Perhaps a better title would be A Scriptural Response to Racism but this is copied and pasted directly from a Facebook post I put up yesterday. There is so much upheaval in the world today and we are bombarded with information from traditional media to social media 24/7. When it gets to be too much, the Christian believer needs to step back, take a breath, and remember that we are in the world but not of the world.
I don’t mean an official resolution passed by any group of representatives from any church denomination; my congregation will tell you that we read a lot of scripture. Every sermon, every Wednesday night Bible study, every Sunday school lesson begins with reading scripture and keeps going back to it. So this is not any particular Christian leader’s response to racism, this should be “our” response to hate and racism anywhere based on the inspired Word we live by. Continue reading →
Our collective attention has been focused on Orlando since Sunday. Every angle of that story, from terrorism to gun control, has been covered. Stories with that much media attention I usually avoid commenting on completely; everything that can be said pretty much has been (whether it should have been or not).
Omar Matten reported posted “All gays must die” before the shooting starting. While Americans debate whether bakers and florists should be closed down for refusing to serve LGBT customers, homosexuality is still punishable by death in Muslim countries. I don’t want this post to disintegrate into a political discussion, but some Christians have questioned the current administration’s support of gay rights and also tolerance of Islam in light of those two things not necessarily being tolerant of each other. I want to remind all Christian believers that vengeance belongs to God. Continue reading →
The spiritual condition of Judas is an age-old debate and not the one I mean to engage in today. I want to add a new wrinkle to the discussion; did Judas preach the Gospel? When the Apostles were sent out with the power to heal the sick and cast out demons (Matthew 10, Luke 9) did Judas do those things as well?
I saw a quote the other day, see if this sounds about right.
“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”
I know what you’re thinking: the stress of working in full time ministry with a 14 month old at home has finally caused me to crack. I reached a breaking point if my sermon is on changing diapers. It’s not as bad as all that. Let me explain.
Last week I preached this sermon on Galatians 4. It’s about God adopting us into his family. I had three well-defined points, as a good Baptist preacher should. Today I preached that same sermon for our students in their Sunday a.m. chapel service. I can’t take for granted that 6-12 graders know their Bible stories that way my church congregation does. I cut some of the scripture citations and needed a more colorful analogy or two. The first point in the sermon is that we are naturally the enemies of God. He says “Do this” and instead we do that. Adam and Eve are the first example, and not much has changed since. I talked about how cute Johannah is; all our students know this to be true. But when we’re changing a diaper, sometimes she quits being so cute. If she sits up, rolls over, or otherwise tries to escape then everything takes longer. We have to do things twice; or three times. The students all smiled, nodded and laughed. Then I pointed out that in my history class some of them are the same way. I have to repeat myself and/or do things twice. Sometimes three times. That’s our nature.
It gets worse. God sent his Son. Like the father of the prodigal, God waits and watches down the road for us to come home. The prodigal son (Luke 15) spent a fortune on good food, good wine and loose women. Eventually he hit rock bottom, and desired the same slop that he fed pigs. He had to learn that lesson the hard way. You couldn’t have told him any different, and if the father had come looking for him any sooner, he would have ran as fast as he could in the other direction. We were all wallowing (or are still wallowing) in our own filth. We are slaves to sin, whatever sin you want to fill in the blank with. If my daughter Johannah has filled her diaper, then she is basically sitting there in her own mess. She stinks. Yet when I reach for her she runs away. She ducks and dodges. Her natural impulse is to escape the diaper change. Are we any different? We wallow in our filthy sin, in our own mess, and push God away even as he wants to clean us.
God loved us when we were unlovable. That’s the Gospel. And if you have kids, had kids, or know parents with new kids, fell free to preach the Gospel according to dirty diapers.
I have been the pastor of Unity Baptist Church for one year. (We have an anniversary luncheon coming up this Sunday as a matter of fact.) I have preached 51 of the past 52 consecutive Sunday services without preaching a sermon on hell. It may have come up but was never the subject. The Master’s Table has been online since 2008 and there is not a post with hell in the title. And when I did finally preach that sermon (link here for those interested) it was a message about heaven, hell and an exhortation to share the Gospel. Continue reading →
“I serve a risen savior, he’s in the world today.” Those are the opening words to the hymn He Lives (Alfred Henry Ackley, 1933). Easter Sunday has come and gone, but Jesus is more than alive, he is risen! He was dead and became the firstborn of the resurrection. Jesus told Martha in John 11:25 that he is the resurrection. Death, hell and the grave have been defeated. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55Continue reading →
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,slow to anger;for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. -James 1:19-20
There is such a thing as righteous indignation but that is reserved for, well, the righteous. Which is not us. I’m offering this as a timely reminder in an age when lots of people, Christians included, are carrying signs and share every waking thought on social media. We to need to be very vocal about the Gospel and keep everything else behind closed doors. Some conversations need to stay within the walls of a family’s living room or take place in the context of a Sunday School class. Some conversations need to not take place at all. What the world needs to see and hear is a group of people conforming to the image of Christ who are meek and humble in their behavior but bold with sharing the Gospel.
Jesus practiced what he preached, perhaps the greatest understatement ever made, and of course what he preached was the Gospel. “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15
Jesus preached the Gospel.
Let’s deconstruct that passage. Jesus said “the time is fulfilled.” His first century Jewish audience would have been familiar with the many messianic prophecies. Jesus didn’t spend a great deal of time trying to convince people he was the Messiah; by contrast he told his disciples to keep to themselves even as they began to figure it out. Without announcing that Messiah (or Christ in the Greek) was present he began his first sermon by declaring in effect “now is the appointed time, today is the day of salvation.” Continue reading →
Those of us who have made church a part of life for many years may not even be aware of the “church culture” we surround ourselves with. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but we need to understand what is taking place and how it can effect our ministry and witness. Let’s begin by defining some terms:
culture: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc. (Miriam Webster Online) subculture: a group that has beliefs and behaviors that are different from the main groups within a culture or society (Miriam Webster Online) Continue reading →