Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jesus is Still the Only Way

At the risk of sounding a bit 'preachy' on a blog, I want to go on record as saying, "Jesus is the only way for man's eternal salvation."  That seems so very simple and that is the point...it 'is' simple and man has complicated it. In honesty, I get very upset at man-made religions...especially those who detract from Jesus' and His salvific sacrifice on the behalf of lost humanity.

No more profound words ever came from the lips of the Savior of the World than when He said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me."  It is my understanding that, contained in this solitary verse, is the plan of God for every man.  In order to get into relationship, both now and in eternity with God, one must come through Jesus.  So what does that mean?

In short, Jesus became the ultimate, permanent sacrifice for the sin of man.  Everything we could not do within ourselves, Jesus did for us.  He was perfect and therefore was accepted as the ultimate sacrifice for all time.  Jesus was tempted in every facet of life and yet He was sinless.  He is the only man ever to live who has had not sin!

God laid upon the man, Jesus, the punishment or wrath that sin demands.  The wages of sin is death.  Because Christ died He paid the debt.  Because He rose again, He became the first fruits of all who trust in Him, giving hope of life eternal for all mankind.  Without Him, all our good deeds would be fruitless.  We cannot do a solitary thing to merit salvation.  Our good works are fruits of salvation and not a requisite for it.

Jesus said, "I am the door to the sheepfold."  There is no other way to get in.  I believe that Christ, while in the grave, preached to spirits in the prison of death. (Eph 4:7-10, 1 Pet 3:19)  This was, in my judgement, the Old Testament saints who will be saved and ultimately cleansed through Jesus' blood.  Further, those who overcome in the Tribulation will do so by washing their robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Christ).  All men throughout time will have to enter through the life, death and burial of Jesus Christ.  Salvation is by faith.  It was for the thief on the cross, the Ethiopian Eunuch, the Philippian Jailor and all who come to God.  There is joy in heaven when a sinner repents!

For those who are lost in sin; for those who are twisted up in religions of various kinds;  for those bound by legalistic ideas;  for all men every where, let me remind you that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  Instead of waiting to be forced to do that in eternity, why not bow today and confess Jesus as Lord of your life.  Ask Him to forgive you and He will...immediately.  Be baptized in His name 'because' He has forgiven you and receive the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide you.  

Men are seeking to find other ways to salvation.  Check out Oprah's message, denying that Jesus is the only way.  I wonder how many will be lost because of her?  Be careful not to buy into these evil seductions of the last days.

Keep Jesus as the focus of your life.  Follow Him...obey Him....imitate Him...and most of all give Him your life.  In the end that is all that really matters.

Be blessed on this beautiful day.

Pastor T  

PS.  Following are some great references for personal study.  John 3:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 4:12, Acts 5:29-32, Acts 8:37, Acts 10:43, Acts 13:38-39, 48, Acts 16:30-31, Rom 3:21-25, Rom 10:9-10, 1 John 4:15, 1 John 5:1


Friday, April 25, 2008

Christmas Lights in April

Just before Christmas this past year...and every year before that, we put our holiday lights up on the house, the yard and inside.  I remembered being so frustrated over the way those lights seem to love to tangle themselves up.  It took a long time to get them lined out this past Christmas, as I recall.

Why am I thinking of Christmas lights you might ask?  Because I just took the last of them down today.  That's right, the ones on the two evergreens by the garage.  When I took them down I bunched them up in a pile.  Looking at the pile, I could already see the tangle and already envision that same frustration that would occur next Christmas when I take them out and they have to be untangled.

This blog is about seeing more than the problem, anyone can do that.  This is about seeing the source of the problem.  It doesn't take rocket science for folks to quickly point out all that is wrong.  Seldom does anyone comment on that which goes right...that seems to be expected.  But when the sound squeaks, the air conditioner goofs, or the singer hits a sour one, everyone is quick to notice.  

Take it to the next level.  When someone makes a huge mistake (I have certainly made them) people tend to forget the 'leven-fifty other things that have been done correctly for numbers of years.  We human-beings are so prone to see the ugly.

Once we had an aerial photo of our home taken.  When we got the picture there was the house, the barn, the nice landscaping...and you want to know what someone noticed?  The first thing they said was look how uneven those lines are in the driveway.  Give me a break.

