Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Recommended Reading from 2018” (Pt. 2) (Dec. 19, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Recommended Reading from 2018” (Pt. 2)

(Dec. 19, 2018)


          There are many great apologetic works available these days.  Some are written by scholars for scholars.  Some of these works are more geared toward pastors.  While still yet others are oriented toward laymen.  I have read many of these books over the last few years.  They are full of facts that validate the key claims of Scripture like the Resurrection, and the historicity of the early church and followers of Jesus.  Many of these books also examine scientific claims and examine them in light of reason, and even science itself.  It takes a lot for one of these type books to stand out to me as I have read several.  But I would give a 5 star rating to I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek.  It is hard to put down once you begin reading, but it is important to read through it slowly and carefully in order to receive the full impact.  I highly recommend this book be in your own personal library.

          Many accusations are leveled against Christians by those who want to discredit them and label them as ignorant, non-thinking, anti-science, anti-knowledge, etc.  Some of the myths that have been perpetuated have stuck and few know the real truth.  One of the best examples of this is the fact many claim, and/or believe, that Christians once held tightly to a belief that the world was flat even when science was saying the earth was spherical.  There is even an atheistic website where a group of people make fun of the “flat earth,” backward-thinking Christians.  But this is a total myth.  As early as the 4th century B. C. theists believed the earth was round and it was far more unusual throughout the middle ages and beyond for anyone, Christians included, to hold to a flat earth viewpoint.  I read a book this year called Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians by Jeffrey Burton Russell.  It is a fascinating, extremely well researched report of how this was all contrived coming out of a fictional work by Washington Irving and morphing quickly into revisionist history.  It you want to know the truth on this issue, read this book.  If you want to see how easily things can become distorted and true history be forgotten in favor of myth, then read this book!

          I am a big fan of the “Answers in Genesis” (AIG) organization, headed by Ken Ham, and their museum in the Cincinnati, OH metro area which features a full scale replica of Noah’s Ark.  They have put out numerous materials over the years including books, CD’s, DVD’s, booklets and tracts, and an information packed website.  I read a booklet put out by AIG this year called Doesn’t Carbon Dating Disprove the Bible.  This book is short and to the point.  It will help you see the flawed presuppositions of those who trust the Carbon 14 dating method for determining the age of the earth.  Many, in the camp of theological liberalism or accomodationist theology, even try to interpret the early chapters of Genesis by accommodating what science claims with the Bible when it comes to questions about the age of the earth.  Longstanding reliance on faulty methodology and trusting without asking questions has led many believers astray on this issue.  Christians do not, and should not have a “blind” faith but should ask questions in order to gain knowledge.  Ironically, science purports to search for the truth and go where research leads them; however, there are certain things that are off the table to some scientist, such as intelligent design in the universe.  When science takes anything off the table before it starts, science becomes more of a philosophical viewpoint and/or pursuit than actual science in the truest sense.

          I really enjoyed a short book by author Peter Jones called The Pagan Heart of Today’s Culture.  It is densely packed with great information and is eye-opening.  It offers to you the potential to gain a great working knowledge of postmodernism, polytheism, and Gnosticism which has its roots in the days of the early church and is still alive and well today in many religious expressions.  You need to read this book, and ones like it, to get a handle on the world in which we live and are called to be missionaries.

          Sadly many Christians do not know anything better than to either “run” or “roll over and play dead” when unbelievers challenge Christian thinking and worldview with their slogans, and poorly thought-out assertions.  In his very helpful book, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions Gregory Koukl shows how believers can easily maneuver through conversations with skeptics by simply getting them to think more deeply about what they are asking or asserting.  Overwhelmingly the argumentation of unbelievers breaks down just below the surface and it is our duty as Christians to help them see where there reasoning if faulty, not just for the sake of winning arguments, but for the furtherance of the Kingdom.  Through notable techniques such as “The Columbo Method,” based on the character from the popular television show, Koukl teaches believers to ask simple, non-threatening questions to expose what people really believe in such a way that they tend to realize for themselves that their story, or whole belief system, does not stand up consistently and reasonably.

          During my morning devotional time I read a few books that were really uplifting and encouraging.  One of those books was Heaven on Earth: What the Bible Teaches about Life to Come by Derek W. H. Thomas.  It is a heartwarming, non-technical portrait of Heaven and the life to come.  Another book was Understanding the 66 Books of the Bible by David Jeremiah.  The book gives a brief portrait of each book which starts with a timely, relevant illustration then a very brief overview of the content followed by the key theme and key verse.  It was lite but encouraging to read one or two of these portraits each day.  Perhaps my favorite devotional book of all this year was a book I have referred to often for many years but never read straight through.  The book is called God’s Promises for Your Every Need.  It is nothing more than a topical arrangement of very encouraging Scriptures that speak to a variety of issues and topics.  This book helped me know Scripture better.  It helps me see that yes God does have a lot to say about . . .  It is a book everyone should own and refer to regularly.  It will also help you in your ministry to others when someone at work, a family member, or a friend asks you “Is there a verse in the Bible that says anything about . . .?  You will find the answer in this book easily.

          During the summer and fall of this year I was privileged to teach through the book of Amos on Sunday Evenings.  I am always drawn to the Old Testament Prophets simply because, as a preacher, I can often relate to them on a personal level.  Also, as an American I can see enormous parallels between their day and our day.  Among the prophets, Amos is one of my favorites.  I was aided greatly in my study by J. A. Motyer’s book The Message of Amos in The Bible Speaks Today Commentary Series (BST).  I also found great value in The Roaring of the Lion: A Commentary on Amos by Ray Beeley. The most helpful resource of all was Amos: An Ordinary Man with an Extraordinary Message in the Focus on the Bible Commentary Series (FOTBS) by my former Hebrew Professor at Southern Seminary, T. J. Betts.

