"NOW HERE'S A JUICY STORY"
3:19 am cdt
Not too long ago I was teaching a Bible class when I asked this question: "Is it
more righteous to expose sin...or to hide it?" I could tell that the question was really making the class
think. Nobody wanted to answer too quickly, because they know I often present 'trick questions' just for fun,
but finally someone said: "I'd think exposing sin would be the right thing to do...so that it could be properly
dealt with." At this answer, several others in the class nodded their heads in approval. I expected
as much, simply based upon our relgious backgrounds.
"Actually," I said, "According
to the Bible, it is more righteous to 'hide or cover' sin rather than to expose it." Several of those
people suddenly looked a bit sheepish. I understand...I've been there myself. Anyway...
trying to 'get their goat,' as we say in Texas...I was really trying to show them how we oftentimes think...wrongly...according
to our religious traditions. How could something that seems so right on the surface...be so wrong when we dig a little
So...why is it more righteous to hide or cover someone's sin, rather than to expose it?
Because "Love covers a multitude of sins," and "love never fails." In fact, the
last commandment of Christ was to "Love one another as I have loved you." In short, love covers...it
This theme is portrayed so well in a particular Bible story concerning Noah and his three sons...Ham,
Shem and Japeth.
After spending all that time on the Ark, Noah went out and grew a vineyard and
made wine. Soon, he was drunk and ended up naked and passed-out in his tent. Almost any preacher or deacon
would have been tossed out of the Church on their head for such behavior.
Anyway...so the first one to enter the
tent and find Noah in this 'awkward' condition was his son Ham. Instead of feeling embarrassed for his
father, Ham went outside and told his two brother's what their father had done. However, instead of joining in the
condemnation, Shem and Japeth took a blanket and covered their father's nakedness. To make a long story short...Ham
was cursed for his actions and Shem and Japeth were blessed. Why? Because love "covers someone's faults
and failures," it doesn't expose them!
My precious friends, we live in a society that loves a juicy
story...as long as it's on someone else. We've seen how the Paparazzi loves to chase down celebrities and 'catch'
them in revealing or tarished behavior. The sad thing is...it is the public that creates the market for such "exposure"
by the things we buy to read. (Well some people anyway).
What is it about our society that loves to see people
exposed or ruined? I simply can't understand it.
I've watched time and again as one Christian after
another has been "outed or exposed" for some fault or failure, leaving them embarrassed, ridiculed and oftentimes
ruined. It's hard to find the righteousness in that...because their isn't any. Remember, we are supposed
to restore people...not ruin them.
I once ran into a fellow I had known long ago who told me this: "Reydon,"
he began, "I pulled into the parking lot of your Church one day and I saw a woman going into the door wearing shorts!
I simply backed my car out and went home." My first thought was to say, "Brother, if you'd keep
your eyes focused above her waist, you might not have known what she was wearing." I still regret not saying
it. Instead, I simply said: "Brother, this woman has never been in Church in her life until recently.
She loves the Lord and is making incredible progress. She is welcome in this Church anytime...period."
He simply shook his head and walked away. Oh well.
My precious brothers and sisters...we must never become
like Ham. (Not the meat, but Noah's son). We must never be guilty of exposing someone's sin in order to create
a scandal. It might seem like the right thing to do at the moment, but trust me...it's not. It doesn't
mean you condone it...it just means that your love for them is greater than their sin. That's the Jesus way.
"Where sin abounds...grace outruns it!" The Bible says.
I have learned that people are very
frail. Even the Bible says, "God remembers that we're dust." The fact that we are so weak means
that inevitably we will fail...and fail often. My hope is that love is there to catch us...instead of shame, ridicule,
finger-pointing and so forth.
Just a thought.
I love you all,
"WHEN TO LET GO OF UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS"
1:59 am cdt One of the most difficult decisions we have to make in our lives is when to let go of someone
who is no longer healthy for us.
