Friday, December 21, 2012

We're Not The Enemy

I want to address something that has been heavy on my heart the last couple of years, and has been even heavier over the last several weeks.  I am very disturbed by what see by many of my Independent Baptist brethren and other Fundamentalists concerning those that aren't Independent Baptist, or those that don't hold to the same convictions and preferences.  I am seeing Christians treating other Christians like they are an enemy rather than their brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are supposed to be in the same family; we are going to spend all of eternity together with each other and with Christ.  So, why then do we see Christians treating other Christians like they are the enemy?

I would like share my own personal experience concerning this very subject.  I was saved, baptized, married, called to preach, and called to the mission field in the same Independent Baptist church.  Until 2008, I had only known this one church.  I had several big name IFB pastors on my ordination council like Dr. Bobby Roberson and Dr. Melvin Aiken.  In 2010, God called me to be the Pastor of Fairystone Baptist Church, which is a Southern Baptist church.  It was interesting how much things with "the brethren" changed, even though my doctrine had NOT changed, simply because I was now the Pastor of a Southern Baptist church.

Over the last several weeks I have seen many Christians criticizing and blasting other Christians simply because they do not have the same preferences that many have elevated to the level of doctrine.  I have seen Christians having a self-righteous attitude like the Pharisee from Luke 18 instead of having the attitude of the Publican.  It grieves my heart to see Christians condemning other Christians just because they don't have the same preferences or convictions.  Even more, how it must grieve the heart of Christ and please Satan, that the Body of Christ is so divided.

I would love nothing more than to be able to fellowship with many of my IFB and other Fundamentalist brethren, but I have found that they don't want to fellowship with me.  I am not living in sin or out of fellowship with God; I just happen to have different preferences and convictions.  I am not your enemy; we are supposed to be on the same side in this battle.  As a Southern Baptist Pastor, I would like to say that it is very hurtful that many of our IFB brethren look at us and treat us like we are the enemy, even though doctrinally we are no different on the fundamentals of the faith.

I asked the question earlier, why do we see Christians treating other Christians like the enemy?  The only answer that I can come up with is that their heart is not right.  God help us and forgive us!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making Some Changes

Changes!  Changes!  Changes!

I wanted to take some time and let everyone know about some of the changes that I am making concerning my blog.  I am really excited about these changes!

Vantage Point

The first change that you will notice is the name of the blog.  I have changed the name of this blog to Vantage Point.  The posts here will be devoted to seeing the world through the lens of Scripture and developing a Biblical worldview.  I will be dealing with the issues that Christians are facing in our culture and world today and sharing thoughts on them through the lens of God's Word to help us develop a Biblical worldview.

What Happened To The Pastor's Perspective?

I have created another blog for The Pastor's Perspective @ where I will still be posting a daily devotional as time allows.  Please go by and visit the new address for The Pastor's Perspective so you can still follow it!  I am also working on a website for The Pastor's Perspective @ where you will be able to follow both blogs as well as the radio program that is hosted on Blog Talk Radio.  The new blog is already up and running, but it will be another couple of weeks before the new website is completely finished.

Why The Change?

You might be asking why I am making these changes.  My new blog Vantage Point will be totally devoted to writing about current events and issues that Christians are facing in our culture and examining those events through the lens of God's Word.  The Pastor's Perspective Blog will be totally devoted to devotionals and thoughts that will encourage and help you grow in your walk with Christ.  I want to keep the blogs separate because I don't like to mix politics with preaching God's Word.

Please be sure to update your bookmarks with the updated addresses for both blogs.

The Pastor's Perspective Blog

Vantage Point Blog

The Pastor's Perspective Website

Note:  Both blogs will be available on the new website along with the radio program

Friday, July 20, 2012

Power Of Prayer

"...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." - James 5:16

I would like to take a little time this week to talk about the most important thing in the life of the Christian, but it is also the most neglected, and that is prayer.  Here is what E.M. Bounds had to say about prayer: "We can do nothing without prayer. All things can be done by importunate prayer. It surmounts or removes all obstacles, overcomes every resisting force and gains its ends in the face of invincible hindrances."

You might be asking yourself right now how I can be so sure that there is power, when those that have been born again, begin to pray.  I know that there is power in prayer because of what our family has experienced over the last several weeks.

Many of you know that our youngest son, Brayden, was hospitalized a couple of weeks ago due to the fact that he had been vomiting for over a week with no end in sight.  I will never forget how I felt on Wednesday July 4, 2012; I literally felt like I was watching my little boy slowly die.  I will also never forget that day for another reason, because that is when God's people began to pray for Brayden.  First, we sent out a message to the prayer chain at our church and asked them to pray for Brayden and for wisdom for the doctors that were treating him .  Then we began to post on Facebook about the situation and asked our brothers and sisters in Christ to please pray for Brayden.  It was so amazing how quickly the Lord began to put things together and answer the many prayers that were being made for Brayden.

The next day, on Thursday July 5, Brayden was transferred to a Roanoke hospital and their pediatric unit.  We could not begin to imagine how tremendously the Lord had blessed us with this move until we talked with one of Brayden's doctors on Saturday.  On Saturday morning as the doctor came by to talk with us the conversation turned to spiritual things.  We found out that this doctor was a Christian as we talked with him, but I must admit that I was not expecting what he said to us.  Once the doctor found out that we were Christians, he asked us to pray for him because his knowledge was limited.  He went on to tell us about how that he would pray over his patients and ask the Lord to show him what to do.  When I heard this, it literally brought tears to my eyes.  God in His sovereignty and divine providence had given us a doctor that was a Christian!

On Sunday July 8 they did a endoscopy and colonoscopy on Brayden so they could see what was going on with him on the inside.  Again, we sent out something on our prayer chain at church and began to ask our pastor friends to have their churches pray too.  We also put out a request for prayer to our brothers and sisters in Christ on Facebook.  We could not begin to imagine how many people were praying for our little boy and how far this prayer request had traveled.  After the procedure we finally had a diagnosis of what was happening and what was causing Brayden to be sick.  It wasn't what we were expecting or even what we wanted to hear, but it definitely wasn't the worst that we could have heard.  Even with hearing this bad news, God wasn't done working in the situation.  The next day as Brayden's doctor came by to talk with us more about the diagnosis, we were totally in awe at what happened next.  As the doctor finished talking with us, he went over and closed the door and had prayer with us all.

Through everything that has happened to Brayden over the last several weeks, the only thing that I can say about it all is that Jesus Christ has been so good to us and that our family stands in awe of our Savior!  My mind cannot even begin to comprehend how good God has been to us through everything.  The Lord has been so gracious and merciful to us through all of this and it has been an amazing blessing how He has shown His sovereignty and divine providence in this situation.  It is our prayer that Jesus Christ has been glorified through all of this and that He will continue to be glorified as our family moves forward.  Words cannot express how much we appreciate all of our brothers and sisters in Christ praying for our little boy.  We stand in awe at how the Body of Christ has responded to us over the past several weeks. It is our prayer that this situation can be used to show our family and friends that are lost without Christ their need for Him before it is eternally too late.  Again, thank you all so much for the prayers, first and foremost, and the cards, visits, calls, and gifts that were sent to Brayden!  We have been humbled by the tremendous show of prayer and support from the Body of Christ!!!

How do I know that there is power in prayer and that prayer really works?  I have experienced firsthand the results when Christ's people get on their knees and intercede to Him for another family in Christ!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Is Christ Central?

