Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This is not the best quality in the world, but it is fun to remember. This was in 1986 at Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La. One of the last Common Good concerts. Also, its good to remember Gary Griffith, one of the best friends I ever had. He stands now in the presence of Christ and the assembly of the first born! Miss you brother!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
God commands believers to think and act Biblically. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16 to let the Word of God dwell richly in you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom through it. This means that God’s word should direct our thoughts and our actions. God’s word is the one true source of wisdom for the believer.
And wisdom is certainly what we need as we approach this election.
So, what does God’s word have to say about the coming election?
I) GOD IS IN CONTROL SO WE HAVE NO NEED TO FEAR – Psalm 24 tells us that the Earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness of the thereof. In Psalm 145 God is called a great king and the Lord of all. This means that He is sovereign. He is in control.
A) GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL THINGS -
Isaiah 14:24-28 – God’s purposes and plans will come about.
In Isaiah 46:9-10 I am God, and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘my counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.
Too many Christians are approaching this election as if God were up in heaven wringing his hands saying, “Oh my goodness, what am I gonna do now.”
Nor do we believe that God is uninterested in what is happening in our nation today, or any other nation on the planet. We do not believe that God was simply a cosmic watchmaker who created the universe and humanity, wound it up and then sat back to let it run without any input or interest.
We believe and the Bible teaches that God is active in the affairs of men, and that his purposes and plans will be carried out. No one and nothing can frustrate the plans of Almighty God.
Remember Proverbs 21:1 – The King’s heart is like channels of water n the hand of the Lord, He turns it wherever he wishes.
Regardless of who is elected, God’s purposes will be accomplished. No man, no group of men, no demon of hell, nor Satan himself can stop God’s purposes!
B) GOD IS SOVEREIGN EVEN OVER ELECTIONS –
Proverbs 8:15 (ESV)15 By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;
Daniel and his friends are interpreting King Neb’s dream about the future.
Daniel 2:21 (ESV)21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
God has established government and establishes who governs.
What this means to us is that we should not live in fear of what may occur because of this presidential election.
ILLUS: Internet fear mongering. Dr. James Dobson’s letter from 2012. God is not caught off guard by anything that is occurring in our world today. As believers we can and should live in confidence and hope.
II) CHRISTIANS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO VOTE -
The fact that God is sovereign does not mean that we should not vote. Listening to the radio the other day I heard a man complain that he didn’t like either candidate and just simply was not going to vote.
I don’t believe that is a viable option for a believer.
In an article in Christianity Today Chuck Colson calls voting our sacred and civic duty. Voting is required of as good citizens and as God’s agents for appointing leaders.
Romans 13 – God established government. God has a God-given purpose of enforcing law and order and punishing evil doers. Christians have a responsibility to be good citizens of the government under which we live.
In the book the City of God Augustine states that believers live in two cities, the city of God and the city of man. While believers live in the city of man they do not belong to it. We are like people living in a foreign country, our true home is in the city of God or heaven.
Augustine taught that if we live in the city of man and enjoy its blessings, we must take on the obligations of citizenship. And instead of doing our duty out of obligation or duty, we do it with joy and devotion to Jesus Christ.
III) JUSTICE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ECONOMY -
Remember the slogan – “It the economy stupid!”
Well, “Its about justice stupid”
Moral issues are more important than the recession. They are more important than the crash on wall street.
Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
It is righteousness that exalts a nation. It is righteousness that brings the favor of God upon a people.
We have to take more than a surface look at candidates. Simply claiming to be a Christian should not be enough.
Martin Luther’s famous statement – I’d rather be ruled over by a competent Muslim, than an incompetent Christian.
Two issues of justice in America today.
A) ABORTION – I refuse to vote for any candidate running for any office that supports abortion. Abortion is the legalized murder of unborn children.
There are 1.37 million abortions per year in the US. That amounts to 3700 a day.
The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That God has knit us together in the womb. In the book of Luke chapter 1 John the Baptist leaps in his mother’s womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus comes near.
We have to remember that who ever wins this election, especially if its Barrack Obama, will probably have the opportunity to place 2 or more new supreme court justices on the bench. I will not tell you who to vote for, that is between you and God, but for this reason I will not vote for him.
B) SAME-SEX MARRIAGE – The Bible is clear that marriage is one man and one woman until death do them part.