There was a time when Jesus preached a sermon about "eating His
body and drinking His blood," in order to have eternal life. Of course we now know that He was speaking about
"Communion," but many of those who heard this sermon were (not surprisingly), shocked and maybe even disgusted.
The result was, that many of them turned away and never followed Jesus again.
The interesting aspect of
this story to me, is what Jesus did afterward...He let them go. He did not chase them down...He did not beg for forgiveness...He
did not allow their leaving to hinder Him or break Him.
Realizing that these followers were only faithful as long
as He preached things that fit into their own desires, Jesus refused to change His message to keep them. I can tell
you from experience that when people get angry with your message or convictions...it's so tempting to change it in order
to keep them, but to do so is to sell your soul.
Another story that comes to mind is the betrayal of Jesus by Judas
Iscariot. Realizing that Judas was going to betray Him, Jesus did not beg nor plead for Judas to stay...rather
He told him, "What you're going to do...do quickly." He let him go. Was Jesus sad?
Enormously. Was He willing to sell His soul to keep him? No.
My point is, if Jesus was unable
or unwilling to keep certain relationships intact...we should follow His example.
There are times
in our lives when certain relationships are costing much more than their adding. So often in some relationships, abuse
slowly sets in, whether verbal, mental or physical...or manipulation becomes the controlling force rather than love and sacrifice.
In these cases, instead of providing love, honor, kindness and security...these relationships slowly begin to steal our
peace, joy, trust and hope. The cost becomes more than we can pay.
Instead of feeling the bountiful rewards
of a healthy and loving relationship, we feel drained, used and empty. To continue to hold onto these relationships
can literally mean the death of a very important part of ourselves...our inner integrity and strength.
years ago, some of my best friends were having great difficulty with their youngest son. He was a teenager determined
to live life by his own rules and became very abusive to this couple. Although they loved him greatly, the day came
when they gave him a choice. Either live by their rules or leave home. He left. Soon afterward they came
to see Sharla and I and we cried with them and encouraged them. After a couple of months on his own, this young man
came home...his head bowed and his "hat in his hand," as we say in Texas. He was more than happy to live by
the house rules.
Still, to this day, my friends would tell you that watching their son walk out their door
was one of the hardest moments of their lives...but it was necessary.
Another couple, who are also dear friends,
had their son get into very serious trouble. In a moment's time he was taken away from them and placed in Juvenile
Prison, where he remains to this day. One day they came to me, broken and stressed because they did not know what to
do for him. With as much love and compassion as I could, I told them that he was right were he needed to be and that
they could not pay for his mistakes. I literally saw a sense of peace come upon their faces as they realized they could
let him go...and although they couldn't care for him any longer...God still would. Today they are doing wonderfully.
I've also been witness to countless divorces as I'm sure you have. In many of these cases the person
who decides to leave does so for legitimate reasons such as physical abuse or adultery...but oftentimes, they leave totally
out of selfish ambition.
It's so easy at these times to beg and plead...willing to do anything within our power
to keep that person with us...but more times than not, they leave anyway. If they do stay, it is usually temporary and
with great bitterness.
So what does the Bible say to do in these cases? Paul said, "If an unbeliever
departs...LET THEM DEPART, you are not held in bondage in such cases." In other words...if someone is determined
to leave the marriage, Paul instructs us to let them go and that God will not hold us to our marriage vows in these events.
Why? Because it not's your fault and therefore, in God's judgment, not liable.
As a Pastor for many
years, I've watched a number of people come in and go out of our doors. I can tell you that it's extremely painful
for me to lose people, especially when they leave in anger or under divisive circumstances. Who is right or wrong in
such circumstances is often of little consequence to the emotions...but in the end, there is no choice but to let them go.
In the end, God will determine and judge motive.
In a perfect world we would all be able to maintain healthy and
prosperous relationships without any problems. Sadly, that world does not exist for us presently. So often we
are left with only one choice...letting go.
