The Thief

Jesus said, “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless first of all, he binds the strong man; then he can plunder the house. [Mark 3:27, Moffatt] Satan is a murderer, a slanderer, a destroyer and a thief. Satan is a taker and a user; he had nothing of substance to give. Jesus said that Satan’s modus operandi is to kill, steal and destroy [John 10:10]. All of his so-called gifts are merely illusions. He gives nothing but pain, sorrow, emptiness and disappointment and he takes your joy, your dreams, your hopes and yea even your life. He has convinced millions that he can give them happiness but he is lying. Happiness is a creation of God and He and He alone can make us truly happy.

In order for Satan to steal what you have, he has to first get you tied up or bound. He does this through addiction. Now he is not real particular about which addiction works, any addiction will do. He will use any destructive habit to bind you. He is not limited to drugs. He can use sex, gossip, work, pleasure insecurity and a number of other things to get us all tied up. Once we are bound, he is free to begin plundering everything we have. We should not expect him to show any compassion. He will not stop until he takes everything.

The hardest thing for any junkie or addict to do it to admit that they are hooked or bound. We do not want to confess our helplessness but the truth is: once he has us tied up, he is free to take anything he wants and we are defenseless. Bad habits are hard to break but they will never be broken until we acknowledge that they are bad, destructive and being used by the devil to take some precious from us. The first step to recovery is always to acknowledge that there is an addiction. Until we admit that we have a problem, there is no solution because technically, we are not looking for a solution, just another fix.

Don’t get the idea that drugs and alcohol are the only problem. My brother died of lung and throat cancer. He smoked his entire life. I love him and I miss him and I believe that he would still be at our family reunions had he not gotten hooked on nicotine. My brother worked hard and he would never have done drugs: he was smarter than that but the cigarette’s killed him. The key is for you to be vigilant. Keep an eye out for the enemy, don’t let him get you tied up. Some are bound by resentment which is very destructive. You have to remember that the devil does not care. He will use anything available to get you bound. Just remember, he is not your friend, he is your enemy and he will plunder you life and take every good thing that you have. The Jewish religious leaders [Pharisees, Scribes, Priest] watched Jesus like a chicken hawk trying to catch Him in some fault. These were educated men of high social standing. The devil had them bound. They were tied up with pride, self-righteousness and religion. When Jesus healed the man with a withered hand, they got angry.

 If Jesus came to Decatur next Sunday at 10:15 am when churches all over the County are meeting and He went to the hospital instead of church and healed our friends who are battling cancer, would that make you mad? I do not believe that I would be upset. I think I would be over joyed. I would be ready to have a PRAISE JESUS service. Do you see what Satan had subtly done to the Jews. He had them so bound that they could not celebrate good things. They were not hooked on drugs; they were hooked on themselves. They were bound by their own pride. Watch him folks. Don’t let him get the best of you because if he does, he will take everything you have.

Let me share a modern-day parable. A mother gets hooks on drugs and gambling and eventually abandons her family. She moves to another State where she lives in the back room of a bar, sleeping on an old sofa. She never sees her children; she does not write or call. She only shows up once a month and that is to get the child support check which she takes for herself. The devil has her bound and he is taking everything she has. He has already taken her family, her dignity and her self-esteem but he is not through. He will eventually take everything she has including her life. The devil has no mercy folks, none at all. He is not trustworthy. The only thing that you can count on with him is to kill, steal and destroy.

Groundhogs Day

Puxsutawney Phil

 Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog  resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania . On February 2, Grounhogs Day of each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the beloved groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of town. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an early Spring. The date of Phil’s prognostication is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada. He is considered to be the world’s most famous prognosticating rodent. During the rest of the year, Phil lives in the town library with his “wife” Phyllis.

A select group, called the Inner Circle, takes care of Phil year-round and also plans the annual ceremony. Members of the Inner Circle are recognizable by their top hats and tuxedos. As of 2011, Phil has two co-handlers, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths. 

I am telling you folks and I have been saying this for years, we have got to come up with another Winter Holiday that rivals Christmas. Let’s face it, New Years is a downer. Forget New Years. I would actually like to move Christmas to January 25. That would mean more Christmas music in Janaury. It would give us more time to shop; more time for

This little devil will destroy your garden

parties and you have to admit, the one thing we need in more time. Personally, I think it is a brilliant idea but I doubt if I get any takers. There are no good holidays in January and Valentines is for sissies. I think our best shot is to make Ground hogs day a big deal. Have a contest and see who can bag the most Groundhogs. We could even have a County Champion. To have a proper holiday, we would have to shut down school. We could shut everything down except Walmart and Cracker Barrell. Make it a sabbath. No work allowed. Work would be illegal. Computer games would be the new tradition. This would enable Willard, Jason, Big Daddy and all the junkies to play all day and not feel guilty.  BBQ Pork could become the national staple for the day with Big Mama’s famous pound cakes. To make it an even bigger day–we would extend Deer season to sundown on Groundhogs Day. Matter of fact, we could make it legal to hunt anything on Groundhogs day. All the stores could have Ground Hog sales. I am telling you folks, it would stimulate the economy and it would give us something to look forward to.


The Unique Christ


And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:14]

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [John 3:18]

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. [I John 4:9]

The key word above is only begotten which is one word in the Greek, ‘monogenēs’, only begotten {mono-one of a kind and genes-to become, to come into existence, begin to be, receive being, to come to pass, happen}. Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God, the only one of His kind. The only Son begotten, not born. The Jews and especially the Pharisees really struggled with the deity of Christ. As a matter of fact, they, as a rule,could not accept His claim of deity. They had no doubt that he was a man but they did not believe for a minute that He was God. As C. S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist once said, “Either Jesus is who He said He was or else He is a lunatic. He is either the Son of God or a liar because He said He was the Son of God.” To believe that Jesus was merely a good man, a reformer, a famous rabbi or even martyr is insanity. He said He was God’s Son. You either believe that He is who He said He was or you have to reject Him all together. The Pharisees and the Jews as a whole did acknowledge that He was a reputable teacher but other than that, they believed that He was a demon possessed fraud. They totally rejected His deity.

