Tag Archives: God

Things I Don’t Know

As a husband, father, pastor, author, and perpetual student, I am constantly reminded of how much I really don’t know.

What if I made a list of all the things I don’t know? Well, that would be impossible, especially when there are so many things that I don’t know I don’t know.

However…..

Here are some things I wish I knew more about or could better understand. If it were possible to master these subjects, my self-esteem might go through the roof! Some may even call me a “know-it-all” in a non-derogatory way!

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

  • How can only three knobs (valves) and two lips play an infinite number of musical notes?
  • How do people get clean in dirty bath water?
  • What are hot flashes, and why women hate them in the winter?
  • Why are things like Pi (things that have no answer) so dadgum important?
  • If animals in cartoons and movies can talk to each other in English, not to mention read, why don’t they just write a note to humans when someone is in danger?
  • Why do women wear “natural” makeup to look natural, when natural was what they were before they put on the makeup?
  • Greek grammar – enough said.
  • Who killed Kennedy?
  • Why can’t I just decide to increase my debt limit, instead of balancing my budget?
  • Why do dogs and cats hate each other?
  • Why I could never pick up a snake by the tail, but Steve Irwin could?
  • How did the first person decide drinking something fermented, breathing something on fire, eating something coagulated, or using the anal glands of a beaver for flavoring (castorium) was an appetizing idea?

Life is full of persistent, nagging questions. Some questions may never be answered. I may never truly be a know-it-all. However, when it all comes down to what’s most important, I am reminded of the words of a man who was blind from birth: “I was blind…but now I see.”

I may not know everything, but I know that I will be OK when I die. I know that this world is not all there is. I know that heaven awaits me when I die. How? It’s all written in the Word of God.

 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. – 1 John 5:13

Did you know that?

2 Comments

Filed under Life Lessons, World View

Earth Day Was When?

When was Earth Day? The 22nd? Oh, you mean I missed it?

Darn it!

Yes, I was planning on celebrating Earth Day this year, but it totally slipped my mind. For some reason I was distracted. Dang it, what was I doing?

It must have been really important.

Oh, I know! I think, instead of worshiping the planet, I was worshiping its Creator, instead.

Silly me.

 

1 Comment

Filed under current events, General Observations, God, worship

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Preaching, salvation, Theology, worship

Prayerless and Powerless

The Second Book

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

I am now well into the second week of 2015 with one book read and another started. The first book I finished was Donkey Tells a Promise Kept. The book I am reading at this moment is Living a Prayerful Life by Andrew Murray (1828-1917).

If you have never heard of Andrew Murray, he was a South African preacher and pastor (of Scottish decent), but more than anything a prayer warrior. Some of his theology may not sit well with all of us, but one thing is certain: this man had a heart for God like few others.

Quote of the Day

I am not even a quarter of the way through this little book, but there is something I’ve got to share with you. Something Murray wrote is convicting me, stinging me with a pain sharper than any wasp, more like the burn of a red-hot poker to the heart.

The Enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian – and above all, the minister – to neglect prayer. Satan knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected. – Andrew Murray (p. 28)

I’m not going to lie – I don’t pray like I should. What a waste! What a sin!

I have preached some pretty good sermons and tried to do all the pastoral stuff, but how much more effective could I have been had I spent more time on my knees and less time at a desk? What if I spent more time talking with Jesus than talking about Him?After all, the whole reason the disciples called for the selecting of deacons was so that they might first give themselves “continually to prayer…” (Acts 6:4).

Preachers, before you worry anymore about your outline for Sunday, your clever illustrations, or your Power Point, spend some more time prostrate before the throne. If we neglect earnest prayer, we’ll have no power, so what’s the point?

One finger pointing, three back at me.

5 Comments

Filed under book review, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Prayer, Preaching

What Are You Worth?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? If so, you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Pretty foolish.

What about non-concrete items, such as pride? Some people are willing to fight to the death, or kill others, when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be wrongly perceived.

Is family worth risking your life?

