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One God, One Lord

1 Corinthians 8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

I love this verse.  There are a lot of reasons why, but it succinctly defines God the Father, our Lord Jesus, and our relationship to each.  Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the Father and our Lord are two distinct persons, but how we relate to each of these roles is different and they fulfill different purposes in our lives.  Can I fully explain how this works?  No!  But neither can anyone else.  This is one of those truths that we probably won’t understand until we step foot into heaven.

In his letter to the Corinthians, in the section in which this verse is found, Paul is discussing other so-called gods that the Corinthians believers had once worshipped and were continually being exposed to.  He recognized there were lots of things that people worshipped as Gods, and there were lots of people they bowed to as lords, but he discounts them as nothing compared to the one true God and the one true Lord.

Look at what Paul says about our God – “there is but one God.”  I’m reminded that all other gods worshipped by mankind have no interaction with them.  People dedicate themselves and their possessions to those gods and get nothing in return, because there is nothing there that can give back.  But our God is the one true God, we know Him and He knows us.  He cares for us, loves us and wants to provide for us based on our relationship with Him.  That’s why Paul calls Him Father.  The relationship and the love God has for us are best reflected in the role of a father.

But He’s not just any father, He is the father that conceived and planned and initiated all of existence.  Paul states it “of whom are all things.”  Notice the word “of.”  It means that everything that exists is because of God, our Father.  We exist because of our Father.  We are part of His plan – He has a purpose for us.  If you don’t know Him, and have no relationship with Him, then you can never know and fulfill that purpose.

Understand, Paul is writing to believers.  That’s why he can make the next statement, “and we in him.”  This speaks of the believer’s relationship, purpose, and existence in God.  The ultimate architect of the universe surrounds and permeates us as we exist in His will and according to His purposes.  Think on that just a moment.  Why are we timid to fulfill God’s purpose when we have that kind of power available to us?

Paul also told us of, “one Lord Jesus Christ.”  There is a lot that can be said about that name.  “Lord” is the one who is in control.  The lord of the manner, the lord of the servant, is the one who has authority.  It is by his will and direction that the servant takes action.  When lord refers to our Savior, it reflects the relationship we have with Him.  When we surrender ourselves to Him in exchange for His salvation, He becomes our Lord – the one to whom we should surrender our wills and our desires.

The title “Christ” designates Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.  He is the one and only way to salvation for mankind.  By using this title, Paul is both acknowledging Jesus as the Savior, but he is reminding believers of their relationship with Him.

Now, consider that next phrase: “by whom are all things.”  This statement takes us back to creation.  When God created the universe, Jesus was there.  It was God’s plan and it was through God’s power that everything was created, but it was by the actions of Christ that creation occurred.  I want you to consider the implications of what that means.  Not only does it mean that the Trinity was active in the creation, it means that Christ was active in creating you.  You were created by the Savior!!!

Is it any wonder that Jesus was willing to undertake the mission given to Him by the Father?  Are you surprised that Jesus would give up the perfection of heaven to come to this earth and take on human flesh?  Can you even imagine the kind of love it took for Jesus to submit to the ridicule and torture He would endure during His earthly life?  He did it all because He loves His creation.  The great news is, He still loves His creation, and that means He still loves you!!!

As believers, we exist, “by him.”  Not only did He create us, but He redeemed us when we accepted His gift of salvation.  When we were covered by the His precious blood, we became children of God.  This could only happen through our relationship with Christ.

Two roles of the same God.  Two ways of viewing our relationship with our God.  This verse has a lot to say to us as believers.  If you are not a believer so you don’t have this kind of relationship with God the Father – God the Creator, and God the Son – the Savior, I encourage you to seek Him out.  You can learn more from the blog post What is Salvation? Found on this site.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to post a comment to this article or email me at

With all God’s love and blessings,

Bro. E.C.

A Strong Tower

Welcome to the castle.  The picture above was taken as we were getting close to finishing our decorations for Vacation Bible School.  We have a blast with a church full of kids for a week at the beginning of every summer.  This year is shaping up to be just as much fun.  In this post, I want to direct your attention to the two castle towers in the picture.  On the left is a short tower, and on the right is a tall tower.

I have to admit that the design for these two towers was mine.  Now, I’m not trying to brag on myself; if you really want to know the truth, I would just as soon try to build them again and do a better job.  But these two towers are what we have.

After getting these things constructed, I stood at the back of the auditorium critiquing them and my handiwork.  I looked at the small one, the first one we built, and saw all the flaws.  I don’t really want you to take too close a look at it, but I noticed the walls that weren’t square.  I saw the corners that didn’t meet up quite right so there were gaps.  I saw where the pieces that weren’t cut just right were used in hopes that the mistakes would be hidden.  Bottom line is that I saw the irregularities and the things that could have been done better.

