The Gospel

The Gospel

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Scandal of the Christmas Story?

One of the most intriguing parts of the Christmas story in Matthew is the genealogy list in chapter 1. There are a lot of hard names, strange people and interesting back stories in that list of names. Three weeks ago I preached on Matthew 1 focusing on Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the promises of Abraham. Yesterday my family and I were reading together week four of our advent readings and we came to this same text. Reading through the names we focused on the five women and their histories. We saw that these were not the kinds of people you would expect to find in the lineage of the Messiah - almost scandalous.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Have They Emerged To?

The ever evolving "Emerging Church" continues to be a difficult thing to define. But there are some areas where we are beginning to understand their views on some issues.
Most notably, much of their view on Homosexuality is becoming increasingly obvious and concerning.
Tony Jones, a leader in the movement itself, writes this article on the acceptance on Homosexuality and other orientations in the church itself. He says, he doesn't want to get this issue "wrong" and that the lifestyle itself should be sanction both by the state and the church.
If Mr. Jones doesn't want to get it "wrong" why doesn't he try and look for answers in the right place. The inspired word of God gives us the divine word on all things pertaining to life and godliness. Mr. Jones, scripture says you are getting it wrong.

Read for yourself here:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How Much Are You Willing to Risk?

This is not a question about getting involved in extreme sports or becoming the next Word Series of Poker Champion. It is a question of how far are you willing to let your convictions take you?

Are you willing to lose your job? Are you willing to oppose your father and mother, your kids, your friends? Are you willing to be ostracized from society? Most of us probably never thought that a day would come in this country where we would have a choice to make between our faith and convictions vs. some of these other things. Well that time is now...

Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theatre, is finding out the cost of your convictions. I do not know if this is man is a follower of Christ. The article does not say for sure. But after supporting Proposition 8 in California the man is now stepping down from what he loves most. Mr. Eckern is not losing his job because he used his place of employment for propaganda. It is not because of poor work. It is because word got out, that in his private affairs, he gave $1000 to support the proposition. When Gay and Lesbian groups got wind, they immediately began to protest the Theater and would still be doing so if Mr. Eckern had not stepped aside.

Apparently we have reached a point in our country where we can not have a view. If you stand up for convictions, some will protest until you lose your job, your livelihood, your home, your family and maybe even...your life. What happened to the idea of being open to all opinions. What happened to the principles of the ACLU that we should be understanding to those who disagree. Apparently that is only a one way street.

What would you have done if it was your job on the line? Would you have the courage to stand up for what is Biblically right? The day is coming - if it is not already here - where Christians will be faced with some of these questions.

You can read the full article here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What is next for the issue of abortion?

The Democrats platform is this - make abortion rare but legal.

Can we as Christians compromise to that?

Mark Dever in a WSJ article suggests no. It would be like saying let's try and minimize the killing of Jews in concentration camps but not make it legal.

You can read the article here.

Spreading the Love Around?

I loved Keith Olbermann on ESPN. Keith Olbermann on MSNBC as a political host has been a little less interesting. But Keith Olbermann as religious guru is frankly apalling. I don't often watch "Countdown" but last night curiosity got the best of me and I watched the last 10 minutes and saw a rant on the Proposition 8 from California and gay marriage. In the segment , a visibly shaken Olbermann called the vote to ban gay marriage in California "horrible" and suggested viewers examine their hearts.""This is about the human heart," he says. "The world is barren enough," he said. "With so much hate in the world, so much meaningless division... this is what your religion tells you to do? This is what your heart tells you to do? You are asked to stand now on a question of love."

Keith laid in to so called "religious" persons and their "book" by suggesting that the loving thing to do is to let them love who ever they want. Keith was right on the tragedy that prohibitted white's marrying blacks and the marriage of slaves. He adds, "don't we have to accept their love...give them that feeling...your religion tells you to do this...a no good want to honor your God...then spread happiness." He then adds, "how do you reconcile the command of the Golden rule with the issue of gay marriage." Dr. Albert Mohler spoke about Proposition 8 on November 10 on his radio show as well, with a slightly different take and interpretation on the issue. As Christians what do we think about gay marriage. Is it just a matter of "love"? Are we unloving for holding to our convictions? Are we horrible for believing that when God speaks to a matter such as this that we should obey what he says? The golden rule doesn't supersede the commands and will of God on this issue.

