Sunday, September 1, 2019

Everybody Knows


If you are a Fake or a Phony or a Fraud  --

Everybody knows.

If you are a Pretender, an Actor, a Deceiver, an Imitator, an Impostor.

Everybody knows.

If you are a Counterfeit, a Confederate -- if you are false or not genuine.

Everybody around you -- Everyone that really knows you -- they already know.

You're not fooling anybody. Everybody knows.

You may smile and nod your head, but the people that you dislike know how you feel. They know what you are thinking and they know what you say about them behind their backs.

You may smoozle up to people and adore them with praise, kowtow before them with empty adulation and condescension -- but the people that you despise - the people that you hate - the people who are the subjects of your attempts at deceit actually know the truth about you - in spite of the grand hoax that you are - and that you present.

I know that you will not believe this at all - but the people who live their lives around you are not fooled in the slightest.

Everybody knows.

I began my preaching ministry when I was 14 years old. I took my first Church staff position when I was 16 and accepted my first pastoral position when I was 20.

So, I began working for the Lord - but for and with people.

This may seem like a funny thing to say (it sounds funny to me!), but only a few years into my ministry to people, I began to believe that God had given me a special Spiritual Gift.

I truly thought that He had given me the special ability and insight to be able to "read" people.  I thought that I could judge character and motive, and that I could know what people were really thinking. I was able to look behind every mask and facade - every pretentious face and presentation - to the truth.

And then as I grew and matured - I realized with great chagrin that I was not special at all -- because everybody knows.

God LOVES exposing hypocrites. He is continually shinning light on dark souls that are trying to portray themselves as Bright Angels. He thrills at having counterfeits hoist on their own petard and foiled by their own falseness.

And He does this ALL THE TIME.

Jesus said in Luke 12:2 -
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known."

Remember what President Lincoln said?

"You can fool All of the People some of the time . . . 
and Some of the People all of the time . . . 
but you cannot fool All of the People, All of the time."

Yes - there may be a few people whom you are presently bamboozling. But eventually they will find out about you. They will figure you out - or rather, you will give yourself away.

Most people who know you -- already know about you.

Just ask somebody who lives in proximity to you -

"Do you think that I am genuine? Do you think that I am REAL?"

But be careful - you MIGHT have fooled YOURSELF - and you might be in for a terrible disappointment or embarrassment.

Numbers 32:23 says: "Be sure - your sin will find you out."

So - when you are smiling your biggest smile at me, shaking my hand, patting my back, or hugging my neck - I just wanted to let you know -

Everybody knows.


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Why I Believe

Lydia:   Acts 16:14

  
"One of the people who was there in Philippi was Lydia, who was from the city of Thyatira. She was a Merchant who sold expensive purple cloth. She was a worshiper of the Lord God, and He opened her heart so that she would accept what Paul was saying."

Why am I a Believer in God?

Why do I believe in Jesus?

I'm not a particularly Religious or Spiritual person.

I am not unusually reflective, contemplative, or Philosophical.

I am not given to superstition, cult, occult, or magic (only card, coin, and rope tricks! Ha!).

I do not believe in UFO's, Area 51, Roswell, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, fairies, nymphs, sprites, leprechauns, spooks, ghosts, or monsters in the dark or under the bed.

I no longer believe in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy (though in my childhood, I did). 

I know that Superman, Spider Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Harry Potter are all fictional, fantasy, characters of imagination and imaginary fun and entertainment.

I am skeptical and doubtful. I am suspicious and nearly impossible to convince. There is VERY little in this whole world that I believe in.

So . . . why do I believe in God? Why do I believe so deeply and profoundly in Jesus?

The Bible says that God opened Lydia's heart - and it became possible for her to believe the message that the Apostle Paul was preaching in the City of Philippi.

There were, no doubt, others by that river side on that day in that story (Acts 16) who saw the same Paul and heard the same message. Others who did NOT believe.

Lydia did not believe because of the persuasiveness or perfection of Paul's message. She was not swayed by his delivery or the ecstasy of the circumstance or situation. She was not slain by the clarity of the speaker's intellect or the alluring music of his words.

Ha! In one of Paul's letters, 2 Corinthians 10:10, Paul states that he had heard his preaching described this way:  "They say my bodily presence is WEAK and my speech is CONTEMPTIBLE!"

No, the Apostle Paul was not a crowd-drawing dynamo of Kool Aid pouring preaching. 

I was not raised in Church. 

My Mother sent my brother and I to Vacation Bible School every summer, but we seldom attended Sunday School or Church.

I can say that I enjoyed all of the boys and girls of VBS, but I remember clearly NEVER enjoying or wanting to go to Sunday Church. I always felt as if I were being punished for something that I did not do. 

My Mother's Mother - was the only religious person that I knew, and though I loved her dearly - it always chaffed me to have to join her in her bedroom for Bible reading and prayer each night when she came to stay with us.

Ah, you might say, you were being swayed, indoctrinated, brain-washed by VBS stories and the stories of your Grand Mother.

Believe ME!

I was NOT.

