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Keeping On

I got a phone call recently from Alistair Begg.

Some of you are thinking, “You’re kidding!”  And some of you are thinking, “Who’s Alistair Begg?”

After I came to the church in 1997 I learned of a conference being held in Anaheim, California called “Preach the Word”. It was being hosted by Greg Laurie and Harvest Church, and featured the top three expository preachers in the country at that time: Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Smith and John MacArthur. I had benefited from the ministries of each of these men, through their radio broadcasts and their books.

Charles Swindoll’s wonderful sermons had impacted me several times at key moments in my life, and I loved his laughter. Chuck Smith had a wonderful, laid-back way of teaching the Bible. He used to say, “The secret that I seek to impart to those eager to enter the ministry is to simply teach the Word of God simply.” And John MacArthur, while extremely serious in his delivery, always put the Biblical text in its historical context and took pains to explain exactly what the Bible says. All three of these men were heroes to me in the ministry, and examples of what a Biblical preacher ought to be.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

I don’t remember where I first heard or read that phrase. I suspect it was in a book called Life Is Tremendous! , by Charles “Tremendous” Jones. He talked about seeing something positive in everything, saying something positive about everything, and seeing it big and keeping it simple. He warned against “hardening of the attitudes”. And he admonished us to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”

This is Biblical. In Philippians 2:14 the Apostle Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 he tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I’m not very good at doing these things, but I know the Bible teaches them.

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She Slowly Shook Her Head No

On the Sunday before Labor Day, I asked my wife a question. There was no evening service because of the holiday weekend, so we drove up to Franklin that afternoon to see my wife’s family. We were somewhere on Highway 67 and our conversation had lulled into a companionable silence. And then out of the blue I quietly asked my wife this: “Do you have any sense that God is preparing to move us somewhere else?” I looked over at her, and she was slowly shaking her head “no”. I said, “Neither do I.” She just confirmed what I had been thinking, too.

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Sacraments

I was born and raised a Baptist. As a boy, I heard things like: “Baptist born & Baptist bred; and when I die I’ll be Baptist dead!”; “If I find one hair of my head that’s not Baptist, I’ll pull it out!”, and other memorable quotes from Baptist preachers. I really like what Evangelist B. R. Lakin once said, though: “I used to be proud of being a Baptist ‘til I found out how many of us were in the penitentiary!”

There are Baptist distinctives, and I do believe them. If I didn’t, then I’d go join up with a group that did teach what I believe. I’m not one who thinks that denominations are necessarily a bad thing. I think genuine Christians can acknowledge each other as real followers of Christ, and still disagree over matters of church government, how baptism should be administered, and exactly what the Holy Spirit does, etc. . When we disagree on things like that, it’s probably best for us to find a group of other like-minded Christians with which to worship and work. It’s like athletes who love baseball, playing on different teams, with different coaches, practicing in different ways, but all for the love of the game. Only, with us, it isn’t a game, and it’s all for the love of Jesus.

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Sacraments

I was born and raised a Baptist. As a boy, I heard things like: “Baptist born & Baptist bred; and when I die I’ll be Baptist dead!”; “If I find one hair of my head that’s not Baptist, I’ll pull it out!”, and other memorable quotes from Baptist preachers. I really like what Evangelist B. R. Lakin once said, though: “I used to be proud of being a Baptist ‘til I found out how many of us were in the penitentiary!”

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Pastor Lockwood

Last week a faithful servant of God went to his reward. Glen Lockwood had been a Pastor to my family for almost four decades. Other people called him Glen, but I never could. To me, he was always Pastor Lockwood.

In the late seventies my family left the church I’d grown up in up in because the services had become too political. My parents found their way to Gray Road Baptist Church on the south side of Indianapolis, where Glen Lockwood was Pastor. It wasn’t long until they’d made Gray Road their new church home. And the longer they sat under Pastor Lockwood’s ministry, the more their respect for him deepened.

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It’s a Keeper!

I admit that I own several guitars. Some people don’t understand this. I have guitar-playing friends whose wives tell them, “You can only play one at a time!” But they don’t understand that each guitar has its own sound and feel, and they are like different tools in your tool box. I suggest that they respond to their wives in kind: “Honey, why do you have so many pairs of shoes? You can only wear one pair at a time!” So far none of them has taken my advice.

My wife has always been incredibly understanding about my guitars. When we met in high school, my guitar playing was one of the things that attracted her to me. (A guy needs all the help he can get.) My wife is a musician, too, and she loves music as much as I do. And besides, she says it keeps me off the streets.

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Nursing Homes

My grandfather had a dread of nursing homes. He’d seen too many people he knew who had to go into one…especially his sister Allie. 

Allie was my great-aunt. I’m not sure how it started, but once to make her laugh I stuck out my tongue and blew “raspberries” at her. She got such a kick out of it that I did it every time I saw her or talked to her on the phone. She actually would be disappointed if I didn’t blow “raspberries” at her. 

Aunt Allie developed dementia and had to be put in a nursing home. For a while she still laughed when I blew “raspberries”. But after a while even that didn’t make her laugh anymore.   

My grandfather saw all of that, and he began to say to us, “Don’t ever put me in a nursing home!” And we never wanted to. 

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