Monthly Archives: March 2006

Hillary On The Wrong Side of History

By Chuck Baldwin
March 31, 2006

[NOTE FROM BRO. MATT:  I know that this is a hot button issue of illegal immigration.  Normally, I wouldn't touch a political issue, but I will when a politician misuses Scripture for political advantage.  Hillary Rodham Clinton did just that.  But as far as Bro. Baldwin's views are, I'd like your opinion.  Is he off-base?  Is he extreme?  What do you think?]

In an attempt to justify massive illegal immigration to this country, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) completely mischaracterized the Biblical story of The Good Samaritan. Obviously, there is nothing unique about politicians misusing the Scriptures. What the average politician knows about the Word of God could fit into a thimble.  And that goes for Republicans as well as Democrats!

Specifically, Mrs. Clinton voiced her opposition to a House measure subjecting illegal aliens and those who hire them to criminal penalties saying it "is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably Jesus Himself."

However, there is absolutely nothing about Jesus' parable that remotely relates to the subject of illegal immigration. Absolutely nothing! The story of The Good Samaritan is simply a lesson in Christian compassion. The Good Samaritan was willing to stop and help a man who had been beaten and left for dead. Jesus compared the actions of the Good Samaritan with those of a priest and a Levite who walked by the dying man and refused to help. What in the world does that have to do with illegal immigration? Nothing!

However, if one wants to examine the Scriptures to find teachings relevant to the subject of illegal immigration, he can certainly do so. Let's start with Nahum chapter three.

The prophet Nahum warned Israel that their stubbornness and disobedience to God was evidenced by the fact that "the gates (borders, ports, entry ways) of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars." (Nahum 3:13) In this passage, the prophet made it clear that open gates or borders, which allow enemies easy access to a nation, constitute an imminent threat to any nation. How right he was!

Furthermore, Moses told the children of Israel in very clear and concise language, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark." (Deut. 19:14) "Landmark" refers to territory, boundary, or border. Moses further declared, "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark." (Deut. 27:17)

National borders or boundaries are extremely important to the security and survival of any nation! In fact, the Bible promotes nationhood and condemns internationalism!

To the Old Testament nation of Israel, Moses said, "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people." (Deut. 32:8) Notice that God "separated the sons of Adam." God "set the bounds of the people."

That God has separated nations and expects them to function independently of other nations is also seen in the New Testament.  Read the inspired author, Dr. Luke: "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds (boundaries, borders) of their habitation." (Acts 17:26)

National boundaries are divinely ordained. Nationhood is divinely ordained. Independent governance is divinely ordained. On the other hand, internationalism, globalism, multiculturalism, etc., is not of God.

Certainly, God instructed His people to be compassionate to "strangers." (See Deut. 10:19; Exod. 22:21.) And no nation has been more compassionate, more understanding, and more tolerant of "strangers" (i.e. non-citizens) than the United States of America!

For the duration of our nation's existence, America has allowed millions of immigrants to become U.S. citizens. However, for the very sake of our country's survival, immigration must be lawful and respectful. The immigrant is expected to obtain citizenship in accordance with our country's laws. Also, the total number of new immigrants must be carefully monitored and regulated in order to maintain the health and stability of our culture and economy.  Furthermore, the aspiring immigrant-citizen must be expected to assimilate into the foundational fabric and spirit of America.

Listen to the words of President Theodore Roosevelt: "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." (Jan. 3, 1919)

However, those who advocate amnesty, guest worker status (which is just another name for amnesty), or other types of legalization for illegal aliens are promoting something much different from both the Scriptural and historical models. If the people of the United States allow G. W. Bush and Hillary Clinton to get their way on illegal immigration, America's demise will be faster than anyone can possibly imagine!

Already, more than 20 million illegal aliens live in the United States. In fact, according to The Center for Immigration Studies,
three-fourths of all U.S. population growth stems from (mostly) illegal immigration.