Then I looked at the tall tower.  We built it second so we knew more about what we needed to do.  We recognized that there were other ways to do things that made putting it together easier, quicker, and more accurate.  Now, I wouldn’t say there aren’t any mistakes in it, but it does seem to be a bit straighter and have fewer flaws.

As I considered these two towers, an idea began to form in my mind as I remembered references to God as our strong tower.  One of those verses is found in Proverbs 18:10.

Proverbs 18:10  The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

As I developed the idea, I began to think of the small tower as what we build ourselves.  Verse 11 tells us about that tower.

Proverbs 18:11  The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.

You know, the small tower’s not that bad.  The walls are pretty straight.  It has battlements at the top (that’s what the cutouts at the top are called – battlements).  It’s certainly usable.

The short tower represents what we can do in our power to protect ourselves.  Maybe we’re physically strong.  We place our security in the money we have in the bank – financial security.  We can find our security in the things we have – our houses, our cars, the great electronics we enjoy, and all those other things we’ve accumulated.  Maybe you’re counting on your health to be your security – nothing can hurt me – I’m indestructible.  Security can be found in the job or career we have.  Sometimes, it’s not so much a matter of how much money we make but how consistent that income is.  We can learn to do a lot with a little bit as long as we can count on it continuing to come in.

But how secure are all those things.  One catastrophe in life can wipe out a savings account.  Even if it doesn’t all go away at once, it can be dwindled down until it’s all gone.  Cars can be gone in an instant when someone runs a stop sign.  Almost daily, there’s at least one story of a fire consuming someone’s house and all they had in it.  We’re all just a breath away from a heart attack or stroke – and cancer is no respecter of persons.  Jobs end, no matter how secure they seem to be, companies are always changing and sometimes those changes end jobs that people have worked for years.  The tower we can build is full of flaws and kinks.  It can come down around us at any time.  There’s no real security there.

But look at the tall tower.  Think of it as representing our God.  I know it’s not perfect like He is, but compared to the small tower, it is better.  The walls are more square.  They’re straighter.  The corners meet much better.  There aren’t the gaps in certain places like there are in the small tower.  The battlements are at the top.  And, more importantly, it’s taller.  It’s a stronger tower.

If we use it as a representation for God, think about what that means.  It doesn’t matter how good we’re able to build our tower on our own, God’s tower is better.  The book of Hebrews is all about how Christ is better than anything man has been able to accomplish.  God is better.  God is perfect in every way.  Everything about Him meets exactly as He intended for it to.  Not only does He not have any flaws, He is our refuge in times of trouble.

Psalms 61:1   Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

Psalms 61:2  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalms 61:3  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

God is our strong tower – the refuge of the righteous.  It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time.  Righteous means that you appear before God as right.  He doesn’t see your rebellion and disobedience to His commands and will.  He sees Jesus, His perfect and righteous Son.

Isn’t that the way you want to be seen by God?  Seen as just as righteous as His perfect Son, Jesus?  That is possible.  There is a way in which you can appear before God just like that.  The thing is, you have to get there God’s way – the way He provided for you to get there.  That way is Jesus.  To be able to be in God’s presence and be there as righteous, you have to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  We call that Salvation.  For more information on salvation, please read this article – What is Salvation?

I encourage you, if you’ve been touched by this article, let other people know, especially those who can benefit from it.  If you don’t have a church that you attend regularly and you live in the neighborhood, come by for a visit.  If you’re not in the area, find a good Bible believing church and begin to live a life worthy of the great gift of salvation you’ve been given.

With all God’s blessings.

Bro. EC

Little Branson Gospel Show

Little Branson singing

This is the first of this kind of concert held at our church.   We hope to make this a regular occurrence.

Our goal for this concert is to raise funds for our upcoming Vacation Bible School.  It is one of the best ways we have to reach out to the families in our community.  Admission is FREE.  A love offering will be received.

Psalm 106 – Cycle of Judgment and Repentance Found in the People of Israel

I enjoy Bible study very much.  One of my favorite things is to pray through a Psalm and let the Lord communicate with me concerning the truth found in it.  As I was reading Psalm 106, I was impressed with how I act like the Israelites, how the church falls into the same traps, and how our nation parallels the path taken by God’s people over and over again.

This Psalm was written to remind the people of the great things God did for them and how they rebelled against Him at every turn.  They were oppressed in the land of Egypt, so God provided for their exodus from their slavery.  Not only did He bring them out of that land, He made sure they were very wealthy in the process.  He guided them to the Red Sea.  He provided for them in the wilderness.  But that wasn’t enough for them.  They murmured, and complained, and rebelled against their God who sustained them during their journey.  Instead of placing complete faith and trust in the living God that had showed His power, they returned back to the dead idols they had been exposed to in Egypt – gods that had no power to protect and guide and provide.

