NASCAR

Washington D.C. clearly heard the gospel that day. President Obama and the first lady heard it too.

The preacher’s claim to fame wasn’t a pulpit in a mega church, but a NASCAR driver.

I don’t watch NASCAR. But I have heard of Darrell Waltrip. His arrogance, passion, aggression, and desire to win made him one of the most disliked drivers on and off the track.

His beautiful, godly wife for 45 years stuck with him, prayed for him, and gave him Bible verses to put in his car as he drove.

Darrell accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and his life was dramatically transformed.

As he concluded his 28 minute talk at the National Prayer Breakfast, the verse he left everyone thinking about was Proverbs 18:10.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10

This verse echoes in my mind two days later since watching the video. Darrell Waltrip knew personally what it means to run to the Lord Jesus, the strong tower of salvation, find the safety of his salvation, and have his life transformed.

His message? Good guys go to hell if they don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Only those who accept Jesus go to heaven. You can be a “Good Ole Boy,” but without a relationship with Jesus Christ and you will go to hell.

If you have 28 minutes, watch it HERE.

JESUS!

I confess:  Jesus is Lord! Jesus is God come in a real body. Jesus lived a perfect life. Jesus was born of a virgin. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for sin.  Jesus is the only source of forgiveness before God. Jesus is alive. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is coming back again. All will be reconciled in Jesus. All his enemies will be made His footstool.

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO JESUS IS!  IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS!

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 1 John 4:1-2 ESV

Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, who is God come in the flesh!

But there are many false prophets. There are those who:

1. Deny Him outright.

2. Claim he was an important prophet, but less than The Christ.

3. Say he is the Christ but redefine the terminology of the Bible.

4. Put Jesus in a long list of many legitimate ways to get to heaven.

5. Make Jesus a footnote to prosperity, health, and positive living.

6. Portray Jesus as “a” god who was really just an angel that became a man.

7. Label those who stand as salt and light in a decaying and dark world of sin as “hate-mongers.”

I’m sure there are other ways to get around not confessing that Jesus is the The Christ from God.

But, did you recognize these descriptions?

1. Atheism. 2. Islam. 3. Mormonism. 4. Universalism. 5. Some popular writers and preachers. 6. Jehovah Witnesses. 7. American “Political Correctness” or “Tolerance.”

Jesus is God. Jesus is Lord! One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as LORD!

Our Father, thank-you for sending Your holy, unique, perfect Son JESUS. The enemy wants to destroy His followers just as Jesus predicted. We confess Him today as Lord!

My Dad Prechs

He handed me his drawing. It was a stick man standing behind a crudely drawn pulpit. Odd shaped circles dotted the area around the pulpit with two eyes and a smile in each “head.” Above the doodled drawing he penciled uneven letters made by a child, “My dad prechs.”

So I said, “Son, you should wait until you take art lessons to draw this picture.”

Or did I say, “Boy, this is substandard, what are they teaching you at school anyway! Don’t you know how to spell?!”

Of course, I didn’t say any of those things! Rather, I glowed with admiration. I knelt down and gave him a manly hug. I framed it and put it up in my office. It is one of my prized possessions still today even though it happened in the 1980s at a little church in Bradley, Arkansas.

Why? I knew his motive. I knew his heart. The innocent love and admiration of a little boy for his dad trumped any imperfections in the work of art!

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:2-3 ESV

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Paraphrase: My son’s drawing seemed pure in his own eyes, but his Dad weighs his spirit. He committed his drawing to his dad. His plan was established, still hanging on his Dad’s wall!

I believe that if we go to God with our great plans, expecting Him to bless them, tell us how great we are for “thinking them up” and ask Him to put His stamp of approval on them, then we have become presumptive and He will certainly not bless them.

But I also believe that if we commit ourselves to the Lord, submit our minds, hearts, and skills to Him, and ask Him to guide every step we take in seeking to do His will, He will bless it. If we will saturate a decision with prayer first, make sure our motives are godly, and earnestly want to do it God’s way, He will guide.

