Thursday, April 03, 2014

Trial Sermons

Trial Sermon. Sounds so scary. But that's what I will be doing this Sunday at Victory Community Church in Carthage,  NC. No vote is happening that I know off, but I appreciate your prayers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"I have hope: The Biblical Kind"

        You no doubt have seen the Chevrolet commercials where someone says while driving a Chevy, "This is not your daddy's chevy," meaning it is better, ultramodern, sleeker, fancier, etc., etc.. Well, that can be applied to the kind of hope I have; it's not your president's hope, President Obama that is.

        When most of us use the word "hope," we use it to express a wish, "I hope I get a nice raise this year. I hope the economy gets stronger. I hope conservatives win in November." This kind of hope can't be sure of anything; we just hope things get better (and we "vote!"). Biblical hope is a totally different animal.
        There is a lot of hope in the Bible, 153 occurences at least ... of the wishing kind and the biblical kind. For instance, in Luke's gospel we find the account of the two brothers walking to Emmaus who are joined by the resurrected Lord. They don't recognize Him and He asks them why they're so down and despondent. And after telling Jesus about what had happened to Him in the last three days, they said, "We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel." Their spent hope was of the wishing kind.
        But then there is the biblical kind of hope, the "living hope." Paul wrote to the Romans, chapter 5 and verse 5, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." This kind of hope "does not disappoint" like the wishing kind of hope can. It is a God-kind of hope; it is a sure hope; it is a hope sealed in the heart of every believer by the Holy Spirit. It is called hope only because of the future sense necessarily employed in the idea. But it is a sure hope because we know that what God has promised He will fulfill. And in this sense it stands more in company with the concept of faith.
        Paul wrote of the faith of Abraham, "and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Roms. 4:21. Read 4:16-25 to get the full power of faith and fulfilled promises). Faith in the promises of God and in His ability to do what He has promised is what gives the believer living hope. It's not that we hope God will do what He has promised to do or that God is able to do what He has promised to do, it's that we know He can and He will. Hope is future because it has not been completed; but we know it will be.
        Speaking of the troubles in this life in this mortal body and the coming sure change to our bodies, Paul wrote, "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance" (8:18-25).
        And finally, the apostle Peter wrote this, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you..." (emphasis mine).
        That's the kind of hope I have; that's the kind of hope every believer posessess. Do you have it?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Crossway Book Review: Taking God Seriously By J.I. Packer

Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to KnowTaking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know by J.I. Packer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend of mine asked, "Dude, are you really going to critique J.I. Packer?" He has a point. J.I. Packer is a giant of our time when it comes to Christian theology. His masterpiece Knowing God was one of the first books I read as a new believer in 1994 and shaped my faith immensely in those early years and impacts me today. There is no way that I am qualified to offer criticism to Packer's latest work Taking God Seriously but thankfully, unless him being Anglican bothers you, there isn't much I could say negatively about the book anyway. It is a must read for any Christian who is concerned at all with the current state of things in the worldwide church. Taking God Seriously is TIMELY, it is THEOLOGICAL, and it is THOROUGH.

First, it is timely. J.I. Packer has a lifetime of experience studying the Bible and theology as well as a vast knowledge of the trajectory of the church. His book hits the nail on the head and deals with the most current issues boiling over in most denominations in the 21st century. Taking God Seriously is a voice that the church needs right now. It's an important call and an urgent plea for the church to swim upstream instead of coasting downstream in the current of postmodern thought.

Second, it is theological. All you have to do is take one look at the chapter headings and it is clear what Dr. Packer has in mind when he says that we need to take God seriously. Taking God Seriously is deep but brief in it's approach and is broken down into the following eight chapters:

Taking Faith Seriously

Taking Doctrine Seriously

Taking Christian Unity Seriously

Taking Repentance Seriously

Taking the Church Seriously

Taking the Holy Spirit Seriously

Taking Baptism Seriously

Taking the Lord's Supper Seriously

Packer makes no bones about it, how seriously we take God in our lives is connected intricately to how seriously we take our own theology. We cannot please God and ignore theology. That is not an option.