As I look back on my own life, I see that cycle – times of commitment followed by a slipping into inaction then to open rebellion against what I knew was right.  I would experience another time of conviction, which would lead to repentance and back to commitment.  I believe I now have the commitment thing covered pretty well, but I can still see the cycle repeat itself on a smaller scale.  Understand, it may be on a smaller scale in our own eyes, but God makes no distinction.  So, I strive to renew my commitment and dedication each and every day – sometime successfully, sometimes not so much.  The joy is that God is always there and ready to forgive my shortcomings as long as I renew my commitment to do His will.  What He will not reward is insincere platitudes in an attempt to appease Him.

In the midst of this cycle of deliverance to rebellion and back to deliverance that the people of Israel were locked into, God always maintained at least one man to be His spokesman.  It was Moses during the exodus and wandering then Joshua as the people took the Promised Land.  I like how verse 23 puts it: “…had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach…”  I would never compare myself to Moses, but there are times when I feel like I am standing in the breach between God and my church.  Understand, I have a great church and I love the people God has assembled together to make it up, but I see apathy at times, which is in its own way rebellion.

I feel that my job as God’s spokesman to my church is to identify the unwanted inhabitants of the lives of my members and help them banish them.  After all, I see that as one of the commands that God has given us as believers – get rid of the worldly inhabitants (sins) in our lives so that we can live the holy life God intends.  As the Israelites did not rid the land of the original inhabitants, so we too often do not completely eliminate sin from our own lives.  It strikes me that as the people of God suffered unseen difficulties because they did not completely follow God’s commands, we suffer consequences for the sins we harbor in our own lives.  God is there to forgive and restore when we fall victim to our human nature, but He is also just when He allows us to experience the consequences for wrong choices.  That’s the way a loving father should react, so why do people not expect our Heavenly Father to act any differently.

But we also see God interacting with Israel as a nation.  He set up guidelines with them that if they would follow Him and obey His commandments, He would bless them in their promised land.  Notice that He also outlined consequences for them as a nation if they did not.  When Israel had a strong leader provided by God, who followed God’s commands, they were blessed as He promised, and they experienced peace in the land.  However, there were too many times that the people would buy into the ideas and religions of the inhabitants they left in their midst or the surrounding nations, and would drift away from God’s intended lifestyle.  God, in His justice, took action so that His people suffered for their rebellion.

I know that people today are saying that the U.S.A. is not a Christian nation, but I beg to differ.  I know that some of our founding fathers were not specifically Christian, but I believe that in their writings, it is obvious that they understood the importance of Christian beliefs in the lives of citizens and government.  They did not want to allow the government to dictate religion and they instituted protections along those lines; however, they also indicated that they built the government around the concept that man answered to a higher power (most of them believed it was God Almighty) and that the people making up the government would make decisions based on that foundation.  As long as that was true, this nation has been blessed.

But can the same be said for our society, and our government, today?  I believe there are some politicians who still use Christian standards when making decisions that affect us as citizens.  Unfortunately, I believe they are far too few.  Too many of our career politicians have a motivation other than honoring God behind their decisions.  For that reason, I believe that the U.S.A. is standing in a position of judgment before God right now just like the people of Israel did all too often.  If God will judge His chosen people, why do we think He will not judge us?

Can we skip the suffering that will inevitably come with God’s judgment?  I believe it is possible, but we must go directly to repentance and correct the rebellion in our society.  That means that society itself, the people as a whole, must accept God’s way.  That must then be reflected in those we choose to govern over us.  Only then can decisions be made that honor God.  If that happens, then He can bless our nation again.  If not, I fear for those who are here when God’s judgment falls on our nation.

Rooted in Church

Psalms 92:13-14
(13)  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
(14)  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

Planted in the house of the Lord.”  Isn’t that an interesting phrase?  What does it mean?  When applying scripture to life, we have to keep in mind that while there is only one interpretation, there are typically many applications.  I can see this phrase meaning to be rooted in heaven because the believer has a permanent place established for them there.  However, this particular Psalm has aspects of immediate application as well as anticipation for the future.

We should be praising God each day for His provision, and it should lead to joy in our hearts all day long.  But, it may be a bit unrealistic to expect those who oppose us to be utterly destroyed right before our eyes in the near future; although that could happen.  It is more reasonable to expect the utter destruction of those who oppose God and His followers upon His return.  At that time, we will witness them getting what they are due.  Before you think that I’m a bit too brutal in my thinking, we will see it happen and the Bible is clear that it will, but our desire should be to see our enemies become fellow Children of God instead of continuing on their path to destruction.