In California Prop. 8 will if passed make Gay marriage unconstitutional. Whether or not it passes, Gay marriage is an abomination to God.
I do not believe that homosexuality should be outlawed. But it should not be made legitimate. It is a perversion.
C) CARE FOR THE POOR – As Christians it is our responsibility to care for those who are without. In Acts the church in Jerusalem writes to the Gentile that they should not be circumcised and become Jews, but they should care for the poor.
If a candidate appeared on the scene tomorrow who could fix all our economic troubles, erase the national debt, make all Americans financially secure and clean up the environment, I would not vote for him or her if they stood on the wrong side of issues of justice.
The Bible tells us that God is in control, that we as believers must vote. We have found that justice trumps the economy. Now, we find that
IV) ALL BELIEVERS ARE CALLED BY GOD TO SUBMIT TO AND PRAY FOR OUR LEADERS –
Christians have a responsibility to their leaders.
A) SUBMIT TO OUR LEADERS –
Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. We are to respect them and obey the law as long as that law does not break God’s law.
IE – If the law says drive 55 – believers should.
If a law were passed that said I had to marry homosexuals – I would not.
Whoever wins will be your president and should be respected and honored as such. I think many Bible believing Christians blew it on this with Bill Clinton. None of us liked many of his stances, none of us could agree with his immoral actions, but he was president and the Bible called us to respect and honor him as such.
B) PRAY FOR OUR LEADERS – I Timothy 2:1 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
NOTE – Prayers and thanksgivings. Wed morning we should get up and pray for our new president, regardless of who we voted for.
Thanksgivings – that’s right.
Now remember, Paul is writing these words to Christians who are suffering under the rule of pagan Roman emperors. These men were cruel, bloodthirsty and godless. They harshly persecuted believers. Yet, Paul instructed them to pray for them and thank God for them.
It goes back to God’s sovereignty. We should thank God for this great nation, for the privileges we enjoy and the man God has placed as our new president!
V) FINALLY, THE GOSPEL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS ELECTION.
With all the TV coverage and press that this election has received, you would think this is the most important issue in the world. Now, it is important. I would not preach this message if it were not.
It is not the main thing.
NO PRESIDENT AND NO GOVERNMENT CAN SAVE YOU!
Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to turn this nation around.
Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Government can change a person’s heart. Government cannot provide an answer to mankind’s greatest problem, Sin.
Only through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can anyone’s sin be forgiven. There is only one name by which anyone can be saved. That name is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ created this universe with all its wonder and glory. He came to earth as a man, born in a stable. He lived a sinless life. Performed miracles that proved he was the Son of God. He was crucified, buried and rose again on the third day. He sits at the right hand of the Father today. And one day he will judge all of humanity. Only those whose names are in His book of life will enter into heaven and live eternally. All others will spend eternity in a devil’s Hell.
The main thing is to lead people to faith in Christ. What will do in faith visitation this afternoon is far more important than Tuesday’s election. The witness you share at school, at the university, at work, or even at home is far more significant than the vote you will cast this week.
That is why we have hope.
Remember Augustine’s city of man and city of God. The city of man, this earth, this life, this country, this world system we live in is passing away. There is coming a day when it will cease too exist. The city of God is eternal. When the election of 2008 is a memory a million years old, God’s saints will still live and rejoice with the heavenly father.
The most important thing is live a holy life, pray and share you faith with those around you.
What does the Bible say about this election?
God is in Control – don’t fear it!
Vote – that is our sacred duty as believers.
Remember that justice outweighs the economy.
All believers are commanded by God to submit and pray for our next president.
And finally, the Gospel is more important than any earthly election could ever be.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Written by Albert Mohler
Sally Quinn wonders how Christian evangelicals -- and Southern Baptists in particular -- can affirm a woman as President or Vice President of the United States and yet believe that women should not serve as pastors of churches. "Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?," Sally and Jon Meacham ask.No, it is not hypocritical -- it is simply the application of biblical truth to different spheres of life and meaning.Sally Quinn's two essays on Gov. Sarah Palin raise fascinating issues, and reveal a basic lack of sympathetic understanding when it comes to conservative Christians.
