Saturday, December 30, 2017

Truth One On One

Truth One On One                                     12-30-17

Psalm 25:4-5 (ESV) 4  Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
5  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.


Some thoughts for the New Year.This is my verse for 2018. 

Years ago,my friend and mentor Pastor Doug, told me something about ministry that has stayed with me. The most effective ministry,he said, was one on one. While we and of course, God, can minister to one another in the sacredness of the sanctuary,surrounded by others of like faith(church), or in great evangelistic services, or wherever people come together,the MOST EFFECTIVE ministry is conducted one on one. It is the privacy and intimacy of one on one that allows people to let their hair down. To wash away all the makeup,and get down to the heart of the matter.Now for sure,it takes time to develop the trust needed for a relationship that is forthright and honest.But,that is where truth is discovered. Not too long back,God spoke those same words to yours truly. And herein lieth the lesson.

Look at that verse again. Pay particular attention to that one word..........What one word Ronnie?..........That word YOUR.

"Make me to know YOUR..... teach me YOUR........Lead me in YOUR......."""

I watched the movie "The Shack" this week. Yeah I know. The book,in my opinion wasn't that good. Some even called it sacreligious. I personally did not like the book and did not agree with some of the characterizations. But, the movie was different. It still had some sketchy issues,but there was something about the movie that I didn't find in the book. The movie had a deeper,underlying meaning that I did not find in the book. Truths about the nature of God,(He really is good,a lot if not most of His children don't grasp or believe that truth deep down),His sovereignty,(He can appear as a black female if He so desires), He can speak to His children using unconventional and non traditional means(see Balaam's donkey) on and on and on. It touched my heart. But, there was one underlying truth in the movie that stood out above the rest.

When God needed to talk to one of His devastated children,which the lead character in the movie most certainly was........when God needed to minister and heal that hurting child,He chose one avenue to accomplish His purpose. What was it you say? Just this.

God got his child ALONE. He invited him out to a deserted shack. Just him. Not him and anybody or anything else. JUST HIM AND GOD. Period. Ya gettin' my drift here?

Brothers and sisters as we walk out of yet another year,(they are stacking up!)and walk into a brand new year,let us strive to make the above verse a reality in our lives.

Do we need others in our lives? Oh yes. Community is God's idea isn't it? In laws,out laws,pastors,church families,friends.....that is what makes God's world turn. It's all there for us to enjoy. But........BUT........in the midnight hour........when facing down the barrel of a  sickness that isn't going away,when the blows and wounds from friends and foe alike are open and festering,when the guilt and confusion from past sins and mistakes come calling, when the reality sets in that the lost loved one isn't coming back in this life.......ya feelin' me here? There's only one solution. Get alone with God. Allow Him to teach you the path that you should walk,let Him lead you in HIS truth for YOUR life.

I will leave you with the ONE TRUTH for us all as we enter this New Year.

There is only ONE truth in all life. That truth will not be found in the halls of politics. It will not be found in political correctness and coexistence. It will not be found in any of the gods of this world. Whether it be capitalism,patriotism,socialism,nationalism or any other ism.It is not to be found in Allah,Buddah or any other god of this world.

It is found in One Name,One Person. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. JESUS OF NAZARETH.HE IS THE ONLY NAME UNDER HEAVEN BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED.

John 14:6 (ESV) 6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Happy New Year!

God Bless.












   

Friday, December 22, 2017

What Was,And Is,And Is To Come                           12-22-17

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV) 6  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:11 (ESV) 11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday season. I love the commercialization of Christmas.Yes, I know there is a true meaning of Christmas. We'll get to that in a minute. But,I LOVE all the hustle and bustle.The seasonal movies,the scenes at the mall,the tacky house lights,the presents.I love the expectation and excitement in the kids as the BIG DAY approaches.Shelley and I have our own version of Ralphie walking around the house. You know Ralphie from "A Christmas Story," don't you? Well,Ralphie's female clone,known by the name Chloe, is alive and well at 5304 Foxwood Rd. complete with the pink bunny suit(except it is a pig suit here).I can see many Christmas's past, as my own kids tried every way imaginable to figure out what was under the tree and what the Man in Red, from the North Pole would be bringing them.

The glitter and excitement for me has faded somewhat in the present day. I could go without getting anything for Christmas and be perfectly content watching the younguns open their stuff. However, I will gladly accept ANY present that you,Shelley,might like to buy me!!smile. But seriously,I am going to soak this Christmas in. I am going to enjoy this coming weekend to the max. I look forward to seeing Maddie and Chloe run around the house all excited. I am looking forward to hearing about my grandkids' Christmas. I look forward to opening my gifts and watching others do the same. Looking at all the before and after pictures in the HUNDREDS That Shelley and her mom Sharon,will post on Facebook. lol I want to soak it in. Why? Because I may never get to experience another Christmas like this one. I want to hold this blessing from the Lord close to my heart.SOAK IT IN TODAY. None of us knows the future. What's that you say? The real reason for the season? Yes I do. It's a matter of what was and what is and what is to come isn't it? And herein lieth he lesson.

