Monday, March 31, 2008

Answers in Genesis

I am thankful for Christian apologists and creationists like Dr. Terry Mortenson of Answers in Genesis. He spoke at our church this weekend with great receptivitity from the congregation. He argued that Genesis 1-11 is foundational to virtually every doctrine of Scripture. In his first message to our church he stated:

"Psalm 11:3 declares that 'if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?' The book of Genesis is foundational to the rest of the Bible. Every single Biblical doctrine is either directly or indirectly founded in the book of Genesis, particularly chapters 1-11."

He made a statement that made a huge impression on me. He said, "If Genesis 1-11 is the foundation of all Christian doctrine, this also means that if someone wants to destroy Christian doctrine, the best way is to attack the foundational book of beginnings. If the foundation of a house is destroyed, then the structure collapses. Likewise, if the foundations of Christian doctrine in Genesis 1-11 are destroyed, then ultimately the entire structure will collapse."

This is exactly what evoluntionists are doing. They are attacking the very foundation of Christian doctrine, the first 11 chapters of Genesis. If people can relegate Genesis 1-11 to mythology or allegory, then there is no real history upon which Christian doctrine can be founded. If there is no real history, then there is no real Adam and Eve. If there is no real Adam and Eve, then there is no real original sin. If there is no real original sin, then there is no need for a Savior. If there is no need for a Savior, then Jesus' death on the cross was for nothing.

One can now see why Genesis 1-11 is such an important part of our Christian faith. Dr. Mortenson stated, "The meaning of anything is dependent upon its origin, the meaning of any particular doctrine is also dependent upon its origin-i.e., its real history. Thus, the book of Genesis is vital to the whole of what Christianity is all about. One of the reasons that many people can't defend or explain their doctrine is because they don't believe and understand the book of Genesis, particularly the first eleven chapters. Believing and understanding the book of Genesis is prerequisite to an understanding of God and His relationship to man-and to all Christian doctrine."

I will share more from this conference later. In the mean time, I would highly recommend having an Answers in Genesis conference at your church.

Just a thought.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Was Jesus a Liar?

Jonathan Falwell has an excellent comment on Barak Obama's statement that moral Jews and Muslims are no less children of God than Christians. Read below.

Was Jesus a Liar?

“There are a lot of Jewish people who are just as moral, or even more moral than I am. There are a lot of Muslims who are decent, good, kind people. I don’t think they are any less children of God.” — Senator and presidential candidate Barrack Obama, during a speech this week in Greensboro, N.C.

I find the first part of Sen. Obama’s recent statement to be quite reasonable. In fact, I don’t believe that Christians have cornered the market on decency. (If you don’t believe me, try reading some of my e-mails or taking a few of my phone calls!)

The problem I have with Sen. Obama’s statement is that he was implying that these qualities — goodness and decency and kindness — make us children of God and serve as a means to heaven.

If he wants to believe that, it is certainly his prerogative. However, the problem is this: such sentiment is not what the Bible teaches. According to God’s Word, neither our benevolence, our compassion or our earthly deeds have any bearing on the ultimate destination of our soul.

The only way to heaven, according to Jesus Christ, is belief in Him.

Now, I know that this is not fashionable speech these days. One is seen as being provincial or narrow-minded when expressing such convictions, especially in this age of multiculturalism and diversity.

But listen to the words of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14: 6, NKJV).

There is no ambiguity in Jesus’ words. Notice that Jesus did not say that He was “a way” or “one truth.” Rather, he clearly stated that He was “the way.”

He offers no other option.

As representatives of Christ, we are certainly commanded to be caring and at work for God. The Book of James is full of instruction showing that our faith is to be accompanied by good works.

But the point of James is this: our works are representative of our faith in Christ — not the other way around.

The Book of James, written in A.D. 49 to Jewish believers who were reviled by Rome, serves as encouragement to modern Christians who are similarly despised by “mainstream” society.

We find solace in this book because our belief in Christ, as well as our work for Him, often places us at the outskirts of modern thought and “progressive” culture that have no room for the absolutes of the Bible.

Is Jesus Old News?

I find that many people today take this type of position regarding Jesus: “His words were once relevant, but society has changed.”

Let’s look to a couple of biblical passages to address such notions.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

“The counsel of the Lord stands forever …” (Psalm 33:11).

