Saturday, December 24, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
If revival is going to happen in our country, then let us pursue holiness and a passion for God's glory.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Even though the outside temperature can be very cold, our heart can be hot with spiritual fervor. Romans 12.11 commands us to be "never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord".
Let us work daily at being spiritually hot for Jesus!
For Jesus Alone!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Wow, may all those attributes be true in me.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
God will send revival to individuals before he sends revival to churches and communities. According to Brian Edwards: "There has always been personal revival before public revival in those whom God uses. This personal revival may take many forms, but it always has the same effect: to convince of the greatness and glory of God" (Revival!, pg. 54).
Howel Harris was used by God during the awakening across Wales. On June 18, 1735, he met with God: "I felt suddenly my heart melting within in me like wax before the fire with love to God my Saviour; and also felt not only love, peace, etc. but longing to be dissolved, and to be with Christ; then was a cry in my inmost soul, which I was totally unacquainted with before, Abba Father! Abba Father! I could not help calling God my Father..." (pg. 54)
Before revival comes to America, it will first occur in the lives of people praying and longing for it.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
"Men whom God uses in revival have always been men who maintained a close walk with God and longed for a holy life. It was Robert Murray M'Cheyne who, so greatly used by God in Dundee in 1839, had prayed from his heart, 'Lord make me as holy as a saved sinner can be.' The evidence of the sincerity in this prayer is seen in the fact that people would be moved to tears just by seeing him in the pulpit or walking down the corridor of the church."
It is just like the song that goes "Holiness, holiness is what I long for; holiness is what I need!"
It is what we all need.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Am I such a person? I want to be.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
In Brian Edwards book: "Revival!", he writes the first step towards revival is to consecrate ourselves to the Lord (2 Chronicles 29.5). He went on...
"If we start here, we have hope for revival. But we must start now. Whole books can be written analysing what is wrong with the church today, but there is hardly a need for this. We must simply admit that we are not eternity-minded people. We live like the world we are supposed to be saving: for the things of time rather than for the things of eternity. Our priorities are world-related rather than heaven directed; our treasure is on earth. Revival always begins by putting eternity back into the minds of the Christians, and only when the church takes eternity seriously can we expect the world to do so" (pgs. 44-45).
If this is true, then what are we waiting for? Let us draw near to God so he will draw near to us (James 4.8).
For Christ Alone!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
It is raining and snowing in Omaha this morning. We need the moisture. The American church also needs a fresh rain from heaven as well. Brian Edwards in his book, Revival! A People Saturated With God describes what occurs before, during and after revival. For example, what is the condition of the church before a revival? According to Edwards:
"Outwardly there may be many good things in churches today, but beneath it all is the rottenness of worldliness, carelessness, a lack of deep commitment and a triviality about holy things. Our churches are divided and quarrelsome; our leaders are proud of their reputations and hard-working to build their own empires. Generally speaking, Christians think and behave like the world and are afraid to act differently... Of course, some churches are growing and some sinners are being converted, but by and large we have become expert at simply shuffling the pack as dissatisfied or grumbling Christians move from church to church" (pg. 37).
Ouch! Are we ripe for revival? It appears so. Let us seek God's face.
For Jesus Alone! Have a wonderful day.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I have read this book more than once and I have marked it all up because it is both a history of revival and an encouragement to pray daily for God to revive the modern church. Edwards writes... "In revival things happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Meetings are lengthened, crowds gather, and sermons have to be preached, not because it is all arranged in advance, but because God is at work. People will arrive without warning for a meeting, moved by an unseen hand"(pg. 29). I will refer more to this book in later blogs.
For Jesus Alone!
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
As God's Spirit is working on the church, people outside the church will be drawn to love and glory of Jesus. In other words, there will be conversions. The words of Acts 1.8 will be fulfilled. Jonathan Edwards reminds us that God's mission in the world is the salvation of souls...
