The excellency of our God—Amid the cold of winter

Look what I found this morning!

A substantial snow—by Alabama standards—blanketed the Birmingham area yesterday. This morning, while there are icy road issues in some places, the snow is still powdery, white, and beautiful as it covers everything!

I have heard that the rose is considered the most “perfect” of all flowers. So, since Jesus is absolutely perfect in every way He is often referred to as a Rose.

Isaiah 35:1-2 came to mind:

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
Even with joy and singing.
… They shall see the glory of the Lord,
The excellency of our God.

While the snow in Birmingham has covered everything and it looks pure, white, and clean, the dirt is just covered up. That’s what we try to do sometimes, isn’t it? We try to clean up or cover up our sin, and fail. The Good News for Christ-followers is that Jesus Christ took our sin and the wrath we deserve upon Himself.

Look at the picture again and you will see the dirt showing throught the breaks in the snow.

The rose here, although a deep pink, seems to represent the shed blood of Christ through which we have been saved from our sin and futile attempts to get ourselves cleaned up.

The green stem represents the stem of Jesse (Isaiah11:1 KJV) which points to Jesus coming to earth and living as fully God and fully man. I’ve heard it said that leaves represent God’s truth, which is the Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God that makes us a new creation—gives us new life in Christ!

A wonderful old by Robert Lowry comes to mind, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

And, of course, one of my favorite Christmas Carols—and sadly not very well known by many Christ-followers today— also comes to mind, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.”

Following are the first and second verse lyrics (go online to hear this beautiful carol):

*Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From, tender stem hath spring!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sun.
It came, a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half-gone was the night.

This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor,
The darkness ev’ry where.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

There is a beautiful arrangement “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming/The Rose**” by Craig Hella Johnson (find it online to listen). The ending combines this carol and song painting a beautiful image of Jesus Christ, our Savior!

Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
     From sin and death he saves us,
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes the rose
     And lightens ev’ry load.

*Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, Words: 15th Century German; st. 1, 2, translation Theodore Baker, 1851-1934; stanza 3 translation Harriet Krauth Spaeth, 1845-1925
**The Rose, Amanda McBroom, Lincoln Mayorga

“The fact that God can bring good out of evil only underscores the power and excellence of His sovereign will.” Tim Keeter

TIM KEETER joins us today at 2:00 PM to discuss, “Suffering: The Gift No One Wants.” You will not want to miss hearing Tim speak about the things the Lord taught him, and continues teaching him, through his cancer.

ToTT logoLive-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 PM Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

The Ultimate Gift of Christmas

purple-christmas-gift

Today on “Think on These Things” we will be discussing “The Ultimate Gift of Christmas.”

 

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is THE ULTIMATE GIFT—JESUS CHRIST!

We will be discussing the difference the Ultimate Christmas Gift, Jesus Christ, makes in our lives on a day-to-day basis.

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Live-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 PM Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

 

A Nonagenarian Marine’s Wisdom

veterans-dayA couple of years ago, I stopped at a fast-food restaurant to eat breakfast and prepare for a Bible study I was teaching that evening. Sitting at a table across from me were two men, one in his early 90’s and the other in his 30’s. The elderly gentleman was in a wheel chair, his voice raspy, his gray hair yellowed, his skin weathered and wrinkled. The men were talking about the Veteran’s Day parade they hoped to be able to enjoy later that day. The parade in Birmingham, Alabama is the oldest and largest Veteran’s Day parade in the country.

I had my laptop out and was typing notes about “thankfulness” until the following exchange caught my attention. (I began typing furiously so I could remember the exchange. The Southern gentlemen spoke slowly which helped me get it all down.)

“I wish I could march, or even shuffle, in the parade. Guess those days are long gone.” the elderly man said wistfully.

“You couldn’t pay me enough to walk all that way,” proclaimed the younger man.

“I would give almost everything but my soul to march alongside my fellow veterans,” replied the elderly man.

With a look of confusion on his face, the young man said, “Your soul! What do mean?”

With this question, the elderly man perked up a bit, “Your soul is the sum of your heart and mind. It is that part that Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected to save from eternal death.”

