Doctrine

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Essentials

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are two sayings I adopted years ago that to me still stand the test of time:

“In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love.”

“Where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent we are silent.”

These two sayings would take care of a lot of “hills” people are dying on when they don’t need to.

My conclusion: We minor in majors; we major in minors.

Think that through. When it comes to doctrinal issues, there are some non-negotiables (I know that is not word but I still use it), some majors we simply cannot compromise on. The virgin birth of Christ. The divinity of Jesus-that he was fully God and fully man. Popular thought heresy says Jesus was born a man, became divine, but went to the cross as a man. (Can you say Bill Johnson?) The sacrificial, substitutionary, redemptive act of Christ on the cross for our salvation. The physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The ultimate return of Jesus to bring an end to life on this planet as we know it. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one. The Bible as God’s authoritative Word, inspired and inerrant. Those (and others not mentioned) are majors and should not be compromised on.

But our religious culture is fast pushing them to the side in order to major in minors.

While I believe homosexual activity is sinful and wrong, I don’t believe it is the unpardonable sin. I also don’t really make a big deal about the creation story. I believe very strongly in “In the Beginning God…”  If the creation of the world was 7 24 hour days or whether “day” was a longer span of time, is not a game-changer to me. “In the beginning God.”  He can do whatever He wants to do in whatever way He want to. But do I think it is a matter of salvation? No, I don’t. While I don’t think we ought to “uncouple” ourselves from the OT as Andy Stanley says we should, I also don’t believe we find our salvation there. The Law was given as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, Paul says, so we can’t dismiss it. But I don’t go to the Law or the OT to find my salvation. I find it in Christ, in His story as told in the NT.  That is a major I can’t minor in.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just be kind. 🙂

 

Grounded

Friday, February 1st, 2019

One of the worst fears of any ship or boat is being grounded. Hitting a sandbar. Hitting a reef. Being tossed on shore. (Think Gilligan’s Island! 🙂 )  But I’ve got another kind of grounding in mind.

G. Campbell Morgan, a British preacher who lived from 1863-1945 (that means he “saw” both the Civil War and both World Wars) once wrote:

If our Rock were not our Redeemer, we would be without hope. If our Redeemer were not our Rock, we might be afraid.  Let us never forget that our redemption has in it the strength of the Mighty One.

Since the first of the year (except the Sunday we had to cancel due to the weather), I’ve been looking at Psalm 27 and its truth as an anchor. For an anchor to hold there must be solid ground, something it can sink into. This Sunday’s Scripture show us there is something we can sink our teeth into, the solid ground of the Word of God. My sermon this week will be on Psalm 19: 7-11. There is so much richness there in those few verses! First, I’m going to look at 5 myths surrounding the Bible, then look at the solid foundation the Scripture offers us.

I’m excited about preaching this message. I love talking about the Bible’s strong foundation. I’d appreciate your prayers for this Sunday.

QuietRoar

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

A Quiet Roar: Sometimes Disruption Is Overdue

Over the years I have read a ton-and I mean a ton!- of books. As you might imagine, most are of the non-fiction type. After all, my work as a pastor requires I read, read, and read some more.

But every once in awhile I come across a fiction book that grips me and won’t let me go. Back in 1994 I read the very first book by Randall Arthur called Wisdom Hunter (WH). I read it one year later on a personal fasting retreat and wept through most of it because it was like looking into a mirror-seeing what I didn’t like-but wanting so badly to be what I read. WH was the final nail in my coffin of legalism. The follow up to that book was titled Betrayal, and once again I was filleted. Jason Faircloth, the pastor from WH made a very pointed appearance in Betrayal and once again pointed out the dangers of legalism. In between Mr. Arthur wrote Jordan’s Crossing, another Jason Faircloth book, only this time dealing with Jordan’s emptiness caused by liberalism. The final installment (or so I thought) was Forgotten Road, a novel dealing with the emptiness of the health/wealth (un)gospel. Jason made an appearance in that book as well.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when Randall Arthur’s publishing company announced a new novel! Man, I jumped on that like bugs on a night light. As it was I was #102 of 120 signed copies. I gotta tell ya! If you read no other novel this coming year, please please please read Quiet Roar. The main character is like a female version of Jason Faircloth. Take a hot topic (female pastors…which I am saying neither yay or nay to here); add in a lot of small town church drama; a mysterious woman; and even more mysterious benefactor; a dash of contemporary culture and world events (Muslims, the church not staying so “white”, and some other events); and I kid you not, you have a recipe for a lot of sleepless nights (or at least staying up past your normal bed time).  Right now it is only available from Amazon on Kindle. HOWEVER, you can purchase it directly from Randall’s website.  I personally know Randy and he is the real deal.

May I also suggest reading Wisdom Hunter and Betrayal (since renamed Brotherhood of Betrayal) as companion volumes? You can find all his other books on Amazon as well as his website. I GUARANTEE your life and faith will no longer be the same.