Contrary to Keith's opinion, the only loving thing that we can do is to point people to scripture, to point them to their sin, to direct them to Jesus and to tell them about His love that moved him to lay down his life for His friends. Keith, I am standing on love...a love for the souls of the lost...a love for the word of my God, a love for Jesus...that is where I am standing...what about you?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Memories, like the corners of my mind

Last night I went to church like usual. Last night I went to teach at a youth event...nothing unusual there. When I got to the fellowship hall and saw all the games, food, supplies and t-shirts; I stood there and pondered and was brought to tears.

You see, everything was usual, except this was not my youth group...this was not my event. I planned 16 retreats during my tenure in New York, seven Amazing races, two RACSO nights (hahaha), two Bahama Trips, Keswick, Great Adventure, Splish Splash and more...and I have such fond memories of all of it. But that was my youth Group...this is not.

I am so glad that God has called me to be the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church and I look forward to being here for many years. But I miss those kids that grew up with me. I miss those teens who were my first and only youth group. I love teens and not just any teens...names like Bob, Nate, Danielle, Jon-O, Enrique, freekishly tall boy, Alaina and many others popped into my mind...

Memories are fun. The reminders are often exciting and can bring back a flood of emotions. But in this case they were sad...they were hard...they hurt...not because they were bad...but because they were so good and yet they seem so far away today. So Lisa, Tyler, Tricia, Nina, Kristen and the rest of you Long Islanders...keep pursuing the prize for which Christ has called you. Keep loving Jesus by loving His Church. Press on, don't give up...and know that someone in Missouri loves you all, prays for you often and looks forward to the reunion we will share in this age or the age to come.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Inspiring Questions

Yesterday, on her way to church, our daughter (3) was telling my wife why it was not good that Barack Obama became president. She said, "he kills babies." My daughter was scared. My wife was alarmed at her candor. I was proud of the lack of spin from a child.

When we explained to our daughters what abortion was and why we were morally opposed to it, I could find no other way than to use such language, it is killing. When my wife and I were expecting our second daughter, genetic testing was required in NY state. We went in and found that we both carried a gene that would leave our daughter with a 1 in four chance of being born severely handicapped. The counselor suggested abortion. We, none the less, did not terminate the life of the baby in my wife's womb. Our daughter, other than being a little accident proned and a sinner deserving death, has nothing wrong with her.

So my daughter sees the sobering truth of what abortion is. I only wish that President Elect Obama could see that. For all the history that was made Tuesday, what is lost is that the first black president supports abortion and planned parenthood, an organization that was born out of the Eugenics movement whose sole purpose was to eliminate minorities, the handicapped, and specifically blacks. Of all the people who should hate abortion, planned parenthood and this culture of death is Barack Obama. If you hate racism (as you should), you also should hate the abortion movement.

Let us pray that he sees the truth...that there is a life in the womb...and taking a life (through abortion or KKK lynching) is morally wrong. May God change the heart of Obama to love King Jesus by loving the most vulnerable.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Picture This

Our church is hosting a polling place today. As I was bothered as I drove in and saw signs of campaigns all over our yard. Apparently, even though as a church we can not endorse a candidate under the guise of separation of church and state, it is ok for our property to do so, against our wishes. As I saw the signs and pictures as I came in I was reminded that there is a picture I would love for people to see as they enter a polling place and it is not one of the candidates pictures or is this one....

when I see this, I remember how Jesus would vote, what Jesus would do...It is exactly what Joseph did...choose life...

