Sunday, December 20, 2009
For years I attended conferences where distinguished Christian leaders and role models would mention their “life verses” – that one verse from the Bible that is the theme for their whole life. For a long time I felt inadequate, as if a part of my Christian life were missing, as if I had missed out on one of the fruits of the Spirit or something because I had no life verse. So, I got me a life verse.
Prov. 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
Doesn’t that bless your heart? Actually, for one who lives as a pastor, that verse has amazing application. Substitute people for oxen and church for manger. “Where there are no people the church has no problems (or as we like to call it at my church, ox mess). But much is accomplished by the people.” The church is the people; without the people there is no church.
But back to my life verse. Actually, what I found is that one life verse just doesn’t work for me. Reality is that in the seasons of life, specific verses often change with the seasons. Today I share with you my current life verse:
Psa. 71:18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.
I stand before you with my extremely premature gray hair to proclaim His might and His power to you, the generation after me. Here are my top ten reasons for proclaiming God’s might and power…minus five (due to time limitations). For purposes of the Twitter generation, which has given new meaning to the term textus receptus, I have 140’ed each of these, so that I may Tweet each one separately in the coming days. If I may, I’ll call this Twittering His Praise.
What I am proposing is, from this day forward, each of you will purpose in his or her heart to live your life for the glory, honor and praise of God. That you will seek Him first and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
HE IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE BECAUSE:
1. HE IS GOD.
If I were to mention nothing else, this is enough. As He said over and over to the in the prophet Isaiah: “I am the Lord , and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”
Lest there be any confusion of the God to whom I am referring, He is the God of the Bible, the one who can only be approached in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”
He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He gives life. He is in the heavens and does all that He pleases. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
2. HE IS HOLY.
Not because He has met some standard of holiness. He is the standard.
In times when the world’s view of God is skewed in so many directions from atheism to “good-buddy-ism,” a right view of Him in His perfect holiness is so desperately needed. The only reason any of us will not be wiped out when we stand before Him face to face, is because of what He has done for us in Christ Jesus, granting us His righteousness which, as Jude tells us, makes us able to stand.
The only possibility we have of entering into His eternal presence is by being perfectly holy ourselves. Since we have miserably and utterly failed because of sin, our only hope is to receive the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ as we place our faith and trust in Him.
3. (And this is intensely personal.) HE SAVED ME BY GRACE. WHEN I CAME 2 MYSELF, THE PRODIGAL IN THE FAR COUNTRY, LOST & DESTITUTE IN MY OWN SIN, HIS LOVE DREW ME 2 HIMSELF.
Like every other inhabitant of this planet, I have a condition called sin that robs me of the delight of an intimate relationship with my loving heavenly Father. But God demonstrated His love toward me, in that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. “Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.”
4. GIVING HIM THE PRAISE HE IS DUE MAKES US HAPPY.
Since 1647 the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “What is the chief end of man?” has given us the answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
But this type of wording is not reserved for the Catechist alone; it is also the language of Scripture.
Psa. 16:11 in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
5. HE IS FAITHFUL.
His mercies are new every morning. His steadfast love never stops. I stand before you today as one who recognizes, not only the eternal faithfulness of God, but also His faithfulness in my life from the beginning.
God chose for me to be born in Tupelo, Mississippi. If I could have chosen to be born there I would have (and not just because it’s the birthplace of Elvis Presley), but He chose it for me. Tupelo is the center of the universe. This has been scientifically proven as Congressman Pvt. John Allen so eloquently articulated to our nation’s House of Representatives in the late 19th century. When one stands on the corner in front of the TKE Drug Store in downtown Tupelo at noon, the sun is directly overhead; the horizon is equidistant in every direction. Alas, the center of the universe. But I digress.
God led me to Mississippi College another Baptist school like CBU. God led me to California in the mid-1970’s with dreams of becoming a movie star. Yes, folks, I went to Hollywood. People always want to know if I was in any movies. I know you are young but have you heard of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or “The Sting” or “The Godfather?” Well, I wasn’t in any of those.
No, God changed the desires of my heart and led me away from Hollywood. And He has faithfully given me the grace to serve Him as a Pastor these past thirty-plus years. God led me to my beautiful wife, Janet, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. God eventually led us back to Southern California, to our wonderful church family in Beaumont where our five children were raised. God has abundantly, beyond all we could ask or think, provided for the needs of our family, including all five attending CBU, with three already graduated and at least some measure of hope for the other two to do the same.
Please hear me. As Joshua said to an often-stubborn collection of the tribes of Israel, newly arrived in the Promised Land, “choose you this day whom you will serve.” Will it be the gods of self, success, fame, wealth or other short-term pursuits? Or will you take the long look, the eternal look and serve the One True and Living God Who will never leave you nor forsake you.