This blatant unbelief created a barrier that they could not get beyond. The Kingdom of God was at hand but they missed it. The Messiah had come and so had Elijah [John the Baptist] and they did not recognize either.  Truths that were simple to receive for those who believed in His deity were impossible for the Pharisees and Scribes to grasp. Jesus did things that astounded the crowds but these same things made the Jewish religious leaders angry. They got angry when Jesus healed on the sabbath. They were angry when he ate with State Troopers [Tax Collectors]. They even got angry with Him for forgiving people of their sins. Their reasoning was sound, No one can forgive sin except God alone“. They were right and yet they were wrong. Yes only God can forgive sin but Jesus was God, a truth that they totally rejected. In Romans 10 Paul makes it crystal clear that one cannot be saved unless he [1] confesses Jesus as LORD [God] and [2] believes in his heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead [the miracle that authenticated His deity]. No mere man could save us: it would be utterly impossible for another of our kind to redeem us from sin. We are saved by the Unique Christ who was fully man and fully God. He was the God/Man…Son of God and Son of Man. His humanity enabled Him to become our propitiation [sin sacrifice or offering] and His deity enabled Him to be perfect, a Lamb without spot.

Jesus did for us what we could never in a thousand life times do for ourselves: He lived a perfect life. It takes a perfect life to get into God’s perfect heaven and Jesus as a man lived that perfect life. I think of it as a report card. My report card is bad, it has all F’s. I have failed in every area of life. There is no area in which I have made a passing grade. On obedience I get an F; on conduct, I get an F; on honesty, I get an F and on purity, I get an F. Up and down the line, I have straight F’s…failure, failure, failure. Jesus came here to His planet  {Al Gore} where we live and he made straight A’s. You can’t find a single fault in His life. Pilate couldn’t find one, Ciaiphas couldn’t find one, Herod could not find one, the Sanhedrin could not find one and you can not find one. C.S. Lewis was an atheist and set out to find fault in Jesus and could not find one. In his pursuit to convict Jesus, he got convicted himself and got saved. We are saved by an act of redeeming grace. When we put our faith in Jesus, He gives us His report card…Wow! Straight A’s! Folks, it is the only way that anyone will get into heaven. Everyone is heaven will have the same basic testimony, “Jesus Saves” and that He did through His perfect life [Straight A’s] and atoning death.

When you run into the average Joe at work or play; you can determine a lot about his spiritual standing by finding out what he believes about Jesus. If he believes only in the historical Jesus; a good man, teacher and worthy example but does not believe in the resurrected Christ who not only died for our sins but arose from the grave, then it is not possible that he or she could be saved. You cannot be saved unless you acknowledge Jesus as LORD [God] and believe in your heart that  God raised Him from the dead. He is the unique, One of a kind, only begotten and there is no one else like Him.

It was His deity that the Jews stumbled over. They just could not accept that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. This is why they crucified Him, it was because He did not and would not deny His deity. The end result of their unbelief is that the Kingdom of God was in their midst and they did not recognize it. The Word became flesh and dwelt among them and they did not behold His glory. By refusing to accept this key truth that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, it caused them to miss everything else. The crowds are amazed at Jesus teaching and miracles–the Pharisees are mad. The crowds are astounded at his authority to command and cast out demons–the Pharisee accuse Him of having a demon. The crowds follow Him and are fed, the Pharisees follow Him looking for some fault. Think about all the wonderful things Jesus did: heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, multiply provisions, teach the scriptures with authority and they missed it all. The Abundant life was staring them in the face and that did not see because of their pride, prejudice and hard hearts.

If you have friends that you are concerned about: find out what they believe about Jesus.  People who reject His deity seek refuge in religion, in their own standard of righteousness; they are not trusting the blood of Christ to atone for their sins. Many of them are trying to work their way into the graces of God which is impossible. Jesus is the unique Son of God. There is no one else like Him. He is the one and only Savior. There is no other. Christianity is not a religion. All religions have you doing something to merit God’s favor. Christianity is the only group that has a SAVIOR. We are the only ones who believe that we need a Savior.

Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno

The Lord said to Judah through Jeremiah the prophet, “I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace and perpetual shame, which will not be forgotten.” {Jeremiah 23:40, NRSV} Joe Paterno, the man who loved football more than anything in this world other than family, died a little more than two months after being fired by the board of trustees for his cover up in the sex scandal involving his one time heir apparent. His death came 65 days after it was announced that he had lung cancer. Paterno, a sainted figure at Penn State for more than a half century was scarred forever by the scandal involving his subordinate and friend. Paterno was blamed not so much for what he did but what he failed to do.

There are things about Joe Pa that one must admire. After all the success and becoming the winningest coach in Division One history, he still lived in a very humble house near the campus. That and many other things should be said to his credit. I am not even going to pass judgment on what he did or didn’t do in the sex scandal. My point is that disgrace and shame are very hard to bear. I do not deny that lung cancer will be forever remembered as the killer but I know the truth. Lung cancer is mild compared to shame. Shame and disgrace are more difficult to bear than any form of cancer. I am not a doctor but I have seen this before and I tell you that shame and disgrace will rob you of your will to live. I am not at all shocked at Coach Paterno’s passing. Had it not been lung cancer, it would have been something else. Joe Paterno learned an important truth the hard way and that is… many things are worse than death and shame is one of them.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? I think so. We should have a dreaded fear of shame. We should avoid anything that would lead us in that direction. I don’t think Joe Paterno was a diabolically evil man; I just think he made a bad error in judgement. The moral of the story for us is to be careful and focus on integrity. Joe was not true to himself and it cost him dearly.

