Sermon Sunday – George Whitefield – Christ, the Believer’s Husband

June 5, 2011 at 8:34 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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Christ the Believer’s Husband
by
George Whitefield
(1714-1770)

Isaiah 54:5 – “For thy Maker is thy Husband.”

Although believers by nature, are far from God, and children of wrath, even as others, yet it is amazing to think how nigh they are brought to him again by the blood of Jesus Christ. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of any man living, fully to conceive, the nearness and dearness of that relation, in which they stand to their common head. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Behold, says the blessed Jesus in the days of his flesh, “my mother and my brethren.” And again after his resurrection, “go tell my brethren.” Nay sometimes he is pleased to term believers his friends. “Henceforth call I you no longer servants, but friends.” “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” And what is a friend? Why there is a friend that is nearer than a brother, nay as near as one’s own soul. And “thy friend, (says God in the book of Deuteronomy) which is as thy own soul.” Kind and endearing applications these, that undoubtedly bespeak a very near and ineffably intimate union between the Lord Jesus and the true living members of his mystical body! But, methinks, the words of our text point out to us a relation, which not only comprehends, but in respect to nearness and dearness , exceeds all other relations whatsoever. I mean that of a Husband, “For thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” Continue Reading Sermon Sunday – George Whitefield – Christ, the Believer’s Husband…

What has Jesus done for me? (long)

April 22, 2011 at 11:08 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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It seems that more and more these days people are asking one simple question. It may take a few different forms, but at it’s root, it’s all the same: “What has Jesus done for me?”. Sometimes it comes out in the attitudes, sometimes in actual words but it’s there none the less. Man’s pride puts himself at the top of the pyramid with everything else beneath him. Even family and friends are often under self. Some that ask this question, do so because they can’t see how Jesus has done anything for them. They think that they are responsible for their own success. Ironically, they always seem to blame God for their failures. Continue Reading What has Jesus done for me? (long)…

Persecution Fridays: China

October 9, 2010 at 7:18 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

China: Christians Detained

On Sept. 21, nearly 200 police officers demolished a prayer room at Taishan Christian Church in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, citing a “building code violation,” according to China Aid Association.

After the demolition, dozens of church members held a church service and police officers tried to disperse them. A member of the church said a line of police prevented them from removing their belongings from the prayer room. This is the second such incident in less than a month. Authorities had previously raided the church on Aug. 30. “The last time they came here, they tore down six of the eight rooms,” the church’s pastor said. “About 200 people came again and surrounded the entire place. Then, they totally leveled the buildings, stating that the structures violated the building code.”

On Sept. 22, following the most recent demolition, police raided the Chen Pengyi Church in Wancheng district, Henan province, where several believers were gathered for a Bible study and training session. Police detained an American pastor and a Russian pastor as well as more than 30 attendees. One believer’s car was also confiscated.

Pray that God will continue to give these believers a steadfast spirit of courage and faithfulness amid these challenges. Pray that their witness will help awaken their oppressors to the saving knowledge of Christ, and pray that those detained will be released.

Revival (long)

April 26, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I don’t know what it is like in other areas of America (I’m originally from Ohio and don’t remember hearing a lot about this up there), but over the next five or so months, churches across the South will be holding revivals. These will be big to-dos varying in length from three or four days to an entire week. During the time leading up to these events, the church excitement grows and people look forward to this in order to be “refreshed” and get a spiritual boost so that they continue to “work for the Lord”.  They will dress in their Sunday best, notebooks in hand, to hear what the preacher/evangelist (usually a guest) has to say. Depending on the denomination and area, these meetings will range in volume and action. The expectation is that at the end of the week, they will have heard the very thing they needed to hear so that they can move to a new level with God and “do more” for Him. I remember attending a few revivals (I haven’t been to one in years) and recall them being emotionally charged appeals (in some cases) or sound, steady topical teaching (in other cases). For weeks following the revival, people would make larger efforts to have more ministries, outreaches, events, and other things geared toward the church. As I look back though, I seem to also remember that after about two months the revival wore off. People began getting caught up in the daily grind again and all of those new ministries and events just fell by the wayside. I have thought about this a lot lately. In my own life, I am striving harder to have everything I do line the Scriptures. I am not even close yet, but things are moving along. I started wondering what Scripture said about revival. What I found was interesting. Continue Reading Revival (long)…