          I began a study of the Gospel of Matthew in December, 2016 on Sunday Mornings.  In June of 2017 I made it to the Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7).  In October 2018 I finished that very rich block of material taught by Jesus.  In addition to several Matthew commentaries I read books that offered insight into the Sermon on the Mount specifically.  Most of these were very helpful but my favorites among them were Sermon on the Mount: Restoring Christ’s Message to the Modern Church by Charles Quarles; Studies in the Sermon on the Mount: God’s Character and the Believer’s Conduct by Oswald Chambers; Reading the Sermon on the Mount with John Stott by John Stott and Douglas Connelly; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple by Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary by Jonathan T. Pennington; and most of all Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (2 volumes) by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and The Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom by R. Kent Hughes from the “Preaching the Word” (PTW) Commentary Series.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Recommended Reading from 2018 (Pt. 1) (Dec.18, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: Recommended Reading from 2018 (Pt. 1)

(Dec. 18, 2018)


          For the last several years, at year’s end, I have shared some of my favorite books read over the course of the year.  I try to only recommend the true “stand-outs” and realize not every book will appeal to every person.  I further recognize that the vast majority of my readers are laymen so I rarely include technical or difficult books that I read.  My hope is that you will become intrigued enough by a few of these titles that you will obtain them and read them for your own enrichment and personal growth.

          America is no longer a Christian nation.  A movement was started some 35 years ago by Jerry Falwell called “The Moral Majority” but clearly Christians are now the “moral minority.”  The fact we have not been victorious politically on many social fronts does not mean we have really lost.  Perhaps, some of the battle we were/are fighting was/is not the battle God wanted us to waste our time fighting anyway.  The trajectory of this world is downhill morally as we rapidly move toward the glorious return of Jesus.  The question for us is how do we maneuver the treacherous waters of this world until that day?  One of my favorite authors, Erwin Lutzer, has written a great little book to offer believers advice on this front.  The book is titled Where Do We Go From Here: Hope and Direction in Our Present Crisis.  This book is a challenge for Christians to not be in despair even in the face of difficult, even heartbreaking, realities.  God has called believers to be salt and light no matter what this world does or does not do.  The church has a mission and its mission is to be faithful no matter what!

          Most Christians agree that prayer is very important; however just about the same numbers concede they do not pray as much as they should be praying.  Prayer easily gets crowded out by our busy lives, but ironically the busier we are the more we desperately need more prayer.  More than 20 years ago Bill Hybels wrote a great book that became a bestseller titled Too Busy Not to Pray which addresses the issue of the importance of prayer in the midst of our business.  It is simple, straightforward, and helpful.  I read through it over the course of a couple of weeks as a part of my morning quiet time this year.  I believe it will both encourage and bless.

          It is hard to seriously discuss prayer without talking about spiritual warfare.  Sadly I do not think most Christians realize that they are at war.  The powers of darkness are against believers and everything they try to do.  I was blessed by reading Chip Ingram’s book The Invisable War: What Every Believer Needs to Know about Satan, Demons & Spiritual Warfare.  It helped me understand some of the realities of how Satan and his demons work against my life and ministry.  Every believer needs to be more aware of the tactics used by our enemy and his demons.  Ingram’s book will help you greatly in this arena.

          Each year I make a point of reading at least one book on worship.  I believe worship is so much more than we realize.  This year I read a great new book by Keith and Kristyn Getty called Sing!  How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church.  This book will get you excited about worshiping because it will force you to really consider the question of “why” you worship.  When you are able to honestly answer that question, your worship will become really exciting!

          Many, if not most churches, truly desire to grow.  However, many of these same churches do not realize they are doing things that hinder their growth.  Many of the hindrances could be corrected but these things are hard to see by those who have been at the church long-term.  Thom Rainer skillfully addresses many of these hindrances to growth in Becoming a Welcoming Church.  I taught through this book on Wednesday Nights earlier this year and it generated great times of discussion.  It was eye-opening to many of our people who had never thought through some of the issues raised.  Rainer has a companion book that is meant to be given to visitors and prospective members called We Want You Here.  It is a good book and also worth reading and considering.

          When we hear the word “evangelism” we are just as likely to think of a church program as we are our personal responsibility of being a witness for Christ.  That is because “evangelism” became largely “programmatized” by the church beginning around the mid-twentieth century.  Same as with every other program, only a few will be involved.  However, evangelism is a commissioning from Jesus to everyone who believes in Him and needs to be emphasized as such.  J. Mack Stiles presents a refreshing, and much more biblically grounded, perspective on evangelism in his book Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus.  We need not be fooled.  It is not about showing up for a program, handing out tracks in parking lots, or memorizing a fool-proof model guaranteed to get results; it is about each believer building relationships and living out their faith and sharing their faith before the watching eyes of those they know and those they do not know.

          I preached through the Lord’s Prayer (Mat. 6:9-13) phrase by phrase over a several week period in the spring of this year.  As a part of my study I greatly benefited from 4 books specifically written to give insight into the prayer.  These were J. I. Packer’s Praying the Lord’s Prayer, William Barclay’s The Lord’s Prayer, A. W. Pink’s The Lord’s Prayer; but he most helpful and enjoyable one of the four was The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by Dr. Albert Mohler.  This book, in particular, is warm and witty.  It takes complex theological issues and breaks them down very simply for the reader.  It is one of the very best books overall that I read in 2018.  I highly recommend it!

          Country music fans will greatly enjoy Charlie Daniels autobiography Never Look at the Empty Seats: A Memoir.  Charlie Daniels has accomplished a lot in his nearly 6-decade career and the book covers his childhood throughout his career all the way up to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.  But, Christians in particular will enjoy the strong emphasis Daniels puts on his abiding faith and how God has seen him through many hard things in his life.  Daniels is a man of deep conviction, devotion, and faith.  I greatly enjoyed, and was inspired, by reading his memoir.