A Tribute To Calvin C. Inman

Calvin C. Inman

Bro. Inman was my father in the ministry. He mentored me in pastoral care and helped me get started as a minister of the gospel. Bro. Inman will be remembered for a lot of things, but the thing that impressed me most was his spiritual disciplines.

Bro. Inman was devoted to his call. He didn’t waste time. He had his scripture memory cards in the console of his car and he always had a library of cassette tapes. He was either listening to sermons, praying or learning scripture from one visit to another. When it comes to pastoral visitation: I think he set the bench mark. He visited hospitals, nursing homes and prospects. I marveled at how much he could do in a days time. He carried me to the pastor’s conference in Huntsville and acclimated me to the life of a pastor. He prepared me for the shock that he knew was coming. I had no idea that pastors were so full of themselves and I certainly was not prepared for their sense of humor which I thought at first was irreverent. Among those guys, Bro. Inman stood head and shoulders above the rest. He did not pastor the largest church; most of the churches in Huntsville were bigger than Sardis Springs, but in his demeanor and humility, he was a cut above. Most of them came in bragging about something they had done or something that had happened at “their” church while Bro. Inman sat quietly. I never remember hearing him brag about anything, not even once. Bro. Inman was a servant leader. He was not cut out for the mega church setting. Most of his ministry was in single staff situations. He served with several part-time music ministers, but for most of his life, he was the only full-time staff member which means—he was on call 24/7. This was long before cell phones and facebook. I don’t know how he did it, but he was usually the first person to show up when tragedy struck.

Over time he became the community’s pastor. I remember on one occasion, he had three funerals in one day and I don’t think any of them were members of Sardis Springs. If my memory is correct, one of them was my Aunt Dell. She was my great aunt and I think she was a Conn or married a Conn. Bro. Inman set a precedent that made it tough on anyone who followed him because he visited shut-ins on a regular basis. He had a certain day that he visited them and they were waiting on him. I’m almost sure he gave at least one day a week to these people and he spoiled them. They expected every pastor to do what he did and there were no others who did it. I told a lot of folks that there were two guys I would not follow unless of course God gave me no choice and that was Calvin Inman and Jack Freeman. Bro. Jack not only visited shut-ins, he carried them fruit baskets every month. Preachers, how would you like to follow that? I had four kids, I couldn’t even afford a fruit basket for myself.

Bro. Inman was not only a relentless visitor, he was a true prayer warrior. He had an old wooden office chair for years and he had a cushion in it that he would remove and put under his knees when he prayed. He always prayed on his knees with his head in that old wooden chair. He taught me how to pray. He initiated our first Sunday morning prayer breakfast that went on for years and years at Sardis Springs. It was a big deal when I was there and I know that it lasted for many more years. Luther Smith was our first coffee maker. John Cambell and Junior Nave used to pick at Luther about how strong the coffee was each Sunday. Eventually, my daddy inherited that job. When I left, we were meeting in the old pastorium. Bro. Inman made us scripture cards and prayer cards. Each week you got one of each. You shared with the group your verse and your prayer request. Calvin Inman believed in prayer. I went through a personal crisis in the late 80’s and I have always believed that it was Bro. Inman’s prayers that made the difference. I remember where we were standing when I told him about it and asked him to pray for me. He said that he would and I knew I could count on him.

Bro. Inman didn’t like confrontation. He was a peace-loving man. He wanted to get along with everyone and everyone to get along with each other. He was not a boat-rocker. I did not inherit that gift from him. He was much more sensitive than I am. He was very concerned about what people thought about him. He wanted to be loved and respected. To put it in a nutshell, he was much more politically correct. Some would just say smarter or wiser and I would have to agree.

He was also a meticulous record keeper. He knew exactly how many weddings he had performed, how man funerals, home many revivals, how many mission trips, etc. He had time, place and date all written down. He could go back and look in his files and tell you where he was 20 years ago to the date. I couldn’t do that if you put a gun to my head. I can’t tell you where I was last week, let alone 20 years ago.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Calvin C. Inman influenced my life more than any person on earth, with perhaps the exception of my mother. Working on this article with his picture posted at top left, it was as if there was life in the picture and he was looking straight at me. I never wanted to disappoint him. As long as I have my mind, I will not forget him.

The next article was in our November DIGEST


Pvt. Calvin Inman

Veteran’s Day is November 11 and I thought it would be good to honor one of our many cherished and appreciated veterans in the November issue of the DIGEST. Our featured Veteran this year is Brother Calvin C. Inman.

Calvin Inman was born on July 25, 1925, at Water Valley, Mississippi to Willie H. and Vera Inman. He had one sister, Nalda Oakes, and two brothers, Maxwell and Houston. He was saved at the age of ten at Bethel Baptist Church. He attended Jeff Davis and Water Valley High School. He loved sports and was a member of the football, basketball and boxing teams. He graduated from Jeff Davis High school in 1943.

In August, 1943, he volunteered for the U. S. Air Force; he served during World War II as a flight engineer and top turret gunner on a B-25 bomber plane. He served as a Staff Sergeant in New Guinea, Philippines and in Japan. After his discharge, he worked for Sears, Roebuck & Company in Memphis. In 1947, he enrolled in Auto Mechanics at Trades Training Institute of Mississippi State at Prairie, Mississippi.

