Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Commander-in -Chief

Please take a look at these pictures. All of them, especially the ones of the president beside the little boy, enjoying his beverage.

You know if a grown man desires to have alcohol at a sporting event, we can argue about whether he should or shouldn't. (I personally wish the stuff didn't exist.)

However, this grown man is the President of the United States of America - a hero to many, an example to the world. I guess what really disturbs me about these pictures is that he is sitting beside a little boy - drinking beer. For all the little boy knows, as for all my little boys know - drinking beer makes you "stupid" and I don't want them to be "stupid".

This just hurts me somehow. I am saddened.

Come on Chief, set the finest example you can.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who should we listen to?

"All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." -- Colossians 1

It saddens me that we live in such a pragmatic age. An age of "if it works, it must be good." If it is producing numbers, get on board.

Recent studies have come out that American churches are in decline, that less and less people are identifying themselves as "Christians", and certainly in our own Zion, the Southern Baptist Convention, baptisms are declining. This is concerning.

What do we do?

There are heads meeting all the time trying to figure out the next step to take. Conferences announced everyday to stop the bleeding and bolster up sagging budgets.

Should we look to the world? Hey Jim Collins, how can we be great?
Should we look to what seems to be bringing in the numbers? Hey Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, what now?

Perhaps someone should call us to prayer? Dear Lord Jesus, what would You have us do?
Perhaps we should get back to God's Word? Isn't that our authority?

Perhaps we need a revival of holiness amongst God's people (beginning in the pulpit), a revival of God-centeredness? A crying out to God for His direction, and bringing our lives and churches under His Lordship.

Perhaps we don't need to go to Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, or California. Maybe we should go to our closets and get alone and serious with Him who has preeminence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Who am I . . . ?"

I have had the pleasure recently to do some studying about Moses.

God's Word is eternal. It speaks to man in every age. The externals may change, but human nature, as Dr Lanier used to always say, "runs in the same ruts."

Moses had been raised in luxury and privilege in the house of Pharaoh. Egypt, the most prosperous and powerful civilization on earth, was before him. One day Moses takes a trip to see his "people" - the Hebrews. The Egyptians had turned them into servants. Moses looks and sees an Egyptian taskmaster being extremely hard on the Hebrews and Moses takes it upon himself to free his people -- he slays the Egyptian taskmaster and quickly buries him in a shallow grave.
Later he's back amongst the Hebrews and he notices two of them fighting and arguing with each other. Moses takes it upon himself to step in and say "Hey, what are you doing? You should be united against the oppressor, the Egyptian, not at each other's throats."
They say, "Hey, who are you? You gonna kill us like you did the Egyptian? Butt out, Mr Moses."

Moses failed in setting the people free. He was rejected. In failure, Moses runs away from it all - from Egypt, from the Hebrews. He ends up in the desert, at 40 years old, tending sheep. Quietly for the next 40 years he tends sheep that belong to his father-in-law, knowing that he has failed, knowing that his people are still in bondage.

One day he sees a bush on fire but that is not burning up. He goes to it and hears from God. God tells Moses he has a mission -- to go back to Egypt and lead the people out of bondage.
The self-confidence is gone now - at 80 years old - he says to God, "Who am I . . .?" (see Exodus 3:11)
God desires to reveal Himself. We get in the way. Moses had to get all the way down - at the end of himself - then the great I AM would be revealed.

Lord, teach me Your way.
May I be out of the way.
May Your glory be revealed.
Do Your awesome work, Lord.
To You alone be glory.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Right On Carl

What follows is from an article by Carl Trueman, a seminary professor in Philadelphia. I think he hits the nail right on the head with the way many "want the gods to do their thinking for them." The cult of personality is strong . . . even in the church of the Lord Jesus.