Many times I’ve prayed, even agonized over a situation, asking God for a direction, but not receive a plan or a prescribed action. Yet, I had to walk into that situation totally dependent on His guidance in the moment.

In Joshua 3 (read it HERE) the people crossed the Jordan River at time the river overflowed its banks. But not until the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant STOOD IN THE WATER did the Jordan stop flowing!

Instead of asking God to bless our plans, we must give ourselves totally to God and ask Him to bless His plans using us in the process.

There’s a fine line there somewhere! But, oh, let us be sure we are on the God-side of that line!

Our Father, thank-you for Your promise to establish plans which we commit to do with the right spirit of honoring You. Examine our hearts that we may proceed to do Your work with pure motives.

I Know What You’re Thinking

Well-known baseball player, coach, and manager, Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”

When athletes say things to intimidate their opponent, “He’s trying to get into his head.”

Every action by a person is first a thought. Behind every thought is a motive or attitude that produced that thought.

Athletes know that if they can “mess” with their opponents’ thoughts, motives, or attitudes, it can affect their performance and they can have an advantage over their opponent.

“Your attitude determines your altitude.” (John Maxwell)

I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

In Jeremiah 17, God sees the idolatry of Judah. Because of their sin, God says He will give their wealth to their enemies. (vv.1-4)

Because they trusted in man, they will be like a shrub in the desert. But those who trust in the Lord are like a tree planted by water which is green and fruitful. (vv. 5-8)

The heart of a man is deceitful, sick, and difficult to understand. (v. 9) But the Lord knows our hearts and will respond according to our true motives and the deeds it produces. (v.10)

When we placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, God placed His Holy Spirit in us. Now we have power over our old deceitful heart. The old nature of sin no longer has to be our motivation.

God cannot be deceived. He’s already “in our head.” The Pharisees thought they could obey the rules they made for themselves, but Jesus said their hearts were far from God.

Since our actions originate from our thoughts, motives, and attitudes, we are to constantly seek transformation by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:1-2)

God is saying, “I know what you’re thinking.”

Our Father, thank-you for Your presence in our lives! Renew our minds that our actions may please and honor You.

I’m a Bicyclist

I’m a bicyclist.

  • How often do you ride? Well, I don’t actually ride.
  • What’s your favorite kind of riding? I don’t know, I rode a bike once when I was a kid.
  • Are you part of a group or club that rides together? I’ve seen them, but don’t like to be around them.
  • What kind of bicycle do you have? Well, I don’t own one.

I’m a follower of Jesus.

  • How often do you talk to Him? Well, I don’t actually pray.
  • What’s your favorite way of serving Him? I don’t know, I used to go to church with grandma.
  • What church are you involved in? I’ve seen a lot of church buildings, but I don’t like being around those people.
  • What kind of follower of Jesus are you? Well, I don’t “follow” Him, but I’m going to heaven when I die!

I’m absolutely convinced salvation is by God’s grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ alone. No amount of works, good deeds, church attendance, or study courses can save someone.

I’m also absolutely convinced salvation produces results, fruit, transformation, a changed life, a perseverance, and a growth in obedience to Christ.

For someone to say they are saved and secure based on walking an aisle decades ago, yet for all those decades there has been no fruit or evidence of a changed life motivated by loving Jesus, was there really a transformation back then?

Yes, I believe in the security of the believer in salvation, but being a believer will have evidence of being a believer!

I love this promise:

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one. John 10:28-30

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I believe without a doubt that Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton exist and are holding or have held the office of President of the United States.  But I don’t have a personal relationship with any one of them.

Many people say they believe in Jesus, but don’t have a personal relationship with Him as Lord, Master, Boss, Leader, Owner, or God.  I fear many have an intellectual ascent to knowing Jesus, but do not know Him in a personal relationship that shapes their life.