"The work of God in converting souls out of the hands of
Satan, was begun soon after the fall of man, has been carried
on in the world ever since to this day, and will be to the end
of the world. God has always, ever since erecting of the
church of the redeemed after the fall, had such a church in
the world. Though oftentimes it has been reduced to a very
narrow compass and to low circumstances; yet it has never
Thursday, October 20, 2005
1:1 How happy is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked,or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of arrogant fools!
1:2 Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord's commands; he intently studies his commands day and night.
1:3 He is like a tree planted by flowing streams;it yields its fruit at the proper time,and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts.
1:4 Not so with the wicked! Instead they are like wind-driven chaff.
1:5 For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment, nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly.
1:6 Certainly the Lord rewards the behavior of the godly, but the behavior of the wicked is self-destructive.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Today I read these words from Ezekiel 43.5: "Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple." Could the glory the glory of the Lord fill our church sanctuaries each Sunday? If God's people will fervently pray and seek the Lord's face, then "yes", his glory will come revival power and renewal.
Let us keep at it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Don Whitney wrote: “Those who make the most rapid, consistent, and evident growth in Christlikeness are those who have developed a daily time of being alone with God for Bible meditation, prayer and private worship.” Along with prayer and worship, Bible meditation is essential for our Christian growth. On October 23, I will preach a sermon for my Doctor of Ministry project. It is a problem-centered sermon where I will address the difficulty and lack of biblical meditation among evangelical Christians in America.
This is a “problem” because the lack of meditation on the Word of God will cause us to miss out on the treasures of knowing and delighting in God. My scripture text will be Psalm 1. The first three verses are:
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
The Hebrew word for blessed is a strong word that means more than “happiness”. The idea here is a person will experience God’s special favor and grace when he or she does not listen and follow the advice of people who are not followers of Jesus. Instead, the blessed person will delight in the Word of God. Delighting in scripture is linked to meditation on it.
This is where the problem often is with many of us—we simply do not meditate on the scriptures. We are aware of God’s promises when we do: we will be blessed by him and we will spiritually flourish and prosper just like a tree that is planted by streams of water (verse 3). Why is Bible meditation so difficult for us?
One reason perhaps is that it takes discipline to not only read and memorize a Bible verse, but then to repeat and reflect on those words. If we are convinced of the first reason, then that may lead to a second reason: that the discipline of scripture meditation will drain us of energy rather than refresh us and help become more like Jesus. We are already “over-loaded” with things to do throughout the day. We can hardly imagine actually setting aside even more time to meditate on the Word of God.
Yet, if we do, we are promised that our Christianity will be like a tree whose roots run deep into the soil. Such trees will consistently bear the fruit of Christlikeness and eternal impact on the people around us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote during the days of Nazi Germany:
“Daily, quiet reflection on the Word of God as it applies to me (even if only for a few minutes) becomes for me a point of crystallization for everything which gives interior and exterior order to my life. Our previous ordered life has been broken up and dissolved in these present days, and we are in danger of losing our inner sense of order, too, because of the rush of events, the demands of work, doubts, temptations, conflicts, and unrest of all kinds. Meditation can give to our lives a measure of steadfastness…
…Meditation is a source of peace, of patience and of joy; it is like a magnet which draws together all the forces in our life which make for order; it is like deep water which reflects the clouds and the sun on its clear surface” (Meditating on the Word, pgs. 51-52).
On October 23, we look together on how we can all delight in the Word of God.
Monday, September 26, 2005
"This reminds me of a friend of mine whose six-year-old son knelt at his bedside and prayed, 'God bless Daddy and Mummy and me and, oh yes, please take care of yourself because if anything happens to you we are going to be in an awful mess.' If God is not sovereign, there is no hope that our Lord Jesus will triumph in the end as he did when God raised him from the dead" (pg. 104).