There is more. According to the Bureau of Justice, 29% of all federal inmates are illegal aliens. And according to statistics provided by the House of Representatives, illegal aliens cost state and local governments more than $13 billion per year.

Let's face reality: illegal aliens are criminals! They broke our laws to come here. They break our laws to stay here. Furthermore, the employers that hire illegal aliens are criminals! Illegal aliens do not save money for Americans; they cost money, and a lot of it!

America is a nation of law. The supreme law of the land is the U.S. Constitution. Nowhere does the Constitution allow for illegal
aliens. There is nothing in our laws, our history, or our traditions that allows for illegal immigration!

Illegal aliens not only trample our nation's laws, weaken our economy, burden our local and state governments, they also spit in the face of those many thousands of honest and honorable people from all over the world who attempt to lawfully immigrate to our country!

I have many personal friends who have either recently become U.S. citizens or who are yet in the process of becoming U.S.citizens. Each of them is a honest, hard working person who
desires to become an AMERICAN. They are not trying to create another Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Zimbabwe, England, or Honduras here in America. They simply want to be an AMERICAN, just like Teddy Roosevelt explained.

Yet, now we are being asked to repudiate our laws, compromise the decency and character of our people, and jeopardize our very security just to allow millions of lawless people to invade our country! I say, NO WAY!

Opposing illegal immigration is not un-Christian, and it is not un-American. Neither does opposing illegal immigration make one a
racist or a fascist!

Hillary Clinton is on the wrong side of Scripture and on the wrong side of American history. So is G. W. Bush and a majority of U.S. senators!

America must secure it's borders! We must make a concerted effort to deport all illegal aliens found to be here. We must
severely punish any American company or employer who knowingly hires illegal aliens. Furthermore, we must send a clear and convincing message to Mexican President Vicente Fox that if he does not start effectively policing his northern border, we will consider him a terrorist and treat him accordingly!

And there is one more thing: we must evict every senator or representative from Washington, D.C., who refuses to protect our nation's borders and who aids and abets illegal immigration in any shape, form, or fashion! And we must do it now!

© Chuck Baldwin

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Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Terri Schiavo's death — one year later

Remember Terri Schiavo?  Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary notes that our attention-deficient society has all but forgotten her and moved on to other things (click here to read his article).  To often we define 'life' as what that 'life' can contribute to society and the culture at large.  Thus, the abortion advocates say that the human embryo is not 'life' because it cannot contribute, the terminally-ill elderly person, the ones in a vegetative state, and those falling into those categories often desire to have their lives ended (or in the case of Michael Schiavo, desire to end the life of his own spouse) because they cannot contribute to society, drain the resources of the caretakers, or whatever other reason may be out there.  I understand as a pastor that hard decisions need to be made and have counseled many who have struggled with this issue of when to end life and when not to.  I'll speak more on this later on, but Schiavo's death and the way it was publicized and politicized does not bode well for the future of our country.

Note what Gary Bauer of American Values had to say:

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo. If any good can come of her passing it is the recognition of the importance of electing legislators determined to stand up for our most innocent and vulnerable citizens; legislators who will appoint judges who recognize the right to life at the foundation of our Constitution.The Schiavo tragedy also highlighted the contributions that the disabled can make to the lives of those around them. Weighing in two years before her death, a New York Times editorial philosophized: “True respect for life includes recognizing not just when it exists, but when it ceases to be meaningful.” As usual, the Times just didn’t get it.

We live in a nation where nine of every ten Down syndrome babies are aborted once their disability is detected; a society whose courts have created a jurisprudence to justify “murders of convenience.” While our society disposes of its weakest members, it is the weak and disabled among us who have the innate strength and ability to compel us to strive for and fulfill the most profound and difficult of human obligations – to love unconditionally.

My friends, Terri Schiavo’s heroic life was an inspiration to all those who knew her or learned her story. Let’s hope her life inspires our nation to renew its commitment to protecting all human life.

Where do we draw the line?  Any thoughts? 

