Monday, July 23, 2018

The Gospel according to…Job.

Yesterday I had a great opportunity to share the gospel. I knew a few weeks in advance so I spent the time preparing my message. I like to share how God is working in my life so I prepped to share the gospel in Numbers. I struggled with it. I worked on it. I prayed about it. I wrote out the message, rewriting it over and over.

Saturday morning I had opportunity to sit down with friends, share a great breakfast, a good cup of coffee and chat. We have been talking for weeks how God uses people, events, struggles and even dogs to teach us His ways. Then we got into Job chapter 1. That’s when the disagreements started. Please note, contrary to popular opinion i.e the news, it is possible for a group of people with differing opinions to discuss their differences in a reasonable and rational way. This should be especially true when the group is a body of believers in Christ.

However, the more we talked the more convinced I became that God would have me speak on Job 1 on Sunday. Our disagreement centered on whether God caused or God allowed the series of events that happened to him. Every one of us who have been in ministry whether preaching, teaching, counseling or discipling know how I felt. I had spent weeks preparing the message for Sunday and now here it was less than 24 hours away and I was starting to read Job 1, intent to follow God’s lead and see what I could learn about the life of arguably the  second most  persecuted man in history. Christ being the first.

You know the story but I hope my words challenge you to look again at the life of Job. God’s own description of Job included his upright character, his blameless lifestyle, his fear of God and his turning from evil. Having God describe him like that humbles me. No one I know including God would describe me that way. But what jumped out at me most and what separates Job from most people I have ever talked to who have gone through serious trouble was his response.


The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

We could get into many discussions on Job and we could spend years studying this one great book. We could talk about  his wife’s response…curse God and die or the counselors God sent to comfort him but I challenge you to look at the another opposite response, from God.

After sending (or allowing) all these ‘horrific’ things into Job’s life all at once, God didn’t pat him on the back, hug him and say, it is ok Job, I still love you. How does this compare with how we respond to those who come to us sharing their troubles? If someone comes crying to you because of fear, anxiety, depression, worry, marriage problems, children problems, financial problems, etc. how will you disciple them?

 God confronted Job. Get dressed, stand up like a man and answer me…Where you there when the foundations of the world were formed? After blasting Job for 3 chapters, Job was crushed even more than he was after losing everything. He finally saw God for who He is. There was nothing he could say. We all need to get to this point. We need to help everyone God sends our way to get to the point of seeing our absolute need for the Savior.

He repented!

When he repented, God restored him twofold.

I thank God for changing my direction, in 1987 when I was headed for destruction and Saturday when He lead me to learning about Job. Pray for me that I become blameless, upright, fearing God and turning from evil but more importantly please pray that God teach me how to respond like Job in worship and repentance.

I love to share what God is doing and how He is teaching me I thank John Ballard of Shell Banks for the opportunity to share His Word.

If for any reason, at any time I can help you in any way my ministering friends, please let me know. I am here, for you.

Please do me a favor and share this with your friends in the ministry: pastors, ministry leaders, deacons, elders, teachers and those active in making disciples. Thank you for all you do, for Him.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Old Deluder

Six score and nine years before Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine and John Adams penned the constitution John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the Old Deluder Act of 1647. It established public schools in America to teach children to read the Bible and thus defeat Satan.

Imagine, the purpose of our schools was to keep children from being deceived by Satan. Harvard was founded only 11 years earlier with this stated purpose:

After God had carried us safely to New England, and we had built our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government; one of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance learning, and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.”

In the Harvard student handbook, you find:

1.     The purpose of your studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life. John 17:3

2.     Jesus is the foundation of all learning. Proverbs 2:3

3.     Since the Lord only gives wisdom, seek Him in prayer.

4.     Every student shall spend time at least twice a day studying Scripture.

5.     He will be ready to give account of what he has learned, applying spiritual truth. Psalm 119:130

6.     He will carefully retain God and His truth, so He does not give them over to a reprobate mind. 2 Thessalonians 2:11, Romans 1:28

Note that the Scripture references are not mine but put there by the board of Harvard.