I can tell you with ALL certainty that I was not intellectually, mentally, psychologically, scientifically, or philosophically inclined to ANYTHING  about ANY religion, God, or Christianity. I was not even interested or curious. I was not wayward, struggling, or seeking.  I did not feel lost or searching.

I was not timid, malleable, shapeless, vacuous, sheepish, or waiting for or looking longingly for a Svengali or Mesmer moment in my life. I was clear-headed, strong-willed, and self-aware.

And then, one day - God opened my heart.

And I believed.

I have no other explanation. I am sure that Lydia had none.

In the Bible (also in the Book of Acts, chapter 13, verse 48), it says that "When they heard the story about Jesus, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers."

Jesus Himself told his disciples, "You didn't choose ME - I chose YOU!" (John 15:16)

Jesus came purposefully to the Tax and Custom Table of Matthew and said, "Follow me."

On the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said to Peter, James and John, "Follow me - I'm going to make you fishers for men."

EVERY ONE of Jesus' followers could make the same claim. THAT is why they followed Him. THAT is why THEY believed.

Jesus told the EXTREMELY Religious and Pious Pharisee, Nicodemus, that the only way that he would ever be able to SEE (perceive, grasp, accept, believe) what Jesus was talking about was if he experienced a New Birth that came from Above.

Believers are not smarter, more intelligent, more perceptive, more spiritual, or more receptive than unbelievers. They just have a heart that has been opened by God.

The only thing that makes believers special - is that God has opened their hearts. He didn't open their hearts because they were special. 

When I preach, teach, sing, and lead in matters of my faith - I am not trying to influence, sway, convince, or persuade others to believe. I have no interest in indoctrinating, mesmerizing, brain-washing, or programming minds to accept or adopt my bent or will or the dogma of ANY religion.

All I am called to do is share the story of Jesus - as Paul said, not with words of worldly wisdom or regal rhetoric. Just simple speech - communication.

And I wait for God to open the hearts of those who hear.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Tara Dunham Mission Trip to the Philippines



Mission Pancake Breakfast

At Walnut Grove Baptist Church

Saturday, May 11 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00

Sponsored by
Walnut Grove Baptist Church
and Ray McNutt

For
Tara Dunham

Mission Trip to the Philippines


The meal is free
Donations will be accepted in support of Tara’s trip.


From June 30th to July 14th, I will be part of the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association's summer mission team in the Philippines.
We are going out in groups to different schools to tell of the Good News of Jesus.
Some of these kids have never heard of Jesus before and we hope to be God's instruments in exposing them to their true Savior. Our days will start early, around 4 a.m., and we will be working all day traveling to the different schools to give our testimonies and talking to the school kids. We'll have to get to bed around 7pm so that we're ready for the next day.
My main hope is for God to inspire others through my words so that they form a lasting relationship with Jesus.
 I appreciate your prayers and support.
 Thank you,
Tara

 

 


Friday, April 19, 2019

Roseine would Shout!


A precious Saint of God went home to Heaven this week.

A dear friend that Terri and I met when we served at the Walden Chapel Baptist Church.

Roseine Nelson.

Her daughter Pam, as a great shock to family and friends, preceded her by only a couple of days. 

Roseine was a very quiet and reserved person. Always happy and smiling, soft-spoken, kind and gentle. There was never any pretense, show, or flamboyance about her, for she never wanted to draw any attention to herself. She was humble and unassuming in every way.

But sometimes -- Roseine would shout.

Many of you reading this will have no idea what that means.

It doesn't mean that Roseine said something in a loud voice, or that she raised her voice to cry out an alarm, or a call of distress, fear, or pain. Truly, I cannot explain or describe this sound that comes deep from within the soul of someone who has been moved by God to announce His Manifest Presence.

In all of my 63 years I have only known three people who were touched by God in this fashion. All them were very much alike in their demeanor and personality. Quiet, bashful people who always did more blending in than standing out.

When you read verses in the Bible that refer to an undescribed shout, or if you hear the word shout used in a Gospel song or sermon -- it is probably in reference to this spiritual phenomenon.  It cannot be explained to those who have never heard it - it cannot be replicated or manufactured - and you will never have to explain it to anyone who has heard it.

Now, God is Omnipresent. He is always and everywhere present. But the Bible, and the experience of Believers attest to the fact that often God manifests Himself to be more present, or intentionally present -- in one particular place -- than in other places. Holy places are places that God has made special because of a manifestation of Himself in that place.

Isaiah 55:6 says, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near."  A God who is everywhere can choose to be known, sensed, or perceived in a special way to those who are seeking Him in worship and praise, at a unique time and in a physical location.

Not often, never predictable, never planned, prompted, or even imagined -- when everything would fall into place in the heart and mind of God, Roseine would shout.

Jesus promised, "Where two or more of you are gathered together in my name, I promise to be there in your midst." We always know that He is always there -- always in our midst when we are worshiping or singing. Roseine did not bring Him with her call - she let us know that He had arrived!

My skin chilled, goosebumps went up my spine, the hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood straight up and I knew what everyone else knew - the power of God and the Spirit of God was very present with us, and He was working and touching each of us in ways that we did not know or could not understand.

