Archive | November, 2014

Important message series

25 Nov

During the last three Sundays of November, I am sharing a three message series on the church.  In this series of messages, I have dealt with some of the key questions that people have about church life today:  What is the church?  Is it still important to attend church in today’s digital world?  Why should I support a local church with all of the problems that churches have?  What is a church supposed to be doing anyway?  Here are the links to the messages/podcasts for you…

November 16, 2014     “The What & Why of the Church”   http://www.lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2014_11_16AM

November 23, 2014    “What’s a Church to Do?”   http://www.lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2014_11_23AM

Particularly for our Lakeside church family who may have missed one or both of these messages, while you have some time off work this week, I urge you to take the time and watch these vital messages. They are foundational to where we are heading as a church into the future.  Of course, all of my messages are available for anyone in the world to watch.  It is my prayer that the Lord will use these messages in a great way at Lakeside – as well as local churches in many places.

Stay faithful. Let’s BE the church!

Simple faith is saving faith

21 Nov

Each year I read through the Bible, and my reading this morning was in the book of Acts.  Even though I have read it probably hundreds of times over the years, the power of this passage really spoke to me today…

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here!” Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the message of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house. He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized. He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had believed God with his entire household.” (Acts 16:25–34, HCSB)

There are some scholars who argue that the Philippian jailor was not asking a spiritual question here, but rather he was seeking to learn how he could avoid the consequences (likely execution) of allowing prisoners to escape.  If that is the case, then Paul and Silas used the occasion to build a great gospel bridge into his life and connect him to his need for a different type of salvation.  Personally, I believe the man was so shaken by seeing the power of God that he was asking a spiritual question.  However, either way the end result is the same: salvation came to this man and eventually his household through simple faith.

Think about all of the theology books that have been written. They are needful, and I am very much in favor of making sure we have our theology correct and struggling with the things of God taught in the scriptures. There are some real, profound disagreements in theology – even among evangelical Christians. It’s o.k. to wrestle with those issues, and even debate them in the proper forums.  However, I feel like sometimes we forget that the gospel message is so very simple.  To say the gospel message is simple is not to say it is shallow.  In fact, the gospel is so deep that the greatest theologians cannot exhaust it’s treasure, but yet it is simple enough so that a child can understand and be saved.

The answer to the Philippian jailor’s question was not a systematic theology textbook – it was one verse, Acts 16:31.  We would do well not to forget that. Saving faith is simple faith, and simple faith is saving faith.  How did I become a Christian as an eight year old boy in Henagar, Alabama?  I heard the simple gospel and responded with a simple faith.  Saving faith is simple faith, and simple faith is saving faith.

Two indispensable ingredients of leadership

7 Nov

Leadership is needed in all areas of life.  Leadership is needed in our homes, in our companies, on our sports teams, etc. Leadership is needed in the church.  Leadership is needed in government and civic organizations.  In fact, many of the issues that we face today can be traced to a lack of good leadership. Many books and blogs are written every month about leadership.  I enjoy reading some of them. However, as a person who has been on the front lines of leadership for over twenty years now, I have come to believe that leadership can be boiled down to two indispensable ingredients.  They are found in one verse of the Bible.

By any measure, King David was a tremendous leader.  He had courage.  He had people skills.  He was a successful military leader and a successful government leader.  He had a strong faith in the Lord – to the point where he is referred to as a man after God’s own heart.  In the book of Psalms, there is a section that describes God calling David from being a shepherd boy to being King of Israel.  Then there is this verse which describes David’s leadership…

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” (Psalm 78:72, NKJV)

This verse identifies two indispensable qualities of David’s leadership…

(1)  INTEGRITY  David was king.  He had the position and the power.  However, the Bible says that what set him apart was his integrity.  Both history and today’s headlines are filled with those who enjoyed position and power but lacked integrity.  The truth is that people follow people they trust and believe in.  You lead from who you are first and foremost – not your position or title. This is certainly true in the church, but if you read what is written about leadership from a secular point of view you will find the same principle.  From talking with friends of mine in the armed forces, the best leaders today are those that people believe in beyond their rank or position.

(2)  SKILL  A leader is competent. A leader gets results.  The organization benefits from the presence of the leader.  Every leader has problems, but the successful leader deals with problems in a way that moves the organization forward.  People will not follow someone they know is incompetent. If they know you are competent, they will follow even if they disagree.

Integrity and skill are the wings of the plane in leadership.  One doesn’t work without the other.  All of the skill & competence in the world will not ultimately overcome a lack of integrity.  On the other hand, a sincere heart of gold will not produce results apart from skill.  Think about it. A lack of either integrity or skill creates unbalanced leadership and steers the organization into the ditch.  A lack of both quickly produces a disaster.

While I have read and benefited from many leadership books, the Word of God is best leadership text ever written.

 

 

 

 

 

Christians & Election Day

4 Nov

Today is election day across America.  In addition to thousands of local and statewide raises, one-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives will be elected today.  It is certainly an extremely significant day in the life of our nation.

In my opinion, there are Christians who take equally unhealthy positions when it comes to Christians and our involvement in politics.  On one hand, there are those who say that the key to turning America around is to organize Christians to vote for a certain party, making Bible believing Christians just another “voting bloc” of people who help to win elections.  The danger here is tying Christianity to a political party.  The polar opposite of this view comes from those who say that Christians should not be involved at all in politics and totally focus on proclaiming Christ and doing His work. The danger here is keeping our faith within the walls of our churches with no prophetic voice.  In my personal opinion, both of these extremes are equally bad.  Please allow me to share my thoughts on how Christians should approach election day.

(1)  Go vote and vote according to your Biblical, Christian values.  The argument that Christians should leave our faith behind us at the ballot box is absurd.  A Christian worldview informs every choice that we make in life – including our vote. Rest assured, everyone who votes today will do so from their personal beliefs, perspective, and worldview.  As a Bible believing Christian, you have every right to vote in accordance with your beliefs, perspective, and worldview.

(2)  Be reminded to pray for America. Election day is a great reminder to give thanks for our country and pray for its future. America needs a great revival.  Christ is the hope for our country – not a political party. The fact we have the privilege of voting is a testament to the fact that we are privileged to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I do not worship America, but I do unapologetically love America. I am greatly concerned about where we are heading as a nation. The power of God in a mighty revival can heal our land.

(3)  Be kind and show love to those who disagree with you.   Having strong convictions doesn’t have to mean we are obnoxious.  People are watching how we treat others, and if we show nothing but disdain for those who disagree with us it is an extremely poor witness. Everything we post on social media is “out there” for others to see and sometimes it isn’t pretty.  Remember that. For many who are unbelievers, this is a huge barrier to them coming to Christ.  In order to gain a hearing for the gospel, we must be willing to love and engage in conversation with those who disagree with us.  Even though a person may be voting for everything you are against, Christ loves them and died on the cross for them.

(4)  The results of an election do not alter the sovereign plan of God.  He is Lord regardless of how anyone votes. Nothing changes His plan or His power. This world is not in utter chaos; it is headed to an inevitable conclusion.  Do not get too worked up if the election goes your way, and do not despair if it does not.  Jesus is Lord.  Like many of you, I will sit down after my son’s ball game tonight to watch the election returns.  As of this writing, I do not know if I will be pleased with the returns.  However, I will absolutely know that the most important return has happened yet!

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1–3, NKJV)