First of all we at DBC salute Bro. Inman for his service to our country. The word of God teaches us to give honor to whom honor is due. We honor Bro. Inman for the sacrifice and service that he gave in our behalf. We are free today because of men like Calvin Inman. Bro. Inman’s health has not been good in the last couple of years. They are able to get out and go some, but not very much. He does have a wonderful caregiver in Mrs. Lucile who is, by the way, the aunt of our beloved physician Will Crouch. Mrs. Inman is also a native of Mississippi. She was born on March 8, 1929, in Batesville, Mississippi, to James Monroe and Edna Crouch and was the youngest of seven children, including brothers, Wilbourne, Louis, Eugene, Ray and Elliott, and one sister, Clara. The Crouch family attended Pisgah Methodist Church which also doubled as a school after the High School burned. Mrs. Inman loved school. She loved sports and was a very good basketball player. She met Bro. Inman in 1946, when she was a senior at Batesville High, and Calvin made it a point to attend her basketball games. Calvin and Lucile were married on Sunday morning, August 17, 1947, at his pastor’s home. They returned to Lucile’s parents’ home for Sunday dinner and left afterwards for a brief trip to the Gulf Coast. She was baptized at the age of eighteen in the cool spring waters at Bethel Baptist Church where Calvin was saved and baptized. Bro. and Mrs. Inman have been major influencers in my life and I gladly honor them.


Calvin Inman in Early 60's

 They joined First Baptist Church in Batesville where they both sang in the choir; Calvin worked as an R. A. leader and Lucile worked in WMU. They also started a young married couple’s Training Union class and were able to enroll fourteen couples in their class before Calvin left for college. Calvin worked at various jobs at an auto parts store, as parts manager for the Dodge-Plymouth dealership and later for Irby Ford Company in Batesville. He answered the call to preach in 1951 and enrolled at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. During his college years, he served as assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Flora, Mississippi and full-time pastor of Simmons Memorial Mission for over three years. He graduated from MC in May 1954, with B. A. Degree. In September, 1954, Calvin enrolled at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He commuted to New Orleans, 220 miles each way, and continued as Pastor at Simmons Memorial for another year. Lucile lived on the church field and Calvin was home on the weekends.

Late 70's

 Calvin resigned Simmons Memorial in September, 1955, and moved Lucile and their young son, Stephen, to New Orleans. He was called to pastor Friendship Baptist Church in Natchez, Mississippi, on October, 1955. He drove over 186 miles each way on the weekends to preach and earned $50.00 per week. They later moved to Natchez and Calvin spent weekdays in New Orleans attending school and Lucile worked to help support them. They later moved to Walnut Baptist Church, in Vance. Calvin continued to commute from Vance by train to New Orleans, a seven or eight hour ride (studying along the way), until he graduated in May, 1957, with a Master of Divinity Degree. While at Walnut Baptist, Calvin and Lucile attended their first Southern Baptist Convention. They were then called to Evergreen Baptist Church in Louisville, Mississippi, and remained there until December 30, 1962. Lucile had attended MC, and while at Louisville, she was able to commute to Mississippi State University in Starkvile and received her B.S. Degree in August, 1961.

The Inmans moved to Sardis Springs on December 31, 1962. They spent their first night here at the home of James and Martha Newby. During the time that Brother Inman served as our Pastor, our church was involved in several remodeling and building projects, began a rotation system for deacons, built a new pastorium, published its first newsletter, made its first church directory, employed a part-time secretary, purchased its first electric organ, had seven standard Vacation Bible Schools (each lasting two weeks) and employed its first full-time music and youth director. During this time, our church experienced a tremendous growth in attendance and new members. Special music was performed on a regular basis by the children’ choir, junior choir, youth choir and adult choir. The junior or youth choir filled the choir loft every Sunday night, and the children sang every Sunday night under the direction of Mrs. Irene McGill.

 Lucille worked in Sunday School, church training, GA’s, Acteens, YWA’s, WMU and music. She served as pianist and organist and youth choir director. She also served as Clerk for the Limestone Baptist Association. She and Mrs. Presley chaperoned thirty-four Y.W.A. members by bus for one week to Glorietta, New Mexico. She also taught school at Piney Chapel for six and one-half years teaching sixth and seventh grade English, reading and social studies and ninth grade Latin. She then moved to Athens High School and taught World History and tenth grade English and Latin for one and one-half years.

 Brother Inman resigned from our church in November, 1970. He became the Pastor of West Marks Baptist in Marks, Mississippi, while Lucille continued her teaching career. In October, 1974, they moved to Hartselle, Alabama, and stayed until they returned to our church on October 15, 1978. Mrs. Inman continued teaching until she retired in 1991. Brother Inman has also served as Moderator and Clerk of the Association for several years and taught courses in seminary extension classes.

Brother Inman’s favorite memories at our church include his trip to Israel (Holy Land), three mission trips to Columbia and Bogotá, South America with Grady Hall where he preached through a translator while Grady tuned pianos. He also enjoyed the mission trip to Zambia, Africa (3 weeks) in 1991, and the mission trip to Roundup, Montana, with Hugh and Leatha Osborn. He cherishes so many other good memories at our church, all the baptisms, revivals, church suppers and picnics, and the meals in the homes of many church members. He officiated many weddings and saw many babies born into our church family. He also spoke many times of the day we had a note-burning service at church after paying off our mortgage and the day he retired when the church had an all-day service and presented the two of them with a brand new car.

 His favorite scriptures are Psalm 23, Psalm 116 and Psalms 19:14. He quoted: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer” on a daily basis. His favorite songs are “The Haven of Rest” and “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart.”