In her first post, she wrote:Southern Baptist leaders like Richard Land and Al Mohler have praised McCain's choice. But these are the same men who support this statement from the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message: "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation."Indeed, I do support that statement, drawn from our denomination's confession of faith. I stand by it without hesitation or mental reservation. It is drawn from the Bible, and explains the Bible's teaching that men and women are equally created in the image of God, but are assigned different but complementary roles in the home. In a separate article of the Baptist Faith & Message, we affirm what the Bible teaches about the different roles for men and women in the church -- and the fact that qualified men are to be called as pastors. The New Testament contains clear prohibitions of women in that role. This conviction was not invented by Southern Baptists. It was, and now remains, the honest conviction held by most Christians around the world, and for good reason.Our confession of faith does not speak to the appropriateness of women serving in political office. It does speak to the priority of motherhood and responsibilities in the home, but it does not specify any public role that is closed to women. The reason for this is simple -- the New Testament does not speak to this question in any direct sense.The distinction is perfectly clear. Where the New Testament speaks, we are bound. Where it does not speak, believers are not bound. The structure of our confession of faith simply reflects this principle.Portraits of Elizabeth I of England and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hang in my personal library, along with other portraits. I see no biblical injunction against their leadership in these roles.Is that all there is to this issue? No. Feminists are bewildered and frustrated by the fact that the vast majority of women find their greatest joy and fulfillment in the roles of wife and mother. Most women do not want to be Vice President of the United States, nor to make the sacrifices necessary in order to succeed in the public arena.This is not a question of intelligence, ability, toughness, or talent. I would love to see Margaret Thatcher at the top of her game take on any public figure. Just ask the leaders of the Labour Party in her day -- or the Argentinian generals who invaded the Falkland Islands during her tenure.This is a question of calling. I believe that God has placed in the hearts of most women a deep desire for the fulfillment of marriage and the raising of children as life priority. Furthermore, I believe that women are given unique abilities and gifts for these callings -- affirmed by common grace and common sense.When Gov. Palin was announced as Sen. John McCain's choice as running mate I was elated about her pro-life commitments and political philosophy, and I remain so. I also told The Wall Street Journal that, if I were her pastor, I would be concerned about how she could balance these responsibilities and what this would mean for her family and her roles as wife and mother. The news that broke over the weekend would make me only more concerned. But my concern would be for her and for her family -- not for the nation.I am doing my best to be honest -- and not hypocritical -- about how I see this new situation. I could not imagine this in my own family, nor, I am confident, could the vast majority of those conservative Christians who are celebrating the nomination of Gov. Palin as Vice President. I have full confidence that my wife Mary can lead and run anything, from General Motors to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nevertheless, I also know that I, along with our children, would find our worlds turned upside down. Beyond this, I believe that she would be less happy, less fulfilled, and less strategically deployed. She runs a program that influences the lives of hundreds of women and serves on the board of directors of our local crisis pregnancy center, but her most significant impact will be on the lives of two children who cannot imagine life without her -- and without her active engagement and motherly love.
In her second posting, Sally Quinn raises the stakes:I would like to hear what women think of her priorities. Do they believe that her first priority is as a mother or as a governor? Will her first priority be as a mother or as a Vice President or a President? One in three Vice Presidents become President. John McCain is a 72-year-old cancer survivor. As Vice President, Palin could ascend to the highest office in the land at any moment. Do women believe she should relegate her job to second place or her children to second place? Does she have to make such a choice? Every woman, and particularly every woman who works, including me, understands that the conflicts and the guilt are always there in a way that they are not for men.Further:Well, I can understand an evangelical Christian asking that question. But how does a feminist ask that question with a straight face? Isn't this precisely the kind of question feminists have long insisted were completely out of bounds?It would be hypocritical of me to suggest that I am not troubled by these questions. It would be hypocritical of me to suggest that I would be perfectly happy to have Christian young women believe that being Vice President of the United States is more important than being a wife and mother.Yet, I am encouraged by Gov. Palin's nomination. I believe that she brings something unique, admirable, and urgently needed to this presidential race. The question of my vote in this election is clear to me. The meaning of all this for the Palin family is less clear. In one sense, I think it might be very helpful for the American people to see a real family struggling with these real issues. I do not fear that this will lead millions of evangelical women to leave the home in order to run for national office.At the end of her article, Sally Quinn concludes: Women can be presidents but not pastors? I don't understand. I would like somebody to explain this to me.Well, I have given this my best shot within the limits of this article. The Bible states that women are not to hold the office of teaching authority in the church, and sets forth a portrait of different but complementary roles for men and women in the home and in the church.Can we see implications of these principles to the larger culture? Yes, but not in the same sense as is ordered by Scripture in the arenas of the home and the church. We do not find this question directly addressed in the Bible. This is why biblical complementarians can affirm that a woman can be President but not a pastor. This is not about equal employment opportunities, but about the command of God to his church."Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?" No.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
THE JUDAS SPIRIT
Mark 14:10-11; 43-51
Many names go down in infamy, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Jim Jones, to name just a few. But no name is so despised or despicable as the name of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ. Mother’s don’t name their baby boys Judas. I’ve heard of Thomas, Peter, James, and Matthew; but not Judas. Johnny Cash sang about a boy named Sue, but no one even jokes of naming their sons Judas.