 About two thousand or so years ago the prophesied Messiah,the Savior of the human race was born in a land far,far away.All the innocence and hope of an entire fallen race lay in that manger.That's why we are celebrating this season. We want,we NEED in some way to FEEL that innocence and love and hope.The presents,the carols,the candlelight services and communions all contribute to our NEED to FEEL the love and goodwill,the PEACE towards ALL men.A Christmas past.Yet there's more to it isn't there? 

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

About thirty or so years later,that child born in that stable would set himself on a course. His primary,overriding purpose would be to show the world that He loved His Father,God Almighty. He would humble Himself and freely GIVE His life in the most gruesome way imaginable,to prove His love of God. As a result,He not only proved His love for His God,but He proved His God's love for us.Because of this love,God's creation,you and I can live forever.All we must do is believe. An age of grace and mercy. A Christmas present.
Ahhhhhhh........but there's more to come isn't there,dear saint? A Christmas  FUTURE! And this is the one I want to focus on.

Brother and sister,if you are beat down. If you are hanging on by a thread. If life has worn you out,maybe you have suffered unimaginable loss, or as the Apostle Paul said,you have fought the good fight,you have finished the course and the time of your departure is at hand........ then READ ON child of God. 

Revelation 1:12-16 (ESV) 12  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
13  and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
14  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,
15  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
16  In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.


THIS is the REASON FOR THE SEASON. The Lord Jesus is no longer a babe in the manger. He is no longer a suffering servant hanging on an old rugged cross. No,NO! He is a King that is coming back for His own.He dwells in unapproachable light,and He's coming soon to take us,YOU AND ME, HOME. And so we shall FOREVER be with the Lord.

Revelation 22:12-13 (ESV) 12  “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
13  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”


Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

God Bless.








  

Friday, December 15, 2017

Confusion

Confusion                                               12-15-17

1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV) 33  For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,

I think I like the KJV a little better here.

1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV) 33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Some thoughts today. As Led Zeppelin said, Dazed and Confused.


My friend,Charles Saia had another less affectionate name for it,Psycho babble.What? Huh?What's that your friend said Ronnie? Psycho babble.lol  Another word for confusion.

Confusion. To make unclear in mind or purpose.A condition in which things are not in their normal or proper places or relationships.

I was listening to two men at work this week past discussing their views on religion.The discussion ended very amiably with an agreement to disagree.During the discussion,although I was not involved, I asked a question that I wanted and needed an answer to. Huh? Glad you asked. "Why"I asked, "If God is not the author of confusion,then why is there so much confusion?" Unbeknownst to them,the question was directed more at me and my confusion than to them.(smile) 

Let me see if I can explain. Have you ever been unclear in mind about what a preacher,teacher,commentator,or blog writer has written or said? Have you ever been unclear in purpose as to what God was supposedly saying to you through someone else? Oh yeah I feel ya. Me too!!(smile)

As I listened this week, I could see myself making those same arguments that I was hearing.As a matter of fact I have done that very thing recently. I listened intently as each one quoted a Scripture to support his position. As my friend Pastor Doug says, "Been there,done that,got the t-shirt,and bought the video!

Do I believe in having a CONSISTENT Scriptural foundation for what I believe? You better believe it!I went for far too long in my Christian walk without that firm foundation.Do I believe that my way is the right way? ABSOLUTELY. Do I believe that you may have a different perspective and that your way is the right way?ABSOLUTELY. Hear me out on this.

For every Scripture someone gives me about conditional salvation, I can give them two about eternal security. The same goes for tithing. The same goes for the role of the New Testament church.On and on and on. Isn't it odd that The Apostle Paul wrote that verse on confusion after explaining what is probably the most argumentative and confusing issue in Christian circles today.The role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the individual believer and the local church. An interesting insertion indeed.

I mentioned that I have been studying the Book of Job recently.Fascinating and profound book.As far as I have gotten,(first round of speeches) there is one recurring theme(among others) that has captured my attention. 

Job's friends,his "comforters" are all theologically correct in what they say.Their positions about the demise of Job all sound good.Based on correct theology.

Why then does Job refuse and even spurn their advice? If you read it,you will find out that not only does Job disagree,he disagrees violently with them,for reasons too numerous for this blog.Jobs turmoil, his absolute agony does not lie in his physical loss or suffering. He,so far has never once asked to be healed or restored. I don't think that he ever does. I will find out.Job's agony is in his confusion of why God has done this. And herein lieth the lesson.

