We Are Able

October 23, 2015



Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”

~Mark 10:39, NLT


Despair ruins some, presumption ruins many.

~Benjamin Franklin


You see James and John’s presumptuous answer above but what is the question? Jesus asked them, Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” Without a moments hesitation, they replied, “We are able.” I’m sure Jesus just shook His head in unbelief. These guys who were a part of the inner circle {Peter, James and John} had committed to mistakes.

Their first mistake was that they were not paying attention to what Jesus had just said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.” Jesus had no more than got this out of His mouth when the two asked for seats of honor in His kingdom. Their second mistake is as bad as the first, it was ignorance. They had no idea what they were asking for or committing themselves to do. I don’t know which was greater: their arrogance, their ignorance or their insensitivity.

James and John did undergo Christ’s baptism and they did drink from His bitter cup. James was the first to die for Christ. They were able to drink the cup because Jesus made them able. Sometimes we allow our mouth to overload our ability. We are able only because His grace enables.  Oh the needless grief we bring into our lives by our prideful presumption.


  • Talked to Noah yesterday evening: Michelle is still packing. They are planning to be here by tonight.
  • We got a lot done yesterday that we have been putting off. We have paper towel racks in the women’s bathroom in the FORTE. We also got the baptistery cleaned and filled with fresh water. Lord willing, we will baptize three this Sunday and we have one scheduled for November 1. I pray that we will baptize every Sunday between now and Christmas.
  • FELLOWSHIP Sunday night at 5:30–Hay rides at 6:15. Members bring a pot, not a bowl, but a pot of stew, soup or chili. If you do not bring one of the three then your option is two of the following items: homemade desert, cornbread, chips [Frito’s], cokes. We have crackers and Tea.
  • We had 28 in our COLLEGE BIBLE STUDY last night.
  • I’m probably going to have to get off of Facebook but I do enjoy the pictures: this one comes from Sandy Hendrix in Cherokee, Alabama. It was made at mile marker 375 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Trace runs less than a mile behind the first church I served out of Seminary. I would love to drive the Northern stretch [in a gentle rain], from Cherokee to Franklin, Tennessee. I got to do that a few years ago and I loved it.

old trace at mile post 375

Gary, Keri and Kane

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But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?

~Mark 10:38, NLT


In Christ Kingdom, the road to greatness travels through the valley of service, sacrifice and suffering.


my thoughts red

With a little prodding from mom, James and John got a little over ambition and ask Jesus for the one and two spots in the Kingdom but they were thinking that Jesus would be sitting on a throne ruling, not nailed to a cross dying. Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? In Judaism, a cup meant one of two things, suffering or celebration; here it meant bitter suffering. These two ignorant teenagers said, “Yes, we are able.” Jesus replied,  You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering but I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left.”

These boys did not ask for the throne; they knew Jesus belonged on the throne. They were willing to serve under Him but they did not want to serve the other ten. It is hard enough to submit to a perfect Jesus, who wants to submit to earthly authorities? James and John were kids, most think from 14-20 years of age. They were in for a shock and some accelerated learning. The Cross and the Resurrection were eye openers and they both drank the bitter cup of suffering. James was the first martyr and John survived imprisonment and a pot of oil. They tried to kill him but he wouldn’t die. In time they learned the truth: in the Kingdom, the way up is down.

When I was a young preacher I aspired to be great and then I learned: every great man of God has suffered intensely. Adrian Rogers lost a son, he literally died in his arms. Ron Dunn had a son commit suicide. On and on I could go. When I became aware of the price they paid, I gladly surrendered my ambition.

Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “I am told that I must esteem others as better than myself and there is only one way I can do it–I must contemplate the cross of Christ until I am crushed into the dust. It is the only thing that curbs the flesh in me.”

extra 2

  • I like good news but this has been a tough week and I have a heavy heart tonight. Gary fell yesterday morning and they rushed him to DGH where he stayed all day in the ER. Finally got him into a room last night but his head was killing him and they finally got him easy around 8:00. The report from the PET scan was not what we wanted but they say it is treatable. The man has been through so much. When I got to the hospital yesterday morning he was feeling better and we talked for about 30 minutes about spiritual things. He told me things that made my heart sing. I left on a high note but on the way home from the funeral home Hannah sent me a text and then Larry called a few minutes after I got in. The best news was that they gave him something for pain and he was getting easy. You have been so good to pray for Gary but I am asking you to pray again. I don’t understand this but I don’t understand a lot about suffering. The great Albert Schweitzer, “Whoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others.” He was a doctor, I am not. All I can do is pray and stand beside those who are suffering. I will tell you this: I am not going to miss this world.
  • Tonight is our GATHERING at 6:30. Fifteen minutes of praise and worship and then our break-out groups. The Choir is having a supper tonight and they want everyone to show up. Men, they need you. David is going to introduce the Christmas music. He would be very encouraged to see a crowd for choir. Everyone make a special effort. Call Mandy or Jamie to get details on the party.
  • YOUTH: you to could have a pizza party if you do what I ask–[1] Move the racks upon the amphitheater stage [2] take down the remaining fence [3] put picnic tables back under pavilion. Mrs. June will be watching and if she sees you working, she will go get the pizza. No work, no pizza. Text JD and tell him what kind you want if you want the pizza.
  • Joe David and I had lunch with Allen and the Blackwood Brothers yesterday. The Blackwood’s are highly intelligent but Allen may be sitting at the head of the table. He doesn’t say much: he doesn’t get a chance.  I love their stories about their grand parents. I should have invited Hannah, she idolizes Keith. She talks about him all the time.
  • Needs for FRIDAY BACKPACK PROGRAM: Poptarts, Peanut butter crackers, canned food [Ravioli, Chili, spaghettios], Caprisuns, Fruit Snacks, Applesauce, Granola Bars, Fun sized candy bars.
  • Word Press is free so I shouldn’t complain but in their effort to make me pay, they allow glitches in the program. They will not let me delete pics and I have the Wheaties picture of the pervert and I am so sick of seeing it every time I do the blog.

