Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why I Believe the Virgin Birth to be True

The Virgin birth of Christ has always been fundamental to our Christian faith. It has been foundational that the deity of Jesus Christ rested squarely on the historical fact that a virgin named Mary did conceive and give birth without any contribution on the part of any man.

In 385 A.D. the Apostles Creed took its final shape. Although Baptists do not cite the Apostles Creed because of our own church tradition, most Christians around the world recite the Apostles Creed every Sunday of the Christian year with few exceptions. Millions have stated for 1600 years that Jesus Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. It did not occur to any orthodox Christian to even question that until the mid 19th century when, on the campus of a liberal university, the question was raised, "How can anyone believe that in a modern scientific age?"

It is obvious that the virgin birth can neither be proved nor disproved by normal historical methodology. I mean by that, there is no way to go back and to observe what actually happened. At the bottom line it comes back to the same place that every question of Christian belief ultimately stands or falls: "What do you think of the Bible?" For the Word of God says the conception of Jesus was a supernatural act of God through the Holy Spirit in Mary’s life.

Three reasons why I believe the virgin birth to be a factual historical event.

I. It is the Affirmation of Scripture.
Luke stresses this three times in his gospel. In Luke 1:27 he writes "To a virgin pledged to be married." and "The virgin's name was Mary." In verse 34 Mary says, "I am a virgin."  It's the word in Greek which has one explicit meaning; she was one who had never known a man physically.

Luke, in the opening words of the gospel told us how he wrote it; “it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3).  How did Luke investigate this? I believe that while Paul was imprisoned at Caesarea, Luke, who was traveling with Paul, took advantage of his presence there to find the aging mother of Jesus to talk with Mary about the birth of her Son.  Luke was obviously meticulous in his research for he said, “having followed all things closely for some time past,..” (Luke 1:3).

The virgin birth writes a label over Bethlehem which says, Not made by man.  Joseph couldn't have produced it. Mary left to herself could not have produced it.  Humankind could not have produced it.  There are only three options concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. One is that Joseph is the natural father of Jesus Christ by an act of physical union with Mary. The second is Jesus was the product of a physical union by Mary and another man. That was the Jewish viewpoint. They even gave him a name Panthera, a Roman soldier. The final option is that the birth of Jesus Christ was the coming together of the Holy Spirit upon Mary’s life and that embryo that was formed was a direct miraculous intervention of God.

Consider the options. First, if Jesus Christ was the natural son of Joseph and Mary, then what we hold in Luke 1 and 2 and in Matthew 1 is: a bold faced lie.  Therefore, when we gather to worship we worship a lie.

Second, If Jesus was born of Mary and another man, then again, a shadow is cast over the Christian faith. Deuteronomy 22 tells us that one who is betrothed to another, if she were unfaithful, was subject to death by stoning. If this were not an act of God, you can be sure that Joseph, a faithful Jew, would not have married her because she officially belonged to another man. Once again a shadow is cast over the Christian faith.

The only other option is what the Word of God says. By a direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, Mary was with child. That is the witness of Luke's Gospel, which was written by a highly educated practicing physician. It is also complimented by Matthew's witness.

“Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18-20).

Luke was written in one time somewhere in the Roman empire. Matthew was written at another time somewhere else in the Roman empire. Luke was written from Mary's perspective while Matthew was written from Joseph's perspective. Both gospels confirm that Jesus was born of a virgin.

The deity of Jesus Christ rests squarely on the intervention of God in a super-natural way in the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The virgin birth is not only the affirmation of Scripture.  It is also...

II. The Expectation of Prophecy.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:22-23). The prophet Isaiah, 700 years before the coming of Christ, foretold of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. There are other prophesies as well that came to pass. Malachi foretold that Jesus would be preceded by a forerunner which is fulfilled by John the Baptist. In Genesis is the prophecy that Jesus would be a descendant of Abraham. He was. In Numbers 24 it was foretold that Jesus would be from the line of Jacob. He was. In Genesis chapter 49 it was foretold that Jesus would be from the tribe of Judah. He was. Micah foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. He was.. The Psalmist said that Jesus would be declared the Son of God. He was.