Psa. 37:25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
Graduates, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. This is a new beginning for you. I pray you will live your life to the praise and glory of God. You can trust Him, He is faithful.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are
taking My name out of the season.. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15:1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow
up... It will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your
arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much
money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have
never heard My name.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things
in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all
those whom you love and remember:
I LOVE YOU,
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It’s amazing what we Christians will declare war over. For a year, or two, or three there has been a growing movement to “strike back” at those who are trying to take Christ out of Christmas by referring to this season as the Holidays or in the schools taking “Winter Break” plus any number of other real and/or imagined slights against our faith. Several big name Christian organizations are pushing hard for us not to let this continue. Christmas must be defended at all costs.
Now let me be the first to say that I love to wish folks Merry Christmas at this time of year. I’m one of those softies who even likes all the decorations and music in the mall. I know it’s way too commercialized but it’s also fun and, one must admit, there is usually a different feeling in the air when one is out in public this time of year.
There can certainly be no argument that I lack an understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas for me as a follower of Jesus Christ is that I am remembering and celebrating His birth (even though the Bible nowhere commands me to do so as it does His death).
Actually, what I am remembering and celebrating is His incarnation. God became a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He laid aside His heavenly privileges for a time to condescend and take the form of a servant. He served all the way to the cross. This time of year helps me remember that God loved so much that He gave His Son and His Son loved so much that He came into the world to save lost sinful people like me. Yes, I do remember that all year but I love to be reminded in so many ways like I am at Christmas.
Back to my reaction. Here’s my problem: We are being encouraged to strike back at the poor cash register girl who, under orders from corporate, says to us, “Happy Holidays!” instead of, “Merry Christmas.” Now I ask you, is that the Christian thing to do?
As in all things Christian, the answer lies in the motive. If our hearts desire is for the person to whom we are speaking to have a truly wonderful Christmas or holiday season, then, with a smile of warmth and sincerity we say, “Merry Christmas!” But, should our motive be to “fight back” against the evil Christmas stealers, then perhaps we ought to reflect more on the spirit of the One whose birth we are celebrating. He taught us not to fight back. He taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. He even taught us to love our enemies, e.g., Christmas thieves.
Here’s a heart check for us: Before you say Merry Christmas to anyone, ask yourself, “Do I really want this person to have a Merry Christmas? If so, say it with love. If not, if your heart is not right toward that person, don’t say anything until you can get alone with the Lord and say to Him, “Please forgive!”
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Anyone who knows me knows of my deep love and respect for Dr. John MacArthur. Since being a young twenty-something in the San Fernando Valley in the 1970’s who visited Grace Church on occasion and listened to and read John at every chance, I have been mentored from a distance by this man in so many ways. So this in no way would indicate a lack of respect for his views. There are in fact, very close and dear friends of John’s who have signed the Declaration and remain dear brothers with him yet. Signing or not signing this document is no test of fellowship.
I have been asked why I would not take the same stance as he on this issue, especially by some who know of my commitment to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let it be said with no equivocation, in every way I agree with John on the Gospel. I agree that there are signers of the document who do not interpret the Gospel in the way that I do. I even agree with him that this document does not lay out the Gospel in clarity. In recognizing those things, I find the exact point of our differing views.
In a clearly secular analogy, The Manhattan Declaration is somewhat like The Declaration of Independence. In this birthing writing for our nation the signers called upon Nature’s God, the Creator, the Supreme Judge and Divine Providence. While there may be debate as to what each individual signer meant by those terms, a belief that this was a nation “under God” is indisputable. From that position they went on to firmly state their disagreement with certain practices of the governing authorities. They took their stand with what they believed to be “unalienable rights.”
I see The Manhattan Declaration in much the same way. It is a declaration of what we (the signers) believe so that there can be no doubt. Implicitly, there is (as there was with the Declaration of Independence) a personal willingness to bear the consequences this stand might bring.
This document, though put forth by those who claim to be Christian, is a call to all people in good conscience to heed these truths. The following excerpt from the Declaration sheds light on my position: "We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God."
But this does not mean that I see this Declaration as merely a secular document. In fact, I believe it is a statement that says, in essence, if one claims to be Christian, one ought to hold to these truths. For me, that is a given. I’m willing to bear the criticisms of those who disagree and to love them no less. But there can be no ambiguity here. I want my family, my church, my friends, my neighbors and my enemies to know where I stand.
I do not agree that it “relegates the gospel to secondary status.” My interpretation of the written words sees them as flowing from the Gospel rather than to the Gospel. Again, it is saying if one claims to believe the Gospel then one ought to believe this.