Categories: culture, politics | Leave a comment

Membership Matters

Periodically, I will republish a blog entry from a former blog I had. Enjoy!

"Membership Matters" by Chuck Lawless

Dr. Chuck Lawless, the new Dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, KY, has written a wonderful volume entitled "Membership Matters: Insights from Effective Churches on New Member Classes and Assimilation." This is a wonderfully practical book! Included are:

* Survey findings with charts and graphs, accompanied by real stories from churches of all sizes;

* Appendicies which provide practical resources on church covenants, intivation letters, ministry opportunities checklist, etc.

* A pastors' forum gives firsthand insights into making membership matter.

I am encouraged by the trend of seeing churches training their congregants to the fact that church membership is more than a name on an roll. Southern Baptists need to learn this most of all, when only five million out of sixteen million members attend church on any given Sunday. Where are the other eleven million? They are likely resting in the fact that they "made a decision" many moons ago. But God saved us to bear fruit and be involved in a worship lifestyle made evident in ministry. Membership classes help every member everywhere to understand this necessity.

This is a great book! I also recommend Dr. Lawless' other work called "Discipled Warriors."

Categories: Book Review, Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, leadership | Leave a comment

Speaking the Truth in Love

A church was looking for a pastor, so they invited several candidates to come and preach for them. One minister spoke on the text, “The wicked shall be turned into hell.” The head elder was not in favor of him. A few weeks later, another preacher came and used the same Scripture for his sermon. This time the head elder said, “He’s good! Let’s call him.” The other board members were surprised, and one of them asked, “Why did you like him? He used the same text as the other minister.” “True,” replied the head elder, “but when the second man emphasized that the lost will be turned into hell, he said it with tears in his yees and with concern in his voice. The first preacher almost seemed to gloat over it.”

One of the temptations when we preach is having the audience first in mind rather than the One who called us. As a result, we find ourselves preaching on issues that will not offend nor bring discomfort to our listeners. As a result, we avoid topics such as hell and our accountability before a holy God.

Yet, I believe that another temptation is to preach with the desire of obtaining a reputation of preaching hard regardless of what anyone else will think — and this, too, can become a source of pride as well. This first preacher mentioned in the above illustration gloated over preaching hard on a hard text.

I am all for expository preaching, where the preacher exposes (the root word of expository) what the text is saying as opposed to preaching that imposes the preacher’s meaning and desires on the text. And as we do preach verse-by-verse, texts will come up that are difficult not only to preach but will be difficult for our congregants to hear.

I plead with you (and I speak to myself as well) to keep Ephesians 4:15 in mind: “Speak the truth in love.” When we neglect love in preaching the truth, we come across as cold, calculated, and calloused to the hearts of our hearers. When we speak all love but neglect the truth, the compromise can creep in.

There is nothing more loving that speaking the truth! But when you preach the truth, ask God during your sermon preparation and even while you are preaching to give you a love and an empathy for your people so that you may see them truly as God sees them — in desperate need of connecting with the Sovereign God of the universe. To them, while you are preaching, you represent and speak the Word of God! So speak, feel, and love as God would!

Copyright (c) 2005 by Matt Perry, Matt Perry Dot Com. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to share this with whomever may find this of value. All we ask is that you please give credit to the author and ministry which he represents and that you do not change the wording. And please include the contact information: Treasure The Word, c/o Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, 185 N. Cleveland Rd., Lexington, KY 40509. (859) 263-5466.

Categories: For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students | Leave a comment

Christmas, the Schools, and the Constitution

Sent November 28, 2005
by John W. Whitehead

“I think there’s something wrong with me. I just don’t understand Christmas. I like getting presents, sending cards, decorating trees and all that. But instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down.”

–Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965

When I was a child in the 1950s, my parents didn’t have much money to spend at Christmastime. I remember one Christmas when I wanted a cowboy gun and holster from Santa Claus. I got the toy pistol, but Santa, it seems, couldn’t afford a holster. So my dad made one for me out of one of my mother’s old leather purses. It didn’t look like the ones on TV, but it worked pretty well. And it made me feel good that my dad cared enough to do what he could to make a little boy’s Christmas dream come true.

