Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Jesus sends us as Christians into the world to be salt and light and ambassadors for the Kingdom. However, He never promised us that our mission would be easy. In fact, He promised us that in this world we will face troubling times. In Matthew 14:22-36 (also Mark 6:43-56 & John 6:16-24) we discover that Jesus sent the disciples into a troubling situation, but He knew where they were and what they were dealing with. If you have ever faced troubling times – times when the waves were beating against your ship of life – times when your legs and feet seemed to give way beneath you – times when your best life-preserving skills simply didn’t help – then you know what it means to truly need the One Who can walk on the troubled waters and the One Who can calm the angry wind and waves. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

In this study we learn that:

  1. We must go where Jesus sends us and do as He commands us knowing that it may be be a bumpy ride.
  2. When we face the storms of life we should know that it may be the obstructionism of Satan or the teaching and testing of God.
  3. We must realize that Jesus sees us in the storm and is waiting for us to see Him – and call to Him.
  4. We must worship Him and respond to Him as the omnipotent ruler of this world.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 24, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org
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Who or What Do You Fear?

From the Back Porch

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

There is so much fear controlling our thoughts, actions, and relationships. And perhaps the greatest nexus of that fear is the corona virus. People run from one pundit to another, from one politician to another, and from one fact-checker to another hoping to find something that will put their minds at ease. Then, when people arrive at a perceived solution, they respond in fear to those who have arrived at a different solution. For example, consider the vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers. One group is fearful that the other group will help sustain the pandemic causing more people to die while one group is fearful that the other group will kill them with masks full of germs or the vaccines themselves. However, it doesn’t ultimately matter what the talking points of each group may be, because the ultimate issue is death.

The central focus of the COVID-19 story has been death. Death rates and daily death counts have been on every news station and the totals of cases and hospitalizations are given as precursors to death. Haven’t you heard the reports that death statistics lag behind case and hospitalization statistics? The only reason for making such a statement is to say, “Death is coming and coming soon.” Well, here’s some news – if you don’t die from COVID, you’re going to die from something else. Ain’t none of us getting out of this thing alive.

Taking precautions against the things that can sicken us or even kill us are good – no one wants to get sick, much less get sick and then die. No argument there. Even God instituted many laws for the Israelites that pertained only to their health and physical well being. We should be mindful to care for the bodies God has given us so that we can serve Him and honor Him more completely. My thoughts here are not about health practices, but perspective.

So whether you choose to vax or not vax, mask or not mask, distance yourself or crowd up at a sporting event, you need to consider this. How you die is not nearly as important as what happens after you die. God has established hell as a place for Satan and his followers. (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4) It’s real. Jesus talked about hell (yes, He believed in hell) in Matthew 10:28. Often we like to refer to “fear” in the Bible as reverence or respect, but here Jesus is saying, “Be afraid – be very afraid.” He goes on to talk about God’s love and care, but the point is made. We need to be afraid of what is truly fearful and trust God for our very lives both now and when we die. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. And for those who would say that He hasn’t done anything yet, I would encourage you to consider 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT) Failure to trust Him should fill us with a sense of impending doom because that is what our future holds without Christ.

I respect your decisions concerning how you will respond to the corona virus. Furthermore, I understand your desire to convince those you love of what you have found to be the best response. But while we’re at it, we should wake up to the real life or death question that we all face. There is a point in time when each of us will die. (Hebrews 9:27) We should take this opportunity to look honestly at that which we fear – death – in order to find peace. And peace can only be found in Jesus. “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4 NLT) “ For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (2 Corinthians 15:53-55 NLT) As excited as we were when the hope of a vaccine was declared on the news, how much more should we be excited when the scripture declares that Jesus offers the hope of eternal life? Jesus Himself said, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 HCS)

Is death a reality? Yes. Can we experience victory over death? Yes – in Jesus.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 NAS)

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I had a doctors appointment this morning. On October 16 it will have been one year since my prostate cancer surgery. This was to be my one-year appointment. As I walked through the kitchen I saw out of the corner of my eye the glowing colors of dawn. I stepped out on the back porch and watched as the sun slowly crept over the horizon. That is the picture that you see here.

I was filled with a sense of God‘s presence and God’s protection as I prepared to face the doctors report. At all of my three month appointments I received good news – there was no PSA detected and hence, no cancer. Still, there is something unique about that one-year mark. But as ominous as the event itself may have been, I left the house with peace of mind; peace that only God can give and peace confirmed by the striking sunrise He had provided.

