Friday, February 29, 2008

Things I Don't Have To Know

I am responsible to know a lot of stuff. As a dad, I have to know the answers to the questions my kids come up with. As a pastor, I have to provide responses to the needs of my people. As a husband and friend, I have to give guidance and hear of hurts and reassure that there really is hope.

I am glad that I don't have to know everything:

1. I'm glad I don't have to know what and why God is doing what He's doing. I only have to obey Him and trust Him as the Lover of my soul and Master of my life.

2. I'm glad I don't have to know what tomorrow holds. I only have to hold the hand of the one holds tomorrow in His.

3. I'm glad I don't have to know how the story will end. I only have to know the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end.

4. I'm glad I don't have to know the key that opens the door to success. I only have to open the door of my heart to the King who knocks at it.

There are a lot of other things I'm glad I don't have to know, but I think you get the point.

What are you glad you don't have to know?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nobody Said It Was Easy

God never promised that it would be easy to obey Him. He did say He would be with us, that He would comfort us, strengthen us, and provide for us along the way. But the task He has given us requires us to act in opposition to Satan and his demons.

Our ultimate task is to bring glory to God. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

God gives us other responsibilities that enable us to bring Him glory, but the end goal is always the same – God’s glory.

This morning I read Exodus 5 and even though God had called Moses and Aaron to lead the people out of Egypt, it did not go well early on. God’s people received worse treatment and life got harder and not easier for them at the beginning. I wonder how many people who had prayed for God’s intervention to rescue them were at that moment regretting those prayers or doubting God’s intentions to bless them.

God has called us as His church to help people get to God, grow in Christ, and give to others. We must share Christ whimsically, correctly, and consistently. This is not going to make life easier for us. Satan wants as many people as possible to live without Christ in their life and die to spend eternity in hell to rob God of the glory He is due.

God saved His people and brought them out of the bondage of Egypt.

Let’s not allow the challenge of the enemy of God keep us from staying the course and fulfilling the mandate of our Master.

God has changed cities before. God can do it again. Click here to see an example. The picture above is where it all started for New York years ago.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Post on Today's Prayer Blog

The title is "Blackaby Is a Little Wrong, But a Lot Right."

Read it by clicking here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Miracles All Around

Some friends of ours from Nashville adopted a baby boy, Levi Jeremiah, from Ethiopia. You can click here and watch the video.

It reminds me of what God did for me and for all that He has saved and adopted into His family.

Ephesians 1:5 "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—"

God rescued us from a life of filth, rejection and death and has given us clean hearts, hope, and eternal life.

Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What Is Your Complaint?

People complain to me pretty often. It is one of my occupational hazards. Some of them I find legitimate. Many of them I find petty.

So what about you? What is your complaint? Compare it to what young James could have complained about, having served his Lord so well.

Andrew and Elizabeth Renwick, a young couple, weavers, lived in the hills of Glencairn, Scotland, in the 1600s. All their children had died. Andrew accepted his grief, but Elizabeth cried to the Lord day and night for another child.
The Lord answered, and little James was taught the Holy Scriptures from infancy. Growing up, his conscience was tender; his mind, sharp. He excelled at the University of Edinburgh, but was denied a degree because he refused to accept Charles II as head of the Scottish church.
Remaining in Edinburgh, James watched with alarm as non-conformists were martyred, their severed heads and hands nailed to the city gates as a warning to others. He left Scotland for training and ordination abroad, but his heart was still in the highlands, and he soon returned to preach, teach, organize, counsel, and wear himself out. “Excessive travel,” he told a friend, “night wanderings, unseasonable sleep and diet, and frequent preaching in all seasons of weather, especially in the night, have debilitated me.” He trudged with diligence through moors and mountains, in the cold stormy nights and by day. His study was often a cold glen or cave; his pillow, a rock or log. He managed a hundred escapes, but at length one winter’s night in Edinburgh he was captured, put in irons, and convicted of treason.
His widowed mother visited him in prison, her heart breaking apart. “O James!” she cried, “How shall I look up to see your head and hands upon the city gate? I shall not be able to endure it.” He comforted her as he could, and on February 16, 1688 smuggled a message to her, “There is nothing in the world that I am sorry to leave but you. … Farewell, mother. Farewell, night wanderings, cold, and weariness for Christ. Farewell, sweet Bible and preaching of the gospel. Welcome, crown of glory. Welcome, O Thou blessed Trinity and one God! I commit my soul into Thy eternal rest.”
The next morning he embraced his weeping mother once more, then went to the scaffold.
He was twenty-six.
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997), February 16.

Oh, that we could see life for what it is. It is hard. It is dark. It is dangerous. There is little justice. Our job is not to complain about it. Our job is to serve the King and make as many alterations as we can until He comes and renews it all.

