What The Lord Has Done For Me...the preacher's blog

Thoughts from Joey Ferrell through study of the scriptures, fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters, encouraging words, articles, thoughts and ramblings.

 

Please feel free to interact, but be kind.

 

I can be reached via email at joey@joeyferrell.com

I want more! - Joey Ferrell

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, then He made man and blessed him with the whole of the earth.

Man wanted more...

Man soon found himself in a predicament.  The world was evil and God decided that He wanted to destroy it all.  A righteous man found favor in the eyes of God, and God blessed him with saving him and his family.  His family was blessed with replenishing the earth.  But, soon after...

Man wanted more...

Abraham was blessed with being a great man in a land of plenty.  When that land became less than what he needed, he asked God to bless him and his nephew Lot with the land needed to tend their flock and take care of their families.

Man wanted more...

Moses was called to be a blessing to the children of Israel in captivity.  God blessed Moses with all that he needed; food, water, shelter, guidance, and deliverance from his enemies.  God blessed the children of Israel with freedom from bondage.

Man wanted more...

We know that David was a man after God's own heart.  He was faithful to God in leadership, lamenting in prayer, and in leading others to Him.  Yet, David soon fell to the whiles of adultery and murder.

Man wanted more...

Solomon was a man that was truly blessed with wisdom, a kingdom, and a grand life.  He decided in the middle of his life that this wasn't enough and sought out things that were not what God had in mind.

Man wanted more...

A few hundred years ago, our forefathers left their homelands in order to find a land that they could worship God freely, and not be under law to be men and women that would not worship Him in the manner that He has described to us.  They asked God to bless them with a land that they could do such.  God blessed them with America - home of the free.

Man wanted more...

Soon, laws had to be written to keep order and discipline.  Man looked to God for guidance and asked for His blessings when they wrote such words as "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion" and "right to bear arms" and "equality for all men."  It would seem that these things were great indeed...and could be viewed as blessings that God had allowed.

Man wanted more...

In the past century, God continued to bless America.  After all, that was the request of the God-fearing nation in their requests of "God bless America!"  Financial freedoms, government freedoms, peace in the home land, and many more great blessings.  But soon, when man got all he asked for from God, sometimes without any appreciation...

Man wanted more...

Recent years gone by, our country continued to be blessed with freedoms that many take for granted, financial blessing far above some of the famine stricken countries abroad, and the freedom to worship God where we want without fear...but...

Man wanted more...

Today...we live in a world of confusion.  A world of anger.  A world that murders babies before they are born.  A world that fights constantly.  A world that cares more about animals than souls.  A world that has taken a turn in many places to idolatry, atheism, or satanic worship.  Then, we demand in request and prayer to God..."God bless America!" And, when He doesn't (in our eyes), we get angry.

Man wanted more...

Let's go back to a length of time that has been skipped.  Almost 2000 years ago, the world was on its own.  There were faithful men and women that were worshiping God, but had no hope.  They had no hope in part because man kept wanting more.  But, look at what God did!  God BLESSED America, Africa, New Zealand, China, Russia, and all of the earth.  He GAVE His SON to be a sacrifice for our sins!  He gave us the chance of freedom.  The hope of salvation.  The faith of an eternal bliss!!!  There is no greater gift that can be given...

Yet...........

Man wants more...

Are you still wanting more?

False Teachers...Here, There, and Everywhere! - Joey Ferrell

Growing up in the area that I have grown up and lived in all of my life, hearing of a false teacher/man teaching false against the Bible, was very rare.  I don't know that this means there weren't any around (most likely not according to the Bible - Matt 7:15; Rom 16:17-18; 1 John 4:1, etc.), but it sure wasn't heard of.

There is probably a correlation between elderships and this as well.  Most churches during my younger years had sound men fulfilling the role of elder, that would shepherd the flock and keep this false teaching away.  That is certainly one of their responsibilities.

Paul warned Timothy about men that would come as false teachers and false prophets, only saying things that would please "itching ears." So, we know it is not anything new.  Of course, there does seem to be lots more that are "itching" these days than ever before.

Our world is in what can be deemed as a mass state of "religious confusion!"  You have to sometimes read the "fine print" on the sign outside the building to even find the characteristics that are claimed to.  Some congregations have renamed themselves just by an area in which they are (The Glade church, Thompson Station church for example).  These two that I have mentioned were once of the Baptist denomination, but it is hard to even tell that anymore.

There are congregations of the Lord's church that advertise that they are XYZ church and then below the really big capital letters, there is usually something small like "a church of Christ," or just "church of Christ" in very small print in comparison.

God did not author this mass hysteria.  Christ did not come to this earth and pour out His blood for a building with a name on it that sounds more like a franchised event center than the church. Why in this world have sound Christians allowed this to happen?  And...where have all of the sound Christians gone?

I have had a few lengthy discussions with some friends who are members of different congregations lately where false teaching has, and continues to be being done.  I am totally mesmerized sometimes by some of the defense that is coming out of the very mouths of Christian brethren that have in times past been very loyal to the truth.  I am hearing things like "well, maybe we are taking that too literal," or "you know, we tend to over-emphasize certain things."  

What?!?!  Jesus Christ DIED for this gospel that we should be preaching!  He DIED for His church!  He DIED so that WE might LIVE!  How dare any of us take up some sort of hobby that the Bible is just too much to live by, teach, and understand.  Could you imagine your child giving up their life for maybe this country in battle, then someone telling lies about their life?  Unreal thought, isn't it!?

Friends, these things are running rampant in the church today...and it ought not be so!  Please carefully note some of these things that are being taught along with some example scripture in which we can find the truth!

  • "Elderships are not necessary in the church.  Business meetings by the men are just fine."  - The church was not designed to be a "business."  The church was designed to seek and save the lost.  Elders are not "businessmen" that can be replaced by just any man (or woman) for the purpose of "knowing how to keep the doors open," "deciding to keep money in a bank account that really should be being used for the church instead," "deciding to build buildings designed to attract more confused religious folks."  Elders were instituted by example in Acts 14:23 for the purpose of shepherding the flock.  Elders are still needed as much, if not more, today than in those days.
  • "The Lord's Supper can be taken at any time, day or night, and it is a common meal" - Acts 20:7 shows that the disciples met on the first day of the week.  Paul had even waited until this day before leaving the area.  1 Cor 11 condemns coming together for such a "common meal" when the Lord's Supper is to be eaten.
  • "The Bible does not speak against mechanical instruments in worship to God." - Yes, that is sort of correct.  BUT, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16, and 1 Cor 14 all talk about "singing."  Never do you see a time in the Bible after the day of Pentecost that an instrument was used in worship.  There has to be some structure involved in CENI (Command, Example, Necessary Inference) in matters such as this.
  • "There is no such thing as 'silence of the scriptures' or 'expediency'" - Not sure exactly how anyone can state these things and even remotely believe the Bible.  1.  No silence of the scriptures?  How about the story of Nadab and Abihu?  God was silent there, wasn't He?  2.  Expediency - I guess that utilizing a song book, individual communion cups, pews or chairs, buildings, heating and air, water fountains, pencils, baptistries inside the building, and the like would be covered under some book of the Bible that I have not read?  Hmm...expediency has to be a reasonable tool to use by appropriate church leadership, otherwise, again, there would be mass confusion.
  • "Christ returned in AD 70 to fulfill all of the Bible, judging the world, etc." - This is one of the craziest theories that I have ever read/heard/considered.  The Bible is clear on Jesus coming again to judge all, bringing the saved with Him to heaven. (1 Thes 4:16-17; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 3:10; Revelation; Matt 25, etc.)
  • "Hell is just a metaphor, the absence of God." - Hell is real!  The suffering that will be endured in Hell is going to be indescribable.  It is not simply the separation of God.  Some of the same verse above cover this false teaching, as well as Luke 16.
  • "Baptism is universal, regardless of the intended purpose, (i.e., placing membership in a denomination, baptism not for remission of sins, etc.)."  Sigh...In the book of Acts, there is example more than once of a baptism that is not correct.  One of these times was when Apollos was taken aside and taught a more excellent way regarding baptism.  Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Pet 3:21, Rom 6:1-6 all explain that baptism is essential, what it is for, and a proper manner of immersion, not sprinkling, dipping, or otherwise.

