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Dear Mr. Trump…

6 May

I have been a lifelong Republican.  Originally, I identified with that party because my parents did. As I got older, I began to listen, pay attention, study the issues. I still came out Republican. For several reasons:

First of all, I am pro-life. I believe that life begins at conception. I believe that God does not condone the taking of a life before it’s even had a chance. I am against the idea of murder in the name of convenience. I don’t understand the pro-choice movement and never will. Why would someone make it their choice to kill someone?

Now, that being said, Mr. Trump, that does not mean I condone some of the violent, ugly protests I have often seen in support of the pro-life movement. Not at all. As a Christian, I believe in grace and speaking the truth in love. I believe that more time ought to be spent attempting to minister to and counsel those who would consider abortion rather than shouting them down in an ugly fashion.

And I believe that our government should not condone such a horrible thing as abortion. For that reason, I vote candidates who are pro-life.  I vote for people that will hopefully eventually get us to a point of the repeal of Roe versus Wade.

I’m just not sure that’s you, Mr. Trump. You have changed your position several times on this issue. You have voiced support of Planned Parenthood because of the “other services” they provide to women (the truth being that there are many other organizations that provide similar services WITHOUT funding abortions and NO government agency should, in my humble yet correct opinion, be involved in such a heinous act). You say you’re pro-life now but as far as I’m concerned, your credibility is shot on that issue.

And then, Mr. Trump, I am opposed to gay marriage. I do believe that according to scripture, homosexuality is wrong. No, I am not a hateful person and no, I am not a bigot. I have friends who are gay who know perfectly well where I stand. I do not constantly preach to them about their lifestyle but rather try to take a more Jesus-centered approach in my day to day dealings with them.  Jesus ate with those whom led lifestyles that He opposed. But He did not condone their actions. I try to do the same.

My main reason for opposition for gay marriage on a legislative level has to do with Amendment 10 which states basically any issues not addressed in the Constitution would be left to the individual states. The Supreme Court, in illegally legislating from the branch, basically violated that amendment.

Of course, you agree with me on this issue from everything I have read. So then the question remains as to why you have given money to candidates that are clearly in favor of it (and by the way, also pro-choice)?  If you are pro-life and opposed to gay marriage, why would you support a candidate who isn’t? It makes no sense, Mr. Trump, and quite frankly, bothers me.

I have been a Republican because I believe in small government and more power given to the states. I believe that is constitutionally correct. This is the one time I will say something towards you that may not have any merit.  I feel like you don’t understand the Constitution. Your way of articulating issues has focused on bullying others and saying very little about what you would actually do.  Ted Cruz understands the Constitution. Marco Rubio understands the Constitution. Jeb Bush understands the Constitution. They challenged you on this. You responded by putting them down and really not answering questions.  Not very presidential, Mr. Trump.

As you can tell, I am very concerned about you. It frankly scares me that you are going to be the Republican nominee. I don’t see you as much different as your opponents. In fact, at least I’m sure where Hillary stands (and strongly disagree with her in every possible way). I am not sure what you will do with almost any given issue. That bothers me.

And it is for that reason that at this point, you do not have my vote. Neither does Hillary. Neither does Bernie. I will not sit home on election day. I will vote for someone. Just not the three of you.

These are my opinions and not the opinions of my congregation. I may talk about what the Bible has to say on some issues but I do not tell people from the pulpit how to vote.  In fact, I have one man that I hold in very high esteem and love dearly in my church that will be voting for you.  He is a man of character and honor. I have several friends, including my relatives, who will be voting for you.  I love them all. On this point, we just disagree.

Furthermore, please understand that I do not speak as a “perfect little Christian”. There’s plenty of dirt in my life. I have seen the wrong side of a jail cell and at one point, I was probably the worst husband in Texas. But I am redeemed and while I still have failings, I get back up each time and walk to Jesus.

And I want a candidate who will do the same thing. Not just tell me he ate the cracker, drank the juice, but has never done anything for which he has had to ask forgiveness.

So, Mr.Trump, how are you going to respond to this? Are you going to ignore it? I mean, after all, I’m just one citizen. Or are you going to have the character to say something in response? And if you choose to respond, is it going to be name-calling and insulting and therefore losing more credibility with me and others by refusing to address the issues mentioned? Or are you willing to face a voter and address these things.

That’s right, Mr. Trump, I’m inviting you to visit with me. In person. I am inviting you to First Baptist Church of Lillian (you may even come unannounced) or just into my home to sit down for a civil discussion. I am asking you this not just to win me over. But I hope you know that there are people all over the country who have the same concerns (and more that I haven’t mentioned). It’s time you addressed them before the party I love implodes.

Because I am a Christian first, and a Republican second.

The ball is in your court now, Mr. Trump. I hope to hear from you.IMG_1424-0

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who Is Jesus?

