Category Archives: Christianity

Your Little Church On the Web

Where Do You Go?

Do you have a place where you regularly worship? In other words, do you regularly go to church anywhere?

If you do, that’s awesome! But if you don’t, I would encourage you to find a place to go, even if it’s not perfect – is any place?

But if you don’t go somewhere…maybe you live too far away, or maybe you have a legitimate issue with crowds…I would like to encourage you to check out the website of the little church where I pastor: SouthSoddyBaptist.org.

If you don’t have a regular place to worship, and if you don’t like or don’t trust the megachurch places or internet ministries, our little church would like to help fill a void in your life. Maybe, just maybe, we could be your “Little Church On the Web.”

The Little Church

Believe me, churches don’t get much smaller than South Soddy Baptist, but we are a legitimate congregation of believers on mission from God.

We don’t have a lot to offer by way of flashy worship music. We don’t have a cool stage with lumber on the wall and mood lighting. Heck, we don’t even have a projection screen!

But what we DO have is a love for each other and a heart for God. We believe in genuine, caring fellowship and friendship. We care about what’s going on in each other’s lives.

We were blessed to be able to start our website so that we could minister to those not only in our community but around the world. Even though it’s not a huge website, like our little church it offers the basics, and sometimes that’s what is missing in other places.

Join Us

Look, if I had my preferences, I would like for you to attend a real worship service in a real brick-and-mortar building. But if that’s not where you are right now, why not make SouthSoddyBaptist.org your Little Church On the Web?

Read the blog posts. Listen to the sermons. Send your prayer requests – which we will absolutely pray for – through either email, text, or by phone. Go to our Facebook and YouTube pages as we begin to publish more content that’s simple and helpful.

We are a real church in a real city with real people who care about the Truth of God’s word and want to love people like Jesus would.

Would you join us?

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Filed under Christianity, Church, worship

God Did Not Create Another God

Would you take a moment and consider something?

When God created man, He didn’t create another God.

You might think that’s nothing new, but it is a very, very important truth – one that is rarely unpacked when discussing issues of sin and suffering.

There are people who wonder why God, if He exists and is so powerful and wise, created a free agent who could sin (break God’s law).

Others question why Scripture would suggest that Jesus was slain before the foundations of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20).

The answer to these questions and many more is that God did not create another God, only man.

God has certain characteristics that Man could never have simply because he was created. The most obvious are that he is not eternal, omnipotent, immutable, or omniscient. The most important is that Man, no matter how perfect he was at the moment of creation, was not holy as God is Holy.

If God were to create another like unto Himself, then God would not be God. If Man could be created, he couldn’t be eternal.

No matter what God created, His creation could never be Himself, and therefore not God.

God is eternally immutable, unchanging, therefore He cannot sin. On the other hand, Man is not eternal, nor immutable, so even from the beginning of creation, he had the potential, however remote, to sin. Therefore, even though God did not create sin, nor did He cause Adam to sin, sin was inevitable simply because God created a creature that was not Himself.

Why was it part of God’s plan that Jesus would be crucified, even before Adam even sinned? Because simply creating Man brought with it the inevitable possibility, the inevitable reality, that he would need to be redeemed – because he is Man, not God.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10 KJV

Simply put, the only way sin could have been avoided would have been for God to never create any being capable of freely communing with Him. If he had created a robot, a machine, then sin would not have been inevitable. But since Adam was given the freedom to choose, a will, and since he was not God, the inevitable required an Emmanuel.

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On Jost and Che: Thanking Jesus

The Emmys, etc.

I didn’t watch them.

I never do. I never watch any award shows.

I used to watch them – years ago – when they were actually funny and entertaining. Now they are nothing more than self-indulgent platforms for self-important people to slam normal people who actually make a difference in the world.

So, all I ever see from the modern awards shows, like the Emmy Awards, is what ends up on the news or viral YouTube clips.

I just don’t care.

The Jesus Joke

Then just this morning, all over the media news outlets, there came the clip from the Emmy Awards’ opening monologue from Colin Jost and Michael Che. Oh, it was hilarious! Not.

