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Facing Fear – new series

8 Jan

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)

Years ago I heard a preacher quote this verse and say, “Fear never comes from God!”  I believe that statement is true, but I have also found that many people who genuinely love God struggle with fear and anxiety. If we are honest, all of us struggle with it to some degree. Some of us struggle mightily.

There are frightening things going on in our world. The stock market has recently lost a chunk of its value, and there are new economic uncertainties. The Fall of 2015 saw a great deal of tragedy take place with mass shootings, terrorist attacks, etc. In this age of smart phones and social media, when events like this happen we are now bombarded by the images in real time. We don’t have to wait for the evening news or tomorrow’s paper.  It’s right there for us to see, and that magnifies our fear and anxiety.

Furthermore, some personal fears are common to many.  For instance, some people live with a constant fear of rejection.  Others fear failure above all else. When these personal fears are combined with the fears the news brings us, it can get overwhelming.

Can we find hope when we are afraid?  All of us want to be wise and realistic, but how do we keep that from paralyzing us?  How can we enjoy life when we control so little of it?

As I prayed about a new message series to begin 2016, I was drawn to three chapters in the Gospel of John – specifically John 14-16.  If you begin reading the Gospel of John at chapter 1 you see a beautiful presentation of Christ the Savior.  For twelve chapters, Christ is revealed as Savior and Lord. There are famous miracles and the seven “I AM” statements. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

Then Jesus begins to instruct and equip His disciples for what they were facing. In a matter of hours, they would see the one they had left all to follow crucified and buried. They would be filled with doubt, anxiety, and fear until they were at a breaking point.  Jesus knew this.  So Jesus spoke some of the most comforting, yet powerful words in all of the Bible…

“Do not let your heart be troubled…” 

Even though those words are quoted by a popular television host, they have nothing to do with Fox News and everything to do with Jesus. If you are reading this blog post, you either have recently come through a time of fear & trouble, are in the middle of a time of fear & trouble, or you soon will face such a time. When your heart is troubled…turn your heart to Jesus.

Join me as we begin walking verse by verse through John 14-16 this Sunday at Lakeside.  FACING FEAR is the theme of this important message series. I preach the same message at both 8:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. service.  Bring a friend and I will see you Sunday!

 

Life between two advents

4 Dec

Many Christian churches observe what is called Advent on the Sundays leading up to Christmas. The term “advent” has Latin roots and simply means “coming.” It refers to the coming of Christ. As early as the fourth century, Christian churches were designating a period of time leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth. It began as a time of fasting, but by the Middle Ages, the Advent season had become largely standardized into four Sundays. This is why we refer to “the second Sunday of Advent,” etc. In addition to the Advent emphasis in the Sunday worship services, many Christians prepare an Advent wreath at their home or follow some type of Advent devotional.

The churches I have served in have been Southern Baptist churches, and many Baptists traditionally haven’t emphasized the Advent season nearly as much as their Methodist or Presbyterian friends. However, I do believe it is healthy this time of year to look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth. Advent can be a great way to cut through the busyness and materialism of this time of year and focus on Christ.

Advent helps us look forward to our celebration of the birth of Christ. That’s the first advent. However, there will be a second advent on a day in the future when Christ returns. Christ’s first advent came in a manger in Bethlehem, but His second advent will come in power and glory as He splits the eastern sky and stands on the Mount of Olives. Christ’s first advent brought our salvation, and His second advent will bring it to its eternal conclusion. Christ’s first advent broke the penalty of sin over all who will place their faith in Christ, but Christ’s second advent will break the power and presence of sin – ridding the world of all its effects.

We live our lives between two advents – two “comings” of Christ. On December 25, we celebrate the first advent, and we live faithfully and hopefully looking forward to the second advent. Glory to God in the highest! Praise Him! Maranatha!

I am thankful for…

23 Nov

1 Thessalonians 5:18 commands Christians to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Think about it. As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, we may not know God’s will regarding any number of issues going on in our lives, but we know for sure that God’s will is for us to give thanks. Give thanks if life is good. Give thanks if life is hard. Give thanks.

I decided to share a list of things that I am thankful for this week.

I am thankful for the Lord Jesus and salvation by grace through faith in Him. He is my redeemer, my strength, my joy, and my hope.

I am thankful for the Word of God.  I never get tired of reading the Bible and studying the Bible.

I am thankful for my family. I was blessed with parents (and grandparents) who taught to me to love Christ and live for Him. 22 years ago (almost) the Lord blessed me with a beautiful wife to share life with. Our two sons continue to bring Becky and I great joy.