And, of course, as in politics, so in religion. The American political process, as I argued above, is simply the most dramatic example of the `great man theory of history' which pervades American society. I had often wondered why certain British figures - Jim Packer, N.T. Wright, Alister McGrath etc., were much bigger this side of the Atlantic than back home in their native country. Was it just the accent? Surely it couldn't be the dentistry.....? Maybe the dress sense? No. It is all to do with the way America is a personality/celebrity oriented culture in a way that Britain, while she may well be catching up, has historically not been. The American church reflects the culture: ministries built around individuals, around big shots, churches that focus on god-like guru figures, all of them pointing to one door. I have lost count of the conversations I have had with church people anxious to tell of who they heard at this conference, of which person they corresponded with, of how this opinion or that opinion would not sit well with this demi-god and is therefore of little value; and, of course, of how anyone who disagrees with, or criticizes, this chosen hero must, of necessity be morally depraved and wicked. People want the gods to do their thinking for them. All of the Pelagian, Manichean celebrity malarkey of the American political process is alive and well in the church as well. The question is: when it comes to churches and ministries built around messiahs who are supposed to point not to themselves but to the true door, who is going to have the guts to leave the temple?

The Message Never Changes

Church history is strewn with examples of those who thought they could mold the message for their own time -- but ended by corrupting the truth . . . If church history teaches us anything, it is that different times do not require different messages. Those who preach anything other than the unadulterated gospel forfeit the power of God in their ministries.

Nothing is wrong with the message . . .
If they don't hear the truth, cool music won't help.
If they don't see the light, PowerPoint won't help.
If they don't like the message, drama and video won't help.
They are blind and dead.
Our task is to go on preaching not ourselves, not our manipulated message, but repentance and submission to Christ Jesus as Lord. The message never changes.

-- John MacArthur

Friday, March 13, 2009

All Is Of God . . .

In some devotional reading the other day I came across this little verse . . .

1 Corinthians 12:6 "There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all"

All is of God that is, and is to be;
And God is good. Let this suffice us still,
Resting in childlike trust upon His will,
Who moves to His great ends, unthwarted by the ill.
-- J. G. Whittier

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Always the Same

Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

I have a funeral message to preach tomorrow for a lady who perished in an automobile fire. She was a mother and a sister and a friend to many. To her daughter, to her sisters and brother, and to her friends -- their lives changed when they received a phone call.

Our lives can change in an instant.

Is there anywhere to go in this world full of change, full of disruptions and uncertainty? When the change comes to our lives (and it will, when we least expect it) where will we be standing? On anything solid? Will we be overcome with the change and sink into the mire of despair and hopelessness?

What can be offered to this family tomorrow afternoon?

We find that it is not really a "what" that may be offered, but a "Who" that will be proclaimed. It is the Almighty God of the universe Who is our refuge, our rock, our hope, our security.

Tomorrow afternoon I will share with this family the truth from God's Word - not mere man's opinion or kind, sympathetic words - no, but the truth, the eternal truth from God.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.'" -- Psalm 91

"When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my Anchor holds within the vale. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."

Rejoice, Christian, that we can proclaim an unchanging Savior and God. To Him be all glory!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Have We Forgotten 9/11?

There is MUCH to distract us.

* 2 wars -- far, far away
* an economy that is in the tank, and sinking deeper & deeper as each day passes
* joblessness, ever increasing
* a society caught-up with the celebrity of a new president
* a society caught up with itself
* we have summits on energy & health care
* sports stars who cheat
* divorce rates not going down
* abortions increasing
* not to mention ME and MY FEELINGS - isn't it all about ME?

All of this, and the terrorists who seek to totally destroy our lives, are patient . . . patient . . . patient.

Pray for God's grace, mercy and protection. Pray for our elected officials. Pray for our children and grandchildren. "Pray without ceasing."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

You Are . . .

Lord Jesus Christ,
you are for me medicine when I am sick;
you are my strength when I need help;
you are life itself when I fear death;
you are the way when I long for heaven;
you are the light when all is dark;
you are my food when I need nourishment.

-- Ambrose of Milan (340-397)