His Galilean Ministry, that He would speak in Parables, that he would be rejected by His own people, that He would be accused by a false witness, that He would be spat on and struck and hated without reason, crucified, pierced through his hands and feet, no bones would be broken, His side would be pierced, that he would be buried with the rich, the fact of his resurrection, and the fact of His ascension; all of these were prophesied in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. And every one of them occurred in the Life of Jesus Christ just as they were foretold by Old Testament men of God. The virgin birth is the prophecy of Scripture.  The virgin birth is also...

III. The Confirmation of Tradition
We read that Mary was betrothed or pledged. That was more than our engagement and less than our marriage. Betrothal took place sometime between the 12th and the 13th year of a Hebrew girls life in first century Palestine. Mary would have been a very young teenage girl according to custom. Betrothal was begun with a contract that was signed by both families. That contract included a dowry given by the young lady and a bond that was posted by her husband to be. It was called the ketuba. The ketuba bond said that if he in any way defaulted, that is, if he died or if he were unfaithful, she would receive the money in order to sustain her in that society.

During that betrothal year the girl lived with friends. Very significant is that unfaithfulness during this period was punishable by death, usually by stoning. The confirmation of tradition is that Mary would have risked a horrible death itself to have been found in the condition which she found herself.

The Baptist Faith and Message states: "Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary."  This I believe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Songs

I love to listen to Christmas music.  I start listening to Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day and that's pretty much all I listen to through Christmas Day.  I thought I would list some of my favorite Christmas songs and albums just for fun.  Let me know what some of your favorites are.

Here are my top favorite Christmas albums:

At our house, it just wouldn't seem like Christmas if we didn't hear Neil Diamond singing Christmas songs.  My family and I have been listening to this album for many years and it still ranks as one of my favorite Christmas albums.  His Christmas Album Volume II is also excellent.

Eric Horner's Christmas album "He Is Born" is excellent.  Eric is a friend of mine and has sung at First Baptist a couple of times.  He has a special heart for our men and women in service.  I really enjoy listening to him sing on this album.

Casting Crowns' "Peace on Earth" is absolutely wonderful.  It ranks at the very top of my favorite Christmas albums.  The music and the message of this album will bless any one who listens to it.

The Carpenters' "Christmas Portrait" is a Christmas tradition.  Karen Carpenter, in my humble opinion, is one of the best female vocalists of all time.

Chicago 25 is one of Chicago's best albums.  Chicago has a sound that is unquely theirs.  They bring that sound to this Christmas album.  I love the harmonies and the sounds of the brass instruments in this album.

I love anything by Kenny G.  I sit many hours reading with his music playing in the background.  Kenny G "Miracles" and Kenny G "Wishes" are two of my top favorite Christmas albums.

Here's a list of some of my favorite music. Let me know what your favorites are ...

Top Christmas Carols
1) O Holy Night
2) Silent Night
3) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
4) Joy to the Word
5) I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
6) The Birthday of the King
7) O Come All Ye Faithful
8) The First Noel
9) Go, Tell It on the Mountain
10) Angels, from the Realms of Glory

Top Christmas Classics (or soon to become classics)
1) I’ll Be Home for Christmas
2) It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
3) White Christmas
4) Frosty the Snow Man
5) Tennessee Christmas
6) The Christmas Shoes
7) It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
8) Sleigh Ride
9) Silver Bells
10) Do You Hear What I Hear?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pray for the 2010 Alabama Baptist Convention


November 16-17, 2010
Hunter Street Baptist Church, Hoover, Alabama

THEME: Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

8:45 Call to Order Jimmy Jackson
   Birmingham Baptist Association Mike McLemore
   Hunter Street Baptist Church, Hoover Buddy Gray
Congregational Music Joe Hopkins
Invocation Harold Sellers
8:55 Enrollment of Messengers Mary Sue Bennett
9:00 Committee on Order of Business Charles Carter
9:05 Committee Appointments Jimmy Jackson
9:10 Memorial Service Harold Hancock
9:20 Alabama Baptist Ministers Benefit Society Paul Moore
9:25 Introduction of Resolutions Henry Cox
9:30 Congregational Music Joe Hopkins
9:35 Miscellaneous Business
10:05 Across Alabama Testimony Sammy Gilbreath
10:30 Education Commission Melba Brown
10:40 Board of Aid for Students in Church Related Vocations Raymond Hutchison
10:50 Judson College David Potts
11:00 University of Mobile Mark Foley
11:10 Samford University Andrew Westmoreland
11:20 Presentation of Convention President Rick Lance
11:25 Special Music Joe Hopkins
11:30 President's Address Jimmy Jackson
11:55 Benediction Terry Herald

