Aug 21

The End of Total Solar Eclipses!

by evgenij kursai at free images.com

Today is the day of first Total Eclipse to travel the length of the United States since 1918.  Eclipses where you live are rare events.  Researches who have studied the orbits of the earth and moon believe the moon is moving 3.8 centimeters away from the earth each year. The effect of such movement means that over time the moon will get farther from earth so that it will not create a total eclipse anywhere on earth.  So enjoy the total eclipse now, because they won’t happen forever. “When will this happen?,” you ask.  Scientists estimate this will not occur until 650 million years from now.  So I don’t think you have anything to worry about!

You may be thinking, “This is really, pointless and trivial knowledge.”  And I agree, with the exception that I want to make a spiritual point to your life with this knowledge.  What did you think when you read 650 million years.  That number seems unfathomable.  You probably thought the world will not even be in existence that long from now.  You likely just dismissed it because there is no way it has any relevance to your life now.  But here is the thing–you will be around 650 million years from now.  You likely won’t care much about solar eclipses.  You will be in eternity.  Abiding with God or cast from his presence.  And while that number seems unfathomable and super far away, in the spectrum of eternity, it is still short!

When you really stop and consider it, you realize the import of the short time you spend on earth.  It determines your eternal destiny!  Enjoy the eclipse today!

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Source –

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/what’s-very-last-solar-eclipse

 

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Aug 16

How We Can Eclipse the Son!

The so-called Great American Total Solar Eclipse will darken the skies across the continent on August 21st.  This is the first time in 99 years a solar eclipse has covered the continent of America.  Here in Western Kentucky we are blessed to be in the “path of totality” that will travel across the U.S.  A solar eclipse happens when the moon creates a shadow upon the earth.  Literally, the moon blocks the rays of the sun and covers it up.  Total eclipse conditions only lasts for a couple of minutes.¹

This will create an unforgettable and unique celestial event.  But contrary to what some have said, there is no Biblical evidence to support any prophetic significance to the solar eclipse.  The eclipse doesn’t mean Jesus is any nearer returning than he was in 1918 when a total solar eclipse travelled the length of our continent and WW1 was raging on.  No one knows when Jesus will return, and thus we should always be ready for his return (Mat. 24:36).

by evgenij kursai at free images.com

The face of Christ is said to shine like the sun (Rev. 1:16).  He is the “Light of the world” (John 9:5).  We are to reflect his light to the world as Christians.  Our work is often compared to the typical role of the moon.  The moon doesn’t produce light, it only reflects the light of the sun upon the world.  But on Monday, the moon will actually block the sun’s light.  How do we do the same with our lives?  How do we eclipse the light of Jesus with our actions?

  1. We eclipse the light of Christ when we focus on our own glory.  There are thousands of competing stars in the sky.  But none shine upon earth with the splendor of our sun.  We don’t need to be a competing star in this world!  The disciples argued about who was the greatest, and Jesus rebuked them (Mat. 18:1-4).  Arrogant and haughty Christians that want glory and recognition for their good deeds and accomplishments block the light of Christ.  Jesus said we are to do good deeds so that people can give glory to our Father in heaven; not to ourselves (Mat. 5:16).
  2. We eclipse the light of Christ when we inaccurately represent Jesus to the world.  All Christians are going to struggle in measuring up to the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:13).  But when we play the role of a hypocrite to the world we block Christ being seen in us.  A hypocrite is simply an actor who pretends to look like a Christian outwardly and in certain groups, but truly is far from God.  Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Mat. 23).  The world needs to see sincere believers, rather than hypocrites who claim to follow Jesus, yet actually live like the world.
  3. We eclipse the light of Christ when we bring darkness into the world.  Christians are to be “children of light” (Eph. 5:8).  We are commanded not to walk in darkness (1 John 1:5-6).  When Christians spread hatred, bigotry, greed, lies, and lust into the world we block the light of Jesus.  We join Satan’s team, rather than being a light in a twisted world.  When we give into evil thoughts, malicious actions, bitter words, and jealous feelings we yield to darkness.  We must “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12).

