By the Mad Preacher
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)
I was beginning to feel that I was the only person on the planet who hadn’t seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Quite frankly, I was torn about seeing it. A part of me wanted to see it in a big way. Yet, another part of me did not want to see it. It wasn’t the talk about the graphic violence in the movie that held me back. I’ve watched too many graphic war films over the years for that to bother me.
I’ve given my sense of reluctance some careful consideration and have come to a conclusion. To be quite honest, I believe that the baser part of my human nature did not want me to see it. The simple truth is that the twisted part of human nature did not want me to be reminded, in vivid detail, of the terrible price Christ paid for my sin. If we would honestly admit it, we would have to say this is true of us all. You see, being reminded of the cross tends to make that fallen part of our nature uncomfortable, and we certainly don’t want to feel uncomfortable.
Having now seen it, I’m reminded of the words of the classic song, Too High a Price, written by Phil McHugh and Greg Nelson.
Your love endured the cross
Despising all the shame
That afternoon when midnight fell
Your suffering cleared my name
And that sin-swept hill
Became the open door to paradise
The cost was great yet you paid the price.
You paid much too high a price for me
In tears and blood and pain
To have my soul just stirred at times
Yet never truly change
You deserve a fiery love
That won’t ignore your sacrifice
Because you paid much too high a price.1
To be perfectly frank, I admit that I feel very uncomfortable each time I hear Larnell Harris’s stirring rendition of this moving song. It pierces my heart and I’m drawn to a fresh repentance whenever I hear the words “you deserve a fiery love that want to ignore your sacrifice.” I must say that it deeply shames me to confess that my love for my wonderful LORD is not always fiery. Indeed, He deserves better from me. Jesus is worthy of so much more from me than to, “have my soul just stirred at times, yet never truly change.”
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1John 3:18)
I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross 2
Jesus gave His very best for us. Now, are you giving your best to Him? Dare we give him anything less than a fiery love?
1 Too High a Price ©1985 Careers – BMG Music, Inc. (Admin. by BMG Music Publishing) River Oaks Music Company (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing) Greg Nelson Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
2 Here I Am To Worship words and music: Tim Hughes © 2000 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music (PRS)/admin. by EMI Christian Music Pub
by The Mad Preacher
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. (Psalm 125:1)
I believe one of the greatest truths of all time is found in a simple song written by Don Moen and Paul Overstreet. “God is good…all the time.” He is a good God and He is good all the time. And because of this undisputed fact we can trust Him… all the time! Consider this as well; because God is good all the time, whatever He allows to happen in your life is ultimately… good! What a glorious thought!
God wants to bring us to a place of absolute assurance. He wants us to be so tight with Him, that even if all Hell breaks loose around us and on us, we will not be shaken. Why? Because we KNOW that God is good, all the time! Proverbs 10:25 makes this declaration, “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” You see it’s the wicked that are blown away by storms, not the righteous.
Abraham had this kind of relationship with God. Romans Chapter 4 shows us the foundation of his faith. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, [notice this] he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead―since he was about a hundred years old―and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Verses 18-21)
Abraham took a hard look at the situation that he was facing. He didn’t try to hide from what appeared to be obstacles to the promise, but rather, stood toe to toe with them. He made a quality decision to choose to trust a God whom he knew was good all the time. Abraham didn’t lie to himself and look for loopholes in God’s promises, as many of us are prone to do. He was personally acquainted with the integrity and goodness of the One who had promised.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)
The reason that Abraham was “fully persuaded” is simple. God was more than Abraham’s God… he was his friend. Consider this thought. God is not religious… He’s relational. God’s into the friendship thing in a big way. He wants a relationship with us, and God will do whatever it takes to obtain it and then do everything within His power to protect that relationship.
For example, God wants to remove from our life any bad habits or harmful attitudes that would interfere with our friendship with Him. So, often God lovingly allows the fires of adversity to come and purge us in order to eradicate the junk in our life. He does so in order to deliver us from the things that hurt our relationship with Him.
