We find ourselves in this pivotal time of the year when we look back at what we have experienced in 2011 while at the same time our thoughts run toward what will be in 2012. Many will make new year resolutions while some will forgo this annual effort that only seems to last a few weeks anyway. As children of God, how should we approach the new year? What should be our focus as we start 2012? There is a passage in God’s Word I would have us consider that clearly sets before us a principle we should be conscious of every day.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The 23rd Psalm may be the most well known passage in all the Bible. It is used at funerals, quoted in times of distress or sorrow, and has even been quoted by military leaders as they led their men into battle. The following is a brief running commentary of what this powerful passage says to our hearts.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sometimes the world feels like it presses in on us and we get stressed out. There is the ever present tension of financial obligations, the mortgage or rent must be paid, the light bill, the phone bill, food, clothing, putting gas in the car. Add to that the pressures of a job, children (small or grown), relationships, health needs, and it is easy to see how we might feel overwhelmed. What does the Bible say about our stress, anxiety, and worry?
Saturday, October 8, 2011
The question of alcoholic beverage use among Christians is often an emotional one. There are basically two camps when one considers this issue. There are those who proclaim their liberty in Christ to drink alcoholic beverages so long as they refrain from being drunk. On the other side of the issue are those who claim a person might not even be saved if they have a beer or wine with their dinner. Before I share with you my conviction on the matter and what I preach from the pulpit, let’s consider what the Bible has to say about alcoholic beverages as well as our Christian liberty in Christ.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
There seems to be in our day an increased fascination with Satan and the demons. The subject of many advertised movies seems to be increasingly centered around or focused on some evil or wicked scenario that involves the supernatural effect of Satan or demons. I have also noticed an increased presence of palm readers, open affiliation with the occult, as well as increased public exposure of those who claim to be witches, warlocks, or soothsayers who claim they can predict the future. One has but to look at the recent lineup of primetime evening television shows to see mind readers, those who can converse with the dead, as well as vampires and werewolves. What are Christians to think and make of this fascination with the supernatural or spiritual realm? That is the subject of our thoughts today.
Monday, September 12, 2011
From time to time someone will ask me, “Can a Christian lose their salvation?” What they want to know is if a Christian can sin in some way after they are saved whereby they lose their eternal life in Christ? The answer is no. A person who has been genuinely saved by faith in Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation. There are many passages in the Bible that deal with a true believer’s eternal security, however, we will limit our thoughts today to a couple that more than seal the deal on the issue.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take my eighteen year old daughter to lunch, just the two of us. She graduated from high school a few months ago and is starting college next week. Her mother and I have been consciously trying to allow her more latitude in her decision making process. We still give rudder directions from time to time, but we are trying to let her experience what it is like to be an adult and have the responsibility of making good decisions. That is why I was very blessed by our conversation over lunch. As we were eating she began to make some observations concerning the habits of some of her peers who are born again believers in Christ. She began to ask me about Christian liberties in Christ and how we should view certain conduct or indulgences Christians allow in their lives? The blessing for me is that she was thinking about her life in Christ and how her conduct would affect those around her. The question of Christian liberty is so important that I decided to share with you what I shared with her over lunch.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Recently Texas Governor Rick Perry called upon Christians to gather and pray for the citizens and leaders of our nation. The corporate prayer was to ask God to turn us around as a nation. Governor Perry has received much criticism for his public call to meet and pray. It is reported that Annie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit to prevent the Governor from organizing and leading the prayer event. Thankfully a federal judge had the good sense to dismiss the case.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
At OakLeaf Baptist we have been in a series on evangelism in our Sunday Morning services. According to Matthew 28.19-20, it is every Christian’s responsibility to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world. We are to share the Gospel so that lost men and women might be saved. The Bible tells us that, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10.17). God the Holy Spirit uses his Word to enlighten the hearts and minds of the lost so they might see and understand their need of salvation. That brings us to the topic of this blog, where do we start when we share the gospel with someone? The best answer to that question is to look and see where Jesus began when He interacted with the lost.