So, I am comfortable signing a document with others who “claim” to be Christians but who do not hold to a biblical Gospel. I will proclaim the Gospel of Christ and I will stand strong against the erosion of these truths, even in this type of public format. As I have said earlier, I signed it with a resolute heart and with a sadness that the times make it necessary.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Somewhere deep in our storehouse of biblical knowledge we know that suffering is good for us. A few of the Scriptures we would point to would be:
1. Suffering points us to the glorious return of Christ. (1 Peter 4:13)
2. Suffering causes dependence on the grace of God. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
3. Suffering demonstrates the grace of God. (1 Peter 2:19)
4. Suffering produces endurance. (Romans 5:3; James 1:2-3)
5. Jesus was made perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8-9)
6. Suffering perfects us, as it did Jesus. (James 1:4)
7. Suffering brings the comfort of God. (2 Corinthians 1:5-7)
8. Suffering brings conformity to Christ. (Romans 8:28-29; Philippians 3:10)
9. Suffering causes us to long for heaven. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
10. Suffering gets us out of our comfort zone. (Acts 8:1)
If all these are true then why is it also true that we tend to dread suffering; we seek to avoid it in every way; we look at it, not as friend, but as a fearsome enemy? All too often we are like the kids in the old TV commercial who, when discussing a yucky, healthy food, said, “It tastes like it’s good for us.” We don’t like the taste of suffering. Why? The answer is the pain. Our focus is on the process and not the product.
What if suffering were a lollipop? What if, in God’s economy, He had foreordained that eating a lollipop would perfect the Lord Jesus Himself? What if God had decreed that licking a lollipop would lead us to the abundant grace that is all-sufficient? What if sucking on a delicious sticky lollipop would produce in us endurance and complete us in Christ-likeness? What if the tantalizing taste of a lollipop caused us to long for heaven with all our might?
Answer: we would be ecstatic. We would sing the praises of lollipops. We would longingly look for lollipops. We would encourage others to do the lollipop thing with great perseverance and diligence. We would have lollipop licking colloquies designed to teach the techniques and joys of lollipop delights.
So the problem with suffering is the pain. Would that God would grant the ability to focus on the goal, the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and realize that God’s ways are perfect. Why does He bring suffering into our lives? Because He wants us to experience every aspect of His glory. His desire is for us to know His grace and comfort and power and peace. He wants us to taste and see that He is good. Look past the pain, past the process to the Perfect Suffering Savior!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Here is the story of one song from Stephen himself:
One of the most affecting, affirming songs on the record is "SEE." In the hours after Maria left to be with Jesus, Steven fervently prayed for a sign that she was okay, pleading with God just to let him see. "I remember just saying, "We know it is true. We know she is with Jesus. She is safe in the arms of the God who made her. We know she is okay. We know it, but could we just see something?"" Steven recalls asking. "The next morning we went back to our house to get some clothes for the memorial service. We were not going to stay there and it was really hard to even go in the house because of the memories. We were walking through with friends who were holding on to us and we were going from room to room.
I walked into the kitchen and there is this little art table that Maria and Stevey Joy would sit at for hours. She loved crafts. She would cut out pictures. Scissors and glue were her favorite things. She would just cut and paste and draw for hours, and she often created cards for us. She would write the words she knew, "I love mom" and "I love dad" and then she would sign her name "Maria."
Everything was cleaned up at the table but there was one little piece of notebook paper lying on her side of the art table. It was a flower, a six-petal flower that was kind of her signature flower that she would draw all the time. Only one petal was colored in blue, and the rest of it was just the outline of the petals. It had a little stem and it had a little orange center of the flower and it had little leaves at the bottom of the stem. I had noticed something else kind of bleeding through the back of the paper where she had written something and I turned it over and it was a little butterfly and then she had written the letters S-E-E. She had never written that word before. All that she had ever written as far as we knew was "I love Mom," "I love Dad" and her name. Out of all the words that she could have written that day before the accident, she had written the word "see." I was already weeping uncontrollably and at that moment I just really, really believed that God gave us that sign and that was the gift that Maria left us to say "I know you are wanting to see something, but see I am okay and I am where you said. It is okay." That flower became so precious to us. It was my wife that looked at it and realized what we thought was an unfinished flower, was finished. Only one flower petal of the six was colored in. Then we realized we have six children there is only one that is colored in; there is one that is whole and the rest of us are still waiting for our color. It just became such a gift to us."