28 Dec

He never wrote a book and yet,countless libraries are could be filled with volumes of books that have been written about Him. He never painted a picture or composed a play or symphony and yet, the world’s greatest art, the world’s greatest dramas, the world’s greatest music, the world’s greatest literature has Him as its source of inspiration. He was never in the military and yet,multiplied millions have died for Him. He never traveled very far from His birthplace; and yet, His testimony has gone around the world. He only had a handful of little followers that followed Him during His ministry; and yet, a countless number of people all over the planet profess to be followers of Jesus of Nazareth. A ministry of only three short yearsand yet, here we are, 2,000 years later, saying, “Jesus, Your name is wonderful”…because His name is wonderful He had no formal education. He didn’t attend the university or seminary; and yet, thousands of universities, and seminaries, colleges, and schools are built in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

A well known historian once said this: “Jesus has had more effect on the history of mankind than any other of His race who ever existed.”

To explain Jesus Christ is impossible.

To ignore Him is disastrous.

To reject Him is fatal.

To know Him is to love Him.

To love Him is to trust Him.

To trust Him is to be radically, dramatically, and eternally changed and transformed.

Human speech is too limited to describe Him.

The human mind is too small to comprehend Him.

The human heart can never totally absorb who Jesus Christ is.

Let’s look at Colossians 1:12-21…

12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in [l]heaven.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
Someone bearing this description must have priority in our lives.  He doesn’t just want it. He doesn’t wish for it. He deserves and demands it.  And there are three reasons in my mind as to why:

First, Jesus Reveals the Father

Verse 15 refers to Jesus as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

God is Spirit. He is invisible, unfathomable, unapproachable. How are we going to know Him?

Through Jesus.

He is “the image of the invisible God.” The visible Jesus makes the invisible God known.

How are you going to get to  know God?

Not by reason.

Not by religion.

Not by ritual.

You’re going to know God only by revelation, and Jesus Christ came to reveal God to you and me. You can never fully know God the Father apart from God the Son.

Now, look again at verse 15: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature”

Concentrate on those two words: image and firstborn.

I don’t like to talk about the Greek much during my sermons but it is necessary here. The word “image” is the Greek word eikon. If you have a computer, you have icons on your computer. It means a “a representation.” Now, Jesus is the icon of God. The Greek word means “the exact representation.” Jesus is the express image of the invisible God. He is the eikon of God. In Colossians 2:9 we read: “For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). All of God was in Bethlehem’s stable. He is the eikon—the express image—of God.

You want to know God?

Look to Jesus.

That’s the only way you’re going to know God.

Matthew 11:27:

All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

He says basically “Nobody knows My Father but Myself, and you can’t know Him unless I introduce Him to you.”

Jesus is the express image of God. You’re never going to figure God out.

How can the finite understand the infinite?

Not by reason, but by revelation.

Any other god that you worship is the god of your guesses, and that’s a form of idolatry. Y

ou don’t conjure up some god to worship him. J

esus came to reveal the Father.
“Well, Pastor Rick, that’s narrow-minded.”

I am so sick of hearing that. It’s a phrase that is used often by liberal society when it comes to talking about Jesus.

Well, as Dr. Adrian Rogers once said, “You could be so broad-minded that your mind gets thin in the middle, be so open-minded that your brains may fall out.”

I want my doctor to be narrow-minded. I don’t want him to say, “Well, you’re sick. Here are 10 bottles of medicine. Let’s just take one of them and see what happens.” I want my airplane pilot to be narrow-minded, and not try to land with the landing gear up. I want my banker to be narrow-minded. And I think it’s important to have some certainty in our understanding about God.

Again, you can’t know the Father apart from Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn’t say, “I’m a way”; He said, “I am the way.”

He didn’t say, “I am a light”; He said, “I am the light. I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

He was God in the flesh.

He was both God and man. Now, on His mother’s side, He got thirsty; on His Father’s side, He said, “I am the water of life.” On His mother’s side, He got hungry; on His Father’s side, He took a little lad’s lunch and fed 5,000. On His mother’s side, He was homeless, and didn’t have a place to lay His head; on His Father’s side, He owned the cattle on a thousand hills. On His mother’s side, He wept at the grave of Lazarus; on His Father’s side, He said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and raised him from the dead. He was God in the flesh.

Look at the word firstborn there, in verse 15. Now, don’t get the idea that firstborn implies a beginning. Jesus never had a beginning. There never was a time when Jesus was not. Jesus said, over there, in the Gospel of John, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Not, “I was”—“I am.” He is the great “I AM.” He never had a beginning. He has always existed in a state, never a start. He didn’t have His beginning at Bethlehem.

Jesus reveals the Father. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn, the highest of all creation and above all creation.

But secondly, Jesus rules the future.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him”—now, watch this—“to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:16–20).

Now, what is this talking about? It’s talking about One who rules the universes, One who not only has this whole world in His hands, but He has the past, the present, the future in His hands.