Let's talk about the source of the problem.  The source of my Christmas light tangle is the way I put them up in the spring or summer or...whenever I get good and around to it.  Your area of trouble likely has a source.  Most people in prison come from broken homes.  80% of men in prison had no relationship with their fathers.  Their crime is the trouble, the broken relationship the source.  Anger, fear, broken relationships, frustration, pain, and unforgiveness are often good places to look for the sources of trouble.  The trouble manifests itself in any number of ways...hostility, social drop-out, alcoholism, suicide, chronic depression, etc.

I think I shall either put my lights in the box in an orderly manner, or I shall prepare for frustration next winter about Christmas time.  Check your sources.

Pastor Tim 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Measuring Church Growth

"How is your church doing?"  That is a question I am often asked and it is a great question.  I appreciate the concern of people.  However, I have been around long enough to know what they mean.  When the above question is asked they really mean, "How many people are attending your church now?"  Most people have more tact than to ask that directly.  The reason is, as churches go, your numbers may be up or down depending on the current circumstances.  They don't want to be embarrassed if you were to say, "Oh, thanks for asking....we are down to about three (3) people now."  In reality true growth is not completely dependent on numbers alone, although it cannot discount them either.

If we were measuring 2x4's we would use a tape measure.  If we were measuring earthquakes we would use a Richter scale.  But how does one go about truly measuring the growth and productivity of a church?  Obviously, numbers is the most visible way but it may not be the most important way.  As a pastor, I find it equally important to see if people are growing spiritually, emotionally, maritally (if applicable), in values, in contextual theology, in service, in gifting, etc.  There are many area's to increase our capacity.  It is not enough to hit numbers of people, if there is not significant change occurring within them. A properly growing (physical) body must do more than put on weight.  There has to be improvement in coordination, balance, mentality, etc.  

For instance, a few years ago there was a pastor in Oklahoma who gave away $10 bills to every guest on Easter Sunday.  The reason?  So he could have the biggest number of guests in his particular denomination!  While I am all about getting people through the door...even giving $10 bills if I had them...it would be superfluous for the pastor to give folks his Easter number as evidence of his regular attendance.  (A hazard for some ministers)  Some tout their membership as their official number or a designation of the health of their church.  Perhaps that is appropriate.  I am not the authority on it...just tossing our somethings for us to consider.  Talking about running a marathon and running one is two different things.  You can own tennis shoes, subscribe to 'Runners Weekly' but never jog a day in your life and read your weekly during your daily lunch at McDonalds.  See the point?  Following are some thoughts I had about real measurements of actual church growth.  (It is pouring rain and I am stuck in a coffee shop...so I had a few minutes to consider some potential measuring devices.)

1.  How many people last year, were personally involved in a season of prayer and fasting that God had called them to?
2.  Announce a potluck dinner one time and count the attendees.  Next month, announce an off-night prayer-meeting one time and count the attendees.  Perhaps the number that represents the difference between the two numbers could be a useful measuring device.  (The lower the number...the better the church!?!)
3.  How may people in your church actually give 1/10th (tithe) faithfully? 
4.  How many sermons are designed for "patching holes" (fixing problems within the church) compared to preaching that is designed to bring sinners to repentance (pure evangelism)?
5.  Give the number of altar services in a given year where people are inclined to remain in prayer although it may be time for the normal dismissal.
6.  How many people volunteered for service...(missions, cleaning, mowing, prep work, behind the scenes, bus ministry, etc)...without there being a pastoral 'push' for the need?
7.  How many were baptized last year?  How much was given to Mission projects?
8.  Maybe we should take the number of converts in a given year and 'not' count them until two more years have passed.  If they are still there, they count!  This would eliminate momentary, excitable, temporary numbers which mean nothing or almost nothing.  "Flash-in-the-pan" anything....people, leaders, institutions are, in my opinion, little impressive to God.
9.  Perhaps we could come up with a point system that looks like this:
*  Ten points for every community wide project.
*  Five points for willingness to open the pulpit to someone with a different theological perspective.
*  Five points for every Bible study night that has at least 75% of the members present.
*  Two points for each person who personally volunteers for service on their own.
*  One point for every service that breaks the former attendance record.
10.  How many people are preparing for ministry...including people taking music lessons, going to school to be teachers, mentors, volunteers in summer camps, looking to make an eternal difference by serving others.

