Thursday, December 16, 2021

Spiritual Lessons from Physical Surgery

Recently I had knee replacement surgery, and I discovered through this experience that there are many parallels between this surgery and our spiritual growth. I am seeing many ways in which my surgery is helping my relationship with God. I offer to you 6 ways in which a surgery is like our walk with God.


 In order to grow and become all that God wants us to be, we must:

1.    Humbly admit we have a need. 

I tried everything I could to improve my knee, but eventually I went to the doctor for it to be examined. There I learned I was “bone on bone” and the only real solution was to have a total knee replacement.  I could have denied the truth and continued to live in pain, or I could humble myself and say, “I need help.  I need someone else to do for me what will help me.  I need to go through the process of surgery in order to get better.”

I am more convinced than ever that humility is one of the most important components to a healthy relationship with God. We begin with God by humbly admitting our sin and receiving Christ as Savior.  We continue to progress with God as we walk in humble dependence upon Him. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:6). If we are humble, we get more of His grace. If we are prideful, we quench his Holy Spirit. If we are humble, there is nothing he cannot show us that we need to work on. If we are prideful, we will remain in pain and bondage.  Let us walk every day in humble reliance upon God.

2.    Get help from others. 

I needed a doctor, a physical therapist, and much help from my wife at home. If I tried to go through this alone, it would be a disaster. In the same way, God has given us the body of Christ and the community of believers to help us grow and become more sanctified. We need fellowship with others, accountability and the community of faith to help us advance in God.  The moment we are saved, God’s Word says we become a member of the body of Christ. WE are not to live in isolation, but rather in relationship with other Christ-followers.

3.    Allow pain to produce gain. 

Surgery is a painful experience. Not only the surgery itself, but also the physical therapy. As one goes through physical therapy, you want to push to the point of pain, but not so much pain that you cause further damage.  

God uses pain in our spiritual life to sometimes show us areas that need attention, while at other times causing us to depend more on his power for life and godliness. Pain in our physical body shows us that something needs attention. Pain in our spiritual life is a signal that something needs attention. If we ignore the pain, it will only get worse. If we try to cover the pain with sinful pleasure, we will suffer negative consequences.

Don’t expect growth in God to be easy.  It can be a painful process.  But allow the pain to produce spiritual gain through constantly abiding in Christ.

4.    Be patient with the process of growth.

My recovery from this surgery is slow and not as quick as I would like. It will probably be four weeks until I can walk without a walker, and six months to one year before I can actually do a normal hike. In the same way, our spiritual growth is a process.  It does not occur overnight.  Jesus spent three full years with His disciples.  Sanctification takes time, energy, effort, waiting on God, and many ups and downs.  1 John 2:12-14 likens spiritual growth to the physical growth of going from a child to an adolescent, to a mature adult.  All of this takes time.  

5.    Put our faith and trust in the only One who can ultimately produce healing. 

God he is the giver and the sustainer of life. Every breath we breathe is a gift from His grace and power. Even the healing of a small cut on one’s finger comes from the Almighty. Ultimate healing from my knee replacement surgery is by the power of the Creator of my body, Jesus Christ. 

In the same way, our salvation is from the Lord, and our sanctification is produced by a work of God’s Spirit. “As we behold the glory of God, we are being transformed from one degree of glory to the next, by His Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18). We certainly play a part in growth, like reading the word and prayer and obedience and fellowship and stepping out in faith, etc. but we do this resting in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who ultimately produces the character change.

6.    Enjoy the fruit that comes from obedience and abiding. 

I cannot wait until I can go on a long hike, play pickleball and ride my bicycle again. More importantly, when we go through the process of growth and healing, we will experience the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience … (Gal. 5).  

God blesses obedience. God honors His word. If we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us on a daily basis, we will experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and relationships. God will not be mocked, a man will reap what he sows (Gal. 6).



Friday, September 10, 2021

Reflections on 9-11 ... 20 years later!

Our country and the world was rocked and shocked on 9-11-01 when evil terrorists attacked our country, killing almost 3,000 precious souls.  We must never forget.  We must reflect and learn.  We must learn from the past. We must become better and not bitter.


What are some of the most important lessons to learn from 9-11?

1.     Evil and sin are real.  

So many today dismiss the reality of sin and evil.  Too many think that man is basically good.  No, we aren’t. The Bible says we are all born with a sin nature, and therefore we are all capable of terrible things, apart from the grace and power of God.  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We have no problem calling Hitler evil, so why is it so hard to call this evil? 

