Pastor’s Pen

Dealing With Grief – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

I want to share something that I pray will help those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.
If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know the aching emptiness of grief. Often the pain is beyond measure – an overwhelming and profound sadness that words can barely begin to describe.  If you’ve walked this dark valley, then I’m sure you can relate to these words from someone who found herself sinking under the pain of bereavement.  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) I’m sure those words are familiar to many of you. They were spoken to Jesus by His close friend Martha following the death of her dear brother, Lazarus. And they reveal to us the painful questions of a grieving heart…. “I thought you loved me, Jesus.”   “Why didn’t you do something, Lord?”   “Were you not able to answer my cry for help?”
Perhaps you recognize the cry of your own heart in Martha’s heartfelt plea. If so, then you need to cling to the promises of God that will pour healing balm on your wounds of grief.
Here are two truths to help heal your hurting heart:
First, God understands your pain even when you feel like no one could ever know what you’re going through. As Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Second, God will hold you firm even when you feel like you’re sinking in the storms of grief. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”


The Rest of the Story – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

I used to enjoy the radio spots that Paul Harvey had entitled “The Rest of the Story.”  Beginning as a part of his newscasts during the Second World War and then premiering as its own series on the ABC Radio Networks on May 10, 1976, “The Rest of the Story” consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line “And now you know the rest of the story.”
Christmas has come and gone for 2018, and how we have been thrilled again at the story of the star, the shepherds and the Savior.  We love to get in our minds the picture of the baby lying in the manger, the shepherds kneeling, the angels singing, and the stars shining.  But the story of Christmas is not the complete story of Jesus.
Most stories have three parts – an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  The story of Jesus has 3 chapters, with Christmas being the first. The first chapter is about God coming to identify with us in a human body.  Maybe John 1:1 says it best, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  We must understand that the baby born of the virgin Mary in that lowly stable was none other than God who had come in human flesh.  John 1:14 says “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”


God’s Presence – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

The tabernacle in the Old Testament is all about the presence of the Lord. The Lord God of Israel chose to make His presence known in the part of the tabernacle that is called the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies there was only one piece of furniture––an ark. (Exodus 25: 10-16) The word for ark could probably be better-translated “chest.” It was a chest made of acacia wood and covered over with precious gold, both within and without. On top of this Ark of the Covenant was placed the Mercy Seat. Attached to the Mercy Seat were two cherubim that looked down on the Mercy Seat as angelic beings.

There would be over that Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Place, a burning light. It was the outshining of the Shekina Glory of the eternal God. The Ark was a constant reminder that the manifest presence of God was present in that tabernacle.
To stand before the Ark of the Covenant, the high priest had to move through the veil. He was invited to move beyond the veil only once each year. To venture into the Holy of Holies and to stand before the Ark of the Covenant on any other day meant certain death. This is a reminder to us that the presence of God is always a holy presence. Wherever God manifests His presence in time or eternity, it will always be a manifestation of His holiness. Holiness is so much a part of who God is that there can be nothing else connected with His presence.


A Thanks to Our Educators – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Yes, I am a pastor and preaching God’s Word and writing about spiritual things is what I do.  However, in our community we had a tragedy in the past few weeks that has led me to address something in this article that I think needs to be said.  That is a big “Thank You” to those who teach and administrate in our local school systems. My parents both taught for more than 30 years in Georgia and retired as educators in this State.  I recognize that who I am today is a product of those teachers who poured into my life from kindergarten through doctoral work at seminary. I cannot distinguish the part each one played individually, but I know that together they have greatly shaped who I am.
The tragic and unexpected death of Larry Walker, our Gilmer Middle School Principal, helped remind us of the impact educators have in our lives and it also reminded us of the brevity of life.  I will briefly address both here.
First, would you take time to thank someone who has taught you or your children?  Teachers are often under paid for the investment they make in the lives of our children.  But, it has been my experience that they go into this career not for financial gain, but rather to invest in the lives of others.  Larry Walker did that in Gilmer County.  Teachers care about their students and often go the extra mile to be sure the student is fed, and their needs are being met in many ways.  Throughout our years as adolescents, when we were at our most vulnerable state, when we were still struggling to reconcile ourselves to the real world, there were a few who stood by us and helped us through our moments of uncertainty.  These people can be anyone – a friend, a parent, a sibling, a pastor, a teacher. So, let’s honor our teachers for being a friend, counselor, and mentor.  Thank you for the value you have added to our lives and have challenged us to learn and grow.