While I certainly appreciate the numerical growth in my own assembly, I am interested in total growth.  Much of real growth, I contend, is invisible.  Sometimes you even add by subtracting!  In the medical field, bodies are saved everyday by surgery.  This is simply some food for thought.  I am sure you can think of other 'measurements' for real growth of a church.  Put 'em on the blog.  

So..."How is your church doing?"  Mine can certainly do better, but I am grateful for the growth that has occurred in the last 12 months!

Pastor Tim

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lessons on Liberty from the Nursing Home...and Ms. Ruth

old lady

I went to see my grandmother in the nursing/rehab home.  The timing of my arrival coincided with the morning assembly for exercise.  A group of about twelve elderly people were sitting in a circle, my granny included, preparing to follow the instructions and demonstrations of the therapist. 

When the exercise devices were issued, the therapist handed one to me.  (Am I really looking that old?)  So...for the next hour I joined in one of the most fantastic experiences I have had in a long time.  Seriously!  We did knee bends, curls, 'row-boat', leg kicks and various other exercises in very slow motion and all from a sitting position.

The main attraction of the event was a spry little lady everyone knows as Ruth.  Ruth would encourage others with overt gestures, she would break out singing, she would make a fuss with the other residents.  She loving called one peer and 'old man'.  She laughed and clapped and sang!

It was her singing that captured me...especially when the therapist told me Ms. Ruth was 102 years old!  Wow!  (which was a word she used a few times too.)  I was sitting across from someone with a One Hundred and Two year old perspective.  Let me help you with that.  102 years ago Oklahoma was not yet a state; electricity was in very few homes; Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the U.S.; times we much simpler.  One thing for sure, she was more closely connected to the true roots of our nation's liberty than we are today.  Now about her song.

During one of the exercises Ruth, with her beautiful white hair and delightful smile, burst out singing "My country 'tis of thee...sweet land of liberty...of thee I see...land where my fathers died...land of the Pilgrim's pride...from every mountain side...let freedom ring."  I have to tell you it was beautiful.  I was enriched.  Wish you could have been there.

Early this morning I watched the news and saw that the government is going to mandate fast- food restaurants place the calories beside the food items!  They have 'chipped' our vehicles so 'Big Brother' can watch every where we go!  Corporate monopolies are buying up the American power of choice.  We are selling our souls and jobs to cheap labor in foreign countries!  Red tape entangles the entrepranuer who wants to start a business, build a house etc. with taxes, forms, fees, and generally needless regulations out the wazoo!  Parents have to 'sign in' when they go to the school their own taxes paid for and where their own flesh and blood is studying.  Want to go fishing?  You must buy a license, read a book of regulations, pay to license your boat...and sometimes pay to launch it.  Government has gotten out of control and the average American...who lives in the 'land of the free' is sabotaged at every turn.

So just where is this land of Pilgrim's pride and brotherhood and liberty?  I think you may have to go back 102 years or more to find it...or visit an exercise session at the nursing home.  They all seem more free than most.    



Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Don't Need God Any More! (rated mature)

I made a decision today, the biggest of my life.  Let me emphasize...'my' life!  It is a decision that may surprise you.  You see I have been a Christian since I was five years old.  I have been in more church services than most people go to in three lifetimes.  I have given 10% (plus) of my income every year to the church.  If you were to count the prayers I have prayed you would need extra batteries for your calculator.  My life has been one of mostly good deeds.  For more than twenty years I have put others needs ahead of my own through ministry.  But today is a day of change.  Today I figured I had done enough, prayed enough, been good enough to God that I could let Him chase me around if He wanted me, while I kinda do things my way.

