The Law – And What it Means to Me

God laid down a law.  The purpose of it was to provide guidance to a nation in infancy.  Laws to love God and love each other were at the core of it.  There are ceremonial laws, food laws, hygiene laws, and laws for living.  Anyone who broke this law missed the mark – or sinned.  Truth be told, only one person in history lived without sinning.  Humanity couldn’t handle it, and nailed Him to a cross.

Whether a person knows the law or not, we will all be judged by a righteous God and His law.  Hearing and knowing the law isn’t enough.  Obedience is the key.  And those who obey the law, without missing the mark, are declared righteous.  Even those who have never heard the law still abide by the law which is written on their hearts.  Their own conscience and thoughts either betray or defend them.

There are many who proclaim to be faithful yet whose lives reflect the world’s philosophy of more money and more power, regardless of who suffers.  “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:24, ESV – sourced from Isaiah 52:5)

So are we preaching the law while living in opposition to it?  We cry out against the corrupt politicians who do this in our land.  Our lives must clearly reflect the Name of God which is placed on us.  This sign is inside of us, in our hearts, placed there by the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit, then, guides us through a life that is pleasing to God.  And God will praise us for the work we do – not people.


These thoughts are taken from reading Romans 2:12-29.  This book steers us toward truly loving God for who He is, rather than fearing Him because of His law and righteous judgement.  It has become one of my favorites from scripture.

I invite questions and comments.  Let me know what’s up!

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The Wrath of God is a Fearful Thing

Over the years, His wrath has been shown through events recorded in scripture and elsewhere.  These include the flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, and the Exile of Israel to Babylon.  His righteous judgment on the unrighteous is vivid and clear to those with eyes to see.

God has made Himself known through His creation.  His majesty is revealed in the power of a supernova as much as in the cry of a newborn in cold stable or dandelion fluff carried on the breeze.  Throughout history, people have claimed to know Him.  Perhaps we really did know Him. But we ignored Him.  Wise in our own minds, we marveled at what our hands could do, and cared not for the Hands that made us.  We are foolish, kneeling before the altar of celebrities and athletes, and the technology that defines our culture.

So God said, “If you don’t want me, do your own thing.  Enjoy yourself!”  And we did.  Without realizing that we dishonor ourselves in the process.  We gave up the truth we knew about God, and worshiped the creature instead of the Creator.  All of the things that define today’s debased society are the fruits of this rejection of God.  Sex, drugs and rock & roll – the epitome of a godless civilization – are rampant, and we will receive the due penalty for our error.

It matters not that we know God’s righteous decree: perps, and those who support them, deserve to die.  So all of us – whether perpetrators or defenders, even those of us who judge, are condemned since none of us are righteous.  Will we actually escape God’s judgment?  Will He have mercy on those who do not repent?  The unrepentant will feel God’s wrath first-hand on Judgment Day.

But it’s not all hellfire and brimstone.  And that’s why this writing today will be incomplete.  There is hope for those who seek Him.  He will grant eternal life to those who seek peace, regardless of race, gender, nationality, social standing, etc.


That’s some heavy stuff.  And it comes directly from God’s Word as recorded by the Apostle in the book of Romans.  This is an idea of Romans 1:18-2:11.  Does this make sense to anyone out there?

Let’s talk about it.  Yeah, this is fearful stuff.  But it gives an idea why the cross of Christ is such a beautiful thing.  More than the cross itself, but what happened three days later when He emerged from the tomb!  Oh how I long to meet Him face to face and rest in His arms.

I don’t have all of the answers. I’m not a teacher/preacher/apologist… I just know what I’ve read and experienced. God’s Word is true. God is faithful. And all we really need to do is believe… and hang on for a wild ride!

There was a man…

…who loved to travel. He had a message that he wanted to share with everyone he met. And he carried it well. He spoke to philosophers. He spoke to laborers and slaves. He spoke to jailers… and the jailed! He spoke to men and women.

He didn’t care about race or religious background. He didn’t care if his audience was city slickers or country bumpkins. He didn’t care where someone just came from.