 Lucile’s favorite memories include the great Vacation Bible Schools, the trips to Shocco for conferences, GA camps at Camp Helen and all the fellowship meals at our church. Her favorite scripture verses are John 3:16 and I John 1:9. Her favorite songs are “The Old Rugged Cross” and “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”


 Due to health issues; Bro. Inman did not get to attend his beloved Sardis Springs Baptist church in the last days of his life here on earth. He began getting feeble in late Summer and he got disoriented very easily. It made it much easier on Mrs. Inman to care for him at home. She did a spectacular job as a care giver. His last few days were in the hospital but for the most part, due to the strength and love of Mrs. Inman, he got to be at home. Every evening around 4:00 he would tell Mrs. Inman, I want to go home. She would say gently, “Calvin, you are at home”. Well he really is at home now.

What Do You Want?

Matthew records a very interesting story in chapter 20 of his gospel. In this story, we see the contrast between what we want and what our Heavenly Father wants for us.  Beginning in verse 17, the scripture reads…When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he took the twelve apostles aside and said to them privately, “We’re going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to foreigners. They will make fun of him, whip him, and crucify him. But on the third day he will be brought back to life.”  Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her two sons. She bowed down in front of him to ask him for a favor. What do you want?” he asked her.   She said to him, “Promise that one of my sons will sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “You don’t realize what you’re asking. Can you drink the cup that I’m going to drink?”   “We can,” they told him. Jesus said to them, “You will drink my cup. But I don’t have the authority to grant you a seat at my right or left. My Father has already prepared these positions for certain people.”

What did Salome want? Well, she wanted her boys to have a high position is the kingdom. She coveted honor and glory for her sons which is very natural for any parent. She exposed her vanity by making a very short sided and selfish request. Her bid for favoritism caused quite a stir among the brethren. Jesus had just completed His second breifing on His impending passion in Jerusalem. Somehow, they just did not hear what He was saying: His subject was suffering, not glory. The cup that Jesus refers to is suffering and indeed these boys will suffer before they reign with Christ. So the bottom line is this: they wanted to be a big part of the kingdom but they didn’t want to suffer.

At the risk of sounding like the fox who couldn’t reach the grapes and walked away disdainfully muttering to himself, “they were probably sour anyway”, let me say that “Seeker Preachers” and the “Health and Wealth” crowd are only reading and preaching a tiny portion of God’s word. They are sharing some truth but they are not telling the whole truth. Dallas Willard in his book “Hearing God” says on page 180…”Any voice that promises total exemption from suffering and failure is most certainly not God’s voice.” It is very popular these days to use the bible and the principles that are taught in the bible to guarantee health, wealth and success. A life that is trouble-free: no sorrow, no pain, no suffering and no disappointment. We are especially guilty in the Western world of using the Bible as a how-to-book  for successful living. We preach that if certain principles are adhered to, you will prosper financially and live happy ever after.

First of all, let me say that this is purely a Western mind-set. People on the other side of the world have been suffering for centuries; yes even believers. They laugh at our dispensational theories. We talk about the age of persecution and they have never known anything except persecution. We here in the West think like James and John, wishfully! The old hymn writer understood the truth that millions of Americans are ignoring…

Shall I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas.”

The mother of James and John cut to the chase and got right down to business. She wanted glory and position for her two sons. Jesus said, “You don’t realize what you are asking” and indeed she did not. James and John would experience some glory before they journey here on earth was complete but they would experience even more suffering. When Jesus first mentions His passion in chapter 16, Peter carried Him aside and rebuked Him saying, “God would never allow this to happen to You LORD! Don’t talk this way.” Jesus replied immediately, “Satan, get away from me! You are in My way because you are thinking like everyone else and not like God. Peter did not want Jesus to suffer. The very idea of Jesus being mocked, humiliated, stripped, beaten and crucified was horrifying to Peter, “Lord, may it never be!” But as Isaiah said,  The LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering. Jesus suffered and it was all a part of the divine plan. The only way that God could justify sinners was for Jesus to become sin which He did at Calvary. This is the cup that Jesus speaks of: it is the cup of suffering and anguish.

Let me ask you a  simple question: where in the N.T. do you find Jesus teaching His disciples that they will not suffer? I want someone to show me the passage. The Eastern Church has suffered persecution for centuries so where did we get this idea that the church will be raptured from suffering. I am telling you folks, it is Western wishful thinking at its best and it sells like hotcakes because it is what we want  and what we want to hear…you will be spared, you will not suffer…says who? Folks I love the stewardship principles of the bible. I love the book of proverbs and all the wisdom literature and I acknowledge without question that the way of the transgressor is hard. Anyone will have a better life if they live by the principles of scripture but our motive for following Jesus is not to avoid pain. Watchman Nee the Chinese theologian said, “We learn nothing a part from adversity”.  I think it was C. S. Lewis who said, “God whispers in our pleasures but screams in our pain.” It’s like the little poem, “I walked a mile with pleasure, she chatted all the way, but I was none the wiser for what she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow and never a word spoke she, but oh the things that I did learn when sorrow walked with me.” Don’t misunderstand me, I am not as bold as my pentecostal brother who when adversity came cried out to God, “Pile it on Lord, I can take it”. I am not that brave. I don’t want to have a Job experience. Being with some of my beloved members while they were suffering in that manner has been sufficient for me. I can all but promise you that the sweetest, the most righteous person in your church is the one that has suffered the most. God uses suffering. Christ earned our redemption through suffering. We are sanctified through suffering. God uses suffering to make us thankful and useful. We become much more loving and sensitive after a period of suffering.

