"The key to understanding the Bible is to look for Jesus in the Bible. Jesus is the hero of the Bible. If you read the Bible and don't find Jesus, re-read it! The Bible has one hero, His name is Jesus; one villain, that is Satan; one problem, that is sin; one solution, that is salvation. That is what the Bible is all about." -Dr. Adrian Rogers

Sunday, December 30, 2012

3:00AM Thought

Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.
John 14:1

I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have read the above verse, yet I have never, not once, grasped its true meaning. Even last night, as I was reading in my quiet time, I read right through it without thinking, but then something made me go back a read again. It was when I reread it for what must have been the five thousandth time that it finally clicked. It is easy to believe in the existence of a Creator God, but it is oh so much harder to believe in the One who came to "seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

Jesus is Emanuel, God with us. He came be with us, to walk us, to talk with us, all on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. But He also came to destroy that which He hates the most--sin. But it just so happens that what He hates the most is what we as humans love the most. That Bible says in John 3:19, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." The truth is we love our sin, and we don't want to give it up. Therefore it is hard for us to believe in the One who came to take away that which we love the most.

As we enter into the new year, let me challenge you as well as myself to believe in the Savior as well as the Creator. And if you have yet to trust Christ as the Lord of your life, I invite you to do so before it is eternally too late for you. If you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Friday, December 14, 2012

That's What Christmas Is About, Mr. O

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

I seldom watch The O’Reilly Factor myself; however, my mother likes to watch it, so I sometimes catch bits and pieces as I pass through the living room. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been hearing him talk about calling Christmas what it is—Christmas. For example, when Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee, insisted that the Rhode Island State House Christmas tree be referred to as a “holiday tree,” Bill O’Reilly called the Governor out on the matter. O’Reilly said that the tree is not a holiday tree; it is a Christmas tree. That, I agree with. However, I do not agree with Mr. O’Reilly’s reasoning behind his argument simply because it is not right. Mr. O’Reilly said that it should be called a Christmas tree because it has been an American tradition for centuries. This, however, could not be further from the truth.

Bill O’Reilly has been a supporter of Christmas for years. He even sells a variety of products on his website that proclaim, “We Say Merry Christmas!” However, over the last couple of weeks, I have been made aware that his reasoning for doing so is in reality very anti-Christmas. We do not call Christmas Christmas because of any kind of tradition; we call Christmas Christmas because that’s what it is. It is called Christmas because it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It always has been and it always will be.

Many people have commented and said that it is not right to call Christmas Christmas because Christmas is a religious holiday, and it is not right to force one particular religion on everyone. Bill O’Reilly’s response to this last night rather stunned me, to say the least. O’Reilly said that you do not have to believe that Jesus was God in order to celebrate Christmas. He then went on to compare Christmas to Martin Luther King Day, saying that we should remember Jesus for the influential man He was just as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the influential man he was. This comparison is ludicrous in every way. Yes, Dr. Martin Luther King was a very influential man, and his contributions to society should be remembered and respected. However, Jesus was not just any influential man; Jesus was the God Man. Jesus was sent to be born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and to ultimately die on an old, rugged cross for the sins of all people. To forget this is to kill the spirit of Christmas altogether.

When the angel appeared to Joseph in the night, he said, “And thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). That, my friends, is the one and only true meaning of Christmas. When we celebrate Christmas, we are not celebrating the birth of just any influential man; we are celebrating the birth of the One who saves us from our sins—“the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Perhaps the number one reason Mr. O does not understand that Christmas is so much more than any other American tradition is because he has never experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ in his own life. Well, I am here today to tell anyone who does not know Jesus as Lord that, if you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why I Vote Republican

Disclosure: Some may mistake this as a political post and therefore deem it unfit to be on a Christian blog. Therefore, if you are not concerned about the core issues of life, I suggest you stop reading now.

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 20:13

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psalm 127:3

The first presidential election I really remember was that of the year 2000. I was nine years old at the time. And although there had already been two previous presidential elections that had taken place during my short lifetime, that was the first one where I was really aware of what was going on. That was also the year I decided that I would always vote Republican, no matter what.

I remember asking my mother why she always voted Republican, and her simple answer has stuck with me ever since. She said, “Well, Republicans tend to be against abortion and gay rights, and Democrats are usually in favor of those things.” That was all she said. Those were the only two reasons she gave, and they were good enough for me. And you know what? They are still good enough for me now, too.

My mother taught me that we ought not to vote for a person based on anything other than his core moral standards. And if you will look at both of the two main political parties, you will see that they are divided based on morality and morality alone. My mother’s response that day set an alarm off in my little, nine-year-old head that the political party you vote for matters. When you vote for a particular political party, you are voting for a way of life.

