Archive for September, 2006
September 29th, 2006 | 3 Comments | Posted in » Church Stuff...
Check it out… Micah and I have put together a new website for our church.
I think it looks great, but of course I’m biased…
September 26th, 2006 | 9 Comments | Posted in » Baptist Issues
Yesterday’s big news seemed to be centered around the Joshua Convergence, a conference of 40+ pastors and seminary professors which is meeting outside Orlando.
According to the Florida Baptist Witness, attendees at the Joshua Convergence presented their “Principles of Affirmation”, which basically affirms the direction and purpose of the Southern Baptist Convention, and urges continued commitment to such. The Joshua Convergence statement is similar in its development to the Memphis Declaration, although its content diiffers dramatically in regard to statements about our convention. You can read more here.
Now, I don’t know who is attending the Joshua Convergence, and I don’t know who attended the Memphis Summit, but it seems to me we’re got different groups of people playing a game of dueling declarations. It’s like we’re creating political parties in the SBC… the Memphis Party and Joshua Party. Is this what we want?
I just don’t get it. Shouldn’t we be spending our time working through our differences for the glory of God rather than issuing these nice-sounding, yet politically-charged documents?
How about this instead? Now that we’ve had the Joshua Convergence and the Memphis Summit, let’s get everyone from both “sides” together and pray. We can pray for unity. We can pray for each other’s ministries. We can pray for the direction of our convention. We can pray for the leadership of our convention. We can pray for our missionaries. We can pray for our churches. We can pray for our country. We can pray for the lost. We can pray for revival.
Need I go on?
Here’s the deal, folks. I believe that our commonalities as Baptists by far exceed our differences, and we really need to be focusing on unity at this point. If some kind of prayer summit would help to promote unity amongst these groups of dueling declarants, let’s get it going. I may not be a mover or a shaker in our convention… to be completely honest, I’m just a peon layperson from a small church. But you know what? I’m willing to step out on a limb if it helps further the cause of Christ, so I’m more than willing to help put something like this together. I willing to further step out on that limb and state that I think there are a lot of people out there who would love to help.
So, what do you think? Do we need this to get past our differences? Would something different help more? Am I just out of my mind?
I don’t know. Tell me what YOU think.
September 26th, 2006 | 1 Comment | Posted in » Baptist Issues
With all the debate and controversy flying around right now amongst Baptists, particularly in regard to doctrines we want our missionaries to accept, believe, and teach, I’ve got a question.
How much theological error is too much when it comes to salvation? In other words, what doctrines must we be correct in our beliefs about to be saved?
Just something I wonder about. Most of us are very eager to help new believers come to know “the truth” (which generally means our particular interpretations and understandings of certain doctrines). How much error can a person have in what they believe about Jesus, salvation, how God works, etc., and still truly be saved through a right faith relationship with Jesus Christ?
Maybe it’s a question only God can answer, but I’m curious what others think. It seems to me that often times we’re focusing way too much on details and missing the big picture.
September 25th, 2006 | Comments Off | Posted in » Christian Living, Church Stuff..., Devotions / Bible Studies
Are your feet beautiful?
That’s an odd question, without a doubt, but it was the question of the day in Sunday School yesterday. You see, we were completing our study of Romans 10, and our focal passage was Romans 10:14-15:
14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
As believers, we’re expected to proclaim the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not just a job for evangelists, pastors, youth ministers, and missionaries… it’s everyone’s job. Each of us has someone we’re uniquely qualified to reach… people “professional” ministers can’t. We understand our friends and family members… we have a much better understanding about the things that hold them back from faith in Christ… we have their trust.
So why don’t most Christians have beautiful feet?
Quite honestly, I think it’s because we often embody another phrase from Romans 10… that we’re often a disobedient and obstinate people.
21But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
Yes, this portion of Romans 10 is talking about Israel… that they, although given every advantage and opportunity to know God and experience righteousness, continued in disobedience and missed out on the blessing of a right relationship with God. But is it not also applicable to us?
We’re called to preach the gospel, yet most of us continually come up with excuses not to do so. We’re “not gifted that way”… we “just don’t know what to say”… we’re worried about “what they might think”. In reality, it’s none of those things… we’re just disobedient and obstinate.
Beautiful feet? Most of us shouldn’t let ours see the light of day.
Now, I don’t mean to be so negative, but we’ve got to be real with ourselves… most of us just don’t measure up when it comes to being Christ’s messengers. Most of us need to recapture the fire and love we felt for Jesus when we first came to know Him. Most of us need to develop a deeper appreciation for the gift of salvation we’ve been given. Most of us simply need to repent of our disobedience, ask God to use us, and keep our eyes open for those God-given opportunities to make a difference.
There’s joy in having beautiful feet. Let’s look for it… and experience it.
September 18th, 2006 | 4 Comments | Posted in » Christian Living, Church Stuff..., Devotions / Bible Studies, My Life / Family
If you’re familiar with Romans at all, you know that one of Paul’s main points was that the Law, as given to the Israelites, was a message of righteousness through works. As you know, such righteousness was inattainable by man… even the best of the Law followers (the Pharisees) failed miserably. If you’ve read Romans, you’ll also know that Paul preached the truth… that righteousness comes solely by the grace of God, and is granted as a gift to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
With this background in mind, we continued our study of Romans this weekend in Sunday School, diving into chapter 10. In our study guide, we came across a question that, at face value, seemed pretty straightforward:
Why should it be easier to trust Jesus than to keep the Law?
