Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:47 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:39 AM
Monday, December 29, 2008
A quote that I brought with me to the pulpit yesterday but did not have time to include was one that was given over a hundred years ago by bishop J.C. Ryle.
"You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always laboring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible. . . . Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible. . . . Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. Does your conscience tell you that you are one of these persons?If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. Trial is a sifting experience. . . . Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questions about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him. . . . Your sword is held loosely in your hand.If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about the company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals and sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little—but read it a great deal. . . . Remember your many enemies. Be armed!"
(found at Between Two Worlds blog)
Posted by Bro. Matt at 11:51 AM
Monday, December 22, 2008
I urge you to take 5 minutes of your time and watch this clip. It ministered to me, convicted me, and challenged me. Read this quote and then click on the link to watch...
Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’…How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:00 AM
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Tim Challies interviewed Ryan Ferguson on Scripture memorization.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:34 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
1. The sufficiency, inerrancy, and integrity of the Scriptures.
2. The Superiority of Christ above all things.
3. It Demonstrates The Deity of Christ AND The Humanity of Christ.
4. The Eternal Existence of Christ.
John 1:1-2, 14
5. Without the Virgin Birth We Have No Authentic Salvation
(1) The fact that Jesus did not have a human father means that he
did not have a sin nature like every other human being has.
(2) Salvation can only come from the Lord.
(3) The virgin birth happened in order to reverse the curse.
See Romans 5:12-21
6. The Entirety of Our Hope is at Stake
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Monday, December 8, 2008
Yesterday morning I began a series of messages entitled "Christmas Apologetics." The first two messages in the series deal with the Virgin Birth. In setting up the seriousness of the issue before us today, I listed and quoted from a number of different people who do in fact deny the literal virgin birth of Christ.
Below are the quotes that I gave you yesterday. I simply am cutting and pasting from my sermon manuscript. Please note, however, that I retrieved all of the quotes from two main sources.
The first from Al Mohler's web-site. Click here to find numerous articles he has written and posted regarding the Virgin Birth.
The second from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) web-site. Click here for a host of articles written in the area of the Virgin Birth.
Here are the quotes/comments I presented yesterday:
A writer for The New York Times, Nikolas Kristoff has written: “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time…most biblical scholars regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth…as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith.”
John Meacham, a writer for Newsweek, wrote that “the Nativity narratives are the subject of ongoing scholarly debate over their historical accuracy…almost nothing in Luke’s stories stands up to close historical scrutiny.” He argues that the infancy and birth narratives were simply invented by the early church in order to answer awkward questions and develop a fully-orbed theology and understanding of Jesus. He claims that Matthew and Luke wanted to tell the story of Jesus’ birth, but had little to work with.
John Dominic Crossan, a Roman Catholic Scholar, and a member of the “Jesus Seminar” movement discounts the biblical narratives about the virgin birth as invented theology.
Bishop Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church said that the “myth of the virgin birth was not intended as historical fact, but was employed by Matthew and Luke in different ways to appoint poetically the truth about Jesus as experienced in the emerging church.” He claims that Jesus was born to human parents and did not possess trans-human, supernatural powers.
Cecil Sherman, at one time a Southern Baptist, but later became the coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship said, “A teacher who might also be led by the Scripture not to believe in the virgin birth should not be fired.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick, a 20th century Protestant preacher, preaching from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City said that Christians, “may hold quite different points of view about a matter like the virgin birth.” Though he held the doctrine to be true he insisted that others, equally Christian, could disagree with those who believe in the virgin birth to be historically true.
