Please DON’T Pass The Peas!

Most of my kids don’t like Peas. Because we have 8 children, we serve most of our meals at our house buffet style, off the stovetop and counter. It’s just easier! When there is a pot of peas on the stove, most of my kids will definitely pass them by without a second thought…unless we make them at least eat a spoonful. Even now that 6 of them are either married and on their own or in college, the peas will be passed over.

As we approach this election, I thought long and hard about how I could best communicate what I think is every citizen’s responsibility, but especially as a Christian. The question isn’t so much “how should one vote?” but a better question is “how should we go about voting?”

Make no mistake, you and I are blessed to be able to be a part of choosing our leaders. And we should definitely vote. Not voting is a huge mistake and also an affront to those who have gone before us to fight for our freedoms. In 2016, 54 million Christians decided NOT to vote. Do you think that could make a significant impact on an election? Absolutely! So…VOTE! But before you do, “don’t pass the peas.”

You might be asking the question about now, “What in the world does this have to do with eating or not eating peas?!”  

Well it isn’t about eating peas, but it’s about not passing them over. Specifically, it’s about not passing by these five P’s before you vote. (see what I did there!)

As I thought about it there are five P’s that as a Christian, or any citizen, we should consider as we consider our vote.

Pray…This should be a given, but sadly it isn’t. We have scheduled Prayer Gatherings at our church for the 3 Mondays leading up to the election to pray specifically for the election and our nation. On the first night, besides myself, 4 people came. Now I know that God is with us even in small gatherings and He hears our prayers and we can pray anywhere. Certainly all of that is true. However, it is disappointing when the Church won’t gather for prayer. It just is.

Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Do we? Listen, God isn’t worried if we are going to get it right in this or any election. He is sovereign over all of that. However, we need to seek Him in prayer and align our hearts with His heart and His word and seek His will. Prayer matters. Pray individually, but pray with other believers too…even if they may not agree with you. Don’t pray that God will give your candidates victory, pray that His will be done and that He will reveal His will to you and His church. Pray for TRUTH to be revealed and valued in our society. Pray for repentance of sin for our nation. Pray for revival in the church and spiritual awakening among those outside of the church. Pray for unity. Pray for the leaders and candidates. Pray for wisdom from God for them. Prayer matters. So don’t pass by PRAYER.

Perspective/Prepare/Plan…Okay so that’s three, but it’s really a three-in-one kind of point here. Kind of like separate peas in one pod. (see what I did there again!)

 Try to gain some perspective and wisdom and understanding. Prepare by seeking to really understand what a candidate stands for and what agenda they (or those around them) actually have. Don’t just listen to campaign ads and rhetoric. And maybe just get off social media for a while! Really dig into what they stand for. Don’t just vote for a person who has a D, R, L or whatever letter by their name. Don’t just vote against soemone just because you don’t like them or their personality. Vote FOR a policy/platform. Plan how and why you are going to vote. When there is an amendment or referendum, research it. Ask about it. Don’t just go blindly into a voting booth and try to figure it out. Talk to people who do know. Look for unbiased information…or listen to both sides and then decide. Actually READ the Constitution and the actual words of the founding fathers, not just what you may be told by the media about them. Yeah that takes some preparation and planning. Good! We should do that! Have a full perspective before you vote. We should seek wisdom from the One who IS Wisdom and Who gives wisdom.

 21 Maintain sound wisdom and discretion. My son, don’t lose sight of them. 22 They will be life for you and adornment for your neck. 23 Then you will go safely on your way; your foot will not stumble. (Proverbs 3:21-23)

 Get wisdom, get understanding; don’t forget or turn away from the words from my mouth. Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. (Proverbs 4:5-6)

Don’t pass over preparing, planning, and perspective. Which goes hand-in-hand with the next one…

Policies & Platform over Personalities…again these are several P’s tied together as well as linked to the previous one. As you seek wisdom and understanding, look at the POLICIES and PLATFORM you are voting for and not so much the PERSONALITY of the candidate. Sure character and integrity matter. BUT…What are they standing on? Do you agree with all of their or their party’s policies and platforms from the perspective of God’s word? Can you say God would be pleased with your agreement with those things? You are really voting for a platform rather than a personality.

