Silence Is Not An Option

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I took part in our state wide March for Life this weekend. I must say it was encouraging to see the many voices fighting for life at every stage in the human experience. At the same time, I wish I had seen more. Prolifers have been waging this battle for hearts and minds for over forty years now. When people are in a struggle for that long, there is a tendency to become apathetic to the mission. WE MUST NOT BECOME APATHETIC.

Silence is not an option. I was reminded of this Sunday morning through this passage in the book of Proverbs,

If you faint in the day of adversity,
    your strength is small.
 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
    and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov. 24:10-12)

We are living in a culture of adversity when it comes to the issue of abortion. Our adversity ranges from the government to your friend or coworker. But where there is adversity there is opportunity. We must take advantage of the opportunity to defend life. We must take advantage of the opportunity to shine the light of truth on the dark deception of abortion.

This passage in Proverbs is calling us to action. Look at the words the writer of Proverbs uses, rescue, hold back, those are some powerful words. There are many ways to take part in the rescuing and holding back when it comes to the issue of abortion. We must take a stand and not grow faint, we must not allow our strength to be small. Here are a few ways you can help,

  • Find a pregnancy resource center in your area and support it financially, resources and volunteering
  • Be ready to defend the pro life position with decency and respect, we win this battle one heart at a time
  • Election has consequences, vote for Pro Life candidates
  • Offer the hope, love and forgiveness found in Christ to those who have had abortions
  • Call elected officials and let them hear our voice
  • Teach Teach Teach the truth
  • Contact your Right to Life organization

There are many ways and avenues we can spread hope and life. Get involved, we must not be silent

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

Meditation Monday: Time For A Self Evaluation

Meditation Monday is where I share my ramblings and reflections from Sunday’s sermons from Watson Chapel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, AR, Pastor Todd Howard. We are currently going through Acts in our morning service and Genesis in our evening service.

As I began meditating on yesterday’s sermons I began performing a self-evaluation of my life, character and spiritual development in light of the three biblical characters we studied. We focused our attention on the story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup (Gen. 25:19-34) in the evening and the life of Stephen in the morning (Acts 6).

Before I move on allow me to define how I used these biblical characters as an evaluation tool.

Esau – infamous for selling his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau, I perceive, is a man who lives for the moment. Esau most likely had a “if it benefits me in the here and now, I will do it” attitude. Esau a man who trades eternal treasures for temporal pleasures.

Jacob – infamous for taking advantage of his brother’s situation to advance himself.  Jacob was greedy, to obtain Esau’s birthright meant he would inherit two portions of his fathers estate. Jacob was dissatisfied, impatient and a cheat. Jacob coveted after the right thing but it led him to obtain it the wrong way.

Stephen – Stephen is one of my favorite persons to read about. Stephen was a sinner like Jacob, Esau and even me. But Stephen provides hope because Scripture says Stephen was a man “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” Grace found Stephen through the person of Jesus Christ and through Christ, via the Holy Spirit, Stephen was a person filled with the Word, wisdom, character, grace, a servants heart, Gospel defender, and bold preacher. Stephen found his ultimate treasure and satisfaction in Christ alone and it cost him his life.

If God can do this in the life of Stephen, he can do it in me.

Questions To Ask
As I have been meditating throughout the day, here are some questions I have been asking. This isn’t meant to be a legalistic beat down, but a tool to evaluate the trends of life. I hope you reflect on the past year and evaluate what life trends you need to develop or break to continue to grow in the grace of Lord Jesus Christ this year.

Do I trade eternal treasures for temporal pleasures?

Do I sacrifice time with God in prayer and the Word for the snooze button, TV, or just hanging out?

Do I make a habit of neglecting time with/serving my local church for me time, sports, etc.?

Am I hurt or hold resentment in my heart which causes me to act out sinfully?

Do I attempt to gain good things on my timing at the detriment of my family,  friendship or church relationships?

Do I try to get a step up in life at the expense of others?

Do I have a “Lord if you do this, then I will do” attitude?

Do you buy into a prosperity gospel, a give to get theology?

Do I cheat in any area in my life to gain good things? Bad things?

Do you have a servants heart?

How is your passion for God’s word? Do you desire to read it? Does it feel like a chore?

Do you enjoy fellowshiping/serving your local church?

Are you a Gospel defender?

Do you allow the Lord to build your character, even when it hurts?

Are you allowing the Lord to develop the fruit of the Spirit in your life?

Are you seeking to be filled with the Spirit?

Are you a spectator or participant in your worship services?

Does your life reflect that Christ is your ultimate treasure and satisfaction?

As you can see the Lord has been working on my heart today. Growing is painful, but so worth it.

Until next time
Soli Deo Gloria

Book Review: New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional

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New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional Paul Tripp. Crossway. Pgs. 384. Kindle Hardcover

Do you need daily nuggets of grace and truth you can meditate on? Do you need bite size portions at the buffet table of God’s word? Let’s face it, we all need to digest the truth of God’s word daily to grow in grace. As the old saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Do you have a plan to soak in truth in 2016? There is a myriad of resources available to us and I want to bring to your attention to an excellent tool of grace and truth at your disposal, Paul Tripp’s book New Mercies Every Morning.