These are just a few examples of what is being taught around the world, but even more concerning for my brethren, friends, and neighbors, right in our own back yards!  False teaching is not isolated to one area.  False teaching is part of post-modernism, progressivism, liberalism, universalism, and other spiritually deadly groupings.

Please consider something.  If you are worshipping within a false teaching environment, how can you determine what is truth...and what is not?  While it is a good deed to try to hold on to what little truth might be remaining at a congregation, it is a tough battle to enter into when the truth is being brushed under the carpet for "new and better" ideas.  If you are worshipping with someone that you cannot determine if what they say is truth...or error...the Bible says "and you shall know the truth...and the truth shall make you free."  We have to divide, study, and apply every word that the Bible contains.  We can't just take the rosy, feel-good, let's get as big as we can approach. We MUST worship in spirit...and in truth!

 

Please pray for those that are teaching falsely, those that believe one thing and teach another, and those that are wayward because of these men that are teaching such.  I will join you!

My Yard: obsession or impression? - Joey Ferrell

Those that have known me for some time know that I love to work in my yard. Some might even say it is an obsession, and possibly so to an extent. But, is it really?

While I was putting the finishing touches on the yard today trimming grass and edging, I began to think about this simple question...

"Why am I obsessed with my yard?" 

This question led me to other questions (the noise from the weed whacker covers up talking to yourself, and with earbuds in my ears, the neighbors think I'm just singing a song).   I began to wonder if I truly spent too much time in focus on my yard, and not enough time on more important things. I even thought about how much time my wife spends cleaning the house, for me to not even notice...until I track in yard debris. I thought over and over about how Katelyn kept saying "it's okay if the yard isn't perfect for the wedding." 

Then I turned around at the end of the driveway, looked across the yard, and smiled.  

It is the best year yet for my yard.  

Obsessed?  Maybe...but keep reading.  

Some may think that talking about our yard and snapping pictures often to be either boastful or idolizing the creation.  I have to say a big NO to both of those. We are truly blessed to be living where we are. Some may appreciate the comments and photos because they knew what it looked like in 2001:

 

 Lot 19 Valley View early 2002

Lot 19 Valley View early 2002

But, as I thought about these things, my memory decided to remind me of why I spend so much time in my yard.  Impression. No, not my own, not my yard, but someone else's impression that differed greatly from mine. 

Let me explain:

About 15 years ago or so, Kristie and I hosted a get together at our house in the Woodland area for church friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers. Our yard was just the perfect size for a big volleyball game...and yours truly had built his own concrete-filled tire posts that would withstand any net dunk around. So, the day was approaching.  I was preparing the yard. I even mowed a low grass regulation size court in the back yard with penalty lines and everything.  It was going to be awesome!  Installed some lighting so we could play as long as we wanted...the whole shebang!

Then, the guests arrived!  We had a great time. We grilled out, talked, the kids all played...and we set up the volley court. As we were laying it all out, a friend walked up to me and said, "I really love the way you have this mowed!"  I said, "yeah, I thought it would be cool to have the court defined."  His reply was, "no, I mean the whole yard."

I didn't get it. I thought it was a compliment since I had spent so much time in my yard that week.  He didn't say it unkind or anything, it was just a bit confusing to me. You see, I had mowed an interior square to keep the clippings inside to mulch themselves.  I had done this many times, and it usually left a very plush look. But, something just wasn't right this time, and I couldn't figure out what it was.

So, back to my friend...he is a little bit on the jokester side, so I really had no idea how to take what was said...until... 

about half way through the next week, the grass began to grow.  It was then that I realized what had happened.  A stabilizer pin on the deck of the mower had sheared and my mower was mowing at about a 30 degree cut. It looked terrible!

I realized today that this was what drives me to keep striving to keep my yard looking great. Someone else's impression. After all, isn't that one of the main reasons that we try to make our yards beautiful?  Well, that is part of it for me...the other is my own personal satisfaction and enjoyment. It wouldn't matter if it was a third acre or ten...I would still try to make it look the best it can.  

In the grand scheme of things, a person's yard doesn't even amount to a hill of beans. It's all temporal anyway. But, that motivation is still there for me today. That "first impression" that my friend had of my yard is the only impression that he has ever had. He has not seen the yard that we have now, and as friendships sometimes drift, he probably won't unless he just accidentally drives by. 

So, here it is about 15 years later...and my motivation is in part by what someone else thought. Crazy huh?  Not really.  

 

What kind of first impression do people get of Christianity based on what they see from you?  Do they see a warped cut - a botched job, even though you might have "tried" to do your best?  Do they see that it matters to you first and foremost?  Do they see that you have a desire for others to get the "right" impression? 

As I finished putting away my yard tools today, I couldn't help but ask myself..."what kind of first impression am I giving in my life?  Is it one that show the beauty of the Creator, or the lack of desire to motivate me to do better each day?" 

What about you?  How does your "yard" look? 

 

For we are his workmanship [masterpiece], created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2: 10

 

But we all, with open [uncovered] face beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even  as by the spirit of the Lord. – II Corinthians 3: 18

 

 

Is Suicide a Sin? - Joey Ferrell

I know that by now, everyone in the world probably knows about the recent death of a famous actor and comedian earlier this week.  It is a very sad situation for all of those that liked his movies and performances, his friends, co-stars, but especially for his family.  That is a given for me personally, and it can be seen on social media, blogs, and throughout every medium possible today.

Let's talk about something very serious that has been brought to the forefront of lots of people's minds surrounding this death.  

Death by "suicide".  

What is it really when looked at from a Biblical perspective?  What can Christians do to help those that might be contemplating suicide?  Can others determine when someone is just right there on that edge?

I am not sure I can answer all of these questions, but I do want to study some of them as best that I can, with the word of God in hand.

I recently posted a Facebook status that read something to the effect that "suicide is a sin" and that if anyone that saw my words needed someone to talk to, needed help, or needed just a friend to pray for them, that I wanted to do all that I could.  I am not a licensed counselor.  I am not anyone special to talk to others about this topic.  I am simply a concerned Christian.

Within just a few hours of this post, I was condemned, criticized, verbally attacked, and called names such as "inhumane, judgmental, non-compassionate, heartless, idiot (yes that was one person's thought of me), out of touch with reality, and even a poor excuse for a Christian."  I removed the post due to the negativity and strife being stirred and only took to private conversation with a few of my "friends" that had decided that I was this "terrible person that they really didn't know."

Even in these conversations, I found myself defending my thoughts in a very ridiculed way.  Needless to say, it was NOT the best topic of discussion that day, or the next, or even today with these friends.

However, I want to put my thoughts into better words, that hopefully will be 1.  better received, 2.  understood in a manner that is not condemning to anyone, 3.  pointing toward the Bible in all things.  So here goes...