Praise the Lord that He rules all things. Thus, he can be depended on and trusted even when life around us is chaotic.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The Most Powerful Word In The Bible
What is required?If any man will come. Discipleship begins with an option – IF. If any man would come... Discipleship is a deliberate choice, an act of the will. Many fall into discipleship at other’s request or by situation, but Jesus desires that his disciples choose to volunteer themselves as his disciples.
1. Let him deny himself. Admission into Christ’s school of discipleship begins with self-denial – it is the first lesson learned and the foundation from which all other lessons are built upon. Those who have learned self-denial are those who deny themselves absolutely and do nothing to seek life on their own terms. They are those who lay down their lives for others and only for their good. They have understood the difference between time and eternity and have chosen to forsake this life for the time to come. They no longer love this life’s rewards such as thinking their time is their own, no longer love leisure, power, authority and financial security for they have discovered how empty these really are. They become free to follow Christ and in so doing, will inherit eternal life and begin immediately to experience abundant life and the benefits of truly following Christ Jesus.
2. Let him take up his cross. The troubles of believers are rightly called crosses – troubles including God’s afflictions, persecution for righteousness’ sake, troubles we encounter whether for doing well or for not doing evil. Isaiah calls this the bread of adversity and the water of affliction - my cross, my troubles are my substance (Is. 30:20). Every disciple has his cross. Every disciple must bear the cross that God has provided. My cross is not your cross. Your cross is not mine. I must not avoid, add to, or take away from that which Father God has made for me. I must take up my cross and not think what I am facing as an accident or evil, but I must rejoice in my afflictions for I know that it is working for my good. I must deny myself the pleasure of sin and the fleeting, deceptive advantages of this world for Christ.
3. Let him follow me. If I have denied myself, have taken up my cross, I now can follow Christ. He then bears my cross for me and bears it from me. I must follow Christ in all instances of holiness and obedience. As a disciple, I must study and imitate Christ, conforming myself to his example, regardless of what the world suggests or what troubles lie ahead. I must do well and I must suffer troubles for this is the way of Christ. A disciple studies to imitate their Master, and conforms themselves in every thing to his example, and continues in well doing, whatever troubles lie in their way. To do well and to suffer ill is to follow Christ. If any man will come after me, let him follow me. Those that come after Christ must follow after him.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
"In 1949, on the Isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland, Duncan Campbell witnessed... scenes of conviction over personal sin: 'The awful presence of God brought a wave of conviction of sin that caused even mature Christians to feel their sinfulness, bringing groans of distress and prayers of repentance from the unconverted. Strong men were bowed under the weight of sin and cries for mercy were mingled with shouts of joy from others who had passed into life' "(pg. 116).
Oh, for this to occur in our churches today!
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Prayer is more than just bringing to God our requests. Prayer is coming into the very presence of the Most High God. His presence will bring joy and an urgency to be His holy representatives in the world
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Besides our prayers, the victims of Hurricane Katrina need our resources.
Posted: 8/31/05 | HOMEPAGE | WORLD RELIEF
BWAid Responds to Hurricane Katrina Devastation
August 31, 2005
On August 29 Hurricane Katrina devastated the coastal region of Mississippi, killing more than 50 in Harrison County alone. Breached levees in New Orleans resulted in massive flooding. Mayor Ray Nagin said, "The city of New Orleans is in a state of devastation. We probably have 80 percent of our city under water, with some sections as deep as 20 feet." Suburbs were also hard hit, with one reporting 40,000 homes under water.
A number of churches and individuals have called the BGC asking how they can contribute to relief efforts for victims of Katrina, which struck Gulf Coast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The BGC will forward funds to Baptist World Aid and National Association of Evangelicals World Relief, our two primary partners in world relief. Both work through Baptist/evangelical churches and conferences to bring immediate disaster response, with a gospel witness.
Baptist teams from North Carolina and Virginia have already sent teams to provide meals and water, as well as crisis care counselors and water purification units. Other Baptist groups are heading for the affected areas. NAE World Relief is working with evangelical churches to provide assistance on a need basis, including clearing debris and clean-up equipment.