Forgotten

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

No one likes to be forgotten. Unless, of course, they have done something wrong.  Then they want to hide and never be found!

But consider the Christmas story. A manger. A baby. A stable. A star. A long ride. A full inn. Mary. Shepherds. An angel (Gabriel). Zechariah. Elizabeth. Wise men. Bethlehem.

There seems to be one forgotten player in this drama. I’m sure you figured it out by now…Joseph. The man made a monumental decision and commitment and we forget him! He loved Mary so much he was willing “not to embarrass her but to divorce her quietly.” Some may think he was ashamed but keep in mind the difference in culture. Besides, you see his real heart come out after he heard the news the child was to be Messiah. Immanuel. Jesus. So he went against all odds; against the culture of his day; against everything his insides told him to do, and took Mary to be his wife.

But that’s it! That’s all we know except for a few side references. He showed his love for Mary and the baby and his  willingness to listen to God by taking them and heading off to Egypt. We see him when Jesus turns 12 and he hunts for him in the Temple.  But after that…ZERO. NADA. COME UP EMPTY.

What a noble man! This morning (Wednesday) during my New Morning Mercies reading, I read Isaiah 48:1-11 as supplemental reading. I was struck by verse 11: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (emphasis mine) God refuses to share His glory with anyone else. Not me. Not you. Not the most well-known pastor/preacher/evangelist/author/TV personality, etc. NO ONE ELSE!

So my question is this: can there be anyone more deserving of being noticed for not taking glory than Joseph? But its a catch-22 really. He would not have wanted known. He would have deflected the glory away from himself and toward the one who deserves it. Maybe I ought to take a hint?

There is a Christmas song we sang this past weekend and I have requested again for this coming Sunday’s Christmas Sunday service. It is this one and I can’t hardly think of a song more suited for a topic like this. And I would love to hear your thoughts.

Reasons

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

I have said this before and I’m sure will say it again (as I will now): I am not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. That’s not a put down; it’s reality. I realized early on that I was not without the ability to learn, i.e. stupid or dense, but I also realized I was not one who could probe deeply into subjects. Math and science, for example, have always been challenges for me. Advanced Biology was a required course chore. Chemistry was a train wreck. When it comes to spiritual things I have often taken a rather simple approach to things: “God said it; that settles it; therefore, I believe it.”  I am not into the finer details of things. That does go along somewhat with my Sanguine personality, but in matters of faith, I’m content to trust. So when I come upon something which is so good I want to share it, then believe me when I say I was touched by it.

I recently read an article by a woman named Rebecca McLaughlin (whom I have never heard of) entitled 4 Reasons to Believe in the Christmas Miracle.  I’m going to list those four reasons but I will also include the link so you can read the whole article yourself. So here is the recap. The link will be at the end.

  1. Miracles aren’t hard for God.
  2. Miracles aren’t ruled out by science.
  3. The gospels aren’t mythologized.
  4. Forgiveness is the greater miracle.

This post was written because as Rebecca was reading the Christmas story to her daughter, she said she didn’t believe in the angel visitation. To read more about this here is the link. I’d encourage you to read it in its entirety. You’ll be glad you did.

I would like to hear your thoughts if you have any.

Birth

Friday, December 14th, 2018

If you want to strike “fear” into many peoples’ lives, two words will do it. In many circles it will bring up memories of disagreements and shortness of tempers. Those two words:

VIRGIN BIRTH

Books, articles, essays, speeches, sermons, and a whole lot of other means of communication have been used in the discussion of the Virgin Birth: Pro or Con. I can honestly say men a whole lot smarter than me have gone ’round and ’round about it. I’m not well-versed in the deep defense of the VB. I just know this: God’s Word said it was how Jesus would come into the world, therefore, I believe it.

Just a few months ago we were treated (again) to another round of gaudiness and pomp and ceremony. A royal wedding of Prince whatever-his name is and his new wife, Meghan. Despite what the media and paparazzi says, they are mere human beings. Can you tell I am not a fan of their weddings? It lies in direct contrast with the entrance of Jesus into the world.

The attacks on the VB are monumental.  And ongoing-past, present and future. I’m not going to go into detail about the attacks, but the big question is Why? Simple actually: the VB is the line in the sand.  It is the line of demarcation. If someone denies the VB of Christ, IMHO I have every right to call into question the reality of their faith. The truth is that Jesus’ life did not begin at His birth or His conception. He is eternal and has always existed.

This Sunday I’m going to tackle the issue of the VB. In keeping with the “Light” theme, I’m calling it This IS the Light! John 1:1-14 will be my Scripture. Thanks ahead of time for your prayers.

Word

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

Not “word” as in current vernacular.

But Word…as in “The Word.”

Word as in John 1:1- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with with God, and the Word was God.” (emphasis mine)

For the past 3 months I have been reading from John Piper’s Christmas devotion book, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy during my morning Quiet Time. It has been part of my attempt (along with Paul David Tripp’s book Come Let Us Adore Him) to prepare my heart for the Christmas season. Piper’s devotion for December 12 struck a chord as I prepare to preach on the Virgin Birth this coming Sunday. His devotion was on “The Glory of the Word Made Flesh.”

