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Category Archives: General
This Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. At Bartimaeus Baptist Temple, we’ll be celebrating with a time of communion, special music, and a light dinner after the service. I hope you can come and join us. I’m going to be sharing from 1 Corinthians 15:1-14. Here Paul explains how crucial Jesus’ resurrection is to the message of the Gospel. Without it, he says, our faith is worthless! Most people don’t have any trouble believing that Jesus was a real person. They will usually agree that He was a good person. We have historical record that He was crucified by the Roman government, so most people can accept that. The problem comes when we talk about the fact that he was also raised from the dead three days later. This is no less true for its incredible nature, and as Paul points out, there were many who saw Him after He was raised.
This Sunday, I would like to share with you two things. First we will talk about the necessity of the resurrection to our faith. Then I’ll give you some information that you can use when you share your faith with others and the question of His resurrection comes up. Let us proclaim with boldness and confidence, “He is risen!”
I was once asked what I wanted at my funeral. My first thought was that I am way too young for that question. It’s true that none of us knows when God may call time, but chances are I’ll be here a while longer. Then I gave it a moment’s thought, but not a very long moment. I’ll grant that there’s some value in laying out a few things to guide grieving relatives as they cope with your departure, but here’s my problem. It may be my funeral, but it’s not about me. Yes, people would be talking about me and there’d be pictures of me and so on and so on, but the whole event is not for my benefit. I’m not there.
I’ve honestly had trouble understanding people who have adamant demands about how their funeral is to be conducted. Why do they care? Is it pride? They won’t be there to observe any of it. Why not allow friends and relatives to grieve in whatever ways will bring them the most comfort? If something unexpected were to happen to me, this is certainly what I hope for; that those closest to me will do whatever they need to do to deal with their own grief and also do the best they are able to accommodate that of others who knew me.
Linda and I will have the honor of delivering the Sunday school lesson and sermon at Bartimaeus Baptist Temple this week. I’ve been contemplating the wonder of Jesus. This time of year we sing the songs about the sweet little baby and create idyllic scenes depicting the story, often with questionable fidelity to the actual account. We know that He was born to save us. We acknowledge the miracle of the virgin birth and retell the amazing story of the night that God came down to us. I wonder though if we really grasp the awesomeness of what happened.
It’s a difficult thing for us to understand, how that God the Father could remain in Heaven while God the Son came to live among us, yet did not cease to be God. Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) For us to fully understand what Jesus did, we need to remember this; He lived his life among us as the perfect man, yet he was and is God.
Several false religions begin by attacking this critical issue, so I would like to take some time to point out the scripture that shows that Jesus was and is God. If He isn’t, our whole belief system unravels. To paraphrase the late C.S. Lewis, by His own claims, Jesus must be either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. We of course know that He is Lord, but I will share with you a few key verses so that you can be ready the next time someone challenges the deity of Jesus. In deference to the season, we’ll start with Matthew 1:23, which is a quote from Isaiah 7:14. I would be delighted if you would come and join us as we discover anew the wonder of “God with us.”
Just over a week ago was Halloween. You probably saw people dressed up in silly costumes representing everything from cartoon characters to the devil himself. He too was probably a bit cartoonish. That’s how we’ve been taught to think of him. Now I’m not going to spend much time talking about him. We’re going to glorify the Lord Jesus instead, who has already defeated Satan. However, you do need to know that he is real and he wants to destroy you.
That’s what Paul is telling us in Ephesians 6:10-17, and he uses the metaphor of a Roman soldier’s armor to describe for us how we should be prepared for battle. That’s something that his audience would be very familiar with, since Rome ruled the civilized world at the time in which he lived. I hope you’ll join me this Sunday at Bartimaeus Baptist Temple as we learn how to “stand firm” against the attack of the enemy.
In the time it takes you to read this, as many as fifteen people may die in the United States alone. None of us knows when our time is up. Are you ready? Jesus told us no one knows the day or hour, but things seem to be shaping up for His return. Are you ready? Persecution of Christians is growing around the world and even here. Are you ready? When your faith is attacked, are you ready? When someone comes to you and asks why your hope remains, are you ready?
It’s time to get ready!
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:13-16 NASU)
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matthew 24:36-44 NASU)
I hope you will join us this Sunday at Bartimaeus Baptist Temple as we begin to learn how to be ready. I’m ready to see you there!
I have the honor of speaking at Bartimaeus Baptist Temple again this Sunday. The subject on my heart is a difficult one. I keep asking the Lord if it’s the right one, and He has given me no leave to present any other. Thus I bring to you the question that I often wrestle with. How tolerant should a church be when it comes to obvious sin?
Our society is big on tolerance. In fact the word has grown to mean something far more when used by certain groups. We are expected not only to tolerate immorality but to embrace it. Our acceptance and approval is demanded. This attitude has crept into our churches. Some denominations are now openly accepting of gross immorality. Where do we think it will stop?
Maybe a better question is, “Where do we think it started?” What has set some churches on such a path? I think there are several answers to that question, but one answer must certainly be that we turned a blind eye to the sin in our own lives and in those of our congregation. Wishing to “hate the sin and love the sinner” and taking out of context Jesus’ admonition not to judge lest we be judged, we look the other way.
Surely we are to treat the sinner with love and compassion. Such are we all without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. It would be contrary to God’s commandments and His very nature if we were to shun or exclude them. The sinner is welcome within the walls of the church, for therein he should find salvation.
But what happens when no transformation occurs and we continue to pretend there is no problem? What happens when someone new comes in and sees our tacit approval of sin? Might he or she be led into the same? Might we then participate in the harming of the one we would save? What of the unrepentant person? Are we not enabling them to continue, just as the spouse of an alcoholic will sometimes do from misguided love?