So, I want to focus on the immediate application of verses 13 and 14.  The phrase, “planted in the house of the Lord” can be taken to mean those who are established in a local church – those who have put down roots in a local body of believers and are there to produce fruit in that church.  The picture painted here is one of someone who has deep commitments to a church, someone who has sunk their supply chain into the resources available to them through fellow believers, and is not easily moved away from the nourishment found there.  The church needs more people like this.

The winds of change blow through churches regularly.  The floods of controversy and conflict sweep through.  Those who are not rooted are damaged and swept away because they have nothing to hold onto.  They are the ones who attend sporadically and never get involved in the activities of the church.  They may even be Sunday morning only attenders who sit on a pew, but are out the door as soon as the service is over.  They have no commitment to the church itself because they don’t fellowship with other believers.  They don’t know what’s truly going on in the church, and many times, don’t care.  They are open to the influence of rumor and innuendo because they don’t know the heart of the other members.

Those who are rooted in the church not only take from it, but give back to it.  “They shall still bring forth fruit.”  They supply the needs of others in the church.  They provide sustenance to those who visit either looking for a new church or those looking for a Savior.  They produce fruit through the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Any thriving church must have some who are exhibiting the special characteristics given to them by the Holy Spirit.  Without them, the church eventually dwindles away.

But, notice the next part of that phrase, “in old age.”  Spiritual fruit can be produced at any age.  Sold-out teenagers have an influence on people around them for the benefit and glory of God.  Young couples, and those with young families, have the energy of youth to be involved in activities; and that energy is a blessing when it is directed to benefit the church.  But this passage makes it clear that there is no retirement age to producing spiritual fruit.  Those who have served their entire lives have experience and wisdom they can pass along to those coming up to take their place.  Everyone has talents and abilities that they can use to benefit the church.  There is no expiration date on those.

A vibrant and growing church must have members who are rooted – unmovable with the influences of the world – and willing to continue to produce spiritual fruit in whatever way they can.  At your age, whatever it is, are you using your God-give abilities as He would want?

What is Salvation?

I know there are many people in this world who really don’t understand what we Christians mean by “being saved.”  Unfortunately, that includes some Christians as well.  To someone who has not been in Christian circles, or are new Christians, this might be a bit confusing.  I want to take an opportunity to explain salvation.

Let’s start at the beginning.  When God created mankind (Adam and Eve), He created them perfect.  That means that they had not rebelled against God or disobeyed Him; that’s what we call “sin.”  Because they had no sin, they were able to have a direct relationship with God.  He communed with them physically as well as spiritually.

But God created them with “free will.”  This means that they could choose how they lived.  Some might wonder why God would create people with this ability since it was up to Him.  I like to think of it this way.  In order to have true respect, devotion, and love for someone, you must have a choice in the matter.  If you are compelled to be dedicated to them, these characteristics are not involved; you are a slave to the other person’s desires.  With that in mind, God created mankind with the ability to choose their actions so that when they showed Him their love, He would know it was true.

Of course, the other side of free will is that they also had the ability to choose to disobey and rebel against God.  Unfortunately, for all mankind, they did.  Because Adam and Eve did not obey God in the very beginning, the whole world, including all people throughout history, have been born with this rebellion.  We call that the “sin nature.”  In Romans 5:12, speaking of Adam, the Bible tells us…

Romans 5:12
(12)  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

So, what is the implication of this sin nature?  That means that everyone, with only one exception which we will get to later, has sinned (remember that means rebelled against God).  Because we have all sinned, we cannot have a relationship with God.  Why?  Because He is holy, that means “set apart” and without sin; and because He is holy, He cannot have a relationship with sinful people.  If He did, it would corrupt His holiness, and would make Him less than God (but, that’s another discussion).  For this article, what is important to know is that sin in a person’s life separates them from God.  This separation is called “spiritual death,” and is the penalty for our rebellion against God.

Romans 6:23
(23)  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Another thing that is very important to understand at this point is that God loves us, His creation.  He created us to have a relationship with Him; that is our whole purpose for existence.  So how do we resolve the situation?  Since we are sinners, how can we have the relationship with a holy God that He desires?  It may be hard to understand, but God knew that mankind would sin and that sin would destroy the close relationship they had at the very beginning.  God knew this even before He created mankind.  But God knows everything so, from the beginning, He had a plan to provide a way to re-establish that relationship.

