Thursday, October 1, 2009
It’s like we get into this weird conspiracy mindset and actually invent history to promote our view.
I’ve heard so many different ideas of the history of Halloween that I don’t know what to believe! Some say it is Satan’s holiday and others show that it has been celebrated as a church holiday used to celebrate the early saints (“All Saints Day”) !
Nevertheless, there is no question that the current celebration of Halloween has a lot of junk associated with it. So, when our kids were all very little, we didn’t participate in it. Instead, we had a special movie night and ate pumpkin pie together.
Now that the kids are getting older, we let them participate as a family witness. For example, we've given out candy with scriptures on them and the kids dressed in fun outfits, not dark ones. Joshua dressed up as a Chik-fil-a cow (I called him a bull!) one year. He was adorable!
I discourage decorating according to dark/evil themes. But pumpkins and fall decorations are appropriate. In other words, don’t celebrate evil in any way. But as long as people are knocking on your door, give them something from the Lord and use it as an evangelism opportunity.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Supralapsarianism means “before the lapse of the Garden.” It's the idea that God decreed, even before the Fall, that some would be saved and others lost.
Infralapsarianism means basically that God made his decisions concerning salvation “after the Fall.”
Doesn't seem to be much difference between the two because both still teach that God ordained who is lost and saved. He permitted the Fall in the infralapsariansism view, while He sort of planned the Fall in supralapsarianism. But practically speaking, the results are the same, as are the major objections.
God certainly has the right to decide who will be saved without sacrificing His character. It makes philosophical and logical sense. But (and this is a big but), it doesn't gel well with passages where God shows deep sorrow over the poor decisions of humanity.
Scripture suggests that God in some way suspended His absolute sovereignty to enable real choices in the human race, otherwise it is illogical for Him to weep over the lost (see Luke 13:34)
 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" and Hosea 11:8 "  How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled."
Why would God's heart be in so much sorrow and why would Jesus long so much for Jerusalem's repentance if it was all decreed before existence? The typical hyper-Calvinist response is that these biblical references are anthropomorphisms and not actual descriptions of God's emotions.
I think that does violence to the Text. At any rate, I think there are probably certain situations where God suspends his sovereignty in some ways (ex. the incarnation itself, the crucifixion, in the realm of prayer--prayer really does move the heart of God, and in some way with the choice to accept or reject Him . . . I do lean toward prevenient grace--the idea that with the cross, the Spirit enabled the world to accept Christ as a real choice, though, technically, even the ability to choose comes from God).
How's that for an answer?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
But I do know Who. God will make all 'wrongs' right one day. I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does and rest assured, He will repair all the damage that this fallen world has caused. We will see that whether it's this side of Heaven or the next.
When I was a boy, my father was killed in a tragic car accident. That event caused me tremendous pain and damage. But God has used that damage to make me more insightful as a pastor and more dependent on Him in my spiritual walk. One day, I'll see my father again and all the pain of the incident will be forever gone, so much so it will be as if it never happened. You see, the epic of history is not over yet. We live for such a brief time compared to eternity. One day, we will see God fix it all and we'll understand. Until then, we must trust. And when we need more faith, we are to run to Jesus for it. He may not give us understanding, but He will give us faith . . . and that is so much better!
When the enemy of your soul attacks during a catastrophe, look to God’s Word for protection and grow in faith.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The occult, specifically witches, palm readers and spiritualists are common in our community today; please send me some scripture references in this area.
Below one of the strongest references that we can stand on from the Bible:
 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,  or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.  You must be blameless before the Lord your God.
 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. Deut. 18:9-14 (NIV)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I could relate.
For all of my married life, Judi and I have tithed faithfully as well as given sacrificially above and beyond. These decisions have been tremendous sacrifices for us but the joy that comes from being faithful to our Lord makes it worth it!
The Lord reminds us, "Everything you think you own is really on loan. And everything you give is given back to you at greater value."