Job's confusion and agony is rooted in the fact that all he is hearing is what his friends say ABOUT GOD. They talk ABOUT God. They tell him what they THINK is wrong.They tell him what they THINK is Job's solution.They tell him what they THINK God is saying. It sounds good. It is theologically correct. But,it is WRONG in Job's particular circumstances. Their religious reasoning,based on sound theology does not fit Job's case.Their counsel and application is wrong,their theology is right.They don't have all the facts of Job's demise.They talk ABOUT God,but they have not talked TO God;and apparently have not allowed God to talk to them.

Job,all the while is over here contemplating and voicing this one complaint,this one TRUTH over and over.ONLY GOD HAS HIS ANSWER. God is the ONLY one that can give counsel and comfort to Job's confusion.And that brothers and sisters,is our ONLY answer when we are confused and dismayed. Whether it be a Bible doctrine,personal loss and suffering,or any other circumstance that causes doubt and confusion,our first source of refuge is in God and God alone.

Confused? Doubtful? Hurting?Get a Bible. Go find your alone place with God.Talk to Him.Let Him speak to your heart.Let Him give you the counsel about your PERSONAL circumstances.

Don't worry. If our heart is in the right place.If our desire is to sincerely hear His voice.He will guide us into all truth. He will direct us to that person,church,book or WHATEVER that can minister to our pain and confusion.  

 God is never going to lead us astray.His counsel will always,on every occasion line up and concur with His word. There will never be conflict there.But, BUT, His ways are not our ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV) 8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.


God's ways at first glance may not fit the traditional mode. They may, at first glance,conflict with man's theology and even man's sense of justice and fairness. If we get out in left field trying to follow Him(I have), if we misinterpret His voice(I have) don't worry.... He is strong enough and more than capable of righting our ship. Our responsibility is to have a heart that is perfect and sincere towards Him. Amen?

Psalm 81:13-14 (ESV) 13  Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!
14  I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.



God Bless




   


Friday, November 24, 2017

You Cant Outgive God

You Can't Outgive God                                                    11-24-17

2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV) 13  David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

No, this is not a message on the giving of our substance. Although,that statement is true in that respect. Today it is all about grace. It is not about any of the descriptions that we humans have assigned to it.It is not about that popular and in my opinion derogatory term,Hyper Grace. It is not about sustainable grace. It is not about falling from grace.It is simply about grace. It is also about the notion that we as God's creation cannot give anything back to Him to warrant His grace. Not in material benefits,not in spiritual benefits,and certainly not in any righteous acts concerning our conduct,behavior and whatnot.As concerns grace we can't give ANYTHING back to merit God's bestowal of it. 

I was thinking about what I had written last week as it concerned the condition of MY heart on certain issuesWhile contemplating on this,I came across this verse. Now,I have read this story many times,but the last part of that verse (13) had never hit me. And herein lieth he lesson.

".........and Nathan said to David,"The Lord also has put away your sin;you shall not die." At first,it was hazy,but then it became more clear to me. I said to myself,"Did God just go against the requirements of the Mosaic Law,and more importantly His own Word?" How so Ronnie?

Leviticus 20:10 (ESV) 10  “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Not to mention David's murder of Uriah. According to the Law, David's sin(s) REQUIRED that he be put to death.There was to be no mercy. The sin had to be paid for. Hmmmmm..there seems to be a problem here. So, I went and studied it out as best I could. Now,it gets pretty technical here and for this blog unimportant. But,know this. God in His SOVEREIGNTY did indeed bestow an act of Grace towards His servant David. Without getting  mired in the theology,two facts are important here.

First, GOD IS SOVEREIGN.He does what He wants to do and is accountable to NO ONE for what He does. That's powerful medicine when all the implications are considered. What if tomorrow,God decided to destroy and send His creation to eternal damnation.Who or what could stop Him? That's right ....NO ONE! HE IS SOVEREIGN.All,again ALL of His dealings with us,His creation,rest SOLELY on one aspect of His character,.... His Grace. Unmerited favor.

Secondly, and more specific to this situation,verse 13 is spoken of in the past tense.
I have sinned. The Lord has put away. Past tense.

David was not forthcoming with the facts of his sins. His sin would be exposed to the prophet Nathan before he would confess his guilt. No act of contrition. No turning away from his sin.No resolve to do better. All this would come later and not in his own strength but in the strength of the Holy Spirit.(see Psalm 51 and 32)

All David did was AGREE with God. He had indeed sinned. Nothing else. And then Nathan speaks some of,if not the most gracious words in the Old Testament.

"The Lord HAS put away your sin;you shall not die." Past tense.No mention of David offering a sacrifice here. He may have but that is not the point. His sin has been put away. Passed over. In the corridors of glory,the restitution has already been paid. The Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world is in view here. Jesus Christ, The Lord of Glory. Heady stuff indeed.

