Friday, May 30, 2008

No Greater Joy

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4

Thus said the Apostle John in the midst of many attacks on the truth. What a joy it must have been for this beloved disciple to know that the "children" he had been ministering to, sharing the love of Jesus and the truth of the Gospel message with, were standing firm in the truth.

In the first century, as now in the 21st century, the truth is attacked all of the time. We have an enemy, his name is Satan. He hates the truth. Go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, he disputed the truth of God's word, "Did God really say that, Eve?" So, he slithers up beside us and says the same, causing us to question what God has said, when we know that God cannot lie -- He is incapable of lying.

That is why I share in John's joy when I hear of and see "my children" walking in the truth. Please allow me to share a couple of examples.
Yesterday I was on the phone with a church member, and in the midst of our conversation they told me, with excitement, that they had indeed read through the entire Bible -- in actually less than a year. This person is a mature Christian, but had never read the entire Bible straight through. Now that they have, they were filled with delight, and cannot wait to continue into another turn through the entire Bible. I rejoiced with them when they shared this with me. I know that they will be a stronger Christian, armed with the sword of the Spirit in their fight with Satan.
Also, yesterday i discovered that at least two church members (families) have their own weblogs. As I linked to these I was again blessed to read their thoughts and adventures, with a view to the cross. What a blessing, I never (at least until yesterday) knew about.
This happens periodically. I will have the opportunity to visit or spend some unhurried time with a church member and discover that God is really working in their lives, that they are walking with Him and listening to Him and seeking to please Him. This is edifying to the pastor, who so often looks out over his congregation and sees blank stares and little movement at the time of decision and wonders -- "is it getting through?" It drives me to the Holy Spirit with greater fervency to do His supernatural work as His Word goes out. Then I get to taste and see that indeed the Lord is good.

Thank You Father, for Your people. Bless them and keep them, I pray, from the evil one. May they be strengthened with might, and be able to stand in this evil day. I pray that we will all be fully armored for the fight. Be glorified, Father and may Jesus be lifted up in every life of your children, as we surrender to and rely upon the presence of Your precious Holy Spirit.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Just Wonderin'

The Lord has called me to pastor a flock of His people, to be the under- shepherd. I am responsible to Him as to how faithful I am in doing this task that He has assigned. I really love being a preacher/pastor. It is an unworldly delight to be able to study God's Word, to pray for and minister to His people, and to stand before them every week and declare the unsearchable riches of Christ.
As I read the blogs that I read, I see the same names over and over speaking at conferences all the time, all over the United States and occasionally in the UK. My question is: when do these guys pastor their people?
Are they "in touch", do they keep a close eye on the flock that God has entrusted them to? Do they feel that they have "so much" to give the wider evangelical world that they just cannot be tied down to a single congregation?
Oh, I appreciate the work of some of these men, have benefited from their work, but I think to myself: if I were gone that much from my people, I don't know how effective I could be as their pastor. I love the people that God has sent me to pastor, they are His people, His bride, His church.
It seems that if a person was going to be a full time conference speaker and writer, why not just call yourself that: a full time conference speaker and writer. Start a para-church ministry. Don't call yourself a "pastor" to the local church if you are not one, if you are never there.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reading Looking Upward

I spend an awful amount of time reading. I read the Bible, books, on-line articles and information, and everyday I read the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The Journal has become and continues to become more and more a national newspaper. Rupert Murdoch has taken over the paper since he acquired Dow Jones. He wants it to be a top notch contender against the New York Times as the national paper of record.
I am thankful for the WSJ, as it is a conservative (at least editorially) news outlet. Since we have scaled back on our TV viewing habits, and we ditched some of the more pricey packages on our satellite, we can get only CNN. I really miss Fox News. CNN is NOT fair and balanced. Their slogan is "CNN=Politics" it really should read, "CNN=Obama". The air is filled with Obama apologists and Bush/republican haters. You should have heard the outrage when President Bush said talking to terrorists amounted to "appeasement." Anyway, i digress . . .
Most of my reading is pretty positive. For my sermon preparation I read Biblical material and devotionally. Which is all good and refreshing (if not humbling and convicting); I guess I should say it is spiritually enriching reading. At lunch I get the WSJ from the mailbox. Usually this is where we get the cold, hard truth about the condition of our nation and world, and why I feel a compulsion to live with urgency, as it concerns the call of Christ on my life.
Today, for instance, a big headline was about the overturning of the ban on same-sex marriages in California. Then I read about the suffering in China and the loss of life both there and in Burma. I read that Libya is getting sick of America, again. On and on and on. Everyday.
I am convinced that now is NOT the time for shallow, hollow Christianity. We must rise out of the misty lowlands and pursue God with all that we have. We must be the called out ones; soldiers of the cross; living in Jesus, following Jesus, speaking Jesus. Taking up our cross and following Him. Be disciples.
What does this have to do with reading? Prepare your minds for action; renew your mind; set your mind on things above. Read with an eye looking up -- be it history, literature, Puritans, the WSJ -- God-centered. We must.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