The BGC has forwarded an initial $5,000 to BWAid and NAE World Relief for these efforts. If your church wishes to participate in this effort, make your check payable to BGC World Relief and mark it for "Hurricane Katrina Relief" (project number 605026).
Ray Swatkowski, executive vice president
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
"But just as much as we need a merciful Savior, we need a sovereign Lord. If Christ is merciful to us, but doesn’t have the sovereignty to rule the forces that threaten us, what good will his mercy be? Our lives are fragile and vulnerable in hundreds of ways. What will happen in Iraq—another Viet Nam, or worse? What will happen between Israel and the Palestinians and the global tension that situation creates? What will happen with North Korea and its nuclear threat? When will the next big 9-11 to come on American soil? What will happen to my health? Or the health of my children? My spouse? My parents? (Little children ask: What if mommy and daddy die?) What natural disasters will befall me or my family? What car accident or sniper or kidnapper may turn my world upside down? We are fragile and vulnerable—all of us.
If you are honest, you know that you cannot protect yourself from these things. And if you devote your life to trying, you will become a pitiful old man or woman barricaded and lonely behind the illusion of self-made security.
In other words, we need a sovereign Lord over the world. We need one who rules over Iraq and Israel and Korea and terrorists and disease and disaster and accidents—right down to the details of our lives. Not that he would always spare us calamity—the Bible doesn’t teach that he will—but if he is merciful, he will not let any calamity happen to us that he did not design for our ultimate good.
My point this morning is that Jesus Christ is both merciful and sovereign. Because he both died for our sins (so he is merciful) and rose from the dead (so he is sovereign)."
Friday, August 26, 2005
It is my usual practice to try to pray myself to sleep. In other words, I want fall asleep while praying. I do believe that is exactly what happened. I also woke up a couple of times during the night. I went to prayer again until I fell asleep. I am far from a prayer warrior, but I do desire to pray consistently!
Have a great day.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
What do you think?
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
In 1857 America was in crisis. What had begun as a cultural divide over slavery had deepened into a spiritual rift. Had God created blacks to have the same self-evident rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as whites? Or did He intend them to be intelligent beasts of burden, put on earth to serve whites? Hearts North and South had so hardened over this question that resolution by force of arms seemed inevitable.
Then the stock market crashed, the economy collapsed, multitudes were thrown out of work, and no one had any answers.
But one man thought God might. Jeremiah Lanphier invited men in the business district of New York City to gather for prayer at Noon on Wednesdays. The first Wednesday, there were six. The second Wednesday, twenty. The third Wednesday, forty. The Great Men’s Prayer Revival of 1857 had begun.
Today America is again in crisis. The cultural divide has become a spiritual rift. No one has any answers. But perhaps God does. What if – we were to accept the challenge of Jeremiah’s example? What if we were to go and do likewise?
1. All who desire to seek the face of God in meekness and humility are welcome.
2. Come to pray, not to preach or proselytize, or be entertained. Just to pray.
3. Avoid controversial subjects and divisive prayers. Ask God to guide your prayers.
4. As you pray, be sensitive to those around you, who might not come from the same prayer tradition as you.
5. Prayer requests and praise for answered prayer are welcome, as are reports of what the Lord is doing elsewhere. Exhortations are also welcome, but no more than two in a row, and none should exceed five minutes. A bell can be rung to announce the next person’s turn.
6. Promptness is vital. The hour should begin at Noon and end at one. If you can give Him the whole hour, fine. If you can stay only a few minutes, that is also fine. Linger afterwards if you care to, but the closing benediction will be at one.
7. Throughout, be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God. It is His hour, not ours; we’ve come to please Him, not ourselves.
For he was looking for the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. – Hebrews 11:10
Abraham was looking for a far city, whose foundations were already laid down by the Master Builder. So it will be for the Noon Prayer Hour. Erected on the firm foundation of the Word and Will of God, it will have His Spirit hovering over it, guiding the work.
