Thursday, September 30, 2010

Won to Worship

Choir at Fellowship ~ Praise God for the wonderful worship in song that we are able to enjoy each week!

Thought for the Day
Psalms 22:27-28 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. (28) For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations.

Our commission as a church is to share the good news of Christ with all the world. Although one of our great motivations for doing this is that others may receive the forgiveness and eternal acceptance that comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ, I believe our greatest motivation should be that Christ may receive their worship! We are told that when people turn to the LORD the result is worship. This is the rightful place that Christ deserves in the hearts and lives of men and women. He is the governor -- leader and ruler among the nations.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ludicrous Love

Photo: Enjoying Friday night football game at Strawberry Crest H.S. last week with family. C.J. and Julianna pictured here.

Thought for the Day
John 21:15-19 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (16) He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (18) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst (dressed) thyself, and walkedst where thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee where thou wouldest not. (19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

What kind of love would cause someone to spend the rest of his life running in the fields chasing grungy sheep? What kind of love would cause one to yield the most basic liberty of choosing the clothing that he would want to wear for the day? What kind of love would nudge someone to accept the most extreme sacrifice of allowing another to tie him up and carry him to his martyrdom?

Jesus laid out before Peter what would seem to a careless observer a most bleak and pathetic future life, and then put the option of accepting it before Him with the command to "follow" Him. In other words, "Here it is Peter, this is what following me will mean to you--sacrifice, hardship, difficulty, obscurity; and by the way, ultimately it will cost you your very life. Now do you want to do it? If so, follow me!"

This kind of love is ludicrous. It is beyond reasonable comprehension. It is absurd! But to a soul who has caught a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, it is simply "reasonable." This is the love that causes individuals every day to sacrifice their finances, time, and labor to further God's kingdom on this earth. It just makes sense when you come to fully accept the undeniable truth that any life that we have is only ours because it was given to us by our God, and one day we will stand before Him and give account of our use of that life.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soon and Very Soon

Beautiful song from a week or so ago at Fellowship. This is when it is all going to matter. When we see Him!

Sung by Vicki McMorrow

Gathering as One

What a magnificent time we experienced together yesterday at Fellowship Baptist Church in Thonotosassa. Our worship service was full (522 in attendance) and so was our hearts. The fellowship, music, guests, and hearing the Word all came together to bring us corporately into the presence of God. Praise Him for the one who was saved as well!

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 8:1, 6
(1) And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
(6) And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

To me there is nothing more powerful than gathering with a group of believers around God's Word to worship Him. The people "gathered themselves as one man". This shows the voluntary unity that is required for corporate worship to take place. It can not be coerced or manipulated, it must come from the heart. Beyond the voluntary unity, we see the collective desire to hear God's Word. There was no "force feeding" here; it was pure desire to hear what their God had to say to them. Finally there was humble worship. Their cups became so full that they poured them out in adoration to their God. Oh that this would be our normal experience as we gather each week as a church body to worship "the great God."

often we do not receive a blessing from our corporate worship because we do not prepare ourselves in advance.
Pray each day this week for the coming Lord's day at your church. Ask God to prepare your own heart to receive from Him and to be a blessing to Him and to those who will be present.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Stranger Who Moved In

“Today we have, in a sense, the transmission of sight for the first time in the world’s history. Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance in a new respect, and in a manner hitherto unknown.” -Herbert Hoover, 1927

Thought for the Day

2 Peter 2:8
(8) (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

I was sent this recently...

Years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger... he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet.
(I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them.
Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home - not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing..

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name???

We just call him "TV." I really fear what his grandkids will be like.

He has a wife now...we call her "Computer."
Their first child is "Cell Phone."
Second child "I Pod."


I know this may seem over the top by some and a bit more preachy than my typical blogs, but it hits home with me. I have long felt that the TV or mass media has been the single greatest human factor to the decay of our civilization. Immediately after I was saved, someone stole my TV and for 10 years I did not have one, nearly my entire 20's. That is the decade I really learned the Bible and God molded my life into a servant for Him. I wonder where I would be today if I had owned a TV for that decade??? I'm just saying that I am sure my focus would not have been there as it was.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wisdom You Can Count On

I am enjoying teaching our Wednesday night verse by verse series in 1 Corinthians.

Thought for the Day
1 Corinthians 2:6-7
(6) Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect (mature, growing): yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought (nothing):
(7) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

It is such an encouragement to know that I have in my Bible the wisdom of God that is so far superior to anything that man can come up with on his own. The wisdom of man always comes to an end. Todays breakthrough is always in need of tomorrow's correction or update.. Whether it be books, technology, sports strategies, or even relationship advice, eventually man's wisdom will be found lacking. The wisdom of God is not so. It has been around from before the world and is still going strong today and will do so into eternity. I am so thankful that the truth that brought me into a personal relationship with God 27 years ago is still the truth today! There is no need for revision, update, or clarification: Christ died for my sins according to the scriptures!

Reaffirm your faith in God's Word today. If you are searching for answers to issues in life, look no further than the pages of the Bible. All other advice will eventually run out of gas, God's Word is forever!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Judged of No Man

Photo: Julianna is playing middle school volleyball at Seffner.