Listen, I have seen candidates that I liked their personality and character, but I wouldn’t vote for them because of the policies they endorse. They might be kind, generous people. They may be good family men/women, but the platform they stand on doesn’t align with God’s word nor does it align with the Founders and the Constitution as written. I have also voted for some who have character flaws…don’t we all?! (Jesus said something about who should be casting stones…just a thought there)…but I voted for the policies and the platforms they stood for. I voted for the appointments they would make that would live well beyond their time in office.

Don’t get caught up in a personality just because they are full of charisma or because they aren’t. Don’t get caught up in popularity or trendy choices (we all remember how that worked out in high school!). Don’t get caught up in someone who isn’t a perfect Christian. Don’t get caught up in a smooth talking, likable personality. Don’t get caught up in those who tell you what they think you want to hear. You aren’t electing a personality or a “pastor-in-chief,” you are electing a leader. Leaders are going to make mistakes. They are human. Leaders are not always the “feel-good” types. Sometimes they are abrasive. Sometimes they make unpopular decisions. But they are given a job to do and that’s to LEAD…no matter if it’s a coach of a team, a manager or owner of a business, a pastor of a church, a teacher in a classroom, a Governor, a Senator/Representative, or a President of a nation.

Pray for them personally…for their salvation first, for wisdom and protection for them. Pray that they would have a fear of the Lord and not a fear of man. Pray for them to have godly people around them to advise them. Understand that what you are really voting for is the policies and platforms that candidate represents. Whether it is state, local or national. Are they going to represent you…WE the people…or are they going to pursue their own agenda and their own well-being first? What is the agenda of the platform you are voting for?

Faith & Freedom Coalition has some excellent Voter’s Guides HERE. They don’t tellyou who to vote for but they give you where candidates stand on policy and platform.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3:16)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructionshave good insight. (Psalm 111:10)

Policies and platforms matter over personality. Don’t pass over these P’s.

Promises…all candidates make them…a lot of candidates don’t keep them once they are elected. It is just a sad reality. Try to weed through the false promises. Look at the track record of the candidate, the party, the people around the candidate. Have they actually done what they said they were going to do? Were the promises made representative of your values as a Christian? Do their promises line up with God’s word and the original founding of our nation? The Founders weren’t perfect men and may have had short-comings, but they sought to deliver on the promises made when this nation was founded. It was in the Constitution and the Declaration. Have our leaders been perfect in their promises over the years? Not always. But we need to not be “duped” by promises of candy and ice cream, when what we need is balanced nutrition. As a parent, you don’t just promise your kids fun things and “stuff” all the time (at least I hope you don’t). What you promise them is that you will try to always do what is best and loving and protecting of them in order to prepare them for a better future. You want to lay a good foundation so they will be able to stand firm many years later and pass that on to the next generation. Good leaders promise what they believe to be best for those they serve. Then they seek to deliver on those promises. They don’t say after many years in office or in leadership, “I know it’s been decades, but if you give me another shot, I’m going to deliver on those promises.” Where in life does that actually work except in politics? If you are a coach or a ball player and you don’t deliver, what happens? You lose your job or get benched. If you are a manger and can’t sell or keep employees, you get fired. If you are a teacher and all your students fail year after year, you won’t be teaching any longer.

So listen with a discerning ear to the promises made and look at the track record of the person and the party. BUT…know that only God is perfect in His promises. Know that the Lord is the only one you can fully trust. Don’t depend on and trust in the promises of man, but rest in the promises of God in His word! If you are looking to people to solve the problems in your life and in this world, you are looking in the wrong place. So, circle back to the Source of all promises and seek His will. Trust in His promises alone. If you are depending on HUMAN leaders to fulfill your needs, you will always be disappointed. Rest in the promises of the Lord. Trust in His Word and the promises He has made, regardless of the promises of people. Humans will always let other humans down. GOD will not! He is the Promise Keeper! Once again…

Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him [Jesus]. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1)

Don’t pass over the promises made by leaders, but don’t pass over the promises of God for the promises of man. Don’t skip the peas to get to the ice cream!