To start with, I am abandoning all those hardcore commandments.  Remember the 'Big Ten'?  Man, what a cramp on my life.  Why is God taking all the fun out of life?  I mean...if I want to lift somebody's wallet so I can buy a new four-wheeler...big deal!  What if I want to spend weekends at the fishing hole, worshiping my new Skeeter Bass boat instead of enduring those boring church services.  I'd like to plant my backside on the couch and chill while all the Jesus people go to church.  I need the rest.  It might be nice to stay home and watch TV...might even smoke a cigar just to say I did!  It is about time I get to criticize the preacher on all the surface level stuff...the house he lives in the car he drives the nice suit he wears and all for that cush little, stress free job he has.  Wonder if he puts in more than four or five hours a week...while the good old boys bust their butts just barely eeking by.  See...I'm pretty good already.  This is nice!  Hey while I'm at it, a peek at a chick-flick won't hurt!  Those babes are hot!  Who cares man...I don't need God anymore.  I have decided to do things 'my' way for once.  I may have old Frank Sinatra's song played at my funeral, "I did it my way!"  (Or was that Elvis)  Marriage?  You have got to be kidding.  Marriage is God's big joke on humanity.  Talk about tying people down!  Besides it requires committement and I am all about getting rid of that stuff.  Many of 'em don't make it anyway...so why risk it?  Have fun...pleasure-up dude!  And the buzz...where is the commandment against a little weed or a evening in the honky-tonk sucking suds with my buds?  One more thing.  Without God bugging my mind, I can carry the baggage of unforgiveness and hatred right out on my sleeve.   Go ahead ask me...I will spill my guts and tell you the latest gossip.  I have been holding it all in 'til I have a little indigestion.  Better than that, just knock that fragile chip off my shoulder...watch this attitude come to life.  Did you ever see a redneck fight?  I ain't scared of a little blood, in fact I kinda like it!  Boy, this is going to be fun....and if I get the chance I may just knock the holy sand out of a joker or two that I've been needing to "clean their clock!"  Getting away from this Jesus thing is already starting to feel quite liberating.  It is so hard to walk beneath the cross...and there's not much of what I want to do associated with it.  The more I think on it...I think I made the choice for a fun time.  I just don't need God anymore.  

No, I don't need God anymore, or at least I don't think I do...until...until what?   Until, I find how truly empty I am without Him.  The ache in my heart would hurt so bad that nothing could fill the void.  Until I realize that my anger unchecked by the Holy Spirit would create more messes than I could clean up.  Until, I realized how much I gained from being in the services on a regular basis.  There's not a ten-pound bass out there that could ever do for me what being frequently with my brothers and sisters in Christ can do.  No, I would not need God until...the doctor called and said I have a sexually-transmitted disease or that my girlfriend is pregnant and is in the office for an abortion.  Nobody could think of the torture that would be.  Even if she kept the child the financial burden would weigh me down to the point I could never afford a john boat, much less a real bass boat.  I don't need God until the guilt of hell and the accusation of Satan tears my soul apart.  When the buzz is over and the headache and puking began I think I would understand that God and His ways are not such a bad idea.  Funny how the laughter fades into a sickening silence when you leave the beer joint.  Odd how swiftly ones incentive turns to bitterness as quickly as the thrills of a sinful flick ends or the smoke from a dooby has vanished or the blood stops flowing from an enemies cut lip.  The knuckles would heal long before my soul would.  I'm starting to think differently about my choice to leave God out.

You know, I think the Ten Commandments were actually placed there to keep me happy and not cramp my style.  Now I see the Bible as God's Word, His love letters, to me...not merely a dull, dusty, old history book.  It is real.  So is forgiveness.  You want to talk about chills.  That gives me chills.  To think that God would love me enough to erase my past and allow me the grace to offer the same to others.  Powerful reason to serve Him don't you think?  You know, I'm beginning to think I need God.  In fact...I confess I do need God...and I will continue to.

I will need God today...as I go through the course of events and conversations, realizing that all my unknowns are known unto Him.  That alone gives me peace.  I will need God tomorrow and everyday.  I will need God as my children select mates for life.  I need God to help guide my steps and my words so that I don't fall into the trap of gossip and backbiting and revenge.  I need God to help me forgive those who trespassed against me and want free from their own guilt.  I will need God if ever there is that unwanted call from the doctor concerning my latest test results.  I will need God when I attend the funeral of friends and family.  I will need God and the church when my grandchildren are dedicated to the Lord.  I will need God as a Godly grandfather to my family as I point them daily to the cross.  I will need God when the doctor says, "Tim, you only have a few hours left to live so say your goodbyes."  

One day I, along with every other living human, will stand squarely before the Almighty God to give an accounting of our lives.  At that point...and at a million other points between now and then....I will be glad I did 'not' decide that I didn't need God anymore.

Think about it.

Pastor Tim

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This is My Now!

On the way to the office this morning I recalled a song from last year's American Idol show.  It was entitled, "This is My Now."  It is a great song and incidentally, was introduced through the songwriting competition.  Within the song is a powerful message for all to consider again and again.

