Friday, April 30, 2010

5 Prayer Needs: Need #5

The final prayer need we have listed is simply called “Church Membership.” I'd like you notice some things about this:

      1. This doesn't say “Calvary Baptist Church Membership.” We're praying here that people will become members of a church, not mandating it be this one.

      2. This doesn't say “Church Attendance.” This isn't about just showing up. Rare is the organization that allows people to consider themselves “members” without being active participants. We churches have almost cornered the market on allowing people to join and then expecting nothing out of them. We're praying for people to be active participants and supporters of the church they are members of. Just as you can't join a ball team or the Rotary Club without committing your time and finances, we are praying that people will grasp that within joining a church.

      3. This also places a burden on churches to educate and train church members and potential members. I had a good conversation with a church member Wednesday about things in the 'church covenant' in which we discussed that we don't ensure people know what's in it and commit to it before they join. (I'm actually not sure it's mandated in our church constitution. Something to consider.)

      4. This is also about realizing church membership is about more than having a place to have your wedding or a church to list in your obituary. Church membership should be about where you are right now. If you are a member of a church that you cannot attend because you don't live there, you're a member of the wrong church. You should be a member of a local church. Get up on Sunday, find a church that preaches the Word of God, and join it. And stay put, serving the Lord your God there. If you want to come back to your hometown to get married, it can be worked out. I'm all for being cautious about handing out building keys or letting just anyone pop in to use a church facility, but let's not let facility policies be a stumbling block for people's obedience. Same with providing care for people in crisis. If someone has lost a loved one and God burdens your heart to fix a meal (or organize one), should you check the church roll? No. Just do it, and if there's nothing that cannot be adjusted happening, use the church fellowship hall. Let your church membership be where you are, where you are going to church. Non-resident church membership is one of our unbiblical habits in Baptist life. If you aren't here, you should be a member where you are. We're praying people will take that seriously.

      5. This is also about, when you read Hebrews 10:25, what church meetings are for: encouragement and growth. We're here to learn and encourage. Are you coming to encourage? Yes, there are times when we come to church because we have needs. I'm fully aware of that. That's why preachers take vacations and go to church somewhere, because we have needs as well. What do we need? We all need encouragement, to be emboldened to the task God has given us! We all need better equipping.

Church Membership is about more than just a name on a roll sheet. Let's pray for a better understanding of that fact.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 Prayer Needs: Need #4

Our next listed prayer need is to pray for people to grow in personal stewardship. What does this mean? Stewardship is about taking care of something that doesn't really belong to you, but has been entrusted to you. It's primarily about stuff, although it can include a broad sense of responsibility for people. What areas do I have in mind for personal stewardship?

      1. Money. Let's deal with the elephant in the room. A portion of this prayer is that people will be willing to practice good stewardship with their money. However, while I would teach that this includes tithing, it's not limited to praying people will give more to the church. It's about praying people understand that 100% of their financial assets belong to God Almighty, because He's the one that gave those assets to you. He didn't give them as your property, rather as your stewardship. I believe that it starts with trusting a tithe given back, but it doesn't stop there. We're praying that people will use all of the money they have been given for God's glory.

        Now, that takes many forms. Starving your children to send money to a televangelist isn't glorifying God. Bankruptcy rarely glorifies God. We're not talking about signing your paychecks over to the church here. We're talking about, before you buy that brand new flat screen TV to replace the one you bought last year, asking whether or not there are better ways to spend the money. Church needs, missionary needs, the needs of the poor....before you make political contributions, are there places in the Kingdom that could use it?

        {side line here: Most people are angry with Congress and Wall Street for their handling of finances. Why? Because it wasn't their money. It was, or is, someone else's money. Some of it was mine, some of it yours. They have chosen, and continue to choose, to be poor stewards of the money entrusted to them. Are we as Christians treating God as Congress and Wall Street treat us by spending His funds on our own luxuries?}

      2. Physical possessions. Now that we've talked about money, there's the stuff we've already bought with our money. Your new car. Your house that's bigger than you need. Your flat-screen TV. Your nifty new Blackberry Bold with Wi-fi (that's me)....Are you using them for God's glory? Realize that, if you've got empty seats in your car on the way to church, there are empty seats in church too, and maybe there's a correlation. How can you use your home for God's glory? Open your doors! Be a place people can come and be loved and hear about God. Pick a night and do it. Consider adopting or fostering children. These are all things that may happen as we pray for stewardship of our stuff. God has allowed us to have it, now let's prayerfully consider how we may use it!

      3. Time. 168 hours, to be exact. That's how much everyone has each week. Some of that time is fixed, it has to be spent in certain ways. Some of that time is free. We're praying that people will use their 168 hours in a manner which glorifies God fully. We're praying that, as we are good stewards of our time, God is glorified in the things we have to do and the things we choose. This is praying that our work hours will be a light for God, that our leisure activities will be worshipful, that our family times will honor Him, and that even our rest will work to further the Kingdom. We're praying here that people will choose the activities for themselves and their families that will expand God's Kingdom. That before we commit to one more ball team or dance group, one more hunting club or shopping trip, we are prayerfully asking: Is this good stewardship of my time?

        And closer in, am I spending more time on Facebook than I should? What about my TV habit? Do I really need to watch hours of BBC Sitcoms from the early 80s to survive?

Praying for others in personal stewardship is risky, though. It's easy to violate Romans 14 and start to judge our brothers for how they spend their time when we fail to consider how we're spending our own. Which is why, folded into all of the above, there are examples of some of the things I wonder about in my own personal stewardship of time, stuff, and money. As we pray, we should be driven to consider our own behavior.

We should also be driven to consider our church behavior, whether we are, as a church, being good stewards of what we have as a church. That, however, is another discussion.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Five Prayer Needs: Need #3

The third prayer need we have in our books is to pray for each individual's personal evangelism.  What does this encompass?  Let's look at a few things:

1.  Personal evangelism is about evangelismEvangelism is about telling good news.  For Christians, we associate this with the Good News: that Jesus Christ, Son of God, dwelt among us for a time, living a sinless life, and dying as the substitute sacrifice for sinful humanity.  That He rose from the grave by His own will, and that He will judge all mankind based on their faith in Him.  That all who come to Him He will not cast out. (John 6:37)

2.  Personal evangelism is about being personal.  It's done on a one-to-one or one-to-few basis.  We're not talking about seed casting by leaving tracts in doctor's offices or holding signs by the road (while those could be valuable), we're talking about personally speaking with others about whether they have faith in Christ, whether they are blood-bought saints of the Lamb of God.  And doing so in a manner that is pleasing to God and respectful to personal needs.  (For example: don't witness to the waitress and then be rude to her or stiff her on the tip!!!)

3.  Personal evangelism is about people.  More than anything, personal evangelism is our work in the ministry of reconciliation between God and man.  This is not about politics or church preferences or even moral behaviors.  This is about showing people how to have a right relationship with Almighty God.  We have no agenda but souls saved for the sake of those souls, not our own glory, when we participate in personal evangelism.

This is what we're talking about when we talk about personal evangelism.  Why does it matter?  Luke 12:8, Acts 1:8, and other verses remind us that those who are followers of Christ will tell the world about Him.  Thus, we're praying that followers will rightly share the Gospel, in an effective and honorable manner.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fiver Prayer Needs: Need #2

Yesterday's blog was about prayer need #1 from our prayer list.  Today we'll look at need #2:

Growth in Christ (2 Peter 3:18):

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18 (ESV)

What are we considering in this request?  We're addressing general maturity in Christ.  Another word for this is discipleship, the practice of being a disciple of Christ.

Why?  Because it's a necessity.  The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of entering the Kingdom as being "born again" or "born from above" in John 3.  I doubt that He chose the example poorly!  Rather, I think His point should be taken not only about the entrance, but the growth process.  Just as we expect newborn babies to eventually walk, talk, and be potty-trained, so newborn Christians should be reasonably expected to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.

How so?  First, to grow in grace: grace, as Peter uses it here, I think refers to our treatment of others.  As we follow Christ longer, we should be growing in our ability to treat others as Christ would treat them.  We should be more patient, more encouraging, and more gracious to them.  We should be more forgiving to those around us. 

In all, growing in grace is growing in the ability to treat others as God has treated us through Jesus Christ.  Think that might need some prayer from others to help us get through it?  We grow in grace ourselves by praying others will grow in grace, and we grow as others pray for us.  Why?  Because prayer asks God to work, and when God works, there's precious little that stops Him!

Second, to grow in knowledge.  Now, the times of the New Testament, and the Old, for that matter, know nothing of knowledge or faith that does not result in action.  I think I've said it before on the blog, and I know of I've said it in person: if we really know God's truth, our behavior changes to adapt to God's Word.  This is true: if we know God, we learn to act like He wants us to act.

Now, this is not about rule-keeping.  It's not about following another person's opinion.  Romans 14 addresses a large portion of this: that for some, rule-keeping helps them to grow, and for others, those same rules aren't necessary.  Note: we're talking here about debatable rules, not the non-declinable behaviors of Christians: fellowship with believers, prayer, a life of holiness.  We're more into the "Should I journal or not journal?" or "Is it okay for Christians to listen to secular music?" discussions.  You're not more saved (or less) if you have Brad Paisley or Rob Thomas in your iTunes playlist.  (We'll await the angels to rule about any use of Windows Media Player.)  As we grow, we should be allowing God to work in us about what is or is not appropriate.

So, we should be praying for our brothers and sisters to grow in grace and knowledge.  We should also be driven to grow in grace and knowledge ourselves. 



(Quick plug: want a great story on forgiveness?  Check out Andy Andrews' book The Heart Mender.  No, I don't get anything for you clicking there, it's just a good read. Review coming soon.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Five Prayer Needs: Need #1

Yesterday in church, I presented a challenge to the members of Calvary Baptist Church to take a portion of our church membership roll and pray for the members of this church in 5 ways.  I'm going to expand on those 5 needs this week on the blog, which will hopefully shed enough light on the matter.

The first need listed for each person is Salvation.  Now, this word gets lots of differing connotations.  The intent here is this: salvation as seen as being put in a right relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection.  The Bible passage associated with this request is Romans 10:9-10:

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)


What are we praying for here?  That will draw people to Himself, causing them to confess with their mouths the Lordship of Christ and believing in their heart the truth of His death.  Now, we'll not mince words here with this statement: this belief results in behavior.  A belief that results in no life action is vain and empty.

Why do we pray for this?  Because we understand the Bible to teach us that all need salvation to be at peace with God (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 53:6, Romans 5:8).  And just as we see that God sent His Son to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17) and wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), yet must give sinful people what they have earned (Romans 6:23).

So mankind needs saved, basically from what we deserve, which is the wrath of Almighty God.  There are none so amazing that they do not need this salvation, and none so awful they cannot be blood-bought by Christ.

Yet because of our sinfulness, it takes 2 things for a person to be saved: the move of the Spirit of God in their lives and the witness of God's Word.  Typically the witness is supplied by a person directed by God, but it also comes from 'scattered seed' like Gideon Bibles left in hotels (or stolen, then left someplace else!).  We will be more certain of seeing those in need of salvation confess and believe if we first ask God to move in their lives and then, driven by our heart that they not perish in hell but rather come to repentance, we will be the witness of God's Word.

Why pray for the salvation of those who already claim to be believers?  2 reasons: assurance and certainty.  What's the difference?  Assurance is needed for those who truly are saved but have doubts.  God can increase their assurance.  Certainty is need by those who aren't really saved but think they are.  How so?  We often "strike while the iron is hot" and quick-baptize people in our churches.  Years later, they are convicted by the Holy Spirit that they are not truly believers.  We need to pray that these people will be convicted and move in response to God's work in their lives.

In all, we as people are able to evaluate fruit, but unable to correctly judge the hearts of people.  So, we pray that all will be saved and then act in accordance with those prayers.  When we think a person is saved, we pray that God will confirm the fact in their lives or convict them of its falsehood.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love puts us down where we belong

With apologies to Joe Cocker, Jennifer Warnes, and Will Jennings, I've decided to take their chart-topping hit from An Officer and a Gentleman and find fault with it.  Of course, if Louis Gossett Jr. shows up and kicks me like he did Richard Gere in that film, I might take it back.

This was brought to mind with a letter I received yesterday.  It was from the Recording Secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Now, for those of you vaguely unfamiliar with SBC politics, this part will be confusing, but every year there are certain committees that are formed/appointed to help manage the process and decisions of the SBC as we meet for our annual meeting.  It's necessary to do this because an annual SBC meeting is anywhere from 7,000 to 12,000 (or more, there's been 20,000) messengers coming to vote on SBC business.  There's processes for verifying that votes are only allowed to people with a legitimate right to vote (you have to be approved by an SBC church), processes for nominating the board members of various agencies, processes for determining resolutions to pass on to the body, and processes for determining what business actually gets to the floor.  There's even a committee that meets to determine who sits on the committee that makes nominations. 

Now, about 3 weeks ago, I got an email informing me I had been recommended to participate in one of these committees.  It would have required me to recommend people into positions of influence within the SBC, sort of a gatekeeper to who gets influence.  To say the least, I was slightly (read:quite a bit) excited at the opportunity.  I'm not exactly the SBC insider I once wanted to be, but it felt good to be moving towards fame and glory within my denomination (yes, it's a denomination and a convention.  Stop that.)  I agreed over the phone to serve with this committee, and was told to expect a phone call or a letter in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, it's been a few weeks.  No call, no letter, until yesterday, when I received a letter thanking me for agreeing to serve on a different committee.  In truth, it's a slightly less significant role in the internal machinations of the SBC.  I was, personally, unsure of how to respond.  I didn't know if I had offended someone or done something wrong to be "demoted."

Then I remembered something.  I had been pondering who I knew that I could recommend to anything in the SBC.  I had come up with 2 non-preachers and about half-a-dozen preachers I knew well enough that I would recommend.  That's not enough.  By far, it's too few non-preachers, because the SBC was never intended to be managed by professional clergy.  We'd be Credo-baptistic Presbyterians.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not us.  I had been praying that God would guide me on who to nominate and how to handle the situation.

This is an answer to prayer for me.  God, in His love, put me down where I belong.  My responsibilities will be much more fact based and much less relational based.  I will be doing something I'm much more suited for instead of something I wouldn't have been good at doing.

In all, love has put me down where I belong.  It's been good on the ego, because my hats fit better again, and it will be good for those I'm working with, because I'll be doing something I should be.

In what ways have you ever been "put down" only to realize you needed it?



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another thought inspired by coffee

I have become, in recent years, a coffee drinker.  How did I get started on this habit?  Well, it was once an occasional indulgence, especially when around my father in the evenings.  He tended to make some nice flavored coffees after dinner at Christmas or Thanksgiving. 

Then, about the time I started a 3-year stint as a bi-vocational pastor.  This was while we lived south of Memphis, and the church was in Northeast Arkansas.  This required an early start and a long drive.  Coincidentally, the local Exxon convenience store chain was running an "all-coffee half-price" special.  So, a 20 ounce cup of coffee was running about $0.80, whilst a 20 ounce Mountain Dew was $1.19.  And I think Dew is worse for you than coffee.  So, I began to drink a 20-ounce Bengal Traders every Sunday morning, then Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.  Then when it got cold, many work mornings.  I was particularly partial to the French Vanilla with one of those little cups of Southern Butter Pecan creamer.

Then we moved to Monticello, and there's no Bengal Traders coffee to be had here.  I began to buy Millstone from Wal-Mart, and then, after receiving a bag of Cameron's Coffee from a friend, I started ordering directly from them.  Then I switched over to Green Mountain Coffee, and especially enjoy their single-origin coffees, like the Los Nacientes Special Reserve Coffee or the Sumatran Reserve.

Why all this fuss about coffee?  And isn't all that fancy stuff more expensive than Folgers or Maxwell House?  It is indeed that, but it's worth it. 

However, to cover the increased cost, I drink much less coffee than a lot of the Folgers drinkers do.  Generally I make enough coffee to fill one travel cup per day, except for Sundays, when I make a bit extra.  It's worth it, to me, because the quality of the coffee is that much better and the taste is better.  I'd rather have a well done small pot of coffee than a mediocre large pot.

Which led me to this thought: do we often think that way in our lives or our churches?  How much of what we do dilutes our resources and quality?  For example, I have a set budget for coffee.  I can spend it on a lot of Folgers or a little bit of whole bean fresh roasted coffee.  I choose the quality over the quantity.

In our family lives, are we, perhaps, so insanely busy because we've chosen a quantity of activity over a quality?  That rather than choose 1 or 2 things to do, and do them well, we instead take on nearly anything that comes our way.  Not that all that we do or that I hear from people that their time goes to do is bad, much of it is good.  Yet how much of the quality of involvement goes away because of dilution? 

Often, our churches go the same route.  Rather than concentrate our efforts and make sure our resources go to doing a few things well, we resist and insist on doing lots of things, sometimes resulting in doing many of them badly.  Should we not reconsider?

And as we reconsider, keep in mind our core purpose: Worship God with all we and tell others about Jesus!!  We as churches do not exist to compete with world groups or even community organizations, but rather to be churches and do what only churches can do.  That's where our efforts should be.

So, in what ways are we sacrifice quality for quantity?  How can we change?  Because, eventually, we'll have to.



Monday, April 19, 2010

April 18 Sermons

Here are the sermons outlines from April 18. I think I deviated from the outlines more than I typically like to, but you can listen and compare yourself if you'd like.


Text: Matthew 8:18-27

Theme: Discipleship

Date: April 18 2010 AM

Location: CBC Monticello

  1. Text

    1. Seemingly unrelated stories

    2. Scribe: will you follow if there is nowhere to go?

    3. Disciple: will you follow alone?

    4. Disciple: will you follow if it keeps you from following social conventions of today?

    5. Disciples: will you follow through the storm?

  2. Idea:

    1. Following Christ and normal do not mix

    2. There are no guarantees except Him

    3. There are no relationships that come before Him

    4. There are no storms that can stop Him

  3. Practice:

    1. Know His orders

    2. Let go of expectations: there may not be dens or nests; houses or church buildings

    3. Let go of expectation: there will be times that we must reject cultural norms and expectations

  4. Strength

    1. There is no one like Him who can command seas and winds

    2. There is no one like Him who can save us from the storms

    3. There is no one like Him who can command us


Text: Philippians 3:7-11


Date: April 18 2010 PM

Location: CBC Monticello

  1. Have you ever thought about what things you think are gain to you?

    1. Money in the bank

    2. Job security

    3. Family life

    4. Sports success

    5. Fame

    6. Respect at church

  2. Have you ever thought about what things you think are gain to our church?

    1. Money in the bank

    2. Church buildings

    3. Activities

    4. History

    5. Tradition

  3. Have you ever thought about what things you think are gain to our nation?

    1. Trade

    2. Economy

    3. Strong Military

    4. Good leadership

    5. Basic national morality

  4. Guess what?

    1. It's all rubbish compared to knowing Christ

    2. We are called to know Him and to be found in Him

  5. Nationally:

    1. We can be moral, strong, and wealthy without Christ

    2. We as a Christian people must be more concern about the Kingdom than we are about the Empire

  6. As a church

    1. There are churches with amazing buildings that are dead inside

    2. There are churches with adequate funding that do nothing

    3. There are churches overrun with activities and no usefulness

    4. There are churches with extensive histories

    5. There are churches with long-standing traditions

    6. WHAT WILL WE BE? A Church that know Jesus or something else?

  7. As people

    1. Where does your effort go?

    2. How much distraction do the things around you provide to not Know Christ?

    3. Are you living in righteousness?

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16th Thoughts

It's Friday night, and for those of you who don't know where I am, I'm not where I would normally be. I'm in a hotel room in Little Rock by myself, which is pretty unusual. Why am I here? Individual Critical Incident Stress Management Training, that's why. What does that mean? I can only answer that question halfway, because I'm only half done. Hence, spending the night so that I can get back to it first thing in the morning.

However, I'm not going to write that much about the training. Why? Well, I'm not a certified instructor and I wouldn't want to steer you wrong. I will say this: if you are involved in chaplaincy or ministry, this would be worth your time to learn. I would also suggest it to those who minister to people like funeral directors or to pastors, because there's a strong probability that you can put these skills to good use. (By the way, under chaplaincy, consider: Military, police, fire, hospital, disaster relief, correctional facility, hospital, and corporate.)

Instead, I'm reflecting a little bit about being at the training. I got here, got signed in for class, and then found myself a pew. (While I would prefer a classroom setting, it's alright.) Then I see that one of the other pastors from Monticello is there. He also works with Hospice as a chaplain, so I'm not at all surprised to see him. A few minutes later, though, and I had my first surprise. In walked a man I haven't seen in 13 years. To sum up, 13 years ago I was going to marry his sister-in-law, but she backed out, and I haven't seen any of the family since.

What was odd to me is that he hasn't hardly changed. At least, he didn't seem like it to me. He's changed careers since then, and is now the pastor of a church in Jacksonville. He's maybe a little more serious, but he always was pretty serious. I'm not surprised to find him in the ministry.

Then lunch brought the second surprise. I'm walking through a school cafeteria line (the hosting church has a school attached, so the lunch was being served through the same line) and hear my name called out. Now, one thing that has happened since I've been back in Arkansas is that I manage to encounter people that know my name and face that I don't know.

Not this time. It was my math teacher from high school. She's recently retired and is training to be a community chaplain with her local police department. It was good to see her again. She seemed to have aged some since I was in high school, but in a graceful way. Well, in the way someone that loses their spouse after a long illness would. Not older, more like sadder, like a piece is missing that won't be coming back. She knows where I am and what I'm doing, since we're connected on Facebook. She introduced me to the other people she was eating lunch with, and pointed out that I was a pastor and that she had known that was coming for a long time. Longer, in fact, than I had.

My point in these stories? A few things:

  1. Don't burn bridges. The people that have been around in your life will be back again. They may need you, you may need them, or you both might just enjoy the encounter. Any of the three should be a reminder: people are much more valuable than we treat them. Don't treat people like things that can be used. People also remember things far longer than you expect.

  2. Don't neglect the wisdom others can bring to your own life. If you need to know some things about yourself, go to the people that know you. Now, make sure you actually can trust these people, but be willing to listen to them. You remain responsible for what you do with the information, but realize that others have much to offer in terms of understanding yourself.

  3. Don't fail to help those who come to you for guidance. While you do not want to take responsibility away from people about their own life, you bear the responsibility if you are asked for help and won't give it. If you're able to see something in others that can help them, try and do it.

Well, that's my thoughts tonight. I'm going to crash out so that I can be ready to tackle tomorrow!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Word for Word

I've recently begun using speech recognition software that is built into my computer. I'm attempting to use it to write blog posts into dictates different things. One of the difficulties of using the software is that records everything I say how it thinks I said it

Unfortunately, the computer doesn't exactly understand me. There are times the computer hears me say one thing when I really said another. There are other times when I fail to tell the computer exactly what it is that I mean.

One of the keys to using speech recognition is to be consistent with your voice. If you will not speak consistently, the computer doesn't know what you mean. It takes using a clear voice without distraction for the computer to understand you.

It has me wondering how many times we falter in our churches the same way that voice recognition software falters.

1.)  We don't understand each other because sometimes we're not listening. Sometimes the noise of life drowns out our ability to hear. We must learn to focus our attention and hear what's really being said.

2.)  We sometimes make the mistake of only hearing exactly what has been said. We need to learn to hear what's not being said. And we need to hear what people mean, what people feel, and what people think by paying attention to their words, their expressions, and their actions.

3.) We must learn to speak consistently. We must learn to match our words to our actions. We must learn to match our words to our beliefs. We must learn to be stable in all three no matter what the world throws at us.

As I have dictated this to my computer, I've had to correct errors, prevent bad commands, and repeat myself. It has almost been an exercise in frustration, but it's getting better. Yesterday I would not have thought that I could dictate a 300 plus word length blog post using only my voice. However I have already made progress.

It will take patience, effort, perseverance, and forgiveness as we strive to communicate with each other. Yet if we fail to do so, we will not effectively make disciples of all nations because we won't even make disciples of ourselves. We cannot live our faith in a vacuum but rather we live our faith together.

Have a great day.

Doug click said Karen works

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Will the World End in 2012?

The world will end!!! We're all going to die!!! Ack! Panic in the streets, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!!

If you listen to certain circles in the world right now, you'll hear many things of this sort.  It's the current end of the world prediction.  The last time I recall such a widespread cataclysmic prediction was when we were approaching Y2K, although there was some in 2006-2008.

Upon the panicked public and curious Christian then is thrust this book: Will the World End in 2012? by Raymond C. Hundley, Ph.D. 

Will the World End in 2012?: A Christian Guide to the Question Everyone's Asking

Some thoughts on the book:

1.  It's a paperback.  Which makes sense, because if we live past 2012, it will have no lasting value.

2.  Dr. Hundley spends a chapter on each of 10 topics that people have suggested as either reasons the world will soon end or how it will happen.

These chapters are, by need, short.  As such, there isn't a lot of information in them.  It's more than a summary statement, but it's not really a lot of detail.

3.  There are a couple of concluding chapters that address how to respond to the idea that 2012 could be the end of the world.


A few things that this book lacks:

1.  A clear explanation of Dr. Hundley's qualification to speak to this issue.  While being as fair to his education as possible, he does not report having specialized in end-of-the-world studies or the specific astronomical or physics studies referenced in a few chapters.

2.  I was hoping for more information about other seasons in history that have been overloaded with end-of-the-world predictions.  There's a brief reference in the introduction to over 149 end of the world predictions in the last 2000 years, but that's all there is there.

3.  A definite statement.  There's no definite take whether the author accepts the 2012 concept.  This is certainly due to a reticence on the part of Biblical interpreters to fix dates.  If you fix one and miss it, your credibility is shot, but if you dismiss one, you risk being sidelined until it has passed.


In all, the book's conclusion, though, of how we ought to live our lives realizing the temporary nature of life on this earth and the brevity of life.  That without the hope of Christ, we'll be unprepared for the end of the world, whenever it may come.

If you miss out on this book, you won't be miss out on much.  It's not a waste of your time, but it's not something to go to much trouble to add to your library.

By the way, per the FCC, you should know this book was provided free from Booksneeze in exchange for a free book.  If you need more info than that, check Disclosures! for the information.


April 11 Sermon

Text: Philippians 3:1-6

Theme: What counts?

Date: April 11, 2010 PM

Location: CBC Monticello

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. 2Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, 4although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. Phil 3:1-6 (NASB)

  1. Rejoicing through Repetition

    1. Repetition is not difficult to do

    2. Repetition builds safeguards for the hearers

    3. Why do we avoid repetition?

    4. In the Lord: for He has saved us

    5. In the Lord: for He has made us righteous

  2. Rejoicing for what reason?

    1. That bad action has no bearing on God's grace

    2. That good action has no bearing on God's grace

  3. Rejoicing in rejection!

    1. Rejecting false legalism

      Rejecting confidence in ourselves

  4. Rejoicing in what way?

    1. Worship in the Spirit: not limited to one location

    2. Worship in the Glory: not limited by one person

    3. Worship in Christ Jesus: by obedience to Him and directed by His example


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Weekend Links

I meant to have this up earlier today, but I broke a lawnmower that I borrowed, and Ann and I spent about an hour fixing it.  So, this is a little late.

I don't have an original thought to share.  I've got a book review to do of Will the World End in 2012, but I'm not done with it.  I'll try and get it next week.

What I do want to do is share a few blog links with you from this week.  Most of these blogs are worth reading all the time, although you can miss a day or two.  Here you go:

First of all: Emil Turner's blog at ABSC about Cooperative Agreements in SBC North American Missions.  I want to share a few blog posts to explain why it's an issue, but that'll be next week.

Second: Kevin DeYoung: Oddly enough, Pastor Kevin hits the nail on the head about nearly everything except when to baptize folks, but we won't hold that against him.  He did a series this week about being upset with your church.  Here it is: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

Third: Thom Rainer: posted a short piece summarizing a research project from Lifeway about how pastors spend their time.

There's been some other interesting news this week, like Mid-America Baptist Seminary's decision to release men from daily necktie wear!  This would have been added to the book I'm reviewing, Will the World End in 2012? had it been known in time.

Will the World End in 2012?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weekend Links

I meant to have this up earlier today, but I broke a lawnmower that I borrowed, and Ann and I spent about an hour fixing it.  So, this is a little late.

I don't have an original thought to share.  I've got a book review to do of Will the World End in 2012, but I'm not done with it.  I'll try and get it next week.

What I do want to do is share a few blog links with you from this week.  Most of these blogs are worth reading all the time, although you can miss a day or two.  Here you go:

First of all: Emil Turner's blog at ABSC about Cooperative Agreements in SBC North American Missions.  I want to share a few blog posts to explain why it's an issue, but that'll be next week.

Second: Kevin DeYoung: Oddly enough, Pastor Kevin hits the nail on the head about nearly everything except when to baptize folks, but we won't hold that against him.  He did a series this week about being upset with your church.  Here it is: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

Third: Thom Rainer: posted a short piece summarizing a research project from Lifeway about how pastors spend their time.

There's been some other interesting news this week, like Mid-America Baptist Seminary's decision to release men from daily necktie wear!  This would have been added to the book I'm reviewing, Will the World End in 2012? had it been known in time.

Will the World End in 2012?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A follow up on Romans 12:9-13

One more brief word about this passage, which I commented on yesterday. 

In the Greek, the verse begins with "the love" (I can't get the Greek font to work.  It's the definite article followed by agape.)

The word is used for a couple of things in the New Testament.  The first is the most commonly understood: agape as reflected in divine love.  It's the type of love God shows and that we as Christians are called to give.

There's another usage, though, that might be applicable here.  Some records show that the early Christian church held meals together (see, they were Baptists!).  These were times where the rich brought what they could, the poor what they could, and they ate and fellowshipped.  These times were generally held at the same times that the majority religion would have been doing the same type of activity (think: having a group of Christians get together during American Idol because all the pagans are busy ;-o ).

The Christian meal likely featured teaching, fellowship (the real kind, where you actually strive to encourage and strengthen each other), and observing the Lord's Supper.  This was, at times, undertaken at mortal risk during times of persecution. 

And it was called "The Love" or, perhaps, "The Love Feast."  Now, we have certain opinions of anything termed a "Love Feast" so we don't use that term much in American churches.

I see here, though, an additional facet to Paul's instruction to the Roman church.  First, there's the basic idea of love without ulterior motive, love that is shown in actions that strive to be in concert with the best of intentions.  Then there's the idea that when the churches gathers there is to be no deception or false pretense for the meeting.

This is not to shoot down official church drama groups, but rather to address the unofficial church drama groups.  The prayer meetings that are gossip sessions.  The Bible Studies that are about everything but the Word.  The fellowships that are about eating and talking but not about breaking past the cliques that form in our churches.  The worship that's about the music style or our schedule and not about recognizing God's presence with us.

It's a call for the actions of the church together to be about what we say they are: real fellowship, true study, honest worship, effective service.

Can we get there?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Romans 12:9-13

This passage struck me this morning. 

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Romans 12:9-13 (ESV)

The NASB renders Romans 12:9 as "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."  (by the way: literal Greek here:" "The love not hypocrisy."  Based on my depth and breadth of Greek knowledge, I'd translate this as "Love without hypocrisy" for a Greek class.  I'd then read it from NASB when preaching and the first point would be: Love should be genuine.)

Now, I wanted to address this.  Love without hypocrisy.  What is hypocrisy?  We hear the word a lot, and the meaning has faded.  A brief venture into the Greek language shows that the word originated as a compound of "ὑπό" and "κρισις."  Now, that "κρισις" also come down to us as "crisis."  Initial meaning on the separate words are "under or beneath" and "decision," but remember that words evolve on their own.  Consider "butterfly" in English.  Whilst it does fly, it isn't made of butter, so knowing the meaning of "butter" doesn't help one understand.

A hypocrite was initially a term applied to actors in Greek dramas, that they had to hold their own selves under the character.  Then, however, an actor or two went into politics and other serious work.  They were mocked as being so good as an actor that they were even well pretending to be qualified for real work.  Thus, the word began a path to a negative connotation.  It then hits its Biblical-era meaning range: basically of a person who does one thing while meaning, saying, or believing in an opposite idea.  Hypocrisy is the action of a hypocrite.  Since those times, we see an expansion of the meaning beyond this, into any action that differs from a person's expressed words and opinions is called hypocrisy.  I don't think it's appropriate to read this meaning back to Biblical times.  This is likely why the ESV uses "genuine" to address this.

Love should be without hypocrisy.  This should be taken to mean that we do not profess or act out love when we, in our hearts, don't have any love.  This isn't to say we should only love when we feel like it, rather that we should choose to act out the love we claim to have.

Another thing to note is that we shouldn't equate hypocrisy with failure.  In other words, just because I fail to live up to what I define as important, that doesn't make me a hypocrite.  That makes me a sinner, but not a hypocrite.  If I never have any intention to live up to my expressed standards, that's hypocrisy.

Why does this matter?  Because we are often too quick to judge others and ourselves as hypocrites when our actions are inadequate.  And this judgmental habit feeds inaction, because no one wants to be a hypocrite!  Yet the death of our churches (not of The Church, but of many of our local branches) is so often found in that inaction.  Are there churches that fail for hypocrisy?  Yes, but many more I believe falter for inaction.

We've got to began to go ahead and act!  Even at the risk of acting but falling short.  Even at the risk of realizing we're not as amazing as we thought we were.  Let's get off the fence and act!



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stuff Christians Like


Along with a myriad of others, I'm playing along with Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, and we're doing one massive blog post, spread across dozens of blogs.  The beginning is on his blog at Stuff Christians Like.  Here's my part of it:

13. The contestant sings a Lady Gaga song. (Especially if it is the one that has the word, "Disco" in it. That one is so crazy I could only write one word from it.) = - 3 points 

To add up your score with over a 130 other ideas on this scorecard, visit

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sermon Outline: April 4, 2010

Here's the outline of the sermon I preached yesterday morning for Easter.  I'll paste the audio player in if you want to hear it.

A few thoughts on sermon outlines vs. sermons, at least with me, is that the outline is a guide, not a guarantee.  For example, if you'll listen to this sermon, you'll hear me spend about the first third of the message on why I trust that the Resurrection is true.  That's not in the outline. Also you'll  catch that I didn't exactly use all the points here.

So, here you go:

Text: Matthew 28:1-10


Date: April 4 2010 EASTER!

Location: CBC Monticello

  1. The central point of the Christian Faith

    1. 1 Corinthians 15:15-19

      1. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that b he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and c you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who d have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope [1] in this life only, e we are of all people most to be pitied.

    2. Without the Resurrection, we're hopeless

    3. We're pointless

    4. We're, well, pitiful

  2. The Resurrection validates:

    1. If Christ is risen never to die then:

      1. His preaching is valid, for He is truthful

      2. His praying is worth copying, for He is heard

      3. His promises are trustworthy, for He is alive to keep them!

    2. If Christ is risen, never to die then:

      1. Our sins can be forgiven, His death was enough to pay for them

      2. Our lives can be redeemed, His living will do so

      3. Our lives can be eternal, His word will be honored

    3. If Christ is risen, never to die then:

      1. Your life can be joyful, He will prevail over the unknown

      2. Your life can be peaceful, He will keep watch over you

      3. Your life can be valuable, He has died for you


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