If we are to believe the Bible, Jesus remains relevant today. And He continues to offer salvation to all!

Here’s the bottom line: Every person must come to a place in life wherein they either accept Jesus at His word, or they reject Him.

Indeed, He either truly is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, or He is a liar.

If we follow Christ, we cannot then:

* mold the Bible to fit our needs.
* treat Jesus as simply a “good man.”
* embellish the Gospel with man’s ideas.

We must accept Him or reject Him as He is.

I want to close by saying that I have not written this column with the purpose of criticizing Sen. Obama. Even though I regularly disagree with him, he seems like a genuinely compassionate man who has a desire to serve his nation.

I have written this column solely to advance the cause of Jesus Christ.

I believe Jesus continues to call everyone to Him, even today!

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kirk Cameron and John MacArthur on Salvation

Moment of Truth

Great thought from Dr. Ergun Caner.

How would you like to have your personal "dirty laundry" exposed on national television? What if you were paid to humiliate yourself? What could possibly be worse as a premise for a television show? Moment of Truth on the Fox Network plays truth or dare with the intimate details of people's lives that they willingly expose to public embarrassment for the sake of prize money. Recently, Lauren Cheri humiliated her husband before a nationwide audience; admitting to cheating on her husband of two years and wanting to be with her old boyfriend. She won the round where she admitted her infidelity; she lost it all when she responded "yes" to the question: Do you consider yourself a good person?

Her response to this question is a mirror into the human condition. She said she considered herself a good person, and lost it all when the lie was detected. She refused to admit that she was not a good girl. Americans have it engrained in them that they are basically good. This is a lie straight out of hell and her conscience testified against her. Her pride was her downfall; she lost the cash and perhaps more than that, because she was too proud to judge herself.

Jesus, in denouncing the human habit of covering up sin, warned that what is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. Sin will be exposed; lies will be detected. In fact, THE SIN OFFERING, was exposed on the cross of Calvary, making it possible for foolish sinners like the Cheris, like all of us, to have a safe place to admit our failures. Easter makes it possible to turn our lives over to Jesus Christ, the sinless One who died for us and rose again, declaring victory over the foolishness of sin, the fearfulness of the grave, and the awesome judgment of separation from God for all eternity. Easter Sunday is mankind's moment of truth. Because Jesus rose from the grave, He sits at the right hand of heaven's throne ready to receive repentant sinners, and ready to judge those who try to bluff their way into heaven.

Lauren Cheri tried to bluff her way to temporary riches and it did not work. However, this network offering for the titillation of the masses is child's play next to the real moment of truth all of us will face before God, and the consequences will be far better or worse than simply winning or losing prize money. Before the judgement seat, however, no one will be able to bluff their way into God's eternal presence. Better to be honest before God and with ourselves; admitting our need for a Savior now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Cheasters

This morning (Easter Sunday) our church, along with churches all over the world celebrated the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We had, as I’m sure most churches did, a very large crowd. We had a great day of worship with baptism, singing, prayer, Scripture reading, and the proclamation of the Word. My message was entitled "The Day Death Died." I proclaimed the good news that Jesus Christ arose from the dead defeating sin, death, and the grave.

Many of those who attended today are what the Mobile Register called Cheasters in an article entitled Churches Want You in the Door. Cheasters are “those who attend worship services on Christmas and Easter only." Many pastors are critical if not saddened concerning those who show up at church on Easter Sunday, but will not any other time, except maybe Christmas. They feel that Cheasters should be condemned for their apathetic approach to worship of the risen Savior.

I am not of this same opinion. As a pastor, I approach Easter worship with an expectancy that maybe today some Cheasters will get saved. The swell of attendance on Easter Sunday indicates that there are still those who realize they have a fundamental need for God.

Easter Sunday is a day for true Believers everywhere to come together to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ (which in reality is what we do every Sunday) and to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the prayer that some (yes, even Cheasters) may confess and repent of their sin, receive Jesus as Savior and surrender to Him as Lord.

According to the article, “Research from the Barna Group showed that nearly 60 percent of those who hadn’t attended church during the past year considered themselves to be Christians.” I believe, however, that 100 percent of those who chose to not attend church during the past year desperately need to be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of them attended Easter worship services today, giving pastors everywhere, a wonderful opportunity to reach them.

