New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Church (2017)

Next Month I will be speaking to the Senior Luncheon for our Church. In preparing for this talk I happened upon this article. After reading please give sincere thought and make a commitment rather than a resolution this year.

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It’s that time of year again.

We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future and spend more time with family.

We make resolutions because we want to bring change to bear on our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. And the top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three poles: money, health and family.

But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and your church, your role as a leader, or simply as someone who wants to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment?

And specifically, what if they came from the Bible?

Though many more could be added, here are fifteen to consider:

1.      Pray more.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord… ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

2.      Invest in your spiritual gift(s).

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (I Timothy 4:14-15, NIV)

3.      Get more intentional about evangelism.

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Corinthians 9:22, NIV)

4.      Care for yourself spiritually.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12, NIV)

5.      Make the tough decisions you know are best.

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)

6.      Confront debilitating patterns of sin.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

7.      Do the hard work needed to build community.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. (Matthew 18:15, NIV)

8.      Keep in touch with contemporary culture.

From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders… All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. (I Chronicles 12:32, NLT)

9.      Quit comparing yourself to other Christians, other leaders, and other churches.

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You – follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” (John 21:20-23, Msg)

10.    Read more.

Timothy, please come as soon as you can…When you come, be sure to… bring my books,… (II Timothy 4:9, 13, NLT)

11.    Prioritize your family.

A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife,…attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (I Timothy 3:2-5, Msg)

12.    Refuse to use ministry to satisfy your personal ambition.

Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. (Jeremiah 45:5, NIV)

13.    Love people, not just crowds.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg)

14.    Be more open to change.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

15.    Stay focused on the vision.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NIV)

Dr. James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/new-years-resolutions-for-you-and-your-church-2016.html

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Do It Over!

As with many native pastors in the 1960’s, Pastor Oscar Lupe didn’t have a baptism tank at the church he pastored in Buxton, British Guiana. He used the one 18.3km away, at John Street Church of God in Georgetown.

After arrival at John Street, the front right pew was moved to the other side of the church and the unnoticed doors were pulled open from the floor. Under the wood boards was a concealed baptismal tank full of water. Brother Lupe, as we called him, entered the church with those who wanted to be baptized and placed them in pews toward the front for perfect viewing of each other.

Oscar was older and was the only Church of God pastor who wore a clerical white-collar. He asked Dad (Edward Oldham) to do the baptizing because he was too old to get down the steps to the water.

EPSON MFP image

Dad was happy to oblige. Pastor Lupe stood by the side of the tank, with his hands folded behind his back, and watched each person get baptized. After several men and women ascended the steps there was one last woman to be immersed. Dad raised his hand and said; “In the  name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit . . . “ He placed his hand over hers and lowered her into the water. Being an extremely heavy woman she fought going under. The buoyancy of the water allowed Dad to hold her on her back. But he could not get her to go under the water. She fought the decent like a cat with her claws out. Dad held her in his arms while she paddled around the pool uncertain of life. Her hair was soaked and matted when she stood up, wiped her face and began praising the Lord.

“Do it over,” Pastor Lupe said. “You did not go under. You have to go all the way under.” The woman looked at Dad and they tried it again. “Do it over,” said a stern voice a second time. “You have to be submerged all the way.” The woman looked at Dad and they tried it again, and again, until it was done right. Then everyone praised the Lord!

© All Rights Reserved – Andy Oldham

A New Goliath – Part 3

Goliath Defeated

“Then your light will break out like the dawn,

And your recovery will speedily spring forth;

And your righteousness will go before you;

The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

Isaiah 58:8

In Part 2 we discussed whether we have a right to be afraid, and should we stand against those who want to kill us. If we remember the fear David experienced while he was running for his life we understand that at times we do have fear in our lives. This is not God’s perfect will for us. His will is that we enjoy an abundant life. The way we receive this life is by living within His will. We know His will by His Word, the Bible. We also know His will by communing with him on a personal basis. Communion with Him is how we overcome Goliath when he tries to frighten us into submission. So this brings us to the last question. This is the same question David asked in Psalm 11:3, our premise for this series.

What can the righteous do?

While praying and searching over the last several months the Lord has placed several thoughts in my heart. I am excited! When these revelations hit me it was like a hand slap to the back of my head. These are nothing new. This is how every man of God in the Old and New Testaments defeated his Goliath. As Christians the following revelations are what we should be already be doing, everyday.

