"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 21, 2015

The Greatest Man I Never Knew

First of all, I would like to start this post by wishing all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. If I remember correctly, it has been three years since the last time I wrote anything about my own father. My father and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up. And when he died unexpectedly in 2002, I began trying my best to forget that he ever even existed. All that changed, however, several years ago when I realized that the unforgiveness I was harboring in my heart against him was doing more harm to me than it ever would do to him. A couple years ago, I explained my feelings about my father in a letter to a good friend, and I would like to share part of that with you here today.

Speaking of my father, I spent the first eight years after his death trying to erase all memories of him from my mind. The truth is I hated my father for choosing his selfish, sinful lifestyle over our family. He didn’t actually walk out on us, although he did; my mother kicked him out. I’ve told very few people this, but my father had a drug problem. He took his own life the same way his musical hero, Elvis, took his. He and the rest of the family kept it well hidden, but it was there. I knew he didn’t have a valid driver’s license, but I never really questioned why. It wasn’t until after his death that the truth began to come out. It was then that I started to put two and two together and begin to truly understand the reason behind some of the things that had happened when I was younger, like why he never could keep a steady job, the real reason he didn’t have a driver’s license, etc.

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I realized that what I was doing was very wrong. God commands us to forgive. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” A very wise person once said, “Forgiveness is for the forgiver.” He was dead. Me holding a grudge wasn’t doing one blessed thing to him, but it was eating me alive. So I chose to forgive and bear my grudge no longer. Since then, my thoughts toward him have changed completely. Now, instead of being glad he was no longer a part of my life, I wish he still was. And I often wonder what it could’ve been. You know, if he had gotten help, if they hadn’t got a divorce. Would he still be here? Would I be writing about his successes rather than his failures?

Reba McEntire sings a song called “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” (No, I am not a Reba fan. I just know the song exists. I much more prefer songs like “My Mother’s Faith.”) Nobody knew my father like my grandmother. She was his biggest fan, even though I know the life he chose for himself broke her heart. To hear her tell it, he hung the moon. And she’s told me on several occasions, “I know you know the bad, but there was a lot of good.” That’s why I like to think that my father was the greatest man I never knew. It’s also why I pray that I will live my life in such a way that my children will get to see the man that God always intended me to be, instead of the other way around.

Although my father professed to know Jesus Christ as Lord, I still lack assurance of his salvation. The fruit simply wasn’t there. If you yourself are a father and you are here reading this today, I beg you not to let your children be able to say the same of you one day. In fact, that is the only reason I have chosen to share my story with you here today. Please, if you have yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, please do so before it is eternally too late for you. If you will simply turn from all sin and trust Christ alone to save you, he will save you today and keep you saved forever.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Where My Future-Wife Can’t Be Found

The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord,
that she may be holy both in body and in spirit.
1 Corinthians 7:34

I recently described several reasons why I have chosen not to follow the typical modern-American dating process. However, in giving you that list, I am afraid I left out the most important reason of all. That reason being that the type of lady I wish to marry cannot be found on the dating scene. If she’s looking for me, I’m certainly not looking for her. I have no desire whatsoever to marry a woman who feels that she has to have a man in order for her life to be complete.

A few years ago, I made out a list of things to look for in a future wife. These are all things that I can see from a safe distance without becoming romantically involved, such as whether or not she dresses modestly and how she treats others around her. However, the entire list can be summed up in this: she spends every minute of every day serving God and serving others, seeking every day to know Him better than she did the day before. A woman like that has no time for the dating scene.

You see, the type of woman I’m looking for can’t be found at the singles’ bar or on any of the online dating sites. No. You won’t find her knocking about downtown on a Saturday night, either. Where you will find her is with her family serving up her famous fried chicken and macaroni pie. You’ll find her on the neighbors’ doorstep delivering a freshly baked cake to welcome them to the neighborhood. You’ll find her driving the elderly neighbor lady to the grocery store every Friday morning. You’ll find her weeding her grandmother’s flowerbeds. You’ll find her playing with her nieces and nephews in the backyard. You’ll find her at the church every time the door is open. You’ll find her by her bed on her face before the Lord. That’s where you’ll find the kind of woman I’m looking for.