So, yes, the believer is secure in Christ! But first, one must be born again spiritually. When a baby is born then a living, growing, breathing, feeding, and eventually walking are obvious.

Some will come before Jesus saying, “Lord, Lord, …” But Jesus will say to them, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Matthew 7:21-23

Our Father, please bring those who think they know you, but don’t, to a life-changing relationship with You through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank-you for the security you give us in our relationship with You in salvation!

Spoiler Alert!

“Spoiler Alert!” – a term to describe when crucial elements of a movie are about to be revealed (i.e. the ending, character, deaths, a twist, etc.) UrbanDictionary.com

Mystery! Don’t you love it when a TV show or movie keeps you guessing and wondering where its going and then finally it reveals the secret, releases the tension, and resolution happens!?

The mystery of how God is going to bring together all the elements of prophecy in the end times keeps us fascinated and hypothesizing. God’s people who lived before Christ had the same fascination and hypothesizing about who the Messiah would be and what he would do.

Many believed he would be a King David on steroids. He would conquer the world and make Israel a world power. But they were dead wrong!

The word mystery is often used in the New Testament. It comes from the similar sounding Greek word mysterion. It means hidden thing, secret, mystery; generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals. BlueLetterBible.org

Spoiler Alert! The mystery is revealed … wait for it … in the Gospel! That’s right, when you see the word mystery in the New Testament, see it revealed in the birth, life, death, resurrection, RETURN!, and eternal reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The mystery is God come in the flesh. Who could have imagined that!? A man fully God, and God fully man! Wow! The mystery? It’s Jesus! Its HIM! Praise the Lord, the secret is out.

And for the future? What is the answer to the mystery of the end times? Well, again, it is Jesus. God will bring everything under His authority. He fulfills all righteousness.  He resolves all questions!  In Jesus Christ the Son of God and Him alone God reveals the mystery!

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ – everything in heaven and on earth. Ephesians 1:9-10 NLT

Our Father, thank-you that with all the tension, unanswered questions, and sin and cruelty this world offers, we are assured with complete confidence that You will resolve it all perfectly in Jesus Christ!

Wasted Time & Energy

Last week I used a sharp knife to cut an apple. I rinsed the knife in hot water. I used  a paper towel to firmly wipe the blade. One of my fingertips got a little too close to the blade and it nicked the surface of my skin. I felt it immediately. The cut was so shallow, it took a full minute before a drop of blood oozed to the surface.

First, it amazed me the sharp edge sliced the paper towel and my skin so quickly and easily. It startled me.

Second, I felt pretty stupid for such a silly mistake since I grew up in a meat market handling sharp knives, especially with a Dad who constantly reminded me of the proper handling of a knife.

My Dad always impressed me that he could sharpen a knife so efficiently.  He would carefully draw the knife back and forth on a whetstone at just the right angle alternating each side of the blade.

Then he used a “steel” or honing rod. With a few quick flicks of the wrist he could put a fine edge on it in seconds. (Click HERE to see photo.)

Testing the sharpness came next. He stuck out his left arm. With the knife in his right hand, he carefully placed the blade on his left arm and made a brief shaving motion. If a couple of hairs flicked off effortlessly, then it was sharp!

The few minutes it took to sharpen the blade saved many minutes in work time later, not to mention the physical energy wasted and slowed work pace if he had continued to use a dull blade. (Click HERE to learn how to sharpen a knife properly.)

Living life without regularly reading, meditating on, studying, applying, and memorizing God’s word will waste a lot of time, energy, money, and life itself.

  • Are you using the sharp knife of God’s insightful word or the dull knife of this world’s wisdom?
  • Are you allowing the sharp sword of God’s word to pierce deeply into your heart, mind, and soul?
  • Are you permitting God’s word to affect your motives, emotions, regrets, worries, and intentions?
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Are you willing and ready to have your innermost thoughts and desires surgically examined by your Creator? He already knows what they are! Are you courageous enough to see them for what they are too?