People ask, “What is the world coming to?” Answer: “It’s coming to Jesus—it is coming to Jesus.” All things were created by Him, and for Him, and it will all climax in the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is the power of Creation. The little baby in Matthew 1 is the mighty God of Genesis 1. There was nothing made without Him. John tells us, “All things were made by him” (John 1:3).

What about evolution?

If evolution is true, you have problems with the Scripture. If the Bible can’t tell me where I came from, then how can it tell me where I’m headed?

If there’s no creation, then there is no Adam and Eve.

If there is no Adam and Eve, there is no Garden of Eden.

If there was not a Garden of Eden,there was no fall into sin.

And, if there was no fall into sin, there was need for a new birth.

But Jesus said, in John 3: “You must be born again” (John 3:7). If Genesis 3 is a myth, so is John 3 .

Face it. He is the power of creation. It was all made by Jesus.

Do you think all of this just happened? Do you think it’s just by some random chance—it all came out of some sort of primordial ooze that came out of lifeless matter? In your own body, there are 300 trillion cells in the human body—all of them incredibly complex.  In each cell, you have rods known as chromosomes. And, in these chromosomes, you have genes, or your genetic makeup. And, that’s determined by something today that we call DNA. And, they look now at the DNA, and they say, “There’s a mind there. There’s intelligence there. There’s design there. There’s not randomness there.” In the DNA, in one cell—one cell, there is enough information printed in books, it would take 600,000 books to write down the code of the DNA that is in one of the trillions of cells in your body that determines your intellect, the color of your hair, your personality—all of those things, encoded right in there. Who did all of that? Jesus. “All things were made by him” (John 1:3). He is the power of creation.

He is the preserver of creation.

“He is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).

Do you know what the word “consist” means? They stick together. Jesus Christ is the glue of the galaxies. What is it that keeps it all from falling apart or coming apart? Jesus.

Jesus is the One who feeds the sun with its fuel. Jesus is the One who guides the planets in their orbit around the sun. Jesus is the One who has set out all of the stars. Talk about natural law—there’s no natural law. They’re the laws of Jesus that nature obeys. It is by Jesus that all things consist.

Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the [a]strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

In recent years, I have seen ads that say that you can actually apply and get a star named after you or for a friend.  Too late. Every one of the billions stars has already been named by Jesus.He is the preserver of creation. He guides it all.

Not only does Jesus reveal the Father, not only does Jesus rule the future, but He reconciles the fallen. That’s why He came.

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulless dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet hath he reconciled” (Colossians 1:18–21).

Think of it. God, the mighty Maker, died for man, the creature’s, Sin. You have to get it in its context. You have to understand what he’s talking about. He’s set you up. He’s telling you how great, how awesome, how mighty is Jesus. And then, he speaks of the blood of His cross. He died on a cross.

The One who made every seed, every limb, every tree—- actually died on a tree. The One who made the oceans, and the fountains, and the rivers, and the streams, said, “I thirst.” The One who flung that sun out into space is the One who was blistered by the noonday sun.

In the events of the Cross, His death and His deity are put together.

Other people have died; but friend, it’s His deity that makes His death meaningful. And, it is His death that makes His deity knowable. The two are together.
When Jesus created the universe, He did it with His Word. He said, “Let it be,” and it was; and, universes sprang from His fingertip. But, when He saved us, it took every drop of His blood. He didn’t have to do that.

Why did He do that? For me and for you.

He’s not the Jesus of some finger-thumping philosopher; He’s the Son of God, revealed in the pages of His Holy Word. He’s the One that took my sin—your sin, our sin—to the cross; and, there, made peace with the blood of His cross. And, on His cross, He took sinful man with one hand, holy God with the other hand, and reconciled God and man.

A woman was dying. They didn’t know who she was. She was in a hospital, apart from friends and family. They said, “Get a minister.” The minister came in, bent down, and whispered in her ear, “They say you’re dying. Have you made peace with God?” She shook her head. They huddled a while and came back. And the minister, wanting to press the point, said, “Dear lady, you’re dying. Don’t you think you need to make peace with God?” She shook her head again in the negative. The third time, they said, “You need to make peace with God.” She said, “No, I don’t. I am resting in the peace that Jesus has already made. I cannot make peace with God. Jesus made peace with the blood of His cross.” And, what we need to do is to enter into that peace by faith and trust the Lord Jesus.

Now, I’ve come to the end of the message. What is the bottom line? Listen to it—don’t miss it: “that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). Question to you: Does He have priority in your life?

When I got married, I made it clear to Danna and she made it clear to me that we were not number one in each other’s lives. We knew that in order to have a good marriage, that could not be so. Jesus had to have priority. It was the only way to have a good marriage.

As a father, I cannot make my daughters top priority. I must give Jesus that position. It’s the only way to be a good father.

As a Pastor, I cannot make my church top priority. Jesus must be at the top of my list.  It’s the only way to be a good Pastor.

Does Jesus Christ have the pre-eminence in your life? If not, what right do you have to call yourself a Christian? “That in all things”—everything—“he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). Who is Jesus? He is the Jesus of the Bible?

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