"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." - Ephesians 1:7

‎"If the Lord Jesus Christ is not crucial, central, vital, and occupying the very center of our meditation and our living, thinking, and praying, we have no right to look for revival." - Martin Lloyd-Jones

Here is a question for us to ponder today: Is the Lord Jesus Christ really central in our lives?  It is amazing how many people you can talk to that profess to be Christians but yet you never hear them mention the name of Christ.

Is Christ crucial, vital, and central to your life?  Is Christ at the center of your meditation, living, praying, and worship?  I know that many times I fail to make Christ central in my life.  I might say that He is with my words, but I deny it with my actions.  Could it be that the reason we are not seeing revival in our churches and in our own personal lives is because Christ is not central?  When you and I make Christ central in our lives it will make a difference!

There is a great deal of so-called Christianity that is quite Christ-less.  We must remember that it is all about Jesus Christ, and Him alone!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, may I remember and never forget the centrality of Christ in all things!  Forgive me for denying Your centrality in all things by my actions.  May You occupy my every thought, meditation, and prayer.  Help me to see that You are crucial, vital, and central to my life.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

God's Not Fair

"He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." - Psalm 103:10

Have you ever heard someone make the statement that God is not fair?  I have often heard people ask questions about why God has allowed something to happen in their lives or why God did not stop something from happening.  I have even heard people make the statement that they were not getting what they deserved, and they were not happy about it.  

"Those who would like the God of Scripture to be more purely ethical, do not know what they ask." - C.S. Lewis

I don't know about you, but I am so thankful that God is not fair!  I am also thankful that God does not give me what I deserve!  If God was fair and gave us what we deserved, we ALL would be Hell in this very moment because of our sin and rebellion against Him.  You and I deserved the judgment and wrath of God, but instead He gave us forgiveness, redemption, and sanctification when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation.  I am so thankful that God gave me what I DID NOT deserve, mercy and grace!

The reason why most people think that God is not fair is because they start with a false premise; they naturally assume that they are a good person.  Have you ever heard someone ask the question of why bad things happen to good people?  The truth is, according to God's Word, there are NO good people (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10,23).  A better way of stating it would be that good things happen to bad people.  When we look at it that way, it will change everything!  

We are so quick to ask why something bad happens, but we hardly ever stop and ask why God might bless us with something good.

"Fairness is an excellent principle when we're good, but an unfortunate principle when we're not so good.  And when it comes to God, we are pretty much always going to be on the no-so-good side of the fairness equation. But we can be glad that God is not fair; we don't get what we deserve.  Instead of punishment we get death-defying grace.  And we get God with us, especially in the midst of life's most difficult and painful experiences." - Craig Groeschel

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that You are not fair!  Thank You for not giving me what I deserved, but instead You gave me mercy and grace.  Father, help me to remember that You are good all the time!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shedding Of Blood

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." - Hebrews 9:22

Since today is Memorial Day, I would like to share a quick thought about the shedding of blood.  First, I would like say thank you to all of our veterans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country!  It is only because they were willing to shed their blood that we can be free!

Today, as we reflect on the sacrifices made by so many people sown through the history of our country, let us not forget the One who made the supreme sacrifice for ALL of mankind!  Without the shedding of blood we would have no freedom in this country, but more importantly, without Jesus Christ shedding His blood on the Cross we would have no hope of eternal life.  It is only because of the blood that Christ shed on the Cross and His finished work of redemption that we even have the possibility of eternal life.  If Christ had not willingly sacrificed His life on the Cross for our sins, everything would be in vain and we would utterly be without hope.

However, I am so thankful today that Christ did go to the Cross and that He willingly shed His blood for my sins because of his love for me.  I am so thankful that He took the punishment that I deserved and gave me what I did not deserve; mercy and grace.  So today as you celebrate Memorial Day and reflect on the sacrifices that our veterans have made for this country, do not forget the sacrifice that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords made for you on the Cross.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for our country and the men and women who have given their blood to protect us and keep us free.  More importantly, thank You for coming to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ and taking my sin upon You on that Cross.  You took the punishment that I deserved by taking my place.  Thank You Lord for making that sacrifice so that I might be saved and have eternal life all because of Your love for me!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My Failure

"All that the church and its members need for the manifestation of the mighty power of God in the world, is the return to our true place, the place that belongs to us, both in creation and redemption - the place of absolute and unceasing dependence on God." - Andrew Murray

I just want to share a quick thought this Sunday before church.  I was reading a passage by Andrew Murray this morning in my devotions and I came across this quote and the Lord just spoke to my heart about it.

Do you desire to see the power of God manifested in your church?  What about you personally, do you desire to see God's power manifested in you and through you?  I would hope that we all would answer yes to both of those questions.  

I can honestly say that I truly long to see God's power manifested in our church and in my life personally, but I can't honestly say that I have really seen it.  When I don't see it in our church or in my life, I get very down and very discouraged.  Why don't I see it?  It is a very simple question that has a very obvious answer.  I don't see the mighty power of God manifested in our church and in my life personally because the church is not in the right place, and neither am I.  That is a pretty tough pill to swallow, but it is the truth.  When I do not see the power of God manifested in my life, it is because I am not in the right place, the place that belongs to me and the church both - the place of absolute and unceasing dependence on Christ.

What about you?  Are you in the place of absolute and unceasing dependence on Christ?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for not being in the right place, a place of absolute and unceasing dependence on You.  Help me to be in that place of absolute and unceasing dependence on You so that Your mighty power would be manifested in and through my life.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Faithful In Prayer

"Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me." - Psalm 66:20

During my 10 years in the ministry, I have found that the most important church service is also the most neglected and poorly attended service, the midweek prayer and Bible study.  If you were to announce that you were having some form of entertainment you would be amazed at the turnout, but announce that you are meeting to spend time in prayer and hardly anyone shows up.  Why is this?  The answer is simple, Christians do not have the right priorities.  Even in our unfaithfulness to God, He is still faithful to us.

Let's think about our prayer lives for just a moment.  Think about how faithful God has been to hear our prayers even we have not been so faithful to commune with Him in prayer.  Notice what Charles Spurgeon says about this: "Oh! it is marvellous that the Lord should regard those intermittent spasms of importunity which come and go with our necessities. What a God is he thus to hear the prayers of those who come to him when they have pressing wants, but neglect him when they have received a mercy; who approach him when they are forced to come, but who almost forget to address him when mercies are plentiful and sorrows are few."  If we are honest, we all would have to admit our neglect to be faithful to God in prayer; we only call on Him when we are desperate.  Even with that said, God is still faithful and merciful, not only to hear, but also to answer our prayers.  I must admit, I am so guilty of doing this very thing.  When things are going good I tend to slack in my prayer life, but then when things take a turn for the worse I am calling out to God for help.  Let us purpose in our hearts that we are going to be faithful to commune with God in prayer just as much when things are going great as we do when things are going wrong.

Now, let's turn to another aspect of our prayer lives: what about the character and nature of the prayers that we offer to God?  Here is what Spurgeon said about the nature of our prayers: "In looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them."  Let us be totally honest about the character and nature of the things that we pray for.  Sadly, most of the prayer requests that you hear from Christians during the midweek prayer service are very inwardly and carnally focused.  We have gotten away from getting on our faces before God and crying out to Him for the spiritual needs of those around us.  Yet, despite our inwardly and carnally focused prayers, God is still faithful to hear and answer our prayers.