Fast forward about 320 years (16 score) and if you were sitting in my second-grade class at Cahaba Heights Elementary you would have heard our teacher share a devotion from the Bible, then we would recite the 23rd Psalm and the pledge of allegiance then the principal would come over the intercom and pray for our safety, our learning, our families and the day God had given us.

Now, 50 years later, not only have we given up on teaching the Bible, but we have thrown out everything connected to it while at the same time embracing secular humanism, atheism, psychology, and almost all other ‘religions’.

We tout it is progressive thinking and we pat ourselves on the back for our wise rise to self-autonomy but the very roots of this come from a very old source: Satan himself.

In Genesis chapter 2 God said, ““You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat4 of it you mshall surely die.” One rule. One tree. Everything else Adam and Eve wanted to do or eat was theirs.

But Satan was crafty. He cast doubt in Eve’s mind... ’Did God actually say…then he created unbelief, you won’t die, you will become like God knowing good and evil.

The puritans who saw the benefits of using the Bible for education, the framers of the constitution who viewed the God of the Bible as authority for establishing our laws, the pastors who later started the Great Awakening all looked not to some unknown or unknowable God but the God of creation, for strength, for wisdom, for education, for provision, for everything they needed.

Society tells us, especially educators, point quickly to the vast amount of knowledge we have accumulated in the last 150 years yet like Adam and Eve we bite the apple (Ever notice the Apple logo with the bite out of it?) of temptation wanting to believe we can be like God or even better. * We think we are smarter, having proved there is no God or revealing Him now dead. We believe we are wiser for we now ‘know’ so much we can’t seem to find in the Bible. We know we are more compassionate for we continually must go in and provide for those who suffer through hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes and school shootings, since God won’t do it. Most of all we know for sure there is no hell and no Satan to run it.

Maybe, just maybe, our forefathers were smart because they depended on God for answers. Today, ironically, we declare our independence not only of England 242 years ago but of the King who required we serve God the way he wanted.

I think maybe it is time for another revolution, one where we repent and learn to worship God the way HE wants us to worship. This Independence Day let’s declare our dependence on Him.

Here is the link to the movie trailer, Monumental.

It will challenge the American history you learned in school.

Also, I have attached a copy of America at the Crossroads, a study guide for those who seek to learn from Scripture and apply it to the nightly news. The study guide is free, but you can purchase the DVD teaching series at:

C.S. Lewis wrote Screwtape Letters, his way of thinking through just how Satan ‘deludes’ us every day. I have attached of copy of this great must-read classic.


·       One of the books I am working on will be titled Iàgod, taking a serious look at how we in America today think we are better than God.

Friday, June 15, 2018

How My Father-in-law taught me to pick up chicks…
Reminiscing on father’s day brings me to think fondly of my dad driving me to junior high in a dune buggy or taking my friends and I to the races at Talladega. My dad also taught me many things, how to work hard, how to be a good friend and how to enjoy life by doing what you love to do. I followed his lead. No, I absolutely did not become a mechanic. I lived much of my life as a landscaper. I love plants but I found myself more and more talking to my customers not about the black leaves on their Crape Myrtles but about the blackness in our hearts.
But what I think of most on Father’s Day is how my father-in-law taught me to pick up chicks. Don’t laugh too hard. This system works. It is 100% guaranteed. I owe it all to Aubrey Tarpley.
When we moved down to Gulf Shores, my wife’s parents bought a house near us in a retirement community that has an assisted living facility on site. They were thinking ahead. You see my mother-in-law had an accident years earlier and along with Rheumatoid Arthritis suffered to the point of barely being able to get around. Soon they moved into an assisted living apartment where my father-in-law was seen kindly, gently, lovingly and respectfully helping her do everything. Everything.
His focus, at least for the last five years of her life was on her. His goals, his dreams, his adventures were put aside as he lived to encourage, uplift and love her, making her days and nights as pleasant as possible.
The staff, residents and visitors to the assisted living facility noticed. At Jean’s funeral and especially afterward I noticed an odd thing. The women flocked to Aubrey like starving bees to honey. I watched in shock as they actually lined up to console him, offering their assistance in any way. Hugging him, holding his hand even kissing his cheek they fawned over him.
I was so jealous. Not only the octogenarian residents of the upscale facility but the young nurses and friends of the family were eager to do anything they could to help him in his grief.
Don’t get me wrong I am very happy in our marriage and our lives recently have leaned in the same direction since my wife’s stroke. But I learned my lesson quickly and thoroughly. Before marriage dating was all about me and in fact much of the first half of our marriage was too. However, I am slowly learning to be as good and kind and loving and respectful as my father-in-law was.
On Father’s Day memories flood back. Memories of commitment, perseverance, dedication taught to me by the two fathers God gave me. Each in their own way pointing me toward the Father who loved me the most. The one Who died for me. You or someone you know struggles with their father or their attitude toward him. This provides a great opportunity to talk to them about their Father. We have resources available and we are willing to walk with you this Father’s Day.

