The New Creation in You

As life tends to turn many ways, topsy turvey, winds and bends, up hills and then down into valleys; we find that our being is shaped into personhood… real personhood. Somehow, with (or without) the help of God, we become who we are. I mean, we are born with a special DNA, a make-up of who we genuinely are. That said, we are also involved in a “becoming”. Events in our lives, people we grow up with, associations along the way… all make up the personhood of a human being.

And then, there is God! He alters it all in the name of “salvation”. He doesn’t toss the “you” of your humanity into the waste can of eternal nothingness, but He reshapes, He remolds, He takes the “you” you know and makes a new “you”. You are still with your personhood – but you are different. You are a new creation! And the new “you” is the real you – the “you” you were intended to be all along!

Take heart dear Christian, God is alive in you!


God’s Reasoning with Teens and Young Adults

“Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.”
This is God’s Message:
“If your sins are blood-red,
they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
they’ll be like wool.
If you’ll willingly obey,
you’ll feast like kings.
But if you’re willful and stubborn,
you’ll die like dogs.”

That’s right. God says so.
Isa. 1:18-20 (The Message Bible)

Isaiah is a young man, around the age of twenty, when he utters this prophecy. His ministry is one which will span the course of some 64 years – it is a ministry founded upon these first words God spoke to him while living in Judah (which literally means “praise”). His, was a call unto the holiness of God, a promise of purity in life… resulting in the future prosperity of the saints of Israel (and much later, the entirety of God’s creation)! Isaiah’s definitive “yes-answer” to this call would sustain him throughout his 84-years on this planet!

It’s at this crucial time that God promotes both youthful exuberance & a spiritual zeal for the things of God in the young and inexperienced life of His prophet, Isaiah. The reality is that youthful exuberance by itself can be quite frightening. Coupled with proper biblical zeal for His church, youthful exuberance becomes a vehicle by which we can see the wonders of the glory of God & lives lived out with excellence in service to our King.  Isaiah’s youthful energy & his passionate drive for the Holy would flood his heart and soul as he “reasoned” with His God. This shows us that the Lord is not afraid to haggle with the youth of our day, and in the end, encourages and even demands youthful behavior that is exemplary in belief, in behavior, and in the everyday battle of life.

The truth is, (whether we like it or not), like Isaiah, the choices made in our teen years and our young adult years set the foundation on which the rest of our lives are to be built. Our parents have us during our formative years growing up, but then, there comes a time when one must begin building his/her own life making their own decisions (and hopefully our parents equipped us with the proper tools to begin that building). There comes a time when it is up to us! The buck stops here, as they say.  It’s true, the decisions we make today impact our tomorrows.  Add to that, the most important decisions in our lives tend to be made from the ages of 14 to 25 (Godly living or not, marriage. college, career, where we will live, etc…).  No wonder the Bible teaches that we need wisdom outside of ourselves. The conclusion of it all is, God’s call to the youth of our day is the same as in Isaiah’s day…

“Come let us reason together.”

Revival’s Sacred Strife

In my study of the Great Revival of 1800, in the area in which I live (Sumner County, TN), I have found some significant things to be evident…

-While there were excesses, it is generally agreed that a genuine move of God occurred.  The Great Revival of 1800 laid a poweful foundation for the states of Tennessee and Kentucky by which to stand. Its effects are still felt today (good and bad).

-There were three major denominations involved… Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist.

-Just a decade before, ministers had been lamenting the sad state of affairs in KY and TN — even all the South.

-There were three phases of the Awakening…

1740-1760 Presbyterian Revival
1760-1770 Baptist Revival
1770-1776 Methodist Revival

… there were hints of “revival” here and there in the 1780′s and 90′s.  Somewhere between 1796 – 1805 the Spirit of Revival had reached a “fever pitch” — and in 1800 all three major denominations were as one in the spirit of revival. One major key to corporate revival … unity in spirit. A oneness. “One accord” as the Bible says.

Excesses marked the revival, for sure.  However, among the excesses were miracualous heart-changes — emotional and not so emotional…

1. Passion was renewed as unto God.
2. Souls were saved — and the church of the South was built.
3. The people truly were “doing life together”.
4. A renewed fervor in prayer was exacted in the revivals.
5. People came to the church with great expectation… that they might actually hear a Word from God.
6. The churches worked together, and when that ceased… the revival ceased.

However we define “revival”, we must agree something happened to those people… and among other things that something, was God!  I close with some defining words from Kierkegaard (as applied to revival)… for “revival” begins with “the war within a person’s soul”. It is a “sacred strife”... “Oh whoever you are, pay heed to this sacred strife. This alone is the strife of eternity.”

Cold October Rain (repost from 10/24/06)

Adoniram Judson, America’s first foreign missionary, had lost it all. In his efforts to reach the unreached Burmans with the gospel…, he had lost it all! His first child born dead and buried at sea; his second,  little Roger, didn’t even see his second birthday; his wife Ann and shortly afterward his daughter Maria… all parted from this world. He had received word from home that his father (also a minister) had passed on…  Adoniram lost it all.

