Monday, April 21, 2014

When God Packs His Bags

One of the key images in the book of Ezekiel involves the presence of God among his people.  This presence is manifested as “the glory of the Lord.”  In the early chapters of Ezekiel, God reveals the many sins of the people of Judah and warns of the judgment that is coming as a result of it.  Incredibly, the abominations had grown to involve the temple of God itself, which was the earthly dwelling place of God’s glory (7:20 - 8:18).  The Lord had been patient, but the desecration of the temple was the last straw.  In chapter 9, the executioners are summoned and the glory of the Lord begins to vacate the premises by standing at the threshold of the temple (9:1-3).  From there, he mounts his heavenly “chariot” and proceeds to the east gate (10:18-19).  God’s glory is last pictured as leaving the midst of Jerusalem and hovering over the mountain east of the city (11:22-23).  Then, He is gone.  The city is abandoned to it’s iniquity and resulting destruction.
But, thankfully, the story is not over!  Before the book ends, Ezekiel is given a new vision to relay to the refugees of Judah who remained as captives in Babylon.  Given all that had transpired, they likely felt that God had left them forever.  But such was not the case.  In the vision, Ezekiel is taken to the east gate to witness the return of God’s glory  (43:1-5)!  Once again, “...the glory of the Lord filled the house.”  Once again, God expressed His desire to dwell among them forever, conditioned, of course, upon their recommitment to Him and willingness to turn away from their sin (43:6-9).
As New Covenant disciples, we are God’s dwelling place (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:22).  But like Judah of old, we must guard against giving ourselves over to sin and rebellion to the point that God can no longer stand to be among us (Hebrews 10:26-31).

God loves you!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition

Grace Baptist Church in Troy, New York, held a raffle on Sunday, March 23, with an unusual prize -- an AR-15 assault rifle.  One visitor, Ron Stafford, was the lucky “worshipper” chosen.  Apparently the church was being careful to stay within law for such a giveaway because the advertising flyer they printed and distributed had the following disclosure: “All winning applicants will be subject to a federal background check, must be age 18 or older and provide a valid driver’s license. The church also reserves the right to deny anyone of “questionable character.”  Other churches are also using the idea of a gun giveaway as a way of increasing membership.  “Some churches in Kentucky have also been using guns to attract new members. Earlier this month, churches in Paducah — where three students were killed during a school shooting in 1997 — hosted “Second Amendment Celebrations.” At Lone Oak First Baptist Church, roughly 1,300 people crammed into the church hall for a steak dinner and pep talk by gun expert Chuck McAlister, who was hired by Kentucky’s Southern Baptists to grow membership. Twenty-five guns were raffled off during the dinner and winners were required to pass a background check” (, “Peace(maker) be with you”, March 24, 2014).
Am I missing something here?  Does anyone else sense an incongruity between the raffling off of an assault rifle and the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ?  The most startling thing about the advertisement for the gun giveaway was the lone biblical quote they used.  Right under the bold heading “Win a FREE AR-15” were the words of Jesus: “ peace I give to you…” (John 14:27).  Are you kidding me???
I’m thankful for my constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  I also support Grace Baptist’s freedom under the Constitution to use any legal means to further their cause.  But let’s leave the Lord out of it, okay?  The kingdom of God has one drawing power -- the cross of Christ.  The gospel doesn’t need gimmickry.

God loves you!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Telling The Truth

“During a trial, in a small Missouri town, the local prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand. The witness was a proper, well-dressed elderly lady, the Grandmother type, well spoken, and poised. She was sworn in, asked if she would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, on the Bible, so help her God.
The prosecuting attorney approached the woman and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?’” She responded, “Why, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk badly about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the sense to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper-pushing shyster. Yes, I know you quite well.”
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”  She again replied, “Why, yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, has a bad drinking problem. The man can’t build or keep a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. Yes, I know him.”
The defense attorney almost fainted. Laughter mixed with gasps, thundered throughout the courtroom and the audience was on the verge of chaos.  At this point, the judge brought the courtroom to silence, called both counselors to the bench, and in a very quiet voice said, “If either of you morons asks her if she knows me, you’re going to jail”” (Mark Eberly,
This humorous (and likely fictional story) reminds me to ask myself: Am I living in such a way that I would not be hesitant to have anyone tell the truth about me?  If not, what do I need to change?

God loves you!