A Lonely Voice


How many join you in your calling? Our pastor this morning asked if we had invited many to church. He said this season was an ideal season to call them in, because everyone feels spiritual around the holidays, especially Christmas. He’s not wrong. People do become more sensitive to family issues and holiday traditions around Christmas, because every family has something, many of whom involve going to church. So yes, this is a good time to remind others that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

That said, it can be very lonely being the voice that invites. We have become very sensitive to religious freedom and identity, even the lack of it. Christian itself is consider a hateful religion, especially in the West. So to invite someone to your church can sometime be akin to inviting someone to join the KKK. Ouch!

Is that true in Eastern Kentucky where I abide? Not really. Around here people know church as the place you go to because Mama went and Granny went. And they were holy. Around here church is for the old, and for those who have sown their wild oats and need to get right with God. So they wait until they are nearly dead. I wish I was kidding.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 12. I don’t understand someone waiting until they are old to give themselves to Jesus. I’ve also lived with a sense of duty and guilt; duty because there are things expected of me and guilt because I haven’t done them. There is far more temptation for the Christian who has grown up in it, than one who has lived their whole life apart from it and knows how bad life can be without Jesus. A lifelong Christian is tempted to find the line, while the old convert knows where the line is and vows never cross it again.

Yes, I’m in the former category. I’ve probably given more than one person reason to reject Christianity based on the way I’ve presented it. But I also hope that some few have found Jesus because if something I said or did. I won’t know until I get there. Until then, it can feel pretty lonely on the journey. May I encourage you by saying you are not alone? Not only is Jesus with you, but every other believer is with you, including me. We are not alone, and we are stronger together. Your voice is not the only voice in this wilderness announcing Jesus is coming. God is using each voice to shepherd the lost to Himself.

May God bless you today.

Called Forth


Taking on the mantle of leadership from Moses was a Herculean responsibility. It was going to take strength of will and spirit to tackle the Israelites and form them into a fighting force capable of conquering Canaan. It wasn’t going to be easy. But it was also Joshua’s mission. I cannot stress enough why context is so important. For example, if you positioned yourself on the east bank of the Jordan today and recited to yourself this passage, there is no guarantee God is going to empower you to conquer Canaan again. Seriously. Don’t try it.

Verses have meaning in the time and place they were given, and it is important for us to know what they meant in order for us to know what they mean 3000 years later. I mean, this text was a great encouragement to Joshua. But can we apply this same text to tying my shoes, or going for that job interview, or dealing with difficult people at work? Context is important.

So how do we determine if our circumstances match up? For Joshua, his mission was clear. Clear out Canaan so that Israel would have a place to live. What is our clear mandate from the Lord where He promised to empower us to accomplish it. Has God given us such a commission? He has not called us to go forth and conquer land. But He did call us to go forth and conquer souls. Do you want to experience the power of this text? Go read Matthew 28:18-20. There you will find exactly the same kind of commission that Joshua received on the banks of the Jordan. It possesses the same kind of spiritual empowerment. And every Christian is called to it.

Are you ready to answer the call?

Listed as Safe from the Evil One


Wow. If there was ever s verse needed, it’s this one. Do you need a verse that guarantees your divine protection from the diabolos? The Evil One? The Devil? I know I don’t talk much about him here, so maybe a few words would be helpful.

I was talking a few days ago to an individual who remarked that God and Satan are the same person. Why? Because they are both blamed for the same things. Cancer. Catastrophes. Calamity. Either or both are often blamed. I get that. I’ve heard it. If a child dies, did God take it or did Satan poison it? Did God make that choice, Or the devil.

Christians have wrestled with these issues for hundreds of years. We still struggle with them. I believe that is on purpose. God demands that despite all we think about why bad things happen to good people, we have to practice faith in His Word. Science and philosophy are not going to help us. This is a region where faith in what God says and faith in the nature of a kind and loving God comes in. He calls us to this faith despite our emotions and our natural anger. Will we believe in Him even when it doesn’t make sense?

It seems Satan’s work is on the rise. The first three verses of 2 Timothy 3 are becoming more relevant with each passing day. How can we hope that God is still protecting us? Try to imagine a world where God didn’t protect us. Which world is worse?

I know by faith that God and the Evil One are not the same. God is good. And I believe good is stronger than evil. Because I believe God is stronger than Satan. To say otherwise is to imagine that Satan is co-equal with God. Satan did not and will never die for me. Satan has no love in his heart for anything but himself. Satan corrupts good people. If I as a human being can know right from wrong, to know the difference, then there is a difference. If I know that there is a good so good that I can never achieve it, how can I possibly know it? Surely there is a good God who gave that insight to me. In my heart, I want good to overcome evil. Why do I want that? Where did it come from? I believe it comes from a good God who placed that in me, because I am made in His image.

