Marriage: A good gift from God

And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

As we prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day with that special someone, I want to address those who are married and those who hope to be married one day with words of encouragement about marriage.

Marriage is first a gift from God. Because it comes from the heart of our Creator, it is a good gift. God created it and His desire is for His children to enjoy it.

Secondly, marriage allows me the privilege to experience unconditional love, both receiving it and giving it. While there are days she and I find ourselves at odds, my wife and I choose to love each other in spite of our flaws. This is not a natural choice for us but one God has placed in our hearts to do. After all, He unconditionally loved us by sending His Son to die for us – sinners deserving His wrath.

Finally, marriage allows me to get up every morning and experience life’s ups and downs with a woman who has promised to stay by my side no matter how difficult the circumstances. My job is to love her and cherish her, protect her and provide for her. She deserves it.

Marriage is not easy. It is a lifetime investment. It takes hard work and commitment. It’s also the best thing that ever happened to me (second only to Jesus saving me). I am thankful for my marriage and my God who created it.

I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Living victoriously

I am thankful that I am living a victorious life. Before your mind takes you to the wrong place, let me explain what I mean by living a victorious life.

I am not referencing large houses, nice cars or big bank accounts. That is far from what I mean when I say I live victoriously. Instead, I am simply declaring what the Bible confirms – that I have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Paul writes in Romans 8:1There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. What a wonderful verse of Scripture. As a believer, I am no longer condemned for my sin. Why? Because it was Jesus who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34).

This is how I know I am victorious. It’s not because I am successful or wealthy, have a great wife and wonderful children. It’s not because I pastor some of the best people around. I am not victorious because of my achievements. Instead, it is the result of the work that Jesus did for me.

Believer, don’t walk discouraged. You are not defeated. I know how easy it is to feel defeated, to feel like I’ve failed. Because I will fail. I will make mistakes. I will sin. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Today, live victoriously, with a grateful heart toward the One who gave us the victory – Jesus Christ!

When God messes up my plans



My wife will tell you that I am one who likes to plan ahead. When we take a vacation, I like to plan it out. Yet, no matter how careful I am with the details, something will go wrong.

Life is that way. Recently, at a men’s Bible study I started last year, the study leader asked me to fill in for him. I said sure. I had been studying a passage of Scripture for some time and felt like the message I had in mind would be perfect for the men who attend regularly.

As we all sat down around a table to begin the study, the door opened. Was it one of our regulars who was running late? No, it was a teenager. He came in barefoot, tousled hair and with a Bible in hand. Trying to catch his breath from the mile run from his house to where we were, he asked if he could join us.

Sure, we all said. Little did we know what would happen next. As he sat down, he told us he was agnostic and didn’t believe what was in the Bible. Immediately, I knew, my planned Bible study was out the window. And that was a good thing.

For the next hour and a half, several of the men and myself answered the young man’s tough questions. The good news, he was seeking. God had brought this teen to our Bible study. I was honored that God thought enough of us to bring him to our study. And, I was thankful he listened intently to us as we shared Jesus with him. He didn’t receive Christ that night. But he plans to join us again. I am excited about that.

You know, I love when God messes up my plans. He never ceases to amaze me.

A starving people

I believe biblical illiteracy is a major problem within the church today. I would say that it is THE BIGGEST problem. Those who claim to be believers really don’t know what they say they believe because they are biblically illiterate. The result: Our church doors have been flung wide open, allowing false teachers to enter the church and starve the people of the Truth. Sadly, we are sitting idle and watching it happen.

I am a Southern Baptist. I look around at my denomination and see churches struggling with doctrinal issues and moral issues all because of biblical illiteracy. It’s time for pastors and church leaders to step up and confront this problem. We must pour our time into our people so that we can raise up a generation of men and women who know the Scriptures. We must preach and teach the Truth of God’s Word faithfully. It is the only way we can combat the heresy that is creeping into our congregations at an alarming rate.

I don’t have all the answers to the woes of the church today. This I do know, biblical illiteracy is a major problem. If we do not deal with it, we will see churches continue to move further and further away from the Truth.

Do you agree that biblical illiteracy is a problem in the church today?

He is not here, for He is risen!


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Matthew 28:5-7But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” 

As Christians, all that we believe rests on the truth found in these verses of our Holy Bible – that Jesus is risen. He is no longer dead. Without this truth, all else that we believe would crumble. Without His resurrection, He would have been just another dead leader of another pointless movement. Instead, we worship a risen Savior and Lord!

Every Easter (when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ), my church, which is located in rural South Georgia, holds a Sunrise Service. It is a time we get together as believers and worship through songs, prayer and the reading of God’s Word on the steps of our church building, as the sun rises over the South Georgia pine trees. It is my favorite worship service.

As my family and I drive out to the church every Easter morning, we are greeted with a dark night sky that begins to give way to the light of the sun as it rises over the horizon. It is as if the earth comes alive at that moment. I am reminded of the light and the life Jesus brought into this world. I am thankful that He called me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. That He reached down and gave me life, when I was dead in my sin. That’s what Jesus does. He comes down into the miry muck of sin in which we reside and rips us free from the chains of bondage. We no longer are slaves to sin. We have a new master, and His name is Jesus!

Once again, I look forward to this Sunday morning to worship my risen Savior as the sun climbs into the early morning South Georgia sky. And I am reminded of the words of Matt Maher‘s song Christ is risen:

Sing it, o death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive!