I can honestly say that every cent we've given to the Lord has blessed us more than it cost us. Sometimes the blessing is in seeing His provision in other ways (like when He miraculously answers specific prayers). Sometimes the blessing is in the loosened grip materialism has on us, and especially on our children. Materialism can't have power over us when we honor God with our giving! Sometimes the blessing is in the tangible sense that God is smiling. I can actually feel God smiling on me at times because of our giving! Nothing is better than that!!! Sometimes the blessing is the ability to be satisfied with simpler things.
But whatever it is, God always, always gives us back more than we give Him. This is without fail. We have never been able to out-give God!
The Bible repeats this principle over and over again. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21).
The truth is that if you aren't giving at least 10% to the Lord, you probably have less than 10% of your heart with Him. And, therefore, your life greatly lacks intimacy with Him (which is one reason you're not living a full life).
As a Pastor, I am compelled to preach the truth as it is written in God's Word. You may not like it and I may not like it, but the truth must be spoken if we are to live life to the fullest. And make no mistake about it; money is not what life is about. God is. But money (and how you use it) can tell you if God is what your life is about!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In other words when we do something that honors God & are rewarded for it, God is even more glorified when the reward is given because the deed & reward are, by nature, glorifying to God.
For example, you cannot love out of selfish motives, not if it’s pure, biblical love. But we are promised a “reward” for loving (Luke 6:35). You see, God wants us to follow Him not out of duty, & He would rather we follow Him out of more than just obedience. He wants us to follow Him out of delight. And when we do so, we are rewarded with more of Him.
In other words, there are two types of rewards in scripture: pure “reward” flowing from pure motives and sinful “reward” flowing from selfish motives (as in a mercenary doing something good simply to be paid).
Let me give you an example from my wedding anniversary. Let’s say I buy Judi a dozen roses, chocolates & take her out to dinner. While I’m at dinner, she asks me, “Why did you do this?” If I say, “ I did it because I’m supposed to . . . it’s my duty to appreciate you. I must be unselfish.”
How do you think that would make her feel? It would not mean much would it? But if I said, “Because I’m absolutely in love with you & it’s delightful to be your husband!” she would beam. And a pure reward would follow: Deeper love. Pure love leads to the reward of more pure love. And there’s nothing wrong with pursuing that & wanting it. Some rewards are pure & are purely pursued.
One of the rewards of Heaven, the top reward as a matter of fact, is intimacy with God. That is the highest pleasure of Heaven. The rewards of possessions & power also will be organically related to this intimacy.
In other words, the possessions will be pure possessions & have no selfishness attached to them. My bible is a pure possession. I enjoy it because it gives me intimacy with God. Our power, possessions & pleasure will be pure in Heaven. They will stimulate us to the glory of God. C.S. Lewis writes about this in his excellent essay "The Weight of Glory."
Read the following quote carefully because it accurately & profoundly represents biblical truth on this subject. "The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves & to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ, and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good & earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant & the stoics & is no part of the Christian faith.
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward & the staggering nature of rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink & sex & ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
A great, classic book on this topic is John Piper’s "Desiring God." I highly recommend you read it. It will change your life! It did mine!
Check out my first post on this topic What's in it for God? Part 1
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Yes storing treasures in Heaven or investing in the buried treasure is investing in God’s agenda. Primarily, that agenda is fulfilled through His church (1Tim 3:15). And is carried out through the ministries of the church which include sharing the gospel, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, etc…
If the church is not fulfilling these ministries, God will hold us accountable (which is why churches are called to task in Rev. 1-3). The church is given the responsibility & accountability to carry out God’s agenda for the world. *Side note: the church is the ONLY institution empowered to do so. (The gates of hell shall not prevail against us – Matt 6:18).
In Matthew 13 it seems clear that Jesus is speaking about financially investing in Heaven (ie. monetary giving) because he returns to the topic again in Matthew 19 where it is specifically identified as money.
Now that does not mean that money is the only thing we are to give. We are also to do good works (which, by the way, will also be rewarded in Heaven). But in these particular passages He’s talking primarily about how we financially give/invest in kingdom enterprises.