I am thankful for my church family.  The people of Lakeside Baptist Church are a great blessing to me. They are loving, faithful followers of Christ.

I am thankful for friends.  Some friends came into my life and God used for a season. Others became “friends for life” that I remain in touch with. Some friends are new friends.

I am thankful for health and strength to serve Christ. God has been gracious to allow me both spiritual and physical strength.

I am thankful for our country. For all of our problems, America is still the greatest country in the world. I am proud to be an American, and I am thankful to be a citizen of this great country.

I am thankful for financial and material blessings. Are we wealthy?  Not compared to many in our area, but we are compared to most of the people in the world.

Perhaps you read my list and think “well, no surprises there.”  That’s true. However, I have made my list and made it public. The fact that my list surprises no one isn’t the point. The point is to be thankful in obedience to scripture and for our spiritual good.  I am thankful. To God be the glory!

 

Reminders on September 11

11 Sep

It’s hard to believe that it’s been fourteen years since that terrible day: September 11, 2001.  Each year on this day, my mind goes back to that day and its horrors.  Time marches on.  Only the students who are in high school now have any memory of that day. The vast majority of those in school now only know of September 11 from the internet, history classes, and television. Please allow me to share some personal reminders on this day…

1)  The Lord is our only true security.  So many people were absolutely stunned that an attack could happen on American soil. The truth is that any of our lives can be turned upside down on any given day. In a country of over 300 million people if a person or group of people decide to commit an act of terrorism every instance of that cannot be stopped. Our security in Christ is the only true security we have.

2)  There is evil in this world that must be confronted. The September 11 attacks brought Americans face to face with the fact that there are people in the world who are willing to ruthlessly slaughter innocent people in the name of their religion or their cause.

3)  Pray for and honor those who serve our country. Certainly, this includes our military men and women, but let’s not forget our law enforcement and fire departments.  These men and women are literally on the front lines of keeping us all safe, and their pay often doesn’t reflect the danger and stress of what they do.

4)  Pray for revival to come in America.  Back in 2001, there were many Christians praying for a spiritual awakening to happen in our nation.  September 16, 2001 saw the largest church attendance possibly in our nation’s history.  That Sunday remains the largest attendance many churches have seen in their history.  Many were hopeful that September 11 would be the beginning of a great turning back to the Lord.  Sadly, that was not the case. Keep praying.

5)  Love America and be thankful for it. September 11 is a great reminder that we are all Americans. Certainly, our country is hurting in many ways and so many are concerned about the direction we are headed. However, America is still the greatest country in the world, and I am thankful to be born and raised in the USA!  The school my children attend encouraged the students to wear red, white, and blue today as well as for the football game tonight. I applaud that emphasis. We must raise this generation to love our country because there are many who do not.

 

Catch up on the PRAY message series

1 Sep

The feedback from people regarding the PRAY message series has been a great blessing and encouragement to me. To be honest, it has probably challenged me personally as much as any series I have preached in some time.  Here are the links to the individual messages in the series…

“How to Pray:  When Prayer Comes to Life”    Luke 11:1-4

http://lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2015_08_16AM

 

“How to Pray:  Praying for What Matters Most”   Luke 11:1-4

http://lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2015_08_23AM

 

“Powerful Prayer”  Luke 11:5-13   

http://lakesidebaptist.com/media/media-player.htm?2015_08_30AM

This Time is Our Time

22 Jul

Recently I was talking with a pastor friend about church life in the south back in the 70’s and 80’s. In those days, the cultural trends that we see today were in their infancy and there was still a fairly widespread cultural agreement on right and wrong, the Bible, and a host of other issues. In those days, people who were far from Christ often sought out the church. You could announce revival services and people who needed Christ would come and be saved. In those days, many families ordered their lives around faithfulness to the church. There was no little league sports on Sundays, very little travel ball, and movie theaters even had limited showings on Sundays.  In those days, many churches even had very robust Sunday evening services with a full house and decisions made on Sunday nights. In those days, people were receptive to home visits and it wasn’t uncommon for churches to have huge numbers of their members on a weeknight for “outreach” to make visits in the homes of their community.

As we were having that conversation, I jokingly said, “I would have loved to have been a pastor during those days.”  We both laughed and then moved on in our talk. However, the Lord brought conviction to me about that statement recently as I read the book of Esther in my personal devotion.

The book of Esther is about God’s people at a perilous time in their history. It was written after what is known as the Babylonian captivity during the early 400’s B.C. before what is called the second return under Ezra. You can study the background of the book on your own, but suffice it to say that God’s people were in great danger due to the plotting of a man named Haman. He sought nothing less than the extermination of God’s people and it looked like it was going to happen.