Being poor didn’t really matter all that much because there was magic in the air. And the magic of Christmas was promoted in the schools. We sang Christmas carols in the classroom. There were cutouts of the Nativity scene on the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and Rudolph. We were all acutely aware that Christmas was more than a season to receive—it was a special time to give as well.

But times have changed. Violence and turmoil surround our schools. Police officers walk the hallways, and embattled teachers act more like wardens than instructors. Sadly, the timeless celebration of Christmas seems to have been lost in the mix as well. Schools across the country avoid anything that alludes to the true meaning of Christmas—such as angels, the baby Jesus, stables and shepherds. For example, a member of a parent/teacher organization at a Connecticut elementary school was in charge of decorating a large display case in the school’s entrance. For the upcoming December holidays, she was planning to put up a display called “Festival of Lights” and feature a display with a crèche for Christmas and a Menorah and Star of David for Hanukkah, along with a document that explains the histories of both events. However, she was told by school officials that no religious objects could be used in the display.

A kindergarten teacher in a Texas public school was informed that he could not mention the word “Christmas” or tell the historical Nativity story because someone in the district might sue. All other secular customs of the “winter holiday” were deemed to be okay, just not the religious symbols of Christianity. According to the school principal: “We cannot tie candy canes, trees, wreaths, Santa Claus, etc, as a religious symbol. What we can teach is the secular side of holidays. We can have the tree, candy cane, wreath, Santa Claus, etc, anything that is secular. No religious words can be attached. We cannot read aloud to the students any book pertaining to religious beliefs or happenings brought by you [the teacher] or the students. The student who brings a book can read/look at the book silently.”

Another incident that highlights this extreme Christmas phobia involves a Michigan elementary school, where the principal issued a directive specifically forbidding references to God, Christianity or the birth of Jesus Christ. This is censorship, pure and simple.

I have yet to understand how anyone can discuss the true—or even historical—meaning of Christmas without at least a reference to Christ. Surely something has gone wrong when America’s children are encouraged to celebrate the fictional Rudolph but are refused the opportunity to even mention Jesus, who was an actual, historical person. To claim that Christmas is something other than it is—a holiday with a religious foundation—is both dishonest and historically unsound.

Indeed, Christmas (Old English Cristes Moesse, “the Mass of Christ”) was instituted, and for centuries kept, as a religious holiday (as in “holy day”). Originally, Christmas included festivities, but its primary purpose was to provide a time for spiritual renewal.

Unfortunately, far too many parents, students and teachers erroneously believe they cannot celebrate the religious nature of Christmas in the public schools. Whether through ignorance or fear, Americans are painfully misguided about the recognition of religious holidays. Ironically, the most targeted religious holiday for exclusion is Christmas—also the most popular in American culture. Are our schoolchildren to be forbidden from learning about one of the most culturally significant events because it has religious overtones?

There are constitutional ways to celebrate Christmas in the public schools without violating the United States Constitution. These are succinctly set forth in The Rutherford Institute’s “Twelve Rules of Christmas.” While it is true that public school teachers, as agents of the state, may not advance religion, they are allowed to discuss the role of religion in all aspects of American culture and its history. And this includes the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.

Indeed, teachers can use Christmas art, music, literature and drama in their classrooms, as long as they illustrate the cultural heritage from which the holiday has developed. Religious symbols, such as a Nativity scene, can be used in this context as well. Of course, any holiday observance should occur in an educational setting, rather than in a devotional atmosphere. Teachers should also remember to offer students and their parents the school district’s opt-out policy as an alternative to the teaching about any particular religion.

While our Constitution does not give carte blanche to promote religion in the public schools, neither does it dictate a cleansing of Christmas from the classroom. Students may enjoy the same freedom of religious expression that is allowed any other time of the year—in or out of the classroom. This means that students can freely distribute Christmas or Hanukkah cards to their friends and teachers, just as they would a birthday card. Such cards can even mention the words God and Jesus Christ.