Let's not complain today. Let's be content that we have the strength and opportunity to do the Lord's work: sharing the Gospel, loving God and others.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Please Pray for Dr. Al Mohler

Here are the details as reported by the Baptist Press.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will require additional surgery after a scheduled colonoscopy Feb. 11 revealed a tumor in his colon. An initial biopsy indicated that the tumor is pre-cancerous and further tests are to be scheduled, along with surgical options.

Mohler, 48, underwent major abdominal surgery in late December 2006, complicated by the development of bilateral blood clots in his lungs. Doctors will take special precautions to prevent a recurrence of the blood clots with this new surgery. Specialists are consulting on the case and a decision on the date and location for the surgery is to be made in the near future. The procedure is likely to require an extensive period for recuperation and recovery.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mitt and the Mormon Thing

Politics are not my forte. It is in sharing Jesus and the Christian faith where I tend to make a contribution. But now that the known Mormon, Mitt Romney, has sought a presidential bid this year and then stepped aside last week, the Mormon cult has been thrust into the national spotlight and the comments of its leaders and the seeming acceptance of the media of them is alarming me.

On Tuesday I heard a news report on NPR about Mitt and Mormonism and one the leaders of Mormonism was talking about how the Mormons were now victims of bigotry. He said that there had been slanderous statements made about their founder and about the “Christian” beliefs they hold.

Before I speak to what he said I want to make it clear that I love Mormons. I do not believe what they believe, but they are people made in the image of God. I even believe that in general most of them want for the US what I would want this nation. They seem and sound as though they are pro-family, pro-life, and pro-individual responsibility. That may be why many of the conservative evangelical leaders I respect supported Mitt’s presidential bid. One of the people interviewed in the report I heard on Tuesday spoke of how well the Winter Olympics of 2002 went because of the Mormon support. She said, “It seems to me that they are good family people who want to help others.” That is great. I hope that’s true. I believe that is also what most of the Hindus, Buddhist, Taoist and Christian Scientists I know would want. But that doesn’t make their beliefs true.

And this is my concern. Mormons use a lot of the language of the Christian faith, but please research and consider the fact that Mormonism is a cult. You say, “What makes them a cult? How are they different that orthodox Christians?”

The Mormon leader said that they were being slandered for their “Christian” beliefs. Here’s a brief listing of their beliefs. They are not CHRISTIAN.

Adam: Mormonism identifies Adam as Michael the Archangel prior to coming to earth and as the Ancient of days. He is expected to come again to the earth in power and glory as the patriarch of the human family before the second coming of Christ. He had flesh and bones but no blood before the fall.

Adam-God: Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, taught that Adam (Eve’s husband) is God—the only God worshiped by Mormons. The LDS Church leadership today publicly repudiates this doctrine, and most Mormons are unaware that Brigham Young actually taught it throughout his presidency.

Apostles: On February 14, 1835, Joseph Smith selected twelve men to fill the office of the Twelve Apostles, and successors have been appointed over the years when vacancies occurred. Mormons teach that their having “The Twelve” in their organization is one of the marks of the one true church. (The three members of the First Presidency [the President and Prophet, the top leader and his two counselors] are also apostles; therefore, they have a total of fifteen.)

Baptism: Besides the baptism of believers, the LDS Church also teaches baptism for the dead; relatives, ancestors, and others long dead can be saved by proxy baptism performed on their behalf in Mormon temples. Massive underground vaults store genealogical records involving millions of such baptisms.

Bible: Members believe the Bible to be the word of God “as far as it is translated correctly.” In the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:26–29 says that “plain and precious” parts have been removed from the Bible. The uncanonized Joseph Smith Translation adds and rewrites many passages, and Mormon leaders reinterpret others in the light of alleged latter-day revelations.

Blacks: Viewing dark skin as a curse from God, Mormonism banned black men from the priesthood until a doctrinal reversal on this matter was announced in 1978.

Elohim: This is the name of God the Father, an individual distinct from Jehovah, who is the Son of Elohim.

Eternal Progression: Originally, all people existed as intelligences in the timeless past, as eternal as God himself. Then they were born into the spirit world through resurrected parents of flesh and bone. After living for a time in the spirit world, each person was eventually given a body at human birth. Our goal in this life should be to secure our resurrection as a God, in which capacity the resurrected will continue to progress, just as God did.

Exaltation: Beyond resurrection from the dead, Mormons hope to enter the highest of three heavens, the celestial kingdom, and there in the highest level of the celestial kingdom to be exalted to the status of Gods.

God(s): God the Father was once a man and still has a resurrected body of flesh and bones. Humans have the goal of becoming Gods. The basic difference between God and humans is simply that he has achieved exaltation before they have. Creation accounts in Mormon scripture speak of “the Gods” accomplishing the things Genesis says God did.