First off, the definition of "suicide" is "the action of killing oneself intentionally."  It is an action.  It is real.  It spans far beyond the thoughts of the heart.  Now, in comparison to the Bible, God instructed Moses to deliver the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel as some of their "first laws."  In this written tablet of order contained a very important commandment - "Thou shalt not kill." (Exodus 20:13)

In the New Testament, Jesus brought this same concept forward and even deepened the importance by stating that if you hate someone, you have already killed them in your heart! (Matt 5:21, Matt 19:18)

So, in a syllogism style of teaching:  Suicide is killing, killing is sin - suicide IS sin.  That is not being judgmental, opinionated, or even misinterpretation.  It is plain and simple.  The words of the Bible.  The whole duty of man is to love God and keep His commandments.  This is a commandment issue...not a compassion issue.

Now, let me sidestep this thought to explain something that I deem as extremely important, that a few mistook from this post on Facebook.

Depression is NOT a sin!  I never said that depression is or was a sin.  Please take note of this.  Lots of people suffer from minor to major depression.  I understand that! Depression is a very serious topic and a very serious illness.  I am not discounting, judging, or condemning that now...nor have I ever.  I know lots of people with variations of depression, and probably would consider that personally I get depressed more than I would like to.  It happens.

This seemed to be the major sideline from the friends that I was talking with.  They felt that since I believe suicide to be sinful, that depression is sinful.  I believe I remember one of them stating that most suicides are people that have depression.  I do not doubt that.  But, they are two different elements.  One is an illness, the other is an action.  Suicide is not a side effect of depression (i.e., WebMD list of symptoms, treatment, side effects of depression).  Depression is not an immediate forerunner of suicide either.  The two are not exclusively linked to each other any more than the story that I read last night about a young man being shot to death as a result of a possible bad drug deal.  Drug deals don't all end in murder...although some do, and every murder is not related to a drug deal.

Mr. Williams was quoted in 2006, posted on several websites, stating that he was not clinically depressed.  He said, "No.  Not clinical depression.  I just get bummed out like everyone does sometimes.  You know?  I'm okay."  He went on to talk about his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which, by the way, can be side effects of depression.

That does not mean that Robin Williams did not have any type of depression at all, nor does it mean that he did not change in the 8 years since; but, it also does not mean that he had to commit suicide.  And I wish that he had not.  My wish would have been that he reached out to someone and also to God instead of being known to be a man of sacrilegious comments, borderline atheism, and possibly lost on the day of his death.

That is what my post was about, not condemning or judging someone for suicide; although, John 7:24 spells out that the Bible is what judges men and we can call "sin" "sin" by that basis; but, altogether opposite.  My post was about opening my heart to anyone that is hurting so bad that they feel that death is their only way to be better, offering any help that I can.  Am I qualified for it?  Not really medically or scientifically.  The Bible is my battle weapon though, and it is well qualified.  Suicide is not the answer.  God says that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can bear, and that He will give an escape.  Suicide is a temptation for those that can't find their way out.  God has provided a way out.  Otherwise, He would not be a fair God!  I also want to add that I do believe that God will approach judgment with those affected by true mental incompetence differently.  I may be wrong, but that IS what I believe.

I truly hope that those that misunderstood my words will read this message and understand that this is a much deeper subject than most of us will ever imagine to understand.  I also truly hope that if there is anyone that ever reads this blog post that has or is contemplating suicide...please don't!  God loves you!  I love your soul!  Others love you!  Reach out to a minister, a counselor, a friend, a loved one, or even a suicide hotline.  Don't make a decision that others will regret!

In Christian love,

Joey

Hunger and thirst - the day I can't eat - Joey Ferrell

There are many days that I "miss" lunch while at work. It's no big deal really. I eat a bowl of oatmeal most mornings, chased by a cup of coffee, then throughout the day, drink some water or soft drinks...

and I'm usually good until dinner in the evening.  

Today, however, I am scheduled for an ultrasound, and the instructions were that I must fast for 6 hours. No problem again. I have fasted before for medical tests, or for my own personal reasons, even up to a few days.... 

I got this!  Right?  Ha! 

I ate my usual oatmeal this morning.  Drank my coffee. Stopped before the "fasting" time and got two steak biscuits, washed down with a smart water. Now, here it is 2:15 p.m., and I still have nearly two hours to wait on the procedure....... 

and I.  Am.  Starving! 

No food.  No water. No candy, gum, mints. Nothing.  

This shouldn't be this difficult...but it is. You know why?  It's a mind thing. You see, we program our minds for certain things. We program our minds for sleep, activity, basic thought, and yes, even hunger. The fact that I "can't" eat or drink anything seems to be the catalyst requiring my mind to tell my GI parts that I am hungry.  

Is spirituality much different?  I think there is a lesson that can be learned from this "programmed" hunger. When we are able to walk in the light with Christ, freely going about in fellowship with Him, we tend to rely on our "programmed" feelings and desires. That actually can leave us very spiritually hungry in times that we find ourselves unable to spiritually partake in Christ (I.e., separation of sin keeps the sinner out of fellowship with Christ and God).  

We don't necessarily program ourselves to "fast" spiritually from the goodness of The Lord, but, I think we often program ourselves to think that we are actually "filled up," not needing to be hungry or thirsty. 

Jesus says it this way in the sermon on the mount: 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You see, we sort of need to desire to be hungry and thirsty spiritually. We need this hunger and thirst so that we CAN be filled...not because we consume to satisfy our hunger and thirst. 

Lord, it is my humble prayer that we ALL will hunger and thirst after You!  And, that YOU will fill us!

How hungry are you for righteousness? 

Beach, Bay, Bambi, and Beauty - The Preacher's Blog - Joey Ferrell

This morning I awoke from a semi-restless night in a tent, on a blow up float (improvised for an air mattress) with smokey smelling hair from the grilling and campfires around the camp, fire-ant bites from getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and not watching where I was stepping, and curious as to why dad was holding my truck key.

Two hours later, I am sitting here at our picnic table at the camp-site uploading pictures to Facebook, charging my phone, and blogging as I finish some scripture reading and begin to work on some lesson prep (after we go get coffee!).  

Camping...it's what I knew doing as a young child often.  Dad and I rehashed memories of our camping adventures along the drive Thursday and Friday morning.  We talked about the old Datsun pick-up truck that my dad won in a contest years ago that we would put a cab-over camper on and just take off to go spend time with nature.  Then, we jumped forward a few years to 1979 when dad's nostalgia kicked in a bit and he told me about the time that he thought he was moving us to Tallahassee for a job and family relocation.  He said he got there...hated it...and kept on driving.  

Moving backwards and forward a few more years...the big yellow Belmont Distributors van! My sister would remember it well!  My dad owns an industrial chemical business.  That is how he supported our family.  This "big bird" van was how he and mom kept us fed, paid our bills, and took us on these little excursions.  Sometimes they were just a weekend, other times to pick up chemicals, but then sometimes, we would go all out and spend a week driving around the country, stopping wherever we found ourselves, smelling like wild cherry chemical deodorant (that was one of their key products and services...and EVERYTHING smelled like wild cherry!!!)

Now on to today...

So, dad and I decide that we would take off on one of these "trips" like the old days.  No planning, no room reservations, no real agenda.  We threw a tent and a few other things in the truck and figured we would wing it the rest of the way.  

We aren't avid campers.  Matter of fact, the last time that he and I were "camping" together in a tent, not in a van or pickup truck, was probably around 1980 at the Boxwood Scout Reservation for Lads and Dads camping.  Dad and I talked about yesterday that he never was really sure that he would be able to "do" that trip.  But we did...and we enjoyed it.  Now, here we are, 30+ years later, putting up our own tent (thanks to Katelyn for allowing us to borrow it), "roughing it" with oysters on the half shell that we are shucking ourselves, grilled boneless pork chops, corn, and asparagus for supper last night, and the beauty of the day to begin more memories today.

