hands-of-god

A Terrifying Thing

I have been preaching through the book of Hebrews over the last year and have
enjoyed what I have discovered. I came to chapter 10 verse 31 that says, “It is a
terrifying thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.” It was that verse that
stopped me in my tracks. I know that we live in a world that teaches us how much
God loves us and how He is always there to bless us and care for us. He is with us
wherever we go and is our Guide and Helper. Do we ever stop and consider what it
will be like to fall into the hands of angry God? We spend our lives thinking that
we will avoid this moment if we deny His existence, believe we are worthy, or
even think that, somehow, I can appease God through my generosity. The reality of
our world today is that we think we can live anyway we want, and God will just
embrace us anyway because He is so loving. I don’t preach many, if any, “hellfire
and brimstone” sermons. I don’t hear many of them either. The church, our culture,
our authors and our leaders seemed to have slipped away from proclaiming the
news that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. God’s
holiness and justice demand all those who enter His presence be holy. Holiness
does not come through my personal goodness, effort or generosity. Holiness comes
through my faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Because of Him, I need
not worry about the hands of God. I wonder if we are doing a disservice to our
world by failing to warn people of what it will be like to stand before God without
Jesus. Maybe a hellfire and brimstone sermon is called for again. What do you
think?

Farmer Blog

Not a Farmer

I could never be a farmer. There are too many things that are beyond my control that farmers are
dependent on. “We need rain, we need less rain, need warmer weather, it is too hot” are just
some of the variables that would cause me sleepless nights if I were a farmer. I also know that all
jobs have items that are beyond the control of the employee. As a Pastor, I have received the
late-night phone calls or the early morning phone calls and it usually means I must enter into
someone’s life in their darknest moment. I have never enjoyed those phone calls. I am sure that
other people have jobs where they encounter things that are uncomfortable or beyond their
ability to control and it is difficult. So, what happens in those moments of difficulty? What
happens when you encounter obstacles that cannot be moved? Only a few options exist at those
moments: you quit, give up and walk away in frustration. You could ignore and hope someone
else figures out the problems. Or, you understand your weakness and acknowledge that life is
sometimes greater than we are, and you trust God. I Corinthians tells us God uses the weak to
confound the strong, He uses the weak to accomplish His will so that all will know that we did
not do it, He did. Our lives are filled with items that are beyond our control, recognize that it is in
those moments that God is there to demonstrate His power and to remind us that nothing is
beyond Him.

Summer time blog

Summer Time

It appears that maybe warmer weather has finally arrived and with the end of school just around
the corner, all signs point to summer coming. So, what does summer mean? Family vacations,
beaches, cook-outs, pool parties and sunburn. What should it mean? That is the topic of this blog.
Here are my goals for the summer, write a book, read 10 books, go on vacation, cook-out, relax
at a pool, and avoid sunburn. I think we should all have a goal. Summer can be a time where our
activities change, our time management changes and our priorities change. As summer begins, I
think it is important for people to set goals before summer vanishes, and we will not have
accomplished anything. I know it is hard to avoid work especially when the weather is nice but,
is that more important than building a family memory by going someplace you have never gone
before. Take a weekend trip, and at least build a memory. Set a goal to do something that you
have never done and make it happen this summer. It will be amazing what happens when you
encounter life, the wilderness and God in a place you have never been before. Be as excited
about summer as Olaf from Frozen, but don’t let the days slip past without enjoying God’s
beauty.

mothers day McBain Baptist Church

Mother’s Day

I love my mom. She is a great mother. I cannot begin to list all the things that my mother taught
me, nor am I able to list all the things that I do as a result of my mother’s influence, but what I
can do is tell you that she is a great mom. I learned a “hard-work and determination” mind-set
from her. My mom has been there for me when I was at the lowest point of my life. She has been
my friend, my comforter, my encourager and my mom. My life is much richer because of her
presence and influence in it. I know there are some who do not have that type of relationship
with their mothers and my heart aches for them. Some may have never known their mother,
while others may have a broken relationship with theirs. As we approach Mother’s Day this year,
I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you. Thank you for all that you have done for me.
Thank you for all that you have sacrificed for me. Thank you for all your guidance,
encouragement and love. My life is better, my family is better, my children are better because of
the influence you have had on me. Thank you for being my mom and I love you!

Easter McBain Baptist Church

Easter Morning

I have often wondered what it was like on that first Easter morning: the women as they traveled
to the tomb to perform their burial duties, the grief that was still so fresh lingering in their hearts,
the pain of knowing that their Savior, Teacher, Rabbi was gone, their struggle to make sense of
all that they had witnessed over the past three years.
Their grief must have been overwhelming. As they begin their journey that morning and the
concern about removing the stone was a stark reminder of the grief they were bearing. Their
grief was quickly replaced by anguish and confusion when they arrived at the tomb to find it
empty. Who would do such a thing? Why would someone do such a thing? This confusion and
turmoil only added to their grief. Suddenly during this nightmare, two men in white apparel
appear to them and say, “Why do you seek the living among the dead”. What could these words
possibly mean? We watched Him die, we watched Him be buried, how can that which is dead be
made alive again? The thought of such a reality was too much to process.
They returned to the other disciples and told them what they had seen. Pained, distraught and
confused, Peter and John run to the tomb. They arrive to find the tomb just as the women had
told them. How could they believe? How could they allow themselves the chance that Jesus was
alive? They had already buried Him once, living that nightmare again would be too much to
bear. Yet, John believes. I am puzzled by their response, because I am not sure I could have
believed. My mind works much to logically to accept something so incredible. John believed,
others believed and suddenly while in the upper room, Jesus appears to them. He is alive. He is
real. He is here.
This singular moment in history is the greatest moment in history. It is the moment when God
changed everything. It is the moment that death was defeated, Satan was defeated, and eternal
life was secured. I may not have been present to believe on that first Easter morning, but I
believe now. Do you?