Chloe Breyer, Episcopal priest at St. Mary’s Manhattanville Church in West Harlem wrote this in an article entitled “The Earthly Father—What if Mary Wasn’t a Virgin?” :
… the infancy narratives from Matthew and Luke must be squared with some startling silences, alternative Greek translations, and a couple of snide comments from Jesus' hometown critics. Paul never mentions the virgin conception and in Galatians describes Christ as "born of a woman." John's Gospel says nothing on the subject of Jesus' conception. And Mark describes the shocked response of the synagogue-goers of Jesus' hometown of Nazareth when Jesus as an adult returns to preach and teach as God's chosen one. The Nazareth Jews presumably would have known better than anyone about the irregular timing of Jesus' birth. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" his parents' neighbors ask one another. Since Jewish men of the time were identified in relationship to their father…scholars take this remark as an insinuation about Jesus' parentage--one that was so offensive that the later Evangelists Luke, Matthew, and John changed it.
Alan Jones wrote Reimagining Christianity
From the book…
"I believe the Bible and the creeds but not literally, and I'm no atheist. I love the tradition and am nurtured by it. I have a great devotion to Mary the Mother of God but am agnostic about her literal virginity-- or, to put it bluntly, I couldn't care less about it." Page 31
"For my part, I won't allow those who insist on a literal interpretations [sic] of these myths and doctrines to deprive me of my devotion to her [Mary]. Was she literally a virgin? I don't know...But much of the emphasis on virginity arose from a negative and destructive view of sexuality. So I doubt very much whether Mary was literally a virgin..." Page 175
Posted by Bro. Matt at 7:56 AM
Last night in my message on Jude, I referenced the current issue of Newsweek and its apparent desire to show how the Bible actually 'supports' a gay lifestyle rather than the opposite. Al Mohler has posted a very good review on his blog. You can read it here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 7:53 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 7:47 AM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 4:55 AM
Friday, December 5, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:56 PM
Yesterday I had the honor of performing both the funeral and the graveside service of Mrs. Hilda Daniel. When one thinks of Wynne Baptist Church, one cannot help but think of her. She was a dear, precious, loving, merciful, compassionate, and Holy Spirit filled servant of Christ Jesus and His Church. I am grateful to God for her and the impact she had on my life in the brief three years that I knew her.
I have included the outline of my message below. Two verses in the pastoral epistles compel us to learn from older widowed women. Titus 2:2-4 says, “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women, likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.”
Likewise, 1 Timothy 5:5 says, “She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day…”
Here are eight lessons I learned from Mrs. Hilda:
1. An encouraging word brings life to weary bones.
Proverbs 15:30 says, “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.”
2. A frail 87 year old can be active in missions.
3. Secular retirement is not the same as spiritual retirement.
4. A lover of Christ and His Church will do anything necessary for the sake of His great name and the joy of others.
5. Going through an Economic Depression will teach dependence and priorities…and you CAN live through it.
Psalm 119:67, 71 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word…It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”
6. An adoring husband makes for a thriving wife and family.
Proverbs 31:28-30 says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’”
7. It really is ALMOST possible to obey the Great Commandments.
Luke 10:27 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
8. Death is a hope and a longing when your treasure is Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:21-23 says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:46 AM
“The whole of Christ’s life was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where He was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and His death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the crèche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed His glory by His death.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:30 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 6:29 AM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 1:37 PM
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Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:39 PM
This past Sunday morning, I showed a videa entitled "The Next Five Minutes." I borrowed it from The Church at Brook Hills where my good friend David Platt pastors in Birmingham, AL.
You can view it via the Brook Hills web-site by clicking here, or you can watch it along with the message I preached this past Sunday by clicking here.
May the next five minutes of our lives NOT be like the last five minutes!