          Pastors have a unique calling, but with that calling comes unique dangers.  There are plenty of obvious ones, but there are also plenty of books out there to deal with those kinds of temptations.  In his book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, Paul David Tripp explores pride and breaks it down many different ways.  In fact, the whole book is about how pastors are tempted to let pride, in one form or another, control their lives.  It is so easy to stop letting the main thing be the main thing in our lives, but it really comes down to the fundamentals; how well and how sincerely we do them.  I highly recommend this book for every pastor.

          There are a few books in our Bibles that tend to be neglected, but it is often not because of their lack of content.  One such example is the letter of Philemon and its powerful message of Christian forgiveness.  I was privileged to teach through the book on Sunday evenings earlier this year.  I used several commentaries but the one I most appreciated was Scot McKnight’s volume The Letter to Philemon in The New International Commentary Series (NICNT).  It gives the reader great background, insights, and perspective without being too wordy or overly theological.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Monday, December 17, 2018

"The Essential Nature of Forgiveness" (Pt. 2) (Dec. 17, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “The Essential Nature of Forgiveness” (Pt. 2)

(Dec. 17, 2018)


     The world struggles, and has always struggled, with the question of what to do with Jesus.  He is both good and bad to them.  He is good because of His love, acceptance, kindness, etc.  But He is bad because to follow Him a person has to admit things about themselves they do not want to admit.  On one hand the world realizes that merely receiving Jesus into their lives is not as simple as “adding Him on” for strength, support, and satisfaction but requires a total life change.  On the other hand, they do not want to make that total life change, but somehow see danger in spurning Him altogether. Therefore, many try to search out and walk some sort of imaginary middle ground path.

          For Jesus to be Lord of your life means you ask Him to take control and the world is not really ready to totally “surrender” control to Him.  People want to maintain control of their own lives and seek their own pleasure(s).  In order to ask Jesus for forgiveness, a person has to first recognize their need for forgiveness and then ask Him for that forgiveness.  No more hiding behind the tired excuse of “Well, I think I am a pretty good person.”  An unsaved person (one still lost in his/her sins) sees themselves as being the center of his/her own world/universe.  Jesus frees a person from that bondage to exclusive self focus!

          A great theologian was once asked what he would say to a lost human being if he only had an hour with him to tell this person how he could have eternal life.  His response was that he would spend the first 50 minutes or so trying to convince them of their own bondage to sin and of their own desperate condition.  Then spend the last 10 minutes presenting Jesus.  While this may seem a little strange or out of balance, the point he was trying to make was that Jesus quickly becomes the obvious answer when people get over that major hurdle of realizing they actually need Jesus!  That is where the real challenge lies  This last Sunday and this next Sunday will see millions and millions of Americans not in church.  The simple reason is that many, if not most, do not really see a need to be there.  The world can even display confidence in their non-attendance of church.  Confidence however, never meant anyone was correct.  We have all known plenty of people who were “confidently” wrong.  The need for every human being is the same – to be forgiven by God. 

          Matthew 6:15 says “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  We all need to be forgiven; forgiven by God and forgiven by other people.  I try to do things right, treat others right, etc. but I fall short and still mess up.  When I do, I have to go back to people and ask their forgiveness.  In doing so, I am reminded again of the many, many things I have been forgiven for by other people, but especially by God.  The world is not preaching forgiveness.  The world is getting a lawyer.  Attorneys are advertising on billboards, television, and radio.  “Forgiveness” does not seem to be a word that resonates well with their profession.  Police officers are setting speed traps and waiting in the wings to catch speeders to write tickets; political operatives are working intently to dig up dirt on political enemies/opponents; scammers are scheming and conniving as to how to bilk people out of more and more money then to run and hide.  Ironically, none of those mentioned above want the same thing done to them as what they are doing to others.  Lawyers do not want to be sued, policemen do not want to receive speeding tickets, political operatives do not want dirt dug up on them, and scammers do not want to be scammed!  They want to be forgiven of their indiscretions, misdemeanors, shortcomings, or necessary measures associated with their jobs.   The world does not live by the “Golden Rule” (Mat. 7:12)  The world and its attitude reminds us of the parable Jesus taught about “The Unforgiving Servant” who was eager to have his transgressions overlooked and be forgiven but he selfishly wanted to hold others to the letter of the law for a comparably smaller offense/debt. (Mat. 18:21-35)

          Through the unfolding of this parable/story, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that God’s astounding forgiveness is the basis for all Christian forgiveness of a brother or sister.  When we keep  the cross of Christ, and the forgiveness of sin/transgressions, in the forefront of our minds it becomes much easier for us to forgive our neighbor.  We must never quite get over the shock and awe of being forgiven of our own sins.  Living day by day mesmerized by the incomparable love of Jesus and His forgiveness of us changes everything about how we view others.  Let us remember of Jesus “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away; and now I sing a brand new song – Amazing Grace the whole day long, Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

"The Essential Nature of Forgiveness" (Pt.1) (Dec. 12, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “The Essential Nature of Forgiveness” (Pt. 1)

(Dec. 12, 2018)
          Have you ever had someone make you angry when you were driving?  Do you suppose you have ever made other people angry with your driving?  When another person does something you do not like out on the road it is very hard not to immediately pass judgment on them.  We must keep in mind that it is also very hard for them to not pass immediate judgment on us when we do something we should not.  Driving incidents are over in seconds, but memories can linger for weeks, maybe longer.  When it comes to driving we can all agree it is much easier to “be forgiven” than it is to “forgive.”

          I believe Jesus knew we would have a hard time with forgiveness because the theme comes up several times in the New Testament.  Out of all the lines in the Lord’s Prayer, for instance, the only one that is expounded upon is the one dealing with forgiveness.  Mat. 6:12 says “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”  Then in vs. 14 the Lord further clarifies what He meant. 

