Tuesday, May 26, 2009

4 Things You Will Never Regret

Someone once said that it is better to sleep on what you plan to do than to be kept awake by what you've done. People often look into their past and have many regrets about what has been done or undone. The best way to get over past mistakes is to make some improvements today. There are some things that we can do that we will never regret.

1. Show kindness to an aged or person or a person in need. Many people agonize over a phone call or visit that they wished they had made. Opportunities pass and people leave us suddenly. When we think of others first we will always feel better about ourselves and better about our relationship with God. Doing things for others is doing something even greater for yourself.

2. Do your best. Ecclesiastes 9:10 - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going." These are wise words from the wisest of men. The time is coming when you will not be able to give it your best shot. The number one regret statistically involves people wishing they had tried harder in school. My high school trigonometry teacher once told me that I could choose to work hard early and rest later in life, or I could rest now and work hard until I die. He was right. When you do your best you will never have to look back and think about what you might have been able to accomplish.

3. Spend time with your children. "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord..." (Psalm 127:3). The word "heritage" means "inheritance." People neglect their kids trying to leave an inheritance for them. What they fail to recognize is that their inheritance IS their children! Take a day off work sometime just to spend a day with one or more of your children. Go to their games, support their school projects, be involved in their lives. I wish I had a quarter for every time an older person has said to me about my children - "Enjoy them now at this age, they will grow up fast." If you have children in your home right now, you are one of the most blessed people on the earth.

4. Become a Christian. Agrippa was almost a Christian (Acts 26:28). So many people end up in this same state. To stand before God in the judgment having never obeyed the gospel is to have accomplished the greatest failure in human history. Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 7:10 - "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." When we change our minds and hearts and make the decision to be right with God, we have made the single, most important decision of our lives. Christianity gives us hope, consolation, forgiveness, peace, direction, and all of the other things in life that no other endeavor will afford us. Of all the titles one can hold, there is none greater, than "Christian" (1 Pet. 4:16).

"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." ~ John 13:17

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Bill Morgan writes - "On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: 'James Butler Bonham--no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.' No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers."

How is the world going to know who Christ? The Bible paints the true portrait. It tells us who He is and what He has done and where He now resides. The apostle John wrote near the end of his gospel - "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30-31).

Beyond the Bible, Christians have the responsibility of bearing His image as well. To be like Christ, to look like Christ in everything we do, is the highest and most noble goal of Christianity. Eph. 5:1-2 says, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Paul also wrote, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).

The greatest of challenges lies before God's people. The very idea that we could be anything like the Son of God is humbling. Sometimes it seems like such an unachievable goal. But nothing is impossible with God's help. Throughout the New Testament, verse after verse commands that those who are children of God must be disciples of Christ. Peter wrote, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).

Jesus is our example. He is our Lord. He is the one who we should walk like, talk like, and act like in everything we do. How is the world ever going to know Jesus? He is not here in the flesh anymore. There are no pictures of Him. But He has relatives that are supposed to look just like Him. He has given us the key to bearing His image.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." ~ John 13:34-35

Friday, May 8, 2009

$100 for a Home Run

Shortly after moving to Lawrenceburg, TN, I met Odus Campbell. Odus introduced himself to me in the foyer of the church building. He told me that I could easily remember his name because it was the same as the guy from the Andy Griffith Show. Odus was a kind man with a good singing voice. He loved to worship God and he loved his family. Odus passed away a few years ago but his legacy and life continues.

When his grandsons, Frank and Bobby, were playing baseball, I remember Odus made them a proposition. He told them if they hit a home run over the fence that he would give them each $100. Well, Bobby hit a home run - $100. Then Frank hit a home run - $100. Not long after Bobby's first home run, he hit another home run. So he wanted to know if he was going to get another $100! I believe Odus replied that the limit was $100 per person. But no one could blame Bobby for trying!

It is important for us to support our children and grandchildren. The legacy that Odus and Willodean, and Terry and Beth have left for their children and grandchildren is love and support. To love and support our kids should be the easiest thing for us to do. To offer them rewards for a job well done adds incentive to their work and helps them to progress and do their very best. As I consider Frank's graduation, and the others who will graduate this year, I think of the support these kids have received from important and influential people. I also believe that their continual success will depend much upon constant support and love from the people in their lives who matter the most.

