Tag Archives: Jesus

We Preach Jesus! (Revival In Africa – and Needed in Georgia)

The following post is not new, but one from a year or so ago, maybe longer. But here are the basics…

  1. It’s been around 5 years since I went to Africa (August, 2016) and I’ve still not gotten over it.
  2. I was supposed to go to Jamaica this time last year, but then you-know-what happened. Nobody went anywhere.
  3. We are now praying for revival. The Church of God, the Body of Christ, but particularly we Southern Baptists here in Georgia, need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, a move of God among our congregations!
  4. Sometimes we need to go to other places, like Zimbabwe or Pakistan, to be reminded how big our God is and how powerfully He wants to work in our lives if we’d just let Him.
  5. Having a fired-up preacher serve as your interpreter can rock your world! And shake the Devil’s!!

So, the following post is about my trip to Zimbabwe, but the best part is the audio of the final sermon preached. I am amazed that the Lord could even use someone like me, especially back then when I (capitalized) was the one in need of revival (that’s really why I went on this trip in the first place). But if you want a real blessing, scroll down and click on the link to the sermon.

Be sure to listen to the sermon at the end!


Revival

It has been [five] years since I went to Zimbabwe. I went there to preach in a series of revival services in two different Baptist churches, both of which were started along with several others by Chinhoyi Baptist in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. Of course, preaching wasn’t all I did; I went with different pastors into various villages, visiting and praying with Christians, evangelizing those who’d never heard the gospel.

The other reason I went to Zimbabwe was to get revived myself. I needed this trip! And, praise be to God, it was life-changing!

Here are some photos from different services.

People starting to show up for church. River of Life met in a tent in a member's front yard.

People starting to show up for church. River of Life met in a tent in a member’s front yard.

image

Worshiping Sunday morning at Dolomite Baptist.

Worshiping Sunday morning at Dolomite Baptist.

Lively and energetic African worship at Chinhoyi Baptist.

Lively and energetic African worship at Chinhoyi Baptist.

Being introduced at Chinhoyi Baptist.

Being introduced at Chinhoyi Baptist.

The Final Service

The final service in which I preached was at Chinhoyi Baptist Church. It was a celebratory farewell service where all of the churches which had hosted our team of three (Dr. Eddy Rushing, Marshall Kellett, and myself) came together as one. And man, was it a service!

The honor was mine to be selected to preach the final service, and what an honor it was. Dr. Rushing and Bro. Kellett were responsible for personally leading scores of people to Christ during this trip, so who was I to be the one to preach? Nevertheless, they asked me, and I jumped at it!

The beginning of the service was full of extremely lively music and dancing – not something the average Baptist in America is used to 😉 When all of that was over, the music shifted to hymns. Dr. Rushing and Bro. Kellett both gave stirring testimonies before the final hymn “Higher Ground” (sung in the native language of Shona) set the tone for the sermon to follow.

Oh, Rev. Luckmann Chiasaru was my interpreter for this service, and man was he good! He even sang with me! Awesome!

Chinhoyi Baptist Church in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. This congregation hopes to plant a total of 50 new churches in 10 years. They're well on their way!

Chinhoyi Baptist Church in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. This congregation hopes to plant a total of 50 new churches in 10 years. They’re well on their way!

The following was recorded on an iPhone 6s, then edited on Audacity. I wish it could have been a better recording, but it was all I had. I pray it is a blessing 🙂

CLICK HERE for link to the audio of “We Preach Jesus!”

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Filed under baptist, Countries, Preaching, worship

A Response, or Not a Response: That Is the Question

Not long ago I was involved in a back-and-forth comment thread with a subscriber named Stephen. Maybe you’ve read the comments. If not, they are still there and available for your viewing.

At one point I decided to end the back-and-forth commenting and commit to a post in which I would address the plethora of accusations and mischaracterizations Stephen was making. I even backed off from writing a great deal in order to focus on this piece. To be specific, 2 weeks ago I wrote:

“… I am going to take very seriously my responses to your questions, including your – let’s be honest – angry and mean-spirited attacks on my character and intelligence. Also, in order to achieve maximum transparency and allow for others to judge our arguments against the Word of God (our only source of authority), I will be copying and pasting the most pertinent of your previous remarks into a series of new blog posts.”

However, after reviewing eleven (11) pages of comments, and after being advised by several friends and relatives to stand down, I think it wise to keep my response “limited.”

The reason for keeping things confined to maybe just one blog post is that spreading out the discussion would risk the potential of getting off track. It would also potentially fuel a long-running debate that would prove worthless.

