This is a reminder in our unique time of quarantine and social distancing not to distance ourselves from God. In this moment of decreased distraction take time to listen, take time to be still.
As part of the teaching ministry at Third Baptist Church, Keith Myatt and I are hosting a weekly podcast. “Continued” in an effort to dive deeper into the sermon and draw out additional insights, context, and encouragement. This is a conversation that I hope you will benefit from as you listen and are challenged. Go check out “Continued” on your favorite podcast provider. I’ve copied the apple podcast link, but it is available on multiple platforms.
Our first episode focuses in on the physicality of the resurrection of Jesus. Without the physical nature of Jesus’s body being raised from the dead, as opposed to alternate theories like a spiritual resurrection, our faith would be bankrupt. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” I pray you are equipped and encouraged as you listen.
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We have made an intentional effort to pass along the two most important things in this world to our kids… To Love God and Love Others. We review it daily on the way to school. While rote memory has a vital role in the life of kids, it started to become too routine. So I added another element to this question.
How do we love God? How do we love others?
This is coming directly from Jesus’s mouth in Matt 22:36-40.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
So how do we do that? To help my kids understand this key teaching of the Christian faith I boiled it down to two simple answers.
We love God by being obedient.
We love Others by being kind.
As we are obedient to God we must also obedient to the authorities in our life. For my kids that means teachers, parents, rules, and so on. I want them to understand that as they obey in these different arenas, they are loving God. John 14:15, Jesus says if you love me, you will obey my commands.
As we are kind to others we show them the love that God showed us. We are kind to our peers, those not like us, even the bullies at school. We show kindness because we have received the ultimate kindness from God through His Son Jesus. John 15:12 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
So let this be a reminder to you today to love God and love others by being obedient and kind in your daily life.
In a culture that celebrates man, we are sold a brutal lie. It is dominating our children’s entertainment and taken root in the millennial generation. It is a cornerstone of our education. It seems sweet as honey, yet in the end leads to bitterness.
This lie is that your heart is generally good and worth following wherever it may lead.
Jeremiah 17:5-9 tells us a story that counters this lie to it’s wicked face. Please go read the text for yourself, but in my own words, Jeremiah is telling us;
Anyone who trusts his own view of reality is cursed, they are like a withering shrub in the salt lands. But anyone who trusts God’s view of reality is blessed, they are like a healthy tree planted by a stream. Don’t trust your heart, it is desperately wicked.
In Judges 7 we have the amazing story of God fighting for His people against the Midianites. In this account we see God reducing the number of the Israelite army again and again. Why does He do this?
For His Glory alone.
When victory is accomplished, do we recognize God as the source? Can we trust God like Gideon did?
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’
Midian’s army was 130,000 strong. Israel had 22,000. God reduced it to 10,000 men, and then again to merely 300 men.
Take that in. 300 men vs 130,000. The odds are staggering.
Look at this graphic to get a visual understanding of the sheer magnitude of this lopsided battle. (Click here to be able to zoom in.)
As the sun comes up today, teenagers around the country are meeting at the flag poles on their school campus to pray.
To pray for their peers, school, community, state, nation, and much much more. Would you pause for a moment to lift these teens up in prayer right now? They need boldness today. They need the presence of God today. They need the church supporting them as they are the missionaries on those campuses that we can never be.
There will be many opportunities to share why they met around that flag pole as the day goes on. May the name of Jesus be lifted high and prayers be answered!
Encourage your students to take their place around the flag pole and join a nation in prayer.
The growth of the Christian Movie genre is apparent to all. It is not surprising when we hear through the grapevine, on christian radio, or while chatting in a small group bible study, that there is a new faith-based film out or coming soon. Churches may offer showings. Parents may encourage a family night. But what impact do these films have on the general public as well as the evangelical niche?
The Barna Research group graphic below is part of a larger article titled: Sequels, Selfies and Space: 2013 at the Movies.
Asking specifically, “In the past two years, has a movie made me think seriously about religion or change my views about Christianity?” Here are the statistics broken down by 4 categories: All Americans, Evangelicals, Practicing Protestants, Other Faiths.
I thought the findings are interesting. The big screen can sure get us thinking, but does it really change anything?
The Episcopal Church released its 2016 denominational statistics recently. In it researchers found decline of 34,179 in membership. This was an improvement from the decline of 37,669 in 2015. To see the hard data click the 2016 Parochial Report.
Why the hard decline in the US Episcopal Church? I am sure there are a variety of reasons, as it is a complicated issue. But one contributing factor, in my opinion, is their shift toward a liberal interpretation of marriage and sexuality. In 2003 the Episcopal church ordained their first openly gay bishop, Rev. Gene Robinson. It is a dangerous gamble for any church to redefine what God has established in regarding to sexuality which Christianity has been unanimous on for thousands of years. If the things of this world creep into an individual’s, or an institution’s, priorities, you might find yourself at odds with God.
1 John2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
To be fair, Southern Baptists have their own issues. I admit they too have declined. But the data suggests mainline denominations are declining at a higher rate. (2016: Episcopal – lost 35,000 of 1 million membership = approximately 2%, SBC – lost 77,000 of 15 million membership = approximately .5%) In the article “FactChecker: Are All Christian Denominations in Decline?” the author shows a clear distinction between theologically liberal and conservative denominations. He says, “While conservative churches aren’t growing as quickly as they once were, mainline churches are on a path toward extinction. The mainline churches are finding that as they move further away from Biblical Christianity, the closer they get to their inevitable demise.”
And a powerful reminder that faithfulness to sound doctrine is a key ingredient in the health and mission of the church. Let this be an encouragement for biblically faithful doctrine personally, as well as in the leadership of the church you attended. I did not say “your church” because it is not yours, it is the Bride of Christ, bought with His blood, and His alone.