Finally, the last P is the same as the first…

Pray…again and again and again. Pray for our human leaders (who are in place because God allows them), even if you don’t agree with them. Pray for the Church. Pray for our nation and the world. Pray for your family. Pray for your neighbors.  Pray for revival and spiritual awakening. Pray with grateful hearts and thanksgiving that you live in this land and in this time. Pray for wisdom. Pray for protection. Pray for God to sustain you and His church in suffering.

pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Don’t pass over the P’s as you participate in this and any other election process. The P’s matter!

33 Years = 33 Amazing Things About My Amazing Wife

undefinedSome 11 years ago, I posteWedding picd something like this but decided to bring it back to celebrate Kim and mine’s 33rd Anniversary. On June 6, 1987 God started a new chapter to a crazy journey and love story. So in honor of this amazing woman God blessed me with on that day, here are 33 things I love about her….

  1. She loves me second. She loves her Lord more than me.
  2. She has godly character and integrity. (Proverbs 31:10)
  3. She is an excellent wife. (Proverbs 18:22)
  4. She is more than I deserve. (Proverbs 31:10)
  5. I can absolutely trust her with anything. (Proverbs 31:11)
  6. She is my best friend…has been for 38 years!
  7. She has always supported me and the ministry God called us to…even in difficult times. Always behind the scenes, never seeking limelight. (Proverbs 31:12, 31:23)
  8. I can honestly say we have never had a fight…a knock down drag out…we’ve certainly disagreed and argued at times, but never fought about petty stuff. (even though I know I frustrate her at times!)
  9. She gets over stuff quickly, never holding a grudge…ever! We’ve never gone to bed angry…at least I don’t think so. 😉
  10. She has an amazing amount of wisdom. (Proverbs 31:26; 14:1)
  11. She teaches our children in godliness. (Proverbs 31:26)
  12. She has the gift of discernment…which has been of great benefit throughout our marriage and ministry.
  13. She still laughs with me! (Sometimes she just rolls her eyes)
  14. She speaks truth into my life.
  15. She is prudent…with her words, actions, finances, time. (Proverbs 19:14)
  16. She is a strong woman, but she knows where her strength comes from. (Proverbs 31:17)
  17. She works incredibly hard. (Proverbs 31:18)
  18. She knows that her calling is to shape and impact another generation through our family and she never loses sight of that. (Psalm 78:5-7)
  19. She is humble. (I can assure you she isn’t comfortable reading this!😊 )
  20. She shows great hospitality…even when she doesn’t always “feel” like it…and cares about others. (Proverbs 31:19-20)
  21. She sees everything we have as a blessing from the Lord.
  22. She takes care of our family’s needs. (Proverbs 31:21-22)
  23. She would lay her life down for our children and me. She even has a gun and knows how to use it!
  24. She manages our home extremely well, making our home a peaceful place. (Proverbs 31:27)
  25. She still puts up with me! That’s a full time job!
  26. She makes me smile.
  27. She is caring and compassionate.
  28. She is dignified, modest and presents herself in a godly manner…and has taught our daughters to do the same. She is one classy lady! (Proverbs 31:25)
  29. She is an amazing mother. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  30. Kim and I.first dateShe is an exceptional teacher…and has helped so many kids and adults along the way.
  31. She is simply God’s grace to me. (Proverbs 18:22)
  32. She turned my head 38 years ago and still does today! (Proverbs 5:18)
  33. She is my treasure from the Lord. (Proverbs 31:1)

Broad Brushes…with Precision Tips

There are times you need a broad brush when painting a large surface like a wall or floor. But there are times you need a fine brush with a precision tip when painting a picture with fine details.

I don’t like it when people paint with “broad brushes.” I’ll admit I’ve done it myself at times, probably most of us have. I don’t like it when I am painted over with a broad brush and I don’t like it when I see people do that to others. We live in a culture that does this all too often. We do it in relation to politics, religion, race, careers, demographics, even what part of the country we are from, and the list could go on and on. Why do we do that? Well, I think sometimes it is out of ignorance or fear. Other times it is that we aren’t patient to wait on more info or maybe we are too lazy to look deeper into something or someone. Many times people unwittingly paint with a broad brush, but often people do it intentionally so as to cause strife.