From inception to completion, it will be His, and when it is ready, He will send His Spirit to speak it into existence.We will be living stones, shaped and prepared by God to fit into His temple of prayer.
Until it is finished, we will serve as watchmen and gatekeepers, awaiting His arrival and His command: Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shall come upon you.
Jesus revealed that the glory the Father gave Him is also given to us, that we might be one – in spirit and purpose, in one accord. As the work gets underway, let us always remember: Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. – Psalm 127:1
Friday, August 12, 2005
"One secret act of self-denial, one sacrifice of inclination to duty, is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers, in which idle people indulge themselves." ... John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Last Sunday, we worshipped in the Westminster Abbey in London. The great Scottish missionary David Livingstone is buried there. He devoted his life to spread the gospel in Africa and to abolish the slave trade. I stood right by his grave.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
It is also helpful to remember that Jesus is the Lord of the church and that we are to keep our eyes on him. In Matthew 16.16, Peter confessed to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God! In His response to this correct confession, Jesus said: I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! What an awesome promise from Jesus. Let us focus on him. He is our treasure and our true delight.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I take a stand to honor the Lord Jesus Christ with my hand to serve all mankind
I take a stand to honor the Lord Jesus Christ with my feet to spread the gospel to all the ends of the earth no matter what the cost.
I take a stand to honor the Lord Jesus Christ with my lips by proclaiming the Good News to all who hear and by edifying the Body of Christ.
I take a stand to honor the Lord Jesus Christ with my mind as I meditate upon His Word and His promises to me.
I give all my earthly treasures and all that I possess to follow the way of the cross.
I commit to love my family, orphans, widows, lepers, the wealthy and the poor the way that Christ loved the church.
I will surrender my will to His will and life.
I commit to the service of the Lord by being a good steward of my time.
I surrender my body on earth to the perfect will of Jesus, and should my blood be spilled may it bring forth a mighty harvest of souls.
I pledge allegiance to the Lamb. I will seek to honor His command. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.
Lord Jesus, Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I love my India and my fellow citizens, and I claim India for Christ"
The students knew that persecution laid ahead for them. They were motivated to stake a stand and make a pledge to do so partly because of a story about a man who had been a Christian for only four months. With joy, he shared about his new faith Jesus with people in his village. But the villagers tied old shoes around his neck and forced to walk through the village as they beat him. He was also forced to drink the urine of a cow. However, as this Christian was both bold for Jesus and persecuted for Jesus, 100 people in the village turned to Jesus for salvation (The Voice of the Martyrs, July 2005, pgs. 2-3).
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
The Treasure That Turns Treasures to Garbage
June 29, 2005 — Fresh Words Edition
By John Piper
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
Paul has a way of playing your game, winning, and then saying the game is bunk. He does it, for example, in 2 Corinthians 11:21–12:11 where he lists his “superior” achievements and then says, “I have been a fool! You forced me to it” (2 Corinthians 12:11). In other words, I can play your game of measuring myself by your standards, win, and then call it all worthless. It is fool’s play.
He does it again here in Philippians 3. He warns the church to watch out for the evildoing dogs who mutilate the flesh (people who insist on circumcision as a way of getting right with God). The problem with these people is that they “put confidence in the flesh”—that is, they bank on their works for justification (vv. 2-3, cf. v. 9). So Paul says, OK let’s play that game for a moment. And then he lists his works of the flesh and knocks his opponents out of the ring with legal achievements. “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more.” Indeed he does.
Then come three of the best verses in all the Bible. In essence: the victory I just won in the contest of the flesh is a pile of garbage (the Greek is skubala, v. 8). And the reason he uses such a strong word (refuse!) is that the alternative is Christ. Compared to Christ, being the greatest Pharisee of his time was foul garbage.
But that is too vague. Paul is not vague. He does not simply say that compared to Christ legal achievements are garbage; he is more specific. He says that what is superior to moral and religious achievements is 1) knowing Christ, 2) gaining Christ, and 3) being found in Christ.
