Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Dream Worth Keeping


In his famously convicting and inspiring, “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., drew from his life experience, the U.S. Constitution, and biblical theology to call this nation to racial justice.

He quotes from Amos 5:24 (one of several biblical references in this speech) reflecting God’s own heart saying, “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”

Not unlike our nation still today, the people of Israel long ago were guilty of a laundry list of sins against God: sexual immorality, apathy for the nation’s demise, violence and robbery, silencing the prophets, and making a mockery of their religion. There’s truly nothing new under the sun!

But the recurring theme throughout Amos was their corruption of justice by oppressing the poor and needy. 

The throne of God sits on a foundation of justice and righteousness. Those who claim His name must share His heart for such values, especially reflected in the way we treat one another. We must learn to hate evil and love good. We must embrace the truth that every human being is made in the image of God – from the moment of conception to natural death, every color, every nation, every tongue, every tribe.

In other words, there’s no place in the heart of a Christian for racial hatred or prejudice of any kind. The cross of Christ purges sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

Rather, in His strength, let us lead the way in loving one another just like Jesus did – red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight! Let’s model for the world what it looks like to treat one another with respect and honor and kindness and humility. Let’s wave the banner for righteousness and seek justice for those in need.

The dream of unity and freedom for all can be achieved, but I say only through the transforming work of Christ. Naming and blaming and shaming only hardens hearts, but the gospel of peace – through the blood of Jesus – changes hearts, breaks down every dividing wall of hostility, and reconciles us to God in one body. That’s a dream worth keeping!


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Learning from 2020 to face the challenges yet to come

What has God has been trying to say to you (and to us – as mortal men, and as churches striving to hear His voice and obey) in light of all that was 2020 and all that is yet come?

I have shared with the Petersburg First Baptist Church one main truth and seven supporting lessons over the past few weeks that I believe God wanted me to say, and thought they might be helpful to you here, as well, in highly summarized form.

First: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). Amid the chaos and confusion all around, we must remember that God is still on His throne and there will never be a transfer of power to another administration. He alone is God, and His name will be exalted. We rest our souls in this truth. 

Under this reality come seven lessons we must believe and embrace. 

1. Jesus calls his followers to make an “all-in” commitment to Him. “How long will you waver between two opinions? If God is God, follow Him. But if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). You can’t play the part of a Christian on Sunday then live like the devil the rest of the week. You can diversify your financial portfolio, but you’ve got to be sold-out to Jesus.

2. Jesus prepares us to be battle-ready. Yes, we’re in a spiritual war. If you’re all-in following Jesus, then expect to be hated by the world. Expect to be mocked, insulted, threatened, and persecuted. The cancel culture is coming for the church that preaches the gospel. But we are strengthened to stand in the power of His might. See Ephesians 6:10-20.

3. Jesus pleads for the unity of His church. In Christ there is no black or white, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, elephant or donkey. The cross breaks down every dividing wall of hostility. We’re united in Jesus as one body, one in heart and soul, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4-6). Our identity is in Him alone, and we must unite.

4. Jesus commands us to love one another. Followers of Christ are marked by their love – loving the Lord wholeheartedly and loving your neighbor as yourself. When the love of God abides in us, we will lay down our lives for the brothers and we will show special care for the widow and the fatherless, the poor and needy, the weak and the oppressed.

5. Jesus commissions us to make disciples of all nations. We have to be much more intentional about teaching our children to follow in the ways of the Lord. We have to teach, train, equip, and encourage one another in the church to be obedient to the commands of Christ. We have to be the example for others to follow in line with the Word of God.

6. Jesus promises He will come again. This truth keeps our eyes fixed on Jesus and motives us in the faith of godly living. In light of His soon and sudden return, we must be ready, be holy, and be hopeful. “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

7. Jesus sends us out as His witness to the world. Speaking the truth with love, we must warn and plead with men to be reconciled to God in Christ, for those who reject Jesus will be eternally condemned, but those who repent and believe He will save. We’re empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel that brings salvation. We must boldly preach the Word.

Friend, I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I know that now is the time to follow Jesus, the Holy One who became sin for us on the cross, that we might become the righteousness of God, and rose in victory that we might have eternal life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Count on You

I don’t know the trials that may come my way today

But I need a saving hand, of this I’m sure

My heart and flesh may fail before the morning fades

And I’m not sure if my faith can endure


For all I know, I don’t know what to do


But I know you count the stars and call them all by name

And I know you calmed the storm and stilled the raging waves

And I know gave your life and conquered the grave

This I know for sure: I can count on you to save


So I’ll trust in your mercy

I’ll rest in your grace

Till my heart finds no other home

I will sing for your glory

I’ll dance in your love

And forever I will worship at your throne

For I know you count the stars and call them all by name

And I know you calmed the storm and stilled the raging waves

And I know gave your life and conquered the grave

This I know for sure: I can count on you to save

Monday, January 11, 2021

Unshakeable Kingdom

I am grateful that in Christ we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, because the kingdoms of this world are about to become rubble.