The trend toward erasing traditional Christmas practices from our daily life is discouraging and disheartening. In a society already known for its selfishness and consumerism, it seems that a religious holiday would be an opportunity to celebrate something more essential, something wholesome and good and also something that would remind us of our nation’s history—one that is dominated with a spiritual and religious heritage.

In fact, rather than making Christmas the height of the selling season, why can’t the focus be on celebrating family and friendship, camaraderie and memories? Why can’t it be a time to reflect and celebrate our freedoms? Why can’t it be a season of extending a helping hand to the less fortunate? Why can’t it be a time to step back and meditate on the original meaning behind the Christmas holiday? And why can’t these important traditions be taught in our schools?

It has been 40 years since Charlie Brown, as he puzzled over the glitz and commercialism of the modern age, asked, “Doesn’t anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?” Linus responded by telling the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, as recounted in Luke 2:7-14, to his friends and classmates. What Charles Schulz’ beloved 1965 cartoon did not capture, however, was the growing aversion on the part of many school officials and public figures to anything remotely related to the true Christmas story. Hopefully, as our children ponder what Christmas is all about—a subject that almost certainly arises in the classroom—our teachers at least will realize that they have the right to truthfully answer the question. If so, our children will have the opportunity to experience the richness of our traditions and culture. And what better time than Christmas?

—-

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. Information about the Twelve Rules of Christmas and The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

Want to read more? Visit The Rutherford Institute website!

——————————————————————————–

The Rutherford Institute 1440 Sachem Place Charlottesville, VA 22901 Phone: 434-978-3888/ FAX: 434- 978-1789/ website: http://www.rutherford.org

Categories: Christmas, culture, Religious Liberties | Leave a comment

Preparation for Sunday

One pastor never prepared during the week, and on Sunday morning he'd sit on the platform while the church was singing the hymns desperately praying, "Lord, give your message, Lord give me your message." One Sunday, while desperately praying for God's message, he heard the Lord say, "Ralph, here's my message. You're lazy!"

Some brag about how the Holy Spirit carries them on Sunday even though they do not spend time in prayer preparation from Monday through Saturday. It is more than about making a sermon, it is about the Holy Spirit making the man who is the vessel to deliver the sermon which the Holy Spirit gives! Study does not negate the Holy Spirit's work.

No! In fact, study helps galvanize the Holy Spirit's message in the speaker, thus having the sermon that's meant for the congregation transform the one preaching to that congregation.
Second Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." We are to be students of the Word who know how the wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God! Why? When you look at Ephesians 6 and the armor of God, what is the only offensive piece of armor we are given? That's right — the sword of the Spirit! We have to know how to use our sword against the enemy and anything that sets itself up against the Kingdom of God.

I tell myself this first and foremost: don't be lazy in your study of the Word of God during the week. You will find a church transformed because they are hungry not for methods and gimmicks, but for the Word of God and the Living Bread and Water whom the Word presents — the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

May God bless you as you wield your sword!

Categories: For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

"Lawful Recreations" by James Meikle

Time is one of the talents put into every man's hand, and is more precious than we are well aware of.

To prepare for death, and to improve for eternity–may well employ our time though ever so long. O! then, howmay my heart weep to think how much precious time I have trifled away! O to be wise in all time coming!

Lawful recreations are allowed by God. But in this, how soon may we go beyond what is lawful! Too much pleasure in them, too much time spent about them–spoils all. When our amusements become a part of our employment, or call us away from something more necessary or noble–it is high time to drop them altogether!

(Distributed by Grace Gems — http://www.gracegems.org)

May God helps us to attack what is important and necessary rather than be distracted by trifles. 