New Mercies Every Morning is a daily devotional, nuggets of truth, grace, hope, mercy, love and I could go on and on. There are 365 days of devotionals mapped out for us, so easy we just pick up the book or your kindle and let your mind and heart soak in the daily truth available to you. These daily devotionals are short, sweet but pack a punch of God’s truth with a portion of Scripture to meditate on and dig deeper.

Paul Tripp is excellent in packing truth in a short and understandable way without compromising the truth of God’s word. Here are some of my favorite quotes from New Mercies Every Morning,

Let’s start the new year admitting that there is nothing less natural for us than to live for the glory of another.

Your rest is not to be found in figuring your life out, but in trusting the One who has it all figured out for your good and His glory.

If eternity is the plan, then it makes no sense to shrink your living down to the needs and wants of this little moment.

The Bible is a big picture book that calls us to big picture living.

If God has already granted you a place in eternity, then he has also granted you all the grace you need along the way, or you’d never get there.

Only grace can deliver the deluded from the danger that they are to themselves.

God’s grace will expose what you want to hide, not to shame you, but to forgive you.

Grace shatters our darkness. Grace explodes on us with penetrating, heart exposing light. Grace illumines our dank hallways and our dark corners. The Son of grace shines the light of his grace into the darkest recesses of our hearts, not as an act of vengeance or punishment, but as a move of forgiving, transforming, and delivering grace.

This is just a drip of the ocean of grace and truth in New Mercies Every Morning.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

Book Review: Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work

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Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words Our First Work, Robby Gallaty. Zondervan. Pgs. 240 Kindle Paperback

Depth is more important than width; the transformation of a single person can have a greater impact than hundreds of shallow commitments. (pg. 18)

Growing up in church and being actively involved, I have become familiar with new buzzwords which arise. Buzzwords like “seeker sensitive”, “purpose driven”, “organic”, “missional” and “discipleship”. I realize to some these are just buzzwords, for whatever reason, people in church circles use them. To others there is meaning behind the word which draw a person to action. Robert Gallaty is one who finds not only meaning in the word discipleship, but a mandate to all who are followers, or better yet, disciples of Jesus.

Discipleship has shifted – from an ongoing process over the course of one’s life to a class you sign up for and complete. (pg. 87)

In Rediscovering Discipleship, Gallaty paints for us a picture on what discipleship means and how others have accomplished successfully and unsuccessfully the task of making disciples. Gallaty takes us back through the portals of history giving details on how discipleship was practiced in the time of Christ, in a Hebraic culture. He points out how drastically different the Hebraic form of discipleship is from a Western mindset. He continues painting on his canvass by giving the reader examples of successful discipleship throughout history from the lives of Augustine, John Wesley and others.

Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. (pg. 155)

After a history of discipleship Gallaty provides us the means of discipleship. Pointing out there is no such thing as drive thru discipleship, building a discipleship community and culture takes time, like a crock pot. Gallaty gives methods, means and marcs, while at the same time reminding us to contextualize the principles to the culture we live in. Above all Gallaty exhorts the reader to finish the painting Christ started over 2000 years ago by becoming obedient to the mandate to make disciples.

Until Next Time
Soli Deo Gloria

Book Review: Questions Jesus Asks: Where Divinity Meets Humanity

Questions Jesus Asks: Where Divinity Meets Humanity, Israel Wayne. New Leaf Press. Pgs. 186 Kindle Paperback

When Jesus walked the earth, he asked questions, he questioned religious leaders, politicians, men, women even demons. We have a record of some of those questions preserved for us in the Gospels. Have you ever pondered why Jesus asked questions? Israel Wayne points out in Questions Jesus Asked, 

He (Jesus) isn’t asking questions for His own personal benefit but rather on behalf of the person being asked. Jesus was full of love and compassion for people. His questions penetrate the heart and probe our deepest motive…Because these questions of Jesus have been preserved for us in the Scripture, I believe they are there for our benefit as well (Pg. 11).

In the introduction Israel Wayne explores the discussion of Jesus being fully God and fully man, in particular how this relates to the attribute of God being all knowing. Israel delicately explains the relationship of the divinity and the humanity of Jesus in relation to the all knowing attribute of God. Israel gives us a quick tour through the Scriptures to explain the two natures of Christ, very helpful to the reader.

In the following chapters of Questions Jesus Asks, Israel takes 20 questions asked by Jesus and expounds on them and how they relate to us. He does a masterful job at getting to the heart of each question and expounding on the topic. The topics range from Christology, fear, Lordship, suffering and on. One of my favorite chapters is chapter 13 when Jesus asked the Sadducees,

“Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?(Mark 12:24)

Israel then explains,

Jesus points out two key areas that had kept the Sadducees from being able to understand the truth correctly. These two areas are still a struggle for Christians today: biblical literacy and experiencing the power of God in their personal lives (pg. 115).

Each chapter is packed with the power of God’s word and helps us examine our own heart as we turn the pages.