The Bible tells us that Isaac met Rebecca while she was going about her daily chores watering the camels. The servant that was sent to find her knew that she was the one because she offered to water his camels as well. She had no idea that doing so would land her a husband. Being from the south, I certainly hope that my first encounter with my future-wife will involve some sort of comfort food, but it better not be on the other end of a fish hook. A woman who’s looking won’t find me.

To me, the most attractive thing about any woman is her willingness to serve God and others. When I think of the kind of woman I hope to marry someday, images of Aunt Bea come to mind. You know, that woman who’s always busy but always has room for one more at her dining room table. Truth be told, I don’t date because I don’t have time for a woman who has time to go on a date. I do, however, have time for a woman who’s secretly looking for a battle partner who will join her on her daily mission to reach this world for Christ. Now, that I have time for.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Will You (Not) Go Out With Me?: Five Reasons I Don't Date

Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I have not been on an actual “date” in a very long time. When people question why or try to set me up with someone, as various people will do from time to time, I usually just give them the short, condensed answer of “I just don’t date.” However, after years of cultivating my mindset on the matter and earnestly searching the Scriptures to see what God has to say about it, I have decided that it’s time to let you in on my reasoning for throwing dating out the window. Before I do so, though, I would like to assure you that I do not, in any way, believe that choosing the modern-American dating concept is a sin. I do, however, believe that it can prove to be quite dangerous if not treated with extreme caution.

Training for Marriage

In the soon to be released Christian film Old Fashioned, the main character makes a comment at some point in the movie, saying, “Dating doesn’t train us to be good husbands and wives. It trains us to be skilled in the superficial.” I believe he was right. Dating does not teach us to exemplify the love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It doesn’t teach us to be patient or kind. It doesn’t teach us not to boast or envy. Dating doesn’t teach us not to be rude or think only of ourselves. It doesn’t teach us to control our anger or freely forgive without end. It doesn’t teach us not to delight in evil, but usually does the exact opposite. Dating doesn’t teach us to protect, to trust, to hope, or to persevere. No. The modern-American dating concept teaches us none of these things. Instead, all dating teaches us is what mistakes not to make when picking up the next date.

All Icing, No Cake

When I think about dating, I picture a man dangling a thick, juicy steak in front of a wild, hungry lion and daring it not to take a bite. It’s the same as putting a cake in front of a two year old and telling him that he can stick his finger in the icing but he has to wait a couple more years before he can eat the whole thing. Dating is all icing and no cake. It gives a taste of sweetness without offering the real thing.

Over the years, I’ve come to refer to dating as “counterfeit marriage.” That is because dating requires us to do all the same things married people do but before we’re actually married. Dating requires you to claim something as yours without significant proof of ownership. You can stake your claim on a piece of land. You can even set up a house on it and call it yours; however, without a title to the property, that claim won’t fly in a court of law. Dating relationships are strictly superficial, and come nowhere near being the real thing.

Premature Emotional Involvement

Perhaps the very first issue I saw with dating years ago was the fact that dating requires two people to become emotionally involved before they ever have the chance to fully evaluate the situation. Romance is blinding. Sometimes it’s hard to see past the moonlight and roses, and the truth often gets overlooked. As a result, people often get married only to realize that they didn’t marry the person they thought they were marrying. Too often, people base their decision to get married on the butterflies in their stomach instead of using their God-given ability to rationally think things through. The modern-American dating concept only makes it that much harder not to think with such a mindset.