We found this wonderful and beautiful park with a campground after we drove around checking prices on motels near the beach yesterday.  The "dives" were $189 plus tax per night! Not for these old boys!!!  No sir, we chose the $26 roughing it camp site with water, electricity, bath house nearby, limited cell service, no wi-fi within 2 miles, no restaurants near, no stores, no coffee, no....well, you get the picture.  Just a couple of talky neighbors last night for a while, and God's creation all around us.

I mentioned earlier that the night was "semi-restless."  This was simply because of the "change" in normalcy for us.  You see, my wife says I am a city-boy, and she is partly right.  I didn't grow up in a big city, but didn't grow up in the country either.  When we go on "normal" vacations, we stay in air-conditioned rooms or houses, have refrigerators and not coolers, have recliners and not folding chairs.  It was just a tad bit different. But, that is what makes it grand!

This morning, as I mentioned, I woke up at 6:00 EST seeing dad trying to find the zipper on the tent and my truck key in hand.  I asked him if everything is alright...his reply - "yeah, (smiling) I think I am going to sit in the truck a few minutes."  The smile gave his motive away.  He slept.  I checked on him a few times during the night as we were laying near each other in the tent.  But, most likely, like I was "sleeping," he was also tossing and turning and trying to adjust.  It is now over two hours past that time.  Dad is still "sitting" in the truck.

I got up and out of the tent, walked up to the bathroom, then just kept walking!  I felt great!  You see, even though I considered the night a "semi-restless" night, I was well rested!  I attribute that to the wonders of God and the natural surroundings of our "hotel room."  I felt like I could walk for miles and miles (in flip flops).  And I did!

We are near a nature trail by the bay.  I had mentioned to dad that I wanted to go there today.  So, I found my way to the nature trail, and took a long walk.  It is a short trail, but I decided to complete the trail and do a little more exploring.

I found myself walking about 3-4 miles in combination of the nature trail by the bay, on the road by the wilderness preserve (have to explore that next trip), then on an uninhabited and empty beach.  On the journey, I shot some really cool pics, and had a visitor on the trail of a deer that reminded me of Bambi.  

As I walked along this walk, I couldn't help but think about the beauty of God's creation.  I paused to thank God for the beauty of the day and of my background of a walk before continuing through the path of dunes.  What a great honor and privilege to live on such a beautiful creation.  

As I came back to camp, I looked in the truck window to see if dad was still "sitting," and he was, so I took out my computer, tethered what little bit of internet signal I could get from my phone, and started reading some verses from Job.  Now, I have a total of 4 Bibles in my truck, but I did not want to disturb dad in the process.

As I looked through Job 38, I found a verse that encompassed how I thought I felt about this creation this morning:

“Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;" Job 38:8

How powerful is our God?  He is mightier than the sea, grander than the sun rise, brighter than the stars, so I decided to read more.  As I continued to study, I thought about how many will say that there is such a healing power in the salty waters of the sea.  Then, I thought of the tranquility of the walk down by the bay and thought about how comforting that was.  Finally, as I thought about approaching the campsite and seeing my earthly dad sitting in my truck, sharing time with me this weekend, I had it all figured out...I thought.

I thought of all the beauty of this setting, all the grandeur of the sea, the cool and calming breeze, the katydids chirping, the crickets singing...this is perfect...then, one more of God's creations made me realize that this perfection was only what I might envision as an earthly glory.  A swarm of fire ants once again became carnivores on my "flip-flopped" dawned feet.  It was then that I was reminded very sternly...this world is never going to be perfect...but God's heaven is already!

Journey with me on this study as we walk together through this blog and reflect on Job 37:1-40:2:

   ““At this also my heart trembles, And leaps from its place. Hear attentively the thunder of His voice, And the rumbling that comes from His mouth. He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth. After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard. God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend. For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength. He seals the hand of every man, That all men may know His work. The beasts go into dens, And remain in their lairs. From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind, And cold from the scattering winds of the north. By the breath of God ice is given, And the broad waters are frozen. Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds; He scatters His bright clouds. And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, That they may do whatever He commands them On the face of the whole earth. He causes it to come, Whether for correction, Or for His land, Or for mercy. “Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know when God dispatches them, And causes the light of His cloud to shine? Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge? Why are your garments hot, When He quiets the earth by the south wind? With Him, have you spread out the skies, Strong as a cast metal mirror? “Teach us what we should say to Him, For we can prepare nothing because of the darkness. Should He be told that I wish to speak? If a man were to speak, surely he would be swallowed up. Even now men cannot look at the light when it is bright in the skies, When the wind has passed and cleared them. He comes from the north as golden splendor; With God is awesome majesty. As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, In judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress. Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart.” Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!’ “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place, That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? It takes on form like clay under a seal, And stands out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, And the upraised arm is broken. “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death? Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place, That you may take it to its territory, That you may know the paths to its home? Do you know it, because you were born then, Or because the number of your days is great? “Have you entered the treasury of snow, Or have you seen the treasury of hail, Which I have reserved for the time of trouble, For the day of battle and war? By what way is light diffused, Or the east wind scattered over the earth? “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, Or a path for the thunderbolt, To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one, A wilderness in which there is no man; To satisfy the desolate waste, And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass? Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth? The waters harden like stone, And the surface of the deep is frozen. “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, That an abundance of water may cover you? Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, And say to you, ‘Here we are!’? Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, When the dust hardens in clumps, And the clods cling together? “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, When they crouch in their dens, Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait? Who provides food for the raven, When its young ones cry to God, And wander about for lack of food? “Do you know the time when the wild mountain goats bear young? Or can you mark when the deer gives birth? Can you number the months that they fulfill? Or do you know the time when they bear young? They bow down, They bring forth their young, They deliver their offspring. Their young ones are healthy, They grow strong with grain; They depart and do not return to them. “Who set the wild donkey free? Who loosed the bonds of the onager, Whose home I have made the wilderness, And the barren land his dwelling? He scorns the tumult of the city; He does not heed the shouts of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, And he searches after every green thing. “Will the wild ox be willing to serve you? Will he bed by your manger? Can you bind the wild ox in the furrow with ropes? Or will he plow the valleys behind you? Will you trust him because his strength is great? Or will you leave your labor to him? Will you trust him to bring home your grain, And gather it to your threshing floor? “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s? For she leaves her eggs on the ground, And warms them in the dust; She forgets that a foot may crush them, Or that a wild beast may break them. She treats her young harshly, as though they were not hers; Her labor is in vain, without concern, Because God deprived her of wisdom, And did not endow her with understanding. When she lifts herself on high, She scorns the horse and its rider. “Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; He gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; Nor does he turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, The glittering spear and javelin. He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; Nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded. At the blast of the trumpet he says, ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, The thunder of captains and shouting. “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, And spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, And make its nest on high? On the rock it dwells and resides, On the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; Its eyes observe from afar. Its young ones suck up blood; And where the slain are, there it is.” Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”” (Job 37:1–40:2, NKJV)  

 

"I'd rather be in a volcano than...." - Joey Ferrell

...than on a tropical beach sitting in a hammock.

...than in the mountains during a foggy and misty sunrise.

...than with my wonderful wife and kids on an extravagant all-expense paid cruise.

...than sitting on my back porch eating a fried egg on top of a Goolsby sausage sitting on a piece of white bread...

WHAT?!?!  Hold on just a minute here.  That last one cannot be counted!  I love some Goolsby sausage!

Okay, so you are now scratching your head wondering if I have completely lost my mind...or if I have a point that I am going to try to put forth for your consideration.  There is a point.

For some time now, I have been pretty active in social media.  My preferred medium for this social interaction is Facebook.  The world of Facebook can be both bad, and good.  It can be consuming, and enlightening.  It can make new friends...and reintroduce old friendships that may have gone by the wayside.

But, even with all of this good, there seems to be this constant nagging around the "world wide web" about issues that we really should not be debating, voicing "opinions," and twisting.