Seriously, what is going on in this nation? Let me answer that question with this one word: godlessness.

When a nation rejects righteousness and applauds wickedness, this is what happens. When we refuse to give God honor and glory as Creator, when we trade the truth of God for lies and worship the creature rather than the Creator, and when we don’t see fit to acknowledge God, judgment falls as God gives us up to do what ought not to be done.

Read Romans 1:18-32 and see if this is not exactly where we are today. Any kingdom or nation filled with all manner of godlessness will not long endure.

But the King of kings will reign forever and ever!

“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:7).

Friend, if you long for that kind of Kingdom, then let me urge you to put your trust in Jesus today! The soul of this nation will not be healed by the Democratic Party, nor will America be made great by the Republicans. Joe Biden is not the answer, and neither is Donald Trump.

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:3). Rather, let us put our trust in the Lord Almighty who rules over the kings of the earth, who plants nations and uproots them, who blesses the obedience of faith and brings wrath against all ungodliness of men.

Let us seek godliness for the glory of God and the good of this country. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

Let us open our Bibles and hear from God. “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!” (Hebrews 12:25).

The Savior is shouting from heaven for us to repent and call upon His name for mercy, lest this nation soon be shaken! Now is the time to turn to the Lord with all your heart, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

And if you belong to Jesus, then I encourage you to keep praying for this nation, but keep your eyes on the King. “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28).

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Dwelling Place

Sitting here at your feet

I just want to know you

Looking into your eyes

Hearing you speak

All the worries of life

Fade in your presence

There’s no place on earth

I’d rather be



How lovely is your dwelling place

My soul longs, Lord, I yearn for you

My heart sings joyful praise

Your glory turns my highest gaze

To Jesus, You’re my dwelling place


Kneeling here at your cross

I just want to thank you

Thinking upon your blood

Poured out for me

All the guilt of my sin

It’s been forgiven

Nailed to the cross

Of Calvary


Jesus, You’re my Sun and You’re my Shield

My life to you forever I will yield

Your goodness and your grace

How awesome is this place

Where you draw me near

And make your heart my home


Bowing here at your throne

I just want to worship

Hailing you as my King

Ruler of all

All of heaven and earth

Kneel in confession

“Jesus Christ is Lord”

Glory to God!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021


If you spend any time around children, you know they ask a lot of questions. That’s how they learn. They’re fascinated by life, how things works, why the sky is blue, and where babies come from. We ought to encourage such curiosity and inspire their investigations.

Jesus asked many questions, as the Bible records for us. Not because He didn’t know the answers, but sometimes to spur His own disciples’ thinking toward the faith. Sometimes to turn the tables on His opponents. Sometimes to invite the hurting to come to Him for healing. Sometimes it was simply to question the traditions of a culture that had strayed far from the ways of God.

One of the foundations of good Bible study is a hermeneutic principle called exegesis. Essentially it is an approach to studying the text of Scripture to discover the original intent of meaning. It entails asking questions such as: Who is the author? Who is the audience? What is the historical context in which the text was written? What literary style is the author using? What is the author intending to say, and why? How does this text fit within the framework of the book as a whole? How does it fit within the greater narrative of the entire biblical account?

This process allows the Bible student to “get out of the text” what God is actually saying.

The opposite approach of exegesis is eisegesis, which means to read something into a text, usually one’s own pre-conceived ideas or particular slant of beliefs. In this method the student is not really asking questions seeking to dig out the truth, but rather looking for support to conclusions he’s already drawn.

We ought to be inquisitive seekers of truth, and our quest for truth ought to take us to the Word of God to hear Him speak. God delights to reveal Himself to those who seek Him with all their hearts. And He longs to direct our steps with the light of His Word.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So when we ask, “What does the Bible say?”, we’re really asking, “What is God saying?”!

What does the Bible say about who God is? What does the Bible say about Jesus? What does the Bible say about eternity? What does the Bible say about sin? What does the Bible say about righteousness and justice? What does the Bible say about how we should live as Christians? What does the Bible say about what happens to those who do not obey the gospel?

Those are tremendously weighty questions every person ought to ask and rest not until finding assurance in the truth of God’s infallible, inerrant, unchanging Word.

Why not come join us at the Petersburg First Baptist Church and join us on this quest, this hunger and thirst for knowing the Lord and following His ways? We meet for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:45 in-person and Facebook Live, and currently have several smaller Life Group Bible studies meeting throughout the week.