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
• Praying that every proclamation of the Word today will bring glory & honor to God.8:53 AM Oct 25th from Echofon
• "if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?" 1 Sm 2:25 Wow, NOW we know the answer! Heb 10:19-226:13 AM Oct 25th from Power Twitter
• 1 Sam 2:3 "...let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge," God knows; we don't.5:56 AM Oct 25th from Power Twitter
• Exo 2:25 "God saw the people of Israel--and God knew." Love the simplicity of the ESV here. "God knew" Yes He does!6:45 AM Oct 24th from Power Twitter
• Great talk with young pastors from central & Northen CA. Passionate for the Kingdom. We need to hear them.3:37 PM Oct 22nd from Echofon
• Meeting dear friend for lunch who's in tough situation. Praying for encouraging words.11:57 AM Oct 21st from Echofon
• A moving comment on the Lord's Supper. See #5. http://bit.ly/3liBEk (via @drmoore)7:21 AM Oct 21st from Power Twitter
• @albertmohler Welcome to your 6th decade.9:18 PM Oct 18th from Echofon
• "The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high...he will be the stability of your times" Is 33:5-6 God is able & stable!8:42 AM Oct 18th from Echofon
• Mk 6:27 God doesn't promise "Hollywood" endings to His servants. Be faithful to the end. It's not the end, it's the beginning.6:09 AM Oct 18th from Power Twitter
• Great flight Loovul to DFW. Memorized Heb 10:1-10. Text for Sunday. Who is the ultimate worshiper?6:34 AM Oct 16th from Echofon
• Loovul airport again. Rejoicing. Headed home. Makes Paul's sentiment in Ph 1:22-23 more real.3:09 AM Oct 16th from Echofon
• Overwhelmed by all the birthday wishes. I am a blessed man to have friends like you.11:16 AM Oct 15th from Power Twitter
• Praying for my brothers Hakan & Turan. 2 Cor 12:97:38 AM Oct 15th from Echofon
• First "small" blessing of 1-day flight delay: Get to hear the Cricket (@drmoore) preach in Chapel at SBTS. Pun intended.6:51 AM Oct 15th from Power Twitter
• Loovul. Flight cancelled. Rebooked. Rush 2 airport 4:00 am. Mixup. Flight now tomorrow. Remember SOVEREIGNTY.2:45 AM Oct 15th from Echofon
• Love Hebrews: Jesus is infinitely better than the Old Way -- better than angels & Moses, better Covenant, promises, sacrifices, possession.12:20 PM Oct 14th from Power Twitter
• Thinking how thankful i am for my church allowing me to be their pastor most of my life. I love FITP.2:35 PM Oct 13th from Echofon
• "worship is not an interruption to our lives. Our lives often are an interruption to our worship." @albertmohler7:10 AM Oct 13th from Echofon
• Loovul is quiet in the middle of the night. Time to put old bones to bed. Glad my Father never sleeps or even needs to.10:30 PM Oct 11th from Power Twitter
• "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;" Ps 55:22 God sustains me by.......7:27 AM Oct 11th from Power Twitter
• "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" Job 38:2 Think of all the things you don't know that God knows...and be glad!6:22 AM Oct 9th from Power Twitter
• When God speaks from a whirlwind (Job 38, 40) man should pay attention......or simply from the Bible!6:05 AM Oct 9th from Power Twitter
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Let me tell you about Sadie. She was very selfish. For some strange reason, she had the notion that all humans were created to pet her constantly. She HAD to be touched. Everyone was expected to pat, rub, scratch or whatever the need of the moment was. And once one started to pet her, stopping was a non-option. If you stopped, she would put her paw up on your arm as if to say, "Get your hand back down here and TOUCH ME!!
She was also selfish about walks. Anytime we appeared to be dressing for what might turn out to be a walk she was under foot, in the way, with this look of excited expectancy that communicated, "Would you hurry up! There are places to go and people to see and dogs to greet and grass to be marked!"
She was selfish about our being gone. When all or some of the family would leave the house she would lie for hours by the front door just to let us know that we had deserted her, the queen of the castle. Yet even in her displeasure of desertion she would greet us warmly with breathless wimpers of "pet me, pet me, pet me" when we returned.
She was selfish about treats. Every single time she was given an extra treat other than her regular dog food, no matter how large or small, she would take it outside, out of sight, to luxuriate in it all alone apart from the bother of lesser beings known as humans.
She was selfish about the bedroom floor at night. There are some things that we humans have to attend to in the middle of the night. I'm just sayin'........... Well, her position was in the middle of the path to the target area. I knew that, should she last long enough, the time would come when I would die from tripping over her in the nighttime trek.
Please don't misunderstand. I'm not suggesting the order of creation was reversed. Most certainly did I exercise dominion over Sadie. I'm just not sure anyone ever told her. Reality is probably that she knew she had us wrapped around her little paw and could get just about whatever she desired.
With such a selfish dog, one wonders why I have such a pain in my chest and tears that keep coming. As I held her in her last moments, involuntarily, images of her as an 8-week-old puppy came to mind as we picked her name. We had narrowed it down to two choices and the vote kept coming up tied. Don't ask how that's possible in a family of seven. It just is. So we wrote each name on a piece of paper and put them on the floor about six feet apart. We set her down in the middle and waited to see which one she would go to first. She picked Sadie.
Now, twelve and a half years and 87 pounds later she was old and fat and largely deaf and tired and had developed a fast growing tumor on her breast. Good stewardship and compassion said stop now before it got much worse.
DO NOT EVER invite me to see "Marley and Me!" And NO, I won't see Sadie in heaven. Though she is a part of that creation that was corrupted by sin, she won't experience the resurrection from the dead. That's really a good thing. I'd rather not spend eternity scratching Sadie.