He had a message about God that was earth-shattering. He had a message about Jesus that changed everything. He had a message about the gift if grace from a God that truly loves His creation.

His name was Paul, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. Paul shared the message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to help us, all of us who belong to Christ, to obey His commands by faith.

And Paul longed to go to Rome.

The Gospel is God’s power made manifest in us – everyone who believes, regardless of race, background, gender, or wealth. We who believe are made righteous by our faith.


The Book of Romans is one of my favorites in the Bible. It opens with the righteousness of Christ for us and in us. And it clearly demonstrates the wrath of God on sinners.

But it takes that step to show us that we who believe that Christ died for our sin and was resurrected, even in our sinful state, are holy and pure in God’s eyes.

This is, as my oldest daughter would call it, a paradox. It doesn’t make sense. It confounds the wise.

So, read Romans with me. I’m about halfway through the first chapter. And let’s talk about it.

I don’t have all of the answers. I’m not a teacher/preacher/apologist… I just know what I’ve read and experienced. God’s Word is true. God is faithful. And all we really need to do is believe… and hang on for a wild ride!

Why I Write

Hi there!

I’m not an apologist. I’m not gonna tell you the hermeneutics and the linguistics and the rocky mountain spotted ticks behind any scripture.

I’m not a preacher. I’m not gonna tell you that Jesus will save your soul (though He will) or that Ecclesiastes is the most meaningful book in the Bible (it is).

I’m not a teacher. I’m not gonna lay out a study plan and keep up with you to make sure you get it.

I’m none of those things. I’m a guy that sells industrial equipment. And I happen to have a Bible on my nightstand. It reminds me of what I need to know to get through life.

But somewhere along the way, the connection of those Words is broken between my brain and my heart. That’s why I’m not an apologist. Just because I know the Words doesn’t mean I understand them. Just because they’re in my brain doesn’t mean they have found their way to my heart.

And I get depressed. And I need to get those promises to where they need to be. And I do that through writing.

If I can help someone out along the way, great! If not, well, I’ve grown a little in the process.

One day, I’ll be perfect. But it’s only gonna happen when I meet God face-to-face and He tells me, “if it weren’t for grace, amigo, you’d be in a much warmer climate right now.”

In the meantime, please bear with this guy that’s just stumbling around from day to day. I’m gonna say stupid stuff. I’m gonna make mistakes. I’m gonna quote the wrong preacher. All because I’m trying to get it all straight myself.

In Christ,

Clay

The Beauty of a Simple Gospel 

I spend a lot of time on Twitter. Way too much time, some would say. And I try to justify it by saying my time there advances the Gospel. But, truth be told, mostly I just make small talk.

Recently, though, I misread someone’s remark and went, as I’m prone to do, on a long rant with my thoughts on the subject. I’m not perfect, so I begged their forgiveness and we both moved on as friends.

But I still feel like what I wanted to say needs to be said. So, here it is.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;

Matthew‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are a lot of people that spout theology as if it were Gospel. Maybe they are onto something, but I just don’t get it. What is the goal?

I was a student of the sciences. I looked for a clear definition or explanation for everything that came my way. As Albert Einstein said, “if you can’t explain it clearly, you don’t understand it.”

When I came to know Christ, however, I faced mysteries that have no explanation. The Trinity. “The last shall be first.”  “To him who has much more will be given. But to him that had nothing, everything will be taken.” It hurt my head.

But I found a few nuggets of wisdom that really helped me get through it.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:18-20‬ ‭ESV

Now I know I’m foolish.  Every time I get things figured out in life, something throws a curve ball and I strike out again.  Every time I think I’m getting wiser, I learn I’m wrong.  So why should I think I’ve got God figured out?

Can you find out the deep things of God?
    Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth
    and broader than the sea.
If he passes through and imprisons
    and summons the court, who can turn him back?

Job 11:7-10, ESV

I have been spending a lot more time in prayer and reading His Word over the last (almost) 16 years.  At times, a lot more devoted than at others.  And I’m beginning to understand something that a lot of my peers would consider childish.