I pray, that because God hears our prayers such as they are, it will touch and stir our hearts to be more faithful to God in our prayer life.  I pray that it will stir our hearts to be more spiritually and eternally minded when we approach our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Are You Satisfied?

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." - Psalm 107:8-9

Have you ever really craved a certain food, and then after finally eating it, you have a feeling of satisfaction but a longing for more of it?  Ever since our family left the country of Paraguay five years ago to come back home, I have had a longing and a desire for many of the foods that we enjoyed while living there.  There are times when I think how awesome it would be to just have one more opportunity to eat some Chipa or to drink a glass of Guarana or to drink a glass of yogurt (yes, I did say drink yogurt.)

As I was reading some during my morning devotions, I came across these verses and the Lord really spoke to my heart.  They give us a glimpse into the character and the nature of God, but they also contain something else very thought provoking and sobering.  As I read verse 9, the Lord began to speak to my heart and deal with me about my own walk with Him.  Am I satisfied?  Does my soul long for Christ?  Is my soul hungry for more of Christ, His Word, His presence, and His power?  The verse says that the Lord will satisfy the longing soul and that He fills the hungry soul with His goodness.  Are you satisfied?  Do you long for Him?  Are you hungry for Him?

At the risk of being looked down upon for my honesty, I am going to be completely honest about my own spiritual life.  To my shame, my soul does not long for Christ they way that I should nor do I hunger for Him the way that I should.  I know that this is the cause many times of me not being satisfied.  If you were to be honest, you would have to say the same.  Oh that you and I would hunger after Christ that we might have more of His Word, His power, and His presence!  If you and I will bring our longing souls to Christ, He will satisfy our souls!

In Psalm 63, David writes about how he thirsted for the Lord as one would thirst for water in a dry wilderness. According to David, life would be nothing without the Lord.  Then we read that David became so engrossed and consumed with the thought of God's love that he meditated on it all night long.

I pray that you and I will bring our longing souls to Christ and allow Him to satisfy that longing!  I pray that we will hunger for Christ and allow Him to fill our hungry souls with His goodness!  Are you hungry for Christ?  Do you long for Christ?  You should!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for falling so short of your perfect standard.  Lord, I pray that you would burn in my heart a hunger and a longing for You!  Father, I pray that You will fill my hungry soul with Your goodness and that You will satisfy my longing soul!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prove It!

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

Have you ever made a statement to someone to have them respond with a statement like this, "Prove it" or something along those lines?

In times of prolonged adversity, we can begin to entertain thoughts that cause us to doubt Christ's love for us.  At some point in our lives, we all have done this.  Satan is going to come to us and try to get us to doubt Christ's love for us.  He is going plant thoughts in our minds like, "If God really loved you, then He wouldn't let this happen" or "If God really loved you, then He would do this for you."  In order to fight this, we must store up truths in our hearts about God from His Word to use as weapons when Satan tries to convince us that we are not loved by Christ.

The most convincing evidence of God's love for us is when He gave Himself in the form of Jesus Christ to suffer and die for our sins on the Cross.  If you look at the verses 6-7 of Romans chapter 5, you see the depth of the love of Christ.

"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." - Romans 5:6

"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare die." - Romans 5:7

First, we see that Christ died for the ungodly.  Secondly, we see that it is inconceivable to someone would even die for a good man or even a righteous man.  This tells us the depths of Christ's love for us, because according to Scripture, we are not righteous and neither are we good.  However, despite what we are, Christ died for us. He took the punishment that you and I deserved, suffering the wrath of God the Father because my sin and your sin was laid upon Him.  What love He demonstrated!  God showed His love for us by meeting our greatest need - paying our sin debt with His own life's blood thus satisfying the wrath of God the Father.

"Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God's love for us." - Jerry Bridges

Jesus Christ has already proved His love for us, and as a result of that, let us prove our love for Christ and demonstrate that love to a lost and dying world!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, thank You for demonstrating and proving Your love for me through Christ's death on the Cross.  Forgive me for the times when I doubt Your love for me due to my circumstances.  Help me to prove my love for You and demonstrate that love to those around me.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Justifying & Condemning

"He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD." - Proverbs 17:15

I have read through the book of Proverbs many times and I never noticed this verse they way I did last night as I was reading before going to bed.  I just want to share a few thoughts on justifying and condemning.

There are a lot of sins that are mentioned in God's Word, there are some that God says He hates, and then there are those that God says are an abomination.  If you look up the definition of the word abomination, here is what you find: 1. anything abominable; anything greatly disliked or abhorred 2. intense aversion or loathing 3. a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit.  This puts it in perspective how the Lord feels about certain things when He said they are an abomination.

Notice what the Lord says in this verse; He says the person who justifies the wicked is an abomination, but He also says the person that condemns the just is also an abomination.  The Lord Jesus Christ told us in the Gospels that the day would come when this would happen.  He said that people will persecute true Bible believing Christians thinking that they are doing God's will and doing society a favor.  Let's face it, we live in a society where wickedness is exalted and you are condemned for obeying and following God's Word.

However, with all of the above being said, I want to look at this verse in a different light for just a moment.  How many times have you and I been guilty of justifying the sin(s) in our own lives while at the same time we condemn others for the sin(s) in their lives?  Ouch!!!  The Lord laid that thought on my heart as I was reading this verse last night.  Many times we look our own sin as no big deal, or that God is somehow going to make an exception for us, but we condemn others for their sin and act as if God cannot or will not forgive their sin.  Then concerning the last part of the verse, many times we are also guilty of that one too.  How many times have you and I not had our hearts right with God bringing us to the place where we condemn those that are right with God?  If we all are honest, we will admit that we are guilty of this.  We look at the person living right and being obedient to Christ and we mock them or we tear them down because we are justifying our own sin and wickedness.

Lord help us as Your children to NEVER justify sin and wickedness whether it be in our society or in own hearts.  Then, Lord help us to NEVER condemn the just due to our disobedience and to the fact that our own hearts are not right with you.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will search my heart and reveal ANY wickedness in me.  Help me to NEVER justify my own sin and disobedience to Your Word.  Help me to Never condemn those who are being obedient to You because of the sin and wickedness in my own heart.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Playing Church & Playing Games With Christ

"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know who thou oughtest to be have thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." - 1 Timothy 3:15

I just want to share a quick thought with everyone today.  I have been observing the landscape of our churches over the last several months, especially in the last week or so.  I have come to the conclusion that we have a lot of people in "American Christianity" that are simply playing church.  Now, I am sure that to many of you this does not come as any surprise or new revelation.

In light of remarks that were made by our President last week, we have begun to see a separating of true Bible believing Christians and those that profess the name of Christ, yet openly disobey His Word and make no apologies for it.  This division is only going to get clearer as we get closer to Christ coming back for His Church.  The bottom line is that we are going to find who is truly following Christ and who is just playing church and playing games with Christ.  Like I said before, the sad reality is that we have so many people today who are just playing and pretending, not ever taking what Christ has said seriously.

If you are saved, the Bible says that you will stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account for everything that you have thought, said, done, or things you should have done but didn't.  My question is, do you really believe this?  I am convinced that the majority of those that profess Christ don't really believe this, because if they did it would scare them to death or at least change the way they live.

The world looks at professing Christians and the Church today, and they see something that is not real.  A friend of mine said this the other day, "Sinners and God have something in common, they are looking for something real."  We must show and reflect that Christ and the Church is real to us!

