Shout Now! Victory Is At Hand.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you are about to score. The football may not have breached the goal line; the basketball may still be in the hands of your best 3-point shooter, yet, that overwhelming feeling of victorious euphoria is welling up inside of you. Go ahead… start shouting!

This morning, I read my devotion from one of my favorites, Vance Havner’s Day By Day: A Book of Bible Devotions.  Today’s verse was Joshua 6:16, “And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.'” I pray you know the story, if not, read it HERE. Joshua and the children of Israel were embarking on the conquest of the land promised to them by God. Coming to Jericho, God presented a unique plan of attack: marching around the heavily fortified walls of the city for six days with some trumpet playing for good measure. They were not to let their voices be heard until God told them to shout.

Sounds like a winning battle plan if I’ve ever heard one, huh???

As crazy as that may sound, the key point to the story is the first thing out of the Lord’s mouth when He shares this plan with Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hands…(Joshua 6:2).” It was a done deal! The rest of the plan was just faith. Havner says, “Faith is the land deed for our inheritance with God’s signature.”

Dear child, what has the Lord been telling you? What audacious victory has He already promised you? Is he merely waiting for you to demonstrate your abiding faith in Him? Maybe it requires you to do something different from strolling around a walled city and tooting your trumpet or stepping out of a perfectly good boat, but rest assured, whatever He has promised on your faith journey, He will do.

So go ahead and SHOUT! The victory is already won.

The Enemy is on the Prowl, but Jesus is On the Throne!

As I write this, I’m sitting in my hotel room in Wake Forest, NC, having just completed a two-day workshop and preparing for five more days of seminars at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a Campus Pastor, it is a little awkward knowing I will not be behind a pulpit in the morning, but rather taking the opportunity to visit a local church for worship and, hopefully, pick up ideas that might help us “do church” better.

It is also awkward knowing that this time away from my home church coincides with our VBS. Beginning tomorrow evening and going all week, ISBC Glenwood will be in full on Agency D3 mode! This little calendaring oddity became known months ago, but it makes it no less stressful for me. To compound things, as I am driving to school this past Thursday evening, ISBC Glenwood gets struck by lightning frying various phones, computers, sound boards and other vital electronics. I could go on with more personal situations happening in the lives of members of our body, but you get the idea.

It should come as no surprise to us that the enemy is seeking every way possible to thwart the Kingdom advance we are experiencing at ISBC. People are confessing Jesus as Lord, people are being baptized, people are joining in where God is at work and when that happens… attack is imminent.

As I sit here tonight taking inventory of all the strife and difficulty, two things come to mind. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us who we are up against AND James 1:2-4, which reminds us that we should “consider it all joy… when we encounter various trials…” I am fervently praying that the Holy Spirit would have His way with folks at ISBC this week. I am pleased and humbled by the knowledge that He can carry on with His work in spite of the fact that I am nowhere to be found and some little piece of electronics might not work. And when He does, we will give Him the glory for the lives that will be transformed by Him and for Him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

World Vision Reverses Decision. Upholds God’s Word.

Three days ago, World Vision announced their decision to allow the employment of “legally married same-sex couples.”  While still denouncing the sins of fornication and adultery, they effectively embraced the sin of homosexual behavior. Even more absurdly they compared views on homosexuality to the denominational differences regarding baptism and other ecclesiastical practices. Appropriately, this decision was  met with thunderous opposition from nearly every sector of Christendom. After all, World Vision has been a flagship organization providing for needs of all kinds all over the globe for decades, all the while doing it in the name of Jesus.

Yesterday, World Vision did a complete 180, asking for forgiveness for their short-sightedness and, furthermore, standing upon the Word of God. Now while some may question the true motivation for the reversal, one must applaud their willingness to do the right thing. Many of us prayed for their repentance and World Vision has done so. Below is the link to the Christianity Today article:

 

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html

 

I have already read the posts, tweets and comments from the liberal media and liberal Christ-followers who denounce World Vision’s decision to reverse their stance. I will undoubtedly hear from some who are horrified that an organization founded on Christian principles would dare to actually believe and abide by something that is plainly stated in the Holy Bible. So here is what I will say in a nutshell:

Tolerance does not equal love! The Apostle Paul wrote: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). What this is saying is that those who continue in sin, maintaining habitually sinful practices, will be eternally separated from God. As a Christ-follower who, by Christ’s own words, is known by love, for me to tolerate or otherwise overlook a sinful lifestyle (no matter the kind of sin) THAT IS NOT LOVE! I care too much for people and where they might spend eternity to stand aside and allow them to plummet to hell without at least trying to intervene.

Paul completes his thought in verse 11, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” WE ALL HAVE SINNED AND HAVE FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD (Romans 3:23), BUT JESUS… JESUS died on the cross paying the penalty set for us. To continue in a sinful lifestyle makes a mockery of His sacrifice and is an indicator that Christ is not a part of his or her life.

Thank you, World Vision, for doing the right thing. Tens of thousands of men, women and children will now continue to be recipients of the wonderful ministry you have offered these many years. Please continue to allow God’s Word to be the lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.

Thoughts on a Snow Day

SnowFebruary 12-13 brought the south, more specifically, East Tennessee, the first significant snowfall we’ve had in years. On this lazy day I had a few thoughts.

Forecasting weather in East Tennessee is a little like juggling knives. If you get it right, people think you’re a professional and are supposed to get it right. If you get it wrong, it hurts a little and people sometimes through knives of their own. Kudos to the crews at WJHL, WCYB and WKPT. You got this one right! You may have kept some folks from being injured or worse. You didn’t hurt the local grocery economy either! Thanks for the job you do.

I want to thank my good friend, Ryan McReynolds, and the entire Kingsport Public Works Department for their tireless efforts before and during this storm to see that most of the main streets are passable. You also receive more than your fair share of complaining and not enough pats on the back for jobs well done.

The older I get and the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I believe that nothing happens by coincidence. For that reason, I wonder what I am supposed to do on a day like today. Perhaps the snow is meant to slow us down, to knock us off the beam of the routine. Maybe the snow gives us a chance to reframe, refocus, rethink and repurpose some things.

Then again…

Maybe the snow is just random movement of low and high pressure systems that meet under the right atmospheric conditions to produce frozen precipitation that covers the ground.

Your worldview and theological understanding determines which of these scenarios make the most sense. What’s your view?

I know and own mine.

Now go play in the snow.