I have personally seen, and have had others ask me if I had seen such comments or pictures that say something like:

"I would rather burn in hell than to be in heaven with a bunch of hypocrites (substitute homophobes, goody two shoes, judging people, etc.)"  

The first time that I had ever caught myself singing the song "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie, I Don't Want to Go," I was so fearful that God would not forgive me for even singing along that I almost had a tear jerking cry right on the spot.  Then of course there was the song that had such a great tempo and also as catchy: "I'd Be Better Off In A Pine Box" by Doug Stone that says he would rather go to hell than to think about not being with his lady friend.  Yup...I sung that one a time or two too.  I even learned to "skip" the words that were offensive, or what I thought would be offensive to God anyway.

Within the attitude of these particular lyrics, I think many times we see things in a different light than they really are.  Recently, I had a few friends that did not like something that I quoted directly from the Bible.  Their response, after arguing for a while about it - "I guess I will just burn in hell then, because I would rather be happy."

This type of response and the entire attitude has to be so very upsetting to our God, and His Son Jesus Christ.  Think about that just a minute.  Jesus went to the cross, suffered, bled, and died for the sake of not desiring that ANYONE should suffer; yet, there are those in this world today that say that they are much happier in a state of life that could lead them to an eternity in hell...and there isn't even a hand basket, they are asking for it themselves!

Hell has been oversimplified in terms and context in modern day.  Certainly, there are some words in the Hebrew and in the Greek that are representative of figures of speech surrounding hell, such as Gehenna, and Sheol, or even Hades (although this is a separate topic altogether); however, the term hell is not described as a figure of speech.  The words are very descriptive, derogatory in nature, and very serious.

I was recently discussing this subject with a dear brother and friend, Don Blackwell, who does a really great job of presenting Biblical facts and living for World Video Bible School (http://www.wvbs.org).  He pointed out something to me that I think we need to really navigate to and study very deeply.

He asked me to think about something in the context of the times that Jesus spoke of many things.  Several times in the Bible, you can read of Jesus saying the words "is like" explaining how something is similar in nature, or should be similar to another event, item, or quality. (e.g. Matt 18:3, Matt 19:4, Matt 13:44, etc.).  He uses a lot of this same teaching concept in the many Parables that He spoke.

Contrasting, Jesus never said "Hell is like..."  He simply told the story the way that He wanted, and that is it!  Take for example what Jesus said just two verses earlier in Matt 13:42 - "and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth."  There is not a preceding "Hell is like..." or "throw them into an empty place that is like a fiery furnace."  He told the epitome of hell as it is today, was then, and will be for an eternity.  

Look how He describes the characteristics of the wretched place that those that practice continual sin will inherit in Rev 21:7 - "But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part [shall be] in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death."  What a painful thought! 

I am very thankful to brother Don for pointing this out to me in my studies on the "realness" of hell.  Hell IS real.  It is NOT a metaphor or simile, or fun place to visit...

Now, back to the point of this particular blog...

"I'd rather be in a volcano than...."

Sounds silly doesn't it.  Friends, it is worse than that.

"I would rather be in hell than...."

It sounds destructive, deadly, and sad.  Weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Fire and brimstone.  Eternal pain and suffering.  Not a place that God, Christ, or the righteous will be found.  It is HELL.  Not hell on earth.  Not just as good as a pine box in a heartache, or Dixie (although I love living in the area known to be close to Dixie!)

Please, I beseech you, if you have said such a comment, please consider repentance to the Father.  If you feel that way because of some type of sin that you are committing and continue to commit, I also beg of you to consider your soul.  Eternity is a long time to be trying to find someone to dip the cool of their finger on your thirsty tongue!!! (Luke 16)

Jesus Christ died for you and for me.  He didn't die for an attitude of "Hell is where I belong and I am happy about it." He died so that we can be saved, living an eternity of bliss in heaven with Him and the Father.  A joyous life, not one of torment. 

Hell is serious...and I don't believe they serve Goolsby Sausage!

*Scripture comes from the ASV translation.

Dumpster Diving....trash or treasure?

Dumpster diving....not a very pretty thought is it?  Well, most people think of dumpster diving as something that someone does maybe out of desperation, or out of sincere need...

Dumpster diving would be digging through someone else's trash to see if you could find a fortune or a treasure...or maybe just part of a left over sandwich!

Most of us would turn up our nose, gag, or say something like "ewwwwwww," wouldn't we?  Well, let's look at a different scenario.

One of the vendors that sells to me at the company that I am part owner of, has a bi-monthly or so special that they email out early in the morning.  This "special" is called "Dumpster Diving!"  You never know what the package will include in it, it is almost guaranteed to be of a greater value than the purchase, and it is a surprise up until the time that it gets to the front door.  They are sold in increments of $100, $200, and $300.

I have never purchased this "dumpster dive" special, but last week when I got the special emailed...I really was close!

This got me to thinking a bit.  Are we "dumpster diving" sometimes in our spirituality?

Are we...

  • Jumping in expecting something incredible for very little effort?
  • Looking for treasure in someone else's trash?
  • "Buying" the best deal that we can find, even if we don't know what it is?
  • Accepting the leftovers that are being repackaged as "good stuff?"
  • Throwing out or own treasures for someone else to "dive into?"

Dumpster diving...what an interesting concept.  Can't really place an emphasis that it is totally wrong...but you probably won't ever get the "best" of the "best" by expecting the "best" in the "trash pile."

The Bible is the true, inspired (God breathed) word of God.  It contains treasures galore.  They aren't wrapped in brown paper to disguise them, they aren't a "special value" type of treasure because they aren't what they may seem.  And they surely aren't something that we should be tossing aside.  They are, however, treasures that we can find, in their original package, unblemished, unspoiled, "unstinky."

Where are you finding your treasures?

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matt. 6:19-21

Father's Day...confessions of a father

It is just a few hours until another "Father's Day" will be upon us. A happy day for many; yet a sad day for others. I have been blessed to be able to celebrate 43 "Father's Days" with my dad, Eldie Ferrell. I have also been blessed to be the recipient of well wishes for 20 years this year as a father. 

Fatherhood is much more of a responsibility than just being the biological person that was involved at one point. Fatherhood should follow the commands and guidance of our Heavenly Father in His word. 

God tells us fathers to "bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of The Lord."  What does this really mean though?  Well, personally, I think it means that I only half got it right. My girls are both Christians. They don't forsake the assemblies. They know several Bible verses. And, they live their lives very pure. I am proud of that.  

Where have I failed as a father?  Well, I have my own weaknesses there. I have spent much of my kids' lives working very late hours, working out of town often, neglecting some of their peak childhood moments, shamedly living their lives through pictures. I wasn't there to pray with them. I wasn't there to read the Bible with them. I didn't even attend Bible study with them sometimes. 

So, why do I mention this?  Simple really. We can't "make up" for lost time at a later date. We can't buy something that will take the place of lost time. We can't go back and do it again...but, God has given me opportunity to still be with these young ladies thankfully long enough for me to get some of it right now!  I can't apologize enough to my girls and my God for only half getting it right. I can, however, commit to them that I will be their guide, their strength, their friend, and their father... 

I am sadly reminded at times how much I take for granted having my father, and being a father in my life. You see, my dad grew up without his father. He was killed in an accident when my dad was 4. I am named after him, and I hope I am being at least part of the father to my girls that he would have been to my dad.

I am also mindful of my wife. She too lost her father at an early age. She was 6 when her daddy died.  I never got to meet the man that I wanted so much to look up to. I hope that I am raising his grandchildren the way he would have raised my wife, and I hope I am living up to the standards he would have placed on his son-in-law. 