Always in the distance is this mythical mirage of completion, of happiness and success that seems to ever be just beyond our reach.  We lie to ourselves believing that with a little more effort the next event will be better, the next sale will be bigger and the next experience more exhilarating.  Happiness is on the horizon of the next paycheck, marriage, vacation, or lucky break.  Look at the numbers of people who flock to the casinos allowing their hopes to become the bait which robs them of their wealth and dreams.  In my opinion, there is a large probability that our own aspirations of future bliss may be stealing these fleeting, most amazing moments which are passing right under our noses.  Somehow we must stop living in the future and discover 'now'.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 begins with an admonition to young men and women.  "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."  

I had occasion to be in a nursing home yesterday.  While there I could see into the rooms as I traversed the hallway.  Inside the various cubicles, I could see the stooped figures of men and women whose best days, in this life, were behind them.  Some stared blankly at blaring televisions while others slept the day away.  Others remained at the lunch table, crumbs clinging to their clothing, long after most people had retired to their rooms.  Although their belly may have been full, everything else about them had an appearance of emptiness.  

Seeing these elders made me wonder what they used to be like fifty years ago.  Were they hurrying from one place to the next?  Did they over-schedule themselves?  Did they over-stretch themselves financially, emotionally?  Did they realize the joy of being at home with their families?  If they could do it again...what would they do differently?  What would they say to you and me concerning the way we should live our lives?

Friend, this is my now!  This is your now!  We are the immediate players on the stage of time allowed by God, ordained by destiny, and preserved by the blood of American patriots who have preceded us.  The best is not coming...it is here!  Oh I know you are taxed in every way.  I realize you may be disappointed at where your career choice has led or didn't lead.  Sometimes you may think you married Mr. Wrong instead of Mr. Right.  But this is not a practice round.  This is reality and we must take the wet clay of this moment and work with it to form our future.  To fail to do such is to literally throw away our future.  What we do with now determines the reality of all our tomorrows.  

Yesterday I was honored to be involved with the assistance of two families, with two separate deaths.  One was the unexpected death of a 49 year old male.  The other, the passing of an elderly female.  Both helped to remind me of life's brevity.  Thing is, none of us know how much sand is left in our 'hour glass' of life.  All we know is the sands of time are inexorably running out!  Whether at 49 or 89 we must live everyday like it is our last.

If you can't remember all of Ecclesiastes 12:1, then simply capture the first two words.  "Remember, now!"  If nobody is listening why don't you say these words out loud - "This is my now!"  Say it until you really hear it...until you can believe it...can capture today...can say "I am sorry I was wrong"...can forgive...can say "I love you"...can enjoy your children/grandchildren's smile...can thank God for the rain as well as the sunshine...can feel fulfilled in a simple walk in the woods...can stop to smell the flowers...can take a kid fishing...can write a letter to a friend...can invite a senior citizen to lunch...can go to work whistling...can live in the moment called now.

Make it count.

Pastor Tim

Friday, April 4, 2008


It's been a wet spring.  We should be glad for the rain.  I am always grateful for it, since my dad was a farmer and instilled the value of water into me.  But sometimes I don't like the rain.  

Rain spoils days of fun which were previously planned.  My yard work is postponed...and piles up.  Then there is the mud, mess and the melancholy!  That's the downside.  Again, the rain is necessary.

Sometimes the rain is too much.  The river overflows, people are flooded out of their homes and sometimes people drown.  I guess at the end of the day we are affected by the rain according to three things... our preparation, our shelter and our ability to adjust.  

Preparation:  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Getting prepared is important.  The Bible speaks of a wise man and a fool.  The only difference really was their ability to look down the road.  A fool never counts the cost, a wise man always does.  Floods come every few years...build accordingly.

Shelter:  Standing in my home I watched sheets of rain fall and the lightning flash.  It was awesome!  Wonder how the natives survived such storms 200 years ago?  I'll bet they weren't as comfortable as I was that day.  Your shelter is important.  Read Psalm 91 and how we are given the protection beneath the shadow of the Almighty.  Stay close to God=protection!

Ability to Adjust:  Rigidity is deadly.  People who are inflexible crumble!  Palm trees survive because they are strong enough to bend.  When the winds of doubt, fear, disappointment, loss, frustration and a million other things howl against your soul, I hope you have the ability to adjust to the storm.  If you can keep from snapping and learn to bend (especially at the knees) you can survive.

Sunny days will come again for you.  Rain makes everything grow.  It gives life, but only if you are ready for it! 