I would be delighted if you would join us this Sunday as we explore 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5.
This is an election year, and the date is coming up fast. If you haven’t registered to vote I hope that you will do so and prayerfully consider the choices you make.
Each election cycle, the political parties meet and decide on their platforms. In a physical sense, a platform is a raised flat area on which one can safely stand. Metaphorically, that’s what the party platforms are about. They lay down a set of principles and ideas that are meant to form the foundation on which each candidate will govern. Though individuals may not adhere completely to the party platform, it tells you something about them that they will run under the banner of a particular party. I urge you to read the platforms of the major parties prayerfully and make your choices with that in mind.
I want to ask you a more important question. What is your platform? What are the foundational principles and ideals that govern your life? Do you indeed stand on them? Do you live what you say you believe? Does your belief touch every area of your life?
Our nation’s problems didn’t start with the politicians. They started with the people who chose those politicians. If we will not choose leaders who reflect Godly principles, we will get what we deserve. If we are not devoted to knowing God’s laws ourselves, we cannot hope to select leaders who will uphold them.
Jesus is our rock. He is the foundation on which everything must stand if it is to survive. Everything that we think, believe, and do should be subjected to the standards found in His word. I would be delighted if you would join me at Bartimaeus Baptist Temple at 2:30 on Sunday to explore His word together starting with Matthew 7:15-27.
That’s probably not the real word, but I do not doubt that there is a clinical word for it. Everywhere you go now there is hand sanitizer. We can’t seem to go more than a month or two without some scare story breaking about all the nasty bugs that live in some public place. This morning the headline I saw concerned airport security lines.
Can we get some perspective please? Yes, everywhere you go where lots of other people have been is likely to have lots of germs. Yes, you should exercise reasonable caution, especially if you have any condition that would make you unusually susceptible to infection. No, there is no reason to go about in fear of catching something from everything you touch.
The germ scares are just part of it. We regularly see reports of some new discovery that common things we partake of every day will kill us in the end. Yet we have not lived this long on average since the times of the early Old Testament. It seems we’re doing a lot more right than we are wrong. We should be wise in what we choose to subject ourselves to, but I for one will not live in fear of death by hand rail or plastic basket. I’m much more afraid of the guy TSA let through the security line untouched lest they be accused of profiling while they molest my wife in her scooter.
This Sunday I am preaching at Bartimaeus Baptist Temple and I’m going back to my favorite subject. I talk about it a lot, but this time I will try it from a different
and I hope more meaningful perspective. I don’t think there is another
word in the English language that is so abused. We love our spouses.
We love our families. We love our friends. We love our pets. We love
our stuff. we love good food. Some of us are even blessed that we
could say we love our jobs. Hopefully all of us here love Jesus. What
does that mean? We use the term so loosely that it’s hard to tell.
think that part of the word’s overuse is due to our tendency to
illustrate by exaggeration, but in so doing we have robbed it of its
meaning and power. The Greek language in which most of the new
testament was written used four different words where we have just one.
I hope that you’ll join me as we explore what love is together. In the
meantime, I’ll leave you with this thought from 1 John 4:10.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
I’m assuming that if you’re in business it is at least in part to make money. Maybe I’m unusual, but I don’t think so unless it might be the depth of my aversion to the things I’m about to mention. There are certain things you can do that virtually insure that I will never do business with you. Some things should be obvious; others may not be. Here they are in no particular order.
Send me paper mail. Granted, spam came to mean what it does today by way of the Internet, but the concept holds. I don’t want it. It carries an indirect cost to me. I would be curious to know how much landfill space is occupied by junk mail. I know that we haul out several heavy bags a year full of nothing but junk mail to be recycled, and we don’t sign up for any of it. You put a burden on us to deal with it and increase the cost of garbage collection. I won’t give you any of my money if I can help it. I haven’t done this since I got married because Linda usually sorts the mail, but I used to keep a spreadsheet of companies who sent me mail so that I would not inadvertently do business with them. I have recently read that the post office in an effort to stay afloat has sweetened the deal for direct mail marketers. I wish there was a way to opt out of the post office entirely.
Hang something on my door. I am uniquely able to completely ignore you’re advertising in this way since I don’t see well. I won’t even catch the big letters with a glance. It goes straight to the trash without ever being seen. You’re wasting both your money and mine for the reasons mentioned in the junk mail rant. I would like to put a paper shredder in the door with a glass front and a message, “insert flyers here.”
Send me email. This one’s obvious, being the official definition of spam, but all related forms also qualify. Examples include posting on forums, commenting on my blog, etc. Especially annoying are those of you who use the public comment form on my web sites. We both know that is not what the form is for. There is no way I will do business with you.
Finally, my latest pet peeve, follow me on Twitter. I’m not the least bit interested in giving you free advertising space because you show up on my profile and I absolutely will not follow you back. In fact, I’m as likely as not to report you for spam. I’ve let a few sneak by because they are not selling something and I like what they’re about, but I think this is a pretty lame way of getting your name out. I have not followed any of you in return nor am I likely to. Friends are welcome as are people actually interested by some miracle in what I have to say. Why tweet at all if you don’t want followers? There is a difference between followers and freeloaders. I won’t go into the more obvious forms of Twitter spam. Those are easily identified.
I’m done ranting now. I will engage in a bit of hopefully polite self-promotion now and ask that if you agree with me pass this around. I suspect a lot of these people have read some misguided book or article that tells them they should do this kind of thing. I also realize that there are always a certain number of people who will respond and since the cost of shoveling it out is minimal it probably isn’t going anywhere, but I can dream.
And by the way, don’t call me. I’ll call you.