Why-I-love-baseball-blog

Why I Love Baseball

Ever since I was a young boy, I have enjoyed participating in baseball. Whether it was watching, playing or teaching it, I have enjoyed my lifetime of involvement with baseball. Some may wonder why. It is boring some say. It is slow, say others. It is too long, and a host of other complaints about the game exist, but I take a very different approach. I love the game for all the
reasons most people dislike it. It is slow, tedious, mentally challenging and even the smallest miscue can cost your team the victory. When I was a player, as a pitcher I knew that one wrong pitch could result in defeat. Rarely in any other sport does victory or defeat come down to one little event out of several hundred events in the competition. But as a pitcher, I knew that one wrong pitch could be the difference. I loved that pressure. I loved that intrigue. I loved that struggle. So, I watch, play and coach baseball because of the never-ending tension that exists. I also find that baseball parallels my Christian life in many ways. It is long, tedious and mentally challenging. Every day I get up and I am a Christian. Meaning, I must make choices that reflect the character I claim to have. I must do things correctly so that I can avoid negative consequences. Christianity is a lifelong pursuit, not an instant moment of ecstasy. Christianity requires my focus and understanding that all around me are pitfalls and temptations which could destroy a lifetime of obedience. I love baseball because it tells me that I must keep working, keep playing, and keep focused on the goal. It is also a good reminder that my Christianity is the same. I must keep working: staying in the Word of God, learning and leaning of Jesus. I must keep playing: I cannot quit my Christianity. I must stay focused on the goal: I press toward the mark, I have finished the course, I have remained faithful. That is my creed and my desire.

– Pastor Doug

The Value of Me, Part 4

The Value of Me, Part 4

I find myself in the same position as Jussie Smollett. I want people to notice me. I want people to value me and give me all that is due one of such position. I am not going to stage a mugging to accomplish it, but I wonder if I don’t do other things just as deceptive? Here is the message that I have learned and that I must keep learning, and the message I hope you learn by reading this: my eternal value is not determined by who I am, but by whose I am. I must remind myself that I am created in the image of God and that only He gives me value. I have learned that being a child of God, because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I have value. My value is not contingent on what I do, how much I have or what others think of me. My value is based on a simple truth; I am a child of God and He loves me for who He created me to be and not what I can do for Him. If I could, I would like to help Jussie learn the lesson I learned; God is the Author of my life and my value. I do not find my worth in what my wife, children or employers think of me. I find my value in knowing that I am loved by an infinite God and I rest in the assurance that I belong to Him and He belongs to me.

Value of me blog

The Value of Me, Part 3

Where does my earthly value come from? This was a crisis I had to face and a decision that would shape my future. I wanted to be a star baseball player and I thought I was good enough to accomplish that goal. When that dream was destroyed, I had to face the dark night of my life. Who was I? What value did I have? What was I worth? Who controlled me? In the darkness of my life I had to find answers. Here is what I discovered: my value is completely determined by others and not by myself. My employers have always determined my value. If they like what I am doing, they reward me. If they don’t they fire me. My wife stays with me because she continues to give me value. If I was no longer a value to her, she could and would leave to find someone else she valued more. My children place value on me as a dad. I am helpful and embarrassing. I am a strength that they need or an obstacle to get around. As they have aged, my value to them has changed. Even in my own mind, my value has changed. When I was younger I could do all kinds of things that I find I am unable to do as I age. So, the thought enters in that diminishes my value to those around me, my employer, my family and my culture. My value is fading because I can no longer achieve those things that I once thought defined me.

– Pastor Doug

value of me part 2

The Value of Me, Part 2

Somewhere in time we were all taught that we deserved something, because we are alive and human we intrinsically deserve to be given value. As a result, we translate that truth into something that is untrue. Do I deserve things because I am human? Yes, but I do not deserve anything and everything because I am human? Just because I find value in myself does not mean that others will find the same value in me as I do. I once was a professional baseball pitcher. I was good and, based on what I saw around me, I was destined to be in the big leagues. Others told me what I believed about myself, that one day I would be on TV as a big-league pitcher. Then, at the end of March I was told by one man that I should go find a job I had a future in, because baseball was not it. He determined my future because he could. He was the boss. He decided my value.  I could have argued, made a scene, threatened him and those around him or I could accept a harsh reality. I wept and left because I knew, no matter how desperately I wanted something, it was not mine to take. Contentment is a difficult thing because we may all have a wrong opinion of our value. Jussie Smollett may want more money, a better role, a better public image, but in reality, he is searching for value in all the wrong places. Value is not mine to determine.

– Pastor Doug

The Value of Me, Part 1

The Value of Me, Part 1

Jussie Smollett is a name I did not know. I do not watch his show on TV. I was unaware of him before the story broke that he was attacked, beaten and robbed by two men wearing MAGA hats and proclaiming racial slurs at him. After an investigation by the Chicago PD, it was determined that the attack was staged because Jussie was unhappy with his pay for his acting job. Now, I am not here to decide whether he was attacked (as he still maintains), or whether he staged the whole scene for his personal benefit. To me, the issue is much bigger than that. Paul tells us in Philippians to be content in whatever place we find ourselves. He learned to be content with much or with little, with being hungry or being filled. Contentment is a state of mind. A determination that says, regardless of where I am, I will be satisfied. This does not mean that I should sit and accept my station in life, but it does mean that I should learn to be content where I am. I think what is happening with Jussie Smollett is a picture of what is happening to many in our world today. I deserve better and I will get what I think I deserve by whatever means necessary.

 

– Pastor Doug