In the west of
Judas’ story is a warning to us all. A reminder that we can be close to the Lord, we can be conversant with spiritual concerns, we can walk with the Lord’s people, yet in our hearts never really love Jesus or have eternal life.
The heart of a betrayer is a dangerous and destructive thing.
That is why from time to time we need to study the life of Judas. He is a warning to us all.
I) THE IDENTITY OF JUDAS-Vs. 43
Who was Judas?
He must have had a good beginning. I imagine that 2000 years ago his mother’s heart was full of hopes and dreams for her little boy. After all, she named him Judas – which means “praise.” She hoped his life would bring praise to God. And at first it seemed certain that he would do just that.
2) Traveled with Jesus for 3 years-
3) Heard Jesus teachings, observed his miracles. His Bible education was the best, his seminary training unequaled!
B) HE WAS A PREACHER - Sent out to preach the Good News of the Kingdom-Luke 9:1-10
No doubt People called him, Brother Judas. He ministered, he worked, and served.
C) C) HE WAS TRUSTED-He had the money box. You chose someone to keep up with the money that you can count on, you chose the best and the brightest. He obviously had the trust of the other 11 disciples.
None of the other disciples seemed to suspect a thing before this moment. This tells me that Judas had an impeccable reputation among the disciples. No one saw it coming. When Jesus first tells them that one of them will betray Him, not one of them turns to Judas and points his finger, saying – it’s probably him, I never trusted him in the first place.
D) HE WAS A SPIRITUAL IMPOSTOR- He wasn’t what he appeared to be.
He was a church member, yet he died and went to Hell. Jesus said, Have I not chosen you and yet one of you is a devil.
MARKS OF A SPIRITUAL IMPOSTOR-
These are symptoms we find in Judas
1) HE RELIES UPON AFFILIATION- “He was one of the twelve”. Judas never received Jesus as His Lord and Savior. He does not confess his sins, repent and follow Christ. He is simply affiliated with Christ.
He was a like a bottle sealed and tossed out to sea, surrounded by an ocean of water, yet on the inside dry and empty.
He was like the people of Ezekiel’s day. Ezekiel 33:31-32 (NASB95)
31 “They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. 32 “Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them. 
He was like Herod. In Mark 6 the Bible tells us that after Herod imprisoned John the Baptist that he would often go down to the dungeons to hear the man preach. He loved a fiery preacher, but had no interest in applying what he heard.
He was like so many today surrounded by the music, the message, the ministry of the Spirit, yet unmoved by the things of God.
1) It Convicts-
2) It Confronts-
There are many people, members of our church, who are spiritual Judases. They have never been born again, and there are thousands, perhaps millions in that same condition. They are going to Hell surrounded by baptismal certificates, receipts for church offerings, Sunday School attendance pins and all the rest of it. They have never been saved.
II) THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS-10-11, 43-45
To betray someone is to hand them over with evil intent to the power and authority of others. To sell them out. Immediately after Jesus rebukes Judas in vs. 1-8, vs. 9 states “Then Judas Iscariot”. This incident motivated Judas to make the biggest mistake in his life.
A) HIS BETRAYAL WAS PREDICTED-
1) BY SCRIPTURE- Psalm 55:12-13; 21 These verses predict that one of the inner circle of Jesus’ associates would betray Him. Judas could have seen himself in the scriptures.
God is not caught by surprise when there are Judas’ in the church. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that at the Day of Judgment there would be many who will cry out Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and work wonders in your name? And he will say, I never knew you, depart me you workers of iniquity!