What a wake-up call. If we are not doing these things then we are not prepared for any Goliath, let alone this one. Search your heart and see if you are doing these things. I know there must be many more to add to this list. Feel free to add anything God lies on your heart.

  1. Choose: Make a decisionyou are either in, or you are out. Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
  1. Live through him–remember who we are

We have been given permission, the freedom, the liberty, the ability to become, and the power to conquer.

We are fellow helper’s to the truth.

We are the vehicle the Lord uses to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation.

We find our peace, joy, comfort, guidance and direction through Him.

We are adopted children and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are justified by faith

Jesus is our wisdom and righteousness in everything we do and say.

He will reward us if we diligently seek Him.

We have our hope in Him.*

  1. Do NOT lose heart: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
  2. Encourage one another and fellowship together. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” In other words you should already be doing this and now is not the time to quit. Ephesians 5:19-21 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Encourage unbelievers. 1 John 4:16 “…we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Are you living your life as the fragrance to God? Are you living your life as an example to the unbeliever?

  1.   Love one another. John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  2.  Love those who hate us. Matthew 5:44 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Matthew 5:43-48You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is not something we just say, it is something we must do. If this New Goliath comes against us there will be those, both saved and unsaved, who will need our comfort. Are you living your life in a way that these will feel comfortable approaching you?

7. Be obedient to God’s Word, especially when we don’t understand it. John 14:15If you love me, you will keep my commandments I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Remember the Old and New Testament saints we mentioned in Part 2? They are examples of obedience. Hebrews 12 gives us a list of so many who give us an example of faith. Remember, “. . . without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exist and He rewards those who seek Him.

8. Pray!!! Pray!!! And Pray Some more!!! James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We have heard this verse many times. Do we believe it? This is verse is so important to understanding John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

As one evangelist has stated so bluntly, we do not have answered prayer because we are too lazy to pray. Is this true in your life? We should assure ourselves that we stand with the righteous. When we ask in prayer, we must ask in travailing prayer much as Jesus when sweat drops fell from his brow in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is sincere prayer. This is not a head prayer, but a heart prayer.

9. Be compassionate. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Telling others about Christ is our foremost responsibility. God trust us to be obedient and win others to Him. When is the last time you shared the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ/

A another wake up call: Ezekiel 3:18-19 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “But,” if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. It is of utmost importance that we understand this. People are dying and we may be their only last hope of salvation.

10.  Be confident, stay in the race, never quit, and look toward the reward. Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. Sometimes we must suffer. This is part of our calling. But, as 1 Peter 5:10 says, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. He is always faithful to reestablish us. Remember Job?

11.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit, He is our Helper John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Remember these things:

Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

1 John 5:6-8: And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

Galatians 5:16-19 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

12. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority,. . .” Why? “. . . because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” Hebrews 13:17.  

13. Teach your children and grandchildren Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Deuteronomy 4:9“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

14. Expect God to fulfill His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments 1 Corinthians 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful 1 Thessalonians 5:24 The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

15.  Give thanks in all things: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Notice, when evil men came against Daniel, he gave thanks as he had always done.

16. Praise God! 1 Chronicles 16:8 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

17. Again, of utmost importance, remember Who our real foundation is, it is not this world. Government did not build these foundations. God did. Genesis, Chapter 1ff.

2 Timothy 1:9-10 Remember who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Ephesians 4:1 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

I mentioned at the beginning of Part 3, if you have any you would like to add please feel free to do so. There are so many! PTL

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

Psalm 20:6

  • *https://theunfetteredpreacher.com/2016/07/25/that-we-might-theunfetteredpreacher/

 

A New Goliath – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we discussed the Israelites and their fear of the Philistines who wanted to subject them to their will. We also discussed David, and the panic he encountered when chased by King Saul who wanted to kill him. You can find Part one here: https://christiangrandfather.com/2016/07/28/a-new-goliath/

goliath

In 2013, there were some 2,100 Christians killed across the globe for their faith. In 2015 that number rose to at least 7,100(Not all ISIS). 3  In 2014 “ . . .the Islamic State (ISIS) . . . published a new edition of the propaganda booklet Dabiq, which is again signaling its primary enemy – Christianity.  This “terror groups desire is to conquer Rome and ‘break the cross,’” This aspiration is much like that of the Philistine’s who stood in defiance of God and petrified the Israelite army. “Their goal is to pave the way for the appearance of their Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah.” 1 Just this morning ISIS has announced they will begin attacking London and Washington D.C.