The doctor had good news. Still no detectable PSA, still no cancer. Cancer-free is a sweet, sweet phrase. However, a sweeter phrase than that is “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Corrie ten Boom once said, “No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still; with Jesus even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best is yet to be.” After today’s experience I can truly say that, even in our darkest moments, He is the light that breaks through the night – the sunrise in the midst of the darkness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923

The Shepherd and the Sheep

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6) Sheep need a shepherd. Left on their own they can get into all sorts of problems. Left on their own they are vulnerable to attack. Left on their own they can become hopelessly lost. We are sheep and because God loved us even while we were sinners, he sent us a Shepherd – a Shepherd who was willing to give up His life for His sheep. In this lesson, we will look at our Shepherd, Jesus, who loves us and cares for us and offers us an abundant life. We’ve wandered long enough – now it’s time to return to the fold.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 19, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Twitter – From the Back Porch @ nationalfast
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Get Up! Get Your Stuff and Go!

It doesn’t matter what ails you. It doesn’t matter what obstacles stand in your way. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been for help, what solutions you’ve tried, or how many years you’ve been dealing with the problem – Jesus can help. In our study of the 5th Chapter of John we saw Jesus heal a man who had been a paraplegic for 38 years. Only Jesus could speak hope into such a situation as this. Only Jesus could bring physical healing to this man. And only Jesus could save him from a fate worse than his physical state because only Jesus could save him from eternal death.  That same saving power is ours through the blood of Jesus Christ.  It reminds me of the song, “In Christ Alone” by by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Here is the link to our Agape Life Bible Study class session from the 5th chapter of John in which Jesus heals a man at the Pool of Bethesda.

He’s With Us Through This Whole Thing

Today marks 9 months since my prostate cancer surgery. I had my 9-month visit with my doctor this week and my blood work has remained unchanged ever since the surgery. There is no detectable PSA and consequently no detectable cancer cells. He was thrilled to see me as he has been at every checkup. He told me again how happy he was with the results and I flippantly asked, “What did you expect?” He replied, “I fully expected you to be on radiation at this point as well as hormone therapy. You really should not be doing this well.” He said that when he saw the pathology report and when he saw the MRI and then when the report came back from M.D. Anderson that showed my entire prostate had been taken over by the cancer and that it had taken over the seminal vesicles and that it was in the margins (the marginal tissue of the prostate next to the surrounding tissues) and that it had moved into the lymph nodes – well he figured I would be struggling. Then he looked me in the eye and said that “the Lord was definitely by my side throughout this whole thing.” All I can say is AMEN.


But here’s the even greater truth – even if none of this good news had come, the Lord would still have been by my side through this whole thing. The three boys in the fiery furnace knew that God was able to deliver them and even told the king that, but then they said that if God didn’t deliver them they would still worship Him and Him alone. And who showed up in the midst of the fiery furnace? Jesus showed up – He was with them throughout that whole thing. God didn’t promise us deliverance from the the trials and troubles of this life. In fact, he promised us that they would come. But He also said that He would be with us throughout this whole thing.

“And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

The Wisest Person I Know

Wisdom is a trait often sought by people who have to make decisions; who have trying times and want to know how to deal with them; for people who are just tired of bumping up against the road blocks of life. We seek wisdom and yet we seem to find very little of it.  God tells is in the book of James that if we want wisdom we should just ask God for it and he will be glad to give it to us. However, too often we just want to talk to someone, talk to someone who agrees with us, or maybe just talk to someone in our own mind because we know that person will definitely agree with us.  No matter. We just want wisdom.


What a blessing it is when the person who you consider to be the wisest person of all is also the one to whom you are married. Pam is without a doubt the wisest person I know. Of course, if you ask her if she is wise she would deny it vehemently. But that she truly is. And the best part is her wisdom is not earthly wisdom but rather the godly wisdom she has gained from reading and studying God’s word. I cannot number the times she has answered my concerns with scripture or with some godly principle she has been developing. She is able to see straight through my angst to the heart of the matter and speak truth to me.  Sometimes I wanna hear it –  sometimes I don’t, but it is truth nonetheless and it is always applicable truth.


Last fall I had to have a radical prostatectomy. During the process God gave me peace I had never known before. Peace that, no matter what the physical outcome, God was still God and that all would be well with my soul. I found myself in the hospital with so much peace that I prayed with my nurses and doctors and found great joy in doing so. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been dealing with some serious back and hip problems. In the process I had to get an MRI which is no fun for a person of my size. (When they bring in a tub of lard to grease you up so that you will slide into that small tube, you know you’re in trouble.)  When I came out I talked with the technician as he was wheeling me out.  I asked him to stop so that we could pray. I prayed for him and again found great joy in doing so.  He told me he was a believer and we enjoyed great fellowship in the labyrinth of hallways leading to the front door. The pain was still there but the joy completely overrode the pain. 


When I told Pam about the day and about praying with the young man at the hospital she was happy for me. Then her wisdom immediately kicked in and she said the when I’m in the hospital I am full grace and peace knowing God will take care of me. She went on to say that sometimes here at the house I forget how God has helped me by strengthening me and giving me peace when I needed it. She went on to say God is ready to grant me that same peace at home. There it was – God’s wisdom coming from the mouth of my wife. Too often, when we get home, we think we can relax because we have arrived at our personal sanctuary – a place we go as a retreat from the world around us. But in our struggle against the wiles of the devil we can never relax. 