Now the point of this question is obvious… the Law, with its hundreds (if not thousands) of rules and regulations, would certainly seem more difficult than trusting Jesus. How can one even know every jot and tittle of the Law… let alone keep it? It’s difficult to comprehend. Trusting Jesus for grace-gifted righteousness is surely easy in comparison. I thought so, at least… and as a Sunday School teacher, surely I was right (sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious!).
Not so. Several in my class didn’t like the question… they didn’t think it was easier to trust Jesus. Nor do I, now that I think about it.
What’s easier, following a command to do or not do something, or trusting someone to help you fulfill such an obligation? Pick the sin you struggle with most and insert that. What’s easier… not doing that particular sin, or trusting someone to help you avoid that sin?
The point? One’s impersonal… the other is HIGHLY personal.
The simple fact is that trusting other people is not always easy. Most of us, even with those closest to us, have limits with our trust. We have things we can’t share with them… we have situations we just can’t allow them to help us with. We’re terrified… scared that we’ll be hurt by them… worried they’ll reject us… concerned they won’t keep our struggles in confidence. We have thousands of reasons… and that’s with people we’ve lived with… people we’ve known personally our entire lives.
So trusting Jesus should be easy? Hardly… it can be one of the most difficult things in this world to do.
Think about your situation prior to salvation. None of us living today had seen Jesus. None of us had spoken with Him one on one. What we knew of Him, we had primarily learned either through writings nearly 2,000 years old, or through things others have told us about Him. And get this… we’re supposed to stop trying to do what’s right, but simply have faith in Him and trust Him to provide righteousness?
Not an easy proposition. As a matter of fact, it sounds preposterous… ludicrous… insane. Even the Bible seems to note this:
1 Corinthians 1:18
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Yeah… it sounds nuts, but that’s the message of the gospel. Trust Jesus and be saved. Not an easy thing to do… especially to take that first step of faith.
Obviously, certain steps of faith in trusting Jesus get easier after that… but not all. We learn experientially that Christ won’t let us down… that, as Romans 10:11 says, we “who trust in Him will never be put to shame.” But there will ALWAYS be decisions of faith… opportunities to trust Jesus. Many of these won’t be easy.
What do you do when Christ lays missions on your heart, and you know you’re supposed to pick up and go? What do you do when He prompts you to go next door to witness to your neighbor? What do you do when He asks you whether you love Him or (blank) more, and asks you to give (blank) up? What do you do if you’re faced with the ultimate test of your trust, as the persecuted church faces… deny Him to live, or claim Him and die?
No. Trusting Jesus with these decisions is most certainly NOT easy.
It’s just worth it.
September 15th, 2006 | 2 Comments | Posted in » My Life / Family
Well, it’s now day 10 of my blogging boycott, and yep, it’s been most effective… traffic has dropped about 67%, I haven’t gotten in one heated discussion since, and oh yeah, most importantly…
Life has simply been busy. Nancy, Jeffrey, and Jenna have all been sick. There’s been a lot going on at work. I’ve been travelling a bit. Basically? Blogging has been relegated to the back burner. Hopefully I’ll get back in the swing of things again soon.
Anyway, I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet. Bear with me, I’ll get something worth reading up again soon (well, at least something to read!).
(BTW, I did get a new bad joke of the day up last night, complete with a brand new intro…)
September 5th, 2006 | 5 Comments | Posted in » Baptist Issues, Church Stuff..., Devotions / Bible Studies, My Life / Family
The past two weeks in Sunday School, we’ve been studying Romans 9… yes, that Romans 9… the chapter on God’s sovereign choice, which speaks to the doctrine of election. If it gives you any idea how much meat is there and how much discussion it’s drawn, we’ll be on our third week of discussion this Sunday.
So… what’s the big deal? Let’s let the Bible speak for itself.
18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
You see, these passages are pretty tough to swallow. They don’t provide very pleasant thoughts to most of us (especially if we’re not completely sold on reformed theology)… this idea that God is in complete control of our salvation. It just doesn’t seem to mesh well with other parts of Scripture, and especially many of our long-treasured beliefs about God:
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
The idea of election, and especially the idea of God creating certain individuals for destruction, is really quite disturbing to believers who have been taught over and over that God is love, and especially in light of what that teaching generally leads us to think about God.
Now, I’m not going with this where you think I am… I really could care less about the debate over the doctrine of election. This simply provides a good example for my main point:
God doesn’t fit in our box.
He’s too big for us to define. He’s far more complex than we’re generally comfortable with. He’s given us Scriptures which can be quite confusing at times. He’s full of qualities that can seem to be in opposition. He allows things in our lives we just don’t get. Even His plan of salvation seems downright crazy when you look at it objectively.
God just doesn’t fit in our box.
I wonder if that’s the root problem of so much of our the turmoil in Christianity today… not just amongst Baptists, but Christians of all denominations.
Have we forgotten who God is (or simply been afraid to look and find out)? Are we too comfortable placing walls around God to make Him easy for us to swallow? Do we shun certain Biblical concepts because we just don’t like the way they taste? Are we so full of pride that we think we can keep God in our box? Do we fear the discomfort that the idea of a God we don’t fully understand forces us to try to keep Him there?
Is our God box what enables us to fight and argue with such self-righteousness?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I think they’re worth asking.
You see… when I’m forced to face tough Scripture passages like Romans 9… I always find that my ability to define Him and understand Him can’t create a big enough box. In a way, that’s quite discomforting, but in another… it’s all the comfort in the world.
God is bigger than anything you and I can imagine. He’s smarter than us, more loving than us, more just than us, more righteous than us, has wiser plans than us, is more determined than us… you name it.
God is God.
In light of that simple yet profound truth, I can only be humbled, fall to my face in worship… and toss aside my worthless box.