          The fact that the Lord’s Prayer is absent of words like “me” and “I” but uses “we,” “our,” and “us” is very instructive at the point of understanding, and seeing the need for “forgiveness.”  Forgiveness goes beyond the surface and gets underneath.  It exposes things we often wish to remain hidden such as motive and intent.  It even reveals how selfish we can be and that is something few want known.  While forgiveness is closely akin to “self-less-ness,” unforgiveness is closely akin to “self-ish-ness.”

          In Mat. 6:14-15 Jesus teaches “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  We have a need to forgive others.  Jesus does not teach here that we have a need to forgive merely “perceived” transgressions against us but instead for actual, real, painful, wrongs done against us.  Yet, as hard as it may be, we are taught by the Lord that both the principle and practice of forgiveness should always be on display in the lives of Christians.  Think about a runway model modeling clothing.  The fashion being featured is meant to be seen, meant to impress, meant to be coveted/desired.  The clothing designers expect those in attendance to pass judgment on what they see.  There hope is that they will like/enjoy what they see and desire to have it.  When the world sees Christians modeling forgiveness in an “eye for eye; tooth for tooth,” kind of world they cannot help but take notice.  Forgiveness then holds a certain shock value to the world; however for the Christian it should all look completely normal.

          We all have both judgmental tendencies and merciful tendencies.  For believers mercy should always rule over judgment.  James wrote “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)  Many often say “I can forgive but I cannot forget.”  Actually putting being “wronged” by someone behind us once and for all is undeniably difficult.  Ted Kersh, in his book on the Sermon on the Mount, writes “One of the most challenging disciplines of the Christian life is forgiveness.  In fact, the very word ‘forgiveness’ may dredge up distressingly painful memories of events or people we’d give anything to forget . . . but for our own sakes, we must cancel the debt.” (Ted Kersh; The Blessed Life; 104; 106)  The most literal meaning of the word “forgive” means “to hurl away.”  It is a picture of taking something and throwing it away from you as far as your strength can throw it.

In the Christian movie “A Matter of Faith” perhaps the most powerful scene comes when Professor Portland looks at Prefessor Marcus Kaman and says “Marcus, I forgive you.”  He had been blaming him for 12 years for getting him fired from the University, ruining his career, and basically his whole life besides.  He had become a cranky bitter man, but he finally realized he had to forgive in order to move on.

          Forgiveness is a consistent theme throughout all of Scripture.  Believers need to look to great examples of men like Joseph who forgave his brothers for nearly killing him and then selling him.  Stephen, of whom the texts says “He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord do not charge them with this sin.’  And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:20)  And of course, Jesus is the greatest example of all.  He cried out from the cross “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 22:34)  The Lord Jesus, of course, had forgiven many along the way like the woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8), Zacchaeus the tax collector, etc.  He knew how to forgive and He taught His followers to forgive as well.  He did not ask us to do it because it was easy, but precisely because it was hard and unnatural.  In so doing, attention would be brought to the unmistakable power of the Gospel over and above human tendencies.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Monday, November 19, 2018

Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 4) (Nov. 19, 2018)

“Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 4)

(Nov. 19, 2018)


          One of the areas where people often worry most concerns the future.  There is an old French Proverb that says “Never cross a bridge till you get to it.”  George MacDonald put it this way, “No man ever sank under the burden of the day.  It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear.”  Many, many people have suffered much more in this world than they ever needed to, simply because they allowed worry to captivate their attention.

          In Matthew 6:34 Jesus says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.”  Perhaps we all need to adopt an attitude similar to that of the Apostle Paul as he exhorted the Ephesian Elders.  In Acts 20:24 he says to them “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  Throughout Scripture people are repeatedly told to simply trust in the Lord.  When we worry we demonstrate we are not trusting in the Lord like we should.  We reveal that our human weaknesses have gotten the better of us, at least for a time.

          God wants more for us.  He did not create us, die for us, save us, and then expect us to set around worrying!  You were designed for much more than that.  Someone once told his friend, ‘You worry so much you are starting to look like a wart!”   The unsaved world actually has good reason to worry, but not us Christians.  God has promised to take care of us.  Our future is secure in Him! I love the reassuring words of the hymn “God will take Care of You” written by Civilla D. Martin in the early twentieth-century. 


[1]Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath his wings of love abide,

God will take care of you. 


[Chorus] God will take care of you

Through ev’ry day,

o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you. 


[2] Through days of toil when heart does fail,

God will take care of you;

When dangers fierce your path assail,

God will take care of you.


[3] All you may need he will provide,

God will take care of you;

Nothing you ask will be denied,

God will take care of you


[4] No matter what may be the test,

God will take care of you;

Lean, weary one, upon his breast,

God will take care of you.


          The Prophet Isaiah wrote the comforting words “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever.  For in YAH, the Lord is everlasting strength.” (Is. 26:3-4)  Comforting and compelling words indeed!


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Casting All Your Worries on the Lord" (Pt 3) (Nov. 14, 2018)

“Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 3)

(Nov. 14, 2018)


          During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve.  The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care.  But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night.  They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food.  Nothing seemed to reassure them.  Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime.  Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace.  All through the night the bread reminded them ‘Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.’ (Taken from Jeannine K. Brown; Matthew; TTTC Series; 75)  We read in Exodus 16 of how God provided manna (bread) for the children of Israel in the wilderness.  They had to go out and gather it up daily because God wanted them to remember daily to depend on Him.  God desires for us to remember Him and what He has done and what He is doing.  He is “Jehovah-Jirah” our provider; therefore we have no need to worry or fret!  We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

          In Matthew 6:31-32 we read “Therefore do not worry saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”  All too often worry betrays our faith.  We want to be strong and not worry, but worry is so tempting.  Worry is simply irresistible at times. 