2.     This event was rooted in an evil ideology.  

That ideology is radical Islamic pride, racism and a desire to take over the world.  The secular media does not like to talk about this for fear of being called Islamophobic. But these terrorists were Muslims.  They really believe it is right to kill the infidels.  They hate our country and what is stands for.  They believe women are inferior. They believe they will be rewarded with 70 virgins in heaven one day. They follow a man of war:  Mohammad.  Are all Muslims like this?  Of course not, but the root of the terrorist’s radicalism is in the Islamic faith.  Be not deceived, this is the same group that now controls Afghanistan.  I hope I am wrong, but it would not surprise me if another 9-11 occurs in our lifetime.

3.     America is worth defending… for the sake of the world.

America certainly has some very serious sins of her own – past and present (e.g., slavery, pride, racism, materialism, abortion, drug and alcohol abuse, idolatry, etc.). However, let us be careful about the rewriting of our history and thinking that what we have in this country is not worth defending.  America was founded on Christian and biblical truths such as the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, capitalism, biblical laws, democracy, giving everyone a chance, freedom of worship and speech, the value of life from the womb to the tomb, etc.  Because of this, so much good has come into and from this country.  Without the United States in WW2, it is likely we would all be speaking German today, and the evil of Nazism would not have been defeated.  Without the U.S. responding the way we did to 9-11, Osama Bin Laden would have killed many more people.  By the way, many thanks to all who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places after 9-11. Why do I bring this up?  Because what made this country great is dwindling before our very eyes. We need to stand up for the good in America, and seek to restore America to the principles I mentioned above. We also need to maintain a strong military presence in this country, because evil is only increasing around the world.   

4.     The ultimate solution is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  The only solution for the problem of sin and evil is the death and resurrection and shed blood of Jesus Christ.  We have a virus far more deadly than COVID, and that is sin.  There is a 100% effective vaccine for this virus, and it is the blood of Jesus! “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

5.      Christians need to be more active in personal evangelism.

The method Jesus gave us to change the world is to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18).  “And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  The world is reached one heart at a time.  We will not change the world by better laws and winning wars, as much as that can help. Instead, we change the world by helping to change hearts by introducing them to the love and transforming Gospel of Jesus.  When hearts are changed, behavior is changed.

6.      Our ultimate battle is not against flesh and blood.

The biblical and Christian worldview is one that includes 3 realms:  God, man, and Satan/demons/angels.  So many are ignorant of this 3rd dimension, that of Satan, demons and angels.  “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  The ultimate source of sin and evil is Satan.  All who are not followers of Jesus are under the influence of demonic spirits. We are in a spiritual battle, and that battle is getting more intense by the day.  The only way to defeat Satan and demons is through the power of the Name and blood of Jesus.  Christians, we fight spiritual forces with spiritual weapons.

7.     Prayer is still a powerful weapon of war.

After talking about the spiritual battle in Ephesians 6:10-17, the Apostle Paul says, “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (v. 18). Prayer is how we stay in close fellowship with God.  Prayer is where we keep our heart pure.  Prayer is how we hear God’s voice.  Prayer is where we intercede for others.  Prayer is how we “pull down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  Prayer is how we “bind and loose” (Matthew 18:18). Prayer is where we give thanks, caste our cares on Him, and maintain our peace (Philippians 4:6-7).


In conclusion, am I concerned?  Yes.  Am I heavy hearted at times?  Most certainly.  Are things getting worse?  For sure.  But I am hopeful because of Jesus.  I am confident that God ultimately wins.  I am motivated to stand strong.  I will not give up.  I will cling more tightly to the Word.  I need God’s Holy Spirit more than ever.  I want to be used by God to help change the world.  I believe the Word of God more than ever before.  I believe we are seeing many signs of the End Times fulfilled (see Matthew 24).


Let us not back down.  Let us live holy lives.  Let us submit to God, resist the devil, and watch him flee (James 4:7).  Let us join together as the body of Christ. Let us pray.  Let us believe God’s promises.  Let us help build strong and healthy churches.  Let us support one another.  Let us share the Good News of Jesus.  Let us anticipate the return of Christ. Let us live with an eternal perspective!