Folks we are not saved by positive thinking–we are saved by the blood [suffering] of Jesus. Take down the cross, don’t mention the blood, tell them they will be healthy, wealthy and wise but you are not telling them the truth. There is no Christianity without a cross and there is no sanctification without suffering. Yes, I know it is popular to tell folks what they want to hear and you can package the biblical principles in such a way, that the suffering is omitted. The seeker churches do this very thing and they are very gifted at what they do. They can fill a sanctuary six times in one day. They never mention the cross, or the blood and some don’t even mention Jesus. They preach wonderful HOW-TO sermons. They raise enough money to broadcast on TV. They market tapes and books and people are clamoring to buy them. I can’t give a sermon tape away. I can fill a small sanctuary one time per Sunday, let alone six. I am not refined and I am certainly not politically correct. I do say things like “Abortion Is Murder” and “Homosexuality is a sin”. Seekers don’t want to be known as being against things–they want you to think of them as being postive, being for something not against something. They don’t want to offend anyone. In Matthew 15,  The disciples came to Jesus and said, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”  But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.  Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”   Jesus also said, Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. [Luke 6:26, KJV]

Pain And All, Memory Is A Wonderful Gift.

Sardis Springs Elementary in 1955

David said, I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and  I think about what you have done for me. [Psalm 145:3, JEV] Memory is an amazing thing and a wonderful gift. I suppose all of us have some painful memories but we have so many more that are good. I tell folks that memories are like the oaks that grow on the river bank. While the river of time passes, their roots grow deeper and deeper. I still think about my grand parents and my parents often. I have no doubt that time has only increased my love and appreciation for them.

As the years pile up: I am beginning to understand that memory is a precious gift. I do not have a perfect memory and to be honest, my memory has never been as keen as some. My brother Hal had an amazing memory. You did not want to play rook with him. He could remember every card played and who played it. Not me, I do good to remember my name. Strangely enough, I remember things that others have long forgotten because they relate directly to me. I guess we all have a tendency to remember things in our favor.

The good news is that God has perfect memory. The only thing in scripture that God forgets in our sins.  I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. [Isaiah 43:25, NASB] FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.” [Hebrews 10:17, NASB]. God never forgets a promise. He kept all his promises to Abraham [Psalm 105:42] and He will keep all of His promises to you. Our assurance is based on the integrity of His promise [word]. Literally, we are saved by His promise.

My memory lets me down from time to time; especially when it comes to names. One of my mentors, Mr. James Newby was the best I ever saw at remembering names. I think that is why he never lost an election. He could call everyone by their first name.  How I wish I had a memory like that. I hate it when I know a person but cannot recall their name. Last Summer, on a  day off, Mandy called me and told me that Parkway Medical Center had called and there was a woman there with a baby and she had requested that I visit. Mandy gave me the name and I said, “I don’t know this person, who is this?” She said, “I don’t know, I thought that you would know”. A little later she called back and said, “We have a name that resembles her name on our VBS records” and she gave me the information. To be honest, I still did not have a clue. After lunch, I went home [I was working on the lot on Vaughn Bridge] took a shower, dressed and went to PMC. I prayed before entering the room, “Lord please let me recognize this woman”. Sure enough, as soon as I saw her face, I remembered. Thank You Jesus.

Today, I got tired of reading so I decided to move to the recliner and rest for a bit. When I stretched out to relax my mind began to wonder and suddenly my old school days came to the forefront. My first three years in school were at Sardis Springs Elementary [pictured above]. I’m the little fellow with no shirt and no attention span. I couldn’t be still long enough to pose for the picture. It was a three room school house that had one teacher and six grades. Her name was Mrs. Looney. Her husband ran a hardware store in Athens. She was a very good teacher and I do not know how she did what she did. At that time there were lots of three room school houses in Limestone County. Copeland had one that was almost the mirror image of Sardis Springs but they had them at Pisgah, Reed, Goodsprings, Oak Grove and on and on. We had school houses then like we have volunteer fire departments now, one in every community. In 1959 they closed most of these little schools except Reed, Piney Chapel and Bell Mina and opened up two new feeder school on Highway 99 between Athens and West Limestone and the other [Johnson Jr. High]between Athens and Ardmore on present day 251. I went to Johnson.

Somehow, you know how politics works, everyone had a gym except Johnson. Not only did we not have a gym, we did not even have an outdoor court until my 8th grade year and it was not very nice. Not only did we not have a court to practice on, we did not have a coach. We begged Mr. Wells to coach us and he did for several years.  The Board finally sent us a coach my 9th grade year. His name was  Bill Gimmeran.  In 5-6th grade 4-H basketball, Mr. Royce Wells coached us. He was a good man but didn’t know a thing about basketball and did what he did out of love for kids because he was not paid one dime. Needless to say, we were the Mount Hope of Limestone county. We couldn’t beat a red headed step child. We couldn’t beat our way out of a brown paper bag. As Joe David says, we could not have scored 50 points if you took the opposing team off the floor. We were so bad that we celebrated any score, foul shot or free throw. We knew we were not going to win so we celebrated every point as if it was a win. I know some folks don’t believe in moral victories but that is the only kind we had. We were so bad that Dwayne Clark and I tied for high point man in the county tournament with 4 points a piece. Our team total was 15 and the opponent had 50 or 60. It was not a close game. The year we play Clements with John Wayne [not the actor] Jerry Batts, Wally the Milkman and Jack somebody [can’t remember Jack’s last name], I think it was Rose, anyway, they only played their starters for one quarter and they still beat us something like 75-25. It was a nightmare for Mr. Wells. I played at Johnson from 1960-1964 and we won one game. We beat Madison Cross Roads [They didn’t have a gym either]. Hey we did have one winning season in football. It was my 8th grade year, the only year that I played QB but that is not why we won. We had Lamar Browning as our running back and the Lauderdale brothers [Stanley and Richard] on the line. Lamar was a horse. He could carry the entire team. We were at Elkmont last fall supporting Seth as Danville attempted to play Elkmont. I showed my family the spot on the field where I had intercepted a pass 50 years ago. No one paid any attention. It really did happen.

It is all in the day of a frustrated athlete, we wake up thinking about what could have been. Why do we think about such things? I don’t have a clue. If you do, my email is I suppose a more important question is: how in thunder can I remember all that stuff that don’t amount to a hill of beans and I can’t remember what I am supposed to do today.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

To become good at any skill, you have to practice.