Chik-Fil-A for Everyone

Ok, it is not quite for everyone...but today if you vote...Chik-Fil-A is giving you a free chicken sandwich. Now that is change I can believe in...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trinity Theology and the Shack

It is a highly recommended book. It has the endorsement of Michael W. Smith.
It is provocative. It is sparking debate. But is it even Biblical? Could it be the "h" word {heresy}?

The "shack" promotes doctrines of God that are not only problematic but have been addressed and dealt with by church councils and theologians long ago. But they are resurfacing again. Modalism...Feminine God...and other such notions are distracting the church and causing confusion.

I came across this critique of the book by Pastor Mark Driscoll. Hopefully it will cause you to think twice about reading it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Fine Line Between Hope and AntiChrist

As Christians I would assume that all of us know where our future lies. It is found in a coming King who will return to claim his people for his own.

Recently, some have begun to confuse and blur this hope. Many are not putting their hope and security in a coming King and a Kingdom but in stocks, money, security or worse....a person.

There have been countless men through out history who have taken on a "messiahship" type of persona. There have been many men that we have identified as the Anti-christ as well: Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Hitler. Let's not forget the infatuation with bar codes and micro-chips.

To be fair, I have never heard Barak call himself the savior of the world or the messiah. I would assume that Barak Obama does not have visions of grandeur in his mind regarding his role in humanity, but I have seen and heard others give him such a label. A label that is un-biblical and dangerous. Take this video below. I wasn't sure if I was watching a PSA or a worship service.

Neither Barak Obama or John McCain can bring such peace and happiness. Nothing can change the sinfulness and hatred and killing that is found in the world today apart from the intervention of a sovereign King and Lord. As Christians we need to be more discerning and careful with our words, actions and allegiances. Sarah Palin is not our great hope. Barak Obama is not the man we need. The man we need is one who has holes in his hands and a tattoo down his leg that reads "King of Kings and Lord of Lords". I never thought the Anti-christ would be as obvious as Gorbachev or Hitler but I also never thought that so many Christians would be so un-discerning in who they place their hope in...

...My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness...

The Jesus Story Book Bible

Do you want a Bible for your young children?
How do you teach your children the timeless truths of God's word?
Sally Lloyd Jones, author of the "Jesus Story Book Bible" gives us a wonderful tool that not only is creative and fun but doesn't lose the point of the whole Scripture: The point is Jesus. Her writing is creative, the pictures are dynamic and through out the story she teaches us about God's never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love...
Ms. Jones loves children and her experience in writing for them is evident in this Bible. What is also evident is her grasp of the Biblical story, her deep appreciation for God's word and her love for Jesus. Her website has other resources that you may find helpful as well.
Every story whispers his name, is not just a slogan but a reality. All of scripture teaches us something about Jesus. From Noah and the Ark, to David and Goliath, Barak and Deborah, and on and on.
I purchased this Bible for our girls a few years back and we have thoroughly enjoyed using it for the purposes of teaching them more about Christ. The Jesus Story Book Bible would be a wonderful gift for any parent or child. Do your children know the STORY beneath all the rest of the stories in the Bible. Jesus is at the center of God's great story of salvation...and he is at the center of your story too...

Take Time To Read

One of the joys of my later life is learning to appreciate reading more and more. In high school and college I was not much of a reader. I try not to just read for readings sake, but to read things that will encourage me, challenge me or even rebuke me.

I am not a fast reader but I have been trying to maximize my time to read more. Turning off the TV once in a while is a great way to start. Try reading while you are waiting...on hold, at a doctors office, at the bank. Reading when you are stuck some where...stuck in bed cause you are sick, stuck in the Hospital...

You will find that reading makes the time go much faster and that you are able to make the most of those moments when it looks like little good can come out of them.

Currently I am reading "The Gospel According to Jesus" by John MacArthur and "Running Scared" by Ed Welch.

What are you reading...I would love to hear.

If you aren't reading something...pick something up...if nothing else the Bible is a great place to start.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh weh Oh....Walk like an Egyptian?

The apostle Paul sees a connection between the way a person lives (their walk) and what that person truly believes in their heart. In the last 3 verses of Philippians chapter 1, Paul urges the believers to life worthy of their citizenship.
As Christians, we are citizens not of our country but of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are strangers in this land. Our conduct should be worthy of the Kingdom and the King that we follow...King Jesus. The authenticity of our faith is not found in how many Christian CD's we own; how many books we read; or whether or not we come to church. The real measure of the heart change that only Christ can bring is the way we live.
Are we still walking like an Egyptian...or are we walking like Christ....
...oh weh oh...walk like a Christian

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Humility of...ME!

I have been introduced to Facebook. I am now a statistic.

I am sure the novelty will run out soon, but it is actually sort of interesting to see and hear from people from your past that you wondered what happened to or ...gulp...forgot about.

I am reminded as I see names of people from the bad of a friend I really am. You see, a good friend wouldn't forget names and faces...a good friend wouldn't lose contact so quickly....a good friend would rejoice with those friends when they rejoiced..and cried when they cried. After all these friends aren't just high school buds, they are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family.

I see pictures of me and...laugh...laugh at how I used to be...laugh at how I still look a lot like that today...

I was reminded of nearly catching the Chi-Chi's restaurant on my sweater went up in flames. I am reminded of being selfish to my friends...not putting them first, but me...I am humbled because as much as I loved those years...I am somewhat embarrassed as I look back today and how bad of a friend I was then...and yet by God's grace those people still called me a friend.

Friendship like that points me to Christ. An imperfect, sinful guy, who is immensely selfish...doesn't deserve a friend...much less the greatest FRIEND ever...

God never ceases to take me from my most proud moments to my most humblest, no doubt each time to direct me to Christ...Thank you Jesus for being my friend...and for giving me friends that point me to you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

For the Love of God...Love the Church

Do you love God? I would imagine most of us would say YES.
Do you love Jesus? Of course, because he first loved me.
Do you love the Church? The building or the people....the building is nice...but the people get on my nerves...they are hypocrites...they are sinners...

Perhaps you have heard something like that...Perhaps you have said something like that.

In Philippians, the Apostle Paul spends so much time making a connection between love of Christ, the Gospel and our love for the brothers and sisters in Christ around us. Paul loved the church so much and was so concerned about their spiritual maturity that he would joyfully be willing to not go to heaven to be with his Savior. Wow. What love. He would rather remain for them. That does not sound like mere toleration. That is deep godly affection and love.

The place where we live out our love for Jesus is by loving the least of his brothers...Where else will you find the brothers of Christ than in the church. Get yourself connected to a local body. Live out the commands of scripture to "... one-another" the body.

If you love God you will obey His commands. And He commands you to love his church.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Anchor Holds...but not so firmly

Ray Boltz, in a recent article, wanted to tell the Christian community that he was in

The article, while mostly disturbing and unfortunate, makes some very interesting statements and observations about the text of scripture. In fact, whether intentionally or inadvertently, the scripture that Ray Boltz reads does not have much authority or certainty in it at all.

He doesn’t want to get into debates about scripture and has no plans to “go into First Baptist or an Assembly of God church and run in there and say, ‘I’m gay and you need to love me anyway.’”For him, the decision to come out is much more personal.“This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”

With scriptural logic and interpretation like that we run into all kinds of problems. Aren't some people made and have desires that lead to murder. I guess that would be ok since they have "desires" like that and God certainly wouldn't send them to hell if that is how they were created. What about someone who can help cheating on his or her spouse. Is it no longer sin because they can't help it because they have been made that way. Osama Bin Laden must be saying Amen in some cave in Afghanistan.

Living in sin never leads to a closer relationship with God. In fact, sin always leads to separation. We were created in Sin, those who inherited Adam's sin nature. But God is not concerned with letting us live out who we are or think we are. He is more concerned with seeing us image His Son. That is what God created us to be. Our sin prevents us from imaging our creator as we ought to. We need a new birth, something that will change us from the inside out. We need redemption from our sins and the Holy Spirit to conform us to Christ likeness.

God's word is clear and when our life does not line up with scripture, it is not scripture that needs to be changed but us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Anti Brady Bunch

Last weekend, when the Patriots battled the Chiefs most people thought the game would be another boring blow out. And then...the scream...New Englanders held their collective breath...and the rest of the NFL world...well....they cheered. They celebrated...they rejoiced...

Brady, we are told, will be out for the year with a knee injury. There was a sense in which most people were very happy of the events that left Brady in pain. There was a sense of glee as he clutched his leg. In fact, some might have even been...(gulp)...praying for such a thing.

The Apostle Paul faced a similar response when he found himself in Jail. He wrote to the Philippians that some had been preaching the Gospel out of Rivalry and were no doubt a little happy when the prominent apostle meet his match in a Roman jail.

As Christians we aren't to find joy in the pain, trials and suffering in the lives of others, especially those who are fellow citizens of the Kingdom with us. We don't laugh and celebrate when our brothers and sisters in Christ face great pain and trial. That kind of response is anti-Christ. The Bible says that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. And all along our concern is to be whether or not the Gospel of Jesus Christ is going forth.

How can you support and undertake those who around you who are facing trials?

How can you encourage those who are facing great challenges?

How can you pray for those who are in tears over their life?

How can you show Christ to those who badly need Him?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are You A "Lone Stranger" at your Church?

Have you grown tired of all the politics? I watched a lot of both conventions and found myself tired of hearing the same old things, the same old rhetoric, and the same old promises. Then something caught my ear. John McCain, in his acceptance speech at the RNC, said perhaps the most thought provoking thing thus far. Not because of its political ramifications but because of its Biblical ramifications.

Here is what he said:

On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I had not any worry I would not come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didn’t think there was a cause more important than me.

Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me. I was dumped in a dark cell, and left to die. I didn’t feel so tough anymore. When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me to a hospital. They couldn’t set my bones properly, so they just slapped a cast on me. When I didn’t get better, and was down to about a hundred pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence. Those men saved my life.

We are all inherently selfish people. We think that all we need is ourselves. But God knows our most deepest needs. We need someone to reconcile us to God. No amount of selfish pursuits can ever fix that problem. God has sent His Son Jesus to die as our substitute and to make us like Him. He also knows that we need people...relationships that will be part of the sanctification process. The "relationship" that He has given us is the church...the body of Christ.

Begin to learn the limits of your selfish of your selfish independence. Turn to Jesus. Trust in God's faithfulness and promises. Unite yourself with the body of Christ. Love the Church. And as you do, you will learn that you are also loving Christ.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Filling In the Gaps

Here is a wonderful explanation of the Gospel as given by a friend of mine...

Did I Miss Something

In all that I saw and heard in this video I seemed to have missed the "evangel"...

maybe it just wasn't there...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making the Most of Your Sunday

Do you have children? Do you ever wonder how you can prepare yourself and your children for the time that you will spend in a Sunday service hearing the glories of the Gospel. I have three daughters and even though we diligently work at teaching them how to behave, sit, and participate in the service there are times when things don't go as we had hoped. If you have ever experienced such things you are not alone.

My cousin is a pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church in Indiana and he recently commented on how he prepares his children for the Sunday services. He reminded me that we take great care in preparing our children for school each day and we should do the same for our time together each week. I would be interested to hear your thoughts after you read this short article.

The Unavoidable Truth on Abortion

Since Rick Warren's Forum with the two presidential candidates the issue of abortion has been the focus of much of the media's attention. Denny Burk has an interesting article on the inconsistency of one of the presidential candidates. Is it a lack of memory? Is it a lack of truth? I will let you make that decision. CLICK HERE

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sharing a meal

There is something special about sharing a meal with people, especially those you care deeply about. This desire to gather around food is a God given desire that reminds us we desire to share a great supper (a marriage supper) in the comfort, protection, and presence of our King, Jesus Christ.

On Yesterday, our church shared together the Lord's Supper. Before we enjoyed the meal together, we looked into God's word to see what the Bible tells us about this special meal and why it is so different from all the rest.

Dr. Russell Moore has written that the Lord's Supper is a sign...something to point us backwards to what God has done and also point us forward to what God will ultimately do.

As we gather together, we are telling each other that share with us that we are FAMILY, united in Christ. He is our brother and God is our Father. Each one that shares with us is also our brother and sister in Christ. No matter what nation or tribe or tongue you may be; in Christ we are now family. We are also celebrating that a SACRIFICE has been made and accepted through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. We have been reconciled to God. We proclaim that we are waiting a KINGDOM where we will join with all the saints of God through out time and with Jesus Christ our King and share in a marriage supper that will be unrivaled. We proclaim there is still something left to be done...we are awaiting the return of Christ who has said he will share that meal with us.

The next time you partake with your church I hope you will be reminded of some of these promises of God.

Do Statistics Lie?

In the much anticipated political forum with Pastor Rick Warren, John McCain and Barack Obama, one of the most interesting questions was one related to abortion.

When asked when a baby gets human rights, Obama seemed to side step the issue by saying it "was above his pay grade". He went on to add that "abortions have not gone down over the last eight years".

Unfortunately, the statistics don't back this statement up according to an article published by Kathleen Doheny of US News.

Is abortion a critical issue for men and women of faith, particularly those in the Christian Church. As Obama said, it is a moral issue. I believe it is very critical. Does life begin at conception? Does it begin at birth? Where do we find the answers to such questions. I believe we can find them in God's word.

Certainly abortion is not the only major issue for those of the church, but it is one of the most important. If we can kill (abort) un-born children who are not wanted, then there is little to stop us from using the same logic in killing the handicapped, those in comas, those who are old, those battling cancer...or (as in some countries) those children who are not male....

As a father of three, I love my three daughters. As much as I love them, God loves them even more. The Bible teaches me that they are each a special gift from God, not an inconvenience to my regular routine and schedule. They are each made in the image of God with dignity and worth as a human. They are each one also sinners from birth who are in need of a Savior to rescue them from their sins. I have a responsibility to teach them, train them, discipline them, love them and raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. This began as I prayed for them before my wife and I ever conceived. It continued as they were being formed in the womb and will remain until God calls them home.

If we as a church truly believe in the sanctity of human life we must seek to preserve it from the womb to the grave...and also seek to rescue those born into this world by directing them to the One who came to bring life and to bring it more abundantly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Great Provision

God has richly blessed us through out our ministry. We have seen many joys and trials that God has used to shape us and to conform us to His Son's image.

Today, we finally moved into our new home. Over the last several days we have been trying to get all the things we owned moved in. What is interesting is that we have seen how much stuff we have...and how much stuff we don't need. But often what we do with our stuff is to hide it away so it can't be seen. Yet, it is there, even un noticed, holding us down, creating clutter and not allowing us to maximize the full potential of the space we have.

We often do the same thing with sin in our lives. We don't rid ourselves of it, we just slide it around, call it something else, hide it from view and pretend it is not there, all the while it ways us down, holds us back and gets in the way.

When we look to Christ and trust in His work for our salvation, all of our sins are laid on His cross and he bears the full weight and burden for them. We don't need to hide them, he sees them anyway. We can give them over to Him, let him cleanse us and clean us out from the inside and prepare us for greater service for His Kingdom and lives lived for His glory.

Monday, August 11, 2008

How Firm A Foundation

This past Sunday in my first "official" sermon at Bethel Baptist Church I thought that it would be appropriate to clarify the gospel. While it would be wonderful to think that ALL the people in a particular church have looked to Jesus Christ as their substitute and Savior that is not always the case.

In fact many in the church have become a "Christian" in name only, with out ever showing the fruits of such a conversion. Our Salvation is firm not based on the sincerity of the faith of an individual; the works of an individual; or even the amount of tears that are shed as one walks to the altar. The firmness and security of our salvation is rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the sufficient sacrifice for sins.