The Deity of Jesus – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Peter says of Jesus Christ, “Through him you believe in God” (I Peter 1:21).  This is a true statement for me and many others.  Our belief in God is truly founded upon the work of revelation and redemption that God accomplished through the Lord Jesus. Jesus is central to our conception of God, of humanity, and of the world.  He is the brightest and clearest picture of God that humans can receive. The person and work of Christ should rise above all other considerations in our formulation of the doctrine of God as well as our doctrine of salvation.
Nothing is more important to us than the person and work of Christ.  We are “Christians” because we have trusted in Christ for our salvation.  We believe that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). All that Satan destroys and steals through sin and guilt, God restores through Christ the Lord.
We believe that Jesus alone has the power to save humans from their sin, that there is no other name given among men that brings salvation.  We believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son sent from heaven to rescue us (See John 1:14, 18).
We believe that the death of Christ upon the cross is sufficient for our salvation and that we can add nothing to this work that Christ has accomplished on our behalf.  We do not believe that being baptized helps to save a person. Nor do we believe that receiving communion or attending church or going to confession helps to save a person.   No religious activity or good work or moral living can help save us. Salvation is only available through Jesus Christ.  When a person believes in Jesus that means that he has given up all other avenues of salvation and is depending only upon Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).


The Garden of Gethsemane – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

My thoughts today come from Mark 14:32-42.  The word “passion” is used today in our culture in several different ways. We talk about a person who has a great passion. That means they have a great fire. They have a great love to do something. But the word “passion” literally means suffering.  When you get to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to the depths of the Word of God.

Think with me about the agony in the garden. It had evidently been quite a long day for Jesus. He has gathered in the upper room with His disciples for the celebration of the Passover supper and for the initiation of the Lord’s Supper.  The supper is now ended and He leads His disciples out of the city of Jerusalem, down the hill eastward and moving toward the Mount of Olives.  He crosses over the Brook Kidron. Historically and seasonally, at this time of the year, the Brook Kidron was swelling in its banks. We also know that the waste from the temple was poured down into the Kidron.  The blood of the sacrificial animals that had been slain on that Passover had been poured down into the Kidron Brook so that when Jesus and His disciples came to the Brook Kidron, it must have been blood red with the blood of sacrificial animals. Surely His thoughts were turned to the cross of Calvary at this point.


FBC Family – 7/31/18

FBC Family:  Let me use this to remind you of three things.  Church members, please share with other members.
First, this Saturday the church family is encouraged to meet at 9:00 in the sanctuary. This will be a focus on prayer.  There will be those who walk our community and others who remain at the church to pray.  I would like for each classroom to be prayed over for the Sunday School and Discipleship teachers. I would like to be sure that someone prays on each pew in the sanctuary for those who will be seated there in the coming weeks.


America’s Greatness – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Psalm 33:12 says that the nation which recognizes God as Lord will be blessed.  That is more than simply putting “in God we trust” on our currency and coins.  I think most people can see that over the past years America has been a very blessed nation.  It has not been because of technological advancement or medical discovery.  America’s greatness has not been the result of powerful and influential leaders.  I believe there are two things that have made America great:  The Christian faith and God’s Holy Word. However, at the same time, I must also say, we are witnessing the destruction of this foundation before our very eyes. 

George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Our thirtieth President, Calvin Coolidge said, “The foundation of our society and of our government rests so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings should cease.”


Holy Ground – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Have you ever had a moment of knowing you were on Holy Ground?  I sure hope so because those do happen and they are often spiritual milestones in our life.  How did you respond? What did you do? What did you say? When you find yourself standing on holy ground, it is important that you respond to God appropriately.

This “burning bush” moment came in the 80th year of the life of Moses. He had spent 40 years in the house of Pharaoh and now he has spent 40 years caring for the flocks of Jethro in Midian. Here he finds himself in an isolated part of the ancient world. Busied with a very menial task, imagining what ever life might have been in Egypt is only a memory of the past. Then something happens that will change everything for this Hebrew. It was the moment of fresh encounter between Moses and the God of Abraham. There are lessons for us to learn about standing on holy ground from this incident. 


