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Undetected Idolatry

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A Great Multitude

  Dr. King famously dreamed of a world in which people were judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. But never did he dream that we would become a colorblind society. The goal is not to pretend that there are no differences in skin color, but simply not to treat people differently because of those differences.    John the Apostle also had a dream, and he recorded it for us as the last book of the Bible. Revelation 7:9 says in part, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”   In his book titled  Advocates,  Pastor Dhati Lewis wrote about that passage, noting, “Even at the heavenly worship service, God still recognizes different ethnicities.  John didn’t see a multitude ‘who  used to be  from every nation, tribe, people, and language…’”  (emphasis added)   We are not going to lose our identity in heaven,

Headless Turtles

  Pastor Steve Gaines once repeated a story he heard from his friend. This man was by himself doing some bass fishing when he suddenly had a sharp tug on his line. He became excited and began to reel in his catch.    After some struggle, he was finally able to discover what it was that bit his hook—not a bass, but a turtle. He laid the reptile on its back in the grass and tried to remove the hook. He even tried giving the back of its head a little thump, hoping to jar the hook loose. He soon realized his efforts were futile, and there was only one option left.   I apologize for the rest of this sentence, but the man took out his knife and removed the head of the turtle, putting it out of its misery. Within minutes he had a new hook on his line and had recast. But then he heard some rustling in the grass behind him, which was alarming since he was by himself. He turned around to see that turtle—headless—trying to walk. Like a snake that refuses to die, this turtle’s nerve endings were c

How Jesus Handled Criticism

  If you haven’t figured it out by now, Christian, you are being watched. The world keeps an investigative eye on us, looking for any molehill they can make into a mountain. This isn’t new. When Jesus was on earth He was endlessly scrutinized by His critics, the religious leaders that were always on the hunt for dirt to use against Him.    One such example of this is seen in Luke 6. On a Sabbath Day, Jesus and the disciples were walking through a wheat field, and His followers were hungry. To satisfy their craving, they picked some wheat and ate a few handfuls as they walked. The Pharisees were incensed. No, this was not an act of theft, as the Mosaic Law allowed for the poor or hungry to do this very thing; the only restriction was they could not fill a container.   The Pharisees were not mad that the disciples ate someone else’s grain, but that they did so on the Sabbath. This was not against the law, but was against their manmade tradition. The outraged Pharisees demanded to know wh

Peace and Quiet

Do you want peace and quiet? That is probably something that most of us desire, and yet it remains so elusive. My brother and I are only eleven months apart, so you can imagine how much noise we made growing up. When we were young I know we had to have driven my poor mother crazy at times. She would tell us she was going to go into her room and shut the door because she just wanted "five minutes of peace and quiet." I had no conception of time when I was little because my mom would disappear for an hour and call it five minutes. I was a teenager before I realized how short five minutes actually is. Now that I am a parent myself I understand that desire for just five minutes of peace. But we can certainly do so much better than just five minutes, or even an hour. How would you like to have perfect peace?  In Isaiah 26 the prophet said these words to the Lord: "You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever,

Farewell Union County

    When our U-Haul arrived on Wesley Chapel Road in January of 2008, it was just Alicia, me, and our dog. I had been called to serve as Pastor of Students at Philippi Baptist Church. We had big dreams, and we were excited to see what God had in store for us. I was two days shy of twenty-three years old.    Almost fifteen years later, we find ourselves packing up once again. We have outgrown the small U-Haul, and that old house. Our daughter became a teenager this year, and our son is three weeks shy of turning nine. Union County is all they know. They have gone to school here, played soccer and took dance lessons here. Their whole lives have been spent here, and nearly half Alicia’s and mine have been as well.    That is what makes leaving so difficult. Our eight years at Philippi and six years at Putman have introduced us to so many wonderful people that have become like family. As we pack our belongings into boxes I cannot help but reflect on the memories that we will also take with

Whatever

    I recently heard that there is an annual survey conducted to determine the most annoying word of the year. For multiple years running (I didn’t catch how many) the people have spoken and deemed “whatever”as the word they least like to hear.    People don’t like this word because it is usually said with a bad attitude. When two people get into an argument and one has run out of things to say, they just sigh loudly and say, “whatever.” It is a word of indifference; rather than thinking of something even remotely clever, we just shrug and utter this tired cop out.    But whatever doesn’t have to be an annoying word. It has the potential to do the opposite; it can lead us to rejoice. It can be freeing rather than frustrating. Consider how Paul used the word.   Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise