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Saturday, February 28, 2015

They Won't Come (Without an Invitation)

Tomorrow is National Bring a Friend to Church Sunday. I think it's a pretty big deal. When I was growing up we had a special "high attendance" Sunday every April and October. It was always exciting to see what we were going to do to encourage our community to come to church.

These special Sundays have kind of fallen to the wayside in recent years. Every Lord's day is special for sure, but there is nothing wrong in getting excited and having one special day together. Thousands of churches across the US are participating. Just think, maybe this could be the start of a national revival!

So regardless if your church is "participating" or not, take time right now and pray. Ask God to lay on your heart who you can talk to today about joining you in church tomorrow. It could be a life changing experience for both of you. 
If you are in the area I'd love to invite you to Hopewell Baptist Church in Holton, IN. - a Church you can call home!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bring a Friend

I am excited to be in my new church March 1st. It's also Bring a Friend  Sunday. Thousands of churches across the United States will be welcoming visitors. Here are ten reasons why many of us go to church. 

1.  I want to grow.

2. I want to do what God says.

3. I want to be around people who sharpen me.

4. I want to live a longer life.

5. I want to train my children well.

6. I want to strengthen my marriage.

7. I want a better outlook on life.

8. I want rewards in heaven.

9. I want to be part of a cause that’s bigger than me, and I want to invest in something that will last for eternity.

10.  I want to come to church because more people come to Christ in church services than anywhere else on earth.

Go to church, invite a friend, come to God's house and be blessed.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Church Stuff

 Psalm 133:1 says: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  

“When brothers live together in unity,” is also call “community”. King David, the writer of this psalm, is speaking much more about living together in a tight, communal relationship than simply keeping peace and not arguing or having discord. 

This is God's desire for His church! It is not about just going to church, but about becoming the church. We need take a genuine interest in the lives of others.  We must care, share, and pray for each other every day.

My christian journey is taking us from the east coast out to the heartland of Indiana, but it's not about location. It's about the God's church.

Be the church - live in unity - put a smile on God's face. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Change is Good

It is good news that God never changes! We have a great example of it in Jonah 3:1-3; Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Of course God had told Jonah the same thing earlier but because of his disobedience he had to spend 3 days in the belly of a big fish. God did not change His mind about what He wanted Jonah to do
After his ordeal Jonah decides to be obedient. I love this quote, “God loves you just the way you are, but refuses to leave you that way.” We’re a lot like Jonah – even if we don’t want to admit it.The good news is that we don’t have to be thrown in the ocean and swallowed by a big fish! Have you seen this list before?

"The Seven Steps to Church Stagnation":
1. We've never done it that way before. 2. We're not ready for that.
3. We are doing all right without trying that. 4. We tried it once before.
5. We don't have money for that. 6. That's not our job.
7. Something like that can't work.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done remember Jonah was totally disobedient. Do you know what the difference between change in the world and in the church? It’s we’re not a democracy but a Theocracy! We must follow God's Word on all matters.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. Jonah had been thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish! Deal with the change – You can get mad, run, or be scared but embrace it make it your own. It doesn’t matter who you are - No matter your background -No matter how you look -No matter how you smell. God has a plan for your life, don’t bother running (away, to your comfort zone, old habits, gossiping/tearing down) (it won’t help)

Let’s start acting more like Jesus in love, obedience, and faithfulness. Let’s embrace the great Planner and Creator & do things His way! Aren’t you glad that God never changes?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In the Boat

It seems like we've spent this winter bracing ourselves for the next snow storm. We all experience storms in life. Today let's look at a storm in the Bible found in Matthew 8:23-27.

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

The disciples had taken their eyes off Christ and were fearing for their lives. Jesus was at peace and deep in sleep when they woke Him. They acted like Jesus wasn't aware what was going on, and they needed to explain it tp Him. He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” When we realize who Christ is and His promise to watch over us then our fears, anxieties, and worries fade away. He brings peace in to our presence. Pray for His peace through the storms in your life, and have faith.

Have faith - don't fear - Jesus is in the boat! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Get it Right

Sometimes people’s reaction to the same news that makes us so happy can be just the opposite. This happens in the case of the older brother of the prodigal son. The Father wants his youngest to be reconciled with the whole community – especially within the family. It doesn’t turn out that way.

We hear his reaction in The Parable of the Older Son in Luke 15:25-3125 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Did you notice that the father “went out and pleaded with him” to join in this happy occasion. The brother was so “Me” oriented that he could not see past his own needs and greed. Sadly this still exists today. Instead of focusing on ourselves so much – what would happen if we focused on those who are lost and need to be restored to God through Jesus?

I hope we’d have revival. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Go, Going, Gone

Today I is my last day as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Red Bank. This summer we would of celebrated our eighth anniversary here. On my first Sunday as Pastor I titled my sermon, "First Things First". My Scripture; - Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. - Mathew 28:18-20 My main point was looking at the word, "GO". It's a command, a service, and a call to evangelize.

Today's sermon is entitled, "GO". Maybe I'm one dimentional or boring, but I really can't think of any more important word in a believer's vocabulary. The text is the same and so is it's intent. When the Bible talks about Go - it is God telling us what to do, or how to live. When a Christian thinks about the word go, they should use it as an indication of where their walk with the Lord is at.

What areas of your life has God spoken to you about recently, and where is God telling you to “go” today? He has led Janine and I to Hopewell Baptist Church in Holton, Indiana. Next week will be our first Sunday. It is in response to what I say alll the time, Be where God wants you to be, and do what He has called you to do.

 Now is the time to make your decision to grow and go in in Jesus' name as His disciple. Amen?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Just Like Jesus

Here are two more great aspects of spiritual growth - transformation and reproduction  It’s about moving from something we’re not to something we should be, and then being "fruitful". 

Paul tells us: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

In Romans 8:29 he says we’re supposed to be “conformed to the image of God’s son.” “Conformed.  In Romans 12, he says we’re supposed to be “transformed.” To be transformed is to have our form changed. Trans means “change.” To be conformed is to have our form changed with another. “Con” means “with.” The goal of our growth is to be changed to “conform” to the shape of God’s son—to think and act like Jesus. Then we need to tell people!

Jesus tells us: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. - John 15:5–8

Jesus calls reproducing other believers “bearing fruit.” And he says we can only bear fruit if we remain in him. This means, if we spend time with him by reading what he’s written to us (the Bible), listening to him, and talking with him through prayer.

God gets glory when we bear fruit. Let's grow, be changed, and go share the Good News of Jesus with the world around us. Amen?  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Good Growth

 Life in Christ is about growing. The bonsai tree is a very small tree that has been manipulated in to staying tiny. By keeping the tree in a small pot (roots cannot expand) to severe pruning it keeps the plant small. I think we have "bonsai" Christians out there! They think, act, serve, and worship too small. We were meant to grow!

Look what Paul has to say in Colossians 2:6-7; So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  

This is a great reminder on how to grow and keep growing in our Christian faith. You first accept Christ as your Savior, then live your life in Him and through Him. We are "rooted" by our faith and strengthen by learning His Word, and from mature Christians. This will lead to a life of joy and thankfulness!

Take time today to do a faith and growth "check-up". One quick test is to ask others if they think you are joyful and thankful.

 Keep rooted and growing in Jesus.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grow Up (in the Lord)

Life is about growing! Death happens when you stop, John tells us in 1 John 2:12–14, I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Here are 3 signs on how you tell if someone is spiritually dying on the inside:
1. They stop learning. They stop coming to church and small group. They are not allowing themselves to go deeper in God’s Word or exposing themselves to teaching through reading, sermons, etc..
2. They stop maturing. Their character isn’t growing in Christ or becoming more patient, thoughtful, or helpful.
3. They stop caring about leading others to Christ, social injustice, hurting, morality, and dying people.

In John’s definition for spiritual life, God’s children are those who have received Jesus. They’ve had their sins forgiven by receiving Christ and they know God. Spiritual young men are strong because they are regularly reading God’s word, and they are involved in the cause of Christ, advancing his kingdom and thereby “overcome the evil one.” This is part of spiritual growth - growing in faith, obedience, and maturity.

Don’t die spiritually- keep growing!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

God or Me

We can summarize our response to God’s call on our lives in two statements; “But God” or “But I” We make excuses for our disobedience by saying things like, “But I’m too busy”, or “But I’m not able”. If we believe in the power of God we respond with, “But God so loves the world” or “But God is able”.  This gives us a totally different outlook on things. Paul writes to the church:

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Dying to self and living for Christ is what He desires. Live a bold and abundant life for Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:8-10

Give yourself over to the work that He has begun in you It really is more fun to be a God’s way not a My way person.
can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:13

 He is able to heal you from the But I.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Growth Steps

Here are 4 Steps to take once you’re saved.

1.     Identify with Christ through Baptism – Matthew 28:18-20Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

2.     Be Committed to Faithful Church Attendance – Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

      3.   Worship the Lord through Prayer and Bible Study – Psalm 19:9-11 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold,than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

4.    Share Your Faith – Romans 1:16-17 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Exercise your faith - make it grow!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Time to Grow

Let's look at two reasons that made the First Church in the book of Acts so compelling to the world.
They took their spiritual growth seriously. 

This is the most important purpose, because the others hinge on this one.

The church is where you can become the best you - you can be.

Can you get better? Where do you start?

You must Show Up in order to Grow Up in the Lord.

They invested in positive priorities

What do you do with your time, talent, treasure?

Some sing, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!” What do you owe God?

The church is where our time, talents, and treasure get invested for eternity
Where are you storing up your treasure?

The best kind of growth? Grow in the Lord. Amen?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Press It

Life is tough! We have so many things that keep us from doing what God wants us to do. It seems we are so busy chasing the "good life" that we forget what is necessary for the "God Life"! Consider the following challenge from the Word of God.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Philippians 3:12-16

Press on believer! Keep your eyes up - where our true help comes from.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Success in Life

Today let's look at four components that we must use in our Christian walk, and incorporate in our lives to have success:

God’s Word
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Our Unity
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. -Matthew 12:25

Our Obedience
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. -John 14:15 

Our Love
Jesus said, By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

On this Valentine's day don't forget to tell Jesus how much you love Him. Be wise use God's instruction Book, and grow in your love for Christ


Friday, February 13, 2015

Heart Ruler

Two thousand years ago, a carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus burst on the scene with a vision that has changed the world. Everywhere He went Jesus inspired the imaginations of many people by painting a picture of a spiritual and relational movement like none that had ever existed before.

Some would go without food just to be near Him. Others would travel miles to hear Him tell about a God who loved them personally. They thronged to hear Him teach about a phenomenon He called the Kingdom of God.” They found it hard to believe that God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation was for everyone.

For three years, Jesus Christ proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom and then He was betrayed, arrested, beaten, and murdered on a cross.  His followers thought the Kingdom-vision was dead. 

But three days later Jesus rose from the grave, and His Kingdom dream was as alive as He was. He opened their minds to see that the kingdom He had been teaching about for three years was not a political kingdom, but a far greater one, a spiritual kingdom—the rule of God in people’s hearts,

Does God rule in your heart?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Loving Church

I recently was reminded about a guy who complained to his mother that he didn't feel like going to church that morning.

His mom said, “What are you talking about. Get out of bed and get going. Why on earth would you stay home from church?”

The man said, “I’ll give you two reasons. First, I don’t like those people. And second, they don’t like me.”

His mother said, “Well I’ll give you two reasons you should go. First, you’re fifty-nine years old. … And second, you’re the Pastor!” 

Regardless who you are sometimes we don't "feel" like going to church. There's lots of good reasons why we should go.Sociologist’s studies over the past twenty years show that those who attend church regularly have:
·         lower blood pressure
·         happy outlooks
·         better marriages
·         less divorces
·         and longer lives! 

The biggest reason to go is that you'll meet Jesus and His people there. I hope you have taken advantage of this Lord's day, and went to your church. There is no better place to be!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Moment with God

remember a trip took a couple of years ago that required a little more patience that I was prepared for. The drive was a lot longer, 90 miles, twice the distance of my normal airport. It took over 20 minutes to find a parking spot followed by a 45 minute security line!

I had just enough time to get a cup of coffee before going to my gate, and no one was in line at the Duncan Donut. As I stepped to the counter the server turned and said, “One moment please”. I could have got mad but decided to laugh at my hurriedness instead. “In a moment” I was enjoying a great cup of java with a smile on my face. I thought later that a lot can happen in a moment - both good and bad.

The Bible gives us good news about what can happen in a moment.

In a Moment:
- Through Christ you can cross from hopelessness to hope.
- We can be taken from this life in to eternity with God.
-  Christ will return (In the twinkling of an eye).

Slow down, take a deep breath, and take your moment with God today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Time to Recover

Look at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-10,

Jesus said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart,  for they will see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

We are all in some need of recovery look at these Eight Recovery Principles based on the Beatitudes:

Realize that you’re not God (5:3)
Earnestly believe that God exists (5:4)
Consciously choose (5:5)
Openly examine and confess (5:8)
Voluntarily submit (5:6)
Evaluate all my relationships (5:7)
Reserve daily time with God (5:9)
Yield yourself to be used by God (5:10)

Apply Godly principles to your everyday life. It will change you and the world around you. Amen?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pray First

I just saw a teaching from Max Lucado called, Pray First, Pray Most. It was a great reminder on how to take on the "Goliaths" in our lives, but also how to trust God in all things in your life. the study was based out of Acts 12. Peter was imprisoned, the church was praying, and an angel came and delivered him from harm. There are great take-aways from this story.
- Passionate prayers move the heart of God. Jacob prayed such a prayer in Genesis 32. He was on his face one moment and in God's face the next! That's passion!
What changes do you need to see in your life?

In our story, Peter was asleep - resting in the knowledge God would save him. There was a prayer meeting going on at the church, but had trouble believing their prayers could be answered.
Have you ever felt that way?

Satan makes it his mission to interrupt our prayers.
What happens when a church prays without ceasing? Satan trembles because God shows up!

Let's pray. Pray first. Pray most. Prayer brings guaranteed results. God still hears prayers, and He's listening now.
The only question is, "Are we praying?"

I hope I get an Amen on that!