Friday, December 14, 2012

Think for Yourself

"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."
Proverbs 14:15

Consider these things:

1. God gave me a conscience, a mind, and the freedom to make choices.
2. God gave me the Bible to show me the Truth, and the Holy Spirit to guide me.
3. God will hold me accountable for my decisions, and He will dispense rewards accordingly.
4. God instructs me in His Word to "study to shew thyself approved unto God...rightly dividing the Word of truth."

Furthermore, God has warned us of the folly of "believing every word."  To the contrary, He commends the man who "looketh well to his going."

When it comes to distinguishing truth from error--right from wrong--there are three common approaches:

1. Think for yourself.
2. Let others do the thinking for you.
3. Don't think at all.

Don't Think At All--

These are the types of people with a happy-go-lucky approach to life.  They are cavalier in their choices.  They don't give much thought to Divine authority, judgment, or consequences.  They don't ponder the ramifications of their decisions; they only do what human impulse leads them to do.  If it feels good, do it.  No worries!  These kind of people certainly don't "look well to their going."

This approach in life will always prove to be difficult at best, and damning at worst.  Proverbs 13:15 teaches us that the "way of transgressors is hard."

If you never take time to ponder, seek after, and discover spiritual Truth, you will find yourself tripping and stumbling through life.  You'll never seem to find the stable ground of peace and contentment.  You be spinning your wheels, trying to attain the promised blessings of life, yet coming up short every time.  You'll face the natural consequences of foolish decisions--consequences, by the way, which will mock your earnest desire for a peaceful life.

Furthermore, apart from a deep, honest, and sober consideration of one's soul, a sinner will find himself hopelessly guilty as he stands before God some day.  He will be held accountable for his sins, and he will have to pay the eternal consequences thereof.  He will have no excuse; for the Word of God and the message of salvation have been made readily available.

What a tragedy it would be for a man to be sentenced to suffer the consequences of divine retribution because he wouldn't take time to think about his soul!

Let Others Think for You--

This is the second approach with regard to determining what is true and right.

"The simple believe every word..."

It's much easier to let others do the thinking for me, and then I just follow their lead.  But this is not the way God wants us to live out our Christian lives.

Cults teach their adherents: "Believe us and follow our teachings...don't listen to anyone else...don't seek the Truth on your own...just do what we say, and you'll be right with God."

How many millions of people around the world have been led astray from the true God and from eternal salvation, because they blindly follow a tradition or religion?!  This is allowing others to think for us.

As Christians we must be students of God's Word.  We must know the Book and live the Book!  And we must let the Bible be our sole authority and guide.

The old adage is true,

"The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!"  

Sadly, however, it's often the case that Christians live by this rule,

"The preacher said...and that's settles it."

Don't make the mistake of blindly following, mimicking, or obeying the teachings of men.  Make sure that the decisions you make are Biblically founded and pleasing to God alone.  If you trust someone so much that you'd be willing to let them think for you, to the point that you fail to see any need to think for yourself, you are taking a gamble on life, and you're forfeiting the intellect, resources, and freedom to choose that God has provided.

Think for Yourself--

"...but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

Take a good look at your life.  Evaluate where you are and where you're going.  Then ask yourself, "Am I doing what God wants me to do?"

Everyone is on a path.  There is a path of blessing and a path that leads to regret.

The path of blessing is the path that is led by the Holy Spirit as He guides you in following the instructions of God's Word.  As we obey the Bible and yield to the moving of God's Spirit, the promised blessings become eventual realities.

The path of regret is the path that is led by the inherent foolishness of our sinful hearts.  It is the wide path, largely chosen by the overwhelming majority of humanity.  It is the path--though often popular and promising--that leads to destruction and regret.  This is the path that is apart from God's Word and void of His influence.

Someone once said, "God is my audience."

To that I might add:

God is my Father.
God is my Guide.
God is my Judge.
God is my everything.

Let's make sure that if there's anyone whose word we believe, it's God!

Look well to your going; don't go through life carelessly and ignorantly, and don't depend on others to tell you what to do.  Seek out God through His Word, and do what pleases Him and Him alone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You Can't Argue a Changed Life!

"And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, 
they could say nothing against it."
Acts 4:14

In our teen class, we just began a series called, "The Changed Life."

When a person is born again, he a new creature (II Cor. 5:17).  Everything is different!

How he thinks...
How he feels...

Before long, these changes in his thinking and his feelings begin to affect the way he lives out his life.  This is the normal process for a born-again child of God.  It's called spiritual growth.

How important is the changed life?

As a pastor, it's not seldom that I meet people and discuss with them their need for eternal salvation.  Sometimes, people are very receptive and will listen with an open heart.  Sometimes people are "too busy" to listen.

Then there are people who seem as though they have a disdain for anything that has to do with God, the Bible, church, or religion.  They aren't as interested in listening to the Bible's message as they are in telling you why Christianity is a hoax, a cult, or a fable.  These are scorners.  They are enemies of the cross.  They are hostile towards Christ, and they seek to prevent the gospel from spreading.  This is the devious, hindering work of Satan.

