Friday, December 31, 2010

A Lasting Resolution

With another year coming to a close, many people are reflecting on 2010, whether it be the goals we reached throughout the year or those we quickly forgot after January 1st, 2010.

So as many Americans who celebrated Christmas completely miss the point of the incarnation of Christ and the power of His gospel, we rush towards this year's New Year's Eve party getting out our fancy suits and champagne glasses while we gobble up our black-eyed peas and cabbage and for one night, feel like change is in the air.

Unfortunately, the church can also miss the point of Christ's first coming and run to preach a "gospel of resolutions" that turns the gospel merely into a message that can bring positive changes in our lives.

Here's an example from an email that Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church sent out today.

"At the beginning of this year, God gave me Ephesians 3:20 as a promise for this new decade, and we have seen God do amazing things. I am expecting to see His supernatural power and provision exceed our expectations in these last few days of 2010, and I want to encourage you to be a part of what God is doing now and what He plans to do in 2011."

The fact of the matter is that God already  "exceeded or expectations" by sending the long-awaited Messiah to this earth over 2,000 years ago. The God-man, Jesus Christ, displayed the supernatural power of God by living a perfect and obedient life under the law, being completely without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22). While we exceedingly break God's commandments, Christ obeyed it perfectly by living a righteous life in thought, word, and deed. He then willingly went to the cross and suffered under the wrath of God. We, as sinners, deserved this but the precious Christ, who didn't deserve it, satisfied the justice of God and took our sin and punishment completely (Isaiah 53; Romans 3:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18; 1 John 2:2). He then died and was buried then rose again from the grave proving that he was the son of God who sufficiently made the payment for our sins (Romans 1:4, 4:25).

This is the good news and in light of God's amazing love towards sinners, we must repent and trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Proverbs 28:13; Luke 13:3; John 3:18). Upon putting our faith in Christ, God will justify us and forgive us of every single sin we have committed and will commit (Romans 3:28, 5:1; Galatians 3:11). We will receive the righteousness of Christ as our sins are nailed to the cross with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13-15).

This is the message the church has been entrusted with and this is the message the church should be proclaiming to the ends of the earth (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)! So while the world will continue to preach and embrace a message that can only bring about an empty change, the gospel is the power of God that can give life to sinners dead in their trespasses and sins and bring salvation and forgiveness to all who come in repentance and faith! And it is only in Christ that the old has passed away and we are made new creations (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17). So this new year, if you are a Christian, make it your priority to preach the good news to a lost and dying world. And if you have yet to believe this good news, repent of your sins and trust in Christ and God will give you life!

Mark 10
23And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,  "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again,  "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 26And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,"Then who can be saved?" 27Jesus looked at them and said,  "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O' Holy Night

O' Holy Night sung by Philip Webb with the Grace Community Choir and Orchestra.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Have You Forgotten?

I found this video of the World Trade Center attacks on Biblical Christianity. Watch with caution as there are many disturbing images.

And then I picked this up on A Squirrel in Babylon.

I hope this reminds you of how it felt that day when Islam attacked all that America case you forgot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tolerance and Worldly Preaching

I have to wonder sometimes if while entrenched in a culture that preaches tolerance, Christians let the world's greatest commandment-"thou shall not judge"-infiltrate our thinking without even knowing it. This idea that the church should not judge anyone on any matter lest we be accused of not being loving. Don't get me wrong, we do want to be loving in all that we do but love does not separate itself from discerning what is true and what is false (1 Corinthians 13:6), particularly when falsehood has crept into the church. I have seen this affect the way we deal with "preachers" who have dumb-downed the gospel and preaching. Many factors may contribute to this, including our low view of God's word and preaching, but I do think we have let tolerance take priority over the biblical command to stand firm on God's truth and oppose those who water it down by their methods and message. This must not be so...there is too much at stake (see Titus 1:9-16).

How would the preachers of old respond to what goes on in the church today? By comparison, we would probably look like cowards.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Neglecting Such a Great Salvation

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
(Hebrews 2:1-3a)

This passage in the book of Hebrews was written to the church to serve as a great warning in regards to the new covenant. In knowing the just retribution that came with neglecting the Mosaic law which was given by angels (see Leviticus 26:14-39; Numbers 15:30-31), the writer makes a lesser-to-greater argument by emphasizing the greater judgment that came with neglecting the salvation through Jesus Christ that was proclaimed by God Himself. The overarching principle is that the gospel that God has proclaimed through Christ is so important, that God will judge all men who neglect it.

While it is a great tragedy when a person who is lost in their sins hears the gospel message only to neglect it and walk away indifferent, what is even a greater shame is when the church neglects this gospel message that has been entrusted to us by God. Instead, we turn to shameful and irreverent schemes that have nothing to do with the Christ. Whether it is during a Sunday morning worship service or at a youth conference, the church has perverted the gospel to appeal to carnal men. We claim to care about the souls of men but in reality our methods show that we only care about numbers and getting "decisions" for Christ. If we truly were concerned for the salvation of men, then we would be faithful to preach the God's word, which is the only medium that is sufficient to bring lost sinners to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:15) and thus bring them to repentance and faith in Christ (2 Kings 22:11; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18) and guide them into all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:3).

I've seen this at it's worst this week in Houston, TX. A conference that prides itself on being "the most anticipated inner city multi church student conference in Houston, Texas" is busy spreading its Christless and worldly Christianity to 1,000+ youth. As you walk through the website and watch some of the highlights, you will see that the preacher has been replaced by the comedian and the storyteller and the message has been replaced with silly illustrations and bad jokes. Even worse, rather than proclaiming the gospel and God's word, the "pastors" and "speakers" feel it necessary to hold sessions on how teens can be prepared for their "first time". And this is all done in the name of "love".

This is where parents and churches are sending their youth, and sadly, churches across the evangelical landscape have used these antics to replace the message that Paul said was "of most importance" ( 1 Corinthians 15:3). The only message that is the power of God to save, sanctify and glorify the sinner (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  So rather than proclaiming this gospel message, the church turns to man-centered and man-made strategies that may produce results that look good on paper but in God's scheme of things, do nothing to profit the souls of men.

It's a sobering thing when we see those lost and dead in their trespasses and sins turn away from the only way to find reconciliation to a holy and righteous God but what's just as frightening (if not even more) is when pastors and teachers, those very men that are called to preach this message of reconciliation to the lost, ignore God's message and method and replace it with their own. I pray that God would awaken our hearts and unplug our ears to pay careful attention to this great salvation so that we use God's means to preach God's message for God's glory.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Priority of Love

My pastor's exposition of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 on Sunday was very insightful and brought conviction upon me regarding how zealous I can become for sharing the love of Christ and at the same time not apply it to my life in a personal way. I think anyone who is involved in evangelism in a consistent manner can benefit from this message.

It reminded me of the following video from Desiring God. Although the video was based on James 3, it contained similar reminders of one who is involved in Christian activity while leading a loveless life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Peasant Saints

The ministry I am involved with, Peasant Saints, recently created a new YouTube channel with two new videos. Here is one that features our "Origins into Schools" project on the main campus of University of Houston...enjoy.