I am by no means a theologian so I am not trying to go so deep that I lose both you and me. I only share what is in my heart, and in the hearts of those around me. I left you with the following questions:

Do we have right to be afraid? As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us?

“The Philistines were mentioned in the Bible as far back as the time when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. The Philistines were the mortal enemies of the nation of Israel for hundreds of years. When the Israelites had finally settled into Canaan, they had to contend with the Philistines.

These two nations constantly fought against one another. One of the major reasons as to why the Philistines and the Israelites constantly have strife with one another is because of their religious beliefs. The Philistines primarily believed in Dagon (god of fertility) and the Israelites believed in Yahweh, or God. These two gods were nothing alike and this religious difference played out in the lives of the Philistines and the Israelites in forming their cultures and shaping their lives.

Another major reason as to why the Philistines resented the Israelites is because they had conquered so many people when they entered into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. The Philistines were a powerful and warlike people, and they didn’t like the idea of having the Israelites being strong. So they constantly challenged the strength of Israel and many times they wanted to subject them to their rule to prove they were better. God also let the Philistines remain in the land to test and punish the Israelites whenever they strayed away from worshiping him. The Philistines defeated the Israelite armies on many occasions and they even managed to get some of the people to turn away from worshiping Yahweh.” 2

America has been a strong nation over the past 240 years. Our strength was formed on the foundation of Christianity. Those who hate us are challenging its very foundation. We see around the world Christians been beheaded and killed in other ways. They desire to come to America, and are already here in small cells preparing to attack when they feel it is time. This is our New Goliath.

My first inclination is to say, “YES” we have a right to be afraid. I believe most of us would agree this would be our first thought. We defend our fear by saying God created us with this innate characteristic to protect ourselves from harm. It is part of our human nature. If we see a tornado headed out way our emotion is to get to safety and protect ourselves. If someone wants to hurt our children we immediately run to their protection. Fear is a part of human nature. When Goliath comes for us are we to be afraid? When this huge enemy comes against the foundations of our world are we to grow fearful of what will come?

If you are old enough, do you remember the days of uncertainty; post WW2, in the 1950’s and 1960’s when everyone was building bomb shelters? We had atomic bomb drills in school. When the alarm sounded we immediately climbed under our desk, folded up into a ball and waited for the end of the world. Children were genuinely afraid and were relieved when the alarm sounded a second time to tell us to go back to learning. We were preparing ourselves for war.

Like David, if we did not have a human nature of fear we would not need these passages to remind us. The key is to overcome this mortal nature with one of a spiritual walk with out God. The Bible is full of passages where we are instructed to have no fear. In fact there are so many I struggle to decide which ones to use. We all agree with these. I believe most of you are like me in that while we agree with these scriptures we do so with a disingenuous heart simply because we have never had anything, or anyone really stand against us and threaten our lives. This New Goliath is now doing just that.

Through out the Word of God we are given example after example of how to handle fear. These examples have One thing in common, they trusted God. I imagine Abraham had fear sparked in his heart when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. His fear was quelled by his faith in God. Daniel was thrown into a den of hungry lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. Elijah was deathly afraid of Jezebel, who threatened to kill him, so he ran. Their own Goliath challenged each of these men of God. Paul and Peter were thrown in jail for their faith and their lives were threatened. Stephen was a layman just like you and I. He was stoned and killed for his faith. God delivered each of these men.

And fear not them which kill the body,                                                                                                                                                                                                 but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him                                                                                                                                                                        which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.                                                                                                                                                                Matthew 10:28(KJV)

We have a hard time understanding what it means to rely on God and put our trust in him. This is why so many gloss over the scriptures that tell us “do not fear.” We battle within our hearts with what it means to not fear when the foundation of our world is crumbling. We struggle with allowing God to be in control.

These Scriptures are there for our benefit. They are God’s Word for us to place in our heart and develop a faith in His security. Instead so many of us do not embed these assurances and move forward in our own strength. When we lose sight of these promises, our worries build an intense scenario that does not exist in God’s Word. When we apply the Word of God daily He will ensure our safety.

We need to be like Job; he had a fence around him so high satan could not penetrate it. How did he have that hedge of protection? Through prayer, worship and obedience to God. How can we build this hedge for ourselves and our family? One prayer is the first brick. Another prayer is another brick on top of that one. Worship is another brick. Obedience is still another on top of these. If in our lives we are constantly laying brick we begin to realize that we are building the same hedge of protection around ourselves, and our family. Our confidence grows. In this way we begin to see that when we take God’s at his Word and do not fear, we are growing in the same confidence the saints of old had in their lives.