We’ve seen this all too often in our instant media society. You haven’t done this? Bet you have. Ever “liked” or “shared” something on social media and then realized it was inaccurate or false or maybe there was more info that came out later and changed the story? Yeah, I’ve done that. Something sounds good so we grab hold of it and paint with a broad brush. Ever had a teacher or coach when you were in school punish the whole class or team because of one person’s breaking the rules? Yeah. It happens.

Here are just some ways we paint with broad brushes. Just fill in the blanks as you go:

 “all white people must be…” “all black people must be…” “all Asians, Hispanics, Africans, Europeans, etc. are…” “all people from the south must be…” “all people from California are…” “all people from the north or the Midwest or the northwest…are…” “all immigrants must be…” “all Republicans are…” “all Democrats are…” “all people who live in the suburbs are…” “all people who live in the cities are…” “all homeless people are…” “all rich people are…” “all people who are fans of my team’s rival are…” “people who aren’t wearing masks and gloves are…” “all people who are wearing masks must be…” “police officers are all…” “all politicians are…” “if you work in such-and-such and industry you must be…” “most preacher’s kids are…” “all of those people of a certain denomination or doctrine are…”

You see how that goes? You could go on and on and on with those analogies, but you get the point. I bet you filled in every one of those blanks with a negative. Broad brush strokes.

I, like most everyone in this country, have been troubled by the events of this past week. The death of George Floyd was appalling, unnecessary, absurd, ridiculous, and many other adjectives. The same can be said of the death of Ahmaud Arbery and many other cases too. The violent responses and the organized destruction is troubling. I have thought long and hard and prayed about what to say in response. I don’t want to be guilty of painting with a broad brush nor too narrow a brush either. I have wrestled with saying too much or too little or being misinterpreted. I’ve even seen people criticizing Christian leaders for not saying something. Broad brush strokes. Should we? Yes. But should we take our time to prayerfully and thoughtfully respond? Absolutely. Honestly, many don’t know what to say because it likely doesn’t matter what you say, you’re going to have someone shoot at you. That’s okay, however, as long as we speak truth in love and stand on the Word of God.

I cannot fully understand some of the deep-seated tensions that many in the black community feel and have experienced for many years. I have experienced betrayal, back stabbing, being lied to and lied about, being bullied and made fun of for various things (and not just as a kid either). I’ve experienced prejudice and rejection. I’ve been in situations in other countries where I was a minority and would have felt pretty insecure were it not for security traveling with us. I have experienced hurt at the hands of others…even fellow Christians. I’ve been attacked because of my faith (but nothing like the persecution of our brothers and sisters around the world). I’ve been unfairly treated by employers. I’ve been lied about by co-workers. I’ve had unfair treatment by police officers. Yet, I still cannot fully understand all that my black brothers and sisters deal with and have dealt with. So, I don’t want to pretend as if I do.

What we saw this week in Minneapolis was abhorrent. As I have read and communicated with people I know in law enforcement, there was no excuse for the actions this officer took. I stand with those who call for justice. George Floyd was known to be a Christian who was seeking to minister to people there. Had he made mistakes? I don’t know. Maybe…certainly…all of us have. Others describe him as a man who God was turning his life around. I won’t use a broad brush with him. However, we need to be careful that we don’t paint others with broad brushes too. Were the police targeting George Floyd because of his race? I don’t know, because I don’t know what was in their heart. No broad brush strokes. It’s possible that is true. But I don’t know. Were the men in south Georgia doing the same thing? Again, I don’t know what was in their hearts. Were they wrong? Absolutely. Were they white supremacists and racists? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. Broad brush strokes. What I do know is that George and Ahmaud didn’t deserve what happened and certainly their families don’t deserve to be going through this incredible grief, no matter if they were or were not doing anything wrong. We shouldn’t paint everyone from small towns in south Georgia with a broad brush stroke. At the same time, we should not paint all police officers with broad brush strokes. Are there bad cops? Sure. But the vast majority, who are of many different ethnicities, are good people who want to serve their community and stand for the law and justice. They are underpaid, over stressed and highly risked. So let’s not use broad brush strokes. At the same time, we shouldn’t use broad brush strokes to paint those who are protesting. Some are properly and peacefully and prayerfully doing so and some are simply taking advantage of the situation for selfish reasons. We know that people of various ideological groups are in fact sending people into these communities to stir up division. That may seem like a broad brush stroke, but it’s true. And in fact this creates a broader brush stroke that further divides and antagonizes the situation. Others are taking advantage to simply steal stuff and destroy businesses.

