Archive for March, 2008

The Sign From Jesus

Posted: March 20, 2008 in Resurrection
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Jesus drives out the moneychangers John 2:15-19 (NKJV) When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Jesus and PhariseesThe Temple officials dare not lay hands on Jesus, not now with such a multitude, and the Roman garrison close by. They did not even reprove Him, but only asked for a sign as proof of His authority for such actions. In His reply, Jesus knew the ultimate end of this little ‘contest’ between the these self-righteous fools and His Father’s Will. For He knew that their understanding was darkened and their ears stopped up. For the truth is that every “evil and adulterous generation” seeks for a sign from God, yet never changes their ways regardless of any sign given. Even the sign that Jesus would give them would not be enough to soften their hard hearts toward God.

Empty TombForever the only sign that God gives is this: ‘Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Jesus met their challenge with a challenge: Crucify Him, and He would rise again; let them kill Him and He would rise Victorious. Of course they misunderstood and used it against Him at His trial. But the truth remains, this one sign is all that mankind needs for Salvation:


Stiff NeckI am discovering that people living in a rural area usually chose to do so because they are a bit independent. The older ones are especially that way. They don’t like change, they don’t really like to be told what to do. Ones who have been faithfully attending a traditional rural church are used to hearing traditional-style sermons (3 points and a teary story). They don’t mind their hearts being tugged, but they don’t like to think too hard. They prefer a simple moral life. A ‘good’ religion with a few simple rules suits them fine. They can relate to “Thou Shalt Not’s”, because they are easy to understand. Don’t lie, steal, commit adultery is easy for them to do.

I’m not that kind of preacher.

I like the “Thou Shalt” kind of religion. I like it when Paul writes about ‘liberty’ and ‘walking in the Spirit’. I preach the “Gospel of the Kingdom” – the Gospel that produces change in earthly lives and enables us to live according to Christ’s Kingdom Commands. His Kingdom Commands are more “Thou Shalt DO” than thou shalt not (see Matt 5-7). The Pharisees burdened the Jews with so many DON’TS that the Joy of worship was gone. Jesus was all about JOY. He wanted His disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit was available to fill them. The Holy Spirit is the Key to Joy in this Christian Life. The Holy Spirit is the Key to DOING this Christian Life.

Not Traditional Southern Baptist Preaching

StephenI am discovering that this is not “traditional” Southern Baptist teaching. Some are enthusiastically accepting a life of Faith. Alas, some are what I believe God calls “stiff-necked”. Stephen got stoned because he called the Jews “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you! (Acts 7:51).

God said something interesting when he was disgusted with the Jews He had rescued from the slavery of Pharaoh. In Exodus 33:5 God says: For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, Stiffnecked people‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’ ”

Take Off Your Ornaments

These ornaments were the ones lavished upon them by the Egyptians as they were leaving. These were the same golden ornaments which were melted to cast the Golden Calf just days before. Their actions had prompted God to exclaim: Golden OrnamentsAnd the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” (Exodus 32:7-10). God wanted to kill them all, and start over. Now, due to Moses Intervention, He was allowing the people to continue toward the Promised Land, but He did not want to go with them.

God did make one thing very clear however. If they were to go on, they must set those ornaments aside. They must leave them there in the desert.

These ornaments represented their fleshly desires, their fleshly ways. They represented a walk of sight, not a walk of sightless faith. Even though they were slaves in Egypt, they were familiar with all the luxuries the Egyptians possessed. They desired to go back, to go their own way, to go after those things of the flesh. God said NO! If you are to go to the Promised Land, the Land of My Blessing and Victory, you must go according to My leadership and My commands. You cannot bring anything of the flesh or the world with you. Isn’t that what the writer of Hebrews was telling those Jewish Christians thinking of turning back to the world, turning away from God? In Hebrews 12: 1 they are told to “drop the weights and the sins that weigh you down”. These things were keeping them from running the race, from achieving God’s goals. They were told to “Look to Jesus!”

Many Christians are “Stiff-Necked”

The sad truth of many ‘Christians’ is that they are stiff-necked, clinging to a god or a religion that is far from the Life of Liberty in the Spirit of Christ. They are good and moral, but they fear the Walk of Faith. They would rather have their rules and pride in their goodness. They can only see Jesus if He is smack dab in front of them. They cannot turn their neck to follow after Him. But our God is seeking those who will worship in spirit and in truth. God is seeking those who follow after the Holy Spirit, and desire His fullness and His joy. The Christian walk is a walk of Joy because we are doing, we are following Christ, no matter where He leads.

If we do something today because we did it yesterday, that is law. But if we do something to day because the Holy Spirit is leading us, that is grace.

Another thing about stiff-necked Christians-they usually are a pain in the neck. No wonder God wanted to get rid of them. As Moses implored: “Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever.”

Why Did I Have to Kill Her?

Posted: March 4, 2008 in Death, Hell
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Cassie loses an eyeWhyDieLife is full of things we hate to do. But today was especially hated. My daughter reminded me that if the day ever came, I would take Cassie to the vet to be killed. I bought Cassie in 1995. We had just lost a Dachshund named Schmitzy. She had been a beloved member of our family for 11 or 12 years. She had helped raise our kids. They were heartbroken. I acted like it didn’t bother me (I’ve been accused of having no heart by several people). About two weeks later I was driving and saw a pet store and decided to drop in. I came upon the cutest little bundle of white and tan fur I had ever seen. Her eyes melted my heart, and I brought her home. She stole my kids hearts, and mine as well. She had a terrible run-in with one of my daughters dogs over a treat. She never had a chance. Hell Dog 2 tore into Cassie and literally tore her eye from the socket. We tried to save the eye, but soon it was obvious that it was dead. So the vet took the eyeball and sewed her eyelids shut. She never was the same dog after that. My heart was broken seeing her after that. Soon a young man asked for my daughter’s hand in marriage. I said yes on one condition-you must take her dogs, Cassie included.Cassie on a better day

Why are you here Yesterday the call came… Cassie is not doing well.

She was already deaf and her body seemingly racked with arthritis. She couldn’t control her bowels now. Her quality of life was going down rapidly. My daughter reminded me of my promise and I agreed to take her to be killed. I called a vet and I had the choice of being there as she was killed, or simply dropping her off. I dropped her off. Today will be her last day to look outside the car as we go driving down the highway. No more flowers to smell. No more hugs.

Cassie was killed today. She will be cremated. She will be missed. Calling it “euthanasia” doesn’t make it any less painful.

Lydia saysgoodbyeThe ride to the vet was most eerie. She always had a sad expression, but today it seemed sadder than normal. She would hardly look at me. It was as if she knew. After all, she hadn’t seen me in several months. Why would I show up all of a sudden? I dropped her by my wife, so she could say her goodbyes. She cried, as if saying good bye to a close family friend. I suppose Cassie was. She was a part of our family for 13 years.

Cassie refuses to look at meCassie KnowsWhen I told people what I had to do, they would say “That’s terrible!” “You must be heartbroken!” Several remarked how traumatic it was when they had to have a pet killed. As a preacher, I think people are sadder over the death of their pets than they are over the death of someone who dies without coming to Jesus Christ as their Savior. That person will spend the rest of eternity in torment and separation from the Holy, Righteous God who made them. To me that is the saddest thing.

Cassie will be missed. But I would miss not spending eternity with my Creator much more.