1:30 Presession Music Alabama Singing Women & Alabama Singing Men
1:45 Congregational Music Jeff Stith
Invocation Charles Autery
1:50 Special Music Alabama Singing Women &  Alabama Singing Men
1:55 Across Alabama Testimony Sammy Gilbreath
2:15 Report of Executive Director Rick Lance
2:30 State Board of Missions Travis Coleman
Cooperative Program Recognitions Jim Swedenburg
Report of Inter-Baptist Fellowship Committee Edwin Velez
Recognition of Volunteer of the Year Reggie Quimby
3:30 Miscellaneous Business
3:40 ALCAP Report Joe Godfrey
3:50 Audit Committee Melissa Sahagun
3:55 Insurance Committee Reyn Norman
4:00 Resolutions Committee Henry Cox
4:10 Committee on Boards and Commissions Bill Hart
4:20 Committee on Committees Sammie Reid
4:30 Time, Place, and Preacher Committee Sid Nichols
4:40 Benediction Kevin C. Wilburn

6:40 p.m. Presession Music……………………………………Hunter Street Orchestra
6:45 Invocation
Special Music………………………………… Hunter Street Featured Choir
Message………………………………… Rick Lance

8:30 Presession Music Paula Kornegay-music director, FBC Pelham
8:45 Congregational Music Keith Hibbs
Invocation Carlos Gomez
8:50 Alabama Baptist Christian Life Commission Mitzi Holladay
9:00 Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center Buster Taylor
9:10 Woman’s Missionary Union, Auxiliary Candace McIntosh
9:20 The Baptist Foundation of Alabama Barry Bledsoe
9:30 Election of Officers
9:45 The Alabama Baptist Bob Terry
9:55 Alabama Baptist Children's Homes & Family Ministries Paul Miller
10:05 Alabama Baptist Retirement Centers William H. Austin
10:15 Alabama Baptist Historical Commission Lonette Berg
10:25 Resolutions Committee Report Henry Cox
10:35 Previously Scheduled Business/Election of Officers (if needed)
10:45 Congregational Music Keith Hibbs
10:50 Introduction of Convention Preacher Jimmy Jackson
Special Music Brent Coleman, member, FBC Prattville
Scripture Mike Shaw
11:05 Convention Sermon Travis Coleman
11:30 Introduction of Convention Officers Rick Lance
11:35 Benediction - Adjournment Dennis Smith

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where Character Begins in Children

Christ didn't live and die just to offer us salvation.  He came to teach us character through demonstrating a lifestyle that pleases God. It is through His example that we can learn how to live, even if we've had really bad parents on this earth.  So, there's no excuse for parents not to be a good example of strong character to their children.

Very good thoughts by Mark Gregston.  Read the whole article here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Power of an Encouraging Word

     A study was done by psychologist Henry H. Goddard on energy levels in children.  He hooked children up to a device called an ergograph to see how they would respond to the words of others.  He found that when tired children were given a word of praise or commendation, the ergograph showed they experienced an immediate surge in energy.  But when the children were criticized or discouraged, the device showed their energy took a sudden nosedive.
     Never underestimate the power of an encouraging word.

From Encouragement Changes Everything by John Maxwell.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On God and Encouragement

God's love for us gives us
the reason to encourage others.

God's love in us gives us
the ability to encourage others.

God's love through us gives us
the way to encourage others.

John Maxwell

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Six Reasons You Need a Sunday School Class

The following is a slight revision of an article written by Rick Warren to his church on why they should be involved in Small Groups.  The reasons he gives are applicable to why members of First Baptist Church should be in a Sunday School Class (Group).

It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family.
It’s a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. You learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor 12:26). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the connection God intends for us to have (Eph. 4:16, Rom. 12:4–5, Col. 2:19, 1 Cor. 12:25).

REAL fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 Jn 3:16). This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects you to show other believers—loving them in the same way Jesus loves you.

A Sunday School Group helps me develop spiritual muscle.
You’ll never grow to maturity just by attending worship services and being a passive spectator. One of the main tools of spiritual growth is participation in a small group, where your spiritual muscles get a regular workout. “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).