Yet, our motivation must not be self-serving to the detriment of others. If it is in anyway selfish, it cannot glorify the Lord. It is not, however, inherently selfish to long for a reward. God has wired us to long for rewards and it is He who places them before us. Nowhere in Scripture will you find God against rewards or upset with his children for longing for them.
If it were true that rewards or longing for them were wrong, then it would make no sense for God to say that they are waiting for us as a motivation (for example in Matt 6:4 when Jesus says that the Father will reward secret giving… “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”). This is Jesus’ language, not selfish, sin language. God offers rewards & He expects us to be excited about them. He offers rewards as incentives & sees nothing selfish in the pursuit of them.
Check out my next post What's in it for God, Part 2
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I don’t know if evil won in this case. If the husband had backslid away from God's direction and gave into drugs again, demons may have won that battle. But remember, the war isn't over. Satan does win battles in our lives with, sometimes, deadly consequences. But he loses in the end.
Demons have no power over us after death. And one day, every victory Satan has won will be not only reversed, but obliterated by Christ. There is cause for grieving, but not for despairing.
Eventually, we win in the end. History does have a happy ending!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I can't answer this question specifically because only God knows why He takes us when He does.
But let me point you in the right direction. The Bible says that God takes people home for a number of reasons. Here are three:
1. To protect them from future pain. In Isaiah, God tells us that sometimes He takes a person to Heaven to spare them the agony of greater pain in life. "The righteous man is taken away from evil. He enters into peace (Isaiah 57:2)."
2. Their job is through. Sometimes God takes people to Heaven because their earthly assignment is over. He had a purpose for their lives on this side of Heaven, and when that has been accomplished, He takes them home.
When the Apostle Paul was at the end of his life, he said, "The time of my departure has come . . . I have finished the course." (2 Tim. 4:6-7).
3. Discipline. Sometimes God takes believers home because they've made such a mess of their lives that He rescues them by taking them to Heaven. Just because someone becomes a Christian doesn't mean they can't make huge mistakes that are deadly.
An example of this is King Saul in the Old Testament: " Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance" 1 Chron. 10:13 (NIV). I have prayed that if I ever fall away from Christ as a Minister, that He would take me home rather than allow me to bring reproach to His Name.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Yes, it's true that there has been pagan influences on holidays. But the church spit in Satan's face when it took such holidays away from him. Imagine how angry Satan had to be when Constantine (the Christian Roman emperor) took a pagan holiday (the celebration of the solstice on Dec. 25th) and declared that it would honor Christ from that day forward! That, to me, declares that all holidays are Christ's and will honor Him from now on.
It would be like a Rock star coming to know Christ and using his guitar for worship from now on. To say that Christmas is 'unholy' because there was a pagan ceremony originally, is like saying we can't drink our water because it was once polluted even though it has since been purified (reclaimed).
Or like saying I can't drive my minivan because a dysfunctional family may have owned it before I did. That's ridiculous.
To transform and reclaim something that was wicked into something that celebrates the Lord is at the essence of our faith. We are all sinners saved by grace.
- Do we not baptize because of wicked things done in water in our past?
- Do we not sing because of wicked songs our vocal chords have sung before?
- All throughout history, the nation of Israel celebrated holidays and would even use pagan occasions to proclaim God (look at Elijah with the prophets of Baal).
Here's the point. Your faith has substance, true, deep, and profoundly Scriptural substance. Stand on it. Don't be intimidated. And approach the Jehovah Witnesses that cross your path with gentleness and humility. In the end, God will bless you.
Check out the rest of my posts on Jehovah Witness Calling, Part 1,2,&3
Monday, June 1, 2009
What they don't tell you (and, to be fair, what most JW's don't know) is that there are huge problems in the JW organization and, with just a little research, you'll find that there are huge problems with their theology. Let me give you a few examples:
1. They changed the Bible. Their New World Translation of the Bible has actually altered the text to fit their beliefs.
An example of this is John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
In their translation they wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god." They insert the little word "a."
Now, why did they do that? Because they don't believe Jesus (who is "the Word" in this passage) is God. They believe Jesus is the Archangel Michael. So, in order to keep their belief, they changed the Bible!