Now your response might be “Well, Duh.”   The fact is when you are in the midst of the struggle you often don’t see truth as well as you see circumstances. Pam helped me see the truth in the midst of the circumstances and it’s only by God’s wisdom that she was able to discern the truth.  It’s also God’s wisdom that showed her how and when to say it.  

Without a doubt, she is the wisest person I know.  And, if you aren’t convinced, consider this – she married me!

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  James 3:17

Happiness & Joy

CAR CRUSHER HAPPINESS 2

It was the summer of 1977. Pam and I were newlyweds. I had just graduated and Pam was still in school at Baylor. I was working in a plant called Mosley Machinery. We built the machines which were used to flatten cars. All was right for this young couple beginning their lives together.

Every morning Pam sent me off to work with my packed lunch pail. I thoroughly enjoyed working there. I especially loved test days (always a Thursday) when a new car-crushing behemoth came off of the line for its first trial run. A crane with a giant claw would pick up an old, unsuspecting car and drop it into the belly of the beast. Slowly the great metal plates enveloped the doomed vehicle and closed in, flattening the car to the cheers of the 300+ employees who watched the car’s fateful end with great delight. Good days indeed. (Thursday was also the day we had “church” but that’s a story for another day.)

I returned home at the end of the day usually covered in dirt, oil, and debris as my job primarily consisted of tearing down buildings to make room for expansion at the plant. The old buildings had been in use for decades and had not been cleaned except for a daily sweeping. I brought home the filth of the decades. Pam made me remove most of my clothes before coming into our apartment. I was never indecent, but I was barefoot and shirtless before entering – just the way Pam wanted me. I went straight to the shower and, after cleaning up and getting dressed, I would relax a while and then we would eat supper. Pam was trying out all of her newlywed recipes which were usually designed to feed 8 people. After swinging a sledgehammer all day I was famished so I would consume my 7 portions while Pam ate her one. (After a few days of this routine she told me that if I didn’t eat all of it, I could have some in my lunch the next day, so I reigned in my appetite.) The rest of the evening was spent watching TV, Pam’s studying and/or rehearsing, and visits with a dear friend, Tony, who lived in the same apartment complex. Life was simple. We were happy.

However, within a span of a little over a year, our happiness would be crushed like those hapless cars on test day. Pam would have to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery, we would move to another town where I would begin a new job, and “Pappa B,” Pam’s Dad, passed away along with my uncle and grandmother. Even though my new job seemed exciting, it was also stressful as was the move, so that dealt happiness a blow as well.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) It was in the midst of those stressful times that the seeds of joy began to grow and supersede the happiness which I had regarded as joy. It has been a slow growing plant – this joy in the Lord – but it has endured through many storms and droughts; through many harsh winters and scorching summers; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. In fact it has grown so much – this joy in the Lord – that it bloomed beautifully not too long ago when I was to undergo a biopsy procedure in which I would be placed under anesthesia.

For some reason, the day before my trip to the hospital, I had a sense that I might not come out of the procedure alive. It is very rare for someone to die in this procedure, but the thought was there nonetheless. I prayed and asked the Lord to give me peace and this absolute flood of joy came over me. I knew that all was well with my soul. I actually understood and experienced the peace, hope, confidence – and yes, joy – that I had often read about in Daniel 3:16-18. I knew that God would deliver me, but even if He didn’t, I would not bow my knee to the spirit of fear. Many times I have discussed the concept of “dying grace” in which the Lord gives you peace as you are about to leave this world, but I had never experienced it. Granted, it was just a little bit disconcerting when I pondered that this might be “dying grace,” but even that was fleeting in the face of God’s peace and joy. Even as I was going under in the operating room I was full of joy talking about the Isle of Skye and remembering the wonderful time Pam and I had spent there. When I awoke in the recovery room I glanced around and realized pretty quickly that I was not in Heaven. I smiled and even chuckled a bit – not because I was still alive, but because my Joy was with me.

The biopsy did reveal that I have prostate cancer. The Gleason score is 9 (out of 10) which they tell me indicates an aggressive, high risk form of cancer. And yet, my Joy remains. My doctor believes it can be cured, but even before he said that I knew that all is and will be well with my soul. I’m going to MD Anderson for surgery and treatment. It’s regarded as one of the best (if not The Best) cancer centers in the world. Even so, my hope is not in them, but in the One Who gave them the wisdom and knowledge that they use on a daily basis. My doctor there is a preeminent prostate cancer expert, but I know that God will direct him as He sees fit with no regard for his outstanding qualifications. I can even see how God has orchestrated all of the events in the past few weeks to put me in the care of such capable doctors and surgeons. Still, through all that I will face I know that it is my God Who will deliver me, but even if He doesn’t, I will not bow my knee to the spirit of fear for the Joy of the Lord is my Strength. It truly is well with my soul. Hallelujah!