Monday, March 26, 2018

Don't be a fool

It’s been a while since I’ve locked my keys in my car, but I somehow managed to do it last week. There are few times you feel as foolish as when you’re standing outside your locked car looking through the window at your keys sitting on the console laughing hysterically at your sorry predicament.

That reminds me of the story of the fellow who was feverishly working to navigate the coat hanger alongside the car window in attempt to unlatch the lock. His friend happened upon the scene and offered assistance. The bloke insisted he could do it on his own, so the friend mindlessly moseyed around the car, out of habit reached for the passenger side door, and viola – the door opened! He said, “Dude, did you know the passenger side door is unlocked?” The fella looked up only briefly from his fiddling to say matter-of-factly, “I know; I already got that side.”

Can I say this, friend, with Easter coming this Sunday, April 1 – April Fool’s Day: Don’t be foolish when it comes to matters of eternal significance. The Bible describes the foolishness of those who reject the Lord.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). It’s the fool who despises godly wisdom and instruction, instead does what is right in his own eyes, and even flaunts his folly for all to see (Proverbs 1:7; 12:15; 13:16)!

It’s the foolish man who builds his house on the sand (Matthew 7:26-27), refusing to obey the words of Jesus even though he hears them plainly.  

It’s the fool who lays up plenty of treasure for himself on earth, building bigger and better barns to store all his stuff, but gives no thought toward seeking a rich relationship with God (Luke 12:13-21) through faith in the Lord and service to others.

And it’s nothing but utter foolishness to trade the truth of God for a lie, to exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of created things, and to refuse to honor the Creator of the universe with gratitude, making up foolish ideas instead of what God should be like and what He should do (Romans 1:18ff.).

Personally, I’ve done some foolish things in my life. Locking my keys in the car is the least of my failures. But by God’s mercy I’ve been fully forgiven. By God’s grace the gates of heaven have been unlocked through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His resounding victory over the grave. And by God’s favor He’s given me faith to believe, when I could very easily have traveled a foolish path to destruction.

Friend, let me urge you make the wisest move you’ve ever made and come running to the saving arms of Christ. Repent from your sin, believe in Jesus, and follow Him as your Lord. The door to salvation is open now, dear friend. Run, and don’t delay.

Why not make this prayer your own as you put your trust in Jesus:

“Father, I’ve been a fool for spurning you all this time, thinking I could live life on my own terms, but missing out on all that really matters. I’m running to Your arms of love now, O God, confessing that I am a sinner in need of Your salvation. I turn away from my sin, and I trust wholly in Christ. Jesus, I believe that You took the nails and hung on the cross for me, and that Your blood is enough to forgive all my sin. I believe You rose from the dead, and I now receive You as my Savior and rejoice to follow You as Lord. Thank you for saving me from my foolishness and giving me new life. Amen.”

And if this is your prayer I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment here, call me at 217-632-2488, e-mail me at, or stop by the FBC office sometime at 103 W. Sangamon Ave., Petersburg, IL, and we’ll talk more about this new life in Christ!

Monday, March 19, 2018

What are you waiting for?

It feels like random thoughts day, so here goes…

One of my pet peeves, which sometimes finds me yelling at the radio when I’m all by myself in the car, is when an interviewer asks his guest a question but then goes into a lengthy explanation for why he’s asking the question and often ends up answering it himself! Dude, you invited this expert to be on your show. I know you love to hear the sound of your own voice, but quit babbling. We want to hear what your guest has to say. Just ask the question clearly and let him answer!

I have to give a shout-out to the drama team at PORTA High School. To all the kids on stage and behind the scenes, to the directors and to everyone who had a hand in helping present the musical: You did a fantastic job! Your crazy time and effort invested paid off in an entertaining and engaging performance. I didn’t even know my kid could dance! And thanks, PORTA school community, for keeping the arts alive in school.

The coils on your refrigerator need to be cleaned out every once in a while. Just a public service announcement from someone who discovered that going at least six years without even thinking about it is too long. Otherwise you’ll end up with a big white box in the corner of your kitchen in which to store your melted ice cream.

A little salt to season your steak tastes great. A little salt to flavor your speech with kindness, humility, encouragement, wisdom, and humor does too. Words can either build someone up or tear someone down. Wouldn’t it be nice if our conversations included more grace and less griping, critiquing, and complaining?

Speaking of which, who’s worn out from political ads already? What if we prayed for our leaders in Illinois more than talk about them? Lord, please raise someone up who will lead our state to health; who will reject corruption, perversion, and treachery, and instead will truly serve the people and lead well with integrity, courage, and uprightness.