What made the news! Oh, nothing more than what has become the norm for those on the political and social left.

Michael Che (who is he, anyway?), a black man, joked that his mother wasn’t going to be watching the Emmys. Why? Because the winners on “white” award shows never thank Jesus for anything. He went on to say,

“The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads.”

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Funny. Really funny. Absolutely brilliant, original, creative comedy. NOT.

It’s just so easy to insult Christians, and that’s nothing new. For that matter, this whole story is nothing new; it’s been this way for years, now. It’s just becoming so common that the shock factor has completely worn off and even the atheists are getting bored.

And what’s also getting old is pointing out the fact that no joke, ever, not on their life, would be offered in the same way about Muslims. Nope. Never.

Because, odds are, no Christian or Republican who thanks Jesus for anything will hunt you down or pose a real terroristic threat to your next black-tie venue. Christians…those sheep who go silently to slaughter. Those Republicans…who never fight fire with fire.

Thanking Jesus

For the record, I am a Republican. I also thank Jesus for everything. However, I’m not an ex-crackhead – because I’ve never used crack. I am a sinner redeemed by grace, however.

But those “ex-crackheads” who are thanking Jesus might be worth listening to. Better than the drug addicts on stage, I would suppose.

And to all you Democrats out there, who do you thank? Have all the Jesus-thankers left your party?

I know Christian Democrats (I don’t understand them, but I know them), and I believe – unless I’m been deceived – they give thanks to Jesus.

I also know a lot of Republicans who are heathen, so…

Again, this is why I don’t watch this stuff; it’s stupid, offensive, and certainly not funny.

Thank Jesus I had better things to do.

 

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Filed under America, Christianity, politics

Call It All James

This morning (Sunday) I am beginning a new sermon series through the book of James. It will be a verse-by-verse expository series and one that I’m excited about.

If everything goes well I will be posting recordings of the sermons on my “Sermon Archive” page. I’d like to post them on the same day they’re preached, but editing takes a little time, so give it a day or two (like Monday or Tuesday) before expecting to see them.

UPDATE: Click HERE to go to the Sermon Archive page.

One of the main themes – if not THE main theme – in James is the idea of enduring while having our faith tested. So many people get discouraged when their faith is tried by circumstances, yet James reminds us to “count it all joy” (James 1:2).

Another reason James writes is to offer practical instruction on displaying a living faith through what we do. James argues that “faith without works is dead,” meaning that a living faith does something.

So, in this upcoming series of sermons, as I try to exegete the letter of James to those “scattered abroad,” I hope you will be encouraged to keep your faith as you work it out for others to see.

If you don’t regularly attend a church, and if you’re a little skeptical of the big TV-type ministries, I would encourage you to visit the website of the church where I pastor. Go to http://www.SouthSoddyBaptist.org. It’s not a big website, but it’s growing in content – simple, basic stuff meant to encourage and keep things real.

Have a great Lord’s Day!

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, Church, Preaching, wisdom

Misunderstanding a Christian’s Patriotism

Based on the comments I’ve read in response to a previous post of mine, along with others across the social media spectrum, there seems to be a misunderstanding – even a mischaracterization – of mine and others’ patriotism.

Believe it or not (and some will refuse to), a Christian can love his country, even to the point of sacrificing his life, without turning it into an idol and worshipping it.

I love my country and believe in what the original framers envisioned this nation to be. I believe there’s never been a better Constitution, nor has there ever been a nation whose laws better reflected the fact that all men (and women and children) are created in the image of God and therefore intrinsically valuable and endowed with “certain unalienable rights.”

I believe that the American flag means a lot more than color on cloth and borders within borders.

I’m proud of the fact that the American soldier, despite the failures of policy and leadership, is the first to shed his own blood for the freedom of another, even the one that might hate him. And, yes, I see that as a “Christ-like” quality, but one that is endemic to a Christian ethic, not a parallel worth of deification.

