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Second Chance

It was Sunday, March 13, 1977, and a group of people from our church, including my wife and I, were preparing to leave for a ten day tour of Israel and the cities of Rome and Amsterdam. I don’t remember if I hugged my mother as I said goodbye to her, but I probably did. However, at almost twenty-six years old, I was too old to hug my father. I’m not even sure if I said, “I love you,” before we boarded the motorhome that would take us to Little Rock. From there we would fly to New York City and then on to Amsterdam. The trip was enjoyable and uneventful, that is, until the following Sunday, March 20, 1977.
I remember that day as if it had just happened. We were getting ready for a day of touring and worship services when, shortly after seven o’clock, our pastor called and asked if he could come to our room to talk with me. I agreed but told my wife, “I hope he’s not wanting me to read a verse of Scripture or lead in prayer somewhere with all these preachers here.” (I was dealing with God’s call to preach at the time.) When our pastor and his wife arrived at our room, he informed me that my dad had been in an accident. He said he had fallen off a ladder and broken his leg and was in the hospital. This both concerned and confused me. I wondered, “How tall was the ladder? From what height did Dad fall?” That’s because my dad was always pretty tough, and what might cause a major injury for some would hardly phase him. Also, I could not understand why Dad was in the hospital with a broken leg. I had a broken leg once, and, yes, I was taken to the hospital to have it x-rayed and have a cast put on it, but I was not admitted as a patient.
Our tour continued, and finally we left Israel and flew to Rome. I think it was there that I first talked to my mother about the accident, although I did not get a lot of additional information. Our next stop would be Amsterdam again, and then home, and I was anxious to get back and check on my dad.
The day finally came to leave Holland and fly back to the United States. I remember the excitement I felt when the pilot announced that we had just entered U.S. air space. Just about every passenger on that KLM 747 began to sing “God Bless America.”
After a layover in New York City and a late flight toward home, we finally arrived at Adams’ Field in Little Rock. It was late when we started back to Texarkana. On the van ride home I learned a little more about my dad’s injuries. Not only did he have a broken leg, but he had lost the end of his right thumb. My wife and I arrived at our house around two in the morning, and after a restless night I was ready to go to the hospital to see my dad.
The next morning I met my mom at the hospital where she had spent every night since the accident in the ICU waiting room. My dad was in ICU! Upon arriving at the hospital, I learned the full extent of my dad’s injuries. He had fallen around thirty feet, not from a ladder, but from an electric pole. Yes, his leg was broken — into about a hundred pieces. He had lost the end of his right thumb. It was literally ground off by the asphalt when he landed with his right hand under him. His right hand was broken. His hip was out of joint. His pelvis was broken, and his scalp had been torn off. He had been give eight and a half pints of blood on the day of his accident as he spent from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in surgery. Two weeks after his accident, when the doctors were finally able to get good x-rays, they found that he had a hangman’s break in his neck. He spent eight weeks in the hospital and many more weeks recovering at home. Dad made as full a recovery as one could from such a horrible accident, but, with his right leg about one inch shorter than the left, he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
In March of 1978, we went to Israel again. This time, as we prepared to leave for Little Rock and our flight to New York City, I was not too old or too much of a “man” to hug my father goodbye and tell him that I loved him. I had been given a second chance to show my dad how much I truly loved him, and i was not going to take it for granted.
I did, eventually, start preaching and pastoring churches, and until just a few years ago none of them were near where my dad lived. But, when we would come back to Dad’s for a visit, before we left to go back to our home, I would hug Dad and say, “I love you.”
Dad died on October 13, 2008. I had talked to him at 6:25 a.m. as I did every morning. Other than his saying that he didn’t feel well, things seemed normal. Less than three hours later I received the phone call that no one wants to get. It was my brother tell me that Dad was gone. The last thing I said to my father was, “I’ll talk to you later.” (I had told him “I love you” when we had talked the night before.)
I was given a second chance to publicly demonstrate my love for my father. It is neither childish nor unmanly to do so. We do not know how long we will have our parents with us. (My mother died in 1995.) I am thankful that I told my dad (and my mom) how much I loved him while he was living and could hear it. It makes being without him a little easier to bear.
If you are young, or if you are older, and you still have your parents (or a parent) living, take time today to say, “I love you, Mom, Dad.” As one who is now a parent of two almost grown children, I can tell you, it will mean more to them than any gift you could give them.