The eclipse this coming Monday is a rare event.  But shamefully, it is not a rare event for Christians to block the light of Christ.  We block his light because of our arrogance, hypocrisy, and sin.  Let’s repent and let the light of Christ shine through in our hearts and lives.

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¹  https://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html

 

 

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Aug 15

Our Trip Back to Roan’s Creek

It had been five years.  Yet, when we returned it seemed like we had never left.  I held a Gospel Meeting with the Roan’s Creek Church of Christ in Clarksburg, Tennessee.  My whole family got to attend the meeting.  It was a wonderful week for us.

The Roan’s Creek church traces its history back to 1825.  I hold the distinction of being their first full-time minister.  I originally started on a five-month trial period from August of 1998 to January 1999.  I passed the trial and would begin working full-time with the church after getting married in January of 2000.  I started dating and married Amanda during my time at Roan’s Creek.  We left Roan’s Creek in August of 2002 to pursue going to Asuncion, Paraguay with a mission team.  That didn’t work out for us, but thankfully we ended up in Mayfield, Kentucky where we have been ever since.

We showed the kids our first home.  We stayed at Natchez Trace park by Pin Oak lake.  We used to go out to this site regularly to ride bikes, walk, and let our dog Rebel run free.  It was a time of reflection and refreshment for us.  A break from the busy schedule of home, home-school, and farm chores.

Here is a list of thoughts I had during the meeting:

  • I am grateful the elders in 1998 took a chance on me.  I wasn’t much of a preacher yet.  One lady reflected on the first sermon I preached as feeling sorry for me, because I was so nervous and shaking.  But they tried me and my life is different today because of the experience I had with Roan’s Creek.  The older I get and now understand better what I probably looked like as a young 22 year old to these seasoned elders, I am thankful for their love and the risk they took.
  • I am grateful for faithful brethren.  It is so encouraging to return almost exactly to the date 15 years later and see so many of the same faces faithful in the Lord’s work.  These are dear friends who mean so much to us.  Of course, numerous ones have passed, some have become unfaithful, new ones have come, but it is so encouraging to see the “old faithfuls.”  Faithfulness is special and should not be taken for granted.
  • I am grateful for the early years with Amanda.  Kids are great and a middle-aged stable life with a house and farm are nice, but sometimes we miss the simple bliss of the early years.  I enjoy going back to FHU and Roan’s Creek area because they are special spots for our courtship and marriage.  It is where we fell in love!  We had wonderful times growing up together and learning what it means to be married and be adults.  The brethren at Roan’s Creek were great to us as a young couple.
  • I am grateful for Mark and Lori Simons.  I am so grateful that God brought Mark and Lori to the work at Roan’s Creek as we were leaving.  They have done a tremendous job with the church.  They are special friends and very respected servants of God.  The growth, stability, and continued success of Roan’s Creek is due in large part to their wise, hard-working, and dedicated efforts.  I am thankful he has continued a legacy of preaching the Word of God in love and truth.
  • I am grateful my wife and kids can go to gospel meetings with me.  Going to a gospel meeting is a special thing for our family.  It isn’t easy, as it requires lots of packing and leaving home, but it is so worth it.  My kids especially love going to Roan’s Creek.  A big reason for this is the tremendous home-cooking you get every day of the meeting.  The family enjoys meeting new people and add so much to my work.  Brooke had the quote of the trip when she said late Sunday night, when I asked her about my sermon, “Dad it is a good thing we are the only ones that follow you around, because you preach the same thing every gospel meeting.”  I got a kick out of her quote and hope they will have fond memories of attending meetings with Dad.  Being that I preached on heaven and hell Sunday which prompted Brooke’s statement, I really hope that repetition causes it to go down deep into their hearts.

Thus, we left Roan’s Creek once again grateful for the opportunity to return to one of our homes.  It was just like home should be–familiar, good food, warm embraces, God-centered, and sad goodbyes.  Lord willing, we will do it again in four years Roan’s Creek!

