Category Archives: Preaching

Pastors and Politics

I just want to take a quick moment to blog. By that I mean that I want to do what blogging used to be meant for: a web log of thoughts; a diary of sorts.

What thoughts do I want to record and share with the world? Politics. Specifically, pastors and the subject of politics.

The reason I want to simply “blog” is because I have not done any research, sourcing, or anything like that in order to craft a professional opinion piece. This is not meant to be an article worth publishing in a news paper or magazine. I have no links to news stories or pictures to share.

No, all this is meant to be is me sharing my thoughts off the cuff, unprepared, and dangerous.

You see, I have political opinions. I have my opinions about our President. I have strong opinions about the government and the direction we should be going as a country. Yet, as a pastor, my thoughts on these issues are considered taboo, off limits, no matter if they are spoken from the pulpit or elsewhere (and I’m speaking generically, not specifically about my current congregation).

It’s a strange situation to be in, actually. I mean, here we are, pillars in the community, men tasked with preaching truth without compromise, yet if we mention anything about conservative policies we think might better the community, we’re in danger of alienating people and running the risk of splitting a congregation!

It’s pretty sad, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the gospel apply to every area of life? Shouldn’t the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles find application in the voting booth? It would seem so. However, I could preach about anything, even against same-sex marriage, and aside from the vitriolic response I might get from friends of the rainbow, the average church member would support me in my pastoral, prophetic role. Yet, talk about anything political that might hint of my personal persuasions and I’d likely be censured.

Do you ever wonder why this is? Do you ever wonder why it is that a pastor cannot talk about politics that same way he can about adultery, lying, anger, murder, hate, hypocrisy, abuse, weighted scales, and bigotry?

Think about it… there are people in Christian media and print, along with nationally-known religious personalities, who are taking full advantage of their platforms to say anything negative about our President, even to the point of calling for his impeachment. Yet, if the average pastor stood behind the pulpit and said, “I think we ought to pray for Donald Trump, that he should succeed and become a great President, for our country and the world’s sake,” he’d likely be labeled a fascist, racist, evil Nazi sympathizer.

Oh, I forgot. It’s OK to admit you pray for the President, but only if you’re Nancy Pelosi and your ultimate goal is his imprisonment.

Here’s the thing, though. In every congregation of believers in Christ there are going to be people who are members of different political factions, and that goes for everywhere. Yet, when it comes to issues of right and wrong, good and evil, and how we should live out our faith in the public arena, which includes the voting booth, if God’s sufficient Word cannot find application that should guide the Christian, if there are areas in life that cannot be addressed by Scripture for fear that it might offend the Christian or bruise his personal sacred cow, then is the revealed Word of God really all it claims to be?

Prudence soaked in love; wisdom granted by the Spirit; and a keen contextual awareness are key when considering when, where, and how we should address these topics. However, fear should never be the motivating factor that intimidates us into silence when God has a Word to say.

Those are my thoughts on this Friday afternoon.

God bless.

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Filed under America, blogging, Christian Unity, community, General Observations, politics, Preaching

8 Suggestions for Making Resolutions (and an 11-Minute Sermon)

Internet Speed

Image result for gig cityIf there was only one thing I had to say I honestly miss about living in Chattanooga, it’s the INTERNET SPEED!

On the other hand, our internet speeds in this part of the state of Georgia are dreadfully slow compared to what I’ve been used to:

  • “First, fastest, least expensive internet access in US.” — New York Times
  • 50 times the US average internet speed

To refresh, that’s a GIGABIT, as opposed to a max of 25MB per second here in Warthen!

Hey, Governor Kemp! The Kaolin Belt needs fiber optics!

Resolution Sermon

But the point of this post is not internet speeds – it’s about New Year resolutions and a sermon I preached this last Sunday morning … of which I only managed to record 1 second of the audio!

So, what I did was go to my office, today, and record a “recap” of the sermon, thereby replacing the lost sermon for my archives.

