Monday, November 26, 2007

Necessary & Good

But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." -- Luke 10:41-42

As a pastor, as a human being, I often myself "anxious and troubled about many things." Life is filled with "many things" -- marriage, children, church, finances, family, education, health, people & personalities, conflicts and challenges, opportunities and destinations. I feel often times caught up in theses "things." Especially here in the month or so before Christmas. What we think we would like to have -- an old-fashioned, family Christmas, simple and warm and loving -- may be easy to imagine and harder to realize. What with calendars filling quickly to the brim, with unexpected crisis arising and so forth. We get like Martha -- busy, busy, busy.
In the midst of the busyness, we fail to recall what is necessary and truly good -- Mary had it -- spending time at Jesus' feet, hearing His word, loving Him.
As Christians, isn't this what we really need? Jesus said so.
Is this really a good investment of precious and fleeting time -- sitting at Jesus feet? Jesus said so.
Not only is it necessary and good, Jesus said it is everlasting -- it "will not be taken away."

I know that as a pastor, called by Jesus to feed His sheep, I have to spend time and energy on the good portion, the necessary part. I know that as a husband and a father seeking to disciple his family, I must spend time and energy on the good portion, the necessary part -- quietly before the feet of my Master, learning of Him to follow Him. I pray that I will not, and that you will not, get distracted, "troubled about many things" (albeit virtuous things), and be robbed of that which Jesus says is necessary, good and lasting.

Time spent with Jesus is never wasted; it is always good. I am reminded of when I was reading the autobiography of Jerry Falwell, he went visiting a couple and he was telling them all about what he had been doing for God -- knocking on hundreds of doors, starting this and that ministry, busy, busy, busy -- and they stopped Falwell dead in his tracks when they asked him, "Well, Jerry you've told us all that you have been doing for God, tell us what God has been doing in you."

Thursday, November 22, 2007


"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name." -- Psalm 100:4

Am I full of thanksgiving today? Indeed, I should be. I have so much for which to be grateful, not the least of which is my adoption as a child of God through Jesus Christ. I will never be able, throughout all eternity even, to express full thankfulness for the indescribable gift of salvation.
I am thankful for the gifts that He has bestowed upon me in this life: family, friends, health, material blessings. I am thankful for the Word of God, and the calling on my life to proclaim it.
Deserving am I? Never. It is by grace that we live and enjoy so much.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Psalm 19:1 -- "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork."

I read this morning a quote from John Calvin that every blade of grass is used to bring God glory, and point us to that glory. This is an amazing thought. As I look outside my window, on this clear November day, the skies are indeed declaring God's awesome glory; the falling leaves, in their brilliance and variety, declare God's glory.
Never for me to understand is how God could so love His creation and His creatures. It frightens me to think that I and all of my neighbors will fail to behold and appreciate and give God praise for His awesome handiwork. I fear that we get so caught up in our earthly lives -- acquiring, going, working, stressing, eating -- that we miss so much of what God is declaring.
I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear. I pray that my heart will be filled with the majesty and greatness of God. That I will realize in full that not only does He give me all of this magnificent creation, but He so loved me that He came to me in Jesus Christ and died for my sins that I might know Him personally and have His peace and joy. God is amazing, His love is amazing.
May we join with all nature in manifold witness, how great is our God and all glory be given to Him!

Friday, November 16, 2007

What's the answer, preacher?

Often times folks who know me as the preacher will ask the hardest questions. This usually is when they are coming out of the door on Sunday mornings, or between Sunday School and worship service, or at a restaurant when my boys are running wildly around the place, or on the phone, when I have called about something else.
Sometimes I am asked these hard questions when people have been asked by others the same question, they aren't sure of the answer so they say (I guess) "I don't know. I'll ask my preacher." Also these questions come from parents when their own children have asked them the same thing and they don't know the answer to some theological conundrum that you just can't find the answer to in your 1972 copy of McDowell's "Truth That Demands A Verdict."
Of course I do not mind these questions. It drives me to think and to study and to pray. These are certainly all good things. I just hope the people asking the questions are not disappointed when I have to say back to them, "Well, I am not exactly sure myself." You say a flash prayer and say "Oh, dear Father, forgive me for not knowing the answer to this question but please, Lord, help me, right now say or not to say the right thing."
Evangelism is a humbling experience, which really is a humble life. I do not know the answer to every question. I know THE Answer, and I look to Him for everything. At the same time, what a blessing to be a workman, to study to show thyself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth. I guess, like Peter exhorted us to "be ready", I am seeking just that, to "be ready."
Well, the phone has just rung. Someone is coming out here to my office to see me about something, be ready preacher.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Have We Lost?