Design of the Week – He’s Alive

April 21, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design is called He’s Alive. It is based on scriptural truth and was inspired by a song by Christian rap artist Shai Linne. The design shows a simple truth that many people seem to forget when arguing about religion. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others always try to show why their religion is the best. They talk about how they are the right way to God/Nirvana/Heaven, but they fail to provide strong evidence on this claim. The founders of every world religion but one are now dead. Mohammed is dead. Siddartha Gautama (Buddhism) is dead too. Hailie Selassie is dead. Nekar Vat (Sikhism) is dead. Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Elijah Muhammed, Confucius, and Charles Darwin are all dead. Ok, some wouldn’t consider Darwin a religious figure. Granted, he didn’t set out to start a religion, but his theory is (by default) the foundation of both atheists and secular humanists. Regardless, they’re all dead. Continue Reading Design of the Week – He’s Alive…

What has God done for me?

March 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Many people today, inside and outside the church, have become focused on self. They are all about them and what they can do. They often don’t know or care what God has done for them. Those who aren’t professing Christians can’t see that their very life is a gift from God. Sadly, this affects the gospel. When people don’t understand what God has done for them or why He did it, is cheapens the gospel and lessens the effect the good news can have in a person’s life. When pastors don’t preach the true gospel, the people listening don’t receive what they need to hear to help them understand who God is and what He’s done for them. Continue Reading What has God done for me?…

Sunday’s Newslinks – 01/31/10

January 31, 2010 at 9:17 am | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Brown victory prompts political tremors in California
California Republicans have joined other party faithful across the country in celebrating the Scott Brown win in Massachusetts and believe it will be the political stimulus the GOP needs heading into this Fall’s election.

Study: Sexting a growing and dangerous problem
Pew Research Center has released results of a survey on “sexting,” the practice mostly among youth of transmitting nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves via cell phone.

Airline clerk appeals UK rulings banning crucifix
A Christian woman is asking London’s High Court to force British Airways to admit it was wrong in demanding she stop wearing a crucifix at work.

Ten Commandments monument in place at Okla. bank
A Ten Commandments monument that supporters want to put on the lawn of an Oklahoma county courthouse has been installed outside a bank for the time being.
Continue Reading Sunday’s Newslinks – 01/31/10…

What does it cost to preach the gospel?