Adoniram, had endured the Death Prison and Oung-pen la. He had labored long and hard to the glory of the King. It was seven years before he saw his first convert, Maung Nau. He had learned the Burmese language. He had labored long at a Burmese translation on the New Testament (more than ten years). While in prison the transcript had been lost, but thankfully later found. He had forsaken all to come to Burma. He had seen much pain, much toil, and much death. He was now weary in his journeys. He simply walked into the woods and disappeared for a whole year. A deep dark depression would linger a long three years in his mind.

On October 24, 1828, the second anniversary of his wife, Ann’s death, Adoniram wrote:

“It proves a stormy evening, and the desolation around me accords with the desolate state of my own mind, where grief for the dear departed combines with sorrow for present sin, and my tears flow at the same time over the forsaken grave of my dear love and the loathsome sepulchre of my own heart.”

…it was a cold October rain that beat down on the heart of Adoniram that night.

On October 24, 1829, the third anniversary of his wife, Ann’s death, Adoniram wrote Ann’s surviving sisters:

“Have either of you learned the art of real communion with God, and can you teach me the first principles? God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in Him, but I find Him not.”

It would not be until mid-December of that same year, Adoniram learned that his brother, Elnathan, had died at the young age of thirty-five on May 8, 1829. His brother had never made a confession of Christ so far as Adoniram had known. Where is God in all of this? But now, the report would come, this sad state of soul in Elnathan had changed, and at his death, he suddenly raised up, clasped his hands, and with a countenance of joy, cried out, “Peace! Peace!”  Of this, Adoniram wrote his sister, Abigail, “When I read this account I went into my little room, and could only shed tears of joy….”

In tragedy God spoke to Adoniram about his tragedy. God is always there. He saved Elnathan’s soul, just as he had all the other dear ones in Adoniram’s life. God was there! When the cold October rain gets you down — know that God is there! I don’ have all the answers — but this I know, He is there!

2010 Update: Brandy’s Grandaddy died October 24, 2010. He was buried October 27th on a cold rainy October afternoon.  I repost this as a result of the contemplations of the day. Today is the 36th anniversary of my own mom’s untimely death when I was just six years old (the same age as my son).  The picture above is a picture of Ann Judson and my own wife, Brandy in one of those old-time portraits taken when we were first married.  Pretty cool!!!

The Wall of Separation

The First Ammendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Separation of Church and State is nowhere to be mentioned in the Constitution or the First Amendment.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” is nothing more than a protection of religion against the evermore power-hungry government of the State.  However in our modern day environment, that has come to mean, “Let’s ban the church, prayer, and the Bible from our public buildings and properties”.

Few want to talk about the “or prohibiting the free execise therof” part of the amendment (of which a “free press” is connected).  In this same sentence we see the protection of the press from the cancerous cords of government corruption, as well as the more favorable prospects of religious freedom.  The government in fact, is told they are not to pursue legal and official statuses with the church, and the church is then, in turn, granted the same freedoms and priveleges as the press. That is the First Amendment.  Therefore, if “Seperation of Church and State”, is upheld based on this amendment, then so should a “Separation of Press and State”.    And yet, the press is attacking the church, through this oft’ times misquoted and misapplied passage in the Constitution.  I say, “No prayer, no press… no religion, no reporter… no Church, no commercials (meaning political ads or otherwise)”.

Still Small Roar

In the kingdom of ideas lived a word.
The word was unspoken in real-world language, not through mere ignorance, but through inability to contain it. . .

One day the word was spoken.
In a whisper.

– Joseph Bayly A Voice in the Wilderness

Louder Than Words

Our little boy is five years old and has difficulty speaking.  He understands others but has difficulty expressing himself.  It is sometimes painful to watch him try and interact with other children his age, only to be misunderstood or ignored.  I don’t blame the children – they are only kids after all. He gets frustrated even with us, when we cannot understand what he’s trying to say. There is nothing more precious in hearing an occasional coherent word, expression, or sentence from our little guy.  We value and cherish each word. We love him with all our heart and would never trade him for anything or anyone  and we are so proud of him as he overcomes one obstacle after another.  He’s a great little guy who’s taught his parents a thing or two about life.

Even as a baby he showed a remarkable ability to reach out and touch someone’s heart without ever saying a word.  An elderly and recently widowed lady holding him as he smiled at her said she felt God had touched her.  A lady at Cracker Barrel stopped and gave him a dollar exclaiming that he had smiled at her and she knew everything in her life was going to be alright.  A standoffish relative who suddenly felt compelled to do nice things for him because he had stolen his heart.  A lonely night in our living room when his Papa and Nana gave us the news that Nana had cancer and it was serious, where he just stared in her eyes with an intense stare before she had even uttered a word.  A dark day of ministry when I felt like giving up, when he crawled up in my lap and smiled at me, and I remembered why it is I do what I do.  The day we were in the hospital and he had wires hooked to him as his Mama sang “This Little Light of Mine” and he held one little finger out from under the protective sleeve on his hand in the air and twirled it around. On and on I could go.

All told, I can honestly and without reservation, say, sometimes a life lived honestly and purely before our God  can be louder than words!  A heartfelt thanks goes to our lil’ guy for speaking that to me.  God bless!