So I urge you. Do you know the core beliefs of the political party you plan to vote for this November? It’s like Adrian Rogers used to say, “It’s not about Republicans versus Democrats; it’s about right versus wrong.” They cannot both be right. Pick the right one, and stand by it for life. Your country’s wellbeing depends upon your vote.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just as I Remember

The other day my mother was watching television when I noticed a commercial for a Hallmark movie entitled Love’s Everlasting Courage. It looked interesting, so I looked it up. When I searched the title on my computer, I discovered that the full movie was available on YouTube, so I decided to watch it. I grew up watching Hallmark movies with my grandmother. All of the Hallmark movies my grandmother had shown me promoted faith, hope, love, and family togetherness. However, I have also seen bits and pieces of some of the more recent Hallmark movies, and to be honest they all missed the mark by a long shot. Therefore I didn’t expect much when I decided to watch this one. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Love's Everlasting Courage was just as wonderful as the movies my grandmother and shown me and then some.

This movie is chock-full of wisdom. So much so that I believe it is impossible to catch it all the first time you watch it. I plan on writing several blog posts about some of things I learned from this movie. Below, I have included the link to the movie as well as some quotes I wrote down while watching:

  • “A man does have to go off and find his way, make his own life; but he shouldn’t forget where he came from.”
  •  “Giving up hope is for the hopeless.”
  •   “When things seem to overwhelm you, slow down and focus on the task in front of you. Take care of it and move on to the next one.”
  • “The truth of God’s love is not that He allows bad things to happen; it’s His promise that He will be standing right there beside you when they do.”

Monday, September 3, 2012

Love Personified: Remembering Mrs. Shirley

Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.
Ephesians 5:25

Yesterday morning at the beginning of the worship service, the pastor announced that Robertson McQuilkin will be visiting our church one Sunday in October to bring a special message about marriage. I, of course, was elated because I know who Robertson McQuilkin is and would very much like the chance to meet him in person. However, as I thought more about the subject last night, I remembered a very special lady who was a neighbor and dedicated member of the church that I grew up in. Mrs. Shirley had multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, and each Sunday I would watch her husband care for her as if she was the most important person in the world.

I attended church with Mrs. Shirley for eleven years. And every Sunday for those eleven years, I would watch her husband wheel her to their pew, lift her out of her wheelchair and position her comfortably on the pew, and then push her wheel chair to the front of the sanctuary before returning to her side. Then, when the service had ended, Mrs. Shirley’s husband would walk to the front of the sanctuary, bring the wheelchair back to the pew where Mrs. Shirley was sitting, place her gently in the wheelchair, and proceed to wheel her through the winding hallways of the old church building to the wheelchair accessible door where she would then wait for him to bring the car around and lift her once again out of her wheelchair and into the car.

I watched Mrs. Shirley’s husband carry out that same selfless routine every Sunday for eleven years. However, what I did not see was him lifting her out of the car when they arrived home. I did not see him prepare Sunday dinner. I did not see him feed his wife. I did not see him wash and put away the dishes. I did not see him vacuum the floors and dust the furniture. I did not see him help Mrs. Shirley into her bed at night. I did not see him prepare her breakfast and help her get dressed the next morning. I saw none of that, yet I know he did it every day for more than twenty years.

Growing up, I thought nothing of seeing Mrs. Shirley’s husband meet her every need. However, today, I look back and see one of the greatest love stories ever written. He didn’t have to wait on her like that. He could have shipped her off to a nursing home, and the society in which we now live would have supported him one hundred percent. He could have divorced Mrs. Shirley and married someone else who could wait on him, and the society in which we now live would have supported that decision one hundred percent also. However, he chose the biblical route. He chose to love Mrs. Shirley as Christ loves the church, and that meant dying to himself, putting her needs before his own.

In response to a comment made by Pat Robertson about a year or so ago concerning divorce and Alzheimer’s, Joni Eareckson Tada said the following:

At the Joni and Friends International Disability Center, we encounter thousands of couples who, despite living with serious disabling conditions, showcase the grace of God in their weakness every day. Marriage is designed to be a picture of God’s sacrificial love for us. Alzheimer’s disease is never an ‘accident’ in a marriage; it falls under the purview of God’s sovereignty. In the case of someone with Alzheimer's, this means God's unconditional and sacrificial love has an opportunity to be even more gloriously displayed in a life together![1]

I know what Joni said is true because I have witnessed it firsthand. Mrs. Shirley and her husband were love personified. As one lady said of her parents, “It was the ‘being there’ when nothing was left but the bad. It was one taking care of the other in the most humbling of ways. It was one depending on the other with as much faith as she had.”[2]

I know that it was only by the grace of God that Mrs. Shirley’s husband was able to care for her in such a selfless and sacrificial way for all those years. It was that same grace that sent Jesus to that old, rugged cross to die for crimes He had not done (2 Corinthians 5:21). And if you will turn from all sin and trust Jesus Christ alone to save you, that same grace will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Staying Together Is a Choice

Love suffers long and is kind…
[love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4, 7-8

Today I know a couple who is going through a rough time in their marriage. I won’t name them or give away any clues as to who they are, but this post is for them.