Monday, May 28, 2018

My Favorite Place

Looking out the window of  the SICU room at Pensacola’s Sacred Heart hospital I saw the spot where nine years ago I put the star on top of the 75' Christmas tree. My mind wandered back to the time when I cautiously stepped foot into the small bucket of the 75' lift that would bring to completion weeks of work on the tree seen around Pensacola.
Inch by inch we moved up the side of the tree, every foot higher I heard my heart beating louder. I couldn't do it, my knees were shaking so hard I thought the  lift would topple over.

Nine years later my knees were sore from spending all night praying for my wife of 30 years. The night before I had come home from my work at the rescue mission to find my wife laying passed out on the floor near comatose from a stroke.

Once the paramedics got her in the ambulance and to Sacred Heart they told me her blood sugar was over 1400, 14 times average. The resulting stroke may have permanently damaged her brain. “If she makes it through the night, there is a chance she will live, but she could be a vegetable, we just don’t know yet,” the doctor told me.

Two weeks of ICU, a week step down, another week in the hospital, three weeks in rehab, another eight weeks in a hospital bed in our living room with rehab nurses checking her daily and a feeding tube that lasted another two months resulted in an effective but costly and undesirable weight loss program. We don’t recommend it.

We share this not to get your pity but to challenge you to remember a time when all seemed lost, when nothing was going right and the world looked dark.

No one except maybe a crazed self-absorbed man bent on ultimate divorce would ever pray, ‘God, please give my wife a stroke.’ Yet thinking back to that dreadful night on my knees at Sacred Heart hospital, we have seen God at work, selecting just the right nurse, the perfect doctor, a host of home health and rehabilitation folks to guide us through this difficult time. Not only that  He continually paraded in front of us our friends offering to help in very specific, very direct ways.

Most of all though: He worked on our hard hearts. You see prior to her stroke, even though I was working at a rescue mission for homeless and addicted men and my wife was working as a seemingly lone Christian in a very hedonistic organization, our hearts were far from Him. I can help these guys, I would say. My wife would add that she too was alone making a difference in her work. In both cases we didn’t acknowledge that He might need to work on us too.

The men at the mission began reaching out to me, gathering around to pray for me, bringing me an extra piece of chocolate cake, coming into my office to comfort me. I was supposed to be the chaplain. I was a biblical counselor yet God used those men to humble me and teach me His ways.

My wife who had always had the perfect home, clean, neat, always tidy discovered over the next few months what was really important. We both turned to Him in fresh new waves of dependence and trust. Doubts  crept in. What if she doesn’t get better? What if she never goes back to work? What if another stroke kills her? But they were always replaced with support, encouragement and His provision.

Daily we would get new bills but  miraculously there was always money to pay. God taught us to depend on Him fresh each day. One such day, many months later I hesitatingly called Sacred Heart. “We haven’t received a bill.” And every time I called they would say we are still talking with the insurance companies, often it takes a year or so before you receive a bill. Wow, what a relief, by then my wife will be back at work and we will have saved enough to at least put a down payment on what we owed the hospital.

The bill that would be over $100,000 even with our insurance was something I admit woke me up at night. Finally, the one year mark came and I forced myself to call.