Alabama had 46 days to practice  for the National Championship game and we have 40 days to practice love. Love is a verb; it is something that we do, something that we practice. We do it because Jesus commanded us to do it. We do it because it honors Him. We are not the source of the love, we are merely instruments. It is HIS LOVE [agape] that we share. I love people, but I have a tendency to love those who love me. I love my wife, children and grandchildren but who doesn’t? Our world is filled with lost people who love in that fashion. The acid test for every believer is to love the unlovely. You can bet your last dollar that the LORD is going to put some hard to love person in your life.

We find a good illustration of this in the Old Testament. Joseph was the most gifted, responsible and reliable son that Jacob had. Matter of fact, he was the only trustworthy son that Jacob had. The older 10 lied, murdered, pillaged, plundered, raped and these were their good qualities. As Bro. Alvin Tucker once said, “They were a bunch of hooligans”. You know the story: they were so jealous of Joseph that they sold him to some Ishmaelite traders who carried Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the Captain of Pharaoh’s Civil Service.  To fast forward to my point…Joseph works his way through the ranks by the grace of God and becomes the Prime Minister of Egypt. When the famine struck Israel, Joseph’s brothers show up to buy grain and Joseph is the person in charge. Joseph was 17 when they sold him, he is now 30 and groomed as an Egyptian. Joseph has also mastered the Egyptian language and he uses an interpreter to deal with his brothers. So Joseph has the advantage, he knows who they are, but they don’t know who he is. Joseph knows the kind of men he is dealing with, but they have no clue as to what sort of man they are dealing with. Joseph puts them to the test: he makes them answer a series of questions. Remember, Joseph already knows much of the truth and he knows that his brothers will lie. He knows they are Israelites and that there were 12 originally. The one thing he does not know is how his father and baby brother are doing. Long story short, Joseph says that he does not believe their story and has them thrown into prison for three days. This gives everyone time to think. The Bible tells us what his brothers thought about during those three long days…

Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.” “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” Of course, they didn’t know that Joseph understood them, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter.  Now he turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again.

The question I present is this: what did Joseph think about? I think that during these three days, Joseph struggled with the agonizing decision of whether to punish his cruel brothers for their deceit and treachery or to forgive them and let it go for the sake of his father. We all know that Joseph chose the high road. He did the noble thing: he forgave his brothers and then immediately put a plan in to play that would allow him to express his love for them. From this point on in the narrative, Joseph is seen practicing love. He feeds his brothers, he gives them clothes, he gives them money and eventually, he gives them land. He literally takes care of them for as long as he lived. He never stopped loving his sorry brothers.

Love is a choice. We choose to love or not to love. If there is someone in your life that you don’t love, it is because you have made a choice not to love them. Don’t even begin with what they have done to you, that has nothing to do with your choice. Has anyone treated you worse than Joseph’s brothers treated him? There are some questions that we all need to consider. [1] What will honor our heavenly Father? What would please Him? Would He have me love this person? [2] Is there something that I have to let go of in order to love this person? It could be something as simple as pride. [3] How can I love someone who does not love me, someone I don’t feel like loving? Love is not a feeling. Jesus commands us to love in deed, in action. Stop thinking about how you feel. This is not about your feelings. You can obey a command without feeling anything. When one of Bentley’s Bandits pulls up behind me and turns on the blue light, I pull over. Do I pull over because I feel like pulling over? NO, no, no! I don’t feel like pulling over at all, but I do it out of fear of what will happen if I don’t. Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18 that will illustrate my point…

Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

James adds in 2:13There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when He judges you.

I need mercy. I am afraid that if I don’t show mercy, that I will have none shown to me. Joseph made the right decision to do the right thing. He gave his pain to God and forgave his evil brothers which, by the way, pleased his father. The Israelites all moved to Egypt to live near Joseph and they remained one big happy family, all because Joseph made a choice to love instead of hate. It was his choice to love that saved the family.

You can make the same choice. It has nothing to do with the sins of others against you and it has nothing to do with your feelings. Honor Christ, do the right thing, love others and then come up with a game plan to practice loving them. What would you like for someone to do for you today? Do this for the person you have chose to love. Keep doing things for them until the love of Christ takes control. Practice loving someone today. Don’t give me excuses, I know that God has put someone in your path that He wants you to love TODAY! Visit the Nursing Home, send a card, say a prayer, make a call, but for Pete’s sake do something to practive loving people. You will never be good at it until you begin to show up for practice.

Chizik Does Great On Game Analysis

Number 14

Everyone knows that I pulled for Auburn the other night and that I congratulated them on their win but it is no secret that my blood is Crimson. My first allegiance is to Christ then it’s Alabama football. Just kidding, don’t get uptight. I will not lie, I had my doubts, after all I am a doubting Thomas. I thought we had the best Coach, the best defense and the best offense. I knew they had a better kicking game but I did not expect total domination or a shutout. Les Miles is not the dummy that he appears to be. You can not have the kind of teams that he puts on the field without doing something right. I still have no doubt is my mind that LSU is a solid number 2. I have known for sometime that it was LSU and Alabama and then a gap, then the rest of the country. I think both Miles and Saban will be hard pressed to have such superior teams again next year. I keep saying that and Miles keeps making me a liar. I do think that Saban finally out coached him tonight. I think LSU just gave up toward the middle of the 4th quarter. I am thankful that Gregg and Tracey will have a pleasant ride home.