Over the last few months, I have come to know about a very wise and influential couple. Neither one of them have ever met me. They do not know my name or have any clue that I know theirs. However, God has been using them in a great and mighty way in my life. Here is what their daughter recently had to say about their marriage of nearly forty years:

My parents would NEVER want me to say they had the perfect marriage. No one does. It’s how they handled the bad WHEN it came. And believe me, it came to our house on more than one occasion.

It was the CHOOSING love and grace when anger and walking away was more logical. In our society today, we hear the question “why get married?” For my parents, it was a commitment they made that enabled them to stay together even when times were tough. And 40 years later, we can look back and learn from this strong commitment.

I am thankful I was able to learn so much from them. They demonstrated love in the most beautiful ways. In the most quiet ways. At the end of my Mother’s life, I have never seen such love between 2 people, and it had nothing to do with flowers, cards, or dates. It was the “being there” when nothing was left but the bad. It was one taking care of the other in the most humbling of ways. It was one depending on the other with as much faith as she had. They are love personified, and it is a privilege to say I have been there to witness it.*

I may not be married myself, but I have been around the block enough to know that staying together is a choice. It is a mindset. “It [is] choosing love and grace when anger and walking away [is] more logical.”

The couple who makes staying together their only option will stay together until death separates them for only a little while. That is not to say that they will never have problems. They will have problems. As my friend has said, it is how we handle the bad when it comes. Our problems may be too big for us to fix on our own, but God is still in the restoration business. It has always been His goal to restore relationships; not tear them apart or throw them away. If we will take our problems to Him, He has promised to fix them. But we have to listen. We have to trust. We must obey Him.

Maybe you’re here today and you are walking through the valley of the shadow of divorce. Maybe your face is so close to the wall that you don’t know what color it is. If that’s the case, I can’t help you. I’ve not been there. I don’t have that kind of experience. But Jesus knows what you’re going through. He knows you better than you know yourself. And He is calling to you, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Don’t run away. Don’t part. Rather, cling to the one whom you vowed to love, honor, and cherish till death do you part, and cling also to Jesus for He is the only one who has the power to sustain you and save your marriage.

If you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know the hope that I have spoken of today. However, there is a way for you to know that hope today. Two thousand years ago Jesus died on an old, rugged cross for your sins and for mine. Three days later He rose from the dead, defeating Hell and the grave. It was that same restoration power that He wants to use to restore and heal your broken home. Will you trust Him today? If you will simply turn from all sin and trust in Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jesus, the Door

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
John 10:9

A door can mean many things. Doors serve as entrances. Doors serve as exits. But more importantly doors serve as protectors. In the summer doors keep out the heat. In the winter doors keep out the cold. During storms doors keep out the wind and the rain. Doors also keep out all those pesky critters—including the human variety—that would invade our homes in the event of their absence. I am convinced that when Jesus said, “I am the door,” He was thinking of all of the above and more. My friend, Jesus is the ultimate door—He is the door to life.

What a wonderful thought it is to think of Jesus as “the door.” And I can never think of Jesus as “the door” without thinking of the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. When Joseph was tempted, he did not stick around to work things out. No. He literally ran for the door, leaving all else behind. And that is what we can do with Jesus. He is the door out of tribulation and into a beautiful haven of rest.

Today, you may be struggling, but Jesus is saying to you, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). No matter what you are facing in this life, I promise you that, if you will go to Him, He will shelter you.

Maybe you’re here today and you have never given your heart and your life fully over to Jesus Christ. If that is the case, you need the door of salvation. My friend, Jesus is that door. He promised that, “if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” So what are you waiting for? If you will simply turn from all sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thought for Today

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man,
made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: 
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 2:22-23

Don't ever use the term "traditional marriage." Marriage is marriage. It is more than a tradition. It is a sacred institution designed, defined, established, and founded by God Himself. He has defined marriage as a covenant union between one man and one woman, for life. No matter how hard man my try, what God has defined in the beginning, no man can redefine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

They Cannot Understand You

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

I realize that I had promised to post about something else today, but I really felt the Lord leading me to write about this particular subject instead. Have you ever been so angry at sinners for doing what sinners do? I mean, have you ever been so enraged that you just wanted to confront that person and say, “You’re wrong!”? I have. However, God has taught me through His Word that confronting such a person in such a manner will not do me or the other person a bit of good.

The Bible says that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). To fully understand the meaning of that verse, we first must understand what the message of the cross really is. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” The cross was an instrument of death. It was meant for execution, for severe punishment and cruelty. Therefore, when Jesus tells us to take up our crosses, He is saying that we must be willing to die to ourselves—even being willing to lose our physical lives, if necessary. This world does not like to hear that. They love their sin, and they do not want to give it up.

I believe that it is possible for a person to fall so in love with his own sin that he will go to the very ends of the earth itself to justify it. Therefore we cannot reason with these people. The only way to get through to them is to break the stronghold that Satan has on their lives. And there is only one thing that can do that—the blood of Jesus.

We must show these people that they are sinners in need of Savior. We must warn them that their sin can only lead to death, but that Jesus can only lead to life eternal. We must invite them to repent of their every sin and trust in Christ alone to save them. And we must let them know that, if they will do that, He will save them and keep them saved forever.