The Sermon

On Sunday morning, January 10, 2021, I preached a sermon from the seventh chapter of Matthew. Jesus said in the 24th verse: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” Note, the wise man whose house will stand through the strongest storm is one who not only hears the words of Jesus, but does them.

And what were the “sayings” to which Jesus was referring? They go all the way back to Matthew 7:1. From verses 1-21 there are seven (7) main points, the “sayings” of Jesus. You can find them in verses 1,5,6,7,13,15, and 21.

However, it was verse 6 that the Holy Spirit used to speak to my heart (and other social media users in the congregation). It was also this verse that was often quoted by those advising me to stand down:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. – Matthew 7:6 KJV

Now, before anyone – including Stephen – gets offended, I am NOT calling anyone a dog or pig! Neither was Jesus.

The meaning of this verse has to do with giving things of great value to those who by nature will see no use for them and in turn, instead of thanking you, will continue with their attacks.

You see, swine cannot deduce the value of a shiny, costly, and rare pearl; all they see is something to munch on like a nut. It is not in their nature to appreciate rarity and beauty. Likewise, the one who is hostile to the Word of God, who refers to it as a “dead book” written by “fallible and evil men” is hardly going to appreciate any explanation he’s already deemed valueless and tasteless.

Therefore, I’m torn. Do I respond or not? Do I defend the Bible, the organized Church, pastors, paid ministers, even myself? Do I respond to Stephen’s over-generalized accusations?

Another question: Will it matter? When it is unlikely that Stephen will (if he’s still reading at this point) take the time to respond in a calm, respectful, rational, non-hateful, non-smart alec, humble way, what’s the point of investing hours of my valuable time into writing the likes of multiple research papers?

If the 11 pages of comments tell us anything, Stephen’s likely response will be to belittle my hard work and say as many atheists do when offered evidence of Intelligent Design: “That’s not evidence.”

It’s a tough, tough decision to make.

Who Is Stephen?

So, who is this Stephen person? Why take all this time to address his comments? What makes his arguments and accusations worthy of rebuttal? Why not simply say “whatever” and ignore or block him? After all, I normally block comments from people who are so disrespectful that they call me a “POS.”

I guess it’s because I know that others are reading the comments, too. I know that there are those who will never write anything but read what we write when we go back and forth. I know this because several have told me through email and in person.

It’s also a fact that Stephen is a real human being with real emotions, feelings, and a soul. Stephen also lives in a world where his actions and beliefs will ultimately affect others and possibly generations to come. And it would also be good to remember that Stephen is not alone in his beliefs; there are many, many others who think and feel the way he does.

Where there is one Stephen, there are others. Therefore, by taking the time to rebut false assumptions and dangerous theologies, we may or may not be able to affect a change in Stephen, but others may come to know the Truth.

My Observations

I guess it would be good at this point to offer some observations that I’ve made as I have reviewed Stephen’s comments from last year. Since you may have not read them all, the following summary will give you a better understanding of the tone and substance of Stephen’s comments, along with a better understanding as to why I feel addressing all his arguments might be fruitless.

Again, the following bullet points contain Stephen’s actual comments and are contextually accurate. In no way have I cut and pasted his words in order to frame him in a negative light. His comments can speak for themselves.