Our Father, thank-you for your sharp, holy, inspired word in the Bible. We commit today to read, study, and apply it to our lives.

 

Now That’s Peace of Mind!

At least once a year we had a round-up. Our family and friends saddled our horses. We rode together to the back of the barbed wire cow pastures. Gradually the cattle grouped themselves together.

We slowly drove them through the pastures toward our destination, the corral. As the pasture narrowed leading to the small corral, an occasional cow panicked and made a run for it.

This was the fun part. I would get to gallop my horse full speed to bring the cow back to the herd.

Once the cows were in the corral, the real work began. My Dad vaccinated some. Sometimes he sprayed them with a mixture that repelled the flies.

But then came the time to let some go back to the pasture and keep others for the “Sale Barn” where they would be auctioned.

The test of courage came next. My Dad would unlock the gate. “Denny, stand here.” I did. Then he would slowly rotate the cattle around the corral.

The only thing that kept these 300 pound steers and 1,000 pound cows from bolting through the semi-open gate was me, little 100 pound me!

My Dad would say, “Don’t let that one out.” I would yell and swing my arms and it would go back to the circling herd. Then another one would come by and Dad would say, “Let that one go!” So I would move to the side and let it bolt.

There I was, depending on tons of beef to fear one little human being. It was a scary game of “chicken” but with a bunch of cows. (Oh my, I just had a flash of a Chic-Fil-A commercial go through my head!)

Anyway, I was the guard at the gate.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Don’t panic, pray! If its worth worrying about, its worth praying about. Don’t worry, worship! The antidote to worry is PRAYER. Worry is a waste, prayer is priceless. Instead of spending your brain power, focus, and energy on futile worry, spend it on powerful prayer.

Can’t focus on praying when you worry? Then WRITE your prayers or type your prayers, it will help you stay focused!

Oh, and if you pray instead of worry, look into this verse and see who will be guarding the gate! Not a 100 pound weakling , but the almighty God of the universe, creator of all things, who brings PEACE, guards your heart! None other than God Himself will be on guard! Now, that’s peace of mind!

Our Father, thank-you for the antidote to worry, prayer. Thank-you for guarding our hearts when we pray. Thank-you for the peace you give when we pray.

This Old House

We invested time, money, and sweat equity there. It represented memories, a chapter in our lives, and all the ups and downs that go with that chapter.

Billie Sue and I both get a melancholy feeling when we go back from time to time to make sure its clean for the realtor to show it to prospective buyers. It represents sixteen years of our lives.

We sometimes reflect on leaving our house in Benton to move to our current house in the Village. But our three-year-old grandkids, Molly, Maggie, and Asher, punched us with perspective!

Guess how many times they mentioned missing the old house they used to visit? Guess how many times they said they wished they could go back there?

Zero!

They haven’t missed it at all! They came at Christmas and this past weekend and they just wanted Gram and PawPa’s lap. They wanted to play with Gram and PawPa. They wanted to go fishing with PawPa. They wanted to go for walks with US!

It didn’t matter what house we were in. They wanted to be with US. What a joy that brings to a grandma’ and grandpa’s heart to have their warm bodies close and happy to be with US, not a house.

The number one, most mentioned, topic in the Bible shows up thousands of times. The New Testament uses three Greek words translated by this one English word.

  • Eros refers to marital or sexual passion. We get our English word erotic from it.
  • Phileo refers to friendship or family cohesion. The name Philadelphia finds its root here.
  • Agape refers to an ultimate, sacrificial commitment.

It is this third word, agape, John uses here for love:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:15-16 ESV

As a grandparent I would be broken-hearted if my grands wanted our old house more than they wanted our laps! Maybe that’s an inkling of what God is trying to say to us in this verse.

Do you think God is broken-hearted when we love this world instead of loving Him? It is not about where we are but Who we are with!

Our Father, forgive us for loving this old world instead of loving You. We have broken Your heart when we have loved this old house instead of loving your lap. We commit  today to loving Your Presence instead loving this world and its stuff.