Romans 8:28-29 offers these profound words of comfort, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
A good father only wants what’s good for his children and will use every means at his disposal to accomplish this goal. Our Heavenly Father is no different. He’s a good Father and a good God. He only wants what’s good for those He loves. Indeed, He loves you with an immeasurable love. I encourage you to cling to this all-important truth―God is good, and He’s good all the time. Just trust Him!
Though I may not understand
All the plans You have for me
My life is in Your hands
And through the eyes of faith
I can clearly see…
God is good all the time
He put a song of praise
In this heart of mine
God is good all the time
Through the darkest night
His light will shine
God is good
God is good all the time *
* God is Good – All the Time, Words and music by Don Moen and Paul Overstreet © 1995 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music
by The Mad Preacher
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it’s true
You’re a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you’re covered with the fingerprints of God
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit―fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”-Jesus (John 15:16)
I love this description of the men who would one day be called “David’s mighty men.”
All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented (the Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul”) gathered around him, and he became their leader.
About four hundred men were with him.
(1 Samuel 22:2)
Imagine this if you will. The US Marine Corps announces a snappy new recruiting slogan. “The Marines are looking for a few stressed-out, bankrupt, bitter men. The few, the losers―the Marines!” If we would be honest, most of us could be counted among those called David’s mighty men. Indeed, we’ve all had our seasons of personal difficulty. I must confess that I have experienced distress, indebtedness and bitterness from time to time. However, the US Marines are not in the market for people like those described here. No, the military may not want them. Corporate America may turn away from them. Sadly, in many cases, churches don’t want them either. Ah… but God does. God doesn’t snub them, but, rather gladly, embraces them.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Jesus (Matthew 11:28)
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things―and the things that are not―to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God―that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
What does God look for when He recruits someone? Well, to begin with, we must understand something about God. He’s not a talent scout. In other words, you can come to Him empty-handed, feeling like you have nothing special to offer. God’s not necessarily looking for one who has great personal talent, charisma or influence. Although those qualities can be used greatly when they’re submitted to God, both in the corporate world as well as the ministry, they’re not necessarily needed to qualify for God’s team of mighty men and women.
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)
God is on a quest, but He’s not looking for a stone—someone who’s hard and set in his ways. God is looking for a lump of clay―one who is pliable in His hands. God desires someone He can mold and shape into the image of His son, Jesus—who was the original societal reject. God’s looking for one who is willing to put aside all claims to self-sufficiency and then put on God-sufficiency.
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me
He’s seeking one with the keen realization that the battle is the Lord’s and victory and success in life comes from Him alone. God’s Elite Team consists of those who make no personal claims but rather, wholly rely on the Lord. They know that whatever impact they may have in life relies solely on their desire to walk by faith and not by sight. These are the ones He seeks—God’s Elite Team of Misfits.
…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and
who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
 Fingerprints Of God – Steven Curtis Chapman from his album, Speechless ©1999 Sparrow Song (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing) Peach Hill Songs
 Just as I Am, Without One Plea written by A.H. Brown and Charlotte Elliott, Public Domain
By The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. (2 Corinthians 1:8)
Many times I’ve felt much like the Apostle Paul. I’ve had my share of pain and rejection in my life and I’ve often had to face them without human comfort. Yet, hardships are just part of life. We all face struggles from time to time. None of us are immune. We have no choice over the cards that life deals us. However, we can choose how we play those cards. Do I sit in the corner, licking my wounds, buried in bitterness and self-pity, or do I adopt Paul’s attitude? For Paul went on to say:
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. (vs. 9-10)
It’s so easy for us to look at what we don’t have and let that overshadow the many ways God has so abundantly blessed us. He’s the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) He’s is the one who said, “I’ll never leave you are forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) God’s the one who said, “I’ll supply all of your needs.” (Philippians 4:19) He’s the one who has saved me completely. (Hebrews 7:25)
God has blessed us beyond measure. Everything else is icing on the cake. So, the choice is mine as to what to do when troubles beset me. Do I choose anger and bitterness or do I choose the hope and peace found in God’s Word? It’s not an easy choice and it costs you something, but anything worthwhile always cost us something. What is the price? Simple, it’s our pride. It’s the evil “I”.