1. Knowing Christ. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 8). “Knowing” here is not just knowing the fact that Jesus is Lord. It is the kind of knowing that prompts the phrase, “my Lord”! He knows the supreme Lord of the universe (see 2:9-11) as his Lord. So there are two aspects to Paul’s passion for Christ here. One is the rational and relational knowledge of the greatest person in the universe. Paul’s mind and heart are full of Christ. The other is that he belongs to Christ as subject to the all-ruling, all-protecting Lord. This is better than being at the top of any human heap.
2. Gaining Christ. “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (v. 8). “Gain” means get all that Christ is for us in heaven, not just on earth. Paul has already said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (v. 21), because “to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (1:23). And he is about to say, “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (3:12). So it is clear that part of what makes human achievement a pile of garbage compared to Christ is that soon (and very soon!) he is going to meet the king—in a way far more full and intimate and stunning and satisfying than anything he has known here. And he has known so much of Christ here that the garbage verdict has been rendered on that alone.
3. Being found in Christ. “. . . and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (v. 9). Paul was overwhelmed by the fact that “in Christ”—that is, united to Christ by faith alone—he possessed a righteousness that was infinitely better than all his legal achievements could ever be. Paul knew he needed a righteous life in order to be accepted by God and in order to enjoy all the glories of Christ forever. He did not have such a righteousness in himself. He needed the free gift of righteousness from God himself. God gave it to him in Christ.
Therefore Jesus Christ was both the treasure he cherished and the one who provided the right to have the treasure. In Christ alone Paul had a right to know and gain Christ. And that is all he wanted. That is the gospel. This is what we mean at Bethlehem by Treasuring Christ Together. Christ alone is the ground of our acceptance with God and the goal of our heart’s desire. He is our righteousness and our reward. Compared to him (knowing him, gaining him, being found in him) all else is garbage.
Treasuring Christ together with you,
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I love these annual meetings because of the fellowship, corporate prayer, worship and preaching. Henry Blackaby will be speaking tomorrow.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
I have not taken it, but I know people who have. It will truly be life changing. If you are interested, contact LaVern Smith at (402) 734.1551 or at LaVern.Smith@worldteam.org.
The cost $195.00 plus $35.00 for the textbook and Study Guide. There is a $25.00 discount if you register before June 30th.
Have a great day. Pastor Bryan
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Check out this link about the current weather conditions in Omaha: http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=986. I am in my air-conditioned office and the humidity is still getting to me!
Well, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were eliminated yesterday in the College World Series. It was a great baseball game and a great season.
Stay cool and drink lots of water.
Monday, June 20, 2005
on a very difficult course. See...
Campbell's career has been characterized by ups and downs. During the broadcast, Campbell was quoted as saying that prior to the Open, he decided that it is time to go to the next level of golf. So he took the time in recent months to refine his game--especially his short game.
There is certainly a lesson for us followers of Jesus. Are we content with an up and down Christian life? Are we content with mediocrity in our relationship with Jesus? Or are we willing to do what it takes to go to the next level of faith? May we all dig deep into God's Word and delight in it. May we be people of prayer who possess a holy urgency to grow deep in the faith.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Psalm 37.4 says delight yourselves in the Lord. That is command! Isaiah 58.14 says that we will find our joy in the Lord. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord even when that little golf ball refuses to go where we want it. Every golfer will have bad rounds and stretches of weeks where it seems like nothing goes right but it is just a game. ILL--Many years ago, I was with a friend at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and we saw a well-known golf pro hit a bad shot.
It was bad according to his standards. His approach shot to the green wasn't as close to the hole as he visualized. Most of us would be thrilled to be near the green. After he did that, he took his iron and just smashed it on a rock, and then he threw that mangled club into the woods. We were right behind him. I looked where he threw it and I thought, "I wonder if I can fix that!" But he destroyed it.