God,according to His Grace and His Grace ALONE. Apart from any righteous act before or after on David's part,put away,covered over, David's sin; which DEMANDED the death of the transgressor. David gave nothing on his part. No merit whatsoever. Just belief. Agreement. He agreed and indeed believed with God that he had sinned. All His righteous acts of contrition,turning away etc.,etc.,came AFTER God had dealt with his sin. AFTER God had put away or passed over his trangression. And ONLY with the power and help of the Holy Spirit. Yes the Holy Spirit was around in Old Testament times.Powerful,powerful medicine.

Psalm 51:11 (ESV) 11  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.


So, Ronnie what is your point in all of this? Well, as I said last week it is easy to develop a wrong attitude towards people. Listen to this.

Our standing with God is based on His work. His grace,UNMERITED favor is all that stands before us and destruction. We are saved from eternal damnation by His Grace and His Grace alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


Not only that,but our salvation is MAINTAINED by God and God alone. It is a work of God. We can do nothing on our own accord to "stay saved." GOD ALONE DOES IT.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) 3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
5  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.



If God does all of this for us,IN SPITEof our continued failings, then why do we DEMAND FROM OTHERS what God does not demand of us? My question to myself is "why do I demand someone else live up to my notions of righteousness? How can I develop an attitude towards someone else based only on what I can see?Do I make judgment solely on what I see in other's conduct and behavior?

Every last ounce of my standing and relationship with God Almighty is initiated and maintained by Him! I do nothing! Except what HE leads and EMPOWERS me to do. I can and indeed WILL not do anything of my own accord;and I am in error if I demand it of others.Brothers and sisters,we don't have a sin problem. SIN HAS BEEN DEALT WITH. We have a belief problem. Our belief problem lay in he fact that we have to BELIEVE in Jesus and His complete snd finished atonement on Calvary. Nothing else can be done on His part or ours. Nothing else NEED be done on His part or ours.Secondly,we must believe that Jesus will do for OTHERS what He has done for us. IN SPITE of what we SEE in the lives and conduct of others.Undestanding that we are no different than they. 
 
Psalm 119:146 (ESV) 146  I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.



God Bless



Friday, November 10, 2017

Spiritual Correctness                                                        11-10-17

2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) 14  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
15  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.


More computer problems today. Seems my version of this software(wordsearch 10) is not compatible with the new upgrade from Apple on the computer. So,$35.00 later for new upgrade and voila! here I am.

Let me tell you something. There is no more ardent a supporter of study as it concerns the Scripture than me. I am on a mission to understand why I believe what I believe,for reasons that are personal to me. I just recently started a study of the Book Of Job. A serious study that will, I believe, take considerable time. I have,if memory serves, read the  book through only once in my entire life. It is a deep and profound book and I am only through the introduction. I am relying on a"teaching" commentary simply because Job is a difficult book  for me to understand.All the poetry and word structure are  hard for me.Also, I have a hard time "connecting" with Job. The plain reason being I have not approached in my life the depth or magnitude of suffering that Job experienced. And I have NO DESIRE to experience Job's reality. That being said,the commentator,in his commentary made this statement about Job.Speaking of Job,he said,"His friends talk ABOUT God.Job talks TO(caps mine)God. And this makes him the only authentic theologian in the book."

When I got saved on October 8th 1975,the first thing I did was go out that very evening and buy a Christian book. I will never forget it. The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay. Great book.........but not the place for a new babe in Christ to begin his journey. It blew my mind as I read the whole book in one setting. When I arrived at work that night I found my Christian friends, Pastor Doug,who had led me to the Lord that morning, and Bill Fallon.Pastor Doug do you remember Bill?  Excited and scared,I told them about the book I had read.Well....I got a look. Not disapproving or stern. A look of maybe I needed something a little different to begin with. It was then that I received my first Christian"teaching." I was told that to begin with I needed to do two things.I needed to learn how to do two things. I remember it like it was yesterday. What were they Ronnie? What deep wisdom was imparted to you?

1) Read the Bible.

2)Pray

That was the extent of my teaching.Oh yeah, start in the Gospel of John. That was it.

Some forty odd years,unknown hours spent reading the Bible,countless seasons of prayer,hundreds of Christian books,thousands of preached sermons,hard times,good times,ups and downs those two truths still remain firm and steadfast.And herein lieth the lesson.

If you have read the the books of First and Second Timothy,you understand this is a "teaching"letter from a wise,seasoned Man of God to a younger,up and coming Pastor. I believe,and this is my opinion only,I believe it was Paul passing the baton to his child in the faith. In the midst of all his advice and instruction about the storms and all the other of life,Paul writes those words to Timothy. Look again.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) 14  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
15  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.


"........continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.....