What are you doing this Sunday at 10:45? Come and hear the Petersburg FBC Choir present, “Here at the Cross: Stories of Forgiveness.” You’ll hear a sweet blend of new songs and old hymns, combined with personal stories of God’s work of forgiveness and grace in the lives of His people. If you’re already perfect, you don’t need to come. But for the rest of us, you’ll be encouraged by what Jesus has done and is doing.

Satan, by the way, is real, and he is a liar and a thief. Just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean his wicked influence in this world isn’t at the root of all things broken. His goal has not changed since the day he deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which through their disobedience has unleashed the curse of sin into this world. The devil designs to kill, to steal, and to destroy. And he’s having a party of it.

Jesus, on the other hand, is also real, and He is the way, the truth, and the life. On the cross He sacrificed His life for all our sins, bearing the full measure of God’s holy, just, and righteous wrath against sin. And He has appeared to destroy the works of the devil, conquering death and hell by rising from the grave, and promising eternal life to all who repent from sin and believe in Him.

Can I just say again how good it is to know your sins have been wiped off the books, to know that God will not count your sins against you, and to know that there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? The mercy of God runs deeper than the vilest of your sins. His grace saves even the worst of sinners. But it’s not automatic. You must respond to His offer of forgiveness and come to Jesus by grace through faith.

“For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). So what are you waiting for?

Monday, March 12, 2018

God's Holy Strangers

Followers of Jesus have to be the strangest people on the planet. Not as in “bizarre” strange, like the woman with tattoos covering 96% of her body or the guy shopping the beauty section of Walmart with a toilet plunger on his head. But Christians who base their values and character on the Word of God and stake their entire lives on the story of a cross and an empty tomb look crazy to a godless culture.

This article is a call to Christians to embrace your identity now as “aliens and strangers” on earth, even as you long for your eternal heavenly home. And it’s a plea for unbelievers to join this band of holy strangers.

The Bible says that for believers, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). In other words, this world is not our home. We are temporary sojourners, resident aliens who live by faith as we look forward to the eternal heavenly city God has prepared for us. We know that there are better things yet to come and that the eternal glory that is ours in Christ far outweighs the “light and momentary troubles” we endure on this earth.

See, that already sounds strange to unbelieving ears. It gets stranger.

The world thinks we’re out of our minds for believing that God spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 11:3; et al), that He authors life from the moment of conception forward, knitting us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16), and that He purposefully created mankind in His own image as male and female (Genesis 1:27). And so when we reject any theory of creation that rejects God as the Creator, when we call abortion an abomination to God, and when we expose the fallacy of “transgenderism” as a denial of God’s design, we’re labeled as foreigners.

Unbelievers call us insane for believing that sexual activity is to be enjoyed solely within the bounds of marriage, and for agreeing biblically that pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior, lust, and every other kind of sexual immorality or impurity is a sin (Genesis 2:24-25; Proverbs 5-7; Matthew 5:27-30; Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:1-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; et al).

The ungodly say we’re nuts for forgiving others when they’ve wronged us, rather than seeking revenge. They say we’ve gone off the deep end when we give generously to help others in need. They say we’re mentally ill when we talk about hearing from God, discovering a peace that we can’t explain, or knowing a joy we can’t put into words.

They think we’re strange when we don’t let our children play violent video games, when we decline to indulge in alcohol, when we unsubscribe from cable TV, when we refrain from gossip or slander, and when we refuse to fudge a little on our taxes.

And they call us fools for preaching a message that exclusively declares Jesus to be the only way to heaven. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Seriously, who in their right mind would willingly suffer for a Jewish carpenter who lived some 2,000 years ago? Who would subject themselves to public ridicule, to threats of persecution, to the possibility of imprisonment and even death for the sake of someone they’ve never even met? Yet those who truly know Jesus rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His name. They know that if they’re insulted for the name of Christ, they are blessed, for they believe a better day is on the way.

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven…” (Luke 6:22-23).

Christian, embrace your identity as God’s holy strangers on earth, knowing that your real treasure is in heaven. Be okay with not fitting in to the ways of the world, because “friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4), and “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Be unashamed in calling Jesus your Master and in faithfully following Him in the way of righteousness.

And, listen, if you’ve not yet experienced the joy of knowing Christ and the forgiveness of sins He offers, if you’ve not yet tasted the goodness of God and delighted your soul in His grace, and if you don’t have assurance of eternal life in heaven, then let me urge you to repent from sin, turn to Jesus in faith, and join this band of God’s Holy Strangers. Your friends may think you’ve lost your mind, but you’ll have found your life.