Well, he lost his temper. And on a professional level, there is a needed intensity in order to compete, but it is still just a game. And there are far more important things in life than golf. ILL--Several years ago after the conclusion of the 1995 Ryder Cup, the American team was beaten by the Europeans. The Americans went in the locker room feeling bad. Then Paul Azinger came into the room.
He is a pro who just recovered from cancer. He told the team: "Guys, this isn so bad. The sun will come up tomorrow. I had cancer." In other words, golf is just a game. It is temporary compared to the glories of eternity. When we die, our clubs stay in the garage or basement.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
"Harvey Oaks Baptist Church
Wednesday Morning Prayer (6:30 to 7:30 AM)
June 15, 2005
This morning's Scripture: Psalm 85. Especially notice the prayer in verse 6.
As we pray this morning, let us pray:
That God will send spiritual revival to Harvey Oaks Baptist Church (True spiritual revival will refocus our hearts and lives on the supremacy and greatness of Jesus Christ so that we will be the church that he desires. Someone once defined revival as "a people saturated with God").
That Christ-centered worship will occur each Sunday morning at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church. Psalm 100.2 says: Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
That the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit will descend on us every Sunday morning so that lives are radically transformed.
That Harvey Oaks Baptist Church will no longer be in a state of plateau (Eight out of ten churches in the United States have plateaued or are declining).
That God will cause many people around in the Omaha area to turn to Jesus for salvation. Pray that they will be fruitful Christians for God's kingdom.
That the remaining unreached people groups around the world will be reached for Jesus Christ.
Thank you for praying this morning. Have a great day as you live for the Lord Jesus.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Thoughts on Romans 9:20 - You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
Clearly Paul was displeased with this response to his teaching about God. Does this mean that it's always wrong to ask questions in response to Biblical teaching? I don't think so.
Paul had said some controversial things. Peter admitted that Paul was sometimes hard to understand: "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). Paul had said that God "has mercy on whom he wills and hardens whom he wills" (Romans 9:18).
The point was: his will decides finally whether we are hard-hearted or not. "Before they were born or do anything good or evil" God had mercy on Jacob and gave Esau over to hardness (Romans 9:11-13).
Someone hears this and objects in verse 19, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" To this Paul responds, "You, a mere human being, have no right to answer back to God."
The word "answer back" (antapokrinomenos) occurs one other time in the New Testament, namely, in Luke 14:5-6. Jesus is showing the lawyers that it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. He said to them, "'Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?' And they could not answer back (antapokrithenai) to these things."
In what sense could they not "answer back"? They could not show him wrong. They could not legitimately criticize him. They could not truly contradict what he said. So the word "answer back" probably carries the meaning: "answer back with a view to criticizing or disagreeing or correcting."
That, I think, is what displeased Paul in Romans 9:20. This leaves open the possibility that a different kind of question would be acceptable, namely, a humble, teachable question that wants to understand more if possible, but not rebuke or condemn or criticize what has been said.
For example, in Luke 1:31 the angel Gabriel comes to the virgin Mary and says, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus." Mary is astounded and baffled. Virgins don't have sons. She could have scoffed and argued. But instead she said, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34). She did not say it can't happen; she asked, "How?" Contrast this with Gabriel's visit to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist.
The angel comes and tells him, "Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John" (Luke 1:13). But Zechariah knew that "Elizabeth was barren and advanced in years" (Luke 1:7). Different from Mary, his skepticism gave rise to a different question. He said, "How shall I know this?" Not: "How will you do this?" But: "How can I know you'll do it?"
Gabriel did not like this answer. He said, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time" (Luke 1:19-20).
So I conclude that humble, teachable questions about how and why God does what he does are acceptable to God. To Mary God gave a very helpful answer, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Luke 1:35). This did not remove the mystery, but it helped.
I can't remove the mystery from Romans 9. But there may be more to understand than we have seen and I do not want to discourage you from pressing further up and further in to the heart and mind of God.