However, there was a lady there named Esther.  She was an orphan who grew up among the Jewish exiles in Persia. In His providence, God had moved her into a strategic position; King Ahasuerus had made her queen.  That’s right, Esther went from an orphan slave girl to queen. However, it was no accident that she was there. During this time of great danger for God’s people, Esther had a conversation with her uncle, Mordecai, about the situation they were facing. It was then that Mordecai made one of the most famous statements in the Bible…

“…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Es 4:14).

Mordecai was saying to Esther, “God has you at this place at this time to use you greatly.”  And he was exactly right! God used Esther to save the Jewish people and the promises of God kept right on being fulfilled. Even though I had read this passage many times over the years, it took on fresh relevance for me – indeed for every pastor and every Christian alive today.  God has us where we are at this time in history to serve His purpose and plan.

Yes, most of us can remember easier, more pleasant days. However, our Lord has seen fit to give us life in these days. Therefore, we are called to serve His purpose and His plan in these days. God has us here for a reason. This time is our time. We can spend our time and energy pining for easier days or we can put our hand to the plow and go forward in faithfulness.

This time is our time. Now is the time to make disciples.   Now is the time to share the Gospel.  Now is the time to model Biblical marriage. Now is the time pray. Now is the time to have a church. Now is the time to disciple our children.  Now is the time to be salt and light. Now is the time to lead.

This time is our time. Let’s not wish for another time.

Remembering a most special Memorial Day

25 May

Memorial Day is a day that America has set aside to remember those who died while serving our country in the armed forces. From what I have read, Memorial Day originated after the Civil War as an effort to remember those who had fallen in that way, and by the turn of the 20th century had become a time for our nation to remember all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  On this Memorial Day 2015, I am spending a relaxing day off with my family.  However, on Memorial Day 2012, my family had an awesome privilege that we will never forget.  On this day three years ago, we were here…

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Yes, we had the privilege of visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. If you have never been there, pictures and words cannot describe it. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about!  All of the ceremonies had taken place earlier in the day, and we arrived in the late afternoon and enjoyed a couple of wonderful hours there with light crowds.

Later on our trip to Washington D.C. we visited the Vietnam Memorial.  I had always wanted to see it particularly because I have a family member whose name is one of 50,000+ inscribed on that wall.  My mom’s brother, Royce Hall, was drafted during the Vietnam War and died there.  My mom was pregnant with me when that happened, so I never had the privilege of meeting my uncle Royce. It was a great privilege to take my boys there, find his name, and spend a few minutes remembering him.  Below is a photo of Daniel tracing his name on the wall.

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On this day, Americans often say that “our freedom isn’t free” but three years ago today my family was reminded of that in a very tangible way. On this (and every) Memorial Day, we remember and we say, “Thank you” and “May God bless America.”

Encourage a mother this Mother’s Day

8 May

Sunday is Mother’s Day 2015.  My Mother’s Day sermon is ready and plans are made to honor our mothers here at Lakeside on Sunday. I am so very grateful for my own mother, Janice Corbin, who raised me to love the Lord and provided for me in countless ways. I am very grateful for my wife, Becky, who is a great mother to our two boys. So, Mother’s Day is a happy occasion at our house.  For some reason, this week I have thought about the fact that Mother’s Day is a hard day for many mothers – or those desperately desiring to be mothers.

So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, “Do not let me see the boy die.” And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept.” (Genesis 21:14–16, NASB95)

I won’t take the space to go into the details of this particular Old Testament passage, but suffice it to say that Hagar was caught in a very difficult family situation and she was left as a single mother who did not know how she would provide for her son. She wept. Unfortunately, there will be many ladies who are weeping on Mother’s Day.

Single mothers. Whatever the reasons, there will be many mothers in church on Mother’s Day who are single moms. For some, it could be their first Mother’s Day as a single mom.  Many single mothers have been through terribly hurtful situations and struggle financially. The overwhelming majority of single mothers never dreamed they would ever be single mothers, but they are and it is not easy.

Those who have lost their mother. I have known very faithful Christians who stay away from church on Mother’s Day because it is just too painful. Many others come on to church on Mother’s Day, but they fight through their own tears during the entire service.

Those who have lost children. No matter if it was an infant or a grown adult, the trauma of burying a child never goes away. Mother’s Day serves as yet another reminder of their loss.

Those who struggle to have children. The pain of infertility is very real. Mother’s Day is not a joyous day for those couples who want a child more than anything.

