And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I pray when I pray for the lost

My senior adults are some of my best students. I praise God that at an age when most people want to slow down we have been blessed with a proactive group of disciples. They refuse to be “old dogs” whom can’s be taught anything new. Passionately they delve into the scriptures to learn and grow. Amen.

One of the burdens the seniors have shared is the lostness of several family members. When I say lost I am referring to those who do not yet have a relationship with Christ in which He is Savior, Lord, and Love. (I have a previous post on this within the blog) The lost may very well be someone who knows that they do not fit into the category of being a Christian. However, most people either do not know they have a need of a savior or they assume that they already do have such a relationship.

Just the other day I was asked how to pray for two of these individuals. Here is my advice…

  • Pray first for God to begin drawing the person unto Himself. God is the initiator of all salvation.
  • Pray for their dissatisfaction with the world. People need to see that the world and its offerings are not the answer to life’s emptiness. Often it is helpful to pray that a person comes to the end of themselves.
  • Pray that they see their sin as sin as God sees their sin. If we don’t deal with the sin issue we can not truly come to see our need of a savior. We must pray for their eyes to see the insufficiency of their own being before a Holy God.
  • Pray they repent. Pray that they would be drawn by the Holy Spirit to love God more than they love their sin. (Romans 1)
  • Pray for opportunities to share the truth of scripture with them.
  • Pray that they understand God’s truth and apply it personally.
  • Pray for them to become real disciples. This will be a natural outcome of a true conversion. But too often we fail to walk with a person at this point. Be one to thus encourage and applaud each of their successive steps in sanctification. You never know how many others will come to Christ because of one person being saved.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I mean when I say I will pray for you

Day after day is blessed with helping others carry burdens they can not seem to bear. That is why I like being a pastor. Call me a maven, but I love connecting people with the truth of God. God gets the glory, the person grows in the faith, and I reap joy. It is one of the great perks a pastor gets.

Today I called one of our leaders to discuss a small problem. She herself was in crisis. The checkbook was missing. Her out of town husband could not be reached and she had a list of places to be. The missing checkbook was compounding the obligations of the day. We stopped, prayed, and in about fifteen minutes she e-mailed me to say the checkbook had been found. I love stories like this one. My prayer for her was not just to find the checkbook, but to remember who her guardian is.

I seem to get prayer requests all the time and I diligently try to keep them organized and remembered. Often I will pass out three by five index cards and ask people to share with me their personal requests. This is a great tool because as I pray through the church roll I can be reminded of specific needs.

So, obviously I do pray for a person’s expressed needs. Sometimes however I pray beyond that. What I mean is that often we get fixated on our apparent need, desire, or solution. I pray that our eyes will be opened to God’s greater plan and provision. The person may be praying for one specific thing whereas the answer to their need is completely different. I also pray that God gives a no answer in a clear manner when what is being asked is not His best.

Generally my ongoing prayer for you when I pray is that your eyes be opened to the already present truths of His glory. Also, that when He answers, you will clearly understand and give praise to Him. Too often we pray and then either stop looking for His involvement or we fail to learn and glorify Him.

So, when I pray for you, you can expect these things.

  • That as often as I remember I will pray that you see God’s best befall you.
  • I pray that God opens your eyes to His present truths in scripture that apply to your situation.
  • I pray that you not fail to see His hand in your life.
  • I pray that others will know of your experience and that you will take the opportunity to share of His grace.
  • I pray your faith grows.
  • I pray that trials do not last any longer than necessary for you to learn the lesson at hand.
  • I pray that in turn you will be a person of prayer and help others in humility when they need prayer.

Blessings of Being Ill

Today I am ill. We all can relate to this. With aches, cough, and lack of energy I am pretty much at a stand still to other endeavors. Compounding the problems at hand I am also supposed to preach at a friend’s church in another state. Please don’t take me for a whiner; it is only the Nyquil talking.

After going to bed early, I awoke today somewhat rested. My first thoughts upon waking were how glad I am to have not pushed harder in getting things done yesterday. This incapacitation has caused me to slow down, forcing me to do a few things out of the ordinary that I count a blessing. These are things that I unfortunately often overlook in my self imposed business.