You can watch the video (only 11 minutes) or look at the outline, or both. Regardless, here are some “Questions to Ask When Making a New Year’s Resolution.” 

Questions to Ask When Making a New Year’s Resolution 
(Isaiah 50:7; Luke 9:51, 12:50; Acts 20:24)

1.  Do I NEED to make any resolutions?
There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks.” – David Lloyd George

2. What has God called me to do? (John 6:38)
   “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” – John 4:34

3. Where will I be at this time next year if nothing changes?
“You don’t drown by falling into water. You only drown if you stay there.” – Zig Ziglar

4. Will I be willing to be held accountable? (Ecc. 4:9-12)

  • It is in our nature to NOT want accountability
  • James 5:15 “confess your faults one to another”
  • Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpeneth another”

5. Will my determination be visible?
   Samuel Adams – “We have proclaimed to the world our determination ‘to die freemen, rather than to live slaves.’ We have appealed to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and in Heaven we have placed our trust.”

6. Will I rely on my own strength?
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble – Psalm 46:1

7. To WHOM will the glory go when I succeed?
   “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” – Col. 3:23

8. Is the JOY worth the PAIN?
   “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 KJV

   Will Rogers – “Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling that even a tiny amount of it is enough to ruin every enjoyment.”

   William Penn – “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Church, Future, ministry, Preaching

Fear In the Christmas Story

Christmas Sermons

You may have never considered it, but it’s a challenge to come up with Christmas sermons year after year without being too repetitive. Sure, one could simply preach through Luke 2 every year, but a little creativity can go a long way.

This year I will preach a few sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at Bethlehem Baptist. Here are the notes to one that I preached this past Sunday.

To Fear, Or Not to Fear

Did you know there are actually some honest-to-goodness phobias related to Christmas? Here are just a few.

  • Selaphobia – the fear of flashing Christmas lights.
  • Ghabhphobia – the fear of presents or gifts.
  • Krikophobia – the fear of church services.
  • Cyssanophobia – the fear of kissing under the mistletoe.
  • Festivalisophobia – a phobia of the whole Christmas thing.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we can find several places in the Bible where angels told people to “fear not.” Folks back in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago probably didn’t have a fear of kissing under the mistletoe, but they had every reason to be frightened by talking beings clothed in bright light telling them about babies in mangers, virgin births, and wedding plans.

The story of Christ’s birth is associated with great joy, but it was also full of great initial fear. At least one person in the story (King Herod) never got over his phobias and paranoia, but he never heard an angel tell him “fear not,” either.

Below are my notes/outline from which I will deliver this morning’s sermon at South Soddy Baptist Church. When you have a moment, read the Scriptures I reference. See for yourself what the Spirit has to say.

“Fear In the Christmas Story”

1. Luke 1:12  Zacharias (a faithful, praying priest) was “troubled” (G5015, tarasso), and “fear”(5401, phobos) fell upon him.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not…thy prayer is heard.”

2. Luke 1:29  Mary (a confused young girl) was “troubled” (1298, diatarasso)

The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”

3. Matthew 1:20  The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (hurt and scared) in a dream and said, “fear (phobeo) not to take Mary thy wife…”

4. Luke 1:65  “Fear (phobos) came on all that dwelt around” Zacharias and Elisabeth when Zacharias’ “mouth was opened…his tongue was loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”

5. Luke 2:9  The shepherds were “sore afraid” (phobeo phobos megas) …see also Daniel 10:7-8 and Revelation 1:17.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

6. Matthew 2:3  Herod, because the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews,” was “troubled” (taraso), and all Jerusalem with him.