I'm not sure who I'm writing to here, but let me just finish
by giving you a few questions you ought to ask yourself if you're contemplating ending a relationship.
Is this relationship stealing my peace and joy?
2. Do I feel pain when I think about this person?
Is this relationship keeping me from positive spiritual growth?
4. Would keeping this relationship mean giving
up my own convictions?
5. Would keeping this relationship mean submitting myself to continual manipulation?
6. Do I continually feel as though I have to "fight" to keep this relationship?
7. Does the other
person often threaten leaving?
8. Does the other person often voice unhappiness or dissatisfaction with the relationship?
9. Finally...and most importantly...are these problems because of them...or YOU?
If these problems
are because of you...you should get counseling and change. If they are not because of you...it might be time to seriously
consider moving on.
If you'd like to ask me private questions concerning your relationships, I'll be happy
to answer them through e-mail...to the best of my ability.
I love you all and I'm praying for you,
"LEAVE ALL YOUR GUILT"
1:35 pm cdt
First of all...HAPPY EASTER! Wow, what a wonderful story...the story of how God sent the Holy Spirit
into that tomb of death, despair and hopelessness to resurrect the crucified Son of God! Not only did He raise Him forever
from the dead...but swore by His own Name that He would also do the same for all who would believe in Jesus.
Jesus has experienced "His Easter," you and I still have that glorious experience forthcoming. Think about
these words of the Apostle Paul: "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you...He who
raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit that dwells in you!"
This tells us that "Our Easter," has yet to happen...but will!!! Although I have precious loved one's
whose bodies rest in the cemetery...those bodies will NOT remain there...the Holy Spirit will not allow that, no more than
He allowed the body of Christ to remain in that dark tomb. Yes, it's true, their spirits are with Christ in Heaven...but
they will soon return to their bodies...renewed one's...one's that will never die again...sustained by the Power of
Life...the Love of God.
Paul also teaches us that when the Trumpet of God sounds, all the "Dead in Christ,"
will arise to meet their spirits in the air. Those of us who are alive, will instantly be changed into immortals...Our
Easter will be a reality! Pretty mind-boggling huh?
Although it's our tendency to think of Easter only
in terms of History, I pray that this Easter will find you eagerly anticipating your very own Easter...when God will do for
you...what He did for His only Begotten...give you a new body...incorruptible, undefiled and eternal!
being said, I want to share with you some of the most profound lyrics I've ever heard from Ronnie Hinson. These
are the words to his song "Mercy Built A Bridge."
"IN A LOWLY CATTLE STABLE IN BETHLEHEM,
THERE WERE SIGNS OF NEW CONSTRUCTION ON A MIGHTY SPAN...
...THAT IN THE HEART'S OF ALL THE LOST
CAST A SHADOW OF A CROSS
CAUSE' THAT BABE IN MARY'S CRIB
WOULD SOON BE MERCY'S BRIDGE
HOPE WAS JUST ACROSS THE RIVER ON HEAVEN'S SIDE,
BUT WE WERE MUCH TOO WEAK TO SWIM, WITH NO BOAT TO RIDE
MADE A WAY THAT COULDN'T FAIL
A WOODEN CROSS...THREE RUSTY NAILS
ON CALVARY'S RUGGED RIDGE, MERCY BUILT
NOW WE CAN CROSS, BUT WE MUST CROSS THE CALVARY WAY
THAT LEAD'S FROM NIGHT UNTO THE BRIGHTEST
WHERE JESUS DIED SO THAT YOU AND I COULD LIVE
LEAVE ALL YOUR GUILT, FOR MERCY BUILT A BRIDGE."
Although it's so easy to view the death of Christ as only a ransom for our sins...it is much more.
It was also the key to the promise of our very own Easter.