Although we can't know all of the reasons why a person would be so venomous towards the gospel, one thing we do know is that there is, there always was, and there always will be great opposition to the work of evangelism.

In chapters 3 and 4 of Acts, there was severe opposition to the work which the apostles' were beginning to accomplish.  Though thousands of people were receiving and believing their message, there were many high-ranking government and religious officials who were trying to put an end to the spread of Christianity.

When considering how we can best influence our world with the good news of salvation, we must learn a lesson from Acts 4:14-16.

We see here the influence of a changed life!

People can say there is no God.  People can say the Bible is a work of fiction.  People can say the church is full of hypocrites.  But no one can argue the reality of a changed life!

When this lame man was made to walk, according to Acts 4:16, it was:

"a notable miracle"
"manifest to all"

When a common, sinful, worldly-minded individual becomes a "new creature" in Christ, it, too, should be:

"a notable miracle"
"manifest to all"

And when such a transformation is observed by others even the enemies of Christ "cannot deny it" (vs. 16).

May we let our light shine by showing that God has changed our lives!  Let's be sure to exemplify Christlikeness in showing love to others, keeping our minds and bodies pure, rejoicing in faith amidst trials and affliction, and giving highest honor to God above all other worldly affections.

Your unsaved friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family, might reject and argue your message...but there's one thing they cannot deny: your changed life!

And truly, a changed life is a "notable miracle," and something that will have lasting influence when it is "manifest to all."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Repeating Matters

"He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; 
but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends."
Proverbs 17:9

The devil loves to divide.

Marriages.  Homes.  Churches.  Nations.  Communities.  Friendships.  

The foundational cause for disunity in each of these examples is, of course, our sinful flesh.  But here, in Proverbs 17:9, God shows us a specific and all-too-common reason why relationships seem to be short-lived and tedious.

A few years ago, as I was reading my Bible one morning, I came across this verse, and as I read it, the light bulb of the Holy Spirit's conviction went on in my heart!  God showed me something that morning of which I was guilty, particularly in my marriage.

You see, whenever a husband and wife get into a fight (whoops...I mean, if the kids are listening...a "discussion"), each contender feels that he is "in the right" going into the battle.  And the object of the fight is to prove and persuade the other party, so that they'll come to the point of admitting, "You were right; I was wrong."  That is the point of VICTORY!!  [Of course any honest married man knows, truth be told, that, most often, both parties were "in the wrong" in some way or another.]

Did you know that one of the greatest weapons to use in one of these marital battles is the weapon of "repeating matters"?!

Repeating matters is when I (the husband) remind my opponent (the wife) of all the times in the past that she failed and was indisputably wrong.  And if I can build my case with enough examples of past failures, then there's a good chance I'll win this battle with no sweat!  For you see, as I repeat matters in our argument, she will recall all of her past failures, and upon remembering all the times that she was wrong, she will inevitably and sweetly wave the white flag of surrender, thus ending the argument and restoring the loving intimacy that a Christian couple should have.  And they live happily ever after!  What a great, God-given weapon that husbands and wives can use to fight the devil and bring love and reconciliation in their homes--this weapon called repeating matters!



If you are married, you are thinking one of two things:

1) This guy is crazy to think that repeating matters solves anything!
2) This guy has a bad case of New England sarcasm because everyone knows that the weapon of repeating matters doesn't work that way at all!

You see, God convicted my heart that when it comes to relationships--especially relationships that God intended to be characterized by love, peace, and intimacy--the higher goal is to fight for unity, not for the title of being "right".

God wants there to be harmony in the home, not strife.  God is not concerned with how often a husband is right, but with how often he is Christlike.

And so I came to the conclusion that day that, although repeating matters is indeed a weapon, it's not a weapon of God that defeats the devil so that relationships flourish; rather, it's a weapon of the devil that defeats God's purpose and causes relationships to dissolve!

There is a weapon, however, from Proverbs 17:9, that we can indeed use to help our relationships thrive--it's called covering transgressions.  This is the opposite of repeating matters.  It's when I choose to overlook and sometimes even pretend not to notice the shortcomings of my partner.  And let me tell you, this weapon works!  It's very similar to the tools called "forgiveness" and "grace"--both of which, coincidentally, share the same Manufacturer as that of covering transgressions.

I'm by no means a perfect Christian, nor am I a perfect husband.  And I still have a tendency to use past failures as ammunition from time to time.  But when I do, the Holy Spirit often reminds me (through the sound of an audible voice proceeding from the smirking face of my wife) that I am "repeating matters." And at that, I realize that I am using the wrong weapon against the wrong person.

Let's not let the devil divide our families, churches, and friendships.  Let's overcome the devil by heeding God's Word and following the example of Christ, "who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dealing with Tears

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." 
Revelation 21:4

The life that we now live is full of tears.

Tears of grief.
Tears of regret.
Tears of longing.
Tears of suffering.
Tears of shame.

There is such deep pain experienced throughout our life's journey.

A dad who never comes back from war,
A mom who just can't fight the cancer anymore,
A paralyzed child through no fault of his own,
A woman abused, abandoned...alone,
A man who's wrecked his home, and oh what he'd give
A second chance to have, his life to relive!