Usually, we must go out into the community to reach those who don’t attend church. On Easter Sunday, however, they come to us. This morning, my church had over 800 in attendance in our two worship services. This is a lot for our church. Many of those who attended today have not darkened the doorway of any church since last Easter. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that I should not be critical or judge these Cheasters, but it was my responsibility to simply proclaim His Word to them in the prayer that some would get saved.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Is attending church a biblical mandate?

On March 8 the Mobile Press-Register published a letter to the editor from Neal Parker. In the letter Neal stated that he and his wife are "Believing Christian conscientioius objectors to organized religion." He and his wife quit attending church because of some bad experiences they had in church. Following is a response letter I sent to the editor.

On March 8 the Mobile Press-Register published a letter to the editor from Neal Parker under the headline Church not being a church. In the letter he stated, “The church is not acting like it is the church, and has not for centuries.” He stated that he grew up and was saved in church. He quit attending , however, because each week, his pastor continued to preach that he and the congregation were “sorry, unfaithful backsliders.” His wife quit attending when, as a child, she was told that she could not bring a black friend to Vacation Bible School. He says that he and his wife are Christians who have chosen to be “conscientious objectors to organized religion.”

I am the first to admit that the church is far from perfect. But an imperfect church is not an excuse for your own disobedience. Based on God’s Word, I believe that those who profess Christ but reject attending church cannot be Christians.

Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), therefore, His Word is as relevant for today as it was when He first revealed His Word to the biblical authors. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about attending corporate worship.

First, from the very beginning God commanded that His people gather together for the purpose of worship and instruction. Deuteronomy 31:12 says, “Assemble the people--men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns--so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.” There were no exclusions. All of God’s people were to assemble. Hebrews 10:25 commands, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” Corporate worship is a biblical command. Disobeying God’s command to participate in corporate worship is no less rebellion against God than disobeying God’s command to not judge or to love one another.

Second, in Ephesians, Paul describes the church as the bride of Christ whom Jesus loves so much that He sacrificed Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25). If I told you, “I love you but I can’t stand your wife,” you would be very offended and our relationship would be strained at best. Likewise, when a person says, “I love Jesus, but I do not want to have anything to do with the church,” his relationship with Christ is not right.

Also in Ephesians 5 and in Colossians 1 Paul refers to Christ as the “head” and the church as the “body.” In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul explains how the body (the church) is made up of individual Believers who work together for the purpose of building up the church. To refuse to be a part of the body is to reject God’s plan for our lives and for His church. In a sense, by acting on our own, we claim that we have a better plan than God does. There is a lot of pride and arrogance in such thinking.

Finally, the New Testament describes what constitutes true corporate worship. New Testament worship includes praise (Heb. 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:9), corporate prayer (1Tim. 2:8; cf. Phil. 4:6), singing (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19), Scripture reading (Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27; 1 Tim. 4:13), preaching (1Tim. 4:6-16; 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 20:7-9), and communion (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20).

By not being involved in corporate worship we are not participating in the very acts of worship that God has ordained for us. It is the Christian’s greatest privilege to stand with fellow believers, in the presence of God, to offer up to Him the sacrifice of praise which is due His name. Corporate worship today is preparation for worship in eternity.

Just a thought!

Friday, March 7, 2008

"There are lots of ideas of what leadership is. 1 : The office or position of a leader. 2 : Capacity to lead. 3 : The act or an instance of leading" - Merriam Webster

The simplest and best definitions of leadership I have heard come from Chuck Swindoll and John Maxwell.

"Leader is inspiring influence." - Chuck Swindoll.

"Leadership is influence"- John Maxwell

Leadership is influencing others thoughts or feelings to bring about a desired outcome through their actions. There is a big difference between leading through power or position and leading through respect. Many people can simply force people to do what they want because they have the power or the position to make them. However, few people like to be forced to do anything. Eventually such “power driven leadership” destroys relationships. On the other hand, some have the ability to lead through respect. R espect is something you gain – it’s given to you by the people you positively influence. How does one gain respect from those they lead? Only through service and sacrifice. When people see that you have their best interests at heart, when they see you are willing to sacrifice and serve them you will earn their respect and they will be willing to follow.

That’s servant leadership. Jesus, the greatest leader in human history, said, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).