“Pops you are a strange old man, but I love you,” the young man retorted.

At this point tears began streaming down the elderly man’s cheeks, making the younger man extremely uncomfortable, “Come on Pops, quit crying. Let’s enjoy our breakfast and not have another one of our (making the ‘in quotes’ sign with his fingers) ‘discussions.’”

“Mike (not his real name), I don’t want a discussion, I want you to sit still and listen carefully to your great-granddaddy. It is so sad that you do not understand sacrifices.”

“Yes I do!” protested Mike.

Pops continued, “Please listen. You see, if you understood what sacrifice is, you would indeed want the privilege of marching alongside those who had sacrificed and put their lives on hold to serve in the military; to march with those who were not killed during the war.”

“Well, everyone didn’t always go willingly, many were drafted!” mocked Mike.

“Yes, you’re right,” was Pops’ pensive reply. “Yet, drafted or volunteered, their sacrifice was equal and worthy of our gratitude and respect.”

The somber change in his great-granddaddy’s tone caught Mike’s attention, “I’m listening.”

At this point Pops began speaking adamantly, “If you understood the battles that were fought during the wars, you would understand sacrifice. Military men and women fought to give you and your children freedom. Freedom to own a home and a car, get a good education, come here for breakfast, criticize your government, vote into office those in whom you think the future of our nation can be entrusted, and to do so many other things. The most important of these freedoms, not that we will have it for long though, is the freedom to sit here in the open and talk with you about my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, to freely worship Him!”

Mike shot one of those dismissive “here he goes again” looks.

Pops lovingly admonished, “Mike, I know you don’t want to believe that there is a God Who is over all things and Who sent His only Son to die on the cross. But whether you believe it or not—HE DID! Because of His death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven all those who believe on Him as Savior and Lord will be free from the hold of satan, the bondage of sin, and eternal punishment in hell.”

“Pops, I thought we were talking about Veteran’s Day, not GOD!”

Original oil painted by Christine Lewis
Original oil painted by Christine Lewis

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
(John 15:13 NKJV)

“Can’t talk about Veteran’s Day without talking about sacrifice. Can’t talk about sacrifice without talking about the greatest sacrifice, Jesus. The sacrifice of the veterans is a picture, flawed and incomplete as it is, of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Christ died to take our sin and punishment so we can walk in the freedom of God’s grace. Veterans serve and many give their lives so that Americans can walk in the freedom that is America. BUT, until you, the American people, and the government come to understand that God is in control and that He is to be worshiped, praised, and served, our freedom will be incomplete!”

Sadly, I had to leave for work, but as I passed by their table, I stooped down so I was eyeball to eyeball with Pops and said, “In what branch did you serve?”

Pops proudly replied, “I’m a Marine!”

I was so excited to hear that, and said, “My dad was a Navy corpsman attached to the 3rd Marine Division on Iwo Jima and Guam. Thank you for your service to our country, and more importantly, our God!”

“Semper Fi!” Pops said in a raspy, broken voice. Both of us had tears free-flowing down our cheeks as he began to sing various lyric portions of “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates.

“America! America! God mend thy every flaw, Confirm my soul in self-control.”

“America! America! May God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine!”

I could barely hear the Marine as he asked me to join him in praying that God would have mercy on our country, because several people around us began standing and applauding. I turned his wheelchair around so he could see what was happening. As he looked around, different ones nodded and said, “Thank you.”

AMEN AND AMEN!!

Please take time today and every day to thank all the veterans and their families with whom you come in contact. And more importantly, our Savior and Lord Jesus Whose blood paid the price for your eternal freedom!

Paul and Women in Ministry – Wrap-up

Today we wrap-up our 25-episode series on “Paul and Women in Ministry.” Join us today for a wrap-up and review of the past 24 weeks.

Within these discussions we have talked about how important it is for every Christ-follower to be actively involved in a local church.