Over fifty times in the New Testament the phrase “one another” or “each other” is used. We‘re commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other, and many other mutual tasks! These are your “family responsibilities” if you claim to be a part of God’s family.

Who are you doing these with? Isolation breeds self-deception. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re mature if there is no one to challenge us. Real maturity shows up in relationships. We need more than the Bible in order to grow; we need other believers. When others share what God is teaching them, I learn and grow too!

A Sunday School Group confirms my identity as a genuine believer.
I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). When we come together in love as a Sunday School group from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and social status, it’s a witness to the world (Galatians 3:28, John 17:21).

You’re not the Body of Christ on your own. You need others to express that. Together, not separated, we are His Body (1 Cor. 12:27).

A Sunday School Group is the best way to take my God-given mission in the world.
When Jesus walked the earth, even he had a small group! Today the church is Christ’s Body on earth. We’re not just to love each other; we’re to take that love together to the rest of the world. We’re His hands, His feet, His eyes, and His heart. He works through us in the world. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).

A Sunday School Group will help keep me from spiritually backsliding.
None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I are capable of any sin. God knows this, so He has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track. The Bible says, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness” (Heb 3:13).

“Mind your own business” is NOT a Christian idea when it comes to helping each other! We’re commanded to be involved in each other’s lives. If you know someone who is wavering spiritually right now, it’s your responsibility to go after them and bring them back into the fellowship. “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

Related to this is the benefit that being connected to a Sunday School group provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives shepherd leaders such as a Sunday School Leader or a pastor, the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock “They keep watch over you as men who must give an account” (Heb 13:17). If you’re detached from the First Baptist Body of believers, I’m not responsible for you. If you are unplugged from the life of the Body and isolated from the fellowship of God’s family, Satan knows you’ll be defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

The Body of Christ needs me!
You have a background and experiences that other people can learn from and draw strength from! God has a unique role for you to play in his family. This is called your “ministry,” and God has gifted you for this assignment. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). Your Sunday School group is the place God designed for you to discover, develop, and use your spiritual gifts and talents.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Disciple University

Are you interested in growing deeper, developing your leadership skills and learning more about what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ?  Disciple University is for you.  Disciple University is a new disciple making strategy that we are currently working on and will be sharing with our church family later this Fall.  The kick off for "Disciple U" will be Sunday, January 9, 2011 with a "Disciple U" preview.

The purpose of Disciple U is very simple; to help all members of First Baptist Church to become fruitful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In "Disciple U" members will learn everything from the basic Christian disciplines to how to share their faith at home and abroad.  Disciple U will be divided into four spiritual growth levels.

100 level courses will focus on how to know Christ.
200 level courses will focus on how to grow in Christ.
300 level courses will focus on how to serve Christ.
400 level courses will focus on how to share Christ.

You will be hearing a lot more about "Disciple U" in the months to come.  Exciting things are happening at First Baptist Church, Foley.  Come check it out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Encounters with God

I am really excited about preparing and bringing the messages from my new series entitled "Encounters with God".  In the months to come we will look in God's Word at Abraham's, Jacob's, Moses', Gideon's, Isaiah's, Jeremiah's, and others life changing encounters with God.  We will see that when each of these had a personal encounter with God, God revealed something of Himself and His plan for them and for those around them.

You may think that only people in the past encountered God; that God met people in the Bible, but He doesn’t do it today.  But Jesus told John on the Isle of Patmos, "I am the One Who was, Who is and Who is to come." This means Jesus will live in the future, He lives today!  Christ can meet you today; that’s why I am excited about embarking on this study.  We will spend the next 6 months in this series and we will learn and grow together as we study these extraordinary encounters with God.  Their lives were dramatically changed and so will yours when you have a real and personal encounter with God.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Burning the Koran

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainsville, FL has set Sunday, Sept 11 aside as "International Burn a Koran Day."  He claims that the purpose of this burning is to bring awareness to the dangers of Islam.  I firmly hold that the beliefs of Islam will lead those who hold to those beliefs to an eternity in hell cut off from the presence of the one true God in heaven.  Yet, I wholeheartedly agree with Chuck Colson that Pastor Jones's plan is irresponsible and dangerous.  I also believe it lacks spiritual discernment.  He has not thought through the implications of his actions.  Moreover, he will forever lose his opportunity to be an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ to Muslims.