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Aug 03

School Supply Reminders!

istock Photo

It is back-to-school time in our area. The many activities and loose schedules of summer are replaced with the rhythm and schedule of school.  Many parents have been purchasing school supplies for their kids.  The kids are excited about new items.  As kids return to school, I would like to give them some reminders of what they should be for Christ in the school.  By looking at their desk each day, their school supplies can remind them of some valuable lessons.  

  • Scissors remind us to cut the harmful influences out of our lives. The Bible teaches “bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).  The friends you choose to associate with will directly impact your life.  Be assured if you are going to be successful in school and life you will have to cut some harmful influences out of your life.  It is not easy, but it is necessary.
  • Glue reminds us to stick closely to the Word of God.  The Bible calls us to “shine as lights” in the midst of a “crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:15).  The way we are able to do this is by “holding fast to the word of life” (Phil. 2:16).  Be glued to the truth of God’s word and it will be a light to your path (Psalm 119:105).
  • Rulers remind us to measure our words.  Paul gives some great advice for our students when he says, “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).  When you see a ruler let it remind you to control your words, and limit them appropriately, or they will get you in trouble.
  • Clocks on the wall remind us to make the best use of our time.  Clocks regulate the school day.  They tell us when to begin, how long each class lasts, and when to end.  But what clocks don’t tell you is how to use the time in the middle.  We only have a limited amount of time in each day to use.  Clocks remind us to make the best use of our time (Eph. 5:15-16).
  • Paper and pencil remind us we are writing our own story each day by the choices we make.  Teachers will require students to do a lot of writing this year.  But the most important story that is being written may never make it to paper.  It is your life story.  Each student is writing their own story by the choices they make, the attitude they present, and the love they share.  When you are using your paper and pencil, remember you are writing your life story everyday.  Make it a best-seller!

I pray for our students, teachers, and administrators as school begins again.  May these school supplies be a reminder of what God calls us to be as students and teachers.

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Idea came from Adam Faughn Podcast in 2014

 

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Aug 02

Small-Thing Faithfulness!

Bible by Steven J. Sullivan at www.freeimages.com

We admire the big-thing faithfulness. We laud it in decade anniversary celebrations, 40-year retirement parties, and in funeral eulogies about the person’s lifelong faithfulness to Christ.  Big-thing faithfulness is what all of us want and desire.  Christians want to be faithful until death (Rev. 2:10).  People get married intending to celebrate a 50th anniversary one day.  We go to work and save our money intending to store up wealth and retire comfortably years in the future.  We intend to be regular worship attenders and actively involved in our home church.  This is the big thing faithfulness.  I have premarital couples fill out a goal sheet for their future.  It always includes these big-thing faithfulness items.

Yet, we are seeing a tremendous failure in our culture with faithfulness.  God desires faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2).  Faithfulness involves being trustworthy, dependable, and committed.  It doesn’t just happen.  It requires commitment and intentionality.  Our problem lies in the fact that we desire the big-thing faithfulness, but are not willing to do the small-thing faithfulness.  

Jesus taught us, “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10).  Here is the key!  We accomplish the big-thing faithfulness through doing the small-thing faithfulness everyday!  This is what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  We have to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily!  This daily part is where it is difficult.  How many of you started an exercise program with great intentions and goals in January that has long been cast aside?  The tough part is choosing to do the program daily.

So if you want to accomplish the big-thing faithfulness, then you have to do what may seem small or trivial now.  To be faithful to Christ until death you have to choose to read your Bible regularly, pray daily, and attend worship.  To be faithful to your spouse over 50 years you have to choose to enrich your love each day through seemingly small acts of love.  To be faithful to your career you have to show up to work and put forth an honest day’s work.  We accomplish the big through doing the small everyday.  

So start today by being faithful!  Do it everyday!  And in the end you will hear the sweet words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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Jul 12

How The Church Should Be a Human Chain!

On Saturday evening July 9th, 10 people had been pulled 100 yards off the shore of Panama City Beach.  A riptide had separated these individuals from the shore and was threatening them with drowning.  Some of the ten were adults who had gone trying to rescue two young boys and got pulled into the riptide themselves.  Rescuers on the shore were waiting for a boat to aid the victims, when someone started yelling to form a human chain.  Beach goers began linking arms and legs forming a 100 yard human chain.  Then they would pass each of the exhausted swimmers through the chain back to safety.  All ten were saved.  One 63 year old lady caught in the riptide experienced a massive heart attack, but is expected to survive.