It is only once a man has come to know Christ that he can truly understand and appreciate the Law of God. Before, he only saw God’s Word as a thick, dusty book designed to take all of the fun out of his life. However, after he has come to Christ in repentance and faith, he can say with Adrian Rogers and know it is true that “when God says, ‘Thou shall not,’ He is only saying ‘don’t hurt yourself;’ and when God says, ‘Thou shalt,” He is saying ‘help yourself to happiness.’”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday Night Thoughts

Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

The one major thing that has been all over the news lately is the movie theater shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado last Friday night. As we were watching the story on the news last night, my mother said to me, “Wouldn’t you hate to be his parents right now? Don’t you know everyone who sees them is going to think, ‘Oh, your son is the one who shot all of those innocent people’”? My response may shock you. I simply said, “Well, I think they should be held responsible.”

Why do I think that his parents should be held responsible for a crime that he has done? Proverbs 22:6 tells me that if parents will “train up a child in the way he should go…when he is old, he will not depart from it.” And because of that verse, I believe that one’s parenting skills can be judged quite fairly by the actions of his children.

Now I am going to say something that some may think unfair: it is easier to come to an accurate conclusion about one’s parenting skills based on a child’s poor and rebellious behavior than it is based on a child’s good and honest behavior. Just because a child walks uprightly does not mean that his parents do the same. However, whenever you come across a child whose heart is full of rebellion, you will almost always find that one or both of his parents failed to take to heart Proverbs 22:6.

While I am not married and I do not have any children of my own, I have seen enough people my age ruin their lives to know a thing or two about parenting. Several years ago, I began to look at the lives of people I know, and I began to put two and two together. The ones whose parents let them make their own choices about everything seemed to always get mixed up with the wrong crowd. However, the ones whose parents sheltered and protected them from all evil proved to be more than capable, mature adults when time came for them to leave their parents’ nests.

Tomorrow, I will share with you what I believe to be the number one key to fulfilling Proverbs 22:6; or, as Ray Comfort says, “bringing your child to Christ and keeping him there.”

If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, I invite you to do so right now, before it is eternally too late for you. If you will repent of your sins and trust Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A True Southern Belle

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a blog entitled If I Were My Mother, I'd Tell Myself... Every post is written in memory of this lady's mother, who she lost to cancer some months ago. It is truly an inspiring blog, and I highly recommend it. I especially liked yesterday's post: "Raise Yourself A Southern Belle." When you get the time, you really should check it out.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is One Life Better Than the Other?

The other day someone said to me, “I am against abortion completely…unless the life of the mother is in significant danger.” How is it that people can call abortion murder in one scenario and then call it a lifesaving procedure in another? Do they think that, because the child has not yet been born, God values the life of the mother more than the life of the unborn child? Psalm 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” God loves children, even those who have not yet been born. It is not His will that even one be harmed for any reason.

Suppose a mother and her young child are walking alone in a back alley. All of a sudden, a masked man appears out of nowhere with a gun. The mother quickly grabs her child, sticks him in front her, and says, “Here, shoot him instead, but please let me live!” Even the most coldhearted criminal would not have the least bit of sympathy for a woman who would do something like that. Yet that is exactly what someone is advocating who says that abortion is permissible as long as the life of the mother is in significant danger. The fact that the child has not actually been born yet makes no difference. Who are we to say that one life is more important than the other?

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
with baby Josie
Michelle Duggar was forty-three years old when she became pregnant with her nineteenth child. I’m sure there are many doctors who would have suggested to Michelle that she have an abortion due to her age and the fact that she has a history of preeclampsia. However, I am very thankful that Michelle did not listen to anyone who said such things. She went through with the pregnancy and now is the mother to a very precious baby girl named Josie, who is perfect in every way.

I suppose there are some who will say, “Well, what if both end up dying”? We cannot see the future. And even if we could, murder is still murder. We are to work as hard as we can to save both lives, and leave the rest up to God.

God is the only one with the power to give life and to take life. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). If you are reading this today and you do not know Jesus as Lord of your life, you have not yet truly lived. Jesus also said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). If you have not yet acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord, I invite you to do so today. And I promise you on the authority of the Word of God that, if you will repent of your sin and trust Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Choosing Love and Grace When Anger and Walking Away Are More Logical

Yesterday, I found this wonderful blog post through a friend on facebook. It was written by a friend of my friend about what she has learned from the thirty-nine year long marriage of her parents. I found the last few paragraphs to be very touching, and I feel that they describe exactly what God meant marriage to be. If everyone would take this lady's advice and "choose love and grace when anger and walking away are more logical," oh how the divorce rate would drop!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What Can I Say on Father’s Day?

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.
Proverbs 20:7

I wanted to post a special Father’s Day message today, but hesitated because I really did not know what to say. My own father has been dead for ten years. And for ten years, I have tried my best to run from every memory I have of him. For ten years, I have never talked about my father on my own freewill, and I have tried desperately to change the subject as quickly as possible whenever someone brings him up in conversation. Today, however, I have decided to use my story to encourage others, mainly fathers and sons.