I found myself spending unobstructed time listening to God. It is odd that I so often have thought I was listening to God by reading, praying, and thinking. These are all good. But yesterday I had to simply be still. I often spend hours in Bible study, but here all other priorities and distractions were sequestered. In my darkened bedroom I simply relaxed and spent time reviewing promises of God. In this approach I clearly received an understanding of truth to be applied to several situations. Being still and not working fastidiously on the problems of the day proved to be a great experience. This is somehow going to have to become a new facet of my life.

When we look at blessings we are naturally being thankful. The outcropping of thankfulness I had yesterday for my daughter caring for me, for my wife laboring to supply me with food and drink and my boys being ever so quiet has imparted to me a season of thanksgiving. I am thankful we have medicines. That we have stores supplies with more than we need. Grateful I am for the technology of refrigeration for my ice cold juice and research that produced Nyquil. Thus I am reminded to pray for those crippled by the tsunami in Japan and for our forces fighting in Afghanistan. I am very grateful that several people have been praying for our family.

The third prominent blessing of being ill was I actually took a restful time to listen to music. I have become in the last two years a great fan of classical music. Many of the pieces have me envisioning the music as a backdrop score for biblical events. Gymnopedie No. 1 is a serene piece that has me meditating on the Lord being my shepherd. But I also spent time with one of my new favorites, the Together for the Gospel 08. It is a great collection of songs sung by about four thousand people all gathered to exalt God. By listening to “In Christ Alone” and “And Can It Be That I Should Gain” can find a person quickened in the soul to look with proper perspective on this world and that beyond. This alone is blessing enough.

Through this I realize, I was sick and did not know it. I am not referring to being physically ill. I was aching and lacking in spiritual energy. All this was being caused by too much world and not enough God. Thank you Lord, for allowing me this time of respite. May I learn and apply all that You have graciously allowed me to see.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Elements of Worship for Baptist Children: Is Church Boring?

Is Church Boring?

A note to parents

Parents, children are often bored at church simply because they do not understand what is going on. Again, this is the whole reason I am writing these posts, to help us disciple our kids to know the majesty of God rather than looking at Him as a domineering rule maker.

In order to help our kids we need to explain things to them. This may have to be done over and over. They, like we, need to be taught rather that simply hoping that they will pick it up as we go along. Take time before and after, and quietly during the services to walk your kids through the whys of worship. We should teach them a reverence for God. To demonstrate this, we must ourselves be reverent. Be careful of how you talk about church in front of the kids. Never evaluate the worship service in regards to entertainment value. It is not for entertainment, but it is to be a time like no other. All week long we are entertained. But the worship time ought to be a time for us to respond reverently to God. Think of it this way, in entertainment we are the center. In worship God is.

I know that when I was a kid I thought church was boring at times. I liked the music and shaking hands. But sometimes I did not understand what was being preached. So I got bored.

I was bored because I did not understand. When we go to church it is like going to a birthday party. God is the honored guest as we are those who celebrate Him. While there we need to be thinking and expressing how we love God. We need to think about our sin and His forgiveness.

Now I often did not understand what the preacher was saying. I was often distracted. One thing that helped me was to take notes, or to draw a picture of what the preacher was saying. One of the best things you can do is ask your parents about the worship time and what is being done. Since we are to worship God in all that we do you can use this time to think on the ways that during the week you can celebrate God. If you take one thing from the sermon and learn, it will help you to not be bored.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Elements of Worship for Baptist Children: Fellowship, Sunday School, Before the Worship Service


When you get to church one of the exciting events of worship is seeing your friends. In the Bible a Greek word is used to describe this. It is the word Koinonia. We often translate it to mean participating in the church body or fellowship. It is good to see our friends. We can worship God by listening to them and by being a friend. This is always a great way to honor God by being a friend to new people. In Acts 2:42 the Bible tells us about the fellowship of believers.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Act 2:42)

Fellowshipping together was one of their daily activities. They would pray together and encourage one another. Make sure you take time to pray with your friends.