  • Derogatory Ad Hominem Attacks are Common – I counted at least 22 personal swipes at my character or the character of others who joined conversations. With only assumptions and obvious bias as his foundation, Stephen was quick to use the following derogatory descriptors, to mention a few…
    • Hireling
    • “…the honest [pastors] have left the world of religion.”
    • legitimate” pastors don’t “carry the labels, nor were they employed in religion.”
    • “The cognitive dissonance required to sit through a sermon and not puke is astronomical. But then as we all know, the psychopath target the weak.
      Perhaps your time would be better spent pontificating to your flock Mel. I don’t have much patience for manipulators.”
    • “…you chauvinistic POS.”
    • “…2 bit evangelical religious leaders such as yourself.”
    • “A couple of 2 bit religious business owners about their own agenda is what the both of you are.”
    • “As for your religious business, Baptists are no different than any other denomination or non denomination, it’s all a business, whether you manage it or own it, it’s all witchcraft.”
    • “…why don’t you mind your own family instead of perpetuating religious business that abuses children and those who are weak minded?”
  • Does Not Believe the Bible is the Inerrant, Inspired Word of God
    • “…not bound to a book…”
    • “My authority is Jesus Christ, not a dead book.”
    • “I do like the bible as it contains many truths and reliable testimonies.”
    • “As for Where to fine Jesus” words, they’re everywhere but mostly I find them within.”
    • “I know you disagree all those who belive the infallible, final authority or the word of God must. Their whole faith lies in their belief in the bible. Almost as if, God ceases to exist if the bible has errors.”
    • “The Jesus of the bible can be many different images to many different people and yet you seem to think a unique revelation is wrong?”
    • “…but God is not confined to a book written and compiled by man.”
    • “God has not stopped revealing Himself to men, He doesn’t need a bible to reveal Himself.”
    • “The bible is subjective…”
  • Stephen has a strong dislike for Pastors and Preaching.
    • “I’ve had my fill of men who claim to have the truth.”
    • “God’s people are everywhere, there’s absolutely no need to pay or put up with pontificating just to hang out with them.”
    • “Instead of preaching about ‘leading by example,’ it’s time to start doing it.”
    • “You must assume your position … [use] a couple of bible verses to justify your authority and put me into submission … You must maintain dominance so as to not look weak before your flock.”
    • “Jesus never spoke of giving pastors or to His people.”
    • “Any religious leader would have a hard time justifying their position without Paul’s writings so I understand your desire to bind people to the bible.”
    • “The standards you perceive from the bible are for you, they’re not meant to be legislated and forced onto other, especially if they don’t affect you.”
    • “And there’s no way preaching the Gospel should be a paid position. Jesus is the model of what the Church should be, not Paul.”
  • Stephen has a strong dislike for organized religion.
    • “There is absolutely no difference between the world and those who attend and adhere to organized religion.”
    • “I’ve tasted the paint religion paints with, and will not be painted with that brush. So I’ll continue to paint with my broad brush.”
    • “Though most of my mentors never spoke His name or had any part in religion, they lived Christ.”
    • “…I don’t do religion.”
    • “No bibles, no church, just faith in God.”
    • “As for the church model you justify, this model is found no where in the bible.”
    • “…I’m not a believer that acts is the model for the Church. The Church are those who belong to Christ. We are a living organism and not an organization.”
  • Stephen has made some potentially dangerous ontological and theological statements about Jesus.
    • “When we stand before Jesus Christ, we will then know the Truth.”
    • “I don’t profess Jesus as the only way to God, people can figure that out for themselves. I profess Jesus IS God.”
    • “My authority is in Jesus Christ, not a dead book.”
    • “…Jesus Chris revealed Himself to me and taught me that in fact, my conscience was Him speaking to me.”
    • “After reading the bible 5 times cover to cover, I still wasn’t sure who Jesus was, but He had mercy on me and revealed to me, the scriptures are accurate in their testimony of who He IS. Much like Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal it to me, but my Father in Heaven.”
    • “The Jesus of the bible can be many different images to many different people and yet you seem to think a unique revelation is wrong?”
    • “I don’t recall Christ condemning either the woman caught in adultery or the woman at the well. Nor did He defy from doing what they were doing.”
    • “I hope I’ve made my profession for Jesus Christ alone loud and clear as I learned this from Jesus Christ Himself. This Truth was learned by many and some recorded it. And some of those testimonies were compiled and put in a book that we now call the bible. Fallible men to who’m God revealed Himself to. Go has not stopped revealing Himself to men, He doesn’t need a bible to reveal Himself.”

So, what do I do?

Does Stephen sound like a guy who’s going to respond with grace to someone who gets paid to preach and pastor a church which is linked to an organized religious organization?

If Stephen doesn’t care for the writings of Paul, what good is it to discuss the revelations Jesus made to him as described in the book of Acts and elsewhere in Paul’s letters?

If God has not stopped revealing Himself to men, and if the Bible (I capitalize it because it is a proper noun) is just a compilation of individual and subjective experiences, then to what Authority do I appeal?

If Stephen has already determined that all pastors aside from the “Good Pastor” are hirelings, manipulators, abusers, controllers, practicians of “witchcraft,” and “POS,” what makes me think anything I say, especially if I appeal to a “dead book” written by “fallible and evil men,” will have any affect? Will I only be casting my pearls before someone who cannot appreciate the value?

Personally, I don’t think anything thing I write, whether it be based solidly on the words of Jesus or not, would have any effect on Stephen. After re-reading his comments, it’s hard to imagine he will ever yield the possibility that anything I say could be correct.

HOWEVER, if you would like for me to offer a reasoned response to any of Stephen’s accusations or assumptions, please let me know in the comment section.

In Conclusion

I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t leave you (and Stephen) with something positive. I’ve talked a lot about Stephen and his beliefs but let me close with a few things I believe.