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Joshua 22:20 – Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.

There are times when we get belligerent and say, this is my life, I will live it the way I want and I am not hurting anyone else.

This is absurd and selfish reasoning. There are those all around us whose lives are intertwined with ours in some way. Our personal lives and friends we have are affected by the things we do. Our work lives leave a mark on those we work with. Even when we try to get away from family others are affected. No man can live only to ones self.

Achan took that which was Gods. Achan had no intention of involving others in his thievery and sin. Yet his sin was found out and his whole family was touched in a terrible way because of his sin.

Family will be the first to be touched. Fathers and mothers never get past the love, concern and care of children. What a child commits as an act of sin brings grief to the hearts of parents. Brothers and sisters are touched by lives of brothers and sisters that walk a wrong path. All in the family are touched in one way or another.

Where God directs us, we are to be an influence to good. We are in a sea of people to show them what is right and what is wrong. We are to witness to them about a Savior that forgives and cleanses us of all sin. We must realize that when we are saved, we are not left in the same life style we have been living but we are transformed and have a new life that is abundant. Achan caused his family to be stoned to death.

Let us not harm or condemn our family because of the lusts of the world. Let us cause our family to rejoice in the life that is lived in Jesus Christ.

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Exodus 16:2; 17:3 – That term, murmuring, is such a negative word that sounds like bitter complaining. This is an ominous undercurrent that threatens. It threatens friendships, families, businesses and Churches. It brings problems, friction, and a lack of harmony. It can destroy, destabilize, and demolish families and Churches.


Often things murmured against are insignificant. Sometimes it is simply forgetting about previous circumstances that were abhorrent. Israel had quickly forgotten the slavery under which they had suffered. They forgot they had cried unto God for deliverance and relief. All they could remember was the food. They were experiencing discomfort but were headed to a land “flowing with milk and honey.” They did not want to experience discomfort and struggles for a while to receive something infinitely better. They were showing a lack of patience and faithlessness in God.


We have the same today. There are those that simply will not be happy. Some are always in the back ground murmuring about the preacher. His sermons are to long. His sermons are too shallow. His sermons cannot be understood. They murmur and complain about the song leader and the way he leads the songs. The piano player plays to loud or to soft. The same people are doing the same things. Nobody else gets a job to do. Let me drop a clue here. The same people are doing the same job and some have multiple responsibilities because no one else is responsible enough and faithful enough and on time enough and never at business meeting to take care of anything they might be given.There is always something to murmur about.


Murmuring weakens a Church. Murmuring does not please God. Murmuring is fractious because murmurers try to murmur to others to get them on their side. This causes a lack of unity in the Church. I Corinthians 11:16 Paul calls these people contentious (full of strife). I Corinthians 11:16 – “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” This murmuring and contention is “unbiblical.” James in James 1:8 says “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” So Paul says the Churches of God does not have contentious members and yet murmurers and complainers call themselves Christians. That cannot be.


If we would get our eyes on Jesus and the commission He has given us we would not be busy murmuring but would be busy witnessing, praising, and worshiping. If our focus was off others we could give all our attention to our Savior. We need to reflect on ourselves and realize where we fail and through prayer and study develop a closer relationship with the Lord. Let us strive to set aside the murmuring and immerse our selves in service.