Washington Post Picture – Courtesy of Roberta Ursrey

This story is a visual illustration of what the church is to be to the world. 

The church must link arms and legs in service and unity to reach out to the world.  Our calling is to be united together in our outreach.  Our evangelism cannot be based solely on the preacher or sermons given from a pulpit.  We must link together, combining our talents to rescue the lost.

The church must pass the rescued along to the shore of safety.  The image of them passing the drowning victims through the human chain back to the shore is insightful.  When someone comes to Jesus, everyone in the church should want to touch them.  Every person is needed to encourage and rally around them as they learn the Christian life.  We must show our support and give them a helping hand in their journey to heaven.

The church must be willing to risk wading out into treacherous waters to save sinking sinners.  The beachgoers who entered the water, risked their own lives to save others.  We must be willing to take risks and step out in faith in order to reach the lost.

How is your congregation doing as a human chain leading others to salvation?  Maybe more directly, how are you doing in linking arms with other Christians to rescue drowning sinners from the world?

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Washington Post Article 

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Jul 09

Austin and Brooke’s PGA Junior League Golf

We are having fun playing golf this summer.  Our two oldest children, Austin and Brooke are playing in a league.  They play in matches or games that involve our team playing another team.  They pair up into two man scramble teams and take on two players from the other team.  They have done well.  I made this video with some highlights of their first four matches.

 

 

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Jul 07

Finding Your Center!

We live in a world of chaos.  Our lives are like walking through a crowded mall during Christmas.  We are surrounded by stores attractively designed to grasp our attention.  Salesmen working a kiosk booth ask for a few moments of our time to sell us what we have always needed, but never knew we wanted!  Fame, fortune, and pleasure all are doing the same things to us every day.  They promise happiness and joy, but often leave us deceived and battered.  We wander through life bouncing in-and-out of stores and listening to various salesmen!  Where is our center?

Jesus understands the allurements the churches are facing in Asia.  After speaking to each of them, he reminds them of the throne of God (Rev. 4-5).  God is to be on the throne of our heart as He is truly on the throne of the universe.  How do we stay connected to our center, in a world of such chaos and divergent pathways?  We worship God regularly!  Worship centers us in God.  It puts Christ on the throne and us as grateful servants.

As John pictures the throne room of God, he describes the ongoing worship of heaven.  The 24 elders and the 4 living creatures sing praise to the Creator and Eternal Being (4:8-11)!  They cast their crowns before Him (4:10).  A scroll is brought forth and its message is revealed through the power of the slain Lamb (5:1-7). Prayers of the saints ascend as incense to God (5:8).  The redeemed praise the slain Lamb through who’s blood they are ransomed (5:9).  This is worship!  This is what Christians do when we assemble.  We center our hearts and minds on the throne of God.  We join the heavenly multitude in worshiping God.  We sing, preach, pray, offer, and commune in honor of the Lamb who was slain.  Worship is not when the natural and the spiritual world compete, but when they coordinate!  

We need worship regularly to stay anchored; to stay fixed to the center.  Without worship, we do not even know our circumference!   We lose sight of the boundaries thet are good for us.  We become selfish and arrogant individual doomed to bitterness and sin.

Sunday’s coming!  Gather with God’s people to find your center!

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Ideas originated with Eugene Peterson’s book Reversed Thunder – ch, 5

 

 

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Jul 02

Lewis: The Lamb Fearful of Sheep

Lewis is a six months old Barbados Blackbelly sheep on our farm.   His mother died when he was born.  We bottle-fed Lewis for the first two months of his life.  Lewis had a twin brother named Clark, who sadly died unexpectedly at about a month old.  Lewis is strong and healthy.