I remember a few years back during a desperate and I mean desperate period in my life. I was driving a truck over the road and was literally on I40 at Cedar Bluff road. I was passing through Knoxville on my way to Chicago with tears rolling down my face. Something had happened and I was desperate to hear from God. As I rolled past the Lovell Rd.exit,theSpirit of the Lord spoke these words to my heart. "Go back to the place you left off,and do what you know to do." The Lord was speaking to me in areas of my life that I had become negligent.Truths that I had been taught in the past. Nothing new. No great revelation or teaching. The sun didn't start shining any brighter....no no.It was a simple restating of some truths that I had learned eons ago and had allowed to become stagnant. A buddy of mine stated it precisely the other day when he said these words to the author, "I am not interested in any new teaching, I can't live what I know!"

Amen and Amen. 

Brothers and sisters,I suppose that this is my point today. If it was truth yesterday. If it was truth last week. If it was truth 50 years ago....it is truth today.Oh yes there are different doctrines. There are different theologies. There are different viewpoints and applications.I understand all of that and heartily agree. But,there isn't a different truth. And that is what set Job apart from his friends as far as I can tell so far. In Job's search for the truth about his suffering he didn't put forth any new theologies or new teachings. no no. He couldn't understand what he already knew to be true about God. However,what set him apart. What,in the end, curried God's favor toward him and by the same token God's anger toward Job's friends was one truth. Job didn't talk ABOUT God,he talked TO God.

1)Read the Bible

2)Pray

 Psalm 57:1 (ESV) 1
 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.



God Bless
  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Entangled Or Entrusted 2


Entangled Or Entrusted? 2

Computer and Internet problems today. This is a reprint from a couple years ago. Hope it has some relevance.


4No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

I know, I know.....I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR! There aren't enough hours in the day are there? It's not as if they have you for eight, nine, ten or maybe more hours in the day. No, no that isn't enough. They feel it necessary to call you on the phone at home to ask about a problem at work. Just heard a story at my work about a man I know personally. His father died last Sunday night past, but his employer required him to be at a Monday morning7A.M. meeting or lose his job.
 
You and I may think "How cruel and heartless, I would tell them to take that job and.........." I hear ya. But maybe he's got a couple of small children who would enjoy having some corn flakes or bacon and eggs to eat tomorrow for breakfast.You see the above is easy for us to say but a little harder for him,.. he's got skin in the game.(sorry Mr. Montgomery it is a reprint,big smile) 
 
You see there's a difference between being entangled and entrusted. I hope I can make some sense here. Please take a look at  the previous verses in this passage.
 
2 Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV)You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 
 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Pay particular attention to vs. 2

 
".....what you have heard from me............ENTRUST  to FAITHFUL (caps mine) men who will be able to teach to others also."

 
When I was a young Christian I was led to attend a Saturday morning prayer meeting at the home of my friend Pastor Doug. If memory serves, we would meet in a concrete shed in his back yard every Saturday morning at 4A.M. and pray for a couple of hours. I don't remember the number of men, about five or six I think. The prayer meeting was based on 2 Timothy 2:2. Some of us drove 50 or more miles to attend this prayer meeting and over the course of a couple of years we had some mighty, mighty answers to prayer. Let me assure you that 4 A.M. came very early in the cold of winter; and, many times I would question my sanity while driving to that little prayer meeting. But, I was COMPELLED to attend. No, Pastor Doug didn't require my attendance. The Holy Spirit did. It was something on the inside of me that urged me on, many times IN SPITE of myself.

 
God had entrusted that prayer meeting to me,along with the other men who gathered on those Saturday mornings.He taught me something in that prayer meeting.

Sometimes,.. no ALL the time it was hard to roll out of bed that early. It was difficult just to get to that place of prayer, physically and spiritually,and my flesh wanted no part of it. It was easy to get puffed up and consider what a great "sacrifice" I was making. But as God showed me as only He can,it was not a sacrifice, but a PRIVILEGE to gather together and seek His face. Not only a privilege, but an OPPORTUNITY to be blessed mightily. And so I was. Had I been unfaithful to His prompting, I would have missed witnessing the many answers and outright miracles that God wrought in that gathering. And herein lieth the lesson.
 
 Has God entrusted something to your care? Just like my friend at work, the circumstances may be difficult. If God has given you a responsibility, if He has entrusted your faithfulness, then more than likely your flesh is going to war against it, and the enemy is going to attack it. It may get difficult and trying at times. But look at vs. 1 again. If God has entrusted and compelled you to do something, He's going to enable you to complete the task. 
 
2 Timothy 2:1 (ESV)  You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
 
His grace will strengthen you inside and out.
 
So your world is a little haywire right now huh? It's a wee bit frantic and unsettling. You are tempted, like the pinball machine to flash TILT! I FEEL YA!!
 
Hang in there, whatever it is, it may seem like a great sacrifice now, it may seem absolutely off the chain, but,TRUST GOD, He will turn your faithfulness into a great opportunity for YOUR blessing.