A special thank you to four godly and amazingly gifted women whom I have the privilege of calling sisters in Christ and friends:  Lauri Bucci, Patsy Howard, Harriet Michael, and Phyliss Wright. Thank you for giving your time to join us in these discussions, as you shared testimonies of God’s grace in your lives, and told about how you are currently serving Him.

ToTT logoLive-stream, listen, or watch at 2:00 PM Central.

Live-stream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 40

What is the big deal about Easter?

ToTT logoThe world and the church celebrate Easter.

So, what is the big deal about Easter?

Well, it isn’t that the Easter Bunny is coming!

Join us today on “Think on These Things” as we discuss  the real reason we celebrate Easter.

Livestream, listen, or watch at 2:00 p.m. Central.

Livestream at: gleniris.net

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM or:
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody / Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV Channel 47

 

Christmas Carols

Those of you who know me, understand how much I love music as an expression of worship. As I play the piano or sing, the notes are my expressions of awe, love and gratitude to the Sovereign God of the Universe. Music is my way of pouring out my heart, in prayer and praise to the Lord.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Today on “Think on These Things” we will looking at “Christmas Carols.” Using Scripture and carols (hymns) we will look at Prophecy and the Fulfillment of Prophecy.

You may be surprised at some of the Scripture and Carols that we include in our discussion!

Listen or watch at 2:00 p.m. Central.

Listen locally on WGIB 91.9 FM, or:
91.9 FM – Birmingham
92.3 FM – Springville
101.5 FM – Columbiana
106.1 FM – Moody/Odenville
106.1 FM – Jasper
107.9 FM – Tuscaloosa

Watch on WAY-TV channel 47

Stream it live at: gleniris.net/WGIB

Are you still remembering the SACRIFICE…

Now that the 2015 Memorial Day observance is completed, are you still remembering the heroes who sacrificed their lives so that our
nation would remain free? Or, did you pack away those patriotic memories and feelings so you can easily access them again on July 4th?

Are you still remembering the SACRIFICE…
…of the Heroic Soldiers?

Total commitment is what President Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he spoke these words during the dedication of the Soldiers’
National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers
brought forth on this continent,
a new nation,
conceived in liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal.”

President Lincoln helped the audience be cognizant of the heroes’
sacrifice as they remembered the past, recognized the present
situation, and looked to the future. They were reminded of the
reasons for breaking ties with England and signing the Declaration of Independence that established the new nation, under God, upon the concept of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The President explained that the “great civil war” was being fought to test the country’s ability to endure.

Lincoln reminded them of the unfinished work of the nation and
admonished the living to dedicate themselves to continue the work so that this “nation, under God” would endure and not “perish from the earth.”

Are you still remembering the SACRIFICE…
…of our Merciful Savior?

Just as President Lincoln’s address prompted his audience to remember the past, recognize the present situation, and look to the future, we as Christ-followers must do the same.

Before we became Christ-followers we were sinful people at odds with holy God—we were spiritually dead!

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.      -Jesus of Nazareth (John 15:13)

This is, of course, is referring to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross when sinless Jesus Christ stepped in and did what we could not do. Now, Christ-followers are redeemed, free to live as His children, new creations being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit as we rest in the finished work of Christ. And, we have the glorious assurance of eternal life with Christ!

So, what must we remember about SACRIFICE?

The unfinished work of our nation will not be completed by America’s military.

“…We are resolved to stand firm against those who would
destroy the freedoms we cherish…”
  
– President Ronald Reagan

Each one of us must also sacrifice as we fight the subtle war that threatens our nation, the spiritual, economic, and political battles we face daily to maintain the often taken for granted freedoms we now enjoy.

Thankfully, the work of our redemption in Christ Jesus is finished! However, we must remain cognizant the Ultimate Sacrifice—Jesus Christ—Who gave His life so that in Him we would have freedom that brings eternal life, and freedom to walk in the newness of life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith,
act like men, be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

As our grateful response for this sacrifice, Christ-followers present themselves as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1), giving Him 100% of themselves as they serve Him.

May you be strengthened with all power,
according to his glorious might,
for all endurance and patience with joy.
Colossians 1:11

*All Scripture passages are from the New King James Version of the Bible.