Click the link to read Chuck Colson's article.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How the Church Works Together

This Sunday I will continue my series on "How the Church Works Together."  We will be talking about "Fellowship: How the Body of Christ Relates to One Other."

There is a story I came across from a marvelous Baptist pastor named Ron Dunn.  Dunn suggested that once upon a time there was a body where the eyes convinced all of the other parts of the body that the gift of SIGHT was the only important gift. They admitted that there were other gifts, but they ranked all of them below SIGHT and wanted all of those in leadership positions within the church to have SIGHT.  What's more, they couldn't admit that SIGHT was only the right gift for those whom God had called to be eyes. They insisted that if all of the other body parts and organs were really, really spiritual enough and beseeched God enough, they could have the gift of SIGHT, too. They scheduled prayer meetings for the other organs and body parts to pray through for SIGHT. They scheduled training courses on "Learning to See."

Now in that same body, there were some toes which had low self-esteem. They didn't understand that God had given them the gift of BALANCE. They didn't understand that even though they were often hidden and were never given any praise, God had called them to the vital ministry of BALANCE. They felt guilty that their gift couldn't do more. They felt like they weren't spiritual enough. So, they prayed and prayed, begging God to give them the gift of SIGHT. And since this is only a story where body parts act like people, I can say that God eventually gave in. Even though God knew the toes didn't need this gift, God gave them the gift of SIGHT. And do you know what they saw? They saw the inside of a sock.

Like the toes, you may not be satisfied with or even recognize the ministry that God has given you, but if you had the same gift as somebody else, you might not like the result. God knows what is best for us and has graciously given us spiritual gifts according to our ministry--what we do, not our title. This is key.  It is precisely the variety of gifts that allows the church to function in true fellowship and ministry (I Cor. 12; Eph. 4:12-16).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Biblical Worship

I came across this great quote on true worship by Warren Wiersbe.

True biblical worship so satisfies our total personality that we don’t have to shop around for man-made substitutes. William Temple made this clear in his masterful definition of worship: “For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose—and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 119.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Flooding in Galati, Romania

This is where we will be next week.
Romanian authorities said severe flooding was wreaking havoc across much of the country after rain-swollen rivers burst their banks and killed 22 people this week, destroying crops, bridges and hundreds of homes.

Despite protection dams, more than 2,000 people were evacuated from the eastern village of Saucesti on Friday after the River Siret broke through and inundated a hundred local homes.

In the eastern province of Galati, the Danube River passed record water levels previously attained in 2006.

Visiting one affected region on Friday, Romanian president Traian Basescu assured flood victims that they would be provided with building materials for new homes.

But northern and central parts or Romania will remain on code yellow alert for rain until Monday morning, as the possibility of further flooding continues.

Twenty-two people have died as a result of flooding in the past week.

See more and video here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Christians Persecuted in Morrocco

Following the expulsion of more than 40 foreign Christians in March, officials of the majority-Muslim country expelled another 26 foreign Christians in May without due process. The latest incident brings the total number of deportations to 105 since early March 2010. Sources say the deportations are the result of Muslim hardliners pressuring the nation's royalty to show Islamic solidarity.

Christians and expert observers are calling this a calculated effort to purge the historically moderate country of all Christian elements - both foreign and national. Legal sources said that according to Moroccan law, foreigners who have lived in the country for more than 10 years cannot be deported unless they are accused of a crime. They have the right to appeal the deportation order within 48 hours. Still almost none of the recent deportees were able to appeal their deportation as most were forcefully escorted out of the country. (Source: Compass Direct News)

Please Pray!
Please pray for the Christians who have been unjustly deported from Morocco and their families. Many were forced to leave behind their wives, children, communities and businesses without even saying goodbye. Pray also for local Christians who have been experiencing increased persecution in recent days. Ask God to soften the hearts of the Moroccan officials toward Christians and bring them into a saving relationship with Him.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Splendor of the Savior

I came across this old hymn by Josiah Conder that really moved me while I was reading and studying on the Diety of Christ.

THOU art the everlasting Word,
The Father's only Son;
God manifest, God seen and heard,
The heaven's beloved One;
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!