The Gospel is Simple

The Gospel is very simple.  Just like Jesus said in Matthew above, it is so simple it confuses the wise.  But the foolish can understand it.  So, what is the Gospel?  It is very simple.  Jesus died so you can live.  Accept His gift, fellowship with Him, find peace with Him in this life, and spend eternity with Him in the next life.

That’s it, pure and simple.  There’s really nothing more to it.  I don’t need to understand big words to understand God’s love.  I don’t need to research what all of the church fathers wrote.  I don’t need to figure out if I’m a Calvinist or an Arminian; Reformed or Restored.

I do need to know if I’m forgiven.  And that’s something that only I can determine through my own communion with my Lord and Savior.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.  Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.  And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5:9-12, ESV

This is where I receive my faith, my promise my hope for eternity.  It is important to me that I learn about God’s will for me.  That is not going to come from Calvin or Luther.  It is important to me that I learn about sharing this Gospel with those who are lost.  Few will respond to arguments about whether we are merely pawns in God’s massive orchestration or if our free-will impacts the world.

Most people are like me, trying to get on with measly lives – ekking out a living and hoping to sleep well at night.  Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow may not happen.  Lord, help me through today.  Those are the people I see every day.  Those are the people with whom I can relate.

I want to know God.  I knew about Him most of my life.  But He made Himself real to me <almost> 16 years ago.  That’s when it goes beyond studying a historical figure and building a relationship with a living person.  The goal is to know Him personally.

The last thing I want to do is argue with any of my brothers and sisters in Christ about history.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,  and their talk will spread like gangrene.

2 Timothy 2:15-17, ESV

Keep the peace!  And spread the Gospel!

Adios,
Clay

Clip from Scrooged – watch this first. 

Acid Rain.

Drug Addiction.

International Terrorism.

Snipers, storms, and war.

I don’t know about you, but the last few months have been stressful. North Korea. Las Vegas. Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Trump vs. Everybody. The news alone is enough to make you want to checkout.

But then there’s life, on top of the news. Taking care of kids. Taking care of parents. Harvey. Disease. Unemployment.  

It’s times like these we really need to remember that God is with us.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

– Luke 13:1-5, ESV 

These things were “BREAKING NEWS” when Jesus walked with the disciples. And they sound like they’re right out of today’s headlines. This sort of thing has been going on since creation. The methods may be different, and the fact that we can now hear about disasters and tragedies as soon as they happen, thanks to modern technology.

But the truth of the matter is, stressful times have been with us since that day in the Garden.

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?ong?

Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

– Habakkuk 1:2-4, ESV

The violence Habakkuk spoke about was both domestic and foreign. Israelite versus Israelite, and invaders from various countries… there was a great deal of violence. And the faithful in Israel cried out to the Lord for relief, thinking that God is not listening, not interested.

God was, however, paying attention. And He had a plan:

Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.

For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.

For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.

They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.

Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on.

Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour.

They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand.

– Habakkuk 1:5-9, ESV

Wait… The Chaldeans? Seriously? That’s like me praying to God and He says, “Don’t worry. I’m sending North Korea to resolve your problems.”

So Habakkuk asked God, “Are you sure?”

And God proceeds to describe His master plan for saving everyone, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This is where we all must circle back. This is where God meets us in our stress, in our loss, in our sin. And all he asks us to do – and I know it’s difficult – is to trust Him. He’s got this. Don’t worry about it and keep on moving.

Folks, I know this is hard. Believe me, I know it. And each one of us is fighting a battle of some sort. We don’t need to compare scars. We just need to hold each other up, encourage each other, and keep on moving forward.

Want to read a moving prayer? Look at Habakkuk 3. Read it closely. He praises his God even though he has lost everything. Let this be our prayer!

Adios,
Clay

Gratitude 

It’s Sunday morning and I have a few minutes to be grateful. 