 
Psalm 20:4 (ESV) 4 May he grant you your heart desire and fulfill all your plans!

God Bless

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rise And Shine

Rise And Shine                                           10-27-17

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) 1  Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

I posed to myself and others this week the old maxim about the need for a reason or a purpose for getting out of the bed each morning.As my buddy says,"you have to have a reason to get up in the morning." I believe that statement in it's entirety and I will tell you why.

Quite a few years ago,for unimportant reasons,I was battling depression.So much so, that I spent about two days in bed. Not sick. Not injured. Depressed. It was VERY real, it was VERY exhausting, it was VERY tiring,and in MY particular case, it was
VERY MUCH a case of SELF ABSORPTION!! And herein lieth the lesson.

I was thinking about a conversation that I had this week past. The more I thought about what I had said, I was taken with the number of times that I used those words. What words Ronnie?.......I and...........my. What's that again?.................I and..................my. I wish this. I think that. This is what is wrong with my life,my circumstances,my job,my heart. I I I I I,MY MY MY MY MY. Yes,I am exaggerating for effect but only to a degree.Here's how it goes.

 We go through a rough patch,or worse. It is VERY easy and convenient to start looking inward.What's wrong with ME. What's wrong with MY heart. Why am I like this. Why is this happening to ME. Folks,when searching around in our hearts trying to find out what is really in there,it is better left to the professional. What professional Ronnie? The only pro that counts.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) 23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!



You start looking around in your heart and the deeper you or I go.. the worse it will get. Let God do the searching and allow Him to tell you what's wrong or right on the inside.I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes.Paraphrasing what someone once said,life is full of ordinary days,accentuated from time to time with the extraordinary. It's not the extraordinary days that we must concern ourselves with. It's the regimen of mundane,same ol' same ol' that present the challenge. You see it is the grind. The daily routine. Day after day,month after month,year after year. That is where we will face the temptation to get discouraged,to allow the spirit of depression a cracked door,to LOSE HOPE.

I know all too well those feelings. I routinely battle in that arena.I watched my dear mother fight those demons the last years of her life. If we are not careful,we will allow ourselves to become self absorbed and caught up in ourselves to the point that we can't see anything except our own problems and what not. You feelin' me here?

As my friend Pastor Doug used to always say,"you have to get involved in something bigger than yourself." We must become a part of a larger picture. Look again. 

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) 1  Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.



Isolation,or to separate yourself is unsound. Those words "breaks out" are better rendered defies. If we isolate ourselves we defy all sound judgment. One person defines it as "radical individuality."Absent the wisdom of many counselors,our only counselor is a fool....ourselves.

We have to be a part of a larger community. Something that takes our minds and hearts off of ourselves. Don't you think God has designed us that way? Family, job,church,on and on and on.We need to be involved with something bigger.We need to know that there are other folk out there that are experiencing the same tests,trials and also BLESSINGS that we are.

I remember the old church cliche that is so so true. God don't have any lone rangers. I know from personal experience. We get hurt. Family hurts,job hurts,church hurts on and on and on. If we pull away and isolate ourselves. If we move to our own private island, sooner or later we will turn in on ourselves and become so absorbed and filled with US that we won't have time or inclination for anyone or anything else.

Let's find something bigger than ourselves.That being said, I would fancy that MY search begin with ME and JESUS, letting Him direct ME where and to whom or what He will. Amen?

Psalm 119:37 (ESV) 37  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.



God Bless





Friday, October 27, 2017

Rise And Shine

Rise And Shine                                           10-27-17

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) 1  Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.



We are on baby watch as I speak. Jessica is at the hospital right now having labor induced.While Shelley is holding her hand literally through this labor, I am providing the strong and much needed support as only a man can,from the battlefield of my living room.It's brutal from my vantage point but someone has to do it!Amen??

At any rate.

I posed to myself and others this week the old maxim about the need for a reason or a purpose for getting out of the bed each morning.As my buddy says,"you have to have a reason to get up in the morning." I believe that statement in it's entirety and I will tell you why.

Quite a few years ago,for unimportant reasons,I was battling depression.So much so, that I spent about two days in bed. Not sick. Not injured. Depressed. It was VERY real, it was VERY exhausting, it was VERY tiring,and in MY particular case, it was
VERY MUCH a case of SELF ABSORPTION!! And herein lieth the lesson.

I was thinking about a conversation that I had this week past. The more I thought about what I had said, I was taken with the number of times that I used those words. What words Ronnie?.......I and...........my. What's that again?.................I and..................my. I wish this. I think that. This is what is wrong with my life,my circumstances,my job,my heart. I I I I I,MY MY MY MY MY. Yes,I am exaggerating for effect but only to a degree.Here's how it goes.