I appreciate what Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy wrote on Saturday. Among other things, he said:

What happened to George Floyd was inexcusable and it should never happen. Justice needs to be served, but in seeking justice we can’t fall into the trap of prejudging every police officer we see. What started out as peaceful protests have devolved into arson and looting and that should never happen, either. Yes there should be protest. But we do not have license to perform criminal acts because we’re angry.

Today we are a divided country. We’re divided racially, politically, and socio-economically. And Satan is laughing at us because that is exactly what he wants. Dysfunction, mistrust, and hatred help his kingdom flourish.

You can read his full statement in several places. It’s worth checking out.

We see it in the national media that all too often like to paint with broad brush strokes. Not all do, but sadly most do. This doesn’t help matters at all. It only seems to further enflame things. We’ve seen this repeated over the years on so many spectrums in politics and social issues and even in this pandemic over and over again. Oh, well let me be careful. See? There I did it! That might be a pretty broad brush stroke, so…maybe I shouldn’t go down that road. But you get the point. Broad brush strokes are engrained in our society.

So…there is a lot I don’t know. There are a lot of broad brush strokes that we all can tend to paint with. I tell couples in marital and premarital counseling that there are two things that will kill their marriage: assumptions and expectations. When we look at a person or a situation and we make assumptions, we are painting with a broad brush. When we have expectations of people, in marriage or work or leadership or church, etc., then we are going to be disappointed and disillusioned by those broad strokes. This is true in these current situations we are witnessing. Why? Because we are all human and we are going to let one another down. We should not make assumptions nor have unrealistic expectations about people or situations. Broad brush strokes.  

What do we do? What can we do? How do we need to respond? There’s a lot I don’t know the answer to. However, here are some things I DO know for sure. And it has to do with broad brush strokes, but ones with pinpoint, piercing precision. Here is where we turn in times like this:

Hebrews 4:12 says,
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s word paints with some pretty broad brush strokes. Jesus spoke with some pretty broad strokes. But since He’s God, He can do that. But here’s the difference. When He does that, He does so with pinpoint precision. Right into the very heart of mankind. This is where we turn. God’s word.

One of the broadest brush strokes that I can see from God’s word that explains the current situation we are in is this: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9.

In Matthew 15, Jesus says, 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person.

Pretty broad brush strokes. So when we see people killing others unjustly…when we see people selfishly taking advantage of a situation to steal and destroy…when we see people seeking political power and gain from a horrible situation…when we see people taking advantage of others…when we see people lying, causing strife, tearing one another down; we then come to understand the evil, sinful, wickedness of the human heart. Yes, that’s a broad brush stroke, but one that God’s word paints with because we, in our sinful hearts, painted ourselves with that brush.

 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18)

“None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

All broad strokes that God’s word paints the sinfulness of mankind….the sinfulness of MY heart. There are many more. We are ALL sinners by nature and by choice. This is the problem.

What about justice? Doesn’t the Bible teach us to stand up for that? Certainly. Isaiah 1:17 is where most people go, seek justice, correct oppression. However, look at the context. What does God say before that? 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. We must look at our own sinful hearts first. This is the beginning of the answer. We can’t correct oppression and seek justice from a sinful heart.

However, when the Bible speaks of justice, it is God who dispenses that. We are not in that position. Our hearts are sinful and wicked. So we trust Him to do so.

 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10)
God’s vengeance is always just and His justice is always perfect.

Isaiah then says,  18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

We can’t cleanse ourselves, so what do we do? Jesus painted with a broad brush but yet His brush also has a precision tip that pierces the heart. He spoke to those religious leaders who sought to stone the woman caught (likely trapped) in adultery saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) Broad brush, precision tip.

He taught on the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; Broad brush, precision tip.

 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Broad brush, precision tip.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Broad brush, precision tip.

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Broad brush, precision tip.

