I sometimes puzzle over statements people make such as looking for God. It’s our nature to make things more complicated than they are or should be. God is not hiding. He has not put up boundaries and obstacles so that only a few are able to succeed. The Hunger Games, the Labyrinth, Survivor, American Ninja Warrior; the Kingdom of God is not like any of those things. The Apostle Paul, speaking to a Greco-Roman audience, often made analogies to the sporting world and athletic competition. He talks about competing according to the rules in order to not be disqualified (2 Timothy 2:5) and to the Philippians he says that he presses forward toward the prize (Philippians 3:13-14). The prize is Jesus and he wants you to win! Continue reading →
A short Facebook exchange this morning led me to search The Master’s Table for references to hell. The only post with hell in the title was a link to a sermon on the Unity website. Here is the full text of that sermon, preached at Unity Baptist Church on October 4, 2015. The scripture text is Isaiah 11:1-10. Continue reading →
Paul Wilkinson blogs at Thinking Out Loud and Christianity 201. We have been blog friends for several years, having met up in the Christian blogosphere but never in real life. Jimmy Humphrey is a new blog friend, the author/podcaster at Jimmy’s Table. Paul lives in Canada, Jimmy just up the map a little ways in North Carolina. Tuvia Pollack is a blog friend from way back that we haven’t mentioned in a while; so I am going to mention him now. Continue reading →
For reasons I do not understand an old post saw some new life today. A follower came across “Remember What We Are Called To” in her reader this morning, originally published June 30, 2015. The subject is 1 Peter 3:15 which I just preached on again Sunday morning as part of a series through 1st Peter. The context back in 2015 was the Supreme Court decision striking down state laws banning same-sex marriage. So with a new introduction here is the body of that post. Good shelf life on this one (just remember it’s from the archives when I mention President Obama).
1 Peter 3:15 is the basis for Christian Apologetics. Apologetics may sound like apologizing but an apologist is one that defends the Christian faith. It’s about being prepared to answer questions about why we believe what we believe. One must be well versed in scripture and certain that his own faith has been built on a sure foundation. Apologetics may involve boldness, defending a faith that is not always popular, but care must also be taken not to offend. We will offend people by sharing the Gospel; but we must be sure is the cross that offends and not us. Continue reading →
I am preaching through the 1st Epistle of Peter at Unity Baptist. On Sunday morning our text included the verse most often used as the basis for Christian Apologetics: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15. To emphasize the significance of apologetics I pointed out that our Sunday school curriculum will have a unit on the subject in December. I also pulled a couple of books from the shelf in my office and mentioned that the concept could probably be found in many other books even without the word apologetics in the title. One of the two books I held up as examples was The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, edited by Ed Hinson and Ergun Caner. Continue reading →
After Expectations was posted another thought occurred to me about dress. Do you expect the pastor to wear a tie, coat and jacket to every church service? Some church members have been offended by a pastor in slacks and a Polo shirt after not clearly explaining their expectations beforehand. A person once felt so strongly about style of dress that he said “I don’t think I would attend a church if the pastor came out wearing a suit.” In an attempt to not make clothing too important, he made the issue of clothing too important. My take is that the pastor should dress according to the standards of the congregation. Some pastors insist on a coat and tie even though no one else is wearing one. That seems a little out of step to me. I have no problem wearing a button up shirt with a tie if that’s what the congregation expects but currently I wear black dress pants and either a button shirt (often times solid color or with a print) or a two button Polo. For about a year I wore black Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots. (They were solid black, very formal dress cowboy boots). The church congregation and I agreed on our expectations. Continue reading →
A friend in-real-life was listening to one of my sermons recently and had a question. He wanted to make it clear that I was not going over his head but wondered if everyone in my congregation was always able to follow. I told him that some of points in the case I was making were repeated from things we had either studied or I had preached before. I kind of figured they would remember some of it. The other thing I pointed out was that my particular audience had a lifetime of experience; some of those church members had been at that church since before I was born. I would tailor my presentation for a youth group or a congregation with many new believers. You gotta know your audience.
That conversation got me thinking. A speaker should know their audience but at the same time a church congregation, men’s meeting, conference organizers or Sunday School class should know what to expect from a speaker. Here is what to expect from me personally. Continue reading →