But alas, these things cannot be undone.

Christians are not exempt from tears.  They suffer like anyone else--sometimes due to the choices of others, sometimes due to the circumstances of this sin-cursed earth, and yet, sometimes due to the consequences of their own mistakes.

But there's great comfort in knowing that the tears shed by a child of God are not hidden or forgotten.

The Lord said, "I have seen thy tears" (II Kings 20:5).

According to Psalm 56:8, God has a bottle and a book that contains our every tear.  He sees, He knows, He remembers, He cares...about every one!

Tragedy happens.  Tears follow.  But what deep anguish to go through tragedy and shed tears without a comforter--without hope!  Such is the plight of a man who knows not the Lord!

"So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter." 
(Ecclesiastes 4:1)

I recently came upon a song that touched my heart:  "There is a Higher Throne," sung beautifully by the Galkin Evangelistic Team on their album, Consider Himwhich can be purchased here from iTunes. This song speaks of the promised blessing of eternal fellowship with the Lord, our Shepherd-King.  The second verse reads:

And there we'll find our home, 

Our life before the throne; 
We'll honor Him in perfect song
Where we belong.
He'll wipe each tear-stained eye
As thirst and hunger die.
The Lamb becomes our Shepherd King; 
We'll reign with Him.

It was the statement, "He'll wipe each tear-stained eye," that really moved me.  To me, it makes a difference that God Himself will be the One who wipes away my tears.  It won't be an angel.  It won't merely be Time.  It'll be the loving, compassionate hand of my Abba that caringly wipes away my tears...and that, once and for all!

One final thought:

I know God has decreed that all tears will be finally wiped away, and for that promise I am deeply grateful!

I only wonder if we will still have tears in our hearts.  Oh, not for sin!  Not for shame! Not for sorrow!  But for the same reason why the sinful woman of Luke 7:38 "stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears."

You see, someday we will come face-to-face with our Shepherd-King.  And forevermore we'll worship at His throne, praising Him with hearts full of thanksgiving, for the amazing grace of God that saved a wretch like me!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

"Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, 
lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it."
Proverbs 25:16

We know that a Christian should hate what God hates and love what He loves.  We know that a Christian should love God with all of his heart, and hate evil.  We know that a Christian should delight himself in the Lord, and should abstain from all appearance of evil.  Regarding the path of wickedness, God says to:

"Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away" (Proverbs 4:15).

We also know that God has graciously given us good things to enjoy in our lives.  He has given us family, food, friendships, and things!

There are no Biblical prohibitions or warnings against things like: having a picnic with your family, going to a sporting event, or playing a board game with some friends.

And like honey, these things are good things.

"My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste" (Proverbs 24:13).

I'm personally grateful for the "good" things of life.

Let's remember, however, that God never intended the good things of life to give us the deep, lasting satisfaction that our souls crave.  God is the only "good thing" that brings true contentment.

Idolatry is when a person attributes more value to something--anything--than to God.  So often, we think that if we can accumulate lots of "good things" we'll be happy.  Or, if we can somehow manage to move from one good circumstance to another good circumstance, avoiding all bitter situations and trials, then we'll be content.  And so, we find ourselves pursuing the good things of life--even to the point of idolatry.

Good things are good...but only to a point.  Too much of a good thing causes sickness.

Let's be careful not to fill our lives with good things to the point of spiritual sickness.  We must remember that family and friends, hobbies and sports, education and careers, rest and recreation, and so on...though they are blessings from the Lord, these things must never take God's place as our heart's greatest love and pursuit.

A person who has every good thing the heart could desire, but who lacks a thriving, intimate relationship with God, will be no more content than King Solomon, who, at the end of his life, made his lament:

"Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: 
for all is vanity and vexation of spirit." 
(Ecclesiastes 2:17)

But if a person will walk with the Lord, abiding in Him, he will be fruitful, stable, and furthermore...content!

"For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." 
(Philippians 4:11)

Give thanks to God for the "honey" He gives.  Enjoy it.

But don't depend on it.  Don't worship it.  Don't pursue the neglect of the Living Water, by whom the longings of the soul are satisfied.

All my life long I had panted

For a drink from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.

Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.

Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.

Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My Redeemer is to me.

Hallelujah! I have found Him

Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nine Missions Conferences Later...

It was 9 years ago this month that Christy and I came to Rhode Island to serve at Greater RI Baptist Temple. We arrived just in time for the start of the 2003 Missions Conference.

What an exciting time in our lives! Our first full-time ministry! A new home, new friends, a new pastor, and a new church family!

And what better way to start off our new ministry at GRIBT than with the annual missions conference!

For these reasons the month of October will always hold a special place in our hearts.

This past Sunday our pastor rightly explained,

"Missions is not a program of our church; it is the purpose of our church."

I love the missions conference! It's my favorite time of the year.

Let me share a few reasons why.

I love the missions conference:

1. Because it helps me to take my focus off of myself and materialism, and to direct it back to where it ought to be: world evangelism! The preaching, the music, the decorations in the auditorium, the testimonies, the video presentations, and so on...all of these things create a marked emphasis on the "Great Commission" that Jesus left us to fulfill.