God is faithful to his Word. When we develop our hearts and minds to capture God’s strength we learn to depend on Him and His Word. When we have our confidence in Him, we do not have to fear. We know that this Goliath is only one of many that will be defeated by the Almighty.

The key is to grow in confidence by FOLLOWING. We prepare for battle in the same way those saints before us have done; we allow God to lead; we follow. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” James 4:8. This is how we prepare to meet Goliath. When we follow after God’s lead, . . .the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp (Job 11:20).

In Part 3 I will address the question: What can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV)  

References:

  1. Newsweek, 10-14-2014)
  2. http://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/philistines/)
  3. https://churchpop.com/2016/01/17/the-number-of-christian-martyrs-tripled-in-2015/

 

A New Goliath – Part 1

goliath 3I have thought and prayed over this for several months. There is something we all share in common. There is something weighing on all of our minds and hearts. With the exception of a few Christian bloggers, few are discussing it.

I like to take just a moment to remind you of two familiar stories about David. In 1 Samuel 17 we see the Philistine and the Israeli Armies on opposite hills in a face off. The Philistine champion was named Goliath. He stood nine feet and ten inches tall (For most of us we brush over that as if he is only the size of one of our professional basketball players and don’t take the time to comprehend just how tall the was. Next time you are in a home improvement store, go to the molding aisle and pick up a piece of 10 foot molding and stand next to it. See just how big Goliath was). When you are fitted for your armor you are given that which you can handle with the greatest of ease. In Goliath’s case his sword was longer and heavier than most, his spear was longer that he was tall, and the head of the spear was cone-shaped weighing about eighteen pounds. His armor weighed in at over 250 pounds, more than the average soldier can pick up on a good day.

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelite’s were dismayed and terrified.” 1 Samuel 17:8-11

 Please read that scripture again. This time read it out loud, with emphasis and sarcasm in your voice. This is what the Israelite army heard, not once, but for forty days both morning and night. They went to bed hearing it, and woke up hearing it.

Notice how Saul’s army was feeling—dismayed and terrified. If you look these two words up in the Hebrew, they simply mean, shattered, broken, greatly afraid, and trembling excessively.

Now I ask, if you were taunted twice every day how would you feel? You are waiting and hoping someone, anyone but you will answer the call. No one does. You hear murmurs among the others saying, “We can’t fight him; he’s way too big for any of us.” Pushing each other saying, “You go–No you go!–I’m not going!–I want to go homeWe are all going to die! The Philistine’s knew they would beat you with Goliath’s strength and you knew it too. The foundations of your world are being destroyed. Fear has you hypnotized.

Well, we know how the story turned out don’t we. God sent a lad named David with a slingshot to defeat this huge tormentor and end his relentless persecution. David trusted God and did not fear the enemy.

So Jonathan told David saying,“Saul my father is seeking to put you to death.

Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning,

and stay in a secret place and hide yourself.

1 Samuel 19:2

Goliath was David’s first victory in battle. Many others followed. Now he faced a new enemy that frightened him. King Saul was God’s anointed king. He knew that he was beginning to lose his anointing and that someone would take his place. He believed it would be David’s older brother, Eliab. When Saul became jealous of David and assumed he wanted his throne he sought to kill David.

Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch until morning so he could kill him. Michal, David’s wife, also Saul’s daughter, let David down a rope so he could escape. In the morning Michal told the messengers he was in bed sick. When they checked, they found what they thought was David covered up because they could see his hair; actually it was goats hair made to look like David’s hair. When Saul heard this he sent the messengers back to the house to bring him in the bed so that he could kill him. He was furious for his daughter’s deception. (1 Samuel 19:11-12)

He tried to pin David to a wall by throwing a spear at him. David escaped. (1 Samuel 20:33)

Saul continued to pursue him, to kill him. There is controversy over how long this pursuit lasted. Some say eighteen months while others say fifteen years. The time doesn’t matter as much as David’s panic. David lived in constant fear. He continued to run like, as we say in the South, a scalded dog.

You know the rest of the story. Saul is confronted by David, who now was holding a piece his garment. David sliced off a piece while Saul was relieving himself to show that David meant him no harm. In fact, David bowed before Saul in honor of the anointing of God on this king. David saved Saul’s life more than once.

These are two different stories of David. One is as victor, and one the foundations of David’s world are crumbling. He lived in fear. Have you ever been in either, or both, of these circumstances? Have you ever felt like the foundations of your world were crumbling? Did you know what to do and how to handle it?