The bottom line is that professing Christians have become good at playing church and playing games with Christ, just as good as a politician is at playing politics.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me, that when others see my life, they see something real!  By Your grace, help me not to play church or play games with the Christ.  I pray that in every thought, every word, and every action I will be reminded of the fact that I will stand before Christ at the Judgment Seat to give an account.  Give me the strength to stand for you in the days that lie ahead, no matter the cost!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Where Is The Church?

"And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." - Acts 17:6

Over the last several months I have been burdened by a single question, where is the Church?  The Church in the book of Acts is accused of turning the world upside down.  Sadly, the only thing that the Church could be accused of today is selling out.  We are such a far cry from what the Church is supposed to be as read in the book of Acts.

Have you ever heard another church member recalling a story that ended with one of these statements:

"That church split over the color of the carpet!" or "The deacons meeting ended in an actual fight!" or "She walked up and slapped the pastor across the face!" or "She actually flipped the pastor the middle finger in a business meeting!"

You might be thinking that those statements sound extreme and that something like that would never happen.  I can tell you from personal experience that these things do happen.  The last example of someone flipping the pastor the middle finger in a business meeting actually happened to me last year.  Many Christians could share stories with you that defy the imagination.  Let me emphatically say that church is not supposed to be this way!

All you have to do is look around the community that you live in and you will see people that are hurting, people that need someone to love them and care about them, people that need someone to show them Christ.  Where is the Church?  We have gotten so caught up in our theology, our programs, and ourselves that we have quit being the Church!  What will it take to break our hearts for people in our communities?  What happened to  Christians helping their neighbors with a need?  What happened to Christians donating their time to the food bank or homeless shelter?  What happened to Christians just showing a simple act of kindness so that they might show and reflect the love of Christ?  Now please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that we should do all of these things in place of witnessing and sharing the Gospel of Christ with the lost.  We must do all these things in conjunction with witnessing and sharing the Gospel of Christ with the lost.

May God break our hearts for those in our community!  May God so burden our hearts and our souls that we will start being the Church by showing a radical love and compassion for those in our communities.  I am all for having the right theology and doctrine, but those things are worthless if it doesn't radically change our lives and compel us to show unbelievable compassion to those in our community.

‎"The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way." - Oswald Chambers

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I pray that You would break my heart for those in my community!  Break my heart for their souls, their needs, and their burdens.  Help my to show them Christ's love in every way imaginable!  Give me a radical love and unbelievable compassion for those that are lost, those that are hurting, and those that just need to see that someone cares.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hiding His Word In Our Hearts

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." - Psalm 119:11

First, let me say that it is good to be back blogging!  Last week we had a Prophecy Conference at FBC with Dr. Billy Martin.  It was a great week, but I did not have the opportunity to update my blog at all last week.

I want to share something that has been heavy on my heart over the last several months.  I have observed that our churches seem to be severely lacking when it comes to God's Word.  The statistics are very disturbing to say the least.

  • Only 16% of churchgoers read the Bible everyday.
  • Only 32% read the Bible at least once a week.
  • Only 37% say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives.

We must do something about this!  As I said, the statistics are very disturbing to say the least.  Just a little over 1/4 of our congregations are reading their Bibles only one time each week.  It is no wonder that our churches are in the shape that they are in!  Could you imagine only eating physically one time a week?  Most of us couldn't even imagine eating only one time a day.  We all know that if we skip eating that we are not going to grow physically; in fact, we are going to get weaker.  Why is that we do not apply the same standard to our spiritual lives?  How can we expect to grow spiritually if we are never in God's Word, or if we just read it once a week?  We are spiritually starving ourselves to death!

The most disturbing of these statistics to me is that only 37% say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives.  This should not be!  If you are truly a child of God, every time that you read God's Word, it should radically change you!  I truly believe that what we have in many of our churches is a bunch of lost people trying to read the Bible and understand it, which is the problem.  I hear so much about how people say that they cannot understand the Bible.  Now let me be very clear, even as a Christian, you are not going to understand everything you read in the Bible, but you should have a general understanding.  As a child of God, when you read His Word it should convict you and stir your heart, it will change you!

I believe one of the biggest contributing factors to this epidemic is that many pastors and churches push reading your Bible through every year.  I have heard countless preachers talk about how many times they have read their Bible through during their lives.  I have even heard them make condescending remarks about those who have never read their Bibles through during the year.  It is not important whether or not a person reads their Bible through each year, but rather it is more important that they read their Bibles everyday.  We must encourage our people to get in God's Word everyday, even if they only read a few verses each day.

I will be the first to admit that I don't spend time in God's Word like I should, and if you are honest you would have to admit the same.  Purpose in your heart, that moving forward you are going to spend time in God's Word each day, but more importantly, that you are going to allow His Word to radically change how you live.  Get in the Word!!!

"The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." - Psalm 119:72

"Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction." - Psalm 119:92

"O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day." - Psalm 119:97

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" - Psalm 119:103

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." - Psalm 119:105

"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." - Psalm 119:130

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me to spend time in Your Word each day!  Father, I pray that as I read and study Your Word each day that You would radically change my heart and my life to look more like Christ.  Father, give me a burning desire for Your Word!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

An Open Door

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." - John 10:9

So many times you hear people talking about open doors or praying for God to open doors for them as a means of God revealing His will to them.  Have ever stopped and considered that we might be looking at this thing of "open doors" all wrong?

Here is what Henry Blackaby said about this: "What we are asking God to do is engineer our circumstances to match what we think would be best.  The problem is that we misunderstand what the door is."  That is so true, Jesus said He is the door!  Blackaby goes on to say, "If you have substituted activity for your relationship with Christ, then circumstances can disrupt your activity.  When the activity is hindered, you may assume the door has been closed.  Yet, if Christ is the door in your life, He will guide you into every experience of Him that He wants, and there will be nothing that people can do to stop Him."

I know that I have been completely guilty of this in the past.  I did not have a proper understanding of what the door was.  The door is not opportunities or circumstances, the door is Jesus Christ Himself!  I'm afraid that there are many today in our churches who do not have the proper understanding of what the door is and Who the door is.  So many times from a human perspective we look around us at the circumstances and think that the door is closed for us; however, from God's perspective, we are exactly where God wants us to be.

So many times when people oppose us we become discouraged or we worry about what others are doing to us.  We are also guilty, many times, of trying to take matters into our own hands and accomplish what we think is the will of God.  Notice what Blackaby says about taking matters into our own hands: "This reveals that we do not really believe Jesus is the door for our lives.  If we did, we would be assured that through Christ we have access to everything He wants us to do in and through us."

Are you guilty of asking God to engineer circumstances in your life to match what you think is best?  We all have been guilty of this at some point, especially me.  Do you really believe that Jesus Christ is the door for your life?  If He is, then you can be assured that Christ will guide you into every experience of Him that He wants.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times when I have asked you to engineer circumstances in my life to match what I want or what I think is best.  Help me to realize that Christ is the door for my life and that You will lead me into every experience of You and put me exactly where I need to be at the exact time I need to be there.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's That?

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." - Acts 17:11

I apologize that I have not been blogging over the last several days.  I am trying to get back into my normal morning routine, so here we go!

Today, I want to do something that is a little different than normal.  Have you ever heard the words exegesis and eisegesis?  If you are like most of people, you are probably saying to your self right now, "What's that?"

Exegesis - an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, starting with the text and moving out from there.

Eisegesis - to import a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text.