God’s plan required a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.  There was certainly no single person who could provide that sacrifice, because we are all corrupted by our sin.  So, God had to send someone who would be independent of the sin nature, but live the same life that mankind lived.  To fulfil that requirement, God sent His only begotten son (that means produced from Himself, also another discussion).  Jesus was sent to the earth to live as a man, to live a perfect life, to be the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.  Jesus was, and is, the only begotten Son of God.  Jesus is at the center of salvation.

John 3:16
(16)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus lived a perfect life (no sin); He’s the only one who ever has and who ever will be able to do that.  He continued in His obedience to the Father even to His death on a Roman cross.  He did this to pay the penalty for all the sins that mankind has ever committed, and ever will commit.  The sinless Son of God became sin and died on the cross for us .  If the salvation story ended there, it would still leave us without a relationship with God.

But God raised Jesus from the grave; brought Him back to life.  Through the power God gave Him, Jesus conquered physical death.  This was God saying, I accept the sacrifice, and mankind’s sin debt is now paid in full.  Not only did Jesus defeat physical death (because all who are saved will receive a new body and live with Him in heaven), but He defeated spiritual death as well.  That means that believers (those who are saved) can have a relationship with God in this life as well.  So, salvation is the ability to have a relationship with God now, spiritually; and have eternal life with Him in heaven.

1 John 5:11
(11)  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

So, there is still a question.  How does a person get this salvation?  It’s not something you can earn; it’s not something you deserve; it’s not something you can buy.  It is given as a free gift from God.  All you have to do is ask for it?

Ephesians 2:8
(8)  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

As with any other gift, you have to receive it and open it before you can enjoy the benefits of it.  It’s available to everyone, but you have to believe what is written in God’s word about Jesus and the gift, then you have to make Jesus Lord of your life.  You must become a Christian.  The Bible tells us:

Romans 10:9
(9)  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

The great thing is that once you are “saved” according to the way God intended, you can never lose that salvation.  God tells us:

1 John 5:13
(13)  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Living the life of a Christian is an ongoing learning experience as you explore this new spiritual relationship with the creator of the universe.  He becomes your Heavenly Father, and you become His child.  As you learn what that means, you will strive to do what God wants you to do.  How better to do grow and develop than by joining and attending a Bible believing church that preaches and teaches God’s word.

We at the Baptist Church at Park Glen strive to be that kind of body of believers; believers who have banded together into a church what is strong in faith and the doctrine found in God’s word.  If you are in the area, come by and visit with us to see if that’s not the case.  If you don’t live close enough and you have questions about this article and what it means, either comment here, or send me an email at  This decision is too important for you to leave to chance.


John 6:15

Why would the people want to make Jesus a King?  They were Jews and were looking for a leader who would defeat the Romans and liberate them.  They were looking for the Messiah.  Did they recognize Jesus at the Messiah that day?  Maybe, but in my mind, I see other possibilities as well.

What is one of man’s most basic needs and desires?  Food, of course.  Can you imagine following someone who would make sure you had all the food you wanted every meal?  I can just see what is going through the minds of the crowd that witnessed the feeding of the five thousand that day.  “If he was our leader, he could feed us every day and we wouldn’t have to work so hard.  If he was king, he could feed all the people and we could stop having to submit to those barbaric Roman soldiers.”

In looking for the Messiah, they would also be looking for someone with power.  What incredible power it must have taken to make food out of nothing.  They might have been saying, “If he has the power to make food out of nothing, what other power might he have?  He just might have enough power to rid us of these Roman invaders.”

Even if they thought He was the Messiah, their expectations were all wrong.  The Kingdom Christ was here to establish was not an earthly one; it was a spiritual one.  It was not a Kingdom where He would sit on a throne in Jerusalem and mete out justice and judgment.  Honestly, that would be too restrictive for the One who would establish a worldwide kingdom.

You know what I see as the common theme in each of these speculations and expectations?  It is, what is in it for me.  These people were looking to Jesus to provide for them, and He was more than capable of doing that if that is all He was sent to earth to accomplish.  But Jesus was not sent here just to provide for the physical needs of mankind; He was sent to provide for our spiritual needs.  What is man’s greatest spiritual need?  It is a relationship with a Heavenly Father.

I love the picture of God in heaven looking down on me as a loving and benevolent father.  It makes me want to know more about Him.  And it makes me want to please Him more.  When these people looked at Jesus, do you think that is what they saw?  When you consider Jesus, is it what you see?  Is it what you want?

Jesus is the path God provided for us to have a relationship with Him.  Had Jesus allowed Himself to become king, do you think He would have been able to become the way, the truth, and the life?

But He does want to be king; only it is not an earthly king on a throne.  He wants to be the king of your heart and life.  Are you ready to make Him that?

