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Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Blessed Christmas Season 2018

A Blessed Christmas (Matthew 5:3-12)

            The word blessed gets used a lot during the Christmas season.  You can hear the words, “Have a blessed Christmas”, “We have been blessed this year”, “God has blessed us”, “May God bless you and yours”, and etc.  What do these people mean when they say these things?  I suppose you would need to ask each time you hear such phrases, because all people are different.  I would like to briefly explain what I mean when I say that I have been blessed this past year.

            It has been a blessing this year to realize more and more how I am unable to save myself, unable to keep God’s law, and unable to attain perfect holiness.  I have been blessed this year by God revealing personal sins and causing me to mourn over them in light of His righteousness. I have been blessed to learn that I am not in control and that I can trust God even when things do not go my way. I have been blessed to have a godly hunger and a godly thirst for righteousness this past year.  It is such a blessing to be absolutely satisfied and yet to be hungry and thirsty every day.  It is not that complicated.  I get my food and drink from the same source and He always satisfies.  I have been blessed to practice showing mercy to those who do not deserve mercy.  Every time that I am able to show someone mercy I am reminded of the mercy that I have received.  I have been blessed to experience living with a heart that is bent towards God.  It is such a blessing to preach for God, teach for God, study for God, serve for God, and to worship with the single pure motive of exalting the great God of heaven.  I have been blessed to abstain from arguing in the flesh, seeking to win my desires over and against what other may desire, and to genuinely seek to live in peace with all men.  I have been blessed to be cursed, maligned, oppressed, ridiculed, and even made fun of at times.  I have been blessed beyond measure to be isolated, ignored, and taken for granted this past year.  It is times like this that help me to identify with the Lord and know that I am walking on the right path.  It is so easy to drift over to the wide path, but all these blessings that I have experienced this year have helped me to stay on the narrow path.  

            Blessed is a word I will use for this past year, but it is a word that I will use in its Biblical context.  Blessed does not necessarily mean I have more money, more friends, more people joining the church, more days of good health, but rather for me, it often means losing people I love, having my heart broken as I watch my children struggle, grappling with the realities of aging parents, and simply wrestling with the difficulties of daily life.  These are the things that are truly blessings in my life.  I am blessed, because all the adversity and struggles of my year have caused me to see my Savior more clearly, understand Him more thoroughly, and to love Him more genuinely.  

In case you still do not see the blessing, let me say it another way.  If my past year was filled with more money, more stuff, 100% health in everyone I know, no death of friends or family, no hurting children, no suffering, and no discipline; I would end up living without need for God.  I would become worldly, self-centered, prideful, arrogant, and worst of all, I would be distant from the God I love.  The blessings I have experienced have driven to God and His abundant mercy, not away from Him into the shallowness of carnality. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Greek Word Study

Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46)

The Greek word ἐλέγχω means 'to reprove, convict, repute, expose'.  "To bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, convince someone of something" (BDAG).  This word is used in numerous text.  Here is a sample of text to show the words use:

“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9 ESV)

“This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,” (Titus 1:13 ESV)

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8 ESV)

“to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”” (Jude 1:15 ESV)

“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,” (1 Corinthians 14:24 ESV)

“But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9 ESV)

Paraphrasing the verses we see that elders must be able to rebuke those contradict truth, false teachers are to be rebuked, the Holy Spirit convicts the world . . ., the Lord came with 10,000's of his holy ones to convict all the ungodly, prophecy in the church convicts the unbeliever, and the law convicts men of partiality.  

This word is used when a person or group of persons are seeking to make a person's sin known.  When trying to bring about a conviction in another, various tactics are used.  Questions can be asked.  Investigation can be carried out.  Testimonies can be listened to.  Opinions can be stated.  Issues can be analyzed.  History can be researched.  Things said in the past can be scrutinized.  Witnesses can be sought out.  If the accuser has no merit he will simply digress to name calling and insinuation.  

Jesus asks these Jews, "Which one of you convicts Me of sin?"  The text does not reveal any person stepping forward and bringing a conviction.  Surrounded by a group of Jesus haters we find not one person who can convict Jesus of sin.  They could not convict him of sin in word, thought, or deed.  They had no basis for their accusations and no factual evidence could be brought forth.  They ended up doing what false accusers always do.  They started calling him names and insinuating things about him.  The great claim they came up with is that Jesus was demon possessed.  However, they never came up with a sin that they could charge Jesus with.  