          The opposite of worry is confidence.  Remember how last time it was mentioned that worry comes from an old German word that means to “strangle” or “choke?”  Worry tends to strangle or choke out our confidence in God and His promises.  Sadly, worry just seems to be a part of most people’s lives- maybe yours.  Many walk around, spiritually speaking, with a collar of worry that is way too tight.  The very idea of a Christian “worrying” would be almost laughable if it were not a sad reality.  Someone expressed the foolishness of worry through a little humor that brings home the point.  Maybe you have heard this little ditty about worry before “I’ve joined the new ‘don’t worry club,’ in fear I hold my breath, I’m so afraid I’ll worry, I’m worried half to death.” (Taken from Charles Talbert; Reading the Sermon on the Mount; 129)

          Jesus is teaching, for example, that it is unprofitable, even foolish to worry about what you will eat, drink, or wear.  These are the type of mundane things the pagans/Gentiles worry about; not those who know and trust the one true and living God.

          Today young people worry about having just the right athletic shoes, jeans, and backpack for the first day of school.  People worry about whether their neighbors own a nicer car than the one they own.  Studies have shown that one of the biggest worries people have these days is being “unfriended” on Facebook!  We might as well be worrying about the price of eggs in China as to worry about some of the things we do worry about!  Jesus is saying to all of us, ‘Don’t Worry; I’ve got you covered!’  Why then would we continue to worry so much?

          Worry stems from having misplaced priorities.  When we worry, the care/concern for whatever we are worrying about becomes a focus, perhaps a fixation, and we are therefore taking our focus or fixation off God and His Kingdom.  We are not putting it first.  Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”  The world has no idea how to put God first, but strangely, and sadly, even many believers are not putting His Kingdom first either.

          To seek the Kingdom is to seek the King; to love Him as Savior and Friend, to bow to him as Lord, to trust the God who has redeemed us.  To seek the Kingdom is to evangelize, that is to point others toward the Kingdom.  It is to introduce them to our King and Lord. To seek the Kingdom is to submit personally to God’s reign by obeying Him.  We seek the Kingdom when we obey God at some level of personal cost.  A Christian business owner, for example, seeks the Kingdom when he closes his stores on Sunday, even though it is a good day for sales, so that he can worship and rest and model the same for his employees.  Chick-fil-A restaurants are a prime example of a successful business where following Godly principles are elevated above serving the bottom line.  “Black Friday” retailers serve as examples of those not putting God’s Kingdom first.  In fact they have found a way to put a serious damper on two major holidays; Thanksgiving, by using it only as a launching pad for their sales extravaganzas and Christmas by totally misrepresenting the meaning of the holiday which is actually about celebrating the birth of the Savior and the hope He brings to mankind. 

          There are many practical ways that God’s Kingdom should be given first place.  These include things such as voting for candidates, on every level, that demonstrate real concern for God’s Kingdom and His righteousness and vote against candidates that demonstrate little or no concern for God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  To seek God’s Kingdom first means to consistently look beyond this world to the millennial reign of Christ which is far, far better than anything we now know.  To seek God’s Kingdom first means we invest in things of eternal value and do not waste time, money, or effort in doing things that really have no eternal value/significance.  To seek God’s Kingdom means to put God first, others second, and ourselves last.  To seek God’s Kingdom means to put basic fundamental things like church, Sunday School, prayer meetings, Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, etc. above our personal comfort or personal list of things to do. 

          Commentator Daniel Doriani writes “The context [of Mat. 6:33] suggests that seeking the Kingdom especially means dethroning wealth and possessions as our first pursuits.  We must not hoard treasures or live for pleasure, but put our treasure in heaven by giving to kingdom causes.” (Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of the Kingdom; 180-81)  All too often, money makes our decisions for us as we go through life.  Is money your Lord?  Is it what you worry about?  You may say, of course not, but a closer, more honest examination may reveal otherwise.  To seek God’s Kingdom first means all else must be dethroned in our lives and the pursuit of God and His Kingdom must reign supreme.  This is the formula Jesus gave for how not to worry.  Simply seek God’s Kingdom first.  Make it your top priority and worry will quickly fade.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"Casting All Your Worries on the Lord" (Pt. 2) (Nov. 7, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 2)

(Nov. 7, 2018)


          Worry is not only ill-advised, it is simply unnecessary.  It does not help and, in fact, it actually hurts the one doing the worrying.  It adds stress to our lives, stress to our bodies and to its various functions.  Most important of all, worry is sinful.  Worry is a failure to trust God.  In worrying we offer a poor witness for our Savior as believers.  An unbeliever might legitimately ask of a believer why he/she should receive Jesus as Lord if they are going to still have the same old worries?

          In Matthew 6:26-30 Jesus taught “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”  Have you ever seen a bird begging for food?  Have you seen a lily pulling its pedals out over a bad color job?  God provides for them!  And they are not even said to be made in the “image and likeness of God” such as are human beings. Can a person add to their stature?  “Stature” used here probably means “length of life,” or “age.”  The word “cubit” then means a “length” of time not a “distance.”