Photo: Andy Britt

Photo: Andy Britt

Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society has a difficult time determining the value of life; one life is not as valuable as another if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.

I would risk my life to protect my family, and if you doubt it, try to hurt them – I carry more than a big stick.

Many, however, kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that society values gold more consistently than life itself.

Are you willing to die for what you believe?

Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s OK. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who would rather die for what he believes than deny it.

Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

How much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s; your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make your worth INCALCULABLE! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilt and failures as His own, and payed the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable; Jesus unique. How many others have done what He did for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that? How wonderful?

Let’s Review

  • Jesus Christ suffered the most excruciating death Rome could conceive, crucifixion…for you.
  • The Prince of Peace was shredded by a “cat of nine tails”…for you.
  • The King of Kings wore a crown of 4″ thorns…for you.
  • God became flesh so the world could know Him…including you.

Don’t believe the lies told to you by Satan, the culture, or your depressed emotions. Your life is of immeasurable worth because of the immeasurable price offered for it.

If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.  Your life is worth it.

 

This article was first posted 6/13/2014 and has been edited

4 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, Love of God, salvation, self-worth, World View

The Undeniable Religious Underpinnings of an American Holiday

No Arguments

I don’t want to get into any arguments this Thanksgiving, believe me. I only look forward to meeting with family, eating turkey, along with every imaginable kind of casserole, then later flopping prostrate onto some flat surface to nap through the mythical effects of tryptophan and marshmallows. But just as with so many other things in this modern life, there are those who want to make a case against Thanksgiving, at least the religious underpinnings it brings to the dinner table.  Like as with Christmas, there will inevitably be those who want to keep God out of Thanksgiving.

There has been so much debate over the level of influence religion (specifically Christianity) had in the founding of our great nation, the United States of America. Many have argued that our forefathers wanted nothing more than a completely secular society void of anything sacred. Others have argued that our Founders, if anything, might have been tolerant of religion, but never had any propensity toward the public expression of Christianity, especially in governmental affairs.

Just Facts

Look, I know that some of you would like to argue with me about the Christian heritage of this country. I know that there are some atheists out there who would like nothing better than to remove every vestige of faith from public view, right Mr. Weinstein? But I’m not going to argue; I’m just going to present the facts.

The following excerpts are taken from early Thanksgiving proclamations made by our Continental Congress.

From the First National Thanksgiving Proclamation made by the Continental Congress, November 1, 1777

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to
set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and
PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings
of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that,
together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession
of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest
Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive
and blot them out of Remembrance…

That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education,
so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing
Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom,
which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

May I ask a stupid question or two? What about the above quote sounds totally secular? What about the above quote gives the idea that the majority of Congressmen were nothing more than deists?

You see, we can argue all day long about the current state of our nation, but at its founding there were men in government who were not afraid to encourage our people to pray, praise, give thanks, and repent for our sins. I read nothing about thanking the Indians for corn.

As a matter of fact, what I read in these early documents was a call to be thankful, even in the midst of hard and difficult times. These early congressmen all agreed that even though we were at war, God was merciful and the gospel needed to be proclaimed throughout the world! Can you imagine that kind of thinking coming from Washington today?

United States Congress, October 20, 1779

Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states, to appoint Thursday, the 9th of
December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercies,
and of prayer for the continuance of his favor and protection to these United States; to beseech
him that he would be graciously pleased to influence our public councils, and bless them with
wisdom from on high, with unanimity, firmness, and success; that he would go forth with our hosts
and crown our arms with victory; that he would grant to his church the plentiful effusions of divine
grace, and pour out his holy spirit on all ministers of the gospel; that he would bless and prosper
the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners
of the earth; that he would smile upon the labors of his people and cause the earth to bring forth
her fruits in abundance; that we may with gratitude and gladness enjoy them; that he would take
into his holy protection our illustrious ally, give him victory over his enemies, and render him
signally great, as the father of his people and the protector of the rights of mankind; that he would
graciously be pleased to turn the hearts of our enemies, and to dispense the blessings of peace to
contending nations; that he would in mercy look down upon us, pardon our sins and receive us into
his favor, and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the
basis of religion and virtue, and support and protect them in the enjoyment of peace, liberty and
safety. as long as the sun and moon shall endure, until time shall be no more.

