Category Archives: salvation

I’m a Sinner

I Still Sin

(updated)

It may come as a shock to some of you, but I still sin. Yes, this preacher still makes mistakes. You see, I am no better than anyone else, even though there used to be a time when I thought I was.

Years ago, when I was a really legalistic son-of-a-gun, it wasn’t uncommon for me to look down my nose at others who were “less spiritual.” Oh, I wouldn’t admit I thought I was better than anyone, because I really thought I was humble. It’s just, seriously, I never committed any of those horrible sins like adultery, murder, etc. All my sins were small, like not cleaning my room when asked, or looking too long at pictures in the J.C. Penney catalog.

But things changed. First, I found out that this self-righteous do-gooder could actually screw up – big time. Second, I found out that some of the ones I looked down on before had better excuses for their sin than I did. Third, I grew up. Forth, I found out what grace is all about.

So, I still mess up from time to time. I still sin, and that’s because I still live in unredeemed flesh. However, there are still times when I need to be reminded of how sinful my little sins are, and how great God’s grace is.

What I Deserve

Last week I lusted. Yes, this preacher – a married man and father of three – lusted. It’s not like I do it all the time, but I saw something on television that caused me to look longer than I needed to, to allow some thoughts to come into my mind that had no business there. A moment of weakness. Just being honest.

Later in the day, after a long day on a hot school bus, I took a shower. As I was washing my face, soap got into my eyes and caused them to sting. With a wince I felt a little twinge of guilt as I was reminded of the earlier sin involving my eyes. I said aloud, but to myself, “I guess I deserved that.”

Then, almost immediately, a still, small, Voice whispered into my heart, “No, what you really deserve is Hell.” In other words, it was like God was saying to me, “Anthony, is that how little you think of my Son’s sacrifice for you?” In other words, if all it took was a little soap in the eyes to pay for that mistake, why the cross?

Bam!

Do you realize that even if all you and I had ever done was commit some little, private sin, Jesus would have still had to die on a cross to reconcile us with God? Do you realize even the smallest, most insignificant sin is still sin in God’s eyes? ALL sin separates us from the Father, therefore ALL sin is worthy of Hell.

But praise the Lord for God’s amazing grace! It saved a wretch like me. Through it the righteousness of Christ was imputed to me, and therefore I am now truly clean, holy in the sight of God my Father.

I’m a sinner, but I’m a saved sinner. Thank God!


Do you want to know how you can be a “saved sinner,” too? Click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the screen. If you’d like to talk with someone about it right now, call 1-888 – Need Him.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, legalism, Love of God, salvation

He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest: Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain. But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life to those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

Pre-Salvation Counseling?

Pre-Marital Counseling

Have you ever given pre-marital advice? Have you ever sat down with a young couple, stars in their eyes, and tried to break them up? No? Then maybe you don’t know what real marriage counseling is all about.

Honestly, one of the things I try to do before I marry a couple is to break them up. OK, no, I don’t go into a counselling session with the intent on making them run out of the room crying and screaming at each other. But what I do try to do is bring to the surface issues that might cause problems down the road which will ultimately lead to major problems, even divorce. Believe me, a lot of people could have been spared a lot pain and heartache had they been asked some serious questions before they tied the knot.

So, if you want me to conduct your wedding, you must endure at least four hours of me trying to find out if you are aware of what’s ahead.

Salvation Counseling 

Much like the syrupy-sweet lovers who want to jump into marriage without even considering what comes after the honeymoon phase, many are led into believing that becoming a Christian is the answer to all their problems. Because of many one-stop, Vegas-like “wedding chapels” we call “worship centers,” scores of people have been drawn into a relationship with Jesus – but without the “pre-marital” counseling.

Reality check: Following Jesus will not be easy. As a matter of fact, it might even result in a life of pain and suffering, of hunger and want. This relationship may even cost you your life.

And when [Jesus] had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” – Mark 8:34

Oh, make no mistake about it, entering into an eternity-long relationship with Jesus is totally worth it! Just make sure you know what you’re getting into.

See the Movie

This Friday (March 20) Do You Believe? will come out in theaters. Please, take my advice, go see this movie! It may prove to be the best spiritual “marriage counseling” you’ve had in a while. Oh, and take someone with you who is lost; you won’t regret it.