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:30 PM
Monday, November 17, 2008
1. If you play the lottery and/or gamble in other capacities, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
2. If you use your credit card to purchase things you cannot afford or immediately pay off, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
3. If you desire to move and/or change jobs for the sole purpose of making more money, though you and your family are growing spiritually and being challenged spiritually, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
4. If you assume God blessed you with a raise or a great crop or a plethora of business so that you can upgrade your possessions you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
5. If your entire mood is affected by the up or down swing of the stock market you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
6. If the way you voted in this past election was solely based on the present economic crisis, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
7. If you think more about what you might get for Christmas instead of what you can give for the sake of love for others, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
8. If you base your tithe amount off of what you have at the end of the month instead of what you make, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
9. If you think Bro. Matt’s challenge to give more to Lottie Moon than you spend on Christmas gifts is absolutely absurd, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
10. If God has called you to missions, but you refuse to heed it due to not wanting to sell everything and receive a much smaller salary, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 7:34 PM
Friday, November 14, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:52 PM
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
2. Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper
3. Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper
4. A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper
6. Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith by John MacArthur
7. Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon (A Devotional Classic!)
9. Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey by Jerry Bridges
10. Daily Readings from the Life of Christ by John MacArthur
Posted by Bro. Matt at 1:30 PM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:06 PM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I found this test at Founders Ministries. I thought the test was well worded and a much needed reminder on a host of different levels for a host of different serious things for believers.
Take the test for yourself and ask the Lord to help you continue doing what followers of Christ are to always be about doing no matter what.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order - (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see abortion ultimately overturned will still be winning men and women to a high view of life through the gospel of Christ.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see gay marriage ultimately defeated will still be winning men and women to a biblical view of marriage through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, "Jesus Is Lord" will still be the greatest truth in the Universe.
True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:12 PM
“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian—from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God's revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning—a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 11:44 AM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 5:41 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 6:38 AM
Monday, November 3, 2008
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Posted by Bro. Matt at 1:27 PM
Posted by Bro. Matt at 10:01 AM
I have found that some solid voices in the evangelical world have posted thoughts, videos, radio broadcasts, etc. that are helpful as we approach the final hours leading up to election day 2008. Below are links to some of these sources. It's not too late to be informed. Be diligent to think theologically, critically, and biblically about the issues and what all is at stake in this deal. Prayerfully approach tonight and tomorrow as you vote, talk with others, and watch the returns.
A Townhall Discussion of issues and what is at stake in this election by Al Mohler.
A video of John Piper discussing his thoughts on the Presidential election. He also offers a perspective on a woman running for the office of Vice President as well as a prayer for the election. All of these can be found on the desiringgod.org blog.
A thoughtful response and perspective by Justin Taylor to Piper's thoughts.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:34 AM
Heavenly Father, I am overwhelmed this morning that You, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe would choose to listen to the weak cries of sinful saints on behalf of the nations. I am even more overwhelmed that You would choose to bless this body of believers with a heart for You to be glorified around the world. Thank You, Lord, for sending Jesus on our behalf so that we might now approach Your throne of grace with confidence and be free to spend our lives radically for the expansion of Your name and reputation around the world.
Steadfast Father, my heart is heavy and anxious and eager this morning because of the change that is before us as a nation and a church. More than likely, less than 36 hours from now, our nation will have a new President. This Sunday our congregation will be led in worship by a different face. Yesterday, around 150 people from this flock committed to a short-term mission trip in 2009. A dozen or so committed to long-term (2-3 years or career) mission service with their lives. Might this be the year of the harvest? You have brought new families to our church. Adults, teenagers, and children are being baptized. Things are changing, Lord, and I/we need Your help to lead us in the days ahead. Remind us all that we are desperate and helpless sheep, who have been selected by the Ultimate Shepherd, to feast and flourish in Your pasture as You direct us. May we never be found guilty of being led by another.
Sovereign Father, I believe in my soul that the best days are yet to come here at Wynne Baptist. We have yet to begin to give what we can truly financially give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, other mission entities, the poor and impoverished, and our church. We have yet to begin to see how many of our teenagers and children will be called out to go to the hardest places in the world with the Gospel. We have yet to begin to see how You might want us to best and most effectively reach our beloved city of Wynne with the Good News. We have yet only faintly begun to taste and see how good You are. We do not know the future, but how good it is to know the One who does.