I am afraid that most of us have been taught to interpret the Bible through eisegesis, by bringing our own preconceived ideas and beliefs of what we have been told the text says.  However, that is absolutely unscriptural to do so.  Notice above in Acts 17:11 that the Bereans received the Word with all readiness of mind and that they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was accurate.  What a huge difference we see in how they received and studied the Word than what you see in our modern day church culture!

When we interpret the Bible through eisegesis we start with an idea or conviction, then we search for Bible verses to prove our point.  This is very dangerous because we can take verses out of context to support just about any point of view.  We see this so much in many of our Evangelical and especially in our Fundamental churches.  When we interpret the Bible through eisegesis alone, we are going to have a twisted view of Scripture.

We must learn to interpret the Bible through exegesis, where we attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, without bringing any of our preconceived ideas about the text.  I want you to notice what Francis Chan has to say about exegesis: "I was taught to interpret the Scriptures through exegesis alone.  Start with God's Word; pray that the Spirit gives you clarity; then study to see what the text actually says.  The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible, so who better to help us as we seek to understand it!  Scripture tells us that the Spirit not only inspired the Bible, but also illumines it for us today."  If you will honestly and sincerely study the Bible through exegesis alone, it will surprise you how much of the Bible that you were actually misinterpreting before and taking totally out of context.

You and I can easily pursue just about any lifestyle we desire and then find Scripture to show everyone that it is alright to live that way.  We see this being done by many Christians in our churches today, and we also see it being done by many pastors from behind the pulpit.  Here is the question that I have for you, what would it look like for you and I to live exegetically?  If you and I were to start with Scripture and allow it to dictate our actions, how would you and I live?

The bottom line is that we have so many Christians and even pastors today that are interpreting the Bible through eisegesis and not exegesis.  As we approach God's Holy Word, we must lose all of our preconceived notions and beliefs about what we have been told that it means, and we must search the Scriptures for ourselves through exegesis alone.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, as I read Your Word, help me to lose all of my preconceived ideas about the text and allow Your Spirit to guide me in understanding.  I pray that as I read through Your Word that the Holy Spirit would open my eyes to what the passage is actually saying and help me to apply that truth to my life.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do We Really Trust Him?

"And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.  And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece." - Luke 9:2-3

Most of us at some time or another have made the statement "I am trusting the Lord."  It seems to me that we make that statement flippantly, without giving it a whole lot of thought as to the gravity of what it actually means to trust the Lord.  My question for us is, do we really trust Him?

Notice that as Jesus sends out His twelve disciples He tells them to take nothing with them - no staff, no bread, no money, and no extra coat.  How many of us would be willing to take a trip like that?  Do you trust Christ enough to do that?  Modern day "American Christianity" would say that it is ridiculous to take the words of Christ so literally, but is it really?

We are left with the question of why Jesus would require this of His disciples, why would He not simply let them go home first and pick up a few things to take with them?  The answer is simple, Jesus was forcing His disciples to trust Him.  Christ would have to come through for them because they had nothing else to fall back on.  Unfortunately, "American Christianity" knows nothing of this kind of trust.  We have it burned into our minds from the time we are children that we need to have something to fall back on in case it doesn't work out. Now please don't misunderstand me, there is a fine line between faith and stupidity.

I want to share with you a quote from Francis Chan's book Crazy Love:  "This place of trust isn't a comfortable place to be; in fact, it flies in the face of everything we've been taught about proper planning.  We like finding refuge in what we already have rather than in what we hope God will provide.  But when Christ says to count the cost of following Him, it means we must surrender everything.  It means being willing to go without an extra tunic or a place to sleep at night, and sometimes without knowing where we are going."

Again, modern day "American Christianity" knows nothing of that kind of trust.  We all have way too much in the way of material possessions and we all spend way too much money on things that have no eternal significance.  How many of us are willing to downsize our incomes and our lifestyles to get to the point where we have nothing to fall back on except Christ Himself?  Would you be willing to give up some of your luxuries and conveniences so that you might give more money to missions or so that you might be able to help the poor in your community?  One of the things that our family gave up was our satellite television.  We were spending about $90 per month on satellite.  We decided that it was more important to take that money and invest it in eternity by using it to support missionaries financially each month.  Now I am not saying that you have to do exactly what we did, but I would ask you to pray and ask God what you could surrender to Him so that you might invest in eternity.

I pray that you will allow God to speak to your heart about surrendering ALL to Him and coming to the place where you have nothing else to fall back on but Jesus Christ.  Are you willing to come to the place of total trust in Christ?  Do you really trust Him?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me to come to the place of complete and total dependence on You for my needs.  May I not trust in my abundance or what I have to fall back on, but may I come to the place where You are the only One I have to fall back on!  Help me to be willing to surrender everything to you!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Happened To Our Tears?

"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" - Jeremiah 9:1

I have a question that I would like to ask churches, pastor, and all Christians.  What happened to our tears?  What happened to our brokenness?  What happened to our burden for the lost and the backslidden?  This is something that I have been burdened and bothered about for a while now.  It seems that our churches and the Christians that occupy them have lost their tears and their brokenness for the world around them.  Compare that in contrast to the words of Jeremiah in the above verse.  He was known as the weeping prophet.  God help us today to be weeping Christians!

If you were to attend the typical midweek prayer service in most churches today you would find much of the prayer time occupied by shallow self-centered prayer requests.  Please don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to be rude or ugly, but rather be completely honest about the state of our churches.  If we are to honestly examine ourselves and what we pray for, it should trouble us.  Most of the time we spend more time praying to keeps saints out of Heaven than we do sinners out of Hell.

What happened to Christians specifically calling the names of people who are lost, on their way to Hell, and desperately need to be saved?  What happened to Christians coming forward to the altar and weeping for lost people to be saved?  I'm afraid that we have become to concerned with upsetting or offending someone by saying that they are lost an headed for Hell without the blood of Christ applied to their hearts and lives.  What happened to Christians weeping and shedding tears for those in the church who have fallen into sin and thus are not right with God?  What happened to us calling out there names, begging God for them to repent of their sin and get their hearts right?  Again, I'm afraid that we are so worried about upsetting or offending them that we keep quiet.

Is it any wonder why we are not seeing people saved like we used to or why we do not see the power of God upon our churches as we did 60 or 70 years ago?  When will we wake up and realize that we must get our tears back?  We must allow Christ to break our hearts for those around us that are hurting, lost, and desperately in need of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Instead of showing anger, hostility, arrogance, or a condescending attitude toward those who are lost, may God completely and totally break our hearts for their souls!  May we be willing to shed some tears and weep over their sin and their need for Christ!

I know that I am at the front of the line when it comes to failing to weep and shed tears over the sins of the lost and their need for Christ.  I pray that God will totally, completely, and utterly break my heart for those that are lost around me!  I pray that God will break the heart of our church for the lost in our community!

Will we allow God to break our hearts for the lost around us?  Are we willing to shed some tears over the lost in our community?  Like Jeremiah, are we willing to weep day and night for others to come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for losing my tears!  Forgive me for my lack of weeping over those that are lost and on their way to Hell without Christ!  Lord, please break my heart for the lost around me and give me a burden and a passion for their souls!  Help me to be willing to weep day and night for those lost in my community to be saved!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are You Thirsty?

"O GOD, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me." - Psalm 63:1-8

Have you ever been thirsty?  If so, do you remember how good it felt to quench your thirst with that drink of water?  Most all of us can relate to being thirsty for a drink of water, but what about being thirsty for God Himself?  Do you have a thirst and a longing for God's presence, His power, His glory, and a thirst for God Himself?