Monday, July 20, 2009
"I grew up in a non-Christian home and lived my life as a slave to sin. I never talked about or thought about God and the importance of accepting him into my life. I married a man who came from a Christian home and I started to hear things about God, but I still continued just to shrug off the importance of the relationship I needed to have with him in my life. It really wasn’t until I had my children that I started to feel the need to know and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Once my daughter Hayley was old enough she started attending Sunday school classes and also Awanas. I feel that this was all a part of God’s plan to speak to me through my daughter because as I helped Hayley memorize her verses and work on her projects, God was reaching out to me, opening my eyes to what I was teaching my daughter, and opening my heart to let me know he is with me.
A few months ago I made the decision to come to church with my family and while sitting there during service I was overcome with this feeling and I knew that I was suppose to be there and that I needed to change the direction of my life. I found myself filled with this eagerness to learn I began asking many questions about God, Salvation and Eternal life. I was invited to join Moms group and during my first visit I met a Christian mom who asked me if I was a Christian, I told her no and as we talked more she asked if I would be interested in doing a Bible Study with her. I said yes and was very happy to have this opportunity to learn God’s word and to have someone help me since this was all new to me. The first night I went for Bible study Hayley asked me where I was going and when I told her I was going to Bible study she told me Mommy I hope you find Jesus and put him in your heart. That night I just knew that was my time for Salvation and with help from my Christian friend I prayed and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Since accepting Christ into my life I have found myself changing in ways that have been really good for myself and for my family. I am working towards being the sort of wife and mother that God wants me to be. I feel more positive in the things I am teaching my children because I now have the belief in it. I know that in good times and bad God is always with me. I feel truly blessed to have finally accepted Christ into my life and look forward to seeing what else God has planned for me."
Sunday School Teachers, VBS Workers, AWANA leaders, Choir Directors, YOU are part of God's kingdom plan to take the gospel to the nations. What a mission field!!!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sensational Sins by John Piper
As always, Piper thinks long and hard about the text of Scripture and draws biblical conclusions. A great contribution to thinking "theodicy-cally."
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009 by Gregory Wills
Very readable, don't let the thickness deter you. Interesting insights to the theological crisis in the post-Civil War South and the life of a denomination that recovered it's biblical roots with special focus on the last 50 years.
Portrait of Calvin by THL Parker
A rare, fun read on the life of perhaps the greatest (and most misunderstood) theologian/pastor since the NT. You can get it in PDF form from desiringgod.org
Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
A spell-binding account of the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan written like a novel.
The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost
Simply the most exciting sports book ever.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
No, it wasn't the one in LA. The one I attended was at First Baptist Church, San Francisco. We were there to remember the Pastor of that church who entered his "eternal weight of glory" on June 27, 2009. As the throng in LA gathered for two and a half hours to worship an idol, we gathered in the name of the true and living God, to worship Him as we remembered our beloved friend Phil "Zub" Busbee.
What an uplifting service it was. I sat and listened to speaker after speaker thank God for the gift of Zub to us and speak of how his heart beat with a love for the Lord and for the city of San Francisco. Even though he was a Texas boy, as one speaker said, he understood San Francisco and the "wounded city" that it is. He longed to see his church be salt and light in that darkness.
One classic story that shows the real man, was on a Sunday morning, when a pastor friend was having the inaugural service of his church in a new building a few blocks down the street from FBCSF. Phil led his whole congregation to walk down the street and invade the service to pray for this pastor and his church. That was my buddy Zub. There was not one ounce of pastoral competition or envy in his body.
I was blessed to know him. I will be blessed to see him again in heaven if the Lord grants that occurence. I pray that FBCSF will be the church that God wants it to be and that it will be shaped by the suffering of its pastor into a precious jewel of God's grace.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I would suggest it may be time to pay attention to the Biblical injunction found in 1 Corinthians 16:13: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
AWRIGHT!!!! I can hear someone growling. It’s about time someone told us to buck up and fight back. Well, before you think that’s what I’m suggesting, let me clarify. I am not suggesting that it’s time for Christians to fight, at least not in physical, personal or political terms. The fight is a spiritual one. As you know, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.”
What I am recommending is that we remind ourselves of what the Scripture has promised us as followers of Jesus Christ.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
2Tim. 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Why do you think Jesus warned us to count the cost (Luke 14:25-35) before surrendering our lives to Him? Why is being a disciple of Jesus Christ becoming a “cross-carrier” (Luke 9:23)? Because He didn’t promise us a rose garden. Rather, He promised that He, the Rose of Sharon, would be with us in our trials and that we would be blessed if we are persecuted for His name’s sake.