I will soon be both "giving away" and meeting my daughter and son-in-law to be with the power of the word of God celebrating their union and commitment to God and to each other in marriage.  I won't be giving up my role as "daddy," but I will be handing off part of the responsibility to continue for my daughter to grow up in the nurture and admonition of The Lord, to a young man...who happens to be a great dad himself. 

Happy Father's Day to my dad...and all those dads that raise their children the way God intended. Thank you for all you do.  

God Bless! 

~ Joey

Sitting on the porch

In 1994, Kristie and I had discussed building a house. We found some land, found a floor plan, started making preparation to build what would be our "dream home."  It was a Victorian style home with ornate trim, two stories, but most excitedly, it had a 3/4 wrap around porch!

Let me explain further...

We had only been married a short while, but had a new addition to our family. Katelyn was just a baby, but we had to start planning for the future. Our "starter home" just didn't have enough space...and it really didn't have a porch!

You see, I had always envisioned getting up early in the mornings, having some eggs and coffee waiting on me with my morning paper as I sat and read the daily news while enjoying my coffee. Not in this house!  Nope, this porch was only about 3 x 6, showed lots of age and wear from years, and many families gone by. We loved this cute home...but it just wasn't right any more. 

Being like ALL men, I decided one day to go the the mega-DIY store, purchase some 4x4 posts, 2x4 lumber, some baby blue concrete and wood stain, some nails, and screws...oh, and some band aids.  I had already splintered my fingers.  

I "recovered" that old concrete porch.  Hand rails to climb steps, railing to keep Katelyn from falling, and a pretty baby blue appearance. Now, I had my porch. Only major problem?  It wasn't big enough to house one chair, let alone a couple!  It was also in the heart of town with lots of neighbors, passerbys, and noise to fill the serenity. that porch lasted many years, but it just didn't fill the need. 

Well, like many plans, those changed. We ended up moving a year later to a nice house in the country.  Much more space, a yard...and yes a front porch!  Rocking chair style, with a wooden swing and all. A few sittings would be enjoyed, but never the "coffee and paper" mornings like I had imagined. The setting just wasn't right...besides, I found myself traveling for work 4 nights a week. It just wasn't perfect!

After ten years, we decided it was finally time to build...not the quaint Victorian with the wraparound though...we had outgrown those thoughts with two daughters now.  

So, we loaded up our stuff, sold the house, and moved to a little farm house to begin the building process.  This house had a front porch as well. A farm style porch.  Small, but big enough to settle in a few chairs, a plant stand, and a wagon, bicycle, and more yard toys. I had coffee there many days. There was not much else to do. The yard was smaller, Internet was dial up, the TV would echo through the house...just an escape was what it became. It just wasn't the "total package."

Now, here we are, 20 years after thinking about our porch...and we have a nice porch, with a large patio to boot. We have enjoyed entertaining friends and family many times over the past seven years in this home, we have furniture scattered about for lots of sitting and enjoying, and as I finished my second cup of coffee this morning, I thought about those days of anticipation...my porch of serenity. 

I have listened to the birds singing this morning, I have watched a hawk land in a tree shaking its limbs loose to fall to the ground, heard the squirrels tussling, and walked through the cool grass barefooted. I didn't read a newspaper this morning.  Instead, I read 7 chapters in Genesis. Then I realized it. 

It is not the setting if the porch, not the cup of coffee, not the newspaper, and not even the serenity of God's beautiful creation that is going to bring me the happiness of desire that I seek...it is the everlasting love of God and His own being where I will find my peace...

and now my day begins... 

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling.Selah 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46, ESV

 

Jesus - Motivational Speaker?

              Jesus Christ was and is called "the Master Teacher," and rightly so.  Jesus gave His life for the cause of saving souls.  As you read through the Gospels, sometimes you will see some of the most positive, and loving lessons that can be found...and again, rightly so.  God IS love, and His Son was God in the flesh; therefore, Jesus is also love!

So, why shouldn't those who desire to preach God's word only teach about this great love?  You know, the kind of love that is everlasting, the kind of love that motivated people like the apostles to drop everything in their lives, "take up their cross," and "follow Him."  

Think about it...the more motivating the speech, the more responses of positively energized followers!  Wow!  Every preacher's desire, right?  Well, to some, it is their goal, their desire, and maybe even their own motivation to continue these types of speeches, or what can be loosely called "lessons."

An older preacher recently wrote that one of the major problems in the church today is that there are more men standing in pulpits (or in front of congregants, no matter the method of delivery), that are more concerned with pleasing people, making them feel good, using just stories that tell how "great" things are. They tend to use positive emotions, cheery stories, and lots of smiles in order to "build" their audience, and please their own egos, and ultimately, build their careers.

This is such an incredibly sad thought. Jesus was equally tactful in teaching about the wrath of a God, the eschatology prophecy (end times), and even His own impending death on the cross. He wasn't a "motivational speaker," and neither should any preacher be either.  

The Bible is clear about teaching the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), and the apostle Paul even presents his own woes to any that teach another gospel (Gal 1:8).

There is a very strong need for our churches to be cleansed from these "feel good," "hell doesn't exist," "we're all going to heaven with no requirement of obedience to God's commands," preachers, and the need is urgent.  

In the Day of Judgment, there will be a reckoning of all things that were done in the body. There will be those that teach error that will join those who choose to not teach that whole counsel, or even a different gospel.  Unfortunately, these very "likeable" preachers/speakers/men will also carry many precious souls with them into an eternity filled with pain, suffering, non-consuming fire, weeping, and gnashing of teeth.

Are you ready to follow a man that will lead souls into such?  No? Then, you might want to consider the words, videos, illustrations, ideology, and teachings that might include the "positive side" of heaven, but brushes the very real side of torment, and the wrath of God right under the table.  

 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. -- 2 Timothy 4:3-4 

I don't like pineapple, so I am not going to church!

It is true...I do not like pineapple.  I have never really liked it, and I still do not like it today.

That does NOT stop my lovely wife of 22 years from asking if I want some pineapple, or making a statement that we "have" some pineapple in the refrigerator.  I just DO NOT like it!!!

I have tried it fresh, and can tolerate it.  I have tried it frozen, and it is okay as part of a smoothie, etc.  I have eaten it cold, warm, and even hot on a pizza.  I just cannot come to an acquired taste for the yellowish almost crunchy fruit.  What is funny though...I love the pineapple hard candies!

What does that have to do with going to church?  Well, it is simple really.  Many people at our congregation like to eat pineapple.  There are those that will eat it fresh, those that will eat it canned, and even some that will eat it upside down on a cake...that is right isn't it?  

Kind of reminds me of a book that I used to love to read as a child about colored eggs!

Because these people will eat pineapple, I do not want to be around them. That is a logical concept isn't it?  WRONG!  That is NOT correct.  I have no Biblical basis to state such a thing, nor can I implement it as something that is truth.

If that is the case, then why do some folks contend that because they don't like something about you, about the Bible study class, about the order of worship, about the people sitting behind, beside, or in front of them, the direction that the eldership has placed on our reverence and respect toward God in attitude, attire, and attributes of worship that are required, and so on that they just don't want to go to church today?

It saddens me when I hear/see this type of attitude among brethren.  Just because I don't "like" something that may be a scriptural doctrine, or may be a tradition of the church, I do not have any place, authority, or ability to place my feelings, or desires above that of Gods.

After all, didn't God invent pineapple anyway?

   “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24–25, NKJV)  

 

Falling off of the bicycle

Surprisingly, the title isn't as it sounds. I didn't fall from my bicycle...literally. 

Today, I got back on my exercise bicycle for the first time in three months. This is the longest that I have not been on a bicycle of any kind since right after my mother passed away in 2012. 