In the Psalm 63 David gives a glimpse into his thirst and desire for God.  David uses some powerful language to describe the depths of his thirst and desire for the Lord.  David is in the wilderness, fleeing from Absalom, and we see his cry for God.  Could you imagine being in a land where there is no water?  How much would you desire to have just a drop of water?  Think about how much more we should thirst after God and desire just to be with Him.

David had a deep longing to experience God's presence.  What about you?  Do you have a deep longing to experience God's presence in your life?  David longs for communion with God, he longs to have fellowship with God.  What about you?  Do you long for communion with God? David says that God's lovingkindness is better than life, essentially saying that without God life would be nothing.  Would your life be nothing without God, or could you go on living like nothing had changed?  In verse 6 of this Psalm, David becomes so engrossed with the thought of God's love, he mediates on it all night long.  Have you ever become so engrossed and captured by God's love that you meditated on it all night long?

Are you thirsty for God?  Do you have a deep longing to experience God's presence in a way like never before?  It is my prayer that you will have a burning desire to experience God's presence and a passion for Christ like you have never had before.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, may I have a thirst and a deep longing for Your presence in my life.  Help me to be like David in this Psalm.  May I become so engrossed with Your love that I meditate on it day and night!  Burn within my heart a passion for You like never before!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How Is It Possible?

"Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number." - Jeremiah 2:32

Over the last several days, I have begun to read through the book of Jeremiah.  I have read through it before, but this time Jeremiah has come alive to me in a way like never before.  As I was reading yesterday, I came across this verse in chapter 2 that really stood out to me and spoke to my heart.

Could you imagine a bride forgetting her dress on the day of her wedding?  She shows up at the church ready to marry her soon to be husband, but there is one small detail that was overlooked, she forgot her dress.  Even though it has probably happened to someone somewhere (I don't put anything past people today), we would say that it would insane for a woman to forget her dress on the day of her wedding.  With that in mind, think about God is saying to His people here in this verse.  The idea that we would forget God should be as preposterous to us as a woman forgetting her dress on the day of her wedding, but God says His people had forgotten Him so long that the days could not be numbered.  To be quite honest, it is hard to wrap your mind around the reality of what the Lord is saying.

Let us bring this verse into our world where you and I live.  Considering all that Christ has done for us when He suffered the agony of the Cross, shedding His blood for our sins, how is it possible that we should forget Him?  Considering how Christ has been with us every step of the way, how He has wrought such mighty works in our lives, how is it possible that we should forget Him?

The sad reality of this is that, even though it sounds ludicrous that we would forget Christ, we do forget Him.  I am so guilty of this in my own spiritual life.  We are so busy with our lives and living for us that we totally leave Christ out of it and forget about Him.  I know that as a pastor, there are many days when I get so bogged down with administrative things in the ministry, that I forget to spend time with Christ in prayer and His Word.  It is so easy to start your day with all the hustle and bustle, thinking that you will find or make time for Christ later, but later never comes.

Maybe you do not struggle with this, but I know that I do.  According to God's Word, forgetting Him is as preposterous and ludicrous as a bride forgetting her dress on the day of her wedding, but yet we do forget the Lord.  Just like the verse says, I have lost count of the number of times that I have forgotten Christ in some way or another.  What about you?

How is it possible that we can forget about Jesus Christ, considering who He is and what He did?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for all the times that I have forgotten You.  Lord, forgive me for times when I put other things ahead of You, thus forgetting You.  Father, help me by Your power to always remember who You are and what You have done for me.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Serving God Leftovers

"And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts." - Malachi 1:8

Over the last few weeks I have been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  The book has been amazing, unbelievable, and very convicting!  I have been challenged like never before when it comes to my relationship with Jesus Christ.  The chapter that I am currently reading is titled "Serving Leftovers To A Holy God."  If were to honestly and sincerely examine our hearts, we would find that we all are guilty of doing this very thing when it comes to our worship of Christ and our service to Him.

As you read through Malachi chapter 1, you find that is exactly what the nation of Israel was doing when it came to the sacrifices they offered to the Lord.  Instead of offering a sacrifice without spot or blemish, they were offering sacrifices that were lacking; they were blind. crippled, or sick.  The prophet Malachi, speaking for God, asks Israel if they offered a sacrifice like that to their governor if he would accept it or be pleased.  The truth of the matter is that they were offering better to those around them than they were offering to God Almighty, the Creator of all things.

Let's bring this to where we live today.  The majority of professing Christians are no different than the nation of Israel when it comes to this.  We go all out when it comes to something for ourselves, family, or friends; so why can we not do the same for Christ?  I don't want to come off sounding to harsh, but let's be honest with ourselves.  We offer up our best to our employers, to our family, to our friends, and most importantly to ourselves, but we seem to be content to give Christ was is leftover.  As I examined my own life and heart, I came to the realization that I am absolutely and completely guilty of this very thing.  Here are some questions that we should ask ourselves: "How long would I keep my job if I gave my employer the same as I give to Christ?" or "How would my marriage look if I put into it what I put into my relationship with Christ?"

Examine your life, examine your worship, and examine your service to Him.  Are you giving Christ your leftovers?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me to examine my life and my heart to see if I am just simply giving You my leftovers.  Forgive me for the times I have simply given You my leftovers.  Help me, by Your power, to give You my all.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Friday, April 6, 2012

In My Place

"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." - 1 Peter 2:24

Since today is Good Friday, I want to take a few moments to reflect on what Jesus did for me and you on the Cross over 2,000 years ago.  I know most all of us understand and know what Jesus did on the cross, how that He took our place and died for our sins.  However, I do think that far too many Christians don't fully grasp the reality and the true implications of the Cross.  It has become too familiar to us.

"The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God." - Oswald Chambers

‎"Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of Hell were shaken." - Oswald Chambers

When Jesus went to the Cross, He was literally taking our place.  You and I are the ones that deserved to be crucified and suffer like that because our sin and iniquity.  We deserved the brutality of the Cross that Christ endured.  While He was on the Cross, every sin that had ever been committed or that was to be committed, was poured upon Jesus.  God the Father turned His back on His only begotten Son because of your sin and mine.  Mere words cannot even begin to describe the reality of what Christ did for us or how much love He has for us.

I would like for you to read the words to this song "In My Place" by Michael Bleecker.

In my place, He stood condemned
He Who knew no sin became sin for us
That we might become His righteousness

Bearing all my sin and shame
The punishment and blame
He conquered the grave
That we might become the heirs of grace

In my place, Jesus died
The spotless Lamb laid down His life
The wrath of God was satisfied
In my place, Jesus died

Nail pierced hands, bleeding side
His body bruised; my God crucified
A crown of thorns, dying cries
His flesh was torn; my God crucified

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Today, I want to encourage you to spend time reflecting on what Christ did for you on the Cross.  Just have a quiet or silent time where you worship Christ.  Just stand in awe of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross!  He took our sin, our iniquity, our wickedness, and the punishment that we deserved.  In return, He gave us forgiveness, righteousness, redemption, sanctification, and most of all what we did not deserve: mercy and grace!

Thank You Jesus for taking my place!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your mercy and grace!  Thank You for coming to this world in the Person of Jesus Christ and taking my place on the Cross!  Thank You for taking the punishment that I deserved and giving me what I did not deserve: mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Who Are You Living For?