Monday, July 11, 2011
What we believe about Jesus matters. Not only does our view of Jesus matter, it is the key to whether our religious world view is right or wrong. In other words, the validity or correctness of any religious system is directly proportional to that religious system’s view of Jesus Christ. Let me illustrate the point for you. I was at my son’s baseball game one evening when two men began to work their way through the park. The two men were Jehovah’s Witnesses and they were trying to convert anyone who would listen to them. They ended up standing behind me talking to a young lady. After hearing their conversation for a few minutes, I interjected myself into the conversation. You see, I know what the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about Jesus. They deny that Jesus is God. They hold to a view that Jesus was an angel before He came to earth as a man. They also deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus, claiming that His resurrection was in spirit only. I confronted the men with their error and assured the young lady that there is only one way to be forgiven of sin and receive eternal life and that is by faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone. The men moved on and that was the end of it. What we believe about Jesus makes all the difference between knowing the truth and being deceived by error. Here are five truths about Jesus that define who He is.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Last week we considered the reality of hell. If you have yet to read the post on hell, I would encourage you to do so. The subject of our thoughts today, however, are on the opposite end of the spectrum, I want us to consider some truths about heaven. When someone hears the word “heaven” there is no telling what mental picture might appear? Maybe an angel in a long white robe, sitting on a cloud, and playing a harp? Maybe Peter standing at the pearly gates ushering people in? Still others have no idea what heaven is like and they just think of it as a place to be preferred over hell. As always, if we want the truth about a matter we need to look into God’s Word, the Bible. Of all the things the Bible tells us about heaven, there are three that I want to share with you here.
First, just as hell is a literal place, so is heaven. When we see the word heaven in the Bible it can speak contextually of one of three places. It can mean the space in our atmosphere, it can mean outer space where the stars and planets are, or it can mean the place of God’s throne. The place where God’s throne resides is a literal place, just as inner and outer space are a literal part of what we can see. One day Jesus told His disciples that He was going away. He was speaking of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. The idea of Jesus leaving troubled His disciples greatly. In response, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14.1-3). Jesus has prepared a literal dwelling place for all those who are saved by faith in Him. Heaven is a literal place where the redeemed of Christ will abide with Him.
Monday, June 20, 2011
I recently read a definition of hell that said, “A place of perpetual fire and loathsomeness” (Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology, pg 266). That definition conjures up all sorts of ugly mental pictures that most of us would rather not think about. The problem is, Wycliffe’s definition is spot on. Hell is a terrible place, the horror of which exceeds anything man can comprehend in this life. Hell is a place to be avoided at all costs. Most of the world today never thinks of hell in those terms. It is with that in mind that I want to share with you three realities about the place we call hell.
First, hell is a literal place. Hell is not the figment of some writer’s imagination. Hell is not some mystical place or the result of some religious system’s creativity. Hell is a literal place that is as real as the world you and I live in right now. The Bible tells us that at the end of the tribulation, the beast and the false prophet will be cast into a “lake of fire” (Revelation 19.20). Jesus described hell as a place where there is, “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8.12). Jesus later described hell as a, “furnace of fire” where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13.50). Hell is a literal place where God’s judgment is administered upon lost men and women for their sin. Some of the biblical descriptions of hell include a place of total darkness, a place of perpetual suffering, a place of eternal fire, a place of unquenchable fire, and a place of perpetual unrest. The worst part of hell is that it is a place of perpetual separation from God. You can be sure hell is a literal place.
Monday, June 13, 2011
The last thing I want to consider in this brief series on same sex marriage has to do with rebellion. Mr. Webster defined rebellion as, “Open resistance to authority.” All sin is a form of rebellion against God. The prophet Samuel said to King Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15.23a). It is a very serious matter indeed to rebel against God and His righteous commands. Refusing to believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is in essence rebellion against God’s anointed King.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
We continue here with some further thoughts and truths concerning what is called same sex marriage. Homosexuals and those who are sympathetic to their position see the homosexual lifestyle as an acceptable way of life. They are militant in their efforts to force everyone else to see it in the same way or at a minimum to have to acknowledge legally that it is an appropriate lifestyle. However, there is a fundamental flaw in the homosexual relationship and it is called sin. God did not create men to be with men or women to be with women. Anatomically, emotionally, and relationally, men and women were created to complement one another in a life-long marriage relationship. It is a perversion of God’s created and ordered design to engage in same sex unions. Homosexuality is not an issue of equal rights, it is an issue of sin. A man or women who chooses to sin by way of homosexuality certainly has the freedom in this country to do so, but they do not have the right to force the rest of society to acknowledge their sinful lifestyle as equal with God’s ordained way of life. A homosexual relationship between two men or two women is most certainly not the same as the relationship I have with my wife of over thirty years.
Monday, May 30, 2011
I was reading a recent Gallup poll that reports for the first time a majority of Americans think same sex marriage is acceptable. The report said, “For the first time in Gallup's tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans' views did not change.” If you want to read the article for yourself you can find it at, http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/first-time-majority-americans-favor-legal-gay-marriage.aspx.