Growing up, I had a very distant relationship with my father. I can count on one hand how many times I saw him or even talked to him the last few years of his life. I always thought that I was fine without him, that I didn’t need him in my life. However, I now realize how wrong I was all those years. Children need both parents in their lives. One is not better than the other—they are equal in their importance.

From the very day I was told of my father’s death until about two years ago, I felt nothing but anger and hatred toward my father. I often even told myself that I was glad that he was gone. I have since been able to forgive my father for walking out of my life. And since that day, I have only had feelings of regret—regret that I never got to know him as the man that God always intended him to be.

There is one question that continually runs through my mind. What would my life be like today if my father had not made the foolish choices that he chose to make so many years ago? Would he still be here? Would we be together as a family? I’ll never know the answers to those questions. However, if you are a father, you can give the answers to those questions about yourself to your own children right now.

If I could say one thing to every father in America, it would be this: walk in righteousness and teach your children to walk in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And to children, I would say love, honor, and cherish your fathers. Make this day special for them because it very well could be the last day you will ever have together.

I do not have the assurance that my father is in Heaven. Therefore I do not know that I will ever see him again. If you are a father and you are reading this today, the greatest gift you could ever give your children is to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And the greatest gift a child could ever give a father is to do the same. If you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, I plead with you to come to do so today. If you will simply repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Never Too Young: Learning from Little Joe

Several months ago, I became reacquainted with the television series Bonanza. I have very fond memories of lying in the living room floor and watching Bonanza with me grandmother when I was a young kid. However, watching it now, I have come to realize that the show is not only excellent entertainment; it is a wellspring of wisdom and knowledge. Bonanza is timeless, and it is just as relevant to society today as it was in the ‘60s.

The character I find myself learning from the most is not the wise, gray-haired Ben Cartwright, but his youngest son, Little Joe. You see, I can relate to Joe because I too am still quite young. I am a twenty-one year old college student. When the series began, Joe Cartwright was only seventeen years old. He was very young. He was the impulsive one. He could be hotheaded at times. However, as Ben Cartwright said in one episode, “[Joe] may be young and he may be foolish, but he's honest and he's honorable. I trust him with my life and so can you.”

Little Joe reminds me that we are never too young to do the right thing. I’ve seen him take on the job of temporary sheriff at the age of nineteen and stop two hired killers singlehanded. I’ve seen him put his life on the line for others—even complete strangers—countless times. I’ve seen him stand up for what was right and speak out against what was wrong, even when the whole town was against him. Even at such a young age, Joe Cartwright was a man of unwavering integrity.

Last night, I got to thinking about some of the people God used in Bible times. Mary was but a young, teenage girl when she gave birth to the Lord Jesus. David was just a kid when he slew Goliath. Then there was Daniel who faced the lions’ den for refusing not to pray to the God he loved. And there are many more. I personally believe that Jesus taught in the temple at twelve years old just to show us that no one is ever too young to be used of God.

The fact that I am a twenty-one year old college student is not an excuse for me to act like a schoolboy. I feel that my generation has been ruined because people haven't enough faith in us to expect what they should out of us. I am reminded of this every time I think of Joe Cartwright or watch him in Bonanza. Everyone was so much more mature back then. Oh how I wish it were that way now!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tell Me This Does Not Mean What I Think It Does

Today I saw this in the online ad for JCPenny. If this picture and the wording beside it mean when I think they mean, it is a crying shame and JCPenny has definitely reached an all-time low.

I have always shopped at JCPenny. Therefore it saddens me to say that, as long as they continue to support the homosexual movement, I will shop there no longer. It is one thing to stand up for the freedom of choice. However, it is another thing entirely to force another person to accept and support the ungodly, heinous, self-destructive lifestyle of someone else. I will not have my money go to a company who will in turn use that money to support something that I feel could very well be the death of this nation.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hoppy, Gene, and He

Roy Rogers and Daughter
Roy Rogers was my childhood hero. I never watched Hoppy or Gene, but I sure did look up to Roy. And now that I know more about his personal life, I look up to Roy Rogers far more now than I ever did then. Unlike many TV heroes, Roy was as much of a hero off screen as he was on screen, and that is what made him so great.

Roy felt that he had a responsibility to his audience. He felt obligated to be a positive and godly influence to the thousands of children who gathered to watch his movies every weekend. Roy did not act a certain way simply because the script said so. No, whatever Roy said and did came straight from his heart.

Many times, childhood heroes are forgotten. They are outgrown and left in the past. We take their posters off our bedroom walls, stick them in a cardboard box with all of the other paraphernalia, and store it all in the attic to collect dust and never be spoken of again. Roy Rogers, however, is not someone you can do that with. He stays with you for life, and so do the things he taught you. That is because a true hero can never be forgotten.