I had good reason!  Well, I thought so anyway. I dislocated my little pinkie toe the first week of March. If you have ever done that, you know how painful it is to even walk, much less ride a bicycle. I figured I would heal up, then jump right back to where I left off. 

As I began to heal up, I kept postponing my return to the bicycle.  I didn't have time, or wanted to wait and ride my road bike, or.....the "ors" just kept coming.  

Then, about two months ago, I was plagued one morning with a knot in my back, and what would be suggested as a pinched nerve in my neck. That excruciating pain is still with me today, even after months of chiropractic and massage therapist treatments. Makes sense that I hadn't gotten back on the seat, right? 

Well, today was finally the day. I have lost a few pounds over the past month, and decided to get back in gear. The first few minutes weren't bad.  My bike has a "warm up" mode for the first four minutes. I got through that without a problem, or even a sweat. Then, as I am reading a book, I thought to myself..."man, how long have I been riding?  It seems like twenty minutes should have gone by surely..."

what did I do?  I looked at the computer read out, "7:41" was the time remaining...until the final four minute cool down mode. "2.61 miles."  I can usually ride that with my eyes closed!  But not today.  I was worn out already, after just 8.5 minutes of riding! 

The story doesn't end so bad.  I ended up with 6.1 miles ridden. I am already feeling it in my legs, and my breathing is helping me to recover. 

What does all of this have to do with what God has done for me? 

Romans 3:23 says that we all will fall at some point. Maybe not a fall from a bike, but more so a fall into sin...away from God. The challenge to get back up and get back where we should be...well, that is our challenge. Just as I made excuses to not get on that bicycle, we all make excuses to not turn back to God when we fall short often.  

The Bible also says that God is "longsuffering" and "not willing that any should perish."  Yet, when we "fall off," we turn our backs to God...and seemingly, from my studies, He also turns His face away from us in that separation. He will "never leave, nor forsake me," but, in. my sins, I am separated from Him. 

After entering 90 days of zeros in my personal exercise journal, I finally entered my mileage for the day. It didn't make a dent in my total miles,projected miles, or my daily average; however, it did increase all three numbers respectively bringing me back closer to the goals that I have set before me. With a positive number, the measurements were no longer down sliding.  

God is still there, even in our down sliding times. He will bring us back up. It probably won't happen over night, but the weight of sin lifted is certainly a positive that stops the decline.  

 

How about your spiritual life?  Are you riding along positively...or have you fallen off of the bicycle?  If you have...it's time to get back on it! 

1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mineenemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest Isleep the sleep of death; 4 Lest mine enemy say , I have prevailed against him; and those thattrouble me rejoice when I am moved . 5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thysalvation. 6 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13

 

Watching the sod grow...

If you have ever been to my house, or have seen pictures of certain areas of my yard, you will know that since 2007, I have worked extremely hard at managing water flow as well as trying to grow grass in areas that seem to not want to grow.

Last year, I came up with this brainstorm of an idea to lay some sod in the lower ditch that always stayed mushy during spring from the rain water and the elevation not being the best there.  It sort of worked!  I had to re-set a few pieces after a big storm, but it all grew in and looked really good.

That gave me a new idea for this year!  Simple enough!  Buy some bulk sod from a grower, and strategically build a better elevation in the upper ditch above the driveway.  I had this all planned out before Katelyn announced to us that her desire was to get married in our yard (what a compliment to the "groundskeeper!")  I figured I would buy a few pallets, roll out that beautiful lush sod, and voila...instant ditch fix, as well as some spot growth in the yard.

Simple task...right?  Nothing to growing sod...agree?  Just roll it out...and in a few weeks, your yard is the envy of the neighborhood.  Expectations in check!

Wrong!

Wrong!

Wrong!

There are four illustrations that I would like to share with you as I watch my sod grow...

  • No matter the origin of the sod, a transformation is necessary.  This particular sod farm is only about 12 miles from my home.  You would think that being so close that our soil would "welcome" this transplanted sod and cause it to take root right away.  Clearly something must have been wrong.  The sod farmer must have given me the sod from Baltimore or something, because this sod has patches of area that just are not taking root. That has to be the answer, because I know it is not something that I am doing wrong...or is it?  

    "12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you mayprove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

You see...it has to be the sod!  It can't be my soil!  The sod needs to conform to it's new surroundings...right?  WRONG again!  The sod and the soil both have to sort of transform in order for the sod to take root.  Neither can conform and be successful!

  • No sooner did I get this project finished, and wham!  Here came some torrential rains and wind and debris from up hill!  Know what happens to freshly laid sod when it has not placed its roots in a solid foundation?  You guessed it.  It looked like a gigantic sushi roll of sod in my yard the next two to three days while I tried to recover what sod that I could.  You see, I did not prepare for this type of destruction.  I felt that the weight of the pieces of sod with a few waterings would suffice to keep it in place no matter how strong the storms would tether against it...

    "17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 2 Peter 3:17-18

    If we waiver from the solid foundation and do not set strong roots, or at least some "garden pins" to keep the sod from washing away, sojourning winds, rains, and those that seek to devour will destroy our beautiful landscape that we have been looking forward to.
     
  • Water...water...water!  When you are sick, you are told to drink lots and lots of water.  Water does good for us all.  It cleanses our bodies.  It nourishes our lives.  It provides sustenance in order to live.  Same thing with sod.  It needs plenty of water.  I thought for sure that the morning dew would be sufficient to keep the new sod moist enough to nourish it until the evening time when I could have Abigail water, or water it myself.  I have been watering tonight for well over an hour in an attempt to bring some of the yellowing areas back to life.  Yes, I know that it is supposed to rain tomorrow.  But, I do not want to take chances!  Water is meaningful in our lives.  Is it meaningful spiritually as well?  There is no doubt that we can all find some water in our lives...but what about that spiritual living water?  Are we just barely sprinkling some on like a dew, or....

    "13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
     
  • Direct heat causes destruction!  The temperature has not really been all that warm.  Maybe it was in the high 80s today.  But, as one of the places that I have not been able to grow grass has sod laying on it, the catalyst of heat from the bricks from our house just seems to magnify the intensity.  As I walk around watering this area, I can't help but notice the gorgeous dark green streaks in this decaying line of sod that is right up next to the house.  The streaks come from shadows.  They are shadows of the evening sun hiding behind three healthy Arborvitae - emerald greens - that I planted up next to the house exactly for the purpose of shading that side of the house in the evening sun.  Pretty interesting to watch how the effects of heat and the calm of the shade differ so much.  Kind of makes you realize how comforting and protecting that the hand of God really is!

    "10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." 1 Cor 10:1-4

    Just as God provided safety, protection from the heat, and guidance in the clouds for the Israelites, He also provides that same protection for us in salvation!  The plan of salvation is based upon being baptized into the blood of Christ - the rock as Paul says - and being shielded from the fiery heat of hell by Christ's own shadow as He hung on the cross for our iniquities.  I find peace in knowing that the heat will not consume me, if I remain faithful to God throughout my walk on this earth with Christ right there with me!

You may be laughing hysterically right about now from my illustrations of being a failed "sod farmer" in my own fields, but if you followed along closely, you will see that it's not just sod that I am watching grow.  It is you.  It is me.  It is each individual that we come into contact with every single day.  

God has provided a way for our lives to grow, nourish, and yield fruitful harvests.  He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross for my sins...and yours!  Do you get it?  It's seems kind of silly to compare our lives to something as "minute" as growing sod...but personally knowing the sod farmer that grew my sod to the point of harvest - it means a whole lot more to him.  It means his livelihood while on this earth.  He did an awesome job of cultivating my sod - sort of like God made each of us perfect in nature at birth, yet, when it left his sod farm and became mine...the rest was up to me.