Matt. 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
1Pet. 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
1Pet. 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
1Pet. 3:16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Christian, stop bemoaning the fact that Jesus’ promise to you is coming true. Be ready to live in a way that exemplifies Christ and exalts His name in the midst of very difficult times. And always, ALWAYS, remember that “these momentary light afflictions are producing for us an eternal weight of glory!” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Be steadfast, ya’ll!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
It got me to thinking. At most of these movie theaters, when a first-run movie comes out, they use multiple screens. Why not try an experiment, Hollywood? Why not make a version of the movie without the profanity or sex or nudity or whatever? Then offer customers a choice. Watch the sanitized version or the original.
My suspicion is the one without all the filth would do better (perhaps I'm being overly optimistic). But suppose that were the case. Wouldn't you think Hollywood would want to know that? In their pursuit of the public's entertainment dollars, surely they would want to know what sells best.
Here's where my pessimism sets in. I really don't think Hollywood, as a whole, would want to know that the public prefers the cleaner versions. Because there is a large portion of the entertainment industry with an agenda, an agenda of degradation of culture, language and humanity.
Once again the Scripture is dead-on in its description of those who not only do these kinds of sins, but give hearty approval and encouragement to others to do the same.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I listened to Wiley's radio interview with Alan Colmes and was deeply saddened by what he said and by the fact that the media loves to give him a platform for saying these things.
I do not agree with Wiley's contention that God commands us to pray imprecatory prayers. First of all the term imprecatory prayers is a bit in error. The Book of Psalms contains several Psalms (e.g., 58; 68; 109; 137) where the writer of the Psalm calls on the Lord to execute His vengeance on his enemies. It is true that the Psalmist, in each case, is talking to God. But a more correct biblical understanding would be to say Imprecatory Psalms, not Imprecatory Prayers.
Imprecation is, in essence, putting a curse on someone or asking God to curse them. Nowhere in the Bible are Christians encouraged to curse anyone, especially those with whom we disagree or those who would do us harm. In fact, we are commanded not to do so and to do just the opposite.
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them." Romans 12:14
The Bible could not be clearer.
In admitting that he is praying for President Obama's death, Wiley is violating the clear teaching of Scripture. Even if he considers the President to be his enemy, the Bible says to: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).
As President of the California Southern Baptist Convention I am especially saddened by this. The shame is that some will conclude that all of us share Wiley's views. Nothing could be further from the truth. I could not disagree more with Wiley on this issue and I know that Southern Baptists, as a whole, definitely disagree with him. We are to pray for all who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
May God forgive us all when we do not display Christ-like attitudes and actions.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Today was different. This was a weather front moving through that had lightning and thunder and rain and the most stunningly beautiful patchwork quilt of clouds. I use the term quilt intentionally for most of the day there was the feeling of being under a quilt looking up.
All that weather brought to memory a wonderful family outing we had several years ago when all seven of us piled in the van and drove down the freeway to the reservation to watch the fireworks on July the Fourth. We parked beside the frontage road and climbed out. A few sat on the van and some of us had lawn chairs. Actually that only lasted a short while for in the light of the one street lamp one of the kids yelled and pointed out a snake that crawled out of the bushes and under the van. In a heartbeat, all the kids who had not been on the van were instantly atop it. They stayed there for the rest of the evening.
Then came the fireworks. Thrilling in their multi-colored display. But as we watched an amazing thing took place. In the distance behind the fireworks over the mountain range that rises to some 11,000 feet, the heat buildup produced clouds that were full of what we used to call heat lightning in the South mesmerizing and dazzling us with a resplendent display of God's creative handiwork and distracting us totally from the fireworks.
One member of the family said, “You go, God!” And He did.
Job 37:1 “At this also my heart trembles
and leaps out of its place.
Job 37:2 Keep listening to the thunder of his voice
and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
Job 37:3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
Job 37:4 After it his voice roars;
he thunders with his majestic voice,
and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard.
Job 37:5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
“6 Truths of Life
1. You cannot touch all your top teeth with your tongue.
2. All idiots, after reading the first truth, will try it.
3. And discover that The first truth is a lie.
4. You're smiling now because you're an idiot.
5. You soon will forward this to another idiot.
6. There's still a stupid smile on your face.
I apologize about this .
I'm an idiot too and I needed company ..”
After I chuckled a bit (and groaned) I thought about what it was really saying. And I realized that none of those six are true except, possibly, #3. Then I came up with a real truth: One who tests truth claims is not an idiot, but actually very wise.
No, one is not an idiot for testing the tongue touching teeth. Testing is what we do with truth claims. That is one of the reasons Paul commended the Bereans because they went to the Word of God to test his truth claims.
Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
We live in a world today that thinks of itself as Postmodern. Postmodernism basically rejects all truth claims because it doesn’t accept the proposition that there is such a thing as absolute truth. That’s the wrong response. The proper response to a truth claim is not to reject it outright, but to test it by the standard of absolute truth—the Word of God.
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Now there's a great truth claim! What will you do with it?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Oh, God, forgive us.