2. Because it reminds that there are just some things in life that really matter most; namely, the salvation of the lost.

3. Because it challenges me to prove my faith in God's provision and to show my love for Him as I pledge missions support for the upcoming year.

4. Because it causes me to remember how faithful God has been over the past year (and all other previous years) in miraculously meeting the needs of my family.

5. Because I get to meet and spend time with new and veteran missionaries, who are always an encouragement to my spirit. There's always something inspiring and refreshing about a husband and wife who have offered their lives to the Lord as living sacrifices, and who are forsaking all in order to bring the gospel to the lost around he world. Missionaries are usually very grateful people, who rarely ever complain. How sweet it is to spend time with such heroes of the faith!

6. Because it reminds me of the loving, merciful, compassionate, long-suffering heart of my God and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Lord is not merely the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, but He is also the Good Shepherd of the sheep and the Savior of all the world! He loves all people of all races from all nations and tribes, and He desperately wants all men to come to the knowledge of the Truth, that they might be saved! I'm so glad my God loves sinners...of whom I am chief!

May we not soon forget the importance of missions as we move towards the holidays and into the new year.

And let us follow the example set by the missions-minded church of Thessalonica, of whom it was said:

"For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God- ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing" 
(1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Poor Man But a Good Friend

"All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him! he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him."
Proverbs 19:7

Here in this verse, we read a divinely-inspired observation of truth--no one wants to be the friend of a poor man!

This oberservation is supported by a similar, yet more telling, statement in Proverbs 14:20, "The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends."  Can I say it again--no one wants to be the friend of a poor man!

Are you poor?  Are you struggling to make ends meet?  Do you find that your expenses border on outweighing your income?  Does it seem like you're always trying save a buck here and there, just so you can get through the month?

I don't personally know a lot of rich people.  I know they're out there; I just don't know many.  Most of the people I know are carefully managing their budget and limiting their expenses.  They can't "afford" a cavalier approach to their personal finances because things are so tight.  They can't just throw money around!

So are these poor people cursed?  Is it an invariable fate that poor people will suffer the plague of loneliness for as long as they live (or, at least, until they hit the jackpot)?

This may seem true, but it's not.

You see, a poor man may have friends, so long as he is a friend!

Don't let your poverty stop you from being a good friend!

The underlying truth of Proverbs 19:7 is that no one enjoys being around people whose poverty defines and dominates their friend-worthiness.  It's interesting to note than in the previous verse, God gives us a contrasting observation:

"Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts."
Proverbs 19:6

In other words, if you want to have a giver.  

Furthermore, consider Proverbs 18:24, which reads, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly."

If you want to have friendly.

No one wants to be the friend of a poor man, especially when that poor man is:

Often complaining...
Always looking to get...
Apparently jealous of others...
Always letting others know that he's poor!

So what's the answer for us (viz., those of us who are not rich)?  How can we make ourselves more friend-worthy?

Be friendly.  Make it a point to always put others first, seeking to be a blessing rather than receive one.

Be thankful.  Never complain about being poor (or anything else, for that matter).  People enjoy being around those who are positive.

Be a giver.  You don't have to be rich in order to be a giver.  Look at the Macedonians in II Cor. 8:1-2.  Give the gift of a kind word...or the gift of your time...or use your creativity to give an inexpensive gift of thoughtfulness.

"SO WHAT if I have friends?  I don't care...I'll just keep to myself."

Friendships are one of the means through which God allows us to minister--both to the brethren and to the lost.  So we must not deceive ourselves into thinking that a self-centered, isolationist attitude is pleasing to the Lord.  Let's keep in mind that God wants us to follow the pattern of His Son, who, though He was poor, yet  was a "friend of sinners."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Does God Celebrate Halloween?

"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

Costumes and candy, yes; but let's not forget about...

Witches and warlocks, sorcery and magic, ghosts and goblins, blood and gore, skeletons and mummies, vampires and werewolves, Dracula and Frankenstein, horror and fright, and so on...

[Special note: In keeping with the purpose of my personal blog and Twitter account, I would like to express my desire that this article not be the catalyst for debate, argument, or strife.  Christians have the God-given freedom and responsibility to live according to the dictates of their conscience, as led by the principles of God's Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  I would therefore ask that all negative feedback and/or opposing viewpoints not be posted as comments on Facebook.  If you would like to contact me privately, please email me at]

When we celebrate a holiday, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day, there are several ways in which we do so.  For Christmas, we exchange gifts, decorate with Christmas trees and wreaths, sing Christmas carols, and go to Christmas parties.  For Valentine's Day, our traditions for celebration are similar: we exchange love notes and chocolates, decorate with red and pink and lots of hearts, and go to Valentine's parties.

How do we celebrate Halloween?  We put up Halloween decorations in our homes, watch traditional "Halloween" movies, attend Halloween parties, and of course, go trick-or-treating!

In this article I wish to answer two questions that pertain to a Christian's celebration of Halloween.  The first question was asked to my wife recently:

"What reason should I give my daughter (4 years old) as to why we don't go trick-or-treating?"