Friday, February 26, 2021

Lessons from Ravi Zacharias' Sin

I am grieved, saddened, bewildered, confused, disappointed, and challenged.  If you would have asked me just months ago, “Who would you least expect to fall into some serious sin?”  My list of people would be short, but certainly on it would have been Ravi Zacharias.  This is why the recent news of Ravi’s sins still has me in disarray.  It was hard to read the complete report from his ministry’s Board, as well as the 3rd party that did the thorough investigation.


I have been reflecting on the lessons to be learned from this horrific story.  What is the Romans 8:28 in this?  What do I need to take to heart as a result of this?  What can we all learn from this? Here are my takeaways:

1.     My heart goes out to the many victims.  May God grant them the grace to heal.  

2.     I cannot imagine the long-term effects on his wife, children and grandchildren.  They will have to live with this the rest of their lives.

3.     Those who worked closely with him in the ministry are likely to struggle with false guilt and trust of leadership for some time.  I know someone who works for the ministry, and she was completely in shock over the revelations.

4.     #1-3 show that sin almost always hurts others in one way or another.  Let us stop right now to pray for all those affected by this.

5.     “He who conceals his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes it shall find mercy” (Prov. 28:13).  Years ago a woman came forward with allegations.  Ravi had a “Nathan moment” (i.e., Nathan confronting King David) but denied it, lied, and ended up paying money to keep it quiet.  This only made it worse, now that the truth has been revealed.  What is done in secret will often be brought to light.  More importantly, God sees all.

6.     No one is beyond temptation and falling.  I remember Bill Bright once said, “I am only one decision away from adultery every day.” He did not mean he was flirting with an affair, but rather that he was not above any temptation or choice to sin.  No matter how long someone has walked with God or been mightily used by God, he/she must decide each day to obey the Lord and resist temptation.  In fact, the more one is used by God, the larger the target on their back.  Satan is relentless.

7.     Real accountability and protection are essential for each of us.  We all need a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). This is the one who will ask the hard questions, travel with us if necessary, and with whom we can share our secrets.  When Billy Graham traveled, he never did so alone; his traveling companion would search his hotel room before he entered (and once found a woman planted to seduce him), and do everything he could to prevent him from being in a situation in which he could fall.  

8.     Though there will still be consequences for our sin, forgiveness, grace, and healing is always available in Christ … IF we come clean about our sin. To think that Ravi never did that is tragic.  With his terminal cancer about to take his life, why did he not repent before he died?  How much did the Holy Spirit trouble him about his sin? Did he just ignore numerous attempts by the Lord to bring him to repentance? How did he preach such powerful messages, while living a double life? Was his death by cancer a partial judgment for his sin, like that of Ananias and Saphira (see Acts 5)?

9.     What about those who were positively affected by his ministry over the years?  There were over 2 million positive comments on twitter when he died.  His speaking, writing, and ministry led people to salvation, strengthened many in their faith, and trained up those who are now pastors, missionaries, and apologists.  Is this all in vain?  NO!  But it certainly tarnishes his legacy.  I heard someone say, “Truth is truth, regardless of the vessel who brings it, but now his messages and books will never be viewed the same.” The publisher of his books has already taken them off the shelves; his ministry has removed his name and stopped taking donations; and the future of his ministry is uncertain as of this writing.

10.  I certainly don’t want to take the “Elder Brother” approach to the Prodigal in this (see Luke 15), or look down a self-righteous nose of judgment upon Ravi, for I am well aware that we are all “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”  The old phrase, “But by the grace of God, go I” is so applicable here.  The world, the flesh and the Devil are relentless in their attacks.  Perhaps the biggest lesson in this is how crucial it is that we abide in the Word, live daily in the power of the Holy Spirit, resist temptation, have at least one trusted accountability person in our life, and be an “open book” as much as possible.

11.  It is not as important how we start, or where we are in the middle of the race, but that we be transformed each day, and finish well. I want to finish well!  How about you?

12.  In my book Pastoring with Passion I have a chapter on “Passion for Purity: Fatal Flaws and Wet Blankets.”  Fatal flaws are those areas we are most susceptible to sin.  It is what Hebrews 12 describes as “the sin that so easily entangles us”.  We each have an area or two that could so easily entangle us, if we don’t keep it in check. We need to name these areas and keep wet blankets on them, lest they burn down our house and the many houses that surround us.  Be sure at least one other person knows your fatal flaw, and asks you about it on a regular basis.