But even though I love my country, I do not worship her. Even though I stand when the National Anthem is played, it’s not a creed I recite. Even though I salute the American flag and am greatly offended when it is disrespected or defaced, it is not an idol – it is not Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.

As He changes the seasons, so God “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21). I worship Him. Before Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, Emanuel (God with us), I bend my knee.

Nations come and go, but the Lord of lords and King of kings remains the same; it is He that I serve.

Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. – 1 Peter 2:17

Don’t mischaracterize my patriotism: it’s not idol worship; it’s honor and familial love. But when this country and its founding documents have faded into the annals of history; when the only Old Glory still flying is over the old graves of citizens, His praise will be the only thing on my lips as I worship the Eternal King upon His throne.

I’m proud to be an American, but I’m a Christian first and foremost. Blue passport or not, I rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.

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“In the Cross” – A Sermon Outline

The following is the outline I’m taking to the pulpit with me this morning. It is based on the song “In the Cross” by Fanny Crosby. The idea is to be a question: How near are we to the cross?


“In the Cross” – A Sermon

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:17-18

1 Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain;
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

What do you see when you are near the cross? To begin with, you’ll see BLOOD.

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: – 1 Peter 1:19

Christianity is a “bloody religion” because it takes sin seriously and sin requires a penalty – the death penalty.

Hebrews 9:22 – And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Hebrews 10:18 – Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (It is finished! Hallelujah!)

2 Near the cross, a trembling soul, [fear, repentance, humility]
Love and mercy found me; [this is a testimony]
There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me.  (…I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. – Revelation 22:16)

“Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent Lamb of God, you don’t really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross.”
― C.J. Mahaney

“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
― John R.W. Stott

3 Near the cross! O lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

The Scenes: Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19

The sheen of the golden pendent disguises horror of the mechanism.

More than a Shadow – It Must Be Carried

Matthew 16:24 – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 14:27 – And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

4 Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;

Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

Refrain:
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed (raptured) soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…- Galatians 6:14a

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. – Colossians 2:13-15

Conclusion:

Can you see His outstretched arms? Can you see the blood flowing down? Can you see His eyes looking down? Does it affect you?

How near ARE you to the cross?

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There IS Purpose!

To Begin With…

The world is in a state of turmoil. Pain and suffering are everywhere. Worry and fear are some of the more common emotions among men and women these days. In the midst of all this unforgiving stress, the hurting need comfort; yet, where are they to find it?  I believe that comfort can be found in the belief that this world is not the result of an accident, but design. I believe that there is more to life than what we can see. I believe in a Creator. I believe in God. This belief gives me comfort in the midst of pain and suffering.

But…

Many (but not all) scientists, however, do not believe in a Creator, so they pursue meaning and purpose through the discovery of new things, improving mankind’s situation, and better anticipating the future of the universe. Even though great scientists of the past viewed science as a means to further understand God’s creation, leading them to give God praise for His magnificent design, many modern scientists see the universe through a naturalistic worldview. They tend to comfort themselves in the supposed fact that this universe, made of matter, is all that there is – nothing more. They reason that since life is just a natural process and that matter is all that there is, what does it matter (pun intended) if there is no purpose to life? To the naturalist (the typical scientist), it is all about the here-and-now, occasionally sprinkled with purposeless wonder and meaningless awe.

Science?

A recent “scientific” study was conducted that shed some interesting light on the reasons why people choose to believe that there is a Designer of the universe, rather than purposeless existence after death. Just consider the title of the study: “Death and Science: The Existential Underpinnings of Belief in Intelligent Design and Discomfort with Evolution.” (Tracy, Hart, Martens) This study showed that when faced with the ultimate reality of death, most choose to find comfort in the belief that there is a design to everything, which would suggest purpose, rather than hold to Darwin’s theory of evolution. When faced with what was called “mortality salience,” even the unreligious tended to be “uncomfortable” with the theory of evolution. The conductors of the experiment were amazed (I found it perfectly logical), even indignant at times (which I thought was funny). Sadly, the researchers who conducted the study were obviously predisposed to atheism and the idea that the universe is un-designed. Surely they included themselves in the category of “certain individuals who are more deeply invested in the scientific worldview (e.g., scientists),” and, like Carl Sagan, viewed “naturalism as providing human life with meaning and purpose.” (Tracy, Hart and Martens 10)