In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”  Psalm 11:1-3

goliath 4We have a New Goliath on the loose¾He stands and taunts us every 83 days with another killing somewhere in our world. He is huge and stands in the same defiance of the True God that the Philistines did. You’ve heard of all these evil killings and the hatred that has developed over the last several years; especially the killing of those who will not follow Islam. In particular Christian believers.

I don’t have to go into a lot of detail to make my point. You know what is happening and if you are like the Israelite’s—like David—like me—you are scared. You just don’t know what to do.

If you read the news, ISIS is NOW going to kill Christian’s in their places of worship. In fact a Catholic priest was murdered this past week in France while holding mass. Nuns were used as human shields to protect these cowards while they fought off the police.

The foundations of our world are being destroyed before our very eyes.

David asked a very important question in this Psalm 11. “ When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The authorities say ISIS is already in all fifty states of our union. They will begin to attack us on a regular basis. So what can I do as a Christian? What can the body of Christ do when the foundations of our world are crumbling?

This is Part 1 of this discussion and what has been on my heart and mind for months. In Part 2, I will discuss some of the answers. I would like you to ponder the following questions and have your comments ready for my next post.

I leave these questions with you?

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

  1. Based on these two verses of Scripture, Do we have right to be afraid?

2. As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us? Why, or Why not? How can we stand against them?

3. What can the righteous do?

The Legend of the Dogwood

  Dogwood_4905_edited-1

“When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven,
And for Christ’s cross its timbers were chosen.

dogwood_trunk_Cornus_florida

“Being distressed at the use of the wood,
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
‘Never again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so,
Slender and twisted it shall always be,
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

Dogwood_4897_edited-2

“’The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown,
And in the blossom’s center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be,
A reflection to all of my agony.’”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more about this legend:

http://www.creationtips.com/dogwood.html

It’s Friday……..But Sunday Is Coming!!!

I am sure that many of you have heard this message before. It is always worth hearing again. When I was in college back in the 1970’s I was privileged to hear Dr. Anthony Compollo preach this sermon. It is one I have never forgotten, especially when Easter comes each year. He preached it for many years on Good Friday. Read and enjoy.

Andy

Taken from the following website: http://apologetica.us/2009/04/10/its-friday-but-sundays-coming-2/

The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

Cross_3904_edited-2

It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now, it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday.

He Has Risen_3856_edited-1

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

Cross_3825_edited-1

If you would like to listen to the entire sermon you can find it here at this link (the last 5 minutes will have this part in it).

http://tonycampolo.org/its-friday-but-sundays-coming/#.VRRQBGaYI7A

 

 

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

In the early 1960’s my Dad was privileged to go on the mission field in British Guiana, SA. While he ministered and supported existing churches and their native pastors there was a need for a new congregation in the back-country. Many hours were spent on a ferry that took him sixty miles inland and up the Demerara River.

There was a new excitement in this mostly Hindu community of Linden. When Dad first arrived in this small village he was placed on a donkey cart and taken to where he would stay. After a year, someone in the church loaned an older vehicle for Dads use when he was there.

The enthusiasm in Linden was contagious. The native pastor, Mr. Watson, insisted that Dad hold prayer meetings each time he came. The church was praying for the growth of the church in their community. This small congregation, on their knees in prayer, became the engine of growth in the area. There was no more room under the little house on stilts, or even in the yard. The congregation to continue growing and running out of room. They kept on praying anyway. They began petitioning God to relieve them by starting a new congregation. There was no one willing to lead the new one church so they began to pray for this new leader to emerge. No one knew who he was. No one knew where he would come from. They just to prayed.

 “…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 ESV

Dad was invited to speak under another house on stilts about 10 miles deeper into the interior. Upon arrival he and Pastor Watson were met with animosity. A curious crowd formed around the house. Dad said he preached…and he preached…and he preached. He felt the Holy Spirit moving upon his sermon that day and knew something wonderful was going to happen. He was excited. Nothing happened.

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18 NIV

After the service, and a curry dinner, he went to the car and found one of the tires had been slashed. He opened the trunk to remove the spare when a man walked up to him and insisted that Dad let him change the tire. Once the man began removing the lug nuts he began to share with Dad that he did not appreciate his coming to his village and preaching a foreign religion that no one wanted to hear. He confessed that he was the one who had slashed the tire in attempt to send an unwelcomed message not to come back. However, after he heard Dad’s sermon he realized he was wrong and wanted to hear more. Dad won that man to the Lord that day and he became a member of the Church. Dad worked with him for a few weeks, teaching the Gospel and with Dads continued guidance, he became the new pastor of this new church. The church in both in villages continued to grow.