"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Most of us are very familiar with this chapter of 2 Corinthians, especially verse 17.  It is one those verses that most every Born Again Christian can quote, but have you paid much attention to the verses that precede it?  As I was reading one of my devotions this morning, there was something in these verses that stood out to me and really spoke to my heart.  Who am I living for?  Am I living my life for me or am I living my life for Christ?

The implications of these two verses could not be any clearer.  Since we all are spiritually dead and that Christ died for all, then we are no longer to live for us, but rather we are to live for Christ.  Sounds pretty simple, pretty cut and dry, right?  It may sound simple and easy, but it is a hard thing to do many times.  Our flesh still wants to have it's way and have it's lusts and desires fulfilled.  That is why we must daily deny ourselves and crucify our flesh that we might surrender all to Christ and live for Him.  I am so amazed at how many people will profess Christ as their Savior, but yet they still live for themselves.  Jesus Christ purchased our pardon on Calvary and freed us from the penalty of sin, so He has every right to demand that we live for Him and not for ourselves.

If you and I are living for Christ, then it doesn't matter what the church down the road is doing, it doesn't matter what another person says about us, the only thing that matters is that we are living for Jesus Christ and pleasing Him!  In the last couple of days I have seen this played out in our community, people so worried and concerned with others are saying and doing.  Quite frankly, I am not concerned with what others are doing, I have a hard enough time just trying to live my life for Christ.  In the end, it isn't going to matter what someone else did or some other church did, the only thing that is going to matter is whether or not you lived your life for Christ.

So the question is this child of God: are you living your life for you, or are you living your life for Jesus Christ, the One who died for you?  When I examine my life, unfortunately, I am forced to conclude that so many times I am living for me and not for Christ.  What about you?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me to examine my heart today and see whether I am truly living my life for You.  Help me to die daily, to crucify my flesh, surrender all to Christ, and live for Him with my whole heart.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Questioning God

"Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.  Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?  But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased." - Psalm 115:1-3

Colossians 1:16 says "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him."  However, we live as though God is created for us, to do our bidding, to bless us, and take care of those we love.

Psalm 115:3 says "...our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he pleased."  Even in light of that, we constantly are questioning God.  "Why did you make me this way?"  "Why did You allow this to happen?"  "Why are there so many starving children in the world?"  "Why is my family so messed up?"  The answer to all of these questions is simply: because He is God.  Have you ever stopped to consider that God should be asking us why so many people are starving?  Our culture has the attitude that God owes us, His creation, an explanation for why He does what He does.  However, we are in no place to demand that God gives an account of Himself to us.  What is so sad about this is that this attitude has crept into the Body of Christ.  We are constantly questioning God as to why He does this or that.

Look at what the Bible says in Daniel 4:35, "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"  Wow!  That is a pretty sobering statement!

Listen to what Francis Chan says concerning this: "Can you worship a God who isn't obligated to explain His actions to you?  Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation?"  Ouch!!!  This is so true though, it is only our arrogance that causes us to think God owes us anything!

I want to challenge you today not to question why God is or isn't doing something in your life, but rather to simply trust Him and obey Him.  You and I should worship Jesus Christ simply because of Who He is, not because of what He can do for us or even what we want Him to do for us.  When David's baby, he had with Bathsheba, died because of David's sin, he did not question God why, he simply worshiped.

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me not to question You or to demand that You do things the way I think they should be done.  Help me to trust You, obey, You, and simply worship You because of Who You are.  You are worthy of my obedience and my worship no matter what!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Church Bulletin Bloopers

I wanted to do something a little different today.  Since it is Monday, I thought it might be a good idea to get the week started off with a little humor.  Here are some announcements that actually appeared in various church bulletins or were announced during church services.  ENJOY!

"The Fasting & Prayer Conference included meals."

"Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale.  It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Bring your husbands."

"Don't let worry kill you off - let the church help."

"For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs." (one of my favorites)

"Next Thursday will be tryouts for the choir.  They need all the help they can get."

"A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall.  Music will follow."

"The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility."

"This evening at 7PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the church.  Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin."

"Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7PM.  Please use the back door."

"Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled.  Proceeds will will be used to cripple children."

I hope that this helps to get your Monday and your week off to a great start!

Pastor Clint

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Source Of Our Problems

"Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom." - Proverbs 13:10

A preacher friend of mine quoted this Bible verse in one of his posts this morning on Facebook and I decided to go read it and meditate on it for a little while.  As I thought on this verse, the Lord began to speak to my heart about writing something on it today.

It is so sad to see that there is much contention in many churches today and in the lives of many Christians today as well.  Why is that?  What is the reason for it?  The answer is pride, it is the root of all contention.  Pride is at the root of the problems and contentions that we have with others, whether it be in the church or outside the church.  Pride comes natural to us because of our flesh and our lusts.  We don't want to be wronged, we don't want to be corrected, we must have things our way, we are going to give someone a piece of our mind.  We manifest all of these attitudes because of pride.

The Bible tells us that God resists the proud.  In Proverbs chapter 6, we find that a proud look is something that God says He hates.    In contrast, the Bible tells us that God gives grace to the humble.  It also says that God is near to those of broken heart and a contrite spirit.  In light of this, there are several questions that come to mind.  Where is our humility?  Where is our brokenness?  Where is our spirit of contrition?

The solution to this problem is simple; if we want to get rid of contention in our churches, our homes, and our individual lives, we must get rid of our pride.  If we are dying daily to ourselves, our flesh, and our lusts, then there is no reason for us to have pride in our hearts.  However, in "American Christianity" the problem is that we do not die daily to all of these things.  Is it any wonder that we lack the power of God in our churches, pulpits, and our individual lives?

If you look to the middle of the word "Pride" you will find "I" and that says it all!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, help me today to die to my flesh, my desires, and my lusts.  Help me to deny myself and to surrender all to Christ.  Forgive me for my sin of pride in my heart and cleanse me from it.  Give me a spirit of humility, brokenness, and a contrite heart.  Lord, help me to remember, it isn't about me but rather it is ALL about Christ!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Standing In The Gap

"And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.  Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." - Exodus 32:31-32

Without a doubt, the prayer in these verses is one of the greatest intercessory prayers offered in all of Scripture.  The Lord is ready to totally consume the children of Israel because of their sin against Him.  Their sin of idolatry has brought the wrath of God upon them, and rightly so.  They had just been delivered by the hand of God Himself from the bondage of the Egyptians, delivered at the Red Sea, their every need has been provided for, and now they have forsaken the Lord for a golden calf.  Even though they deserved the wrath of God to come upon them, Moses stood in the gap for Israel and interceded to God for them on their behalf.  Moses even told God that if He would not forgive Israel for their sin to blot his own name out of the Lord's book.  WOW, now that is a man that had a burden for the people he was leading!

Where is are the Moses' of today?  Where is that kind of intercessory prayer today?  Even the Apostle Paul was willing to be accursed that Israel might be saved.  Unfortunately, our prayers today have become so self-centered that we have no time to intercede to God for others.  Are we willing to stand in the gap like Moses did for Israel?  Are we willing to intercede to God for those around us that are lost?  Are we willing to intercede to God for those who have backslid on Him?  Have you ever considered that you might be the only one standing in the gap interceding for another person?

We are in desperate need today of people who are willing to stand in the gap and intercede to God just like Moses did!  Lord help us to see our need to stand in the gap and intercede for our homes, our churches, and our nation!