 We go through a rough patch,or worse. It is VERY easy and convenient to start looking inward.What's wrong with ME. What's wrong with MY heart. Why am I like this. Why is this happening to ME. Folks,when searching around in our hearts trying to find out what is really in there,it is better left to the professional. What professional Ronnie? The only pro that counts.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) 23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!



You start looking around in your heart and the deeper you or I go.. the worse it will get. Let God do the searching and allow Him to tell you what's wrong or right on the inside.I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes.Paraphrasing what someone once said,life is full of ordinary days,accentuated from time to time with the extraordinary. It's not the extraordinary days that we must concern ourselves with. It's the regimen of mundane,same ol' same ol' that present the challenge. You see it is the grind. The daily routine. Day after day,month after month,year after year. That is where we will face the temptation to get discouraged,to allow the spirit of depression a cracked door,to LOSE HOPE.

I know all too well those feelings. I routinely battle in that arena.I watched my dear mother fight those demons the last years of her life. If we are not careful,we will allow ourselves to become self absorbed and caught up in ourselves to the point that we can't see anything except our own problems and what not. You feelin' me here?

As my friend Pastor Doug used to always say,"you have to get involved in something bigger than yourself." We must become a part of a larger picture. Look again. 

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) 1  Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.



Isolation,or to separate yourself is unsound. Those words "breaks out" are better rendered defies. If we isolate ourselves we defy all sound judgment. One person defines it as "radical individuality."Absent the wisdom of many counselors,our only counselor is a fool....ourselves.

We have to be a part of a larger community. Something that takes our minds and hearts off of ourselves. Don't you think God has designed us that way? Family, job,church,on and on and on.We need to be involved with something bigger.We need to know that there are other folk out there that are experiencing the same tests,trials and also BLESSINGS that we are.

I remember the old church cliche that is so so true. God don't have any lone rangers. I know from personal experience. We get hurt. Family hurts,job hurts,church hurts on and on and on. If we pull away and isolate ourselves. If we move to our own private island, sooner or later we will turn in on ourselves and become so absorbed and filled with US that we won't have time or inclination for anyone or anything else.

Let's find something bigger than ourselves.That being said, I would fancy that MY search begin with ME and JESUS, letting Him direct ME where and to whom or what He will. Amen?

Psalm 119:37 (ESV) 37  Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.



God Bless




Friday, October 20, 2017

Isn't It A Pity

Isn't It A Pity                                               10-20-17

Came across a video this week of one of my favorite musicians(Eric Clapton) performing a song written by a member of my all time favorite band(George Harrison of the one and only Beatles) I have played it about 50 times over the past couple days. Have loved the song for years but this version has something about it that is haunting to me.The first stanza caught me.

"isn't it a pity,isn't it a shame,how we break each others hearts and cause each other pain?" All ya'll hippies out there remember that one?

Anyway about twenty five times in(smile) this verse in Proverbs came strolling into my consciousness.

Proverbs 17:14 (ESV) 14  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.



Admittedly a little crude for western sensibilities but that's what the Bible says.lol

I hummed and sang the parts I remembered all day yesterday while driving the bus.That verse reminded me of something my grandfather told me when I was a youngster standing on the front porch with him one day. He said that when ever he and my grandmother were angry and about to start dropping the bombs on each other,he would get up,walk out to the front porch and stay there until cooler spirits  prevailed. And herein lieth the lesson. 

Proverbs 17:27 (ESV) 27  Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.



You know sometimes,MANY TIMES it's not what we say and do....but, what we DON"T SAY AND DO that counts. What are you saying here Ronnie? Just this.

A hateful word NOT spoken, an opinion or a point of view NOT expressed,a rancorous deed or action NOT done...... stops all the strife,pain and broken hearts before it gets started. Look again.

"....................so QUIT BEFORE(caps mine) the quarrel breaks out......."  

Go on down a couple of verses in your Bible.

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV) 2  A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.



I have this one highlighted AND underscored in MY Bible. (smile)

I am reminded of King David all of a sudden. I will conclude with this lengthy passage of Scripture.

2 Samuel 16:5-12 (ESV) 5  When King David came to Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came he cursed continually.
6  And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
7  And Shimei said as he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man!
8  The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.”

9  Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”
10  But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”
11  And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
12  It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing today.”



David was the King. He had the authority and means to have this insolent,dead dog killed in he street. Right where he stood or sat.Ya feelin me here? Indeed Shemei was WRONG in his railing accusation against the King. I think,but am not sure,I think Shemei broke Mosaic law with his rant.Nevertheless,with ALL the power and authority at his bidding, David chose to take the high and less travelled road of restraint;choosing instead to allow the Lord to do His bidding. He put Shemei and his cursing in the Lord's hands. It has been said of this incident that David examined his heart and ruled AGAINST it's interests. Powerful medicine indeed.

