Monday, 10/18/21 – Pressing on… On that day…

On that day…

Ninety years ago on this day, Oct. 18, 1931 American gangster Al Capone was successfully convicted for tax evasion….

Alphonse Gabriel Capone, a.k.a. “Scarface,” “Big Al,” “Big Boy,” “Snorky,” and “Public Enemy No. 1,” was born January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. He died January 25, 1947 (age 48) in Palm Island, Miami Beach, Florida. Capone was a gangster, bootlegger, racketeer, and known infamously as Boss of the “Chicago Outfit,” and for the bloody “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” which resulted in the daytime murder of seven rival gang figures. After evading numerous criminal charges and a seven-year stint as a crime boss, Capone was finally imprisoned 11 years (age 33) on Oct. 18, 1931 under five counts of tax evasion.

Though he did contribute to charities, Capone also lived in luxury, power, and self-indulgence from the wealth of his crimes, but his last days were days of misery caused by syphilis and dementia. Now his soul is in eternity where he faces his Maker and gives account. I wonder what he now thinks of the life paths he once chose?

Bewildered by the prosperity of the wicked the psalmist Asaph confessed: “…my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Ps. 73:2-3). “I’ve kept my heart pure and innocent for nothing!” he almost laments. (v. 13).

Al Capone leaving a federal courthouse in Chicago, October 14, 1931.
Everett Collection— Historical Highlights Images/age fotostock [https://www.britannica.com/biography/Al-Capone]

But then Asaph regained true perspective: “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply,” he writes, “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (v.16-17).

Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.” (v.18-20).

James also speaks to the ultimate end of those who abuse others for temporal gain:

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” (James 5:1-6)

We must not be allured from the paths of righteousness by the apparent rewards of transgressors. Their stories have not yet been fully told. But “the path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Prov. 4:18), and “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Eccl. 12:14).

I wonder… on that day… what will you think of the life paths you are now choosing?

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Wednesday, 3/25/20 – Pressing on…

Steer back!

20191110_120829As he shared with us last Sunday Elder Don reminded us of a statement by Alan Baker, one of our Sermonindex Revival presenters. Alan had seen how very quickly a society can be turned upside down. In urgent public warning he pointed to us all, both present and online, and warned “Don’t think that can’t happen to you!

ocean water wave photo

Knowing that a complete and sudden loss of all we’ve relied upon is possible – this is the first step in being prepared for it. Ignoring warnings has always led to destruction: e.g. the people of Noah’s age and the ensuing flood, the Passover and slaying of the firstborn, the residents of Sodom & Gomorrah and its fiery destruction…

In each case God gave warning, but the people ignored it. Scripture teaches God always gives warning:

“Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 Amplified).

He warns us like a loving parent… like the good, good Father that He is.

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11).

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Pastor Andrew touched on this theme in a message he shared some months ago. God warns before He acts. He doesn’t want to see us destroyed – but the clock keeps ticking…

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” (2 Pet. 3:9-10).

God is not trying to scare us… at least not without purpose; He is trying with all His might and with all His Love to steer us, as Don explained.

adult automotive blur car

Imagine a driver training instructor who shouts to his student “Turn around!” as the car heads to a precipice. Though it may startle the student the cry is urgent and motivated by greater wisdom and concern for what is best.

But suppose this student driver ignores the warning? What is the instructor to do? Shout louder?

Elder Don asked “How much does it take for God to get our attention?” How much does it take for Him to get your attention?

“Do not do what everyone else is doing,” said Elder Don, “Come to the Rock.”

Press on…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.

Tuesday, 3/24/20 – Pressing on…

The folly of flight

silhouette of a man in window

“…God’s judgment,” writes Paul to the Romans, “…is based on truth.” I’m not so sure much of our society understands this. Many do not even give thought to such notions of accountability. But each person IS accountable before God for what they have done with the life He has given them.

Do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” Paul asks. (Rom. 2:2-3). Sadly, many run from this question, they “flee on horses” (Isa. 30:16), as Elder Don reminded us last Sunday.

man wearing black officer uniform

But no one can outrun God! God is everywhere! The very idea that one can run “from” God is ludicrous. “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” asks the Lord through Jeremiah. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24). There are no “secret places” to the One Who created all places. Like in any episode of “Cops,” or “Live PD” the one being pursued is ALWAYS better off surrendering than running.

silhouette of person riding horse on body of water under yellow sunset

But in these last few days of grace God is pursuing us not to destroy us but to “proclaim peace” to those captured. Someone has stepped up to take our punishment instead. “Stop running!” He shouts. “You are only running deeper into the prison! The door is this way… follow My Voice for it is urgent. This prison will soon seal shut forever!”

“I rarely raise My Voice” spoke the Lord privately to Don as he prayed. But God is shouting at us now… shouting to the whole of us… “Come to Me! I am your only Hope!”

Paul continues… “… God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ …For God does not show favoritism.” (Rom. 2: 6, 11). To this the author of Hebrews adds,

“See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” (Heb. 12:25-27)

lion roaring inside cager

In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe young Lucy asks the Beaver if the God-like figure Aslan is safe. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …. “Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”

Believers, do not fear. This is our Father speaking… shouting… shaking… He’s a good, good Father. Run closer to Him as He rages. It is the safest place to be.

More tomorrow…

To see and hear Elder Don’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church… look under Videos for the March 22 upload.