          Commentator Douglas O’Donnell gives a great illustration in his commentary on Matthew at this point by using the pyramids.  We think of Egypt when we think about them but, in reality, there were/are elaborate pyramids in China, France, Greece, India, Italy, Cambodia, and the Americas.  The oldest and largest of the Egyptian pyramids was the Great Pyramid of Giza (one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World).  Architecturally it is a wonder, but theologically it is a colossal blunder.  Important and wealthy people were buried with their treasures because they believed they could somehow take them to the afterlife with them.  Now, many centuries later, as they are excavated we see the foolish reality of how they worried about treasure.  In fact, they look ridiculous for putting so much work into something that was impossible to achieve.  O’Donnell writes “The only purpose the pyramids serve would be centuries later when they were excavated by overly educated explorers, only to display their contents in some museum where day after day cranky schoolchildren are pulled along by their teachers to help them gain an appreciation for history and civilization.  The pyramids are just big illustrations of how right Jesus was and how foolish people can be.” (Douglas Sean O’Donnell; Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth; 181)  People in ancient times worried and fretted about taking their “stuff” to the afterlife.  It was important to them to maintain their royal status in the next world.  Not surprisingly when these pyramids have been explored all things are as they were when they were put in there, minus of course the things stolen by grave robbers over the centuries.

          The possessions, and the cares and concerns they bring, often capture people.  In Matthew 6, the question is raised, why would, for instance, people possibly worry about something as mundane and unimportant as clothing?  Clothing was a necessary item, however it was seen in very basic terms by people in antiquity.  To us, by contrast in the 21st century, clothing is much more of an idol.  We are told in this passage that even King Solomon, in his wealth and splendor and glory, was not adorned as fancy as how God decorates the landscape with beauty.  Every beast and every undesirable creature like snakes and insects are provided for by God!  And even possess a certain beauty and unmistakable intricacy.

          How many people worry about money/incomes/jobs/ being able to pay bills, etc?  Yet God is providing for insects, plants, snakes, lizards, etc!  Jesus knew people would worry themselves crazy over things like they do – money and the things money can buy.  The New Testament has much to say about money.  John MacArthur writes “Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables of Jesus deal with money.  One out of ten verses in the New Testament deal with that subject.  Scripture offers about five hundred verses on prayer, fewer than five hundred on faith, and over two thousand on money.  The believer’s attitude toward money and possessions is determinative.” (John MacArthur; Matthew Vol. 1; 418)  Is there really any need to worry about money and the things money can buy?  No.  Someone wrote a short poem that makes a very powerful point about the foolishness of worrying about simple things beyond our control.  “Said the robin to the sparrow; I would really like to know; why these anxious human beings; rush around and worry so.  Said the sparrow to the robin, Friend, I think that it must be; that they have no heavenly Father; such as cares for you and me.” (Taken from Charles Allen; The Sermon on the Mount; 143)

          Abstaining from worry, as much as possible, is one of the biggest keys to happiness.  When we keep everything God has promised in perspective it becomes much easier not to worry.  Michael Green cites a great illustration portraying the sort of perspectives believers should have.  “There is, in the life of the fourteenth-century German mystic Johann Tauler, a remarkable story that shows something of the attitude Jesus was looking for in his disciples.  One day Tauler met a beggar.  ‘God give you a good day, my friend,’ he said.  The beggar answered, ‘I thank God I never had a bad one.’  Then Tauler said, ‘God give you a happy life, my friend.’  ‘I thank God,’ said the beggar, ‘that I am never unhappy.’  In amazement Tauler asked, ‘What do you mean?’  ‘Well,’ said the beggar, ‘when it is fine I thank God.  When it rains I thank God.  When I have plenty I thank God.  When I am hungry I thank God.  And since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?’  Tauler looked at the man in astonishment.  ‘Who are you?’  he asked.  ‘I am a king,’ said the beggar.  ‘Where then is your kingdom?’ asked Tauler, the beggar replied quietly, ‘In my heart.’”  (Michael Green; The Message of Matthew; 105)  The only possible way a person could have an attitude anything similar to this beggar is to be a totally dependent Christian who has truly trusted God with everything.  This is what we are all called upon to be, but so few really are.  Do we believe God’s promises or not?  If Jesus is living in your heart you have what it takes to depend on Him this way.  If not, you need to trust Him as your Lord and Savior.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, November 1, 2018

"Casting All Your Worries on the Lord" (Pt. 1) (Nov. 1, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 1)

(Nov. 1, 2018)


          Several years ago I had a strong desire to attend seminary but there did not seem an obvious path for me to fulfill that desire.  I had prayed for a few years that God would open that door and provide the way.  I thought my prayer was being answered when, in the early 2000s Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY began offering online courses.  I signed up and began taking classes but after 3 semesters I had exhausted the number of hours (1/3 of the degree requirements) that they would allow to be taken online.  I finally resolved that I had to do what I knew I could have done all along but did not have enough faith to do; that was to simply resign my pastorate, rent a moving truck, and move to Louisville, KY, enroll in classes and allow God to take care of the details.  So, after a few weeks of dedicated prayer I announced my resignation in December and in January we loaded our belongings on a truck and with our 4 young children moved to Sellersburg, Indiana just across the Ohio river from Louisville, KY home of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  There were many unanswered questions and many fears and anxieties crept in, but my faith in God was strong.  In my heart and mind, this was what God was leading us to do.  The short version of what happened is that God did indeed provide in ways I could never have imagined.  He provided for us financially through a handful of people, he gave us a great church, great friends, a great place to live, and the on-campus experience at the seminary was so much more than I could ever have imagined.  In 2004 I earned my long-desired Master of Divinity degree.

          There is an old saying which goes “Never be afraid to trust a known God, to handle an unknown future.”  Jesus knew people’s natures and he knew they would always be prone to worry so He gave us many assurances in His Word.  One thing I learned through my seminary experience and through many twists and turns that life brings is that God often takes a step back from us in order that we might grow toward Him.

          Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Mat. 6:25)  The conjunctive word “therefore” in vs. 25 links together what has been said with what is now being said.  Clearly this passage has a connection with money/wealth/riches just like the last passage discussed by Jesus in vs. 24 where He said “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat. 6:24)

          The English word “worry” comes from an old German word meaning to “strangle” or “choke.”  Worry is essentially a failure to trust God.  Worry comes and attempts to “strangle” or “choke” out God’s promises in our lives.  And it often causes disciples to be “of little faith.”  Commentator Robert Mounce goes so far as to say “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”   I believe Oswald Chambers brings it home the best when he writes “Most of us are pagans in a crisis; we think and act like pagans.  Only one out of a hundred is daring enough to bank his or her faith in the character of God.” (Oswald Chambers; Studies in the Sermon on the Mount; 65)

          In Matthew 6:25 Jesus tells people specifically to not worry about “your life,”  “what you will eat,” “what you will drink,” “your body,” and “what you will wear.”  Isn’t there more to life than these things?  Absolutely there is!  If a person is worrying about small, trivial things, then it stands to reason they are going to be worrying about everything!

          We live in a “self-indulgent” culture, and with that “self-indulgence” there seems to crop up a lot of anxiety/worry.  A man named Thomas Kepler wrote a book many years ago that tells about how a group of 104 psychologists came together with the cases they were dealing with in order to determine the things that were bringing people (their patients) the most anxiety.  They determined that at around age 18 people worry most about ideals.  At age 20, people worry most about appearance.  By age 26 the biggest worry is about making a good impression.  By age 30 the salary they are drawing and the cost of living top the list.  By age 32 about overall success in their career field.  By age 34 it is about job security.  By age 41 anxiety over politics tops the list.  By age 43 it is anxiety over marital problems.  By age 45 there is anxiety over the loss of ambition they once had.  By the time a person is over 45 their greatest anxiety is concerning their health.  When looking at this list, it becomes quite clear that worry is useless.  Worry is unfaithfulness to the God that we call our Savior.  If He is our Savior He has “saved” us from the need to worry so much!  The only people in this world who should legitimately worry are non-believers; only they have something very real to worry about!

          I have done my fair share of worrying.  Some things I worried about never came to pass.  Some things I worried about did come to pass but I could not have stopped them.  Worry will crowd out trust if we let it.  God wants us to give all the things we cannot control over to Him, which is most things.  There are many benefits to doing so.  It takes the burden off of us, but it also deepens our trust in, and overall relationship with Christ.  My experience of taking the step of faith to move as we did near the seminary campus was a life-changing event for me in more ways than I can count.  God grew me spiritually through it all and the person I am today was heavily shaped through that experience which seemed scary at the time.  I have a feeling God may be waiting to shape you as well if you will take a step of faith with Him.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor

Thursday, October 4, 2018

"Be Extra Careful How You Judge" (Part 2) (October 4, 2018)

“Be Extra Careful How You Judge” (Pt. 2)
         The majority of us would not like to be judged by the same standards by which we judge other people.  The Apostle Paul called for extreme caution when he wrote to the Romans in 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”  It is very hard to avoid a double standard; however, simply realizing tendencies to which we are prone allows us to guard our thoughts and actions in judgment. 

          We all want other people, and especially God, to judge us with mercy and compassion. All too often we do not exercise the same mercy and compassion in our judgments of others.    Commentator Daniel Doriani writes “Since we all violate the standards that we use to measure others, we are all liable to God’s judgment.  But if we hope to receive mercy from God, we ought to show mercy.” (Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of the Kingdom; 189)  The simple question for all to answer is “How do I really see others?”  Do I see people as hurting individuals in need of God?  Do I see them as lost souls in need of forgiveness and salvation?  Or, do I see them like the Pharisees, and other religious leaders, saw them in their day.  We have a very insightful occurrence in the Gospels when a Pharisee and tax collector were both at the temple to pray.  The tax collector beat on his breasts and cried out “Lord have mercy on me a sinner!” while the Pharisee piously thanked the Lord that he was so much better than the lowly tax collector and went on to list all the “self-righteous” things that he had done!  We read this account and it seems almost funny to the point of absurdity; however, Jesus sees much of what we do as foolishly absurd also.  We are walking bundles of contradictions when it comes to right and wrong!  A man named George Waelis Koch wrote “There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.”  Commentator Charles Allen adds “Don’t look for the faults as you go through life, and even when you find them, it’s wise and kind to be somewhat blind, and look for the virtues behind them.” (Charles L. Allen; The Sermon on the Mount; 150-51)

          In Matthew 7:3-5 Jesus explains how many were concerned about a speck of dust in someone else’s eye while there was a “plank” in their own eye.  He was telling them they were hypocrites and did not even know it!  Are we really any better than the legalistic religious leaders in Jesus’ day?  Do we engage in the same sorts of behavior as they?  If you hate half-truths and lies in others but turn around and tell half-truths and lies you are being a hypocrite.  If you hate gossip when others are gossiping but you repeat gossip yourself you are being a hypocrite.  If you hate people breaking commitments, but then you break your commitments you are being a hypocrite.  If you condemn theft yet you are not completely honest when it comes to your own finances you are being a hypocrite.  Do you hate careless remarks when others make them but think nothing of it when you make them?  If so, you are a hypocrite. 

          In Matthew 7:5 Jesus, in fact, bluntly calls them “hypocrites!”  He tells them to get their “stuff” together first and remove the “plank” from their own eye and then they will be able to see clearly to help their brother or sister remove the “speck” from their own eye.  Jesus is saying to them the “plank” in your eye is obstructing your vision and you cannot properly see to assist others.  If you love your brother or sister, as you should, you will judge righteously, but if you only love yourself, you will naturally judge harshly.

          The problem often is that people only love themselves.  Yet, Jesus tells everyone “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  We would not want anyone to know that we are self-centered but the cold hard truth is that everything always seems to be about us!  Many can condemn everyone and everything around them as inferior, inadequate, and insignificant, but strangely believe what they say, do, and think is vitally important.  This is not how Jesus wanted us to live.   As Christians there is a better way to live.  We must not be the center of our own universe.  Jesus must be at the center!  If He is at the center, we will see other people as we see ourselves.