I truly believe the answer to this question is quite simple.  A parent should always tell his children the truth.  Therefore, the answer to the above question is: "Because we don't celebrate Halloween."

The second question, however, is a bit more thought-provoking, and will naturally stem from the first question's answer: 

"Why don't we celebrate Halloween?"

There are many Christians who have chosen not to celebrate Halloween.  However, truth be told, there are many Christians who see Halloween merely as a fun holiday for children to dress up in costumes and receive candy--thus these Christians see no objection in participating in the festivities of Halloween.

I personally have decided, on behalf of my family and myself, that we will not celebrate Halloween. And the reason is as follows: God doesn't celebrate Halloween.  

Think about it:

God is against: Satan, the occult, human sacrifice, idol worship, murder, gore, spiritism, horror, fright, witchcraft, violence, and all other evil.  These are the very things that form the origin of Halloween, and that are so prevalent in the representations and celebrations of Halloween.  

These wicked things are what Halloween stands for!

Do you think God is happy when we celebrate the birth and resurrection of His Son on Christmas and Easter?  Do you think He's happy when we set aside a day of the year to celebrate love, which is His chief attribute, on Valentine's Day?  Do you think He's pleased when we honor men and women who sacrifice for others on Veteran's Day?  Or how about taking a day of the year and giving public and collective thanks to Him for all of His provision on Thanksgiving Day?

But when we think of Halloween, not merely in its origin, but also in its current representations...does this holiday stand for anything that is remotely virtuous, honorable, or acceptable to God?  

According to the word celebrate means "to observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing."

Do you think God celebrates this holiday of which the founder of the Church of Satan said, "After one's own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht (May 1st) and Halloween" (LaVey, Anton Szandor. The Satanic Bible, p. 96)?

Before I continue, let me make three brief clarifications:

1. Pumpkins, candy, and costume parties are not inherently evil.
2. Celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as worshiping the devil.
3. Some Christians who genuinely love God see no problem with trick-or-treating and Halloween celebrations.

Would you, however, consider the following Biblical principles?

1. We are not to fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but reprove them (Eph. 5:11).
2. We are to keep a clear distinction between that which is good and evil. (Isa. 5:20).
3. Fools make a mock at sin (Prov. 14:9).
4. We are to hate evil (Psalm 97:10).
5. We are to walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8).
6. We are not to take pleasure in the sins of others (Rom. 1:32).

Finally, God instructs us to "prove all things".  Furthermore, upon Biblical examination, we are to "hold fast that which is good" and "abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:21-22).

In all honesty, does Halloween give off an appearance of evil?  And if it does, then shouldn't we be "avoiding" such a holiday?

So what should a Christian do if he feels convicted against celebrating Halloween?

Consider these suggestions:

1. Don't decorate for Halloween.  Decorating for Autumn is fine, but don't deck your halls with jack-o-lanterns, witches, skeletons, cob webs, and a black & orange color scheme.  Try autumnal wreaths, corn stalks, pumpkins, and a horn of plenty.

2. Don't go to Halloween parties.  You should express thanks for the invitation but courteously decline.  

Think about it: You wouldn't expect a Muslim or Jew to attend a Christmas party, would you?  And you wouldn't expect Christian parents to encourage their children to join in the celebrations of Hanukkah and Ramadan, would you?

3. Don't watch horror movies.  

4. Don't send your children out trick-or-treating.

5. Do spend the evening of October 31st with your family and friends in the Lord.  

Your church might have a special gathering or a Family Fun Night.  Or, mom and dad might choose to take the kids out for a fun night of Chucky Cheese's and bowling.  Rather than participating in the customary Halloween traditions, decide upon something that is clearly distinct.

6. If you would like to host a costume party for your children, do it at a different time of year.  

If your child's birthday happens to fall upon the Halloween season, perhaps have a "family" party on his actual birthday, and plan for a costume party with friends at a later date, perhaps after Thanksgiving.  This would be a great teaching opportunity, as well as something to which your child can anticipate with eagerness.

The world is getting worse.  The church is traveling down the road of compromise faster now than ever before.  And confusion plagues the youth of today's generation.  Young people lack the discernment to know right from wrong, truth from error, and good from evil.  

Let's help our children and the next generation to understand God, His character, and His Word.  

Let's be sure to "come out from among them and be separate" (II Cor. 6:17).  

And let's be sure to "prove all things, hold fast that which is good, and abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:21-22).

Friday, October 12, 2012

The House of the Righteous Shall Stand

"The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand." 
Proverbs 12:7

It used to be said that the typical American parent wanted for his children that they would be happy, prosperous, and successful, and that their children would "have it better" than they had it.

I think any normal parent still wants these same things for his children, but as Christians, we know that the means by which we attain these things (happiness, prosperity, and success) is very different from that which the world promotes.

The world says wealth.  The world says fame.  The world says power.  The world says comfort and ease.

The world promises that if you attain one or more of these things, you will be happy, prosperous, and successful.  She has indoctrinated us to believe that these things are the purpose for which we live and the ultimate goal to be achieved.

But I want my house to stand--that's what I want!