Now, how can a movement be biblical if it changes the Bible?
They will argue that the Greek has an "a" there. But I've had five semesters of Greek and I can tell you that no Greek scholar in the world would translate this passage like they do.
And that's pretty easy to prove: If you ask a JW to show you the list of Greek scholars and their academic credentials who worked on their translation, you won't get anything. That's because no Greek scholars worked on their translation!
But you can easily find the list of names and credentials for the scholars who worked on legitimate translations like the King James and the New International and the New American Standard and even the Catholic American Standard.
2. They gave false prophecies. The Bible is real clear about any person claiming to be prophetic: if the prophecy doesn't come true, drop them like a hot rock (okay, that's my version of it, but look at Deuteronomy 13:1-4 which says basically the same thing).
JW's hierarchy gave three false prophecies in 1889, 1922, and 1966. In 1889, the Watchtower (JW publication) predicted that the great day of God Almighty from Rev. 16:14 would end (follow me here):
- in 1914.
- Then they prophesied that it would happen in 1925.
- And then they predicted the return of Jesus would happen in 1975
Thousands of JW's sold their homes and gave away their money thinking that the end of the world would happen on these dates. When nothing happened, there was a mass exodus from the organization with many finding out the hard way that the organization was a fraud.
3. They misread Scripture. For example, where on God's green earth are they getting the idea that the three wise men wanted to kill Jesus and that the star was satanic? There is no evidence in Scripture of this at all! It's clear that the wise men were guided by God (just look at Matthew 2:11-12 where the text clearly says they "worshiped Him" and that they were "divinely" guided).
Check out the rest of my posts on Jehovah Witness Calling: Parts 1,2&4
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Notice the descriptions Paul uses:
- able to teach
- not resentful
- gently instruct
- in hope
You will get nowhere if you fall into an emotional quarrel with these folks. When it goes that direction, excuse yourself humbly from the conversation.
As Paul says, "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments."
"Because they produce quarrels," he says.
But Paul doesn't say we're supposed to abstain from talking about our faith. Talk with them if:
- the spirit of the conversation is a true search for truth
- someone comes to you & asks, "Why do you believe what you believe?"
So, do your homework on Jehovah's Witnesses and be prepared to have a civil conversation about your faith.
Check out the rest of my posts on Jehovah Witness Calling, Parts 1,3&4
Saturday, May 23, 2009
 Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,  and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:23-26 (NIV)
This is a very appropriate passage for us in this situation because the context is dealing with a group of people who hold to very a similar theology as that of JW's. For example, 2 Tim. 2:17-18:
 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,  who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 2 Tim. 2:17-18 (NIV)
These guys, Hymenaeus and Philetus, believed that the believers' resurrection of the end times had already happened and was only a spiritual resurrection (which means that they logically believed Jesus' resurrection was only spiritual as well).
This is a hallmark of JW theology. The JW's do not believe Jesus rose physically, just spiritually. And Paul strongly rejects this teaching. Jesus was resurrected physically. At any rate, the point is that Paul is dealing with JW-like people in the passage and he gives the advice of 2 Timothy 2:23-26.
Check out the rest of Jehovah Witness Calling, Parts 2,3&4.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
We also have harvesting events where we have an evangelistic presentation and a call for a response (I do this on Sunday mornings about twice a year, also VBS, Youth, and our other ministries in the church offer these).
So, if anyone stays around the church for a while, they will hear the gospel and receive an invitation to respond. The last time I did an altar call, it wasn’t as effective as simply boldly preaching the Word and leaving the drawing up to the Lord.
We do have a place on our communication cards where people can mark that they want to talk about knowing God, which we follow up on individually.
We want to be effective in this area. Altar calls are rarely, if ever, found in the Bible. I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
But there is a lot of evangelism that happens through individuals leading others to the Lord and simply as a natural overflow of great discipleship (check out Acts 2:42-47). The early church gave great spiritual meals of strong biblical teaching and v. 47 says that they gained the favor of the lost in their region and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” The Lord was the one who saved folks through an ongoing exposure of the Word and worship.