Wanting to be teachable with you,
Friday, May 20, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
It was good to see my classmates and Dr. Robinson yesterday. A couple of people dropped out of the program for various reasons. This past year went by fast.
I will try to post some more in the next couple of weeks. Have a great day. Pastor Bryan
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Part of my preparation for my second residency for my Doctor of Ministry degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is the requirement that I read the book, “Culture Shift: Communicating God’s Truth to Our Changing World.” It is written by David W. Henderson and it is the most practical book on how to reach other people for Jesus. If you are wondering why people do not care about your faith and your Jesus, then you will want to read this book.
The book is a wake-up call for Christians to seriously work hard at fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus. Matthew 5.13 and 14 that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. How can we bring preserving flavor and light to our world?
Thus, if each person decides what is “true” about God, then they will have little time or tolerance for those who claim to have the ultimate truth about a relationship with God. Back in the mid 1970’s when I was in high school; some of us after youth group would sometimes drive to the Westroads Mall (in Omaha here) and witness to strangers using “The Four Spiritual Laws”. We found out that most people were willing to listen to us as we nervously shared from the tract.
Now that we are in the 21st century, many people may not be as open for a total stranger to talk to them about their need for a savior. The problem just isn’t with the Christians sharing about Jesus. Self-absorbed individualism has allowed people to isolate themselves. Thus, the building of meaningful relationships becomes more and more difficult. As a matter of fact, many Americans are not very connected at all with other people. Three out of four Americans do not know the people who live next door to them. One out of seven people do not even know the name of their neighbors (pg. 103).
So how do we communicate God’s truth and love to others? Well, there can still be a place for using a gospel tract, but only after a relationship has been established with people. And this requires the investment of work and time.
“…it is crucial that we befriend non-Christians, winning our way into their distracted hearts and busy schedules. That means spending the kind of time with them that lets us get to know each other; having them over for a cookout, watching their kids play in a high school game; feeding their fish and collecting their mail while they’re on vacation, all while waiting and praying for the opportunity to comfortably and naturally talk about our faith” (pg. 114).
Thursday, February 17, 2005
The solution to this "I am the center of the universe" mentality is a passionate love for Jesus. Only he can set us free from ourselves so that we can truly live.
Have a great day. Pastor Bryan
Friday, February 11, 2005
"Religion is not ours till we live by it, till it is the Religion of our thoughts, words, and actions, till it goes with us into every place, sits uppermost on every occasion, and forms and governs our hopes and fears, our cares and pleasures."
Monday, February 07, 2005
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, says our Lord (Matt. 22:37). In other words, you shall love God with everything you have and everything you are. Everything. Every longing, every endowment, each of your intellectual gifts, any athletic talent or computer skill, all capacity for delight, every good thing that has your fingerprints on it-take all this, says Jesus, and refer it to God. Take your longing, and long for God; take your creaturely riches, and endow God; take your eye for beauty and appreciate God. With your heart and soul and mind, with all your needs and splendors, make a full turn toward God."
Monday, January 24, 2005
Do we know and understand the purpose that God has given to us? Ashleigh Brilliant said, “My life has a superb cast but I can’t figure out the plot.” Is our life like that? Life is way too short not to know the reason we exist.
Yesterday, Johnny Carson passed away. He was born in
If you asked him what his purpose in life was, he might have said that he was put on earth to entertain people. Perhaps he would say it was to give others an opportunity to succeed on his stage. Many comedians and singers would say that Johnny opened the door for them to greater things.
Did Johnny Carson know that the ultimate purpose in life is to know and serve and glorify Jesus Christ? I don’t know? We certainly cannot rule out a death-bed salvation experience. It was reported that when Rock Hudson passed away, he turned to Jesus for salvation. Maybe, Johnny Carson is with the Lord now because he repented of sins and placed his faith in what Jesus did on the cross for him.
His death reminds us all who follow Jesus that we all have relatives and friends who need Jesus as their Savoir.
Have great day. Pastor Bryan