All around us, families are crumbling.  Abuse.  Violence.  Unfaithfulness.  Cheating.  Drugs.  Lies and deceit.  Godlessness.  Greed.  Anger and hatred.  Confusion.  Depression.  Anxiety.  Fear.

These are the words that describe the overwhelmingly increasing percentage of American "families" in the 21st century.

But I want my family to stand.

What a deeply sad tragedy to see the vast majority of families crumbling in a nation that has all the necessary resources to ensure their success!

America has the heritage--the infrastructure--the foundation--to make her families flourish like they did generations ago.  But the American family is crumbling...breaking...dissolving.

But I want my children to stand.

The principles of the Bible teach us the ways of wisdom.  And the ways of wisdom--true wisdom--God's wisdom--ensure solid footing and the strength to stand!

Let's teach our children how to live righteously.  Let's teach them to work hard, to tell the truth, and the keep their word.  Let's model for them an example of moral integrity and marital faithfulness that they might follow our lead.  Let's point them to the Word of God as they learn to make decisions, and by obeying God's Word ourselves, let's prove to them that it's always best to follow God even when we don't understand Him.  Let's remind our children that sin and wickedness should never be a part of our entertainment and leisure.  Let's be sure to give them love, and teach them to love.  Let's keep God preeminent in our homes.

God's promise to us is that if righteousness prevails in our house, our house will stand.  Come what may, a righteous family will stand.  Despite persecution.  Despite economic collapse.  If our children will learn to do right, they will stand.

Some day, I hope to look back on my life and see that my marriage stood.  I hope to see that my family didn't crumble, but that it stood.  I hope to see that my children weren't whisked away by the seduction of this world, but that they stood.  That my house would stand--that's what I want!

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." 
(Matthew 7:24-25)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Stedfast Face

"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, 
he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." 
Luke 9:51

What is the quality that causes a man, not only to start a project, but to finish a project?

What is the quality that causes a missionary, not only to go the field, but to stay on the field?

What is the quality that causes a Christian, not only to sense God's calling, but to fulfill God's calling on his life?


To be stedfast means to be firm...constant...immoveable.  Consider the lyrics of the hymn, "We Have an Anchor":

We have an anchor that keeps the soul,
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep, in the Savior's love!

When Jesus knew it was His time to be received up to Jerusalem, He "stedfastly set His face."  He pre-determined that nothing was going to stop Him, get in His way, distract Him, or cause Him to change His mind or compromise.  He was committed to fulfilling the purpose of God no matter what!

It's amazing to think of what it meant in the mind of Jesus to "go to Jerusalem."  What did that entail?  What would transpire at Jerusalem?  The answer is revealed to us in Luke 18:31-34:

"Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:  And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.  And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken."

The call of God on your life may be difficult, frightening, unpopular, or even seemingly impossible.  But we must remember that God is faithful.  

He will never leave us.
He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.
His Word will not return void.
He will enable us to perform His will.
And in the end, we will reap if we faint not!

Have you stedfastly "set your face" to fulfill God's calling on your life?  

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 
(I Corinthians 15:58)

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Bitter Aftertaste

"But her end is bitter..."
(Proverbs 5:4)

We must always remember "the end" of sin, especially with regard to the sin of immorality.

By "the end" I mean the end results.  Sin propositions us with promises of pleasure. Smooth and sweet are the adjectives that we can see on the surface (Prov. 5:3); but "in the end" we discover that "smooth" and "sweet" were merely facades, covering up for that which was bitter and sharp. When faced with temptation we must consider "the end". 

What happens in "the end" for those who yield to temptation (viz., sexual temptation)? 

"Her end is bitter" - Bitterness is a seemingly unbearable emotional hurt; it's when you hate your life and wish it could all be different. 


"Sharp as a two-edged sword" - The end of immoral pleasure in painful and deep, like a deep wound from a two-edged sword. 

It's not how you start the game that matters; it's how you end!  How the game ends is what determines the long-lasting feelings of emotion that follow you into the future.  

Everyone likes a happy ending.  Even when things don't start off so well, the old saying is remains true, "All is well that ends well."

But there are millions of people who are plagued with an "end" that feels like a fate worse than death.  Their "end" is the end of bitterness and regret.  

The "end" of sexual sin and unfaithfulness includes: shame, addiction, divorce, hatred, broken families, distrust, fear, bondage, disease, and a reproach that is never wiped away. Who would want their life to end with these consequences?

No one desires to end with a life of regret.  Yet very few ponder "the end" before they start playing with the fire of temptation.

Let's never forget that sin will take you farther than you want to go; it will leave you longer than you want to stay; and it will cost you more than you want to pay!

"O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" (Deuteronomy 32:29)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Then Opened He Their Understanding...

"Then opened He their understanding..."
(Luke 24:45)

Jesus had explained to His disciples that "first He must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation" (Luke 17:25) before He would come in glory to triumph over His enemies.

He told them in Luke 18:31-33 that He would be delivered unto the Gentiles, mocked, spitted on, scourged, and put to death; but on the third day, He would rise again.

Interestingly, in the following verse, the Bible tells us that the disciples "understood none of these things" (Luke 18:34).