May 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Christianity | 12 Comments
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This is something that I’ve gotten to thinking about lately and I’ve come up with an answer.
There are many, many churches in America today. Many of these churches are small churches with small congregations. They have small budgets and few people. Others are so-called “megachurches” with budgets in the millions and thousands of attendees each weekend. Many people would probably say that the cost to preach the gospel would differ between the small church and the “megachurch”. They would say that the larger budget would allow the “megachurch” to do more and make more opportunities to preach the gospel. They would point to the huge attendance and number of potential workers as the most opportune for preaching the gospel.
It’s this line of thinking that I’ve been wrestling with for the past couple days because it doesn’t ring true to me. The more I think about it, the more I feel that it’s this line of thinking that has caused the church to drift far from where it is supposed to be (and needs to be). The idea that every church needs a bigger budget so they can preach the gospel to more people seems like it’s a no-brainer, but is this really true? After looking at it for a couple days I’m beginning to think that it’s diametrically opposed to what the scriptures say is the duty of believers. Watching church after church adopt this line of thinking (and being a part of a couple) has brought some interesting things to light.
Most church boards of pastors (or whatever the governing body of your church is called) continue to look for more money. I’ve heard many people say that “it costs money to preach the gospel”. While I don’t doubt that it does cost some money, I have to wonder if it really costs as much as the pastors are looking for. The reasons given for getting a lot of money are always the same. They want to “reach the lost” and “spread the gospel”. They often include side projects like bigger church buildings (for all of the people that will be streaming to the church), plays, concerts, rallies, VBS, and other “outreach programs”. There are a few things about this that raise flags in my mind. One, much of what churches today spend money on amounts to nothing more than entertainment thinly veiled as “outreach”. There seems to be a pervading thought that if churches can lure people into their sphere of influence with the promise of being entertained and then give them a quick five minute speech on Jesus and how He’ll make their life better if they “accept Him into their heart”, they are doing “outreach”. After this, they continue on with the entertainment and are ecstatic because they’ve “evangelized” those in the audience.
Case in point: A local church puts on an Easter egg hunt every year. They advertize with banners and newspaper ads. For months before the event, the congregation collects plastic eggs to fill with candy. For each of the past three years, they’ve gotten over 10,000 eggs, which they use as a point of attraction (even though it kind of kills the “hunt” part…). They get food and drinks, prizes (including a couple Sony PSPs and a couple Nintendo Wiis) and usually have a band or two to play music. Right before the “hunt”, they present a short skit/drama/sign art/puppet show about Jesus to present the gospel. Then, the kids go hunting for eggs in hopes of finding one of the golden eggs and getting a prize.
This is a common occurrence across America, but is it necessary? Is it effective? I know that people can have an emotional reaction to the gospel and get “saved” but are they soundly saved? Do they understand what’s happened? Could this money be spent more effectively? Is this what Jesus had in mind when He told His disciples to “Go!”? Is it worth the time, effort, and money for churches to look like the world in hopes of luring “unsuspecting” heathens to the “truth”? I put truth in quotes because I can’t help but wonder if churches that spend their time entertaining really understand the gospel. Should we be doing all we can to build a façade of “fun, entertaining, outrageous times” that will be shattered if those coming ever actually get saved?
Let’s take my example above. Just using the cost of the four game systems, I get about $620. With this money, is it possible to do something better suited to what we’ve been COMMANDED to do? For instance, I know that I can get gospel tracts in packs of 100 (from here) for about $6.00 a piece. If I buy 3 packs, that’s a total of $18. If I add shipping, we’re at about $23. Then, if I gather some like-minded people (people who know the gospel, want to obey God and see people get saved from His wrath), let’s say 6, we could each get 50 tracts. Then we could to a crowded place and walk around handing out tracts and witnessing to people. We could share the gospel with them on the spot and know that they heard it. If we spend $20 in gas and $50 for lunch, we are at $93 for the entire day for 6 people witnessing to multitudes. This is a little over 10% of what I started with.

All of this led me to think about something else. A couple of years
ago, in Nashville, there was a “major event” called The Call. Christians
from all over America gathered in Titan’s Stadium to “make their voices
heard” for the unborn who are murdered through abortion. Many of those
who attended had been fasting and praying for weeks before the event.
Estimates ranged from 50-70,000 people being there for 12 hours on
Saturday. It was also televised on cable TV. There were Christian
celebrities (an oxymoron?) singing and playing music, fiery speeches,
and times of “prayer”. The event cost around $1 million to put on (not
to mention all of the pre-Call rallies and other things that took
place). Was it effective? Was Nashville changed? Did abortion stop or
even slow down because of The Call? Did it have any impact at all? I
don’t know what impact it had, but I know that thousands of babies PER
DAY
are still being killed in the name of choice.

So, let’s play “what if” again. What if those 50,000 people got together
in Nashville and decided to go witness to people about the truth of the
gospel and tell them about the judgment to come? What if each person got
a pack of gospel tracts and teamed up with others to canvas the city? If
the estimates were correct, the cost for the tracts would have been
between $300 – $420,000. If those people then canvassed Nashville for
even six hours witnessing and preaching the true gospel to people, what
would have happened? Would it have had more impact than The Call? I know
it would. Why? Because it is the gospel that is the power of God for
salvation. Salvation would bring about a change of heart and that would
reduce abortion tremendously more. Not only that, it would impact those
lives and communities in other ways as well. All of this would have been
done at less than half the cost. People would have seen the love of
Christ because Christians were coming to THEM to tell them the good
news. The hearts of countless sinners would have been pierced by the
gospel and they would have at least been given the opportunity to
receive the gift of salvation. I can’t say that this didn’t happen at
The Call, but I don’t remember anything being said about salvation at
all…

The second flag that was raised was one the fact that if a church
decides to drift to the “fun and entertaining” method of living, they
will need funds. They will need new and better ways to bring money into
the church to keep things “fresh and relevant”. In other words, the
church will spend enormous amounts of time and effort chasing money.
They will “reach out” to people because they need people to come into
the church to finance their efforts(this has actually been said recently – at least they’re honest…). They teach this mentality to their
congregations instead of sharing the true gospel. The non-Christians who
can suffer through it will most likely have some kind of emotional
experience and get “saved”, all while being inoculated against the
truth. They will become a stat or number or notch on the church’s belt
instead of a disciple.