Throughout history, that adding of the lost to the church took the form of altar calls, camp meetings, raising of hands, door to door invitations, small group discussions, promise keeper events, etc, etc.
We’re trying to find the most effective means of evangelism for our community today. We’re still searching and experimenting. Who knows, maybe altar calls will make a come back in our region. I’d love to see them effective again like they were in the earlier half of the last century (God changed the nation through them). That would be great because they’re measurable, public, and encouraging. But this method hasn’t worked as well as other methods have for us in this region.
Please keep praying for us. For now we will continue to have elders available each Sunday after our services to give spiritual counsel and prayer to those seeking.
Monday, May 18, 2009
There is another reason we don’t do altar calls a lot. And that is what we consider our ultimate philosophy for our Sunday morning worship services.
We believe that our audience is not the seeker or the believer.
We believe the audience is God.
Our services are 'worship services' designed to please Him. Our primary goal is to make Him the focus. Worship in the OT or NT was not primarily evangelistic, but sacrificial. In the OT, it involved actual sacrifices to please God. In the NT, it involved the sacrifices of praise through the proclamation of God’s Word and the fruit of worship (“worship” meaning to “recognize God’s worth”).
Also, we’ve found that altar calls in this area are not that effective at leading to “true conversions.” Often, people will walk the aisle out of emotion or a need for attention or some other less-than-authentic reason. When I was growing up, people would walk the aisle every week, often the same people! It became a rote part of the service and these “conversions” didn’t seem to stick. These folks would often walk the aisle but not make Christ their Lord. They were “converts” but not disciples and not a fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Now, having said all this, know that we’re constantly evaluating our services and ministries.
Check out my next posting for the final part of "Altar Call".
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
A good question I get from time to time. Let me expound: I grew up in a S. Baptist church in southern Louisiana and every Sunday we had an altar call with “Just As I Am” playing in the background. I have very fond memories of people walking to the front and giving their lives to the Lord, so I want you to know I’m not opposed to altar calls at all. I have done them during our services at Stonemill from time to time.
But here’s the reason we don’t do one every Sunday (and, by the way, this isn’t a criticism of churches that do . . . it’s just what we believe God has called us to do).
One of the great needs of this region is biblical depth. I have found that the average person attending Stonemill is illiterate concerning the Word of God. So, one of my primary hopes in the service is to expose people to the magnificence of God’s Word and give them an encounter with the Lord. The Bible says that worship services should be places where the entire Word is preached so that it will penetrate the hearts and minds of those who hear it:
 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 2 Tim. 4:2 (NASB)
 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
So, one of our main goals is to expose everyone that comes, not just the lost, to God’s Word plus sincere worship and make way for the Spirit of God and the Father to use the Bible to draw folks to Himself
 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44 (KJV)
 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:8 (NIV)
I guess what I’m saying is that we believe that evangelism is a natural overflow of discipleship. In the great commission, we’re told to make disciples, not just converts.
 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
We don’t believe a person’s salvation depends on an altar call. We believe it depends on the Spirit of God drawing people to Himself via the preaching of the Word, worship, discipleship, and direct encounters with Him.
Check out my next post on Altar Call: Part 2
Saturday, May 9, 2009
From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence. He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about how the things we speak affect our lives. The first part of verse 2 says that good will come to us by the things we speak. Gracious words will bring favor to those who speak them, while an evil, disrespectful mouth will produce the opposite.
We all like to be around people who are kind and considerate, while we try to avoid those who speak rudely and crudely. Words are creative. Good words create an atmosphere of love. On the other hand, evil words create the opposite kind of environment; one that is offensive. God Himself, created the world by the words that He spoke. In the beginning He spoke and it was so. Genesis 1:3: "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
If we speak the things that the Bible declares are true, we will be agreeing with God's Word, and by so doing we will create an atmosphere where faith can rise in our hearts.
However, if we speak doubt and unbelief, it will destroy our faith. What comes out of our mouths reveals what is in our hearts. Therefore, if we find things coming out of our mouths that are not edifying, we should repent, and ask God to cleanse our hearts.