They need Jesus, not another K-Mart blue-light special

With a grieved heart, I look around and see a plethora of “churches” that are offering up a fat plate of feel-good to a spiritually-starved people rather than a hearty dose of Jesus, who can quench every spiritual thirst and satisfy every spiritual hunger pain.

Having been a pastor for over 9 years now, nearly 8 years with my current congregation, I’ve seen trends come and go. I’ve seen all the latest growth strategies and polls that indicate the church just doesn’t relate to the current culture anymore. We’re told we have to distance ourselves from “grandma’s church” and get with the “new” program.

Too often “churches” plan and scrutinize over all the latest trends to see what they need to do to keep the folks coming. To those churches, I have the Biblical answer – give them Jesus! Oh wait, Jesus offends. Jesus is too traditional. Jesus requires too much – obedience. Instead, let’s not offend. Let’s focus on the temporal things, not the eternal because that makes everybody feel better at the end of the day and it won’t ruin our Sunday dinner.

But we have to understand, the lost culture won’t relate to the pure church of Jesus Christ because it can’t. After all, Jesus called us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light to be His bride. And the darkness isn’t going to like the light. All the more reason the church must be the light, so that others can be saved from the darkness in which they blindly reside.

We are heading down a street on which we do not need to travel. Nor should we want to. We better get off at the next exit, turnaround and get back to what we’ve been called to do. We must understand, the world needs Jesus. Only Jesus. Unfortunately, the business I am seeing in “churches” today looks more like a K-Mart blue-light special rather than the mission Christ has tasked us with.

May we repent and get back to the business of spreading the Gospel!

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”Matthew 5:13 (NKJV)

‘Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?’

The story goes like this. The men were in a boat, some 3-4 miles from shore. It was the middle of the night. Suddenly, the wind was blowing fiercely. The waves were slapping the boat, tossing it up and down. The men were scared.

Some of them were experienced fishermen, but we all know fear can grip even the most experienced. Suddenly, on the waves stood something. The men gazed intensely. “It is a ghost!”, someone yelled. Then, the “ghost” spoke: “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Could it be! Yes, it was Jesus. He was with them, walking on the water toward their boat. At that moment, one of the men stood up and boldly said: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He knew it was. That was the only reason he made the statement he did. Jesus simply replied “come.”

At that moment, Peter confidently stepped out of the boat to walk to His Lord. Yes, Peter was walking on the water like Jesus! The men in the boat were amazed. Peter had never felt such a sensation. Then, the wind whipped Peter’s hair. The water smacked against his legs, stinging like angry bees. Peter looked from side to side. Fear, once again, took over. Peter began to feel himself sink. He cried out “Lord, save me!” Then, Jesus did something. Don’t miss this!  Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter and said to him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Awesome! Peter was sinking, and Jesus reached down and lifted him out of the water.

This story reminds us of that when we trials, we must: 1.) Look back to God’s promises; 2.) Know that Jesus is always with us and 3.) Trust in who Jesus is.

Jesus told His disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side. Sometimes, when trials come into our lives, we forget what God’s Word promises. He will get us through. When they did get out on the water, the wind and waves struck fear in their hearts. But Jesus came to them. The truth is, when we face trials, Jesus is already with us. Jesus knew what the disciples were going to face on the water that night. God is never surprised by our circumstances. Finally, when we do doubt. When we are afraid. When we make poor decisions in the midst of our trial, Jesus shows us grace. Just like Peter, Jesus will catch us. Remember, you are HIS. He paid a heavy price for you. He loves you and will never leave you.

There is more to the story. When Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat, those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  Today, even if you are facing a great trial in your life, take a moment to praise the One who is your Savior.

He never said it would be easy


Do you feel like every day of your life is a struggle? You seem to face battle after battle after battle. Often as followers of Jesus Christ, we wrestle with this. Why? Probably because we’ve bought into the lie that once we’re saved, our life will be easy and without problems. After all, we attend “church” and everyone seems to be fine, smiling as though they have not a care in the world. I mean, that’s what Jesus does for us, right?

Well, that’s not exactly what we find in God’s Word. If you read it for very long, you can’t help but to realize the fact that following Jesus will mean struggles and battles and persecution, often beyond our own abilities to cope. But Jesus faced those same struggles (Hebrews 4:15). In fact, if one looked at the life and ministry of Jesus on this earth, he would probably say they were failures. Why failures? Because Jesus’ own people rejected Him. His own family. He was persecuted, debated, called a blasphemer and eventually killed because of who He claimed to be. As He hung on the cross, only a handful of His relatives and friends watched. All the rest left Him (Matthew 26:56).

This was no surprise for Jesus. In fact, He tried to prepare His disciples for what would come – not just to Him but to them, also. Jesus warned His disciples then and His disciples throughout history that a life committed to following Him would not be an easy one (John 15:18). Listen, our life as Christ followers is going to be hard. It may even cost us our very lives. We must expect that. Whenever you stand for what is true, right and good, you will face opposition. War is being waged, and Jesus’ followers are in the middle of it.

But there is good news. God has promised to see us through our struggles and battles and persecution. He didn’t say we would not have to go through them. We will. But He did promise to provide us a way through the trials – Jesus Christ. Our God promises to ALWAYS be with us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Let us find great comfort in those truths.

My God has called me to follow Him, and I will. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).