Having said all this, it must be made clear that there is a cost for
preaching the gospel. If you preach the truth found in Scripture, the
Lord Himself told us what to expect:

This means that you will lose friends and family. You will be mocked,
laughed at, and insulted. Many “CHRISTIANS” will attack you for being
intolerant and judgmental. If you pastor a church and preach the truth,
it most likely won’t be a megachurch. That doesn’t mean that it’s not
possible, just not likely. To be honest, I wonder if you can preach the
truth and have a huge church? There may be one or two in the entire
nation where this is happening. If you’re preaching hell, sin, and
judgment straight from the Word of God, should you expect a big church?
Should you expect that people (including “Christians”) will like it?
Knowing what it says and going on my brief experience witnessing to
people, I can tell you they won’t like it.

The cost of preaching the true gospel is loss of “friends”, “family”,
image, and popularity. But, you’ll have the peace of knowing that you
are telling people the truth and helping to warn them of what’s to come.
You will know that you are obedient to God, irregardless of everything
else. This is worth any price – even death. Are you willing to pay
it?…

A gospel for all ages

March 9, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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Our modern society is divided according to age. We have different categories that we tend to put people:

  • Babies
  • Children
  • Youth/teens
  • Adults
  • Elderly

 

Each group is expected to know certain things. Each group is separate from the other and to be affiliated with the wrong group can be offensive to some. This separation is also seen in the church. To see this, all you have to do is look at Sunday school. We have a class for babies and toddlers. We put children in another. The teens have their own class and, often, even adults have been split into groups depending on age, marital status, or gender. Why do we split ourselves into groups? When did we decide that this was good? I see some problems with this. First, each group begins to identify with their own group to the exclusion of others. They don’t learn to interact with those that are younger or older than they are. Many times, an older group will often look down on younger groups. This is most evident between the groups of children and teens, but can be seen in other groups as well.

 

One of the major problems that I see with this approach is that there seems to be a different gospel being preached to each group. Often, toddlers and babies don’t have the gospel to them at all. Our children have Bible “stories” with little substance. They hear about the main events in the Bible, but in a cartoony, unscriptural type of way. The see images of the ark where the animals are practically bulging out of the ship, they see images of Jesus even though we have no indication of what they look like. In these kids classes they often hear about five to ten minutes of a Bible story and the rest of the time they color or do crafts or play. The teen classes are often structured to be “cool”, “edgy”, “entertaining”, and “relevant”. Much of the time, there is very little time spent on truth and much more on entertainment. Much of the time, these classes are basically a weak attempt to try and keep the teens in church because most have heard that many of them will leave when they get to be adults. In all honesty, there was no such thing as a teenager before 1940. Before this time, you were either a child or an adult and the change often took place around age 13 (think of bar-mitzvahs and bat-mitzvahs).

 

Unfortunately, we tend to deceive ourselves and think that they are just kids and can’t see the façade of the church. They look at how the church tries to be like the world and they aren’t impressed. The world does the world better than the church does and when we’re trying to be like them instead of like Christ, the teens don’t receive what they need and we push them away. We don’t have any substance or backbone, and we can’t answer their questions (even though we’re supposed to be able to – 1 Pet. 3:15). This is why we’re losing so many of them to the world. We try to be relevant and they’re not impressed.

 

The adult classes are often focused on issues like finances, parenting, relationships, and marriage. They are many times split into men and women. The elderly classes are often focused on comfort and seem to be the most Word-focused classes in our churches. I would guess that this is because they were actually raised by men and women who valued the Word more than anything else.