Only a fool could look at a working machine that had every feature capable of performing a particular task and call that machine a random collection of atoms without purpose or meaning. Even the Psalmist said, “the fool hath said in his heart, [there is] no God.” On the other hand, the logical person would conclude, at some point, that the universe machine must have been designed by a Designer. To illustrate this, William Paley (1743-1805) used a pocket watch as an analogy to describe what one should conclude when he looks at the universe. Like a lone watch found on a beach, the universe should be to the observer an intricate work of art made for a purpose. People that are logical also see themselves as instruments of purpose, because they can recognize things that bear the marks of design. Why should it be a surprise to anyone, that when faced with death, the need for meaning would be important to the same, thoughtful, logical observer? “When we see evidence of intelligent design…we naturally assume that an intelligent designer was responsible for constructing the object.” (Phillips, Brown and Stonestreet 78)

Ten Words

The Christian can find his whole sense of purpose in the ten words that make up Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Christian scientist can also read these words and find confirmation to his observations. It is the naturalistic scientist that looks at William Paley’s watch analogy (teleological argument) and comes to the illogical conclusion that “chance plus time” created a beautifully intricate machine out of nothing.

If the universe is Godless, and it was not designed for a purpose, then meaning is irrelevant. The thing that is designed for a purpose, even if only to amuse, has a purpose, which gives meaning to every aspect of its being. Something that was not designed, created, or brought about either in reality or in the abstract, exists, at best, by accident. There is no purpose inherent within an accident (accidents are by definition unplanned), unless, of course, the accident was caused. If an accident is caused, even if it was not purposeful, then it was at least caused, was it not? So, either way, it could be argued that whether the universe was designed or came about by accident, there was a Something that brought it about, for both are objects of a Creator, else neither would have existed.

Waxing Philosophical

In conclusion, I would now argue that if the universe was either designed or the result of an accident, and if both design and accident have to have a cause; and, since accidents usually don’t result in the promotion of life-sustaining details, but rather carnage; and, since the universe mirrors best an intricate machine full of life; therefore, it must be designed, not an accident. If, then, the universe was the product of a Designer, then there must be a purpose inherent in the design. In other words, there is a reason for everything we see. It may be hidden somewhere in the workings of this great machine. Or, it could be found in the revelation of the Designer – the Bible.

There is, according to Scripture, a purpose for everything. Even amidst all the turmoil of the Vietnam War era a song came out by a group call The Byrds entitled, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The lyrics included a line from Ecclesiastes 3:1 which said, “a time to every PURPOSE (emphasis mine) under heaven.” To everything there is a purpose, even though it may not be plain to the observer. For example, unless they are meant to be a prank, buttons and levers on a machine usually have a purpose. Even if they don’t do anything, they had the purpose to illicit a response of some kind from the observer. That being understood, if there seems to be any design to the universe, wouldn’t it make the most sense to assume there was a Designer? If there was a Designer, then there was a purpose for the design. And the Bible says that the purpose, if for no other reason, was to cause “…all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him [the LORD]. For he spake, and it was [done]; he commanded, and it stood fast.” – Psa 33: 8-9 KJV

God made everything for a reason. You have a purpose. There IS hope in Jesus Christ.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24 KJV


Works Cited

Tracy, J. L., J. Hart and J. P. Martens. 2011. Death and Science: The Existential Underpinnings of Belief in Intelligent Design and Discomfort with Evolution. PLoS ONE. 6 (3): e17349.

Phillips, W. Gary, William E. Brown and John Stonestreet. Making Sense of Your World, A Biblical Worldview. Salem, Wisconsin: Sheffield Publishing Company, 2008.

Here is a link to the Institute for Creation Research article addressing the study mentioned above: http://www.icr.org/article/6039/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+icrscienceupdate+%28Science+Update+from+ICR%29&utm_content=FaceBook

 

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