Glorious Father, come and show us Your glory. Come and give us a sense of urgency and deep compassion in our souls for others to see Your glory from our mouths and our actions. Give us unity and love for one another as Satan despises and hates and is horrified by what he observes from WBC and will try everything he can to tear us apart. Bind him from our midst I pray! Cause our hearts to love Your Son more affectionately. Give us a hatred for sin and a fear of living rebellious, disobedient, and mediocre lives. I/We look to You to do for us, in us, around us, and through us what only You can do. Make us dependent upon Your Spirit. Lead us to pursuits that would only work if Your Spirit were to do powerfully do it through us. Do far more than any of us could ever ask, imagine, or think…not so WBC would be talked about…but so that You might be seen and shown for the majestic God that You are.
In the Wonderful Name of Jesus I/we pray….
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:29 AM
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The second issue I will merely mention and be extremely brief on. It has to do with parental rights and responsibility over their child’s lives. Two instances that have occurred in California are now on the radar screen of many Americans, even the two men running for the office of President.
The first has to do with whether or not a parent should be notified prior to a minor proceeds with having an abortion. This will be “Proposition 4” on the ballot in California and if enough people vote against this proposition, a minor will be able to go to the doctor and have an abortion without telling her parents, but not allowed to have a simple vaccination shot prior to notifying her parents (if I am understanding this correctly).
The second has to do with whether or not the government has the right to control parents on whether or not they choose to home school their child. Earlier this year in March, an appeals court in California ruled that parents without proper credentials could not homeschool their child.
Here is how The San Francisco Chronicle introduced the story (from Al Mohler's web-site):
"A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution."
From The Los Angeles Times (from Al Mohler's web-site):
"Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California's home schooling families. Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation. "This decision is a direct hit against every home schooler in California," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Sunland Christian School, which specializes in religious home schooling. "If the state Supreme Court does not reverse this . . . there will be nothing to prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California."
So, in California, it is becoming a matter of state law not to allow parents to educate their children the way they choose or desire. Please hear me now. I bring this up not to make a case for or against home schooling. That is not the purpose of my bringing this up. I bring these two cases up because I am concerned of the government having way too much control over parents in how they raise their children. If it starts with issues of abortion and home schooling now, who knows how far down the line in the future the government can have control over parents.
On this issue, of allowing parents the right to choose how and where their child is educated, the two primary candidates running for President are again divided.
John McCain supports government vouchers being granted that allow parents to educate and place their children in the school of their choice.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, opposes government vouchers being granted that allow for parents to decide how their children are educated.
This is according to American Family Association’s Voter’s Guide.
I simply mention…
The 5th commandment (Exodus 20:12)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25
All are texts that remind us that God has ordained and arranged the family and society as operating in such a way that parents are responsible for the upbringing and direction of their children. It is the God-given duty and right and joy and privilege and responsibility of the parents to bring their children up. The ultimate aim, of course, is that they grow in the grace and knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:06 PM
Due to the nature of the service tonight (10/26/08), I chose not to preach what I had originally planned. Below is a synopsis of one of the issues (gambling, lottery, etc.) I planned to address from a biblical perspective. In the following post, I will present the second issue (parental rights over their child's education) I had planned to address...
On the Ballot in Arkansas on November 4th…
“Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3”
(Abbreviated Description) A constitutional amendment authorizing the General Assembly to establish, operate, and regulate state lotteries to fund scholarships and grants for Arkansas citizens enrolled in certified two-year and four-year colleges and universities in Arkansas.
A “FOR” Vote…
…would amend the state constitution to all the creation of state lotteries to fund college scholarships and grants.
An “AGAINST” Vote…
…would not allow an amendment to the state constitution. Arkansas will not implement state lotteries.
*Information taken from http://ppc.uaex.edu/
How would God vote on this amendment to the state constitution (and, hence, how would He want His people to vote?)?