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The day after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. For some, this day is a let down after the flurry of gift giving and family and fun. For me, this is a day of reflection on how a babe in a manager became my substitute. I am reminded of how unworthy I am and how I was so loved that the one to be my substitute, lay so innocently in a manger to grow and take my place on the cross. This a time for me to reflect on the cost or price of my salvation. How humbling to see one that sees my own innermost thoughts still wanted to give me a free gift of eternal life even though He could see my inward filthiness and degradation. It is now time to praise the LORD for His great and enduring love.

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The Tyranny of the Nanny State, Where the Government Knows What’s Best for You

Individual choice and decision has been removed from the family.

Posted: 11 Aug 2014 09:45 PM PDT

Surveillance cameras, government agents listening in on your phone calls, reading your emails and text messages and monitoring your spending, mandatory health care, sugary soda bans, anti-bullying laws, zero tolerance policies, political correctness: these are all outward signs of a government that believes it knows what is best for you.

Indeed, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this is the tyranny of the Nanny State: marketed as benevolence, enforced with armed police, and inflicted on all those who do not belong to the elite ruling class that gets to call the shots.

This tyranny disguised as “the better good” explains the recent rash of parents getting charged with negligence and arrested for leaving their kids alone for any amount of time, whether at a park, in a store, in a car, or in their front yard—another sign of what C.S. Lewis referred to as tyranny exercised by “omnipotent moral busybodies.”

For example, working mom Debra Harrell was arrested, spent 17 days in jail, lost custody of her daughter, and if convicted, could spend up to 10 years in jail all because she let her 9-year-old daughter play alone at a nearby park. Single mother Shanesha Taylor, unemployed and essentially homeless, was arrested for leaving her kids in her car during a 40-minute job interview.

For the so-called “crime” of allowing her 7-year-old son to visit a neighborhood playground located a half mile from their house, Nicole Gainey was interrogated, arrested and handcuffed in front of her son, and transported to the local jail where she was physically searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for seven hours and then forced to pay almost $4,000 in bond in order to return to her family. Gainey now faces a third-degree criminal felony charge that carries with it a fine of up to $5,000 and 5 years in jail.

A Connecticut mother was arrested after her 7-year-old, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, fell off his scooter and allegedly injured himself. Patricia Juarez was arrested after letting her 7-year-old son play at a Legoland store in the mall while she did her shopping. Tammy Cooper was arrested, jailed overnight and charged with child endangerment for letting her kids ride their scooters alone in the cul-de-sac outside her suburban home.

These incidents are worsened by what journalist Josh Harkinson more broadly refers to as the “criminalization of the working poor,” oftentimes targeting parents “struggling to make ends meet with no better child care options.”

Nevertheless, despite the arrest-driven uproar over what constitutes negligent parenting and the government’s attitude that it—in concert with Social Services—knows what is best for your kids, it turns out that kids aren’t really in any greater danger today than they were 40 years ago, at least not from abductions by strangers.

Unfortunately, having allowed our fears to be codified and our actions criminalized, we now find ourselves in a strange new world where just about everything we do is criminalized, not just our parenting decisions. As with most of the problems plaguing us in the American police state, we are the source of our greatest problems. We have relinquished control over the most intimate aspects of our lives to government officials who, while they may occupy seats of authority, are neither wiser, smarter, more in tune with our needs, more knowledgeable about our problems, nor more aware of what is really in our best interests.

Yet having bought into the false notion that the government does indeed know what’s best for us and can ensure not only our safety but our happiness and will take care of us from cradle to grave—that is, from daycare centers to nursing homes—we have in actuality allowed ourselves to be bridled and turned into slaves at the bidding of a government that cares little for our freedoms or our happiness.

The lesson is this: once a free people allows the government inroads into their freedoms or uses those same freedoms as bargaining chips for security, it quickly becomes a slippery slope to outright tyranny.