Our hearts would join and our eyes would meet - we would nod imperceptibly. And it was never a sign for us to do something, or to go into action. It was always something so completely other that we were intended only to acknowledge it, to be aware of it, to recognize it. It never interrupted our service or caused a change of direction. It was not a disruption. It never drew attention to the one who shouted.

Her shout was never planned or instigated. She never knew when she would be overcome. It welled up within her like a spring. She could not produce it, nor could she prevent it.

The last song that Linda Sue led us all in singing at her memorial service on Thursday was Shoutin' Time in Heaven. Surely it was. 

But, for now, it is very quiet here.

Our loss.

I often see people clapping, and stomping, hollering, and dancing - trying to bring down the power of God. Trying to make the wind of God blow. It's all just strange fire. I feel nothing of God in it at all.

Believe me - it was never a sweet prayer that made Roseine shout.

Never a wonderful song or a strong sermon.

It was always God who touched her and brought the sound of His presence to our ears.

We try desperately to make it happen every time that we get together - and we just can not make it happen. God shows up any time that He wants to - and not always when and where WE want him to.

We may never hear that sound again - until Christ Himself returns - with a SHOUT!  (I Thessalonians 4:16).

Friday, March 1, 2019

Prayer in School?


Prayer in School?

Yes, I remember when I was in First Grade at the Flint Elementary School. Mrs. Ryan would have us all stand at the beginning of every school day. She taught us to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag. I had never heard it or heard of it until she taught us. I repeat it often and lead my church congregation to repeat it often in our worship services.

Thank you Mrs. Ryan.

After saying the Pledge, she would lead us in reciting the Lord's Prayer. Again, I had never heard it before - I can still recite it now.

I am grateful.

But that was a different time and circumstances have dramatically changed.

Did you know that your child's (or grandchild's) teacher is a Muslim?

Or a Hindu?

A Buddhist?

There are many thousands of Educators today who are Atheists - what will THEY teach your child during prayer time at school?

I have no idea if Mrs. Ryan was a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Church of God, Nazarene, Mormon, or Jehovah's Witness.

I would not doubt that she was a Christian or attended a Christian Church of some kind, but I really do not know. I'm just guessing. The Pledge and the Lord's Prayer are pretty benign, but they were her choice, her decision. No one in school administration demanded that she have us perform these recitations, nor did anyone tell her what to promote.

There are still members of Jim Jones' People's Temple around that survived. I wonder if any of them are school teachers?!

David Koresh's Branch Davidians did not all die at Waco - where do THOSE people work?

Even members of the Manson Family are still floating around across our country.

Of course I'm being absurd - but to make a point that maybe you have not considered.

Your child's teacher might teach them to take a knee every time they hear the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem.

No.

I do NOT want school teachers teaching my granddaughters how to pray, which scriptures (Torah, Talmud, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, etc.) to recite, or how to express their citizenship and patriotism.
I and their Grandmother and other Grand Parents will teach them. Their Great Grand Parents will teach them. Their Dad and Mom will teach them. Their Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teachers at church will teach them.

And . . . I have NO desire to force all children across America to pray Baptist prayers or read the scriptures that Baptists read or worship the God that Baptists worship.

I wish that ALL Americans were patriotic, loyal, and pledged to allegiance. I think that all Americans should stand proudly for the National Anthem. But I'm not going to MAKE them. Either they WANT to --- like me --- or they don't.

Many schools across America teach the Theory of Evolution as if it is NOT A THEORY. They teach children in their elementary classes about sexual orientation and gender identity. There are sex education classes where the virtues of Planned Parenthood are extolled and every class member is sent home with a pocket full of condoms!!

And you want THESE SAME PEOPLE leading your children in PRAYER? I don't even want these people leading my children in a moment of silence!

Do you want the fools in Washington to pass laws governing prayers and praying . . . . . ANYWHERE? What kind of laws would those idiots pass?

I know what you mean.

And I know what you want.

But it is NEVER going to be like it was in Mrs. Ryan's First Grade Class -- not ever again.

My kids . . . and our Grand Kids are going to learn everything that they need to know about God and Country . . . and we're never going to depend on the public school system to address those important things.

There are STILL many great teachers and school administrators out there in the school system. They're not ALL Rounders -- but I do not want ANY of them teaching my kids how to pray or how to be good citizens.

Jesus went to Church

Jesus had a Church.

"He loved the Church . . . and gave His life for it."           
         Ephesians 5:25

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.                                       Luke 4:16

Jesus felt the need to go to church . . . and He always did. 


Is that YOUR empty seat?


Are you failing to report for duty?

Is your place on the wall, at the Front, in the battle --- Abandoned?

Are YOU one of the reasons your Church looks empty, scattered, and unprepared for battle every Sunday?

Find a place --- stake it out --- claim it as YOUR PLACE --- do everything in your power every week to make sure that you are not failing in your responsibility to your church family and to your Lord.

If you don't ---- it will just look like this ----

If you went to work --- like you go to church ---- would you be able to keep your job?

Church and Work


Church -- A GOOD Place