Life is life, though it has different stages: embryo, fetus, newborn, infant, toddler, child, adolescent, adult, elderly. With this action, we now have the full weight of the federal government, especially the Executive Branch, behind the ongoing destruction of human life in its earliest stage.
Oh, God, forgive us.
We already are a nation that allows the taking of human life at the stage of fetus and newborn. How long will it be until we have sanctioned the taking of human life at any stage for "scientific" purposes?
Oh, God, forgive us.
Some have argued that sacrificing a life for the good of others is an honorable thing. That is certainly true if, and it’s a ginormous “if,” one is making the decision to lay down one’s own life for the sake of another. But making the decision to lay down someone else’s life for the sake of others is not honorable, it is murder. In making these decisions scientists are committing the first and most basic of sins, attempting to be god and determining when a person dies.
Oh, God, forgive us.
We have digressed to the level of the Nazis in their death camps who regularly practiced human experimentation resulting in death for the good of the “race” and for the benefit to military personnel. Dr. Joseph Mengele’s twin experiments which included as many as 1,500 sets of twins with only 200 individuals surviving from the original 3,000, stands as just one stark reminder of man’s descent into cruelty.
Oh, God, forgive us.
And so many who profess to be pro-life stand idly by and nod their heads in approval to a President and a nation with such blatant, sinful inhumanity and barbarity. Some even suggest that there are "more important" issues.
Oh, God, forgive us.
Let us join with the prophet Habakkuk and cry to God: "In your wrath remember mercy!" (3:2)
1. Do my thoughts, prayers, words and actions display as much concern about our nation’s spiritual condition as the economic ones?
2. Am I as concerned with what the Scripture says about our situation as what the media offer?
3. Do my words and actions display anxiety or peace about God’s promised care for me through difficult times?
3. Do I spend as much time in God’s Word as I do on Twitter, Facebook, et al?
4. Do I spend as much time talking to God about President Obama as I do to others, whether positively or negatively?
Here are others from Byron’s list:
• Am I as disturbed over the lack of God's presence as I am the lack of godly people in places of influence?
• Am I spending as much time trying to understand the ways of God through the Good News, as I am the ways of man through the media?
• Am I as motivated to figure out how to meet the needs of others as I am in trying to figure out how to meet my own needs?
• Am I content to live the rest of my life materially poor in order to make others spiritually rich?
• Do I spend as much time sharing what I learned from the Scriptures each day as I do sharing what I learned about current events that day?
May God grant us the grace to be true salt and light in the midst of deep darkness.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
"Do you know whose birthday today, February 12th, is? I had no idea until a phone call with a friend. If you say Abraham Lincoln you would be absolutely correct. But there was another historically significant individual who was born on the same day in the exact same year as ole Honest Abe. And who was that illustrious persona? (A little drum roll please) Ta da!!! — Charles Darwin. That’s right, today is Darwin Day! (hereafter known as Duh Day — emphasis on Day) C.D. would have been 199 today, if only he had been stronger in his evolution and not been naturally selected to die.
Yessiree, Mr. Natural Selection who, when he wrote his magnum opus entitled On the Origin of the Species, naturally selected not to mention one word about how all this actually originated. My, my! Slight oversight there, Chuck.
Soooo, wanting to give credit where credit is due, I wandered over to www.darwinday.org. Interesting website. One of the links on the home page takes you to a page that instructs you on how you can participate in Duh Day. The first suggestion is “Sponsor and produce a [sic] annual Darwin Day event.” (The particular Darwinian who wrote this has not yet evolved into high school grammar.) As I pondered what would be the best event to commemorate Duh Day, several ideas came to mind. But before I share my ideas here is the official Duh Day Challenge for both my readers: What event can you think of to properly pay homage to ole Chuck-E (for evolution)-Cheesy D?
Here are a few suggested events for Duh Day:
1. As per the title, take a monkey to lunch or work or school. Since you are only an ape in designer jeans (not with Designer genes), what a fitting way to celebrate.
2. Take someone weaker than you to the gas chamber. Oh, sorry, the Nazi’s already did that one. But if you are truly Darwinian, you in your superiority get to choose who the weaker ones are.
3. A little commercial here: The very best way to celebrate Duh Day will be to make plans now to take a friend to see the new movie Expelled when it comes out this spring.
Charles Colson has an interesting commentary on Duh Day at his website recognizing PETA as the perfect example of Darwinism carried to its logical convulsion, er conclusion. Here is a brief quote:
What does that have to do with Darwinism? Everything. To a Darwinist, you see, there is no distinction between human beings and animals. We all came about by chance; we are made of the same “stuff,” and we all end up as nothing more than dust. Instead of recognizing humans as bearers of God’s image, Darwinism sees us as nothing more than competitively successful bipeds with opposable thumbs. Forget any talk of human dignity.” (http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=7522)
OK, answer the challenge. What creative way can you think of to celebrate Duh Day? Post it here."