Thought for the Day
1 Corinthians 2:15
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

So many times as followers of Jesus Christ our actions and even motives can be called into question. It is frustrating and often painful to be "mis" judged by others. But when we are walking in the Spirit and seeking to be led by God, we have His promise of "divine discernment". Spiritual decisions may be called into question, but that is only because others may not have the spiritual insight needed to properly "judge." We must always remember, "If we please the Lord, it does not matter whom we displease."

If you are facing unfair judgment, continue to yield your heart and motives to the Lord. One of the hardest lessons in life to learn is to allow the Lord to be your judge. Often it is the struggle we face that proves the potential of our actions.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Preparing To Worship

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 7:1-2
(1) Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,
(2) That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.

The whole point of rebuilding the walls was that the Jews could worship their God in the city of Jerusalem in safety.

Preparing for Worship involves...
  1. Guarding the Perimeter of Your Life
  2. Reserving the Inner Circles of Your Life for Godly People
  3. Becoming An Example of Faithfulness to Others

Worship is the main focus of our lives as believers in Christ. An absence of any of the above from my life will hinder my ability to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Lord, help me today to worship You in purity, out of a true heart.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

His Thoughts To Us

Photo: My niece Jessica was engaged to Sean Northrop this week.

Thought for the Day

Nehemiah 5:19
Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.

Here we see Nehemiah, ever the prayer warrior, calling out to God for consideration and comfort. In Psalm 139:17-18, the psalmist said, How precious also are thy thoughts to me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand...

With all the frustration going on in Nehemiah's life, the attacks of his enemies, the discouragement of the people he was trying to lead, and the selfishness of the rulers around him; he turned to the Lord for understanding and comfort. In other words, he was saying, You know my heart Lord; You know why I am doing this; keep me in your thoughts, Lord! Have you reminded God to "think about you" lately? It is not that He needs a reminder, but He loves to hear the dependent cry of His people to Him.

Lord, remember me for good today. I need to be aware of Your awareness of me. As long as you are pleased with me today, that is all that matters.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Weeping World

Thought for the Day
Psalms 90:10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

I watched this video today of Fernando Ortega performing "Give Me Jesus" as a tribute to Ruth Graham, and as I did it once again reminded me of the sadness of this world. As I looked at the pictures of Billy and Ruth Graham in their youth it reminded me that the best of lives will one day end in death and it saddened me as I thought of my own mortality. I have often been brought to tears just thinking about the weight of sorrow and suffering that so many endure in this life. If I am not careful it can simply become overwhelming to me. If it were not for my belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ I sometimes think I would be crushed by sadness.

Life is one of the saddest things that can be endured. This must be evident to any person who is willing to face this thought with honesty. We try to find so many things to occupy our mind and heart, but in the end the ultimate reality and sadness of life is death and it awaits us all. That is unless we are resting in the finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In my moments of overwhelming sadness, I remind myself of the hope of real life in Christ. This is my hope! This is my expectation! And it is my passion for living! I feel sorry for anyone whose life is no more than getting up each day and chasing the next mind numbing fancy that they encounter. In the end there is only one honest reality and that is Jesus Christ! I pray for all my friends that they will truly "rise" in the morning when this shadow we call life fades away into that eternal reality of life in Christ.

Do you truly know Jesus Christ today. Are you sure enough of that relationship to stake your eternity upon it? If not, anything that stands in the way of settling that question is your enemy. Run to the refuge of Christ and cry out "Give me Jesus" alone! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ then realize the message of hope that you possess and be bold in sharing it today.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Voices From Afar

Photo: I thank God for the privilege of pastoring the Fellowship Baptist Church in Thonotosassa, FL (even if it is hard to say!).

Thought for the Day
Nehemiah 4:1-3 (1) But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we built the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. (2) And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? (3) Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. 4:14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

Have you ever noticed how people we have not seen in a while sometimes pop up into our lives just as we are about to take a new step of faith? They come with:
  • misinformation,
  • discouraging words, and
  • bad advice
In times like these we must "remember the Lord". Faith always has its foes; whether it is a small decision or a major life change, we must ground our decisions firmly on God's Word, not the voices of distant acquaintances.

Scrutinize every piece of advice against the counsel of God's Word. It is the only true source of absolute certainty.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Glory of Weakness

Photo: Me and Annabeth (AB) worshiping together.

Thought for the Day
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

If another human being were to describe us in words such as "foolish", "weak", "base" (on the bottom), "despised", and "not"; I think it would cause most any of us to want respond and defend ourselves against such "attacks." But in the context above, it is the Lord describing us in such terms (there goes our self-esteem). How can this be? Why would he describe us in this way? This is His description of where He found us and what our life represents apart from Him. It is not until we come to the end of self and realizes our complete need of Christ that the Lord can lift us up and use us to confound (amaze) the "wise" and "mighty."

When we come to the end of self then Jesus becomes "to us" wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. In other words, "When Christ becomes all we have, we find that He is all we truly need." And what is the result? We glory in the Lord or make our boast of Him!

Lord, I confess to you today my self love that often pops its ugly head up and expects something from others that only you truly deserve. Help me to realize more fully that I am nothing without you and that the realization of this will serve to make me completely satisfied with you and the life and circumstances that surround me each day. Truly life is a gift, thank You for it. In Jesus name, Amen!