The other day I attended a birthday party for one of
my favorite people...my Uncle Bill Lambert who turned 103. As I greeted him he smiled and said, "Jesus is coming
for us, you know!" It was an anointed and powerful statement...one of the best sermon's I've heard
in a while to be honest, and it was only one sentence. I can't help but dream of that glorious day when his broken
and used body will experience it's Easter. No more tears, no more death, no more pain, no more old age...no more
longing for Jesus to come back.
My precious friends...leave all your guilt behind you today...mercy has built a
bridge for us to cross into eternal life. As I said, Easter is often celebrated only as a Historic event...may you and
I celebrate this Easter as a powerful promise for our eternal future!
I love you all,
"THAT SAVED A WRETCH...LIKE WHO?"
12:38 am cdt
For most Christian's, these words have become a historic anthem of the salvation of Christ.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me...I once was lost, but now I am found, was
blind but now I see."
Almost anyone who has attended a Christian Church within the last 200 years, has
heard the words of this beautiful and melodic classic hymn. Written in 1772 by Englishman, John Newton...these
humble words came to fruition while Newton was aboard a slave-ship. The inspiration in such a setting is obvious.
Although this song is a beautiful and wonderful reflection of God's mercy and grace, (exhibited when He sent His
Son to save us from destruction), it is also a reflection of the false pride that often follows a conversion. Let me
explain what I mean.
I personally believe that "Amazing Grace" was written to forever be a reminder
of the horrible place of loneliness and longing that was once our home...before Christ plucked us from the stormy seas of
"I once was lost, but now I'm found," describes perfectly the difference
between knowing or not knowing Jesus. At least that's been my experience. Before I knew Christ, my life
was a never-ending series of fruitless attempts to find meaning, purpose and direction in life. I admit that I have
tasted many of the fruits this world has to offer, searching for anything that would make me feel like I actually "belonged
to humanity," only to find them empty of lasting value or sustaining pleasure. Although there was pleasure in the
moment...the come-down was harsh, gray and lonely. Instead of filling that "deep dark hole" within me...it only
grew more vast and dreary.
Although I realize my Christian experience is, indeed my own...I must say that being
rescued from my "aimlessness" by Jesus Christ was the best thing that ever happened to me...because it gave my life
purpose. It explained where I came from, why I was created and revealed to me that there was, in fact, a real plan for
my life and future. In a word, Christ gave me "direction." I once was lost, but now I'm found...yes...it
explains me perfectly.
The danger however, is that many people who find Christ, suddenly forget the "being
lost and wretched part" and arrogantly parade the fact that "...now I see." Instead of feeling overwhelming
compassion for those yet to be "rescued," they snidely look down their noses into the waters below and shout, "Hey
you sinner, you adulterer, you alcoholic, you liar, you thief, you sexual deviant, you mean and onery person...if you don't
change you're going straight to Hell!"
It is this hypocritical attitude that has turned many 'chilly
hearts' into frozen ones. Instead of reaching out with hands of understanding and compassion, many Christian's
look down their pointing fingers at others, condemning them for being in the same mess, they themselves have been
rescued from. The Pharisee's would be proud.
You'd think...by listening to some Christian's,
that they did, in fact save themselves, rather than being rescued from their hopeless life by the mercy and grace of God.
Although it's great to be thankful for our salvation...we should never forget that "He saved us...we did not save
ourselves." Neither can anyone else, so accusing or condemning others for being lost is self-deception and
foolishness at it's worst.
I grow weary of Christian teachings and doctrine's that seem to flow from the
'lofty perches of self-righteousness down to the wretched sinner's below.' Isn't it more "truthful"
to share the gospel of Christ from "beside the lost," rather than from "above them?" Would it be
right to have a convicted murderer, suddenly promoted to Judge so he could look down on others and send them to prison or
It just seems to me that somewhere along the line, many Christian's have forgotten what it's
truly like to be...lost. We can hide behind fervent preaching, teaching, knowledge, massive political influence, Church
attendance and tithing...but nothing can hide us from our past...we were once lost and wretched. To believe otherwise
insults the brutal and excruciatingly painful sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
How often do some Christian's
look out of their stain-glassed windows into the World and despise those on the outside? Ashamedly, more often than
any of us would want to admit.