A Pastor’s Priorities

It may be interesting for you to know that a pastor’s church is not at the top of a pastor’s priority list, or at least it shouldn’t be from a Biblical perspective.  Sometimes, we (meaning church members and pastors) need to be reminded of that.  So, if his church is not a pastor’s top priority, what is?

Here is the way I try to line things out in my life, and I believe it is healthy and scriptural.

  • God
  • Family
  • Church
  • Everything else

I think it is pretty clear that God intends for us to put Him first.  Now, there are a lot of things that go into Him as the top priority.  The things that come to mind are remembering Him in all actions and deeds throughout the day, spending time in conversation with Him (prayer), and Bible study.  I know these are just a few, but they seem to be the most important to me at this time in my life, and they are the ones I actively work on.  I’m sure God will reveal other things He wants me to work on as my relationship with Him grows and strengthens.

It may come as a surprise to some people that I believe family comes before the church.  There are several reasons for that, but keep in mind that God instituted the family before He instituted the church, so it must be important to Him.  Combine that with the passages of scripture that compares Jesus’ relationship to the church to the one between a husband and wife and you get a more definitive idea that this marriage relationship is important.  And, this relationship is the core of the family.  The Bible tells us that our children are a blessing to us; and as that blessing, we are to take seriously the assigned task of raising them with knowledge and respect for God.

Then comes the church.  Yes, I am extremely thankful that God directed me to the Baptist Church at Park Glen, and I pray constantly that I make the right decisions and provide the right guidance.  This church is God’s mission and ministry for me and I take this responsibility very seriously.  The people who make up this church are constantly on my mind.  The facilities we use (the church building) occupy time that I wish I could dedicate to other, more spiritual, things.  But this is the life I have been called into, and I accept it with all joy and enthusiasm.  Even if I was not pastor of this church, I would still want to attend, serve, and be part of a church.

Everything else in life comes after these three – work, play, and everything else you might think important – should give way when they conflict with the other three.  Sometimes, we don’t want to do that, but it is the way God intended it to be.

So, you might ask why I write this blog at this time.  Well, the situation I am in is not always easy.  You might think pastors don’t have anything to worry about, but you would be wrong.  I have a family situation that has me in a difficult position.  I have to choose between my responsibilities as a pastor and the love of a father.  Some think my responsibilities as a pastor should dictate my actions toward my family.  As I have described above, I do not believe that is what God intends, and here’s why.

As I model my life with my family on the relationship that God has with us, His children, I believe that love is the overriding factor.  God loves us in spite of how we act.  If you are honest with yourself, you know there are things that you do of which God would not approve.  Those things affect your relationship with Him and continue to affect that relationship until you go to Him, confess them, and repent of them.  And the thing is, God will do this for you as often as you go to Him.  He does not put a limit on the things He will forgive, or the number of times He will forgive them.  I want you to note, however, that as He reveals those things to you, and as you repent of them, He does not want you to continue in that sin.  The key is that you be willing to go to Him and admit your mistake.  His love for you is so great that He never kicks you out of the family and is willing to restore the relationship.  Aren’t we glad we have a God that is so loving, tolerant, and forgiving?

If He is my model, then how could I do any less for my own family?  Yes, I have to take a stand on Biblical principles.  If you have been a parent any length of time, you know that there are things that children do that would not please God, and therefore go against the standards that the Bible says we must stand on.  When they do that, it affects their relationship with us.  It is hard for us to show and express the love for them as long as they are outside God’s will, but that does not mean we love them any less.

As a father, my heart yearns for my children to make right decisions.  I want them to reflect the Godly principles I have in my life and that I have tried to pass on to them.  When they do not, I have to take a stand, and sometimes, that stand is difficult – it breaks my heart.  I want the very best for my children, just like God wants the very best for me.  When they are in a time of rebellion, I look for any sign that they recognize that rebellion and are willing to make changes.  When I get a glimpse of remorse, I want to grab onto it and nurse it into true repentance.  If nursing that hope conflicts with what other people think I should do as a pastor, then I am sorry.  I will choose my family as long as I see that hope.  Is that not what God does for us?

As a pastor, I attempt to model that same love and respect for my church.  If a member is involved in something that goes against what is clearly outlined in scripture, I still love them even if I am unhappy and disappointed in their actions.  Their actions affect the relationship I have with them, and it generally affects the relationship they have with the rest of the church.  It is my responsibility to take a stand on what is right (and if I happen to preach on something that brings you conviction, I am glad for it, but I do not target messages to individuals).  And the messages I preach are always couched in the love I experience from my Heavenly Father.  Our relationship is affected as long as that rebellion and sin are in that member’s life.  But just as God is ready, willing, and able to forgive those things we do against His will, I stand ready, willing, and (with God’s help) able to forgive those things that affect my relationship with them.