Things just do not accidentally come out of our mouths. Those things were in our hearts, even though we might not have been aware of them. Words of evil -- such as jealousy, lying, gossip, fear, doubt, hatred, resentment, pride, selfishness, etc. reveal those very things in our own hearts. We all, at times, slip and say things that we wished we had not said. Each time we correct our speech and repent for those kinds of things, we will find that soon good things will be coming out more abundantly than evil things.
If we align our words with the Word of God we shall be blessed, however if we just allow anything to come out of our mouths, verse 3 in Proverbs 13 tells us that it will cause us ruin. We must guard our mouths and not allow the devil to use our mouths to speak evil things that bring destruction on us and others.
We can be cursing others by speaking wrong things against them or about them. I am asking God to help me keep my mouth from saying wrong things like David did in Psalms. “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
- First of all, I'd have to ask “why the divorce”?
- Has there been an affair by the husband or wife?
- Is the affair continuing?
- Have there been attempts to work out the marriage fervently with the guidance of professionals in the field?
If the spouse has been unfaithful repeatedly, a divorce may be permitted according to Scripture.
But more importantly, I would love the chance to work with you and your spouse to see what the Lord has for you both. You can contact me through this blog.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Do you grieve for someone that has taken their own life? Well, you need not worry about God's heart for that person. God loves people infinitely more than we can imagine. But I will say this: Suicide is NOT PLEASING TO GOD. I want God to smile when I get to Heaven, not have some 'splainin to do!!!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Take a look at verses 1:5 and 3:17-19. God says:
“5. The Lord replied, ‘Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” (Hab 1:5. NLT)
God says, “Trust me. You can’t understand what I’m up to, but trust me and find joy in that.” And Habakkuk does trust him and gives us this remarkable psalm of praise in 3:17-19. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty; 18. yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. 19. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19. NLT)
Habakkuk says, “Look, even if every resource in my nation, the crops, the cattle, the entire way of life . . . even if all of that is wiped out, I’m making a decision to trust the Sovereign Lord with my future. And I will rejoice in the fact that no matter what, we win in the end.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The ancient prophet, Habakkuk, had the same feeling. He lived in a country that God had prospered known as Judah. But the country had become corrupt. In response, God told Habakkuk that he was raising up the Babylonians to conquer the country. Habakkuk felt helpless. On the one hand, he was frustrated with his country because it had become so evil. On the other hand, he knew the Babylonians were worse and would do terrible things to his people. He was between a rock and a hard place and you can almost touch his frustration when he talks to God. Take a look at Hab. 1:2-3. He says:
“How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence!’ I cry, but you do not come to save. 3. Must I forever see this sin and misery all around me? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.” (Habakkuk 1:2-3. NLT)
That’s his own country. Then he points out what’s going to happen:
“14. Are we but fish to be caught and killed? Are we but creeping things that have no leader to defend them from their enemies? 15. Must we be strung up on their hooks and dragged out in their nets while they rejoice? 16. Then they will worship their nets and burn incense in front of them. ‘These nets are the gods who have made us rich!’ they will claim. 17. Will you let them get away with this forever?” (Habakkuk 1:14-16. NLT)
Can you hear his frustration? He feels horribly helpless. But God answers him and gives him protection from frustration. The Lord reminds Habakkuk how big He is and that he can trust Him to work all things out at the end. In other words, God reminds Habakkuk to have joy in his huge God even when things are frustrating.
Check out my next post for Our Protection from Frustration
Monday, April 20, 2009
- sexual immorality
But the problem with this is that it only adds misery to misery. Sin can’t deliver in times of real hardship. It’s not solid enough.
Job struggled with this tendency. We all know that Job experienced pain greater than most. He was a rich man with 10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters. In an instant, his estate was looted by terrorists, his children were killed in a catastrophe, and he was struck with a skin disease that produced terribly painful boils. Yet he had done nothing to deserve all of this.