  • Thank you Lord, for a local church family that truly cares for us. 
  • Thank you, Lord, for being in a place where I can truly worship you in peace. 
  • Thank you, Lord, for the encouragement given and received this week. 
  • Thank you, Lord, for letting me know that my old atheist friend has found you. 
  • Thank you, Lord, for emboldening me to speak with my agnostic friend.
  • Thank you, Lord, for people like Thom and Tony and Jeff and @RedeemedRags and @EricIsGuitarted and @patchingcracks and @DonnaGeee and @FanN2Flames and @YaelSpeaks and @ImJimR87 and @SkipSmith10 and @SusannaHawkins1 and @CelloC and @anahnemoo and @P31Grits and @RedeemedNegaduc and @dbhostage and @LynnAMcG and @BrannysawrusRex and so many more who laugh, cry, and pray with us. 

Lord, you’ve been here. You know this road ain’t easy. You know we’re going to have a hard time. That’s why you promised us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. 

These fruits of the Spirit guide us and give us strength for the treacherous journey ahead. These fruits take that rocky, twisted, and steep road, and make it smooth, straight, and flat. 

You have given us all of the tools we need, including and especially each other, so that we can make it through to meet you face to face. 

And on that day, when you will wipe away the tears of this world, and you hold us close to you, and you tell us, “Well done!”, we will finally rest our weary souls in your strength. Our battle done, our road traveled, our race finished. No longer dreading the day. No more worry about our husbands, wives, parents, and kids. We will be with you, in Paradise. 

This Sunday morning, I am grateful. Thank you, Lord.

What happened?

Wednesday morning, my wife called to tell me that our daughter’s friend attempted suicide. “…and she may have been successful.” 

My daughters are friends with both of those girls. They hang out, they sleep over, they text each other. The older girl found the younger with a dog leash wrapped around her throat. 

I’m not sure what happened. I’m not sure what led up to it. All I know for certain is that my youngest child can’t understand. And my oldest is angry. 

Do I believe suicide is unforgivable? No I do not. That call is up to our almighty Heavenly Father. And he decides who is saved, and who is not. 

So, for the person who goes, there’s no problem. Have a nice eternity!

But there are so many people left behind that were touched by your life. In positive ways, no less. And you may never know that. These people love you. You may not know that either, and I am sorry about that. 

And their lives are turned upside down. 

I can’t begin to imagine what her parents are going through. Nor her sister. 

But I see my my teenage daughters cry. And I don’t know how to comfort them. And that hurts me. 
Our society wants to focus on negative things. Our music, our movies, and our everyday talk. 

I had a bad day at work. 

My day was worse!

It’s like we compete for the worst life. And as we focus on how bad our lives are, we lose track of all the blessings. We lose track of the wins. We lose track of the love. 

And we don’t want to lose anymore. 

I know. I’ve been there. And I don’t want to go back. 

But we only want to focus on our own negativity. We don’t want to hear or talk about someone else’s problems. And that’s where we are failing each other. And that’s why so many people think nobody cares. 

And someone chooses to end it all. 

And so many more suffer.

And still, nobody wants to talk about it. 

So it never gets addressed. 

It never really gets addressed. 

I’m done being silent. This has gone on long enough. Yeah, I’m ashamed that it took hitting this close to home before speaking up. That makes it all the more important. 

Please, don’t let another innocent young person take their life. 

Knowing God

15 years ago, my life changed.  In my car, in a Wal-Mart parking lot, God made Himself known to me.  My 3-year-old daughter, slept through the whole thing in the back seat.  But my life changed forever.

It hasn’t been easy along the way. “You will have trouble,” Jesus told his disciples (John 16:33).  I’ve been laid off the times from the tumultuous energy industry. I’ve eaten more beans and cornbread than I care to remember (but my wife makes some amazing beans and cornbread!)  And my car is nothing to brag about.

But in the same breath as the quote above, Jesus also said, “take heart, I have overcome the world.” 

And that’s where knowing Him – not just knowing about Him – can change your life.

I’m here to testify. I do indeed have it all. At this point, joy and peace are some pretty valuable commodities! 

I will be writing here about how I came to know God; how He has healed me; how He has bestowed peace and joy on me. How he answers my prayers, and sometimes the answer is “no.”

Keep tuned.

Adios,

Clay

The World is Exploding 

And we get to watch!

Anyone who comments without reading the whole post … Well, you’ll show your ignorance. 