I could go on and on. This is how God’s word and Jesus paint with a broad brush over and over again that shows ALL of us are guilty. But He also at the same time takes that precision tip and gets down into the finest, darkest corners of our lives and points out the hardness of our hearts and the hidden sins we don’t want to acknowledge. Not one of us is sinless. So what do we do? We need a Redeemer…a Deliverer!

Praise be to God He painted with the broadest brush ever! Just as the Hebrews painted the doorpost of their homes at the Passover, with the blood of a spotless lamb so that the death angel might pass over them, ultimately paving the way for their freedom from slavery, Jesus did the same!

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17) A broad brush!

God provided the ultimate spotless Lamb to sacrifice for our sins in Jesus.Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) That is a pretty broad brush!

I don’t know much, but I do know this: I am the one who had my knee on the throat of Jesus as He was nailed to the cross. I had the hammer in my hand. MY sin is why he died. At the same time, before Jesus, I was the one who was being held down with Satan’s foot on my throat choking my life away. I was under bondage to sin and death. BUT GOD…set me free by His grace! That grace is offered to “whosever would believe.”

The broad brush of grace paints over the sins of the world, but only through faith in Jesus. And it does so with a precision tip that is intimate and personal to each individual who puts their faith in Jesus. This is our ONLY HOPE! Thanks be to God for the broad brush of His grace dipped in the blood of the Lamb and the precision tip of that brush that continually works on the finer details of a heart that is surrendered to Him so that we might be made over as a new creation and be more and more conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). Broad brush, precision tip.

So let us as believers, paint with THAT broad brush in these days. A brush of GRACE. PRAY for God to do what HE is better at…justice and vengeance. Let us be a praying people of grace, love and mercy. But ones who are a humble and repentant people who allow God’s word to pierce our hearts and expose our sin as we seek what God requires of us. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

I will choose to not paint others with broad brushes…not be quick to judgement…be quick to listen and slow to speak… pray for truth and justice…pray for God to bring spiritual awakening and healing to our land…treat others with the grace I have been given…walk in repentance…trust in God’s sovereignty…leave the results to Him. He’s a much better artist than I am!

Spiritual problems need spiritual answers. Spiritual battles need spiritual battle plans and spiritual weapons.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis added)

David Landrith Was Not Great…

…nor would he want to be thought of that way. I believe that greatness in a man is measured in the greatness of his humility.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
That was David Landrith.david landrith

I knew David for a long time…since 8th and 9th grades. We weren’t in school together then, but we were in a great youth group together. We went to rival high schools in our community of Cleveland, TN. He was in school at that time with a girl who would become my wife. Later, David and I along with Jennifer and my girlfriend Kim, would be at the same college, Belmont University in Nashville where he was on the basketball team and I was in the stands yelling like a crazy man and embarrassing everyone I knew. Eventually, after graduating we would go to seminary together at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth Texas. Our first semester there in January of 1987, we roomed together. Both of us were to be married at the end of the semester to our fiancés who were finishing up college at Belmont.

On the wall of our apartment was a big calendar. There were two dates circled on it: May 23 (his wedding date) and June 6 (my wedding date). Each day we would mark off the date with a red marker. It was sometimes a race to see who could be the first one to mark it off. We were living that entire semester in great anticipation of those dates. Everything revolved around getting to those days. I wish today that I still had that calendar. Many days, especially as we got closer to the wedding days, I thought these two single, marriage anticipating, young bucks living in a small apartment might just kill one another! (Well, he likely would have killed me, since he was bigger) We made many a long 12 hour road trip from Ft. Worth TX to Nashville, TN to see our ladies, leaving at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon and rolling in to Nashville at 3am! Then turning around after the weekend and driving back. Love will make you do crazy stuff! The anticipation for that date marked on the calendar was…to say the least…HUGE!

There was a date on God’s calendar this past Tuesday; an appointed time for David Landrith to come Home. David’s life was one that lived in anticipation of that date. He lived in a state of readiness to meet his Savior. I know that David, Jen, their family and all of us who knew him, never thought that date would come this soon…and we would wish that it had been another date on God’s calendar, sometime off in the future. But God…in His sovereignty, had this date circled. And David, I’m sure would say to us (in a very loud voice and with a big smile) “C’mon! You gotta get fired up! If you could see what I see now…Glory!”