Brothers and sisters,many times if we will take a deep breath,walk out on the front porch,and rule against our self interest,we will save ourselves and others the pains of hurt feelings and broken hearts. Amen?

Psalm 19:14 (ESV) 14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

God Bless

P.S. If I knew how to put video in message I would. Anyway going to post it on FB. Great video and great song.








Friday, October 6, 2017

A Voice Of One

A Voice Of One                                     10-06-17

John 1:21-23 (ESV) 21  And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
22  So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23  He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”


John the Baptist was quoting Isaiah 40 in his response to the Jewish authorities who wanted to know who he was. I oftentimes reflect on how John must have felt some time later,as he sat in a prison cell,alone and lonely.I wonder if he still brimmed with the confidence and boldness that he exhibited when HE truly WAS the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I wonder if doubt and discouragement tormented his mind and soul in that prison,cell as his own words became dogged reality in his life.

John 3:30 (ESV) 30  He must increase, but I must decrease.”



I believe he must have struggled mightily in that dark place,with those tormentors, as he awaited his final,God appointed destiny. A voice of one. I witnessed a modern day John the Baptist last Saturday. And herein lieth the lesson.

I was over at Neyland Stadium this Saturday past as the hurricane called by the name Georgia,thundered through and totally destroyed my beloved Vols. While there, I was able to run quickly from where I was stationed,about a hundred yards or so to get a video of the Vol Walk starring Peyton Manning in the flesh. But,while standing there watching all the commotion,something in my periphery caught my attention. Standing on a small one step ladder,clad in overalls,t-shirt and sunglasses,stood a man with a Bible in his hand,preaching what I knew to be The Gospel. It did not appear to me that anyone was listening,and to be truthful neither did I.

Well,video of Peyton in hand,I scurried back to my post,in the midst of literally thousands of people. If you have been to gate 21 at Neyland pre game,you know what I am talking about. I spent about 45 minutes there directing traffic and enjoying all the buzz and excitement of the gameday atmosphere. Well,low and behold,about an hour later,unnoticed by me,up walks this same guy with a one step ladder. He steps up and begins preaching the Word of God. Now folks,out of all the multiple thousands of people,and all of the different vantage points,this man picks a spot not five feet from where I am standing!

So, I take notice this time and watch him as he begins to preach. I inwardly admire his boldness. I understand that is not everyone's cup of tea. I understand there is a time and place. But there's something about this guy...just as I am thinking those thoughts up walks a woman and begins to openly mock this man. Laughing and insulting him to his face. The folks she was with turned and smiled as she belittled him. That went on for about a minute,while abruptly turning the woman went back to her party. The man never missed a beat and kept on preaching. Well,he had my FULL attention now.

This goes on for about five minutes and all of a sudden the aforementioned lady returns appearing very agitated. Her insulting tone has turned angry,no,not angry,belligerent.She starts berating him and demanding that he shut up and leave. No further detail is needed. As she whirls around this time the man very politely and gently invites her to come back and talk,to no avail. This is all happening not ten feet from where I am standing. 

I begin to think to myself this very thought," Would I have the courage to do what this man was doing,in this environment,if God asked me to do it." Taking all this abuse and mockery and for what!!?? No one was responding. All he heard,while Rocky Top played in the background,were the jeers of this woman joined with the indifference of those within earshot.

And then it happened.

As this guy,whom I now have infinite admiration for,was stepping down off the ladder,a man walked up to him. He wanted to talk about something. I moved farther away not wanting to intrude into the conversation. They spoke together,just the two of them in the midst of thousands and I believe this single respondent got saved. I can't say with certainty,because I didn't hear it. But,it sure LOOKED like that guy accepted Jesus as his Savior right then and there. The point being that miraculously there was someone LISTENING to the preacher! AN AUDIENCE OF ONE!! In a very short while it was over. The preacher folded up his ladder and moved on. I watched him walk off,ostensibly to his next pulpit,thinking to myself,"There goes a modern day John the Baptist." A voice of one crying in the wilderness.

And trust me.......outside Neyland Stadium last Saturday was a wilderness.

My point? Just this. Maybe you are discouraged today. Maybe those tormentors are screaming in your spirit what's the use? Maybe you are a "voice of one" to a family of loved ones that have no interest in anything you have to say. Maybe you are a"voice of one" in a work environment that not only is disinterested,but openly mocks and ridicules your walk with Jesus.Just maybe you sit somewhere alone and lonely. Maybe the enemy is telling you that you are stupid. That no one is listening or even cares about your Jesus. Maybe you, like John the Baptist, are wondering if Jesus is the Messiah or should you look for another.

Matthew 11:2-3 (ESV) 2  Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples
3  and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”


Rest assured brother and sister you have it right Keep walking.

As Pastor Doug often says we are performing for an audience of ONE.

Psalm 40:10 (ESV) 10  I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.



God Bless