Heaven: Rather than a place where only believers go after death to be with the Lord, heaven is for virtually everyone, but consists of three distinct levels: telestial for nonbelievers, terrestrial for religious non-Mormons and backslidden Mormons, and celestial for good LDS Church members only.

Hell: The wicked go to a hell of torment, but all are eventually resurrected and pass into the telestial kingdom. Only “sons of perdition” who have given themselves over to Satan remain in hell forever.

Jehovah: This is the preincarnate name of Jesus Christ, who is one of the Gods, one of the sons of the God Elohim.

Jesus Christ: According to Mormonism Jesus Christ was one of the spirit sons of the God Elohim. Jesus was Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. God the Father visited Mary and had marital relations with her so that Jesus could be born with a human body. Jesus redeemed all mankind to “general salvation”—secured their resurrection from the dead—but exaltation to the celestial kingdom will depend on a person’s being a zealous and obedient Latter-day Saint.

Marriage: The institution of marriage is an essential cornerstone of Mormonism. Marriage partners sealed in a temple ceremony will be together for time and eternity, in this world and after death.

Michael: Michael the Archangel is the same person who was called Adam in the Garden of Eden, and who is also called the Ancient of days in the Old Testament.

Polygamy: Joseph Smith and some of his close associates practiced polygamy, starting about 1835, while publicly denying it. Later the practice was supported by alleged divine revelation and was made public. An obstacle to Utah statehood, and finally the target of a federal law enforcement crackdown, plural marriage was officially discontinued in 1890.

Salvation: Because of Christ’s atonement everyone will partake of what Mormons call unconditional or general salvation, resurrection from the dead. Conditional or individual salvation involves entering the celestial kingdom and is a complex matter depending on such things as membership in the LDS Church, obedience to its ordinances, and so on. Even beyond this is full salvation, available only to faithful Mormons who have gone through temple ceremonies; those who obtain it are exalted and become Gods.

Temple: While local Mormon Church buildings, called chapels, are viewed in much the same way as Christians view theirs, the large Mormon temples are accorded special status. Temple ceremonies are off limits to nonmembers and even to Mormons who do not possess a “temple recommend” from their leaders. These ceremonies include celestial marriage, baptism for the dead, endowments, and other sacred rites.

Women: Barred from the priesthood and from the LDS hierarchy, women depend on men even for their heavenly exaltation. Without a Mormon husband in good standing, a Mormon woman has no hope of exaltation to the level of Goddess; nor can a man become a God without a faithful Mormon wife. But, if their marriages are sealed in temple ceremonies, women may continue to have spirit children throughout eternity. (David A. Reed and John Farkas, R., Mormons : Answered Verse by Verse, electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997, c1992, 22.)

So friends, don’t be fooled by the commercials. Mormonism is bad news for humanity. Don’t be lulled into a politically correct stupor. Stand your ground and help others to realize what Mormons believe and what they are doing. Realize that many of the adherents of Mormonism don’t understand or believe what Mormonism teaches. Why? That is the cult playbook. This is what cults do. Here is their strategy. Get accepted by people. Build an audience of people. Cover up the controversial stuff. Keep people in the dark and lead them to destruction.

Love Mormons and help humanity by knowing what Mormons teach and what is true according to Scripture.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

'til death when we never part

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.

I just got back from Atlanta, Georgia. We had our North American Board Trustee meetings (more on that later).

While I was away, there was a terrible storm here. Just 20 miles away from my home four people were killed. The entire evening I kept calling my wife to check on her and the kids. I was concerned about her and I missed her so the phone calls provided a double comfort to me.

When I travel I do miss my children, but I especially miss my wife. I am absolutely crazy about that woman and hate to be away from her.

As much as I love my wife, it is nothing compared to how much Jesus loves His bride (the church) and desires to be with her. Men are commanded to follow the model of Jesus’ and love their wives the way Jesus loves the church (Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.)

I could not wait to get home to see her and I cannot imagine the anticipation Jesus has to be united permanently with His bride in heaven. But for now He will have to connect with us on a regular basis as we can and allow us to go through the storms of life.

There are certain times and a day when we know our Lord will be looking to be with us. Everyday He wants to spend time with just us as we pray to Him and study His Word - the Bible. On Sunday, He wants us to gather as His bride and celebrate His love for us.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I would be to call and to hear that my wife was too busy to talk because she’d made other things more important than me. I cannot tell you how troubled I would be to come home and find her not there. And if I learned that she had decided not to meet with me, but instead decided she wanted to be with someone else, that would kill me.

Each day God seeks to be with you. Do you meet with him? Each Sunday He wants you to come to His house and be with him? Do you come excited to see Him? God is faithful to you. Are you faithful to Him? Or have you and are you committing adultery against your Master?

Friends, God loves us. He is our husband and our Lord. Let’s never forget that and always seek to connect with Him. Let’s also look forward to the day, when we finally get to be with Him forever. Oh, what a day. Let’s lives for that day.