Also as children you can be a great encouragement. Older people are often joyful when a child becomes their friend. You can make pictures for older adults and visit them. Your family could sit with them in church. The fellowship we share as believers can be outside the walls of the church. Maybe your parents can take you to visit some senior adults? This is a good way to minister to them with love.

Bible Study/ Sunday School

Your Bible study class is a great way to continue fellowship and learn the bible. We honor God when we bring our bibles and participate in class. Remember, God works through everyone. It is important that everyone shares from the bible and that everyone listens. Your teacher honors God when they share the truths of scripture. We honor God when we remember these lessons and do as He commands. We also glorify God when we hear His promises and believe. This is called living by faith.

James tells us ,

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jas 2:17)

Thus we need to do as we have been taught and not forget about it.

Between Bible Study and The Worship Service

When we have a few moments between class and finding our parents for worship time, we ought to go and use the rest room and get a drink of water. It is important that we stay in the worship service. If we leave the room we may distract someone and hinder their worship time. Being still helps us think about God and keeps us from distracting others when we worship.

This really is not part of the worship service. But just like getting ready for church on Saturday night, we need to plan on removing distractions from our worship time. The time we spend in worship is to be reverent. That means we are supposed to be giving our full attention to God. When we do this we are saying “God you are more important than anything else. You are my greatest treasure and I love you”.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Elements of Worship For Baptist Children:Your Heart Attitude Matters To God

This is part two of a series for parents to aid in teaching our kids about worship. It is written from a Baptist theology yet has applications for every home. Parents may need to adjust from this writing for their children's appropriate ages.

Your Heart Attitude Matters to God

If someone is grumpy, stomping their feet, and fussy, do you think when they say “I love you” to a person that it is convincing? Did you know that the worship service at church is a time to tell God that we love Him? Think about this, the worship time at church is to celebrate Jesus just like we might celebrate someone’s birthday at a party. Now if we are a guest to the party we should not expect to be a welcome guest if we are misbehaving. If we go to church misbehaving or with the wrong heart attitude we may spoil the worship.

God wants to help us have the right attitude. He often will tell us that our attitude is wrong. If your parents tell you that your behavior is not right or your attitude is wrong God then is speaking through your parents of your need to regain a happy heart.

Does Sunday morning seem to always be hard to get ready for church? Maybe your family is late sometimes because someone is not ready? We can honor God by getting ready as soon as we get up. We can get our clothes ready the night before. Do you ever have trouble finding your Bible or shoes? If you find them the night before you will not have as many problems and it will help everyone’s attitude. This honors God. It shows that we respect God and our church family. It helps us to worship.

One other thing you can do before leaving for church, especially if mom and dad are still getting ready, is read to your bible on your own. Perhaps you have a younger sister or brother, you can read to them. This can be good even if it is only with a picture book

On the way to church it can glorify God if you list the things you are thankful for. You also could sing with the radio songs about God and His cross. These activities help our minds and heart attitude be ready for church time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Young Apologists

Youth Contest

On Wednesday nights I teach our junior high students a course in apologetics. It is often a loose curriculum that required group dialog. The aim of the class is for us to look at current events in their lives and show the relevancy of scripture to their situations. This often is a great illustration of the faithfulness of the gospel.

In our class we uses all forms of science. Some of our best discussions have been through geology and biology. Often we have a great springboard from Answers in Genesis. Lately we have begun a discussion on other religions. In these talks we have explored what they believe and how it compares with Christianity. We investigate their origins and talk about the teachings that are distinctive to each faith. Then we look at how each faith handles central topics to our faith such as creation, sin, who Jesus is, salvation, and the meaning of life. We also have had great discussion on life after death in relation to these beliefs.

So the other day as a means of testing their knowledge I offered $10 to the best written essay that explained how we can know Christianity is true. Here are the first and second placed entries.

The Truth of the Bible.

In the beginning god created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

This is a verse debated upon by modern scientists and even some Christians. These modern scientists believe in evolution, the Big Bang, and the latest absurd theory - aliens.

Let’s knock the latest theory by stating if the aliens brought us here, who made the aliens?