Remember that we are all part of the same body.  When one part hurts, the rest hurt with them.  When one part is healed and restored, the rest of the body rejoices and finds peace.  It is important for us to pray for each other and to lift each other up.  Criticism and grudges only destroy what God has put in place.

God bless you all.


Pastor E.C.

One Approach to a Personal Intimate Prayer

I was tempted to title this article, How to Pray, but that implies there is only one way to pray. Clearly, because our prayers are intimate and personal, there is not a single way to approach God. This article is written based on something that works for me, and it might help you develop an approach that works for you.

To be clear, I am not talking about different channels to the ear of God because Scripture is very clear that Jesus is the only way we have access to the Heavenly Father. What I am talking about are different internal visual tools you might use to aid in your prayer life. The visuals I use are loosely based on the structure of worship and prayer found in God’s Word.

For example, when the people of Israel approached God in the wilderness, there were steps they had to go through to go into the presence of God. This is the way God established worship in the tabernacle, and it can be used as an example. First, there was the outer court. Here, much of the business of worship took place. It was the place where the people offered sacrifices for their sins. From there, priests would enter into the Holy Place where the candlestick and showbread were kept. This was reserved specifically for the priests, so it represents a more personal closeness to God. Finally, the High Priest alone would go into the Holy of Holies. This represents the most intimate contact with God.

Likewise, the Model Prayer found in Matthew, has different layers. The first is worship, followed by confession, then petitions. Sometimes it is easy to look at those stages, understand them intellectually, but find it difficult to implement personally. With that in mind, I want to tell you what helps me. Again, this is personal and may not work for everyone. The key is to find something that works for you, and be consistent.
When I enter into daily prayer, I first have to settle my mind and heart. We are all busy and there are many distractions in life, so I find it helpful to simply take a few seconds to shove those random thoughts swirling around in my mind out of the way and focus on my prayer. Once settled, I step through the door of the throne room of God.

It will take longer to write this, and longer for you to read it, than it does for me to picture it. Directly in front of me is a magnificent dais with steps leading up to the imposing throne. Upon that throne sets God in all His majesty. In my periphery, I see saints who have gone on before me worshipping Him; angels are also worshipping and singing His praises and are busy about doing the work He has assigned them; overhead, the stars in the sky twinkle and shine and make beautiful music to honor Him.

But my focus is on the One sitting on the throne. In Him, I see majesty, power, and strength. In His bearing, I see justice. He is the King that all other kings defer to. He is the Lord that all other lords submit to. He is the creator of all, and it is only by His will that everything stays in its place and performs it purpose. It is in this setting that I know He is worthy of all worship and glory. Here is where I praise Him for all He has done for me. As blessings come to mind, I lift up praise to Him as my gift to Him. In return, I find joy and excitement. But I also see mercy in His gaze as it rests on me, and I experience the unbounded love in those eyes.

That is when I take my next step toward the throne. Now, my vision changes. Gone are the worshippers. All that is in the room is the throne, but God is no longer on it. He is now standing in front of me. I see Him as my Heavenly Father. Still shining through those eyes is the love I know He has for me, but I also see concern and disappointment. You see, there are barriers between Him and me; barriers of sin and rebellion. It is time for me to confront my shortcomings, to see them for what they are, and to understand how they affect our relationship. These sins must be removed in order to fully experience His presence. As they are revealed to me, I confess them and ask for strength to not do them again. I don’t want to see the scolding in His eyes for those things again. Admittedly, there are faults I must address again, but I find that each time I confess them and see in His eyes how they affect Him, I find myself more resistant to their influence.

Finally, all the barriers are removed, all the sins confessed, and there is nothing between God and me. That’s when I see the smile on His face, and the joy in His eyes. And He opens His arms wide. I run into those arms for the hug of a father for a beloved child. As I enter His embrace, I step even closer to His throne. In that embrace, I find that my vision changes again.
God and I are sitting on the steps of the dais. We are no longer Father and child; we are now best friends, confidantes. We are in easy conversation as we exchange thoughts and ideas. Here is where I make my desires known. As we talk, I know that He knows more than my words; He knows my heart, the things I can’t put into words. We talk about my dreams and what I want to accomplish. I receive from Him positive feedback on those things that are within His plans. He directs my aspirations to things that will bring Him glory, and I am grateful. We talk about my cares in life; the situations I find myself in that I am not sure how to handle, and I wait for a sense of direction to come from Him. These are the close times that mean the most to me. This is why I come back every day, because there is nothing like the joy, peace and love I experience during this time.