13.  Though we respect and learn from human leaders, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  If news of Ravi’s sin causes our faith to crumble, then our faith is more in man than in God.  Jesus is the only man that has ever walked planet earth and remained sinless.

14.  The Gospel of Jesus is still the best news out there.  The Gospel contains eternal forgiveness and healing at the core of our being.  The Gospel gives us a new identity from which we are motivated to live holy. The Gospel gives us the same power that raised Christ from the dead. The Gospel provides a forever family in which we can have support and encouragement. And the Gospel promises a fresh start whenever we confess and repent of our sin. The Gospel always gives hope, no matter how negative things may seem. 

15.  Our world is increasingly negative, sinful, discouraging, and far from God, which is why we need the Jesus more than ever. Learn from this situation, and never lose hope, because Jesus came to bring life and life abundantly (John 10:10), and “where sin abounds, grace even more” (Romans 5:20). 


I welcome your comments and insights.  Let me hear from you.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Lessons from the Braves' Game 7 Loss

I have been a Braves’ fan since I was 8 years old.  I was at the game when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homerun to break Babe Ruth’s record.  I could go on about other games I have been to.  Obviously, I was extremely disappointed to watch the Braves loose Game 7 of the National League Division Series last night.  But here are some lessons from it:

1.     A sports’ event is temporal and not eternal.  Thinking about what is eternal (i.e., last forever) vs. what is temporal (i.e., does not last forever) has been a huge game-changer for me in life.  In our walk with God, we need to focus on what is eternal and not what is temporal.  Eternal perspective puts earthly affairs into proper perspective.

2.     Don’t listen to or read the critics on social media or the news.  I am tempted to go down the trail of reading articles or viewing social media posts about the game. I am sure they will critique every mistake made, and it would likely pull me right in.  That is a trap and would only lead to expending unnecessary emotion and time on that today.  I will resist.  It is like the lies that Satan tries to bring against us in our walk with God.  As the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10), Satan loves to bring up our past sins and present flaws.  We must “take every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:4-5), resist his lies, and claim our righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

3.     I need to get my joy from God and not from worldly things.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying a sports’ event, but if my team loosing takes away my joy, then I am allowing it a larger place in my life than God would want.  I need to get my joy from who God is and who I am in Him, and not allow a game like this to take that away, even for one day! God doesn’t change (i.e., immutable), and is consistent every hour or every day (i.e., faithful).

4.     I need to remember what the players are going through today and pray for them.  Yes, I can pray for professional athletes and make a difference.  Pray for those who are not saved, to come to Christ through this loss.  Pray for those who are saved, to have a loving and bold witness through the loss.  I have worked with a number of athletes at the University of Georgia, and this has given me a deeper appreciation for the hard work they put into their sport, and also how much their light can shine to others after a loss.  It is easy to praise God when you win, but after a disappointment one’s light can often shine even brighter.

5.     Forget what lies behind and reach for what lies ahead.  It is easy to live in the past.  It is tempting to bring up all the times the Braves have lost in October.  For some, this just might mean that give up on the Braves entirely.  In life, we can allow our past or present “loses” make us “throw in the towel.”  God does not want us to do that.  Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more (Rom. 5-6).  God’s mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness (Lam. 3:23-25).  With Jesus, today is the first day of the rest of our life.


The Apostle Paul used running a race and boxing (1 Cor. 9:24-27) to teach spiritual and eternal truths.  Therefore, we can learn many biblical truths through things like sports.  I would love to hear your comments about this. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

An Open Letter About Racism and the Current Crisis in America

Open Letter Concerning the Current Crisis in America
Dr. Pastor David Holt; June 26, 2020

Our nation is in crisis.  Starting with the coronavirus, moving to the stay-at-home orders (which has had all kinds of psychological effects on people), then with the economy causing many to feel more fearful and uncertain, finally erupting with the horrendous killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and others.  Many blacks have had enough. The pain over years and years and years is surfacing as never before.  And many whites are torn in what to do. They want to take action and speak out against true racism, but because so much gets politicized and connected with unbiblical things, they often feel paralyzed.  