7. What should we take away from this today?

  1. True holiness will expose humanity’s sinfulness.
  2. Godly fear will be answered with peace, result in obedience, and respond with praise.
  3. The fear of Christmas will manifest itself in hate, a lack of peace and joy, and no hope.
  4. If you trust in Jesus, He promises the peace of Christmas year-round. John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Boston Psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin (an agnostic) said: “[Some atheists are] not unlike the bully who pushes other people down in order to make himself feel better. There are atheists who have a very uncomfortable belief about [their non-belief] they feel the need to push other people down. There is an emotional confusion among some atheists that drives them to promote their product on others [to make them feel better about themselves]. – From an interview on Bill O’Reilly, 12/2/14

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Christmas, Church, Preaching

How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God

A Christmas Sermon Outline

Have you ever been given a gift, or seen one under the Christmas tree, that needed no card or tag informing you who sent it? Maybe the meticulous wrapping was a clue to who the wrapper was.

I know Christmas is still a few days away, but some of you might need something to preach or teach between now and then. Therefore, please accept as my gift of an outline I prepared, “How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God.”

Please, feel free to use it 🙂

“How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God”

I.  Because of When THIS Gift Was Given

·   Galatians 4:4 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…”

II.  Because of How THIS Gift Was Wrapped

·   Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

·   Philippians 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

·   Hebrews 4:15 KJV – “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”

III.  Because THIS Gift Was Truly Free

·   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”

·   Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace…it is a GIFT of God, NOT of works…”

·   Romans 3:24 “Being justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

IV.  Because THIS Gift Was Exactly What We Needed

A.  To Bring Us Life – Luke 2:11 “Unto you is born, in the city of David, a SAVIOR…”

B.  To Bring Us Joy – Lamentations 3:22-23 “His mercies are new every morning”

V.  Because of the Love that Went Into It.

·   1 John 4:9 “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.”

VI.  Conclusion:

A.  Accept the Gift of Jesus

B.  Give Thanks! – 2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for this unspeakable Gift!”

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Filed under Bible Study, Christmas, Jesus, Preaching

Are You Ready for Christmas?

If it was this easy!

If I have been asked once, I have been asked a thousand times: “Are you ready for Christmas?

Well, if by “ready” you mean “have you purchased gifts for every relative and friend, cleaned your house, wrapped everything in red foil, watered the tree, mailed the cards, etc.,” then NO! I’m definitely not ready!

On the other hand, if you’re asking if I am ready for Christmas to get here, then yes, I am.

Am I the only person in this situation? I would suspect most people probably wish they had at least another month to get everything on their lists done.  On the other hand, I hope that we are always ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, which is, of course, the point of the whole day.

But aside from getting ready for the Christmas celebrations, there are other things for which we should be prepared.

As a matter of fact, below are three things we all should be prepared for, maybe even more so than Christmas.

Be Ready to Preach

Paul said, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel…” (Romans 1:15).  I should be able to say the same, for, just like the apostle, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (1:16). I should, and YOU should be ready to preach/teach/share the gospel at any time with anyone.

But you may say, “I am not a preacher, though.” Really? Well, the words of Jesus apply to all of us. He said,

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. – Mar 16:15

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. – Mar 16:15 ESV

Even though you may not be a pastor or Sunday School teacher, if you are not ashamed of Jesus, then it is still your responsibility to “proclaim” the message Christmas, the gospel (“good news”) of Jesus coming to save.

Be ready to preach.

Be Ready to Give an Answer

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [a reasonable defense] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” – 1Pe 3:15 NIV

If Jesus is the “reason for the season,” are we able to defend the Reason based on reason and evidence, not hollow, empty faith?

There are so many who are quick to attack Christians and the God of Christianity. They claim Christmas is based on a myth no more verifiable than the existence of Santa Claus himself. These same folk who deny Jesus was the Messiah then choose to follow some other pagan god or no god and say their “reasons” are more logical.  Really? Where is their evidence?

The Apostle Peter, when he said to “always be ready,” knew that there would be those who would question us and ask, “why do you have so much hope?” There are still plenty of people who are without hope in this world.  They are looking for answers. What they are not looking for is a fairy tale to make them feel good; they are looking for Truth that will make a difference in life, both on this earth and in eternity.

Be ready to give an answer.