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, when I pray, help me no to simply offer a bunch of self-centered prayers, but help me to stand in the gap and intercede for those around me.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forgetting Where We Came From

"Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." - Exodus 23:9

As I was reading through the book of Exodus the other day, the above verse really stood out to me.  I think that it reveals a fundamental problem that many churches and Christians have when it comes to the lost around them.  I'm afraid too many Christians today have forgotten where they came from.

The word oppress has many meanings, one of them means to put down.  This is the way that many lost people see us Christians.  They see us looking down our noses at them, making condescending statements about them, they see us condemning them rather than condemning their sin.  The Lord warned Moses and the children of Israel not to oppress a stranger.  He told them that they knew what it was like to be a stranger because of their time in bondage to the Egyptians.

As Christians, we must never forget where we came from!  We know the heart of a lost person, because we used to be one.  Before we trusted Christ as our Savior, we were strangers to Him, we were in bondage to our sin and to the world.  The Lord was reminding Israel of how they were treated by the Egyptians and was telling them not to treat strangers the same way.  Think back to your days as a lost person and remember how you felt, think about your burdens, think about your sorrows, and how you just simply needed someone to show you the love of Jesus Christ.  Please do not misunderstand what I saying, we cannot and must not overlook sin or turn a blind eye to it, but we must show those around us that we care.

During Pastors Conference at FBC Jacksonville Johnny Hunt made the following statement, "The longer I'm a part of God's family, the further removed I am from those for who Christ died."  That is such a sobering thought!  Too many Christians in our churches today have isolated themselves in a bubble from the world around them.  The result of this is that they have forgotten where they came from, they have forgotten the heart of a lost person, and they have become cold to the lost.

May God break our hearts and give us a consuming compassion for the stranger and the lost!  Have you forgotten who you were and where you came from before Christ saved you?

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, may I never forget who I was and where I came from before You saved me!  Lord, break my heart for those who are lost and give me a consuming passion for those who are hurting and desperately need You!  Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace demonstrated toward me when You saved my unworthy and wretched soul!  As You have loved me, shown me mercy, shown Your grace to me, forgiven me, help me to do the same to those that are still in bondage to sin.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stop Praying

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? - Psalm 8:3-4


I want to say first of all, please don't let the title of my post today scare you away, bear with me for a little bit.  The other day, I started reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan and he made a statement that just grabbed me. He said, "What if I told you to stop talking to God for a while, but instead, take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word?"  He went on to say, "The wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him."

I want you to check out the video below before you continue reading.

After he first saw the video, Francis Chan said, "When I first saw those images, I had to worship.  I didn't want to speak to or share it with anyone.  I just wanted to sit quietly and admire the Creator."  In Psalm 8, David pondered the same things about God.  When David thought of the heavens, the moon, and the stars that God had created, it was hard for him to comprehend that God would even be interested in man.  David was truly in awe of the majesty and glory of the Lord!

I'm afraid that when we pray, we approach the Lord too casually, and do not approach Him in awe of His majesty and glory.  Before you pray the next time, stop and just stand in awe of Jesus Christ and all that He has done.  May you and I be gripped by the reality of our smallness and by the reality of the bigness of our God!

"Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God." - R.C. Sproul

Prayer For Today:

Heavenly Father, I stand in awe of Your majesty, glory, and power!  In light of that, I see how small, weak, and insignificant I am compared to You.  Help me, because of my smallness, to be gripped by the reality of Your greatness.  May I proclaim to all, How Great Is Our God!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pastor Clint's Recommended Reading List

Here is a recommended reading list that I have put together to be a help to Christians who want to grow closer to Christ in their walk with Him. These are books that have greatly influenced me and my ministry. It is my prayer that your heart will be stirred and challenged as you read through these books. - Pastor Clint

  • Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman
Note: This is quite possibly the best book I have ever read. It should be REQUIRED reading for EVERY church member and maybe even a prerequisite for church membership

  • Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It by Ken Ham
Note: This is a MUST read for ALL parents and ALL pastors! You can't afford not to read it!

  • Radical by David Platt
Note: This is one of the stirring books that I have ever read

  • Radical Together by David Platt
Note: This is a wonderful book for churches to read together after reading Radical

  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
Note: This is the BEST modern day work on prayer there is out there

  • When Worlds Collide: Stepping Up and Standing Out In An Anti-God Culture by Mike & Daniel Blackaby
Note: This is a MUST read for all youth in your church! I would also recommend it to anybody working with young people and pastors as well. A tremendous book!

  • Serving As Senders by Neal Pirolo
Note: This is absolutely the BEST book on a church's relationship with missionaries period! This should be REQUIRED reading for ALL pastors!

  • Gospel by J.D. Greear
Note: This is a great book for any church member who feels like they sruggle in their walk with Christ. It shows how we must go deeper into the Gospel as we live the Christian life. A MUST read!

  • What Is A Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile
Note: Don't let the Author's name scare you off. This is an excellent book for ALL church members and would be an excellent book to give potential members. Also would be great to teach in Sunday School.

  • Heart Disease In Christ's Body by Jack Van Impe
Note: This is was written in 1984 by Dr. Van Impe before he developed his modern day associations. I would HIGHLY recommend this book. It is TREMENDOUS!

  • The Well by Mark Hall
Note: Written by the lead singer for Casting Crowns. This is a VERY stirring and convicting book! An excellent read! I would HIGHLY recommend this book!

  • Humility by Andrew Murray
Note: This is one of the most convicting books that you will ever read!

  • Foxe's Book of Martyrs by John Foxe
Note: A classic! Not much else needs to be said about this one.

  • The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel
Note: This is one of my favorite books. You will find it very convicting!

  • Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer & Thom Rainer
Note: This is a very good book to take the spiritual temperature of your church.

  • If You Only Knew Me: Seeing Your Pastor From A Different Perspective by Jerry Beaver
Note: This is a MUST read for ALL church members and ALL pastors!

  • God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life: The Myth Of The Modern Message by Ray Comfort
Note: Another book that is a MUST read for ALL church members!

  • A Skeptic's Search For God by Ralph Muncaster
Note: If you have an atheist friend or someone that relies on science, or agnositc, you MUST give them this book. Absolutely the best book out there on the subject period!

  • Hell? Yes!...And Other Outrageous Truths You Can Still Believe by Robert Jeffress
Note: This is a great book to give to a person that has trouble with Hell or other controversial subjects in our culture today.

  • Driven To The Edge: A Biblical Examination Of Suicide by Randy Raynes
Note: This is the only book to date that I have come across that deals with this subject in a Biblical manner.

  • Stop Dating The Church by Joshua Harris
Note: This is a great book for those who seem to have trouble making the commitment to a local church.

  • I Am A Fundamentalist by John R. Rice
Note: This book is out of print and very hard to come by, but if you can find it, get it! Dr. Rice's position on many things in the book will surprise you. A MUST HAVE!

  • More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell
Note: This is another excellent book to give a skeptic, agnostic, or atheist. This book is on a more basic level than some others, but it is excellent!

  • Thinking Outside The Box by Charles Keen
Note: This is another great book on missions! The name of the book says it all.

  • One Heartbeat Away by Mark Cahill
Note: Hands down the BEST book to give to ANY lost person! It presents the Gospel in a very Biblical way!

  • Power In The Pulpit by Jerry Vines & Jim Shaddix
Note: This is a tremendous work on expository preaching! This is a MUST have for ALL preachers!