The billing department clerk found my file and said, sir, we show no payment is needed. What? What do you mean? I asked. She said, your account is paid in full!

That night as I led the chapel service I shared how God had provided in such a wonderful and unexpected way but it was only the beginning of the change that He is still working on since that horrible night in the ICU at Sacred Heart.

You see, He doesn’t want us comfortable, rich and self-absorbed. He works to lovingly teach us to be dependent on Him for everything. We need to stop and thank Him for loving us enough to not leave us in our defiant, self-oriented mindset.

It can start anywhere at anytime. An ICU room, an oncologists office, a funeral parlor or a in the middle of a war, all work to begin changing our lives to see them as He does. Are you listening?

My favorite place of all time? Wherever I see Him working. It is Memorial Day and it is good and right to remember those who fought and died for our freedoms. In that vein you will find attached articles that deal with tough times in the hospital, family crisis and helping those with PTSD. 
One day soon I'd like to share a story of how God works in the most difficult of circumstances. Imagine you are at Pearl Harbor as the Japanese are bombing and later God asks you to forgive the man who bombed you. Could you? Would you? I know a guy who did! 
If this all sounds crazy to you, let's talk. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mother’s Day. A day of prayer.

Two years ago we celebrated Mother’s Day with the death of our Mom. Many of you won’t understand that. How can you celebrate in the middle of grief? How can you commemorate Mother’s Day when Mom is no longer with you? How can you ever get over losing someone so close to you?

It is true it has been two years and there are still times I wish I could pick up the phone and share my accomplishments, my pain and my gripes, but mostly my gripes. Mom would patiently listen to my griping about my boss, about my sore back, about my forgetfulness, about traffic, about our unruly puppies, then she would laugh, adding, “it only gets worse.” Thanks Mom. You really know how to encourage. But, she was right. She usually was.

Traffic has gotten worse. Aches and pains have increased. Our newest puppies do not mind better. And yes I am more…What was I saying?

I may remember on Mother’s Day how much I miss her. I may be reminded of her when my cell phone rings, or the roast comes out of the oven (her recipe), or I get mad at the driver in front of me on the road yet what I remember best is what makes Mother’s Day so special now. This Sunday when we go to church, someone will pray. Prayer reminds me more of Mom than a pink Azalea, a Blue Jay, a little black MG, or an episode of M.A.S.H.

That is what makes her death so cherished to me. She taught me how to pray. More importantly she taught me why to pray. Mom set aside 3 main prayer times during her day. In the morning she would thank God for all He does. This included:

Another day, breathing (something that comes hard every second with Emphazema, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis), her family. her church, her friends, her life, God’s provision…this went on for an hour at times.

Mid-afternoon she would pray for others, those who asked her to pray for them, people others asked her to pray for (people called her constantly to add __________ to her list). This could take a long time as each prayer included details of the person being prayed for and usually led to the person who asked for her to pray. This time was not about her. It was for others.

At the end of the evening, as she lay down, she would thank God for the day and add any new prayers but mostly she begged His forgiveness for where she had failed Him today. Usually at this point she would fall asleep, content in His forgiveness.

You might wonder what an 80 year old woman who spent her day in prayer for others, focusing on their needs would have to ask forgiveness for. Her evening prayers consisted of asking forgiveness for lost opportunities mostly. “I forgot to thank that kind man who helped me with my groceries today.”

Don’t get me wrong, I could choose to remember how she corrected me when I was wrong or made me come home earlier than other Mom’s did. I could dredge up things she did that hurt me or stay focused on times when she got angry. But, I won’t. I refuse to do that.

Mom wasn’t perfect. As I got older, I had the privilege to get to know her as an adult. What an honor. Best memories? Easter Sunrise service at Brother Bryan Park, my prayer for snow New Year’s eve 1964…(she said you can’t pray selfishly like that)…second worst snowstorm in Birmingham’s history…and praying with her at her apartment.

How awesome to hear my Mom going to the Father, for me. She had done it thousands of times before. She was practiced at praying for others. My prayer is she passed this passion for prayer on to all her family and friends.

Thanks Mom. Love you! See you soon.