One of the things that has really bothered me, frightened me, kind of sickened me lately has been the public response to the tragedy in Myanmar or Burma. When I say "public response" I mean that there has not really been a public response.
I have read that they think that there might be 100,000 people dead there as a result of the cyclone that hit. 100,000 human beings killed -- at one time -- in one place. Men, women, children.

You know what I see all over the headlines? Obama, Hillary, Bush wedding. Do you remember last weekend -- the horse euthanized at the Kentucky Derby? There was a lot more outcry and coverage over an animal than over the 100,000 dead in Burma. Are we sick or what?

I did read yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that perhaps all of the de-forestation, the destroying of the mangrove forests may have indeed contributed to the devastation. Now you know I am no enviro-wacko, but they kill all of these forests to keep US supplied in shrimp -- no joke -- research it. They use the trees they cut down over there for fuel -- the poor cannot afford gas, so they need the wood to live. We are killing ourselves. We are so greedy, that we will kill ourselves.

I saw a bumper sticker one time that summed it up --- GREED KILLS.

When the cyclone hits California or Myrtle Beach or Miami -- maybe we will care more. I somehow doubt it though. Care to re-visit Katrina? But hey, as long as the French Quarter is back up and I get my party on -- who really cares?

At this point what can we do about Burma? The military dictatorship that runs the country is reluctant to let aid in. We should force it in, drop it from the air, get it to the people. I will pray for the people there ---- and I will pray for us here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wow what a break!

I have not blogged here for awhile. Laziness I guess or just too tired, too preoccupied, or cannot get to the computer at a good time -- my wife works (earns a living via the computer and she really has first priority) at various times when it would be convenient to sit down and write this. I realize i will never be a Chailles or Wade Burleson, so I don't even try sometimes. Anyway . . .

We had an excellent series of meetings, we called revival services, a week or so ago. Dr Greg Mathis, pastor of the great Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville NC was our guest. What a gifted preacher. I enjoyed spending time with him and learning from this giant (literally and in other ways). People made decisions and no doubt, the truth was proclaimed. We ended the week with brother Tom Brown from Sharon, he too delivered a powerful exposition on that it is high time for the people of God to WAKE UP!

Had a little break with the family, which was nice. Had a missionary speak with us on Sunday AM -- at the 11:00 service. An independent missionary in Mexico, training pastors and church planters. He did a great job. Jerry Shaw. One thing I like about independent missionaries is that we get first hand accounts and personal interaction with them. IMB missionaries are so often just that it seems, "IMB misisonaries". We read their names on their birthdays and pray for them, see little vignettes at Christmas. But I imagine most SBC churches have little personal contact with actual missionaries on the field. This I think needs to improve -- probably on the church's part and on the part of the IMB.
Speaking of the IMB, it seems that the trustees are leaning more and more to a landmarkian direction. It seems that they may be going further and further inward. Only certain people and churches are recognized as proper administrators of baptism. No one can have a private prayer language and be a missionary supported by IMB. It seems that the restrictions are going beyond the Baptist Faith and Message, narrowing. There seems to a bit of legalism creeping into the SBC, and this is scary. Someone has said, "liberalism doesn't tell people the truth; legalism keeps people from the truth."
I have been listening to brother Mathis' series from Colossians, and Jesus is all you need for salvation and life. It isn't Jesus plus anything. (See the New Testament). I pray that we as a Convention, as churches, as individual Christians, will get back to the cross of Christ, lift it high, hide behind it, and let Jesus shine! To Him alone be the glory!