  • There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ (“I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me” – John 14:6).
  • I believe that Jesus was and is 100% man and 100% God (hypostatic union).
  • The Bible is our sole source of authority regarding faith and practice, and especially when it comes to understanding who God is.
  • The Bible is not a “dead book,” but “…[is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 KJV
  • Scripture is not subjective and open to individual interpretation (Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. – 2 Peter 1:20 KJV).
  • There must be a point in one’s life when he goes from death to life, from lost to found, from dead to alive, from estranged to reconciled, from being a foreigner to a member of the Family, from being born in the flesh to being born again, from being the enemy of God to being called His friend. In order to be “saved,” there must be a time in one’s life when he recognizes his need of a Savior.
  • Pastors are gifts to the Church (Ephesians 4:11) and are allowed to be paid for their work (1 Timothy 5:18).

Anything specific I missed? Anything specific you’d like me to address?

If not, I guess I’m done with this project.

Stephen, I do pray that you will grow in a sincere and biblical relationship with Jesus Christ and grow deeper in your understanding and appreciation for the Bible, for it was Jesus Himself who said: “‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?‘ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 24:25-27

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Filed under Bible, Bible Study, Church, God

My Last Post of 2020

Glad it’s over, but at least I’m better prepared for the next catastrophe. Amen?

Thank you, everyone. All of you who have read any of my posts, all of you are appreciated, even Stephen in Canada 😉

Tonight, at 6pm our time, we are going to be having a New Year’s Eve service. It won’t be a long one, nor will it be a traditional-like service. All I plan to do is read a verse or two from the Bible and ask if anyone would like to share a word or two about the past year. Then, as Jesus and his disciples did right before He was taken to be tried, we will have our version of the Passover meal: the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus said of the Passover meal, and by extension the celebration of that last supper we observe today, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul said that as often as we partake in the communion meal, we “proclaim His death” until He returns. I want to offer it tonight for both those reasons.

Remember Jesus. If that is one thing we probably did not do enough of is think of Jesus during the last year. On the other hand, it is very possible that many people who never thought about God at all had their minds on things eternal. Did we as Christians take advantage of that opportunity? Did we think about life and death as much as those who were without hope?

I can’t help but think that the Church has been given a rare opportunity, at least a once-in-a-lifetime chance to offer Christ during a time of great uncertainty and questioning. For most of the past year we have seen something comparative to the Ethiopian reading a scroll he barely understood and we as Phillip being sent to answer his questions. How many of us have even considered the answers?

Proclaim His death until He comes. The second thing about communion is that by partaking in it we show that we have put our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We believe that His blood was shed and His body was broken on our behalf, and that Jesus was buried only to rise again. And we believe, as He promised to rise again, He also promised to return. Therefore, we partake with a grateful and expectant heart as we proclaim to the watching world where our faith lies.


Before I go, I want to clue you in to the subject matter of my next substantive post. As some of you may have read, a man named Stephen has been leaving some pretty harsh and antagonistic comments here on the blog. I have honestly come close a time or two to blocking him. However, I’ve not been able to do that.

So, in a previous comment to Stephen, I said that I would like to take his accusations and false charges and answer them one-by-one. Unfortunately, a lot has happened over the last couple of months and I forgot to do so. However, I am in the process of compiling ALL Stephens comments going back to January of this year. From these comments I am going to pull specific issues and questions that I will attempt to address. Please pray that the Lord will use the material I post to open the eyes of blind and allow the hard-of-hearing to hear His voice.


May the joy of the Lord be your strength in 2021.

Put Jesus first in all you do.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Church, current events, Future, God

The Shepherds and the Sign

The following is a sermon.

Literally, I wrote out my entire sermon in preparation for a service in which I would be preaching to a congregation in Pakistan. I had to preach my first Sunday morning message at 1 a.m.! My interpreter said it would be easier to translate for me if I had my sermon, or at least my outline, printed out.

However, once I started preaching, it became obvious that what I wrote was both too much in length and too much in detail for a translator. Especially doing it over Facebook Live with a lag in the signal.

So, what I wanted to do was post the originally written sermon so that you, when you have the time, can read through it and be blessed this Christmas season.

We will be looking at Luke 2:8-20.