Gary, Keri and Kane

The Power Of A Testimony

February 20, 2015

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“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

~John 9:25, NLT


A Christian with a testimony is never at the mercy of an atheist with an argument.

~Adrian Rogers

my thoughts red

One of the funniest stories in the bible is in John 9 where Jesus heals the man born blind. The Pharisees are having a holy fit because Jesus performed the miracle on the Sabbath. The blind man who can now see because of Jesus is elated and telling everyone about his miracle. The Pharisees were playing 20 questions: Who healed you? Where is He now? This man who opened your eyes, who do you think He was? Is this your son? Was He born blind? If he was born blind, how is it that he can now see? So they tell this excited man who has been given his sight…”Give glory to God by telling the truth because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.

The blind said, “I don’t know that He is a sinner but I do know that I was blind and now I see.” Again they said, “How did He do it?” The man born blind said, “Don’t you folks listen, I have already told you once, why do you want to hear it again? Are you interested in becoming His disciples.” {I wish I could have been there} The Pharisees explode and began cursing the man, “We are disciples of Moses. We know God spoke to Moses but we don’t know anything about this man.” The man born blind said, “That is really strange, this man healed me of my blindness which is something that has never been done and you guys don’t know anything about Him!

How is it that the Jewish religious establishment never made one attempt to get to Jesus or the facts surrounding His life. He was fulfilling every O.T. Prophecy concerning the Messiah and they did not take the time to investigate. With just a little effort they could have discovered that He was born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. There are many other things they could have learned had they had a burning desire to know the truth. Think about it: The Pharisees were smitten with the three “I”s.

  1. IGNORANCE: No excuse for them not to get to know all they could about Jesus. They made the gaff of the ages and it was all their fault. Jesus never hid the facts surrounding His life. They did not even ask where He was born.
  2. INDIFFERENCE: They didn’t ask because they didn’t care about Jesus, the truth or the man born blind. They only cared about themselves.
  3. INSECURITY: They were afraid of the truth. Afraid of losing their position; their prestige.

Revival Strip

  • Today we pray for FAMILIES.
  • If all continues to go well, Kane will get to come home March 8th. He is in good spirits. I am really impressed with Kane’s attitude.
  • They are predicting snow for Memphis tomorrow: Pray for Craig to have a safe trip up. It is a pretty tough trip and a lot of traffic in Memphis. St. Jude’s and the RONALD MCDONALD house are gated and I mean thick heavy gates and they are manned by armed security guards. It is not like going to Huntsville or Birmingham. The Ronald McDonald House is awesome.
  • When I got home last night a little after 8:00, it was 21 degrees. It is cold! I would not mind seeing some rain because it will have to warm up to rain.

Once I Was Young

September 12, 2014

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Once I was young, and now I am old.

~Psalm 37:25, NLT


“Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.”

~Charles M. Schulz

my thoughts red

Our education is both incremental and progressive. At 20 I didn’t know everything but certainly more than my daddy. I have always been amazed at how much daddy learned while I was in Seminary.  At age 30, you are still young and know it and you get a kick out of picking at a 67 year old. At 40, a dark ominous cloud begins to gather over you and you realize for the first time, you are no spring chick but you take on a new appreciation for people. You begin to realize how much time you have wasted and you stop thinking so much about success which seems to be passing you by and you begin to think about significance. You also begin to realize your ignorance.  At 50 you are like Ned in his first reader. You want to learn, you are eager to learn, more so than when you were in college but you have a much harder time retaining. At 60 you are overwhelmed with your ignorance and amazed at the wisdom of your father. He becomes the wisest man you’ve ever known. What about 65?

Let me tell you about 65. I love to read and study more than ever. I love preaching, teaching and writing more than ever but I have this feeling that I’m in over my head. The pulpit overwhelms me. The awesome responsibility of leading or misleading weighs on my mind. There are times when I think that I should give up everything but study and helping others. Should I be preaching, teaching or writing? Both the privilege and the responsibility of preaching God’s word have increased with age. In the beginning, it was like a trickling branch; then a creek; then a river; then a lake and now it’s like an ocean. It’s immensity overwhelms me. One thing keeps me going: God’s grace. It is the only explanation. In the younger years I thought it was part Jack and part Jesus: Now I know the truth, it is all JESUS!


  • Today we pray for FAMILY.
  • I believe in prayer. I can’t explain prayer, no finite mind can understand it. We pray because Jesus told us to pray. We pray because there is a longing in our hearts to pray. We pray because it works but we don’t understand how it works. I have a bit of a burden and I want you to spend 15 seconds directing a prayer in my vicinity.
  • I also have a confession: I thought I saw more people in my group Wednesday than were in it. Maybe I was being optimistic or maybe I gave you a ministerial estimate as Bro. Inman use to say but we did not have 193, we had 183 but it is still good and I was encouraged. There is nothing wrong with night church, we just need a REVIVAL.