God has portrayed Himself to us as a loving Father. He is a God who wants to reward us for a job well done. He is a God who believes in us, is patient with us, and who is rooting for us. He is a God that will never leave or forsake us. He is a God who will always offer us a home and shelter from the difficulties and challenges of life.

What I wish today, is that Odus could see how well his grandsons are doing. His influence reached far beyond the field of play. His deepest desire was to spend eternity with his family. His greatest legacy to his family has been his Christian life. Since his passing, Frank and Bobby have become Christians. They are good boys, who I am proud to say are members of the Pulaski St. congregation.

We have a great group of young people. They are still learning and growing. They are not going to be perfect. But they need our support and love. As they are being rewarded this time of year for what they have accomplished, let's remember that there is a heavenly reward that we want to see them realize. Let's do everything we can to help make it happen. God did.

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" ~ Matthew 7:11

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Hard Preaching"

Recently while doing personal work, I have been reminded of a familiar phrase. Many people I come into contact with have either left the church, are struggling in their faith, or are perhaps are just not very dedicated - maybe not ever fully converted. They often tell me that they have in their past, been subject to a steady diet of "hard preaching." For some time now I have been trying to get to the true meaning of this phrase. Those who tell me about it usually give details. At this point I think I am ready to share what I have learned.

1. Hard Preaching is giving people an impossible standard.
Many feel like the pulpit has delivered to them a system of rules and regulations they can never keep. One of the reasons why folks never commit themselves to the Lord is because they are assured of their future failure. Paul said that Jesus came and delivered us from a law of this nature - "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col. 2:14). Hard preaching offers little grace. It relies heavily on commandments and does not speak much of forgiveness. If the preacher does not offer the sinner any hope, then why would the sinner ever desire to make a change?

2. Hard preaching is harsh in tone.
Have you ever felt hated by the preacher? Have you ever been afraid of him? Have you ever wondered if his only desire was to make you squirm? Have you ever had to debate with yourself about whether or not the preacher loved you? Some preachers, in their desire to preach the gospel boldly, end up damaging their relationships with the hearers. I have heard some things from the pulpit over the years that were hard to swallow. When they were difficult to receive because of my sin, it was my fault. But when they were difficult to receive because of the demeanor and manner of delivery, it was not my fault. Jesus got angry for the right reasons. He was firm in what he taught. But mostly, He was gentle. His invitation was issued kindly - "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).

3. Hard preaching in not balanced in its scope.
People will perceive that they are receiving negative lessons if the preacher does not preach the whole counsel of God. People need to know about the reality of hell, the consequences of sin, and the work of the devil. They also need to know about the mercy and grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, faith, hope, and love. What I have found to be interpreted as hard preaching usually has nothing to do with these subjects. It is mostly the result of a preacher who hammers away at a particular problem that he would like to see resolved - worship attendance, dedication, weak members, et cetera. I will be honest, the preacher is usually more discouraged by the church than he is by the world. But I am learning that if we are going to motivate the brethren, honey is a better tool than a baseball bat.

4. Hard preaching is in the eye of the beholder.
Some people think that any preaching that challenges their way of thinking is unkind. Other people beg for sermons that will scare them enough to get their hearts right with God. There are definitely going to be times where the preaching is imperfect. Maybe the preacher is not on his game. Maybe the lesson is poorly constructed. Maybe the preacher is abusing the pulpit to let out frustration. In spite of the preacher's weaknesses, people who know the Lord and who are familiar with His word can glean the best parts of the sermon. It is all in our attitude. The preacher's responsibility is great, but the hearer's responsibility is just as great. We are all worshiping together. We need to make the most of every minute and give the glory to God.

Hard preaching is not the goal of any preacher who has the love of God in His heart. Our goal is to preach the gospel, plain and simple. The power is in the Word. It will change men. It will break hearts. It will comfort. It will save.

"but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ" ~ Ephesians 4:15