Taking Nothing For Granted

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In the past four weeks I have spoken at three memorial services. At the same time I have friends who have attended services for family who have died. I have never been through a season like this before in my 26 years of pastoral ministry.

Finally having time to sit and take stock of what I have just experienced has led to me to some familiar Scripture and some necessary commitments.

The familiar Scripture is Ephesians 5:15-16 which says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” In the previous verse Paul has shown how we live in a world of contrasts between death and life, darkness and light. We, as Christians, are called to shine the light of the gospel to expose the darkness and call those who are dead in sin to life in Christ. Verse 14 is a great evangelistic appeal saying, “Awake sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Faced with the real and often sudden nature of death leads me to resolve to never take anything for granted. We have no guarantees of tomorrow for ourselves or others. I must make the most of my time – buying it up – by investing in the eternal souls of those around me.

It can’t be enough to just live a Christian life and do church. The purpose of my Christian life and the purpose of the church is to exalt Jesus Christ and shine the light and life of the good news into a world of darkness and death so that people can receive eternal life in Christ and are prepared for the inevitability of death.

May the Lord help us to take nothing for granted and make the most of our time.

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CAMP ALIVE

7 grade

Next week I have the privilege of speaking to students at the Camp Alive Youth Camp! We will have Middle School and High School students attending and I will be speaking on the theme of “What I Wish I Had Known When I Was Their Age.” The picture here is photographic proof that I actually once was their age! This picture is from 7th grade.

When I was this age I was not a Christian and I didn’t even know a Christian so most of all I want the students at camp to know Jesus Christ. Please pray for me as I deliver 4 messages. Pray the Lord would use these messages to bring eternal life to those who need it.

Now is the Time

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There has been a lot of after-the-fact election discussion and disputation from people of all different perspectives. What’s going on almost reminds me of the 1960’s and 1970’s except that now marijuana is legal in several states.

And while we may define the issues differently, we all seem to be in agreement that our country is in a state of moral and spiritual decline. Even the coach of the San Antonio Spurs has declared, “We are Rome.” He seems to be comparing the decline of the Roman Empire with what he sees happening in America.

What Christians need to remember is that Christianity spread during the decline of the Roman Empire. Christians today are quick to point to Romans 1:18-32 as descriptive of our day, but they seem to forget that those were the conditions during the days of the early church and those believers “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

The early church appears to have believed in the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) and they saw the conditions of their day as ripe for the preaching of the Good News. Today, many conservative, Bible – believing Christians seem committed to defending the gospel (which is always important) and defining the gospel (an absolute necessity) but they don’t seem so eager to get out and proclaim the gospel. Now is the time for such proclamation.

The early church was also committed to prayer (Acts 1:14; Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4: 2-4; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). This kind of prayer fueled their evangelistic zeal and, no doubt, led to the fruit they experienced. Are conservative, Bible-teaching Christians committing themselves to pray like never before? Now is the time.

Back in the chaotic 60’s and 70’s many college students were saved because of the faithful prayers and gospel proclamation of believers. I know, because I was one of them. Chaos and confusion creates questions. The Bible gives authoritative and timeless answers. Let’s take the light of the gospel and point people to Jesus Christ.

Now is the time.

The 4th of July

Liberty BellThe 4th of July is special to me for many reasons.

When I was a young boy we lived in a neighborhood where firecrackers would be set off throughout the day, so I would go out an play “army man” with the firecrackers providing a “realistic” soundtrack.

When I was in college I majored in US History and still have a strong interest in the history of our country. Last fall, Roberta and I took a vacation to Boston and Philadelphia to take a “Revolutionary War” trip. That’s where we took the above picture. Philadelphia is also the city I was born in.

But the biggest thing about the 4th of July for me is the memory of July 4, 1976. 40 years ago today while our country was celebrating the 200th birthday of our nation, I was celebrating something far more significant.

40 years ago today I was baptized in a backyard swimming pool. My baptism was the outward expression of my inner commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. My baptism in water symbolized the fact that by faith I was identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection.In fact, I had died to my old life and had been risen to a new life in Jesus Christ. I was celebrating the salvation God had given me in Jesus Christ.

So this 4th of July I am thanking the Lord for all that He has done for me. I am also praying that this year we will see many more coming to faith in Christ and getting baptized in His Name.

The Clincher

Empty Tomb

The picture above is of the sign on the door of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. This Sunday we will be remembering Jesus’ resurrection and the angel’s statement that “He is Risen!”

I am so thankful for this Sunday we have set aside because it seems to me that the resurrection of Christ gets overlooked too often. If you ask people today to tell you what the gospel is the best you might hope for is, “Jesus died for my sins.” That is true, but if He didn’t rise from the dead, then you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).

But Jesus did rise from the dead! To me this is the clincher. Lot’s of people can claim to be religious leaders or teachers of religious truth. Lot’s of people can claim that they know the way to God. What sets Jesus apart is that He rose from the dead so He not only shows you the way to God but He is THE WAY to God (John 14:6).

Jesus made this claim, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if He dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Then Jesus asked the most penetrating question, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Well, do you believe this? The tomb is empty. He has risen!

The Power of the Gospel

Tomorrow will mark the 42nd anniversary of the day I was born again. On March 1, 1974, when I was a college freshman, I was approached by 2 men I had never met before. They told me the gospel, which I had never heard before. And that day the Lord saved me – forgiving me of all my sin and giving me eternal life, new life, and abundant life.

My testimony, like all others, bears witness to the power of the gospel to open blind eyes and give life to the dead.

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching from John 9 which records the account of Jesus giving sight to a man born blind (both physically and spiritually). I have always related to this account because I can see parallels between what the Lord did for this man and what He has done for me.

Here’a link to the message. I trust it will increase your confidence in the Power of the Gospel.

http://www.bfsatx.org/mediaPlayer/#sermonvideo/800