I am forever grateful for the influence that Roy Rogers has had on my life. He provided me with good, wholesome entertainment when I was a kid. And now that I am older, he is someone who I can look to for guidance and pattern my life after to be the man that God has always intended me to be. I only hope that one day I can be half the husband and father that he was to Dale and their nine children. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Storm: When Grandmas Pray

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Mark 4:39

I have been thinking a lot lately of my grandmothers, so I thought I would share another precious memory from my childhood. When I was a young boy, I was terrified of storms. Why, even just a simple rain cloud could send me into a frenzy. I had to have been no more than five years old when I was visiting my grandmother and great-grandmother one Saturday afternoon. We had just finished eating supper when a terrible storm came. It was thundering and lightning and raining as hard as ever. And I of course was petrified. But my grandmothers knew how to calm my fear.

We sat down on the couch in the den and Granny (a different Granny from my last post) sat on one side of me and MaMa sat on the other side. They said, “Let’s pray.” And so they began to pray that God would calm the storm. When their prayer was over, I opened my eyes, lifted my head, and peered out the kitchen window to see that the wind had stopped and the rain had ceased. There was no question in my mind that day that there is a God and He heard my grandmothers’ prayer. And to me, that meant that He cared about me.

Friend, I still think about that day often and I still know that there is a God who hears me when I speak to Him because He cares for me. And He has put me here today to tell you that no matter what storm you face in life, He can calm it. He is the Master of the wind. Just trust Him.

Maybe you’re here today and you have never come to know Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. If that is so, I pray that you would come to know Him before it is eternally too late for you. Turn completely from all sin and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. If you will do that, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reminiscence: Remembering Granny

"Grace was in all her steps. Heaven in her eye.
In every gesture dignity and love."
~John Milton

Haskell and Marie Rhodes with a much younger me.

Lately I have seen some things that have helped to bring back warm, happy memories of my great-grandmother. I like to think that I have always loved all of my grandparents equally. I have always been very close to my grandmothers, especially. However, there has always been a very special place in my heart for my Granny Rhodes. She was my mom’s mother’s mother. She’s gone on to Heaven now, but I thought I would take some time today to share with you some of the fondest memories I have of her. I have learned so much from the life she lived, and it is my prayer that you can also.

The one thing I remember most about my Granny is her humble, selfless, and giving spirit. I noticed this about her from the time I was very young. When I was a young boy, she was not only Granny to me but she was also babysitter. Sometimes, to keep me from getting bored from sitting around the house all day, she would take me to visit her friends. However, I have no recollection of her ever showing up at anyone’s doorstep empty-handed. Whether it was a pie that she had baked or fresh picked vegetables from her garden, she always had something to give to the person we were visiting.

My Granny had the greenest thumb around. She loved the outdoors and she loved to grow things. Every summer, Granny would turn the back portion of her yard into the largest vegetable garden I ever saw. Squash. Green beans. Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Okra. If you can name it, she grew it. Her summer gardens provided many Sunday dinners for our family. My Granny also grew strawberries, blueberries, and figs, which she used to make the most delicious pies, cakes, and preserves.

Granny had her gardens for more than just our family, however. I cannot remember a summer when Granny did not invite friends, family, and church members to freely pick from anything she had grown. And it would not have bothered her the least bit if they had picked her garden clean. Giving brought her the greatest satisfaction. And it was her giving spirit that always determined what she did and how she did it.

My Granny was a calm, gentle woman. She was soft-spoken. She had the patience of Job. I have absolutely no memory of her ever being angry or raising her voice about anything. Perhaps my earliest memory of her was her explaining that very thing to me. I must have been no more than three or four years old. While I do not have the slightest idea what day it was or what I had done, I can remember her words very clearly. All I remember of that day is her carrying me through her dark hallway, the wood floor probably squeaking as she walked, and her deep, soothing voice saying ever so gently, “I told you Granny don’t get mad easy.” Those words were all it took to brighten my day. And after having spent fifteen wonderful years with her, I can tell you from experience that those words were very, very true.

Though she was always patient, gentle, kind, and soft-spoken, my Granny was no pushover. Anybody that knew her will tell you that in a heartbeat. A classic example is a story told to me after Granny’s passing. Where we live, we have always had to take our garbage to the dump ourselves. One day while at the dump, Granny unknowingly put something in the wrong dumpster. The overseer there did not take too well to that and said something to her about it. Unshaken, she simply looked the man in the eye and said, “Well, would you like me to crawl in there and get it”? The overseer stopped his complaining and walked away, and Granny simply finished what she had gone there to do.

My Granny only left home three times a week. On Fridays, she went to Betty’s beauty shop. On Saturdays, she went to the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. And on Sundays, she drove two miles up the road to Beaverdam Baptist Church where she attended faithfully for more than sixty years. And whenever she went out, she was usually the best dressed person around. However, when she was at home, she dressed for comfort.

I have very fond memories of my Granny’s unique fashion choices. I can see her now walking around the yard in one of my Papa’s old, ragged shirts, her famous polka dot polyester pants, and those old, black leather shoes—one of which had a hole in the sole from when she stepped too close to the fire when burning trash in her back yard. And how could I forget the walking stick? My Granny never went out in the yard without that old, homemade walking stick that my Papa had made so many years ago. It was tall and straight and had no handle. I never could figure out which end was the bottom and which end was the top. My Granny was not the least bit feeble. She did not need that stick to help her walk. I always kind of thought of it as a symbol of the strong, independent, powerful woman that she was. You know the saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Yes, that was my Granny.