  1. The Typical Shepherd Story
    • There were poor shepherds watching their flocks at night when suddenly, without any warning, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them… looking like a young child dressed in a white sheet with a shiny belt, wings, and a halo.
    • The angel gave these poor, unwanted, unloved, outcasts – because people thought of shepherds as the lowest of society, except for those with disease or Gentiles – the announcement of the birth of the Savior of the world.
    • Then they were told to go to Bethlehem and knock on doors, ask all the people “have you seen a special baby anywhere? He’s supposed to be wrapped in swaddling cloth,” and look wherever they could until they found a baby in a manger.
    • When they did find him (and, of course, they brought sheep with them), they worshipped Him. …along with the Wise men. Except the wise men didn’t show up for at least another 2 years.

  2. The Non-Typical Story
    • Unlike what most people assume, it is very likely that the shepherds watching over their sheep at night were not normal shepherds, but Temple shepherds, priestly shepherds, Levitical shepherds.
    • Unlike what most people assume, these were not unlearned men, but men who had been taught in the Law of Moses and were very aware of the requirements for sacrificial lambs.
    • Unlike normal shepherds and normal sheep, these shepherds and these sheep were special. These sheep were meant to be sold to Jews who didn’t have their own spotless lambs for a sin sacrifice. These sheep were very, very valuable and had to be watched day and night. They were considered “the royal stock of David” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon). They were even guarded and watched over from towers made of stone.
    • Unlike what most people assume, it is very likely the sheep these shepherds watched over were the ones who would be born in special birthing rooms, almost like a baby sheep maternity ward, that were clean and stocked with all the things required to aid in the birth of the lamb and to protect it from being hurt as it took its first steps.
    • Unlike what most people think, these shepherds would have been looking forward to the angel’s appearance. No, they may not have thought it would be an angel and the heavenly host, but they would most likely be aware of the prophecy found in Micah 4:8. It reads: And thou, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
      • What is so special about this prophecy? To begin, the “tower of the flock” is migdal `eder in the Hebrew language.
      • Migdal-`Eder is the name of a small village near Bethlehem (See Genesis 35:21) and hence associated with Bethlehem itself.
      • Therefore, these special shepherds watching over very special sheep must have dreamed, they must have hoped, that they would live to hear that announcement. However, I am sure they still would have been shocked and terrified by the angel of the Lord.
      • In case you miss it, the Bible says the shepherds were “sore afraid,” which means they were absolutely terrified beyond words! This was no child in a white robe; it was an angel who had come directly from the presence of God! His brightness would have been indescribable and unbearable. Also, angels are fearful beings, warriors, like the one who killed 185,000 Assyrians in ONE NIGHT!
    • Unlike what most people think, these shepherds knew exactly where to go find this baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, and in all likelihood, it wasn’t a dirty stable in someone’s basement or a dark and dreary cave. IT WAS BACK AT Migdal-`Eder!!
    • Notice, the first verse in our text reads, “And there were in the SAME COUNTRY shepherds abiding in the field…” The words translated as “the same country” mean in the general area, in the outer expanse around an area. In other words, the shepherds were out in the wide-open area around the protective towers called Migdal-`Eder.
    • The shepherds did not need to follow the star, nor ask directions; they said, “Let us now go unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass…” They knew exactly where to go and what to look for, and they went back to the birthing room where sacrificial lambs were born and wrapped – the Tower of the Flock!

  3. The Sign
    • When Luke says that the shepherds went to Bethlehem to “see this thing,” what did they go to see? The “sign.” The angel said, “This shall be a sign unto you, You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
    • Stop and think about what is happening here.
      • You have priestly shepherds, those who are very familiar with the sacrificial system and how a spotless lamb must be used for a sin offering.
      • Next, you have shepherds who have been expecting, generation after generation, hundreds of years, the announcement of the coming of their Messiah, the Son of David, the Lamb of God.
      • Then you have a message from an angel that the Savior of the world has come. How could they know it’s true? What would be the evidence that this babe born in Bethlehem was worthy to bring joy to the entire world? The evidence would be the “sign,” and that was:
        • You’d find the babe – which is the first confirmation that the word from the angel could be trusted.
        • The babe would be wrapped in swaddling cloth. It’s one thing to wrap up a newborn, but a specific kind of cloth strips (some say were made from the used garments of the priests) would have been very unusual.
        • Then, the babe would be lying in a manger (In the exact place you would expect the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world to be born – Migdal Edar!)
          • Languages are funny things. Sometimes I have to speak through an interpreter so that I can be understood. And sometimes the words in one language are very hard to translate into another language.
          • But the word the angel of the Lord used to tell of Jesus “lying” in the bed was critically important. And it was not an accident, nor was it a coincidence, the WAY the word used.
          • The word we translate as “lying” in English is the Greek word keimenon. But what makes this word so special is the case it is in. To be specific (and I know this may sound complicated – and it can be) this one word, a verb, “lying,” is in Present Middle or Passive Deponent Participle – Accusative Singular Neuter. Are you totally confused? Are you wondering what’s so exciting?
          • What I am going to tell you next should make you want to truly shout with Joy! That’s what the angel said, correct? Joy to the world, correct? A Savior is born, correct? This shall be a sign, correct?