Returned yesterday from the NC Baptist State Convention. Am so thankful for brother David Talley who went with me to every meeting and slogged through it all. Am also grateful for Martha Roberson, Mike Martin and a fine young lady, Jenny Thacker, who also attended with us.
At the Convention, we started the cutting of ties with five NC "historically" Baptist colleges. The Convention has in the past approved all of their trustees. The college presidents do not want that anymore -- I think they want to tap other resources besides Baptist money -- so they are willing to forgo the Convention's money in exchange for the deal. Of course all five stood there this week and promised that their fine institutions wanted to stay true to their Baptist and Christian distinctives. Yes, and there will arise a king who does not know Baptist or Christian distinctives and we will see these colleges go the way of the world. Strong Christian young men and women, and parents who desire a college education where the Bible is recognized as the truth, where the professors unashamedly have a Biblical worldview are getting fewer and fewer -- one wonders how much a school will sell their soul for?
We also cut ties to the Baptist Retirement Homes of NC. This really was initiated by them, not the Convention. They started distancing themselves from BSCNC years ago. Now it is official. Again, it goes to $$$. I predict that in a few years, if not sooner, what we know as the BRH of NC will disappear, as they will be sold to a conglomerate, and the big cheeses will reap a windfall -- even after faithful NC Baptists have poured millions into the BRH. Oh well, these too will have to answer to God if greed lies at the heart of this.
Along the same path comes the WMUof NC. They want the cake and to eat it too. They want to be recognized as autonomous -- a cherished Baptist principle. I guess they think this means unaccountable. They do not want to be a part of the BSC of NC -- at all, yet they want NC Baptists to fund them in the NC Missions Offering every year. The messengers said, "I don't think so, Ruby."
Hopefully with such distraction out of the way, Hollifield and the other fine folks in Cary can concentrate on evangelizing this state and strengthening the churches that remain. I know we here have work to do, and night is fast approaching when no man shall work. The hour is getting late. Today I read Amos 4 -- "prepare to meet thy God."
The Lord blesses. This morning I received a call from a dear friend I haven't heard from in a while -- Shannon. Shannon is a Navy chaplain, living now in San Diego. What a wonderful friend and brother, and a lover of the Puritans. May his tribe increase.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Jesus Said, "Go . . ."

The team headed to Gulfport just pulled out of the church driveway. They are responding to many needs on the Gulf coast of Mississippi, as NC Baptists have been for two years since Katrina. I thank God for the 12 men and women headed down there today, many for their second and third times, some even more. I thank God for NC Baptists who have given so much to the entire effort down there. I praise God that He has impressed upon the hearts of His people to go and love their neighbors like we have been loved by Him.
As I think more and more, pray more and more, preach more and more, live more and more, the more I have come to realize that the Great Commission is what it is all about. We are created by God and for God. He gives us our purpose -- carry out His will. His will for His people is the Great Commission. Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
This is the mission of the church. It is why we exist. Not for our own needs and desires, but God is the center. We exist for Him. We gather to worship Him, we go to proclaim Him. The world needs the Lord. Jesus came to us to save us, now He sends us out, to proclaim the message of reconciliation.
It is my prayer that I personally will be a Great Commission Christian. I pray for my church, that we will be a church with a single mission: The Great Commission. May I and we lay aside everything else (my/our pettiness, my/our worldliness, my/our sin that so easily besets us) and DO what God commands us to do, all to His glory and honor. I pray this for our state convention -- which begins meeting today, by the way. May we not get distracted by in-house squabbles, instead may we show this world Jesus Christ and the Gospel. I pray this same thing for our national convention, and for the entire church of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gearing Up

Lots happening here. At FBC we are meeting tonight with a banker to discuss financing for the recently adopted plan to renovate the church sanctuary.
On Monday a mission team will be headed to Gulfport, MS (again!) to work in the reconstruction efforts .
Also next week marks the NC Baptist State Convention meeting in GSO. There are lots of things on the table -- or in the air -- this year. The relationship that the Convention has with the Baptist Retirement Homes, the relationship with historic Baptist colleges, the relationship with the state WMU. Will anything be resolved? I do not know. Officially maybe not -- except for the college issue. But I think a lot will be said and the fallout will come in the days ahead.
Also tomorrow evening I will be participating in an ordination council for our association. There are two candidates and they have asked the association ordination council to do the examination. I will talk more later about the questions, answers and the candidates and examiners.