6 Biblical Themes/Truths Prompting an "Against" vote from God's People:
1. Jesus and the Rich in Luke’s Gospel…
Luke 12:13-21 – “Rich Fool”
Luke 16:19-31 – “Rich Man and Lazarus”
Luke 18:18-30 – “Rich Young Ruler”
Luke 19:1-10 – “Zaccheus”
2. Paul urged believers to have an ethic of work in order to get so that you might give.
Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
3. The Christian life is one of “becoming poor” so that others might “become rich.”
Luke 9:58 says, “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”
4. Jesus and Paul both spoke strongly against wanting to become rich.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
5. Godly wisdom discourages oppressing the poor and encourages hard work.
Proverbs 6:6; 13:4, 11; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 21:25; 22:16
6. Jesus does not need ‘Lottery Money’ to build His church.
Al Mohler said, “The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview related in God’s Word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed—a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture—always presented as a sin against God, and often accompanied by a graphic warning of the destruction which is greed’s result. The burning desire for earthly riches leads to frustration and spiritual death.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:55 PM
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Continued from 10/24/08...
"Thomas’s father had never missed one of his son’s games. Moreover, it was his father who taught him how to throw a curve ball, how to put his body in front of a grounder, and how to turn a double play. In fact, Thomas’s father was the coach of his first T-ball team. However, when I asked whether or not he led his son (and his family) in worship, his only response was, “I never even thought about it.”
In other words, this man had spent countless hours and immeasurable amounts of energy teaching his son how to be a ballplayer but hadn’t done a thing to teach him how to be a Christian. When I pressed him on this issue, he said, “I thought the youth pastor was doing a good job of that.” The point here is so obvious that I hesitate to state it. When it came to baseball, he had coaches and leagues, but he was the one providing private instruction in the backyard. However, when it came to spiritual matters, he passed the buck.
When it came to game time, he was not willing to miss (and wore that fact as a badge or honor), but when it came to church, they thought nothing of being absent for weeks and at one point months at a time. This family was worshiping a rival, and their son’s life was the fruit of their idolatry. There were certain things for which they were willing to sacrifice all. Unfortunately, their son’s walk with the Lord was not one of those things. Is there any wonder that a young man in his situation would miss church? Is there any doubt that a young man in Thomas’s situation would be hard-pressed to find the courage to resist having a few drinks with the guys on the squad?
Sadly, this story is very familiar to those of us who have been around the church for a while. In fact, many of us see ourselves as we read between the lines. We live in an age where many gods vie for our allegiance. What’s worse, these gods try to convince us that if we bow down and worship them, they will give our children what the God of the Bible cannot give—success by worldly standards."
Parents: May God help us to raise godly boys and godly girls who love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!
Posted by Bro. Matt at 10:15 AM
Friday, October 24, 2008
Continued from 10/23/08...
"Upon hearing Thomas’s story, I tried to console this grieving father as best I could. He cried for a while and then asked me a question that I don’t think he wanted answered. “Where could I have gone wrong?” he asked as he shook his head in disgust. Over the next several days he and I unpacked the situation and dealt with some very tough issues. I am not suggesting that this case is cut-and-dry, but we did find some very familiar patterns.
First, Thomas’s lack of commitment in spiritual matters was not as strange as it seemed. As I talked with his father, I learned that Thomas was more than just a naturally gifted ballplayer. This kid had been playing baseball since he was six and started taking private instruction at nine! He had been part of a traveling squad at age twelve and was an all-star at every level. This man and his wife had gone to great lengths to see to it that their son became the best baseball player he could be.
This also meant that during the summer and fall their church attendance was sporadic at best. Like many parents, they found themselves traveling to tournament after tournament and praying for the opportunity to be out on Sunday since that meant they were playing for a title somewhere. What they didn’t realize is that they were teaching Thomas to prioritize baseball above the Fourth Commandment. They were teaching Thomas that he should honor the Sabbath and keep it holy unless it’s baseball season.