            The accusative case refers to the case used for a noun or pronoun that is a direct object. In this case, Jesus – the babe – is the noun or the subject of the action in this verb.

            The Middle voice, however, is what’s so exciting. We don’t have a part of speech like this in the English language. That’s why it’s so hard to understand the full impact of the angel’s message. But what the Middle voice tells us is that the object… and who is that? Jesus, the babe… is the one lying in the manger, but … and here is the part you’ve been waiting for… in this case the object or subject of the verb is the one performing the action! Did you understand what I just said?

            What does Isaiah 7:14 say? It says, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

            What did the angel Gabriel say to Joseph in Matthew 1:21-23? And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

            Dear Church, what the shepherds found in the Tower of the Flock, Migdal Edar, there in the birthing stall where sacrificial sheep were born and wrapped so they would not be marred so that they could be sacrificed as a sin offering, was a baby – Jesus – who wasn’t just a baby placed in a manger by his mother, but GOD WITH US! EMMANUEL!

            HE was the “subject performing the action!”

            HE was responsible for being in the manger!

            HE was responsible for being wrapped in swaddling clothes!

            HE – Jesus Christ – God in flesh – God with us – Emmanuel – “…thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant – the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 – and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

  4. The Shepherd’s Joy, Joy to the World!

    My dear brothers and sisters, it doesn’t matter if we live in America or England, India or Pakistan, Israel or Egypt, Russia or China… the TRUE meaning of Christmas is still the same – the Savior of the world has come!

    The shepherds had a sad job. They were responsible for raising precious, beautiful little lambs, making sure they were healthy. They protected those sheep with their very lives! They devoted their whole lives to the care and nurturing of those helpless, harmless lambs – all so they could be slaughtered, so their blood could be a temporary measure of forgiveness. How heartbreaking! How sad!

    Don’t you know that somewhere in the shepherd’s heart he longed for the day when the reality of what the sacrifice of lambs symbolized would finally take place? Did he ever think, “One day we will not have to do this ever again”?

    Well, over 2,000 years ago, in the little town of Bethlehem, or maybe just outside the town in a stone tower, the Promise of the ages was fulfilled! God took on humanity and dwelt among us! And where the shepherds found Him was the sign…and HOW the shepherds found Him was the sign…and when they saw it – when they met Him – they were never the same!

    Luke says that they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen…” And, oh, they had a lot to praise God for, don’t you think? How privileged they were to be the ones who got to hear the announcement that finally came! How thrilled they must have been to see the angel of the Lord and the heavenly host! No church choir would ever compare to that, I’m sure! But most of all, they got to see Jesus, God in flesh, the Great I Am, Messiah, the Savior of the world.

    And don’t miss that last little part of Luke 2:20…”as it was told unto them.”

    Aren’t you glad the promises of God and His Word are true? If so, you can rejoice! You can glorify God! You can praise Him for all the things that you have heard and seen! And you can tell others what Christmas means to you. You celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, the Savior of your soul, and that God’s Word is true!

    And may this Christmas remind you that if the promise of the coming of the Messiah was true, then the promise of the coming again of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is also true. We may not have been able to see him with our own eyes in a manger, walking the shores of Galilee, feeding the 5,000, dying on the cruel cross, or after He rose from the grave and ate with the disciples. Today we rejoice in faith! We glorify God for the Spirit in our lives! We praise Him for saving us from our sin and delivering us from death unto life!

    But one day, maybe soon, we will hear a trumpet, be changed, and see Him face-to-face as He is! That is worth telling people about! But should that glorious day not come in our lifetimes, we still have this promise that to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord! Amen? Hallelujah!

Remember the shepherds this Christmas, and give God the glory, for great things he has done!

Amen.



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Filed under Apologetics, Bible Study, Christmas

Freezing, Faith, and the Future

I’m Freezing

Let me start by saying that I don’t know what the temperature is at this moment, but I am freezing! I’m sitting in a cold, metal chair as a cool/cold and damp wind cuts straight to my bones.

As you can see in the above picture, I’m here in the courthouse square at the farmer’s market in Sandersville, GA. I’ve been coming here most Saturdays for the last couple of months. But, unlike all the other days, this one is cold.