In Thee, most perfectly expressed,
The Father's self doth shine;
Fulness of Godhead, too: the Blest,
Eternally Divine;
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!

Image of the Infinite Unseen,
Whose being none can know;
Brightness of light no eye hath seen,
God's love revealed below;
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!

The higher mysteries of Thy fame
The creature's grasp transcend;
The Father only Thy blest name
Of Son can comprehend.
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!

Yet loving Thee, on whom His love
Ineffable doth rest,
The worshippers, O Lord, above,
As one with Thee, are blest;
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!

Of the vast universe of bliss,
The centre Thou, and Sun;
The eternal theme of praise is this,
To Heaven's beloved One,
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou,
That every knee to Thee should bow!

Josiah Conder, 1789-1855

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Festival of Champions

This Sunday our church, along with a number of other churchs from central and south Baldwin County, will be hosting the "Festival of Champions." This will be a fun filled event for the whole family. There are activities for all ages. The most important part of this event will be the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to encourage all of our Foley First Baptist members to attend the event, but most importantly bring someone with you. For more information check it out here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico and the Care of Creation

I came across the following article concerning the current oil slick crisis in the Gulf. A must read for all Believers but especially those living along the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf of Mexico and the Care of Creation
Russell Moore: Dean of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

As I type this, I am looking out at the Gulf of Mexico. You could have seen a similar sight out the window of the hospital where I was born, just a few miles down the road here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Now, though, those waters I grew up with, gently lapping against the sand, are threatening to bring with them millions of gallons of oil, spewing up from an exploded rig out in the Gulf. Five years after Hurricane Katrina leveled this hometown of mine, it is bracing for the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States.

Some conservatives, and some conservative evangelicals, act as though "environmentalism" is by definition "liberal" or even just downright silly. Witness a lot of the evangelical rhetoric across social media on Earth Day a while back: mostly Al Gore jokes and wisecracks about cutting down trees or eating endangered species as a means of celebration.

Do some environmentalists reject the dignity of humanity? Yes. Do some replace the reverence for creation with that due the Creator? Of course. This happens in the same way some do the same thing with reverence for economic profit or any other finite thing.

There's nothing conservative though, and nothing "evangelical," about dismissing the conservation of the natural environment. And the accelerating Gulf crisis reminds us something of what's at stake.

The incoming tsunami of oil isn't just about the beaches, although that will be environmentally and economically catastrophic. Just as problematic is the creeping of the oil into the inland estuaries and marshes and waterways. The crisis could potentially destroy the eco-systems of birds, shrimp, oysters, and other lifeforms.

Does God care about baby shrimp? I would argue, yes; God cares for the sparrow that falls to the ground (Matt. 10:29). But, even if you disagree with me on that, consider how God loves those who are "of more value than many sparrows" (Matt. 10:30).

Shrimpers here in Biloxi are mourning the potential loss of more than just an industry but a way of life handed down, at least to some of them, from multiple generations before them. If shrimping collapses, so does tourism, apart from the in and out predation of the casinos dotting the shoreline.

Just as significant, though, are the ways the balance of ecology affects people in ways we never consider or notice, until it's threatened. God gave his image-bearing humanity dominion over the natural creation (Gen. 1:28). But this isn't a pharaoh-like dominion; it's a Christ-like dominion. Humans aren't made of ether; we're made of Spirit-enlivened mud. We come from the earth, and we must receive from the earth what we need to survive, in the form of light from the sun, oxygen from plants, and food from the ground.

God knows that we need the natural creation (what we so reductionistically call an "environment"). He exults in it throughout the Psalms and in his speech to Job about his mysterious ways. Jesus continually retreats into the silent places of the mountains and the hills and the deserts, sometimes in the fellowship of only the wild beasts (Mark 1:13). We are built to recognize God in the creation (Rom. 1:18-21), and we need more than just what we can pave over and build in order to flourish.

This is why the Scriptures speak of eternal life in the metaphor of a river that causes the waters to teem with life, with many kind of fish, and vegetation thriving on the banks (Ezek. 47:9-12). This is why one aspect of Jesus' kingship is to make the waters teem with fish, right in the presence of his commercial fishermen disciples (John 21:3-8), And this is why the Scriptures consider it an apocalypse when the waters are poisoned, and the sea-life is gone (Rev. 8:8-9).