He was a good man. But in his pain, he became tempted to turn away from God to sin. A friend of his, the only friend of his who actually gave him solid advice, says to him in Job 35:21:
“Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.” (Job 35:21)
And then he tells Job how to protect himself by telling him to audit sin’s cost. If we want to protect ourselves from escaping to sin, we need to audit sin’s cost.
Our Protection: An Audit of Sin’s Cost. Take a look at verses 5-8.
“5. Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. 6. If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? 7. If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? 8. Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men.” (Job 35:5-8)
Job’s friend is telling him, basically, that if he sins he’ll only add misery to misery in his life and in the lives of others. Sin messes up the mess even more and messes up others in the process.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9a)
Paul talks about a time where tragedy broke him. It was beyond his ability to endure. And he says that he despaired and felt as if he had been sentenced to death. But he doesn’t stop there. He also describes his protection against this devastating enemy of despair. The protection is: prayer to a reliable God. Take a look at vv. 9-11:
“9b. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead . . . 10. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11. as you help us by your prayers.” (2 Corinthians 1:9b-11)
Paul says that all of the tragedy had an effect on him. It brought him to the end of himself so he had to rely on the supernatural power of God. And the vehicle he used to tap into that power was what? Prayer! Look at v. 11, he received God’s help through the prayers of his congregation.
We need to be praying during these times. If you feel like you can’t make it, call someone up who knows God and pray with them. Pray, pray, pray!!! Prayer feeds your faith and protects you from despair. If you’re struggling with despair, fight it off with prayer! Fight despair with prayer!!!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
“If you don’t know Me, if you are not a Christian and don’t have a personal relationship with Me that acknowledges Me before men as God, you have something far worse to fear than the death of your body, you have the fear of Hell to worry about. You’re to be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.” He’s talking about God the Father.
Are you sure you’re going to Heaven when you die? If you don’t know your Maker, the Bible says you need to make a decision right now to know Him. Because the truth of the matter is that if you don’t, you’re going to a place that has a lot more heat than a flaming building. If you do know the Lord, the death of your body is just a doorway into God’s house.
If you’re afraid and you’re a Christian, stand strong. If you’re right with God, nothing can touch you that is out of His hands and every pain that you feel in this world will be turned into joy in the next. That’s as sure as the fact that there is a God in Heaven.
If you’re not a Christian, I appeal to you to accept Jesus Christ right now as your Savior and be released from the fear of death. The Bible says the fear of death is slavery. Make a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. Believe that He was and is God and that He paid for your sins on the cross, confess that you’re a sinner, and ask for His forgiveness.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
“28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. 33. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:28-33)
Jesus lists two fears in this passage.
One is de-fanged and one is sharpened. The de-fanged fear is found in verses 29-32. Here he says,
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven.”
Jesus is saying here that if you’re a person who acknowledges Him before other people, in other words, if you’re an obvious Christian, your life is in God’s hands. Nothing can kill you unless God wants it to. And if something or someone does kill you, it just means your job on Earth is over and you’re going to Heaven.
Every single Christian who has a real relationship with God in those WTC buildings died exactly when and where God wanted them to. Their deaths did not surprise Him and they’re not grieving their deaths now. They’re in Heaven with Him. If you’re a Christian this morning and your children are Christians, and if you’re living a life for Him and are close to Him, there is nothing that can happen to you that isn’t a part of God’s perfect plan for your life and that He won’t use some day for absolutely good purposes. If you are close to God, it is impossible for you to die in vain. God promises this over and over again in His word. So, you have nothing to fear. The wolf is defanged. He really has no ultimate power over you.
But there is another fear in the passage that Jesus doesn’t de-fang. And that’s the fear of the afterlife for those who don’t know Him. Take a look at v. 28. He says, “28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”
Check out the 3rd part of this topic on my next post.
Friday, April 3, 2009
It may cause you to have more fearful thoughts: What if terrorists get their hands on a nuclear bomb or learn chemical warfare? Will my life end in a ball of flames one day? And what about our children, are they really safe in the environment we are creating for them? Some of you may be worried about the end times. You fear that the end of the world is approaching. And everything stable and safe in your life suddenly feels frail and insecure.