2) BY THE SAVIOR-14:17-21 When Jesus reveals this, each of the disciples ask “Is it I? Why? Because I believe that each of them understood that the possibility of betraying him is the heart of every one of us.
Thirty pieces of silver. Some people today betray Jesus for a lot less. They betray the Lord for popularity, for pleasure, for position, for power, and yes for profit.
Why Did Judas do it? I think it was about a lot more than money. It seems he has a pretty good racket going on here. Over time he could probably skim off a lot more than 30 pieces of silver. I think that Judas was disappointed. Jesus was just not who he thought he was going to be. He thought that Jesus was going to set up a great kingdom and make Judas one of his rulers.
They did not get it that Christ came not to give us a comfortable, problem free life, but to save us from our sins. He came because each one of us are rotten sinners, bound for Hell for eternity, and we deserve every minute of it. He came to forgive us, to love us, to give us an abundant life, but not a problem free, fat-cat Christianity. He came so that we might have joy and peace here on earth and then everything in eternity.
A kiss was a sign of homage in
Rabbi, Rabbi! Master-Master. The falseness of it all is sickening.
Kissing is an active verb, which implies that intensely and repeatedly kissed Jesus. All the while plunging the dagger of betrayal into the back of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I had rather spend a few years with some of the hypocrites in the church than spend an eternity with them in hell.” Adrain Rodgers
III) THE DESTRUCTION OF JUDAS- We read no more about Judas in Mark. Matthew and Acts tell us of his end.
A) EMOTIONAL DESTRUCTION- Judas was remorseful.
He brought back the silver pieces. Imagine this scene. However, his remorse was not repentance. No godly sorrow. No time of confession, and weeping before God. He simply felt bad because Jesus had been condemned. Perhaps he had not believed that Jesus would actually be put to death. But no repentance, only guilt.
1) Could Judas have repented? Yes. Without a doubt. Jesus offered him every opportunity to turn aside from his actions and seek forgiveness. He could even have found forgiveness after his action. No sin-not even betraying the Lord Jesus Christ is unforgivable. Apply: Peter – Peter was forgiven and became the great preacher to the Jews.
2) Some of you understand what emotional destruction is all about. You know what Judas felt as he labored under an intense load of guilt and shame. Your sin is different for sure, but the end results are not. Why not find forgiveness today? Why not bring you troubles and cares to the Lord’s altar and leave them there?
B) PHYSICAL DESTRUCTION- “He hanged himself”. He took a rope, threw it around his neck, and hanged himself rather than live with the guilt and shame of his actions. The Bible describes the horror of his end. He hung himself, then his rotting body fell upon a field, the field of blood, where it burst open. Why tell such grisly details? Because sin is incredibly destructive. Sin brings death and separation from God. Sin carries with it guilt. Guilt may bring depression, withdrawal, even suicide.
C) ETERNAL DESTRUCTION - Judas swung out into eternity. He swung into Hell. There is in the pits of flame, reserved for those who refused the grace of God, Judas suffers today. Every teaching he heard from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ will ring in his ears for all eternity. Every miracle he saw, every sermon he himself preached, all torture his immortal spirit and will do so for all of eternity. Can you imagine the regret? Can you imagine the sorrow, that Judas must feel. Knowing he betrayed the only one who could have saved him from this torment. He must cry out in his Spirit, “If only I had….if only I had….if only I had.
It is too late for Judas. It is not too late for you and I.
1 John 1:9
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The word dogma has gotten a bad rap over the last few years. It has come to mean something that is cold, dead and dull. Dogmatic has come to mean someone who will not change or accept others or in some cases to describe someone who is unreasonable in their beliefs. This is unfortunate. Dogma simply means religious beliefs. Basically, it means the same thing as doctrine or teaching. Christian dogma or doctrine is nothing more than the beliefs that make up the Christian faith. Christianity is a doctrinal or a dogmatic faith.
This means that simply claiming to be Christian does not make one a Christian. Feeling like one is a Christian is not enough. Dogma is the objective truth that defines what a Christian is. Simply using Christian terminology does not make one a Christian. If Dogma defines Christianity, than where do we get it from? What is the source of doctrine or belief for the Christian? Certainly not my feelings or personal impression of how I think things are. The Bible tells us that the heart is wicked and will decieve us.