Thus when Thomas went to college and had to choose between going to church and hanging out with his teammates, the foundation for his decision had already been laid. When he had to choose between extra time in chemistry lab and extra time in the batting cage, he knew intuitively which choice to make. And when he had a choice between sitting on the bench for the first time in his life or taking a shortcut to a bigger body and a faster bat, he struggled for a while but eventually made his decision based on the one thing that had directed his path since he was six years old.
In other words, Thomas’s lack of commitment to spiritual matters laid the groundwork for his moral compromise. Christianity was never the center of Thomas’s universe. It was always something on the periphery. Church, and more importantly Jesus Christ, always orbited around baseball, the bright, shining star at the center of his universe. Does this mean that every young ballplayer will experience moral compromise? Certainly not; nor am I arguing that we should abolish all sports. I am simply arguing that anything that causes us to compromise our beliefs can (and probably will) become an idol. Some people will only worship that idol halfheartedly, but some will sacrifice all on its altar."
Part III Continued Tomorrow...
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:23 PM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
However, when he went off to college, things changed. His parents had heard of the dangers of “secular” schools, so they guided him toward a Christian university. He was an outstanding athlete and had won a baseball scholarship. Thomas’s story was not just typical—it was exceptional. He had done all of the things Christian parents desire for their children—good grades, great friends, active in church, popular, and off to college on an athletic scholarship. So why was his father grieving?
As it turns out, there was a darker side of Thomas’s life. Things were lurking beneath the surface that his mom, dad, youth pastor, and Sunday school teacher never saw. Once he was away at “All-American Christian University,” this darker side began to surface.
First, Thomas stopped attending church. He occasionally attended the large weekly Bible study on campus or the area-wide college service hosted by a large church in town, but he was not plugged into a local body of believers. Moreover, there was no sense of personal holiness, no pursuit of Christian disciplines.
Next Thomas began to struggle a bit in class. He had always been an A/B student, but now he was struggling just to pass his midterms in some of his classes. Upon closer examination of his academic struggles, they found that Thomas was staying out late and drinking heavily and often missed classes.
Finally, Thomas was suspended from his baseball team when a random drug test revealed that he had taken anabolic steroids. The father was so distraught that he did not allow Thomas to return for his second year. He opted instead to place him in a local community college until the young man could “get his head on straight.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:53 AM
While preparing for the message this Sunday morning (October 26th), I came across this quote from John Piper in his book What Jesus Demands from the World:
The Lord’s Prayer shows us the astonishing nature of prayer. It puts in the position of greatest importance the prayer for God’s name to be glorified, God’s kingdom to advance and triumph, and God’s will to be accomplished on earth the way it’s happening in heaven. This means that God intends to use human prayers to accomplish His most ultimate and universal purposes. For example, Jesus tells us to pray for the workers that will be required to spread the gospel to all the nations. ‘Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ Yet nothing is more certain than that the kingdom of God will triumph. Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (Matthew 16:18; 24:14). There is no uncertainty about the triumph of God. Nevertheless, in God’s providence it depends on human prayer.
This implies that prayer is not only the duty of man but a gift of God. Jesus will awaken in his people the spirit of prayer that asks for everything it will take to accomplish God’s purposes in the world. The prayers of Jesus’ followers and the purposes of God will not fail (p. 112).
Brothers and sisters in the Lord: Let us pray....
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:42 AM
Monday, October 20, 2008
In his book What Is A Healthy Church Member (we just finished it as a staff!), Thabiti M. Anyabwile offers some helpful instruction and questions to ask when studying your Bible. In his chapter entitled "A Biblical Theologian," he says...
Adopt the New Testament's Attitude Toward the Old Testament
...the Bible is one story about God's redeeming for Himself a special people. When studying the New Testament, train yourself to link what you learn there to the Old Testament. Ask questions like these:
- How is this passage a fulfillment of something promised in the Old Testament?