It’s sorta funny, though. I’ve been in colder weather, for sure. The temperature, here, isn’t exactly cold enough to freeze the moisture in your breath. However, I FEEL the cold, and it’s making me feel sickly.

Fortunately, I have a Stanley thermos full of hot coffee. That should at least keep the big dogs with the brandy around their necks away. . . for now.

Faith

One may wonder why I come out here every week, especially when I rarely sell any of my artwork. Well, first of all, this isn’t the best time to be doing what I’m doing; the crowds go way, way down when there are no vegetables for sale. But, secondly, it really is more about meeting people than selling paintings (although selling some art would certainly help).

Just this morning I was blessed by a man named Roscoe. Roscoe and his two granddaughters stopped by my table to admire my work, then he began to talk about Jesus. It literally took him no more than 2 minutes to move the conversation into praises to God for his goodness!

I don’t know if I will sell anything today, but I’m still hoping. Nevertheless, I have faith that God will use me to bless someone – or maybe it was meant for me to get the blessing.

The Future

I think that my immediate future will include a break from the cold as I sit in my car for a few minutes. There are other people around me, so if anyone wants to buy anything, the other folk will tell them where I am – I hope.

It would be nice to become a world-famous artist, but that’s really up to the Lord. My main goal is to bring glory to God through my art (since He gave me the talent) and make Jesus even more well known.

If uplifting the name of Jesus Christ is my goal, my future looks bright 🙂

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Filed under art, Christianity, Jesus, Witnessing

Meeting Jesus Changed My Life More than Meeting Bill “Superfoot” Wallace

When I Met “Superfoot”

I think it was in 1984, or maybe it was in ’83 or ’85, but somewhere along that timeframe I went to and competed in the Battle of Atlanta (a major Karate tournament). While there, I had the memorable experience of meeting the undefeated middleweight champion the world in full-contact kickboxing (PKA), Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.

If you are unaware of Bill Wallace, he was the kind of fighter that deserved respect, even from the great Chuck Norris. As a matter of fact, it was Bill Wallace who was tapped to be Norris’ enemy in the 1979 movie “A Force of One.”

Here is Wallace with a young Jackie Chan in the 1985 film “The Protector.”

Now, movies are one thing, but real fighting is something else. As some of you may know, Chuck Norris was a great fighter, but he never competed in full-contact professional matches. Yes, he was the 7x World Champion, but that was in “point” fighting. Jackie Chan is a great martial artist, but not a true fighter. Bill Wallace went 23-0 with half of those wins being by knockouts.

Check out this next video. It is a more recent interview in which Wallace explains his unique fighting style.

So, Bill Wallace was somewhat of a hero of mine back in the day. For a short time I became as flexible as he was, but I never won any fights by knocking out my opponents. Heck, after I had a car wreck back in 1988 and inhaled the horn of my 1967 Mustang, I didn’t want to get punched in the face anymore. That’s when I gave it up.

And that’s when I no longer tried to emulate any of my martial arts heroes.

When I Met Jesus

But it was back in the 1970’s when I met Someone who would literally change my life forever. His name was Jesus.

Unlike the fading effect Bill Wallace had on me, Jesus has been affecting every part of my life ever since I gave my life to Him (I never gave my life to Mr. Wallace). What’s even more awesome is the fact that the longer I’ve known Jesus, the more and more I have become like Him!

Knowing Bill Wallace all these years might have made me a better fighter, but age and injuries would have eventually caught up with me, the end result being lots of conversations about the “glory days” and little opportunity to do any full splits or kick opponents.

But man, having met Jesus, then maintaining a relationship with Him, means that no matter what the future holds I will always be in tip-top shape; the tools of my fighting art will never dull; and there will always be opponents over which to gain victory!

Meeting Bill Wallace had an effect with a limited shelf life. It’s the same with so many other things. But meeting Jesus has – in the present tense – an unlimited and eternal shelf life! It’s better than honey!

Who’s your hero? Has your life been changed forever because of that meeting? If you’d like, I could introduce you to Jesus. He’d love to spend time with you!

If you have the time, here’s one more video you can watch. It’s from this past Sunday morning at Bethlehem Baptist Church where I am the Pastor. The title of the sermon is “Encountering the Living Word.”

https://fb.watch/1nYQM1cDQT/

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Filed under Christianity, Preaching, salvation

A Song That’ll Make You Shout

Just watch and listen.

If you’ve been more than a few steps with Jesus, you’ll understand.

Hallelujah!