Third, it is thorough. Packer leaves no stone unturned as he deals with everything from homosexual marriage to the way we view or own baptism personally. Although this book is a short book by theology standards, it covers everything it needs to cover and is very accessible to laymen as well as clergy.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who feels that they need to take God more seriously. I know that I need help constantly in this area and am sure I will refer back to this book for that guidance.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Time Flies...

I don't know if time flies when your having fun or not...but time has certainly seemed to fly for me in ministry. It seems like yesterday that I wrote THIS piece upon reaching three years serving as the pastor of North Fork Baptist Church. This week will mark four and a half years in that same position. It's hard to believe in many ways. I wasn't raised in church and came to know Christ after high school (read that story HERE). I was 21 when I headed to Bible College in SC and I ended up attending two different seminaries in two different cities of NC. That being said, I never had the blessing of a long term experience with a church family. I was part of a church for five years at one point, but that was interrupted with being away at school. That means that my time at North Fork represents the longest CONSECUTIVE time I have been able to spend at any church in my entire life. I am very happy about that!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Prayer of Faith

James writes about the "prayer of faith" for the sick in James 5. This past Sunday, Mrs. Holly Oliver shared her story at our church, North Fork Baptist in Virgilina, VA. Holly was diagnosed with brain tumors about four years ago. She has undergone several brain surgeries. Listen to Holly share her story and the journey God has taken her on with regards to prayer. She is a living example of "the prayer of faith". We can all be encouraged and learn to pray like this.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Crossway Book Review: Comfort From Romans by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a TimeComforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse Fitzpatrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is rare, unfortunately, to find a devotional that is also theologically rich. Elyse Fitzpatrick has delivered exactly that with this book. With 31 daily readings from the first eight chapters of Romans, I was captivated by the gospel each day. This book is helpful to every believer, no matter what level of spiritual maturity they have reached. It is also a great book for a seeker who would like to spend a month checking out what the gospel is all about.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is that Mrs. Fitzpatrick does an incredible job taking context into consideration. So many devotional works treat Scripture like fortune cookies, giving you a pithy little saying with some fluffy explanation. This book will give the reader an understanding of the big picture of Romans and the main points Paul was driving home to his readers.

I highly recommend this book. My biggest complaint is that I didn't want it to be over when I finished. I found myself saying, "No! Don't stop at Romans 8!" I don't know what Mrs. Fitzpatrick's plans are, but I hope she follows this up with another book on the second half of Romans.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Crossway Book Review: Pursuing Peace by Dr. Robert D. Jones

Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our ConflictsPursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert D. Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was very excited to read and review this book published by Crossway and written by Dr. Robert D. Jones. Dr. Jones was my biblical counseling professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He class did not disappoint and neither did this book.

"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9

This passage from the Sermon on the Mount is the last sentence of this book and it is an appropriate ending. Dr. Jones does a masterful job of dealing with interpersonal conflict from a biblical perspective and gives gospel solutions. If you want to get to the heart of your conflict and not deal superficially merely with outward behavior, this book is perfect for you.

The two chapters on forgiveness alone make the book worth far more than the cover price. Dr. Jones helps us understand the two levels of forgiveness as God defines forgiveness. Really what he deals with is forgiveness (my letting go of something) vs. reconciliation (a restored relationship). This second level is contingent upon repentance and mutual working towards the repaired relationship.

The book outlines very simply like this:


Step 1: Please God
Step 2: Repent
Step 3: Love the Person
A. Attitudes of Grace
B. Forgive
C. Confront
D. Serve

The chapters of the book expound each of these points in the outline. Each chapter lays out "ministry strategies" that are gospel centered, practical, and to the point. Whether you have conflict in your marriage, with your kids, with co-workers, with you boss, or anywhere, Dr. Jones' book can help you seek peace God's way. There is even a chapter on what to do when all of this doesn't work, which I found refreshing and encouraging knowing that sometimes even after you do all you can do peace is simply not possible.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book...and read it!

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