Psychiatrists call it the ego. It’s that part of our psychological makeup that believes it must fight for itself in the world. Left unchecked by the Holy Spritual it devolops into a dog eat dog mentallity that leads to our distruction.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
The ego is the basis of pride. Pride, self-centeredness, is the basis of all sin. It’s the source of all negative human behavior. Not only is it the root of such things as arrogance, self-importance and religious bigotry, it also gives birth to things like fear, anger, self-debasement, self-pity and shame.
I spent most of my young life unaware of the fact that I was full of pride. It was a wicked mixture of religious arrogance and self-loathing. Thus, most of my life was spent lamenting over how cruel life had been to me. I was focused on the evil “I”. Then one day God exposed my pride to me in the form a woman in a church I use to attend.
This lady was in a terrible emotional condition. Nearly every worship service found her at the alter having one of the pastors pray with her over the same things. Then one night, after worship, I overheard her bellyaching to someone about her life. “I’m afraid of what my husband and children would think if I ….” “I’m afraid to try that because I might fail”, on and on she went voicing the same theme. As I listened the Lord revealed to me the true source of her problem.
In the past, everyone was trying to treat the symptoms–fear, self-pity, poor self-image, faithlessness, est., rather than treating the problem. “I know what your problem is.” I told her. “What?… What?!” she asked, eyes wide open and filling with tears. “It’s pride”, I answered. “PRIDE?!” she exclaimed, “PRIDE? Oh, no! What do you mean?!” “Well, it’s evident in the things you say. ‘I’m afraid of this.’ ‘I’m afraid of that.’ ‘I’m afraid of what my family will think.’ What is the middle letter in the word ‘sin’?” I asked. “‘I’”, she replied. “What’s the middle letter of the word ‘pride’?” I asked. “It’s ‘I’”, she responded. Her eyes were now fountains. Streaks of mascara were on her glistening cheeks.
“You see, all pride is self-centeredness.” I continued. “Your focus is on you and your feelings of inadequateness.” “Oh, no!” she cried. “What do I do?” “Recognize it as sin and, once for all, repent of it. Then study The Bible and see what God thinks of you as his child.” I prayed with her and walked her through as she asked for God’s forgiveness for her pride.
It’s pride, that evil “I”, that also makes us loose our cool with others ¾ be it at home or in traffic. It’s pride that makes us think that everything’s supposed to go or way. Then, it’s pride that gets us all bent out of shape when things don’t go our way. The choice is ours to make. I can’t blame anyone but myself for the bad choices I’ve made and the bitter aftermath that followed. My made my bed, I must now sleep in it. You reap what you sow and so forth.
I wasted so many years wallowing in bitterness and self-pity. I’m now choosing to do otherwise. Theses days I’m letting God’s Word be my mirror. With God’s help, I’m keeping my pride in check. Am I always successful at it? No. Do I still battle bitterness and feelings of inadequacies? Oh yes, often! However, as time goes by and my walk with God grows stronger, it becomes easier to defeat the evil “I”.
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
Recognize that self-debasing is pride and pride is sin.
Repent of it!
Reprogram your thinking with God’s Word.
One of the worse form of pride is to to say that your openion of yourself is more important than God’s opinion of you.
[A] variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.” — The KJV Translators
Someone once told me, “All I need is a King James Bible and a dictionary.” As I left I was thinking about what he said and an image came to me. There were Jesus and the Apostles sitting around a big fire. Jesus was teaching and there were the Apostles passing a dictionary back and forth trying to understand what Jesus was saying!
In 2003, Merriam-Webster updated its collegiate dictionary. The dictionary’s lexicographers made more than 100,000 changes and added more than 10,000 new words and phrases that did not appear in 1993.
We don’t use Elizabethan English in 21st century America. God’s Word is much too important to leave it in antiquated terms that are no longer in use, or words that have a totally different meaning today than they did in 1611. The writers wrote the words down in the language of the day. Shouldn’t we have Gods WORD in the language of our day? We must update the language and keep God’s Word fresh and readable. We must make sure that the message remains clear. The translators of the KJV understood this. That’s why the KJV went through many revisions before we got the one we all know and love today.