Sadly, such hypocrisy blinds these Christian's, while it is clearly evident to the
rest of the World.
What the Church of Jesus Christ needs desperately...is revival. It begins by having the
courage to stop shouting at the World long enough to take a long, hard look into the mirror...looking beyond our "slick
and painted outer coat," to see the struggling image of our painful past...wrapped in our filthy rags. The Church
needs a revival of humility.
I love you all,
"WARNING: GELOTOL CAN HAVE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS"
3:31 am cst
Alright, I admit it! I used the above heading to 'lure' you into reading this article.
I learned this "suggestive behavior" from my ten years as a Radio Announcer and Advertising Executive. (He said
But...it is true.
So what in the World is "Gelotol?" It is the
Greek word meaning laughter...and the study of laughter is called "Gelotology."
As I said, Gelotol can
have serious side effects upon your body...VERY HEALTHY AND GOOD SIDE EFFECTS...SERIOUSLY!!! According to research,
laughter is very healthy for the heart as it battles Cortisol...that nasty stress hormone that can lead to heart-attacks and
Laughter is also known to decrease blood sugar, thereby reducing your chances of Diabetes! Laughter
is also known to relax your blood vessels allowing for greater flow of blood throughout your body and therefore greater oxygen
intake...fighting aging, disease and improving the immune system!
Laughter can also be used as a way to improve
your health and vitality...reduce fat and strengthen muscles, much like a strong work-out! Laughter is also linked to
healthy sleep and rest as it reduces stress and helps people relax.
Now...as Christian's, many of us have been
raised to believe that Holiness and Piety were strong enemies of laughter and jesting. I firmly disagree. Christian's
who tend to take everything "too seriously," also tend to worry and stress...both of which we are commanded 'NOT'
to do in the Bible. I hate to admit it, but sometimes Christian's can be the most un-happy people in the World.
This is a tragedy.
I think we should always remember that God did not create us to fret, worry, cry and be depressed.
He created us for the Garden of Eden and joy! It should be our very nature to laugh, sing, dance, embrace, and love...all
of which produce enormous joy...and joy produces peace.
Did you know that Comedians are some of the highest paid
entertainer's in the world? It's true! People are desperate to laugh and will pay big money to get the
The first step to "Laughter Therapy" is to develop a "Sense of Humor." It's
sometimes hard to do because it means that we have to choose not to take others...the World...and especially ourselves so
seriously. Although it's true that some people are more 'pre-disposed' toward the serious-side of life,
I believe that all people can learn how to overcome being too serious and learn how to find humor in most of life's circumstances.
It is extremely important! Why? Because "The Joy of the Lord is our strength!" That means when
you're sad...you're weak...and when you're weak things just get worse. Therefore, we should view joy and
laughter as a weapon against Satan and the evil in the World...not just mere foolishness.
Now I admit that finding
humor is some things (or situations) is not easy...but it's there, even if you have to look really hard sometimes to find
it. For example:
Has your wife left you? Then sing the old song, "Thank God and Greyhound
She's Gone!" You have to admit, it's better than "You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille!"
Have you found yourself in a mess of personal failure and regret? Then bellow out the words to the song,
"I'm Just An Old Chunk of Coal, But I'm Gonna Be A Diamond Someday!"
I think you get the
point. Laughter is healthy and...fun! Sorrow is usually accompanied by fear, doubt, hopelessness, stress and continual
grief...none of which are healthy emotions over the long-run.
Finally...once you develop a sense of humor and learn
to laugh...don't let anyone steal it from you. The World is full of Sour-Grapes, but you don't have to drink
their bitter wine.