As a pastor, I bring to His attention each of my church members. We are small now and I don’t know how I will handle it when God allows us to grow; but for now, I bring them one by one to Him and pray for them and ask for His blessings for each one. And, I bring to Him those prayer requests that have come my way. Sometimes they are people I don’t know, but I know the concern of the ones who brought them to me, so offer them to Him, also.

This is an intimate time that has become a vital part of my life and my ministry. The more I engulf myself in this kind of prayer, the stronger I feel; and in spite of my limitations, I have faith and trust that God will give me what I need to accomplish what He has given me to do. The prayer never truly ends, but other things intrude upon the moment. The tasks of life and the activities around me pull me back into the life He has set before me. The difference now is that through His strength, I know I can handle it.

John 2:1-11

This story recorded for us in John holds some interesting thoughts for us. We have to be careful to understand them without letting them carry our imaginations too far afield.

Jesus had just completed an intensely spiritual event in His life. He had moved from the shadows of anonymity into the scrutiny of flawed man’s expectations. In the scriptures recording part of Jesus’ life, we were able to begin to see who He was, and who He is to us today.

After such a spiritual episode, we find Jesus enjoying some rest and participating in people’s daily lives. Even in this setting, He still manages to maintain His spiritual standing without dampening the festivities. From that, we can surmise that we as believers are expected to enjoy ourselves as we go about our lives. There are things in life worth celebrating, and we shouldn’t become so stodgy that we suppress the enjoyment for others. Believers, I encourage you to laugh a little, lighten up, and enjoy fellowship with other people. I have seen too many Christians who think they should be stiff and “spiritual” in everything they do. Just because it’s fun doesn’t make it wrong. I love getting together with Christian friends over a friendly board game. It gives us a chance to visit with each other, laugh over events of life, and how fickle the game can be. There is a comradery in the fellowship because of a common Savior.

Of course, there are activities that I believe Christians shouldn’t be involved in. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a believer to drink. Some Christians have no problem with it, and they point to occasions like the one in our story to support their perceived freedoms. There are a lot of reasons why I discount their argument, but the main one is that we as believers are to be different than the world. When we allow our daily lives to be so mingled with worldly activities that there’s not a distinction between us and the world, then how are people supposed to recognize we have something they don’t? Besides that, what does drinking get you that you can’t get with a heart full of joy? And joy is a blessing from God, not something you can manifest from a worldly perspective. You can have fun without participating in something that some people would find objectionable. I will be the first to admit that this is a personal conviction, but I also believe that it is based on sound Bible study and principles.

Another thing I thought was interesting was the interaction between Jesus and Mary. Before His earthly ministry began, I expect that Jesus subjected Himself to His mother’s leadership. I would expect nothing less considering several admonitions in scripture that children are to obey and honor their parents. When Mary brought the need to Jesus, it’s hard to know what she expected to happen, but it’s clear she thought Jesus could do something about it. Jesus’ response can seem a bit off-putting, like He was dismissing her. I want you to consider, however, that what Jesus said was not necessarily mean, but it did have a tone of rebuke in it. It was like Jesus was saying, “We need to begin to separate the roles we’ve played in the past. Yes, I am your son, but I have moved into an important phase of my earthly ministry. It’s not appropriate for you to make the kinds of demands on me that you’ve made before. In the grand scheme of my work, you are no more than any other believer.”

Before you say that I have read a bit more into this exchange than was meant, I think it’s important to remember a couple of things. Mary is not the holy one here. She’s important only in that she was a righteous young woman that found favor with God so was tasked with baring and caring for His only Son. She had fulfilled that role admirably, and now it was time for her to move out of the spotlight and let go of her control. Just as David recognized Jesus as Lord, Mary must recognize Jesus as her Lord.

We also have to remember that God is no respecter of persons. Had Jesus shown more deference to Mary, it would’ve given the appearance that He does play favorites. What would that do to our doctrine of the availability of salvation to everyone? Some might take the favoritism to mean the God has already chosen who is to be saved, and that moves a bit farther toward Calvinism than I am comfortable with.

Notice that the men involved in this event promptly did what they were instructed to do. They didn’t know the outcome when they filled the barrels with water. They only knew that it was what they were supposed to do, and they accomplished their part. We as believers are expected to use our hands and feet for the work of God. Since we know that is our purpose, why do we hesitate so many times before taking the steps that are required of us?

As with any portion of scripture, there are positive things we should take from this story. Each time a passage is studied, it has more to teach us. In just this short discussion, there are three things we as believers can glean.

1. It is OK, and we are expected, to enjoy life. After all, it was God who gave life to us and He wants the best for us.

2. Our goal should be to make Jesus the Lord of our lives more and more each day, just like Mary was expected to.

3. We should be responsive to do the God directed actions we know are right, and we should do them promptly.