What’s Love Got to Do With It? – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

I think to many believer’s their Christian life appears unsuccessful and they become discouraged and disgruntled, and think that living the Christian life is a total impossibility.  However, the apostle Paul reveals for us in Galatians 5 that the key to the success of the Christian life is found in the fruit of the Spirit.  The interesting thing about the fruit of the Spirit is that it is the character of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thus, the Holy Spirit desires to control and fill us so that we may be more like the Lord Jesus. That is the Priority, the Purpose, and the Principle of Spirit fruit; to make us more like Jesus.  It helps me to understand that the fruit of the Spirit is not 9 different fruits. The noun Paul uses is singular, not plural.  It is “fruit,”not “fruits.”  Thus, it is one fruit that is manifested in 9 different ways. You could say that it is one fruit with nine flavors.  These 9 qualities are divided into 3 categories.  There is Inward Fruit, which is described as “Love, Joy, and Peace.”  There is Outward Fruit, which is described as “Patience, Gentleness, and Goodness.” Then, there is Upward Fruit, which is described as “Faith, Meekness, and Temperance.”


It’s a New Year! – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

In November a man in Janesville, Wisconsin purchased ad space on a highway billboard and put up these words: “Enjoy life now: There is no afterlife.”In December, after this sign came down, two area churches got together and put up their own message on this same billboard: “Life is short. Eternity is not. – God.”

Life is short, isn’t it? Or, as Dr. Seuss put it: “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

We can’t really slow life down, but we can slow down so that we live life to its fullest. We can’t go back to the glory or the guilt of the past, but we can move forward. My guess is that you’d like some things to change in 2018. Much of what will happen will be beyond your control but there are some things you can control. While we all want a Happy New Year, what God wants is a Holy New You. Spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.


Psalm 23 – Part II – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

In my last article, I focused on the importance of our knowing personally that God is our shepherd.  To claim the promises of this Psalm we must have accepted the Lord Jesus as our savior.  David knew God in a personal way and understood what it was to be a shepherd.             

Sheep have no sense of direction, that they don’t recognize landmarks, and thus need to be led.  Sheep are totally dependent on the shepherd, and not just when they are little. From birth to death they need a shepherd to lead them.  When God’s Word calls us sheep, it’s not meant to flatter us. It’s meant to remind us how absolutely dependent we are on our Shepherd, and how absolutely dependable He is!


Psalm 23 – Part I – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

It’s probably the most familiar passage in all the Bible. It’s quoted regularly at funerals, in hospitals, and in battle zones. You read it on wall hangings and sympathy cards. If I said the first line, many, even those who don’t go to church, could join me…” The Lord is my shepherd.” What comes next? “I shall not want.”

Sometimes we get so familiar with a passage that we know the words but can forget the meaning.  Psalm 23 is a psalm of David. Prior to becoming Israel ’s king, David himself was a shepherd and lived in country full of shepherds. But there aren’t very many shepherds in our country. A metaphor that communicated volumes in David’s day ten centuries B.C. in Israel can go right over our heads in modern day America.


Heavenly Arithmetic – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Heaven has some strange methods and formulas for doing math.  For example, God says the way to get more is to give away what you have – that doesn’t add up.  He says that the way to win is by losing; the way to live is by dying; the way to go up is to get down.  The Christian is one who is sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

In this article, I want to focus on “forgiveness” and the type math God says we are to use.  How many times can a brother or sister sin against us or hurt us before we can be free to hold anger and un-forgiveness toward them. 
Simon Peter was concerned about that so he asked Jesus how many times can a brother sin against us and we forgive him.  Believing that he was being very liberal in his estimates, he suggests a figure of forgiving someone seven times, which was more than twice the number of times that the rabbis of his day taught.  Jesus, using heaven’s arithmetic said, “Seventy times seven!”  Peter must have thought, “Man!  Who can keep that kind of score?”  But that was Jesus’ point – do not keep scores.  Do not count in order to get even, instead show compassion. 


Confidence in the Bible – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

There are many wonderful pastors and churches in Gilmer County.  I am thankful for the fact that the Word of God is being preached and taught.  The Bible is the Word of God!  I believe it is true from cover to cover.  It is without error and it is perfect.

When I was 15 years old in Thomasville, Georgia, God placed a call on my heart to preach His Word. Everything I believe either stands or falls on the accuracy of the Bible.  Now, almost 40 years later, I have discovered God’s Word to be life changing and true through personal experience and witnessing many lives that have been changed by its truth and power.
When you read your Bible, you are reading the very words of God.  You can base your faith upon it.  You can trust your eternity to it.  You can embrace its message knowing that it reveals the very mind of God to man!  It cannot fail!  It cannot err.  It will never be corrected, updated or amended.  It is complete and it is perfect. As we read the Bible, God illuminates it to our hearts so that it speaks to us in a personal way.