All dogma (Christian dogma) has Scripture for it's source. Not one of its sources, not even the primary source, but THE source. For instance, many people claim to believe in Jesus Christ. For some He is a great prophet who taught timeless life lessons concerning this great spiritual journey of life. Others claim that he was the greatest of all God's creations. Some even claim that he is one of many, many gods who populate the cosmos. Recently I read an article that claimed that Christ is within each of us. He is love and love is eternal. The problem is that none of these views of Christ are Christian.
The Bible paints an awe inspiring picture of Christ. He is eternal, without beginning or end. He is the second person of the Trinity. He has always existed in perfect fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He died on the cross for our sins. He arose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father. He rules and reigns over the universe and will one day set all of his enemies under his feet and we will reign with Him. To present Christ as anything less than the everlasting God is to present a false Christ. To claim that he is one of many gods is idolatry. Dogma guards the purity of the Christian faith.
Here is another example. I read an article recently that claimed that God the Father exists in a flesh and blood body. When I read this, I have to admit I laughed out loud. John 4 is pretty clear. "God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship him in Spirit and truth." To claim that the Father is confined by a flesh and blood body is contrary to Scripture and unchristian.
As believers Dogma must be our delight. it is life and health. Read what Dorothy Sayers writes.
"We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist on too much upon doctrine - dull dogma they call it. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that staggered the imagination of man - and the dogma is the drama.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
A Sustaining Faith
Most of us in ministry fight with bouts of discouragement and depression now and again. Ministry never has been and never will be easy. Yet, in the midst of the worst that life can throw our way, there is always a deep reservoir of hope and life. When I am tempted to throw in the towel, men like Adoniram Judson encourage me, and put steel in my backbone. Here is an excerpt from a sermon I preached last year. Actually, this is about his first wife, Anne. It was a blessing to me. I hope it will be to you also.
Adoniram Judson was a missionary who served in
Months later, he was released. A man so broken it was a miracle he could walk. He began to search for his beloved wife. He went to the place where they used to live. He saw a child sitting in the dirt, a little girl so covered with filth that he failed to recognize her as his own daughter. As he staggered into the tent, he saw Anne. She was only a bundle of bones and rags on a cot, so weak and frail she looked like a skeleton. Her beautiful hair had fallen out and her bright blue eyes stared blankly out at nothing. Hugging his daughter to his chest, he knelt down and wept, “Anne, Anne, O my darling Anne.” His hot tears fell on her face and slowly her eyes began to move with recognition. She struggled to speak and her last words were, “Hang on, Adoniram, God will give us the victory.”
He lost his sweetheart, but not his faith, his loved one, but not his courage. He began to preach again, and when he died he left behind scores of churches and hundreds of Christian converts. In the midst of the worse life could throw his way, he never lost his faith, Anne never lost sight of the fact that God is the King! He is in control. He will be victorious. O Worship the King!
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this article represent the views of this blog well enough that we felt justified in stealing this material!
The following was published on the front page of Press Enterprise newspaper in Riverside County, California.Local Southern Baptists cool the fire and brimstone. It was written by David Olson who can be reached at at 951-368-9462 or dolson@PE.comLet me give my thoughts about this article. The article begins with a "hook":
The Rev. Matt Brown surfs, has long blond hair and has used curse words in sermons to make a point. Some members of his Sandals Church come to worship services with full-arm tattoos, nose-piercings and punk-rock T-shirts.
May I ask: "Long blond hair" and "curse words", is that what is the secret to church growth now? Rich Warren believes that we cannot grow our churches through preaching and praying, so is this what replaces exposition and intercession?
The article continues
Brown is part of a new wave of Southern Baptists who are redefining what it means to be a part of America's largest Protestant denomination... Brown and other Southern Baptist ministers follow the denomination's conservative theology, which views the Bible as the literal word of God... Yet pastors like Brown freely admit their faults, including sexual temptations. "We're reaching people who were just not being reached," said Brown, 36, whose services attract about 2,600 worshippers a week, most in their 20s and 30s. "We're biblically conservative, but we're not culturally conservative."