Be Ready to Go

I know that Christmas is just around the corner, but who can assure me I’ll be around to see it?  There are no guarantees about tomorrow; one day life on this earth will be over and eternity will begin.  However, for many of us, we believe that Jesus is coming back one day.

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. – Mat 24:44

I want to be ready for His return.  I want to be ready to go with Him.  Being ready for that day, I believe, is a lot more important than getting everything wrapped just so, or cleaning house. If any “cleaning house” is done, we should always make sure our spiritual “house” is clean and ready.  One day, someday, a trumpet is going to sound…

1 Corinthians 15:51-54  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Are you ready to go?  If not, then there is good news: You can be!

You may say that you are not good enough.  You may think that you have done too many things to be forgiven.  You may think that if God is real, then there is no getting right with Him because you’re just too bad.  Well, if you are willing to put your faith in the Christ of Christmas, the good news is that God is also ready…ready to forgive.

For thou, Lord, [art] good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. – Psa 86:5

Get ready for Christmas, but make your heart ready for Christ.  The Savior born in a manger wants to give new life to you.

Are you ready?

Questions about faith in Jesus Christ?

Call 1-800-NEED-HIM

 

 

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, Culture Wars, Preaching, salvation

Should We Celebrate Christmas?

Sunday evening I shared some interesting things with our congregation at Bethlehem Baptist. They were reasons why some people choose not to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Now, I’m no historian, so if you find fault with any of my research, you are welcome to correct me, especially when it comes to Oliver Cromwell and English history. However, I think what I shared in this sermon regarding the history of Christmas and why some oppose the holiday is pretty accurate.

If you’re interested, take a few moments to listen to the sermon linked below and let me know what you think.

Click on the picture to listen to the sermon.

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Filed under Christmas, Preaching, worship

You Might Be a Sinner If…

I’m a Redneck

Yes, I confess it… I’m a redneck.

I know that I’m a redneck because Jeff Foxworthy told me so. If you remember, Foxworthy’s comic routine made famous the line: “You might be a redneck if…” He would then follow with descriptions, examples, qualifiers, etc.

Below are some I know have applied to me at least once over the last 50+ years.

You might be a redneck if…

  • You read the Auto Trader with a highlight pen.
  • Every socket in your house breaks a fire code.
  • The taillight covers of your car are made of red tape.
  • Directions to your house include “Turn off the  paved road.”
  • Going to the bathroom at night involves shoes and a  flashlight.
  • You use the term `over yonder’ more than once a month.

I’m a Sinner

But unlike a lot of people in this world (and in a world of their own), I can also admit I’m a sinner. The only difference is that once I confessed my inability to change my nature, I traded my “filthy rags” for the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). Now, I’m still a sinner, but I’m am a saved sinner.

So, based on the actions of Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis, I took a cue from Jeff Foxworthy and came up with my own list of “you might be’s.” From that list I preached a message entitled “You Might Be a Sinner If…

You might be a sinner if…

  •   You have ever talked to a Serpent – and taken its advice (v. 2).
  •   You know the difference between “Naked” and “Necked” (v. 7). Side Note: If you consider fig leaves appropriate attire, you might be a sinner.
  •  You feel like running when the law shows up (v. 8).
  •  God is searching for you, and not the other way around (v. 9).
  •  You feel self-conscious or defensive about anything you’ve ever done (v. 9-10).
  •  You ever play the “blame game” – Others, “The devil made me do it” (v. 11-13).
  •  You were born (Romans 5:12).

Change of Status

Some people try on their own to change their status in life. Sometimes rednecks move away from Redneckville in order to become a different person. But what they find out is that Redneckville never left their heart. They still have those same desires to grill Spam and fish with dynamite.

In the same way, many people think, once they finally realize they are sinners, that change can come with a simple change of atmosphere, or the turning over of a new fig leaf.

The fact is that sinners don’t become “saints” on their own. It takes outside intervention.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

If you really want to change, only Jesus can do it.

If you ask, He may even give you a hankerin for grits 😉

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