I will give more than one post to this issue for there are several things we need to consider concerning what is called same sex marriage. This first post will deal with the institution of marriage and how true marriage relates to the idea of same sex marriage. The first question we might want to consider is where did the social practice of marriage come from? Did some long ago generation just decide one day that it would be a good idea to pair up for life? Did some long ago civilization invent marriage and the following generations just thought it was a good idea so they followed along? The answer is marriage is a God given, God ordained institution. Marriage was not created by man, it was given to man by God for man’s benefit. Let’s consider for a moment God’s revelation of where marriage came from. When we go to the Bible, Genesis 2.18, we find one of the reasons God created us as male and female. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2.18b). God stated clearly here that it was not good for Adam to be alone. God created the woman, Eve, to be a “help meet” for him (King James version). The literal rendering means a helper suitable for him. God made a women who was the perfect complement of Adam, a man. The two of them were made fully complete as man and women for the purposes for which God created them. May we all agree that had there been two men or two women in the beginning, they would not have been the perfect compliment for one another and none of us would be here.
Monday, May 23, 2011
One – Freedom from the bondage of sin. The apostle Paul said, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6.22). Before we were saved we were the servants of sin. The sinful desires of our fallen humanity dominated our lives in thought, word, and deed. But when by faith we confessed our sin and asked God to forgive us, we were born again spiritually and set free from the dominion of sin. In Jesus we no longer have to serve sin. Sin is no longer the master of my life, Jesus is now my Lord.
Two – Freedom from the eternal penalty of sin. Paul said in the same verse that we are set free from sin to serve Jesus which in the end brings everlasting life. The service to Jesus does not bring everlasting life, it is the relationship with Him by faith that brings everlasting life. At the moment I trusted Jesus by faith as my personal Lord and Savior, He forgave my sin and gave me His righteousness. He removed my sin guilt and replaced it with His perfect holiness. The reality of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ is that we have passed from death unto life (see John 5.24). The man or women who dies in their sin will have to pay for their sin eternally in a place of punishment called the eternal lake of fire. But for those who respond to God’s loving offer of grace by confessing their sin, repenting of their sin, and asking Jesus to forgive their sin, they receive eternal life to be realized in a place called heaven.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
One of the things I like to do is listen to preaching. I guess it’s kind of like a baseball player who likes to watch baseball. I am a preacher who likes to listen to preaching. Sometimes when I’m listening to the radio, T.V., or internet I hear something said by a preacher that grabs my attention. It either grabs my attention because it is a tremendous blessing or it grabs my attention because it is wrong. Such is the latter case concerning a recent message I heard from a preacher on T.V.
This particular preacher was talking about prayer and the power of prayer. Then he began to make statements of a nature that insinuated God has promised to give us whatever we ask for. Verses of support for this position include Matthew 21.22 where Jesus said, “And all things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” This is one of those favorite verses for the “name and claim it” preachers. The reasoning goes something like this, if I have enough faith (believing), then God will do whatever I ask Him. That interpretation usually fleshes out into things like God will always heal the sick if we have enough faith when we pray or God will always deliver me from difficulty if I have enough faith when I pray. If a person prays and God does not give them what they asked for, they automatically assume they did not have enough faith. Is that really what the Bible teaches? The answer is no. Let’s consider this verse with a little dose of reality based on the preponderance of scripture.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Why do the people who attend your church come there? What moves them to get up on Sunday morning and drive to and participate in the service at your particular church? The truth is, the people who attend your place of worship probably drove past another to get to yours. So what is so special to them about your church? As the pastor of a church I planted some eleven years ago, that question was one I had to deal with early on. If I start a church in a area that needs an evangelical church, what will make them want to come and worship here? There are many reasons a person might select to attend one church over another, but let me give you five that I have observed over the years.
The first reason has to do with distance from their home. Some people select a church because it is near where they live. I pastor a church in the middle of a planned community. Many of the visitors who come through our doors tell us they gave the church a try because they drove by and saw the sign. The nearness factor is good for a percentage of growth and no doubt some will continue to attend because we are a church they associate with as part of their community.
Monday, May 9, 2011
There are two predominate world views in society today. There is the world view of Christianity which holds to the biblical God-given view that there is absolute truth in life. The other is Secular Humanism which holds that all of life is relative and situational which means there are no absolutes. Let’s follow out these two world views in a very general sense and see there they lead us?
Christianity is based on the overwhelming evidence of a God who created all that exists. There are two kinds of revelation from God and both prove conclusively that He exists. First there is what is called general revelation. This is the revelation that comes primarily through creation. The apostle Paul said, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1.19-20) KJV. We understand by the things that are made, the creation around us, that there is a God. The detail and intricate nature of life is scientifically beyond random chance, which is the unsubstantiated position of evolution. Notice the apostle Paul said all men are without excuse before God by General revelation alone.