This "new wave" that is "redefining" Southern Baptist are writing a definition that does not define me. I have no desire to be defined as the pierced-tattooed-cursing-punk who uses a soft tone when talking about sin so that I may not offend anyone. You know what, I actually like hanging around a few real rockers. You know why? Because they are not some soft spoken mamby-pambsy sissy boys who like to get tats and piercings so they can look cool or hip or metro. They actually are men who talk with conviction and call it like they see it. And they don't give a rip who gets offended. They don't park their Harley in their 3 car garage next to their mini-van and tennis rackets. And when they have come to faith in Christ is was not because some backstreet-boy-wanna-be with a cross tattooed on his left shoulder, long blond locks and designer sandals shared about the time he nearly committed adultery on his wife saying, "Dude, I was like, this sucks."Come on. This stuff is a mockery of all that defines real biblical ministry.
The article continues:
Jonathan Walton, an assistant professor of religious studies at UC Riverside, said evangelical churches, such as the Southern Baptist, are more likely to be open to downplaying their denominational ties than mainline Protestant denominations. They tend to be less bound to tradition and more focused on bringing new people into the church, he said. "What's going to work in the Mississippi delta or rural Alabama is not going to work in Southern California, and the denominational leaders are aware of that," Walton said. That includes the message of sermons, he said. In much of the South, it is taboo to bring up topics such as adultery, Internet pornography and drug addiction in church -- and if the subjects are discussed, it is typically in a harsh, judgmental manner, Walton said.In California, many people are turned off by such a tone, he said.
Really? They love that tone from comedians. They love that tone from radio jocks. They love that tone as long as that tone is not directed at them and their sinfulness. With sadness and disgust, I have noticed that one hand these "new wave" pastors are getting tattoos and trying to look tough and on the other hand they are too scared to confront sin with some courage and tenacity. They are more like puppets not prophets. They are dressed up by their wives and dangled by the culture. BTW, I am glad Walton didn't mention Louisiana or I might have to open a can on him.Maybe help is on the way.
The PE article says:
More than 90 percent of Southern Baptists are white but that is changing. Black membership has more than doubled in the past decade, and Latino and Asian-American membership also rose sharply...Yes, maybe help is on the way: maybe the Black, Latino, and Asian-American pastors will not capitulate to the demands of culture these days.
Mike McKinley asks a relevant question over at 9Marks: "How much of a pastor’s desire to be perceived as cool or connected to the culture is motivated by vanity or pride?
Knowing the depth of our depravity and self-deception and pride, we must examine ourselves. In fact, I fear (and here I am speaking from what I see in my own heart) that oftentimes we are at least partially motivated to reach people by pride. How much of our desire to be cool is a desire to reach people, not only for the gospel, but also for our own glory? Here’s a diagnostic question for everyone who is a pastor: if the Lord called you to shepherd sixty uncool saints until they were safely home, with no spectacular revival or ministry explosion, would you consider that beneath you? Would it seem unworthy of your gifts and a waste of your life? If so, you are being motivated by pride."We must remember that preaching the Cross is foolishness to this culture no matter how long your hair is. The gospel is a stumbling block to this poorly-educated, over-stimulated generation. And the cross does not call us to conform to the world, to be hip, or to be accepted. Thus trying to be like the culture can often cause people to misunderstand what the gospel is all about.I say, be yourself. Don't try to be Rick Warren or Ryan Seacrest or Billie Joe Armstrong. Stop trying to impress unbelievers. It may grow for you a crowd of attenders of which to be proud and get your name in the paper, but it is not growing a counter-culture kingdom that gives God glory by living the Sermon on the Mount. Besides, such futile efforts in the past have given us the agony of some really really bad contemporary Christian music and a slew of feminized preachers and endless church chaos.David Wells says in his book God in the Wasteland: "By this late date, evangelicals should be hungering for a genuine revival of the church, aching to see it once again become a place of seriousness where a vivid otherworldliness is cultivated because the world is understood in deeper and truer ways, where worship is stripped of everything extraneous, where God's Word is heard afresh, where the desolate and broken can find sanctuary."Yeah, who's brave enough to build some churches that are otherworldly!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Mother's Day thanksgiving
I have the priviledge of knowing two of the greatest moms on the planet. That is unusual in our day and age. My mom and my wife have shaped my life. My mom raised me, and with my dad instilled faith in my life from a young age. I am indepted to her and my dad, and by the grace of God they are largely responsible for who I am today. Thanks mom. You are the greatest.