Two weeks before she would go into the hospital and never return home again, I sat down on that old, hard, tacky sofa covered by a hand-crocheted green afghan and had a heartfelt, sentimental conversation with my Granny. She did most of the talking. I don’t remember a whole lot of that conversation, but I will never forget what she said right before I left her house that day. She said, “I love you. Don’t ever forget it.” And I haven’t.

Just writing this today has brought back so many memories. Not a day goes by that I do not miss my Granny. Whether it is the way she pronounced words ending with the letter “a” (she always pronounced them as if they ended with “-er” instead), her quick wit, or the way she would throw her table scraps in the bush beside her back porch (sometimes you would see a dog or cat walking around the yard with ketchup or mustard on its back and you would know that the bush was not the only thing beside the back porch when Granny decided to throw out her scraps), I simply miss having her around. She was a joy and a delight to grow up with. And I am honored and privileged that of all people God chose me to be the one to call her my great-grandmother. What a day it will be when we are reunited in Heaven!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Unique Gift for Newlyweds

When I have the time, I like to watch old Bonanza reruns when they come on TV Land on weekday afternoons from 3:00-6:00. Yesterday’s 3:00 episode was entitled “The Storm.” To briefly summarize the episode, an old friend visits the Ponderosa and she and Little Joe, the youngest Cartwright, fall in love as they reminisce about years gone by. They decide to get married, and Joe and his brothers work to restore an old, abandoned cabin on Ponderosa land. When the work is complete and the brothers venture inside to admire their work, Adam, Joe’s oldest brother, tells him that there is one last thing and points to a covered object on the floor. When Little Joe asks him what it is, Adam pulls off the sheet and reveals a baby’s cradle.

 In today’s world to a young man about to be married for the first time, giving him a cradle or a crib would most likely be seen as some sort of practical joke. He might even see it as an insult. Most young couples are not ready to have children. They see children as a hindrance, a bother, something that will just get in the way of their time together as newlyweds. But Joe Cartwright did not see it that way. When Adam pulled away that sheet, Joe’s face lit up like the noonday sun and he smiled from ear to ear.

God certainly does not see little children as a hindrance. He loves them, cherishes and adores them. And for some reason, He puts them in our care to love and protect them, to teach them and to train them to be the people that God has always intended them to be. Raising a child is a wonderful privilege, and yet a great responsibility. It takes men and women of undeniable and unshakable faith to step out on faith and heed God’s call to die to themselves and become godly parents who are not afraid to “train up a child in the way he should go, [that] when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Peacefulness of the Night

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Romans 1:20

I am often amazed at how people can deny the existence of God yet they enjoy the beauty of His creation. As I write this, I am sitting on the balcony of a rented condo at one of my favorite places on planet earth—Myrtle Beach, SC. It is currently around midnight and I am out here alone, enjoying the peacefulness of the night. As far as I can tell, there is no one on the beach, the lights are off in most of the surrounding condos, and most of the campers in the travel park next-door have ventured into their RVs and campers for the night. There is no noise. There is only the calm, peaceful sound of the ocean.

I cannot see anything on the beach. Most everything is black. Some might wonder why I am even out here. However, the cooling breeze, the sound of the ocean, the stars in the sky; all these things remind me that this world did not happen by chance. God made them all, and sometimes we just need to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life to realize that. How freeing it is to know that there is a God and I am not Him!

If you do not know Jesus as Lord of your life, I beg you to come to know Him before it is eternally too late for you. If you will repent of your sins and trust Jesus alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Little Wooden Church on the Hill

For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.
Matthew 18:20

I was raised in a very small conservative Southern Baptist church a few miles from our home. And often times I would go with my grandmother to her church, which was very similar to my own. Both churches had less than two hundred members. You could have combined both churches and still not have filled one of their sanctuaries. Everybody knew everybody, and I felt like I was home when I was there. I loved the church I grew up in and find myself missing it more and more with each passing day.

I am now a member of a much larger Southern Baptist church in the same area as the one that I grew up in. What made us leave that quaint little church nearly ten years ago I’ll never know. But I miss it. I feel that it was the size of the church that made it so special. When your church is so small, it is almost like the whole congregation is just one big, happy family. You know each other’s needs and you all work together to meet those needs. You are there for one another. If something happens, it doesn’t take long for everybody in the church to know about it.

We have been at the church where we are now for almost ten years now. Even after that length of time, I still do not know everybody’s names. And I am constantly discovering new people that I did not even know attended our church—people that have been members of our church for years. I find it difficult to be a functioning church family when it is virtually impossible to know every member of that family. It is sometimes a little strange when a name you have never even heard before is mentioned on the prayer list. My mom is constantly taking out the church directory to see what so-and-so looks like. Or she will often ask me “Do you know who they are”? It actually can be quite discouraging at times.