Jesus talked about these fears when He sent his disciples out in the world to do ministry on His behalf. He recognized the evil in the world and talked to his followers about it in Matthew 10:16. Take a look:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” (Matthew 10:16)
There are wicked elements of this fallen world that that can best be described as ravenous, blood thirsty beasts bent on consuming goodness. But Jesus doesn’t leave us hanging. As our shepherd, he defangs the wolf in verse 26 where he says:
“ . . . do not be afraid of them.” (Matthew 10:26)
Jesus says, “don’t be afraid of the big, bad wolf.” And as you read it, you think, “Why not? Why shouldn’t I be afraid of him? He can kill me with those big teeth and razor claws. His jaws just bit our largest building in the world in half and a bunch of sheep died. Why shouldn’t I be afraid, Jesus?” And Jesus answers, “You don’t have to be afraid because I’ve offered you protection. And that protection is a personal relationship with a heavenly God. A personal relationship with the Almighty heavenly God of all creation defangs the wolf. Take a look at vv. 28-33.
Check out my next post about "Our Protection"
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Why did Jesus fold the napkin at the tomb? No one knows for sure. The Lord could have done it to show that His body had not been stolen, as some officials would later claim. Thieves would not take the time to fold His burial cloth." (This is my humble Rusty view)
Regardless of the reason, it meant something or John wouldn't have noted it. One thing is for sure, it proved Jesus rose again.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The quote she shared with me was very inspiring & I want to share it with you. It is called “Fellowship of the Unashamed”:
I am part of the “Fellowship of the Unashamed.” The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.
I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.
I won’t give up, back up, let up or shut up until I’ve preached up prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.
And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me.
My colors will be clear. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ…”
She remarked “What a place this would be if Christians actually lived like this?”
Well I challenge you- why not live like this? Live out loud the calling God has placed in your heart. After all, doesn’t change begin with you?
Check out the first part of this post Economy Got You Down? Part 1
Peter is asked for tax money by some officials. What's interesting is that the disciples had very little. Often, we see them with only the clothes on their backs wandering from town to town following their seemingly poor Lord. Where would they get the money? How could a group of rag-tag fisherman without two nickels meet this bill?
Well, Jesus tells Peter to do something unusual. He tells Peter to go fishing and the first fish Peter catches has money in its mouth. That money pays their bills! Jesus answers the need with a miracle!
As I talk to other Pastors, a theme is clear across the country: Churches are struggling financially. One prominent Pastor I talked to recently shared that his church is hundreds of thousands of dollars behind in their giving. Two days ago, I heard of another church laying off four of its Pastors due to low finances. Times are hard for everyone. People are not able to give like they could in the past. The downturn in the economy has caused us to turn down ministry opportunities.
But here's the good news. God is still our Leader. Throughout history, the Church, more than any other institution, has shown remarkable resilience. As a matter of fact, the Church often is at its best during hardship because hardship forces us to rely on God more. Difficulties remind us that all comfort, all prosperity, all that we hold dear comes from one source, Jesus Christ.
Check out the rest of this post in Economy Got You Down? Part 2
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
To be honest with you, I didn't want to have one. First of all, I find it difficult to believe that people would want to take the time to read it. Why read a blog by your's truly when there are so many more worthy writings out there? I'd rather read C.S. Lewis than R.B. Hayes any day!
I also didn't think I could keep up with another responsibility. Four kids, a growing church, attending the grand opening of my garage door . . . life is busy!
But my staff convinced me that people may want to know me more and might actually read this thing. And my outstanding assistant, Sheila Long, pointed out that numerous questions have come across my email account that represent real questions on the hearts of so many. For years, she has kept files on my pastoral responses to such questions.
So, as a start, the following blog contains a collection of topics based on snippets of email discussions between a pastor and his congregation. I offer it as a beginning. As my blogging skills grow, I'll add to this body of information with journal entries, random thoughts, poetry, pictures, and whatever else I can think of. Hopefully, you'll be blessed and God will be glorified.
Thanks for your interest and Happy Reading!