          Some believers need an extractor to get the plank taken out of their own eyes so that they can see clearly to help a fellow man with his problems and difficulties.  We are fellow strugglers all striving to make it through life and find hope and salvation.  The Great Commission Jesus gave could be stated this way “Go out and tell others about the hope that you have found.”  Doing what is right, judging all things righteously, and practicing forgiveness, is strong evidence for possessing a heart that has been changed by the power of the Gospel.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, September 27, 2018

"Be Extra Careful How You Judge" (Part 1) (Sept. 27, 2018)

          Throughout time, people have had the tendency to judge other people by different standards than they judge themselves.  Within the church this is also true.  The sins, faults, and shortcomings of others are often judged harshly while glaring sins in one’s own life are ignored.  Someone has wisely said “We need to deal with the faults of others as gently as our own.”  Jesus knew our tendency to judge with unbalanced scales would always be a problem for people; therefore He gives plenty of warnings to judge all things righteously.  Judgement itself is not really the problem, but it is the type of judgment we often use that is at issue.  Judgment should always we discerning and compassionate and free of hypocrisy to the greatest degree possible.

          We cannot make “righteous” judgments until we have the right view of God.  Many who do not know God at all are commonly passing judgments.  Many who could not quote John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm, or The Golden Rule seem to know Matthew 7:1 which says “Judge not that you be not judged.”  It has become a mantra for the biblically illiterate generation to justify their own behavior and the behavior of others to whom they are sympathetic.  The world likes the adage “I’m ok, you’re ok,” but that cannot be true.  It is not true because it would elevate diversity of thought to the place of the highest good over and above God’s Word or any other truth that could be viewed as absolute. 

          Sadly, many who do not care about the Ten Commandments, the resurrection of Christ, the second coming, Heaven, etc. somehow care about Matthew 7:1.  The reason is clear.  This verse is used by many to selectively “self justify” themselves, and is further used as a battering ram against anyone who tells them they are wrong. 

          If we take Matthew 7:1 in its most literal sense we cannot or should not judge anything, but is that what Jesus is teaching?  Clearly, no one could make it through a day of their lives without making many judgment calls.  In most contexts no one really cares if judgments are made.  For instance, consider two people watching a football game.  One says, “that coach should be fired!” Does the other one say “Judge not that you be not judged?”  How about two people watching a presidential debate.  One candidate says something one person watching does not like and he comments “That person should not be allowed to run for President.”  Does the other person respond “Judge not that you be not judged?”  What about if two people are talking and one says “I think Whataburger makes the best hamburgers around; they are so much better than McDonalds.”  Does the other respond “Judge not that you be not judged?”  What about a judge in a courtroom rendering a verdict?  Does the lawyer for the losing party stand and shout out “Judge not that you be not judged?”  What about if two people are talking and one says “I do not believe two men should be allowed to marry one another.”  The other responds “Judge not that you be not judged.”  Awe . . . Now finally, here is where we are likely to hear this verse quoted! There are plenty of examples that could be used here but we can easily see how selective we are about how that verse is used in our society?

          What is really going on here in Matthew 7:1 when Jesus warns about judgment is that He is continuing the same theme of the entire Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7) and emphasizing the necessity of making righteous judgments in all things.  Again, apart from a right view of God, there will be no righteous judgments made.

          Jesus made judgments all the time.  He judged people, He judged places, and He judged things.  He is though emphasizing the importance of exercising the right kind of judgment as a part of overall righteous living in all things.  Commentator David Turner writes “The Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount clearly would not deny the existence of moral absolutes from which one can make absolute statements about right and wrong, good and evil . . . Jesus Himself makes such judgments.” (David L. Turner; Matthew; BECNT; 205)  How then can we be righteous in our judgments?  Hebrews 5:14 is very instructive here. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  The key word here is “Maturity.”  Without spiritual maturity we will not be able to make righteous decisions; we probably will not even come close!  Right judgment begins with God’s Word; not with us!

          We have probably all made statements which were perceived by someone else as passing harsh judgment and condemnation on another and it was not received well.  I remember one such time where someone reacted to something I wrote by responding “Only God can judge.”  My response to this lady was “You are absolutely right.  But, on what basis does He judge?”  What I wanted this lady to see was that God has already told us in His Word, the Bible, how He judges all things.  It is no mystery; there is no guesswork when it comes to major moral issues.  Any ambiguity is only in a person’s mind or can be attributed to their lack of understanding.

          When people say we cannot and should not judge things that are clearly discussed in His Word they are, in effect, saying God’s Word is not sufficient on the matter at hand, or perhaps on any matter!  That is a grave error.  What kind of God would tell us something is wrong in His written Word when He really considers it right or ok?  Or, what kind of God would tell us something is good or ok in His written Word when in reality He does not consider it right or ok?  Only a very cruel, whimsical, sort of God would mislead the ones He created down the wrong path.  Scripture says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”  We can be supremely confident that God will judge all people according to His written, revealed Word.  It is the most fair and loving thing He could possibly do.

          When we judge with righteous or Godly judgment, we are judging with God’s Word clearly guiding us.  With the knowledge we then poses we can help guide others toward the truth.  To accept everything at face value and leave people alone in their sins just because they quip “Judge not” is not the most loving thing to do.  Jude, in his epistle, warned others to have compassion and save some so as by fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh (Jude vs. 22-23)  Satan has fooled and is fooling many into thinking their sins are all ok, and further he has fooled many into believing that acceptance of sin and sinful lifestyles are the most loving thing to do; but God’s Word is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword and can cut through everything else finally making its way to the sinful human heart.  It is the heart that needs to be changed.  Until the heart desires God, everything else it desires will fail to satisfy.  As we judge righteously, we need to remember everything begins with the right view of God.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor