Wednesday, December 11, 2013


A new movie entitled Lone Survivor is set to open within the next month.  The film is based on SEAL Team 10's failed mission: Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005, to capture or kill a notorious Taliban leader during the War in Afghanistan (Wikipedia).  Actor Mark Wahlberg plays real life lone survivor SO2 Marcus Luttrell. 

Lone Survivor tells the incredible tale of four Navy SEALs on a covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative who are ambushed by the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. Faced with an impossible moral decision, the small band is isolated from help and surrounded by a much larger force of Taliban ready for war. As they confront unthinkable odds together, the four men find reserves of strength and resilience as they stay in the fight to the finish.

CBS's interview with Luttrell and his Vice Admiral is below:

"Marcus Luttrell's three SEAL team mates weren't the only American casualties in the battle. A chopper with 16 other Special Operations forces that had rushed to help Luttrell and his team was shot out of the sky. Everyone on board was killed.

At the time, in June 2005, it was the largest loss of life in one day for Naval Special Warfare since World War II. A former commander of Marcus Luttrell's, retired Vice Admiral Joe Maguire, told us no SEAL will ever forget that terrible day.

Anderson Cooper: Was that the toughest day for you as a Special Forces commander?

Joe Maguire: Yes. You know, most people of my generation, they ask the question, you know, do you remember when Kennedy was shot? Well I remember that as well, but a much more moving day for me and one that's more defining is the 28th of June, 2005, when that helicopter was shot down and three of my men were killed on the ground.

Nineteen men lost their lives. Vice Admiral Joe Maguire was head of SEAL training at the time.

Joe Maguire: You would have to go back to World War II to have had one day where we experienced that many casualties at one time."

In one of the more moving parts of the interview, Luttrell stated he was a coward because he put his gun down in a fight and covered his ears because he could not stand anymore to listen to his best friend die.  Luttrell stated the only way to break a Seal was to kill them but at that point in time he had reached his breaking point.

Luttrell was right in his interview when he stated that it is said every man has his breaking point.  In physical and even spiritual battles, we are only human.  Many times our best efforts are in vain.  But there is One that came down on our behalf to make up for our failures.  And this individual could bend without breaking because he was more than man.  This man was Jesus but this man was also God.  The enemy did everything possible to Him, hung Him on a cross with all of our sins attached, yet He did not break.  He endured the cross for us, his joy.  The grave couldn't hold Him and death couldn't defeat Him.  You can't kill what won't die.  When death looked Him in the eye, He responded like Clint Eastwood, "make my day."  For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Disciples or Drones?

Last week, CBS's 60 Minutes produced an intriguing piece on the future of the company Amazon by interviewing its founder Jeff Bezos:   Innovative technology stood at the forefront of the interview with one idea standing heads and shoulders above the rest:  Autonomous drones or octacopters (8 blades) with "amazon prime air" written on them that fly out of fulfillment or distribution centers that will fly to GPS locations (your home or your front porch) dropping off packages (up to 5 pounds) that you order in 30 minute delivery times.  The drones would operate within a 10 mile radius from their fulfillment centers. 

There are many parallels here that can be made to The Church.

The church has likewise been given a gospel message to deliver that is much weightier than 5 lbs.  The church is autonomous.  The church is like a distribution and a fulfillment center in that it distributes the good news or the gospel and provides people fulfillment found in Christ alone.  The church can use GPS to locate people within a 10 mile radius to share the gospel with.

However, there is one major difference between Amazon's new technology and The Church.  The Church will never have the luxury to rely solely on drones to deliver the good news.  That's because the gospel was never meant just to be handed out.  It was meant first and foremost to be lived out.  Robots can go but robots can never live.  Only casual Christianity would call for a robot to do what we were commanded to be.  We were never called to solely deliver good news.  We were called to be Disciple Makers.   If all we had to do was get the message out, using drones would be a great route to take.  But we have been called to so much more.

Another impressive technology (also on the video) found in Amazon is their Amazon Web Services (AWS).  To keep track of its massive online orders, Amazon created a large and sophisticated computing infrastructure called AWS.  Amzaon then found out it could expand the infrastructure for hundreds of thousands of companies (Netflix for one) and government agencies (the CIA, etc.) in what is known as "The Cloud."  Perhaps you have heard this expression in your company that some pertinent information was lost in the clouds (referring to internet space) and later you may get the good news that the information was found.    

I find "The Cloud" to be a fascinating concept.  Daniel went through his own cloud like experience (Read Daniel 10).  Sometimes our prayers are just floating up there and God's answer hasn't gotten to us yet. We can't see the heavenly realm but spiritual warfare is taking place.  The thing we must remember is God's answers to us are always in His time and they are always on time.   

Jeff Bezos also noted Amazon's big ideas to be customer centricity and invention which he said included going down the dark alley to see what's on the other side.  In contrast to Jeff's company, I believe some of the big ideas in God's Church leading to personal and corporate revival include Christocentric preaching (emphasis is on Christ compared to the consumer) and consistently incorporating the spiritual disciplines in our life (what we should heavily do when we find ourselves in those dark night of the soul moments) which lead us into approaching God and His holiness.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Political Transformation?

Last night, I listened to the new President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission speak at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s event called Casual Conversations.  His position is basically one that gives a public address for stances that Southern Baptists take concerning moral and religious issues.  There are many issues and topics on the table now that include same-sex marriage, gender identity, and contraception laws, human trafficking, cloning, and the affordable care act among others. 

We need more Christian leaders and church members who will answer God’s call to have a voice in American politics.  I would like to take a moment to briefly discuss the grave injustice that has taken place in our country and the solution to the problem.  Much of my information will be drawn from Wayne Grudem’s book Politics According to the Bible (ch. 5) and the website  I strongly encourage for every believer to read pages 124-154 in Grudem’s book and to regularly visit Pastor Rit Varriale’s website. 

In short, the Supreme Court has gradually discovered they could have unlimited power in our country and has thus become the most powerful group in the nation.  Rather than interpreting the original intent of the constitution, these justices go beyond the law now making new laws based on what it thinks is best for the nation.  At present, there are 4 liberal “activist” justices and 4 conservative “originalist” justices.  The swing vote is a justice by the name of Anthony Kennedy who often sides with the “originalist” justices.  In essence, this one justice has more power than the President of the United States.  Together, these 9 justices are unelected by the people (they are appointed for life by the President), are unaccountable to the people, and decide nearly all the important laws of our land. 

This idea goes against the original idea of our Forefathers and the original intent of the constitution and the original intent of the Supreme Court.  Judges were to have absolutely no role in the process of making laws or in the difficult process of amending the Constitution.  They were to judge according to a standard of laws outside of themselves.  Now they themselves have become the standard.  The result is they have determined national laws concerning abortion, homosexuality, and the removal of religion from public events and public places.  And this goes against what the majority of American citizens would vote for given the chance. 
As a country, we have drifted far away from our true founding.  In the documentary Monumental, Professor David Barton states that beginning in 1782 Congress printed and issued out 10,000 Bibles to be used in the America's school houses and that in 1798 signers of the declaration and of the constitution were funding family Bibles.

In the name of constitutionality and human rights, the courts have dominated Western society by stripping the majority of their right to live out their faith in the public square.  Our government today is no longer of the people, by the people, and for the people.  It is a government of the courts, by the secularists, and for the minority.  In essence, 2% of people decide for what 98% of people are against.    

So what do we do?  We need to remember the power of one.  The gospel doesn’t begin with societal transformation.  It begins with personal redemption in that as the gospel works its way out in individuals, societal structures will automatically be transformed.  The African slave trade is a great example.  In its day, it was a grave injustice that still has ramifications today.  However, in an optimal world, where the gospel is front and center, slavery would be obsolete.  Today, we find ourselves enslaved to the laws made by the Supreme Court.  The gospel answer is love, not hate.  When the hearts of people and communities are transformed by the gospel, there will be hope that the Supreme Court can be transformed as well!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Charlie Brown had it right!

On  December 9, 1965, CBS launched "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  I always enjoyed watching the short 30 minute cartoon as child so I thought I would re-watch the episode on ABC last night.  ABC took over the television rights beginning in 2001.  Although the show is nearly 50 years old, it would do people of all ages a service to watch it for the first time or to watch it again. 

Despite our postmodernity, this cartoon remains applicable in our time --- in ways, I must admit that I did not even realize until watching the replay.  So let me take some time to break down this show and relate it to where and how we are living today.  Charlie Brown is suffering from a mental illness, depression.  He can't figure out why he cannot enjoy Christmas and pays Lucy 5 cents for psychiatric help at the local booth.  It surprised me to see that the word "psychiatric" appeared in this 1965 show.

Though mental illnesses have rapidly increased and are now experienced by 1 out of every 5 Americans, they were not nonexistent in 1965.  Doctor Lucy mentions all kinds of phobias that Charlie Brown may be experiencing and at last mentions that maybe he just has a fear of everything.  Though Charlie Brown payed the doctor for his visit, he left unsatisfied (sound familiar). 

Charlie finds his free answer to his struggles when his friend Linus tells Charlie at play practice what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.  You can watch the 2 minute video here:  Linus actually quotes Luke 2:8-14.  Charlie Brown had it right.  Christmas isn't about secularization, commercialism, or materialism.  It's about the simple gospel answer that was provided to us in swaddling cloths. 

Perhaps you know some individuals who are depressed and can't enjoy the Christmas season.  Will you be like Linus, a true friend, and share the real reason for the season.  The show ends with a Charlie Brown greeting and a hymn that all the kids sing together, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King." 

Children and Adults used to get out more and sing hymns like this to the community during the Christmas season.  Yes, times have changed and door to door visits do not take place like they did 30 years ago due to safety concerns, etc.  But maybe we should look into the mirror and call a spade a spade.  Maybe rather than saying times have changed, we should say our hearts have changed.  Are you compelled out of God's love for you to tell the world what He has done for you?  If so, and especially in a free country like the one we live in, a door won't seem like such a big obstacle. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  Happy has become a popular word as of late...just think Duck Dynasty...HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY.... but what exactly is happiness.  In America, our view of happiness is very skewed.  Some would say happiness is a state of mind.  Others say that it is getting things they want that make them happy.  I believe happiness is a good attribute that God has given us that reveals His goodness and His image upon us as human beings.  But I also believe that Scripture teaches us that happiness is so much more.

If you want to find a happy individual, look no further than Psalms 1.  The very first word in the first verse, "blessed" has also been translated as "happy."  Happy is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  Isaiah 26:3 puts it another way: You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you. 

Bible study, memorization, meditation, and application are not just spiritual exercises.  They are the pathway to happiness and peace.  Not only happiness and peace but also success.  God told Joshua to meditate on the book of the law both day and night so he would be careful to do everything written in it.  Then God says to Joshua that by doing so he would be both prosperous and successful.

So we can see what happiness is and what it is not.  Happiness is not seeing the external expectations you have in life come to be.  Simply put, you are not happy because you get what you want or what your heart desires.  In fact, I have noticed the opposite to be true.  Those who get often want more and are never satisfied.  The lust for more never brings contentment.  I have seen many unhappy marriages, unhappy customers, unhappy kids, unhappy employees, etc.  That is because idols never deliver.  People, families, jobs, things can never fill the happy void.

Happiness is an inner satisfaction in and a loving relationship with a Holy God.  Only God can bring fulfillment in one's life and this takes place in spite of outside circumstances one finds him or herself in.  Reread Psalms 1.  In today's case, you won't ultimately be forever happy because you ate to your heart's content.  At best, you will wonder why you can't eat like this every day.  At worse, you will wonder why you ate too much.  No, happiness is much more than a state of mind.  Happiness is a gift from God!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to suffer well?

Last week, we heard of Typhoon Haiyan coming through Tacloban, Philippines killing 10,000 people.  Yesterday, news reached me of 75 tornadoes ripping through the Midwest of our own country.  20 out of our 50 states were under extreme watch.  Why do these type of atrocities occur?  Why do children die unexpectedly and why does Aunt Sally have a tragic accident on the way back home from church?  These questions all fall under the big umbrella of theodicy (the problem of evil).  How do we answer the problem of evil, suffering, and pain in our world?  In reality, there is no 1 answer that fits the question and there will be times in this life that we will never receive an answer.  I recently heard a mother express just that in reference to her child being shot at Sandy Hook.  She may be right.  She may never know on earth why the gunman pulled the trigger.

With that being said, let me give you a few possible solutions to the problem of evil, however I remind you that these solutions are not a one size fits all approach to answering the problem of evil question.  Colossians 1:24 speaks of us filling up what is lacking in our afflictions of Christ.  What is it that is lacking?  It is our pain or suffering that God can use to point other people to the gospel.  Sometimes we do experience pain because God is disciplining us or bringing depth in our walk with God (think of Job).  Sometimes God is just demonstrating his greatness to us in suffering by reminding us that He is our greatest treasure.

Romans 8:28-29 is a great passage of Scripture for those experiencing evil, pain, or suffering.  Many times our suffering is present to make us become more like Christ, who suffered more than we ever will on the cross.  We must remember God doesn't exist to make us happy.  The "everything works for our good" part of Romans 8:28 doesn't say for our happiness.  In this case, good could imply suffering if that is what it takes for us to gain what is lacking to look more like Christ.    Plus people take notice when they see us suffer and our hope remains in Christ.  Many people don't take notice when everything is going normal as is.

Other times, we suffer because we live in a fallen world, because of our own sin, because others sin against us, because the devil tempts us, or for God's good purposes.  Jesus is our example in suffering.  From Him, we learn how to suffer well.  I Corinthians 1:3-7 gives us the paradigm for suffering.  We suffer and receive comfort from God in our affliction so we can then turn and comfort others in their affliction which in turn produces hope. 

Remember, nothing in your life has happened that hasn't already crossed God's desk.  The suffering we receive from God has ministry in view.  Even your suffering doesn't belong to you.  It belongs to God.  The redemptive purpose in all of this is hope in a fallen world!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Remember When ...

Remember when times were simpler, when there weren't so many choices, when enough was enough.  How far have we come in 30 years?  We live in an age now where most things happen instantly, where people feel entitled to something without working for it, and where more seems to never be enough.

As a child, I remember living on a tree farm in Georgia.  In the winter time, dad would pull out his chainsaw, march into the woods, and bring back firewood which would heat the entire house through our centrally located iron wood stove. 

I remember going out to eat.  I was what you call a plain Jane.  I ordered the same thing every time from everywhere and didn't need side items. 

I also remember a man who would come on one of our four tv channels (no cable) from time to time who would speak a message of grace to the masses.  This was always a special occasion as the family enjoyed gathering around in the living room to listen to his message, even though we could hear the same type of message preached on most Sunday mornings at our local church.   If you have not guessed it yet, this man's name was Billy Graham. things have changed.  Now I have electric heat, I enjoy ordering side items, and Billy Graham just turned 95, preaching his last sermon.  But with the onset of the information or digital age, we seemed to have lost something.  We may indeed now have it all and know it all but we are lacking in substance.  And that substance is found in the simplicity of a message that Graham spent his life sharing about. 

Though no man is perfect, it is admirable that Graham stuck to his core values to the end.  Through the changing seasons, the life changing message does not change.  This message has become more offensive over the past 30 years but we must not and can not change the message to fit the desire of the masses. 

What truly has happened over the past couple of decades is we were given more idols.  In this case, more was not better.  Giving into these idols, many have begun to water down the message.  Many today have allowed these idols to crowd out their ability to hear from God on high.  Graham, a NC farm boy witnessed God put him in places he would never have imagined about growing up.  From traveling to the oval office to meet with Presidents and from traveling worldwide to meet with world leaders, Graham became known in the United States as America's Pastor.  I think Graham stating recently that he has wept for America will be some of the last words that we remember him by.  I have to agree with Graham.  As a nation, we have been running from God for too long.  Now is the time to turn back!        

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Doctor is here!

Last night, CBS Evening News reported an interesting trend in this country.  For the link, visit  In a little over a year, there have been 11 mass shootings leaving a total of 85 people dead.  Along with this find was the fact that in many of these shootings, the shooter was found to be dealing with some form of mental illness. 

According to a survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1 out of every 5 Americans has some form of mental illness.  If we look close enough, we can find someone in our own family struggling with mental health issues.  Mental Illnesses can be found in people of any age, race, religion, or income.  The most common mental illnesses are depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides us with a good working definition of what a mental illness is and the different forms it takes.

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

I am not surprised that the number of Americans being identified with a mental illness is increasing or that the number of mass shootings is at an alarmingly high rate and that its frequency is related to the mental health of the shooter.   

The question we need to ask ourselves is "is the gospel powerful enough to cure the mental health patient?"  The Bible would answer that question simply and emphatically with a YES!  The apostle Paul said the gospel was the power of salvation to ALL men.  It is not just the mentally ill person that is ill.  It is ALL men.  The Bible says that ALL men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Sin is the illness we all suffer from and the illness we all need cured from.  Only when we submit to God's power found in the gospel can our minds and our hearts be made right in His sight. 

One good thing we can take away from the mentally ill is that in most cases, these individuals admit they are suffering and indeed do need some form of help.  In relation to sin though, how often do most people say I'm a good person and everything is ok.  Jesus has something to say to both types of individuals:  "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Friday, November 1, 2013

What is Love?

In September, I addressed the question Where is the love?  Really before we answer that question rightly, we must first pose the question what is love?  Perhaps you remember the old Saturday Night Live rendition with Jim Carrey and his friends at a Night at the Roxbury.  These three head bob weaving men find themselves at a club looking for love in all the wrong places.  The saddest part of it these three men don't really understand what true love is.  And once given the opportunity to express love, these men quickly turn their suitors away.  Granted, it is funny to watch these three stooges dance themselves out of a partner.  But what is not funny is that these men actually represent many real people in our society who think they will find love without actually taking the time to get to know the person they find themselves with.  Dancing with someone you just met at a club and calling it falling in love couldn't be further than the truth.  For all you know, you may have just danced with a mass murderer.  In fact, it is only in spending time with another person that you develop what is known as trust in a relationship.

In 1995 (a few years before the SNL skit got popular), Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages.  In the book, Chapman lists five ways to express and experience love:

Quality Time
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Physical Touch

Chapman says we often have different primary and secondary ways that we like to both give and receive love.  So, for example, in that the primary love language you might like to show your love to another may be in giving gifts, the primary love language you might like to receive love may be something entirely different such as physical touch.  Thus, these are not things you learn overnight about another person but rather over time.  Chapman adds that it is important that we not automatically give the love language we like receiving the most but rather give the language that our mate prefers. After reading the book, Mindy Meier suggested food as a sixth love language.  I think that makes sense when you consider the time it takes to make a meal and the benefits that come from experiencing fellowship together through sharing a meal.

The analogies are endless.  Men are from Mars, are like dogs, are like microwaves, and are like waffles and Women are from Venus, are like cats, are like crock pots, and are like spaghetti may all be true to an extent (buy the books) but we must first remember the verse found in I John 4:8 that says, "Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love (read the bible).  I believe that!  Without first possessing a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is impossible to know or experience true love.  Local Pastor J.D. Greear puts it this way, "only knowing the love of God for you produces the love of God in you.  Are you staking God's love for you in the finished work of the cross that happened nearly 2000 years ago?  If so, then and only then can you begin to answer the question of how you genuinely desire to express and receive love yourself?  What are your primary love languages?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Prodigal Father

Ever read the Prodigal Son story in Scripture?  The word prodigal means lavish so we could rename this story the prodigal father as it was the father's lavish love upon his backslidden son that comes to the forefront.  This captures the gospel in a nutshell for both you and me!  God didn't send his Son to die on the cross to turn us from bad people into good people (behavior modification).  No, God sent his Son to die on the cross to turn us from dead people into alive people (spiritual transformation). 

Why then, having so much to celebrate (forgiveness of sin, eternal life, relationship with God, etc.) do we party so little as believers?  The prodigal father (representing Father God) is a party throwing father.  He threw his son a party when he came back home!  Likewise, when we come to repent of our sins and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the angels in heaven throw a party!  At the opposite end of the spectrum sits the world.  The world has so little to celebrate (whatever can be found in this temporal life) yet parties the most - Just observe a normal weekend.  When will The Church recognize that we have so much more to celebrate or party about than just meeting together and eating ham and cheese sandwiches and oreo cookies in the fellowship hall?

Captured in this great love story of the prodigal father is the fact that the Father was found "going after" his lost son.  Are we "going after" lost people - how about just one?  Until the one matters to us, the many never will.  All 7 billion people living on planet earth at this moment are valuable in God's eyes and was worth Him sending his only Son to die for their sins.  Father God showed us what it means to "go after" the one when He came running after us. 

This is a story we need to share in our postmodern culture.  Many people are at the end of their ropes and need to hear about a God in heaven who is chasing after them despite the fact that they have run away from him.  They need to hear the gospel answer for their life that their is someone who can relate to their story and who lavishes his love upon them despite their shortcomings.  Perhaps we would share the gospel more with lost people if we partied more.  Need to party?  Watch this video and get lost in the chorus!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cold Christianity

In the book of Revelation, Jesus makes reference to spitting a church out of his mouth because they were found to be neither hot or cold.  My fear is the lukewarm spirit Christ referenced matches well with the spirit found in many of our churches found in America.  Cold Christianity is simply not living out what The Bible says to be true.  It is giving verbal accent to the claims of Christ yet not seeing them at work in our own lives.  Cold Christianity is saying Jesus died for our sins yet living day to day like we will not have to give an account on the day of judgment of our every thought, word, and action.  Cold Christianity includes skipping over the reality of hell, forgetting lost people exist, and becoming so preoccupied with self to the point that truth is ignored.

Does reading this bring a reverent sense of fear in your spirit that one day we all will have to stand before a Holy God.  Are you devoted to Christ or are you devoted to the things of this world?  Is your life leading others closer to God or closer to the things of this world?  Radical Christianity (as if there were any other) is not taking a Bible and shoving it down another person's throat.  To the contrary, Radical Christianity is simply living out your life as if what the Bible contains in it is actually true.  We sometimes reference this as having a Christian worldview but what does this actually look like.  The best illustration I have heard comes from David Nasser, a well known youth speaker.  In making life decisions, we use the Bible as a sieve, sifting out everything that doesn't match with what Scripture says to be true.  Think of flour.  Flour is composed of a fine coarse material.  If it's not flour, it doesn't make it through the flour sieve.  David says we often use a coffee filter to explain this illustration but that does not adequately capture the true picture because how many times have you used a coffee filter yet found coffee grounds in the coffee you are drinking.  A sieve is much better in describing how certain life choices that are before us looked at through the lens of Scripture are completely sifted away forever.  In looking at the totality of Scripture, many of our daily choices can't even be forced through the Sieve of Scripture and must be tossed to the wind. 

In his book Radical, David Platt offers a 1 year challenge for believers to 1. Pray for the entire world 2. Read through the entire Word 3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose 4. Spend your time in another context and 5. Commit your life to a multiplying community.  Is this what a radical Christian looks like?  No doubt, these are good things to do and I am a big fan of David Platt's teachings.  However, we can't check these 5 things off a list and say that we have arrived.  Following God's Spirit is much more important in our life than checking off a list.  If you want to be a Radical Christian, simply do your diligent study in The Word and then do what it says in your life!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Political Answer

Well, here we are again.  Republicans vs. Democrats.  More name calling, blame casting, finger pointing, on and on, etc.  Both sides remain in a stalemate and the country remains in a shut down.  We are a little over 24 hours from hitting the debt ceiling and from having things go from bad to worse.  National politics are extremely important and do effect our everyday lives.  National media from both sides continue to portray the opposite side in the wrong light and move forward with their own agenda.  What should our response be as believers in Christ?  Our there lessons we can learn from our elected governed officials?  Better yet, are there lessons our national leaders can learn from us?

The Bible is God's playbook for life.  One book found in the OT in particular, I like to refer to as a Coach's handbook.  The book has 31 chapters, 1 for each day of the month!  Even Billy Graham said he read one chapter a day from this book so he would know how to treat his fellow man.  The second greatest commandment, Jesus said, was to love your neighbor as yourself.  If you have not guessed it yet, I am talking about the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs is full of principles that man can follow which will allow him or her to gain wisdom in this life in relating to people who come from different backgrounds and perspectives. 

Here are some words of wisdom that politicians and believers could both use:

Proverbs 3:29: Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.
Proverbs 4:24: Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
Proverbs 11:12: Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent
Proverbs 14:34: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 24:17: Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles
Proverbs 24:28: Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.
Proverbs 27:1:  Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

30 years ago, we embodied these principles as a nation much more than we do today.  The Bible and the name Jesus Christ both had more relevance.  How nice it would be if we could return to our national roots.

Unfortunately, I think words from Proverbs 6 capture more where we find ourselves today:

"There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers."

Pray that our national leaders might look up for guidance so they can learn how to relate better to others down here.  Even Jesus, when crucified, looked up in his spirit so that he could say this about those who were crucifying him, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don't pass me by!

If Jesus were in front of you right of you, what would you do?  In Mark 5:27, a woman in need of healing expressed faith in the power of Christ and received from Him what she was seeking.  She reached out to touch the hem of His garment.  In Mark 5:34, Jesus says it was her faith that healed her and not anything magical in his clothes.

What are your expectations, your dreams, your aspirations that you have for God-sized movements to take place in your lifetime, in your city, in your nation?  If you have low expectations of Christ, don't expect anything great to come from Him.  The great missionary William Carey said, "Attempt Great Things for God, Expect Great Things From God!"  Will you be like the lady who did not let Him pass her by or will you let Him walk on by? 

E.M. Bounds in his book, The Power of Prayer, talks about how our prayers made in faith move the hand of God.  Will you take the time to tell Jesus what you would like Him to do for you?  A local pastor in our area J.D. Greer has done just that.  He said he has asked God to plant a 1000 churches out of his church, The Summit, in his lifetime, to send out 5000 missionaries from his church in his lifetime, to be able to minister in the Raleigh-Durham area for 40 years, to baptize 50,000 people in his city either in his church or the churches that his church planted in the city, to start 100 community blessing organizations that come out of his church, and to be a part of a great awakening that will effect the Raleigh-Durham area for 100 years to come. 

When Jesus sent out the apostles, He told them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.  And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them."  Every day, it is as if Jesus is passing by our house.  In the early church days, opening your door to an apostle was like opening the door to Christ.  What Christ began to do in his earthly body (read the book of Luke), he continued to do using the early church (read the book of Acts focusing on the word "began" in Acts 1:1).  In the early church, apostles and prophets were heavily relied upon.  Today, Christ has given the church pastors, teachers, and evangelists.  How often though are these ministers overlooked or uninvited when people truly need the Lord.  I ask again, will you let Him pass you by?

Have we gone too far?

The gospel shines brightest amidst the backdrop of darkness and sin!  The last days are usually not the best days.  A cloud of unbelief and darkness will come to rest over cities in the end times.  Disbelief among the nations will increase. However, portals of God's glory will also come beaming down brighter than ever before on pockets of people in places who continue to be His Church.  I am reminded at this point of one of my favorite movies, Independence Day.  Major cities have a alien spacecraft hovering over them and at just the right time a beam of light comes lightning down on these metropolitan areas.  This light represents the attack of the aliens right before it happens.  In the same way, we see a dark cloud over our cities in the end days.  However, I believe the Church will experience times of revival like never before as the end approaches!  The gospel light will come beaming down on those found seeking His face! 

Let's go back to the founding of our great nation.  Times were tough for the early American settlers.  They faced death, persecution, and criticism.  However, they did not give in and say let's become complacent since The Lord's return must be drawing nigh.  No, they dug in and became fighters for their faith and for their country.  Where is that spirit in The Church today?  The church continues to look like the world because all too many Christians have given up the fight.  These kind of lukewarm Christians see no hope for the world and think the best thing to do is to either follow suit or isolate themselves.  They look up waiting for a return instead of looking out to help their fellow man.

God has a different view and take on things.  Yes, this postmodern - post-christian culture is a dark place in time.  The mindset from many that absolute truth does not exist or the mindset that you can believe what you want or do what you want as long as you don't impose those beliefs on others does make reaching others for Christ a harder task.  However, we as believers seek our encouragement from the One who gave us His written Word to communicate with us in times such as these.  God says in Isaiah 59:1, "The Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear."  God is keenly aware of what is happening on our planet and He is still in the saving business.  His mission will prevail!  One day, individuals from every tribe and language and people and nation will be worshipping God in His throne room!

This is why Jesus came to us and the reason He was sent.  He came to live the life we couldn't live, to die the death we deserved to die, and to rise in victory over the enemies we could not conquer - sin and death.  He died for all and this includes any kind of category you want to classify people in today!  The postmodern soul needs to know Jesus has come to give them meaning and purpose in this life.  Will you tell them today?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our life is one big commercial or is it?

I just wrote on the distracting vice of entertainment that often pulls us away from the Main Thing.  Remember that old youth camp line – “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.”  It was a call for believers to remember what truly should come #1 in our lives.  In this second part, I would like to write about two more American idols:  Commercialism and Materialism. 

It appears our nation and our lives are turning into one big commercial.  It is 2013 and marketing has taken on a fresh meaning.  Think about a football game.  The game is sponsored by a company.  The halftime show is sponsored by a different company.  And then the play of the game is sponsored by yet another company.  I can’t wait until individual quarters and then every down is brought to us by Taco Bell, Citgo, or some combination of the like.  Today, anything and everything can take place online.  VistaPrint is mass marketing business cards and signs for individual businesses and people to advertise their products.  I, myself, have purchased two 12” by 18” magnetic signs to put on my car to advertise, an online sports magazine that I write for.  I also purchased a polo shirt and a keychain flashlight. 

Materialism is an idol just the same.  I just watched a video clip where a man is telling another man they already have 4 smartphones, 3 tablets, 2 flat screens or something like that (you catch my drift) and the man is worried about security for all these items.  That’s just the thing.  We become obsessed over the wrong agenda.  Jesus told us to store treasures for ourselves up in heaven where moths and rust would not destroy.  We have come to a point where we value things more than we value the condition of a lost soul. 

It is so easy for the church to buy into this trap.  We adopt a consumer mentality and then the focus comes on pleasing ourselves.  But wait a second… can’t be a commercial and neither can church.  Think about it.  As much as we detest commercials, they only last for a brief second.  We pass by a billboard, hear a 30 second radio ad, etc.  But life isn’t like that.  Life has meaning.  Unlike TV shows such as Seinfield and Frasier whose shows were all about the meaningless of life, the Bible says we sow what we reap.  That is why one person can sow eternal life and another eternal destruction.  And as for the Church…..Jesus told Peter he was the rock and that on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (MT. 16:18).  According to Jesus, the Church was not an afterthought. 

Let’s become like Josiah (read my blog entry entitled “Gospel Recovery”) and let’s tear down the high places and idols we see warring within us.  Let’s put Jesus back in his proper place in our life!

The Land of Fantasy

We live in a world that exists within blurry lines of distinction.  Reality has become fantasy and fantasy has become reality.  I even know of a girl whose name is Anastasia.  Disney is just one means of entertainment and leisure that we enjoy in today’s society.  Other means include hunting, sports, shopping, listening to music, surfing the web, and of course watching television.  Not to say any of these distractions are wrong in themselves, but when we become oblivious to reality, something is wrong.

Reality is this life is all we have to make one decision that will affect our entire eternity.  That decision boils down to whether we will choose to follow Christ with our lives or not.  The truth is we make hundreds of choices every day that will also affect our eternity.  Reality is there is a heaven and there is a hell and many believe there are degrees found in both.  In other words, heaven will be cooler and hell will be hotter for some compared to others.  I do believe some in heaven will have more jewels in their crown than others but that when we lay our crowns at the throne of his feet, we will all be on level ground.  The Crown Jewel in Heaven will be Christ Himself, not the number of jewels in our crown.

This all begs the question as to why we spend so much of our time, thoughts, and money on the temporal.  These things will not last.  If hundreds of millions of people all around us were living in poverty and were hopeless without Christ and we had one mandate to go and share the good news with them, what should we do?  Should we add more programs, add another staff member, build another building, schedule another meeting, or should we drop all of that and do what we were commissioned to do:  GO! 

In our land of fantasy, we have become oblivious to our lost neighbors, classmates, employees, family members, and friends.  And this has occurred all at the expense of things that will not cross over from this side to the next.  Let us be honest with the Lord and confess we have become complacent over lost souls.  We have stopped praying for them and long ago we stopped kneeling and crying for them.  I will be the first to say I am guilty.  It probably wouldn’t hurt if from time to time I literally pinched myself to serve myself as a reminder to this wake up call.  We forget we really are in a cosmic battle at this very point in time where spiritual warfare is ever before us and over 7 billion lives on planet earth are at stake. 

Nowhere has the land of fantasy become more apparent than in America where the adult entertainment industry has taken over American lives.  People are consumed and addicted to this Fantasy Land and everyday it costs us our national stability as families are torn apart from the inside out.  It is high time not only to pray for lost souls but also for our country.  There is an answer in the midst of all the chaos.  His Name is still Christ and in Him rests the full gospel answer!  The gospel is not just for conversion.  It is for every area of our lives!          

Monday, September 23, 2013

Gospel Recovery!

What the nation and the church are in most need of today is a gospel recovery.  In 2 Kings 22-23, we see how things play out in a nation and a church when a gospel recovery begins.  In OT times, Israel was set up as a theocracy.  Unlike our nation today, there was no separation of church and state.  Josiah became King of Israel when he was 8 years old.  At the age of 26, the high priest reported back to Josiah that during the temple renovation process, God's Word had been found.  Can you already see what had happened.  The temple building, think of the church house today, had been given more priority than God Himself.   Finding this out, Josiah was torn on the inside.  He acted immediately and gave God's Word prominence by reading it aloud.  He then acted further on it by destroying the national and religious idols that his people had previously set up.

In other words, God's Word was first found and then given proper authority to work in the lives of God's people. As a result, real revival broke loose.  Foundational to all theology is the fact that the Word of God is without error (inerrant).  It is unblemished and the Holy Spirit superseded the scriptural inspiration process as He carried imperfect men along to write down perfectly what He spoke.  Many have attacked God's Word throughout the years but The Bible has stood the test of time.  Over 24,000 copies of ancient manuscripts have been found over the years giving the Bible surmountable external evidence as a valid and reliable historical document.

Many church members in our country seem to have not only misplaced or lost their Bible.  They seemed to have lost themselves.  On a weekly basis, 10 million Southern Baptists are unaccounted for in their worship services. Biblical illiteracy rates have skyrocketed both in and out of the church.  To further complicate things, many of those who have somehow found themselves and their Bibles do not give the Word of God the authority or the time it deserves to work in their own lives. We are malnourished at best.  The Bible itself claims to be a believer's life and a believer's food.  Bible intake is just one way a believer survives and grows.

When a person, church, or nation decides not put the Word of God in its proper place, chaos ensues.  Church discipline seems to be a relic in today's church, yet we find this practice all throughout Scripture.  The practice of church membership may be argued by some to have not been a early New Testament church criteria, but what I find worse today is how so many churches in our denomination accept anybody and everybody without giving any credence or proof from the individual of first being a fruit-bearing follower and a disciple of Christ.  And lastly, preaching has fallen on hard times.  A Pastor who is willing to preach the whole counsel of God is indeed a rarity for the American Church. When it comes to preaching and teaching God's Word, church leaders can't be beggars and choosers.  Highlighting one verse, chapter, book, or testament to the neglect of another does a disservice to God's people.

However, the neglect of getting the good news to the nations has been our greatest sin.  We have set up our church houses as attractions and destination points rather than missions mobilization units and launch pads for believers to go into the world.  We have mistaken and substituted our model of worship with the OT model which was for God's people to come to the temple against the NT mandate of sending God's people out from the church house to reach the nations. It is a sad indictment on us to see that we have only sent out .03% as missionaries out of our 16 million roll and that as a denomination only 1 penny out of every dollar given actually makes it to the line item international missions.  In essence we have done exactly what Christ commanded us not to.  We have made converts, not disciples.  So that you don't catch me quoting half a verse, hear what Jesus had to say to this in Matthew 23:15 (look it up if you don't believe me) - "Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you Hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are."             

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Where is the love?

Acts 2:42-47 is a classic passage of Scripture often used to describe what a healthy New Testament church should look like in today's world.  In the passage, we find what many call the 5 purposes or functions of a healthy church: Evangelism, Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry, and Worship.  Others have substituted words like Service for Ministry or Teaching for Discipleship.  Within  the scope of church history, the Reformation marks of the church included the right administration of the sacraments and the pure preaching of the gospel.  In modern times, some have adopted the mindset that a church must have 9 marks to be considered a healthy New Testament church.  These 9 marks are discussed in detail under the topics of preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship, and leadership. 

These are all great and acceptable ways to define a healthy NT church, however, all are lacking the most important ingredient.  One can be found doing all of the above items yet not figured out what it is that is missing.  Christianity is not a checklist.  You cannot check all of the above items and say ok, everything is good.  While on earth, Jesus told the Pharisees "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life yet you refuse to come to me."  On Judgment Day, he will tell many who did good things in his name to depart from him and that he never knew them.  This is because Jesus always has and will continue to look into our hearts.  He weighs and knows our every motive. 

In this famous passage of Scripture where the early church is devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers, Paul's main point goes way beyond what a healthy church is to do.  Paul gives us the how and the why!  Have you ever read this passage of Scripture and just noticed the love that was present in this community of people. They genuinely enjoyed being in each others company and more importantly in God's presence.  They considered the people sitting beside them more important than themselves.  The gospel had so much effect in their lives that they had placed others above themselves and put themselves last.

In Revelation 2:1-7, we see what it looks like for a church be considered healthy on the outside, yet Christ condemns the church for what it looks like on the inside.  He says they are to return to their first love.  Newlyweds are madly in love with one another.  How is it then after even 20 years of marriage, some couples are at each others throats?  It is because they are like the church at Ephesus.  They have forgotten their first love.  They may do the right things and even say the right things but inside, the love is missing. 

The main mark of a healthy NT church always has been and always will be love.  Without love, a person and a church is nothing.  Faith, hope, and love remain but the greatest of these is love.  Without faith, it is impossible to please God.  But if love is greater than faith, how much more impossible does it become in order to please God?  As I look around the world today, I ask the same question the music group Black Eyed Peas ask, "Where is the love?"  Ultimately, God is love and love in people and churches spring from the gospel activated in our lives.  Watch this music video and listen to its words:  You may ask how could I show a secular video to talk about God's love.  My answer to you is that although I may not agree everything that the group has said or done, I am commanded to love them.  We are to do good to all men, believer and unbeliever alike.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Try on a pair of someone else's shoes!

The Gospel remains the answer for the world and its problems!

At this moment in time, our national and political leaders are weighing the options and considering whether our country should enter into military conflict with another country that has supposedly used gas weapons to kill their own citizens.  The Bible is clear that we live in a fallen world and that it is corrupting more and more as each day passes.  Thus, wars and rumors of war should not surprise us or catch us off guard.  This conflict has reminded me how important it is that we pray for our national leaders and our troops.  I believe God has blessed the United States and its military success in the past, but that the pivotal part of that past success has been from the prayers of His people. 

Prayer is a much more powerful weapon in warfare than the gas weaponry Syria has supposedly used to kill its own.  Perhaps we in the USA need reminded that our idols are getting in the way of the necessary and daily conversation with God that we often put off.  National warfare reminds us that there is One who remains in control of the nations and that we should seek Him while He may still be found.  In fact, Isaiah 40:15 says, "The nations are like a drop in a bucket and are considered to be like dust on a scale" in God's eyes. 

Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes."  I think this is a great quote in this time both for national leaders and citizens.  Before making decisions that will impact an entire country, leaders should put themselves figuratively in their citizen's shoes.  How do the people of the United States feel about going to war?  Remember, this is supposed to be a democracy.  How would I feel if I put my son or daughter on the battlefield to fight this war and he or she may possibly not come back home?  On the flip side, citizens should remember the great weight upon its notational leaders and that to be in their shoes would be a great burden to carry. 

Pray for our troops & God Bless the USA!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Can we prove God exists?

The Bible states that in the end days, love will grow cold.  My brother recently travelled up from Georgia to come visit me.  He described to me a situation in his church and asked me what I thought.  I told him that love is the thing we are missing the most today.  Love overlooks a lot!  Where love is, destructive (opposite of constructive) criticism will cease.  Love builds up people rather than tear them down.

I recently finished up a youth retreat.  One theme that arose out of the weekend which I did not plan was the old hymn, "They will know we are Christians by our love."  The hymn originates from John 13:34-35.  Faith, hope, and love remain but the greatest of these is love.  I Cor. 13 should not just be read at weddings.  The love chapter is the roll call for every believer when he wakes up and steps out of bed each morning.  Colossians 3 echoes this call!  Before we put on our clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, we are to put on love which binds all of these other clothes in perfect harmony.

I would encourage every believer to do an in depth study on the subject of love.  In my college years, I went on a love fast after my study and prayer in the Word.  I challenged myself to open every door for the person behind me, to put others above myself and myself last.  The little things mean the most.  I had come to the place in my spiritual walk where I really understood the love chapter.  I had come to understand in my walk with God that fasting, giving, praying, going, spiritual gifts, and even myself are nothing without love.

If asked the question, Can we prove that God exists?, many people would say no and that is why we must have faith.  But after this latest youth retreat, I learned something invaluable.  Jeff & Rachel Lovingood in their curriculum Live it Tell it said this: The Bible's criteria of proof are your love for God and your love for others.  In other words, we can prove to others that the ultimate love act of Christ dying on the cross for our sins is reality.  The old hymn had it right the whole our love by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What is the Spirit's role?

The Bible teaches believers of Jesus Christ that they are the righteousness of God, covered in the Son's blood, fully forgiven as far as the east is from the west of all their past, present, and future sins at the moment of surrender.  That's gospel (the good news)!  Because of these facts, we as believers should be walking around full of joy, peace, and love.  However all too often, we beat ourselves up or allow the devil to beat us up as we remember the distant past or even our latest failure or sin.  We walk around like we are guilty and depressed rather than forgiven and grateful.  WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT'S ROLE IN ALL OF THIS?

Over a month ago, I was sitting at my computer in NC on facebook.  I accidentally scrolled across a quote from my cousin's husband (he is a Pastor of the only Acts 29 church in Tyler, TX).  In the quote, he said the bible teaches that the role of the Holy Spirit is to CONVICT the unbeliever of sin, but that in a believer's life, the role of the Holy Spirit is to CONVINCE the believer when they have sinned.  His quote made me take a step back in my mind because two opposing ideas were in conflict with one another: 1. What he said went against everything I had been told my entire life in church, home, etc.  2. I have read the entire Bible and I could not see where he was wrong in saying this.

The Bible does teach that the Holy Spirit has come to convict the world of righteousness, sin, and the judgment to come.  So at this very moment of time, the world does stand convicted.  Jesus said it best.  He said I have not come to condemn the world but to save it.  But he went a little further.  He said whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him is condemned already.  So this judgment is not a future judgment where God weighs your good deed versus your bad deeds.  This judgment is now and you either stand forgiven or guilty now based on your belief in Christ.

For the believer, the Bible teaches we are no longer under any condemnation but have freedom in Christ!  How can the Holy Spirit convict us when we already stand guiltless in front of the Throne?  How can the Holy Spirit convict us when we have already been washed in the blood?  The Holy Spirit's job is not to convict us or to make us feel guilty but rather to bring about godly sorrow in us for the sins we commit after salvation by convincing us we have sinned.  The Holy Spirit can use other believers in our life to sharpen us into looking and acting more like Christ on earth (sanctification).  The believer is a new creation and his desire is to glorify God on earth.  Believers working alongside The Holy Spirit makes all of this possible! 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Gospel Answer!

As I view the world and America in particular, things are going from bad to worse in a hurry.  I am a visionary and thus always looking toward the future.  But I am also a realist with a constant eye on the present.  The bad news is our world is looking more hellish by the second yet on the flip side, Christ Followers are increasingly becoming more radical in their faith (read Radical by David Platt)!  The buzzword "missional" still takes on grand meaning in church life.  Adoptions are increasing, ministry to the helpless, the homeless, and the hurting are increasing, and giving, praying, and going to the nations for gospel advance are increasing for these "Radical" Christ-Followers (As Francis Chan says, is there really any other type - "There is no middle road").  Yes, Great Commission Christians are on the rise!  These type see the Gospel as the Answer to all of the world's problems!  Really, the world has always had one problem - the sin problem - and the gospel is the only answer for that problem!

What is America coming to?  Tolerance will not prove to be the answer in 20 years.  If you think we are the Divided States of America now, just wait 20 more years.  Imagine with me as we walk down this road...................Muslims vs. Homosexuals, Muslims vs. Feminists, Blacks vs. Hispanics, political upheavel, increased poverty, increased terrorism, increased gang life, etc.  It is said Muslims will take over Europe without a war just by birth rate alone.  The Islamic increase is also on the rise in America and you will see it more clearly once amnesty is granted to illegal immigrants (They're not all Hispanic as the media leads you to believe). You see.  American can't be Burger King where everyone gets to have it their way.  The bumper sticker "coexist" cannot happen on this side of heaven.  Tensions will continue to rise in the Middle East and around the world.  Homosexuals preach tolerance.  Muslims preach kill the homosexuals.  Feminists preach women rights.  Muslims preach women should be quiet and modest at all times.  Lets be real.  Blacks and Hispanics as a whole are increasingly becoming less and less happy with each other as welfare rights are taken from one group and given to another.  And I cannot imagine what secular culture will look like on tv, radio, internet, social media, etc. in 20 years. 

There really is no middle road.  The narrow road is getting narrower and the broad road is getting broader.  As Christian Rapper Lecrae says "its God or the World and the two don't mix" (Yes, he actually got that from the Book of James).

A missional shift continues to take place in the church!  Church planting continues to rise!  As bad as things are getting, I hope this blog encourages you, the faithful, to stay excited, enthusiastic, and passionate for the Lord's kingdom building work on this earth yet also expectant, watchful, and hopeful for His return! 

God is doing something amazing today in the church!  Worship and Preaching are becoming sharper as our hearts are ablaze.  Gospel centrality in expository preaching with a Christocentric focus is the fire coming out of many pulpits!  Simply put, the entire Bible (OT & NT) points to Christ and ultimately the Gospel! Missionaries are using situational bible stories to eventually bring about oral chronological bible storying with a gospel centeredness to a biblically illiterate world. Musicians are using narratives to sing about the Grand Narrative of the Gospel in their songwriting. Preachers are expounding the text and drawing The Story from biblical stories!  I just bought the first edition of a 10 year bible commentary called Christ-Centered Exposition (Exalting Jesus in 1&2 Timothy and Titus).  David Platt, Danny Akin, and Tony Merida were the editors and I can't wait to collect the entire commentary over the next 10 years!  See, God is up to something special in His Church in the years to come and we need to be anticipating and expecting a great move on His part!  

Just yesterday, SBC president Fred Luter preached at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary!  Yes, a black man is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention!  That in itself shows God is up to something!  The Church is beginning to look more like heaven on earth as our diversity shows up in the pews! Perhaps in 10 years, the 11 o'clock worship hour will not be the most segregated hour in a given week in our country.  Back to Rev. Luter - He knocked the ball out of the park and was the perfect speaker and message for this new blog to promote.  Check out his message on the transforming power of the gospel! ---