 

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Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Life Lessons, Movie review, salvation, Witnessing

Do You Believe? YES!

Last night I was privileged to see the new Pure Flix movie Do You Believe, which will be released in theaters on March 20. Wow!

Yes, I got to see it before the rest of you because I am uber-special and have connections. No, seriously, because I’m a pastor, I was invited by email to a screening. The purpose, of course, was to see the movie ourselves before we start encouraging others to buy tickets and flood the theaters.

Buy tickets and flood the theaters. It’s that good.

Seriously, Do You Believe fires on all 8 cylinders (that’s non-hybrid car talk). It is dramatic, well-produced, and unwilling to pull punches. Look at it this way, if you liked God’s Not Dead, you’re gonna love Do You Believe. On the other hand, if you thought God’s Not Dead was Christian propaganda, you’re gonna have an aneurysm before this movie is half-over. Do You Believe is all about the Cross and faith in Jesus Christ – no apologies.

If I could explain this movie to you in another way, I’d say it must have been derived from the classic book In His Steps. If you remember, those who believed in Jesus were challenged to walk “in His steps,” to live as He would if walking in their shoes. In this movie, those who truly believe are challenged to “carry the cross,” regardless the cost.

When God’s Not Dead was over, people were taking out their cell phones and texting “God’s not dead!” to all their contacts. When you see this movie, which I hope you do, the first thing you’ll probably do is stand and sing along with music playing during the closing credits. If you’re like some people I saw, you’ll sing with hands raised as you praise God. Others, like me, will stand shivering with tears in your eyes, realizing you’ve just been kicked in the gut by the Holy Spirit. The next thing you’ll do is go out and “do something” with what you believe.

After the movie was over, we took a little girl whom we took with us to the movie as a guest back to her home. There, for the first time, we got to sit and talk with the girl’s mother about the Gospel, about God’s love for us manifested on the Cross. It was like we were still in the theater, ’cause I even found myself, a preacher, using some the lines I’d just heard in the movie. So, what does that tell you?

Go see Do You Believe, and take the unbelievers with you. I guarantee you this: some will believe.

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Filed under Apologetics, current events, salvation, Witnessing

My 15 Minutes

Fame

photo (40)Once the weekly community paper came out yesterday, I was famous for a moment or two. Just this morning, as I was paying for a cup of coffee at the gas station, the lady behind the counter asked, “Weren’t you in the paper?” “Yes, that was me,” I replied. But I still had to pay for the coffee.

Click HERE to read the article.

The kids on my bus were thrilled to see their bus driver in the news paper. “You’re famous!” “We’ve got a famous bus driver!” One little girl even took my copy of the article I had picked up that morning and never gave it back – she was way too excited, poor thing.

So, yes, I was on the front page of a little paper, got a friend request on Facebook from someone locally famous, and paid for my own coffee. Amazing what can happen when you write a book.

Lasting Notoriety 

But no matter how famous I become down here on this earth, fame is fleeting. Next week there might be a student, parent, or teacher who will comment on my recent notoriety, but in a few days it will be history – I’ll be non-famous again.

What matters most is that my name is not written down on the pages of some local rag, or even the New York Times best-seller list (don’t I wish), but that my name is written down in heaven (Luke 10:20).

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” – Revelation 20:12 KJV

I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame a few times over, and hardly nothing remains to show for it. On the other hand, however, my name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and that’s notoriety that will last forever – and I didn’t even do anything to deserve it.

I wonder if there’ll be coffee in heaven? If so, I bet it’ll be free ;-)

 

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Filed under current events, Life Lessons, salvation

The Sunday Sermon

The Prayer

The last post I published was a literal prayer that I was praying as I wrote it. As a matter of fact, I wrote it on my iPhone as I was on my knees beside my bed.

The reason I did it? I don’t know. Maybe I just wanted you guys to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, when no one else is around. I guess I wanted you to get a sense of the humanity in ministry; I’m only human.

Now, thanks to the same iPhone and a little editing with Audacity (free software I would recommend), linked below is the sermon I preached Sunday morning. Incidentally, some of what I preach in this sermon reflects back to a previous post having to do with the “prayer of salvation.”