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Overcoming my addiction

I praise God that He gives us the strength to overcome addictions — and he has put me on a path to overcome mine, but I have a long, long way to go.  It is really an addiction that began in college and continued on through seminary — right into married life where it all came to bloom.  All night study sessions getting ready for the test the next morning.  Being locked up in the library.  Then getting married and leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.  Then on top of all that, I have been in the ministry going on 15 years, which allows for an increasingly sedentary lifestyle — on top of that, I'm am in Baptist ministry, which seems to feed my particular addiction more and more because it is just part of our culture.

My particular addiction that God is helping me to overcome is that of food.  A little history.

I graduated from high school weighing a whopping 135 pounds soaking wet.  In high school, I actually dropped down to 117 (which was about 25 pounds below what I should have been) because my trust was in my girlfriend at the time rather than in Christ.  She didn't want to eat lunch, so I didn't eat lunch.  Very unhealthy from every angle.  But by the time I graduated in 1989, I was 135 and stayed that weight pretty much all through college when I graduated in 1994.

During college, I was a music major at Palm Beach Atlantic College.  Aside from the jokes that music majors really didn't do much, nothing could have been further from the truth.  One study noted that the three hardest fields of study in academia are law, medicine, and music.  I didn't go into music because of any of that — God called me into the ministry and at that time it was music ministry.

At that time, everything seemed to affect me negatively — though it wasn't necessarily bad in and of itself.  But in order to get through, I had to practice on my piano 1.5 to 2 hours per day, plus be involved in a number of extra classes that were required but where we obtained no credit.  Plus, I had a couple of extra jobs just to get by.  I was busy, busy, busy with bad sleeping habits and addicted at that point to caffeine and pizzas whose establishments delivered into the wee hours of the morning.  I stayed skinny, but the pattern was set.

By the time I graduated seminary the first time and got married, I was a meatier 175.  But when I graduated, I was engaged to my now wife Cindy.  I had a steady job, no more ridiculous class schedules, no more late nights to study for music history and hymnology tests.  No more working two jobs, plus doing my church work.   I was settled with the woman God gave to me.  And I was peaceful, relaxed …

… and expanding.

Bad habits would develop.  Have a hard day at work?  Go eat.  Need to celebrate?  Let's go eat.  Having a fellowship at church?  GOTTA EAT!  It's almost as if gluttony is the unspoken, pardonable sin amongst us Baptists.  It's our culture.  But in reality, food can be the worst addiction of all.  It's not illegal or necessarily immoral, but it numbs the pain and the hurt and any issue that can go on the in heart. 

At the beginning of the year, I found myself between 40 and 50 pounds overweight (206).  For those with large or even medium frames, 206 is really not bad.  But the point is, I have a small frame and was 40-50 pounds overweight.  And it really began to affect me.  How?

(1)  Walking up stairs.  Walking upstairs from my office to the sanctuary is not a long walk, but I found myself winded slightly.  I began to have to time and space out when I would go upstairs.  If I walked upstairs and immediately had to talk to someone or preach, I would have to work and labor to catch my breath.  As a pastor and preacher, that is not acceptable.

(2)  Airplanes.  A deacon friend and I flew to New Orleans to scope out some upcoming missions opportunities in that region.  We flew a Comair flight to New Orleans.  You know how you have to put your carry-on bag either in the seat underneath you or in the overhead compartment?  I put mine in the seat underneath me.  When we were in the air and I had to bend over to get it, I almost choked because my gut had become so big that it pushed into my diaphragm.  (If you find yourself laughing at this, that's your right.  But it is a struggle and it causes more pain than just physical.)

(3)  The jokes.  One friend of mine who lives in another part of the state began joking to me, "You're beginning to look like a Baptist preacher."  Others come up and pat me on the belly and make comments.  And do you know what they would always do afterwards? 

Laugh.

And it may have been funny.  And for many, it certainly may not have been intended maliciously.  But I now know that most folks who struggle in this area look in the mirror and begin to acquire a sort of self-loathing.  And they acquire another trait which is far more harmful … 

(4)  I began to feel enslaved and doomed to this.  Yes, I as a minister of Gospel who preaches about how we can be free from self and free in Christ, would find myself telling my wife, "You know, I really don't think I can lose weight."  No matter what I tried, I kept gaining.  And gaining. 