Broken relationships. Sometimes we forget that not every son or daughter goes to see or calls their mother on Mother’s Day.  These mothers live with the pain of broken family relationships every day.

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but these five scenarios came to mind as the most common reasons that many struggle on Mother’s Day. If your church has more than 50 people in attendance, I will near guarantee you that each of these five scenarios will be represented in the pews on Mother’s Day. Sometimes those of who who look forward to Mother’s Day don’t think about that fact.

So, this Mother’s Day make sure you honor your own mother, but why don’t you take it a step further. Encourage another mother who is hurting this weekend. It could be as simple as a good word of encouragement or it could mean blessing them financially or otherwise. Think about it. Pray about it. Then do something!

40 Days of Prayer for Moral & Spiritual Awakening

28 Apr

40DaysofPrayer

I am publicly joining Dr. Rick Lance and Dr. Travis Coleman in encouraging Alabama Baptists particularly and all Bible believing Christians generally to pray specifically and daily for moral and spiritual awakening to come in America. Just today the headlines in our nation show our great need for this to happen. On one hand the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the definition of marriage, and on the other hand all of us have seen the tragic situation in Baltimore. Our country is in trouble and the only hope we have is a mighty revival to come in our land.  Here are some excerpts from a blog post Dr. Lance wrote to kick off this emphasis…

Selected Bible Passages relating to Revival & Spiritual Awakening
(Taken from a resource by J. Chris Schofield)

  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 (HCSB): “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
  • Psalm 85:6 (HCSB): “Will You not revive us again so that Your people may rejoice in You?”
  • Isaiah 64:1 (HCSB): “If only You would tear the heavens open and come down, so that mountains would quake at Your presence.”
  • Psalm 119:37 (HCSB): “Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in Your ways.
  • Habakkuk 3:2 (HCSB): “Lord, I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath remember mercy!”
  • Acts 3:19 (HCSB): “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
  • 1 Timothy 2:1, 3, 4 (HCSB): “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone…This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Prayers for Spiritual Awakening
(Taken from a resource by Greg Frizzell)

  • Holy Father, we humble ourselves and acknowledge Your righteous Judgment upon our sins. (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 85:6)
  • Righteous God, please send overwhelming love, godly fear and genuine repentance among Your people. (Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 22:37-39; 2 Corinthians 7:1, 10)
  • Righteous God, grant to us a mountain-moving faith and a passion for fervent prayer.(Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 21:13; Acts 2:1)
  • Holy Father, please bring us to loving unity in our churches and a deep harmony between our churches. (John 13:34-35; 17:20-22)
  • Gracious Lord, please fill us with a burning passion to pray for and witness to the lost.(Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 19:10; Acts 1:8; Romans 5:5, 9:1-3)
  • Lord of the harvest, please call thousands into ministry, missions and Christian witness. (Matthew 9:37-38; Acts 1:8)
  • Holy Lord, we ask You to deepen and purify our very motives in praying for revival and blessing. (Ezekiel 33:32; Hebrews 4:12; James 4:1-4)
  • Righteous Lord, we plead for Your grace upon persecuted saints around the world. (Matthew 26:39; James 4:1-4)
  • Holy Father, we humbly ask for a mighty move of conviction in government and cultural leaders. (Psalm 2:8; 1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  • Sovereign God: We ask You to rend the heavens and show forth Your awesome presence in sweeping revival. (Isaiah 64:1; Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 22:17, 20)

Seven Covenant Prayers for Revival and Spiritual Awakening
(Taken from a resource by Greg Frizzell)

  • Pray for God to have mercy upon the church and nation–(2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 29:13)
  • Pray for love, repentance and holy fear to grip God’s people–(Matthew 22:37-39; 2 Corinthians 7:1)
  • Pray for a spirit of faith and intercession in God’s saints–(Matthew 21:13; Acts 2:1; Hebrews 11:6)
  • Pray for holiness, boldness and power in God’s leaders and churches–(Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4)
  • Pray for loving unity and oneness in Christ’s Church–(John 13:34; Acts 2:42-47)
  • Pray for burning passion and power in evangelism and missions–(Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
    Pray for God to “rend the heavens” in sweeping revival and spiritual awakening–(2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 64:1; Psalm85:6)

A Good Friday prayer

3 Apr

No, I’m not going to write out a prayer for you to pray. I am going to encourage you to pray this Good Friday. Read these passages, meditate on them, and pray this Good Friday.  I will see you in church on Sunday to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Christ!

But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5, HCSB)

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, HCSB)

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.” (1 Peter 2:24, HCSB)