"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, 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).