When our own government no longer sees us as human beings with dignity and worth but as things to be manipulated, maneuvered, mined for data, manhandled by police, conned into believing it has our best interests at heart, mistreated, and then jails us if we dare step out of line, punishes us unjustly without remorse, and refuses to own up to its failings, we are no longer operating under a constitutional republic. Instead, what we are experiencing is a pathocracy: tyranny at the hands of a psychopathic government, which “operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups.”

So where does that leave us?

Having allowed the government to expand and exceed our reach, we find ourselves on the losing end of a tug-of-war over control of our country and our lives. And for as long as we let them, government officials will continue to trample on our rights, always justifying their actions as being for the good of the people.

The choice before us is clear. It is the choice between tyranny and freedom, dictatorship and autonomy, peaceful slavery and dangerous freedom, and manufactured pipedreams of what America used to be versus the gritty reality of what she is today.

Most of all, perhaps, the choice before us is that of being a child or a parent, of obeying blindly, never questioning, and marching in lockstep with the police state or growing up, challenging injustice, standing up to tyranny, and owning up to our responsibilities as citizens, no matter how painful, risky or uncomfortable.

As author Erich Fromm warned in his book Civil Disobedience, “At this point in history, the capacity to doubt, to criticize and to disobey may be all that stands between a future for mankind and the end of civilization.”

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Unfettered Praise of God

Psalm 145:1-7
“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts,” Psalm 145:4.
Do you have family stories you love telling when everyone gets together? Several times a year, when extended families have an opportunity to spend a few hours or days together, nostalgic sentiments take over and the stories begin to flow.
“Do you remember when . . . .”
“I’ll never forget the time . . . .”
“I recall the time I got this scar . . . .”
The stories are always about significant life events, and most of the details remain the same, with a little embellishment, of course. Sadly, however, it seems many of these stories do not last more than a few generations before they are forgotten. We do not forget them because we are too busy, necessarily, or because we do not like stories; we forget them because most of the stories are not life-giving or life-transforming.
In Psalm 145, David declared that the stories of the unsearchable greatness of God will never pass away or cease to be told. This will not happen because we have great memories or simply like to tell stories; God’s mighty acts will continue to be told forever because they are life-giving and life-transforming stories. The story of what God has done throughout history never gets old because the God of the story never changes and the theme of the story, from the first man to the last man, is the same. God loves mankind and moves Heaven and earth to provide a pardon for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. We will never stop telling the story of salvation because there has not been a better story ever written.
Will you tell God’s story today?
Mark Clements

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King Over All the Earth


Zechariah 14:1-9


And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one,” Zechariah 14:9.


I love hunting. It is not so much that I take pleasure in harvesting animals, but I love spending time outdoors, enjoying God’s creation and enjoying the company of family and friends. One of the problems I run into, however, is that I own no hunting property, so I am relegated to spending time on someone else’s land. When I hunt, I hunt on land that belongs to a friend, a family member, a logging company or the federal government, and that is fine as long as I abide by the owner’s rules. I have to constantly remind myself that I do not own the property and that I must follow the guidelines of the owner or risk being kicked off and never invited back. You see, whoever owns the property gets to decide how it is used and who gets to enjoy it.


The owner of all land and everything in it, though, is not a mere human being. Your name might be on the deed to your home or car, but the real owner is God. Everything you have was given to you on loan from God to manage. You own nothing that will be yours forever. With that in mind, according to today’s text, you should be reminded that there is coming a day when Christ will return and will reclaim all that is rightfully His. If you know that what you manage is not your own, should that not change the way you use it? Should you not consult the owner of all things and make sure you are using His property in ways that are approved by Him? When Jesus returns He will find many people who have mismanaged His property and He will dole out the expected judgment. I wonder what Jesus will think about how I have managed everything He has given to me?





Will you treat your possessions as God’s property today?


Mark Clements



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Focus on the Eternal


2 Corinthians 4:16-18


While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18.