You cannot depend on someone else for your salvation, just as alternatively, you cannot allow someone else to deny salvation for you personally.  Salvation IS a personal issue.  No one can answer for you, and no one can stop you from obeying the Gospel...if that is truly what you desire.

After all, God is watching the sod grow all day long, every single day.  Us "part-time" sod farmers only get to watch for a little while.

~Joey


 

Just Grow UP!!!

20 years ago this weekend, Kristie and I were spending a peaceful (haha) Easter Sunday visiting with family and preparing for a whirlwind of change that was coming just a month later.

I was spending every single waking free moment converting our little 900 square foot 2 bedroom home with an occupancy of 2, to increase by 50% with an addition of #3!

Fast forward 20 years.  Now, today, this weekend, this month, and going forward....I am spending every single free moment that I can seem to scrounge up converting what we have enjoyed as our yard for the past several years into a wedding gala event in a few months!

As a parent, I am sure that we all use that nasty little phrase that I have in the title - "Just grow up!"  I had it used on me, heard it used on my brother and sister, used it on our oldest Katelyn, and use it still with our youngest Abigail.

Do we really mean it though?  Do we REALLY want our children growing up so fast?  I mean think about it.  Just as I stated, I can remember the events of 20 years ago - BEFORE Katelyn was a part of our lives.  And today, I spent an hour and a half blowing leaves away from the wedding site.  WOW!  She heeded my words...and grew up!

As we prepare for one of the most important days in her life over the course of a few months, I can't help but reflect on my own parenthood duties, responsibilities, mistakes, "do-overs", ups, downs, excitement, sadness, and so on.  If you are a parent, you know all of these feelings very well.  

But, as I sat at lunch today with Kristie and Abigail, I saw two different families sitting there at the two closest tables to us, eating that have both experienced a loss of a child or sibling at an age younger than Katelyn is today.  I can't help but feel sadness thinking about how they lost a loved one at such a young age and feel pure guilt from pressing forward that point of "just grow up" as a parent.  

Sometimes we act and say things that do not equal to what we really mean.  This is purely one of those cases.  As I watch my oldest baby girl turn 20 next month, become closer to her fiancé and soon to be step-daughter that she treats as much as she is her own, I can't figure out why in the world that I was so anxious for her to "just grow up."

Regardless....she has.  And, she has made a wonderful young lady/woman of herself.  I mentioned that we are preparing for one of the greatest days of her life.  I was reflecting through some of her memories the other night and noticed where she had posted her baptism date on Facebook from 2006.  That date was one of the best days I think I could have ever experienced in her life, and I am very proud of her for that.  

The Bible tells me as a parent to "not provoke to wrath" with my children, and I am afraid that I may have been guilty of this a few times.  The Bible also tells me as a parent that I have a responsibility to bring my child up with the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  I pray that I have done just that. 

So, as I continue to prepare for the day that my daughter leaves my home, her umbrella of parenthood's envelopment, I also continue to pray that she will "just grow up" in a different way.  I pray that she will continue to grow UP toward heaven in her life, in the example that she will be to her husband, and to their daughter....as they tell her a time or two to "just grow up!"

~ Joey

 

Death has its sting...two years later

 

As this weekend marks the second anniversary of my mom's passing from this life, I am ever constantly reminded of the sting of death tonight. 

Death comes to all that are born into this world, and even included our Lord Jesus Christ. Death, however, is not the end!   

Many people think that it is all over when someone dies. The life is certainly gone, but there are scores of little and big things that "live on."  Take for example:

 ~ the constant memory of the last time you spoke with a dear friend or loved one

~ the pictures that you cling to of happier days

~ a little bit of wisdom or words that were uttered briefly

~ a gift that was given that you never gave thanks for

~ a grave stone reflecting a persons entire life - between those two dates that read "Born" and "Died" 

 

~  some little something that brings your vision right back to that moment that your world fell apart and simply stood still upon receiving the daunting news

Death certainly has its sting!

 

Jesus was certainly not immune to death either. He was surrounded by those that were sick, and dying, often in the purveyance of His miracles. Jesus is counted more than once "healing the dead."  One of these famous accounts is also attributed in the context of the shortest verse in the English Bible - "Jesus wept." 

 

The context of the story is pretty simple really.   Jesus' friend Lazarus has died. His sisters were very despondent, and many that knew Lazarus were sorrowful. 

Many a reader will account for this verse - "Jesus wept," to show the humanistic qualities of Christ - God in the flesh. While I do not want to, nor can attempt to disenthrone this emotional thought process, I do, however wonder sometimes if we just don't get it!

Was Jesus sad...like I am tonight as I remember my mother's life, and death?  Was He sad in mourning like we often see when one passes, especially unexpectedly, and He didn't get to say "Goodbye" to him?  Was He just plain showing compassion for the others around Him?

I don't know!

But... 

as I study the life of our Lord, I often wonder...why did Jesus weep?  I mean, think about it...He knew Lazarus' heart.  He loved him!  Apparently, Lazarus was a wonderful man. A man that exhibited the characteristics of someone that we might "think" will get to heaven!    RIGHT?

So, why would Jesus be sad that he had died - if he died "in The Lord" as it may appear?  Maybe we are missing something here...

Maybe....and I am speculating a big maybe here....but, maybe Jesus was simply upset because He was bringing Lazarus back to a life of sorrow, sadness, and sickness.  Maybe Jesus was sad because of the lack of faith shown in His own disciples questioning His ability to raise a man from that dead that was already smelling of the stench of death?   

Or maybe...Jesus understood the heartache that Mary and Martha were experiencing with tears in their own eyes, and He could not let them cry alone that day. 

Maybe Jesus wept with them that day...as He may be weeping with me on this very few days of heartache that fills my life.  Maybe it is as simple as reading this verse one more time... 

"Jesus wept." 

Death certainly has its sting.  It stings both the living, and the dead.  But, joyfully, I know in my heart that Christ overcame the grave and the sting of death in a resounding VICTORY, being resurrected to die no more!  And, when He poured out His blood, He gave us a way of overcoming death's chilling water in victory as well!

No matter how long a dear one has been parted, there is always a sting.  That sting will not go away; however, Christ's blood will save us from being overcome by death.   

Have you been cleansed by His blood?  If not, death will take its toll on you some day...and it will not be over....ever!  If you die spiritually, to never be able to live again...will we hear those bitter words once again? 

 

"Jesus wept." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ~ Joey Ferrell

Welcome to the jungle....

Well, I have finally submitted to the trend of blogging.  Many that know me will say that I have "blogged" forever through other various channels such as Facebook or Twitter.  I tend to ramble on sometimes, and I know that sometimes listening (reading) my ramblings can be fun, maybe witty at times, but many are heart-felt thoughts from my own heart that I have felt sharing with others would be a strength for me, and an opportunity to better involve those that might be interested in my life...outside of other media.

Follow along as I begin this blog.  There may not be any kind of repetition or consistency.  I may post once a week, once a day, or maybe just once a month.  I am not sure.

I do hope that you will find my ramblings, reviews, article, and thoughts to be beneficial and constructive.  If you do, then please share with others, consider saying a kind word, or even blog back.  If you are not edified, or if you have thoughts to add in the negative, please be kind and loving.  This is my world of thoughts, my inner-heart, my words of encouragement to others.  If you are seeking a debate...email me instead :)

God has truly blessed me with a great opportunity in this life, and I am ever so thankful to be able to share His gospel with others whether it be through words here, or in person.

This blog is titled "What The Lord Has Done For Me..." and appropriately so.  I choose this day whom I will serve, and it will be the Father above, and no other.

So, come on along this ride with me if you choose. 

 

In Him until we understand the fullness of time.

Joey Ferrell