Here are my thoughts in hopes of bringing some understanding and action:
1.     God’s heart is hurting over all of this.  His heart aches for the people who have been killed.  His compassion goes out to the families and friends of these victims.  He is angry at the sin in our nation.  He is sovereign, holy, just, loving, merciful, patient, longsuffering, and faithful, among many other wonderfully complex attributes.  I cannot begin to imagine all that God feels right now.  It is important to try to see current events through the heart and mind of God.  I can just picture Jesus in Matthew 23:37 when He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that murders your prophets! You are the city that stones the very messengers who were sent to deliver you! So many times I have longed to gather a wayward people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings—but you were too stubborn to let Me.”
2.     God calls us to repentance and faith in His Son Jesus for forgiveness and healing.  The ultimate problem is not a skin problem but a sin problem.  At the root of racism is pride.  The answer to all of this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  More on that later.
3.     Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these victims and many more that have suffered under racism and injustice.  Everyone who has seen the videos of these killings agrees this is wrong.  In the past, after further information came to light, many whites would say, “That looks really bad, BUT …. I feel for that policeman…. They have a really tough job …. Not sure what I would have done in the spur of the moment in that situation …” and then we just trust the legal system will sort it all out. Sometimes they do (literally as I type this the news just announced 3 indictments in the Arbery case), while many times they don’t.  We learn later that the system did not treat the black person fairly.  And we hope it gets better. But often it doesn’t.  We watch movies like “Just Mercy” and we see how many are unjustly punished and incarcerated for crimes they never committed, because some racist had to find a “black person” to blame it on.  Our eyes are opening, but we have a long ways to go in seeing the full picture.  Most of all, we need the Lord to “bring to light” what has “been hidden in darkness.”
4.     What makes these recent killings so “eye opening” for whites is that there isn’t any more evidence we need to see to show us that these killings have no justification.  This is why you have more whites protesting over racism than any time in history.  And these protests are now international and not just national.  Is God shaking the nations to the reality of the sin of racism?  Could it be that slavery and racism is the “original sin” of America? 
5.     We wonder how many more merciless and unjust killings have taken place that were not recorded on a phone and shown to the world?  We wonder how many other acts of racism have been swept under the rug.  It is likely more deep-rooted than most whites realize.  Help us see what You have always seen, Lord.
6.     Just recently I was enlightened to a terrible lynching in 1946 that occurred just 8 miles from where I live. I have actually deer hunted on the land right next to where this occurred.   What happened on that terrible day in in 1946?  Two couples (one 7-months pregnant) were shot 60 times and lynched by a mob of 15-20 white people.  The husband of the pregnant couple had just been home for 9 months after serving 5 years in WW2!  This is what he gets for serving his country?  After 3 different investigations, no one has ever been arrested for this lynching.  To read the full account of what happened will make your stomach turn, as well as keep you up at night.  I have been to the place where this occurred …. to pray and reflect … and I prayed there yesterday with a group of pastors and intercessors.
7.     Returning to the current situation in our nation, God’s Word supports a person standing up for his God-given rights as Paul did in Acts when he was being denied his “rights” as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28). God’s Word also supports peaceful and non-violent protests to move a nation’s conscience and to work toward the reversal of unjust laws.  What Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did during the Civil Rights Movement is an example that should be followed today.
8.     God’s Word condemns the violence, looting and rebellion against the authority structures that He has set in place (see Romans 13).  One act of evil never justifies another act of evil. 
9.     Many white Christians want to support their black brothers and sisters and declare “Black Lives Matter,” because they do matter.  Black lives do matter. Black lives do deserve fair treatment.  Black lives are created in the image of God.  Black lives deserve the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Black lives deserve the same treatment as white people.  At the same time, many whites struggle being connected the to the BLM movement, because of the political connections that this movement has, of which they cannot endorse.  The founder of this movement has openly professed to being a Marxist.
10.  Many Christians want to support the pain and hurt of blacks, but struggle knowing how to do this when so many protests involve signs that say, “Defund Police”; “Blue Klux Klan,” or the protests links arms with the Gay Pride movement and seeks to make that a civil rights issue also.
11.  One only hurts the cause of blacks when protests turn to looting, vandalism, and the taking over of police stations.  Therefore, many white and black Christians do not know what to do and feel paralyzed.
12.  The idea of “Defunding Police” could result in anarchy.  Police reform is one thing, but defunding police departments is not the proper response.  I was recently in a meeting where our black Police Chief and black Sheriff told our white Mayor, “We are not in favor of defunding the police department because that will only hurt the blacks in this community.”  
13.  Unfortunately, so much that is going on gets connected to a political agenda that makes this even more confusing for Christians.  Some out of compassion lean left (like my dad!) because they want to help the oppressed. Jesus made it a priority to help and heal the poor, oppressed and marginalized. Others support the right, because they feel it better supports what the Bible says about the unborn and issues of sexual morality.