When one has rested in this finished work of Jesus Christ and has set aside their feeble attempts at righteousness in their own strength and abilities we can sing and rejoice confidently that Jesus will never, no never, no never forsake us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Racism and the Church

Is racism dead? Our experience and culture around us tells us 'no'.
Is racism dead in the church? According to a recent article in a national paper the answer is also 'no'.
It was once said that the 11:00 AM hour on Sunday mornings was the most segregated hour in the country. While statistics can be deceiving at times, the fact that this perception is still labeled onto the church is alarming.

The Bible tells us that ALL men are sinners and that God does not show partiality.
The Bible also tells us that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. In God's eyes 'races' are an illusion. There are only two kinds of people...Sinners and Sinners saved by grace.

The church should certainly not be the most segregated group of people. The church should be full of all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds who come together because of one commonality - faith and hope in Jesus Christ as our Redeemer, Savior, and Brother.

There is no room for racism in the Kingdom of God. Racism is a sin that needs to be nailed to the cross. Do you show partiality to those who look different than you? Or do you long for the day when men of all nations, tribes and tongues will bow at the feet of Jesus. I pray that our church will give us a small glimpse of that future reality as our pews begin to fill up with all kinds of people, sinners, coming to trust and follow Jesus.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Have It Your Way

A man in Jacksonville, FL, has demonstrated that the heart of a man is immensley wicked. Apparently not happy with the way his Subway sandwich was made, a recent customer called 911 to complain that his sandwich did not have the appropriate sauce.

We live in a culture in which we want everything when we want it, how we want it and we want it now. More than just revealing the particular pallet of this man, we see how wicked and gready people are - even about things that seem utterly pointless.

We act and respond as if we deserve to have the greatest and best all the time and when we don't get it we pitch a fit like little children. The depravity of man is great - in fact the Bible tells us we are dead in our sin.

The Bible tells us there is something we do deserve - death for the wages of our sin. In fact that is exactly what we will get - eternal seperation from God in Hell...

Or...we can look to the One who was sent by God to redeem us from our sinful state, to pay the penalty for our sin and to give us a new heart that is no longer a slave to our sinfulness but a slave to Him, walking in newness of life and pursuing His glory above our own selfish needs.

Maybe you have never called 911 for Ketchup. But we all are deeply selfish and love to pursue our own appetites. When you look to Jesus Christ your appetites will gradually be conformed to look alot like His...seeking to find our appetites filled not on what we can grasp with our hands but with all the our Father longs to bless us with through His Son Jesus Christ.

Our Family

We tend to think of our family as those who share our DNA. Henry the 8th was so consumed with DNA that he committed some atrocious acts. In the Kingdom of Christ our family is bigger than our DNA and it is closer too. We are family of orphaned, women, children,...people of all races and nationalities; who once were not a family, but now because of the blood of Jesus Christ (our brother) we now share a common ancestry. One that is bigger than bloodlines and family trees.

When I think of my family I not only think of my wife and children and my sisters and my parents; but I also think of my other sisters and brothers...

Are We Really Alone

The AP has reported an amazing discovery. It appears that the soil on Mars, while supposedly containing some traces of water, actually contains a contaminant that makes life on Mars virtually impossible.

Well there is a surprise. Just after the Catholic Church has said that life on other planets is completely compatible with the Bible it now appears that life is highly unlikely.

It would seem that it would be more useful for our time and dollars to answer some questions that actually pertain to us. I am less concerned about life on other planets than I am with life abundant and eternal. Now that gets me excited. And you don't have to be a nuclear scientist to figure out the answer to those questions. The Bible makes it quite clear through the words of Jesus Christ the answer...Knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Are we really alone...absolutely not. But it is not little green guys from space that are with us but rather angelic forces, both good and evil; a Sovereign and Holy God that deserves our praise and devotion; an enemy named Satan; and a conquering King and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let's spend some time getting to know about this reality...