You see, the disciples had been hoping and expecting that the "kingdom of God should immediately appear" (Luke 19:11).  They didn't understand that there was a greater plan than that which they perceived.  There was a greater purpose that had to be accomplished; and to their confusion and dismay (and later on, even to their disillusionment), Jesus explained that, before there could be glory and victory, there must first be suffering and sacrifice.

We today understand, looking back, that if the Lord hadn't suffered and sacrificed His life on Calvary, there would have been no salvation--not for the Gentiles, nor for the Jews, nor for us, nor for the Twelve.  "Thus it behoved (i.e., was necessary) Christ to suffer..." (Luke 24:46).

But at the time, they didn't understand.

So often, we become confused and dismayed about the suffering we face in this life.  We look around and see the wicked prospering; we are told by so-called Bible teachers that if we have enough faith God will bless us with prosperity and ease; and we have it settled in our minds what we sense God should do.  Moreover, in all of this, we face suffering, affliction, loneliness, persecution, betrayal, mockery, wrongful chastisement, abandonment, struggle...and sometimes even death.

After Jesus rose from the grave, He showed Himself unto His disciples, and in Luke 24:45, we read, "Then opened He their understanding..."

Upon seeing the risen Christ, all of a sudden, the disciples finally understood!

The suffering was temporary! 
The suffering was necessary! 
And the subsequent victory was glorious!

Let us remember that the Lord's plan for our lives often follows the pattern of His own life.

There will be suffering.  But afterward, it will come to pass that we will rejoice in triumphant victory!

"And it came to pass...they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." (Luke 24:51-53)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Do You WANT to Go to Heaven?

"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
Luke 13:24

When I read this verse, a profound thought came upon me: There will be some people who WANT to go to Heaven who won't be ALLOWED to enter its gates!

Often when we witness, perhaps after we have engaged in some small talk, we will lead the conversation into the spiritual realm by asking this question, "Would you like to go to Heaven some day?"

I certainly don't think that is a bad question to ask. In fact, 's a very good question to ask. But we must remember some things as we ask that question.

First, the vast majority of humanity, deep down, surely WANTS to go to Heaven when they die. This includes Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Agnostics. Even most Atheists would admit that, if there truly is a Heaven and a Hell, they would prefer to go to Heaven. When we ask this question, our purpose is not really to find out if the person wants to go to Heaven (Who doesn't?!); rather, the purpose is to get the person thinking about spiritual matters and eternity.

Second, we must remember that mere DESIRE to go to Heaven is not what God requires in order to receive His salvation. The conditions for salvation are repentance and faith--nothing more, nothing less.

Third, people don't forfeit God's gift of salvation because they don't WANT it; rather, they forfeit His salvation because they are not WILLING to come to Him on His terms.

In closing, let's be sure to do three things in consideration of this post:

1. Compel the lost to "enter in"! Without the preaching of the gospel, there is no hope! People need to hear the message of God's love and the work of Christ on Calvary!

2. Remember that the entrance gate to Heaven is a "strait gate". It's not so broad that anyone and everyone can enter in merely because they WANT to. There are some who will be "able" and others who will not. God's salvation is indeed offered to anyone and everyone--but those who WANT it must be WILLING to receive it on His terms.

3. Help those who are wanting and willing to understand HOW they can be "able"! Throughout the New Testament there are two conditions upon which Christ and His salvation can be received: repentance and faith. If a person will turn with His heart unto the Lord Jesus Christ, believing in who He is and what He has done, that person will be instantaneously and eternally saved! you WANT to go to Heaven? If so, you must come to Christ on His terms.

What a tragedy it would be for a man, who WANTED to go to Heaven, but was refused entrance because he was never WILLING to turn to Christ?!

Equally tragic would be a man who WANTED to go to Heaven, but was refused entrance because no one ever told him HOW to receive the gift of salvation!

We have a great privilege and responsibility to share the good news of salvation to a hurting and hopeless world! Lets be faithful and steadfast in shining the light!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Fruit of Longevity in the Pastorate

Tonight we celebrated Pastor Thomas Crichton's 37+ years as the pastor of Greater RI Baptist Temple. In 1975, he led his wife and children to the spiritually barren region of New England and planted the Greater RI Baptist Temple in Johnston, RI.

For almost 4 decades, Pastor Crichton stayed faithful to the Lord morally, doctrinally, and philosophically. He loved, fed, and most importantly, shepherded his flock through thick and thin. He sacrificed his life and laid it down for the sheep--and not only for the sheep, but for their little lambs, and for grand-lambs, and great-grand-lambs!

Nearly 38 years later, generations of families gathered together for a Pastor Appreciation Dinner. One by one, members of the Greater RI Baptist Temple stood up and gave words of thanks to Pastor and Ginny Crichton. As the members spoke, the theme of Pastor Crichton's faithful love and care throughout the decades became pronounced. It was truly amazing to hear how the lives of individuals, couples, and generations of families were touched and eternally changed by the influence of one faithful pastor.

Few are the pastors who can rejoice in witnessing the fruit of 30+ years of faithfulness in one single church! Though God may not allow some pastors to have such a long-lasting ministry in one particular church, I can't help but ponder how many pastors quit prematurely, forfeiting the profound impact they might have had if they would have remained for the long haul.