I am also married to the most beautiful and gracious woman on the planet. Her love for me is far beyound anything I could have ever deserved or imagined. If I had my life to live over a thousand times I would live them all with Gina. She is everything I am not. She is kind, gracious, deeply committed to Christ, and without a doubt the most patient and organized Mom I ever known. Without her I could never be successful as a pastor, a father or a disciple of Christ. Thank you Gina. You are the love of my life!
Here a few pictures of the wonderful family that God has given Gina and I. Juliana is 17, Daniel is 15 (and 6'7 and 274 pounds!), Samuel is 13 (and 6'4!) Micah is 11, Hope is 8, Seth is 5, Leah Carried is 4, Steven is 2, and Silas is 7 weeks old! I am a blessed man and my quiver runneth over.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
If you know me at all, you know that I wear glasses for a reason. Without them, I can't see my hand in front of my face! I have astigmatism. I can't very well near or far. I know several people who are near-sighted. Nearsightedness or myopia is the inability of the eye to focus on distant objects. The nearsighted eye has no difficulty viewing nearby objects, only those things that are far away.
Now, here's my point. Reading the Scriptures this morning I became convicted that I am suffering from a near-sighted Christianity. My focus has been almost entirely on the problems at hand. Working to see God revitalize our Church, a new addition to our family (not a problem, a blessing, but consuming none the less), beginning the process of finding a new home, etc; all of these things have dominated my mind. I have become near-sighted. It has been difficult to focus on the eternal when the temporal was overwhelming me!
Probably the great majority of American Christianity suffers from this spiritual myopia. We are all about today and the problems of the hour. What can Jesus do for me right now? How does my faith impact my family problems and my work issues and my financial struggles? For pastors, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the challenges of ministry and the myriad of problems we face.
Colossians 3:1 instructs us to set our minds on things above. This does not mean we ignore the problems of life, but that we see and view our life through the eternal and through the Word of God. I found myself caught up and swept away by the grandeur and the glory of the Gospel this morning. As I thought of God's working in and through history to redeem His people I was amazed at His foresight and wisdom. I was staggered by the thoughts of eternity and glory in His presence. And you know what? My near-sighted problems and worries seemed a lot less troublesome.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
What makes a cult a cult and not a denomination? Veering away from the central truths and tenants of the Christian faith. Simply saying you believe in Jesus does not make a person a Christian. You must believe in Jesus as revealed by the Bible. That is why Oprah and the mormons and whoever else cannot claim any connection to Christianity.
Friday, April 04, 2008
I've been preaching Wednesday nights through the life of David. Chp. 24 describes how David would not take Saul's life, even when he had the chance. Saul wandered into the very cave where David and his men were hiding. To David's men this was a perfect opportunity, in fact a God-given opportunity, for David to kill Saul and end his reign of terror. David knew God far too well to try and understand His will through circumstances. But, he does something he knows that he shouldn't. He slips up on Saul and clips off a corner of his robe. Now, the narrative tells us that David knew what he had done was wrong. His conscience was troubled immediately by sin. I was impressed this. David had developed a sensitive conscience before God. I wonder how many believers have consciences that as sensitive to the Spirit of God as David's. In fact, I wonder how many believers are even concerned about their conscience.
God is concerned. I Timothy 1:5 lists a good conscience as one of the goals of Biblical teaching. In Acts 24:16 Paul states that he worked to always maintain a good conscience before God and men. What a blessing and a joy it is to lay one's head down at night with a clear conscience. Yet, what a rarity it is in today's world. We are to train up or conscience through the reading and application of God's word. The more obedient we are to God, the more sensitive our conscience becomes before the Lord. On the other hand disobedience can sear and harden a person's conscience. How many times have we heard professing Christians say and do things at church that would embarrass a pagan, and walk out feeling entirely justified in what they have done. Through disobedience they have hardened their conscience to the point they can longer accurately discern right from wrong.
What a different place most churches and most families would be if we would just pay a little more attention to our conscience.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Well, I know I haven't blogged for a long, long time. This entry will sort of explain why. Not only has my family moved to Baton rouge to begin a new ministry at Parkview Baptist Church, but Gina and I have been expecting our ninth child. Sunday night our family was blessed with our fifth son, Silas Andrew Wimberly. Here are a few pictures of Silas.