I chewed up this book pretty quick, besides being an easy read, it was very informative with Biblical depth. I enjoyed the concept of digging into the questions and having them developed for me. Questions Jesus Asked could be a great discipleship tool or even a devotional. If you are like me you will desire to keep reading Questions Jesus Asked until you are done.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher New Life Press through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

The Christian and the Confederate Flag

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For the past week or so there has been an uproar to “take down that flag”, in reference to the Confederate flag which flies in many places across the Southern States. The cry comes from Democrats and Republicans, from liberals and some conservatives, even Dr. Russell Moore President of the ERLC of the Southern Baptist Convention issues the call to take down the flag.

Now we all know a flag didn’t make a young man shoot people in a church prayer meeting, it was his beliefs which led him to commit such a heinous action. His worldview corrupted his thinking when he open fired on the church prayer meeting. His worldview was his overarching passion at that instant and it caused him to open fire.

I currently reside in Arkansas, a transplant to the South via California. My love for Southern living is abounding everyday. I also know some very godly down to earth Southern folks who see the Confederate flag, not as a sign of racism but a symbol of Southern pride, a heritage marker which says I am a Southerner and proud of it.

Yet on the other side we have hate groups which have embraced the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate and white supremacy. A symbol of a race war, which unfortunately is the predominant message. Before I moved to the South, that is exactly how I viewed the Confederate flag as an Hispanic American. When I moved here I was offended to see the flag flying proudly.

Until I met some of these Southern people, who have loved and embraced my family and I. People who do what they can to help you when your in a bind. People who love and embrace my children as their own.

As I sit back and contemplate on all the fuss concerning the Confederate flag, I see it from three perspectives now. There are people who view the Confederate flag as just a people proud to be from the South. Where people are extremely polite, the tea is good, and the Southern food is great, among other things. To them it’s a marker which says, I am Southern and I am proud of it.

At the same time their are those who use it as their symbol of racism and hate. A symbol for a race war. Hate is what they are selling and the Confederate flag is their brand. There is no denying this.

There is yet another perspective, I believe Paul the Apostle helps us in this area, when writing to the church in Phillipi, he begins warning them about those who say you need Jesus + circumcision for salvation. Paul tells them,

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (ESV) Philippians 3:4-8

Paul says you think you have confidence in your circumcision, let me tell you my heritage, because if any one should have confidence it is me.

1) Circumcised on the eighth day
2) Of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews
3) As to the law, a Pharisee
4) As to zeal, a persecutor of the church
5) As to righteousness under the law, blameless

If anyone can take pride in his heritage, it is Paul. He was the standout, the Hebrew of Hebrews, as he puts it.

Now I know most Southerners out there don’t believe they need Jesus + their Southern heritage for salvation. But look what Paul says in verse 7,

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Did Paul gain from his heritage? Sure he did, if all the Old Testament points to Christ, there must be gain from his heritage. Is there gain being raised in the Bible belt of the South? Sure there is, but notice the very next phrase, I count it as loss.

Why?

Christ is so much more than the heritage you bring to the table.

Paul goes on to say he counts all things, his heritage, money, wealth, fame, future, all things loss because knowing Jesus is worth more than anything. The joy of knowing Christ surpasses anything you bring to the table, by far, there is no comparison.

Paul not only says Christ is worth so much more than all things. Paul goes on to say all things are rubbish and are worth giving up for Christ. The ESV translates the Greek word Skubalon as rubbish but other translations use dung, or as I say, it is all a pile of poo compared to knowing Christ.

Paul says everything I perceive as gain is skubalon, now here is an even bigger statement, in order that I may gain Christ. Paul, very clearly, points out I must give up whatever I put my pride and rightousness in, to gain Christ. As believers, our identity is in Christ, and everything else is a distant second to Him. Christ becomes what defines who we are, above being a Hispanic American, father, husband, wife, mother, or even a Southerner.

For the Christian, Christ is our supreme pleasure and the proclamation of the Gospel is our mission.  If this is true of believers, then we must decide to take down the flag because it is “stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (Rom. 14:13) ”  I would also contend, not only is it offensive to some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, it may prevent an unbeliever from hearing the Gospel.

Paul continues in Romans 14, “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat” or by what flag you fly, “you are no longer walking in love (Rom. 14:15).” Love for our neighbor becomes the motivation of the Christian. We must be Gospel people who are uncompromising when it comes to the truth of God’s Word. We also must be Gospel people who submit to God’s word by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ who are deeply offended by the Confederate flag.

Why?

For the Christian, the flag which should be fying above all others is the Gospel which has granted us access into God’s kingdom. Every other flag is secondary to Christ and the Gospel. Here is what Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking” or which flag you fly “but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit… So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food (or a flag), destroy the work of God (Romans 14:17-20).”

Remember it’s all skubalon compared to the privilege of knowing Christ.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

Pastor’s Library: Forward: 7 Distinguishing Marks of Future Leaders

“Growing in leadership is crucial to pastoral ministry, especially in our rapidly changing society. Forward will help you go back to the foundation of leadership, anchoring your life and ministry on the truth of God’s word. It gently reminds you that forward leaders must minister from the outflow of God’s presence in their lives.”

Read the rest of Forward review by clicking here