 

Many may be asking whether or not this is bad. I would say that it’s not bad all the time. It can be good to separate for certain things, but I don’t know that it should be the norm. The truth is that the gospel should be the same regardless of what age the participants are. They should hear about sin and hell as well as love, mercy, and grace. I’m sure that this would cause many in the church to gawk. What we need to remember is that salvation does not come from our kids coloring a picture of Jesus, building an ark from popsicle sticks, or sitting in a relevant class that talks about teen issues. Salvation comes alone from when we preach the gospel. It comes from when we tell them the truth and don’t pull any punches about sin or judgment. Some might disagree with me and say that we need to present the gospel in understandable way. I don’t disagree with this at all, but I would have to say that the method or way of presenting the gospel in no way has to affect the truth of it. Let me give an example:

 

My daughter and I went to dinner together about two years ago. While we were talking about different things, I felt the urge to witness to her. What was I going to say? She’s a seven year old. I had just started learning about the biblical method of witnessing to others from Way of the Master. This method basically goes through the law with someone to show him or her what sin is and then shows him or her that God will judge lawbreakers. It then finishes with God’s mercy and the legal transaction of the cross. I decided that I would do this with my daughter. I began to run down the Ten Commandments in my mind. I didn’t feel comfortable about talking to her about adultery or lust. I chose to focus on lying. I explained to her about lying and how it was a violation of His law. I explained to her that God is not happy with her if she’s told lies. I told her that if someone has broken God’s law, He would not let her enter heaven. After a few more minutes of talking about lies, sin, and the cross, she asked me if we could talk about something else. I let it go and decided that I would keep an eye out for another opportunity. We ate dinner, spent some time together, and then I took her home.

 

The next day, I got a call saying that my daughter had talked to her mom about lying and sin. She had decided that she wanted to be saved and not long after, she was baptized.

 

This experience between my daughter and I didn’t happen because of me. It happened because the Holy Spirit was able to take the truth that I shared with my daughter and use it to prick her conscience and lead her to Christ. If this can happen with a seven year old, then why do we waste our time with them coloring and playing? We should be honest with our kids. There is nothing wrong with simplifying our explanations (when needed) but we cannot simplify the message or water it down to make it palatable to everyone.

 

If I have any teen readers I’ll probably lose them with this next statement. Teens don’t exist. They should be taught the same truth the adults are. I honestly don’t see any reason why teens can’t sit in on adult classes. I don’t see any reason why they can’t grasp the truth. I can’t help but wonder if we have underestimated our youth and their ability to grow in holiness or understand the truth. I think that we do them a great disservice. Many teens are hungry for something more than what their churches are giving them. They are looking for something with substance and when they can’t find it in the church, they go to look for it in the world! They are leaving because we don’t give them what they are hungry for and what they need. 

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel for all ages. It is not just for adults or those we think are ready for it. It should be preached to our kids as soon as possible and as much as possible. This should happen not just until they’re saved but it should be done just as much (if not more) after they are saved to remind them of what Jesus has done for them.

Design of the Week 08/13/08 – Pop Quiz

August 13, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design is one called Pop Quiz. The design is based on Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. It is also a condensed version of the style of evangelism used by Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and others through Way of the Master.

 

The design is simple text that goes through a few of the Ten Commandments and challenges the viewer to look at themselves and compare their life to God’s standard of what is good. The law is how we will be judged and not by our own standard. It basically boils down to this:

 

1.)    Would you consider yourself to be a good person?

2.)    How many lies do you think you’ve told during your life?

3.)    Have you ever stolen something?

4.)    Have you ever committed adultery? What about looked at someone with lust? (Jesus says that they are the same thing)

5.)    Have you ever murdered someone? Hated someone? (Jesus says that they are the same thing)

6.)    According to your own admission, you’re a lying, thieving, adulterous, murderer at heart.

7.)    If God were to judge you by the Ten Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? (if innocent, go back through the commandments)

8.)    Would you go to heaven or hell?

9.)    Does this concern you? It should…

10.)            Do you know what God did so that you wouldn’t have to go to hell?

11.)            Tell them about the cross…

 

This design just asks the questions about the commandments and then says “ask me about your score!” Hopefully, this will open up a witnessing opportunity. Of all of the ways I’ve heard of and seen to witness, this has been the most effective way for truly helping people to understand what sin is, where they stand with God, and what will happen if they die without receiving the gift of salvation.


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