Just Another Manic Monday

Ministry is never routine. I would think that God does this intentionally so that we are constantly depending on Him for strength and wisdom. My firs Monday was anything but routine...

...Early hospital visit, two hour meeting (I don't like long meetings), no lunch, lots of questions, being called into substitute fast pitch soft ball duty (never seen a fast pitch before) and humbly saying sure, fouling off my first fast pitch ( was a miracle), another hospital visit and in bed around mindnight...

At least I can say that I am not bored...

Let's hope that on Tuesday the pace is not quite as fast!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Beginnings

It is August first on the east coast (it is still but 11 here in the Midwest) and today is my first official day of ministry at Bethel Baptist Church in Independence, MO. The Taylor house hold has been full of excitement over the last few days. We are settling into our surroundings, meeting new people, and beginning to feel at home.

Today, as we drove around looking at some furniture, we were talking in the car about all the things around us that remind us about our former ministry and home in New York. We were laughing at the "traffic" we experienced on the way to Wednesday payer meeting that made us a few minutes late. We have seen signs and reminders of people and places all around us. Many times we have been brought to tears as we ponder about our ministry with those on Long Island. Tears of sadness, tears of amazement and tears of joy abound these days.

We keep reminding each other that God has directed us each step of our lives: from moving to Louisville to attend seminary, to Long Island New York to serve in our first church, seeing three girls given to us by God to care for, nearly losing one daughter to an undetected illness, bringing us Mrs. Fouskis to help with our daughter,...the list could go on and on.

So it isn't much of a surprise to see God bring us half way across the country to a small city in the Midwest. With God, nothing is ever a surprise, just divine placements for his glory and purposes. As we begin a new today, some things have changed immensely. Some things have barely changed at all. We have two more children this time around. We still have a mini van, although slightly newer. We still live close to church, although not as close. We will begin ministry again during the Olympics although this time it is the summer games. But our God is still the same. Our Savior is still on the throne. Our purpose has not changed.

We still serve by His Grace and for His Glory....
...we still serve in and for His Kingdom, just at a different outpost!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Are You Green - Reduce, Reuse, Recylce?

Last night at our Youth Bible Study we took a few minutes to look at the life of Gideon. A man, who by his own admission, was not very gifted, qualified or ready to be used by he thought. God tends to use those greatest in his service who are not that great at all, at least not on their own.

As God makes us more like Christ, He begins by "reducing" us...making us humble before Him. As we become more aware with how great and awesome is our Creator and how sinful and wretched we are, humility should be a natural response. The amazing thing is that as God reduces us and our pride, we can easily fall into the trap of Moses or Gideon of questioning whether or not God can really accomplish his purposes if we are really that unqualified; instead of being drawn more to God's power and glory.

But Gideon found out, as each of us need to as well, that God uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise and the strong. He receives all of the glory and yet we receive the benefit. God used Gideon to accomplish something that on his own, Gideon would have fallen flat on his face...yet God promised Gideon victory, not because Gideon could do it, but because God promised him His presence.

God loves taking fallen creatures like us, and...recycling....taking a clay pot and refashioning it after His Son's image to accomplish His purposes. Maybe being a "Green Christian" takes on a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's Called Grace

Even those in the church often do not understand salvation. How are we saved from our sins? It is only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ AND his righteousness counted to our accounts....this is a great video. Amen for Grace!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

We're On Our Way

In the next few weeks, my wife and I will pack up the kids and all of the stuff we own (which is not much) and make the journey to Independence, MO, where we will begin our ministry with Bethel Baptist Church. We are so excited about what God is going to do in us, through us and at this wonderful church.

We look forward to meeting each one of the members of the church.

Leaving New York is like leaving family. But the joy of the Kingdom of Christ is that they are our family, adopted into the family of Christ with us. Pray for us that our transition is smooth and that the girls adapt quickly to the changes.

You can email us at our new email address any time...

The Outpost - Bible Preaching (Brooke Taylor)