The Sermon

Since the second Sunday this month I have been preaching through the book of James in the morning services, one chapter a week. The focus has not been on doing a thorough exposition of each chapter, but to seek what it is God would have our congregation hear from Him for such a time as this. Therefore, don’t expect a glittering example of homiletical prowess; I didn’t even go to the pulpit with an outline, only a few notes. All I did was ask God to show me what we at Riverside needed hear.

bibleIf you haven’t read it yet, go back and read the prayer I prayed on Saturday night, then listen to the sermon. Then, from a purely academic perspective, try to answer the following questions: Did the message stay true to the text? Was the message clear and distinct? How might you approach the topic differently?

From a spiritual perspective, could you sense the Spirit moving through what was said? Was the prayer answered? Of course, it’s impossible to know what was going on the hearts of those present when this was preached, but what about your heart? Did God speak to you?

“The will of the Lord concerning pastors is made known through the prayerful judgment of his church. It is needful as a proof of your vocation that your preaching should be acceptable to the people of God.”  – Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students, Vol. 1

Your thoughts would be appreciated. :-)

Click HERE to listen to the sermon, “James 2″

 

 

NOTE: This post is not intended to stir up arguments, heated debates, etc. I will not allow comments which are antagonistic, hateful, or anything the like. This will not be allowed to turn into a battleground for trolls with no respect for faith. Comments will be carefully monitored.

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Filed under Faith, Preaching, salvation, Theology, worship

Prayer of Salvation Controversy

Tough Topic

Sooooooo…. Here’s a good one for you guys to debate (atheists, skeptics, cultists, and otherwise non-believers need not participate):

Is the “sinner’s prayer” a good or bad thing?

Just the other day I read a great article by BJ (a follower) on The River Walk. The subject was “The Sinner’s Prayer,” and the text was Matthew 7:21.

Some big names in evangelicalism (David Platt, for example) have a problem with the sinner’s prayer. Many even claim that this type of prayer has led to a plethora of false conversions. Some even go so far as to claim this kind of prayer is a form of “works salvation.”

My Two Cents

Below is the comment I left on The River Walk (tworiversblog.com):

Where do I start? Where do I end? I’m a Baptist. I’m a Baptist pastor. I prayed the “prayer” as a child. I am born again. I have given altar calls. I have invited others to pray the “prayer” during invitations. There’s no way I can know who was born again…or not; only God knows. However, I can tell you about fruit.

No, the prayer doesn’t save; Jesus does. But what I see so often today is an attempt by many to belittle, malign, berate, and denigrate something that is precious and effective if presented in context with the true gospel message. I have seen it so many times: young, intellectual, up-and-coming theologians stirring up strife within the body of Christ, all the while holding on to the banner of grace, attempting to change, as if change itself was something divine. Why not accept the “sinners prayer” with a little more grace and along with it teach the fundamental doctrines on which it depends to be effective?

We ARE commanded to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Rom. 10:13). Is it not a “sinner’s prayer” when a sinner prays for salvation? Yes, I believe that there have been many false conversions brought about by head-hunting preachers and evangelists leading silent, congregational “sinner’s prayers.” That is why when I give an invitation I always explain that true salvation will result in public confession (Matt. 10:32-33). In other words, I never say “Pray with me…” and then ask people to come forward. I say that if one is truly repentant, truly understands his need of new birth, truly finds himself humbled at the foot of the cross, then he will have no problem coming to an altar, making a public profession, and then being baptized.

So, to sum this up…sorry for the length…I was saved at the age of 6 (I’m 47) when I realized that I was a sinner, was going to hell, and that the only way to heaven was to accept God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t have been able to recite the Apostle’s Creed, the Baptist Faith and Message, or even the Ten Commandments, but I knew I was lost. My dad led me to a little Sunday school room where we knelt at a little table, and it was there that my dad, a humble, former moonshiner, led me in the “sinner’s prayer,” because I didn’t know any better way to say what was in my little heart. That was the day I was saved, and I thank God my dad prayed with me.

That’s my 2 cents.

Well? Let’s discuss it.

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Filed under salvation, Theology