14.  Many evangelical Christians embrace the policies of our President, but disdain his pride, harmful tweets, personal attacks, and lack of unifying leadership.  Once again, this leaves them very paralyzed in what to do right now, and who to support and “get behind.”
15.  The black community today needs a national leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was devoted to biblical truths, compassion, boldness and non-violence.  His famous and impassioned “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is worth everyone’s read.  He challenged the passivity of the white church in his day.
16.  Studying the Christian history of America shows how demonic theology in the church is largely to blame for the sin of slavery lasting for so many years.  Had the church, pastors, theologians and others renounced this sin sooner, it may have prevented the Civil War.
17.  So with all this said, what can we do?  What practical suggestions can we consider?
a.     We should condemn racism in all its forms.  It is ungodly, demonic, and oppressive to an entire race of people. It is against everything in the nature of God and His Holy Word. 
b.     We can speak out against racism when we see it, be it from a friend or in society at large.
c.     We can stand against injustice.  Sometimes we need someone to point it out to us, because we often do not see it due to our white privilege.  I know many do not like this term and will resist it, but it simply means that we do have certain privileges and advantages in American by simply being white.  This is not our fault.  We had nothing to do with being born white, any more than my black brother had anything to do with being born black.  God is sovereign over that, and we can both rejoice and embrace the color of our skin.  At the same time, due to many factors (many of which were sinful), whites in American do have many privileges that we need to recognize.  In general, blacks do have more obstacles to overcome in being successful and achieving the “American Dream” that many whites were simply handed.
d.     We can study history so that we understand more fully why racism is one of the original sins of this country.  It is deep rooted and demonic due to slavery, Jim Crow laws, etc.  Many whites will respond, “But I did not own slaves, so don’t hold me responsible for that, and we are now in 2020 and blacks can do whatever they set their mind to do.”  True, you did not own slaves but when you understand how that system has affected the black race, and how much we are still negatively reaping what we have sown through that sin, then you will have more compassion and understanding for where blacks have come from.  There are so many carry-overs from this horrible sin.  We must understand it like we would if one of our family members were Native American and had to try to overcome all the sins we committed against that race years ago.
e.     We can intentionally develop relationships with black people, so that we actually have a friend we can ask in times like this, “What is this like for you?  What are you going through right now? How does all this make you feel?” And when we ask these questions, we need to use our two ears and close our one mouth, in order to listen. We need to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12).  We need to regard the other person as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2). We need to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6).  We need to be slow to speak and quick to listen (Jas. 4). I am preaching to myself as much as to anyone right now.
f.      We can pray.  God’s heart is moved when we pray, confess our sins and repent, so as to help bring healing in our land.  2 Chron. 7:14 is still God’s prescription for national healing:  “If MY people, who are called by MY name, will humble themselves and pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land”.
g.     We can even pray for those who killed George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, that they might “come to their senses” and repent before the families and even the world.  If they did this, it just might serve to bring some healing.
h.     We can reach across political and sociological lines to try to come to some solutions. I don’t know exactly what this would look like, but I am meeting with other pastors and leaders in Athens to work on this. Please pray for this effort.  Recently I was in a room with 8 black pastors, 9 white pastors, our Mayor, our black Police Chief, our black Sheriff, and others. It was a very constructive discussion.
i.      We can look at the progress that is being made. Sure there is a lot of craziness and extremes mixed in, but all is not bleak right now.  Look at what the NASCAR drivers did recently to stand in support of Bubba Wallace.  Look at the support that is being shown to the many good police officers.  Look at how people are praying, and pastors are speaking on this issue.  There is much to be encouraged by.  Progress is being made.  
j.      Ask God, “What would You have me do?”  He speaks to those who are sincere and still enough to listen to His “still, small voice.”
18.  God is still on His throne, and there is always hope when we keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebr. 12).  He can and still does “work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  What Satan means for evil, God can work for good (Gen. 50:20).  I know many of you reading this do love God and are called according to His purpose.
19.  Jesus prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” must be our pursuit.  How can we help bring His kingdom to earth in some of the ways it is already true in heaven?  We will not see it fully realized, but we can see it take place a lot more than we currently see.
20.  We can all look forward to the day when Jesus will establish the new heaven and new earth, where there will be no sin, Satan, death, racism, division, pride, abuse, tears, pain, etc.  What a glorious eternity that will be.  Make sure you are saved by trusting in Christ’s shed blood on the cross, so that you will one day experience this.