My precious friends, the reality is...at the end of the story of our life here on Earth...all
our sorrows will be turned to joy! The end of the story is...we live "happily" ever after! If that's
true, don't let the temporary setbacks and frustrations of today...steal your knowledge of the final Victory in Christ.
I love you all, and I hope you all come down with a very nasty case of Gelotol!
"GAS AT $5.00 PER GALLON?"
3:17 pm cst
In these times of great uncertainty in the World, it is easy for us to become frightened and
anxious, wondering if we are going to be swallowed up in darkness and despair. Anyone who has been to the gas pump in
the last week knows what I'm talking about.
There is also legitimate news that all other conventional products
such as groceries will also greatly increase in price as these companies pass their own fuel costs onto the
The result is that the economy is turning out to be a big issue...if not the biggest issue in
this year's Presidential elections due to people's fears that hard financial times are ahead.
I admit that
as a Father, Husband and "Bread-winner," for my own family, I get as concerned as the next guy about the financial
climate we find ourselves in. Yet...
...at the end of the Day, we find Jesus saying: "Do not worry
about food, clothing or any such thing," (I'm paraphrasing), "For your Heavenly Father feeds the sparrow's
and clothes the fields...and you are of much more value than they are."
What Jesus is saying here is...quit
worrying about your livelihood! God knows the prices of things and He will take care of us...even if gasoline goes to
$5.00 per gallon or $100.00 dollars per gallon! I know that sounds a bit "far fetched," but I want you to
consider something. Imagine if your Great Grandparents were to come back to discover what you and your family spend
on basic living expenses in an average month. They would be absolutely shocked. If someone told them back
in their day that it would take that much money to live...they'd have thought it impossible. But live we do.
The same will be true in the future.
Yesterday during my Sunday Sermon I asked the congregation if they knew who
the richest person in the World was. Some said Bill Gates, while a few other names were mentioned. I responded
by saying, "No, it's not Bill Gates...it's YOU!" Your Heavenly Father owns the entire Universe and
has given it as an inheritance to His Children...including YOU!" No wonder He tells us not to worry. After
all, Our Heavenly Father is so wealthy, He uses solid gold to pave streets with!
We humans have such a tendency
to worry about the future, rather than boldly moving forward without fear, knowing that our God is the same God who delivered
the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage with one 80 year old man and the old man's walking stick! He is the
same God who delivered the 3 Hebrew Children from the burning furnace without even the smell of smoke upon their clothes.
He is the same God who calmed storms, healed the sick and raised the dead...and that God...is YOUR Father! Did I mention
He created the whole Universe in Six Days?
My precious friends, I learned a long time ago that Faith is founded
in trust. Trust is when we place our lives into the hands of God...our Father, essentially saying, "Without You
I can do nothing!" Fear on the other hand says, "Oh, God...what am I gonna do???" We are called
to live in faith...not fear.
Isn't it interesting that of all God's species...humans are the only one's
who deal with money? God takes care of the birds...and all other animals...and we don't see birds applying for jobs,
selling land, or buying nests. They are free from this horrible burden. We must remember that it is MAN and not
God who instituted the need for money out of greed.
I can never forget the story in the Bible regarding Jesus...Peter
and taxes. Peter comes to Jesus greatly concerned about a tax debt and Jesus says:
A: Well Peter, you'd better get a job in a hurry or we're in deep trouble!
B: Well Peter, looks like we're gonna have to shut down the ministry and
find "real jobs."
Oh my gosh Peter, I don't know what we're gonna do!
Peter, take a fishing rod and catch a fish. The first one you catch will have a gold coin in it's mouth and that
will be enough to pay both your taxes and mine.
The answer is D.
It is the most far-fetched, but it's the truth. God can make gold appear...just when we need it the most.
So...my precious friends...let's face today and tomorrow with
great faith and peace knowing that our Heavenly Father has us covered.
love you all,