Next let’s disprove evolution using zoology. The woodpecker has to peck through the tree to get some bugs to eat. But if he didn’t have the special metal like beak he would bend and break it. That brings me to something else about the woodpecker, if he hit the tree at such a fast rate like he does he should die of brain damage. But God knew that and gave him liquid that sloshes around his brain which is attached by one cord and his beak has shock absorbers of sorts. Now, if evolution was true and took all that time to evolve he would lose one thing at a time. This would eventually kill him before he could fully evolve.

Next, let’s disprove the Big Bang. Have you ever seen an ink and paper factory blow up? Then the ink and paper magically turns into a book. Well, if you have you’re either dreaming or lying. It’s impossible. Nothing on earth can make something out of nothing. God can though.

For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth. Genesis 7:17 a

Noah’s flood is a key part in how to prove Christianity. It is one of the most interesting and easiest to prove points.

Now take the flood for example. There are stories about a man in a boat escaping a flood in every single culture.

Another way to prove this is with a shovel. If you live anywhere on this earth underneath you are fossils.

I found one when I was ten with sea shell fossils and baby starfish right in my backyard. Now I live close to a lake but it was man made, so some how other than that lake it got there. Did you know that there are fossils at the peak of Mount Everest? There are, but how did they get all the way up there? There’s only one possible way they could, the flood. There was a mud slide fifty years ago. A cowboy died in it, how do we know? We found his fossilized foot and boot. And scientist’s carbon dating said it was a three million five hundred and fifty six year old fossil. Now a fifty year old fossil turned into a millions of year old fossil because of carbon dating.

But you, Bethlehem ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old from ancient times. Micah 5:2

For to us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. Isaiah 9:6

Some scientists believe Jesus doesn’t exist. But thanks to an ancient historian named Josephus, we no this is not true. He wrote down many accounts of people who saw and talked to Jesus. So, those scientists weren’t correct. There are also people who believe that the Old Testament was written after the New Testament. But yet again there was something that disproves that theory: The Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are scrolls found in 1948 in Qumran. A boy was throwing rocks into a cave when he heard breaking pottery. He had found the Dead Sea Scrolls which are authentic time period Old Testament scriptures. They tested it for age and found that it was around 500-1000 years older than the New Testament. So yet again, the scientists were wrong about the Bible. And then, there are others that believe that Jesus was real and the prophecies were true, but that he wasn’t God’s son. But there are written accounts of the guards of his tomb that say angels came and Jesus rose from the dead. But the Pharisees paid them to not tell anyone. So, Jesus was real, the prophecies about him were real, and the Bible account of the tomb is truth.
based on the fact of the matter. And cause of the truth of the flood, the faults of scientific theory, and the reality of the dead sea scrolls. I believe that the rest of the bible is true as well. My reasons for this being, if scientists have tried and failed to argue a few of the bible’s main points how many of the minor points do you think are true.

And for second place

Why Christianity is True

There are very many different reasons that prove Christianity is true. One is that there is a lot of evidence that proves Christianity is true. In fact, there has never been any evidence that backs evolution up. Since there never has, people all over the world have had to make stuff up to try to prove evolution is true. One made up story that evolution exists was the "Piltdown Man." The "Piltdown "Man" is a famous anthropological hoax which was said to be parts of an early human. There were fragments of a skull and jawbone found at Piltdown, a village near Uckfield, England in 1912. It turned out that it was the lower jawbone of an orangutan and a fully developed modern human skull. There were about forty years between its discovery and its full exposure as a fake. The identity of who faked it is unknown but there are some suspects. Some of those suspects are: Charles Dawson, Pierre Diehard de Chardon, Arthur Keith, Martin A. C. Hinton, and many others. One thing that proves Christianity and the bible are true is that there has been fossils found on top of Mount Everest. For there to have been fossils of fish and many other animals to be found on top of Mount Everest, there would have had to be water up there at some time. The bible talks of a worldwide flood and that would be how fish got up there. Something else is that people try to say that the world is millions of years old, some even billions. That is impossible for multiple reasons. One reason is that the sun shrinks about five feet per hour, which is about 0.1% per century. If the Earth were millions or billions of years old, in the very beginning, the Earth would have been engulfed in the Sun. In conclusion Christianity and the bible are true.