21.  This is worth repeating and closing with:  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer and solution to all of these problems.  For the cross of Jesus grants forgiveness and healing for any sin.  The Gospel of Jesus calls one to repent, which results in a change of behavior.  The power of the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and enables us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The Word of God declares that all people, regardless of race, are created in the image of God.  The cross of Jesus breaks down the wall of hostility (Eph. 2), because we are all a part of the human race, and all who are redeemed by the blood are brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 3:1). Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s throne in heaven will be full of people of every tribe, nation, tongue and people (Rev. 5).  I cannot wait for that day, but until God calls me home, I want to do all I can to make a difference for eternity.  How about you?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why the Vegas shooting?

“The Vegas shooting:  Not an excuse but maybe an explanation - Hurt People Hurt People.”

Everyone is asking, “How could someone kill all these people and then kill himself?”  No doubt only God knows.  This question is so complex that even the most trained psychologists may not be able to provide a satisfying answer.  However, I want to offer some possible answers, and once again, God’s Word helps us.

In Mark 5 Jesus encounters a man who is so troubled, demonized, and harmful to self and others that he was living in the tombs, cutting himself, overcome with mental and emotional anguish, and even exhibiting supernatural strength such that he could break free from chains. This oppressed man likely hated himself and others, and would have today been diagnosed with all kinds of mental, social, psychological, and spiritual disorders. Had he gone to a doctor, he would have been put on all kinds of medications, and they might have helped.  But Jesus loved him and did something to him no one else could do.  Jesus sets him free by casting the many demons out of him and into a herd of pigs to be drowned.  A side note: it is good this didn’t happen today or Jesus would have likely been arrested by the animal rights’ people for animal abuse.  Anyway, after this amazing act of love and power by Jesus, the troubled man was set free, clothed and in his right mind.  We see in this story how Jesus did indeed come to set the captives free.  The Good News is that Jesus is more powerful than Satan and still does this today, for those who call upon Him for help and deliverance.

I see a lot of similarities between the demonized man in Mark 4 and the Las Vegas shooter.  I am not even going to mention his name because I am opposed to giving him any more attention.  I offer the following possibilities to the Vegas shooting:
1.     His father was a very sinful and sick man (i.e., bankrobber).  The bible says, “The sins of the forefathers are carried to the 3rd and 4th generation.”
2.     He probably never received much love.  Those who don’t feel love have a hard time giving love. 
3.     He was a loner and thus more susceptible to the lies of the enemy.
4.     He mistreated his girlfriend, and this often has roots in self-hatred.
5.     He was likely very bitter at others and life, and this makes someone want to hurt others.  Hurt people hurt people.  “The wages of sin is death.”
6.     He was looking for life and meaning in all the wrong places:  money, gambling, and sex.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
7.     He likely had a very poor self-image, and at the core hated himself and thus hated others.  Hurt people hurt people.
8.     His mental and emotional pain likely made him want to put that same pain on others.  “They might as well suffer like I am.  I sure can’t stand to see all these thousands of happy people at a concert.  They don’t deserve to be happy while I am in misery.”  Satan will indeed feed people lies like this to lead them to “steal, kill and destroy.”
9.     Therefore, once he decided to end his own life, he figured he might as well take down others with him.  Hurt people hurt people.
10. As sick as this is to all people of sound mind, he may also have wanted to do something that would put his picture before the whole world to somehow validate his worth.  This is why I am personally opposed to the news showing the picture of people who do such things. 
11. John 10:10 says, “Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.”  Satan is ultimately behind all acts of evil like this.  One thing I am certain of:  this man was clearly demonized at a very severe level, likely at the level of the demonized man in Mark 5.

The good news in the midst of this horrible tragedy is the rest of John 10:10, “But I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”  The love and power of Jesus can transform not only a person like this, but anyone who is hurting.

I may be off in some of the explanations, but I am not off in the solution.  Whatever is hurting and troubling you today, Jesus wants to help you. He loves you; He created you; He died for you; and He rose again for you.  Turn to Him with whatever pain you have.  He can do for you what no one else or nothing else can do.  He came to set the captives free.  I just wish this man had turned to Jesus. A lot more people would be living today had He done that.