But he has one big problem.  He is afraid of other sheep.  He identifies with us and chicken better than the herd of sheep.  The other sheep look just like him.  They are not mean to him.  He is fixed so he offers no threat to the ram.  But he fears the other sheep.  Maybe he thinks the others are judgmental.  Maybe he believes the others have their own group and they will not accept him in it.  Maybe he doesn’t want the restrictions of being in the herd.  They play follow the leader and all act the same, maybe he wants to be different.  Maybe he feels like he is not one of them, even though he looks like them.  Maybe he just wants to be by himself.  But whatever it is, we are sure his identity is confused.  He doesn’t have a proper self-identity.  He is a sheep without a herd.  

Do you know any human sheep who act the same way toward the church?  They are fearful of the church.  They believe they will be judged.  They are rebellious of being in the herd and going along with what the church is doing.  They love their independence and just as soon be alone making their own decisions.

What Lewis doesn’t realize is that he is made to be a sheep!  He may have a messed up personal identity, but he was created to be a sheep.  He can only truly fulfill his purpose and place in this world by being a sheep in the herd. He is missing out on the love, protection, and companionship of other sheep.  He is open to prey, lacks community, and has constant anxiety because he refuses to try the herd.

I beg all of of the lost sheep out there who refuse to seek their identity in the church to quit being afraid of Christians.  Realize you were created by God to be a part of the church.  The church isn’t perfect, but it is God’s herd on earth created for our protection, love, and companionship.  

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Jun 30

Musings on Lee and Grant and the Civil War

I just finished listening to William C. Davis’ book Crucible of Command:  Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee–The War They Fought, the Peace They Forged.  The book is 688 pages in hardcover and took over 24 hours to listen to it.  I listened to it over a period of 4 months.  I really enjoyed the book and I wanted to share some thoughts with you about it.  This is not a review or a factual history lesson from the book, but simply some of my reflections on the book.

  • Both Lee and Grant were men of high moral character.  It is often assumed that men of power are allowed indiscretions in their personal character and morals.  Affairs are common for military and political leaders.  Both Lee and Grant struck me with their desire for honest and Christian virtue.  Grant’s presidency is known for corruption, but much of that has to do with him blindly trusting his friends and appointees.
  • The concept of a Civil War is really unnerving to consider.  You have men like Lee who served in the US military his entire career until 1861.  You have citizens who have worked and lived together for decades now being forced to choose sides.  But this is not just a political divide, but one that turned quickly into war.  I found myself a bit unnerved with how quickly our forefathers could let political differences dissolve into killing one another.  You can talk about all the reasons, but in the end, they were fighting and dying for these causes.  As our nation today seems to be more divided and contentious, I don’t predict Civil War, but I do fear how quickly it can turn from political and social difference to bloodshed and brutal fighting.
  • Lee’s view of God was fascinating.  Lee grew significantly in his protestant faith from a young man to his war years.  His wife likely had a large influence upon his personal faith.  But what was fascinating to me was his view of God’s providential workings.  He believed that it was all up to God’s divine plan.  Victories and defeats were all ordained by the sovereignty of God.  He took courage in being risky in his decisions as well as finding peace in sending men into battle because of the providence of God. He believed God was on His side and the battle’s outcome was left to God.  He then was able to resiliently handle defeat and encourage Christian conduct and peace in the post-war area because he saw the outcome as God’s will.  He was very cognizant of his own sinfulness and desired greatly the peace and rest of heaven.
  • The desire to heal and move on was remarkable.  These two giant leaders help forge the peace.  While the south was destroyed and newly freed black slaves were being mistreated throughout the south, these leaders help encourage their people to work for unity.  They sought peace and prosperity for their futures.  Lee encouraged labor, education, political influence, and Christian virtue.  Grant sought restraint towards and pardons for former Confederates.  He wanted states to be readmitted into the union and worked as President to draw the nation together.  Grant was conciliatory even in death as he had two confederate generals serve as his pallbearers along with Northern leaders.
  • History is never as clean or clear as the public narrative wants to suggest.  Today, we are taking down statues of Lee and seeing his name being disassociated with because of him being a southern general.  Grant is often portrayed as an overly aggressive butcher in war and later a corrupt president.  History involves many more details and shows that both men had many admirable traits as well as flaws and problems.  A study of their lives shows they are far more complicated and intricate than today’s image may suggest.

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