Aside from the very obvious conflict I would have with the Jehovah Witness cult over their use of “the Word was a God,” (which totally destroys the whole idea of the Trinity…which they do not believe in), Piper’s devotion really focused on “the Word.” Piper’s point, which I thought was really good, is that it did not say:

  • “the Deed”: The whole idea of deeds being defining is ludicrous. If my words are questionable from time to time, deeds are even more wishy-washy. No one would ever know why I did what I did or do what I do unless, of course, I myself knew why.
  • “the Thought”: The difference between a word and a thought is that a word is expressed from me to you or you to me. Thoughts can be kept inside forever.  If Jesus was a thought then there would have been no communication.
  • “the Feeling”: WOW! Don’t get me started on this one! Can you imagine how fickle Jesus would be if he was nothing more than a feeling?

Jesus is the Word. Jesus is God expressing Himself to us. I’ll take that over a Deed, Thought, or Feeling any day.  Combine that with verse 14 of John 1: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen the glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I thank God for expressing Himself in Jesus, the Word made flesh. Any thoughts?

Reason

Monday, December 10th, 2018

It is not uncommon this time of the year to hear or see or be given some type of reminder:

JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

To be honest? I’ve had trouble with that phrase for quite a long time. Yes, I know what the slogan is supposed to be saying. And yes, I know people are well-intentioned (at least most of them) when they say it or display it. But that still doesn’t stop me from having trouble with it. Why?

Simple. Jesus is not the reason for the season. Now…before you brand me as a heretic or a scrooge of some sort, please hear me out.

Jesus is not the reason for the season…we are. That’s right. You cannot read the Scripture without seeing that it wasn’t Jesus who needed Christmas. We did. Bear with me here please. Don’t shoot me because I said Jesus didn’t need Christmas. I’m not talking about the trappings of the season. It would be sort of like I said, “Jesus is behind Easter.” I obviously don’t mean Jesus is responsible for eggs, rabbits, etc.

So, I’m not saying Jesus is behind the trees, lights, decorations, or even gifts. We are told: “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus came as God in the flesh because we needed it to happen. The ultimate act of love of dying on the cross was why Jesus came. He came for us. We were the reason.

So my thinking is this: I am the reason; He is the meaning.  Any thoughts?

Unfiltered

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Don’t you just love genealogies? Aaaaah no. “As a matter of fact I usually just skip over them and go to the end. Sort of like I do when I’m reading all about the clans and offspring in Numbers.”

But there is one genealogy you just don’t want to skip over. I’m sure you know I’m speaking of Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1. I used to. I was lost at the first “begat.” You know…the old KJV version of “father of.” And honestly, when people want to talk about Christmas they want to talk about the baby in the manger, the shepherds, the wise men, Bethlehem, no room in the manger, or some other well known part of the story. But the genealogy? Surely you have got to be kidding!

But there it is in black and white and as glorious as it can be! There is the requisite “father of” found in all genealogies. But, as you may know, there are some women included in His. The culture of that day excluded women from any place of prominence, especially in the genealogy. But not Jesus’. I’m sure you have heard it before but here is what we find with the woman:

Tamar– disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah. Find her story in Genesis 38

Rahab– anyone who has read the story of Jericho knows her profession.  She was an idolatrous, an outcast Gentile woman, and a professional prostitute. She became the mother of Boaz who married our next woman.

Ruth– a Moabitess, a lineage that came as a result of incest. (Genesis 19). She married Boaz (Read the book of Ruth) and became David’s great grandmother.

Bathsheba– Is the anyone who does not know who she is? Just say “David.”

Mary- the mother of Jesus. A sinner like you and me. A virgin but still a sinner.  Definitely not perfect and definitely not deserving to be elevated to the heights with Jesus. She was in need of a Savior like all of us.

The genealogy of Jesus speaks of grace. It shows that God accepts outsiders. Like me. Like you.  The genealogy shows people with warts. It is unfiltered.

Grace is my main topic for this Sunday. The Unfiltered Light of Christmas. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Christmas’18

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

The past few Decembers I have taken to posting something about Christmas. A song. A devotion I read. A quote. I plan to do that this month as well.

My first post is by my favorite singer probably of all time. He made his mark with a group in the 60s and then went solo in the 70s and beyond. He put out a Christmas recording (what else should I call it?) back in 2008 and it stays close to my truck CD player for the whole month in December.  One year it never left the player. 🙂  What’s funny is I have a compilation of his 40 greatest hits and the title tune from his CD is on it: “I Love Christmas.” When that song comes on it truly is Christmas in July.

Anyway, in keeping with the real meaning and spirit of Christmas, I’d like to feature what I consider one of the highlights of the CD. Hope you enjoy it.

And Floyd: you know I had to do this.  In fact, I included this just for you!