiving disability payments. And I do believe that given that all of us are forced to put money into Social Security, the government owes it back to us. The fact that politicians squandered it is not my problem. It is theirs, and realistically, they should be forced to pay for their crimes against the citizens--in jail.

Are there better ways to take care of the sick and needy, and elderly? You bet! And the fact that America is flat broke and is borrowing even trillions more to pay for services will only mean that the day of reckoning is coming when there is no more money to pay to senior adults and the permanently disabled.

What, then?

That is why we need a different plan than we have currently. I have some rather strong views on what is needed, but I will refrain from opining here about that so as to avoid becoming too political on this ministry site.

But just know that according to the God of all the ages, human beings are expected to work for their keep. And those who refuse merely because they don't want to do so should pay the heavy consequence of starving.

Song: 'We'll Work Till Jesus Comes' featuring the Gaither Homecoming Choir and my good buddy, the legendary baritone of The Florida Boys, Glen Allred.