Monday, February 2, 2009
Point 1: The followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are the church. All followers of all time are the universal church. Those in a particular area who have committed themselves to the Lord and one another are a local church. Those are the only kinds of churches the Bible mentions. But…again…the church is THE PEOPLE.
Point 2: Wherever the church is it ought to be salt and light in the world.
Matt. 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
That is, every member of the church, wherever he/she is touching the community/world, ought to be “letting the light of Christ shine through them” into the darkness of the world. Our mindset ought to be that we are THE church ministering “justice and mercy and faithfulness” everywhere we go.
Matt. 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Mic. 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
We are the church. We are the church of the living Lord Jesus Christ. When we leave the “meeting place” we are still the church. He has chosen us and saved us and filled us with power from on high to go into the world and shine as light in the world so that the world will see our “justice and mercy and faithfulness” and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 9:20 Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men! (ESV)
As I read these words this morning just after reading the morning newspaper, I was struck with a profound awareness of the arrogance of humanity, especially those who are public figures of any stripe. Without naming names or pointing fingers at individuals (which would be unfair because of all those who would be left out), it is safe to say this is a chronic human malady. And, so that you will know, without question I am including myself and others who are “religious leaders.”
Stark Humility (Psalm 8): David considers only God’s creation, not even moving into the vast, infinite regions of all that God is in and of Himself. And with that limited view of only the heavens he is awestruck that the Creator of these things would give one nanosecond of thought to us little humans. And yet, he goes on to point out the place of high honor that the Creator God has given to us.
Demolishing Arrogance (Psalm 9:20): What could be more instructive and rehabilitating than for us all to become fully aware that we are humans. However, that this is exactly what we are and all that we are and all that we ever will be. Yes, nations, there is One Who is infinitely other than us. He is the Eternal, Creator God, before Whom we are mere men.
Selah: Pause & think!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Christians of the USA, if there is anything we ought to be able to unite about in relation to our nation, this is certainly one. Let's commit ourselves to praying for Barack Obama and his family. The Christians in early Rome prayed for the Caesars ("kings and all in authority"). How could we do less?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Opening Inaugural Activities
January 18, 2009
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson prayed:
"O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
Actually, some of what he prays for are things with which all who are truly Christian could agree. My concern is with his addressing the prayer "O God of our many understandings." As a friend of mine said, it's a prayer "To whom it may concern." At least a Muslim would address his prayer to Allah or a Buddhist to Buddha.
I have no problem with Gene Robinson or anyone of other faiths praying to their gods. I think of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. He didn't say to prevent the prophets of Baal from praying to their god. In fact, he encouraged them to "call him louder." Elijah was concerned with neither the prayers nor the gods. We who worship the Lord Jesus Christ today know that prayers offered to God through His Mediator Jesus Christ are the prayers which God receives. We make no apology for thinking that. It is at the core of what we believe.
As I said, some of what the bishop prayed was good. Too bad he wasn't talking to the right Person.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Call of an Aborted Child…
by Kayla Sweeney
Can you hear my voice!?
In the wind a mere breath,
Not a name but a choice,
And I was chosen for death.
Growing and changing,
they said “its not yet alive,”
turned to night
In the womb I was inside.
No chance to see,
No chance to breathe,
No chance to take my heart and sing.
No chance to shout,
No chance to cry,
No chance to scream, to laugh, to sigh.
I merely had the chance to die,
or the life to buy.
Can you hear my voice?!
I’m Gods very own,
Before the coming of your choice,
I was still always known,
He knitted me,
and molded me,
and thought of me,
unfolded me, (Psalm 139)
knew in and out the whole of me,
Before the “accident” came to be.
Can you hear my voice?!
Who could I have been??
Without your choice,
If I had the chance to begin,
The messenger God chose to send,
More than just a breath in the wind.
A soldier for Christ,
I guess we’ll never know…
You paid the price.
Can you hear my call!?!
I was life to be lived,
Instead killed, murdered, my future hid
I am life!
Do not remain blind,
From the beginning God kept me in his mind.
DO YOU HEAR ME?
But it all fades in the distance,
In your mind you're still doubting,
my life or existence.
My scream can’t be heard,
I have no way to call,
My life has been blurred
from the start of it all…
I ask, can you hear me….
I guess you never will,
God brought life to me,
But you chose to kill.
I grieve for the 50,000,000 innocent unborn children in this country who have died since 1973. I am deeply fearful that, having elected a president who wishes to remove any and all restrictions on any kind of abortion, those numbers will grow exponentially in the future. But even if they don't grow, one is still too many.
I am grieved in my heart over the numbers of those who profess to be mature, serious Christians who say we should stop making such a big deal about abortion. When I know the Scripture teaches of God's creation of human life in the womb. When I remember that no society in history which has embraced infanticide has survived, I know that absent the miraculous grace of God in spiritual awakening this country's days are limited—a fate we will have brought on ourselves.
God forgive us. God have mercy on us.