Rhett Walker, I love ya, brother. Awesome song.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, Jesus, worship

Just Return; He’s Looking for You!

This afternoon I did a live video on Facebook.

I normally do one, a short “Encouragement Time,” every weekday around 2pm.

The subject of today’s video was that of the prodigal son in Luke 15.


You know, I’m not perfect. Are you? Do you ever do things you’re ashamed of?

Do you ever sin? I do. I know perfectly well what it’s like to wonder whether God even wants to hear you confess and repent. I mean, really, hasn’t He heard it all before?

But the story Jesus tells of the Prodigal is one that displays the wondrous love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of the Father. Yes, the story is really more about Him than the wayward, muddy, starving son.

When the young man reached his lowest point, there in a hog lot, starving and alone, he remembered the goodness of his father.

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.'” – Luke 15:17-19 CSB

Because he had already spent his inheritance (he thought), and since he had treated his own father like he was dead, there was no reason to expect a “Welcome home!” However, he knew his father’s slaves had it better than what he had – which was nothing and no one. He’d have to take his chances.

So, when the broken and filthy young man returns, the reception he receives is more than he could have ever hoped for. Already looking for him, the father spots his son on the horizon and runs to him! No doubt expecting the worst, the son falls on his face and attempts to make the case for indentured servitude. Maybe this would keep his father from killing him outright.

Humble, prostrate in the dirt, not even looking up to see the tears in his father’s eyes, he expects – or rather hopes for – the customary foot upon his neck, the accepted symbol of becoming a slave. But, instead…

…the feeling of a bristly beard upon his ear…

…an arm on his back…

…a rough palm cradling the other side of his head…

…and tear-drenched kisses?? Not the sole of a sandal? KISSES! Yes, kisses on his neck!

More joyful to receive his son back home than determined to reclaim his honor, the exuberant father drowns out the pitiful son’s pleas and cries out, “My son has come home!”

Instead of putting his foot on the boy’s neck, the father had humbled himself and descended to the place where his lowly child lay in the dirt. Instead of justice, He showed mercy.

And then Amazing Grace called out for a party!

God is the Father. You and I are the Prodigal. No matter how far we’ve drifted or run, He is still looking and waiting.

Let’s go home.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Family, God, grace, Love of God, Relationships and Family

What Having a Thought Looks Like

Last week, as I was studying for the upcoming Sunday morning sermon, I had a thought cross my mind, which led to me jotting it down on my desk calendar.

Before long, my “thought” became notes which would affect 6 days’ worth of my calendar and become the source of much discussion between several other pastor friends and myself.

Amused, I picked up my phone and took a picture, then posted it on Facebook. I commented, “This is what having a ‘thought’ looks like.”

So, with no editing or commentary, I’d like to share my “thoughts” with you. All I did was re-write them so that they could be read in this format.

One doesn’t have to have a sin nature to sin. Angels sinned without a sin nature. Adam sinned. But, since Adam, all have sinned (Romans 5:19), whether innocent or not, for their very nature – the sin nature – is not holy as God is.

The true predicament: Are you as holy as God? No, of course not! Then that is sin! The sheer fact that we are anything less than holy defies the holy law of God which is a reflection of His nature.

The Law is not arbitrary, but in conformity with the nature of God. Therefore, no amount of keeping of the Law, even if possible, would make us holy. Only God could keep the law of His own Character, and only God could live holy and without sin, for it is His nature and only His to live consistently holy.

Therefore, no amount of law-keeping could change one’s nature, thereby making him holy, much less to become holy by keeping the law that denotes past imperfection… unholy to holy. This, again, is contrary to the nature of God which would be contrary to His Law. We have no hope! We need a Savior!

Did Adam have a sin nature that led him to sin? Or, did he willfully sin without a sin nature?

Men might be born innocent, but they are not born holy. One could then be at one moment innocent for never having willfully committed a crime, but because he is not holy, and must become holy, he is in contradiction to God’s nature (the Law within Himself) and is, therefore, a law-breaker – a sinner.

One thing is for sure – We need a Saviour! Amen?

Feel free to add YOUR thoughts below.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, salvation, Theology

The Ministry In Thessalonica

Tonight I went into full teaching mode with attitude!

Wow! I just LOVE Acts, and chapter 17 is one of my favorites.

Get a glimpse inside my Sunday nights as you watch this Facebook live edition of me preaching/teaching through Acts 17:1-9.

www.facebook.com/bethlehembaptistwarthen/videos/2893988174156335/

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Filed under baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Church, Jesus, ministry, Preaching, Uncategorized