I can remember going to my grandmother’s little country church as a kid and being known by every member there, even though I did not live in the area or attend their church on a regular basis. And they did not know me as “Sue Ann’s grandson;” they knew me as Tommy. There was even one lady that called me “Little George” after my father. While I didn’t particularly care for the nickname, it gave me a sense of comfort to know that the people there were so personable. I felt like they cared about me as a person, and not just because my grandmother was a member of their church. You don’t get that feeling at larger churches.

I feel that churches nowadays are more concerned about numbers than they are about serving God and serving each other. When you visit one of these new mega churches, they have no way of knowing you were even there until they find the slip that you filled out and put in the offering plate. If you were to visit my grandmother’s church or the little church I grew up in, you would be greeted by every member, know their names and the names of all of the children and grandchildren (and probably even the name of the dog), and know their occupation and where they live all before you leave to go the restaurant that day. It would feel more like a family reunion than your first visit to a new church, and that’s exactly the way that it should feel.

About a year ago, the interim pastor of our church talked about accountability within the church. He said that the one major flaw in mega churches is that it is virtually impossible to have accountability within those churches, if only for the fact that it is virtually impossible for everybody to know everybody within those churches. Not only is accountability important, but I feel that a church family should be able to walk the journey of faith together. And you cannot walk together if you do not know each other. It is critical that members within the same church have relationships with one another, and that is virtually impossible within larger churches.

Maybe I am taking Matthew 18:20 too literally, but I long for the days of the little wooden church out on the hill. I am tired of being discouraged because I cannot find a likeminded person within my own church. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” I find it hard to believe that God ever intended for his people to go to church just for the preaching. I believe He intended for His people to know one another, love one another and to love and serve Him together. But how is that possible if we do not even know each other’s names? That is why I believe that it is imperative we return to the days of the little old wooden church out on the hill.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Maxine on Jesus

Remember this lady? My great-grandmother used to buy her on tissue boxes. I realize that not all of her cartoons are all that wonderful, but I like this one that my mom sent me this morning. Hope y'all enjoy it too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Father, Draw Them

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:44

Have you ever heard someone say something like this: “That person needs to get saved”? If so, have you ever questioned the thought process behind that phrase? It might just be me, but I feel that that particular phrase is implying that man can save himself. But the Bible tells us different. Jesus said that “no man can come to [Him], except the Father which hath sent [Him] draw him.” It is God that does the saving—not man.

A wise man once said, "You don't find God—He's not lost. You are, and He finds you." My mother taught me to pray: “Father, may they come to know You before it is eternally too late for them.” I have since added the following plea: “Father, draw them unto Yourself.” So the next time you pray for the lost, make sure you pray that God would seek them out, because the Bible makes it clear that “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).

If you think what I just said means that you have to wait for some supernatural sign before you can come to Jesus, you are wrong, my friend. Second Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” You know what that tells me? It tells me that God is calling upon you this very minute. All you have to do is listen and heed His call. If you will repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Custodian’s Mindset

But in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known unto God.
Philippians 4:6

Below is a song that I very much enjoy listening to because it reminds me of so many people that I know. Some of those people, I have no doubt pray for me by name every day. I once met one very special lady that touched my life in a way that it had never been touched before. I have never met another person like her since that day, either. As we were talking, if something was said that she felt the Lord needed to hear about, she would pause and take that situation to God in prayer. At first, I thought what I was witnessing to be very strange. I had never met anyone like that before. However, I later realized that what that lady was doing was and is very biblical.

I also like to hear Gordon Mote sing this particular song because it reminds me of what God wants for me. Philippians 4:6 tells me that God wants me to take every situation, every circumstance, every problem, every triumph, every victory to Him in prayer. James 4:2 tells me that I have not because I ask not. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” God doesn’t need us to pray so that He can know how to meet our needs; God wants us to pray as a way of inviting Him to change our lives for all eternity. God wants me to be fully dependent on Him, and prayer is how He does that.

There is a saying that goes something like this: “Work as if everything depends on you. Pray as if everything depends on God.” My friends, everything does depend on God. And when we fail to go to Him in prayer, we show Him that we have failed to realize that everything really does depend upon Him. I realize that we must put legs to our prayers. However, if we would each set aside time every day to tell Him all about it, I am convinced we would see a great revival in this nation.

If you do not know Jesus as Lord of your life today I pray that you would come to do so before it is eternally too late for you. No matter what anyone has told you in the past, in order to be saved, you need not say a thing. “The sinner’s prayer” will not get you to Heaven or put you in a right relationship with Him. If you truly want to be saved, you only need to do one thing—trust Jesus. And as a result of His saving grace, you will willingly repent of all sin as a way of saying thank you to the One who gave His life for you. No one who has come to Jesus in true repentance and faith has He ever turned away.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Woman Who Hasn't Lost Her Sense of Community

Although I am not a huge fan of MSNBC, I am a huge fan of what this woman is doing. Reminds me of my grandmother.