The fact that those who hated Jesus most could not come up with one sin that they could convict Jesus of ought to be a catalyst for believers to love Jesus all the more.  It should also be a catalyst for unbelievers to see the glory of Christ and repent and believe in Him.  Jesus tells the truth, lives the truth, and is the truth.  He is worthy of your worship!  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What few things I have learned in the last 50 years

Personal reflections on what I have learned:

1) Christ is sufficient for everything
2) God is faithful - always
3) The Holy Spirit is the greatest illuminator of Scripture - period
4) There are no regrets in obedience to the Lord
5) Scripture memory and meditation saved my life from absolute despair
6) The gospel is higher, deeper, and wider than I ever imagined
7) A life of holiness is very lonely in regards to man, but very intimate in regards to Christ
8) Marriage and family are a great gift from God
9) Praying the Scriptures is a soul-satisfying endeavor
10) Bodily exercise profits a little, but with godliness there is great gain

A few things I have learned about church along the way:

1) The church is the only institution that Christ bled and died for
2) The church has more value than the school, sports, hobbies, jobs, and self
3) The value of the church is understood by very few people
4) Every memory of any value in my life is tied to the church in some way
5) People with a low view of the church have a low view of God
6) Family, friends, and favoritism trump theology 9 out 10 times
7) The church gets used, disrespected, maligned, and insulted more than any other institution, but yet she marches on
8) I love to sing, pray, give, serve, fellowship, hear the Word, and study in the church more than any other place in the world
9) Few people actually know what a true church is
10) When all is said and done the church will be without spot or wrinkle, holy, and without blemish

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Syracuse Mission Trip to Christ Is King Baptist Church

What a tremendous week I was able to experience. I would like to say that it was an absolute joy to work with Jon Speed this week. He was gracious, kind, encouraging, and I am so thankful to know a brother who gets it. We hiked together, prayed together, shared the gospel together, open-air preached together, and worshiped the living God together. I would go anywhere with Jon to preach the gospel. He truly understands the necessity of taking the gospel to the world and beseeching sinners to repent and believe in Jesus.

I would also like to offer a word of praise to the men who went with me. These men left families, jobs, and responsibilities in order to walk alongside their pastor for the sake of the gospel. We laughed, passed out tracts, preached, did one-on-one soul winning, prayed, worshiped, and encouraged each other. These men carried my amplifier, brought me coffee, were attentive to my preaching, and were some of the greatest servants that I have ever worked with. We never had one negative issue amongst us and there was absolutely NO drama. It was like a little taste of heaven to simply walk with these brothers for the cause of Christ. I am one truly blest pastor.  
I am tired as I am sitting on this plane making my way home. What a week that I have experienced. I have seen tremendous sights in the mountains, enjoyed remarkably cool weather, enjoyed running up a mountain twice, ate good food, and met people from all over the world (shared with a man who spoke Arabic, a man who was from Greece and spoke Greek fluently, talked to people from Canada, and had a wonderful conversation with a lady from Madagascar).

However, I have also experienced the tension of shining the light into the darkness. I have been cussed, mocked, screamed at, made fun of, ignored, told that I was unloving, told that I was prideful, told that I should not use the Bible so much, told not to talk about other religions, and to a certain degree I was lightly assaulted (a lady grabbed by amplifier and turned it face down to try to make me quit preaching). I have also experienced the joy of seeing people encouraged by the gospel, open to the gospel, and thinking about the gospel that was shared. I also saw the extreme hatred of the abortionist (his name is Mark and I ask that you pray for his conversion) and was reminded of just how hardened people can be. I saw a church encouraged by the gospel and some who only tolerated the gospel. I preached eight times in four days, passed out numerous gospel tracts, and had countless conversations about the gospel. It was a privilege, an honor, and I am so thankful to be allowed to work for such a great King. “He is the King of the world and He has commanded me to preach and preaching is my business”. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Focus on Christ

Being Transformed by Vision

“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 17:15 ESV).

            Years ago I was a fairly active motocross racer.  I raced numerous weekend amateur races here in my area.  I heard of a race that was going to held at Lake Whitney Raceway about 100 miles south of where I live.  I had always wanted to race on that track, but the races were always on Sunday so I never went.  They were putting on a race called the “Ironman” one weekend, and it was to be held on a Saturday.  The race was in the month of July and the format was to race for 1 hour non-stop (except for refueling).  July and Texas means hot and it was very hot.  I entered the race and gave it all I had and it was brutal.  The heat, the dust, the sweat, the fatigue, and the danger were challenging.  When all was said and done I had won the event.  I was so happy.  Well, I was happy until they gave out the awards.  I received a medal that they hang around a person’s neck that looks similar to the medals people receive in the Olympics.  The difference was, my medal was plastic and probably cost them $2 to make.  The medal did not equal the effort that it took for me to win the event.  I was disappointed!