We need the creation around us, including the waters and all they contain, because we are not gods. We are creatures who thrive when we live as we were made to live. We exercise dominion over the creation not only when we use it, but also when we conserve it for the generations who will come after.

So pray for the Gulf Coast, that the oil wouldn't devastate a people and a land already devastated by so much. As you do, remember: real conservatives protect what God loves.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Great Commission Resurgence Report

GCR Final Report from GCR on Vimeo.

Community Prayer Breakfast

Join us this Thursday, May 6, for our Community Prayer Breakfast.
Starts at 7:00 AM.

The event is free.

This is another Love LOUD event of First Baptist Church.

The theme for this year's National Day of Prayer is “Prayer for Such a Time as This” and is based on the verse from Nahum 1:7 which states: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

What an appropriate and timely theme for "such a time as this" in our Gulf Coast Community. Let's join together this Thursday in prayer for our community.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ages 18-23 Leaving Church at Alarming Rate

A must read article from USA Today. How are we, as a church, going to address this issue?

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Protestant churches are losing young adults in "sobering" numbers, a survey finds. Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.

"This is sobering news that the church needs to change the way it does ministry," says Ed Stetzer, director of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Read whole article here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

On Scripture

"We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgments instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunderclap of God’s, then indeed He will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior." John Stott, Authentic Christianity

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pastors Leading Sunday School

I need your help. I'm preparing a teaching session on the different ways Pastors lead or visibly support their Sunday Schools or Small Groups. I'm interested in specifics such as:

  • Do you teach a class?
  • In what specific ways do you encourage Small Group Bible study attendance?
  • Do you attend a class?
  • How do you, as a pastor, encourage your teachers?
  • Are you involved in teacher recruiting or training?
  • etc.

Your name and church info would be nice but not necessary.

Thanks for your help.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Has the Resurrection Happened to You?

Like the first disciples, our greatest need is not just to see or hear about the resurrection, but to have the resurrection happen to us. Lloyd Ogilvie says, “The most powerful historical proof of the resurrection is the ‘resurrected’ disciples. Dull, defeated people became fearless, adventuresome leaders. Cowards became courageous; the timid became triumphant; the inept did the impossible. ‘He is risen!’ became the joyous chant of a new life without limits."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Emerald Coast Sunday School Leadership Conference

Here is a great leadership conference that I would encourage all of our Sunday School leaders to attend. If you are interested in going, contact the church office (943-8352) or email at to let us know. The church will pay your registration fee of $15.00. Deadline to register is Monday, April 19.

Location: Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola

Purpose: To Guide Sunday School Leaders to Develop Bible Teaching Knowledge and Skills and to Disciple Believers for Spiritual Transformation and to Connect with Lost and Un-churched People in the Community.

7:30 AM Registration
8:00 - 8:50 AM Bible Conferences

  • The Holy Spirits Work with the Church in Acts -Tim Coleman
  • Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die - Ross Lankford
  • Christs Teachings on the Kingdom - Jeff Howard
  • Why So Many Bible Translations? - David Spencer
  • Eight Callings of God - Ted Traylor

9:00 - 9:35 General Session: Transformed Leaders/Transformational Churches - David Francis
9:35 - 9:45 Moving Break

9:45 - 10:50 Leadership Track 1

  • Reaching and Assimilating Young Adults - Lauren Farmer
  • Preparing to Teach the Bible for Life Change - David Francis
  • Creating a Missional Small Groups Strategy - Scott Shoopman
  • The Pastors Role in Leading for Transformation -Billy Nale
  • Helping Kids Apply Biblical Truth - Ginger Owens
  • Connecting with your Community's Families- Brain Nall
  • 10:50-11:00 Moving Break

11:00 - 12:05 Leadership Track 2

  • Doing Sunday School and Small Group as a Team - Scott Shoopman
  • Five Steps for Sunday School Growth - David Francis
  • Teaching Young Adults for Spiritual Transformation - Lauren Farmer
  • Creating Safe Bible Learning Environments for Kids - Ginger Owens
  • Motivating Leaders to Serve with Excellence - Billy Nale

12:10 Lunch at church

Register now

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today I was asked, "How can your church most impact your community for Jesus Christ?" After thinking a minute I answered with two words, "Love LOUD!" I believe that Bible clearly teaches us that if we will show the love of Christ we will win a hearing to share the love of Christ.