What a God-given blessing to be able to live to see the fruit of faithfulness and longevity in the ministry! What a blessing to see 2, 3, and even 4 generations within one family come to Christ and live for Him! What a blessing to know that God's Word prevailed, and that the unseen sowing of yesteryear blossomed into magnificent trophies of grace years later!

May pastors be encouraged and challenged to "keep on keepin' on!" May Christians everywhere be encouraged and challenged to be faithful in their witness before family and friends! May we never forget that God's Word will not return void, and that we shall reap in due time if we faint not! May we remember that our labor is not in vain in the Lord, and that the impact we have on people all around us has the potential to save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins!

In the old Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" George Bailey was blessed by being given the opportunity to see that his life touched the lives of countless others! Tonight, the members of Greater RI Baptist Temple were able to witness the life-changing impact that one man of God had on his sheep over the course of 37 years. As a pastor, I can't think of a greater blessing than that of knowing and seeing that my life made a difference--that my life counted--that my life was used of the Lord to salvage the lives of many!

Some day our time on this earth will be over, and what will matter most is our faithfulness to the Lord, the fruit of which being the lives of others touched by our own.

Thank you to pastors, parents, and Godly friends who have remained faithful! Don't quit! Keep your eyes on the Lord, trust His Word, and finish your course! It might just be that someday God will allow you the blessing of beholding the fruit of your labors--but usually this blessing is reserved for those who remain faithful for many 37ish!! Thank you, Pastor Crichton, for your example of longevity and faithfulness!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Exceedingly Sinful, Exceedingly Gracious

"Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." (Luke 7:47)

This is a great story about a woman who was notably a "sinner" and a man who was a Pharisee.

The main idea of this story is not a contrast between a wicked person and a righteous person.

The point of this verse is not that wicked people who get saved end up loving the Lord more, while morally upstanding people who get saved end up loving the Lord less.

The point of this story has to do with a person's estimation of himself. Typically a "sinner" who gets saved is deeply and sincerely grateful for his salvation, because he realizes that he is utterly undeserving. A Pharisee, on the other hand, who gets saved, is typically not as grateful for his salvation.

Why? Is it because he wasn't quite so bad, not so wretched, not so despicable?

No. The reason why a redeemed Pharisee isn't as grateful as a sinner is not because the Pharisee has been forgiven less. It's because the Pharisee doesn't REALIZE just how much he's been forgiven!

Pharisees could be compared to middle-class Americans, or better yet, to second-generation Christians, especially young people, who have never found themselves sunk in the overwhelming mire of sin.

So what is the application then? We, who have never experienced the pain, shame, and regret of heinous sin must remember that we are no different--no less vulnerable--no less depraved--no less culpable than those who have taken the road of sin to its end. Were it not for the grace of God we would be no better than they!!

As preachers, we must preach hard on the exceeding sinfulness of sin (especially the sins that are less apparent and more commonly accepted). We must constantly remind our listeners of how wretched we truly are, and how undeserving we are of God's grace. We should always remember that, if it weren't for God's grace, I would be in the same heap of trouble as the vilest criminals of our day.

We must always remember also, that the sins of the heart are just as wicked as those of the hands, and that God's forgiveness is sufficient to release us from every sin.

No saved person should rightfully be any less grateful than another. If there are differences in gratitude, it is not because one was forgiven much, while another was forgiven less. The fact is that all redeemed sinners have been forgiven infinitely much; it's just that some don't quite realize how much.

Let's be sure to humbly acknowledge how wretched and how undeserving we really are, and how gracious and merciful God was when He sent His Son to Calvary!

Monday, September 10, 2012

God-incited vs. Self-incited Words

"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise." - Proverbs 10:19

It's always safer to refrain from speaking. Of course, we must speak when God prompts us to speak, and there is a world of difference between God-incited words and self-incited words. We know when God is prompting us to speak; for it is usually difficult and frightening, and is certainly always honoring to Him and edifying to the listener. But when we speak from the selfish impulses of our sinful hearts, it is usually self-glorifying and destructive to the listener.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sweetness in Bitterness

Read this verse today. Wrote the following note to myself. Thought I'd share it. 

Proverbs 27:7
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb;
but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

There is a truth here that says: 

Those who are without are grateful when they receive even the smallest blessing; whereas, those who have much are typically UNgrateful no matter how great the blessing is. 

We must be on guard to never lose our heart of gratitude. If we are blessed with much we must be extra careful to give thanks for everything, especially the small things that might otherwise be taken for granted. 

We must be careful not to let our children develop an ungrateful spirit. We should let them do without at times, always instruct them to say thank you, and model for them a grateful spirit. 

Christians should be the kind of people that find sweetness even in the bitter circumstances of life. And the way to do this is to give thanks to the Lord for ALL things, keeping in mind that He is the Giver of all good things, and He is the all-wise Father who discerns what is best for us at what time. Even the trials and difficulties of life are worthy to be counted all joy because they are working together for our greater good. 

Let's be the kind of Christians that strive to find the sweetness of bitter circumstances, that we might give thanks therein!