Notice the prayer that God would “graciously be pleased to turn the hearts of our enemies, and to dispense the blessings of peace to contending nations?” Therein lies the big difference between a Christian nation at war and a Muslim jihad.

United States Congress, October 31, 1780

Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, amidst the vicissitudes and
calamities of war, to bestow blessings on the people of these states, which call for their devout and
thankful acknowledgments… and, above all, in continuing to us the enjoyment of the gospel of peace…

…to cherish all schools and seminaries of education, build up his churches in their most holy faith and to cause
the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.

United States Congress, 1781

It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart the 13th day of December next, to be
religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer; that all the people may assemble on
that day, with grateful hearts, to celebrate the praises of our gracious Benefactor; to confess our
manifold sins; to offer up our most fervent supplications to the God of all grace, that it may please
Him to pardon our offenses, and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws; to comfort and
relieve all our brethren who are in distress or captivity; to prosper our husbandmen, and give
success to all engaged in lawful commerce; to impart wisdom and integrity to our counselors,
judgment and fortitude to our officers and soldiers; to protect and prosper our illustrious ally, and
favor our united exertions for the speedy establishment of a safe, honorable and lasting peace; to
bless all seminaries of learning; and cause the knowledge of God to cover the earth, as the waters
cover the seas.

And just one more, 1784

[May the Supreme Ruler of the universe]  bless all mankind, and inspire the
princes and nations of the earth with the love of peace, that the sound of war may be heard of no
more; that he may be pleased to smile upon us, and bless our husbandry, fishery, our commerce,
and especially our schools and seminaries of learning; and to raise up from among our youth, men
eminent for virtue, learning and piety, to his service in church and state; to cause virtue and true
religion to flourish, to give to all nations amity, peace and concord, and to fill the world with his
glory.

Argue all you want, but I consider Thanksgiving to be a religious holiday, one that should be encouraged by our government. At least that’s what it seems our Founding Fathers would have wanted.

 

1 Comment

Filed under America, Thanksgiving, worship

A Call to “Thwarting the Enemy” Prayer

Attention fellow pastors and believers in Christ:

I am calling on my fellow believers, especially pastors, to do something different this Wednesday night, September 10th. I am asking that we all gather together for a time of dedicated, humble, sincere, and concentrated prayer in advance of any attack by the enemy.

Thwarting PrayerIn the days following 9/11, people around the country were crowded into churches, on their knees, calling out to God. It was the right and proper thing to do, for sure. But now the enemy is at the gate; the judgement of God is about to fall. We know that somewhere there are plans in the works to bring us harm, to destroy us, the very least being the structures in which we meet. Should we not be on our knees now?

In 2 Chronicles 20:2 messengers came unto King Jehoshaphat and said, “There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria” Faced with this news, the news of certain destruction, he called for fasting and prayer.

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

I am asking that churches around the nation will come together in humble, contrite, and desperate prayer – BEFORE the enemy crashes the gate!

Some of you may be asking, “Pastor Baker, what if God has already determined to send judgment and all that is being planned is part of His wrath against us?” To that I would submit to you the words of a king from one of the most ungodly places on record, ancient Nineveh. Hearing of the impending destruction being sent by God, he ordered the inhabitants to not eat or drink, to cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes, turn from evil and violence, and cry out to God (Jonah 3:7-8). Then he said…

“Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” – Jonah 3:9

Let us pray for God to thwart the evil plans of the enemy that could already be in the works for this Thursday, September 11th, even if they were originally meant for our chastisement. Like Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel, our hope is not in Washington, the military, or the police. I only hope is in God.

Pray that He confuse the forces of evil and give wisdom to the humble who seek His help.

2 Comments

Filed under America, Christian Unity, current events, Faith