The thing about David during all these years since those early days I knew him…as God has used him to do some remarkable things over the years as a pastor and leader…he never changed. He was always goofy, crazy, LOUD, laughing, joyous, caring, serving…but mostly, humble. He didn’t see himself as great. I’m sure those closest to him would say David had his weaknesses…as all of us do…but from the time I first knew David, he never seemed to pursue being great. That wasn’t what he was after. Even as an athlete, he was about the team.

What made David a great husband and a great father and a great pastor, leader, evangelist was not that he was great at anything himself. It was that he recognized with all humility Who it was that was doing it all.

In an interview with Pete Wilson last year, David said, “I don’t really want the imprint I leave to be about me, but Christ in me.”

David Landrith’s view was that if he was used in any way it was because of what Jesus did in and through him, not because of anything great about himself. It was only by God’s grace, through David’s faith in Christ, that God did great things in and through him.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:11-12, The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

I don’t think I ever heard David Landrith exalt himself. He just humbly submitted himself to God and faithfully led his family and the church God entrusted to him and proclaimed the Gospel. He never stopped ministering even in the hospital in the last few days there as he impacted the medical personnel that were treating him.

No, David Landrith wasn’t great. His God is great. He was a great husband, father, leader, pastor…because of a great God who lived in him and was using him for His own glory. David never lost sight of that. He understood his place. David’s pursuit was always God’s glory, never his own. And God honored that and exalted him, blessing his family, as well as the ministries and churches he led. That is the mark of a great man…one who has great humility. David’s greatness was only because he walked humbly before a great God…and he wouldn’t have it any other way. I pray that I might be half as good a pastor as David was…never losing sight of that legacy of humble leadership.

If I could leave this world and people say, ‘What a knucklehead! What a country bumpkin! He made a difference, but it wasn’t him. It was Christ in him and I’d like to know that Jesus better,’ then that would make me happy.” – David Landrith, December 2013

David, you can be happy, then. Because that’s what we are saying now. And God has said to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done!”


Beginning this Sunday @ The Ridge, we will start a new series called OneCry. I am excited about this series like no other series we have done. I believe with all my heart that God is wanting to do something significant in our church, community, and world, but it has to start with us as individuals. Will you join me as we join with others across our country in OneCry for God to bring revival and spiritual awakening to this land?

Be at Austin Middle School at 10:30am this Sunday, March 11th. Don’t let the time change keep you from gathering with the church. Set your clock…get to bed on time…you have an appointment Sunday morning.

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer

This song has particularly ministered to me the last several months. Keith & Kristyn Getty are very gifted, modern hymn writers. I really love their music, but in particular I love the depth of their songs. Margaret Becker colaborated with Keith on this song and Kristyn brought it beautifully to life. If you are going through a difficult season, some challenges or trials, may this song minister to you as it has to me. You can check out more of their music HERE.

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer (May this journey)

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

“Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer” Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

Here is a live performance of this song preceded by Kristyn reciting the poem Watches of the Night. Be encouraged! God is working in you so that He may perfect you and use you for His glory! James 1:2-4


Today a new movie comes out that is a must see: Seven Days In Utopia. It is based on the best-selling book Golf’s Sacred Journey by David Cook. Men need to see this movie. It is one of those rare Hollywood films that has a positive, biblically principled message. It will also challenge you. For more on Golf’s Sacred Journey check out THIS LINK.  Watch the trailer…

Weekend Recap…Community Makeover ’11…”nice feet!”

This past weekend we participated, along with 110 churches in 6 counties, in the Community Makeover.  Ridgers took on 7 projects in the Ridge Road community. Including two individual’s homes, Austin Middle School, Dugan Elementary School, Ridge Road Community Ballpark, and Kroger.

While the number of Ridgers involved was down from previous years, those who did participate were a huge blessing to people in our community. Thos who participated received a huge blessing in return too! The work done was amazing! The Schools looked awesome as did the homes we worked on. At Kroger, we gave people clean windshields at the Fuel Center and cleaned all the glass in the store, including all the freezer compartments. It was just a practical way we could minister to the community. Below are some pics of a couple of the projects: sod laying at Austin Middle School and repainting at one individual’s home. I’ll publish more pics when I get them.

Thanks to all the people who participated. You have nice feet!

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace,who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)