If one of your friends or family members were in an auto accident, what do you think would be the first question you would ask? Would you first ask how the wreck happened? Would you first ask what the damage was to the vehicle? Or would you first ask if your friend or loved one was injured? Undoubtedly, if your friend or loved one is in an accident, your very first inquiry will be, “Are you okay?” At the end of the day, it really does not matter exactly how the accident happened or how badly the vehicle was damaged. If someone you love is in danger, you will be most concerned about his health and safety.


As we walk through life, it is important to keep a similar perspective. There is no doubt that life will have its painful moments, especially if we are Christ followers. God has us as His children on a course through life with the intent of transforming us into the image of His Son. On this course of holiness, we will receive many bumps and bruises, but they serve to mold us further into a resemblance of Jesus. In those difficult times, we would be wise to remind ourselves though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. In difficult times, we have the option of focusing on the temporary things—our sufferings, strugglings and the shortcomings of this present age. If our focus is only on what we can see with our eyes, we will certainly lose heart. Thankfully, by faith, we have the option of focusing on eternal things—the full restoration of all things at the resurrection to come, and the sure fulfillment of God’s purposes for history. When our perspective is eternal, the temporary becomes bearable.





Will you focus on the eternal things today?


Mark Clements




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365 – Dec. 31 – This Day in Baptist History Past


First Revival in Kentucky


1783 – John Taylor found his wife in a very helpless state, in that she was within one month of delivering their son Ben. He and Mrs. Taylor had arrived at Craig’s Creek in Upper Kentucky a little before Christmas. They had made the trip from Virginia with great difficulty without a friend or acquaintance to accompany their young family. Taylor said that they took an ill fixed boat of strangers down the Ohio and that not a soul was settled from Wheeling to Louisville at that time. Also according to Taylor, “Not a soul in all of Bear Grass settlement was in safety, but by being in a fort”  Though it was winter they set out to go the eighty miles to their destination on Gilberts Creek. They had three horses, two packed with all they owned and the other was ridden by his wife. The trail was narrow and difficult as they waded through mud and forded creeks and rivers up to their waists, often in bitter, cold weather. It was in Taylor’s own cabin, that a revival commenced in the winter of 1784-85. Taylor performed hard physical labor during the day and preached at night. The revival at Clear Creek settlement resulted in the founding of a Regular Baptist church. Many of those first thirty members had migrated from Virginia under the ministry and leadership of Elder Lewis Craig. That summer Taylor baptized some sixty of his neighbors. This was considered the first revival in the commonwealth of Ky. Taylor Organized a church at Bullitsburg where he baptized 113 persons. He also founded churches in Trimble County, Franklin County (Frankfort), and Buck Run in Franklin County. He was a true, hard working, pioneer church-planter.   [This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: 2000 A.D. pp. 717-19. John Taylor, A History of Ten Baptist Churches (Bloomfield, Ky.: Will H. Holmes, 1827), pp. 54-55.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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Infection of Unbelief


Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen,” Mark 16:14.


Recently, our home was hit with a stomach virus. It only took one member of our family to introduce the virus to the rest of us and then, over the course of a week, we each fell ill with the bug. That is the way germs work, especially in close-knit families. They find ways to travel from host to host until the whole family is infected. Unfortunately, some diseases can spread to infect entire communities if proper sanitation procedures are not followed.


After Jesus rose from the tomb on Sunday morning, His appearances were staggered so that by the end of the day, the majority of the disciples had not seen Him in person, though word of His resurrection spread quickly. In spite of His constant teaching about His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples could not bring themselves to believe what He said, and it was beginning to have an adverse affect on them. When Jesus did appear to them, He rebuked them for not having faith in Him and His word. I wonder how often God rebukes us because of our unbelief? How much do we suffer because we allow unbelief to infect our lives, contaminating the pure and simple life of faith?  Please be aware. Unbelief is infectious. If we are not careful to live out the abundant life of faith in Jesus Christ, we will spread the germs of unbelief to our families, churches and communities.





Will you live in faith today?


Mark Clements




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