Roll Tide Jack and War Eagle Jack

The pic to the right is a picture of my great-nephew Jack don’t talk no smack Pressnell. He is the grandson of my sister Beth. That entire clan is War Eagle to the core. Alabama fans are not even allowed to park in their driveway.   That reminds me, I  want to thank all the Auburn fans for cheering us on. Your coach was a class act in the post game show. I don’t know how he did it but he was very complimentary of the effort by Alabama. He is a far better man than I am but of course that isn’t saying much. The SEC did well this bowl season. We can all be proud of the South and this makes three years in a row that an Alabama Team has won the National Championship. Not bad for a bunch of rednecks [that is what the Yankee’s think]. I think the country is getting tired of the SEC and the State of Alabama dominating. I hope that they have to get use to it. Now we can all [Auburn, Ala, Florida, Georgia and even Tenn fans] turn our attention to Saturday and Denver. Let’s pray for another miracle. Nothing is impossible with God. We need some more Tebow time! Some Tebowmania! This young man is under a lot of pressure so lets support him believers. To date, he has not failed to give Jesus the glory.

Number 13 For the Tide: Number 2 for Nick

Spiritual Beggars

Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.” [II Kings 7:3-4]

These four men lived on the scraps that came over the wall, but due to the famine inside the city, there were no scraps. They were slowly starving to death. The fact that they were lepers made them unclean and unfit to socialize with the public. Normally, they would not break this law of quarantine, but these were desperate times. The problem with breaking quarantine and going into the city was that there was nothing to eat in the city. The people inside the wall were also starving. A donkey head brought 80 pieces of silver [at today’s prices that would be $960.00] and a cup of dove’s dung cost almost $60.00. It was so bad that some of the people had reverted to cannibalism. So, going into the starving city was not an option. The second option was to sit there and wait, but they did not see any wisdom is sitting there because it would be a slow, painful death. Then one of them came up with an idea,  a third option. “Why not do something really desperate; why not surrender to their enemies, the Syrians? If they kill us, it’s no big deal because we are dying anyway. It would be better to die quickly at the hand of the enemy than to sit here and starve slowly. If they allow us to live, surely they will feed us.”  So they agreed to take the risk. They got up and proceeded to the camp of the Syrian Army. When they got to the camp, they were shocked. There was not a soul in the camp. The tents were up, the animals were tied, but the people were gone. They had panicked and fled and no one knew why, but the camp had been abandoned. Every tent was filled with supplies: gold, silver, clothes, wine and food. Right now, food was the big item. The four beggars had themselves a party. They are looting the camp and filling their stomachs. Then one of them says, “Hey fellows, we may not be doing right. The city is filled with starving Israelites. Perhaps we should tell them about all this food.” They all agreed that they should share the good news and so they did. At first no one believed them, but eventually, the city comes out and the people of Samaria are saved from starvation. There are some lessons in this story that might be helpful.

  1. DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES: The lepers did something bold and daring. As a result, they discovered a wonderful truth, God’s provision was ample and accessible. Because these four hungry men did something desperate, an entire city was saved.

  2. STAGNATION MEANS SPIRITUAL DEATH: The four men realized that the last option was just to sit there and do nothing but wait. Unfortunately, that is the very option that most churches take. We are so fearful of the unknown, of the untried, the unorthodox, that we do nothing. I remember an Association meeting years ago where we had debated an issue to death and one person stood up and said, “I’m ready to do something even if it is wrong.” We’ve probably all felt that way at one time or another. We can’t just sit and do nothing: that is a formula for spiritual death.

  3. GOD HAS AMPLE PROVISIONS: We may be feeling the crunch of an economic downturn, but God is no poorer. God is infinitely rich. The more He gives, the more He has to give. We humans think in reverse. We think that the more you keep, the more you have, but it does not work that way in God’s economy. In His kingdom, the more you give, the more you have. C.S. Lewis caught hold of this truth and he wrote…”We will not keep anything that we have not first given away”. The way to keep something is to give it away. Jesus said that this is even true of our life: if you want to keep your life, give it to Jesus. There is not a shortage of provision on God’s part, there is a lack of faith on our part. There is a camp near us that is filled with good things, but it will take desperate measures to find it.

  4. IT IS ALWAYS A SIN TO BE SELFISH: These guys realized that it was wrong for them not to share the good news and the provisions with the rest of the city.

  5. THERE ARE RISKS TO ANY STEP OF FAITH: We are about to embark on 40 Days of Community which is designed to help us grow in our love for Jesus, each other and the lost. As I shared with the church last night–loving lost people is a forgotten responsibility. We don’t even talk about the lost anymore, let alone love them. Our first emphasis will be on loving each other, which is another area of dismal failure. Will 40 Days work? I have no earthly idea. Then why are we doing it? Had you rather sit at the wall and do nothing? We do know what the results of doing nothing will produce. We relate to God by faith. Everything in His kingdom economy is acquired through faith, even salvation. He wills that we live by faith. It takes no faith to sit at the wall and hope for something to change. It requires faith to march into the camp of the Syrians. Are there risks involved? Sure! Can I make guarantees about the results? No, if I could it would take no faith, at least not on my part. I will put it this way: human effort and wisdom are not going to get the job done, we need divine intervention. We need something that only God can do; something that only He can produce and that is revival. We need to see God’s children here in Danville get excited about Jesus and turned on to evangelism.

  6. GOD ALWAYS GOES BEYOND OUR EXPECTATIONS: I love this story. The four beggars boldly take the dare to surrender to the cruel Syrians. As they walk toward the Syrian camp, the best that they can imagine is to have thier lives spared and their stomach filled. Wow! Where they in for a surprize! God did exceedingly, abundantly above all that they had imagined. They found more than a brief extension of life and a meal: they found abundance. So much food that they had enough to share with every hungry soul around. If there is anything in this world that God has taught me in these 53 years that I have trusted Him, it is that He is not limited to my feeble prayers, my lame dreams or my lack of imagination. He always shocks me with abundance that I had never imagined. Our God is an AWESOME God!