You see, something wonderful did happen that day. It was not when Dad expected it…during the service. No, it happened when God wanted it to, with a man who stood against God, and slashed a tire.

The church in Linden did not know the answer to their prayer. They only knew and believed and expected the answer. They knew the answer would come. In their diligence and steadfast faith the answer came. Like Daniel, they did not stop praying. The fighting in the spirit world was intense. But as always, God won, and the answer came at the right time, and in the right place.

His timing is His timing. Not ours

 “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “

Habakkuk 2:3 ESV

PATIENCE WILL BRING REWARD

Google Photos

Google Photos

One of my favorite memories is that of my grandfather Charlie feeding the squirrels. The large oaks in his backyard in Baton Rouge provided plenty of acorns, so he decided he would give them a gift one year.

He laid a handful of large southern pecans at the base of the tree closest to the house. He watched and waited from an inside window. He did not see a squirrel come that first day. The next morning the pecans were gone. He did that for several weeks until one day he saw a gray squirrel run down the trunk, pick up a pecan and scurry back up to the first limb.

Charlie continued to offer his free gift and progressed a little at a time with getting to know his squirrel. After a time he was able to sit on the back step and watch the squirrel climb down, sit at the base, and crack the pecan and eat it.

As the months went by, Charlie moved to the picnic table and sat on the bench. From here he decided to knock on the tree with a pecan, lay the little gift on the ground, step back about 10 feet and see what would happen. Surely the squirrel knew it was safe by now. He was cautious and moved ever so slowly toward the base; unsure of what Charlie was doing. When he reached the bottom of the trunk; he picked up the pecan and cracked it open without darting back up into the limbs. A smile of confidence grew on Charlie’s face.

Many months continued to pass and Charlie persistently knocked a pecan against the tree, laid it on the ground, and stepped backward, remaining a little closer each time. The Squirrel became more comfortable with Charlie and his presentation, so after a year of getting to know each other Charlie squatted down and held a pecan in the palm of his hand. The squirrel was frightened to take something that was free from his hand, so Charlie laid it on the ground and stepped back. The squirrel ran and grabbed the pecan and scampered up the tree. It felt safe taking pecans from the ground, but from Charlie’s hand there was uncertainty.

Google Photos

Google Photos

Charlie continued holding his hand out and the squirrel continued to resist. Approaching two years, he took his time every afternoon and asked the squirrel to accept the gift in his hand. One day it happened. The little gray squirrel took the pecan. Charlie sat still and did not remove his hand. The squirrel sat next to him and cracked the pecan. The weeks passed and another squirrel hung upside down on the trunk inquisitive as to what this free gift was all about. Several squirrels began to show and found that the only requirement was simply to accept the gift.

Christmas Wreath with Red Bow

I thought about this story the other day and decided to share it this Christmas with my friends. Sunday, the pastor asked for a show of hands from all those who had shared the gospel with someone that week. One or two hands went up, and one even gave a testimony. Sadly, mine was not one of them. I have been bothered all week by that event. My hand should have been up and so should everyone else’s. The early church would have had their hands up. There would have been no teaching that Sunday because everyone had a testimony to share.

 “…there has been born FOR YOU a SAVIOR who is CHRIST THE LORD.”

Luke 2:11 (NAS)

*****

 “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

 We are not the early church anymore, but we do have the same free gift and we should be just as excited to share as they were over two thousand years ago. It is important to understand that the Father handed us the free gift of salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept Him. It is also through His Son that we are given the free gifts of grace and faith. Again, all we have to do is accept them.

Why are we not sharing our gift with those who do not know Christ? Like the squirrel, they are cautious and apprehensive, but with patience and perseverance we will bring them to the Gift as well. Kind, loving, and patient persistence is, should be our virtue.

 “… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23 (NAS)

 If we believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord, it will come out of our mouth. We can’t contain it. Do you love the Lord? When is the last time you shared the gospel? Will you introduce someone to Jesus this season? He is both the Gift, and the one offering His hand if they are willing. His Gift is not only free, but it is one of sacrifice, so that you and others may have everlasting life. Why not introduce someone to the Gift while we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas.

 “For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son,

so that we may have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

Google Photos

Google Photos