But my wife began a program called Lose It For Life by Steven Arterburn.  It's been really good.  It's not like a lot of diet fads.  Basically, it's lots and lots and lots of water.  Exercise (and they give you good tips on how to do this in the midst of a busy day), cut down on snacks, and no eating snacks after 8:00.

As of March 29, 2006, I am now 191 — I have lost 15 pounds by the grace and glory of God.  My goal is 165-168.  You may say, "Matt, you have 25 pounds to go!"  YES!  I do.  But knowing that God has set me and is setting me free from my addiction to food and soft drinks now only gives me hope that I can be healthier, it's also a time of worship that God can truly set one free from anything that enslaves.

God must be our all-in-all, but for too many of us, food is.  We must preach against this as we do other sins.  Stephen Arterburn noted that pastors preach against every other sin — all the while carrying 200 pounds extra weight in the pulpit.  We must lay this down as well.  I love food — but I love my God more and He must be my 'comfort food' as the Bread of Life.  I will pray that you all indeed feast on Him and Him alone.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

God's Word and Deed All in One

In his wonderful work, "The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text," Sidney Griedanus writes something that really chimed with this pastor.

"For us today, words are often cheap.  We think of words merely as something which is said.  'Action speaks louder than words,' we say, and thus we tend to separate words and action and ascribe greater value to action than to words.  Although we would hesitate to call God's words 'cheap,' we often cheapen God's words by separating them from his deeds and, thinking about his words merely as words about his deeds.  The Bible however does not separate God's words from his deeds.  God's words are his deeds in the sense that they accomplish his purposes.  … Similarly, God's word proclaimed by the prophets is not merely information about God's deeds but is itself a deed which accomplishes God's purposes (see Jeremiah 1:9-10, cf. 5:14). … In fact the preaching of the prophets was part and parcel of GOd's redemptive activity on earth.  Donald Miller articulates this idea dramatically:  "When … the prophets announced the word of God to men, they were not merely making speeches or just trading with ideas about God.  Their word was rather … an embodiment of the agony of redemption, initiated at the Exodus but straining to be brought to fulfillment in a yet greater deliverance." (pp. 2-3).

Isn't this amazing for preachers?  Victor Furnish notes that when the prophets spoke, they did not do so just to describe an event, but "it was an even.  The word uttered is a deed done. … It was a word in which Yahweh himself was actively present and decisively accomplishing his purposes." 

So why would preachers try to appeal to congregants for life-changing outside of the life-changing active Word of God. 

Psalm 33:6-9
    By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
        and by the breath of his mouth all their host. …
    For he spoke, and it came to be;
        he commanded, and it stood firm.

Jeremiah 1:9-10
    Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

    "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
    [10] See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
    to pluck up and to break down,
    to destroy and to overthrow,
    to build and to plant."

Categories: Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students | Leave a comment

Getting It Right from the Beginning (Al Mohler)

“In the beginning,” Scripture says, “God created the heavens and the earth.” That first biblical affirmation points to the priority of the doctrine of creation within the system of Christian doctrine. Nevertheless, even the doctrine of creation presupposes a biblical notion of God and the authority of his revelation in Scripture. The Christian believer does not acknowledge the creation and then infer a Creator. Indeed, it is not God who must be explained by the creation, but creation which must be explained by the Creator. Today, Dr. Albert Mohler explores the doctrine of creation, and its crucial relationship to the Christian worldview. 

Read the rest of Part I here.

The doctrine of creation does not stand alone. The universe has not been set adrift in time without purpose or divine direction. The Christian affirmation of God requires an affirmation of His continuing sovereign Lordship over the created order. This affirmation sets the Christian worldview apart from alternative worldviews which recognize no continuing divine direction. 

Read the rest of Part II here.

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