- How is this New Testament idea different from or similar to an Old Testament teaching?
- In what way does this New Testament passage clarify, unveil, or amplify something from the Old Testament?
Asking these questions will help to underscore the unity and diversity of the Bible and its message. An excellent book to study with these questions in mind is the book of Hebrews. Study Hebrews and be amazed at the supremacy of Jesus Christ demonstrated in the Old Testament.
Study the Old Testament with Jesus and the New Testament in View
As you read and study the Old Testament, ask yourself how it fits together with the revelation of the New Testament. For example, ask:
- Where does this passage fit in the time line of redemptive history?
- How does this passage point us to Jesus?
- How does this truth about Israel relate to the New Testament idea of the church?
- How is this passage foundational for an understanding of New Testament Christianity? How is this idea or teaching in the Old Testament continuous or discontinuous with the New Testament?
- Which New Testament passages help me to answer these questions?
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:45 PM
Below I post two books/links for anyone interested in wonderful Bible study helps.
G. K. Beale and D.A. Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
is a wonderful resource for finding out how New Testament authors used the Old Testament in their writings. It makes the entire Bible and the plan of God come alive!
You can purchase it directly from Amazon.com by clicking here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:27 PM
Below are yet some more links and information I have come across regarding the issues I have discussed from the pulpit the last two Sunday nights.
Whether you read and/or listen to items linked here, more than anything I urge you to pray for God's will to be done on November 4th and for Him to show you how you can best be salt and light now and in the days ahead for His name's sake.
Article (Blog) posted by Al Mohler on the Homosexual Debate: Part I and Part II.
Al Mohler's Radio Program (Friday's edition) regarding the Homosexual Debate. For those of you who may listen to this, pay attention especially to how Dr. Mohler handles the comments and questions asked by callers to the show. His responses are very helpful for Christians in how to best respond to wrong thinking on this issue. Also, though I am not completely sure, I have a pretty good feeling his radio program (which airs Monday-Friday) will be focusing alot on the election over the next two weeks, so you will want to be sure to tune in.
Barack Obama's Position (from his web-site) on the Issues: Abortion and Homosexuality
John McCain's Position (from his web-site) on the Issues: Abortion and Homosexuality
An insightful and intriguing message by Dr. Russell Moore regarding the issue of Abortion.
Click here and then scroll down to the message delivered by Moore on Oct. 16, 2008.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:02 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Read James 3 from your Bible and then click here to watch a video illustrating the passage...
Very insightful and very convicting.
For recent conference messages on the Power of Words (from Desiring God Ministries), click here. Great stuff! Excuse me...God stuff!
Posted by Bro. Matt at 1:50 PM
For those of you who attended WBC on Sunday night, you know I started a series of messages entitled: "The President, Issues, and Global Impact 2008." I plan to focus on several pertinent issues that directly affect how a follower of Christ should vote in the upcoming election. The first message dealt with the issue of abortion. The title of the message was: "Sanctity of Human Life, Abortion, Stem Cells, and God." You can listen or watch the message on-line by going here.
This week I have come across several good on-line articles, discussions, and radio broadcasts on this issue. For those who are interested, I encourage you strongly to link on some of the sites listed below and continue to develop a Christian worldview on the issues and be able to discuss these issues intellegently with others.
Blog article by Al Mohler entitled: "The Abortion Question and the Future"
Al Mohler radio broadcast entitled: "Pro-Lifers for Obama?"
Robert George's article entitled: "Obama's Abortion Extremism"
Justin Taylor's summary of Robert George's article: Click here (very helpful summary!)
An article for those who are tired of talking about the issue, read this article called "Fetus Fatigue."
Justin Taylor quoting John Piper on fasting for the unborn: Click here.
For those of you who were not here on Sunday night and did not receive the voter's guide I passed out, you can go there directly on-line by clicking here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:53 PM