Ok enough drama, right?  “Save da drama fo yo mama!”  But, seriously. There is a lot amiss.  This is not a sermon for unbelievers.

Nearly 14 years ago, I pledged my life to Christ. There were some immediate changes, but growing up in the U.S.South, with very conservative parents, I had some core beliefs:

  1. If you live in this country, you damn well better be ready to work. 
  2. If you pose any threat to my family, you must die. 
  3. The Russians are the bad guys. 
  4. So are the Liberals. 
  5. So are Atheists
  6. And the French
  7. And Muslims
  8. And Catholics
  9. And gays…
  10. And bigots…
  11. And drugs…
  12. And illegal immigrants…

Let’s face it. Archie Bunker made a whole lot of sense to me. Then, at the age of 21, I dropped out of college and joined the Navy. My charge in life: to destroy the Russian horde as The Gipper commanded. But I also learned how to drink like a sailor. 

Then a Navy Chaplain told me that Jesus didn’t want people like me. I found myself, a professing conservative “Christian”, living in the dark side. A place that I wouldn’t want my body to be found. It was an eye-opening experience. The atheists and gays aren’t that bad. I don’t want to be one, but since Jesus doesn’t want me, I can hang out with them. 

I eventually got back to college and graduated with a degree in computer science. First I moved to the Texas border area where I was the minority because I spoke English. I encountered illegal aliens every day. I learned to speak their language and I ate their food. These people aren’t so bad. They’re just trying to support their families. 

My next stop was Austin, a very liberal spot in Texas. Why, oh why do the liberals take over the most beautiful places? The West Coast, The Texas Hill Country… But they weren’t so bad. Yeah, we disagreed on a lot of points, but for the most part, they actually made sense. I came away with the conclusion that every hardcore  conservative needs a liberal or two to help them see the other side. (And the liberals out there could use a conservative or two to keep the country’s economy on track!)

But Houston was the most eye-opening experience. In Houston, I found a cross-section of the whole world. All of the remaining bad people were here. I worked with Muslims every day. I ride the vanpool with Russians who escaped the collapse of the Soviet Union as fast as they could. There are Catholics in our homeschool group. 

It was in Houston that I found I needed to have The Lord Jesus Christ in my life. 14 years ago. I asked Him to take away everything that stood between us. But there is still a lot of hate in my heart. 

And there are people who cannot work. And there are thousands of homeless. And many of my friends are out of work because of the price of oil. And I was in that situation. 

And who bailed me out? My church. They helped me – not with handouts, but with the expectation that I would get back on my own two feet soon. That one day I would be able to do for others what was done for me. 

Life hasn’t been easy. And there is a lot of hateful rhetoric on the news and in thenSocial Media feeds. I signed off Facebook 7 years ago because of the political rhetoric. (But I also changed my avatar to a Hammer and Sickle in honor of our government. See I’m not perfect!)

Then they established sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. And they legalized gay marriage. And they legalized marijuana. And they began the Sovietization of our healthcare system. And they outlawed the Confederate Battle Flag. And we went to war against a Muslim army without a country. And another one. 

And still, Jesus works on my heart. 

  • Homosexuality and drug use is a sin, just like my drunkenness which I was born with a penchant for. I needed to learn how to deal with my addictions so I could help others deal with theirs. 
  • Many of my friends were without healthcare before the Affordable Care Act.  Self-employed, but not rich, they needed an option that did not exist. 
  • To my friends with darker skin, the Confederate Battle Flag is the equivalent of a swastika – a religious symbol appropriated and ruined by a hate monger. 
  • My Muslim friends wept with me after 9/11 and the recent attacks in Paris. (Though the French refused to help us after 9/11, we will stand with them in this time of mourning.)
  • Refugees, though a few bad eggs may be in the group, still need a chance to recover from the horror they have been through. 

Am I a liberal? I don’t think so. I still think the Soviets had it wrong. I still think we need to protect our borders from potential enemy combatants sneaking in. I still think hard work is the way to peace. And I still think we need to fight to protect our families. 

But all of this needs to be filtered through the love of our Lord and Savior.  And that is what many of my Christian friends cannot see.