John MacArthur said, "You don't define love, you describe it by action." I believe that's true. People respond when they see love in action.

Scripture puts it like this: "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt 5:16).

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (1 Jn 3:18) for "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26).

Let us Love LOUD!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love LOUD - 1 Cor 13

We showed this video during our Love LOUD kick off service.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This Sunday I will be introducing a new two year emphasis for our church called Love LOUD! This is based on 1 John 3:18: "Let us not love in word or talk but in actions and in truth."

Our church is looking for ways we can practically and visibly show the love of God in our community. In other words, we are looking for ministry ideas.

What ideas do you have? What have you done that worked well? What are some things that your church has done that worked well to show the love of God to those in your community?

I'd like to hear from you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sleeping in Church

Do you have problems staying awake in church? Do you miss hearing a word from God because you're slumbering in the pew? Sleeping in the pew not only keeps you from having a real encounter with God on Sunday morning, it sets a bad example for children sitting around you. Here are some helpful tips.

1. Get more sleep.
The Sunday service is not for sleeping; the night before is. This requires planning, especially for young people, who like to use Saturday night as an opportunity to stay up as late as possible.

2. Sit closer to the front.
Almost without exception, the best listeners are in front. Whenever I am not preaching and I'm sitting in the pew when I visit a church or attending conferences, I make it a point to sit no further back than the second or third pew. Sitting close to the front enables me to listen and to better experience the whole worship service.

3. Minimize distractions.
If you must, find a better place to sit. If your children are the problem, “divide and conquer” by asking a relative or friend to sit with you. And don’t permit the Sunday shuffle to the restroom.

4. Use your Bibles.
I'm amazed at how many Christians show up to church without a Bible. It is difficult to follow the pastor’s line of thought without seeing the Bible text before you.

5. Take Notes.
Taking notes helps to keep your mind on the message as you listen for key words or thoughts to write down. A word of caution here though: Don't spend so much time writing that you miss a portion of the message. Key words or thoughts are enough to help you remember.

6. Discuss the Message with your family after the worship service.
While you are riding home or to your favorite restaurant, or while you are around the dinner table, make it a practice to briefly discuss the message with your spouse and children. Knowing you will be doing this will keep you accountable. Ask questions like, what one point or comment impacted you the most? How can we apply it to our lives this week?

When you sleep through a sermon you miss what may possibly be your best opportunity to hear from God that whole week. Take these steps that you don't miss hearing from God.

Parts of this article came from

Monday, January 25, 2010

Help for Haiti

Since the largest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti on the evening of Jan. 12, Southern Baptists and many other organizations have been mobilizing to offer disaster relief for the millions of people in need.

Here are ways you can help now:


  • Haiti earthquake, January 12, 2010Please pray for those who have been affected by the quake – those still trapped or homeless or injured or traumatized.
  • Pray for Haiti's 9 million people, more than 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line.
  • Pray for all those who are involved in the relief effort, that the Lord would give them strength.
  • Pray for those who are trying to organize people and resources to assist with the relief efforts.
  • Pray that God would stir up His people to respond with the love of Christ to help those in desperate need.
  • Pray that hope and peace will fill the hearts of Haitians.
  • Pray for International Mission Board (IMB) personnel in the Dominican Republic who will be training national believers in post-trauma counseling for Haiti earthquake victims.

The International Mission Board office of global prayer strategy is posting prayer needs at Pray for Haiti.

Haiti News Updates

For news updates regarding Haiti from a Christian perspective, please visit Help for Haiti News Updates to read articles from Baptist Press.

Copied from

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Reading List

These are some of the books I read in 2009 that I highly recommend. Listed in no particular order.

  1. The Attributes of God, A.W. Tozer
  2. The Attributes of God, Arthur Pink
  3. Knowing God, J.I. Packer
  4. God, Bill Bright
  5. The Love of God, John MacArthur
  6. Rediscovering Holiness, J.I. Packer
  7. Spectacular Sins, John Piper
  8. Leadership Gold, John Maxwell
  9. Quiet Strength, Tony Dungy
  10. Washington: The Indispensible Man, James Flexner
  11. Getting the Gospel Right, C. Gordon Olson
  12. Today Matters, John Maxwell
  13. Good to Great in God's Eyes, Chip Ingram