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Of Trout... and Christianity

On the surface you may think you have an answer to the topical question of...."What are the characteristics of a Christian?"  Before you give one of those 'automatic' responses, let me take your thoughts a little deeper.  

The last couple of days I spent relaxing on a trout-fishing trip with several other pastors and lay ministers.  It was most enjoyable and needed time off.  When I arrived at the resort, I was introduced to the guys with whom I would be fishing.  Right away one fellow caught my eye.  I could tell he was not a pastor but I knew he was a good fisherman.  As we began to talk about fishing (one thing we all had in common) this fellow was on my radar.  Although he was very quiet, I could tell he was more than a casual fisherman.  He had the signs of something special.

Let me describe him to you.  He was an older gentleman, with a snow-white head of hair and mustache.  His face and hands showed the weathering of hours and years in the sun.  He was a no frills guy.  (Usually trout fishermen are considered the 'Gentlemen Fishermen' and they have all the fancy gear and finesse required to fit the image.)  Not this fellow.  He had on an old floppy, brown, felt cowboy hat and jeans.  He was the only one who brought his 'own' boat...a worn, old 'john' boat that had obviously had more fish hauled over its sides than than many of the 'high-dollar' rigs.  His fishing equipment, while nice, did not have the store-room gleam about them.  They had been well used.  Without him saying a word, I could tell he was the real deal.  I may not know much, but I can tell a real fisherman when I see one!

After the introductions, I learned that he lived near a little-known crappie hotspot.  Although I have not fished in the little lake, I have heard about the many crappie it gives up in the spring of the year.  I supposed him to be one of those faithful few who study the patterns, and watch the budding dogwoods as a sign.  So....I gently asked the old gentleman if he knew about the lake.  He didn't have to say a word, because his eyes lit up like a neon light and a big smile broke across his face!  Not only did he know about it...he fished it faithfully!  He informed me that he is waiting for the water to hit 65 degrees and then the spawn is on.  (I admit to dropping a hint or two to him...ha.)  He was a charming chap and wonderful to visit with, full of wit and wisdom.

Throughout the day, as our boat drifted near his boat on the river, I watched him fish.  He was really good at it, but in a non-flashy way.  Without flair he caught perhaps more fish than anyone on the river that day...even more than the local who was guiding us.  Somewhere at the end of the day one of his buddies told me the old man was one of the best crappie fishermen around!  You know...nobody had to tell that to me.  I just knew it.

In light of this delightful fisherman I met, I have to think about my life and yours as Christians.  We are Christ's ambassadors, placed here to represent Jesus Christ to the world.  Most folks know us as Christians.  We are to be recognized as fishers of men...are we not?  I have found, as I am sure you have, that 'saying' you are a Christian and 'being' one, especially an easily recognizable one, is not necessarily one and the same.  You see anybody can go to the Sporting Goods department and carry out a rod, reel, and tackle.  But none of those things make you a really good fisherman, anymore than going to church each Sunday, and wagging your Bible makes you and me a good Christian.  There is more to it.  Years of relationship with Christ shows up in unmistakable fashion.

I think of Paul's writing in Galatians 6:14-17.  He ends his dispute on whether circumcision is an outward sign of being saved or not.  He rests his case by saying, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails (is good for) anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."  He means your outward stuff is meaningless.  Our new tackle box doesn't impress God!

Then Paul seems almost contradictory in verse 17.  "...for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."  He was not speaking here about circumcision.  This man of God had been beaten, stoned, ship-wrecked, and imprisoned many times for the gospel.  No doubt he had scars, perhaps walked with a limp and may have had an eye missing...all because of his devotion to the gospel.   These 'marks' were proof that he was a child of God.  In Paul's mind, circumcision was the least of the real symbols of being a child of God!

I am not suggesting we have to be tortured or scarred to be recognized as a Christian.  Yet, there are some signs that let us know when we have come into the presence of a real man or woman of God.  You know what I mean?  I mean you can just tell!  Perhaps you'd like to comment on people you have known, who bear the marks, beyond the shadow of any doubt, they are a real Christian.  Let us know what characteristics lead you to that conclusion. Thanks in advance for writing in!

Pastor Tim 

P.S.  My biggest trout was an 18 inch Brown Trout that was a beaut!  (Approx 3 1/2 pounder)...caught on 2 lb. test line and an ultra light set-up.  NICE!!!