This worldview requires faith. It cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. Science nor philosophy is equipped to do this. It must be understood by faith. Fortunately, it is built into us to receive this by faith, because we are made in God’s image. A fact I also know by faith. Convincing others cannot and never will be accomplished through proofs and theorems. But it comes through lives changed, families healed and hope offered.

I apprehend by faith that God will protect me from the evil one. May God protect you today.

Great Commission


Do you have life-goals? One of mine to to meet my grandfather. He died several years before I was born, in 1961. Never got the chance to meet him. But my grandfather became a Christian later in life, and someday when I die, I will get a chance to meet him.

To do that, I’ve got to make sure that I’ve followed God’s will to the best of my ability, and pray for His grace to be applied to the rest. There’s a lot.

So what is God’s will? Did you read the verse above? That’s the first part of the Great Commission. That’s what God wants from us. That’s what He wants us to do. He wants us to make disciples out of all the nations, all the peoples of the earth, all the languages, cultures, ethnicities, everywhere. Once one is reached in each, more can be won. Then we follow discipleship with baptism. We are are baptism into the One Name, because this is the source of our unity among such diversity of peoples. We are all saved by the same God, through the same blood and filled by the same Spirit. We are saved in Jesus. And this One Name is all Three in One, the Triunity of God.

What follows is the teaching, everything that Jesus commanded the Apostles to pass on to the Body of Christ. This is the will of God, that the whole world would be saved through His Name. It’s a big job, but we have an even greater God to work it out. We have but to plant the seeds, and God gives the increase.

What seeds of discipleship can you plant today?

Unlimited Power


What great mission would you apply yourself to if you had unlimited resources? See the world? Explore deep space? Explore the oceans?

And how would you gauge what would be a greater mission, or more important mission? Greater benefit for more people? Greater benefit for you and your family? Greater benefit for science?

The fact it we have been given a very important mission, and we have been given unlimited resources to complete it. It is the mission to the world, to broadcast the saving message of Jesus Christ. And our unlimited resources are God Himself, dwelling within us and empowering us to do our part in the mission. Sound intimidating? It is. But it is the best mission to benefit the most people for all eternity. Interested?

I blasphemed in church tonight!!

I blasphemed in church tonight!!

— Read on riproarghol.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/i-blasphemed-in-church-tonight/

This contains some echoes of some my own thoughts and frustrations. In order to move evangelism into the church and away from the front lines, we’ve moved the front lines to the church pew, and let go of the church’s responsibility to edify the saved. When our music and our preaching are solely for the purpose of making new Christians, we end up saying the same things every week. And it is all milk and not solid food. It is a frustrating position for mature Christians.

Mere Foolishness


I had the opportunity over the weekend to witness a rare sight, a street preacher in Williamsburg, VA, standing in the middle of the street with a couple of signs declaring God’s position on several key social issues. My kids kept asking me if I approved of the guy’s message, because they wanted to know if this was ok by me. I sat with a sense of personal conflict, not knowing how I should feel. On the one hand, this guy was reading Scripture (albeit the parts about God’s displeasure with sin and the judgment for the wicked) and on the other hand I was repulsed by his chosen means to deliver said truth, with an attitude that said “I am not one of you sinners. I am holy and you are not.”

This verse reminds of the crowd’s reaction to the preaching and the preacher. For one man, it was utter bull**** and he told him so. Another danced around the preacher, mocking him while he talked. For many, His preaching was foolishness. And it was amazing to see this happening in the wild. To see this truth in this text playing out in the public forum.

I would have rather seen this man engaging the crowd, using his context in historical Williamsburg, a place where Liberty gained a footing against the tyranny of the British Empire, or the fact he was standing in a marketplace, or simply engaging the crowd with a simple story, to draw in the interest of the crowd before they rejected him outright by his quoting of the darkest parts of Scripture. It just seemed irresponsible to me, taking the dearest, sweetest message of the gospel of Jesus, and turning it into a call for judgment upon the wicked. As Paul writes, it is the message of the cross, the message that Christ died for our sins out of His love for us that the world considers foolish. It is the preaching of God’s great love expending such great sacrifice for the sake of all of us. And then the preaching of that same Christ rising from the dead. Oh the power and glory of God revealed through the preaching of the gospel message. Foolishness? God’s extravagant expenditure seems foolish. Surely atonement is limited only to those who believe, as even some Christians believe. But God’s foolishness is our gain. This is the message that needed to be preached on the streets of Williamsburg, and everywhere.

I know in that audience Saturday there were Christians of all denominations. Non-Christians who had never known Christ, and fallen Christians, so turned-off by he church and its people that their evil came from their hurt and betrayal at the hands of those who claimed to be saved. Of the three groups, these are who I would preach to, those whose vitriol and hatred comes from their hurt. These are the ones that needed God’s grace and love and would have benefitted from a kind word, not one of judgment.

Just my two cents. God bless you today.