Needless Baggage

Dating also requires us to store up years of needless baggage, and then somehow expects us to forget all about it when we finally tie the knot. If you’re like me, however, you find that hard to do. The way I see it, if those relationships aren’t going to mean anything to you once you eventually get married to someone else, why waste your time on them now? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to marry someone who’s been passed around like a Gatorade bottle in a football huddle. Likewise, I don’t want my future wife to have to marry a used husband, either.

I remember reading a story in the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye about a young lady who had a dream about her wedding day. It was more like a nightmare, really. She and her soon to be husband were standing at the marriage altar when various other women started walking forward, one at a time, and standing by her fiancĂ©’s side. When she asked who these women were, he responded (my paraphrase), “These are all the women I gave a piece of my heart to.” I can imagine her standing there thinking, “What is there left for me”? That is what dating does.

Forming a Divorce Mindset

Lastly, dating sets us up for a divorce mindset. It requires us to enter into each new relationship with an end in sight, thinking, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always other fish in the sea.” Unfortunately, this mindset often carries over into marriage, as well. Dating doesn’t prepare us to enter into marriage with an attitude of unconditional, sacrificial love. Dating prepares us to stick around only until the other person violates our trust, and then it’s time to move on. But folks, that’s not how God designed marriage to work. God designed marriage to be an ever-present reminder of Christ’s relationship with the church, and He’s certainly in it for the long haul.

No. I’m done with dating and superficiality. I’m perfectly fine with waiting until God says I can enjoy the real thing. What I’ve laid out for you here today is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it should at least give you a good idea as to why I’ve said a quick, polite “no thank you” to dating for going on six years now. I’ve come to believe that romance is meant for marriage alone, and I plan to keep it that way. No, it doesn’t mean I’m lonely because I’m “alone.” It just means I’m waiting for the right one to spend all of my time with. Others have settled and bear the scars. Don’t do the same.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Enemy Meant It for Evil, but God Meant It for Good

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,
in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Genesis 50:20

Did you watch Megyn Kelly’s interview with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar last night? It really answered a lot of questions for me and made me realize that, if I admired them before, I admire them ten times more now. There are still things I disagree with them on, but that doesn’t make the way they have chosen to handle this situation any less commendable. They were humble. They were honest. They were even thankful to Megyn Kelly for sharing their story. I saw no anger. I saw no hatefulness. All I saw was two people who are resting in the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of their Savior.

I liked when Jim Bob said (my paraphrase), “No, we didn’t really want this to come out. But now that it has, maybe those who have done something similar can look at what Josh has been through and realize that, if God could forgive him and give him a new life, He can do the same for them too.” I tell you what’s the truth, they’re handling it a lot better than I probably would. They have had so many people say so many horrible things about them in the last few weeks, and they have nothing but grace and forgiveness for those people.

As I was listening to their story, I couldn’t help but think of the verse in Genesis 50 that says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” I tell you I think God’s going to do just that as long as they will continue to surrender their lives to Him. The enemy meant to destroy them, but God means to draw them closer to Him. The enemy meant to turn people away from the Duggars and away from God, but God wants to use the Duggars to show His mercy, forgiveness, and grace. God is still in the forgiving business, and I believe He wants to use the Duggar family to declare that to the world.

Maybe you can’t find it in your heart to forgive Josh Duggar for what he did over a decade ago, but do you not know that Jesus said, “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”(Matthew 5:28)? We are also told in 1 John 3:15 that “whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him”. The Bible makes it clear that God judges us not only according to our actions but according to the contents of our hearts. So I ask you, how is your heart today?

Josh Duggar confessed his sins to his parents and to God and sought godly counsel and forgiveness. You see, there is not one sin that Jesus didn’t die for. Adrian Rogers used to say, “There is no one so good he need not be saved, and there is no one so bad he cannot be saved.” The Bible tells us in 1 John 1:9 that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Do you know that forgiveness firsthand today? If you will simply repent of your sins and trust Christ alone to save you, He will save you today and keep you saved forever.