            In Christianity I am racing for a different reward.  I am not looking for money, trophies, or fame.  I have set my life upon the obtaining of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The race may be long or short, filled with afflictions or joys, walked in valleys or on mountaintops, and the only way to win will be to endure to the end.  The motive for this race is to be able to see the face of the One whom my soul loves and to see His face in righteousness.  Surely, there is nothing greater than to experience the eternal joy of being in His presence.   

            The great thing about this Christian race is that the end prize is full satisfaction.  There will be no $2 trinkets given out, no $2 trophies, and no temporal fan-fare.  The great prize of Christianity will be 100% satisfaction in being like Him.  Oh, to be like Christ is the heartbeat of my Christianity.  A day is on the horizon in which I will no longer be affected by sin, deterioration, age, sorrow, or tears.  A day is coming in which I will experience eternal dwelling with fullness of joy.  

            People ask questions like the following: “What have you been up to lately?”, “What did you do today?”, “What is your plan of the day?”, and “What are you doing tomorrow?”  I have an answer for all of these.  I am pressing on for the upward prize.  I am pitching my moving tent one day’s march nearer home (Lloyd-Jones quote).  Today, I am being transformed a little more into the image of Christ.  I am moving closer to heaven and I will not be fully satisfied until I arrive home. Yes, to live for Christ is all gain! I can only be satisfied with Him!    

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalms 73:25 ESV).

Friday, July 13, 2018

Evangelism 101 #non-cellular

Evangelism 101 #non-cellular

A great new way to do evangelism is to purposely travel without your phone.  We are told we need a phone in the case of emergencies.  We are told that the phone will allow people to help us if we have a problem.  I know this may sound offensive, but you do realize that the world functioned for around 8,000 years without phones.  

My son and I are working on a motorcycle project. It came time for the test drive. I was going to ride around the block (3.6 miles).  I am supposed to take my phone in case there is a problem.  I intentionally left the phone at home.  The motorcycle stopped running at 1.6 miles.  Stranded! Stuck on the side of the road! Oh no! I simply sat there for about 15 minutes counting the cars who would not stop and help me. I would hold my hand up like I was on a phone and motion for them to stop.  The 20thcar stopped.  They let me use their phone, no one answered my call.  They gave me a ride home.  His name was Tommy.  I told them I was the pastor at the church up the road and I invited them to church on Sunday.  

If I had taken my phone the gospel opportunity would never have happened.  Leave you phone at home on purpose every now and again for a real emergency.  People are going to hell and unless someone points them to the Savior they will be eternally lost under the wrath of God.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Incomprehensible Gospel

The Incomprehensible Gospel

            It was about the year 2002 when I stumbled into a conversation with a lady in our church.  The conversation took a turn towards the gospel and the response that she said has stuck with me until this day.  Right there before me was a woman who had only been on planet earth around 80 years and she told me, with a straight face, that she already knew the gospel. In the context of the conversation she was actually saying that she ‘knew’ the gospel.  It was like she knew all there was to know about the gospel.  I am not saying the lady was not saved and I am not judging her standing with God, but I am sure my facial expressions communicated a lot.  I honestly do not remember what I said in response to her statement, but I do remember what I was thinking.  

            The reason I was taken back and held speechless was that I simply could not believe her audacity.  There before my very eyes was a lady who had figured out the eternal gospel in about eighty years. Not only had she figured it out, but she wanted to move on to something else.  I on the other hand felt that everything that I had learned about the gospel made me realize how much I did not know.  

The following words are all words that give an aspect of the gospel and each word I am about to list have books written about them.  When looking from different angels of the gospel we use words like atonement, expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification, imputation, repentance, faith, adoption, perseverance, born from above, substitution, appeasement, righteousness, and etc.  I assure you that I do not know all that there is to know about any of these words individually and I certainly do not know the depth of all of them together.  The gospel is wider than the Grand Canyon, deeper than the Mariana Trench (36,070 to 36,201 feet deep), and higher than the heavens.  

            A man can spend the rest of eternity studying the gospel and never find the edges of it, the bottom of it, nor the height of it.  Looking at the gospel is more intimidating than standing at the foot of the Swiss Alps and looking towards the top.  The gospel is robust, authoritative, piercing, good news, freeing, pure, eternal, the source of praise, the reason of living, and it is the only hope for lost humanity.  The gospel is so good and right, that it is the only solution for the entire world.  The gospel is sufficient for those who are red, yellow, black, or white (as the old children song says).  It is sufficient for Jew, Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free (as Paul says).  The gospel is the theme of my song, the content of my preaching, the reason for my life, the joy of my heart, the food for my soul, and the drink that quenches my thirst.  I am 100% satisfied with the gospel and yet I hunger and thirst every day.  What does that mean?  I am not looking anywhere else for satisfaction and the more I receive of the gospel the more I want.  What about you?