Worth Repeating : David Platt

“There is a spiritual battle presently raging for the souls of billions of men and women around the world. The scope of this spiritual battle is universal. It covers and comprises every tongue, tribe, language, nation, person, and people group. There is no place on this earth where this war is not being waged.

The stakes in this spiritual battle are eternal. There is a true God over this world who desires all people to experience everlasting joy in heaven. There is a false god in this world who desires all people to experience everlasting suffering in hell. The enemy in this spiritual battle is formidable. He is like a lion looking for his kill, and he is dead set on defaming God’s glory and destroying God’s people. Where the church exists, he works to draw us in through temptation and discourage us in trial. He lures us with possessions and prosperity, and he lulls us to sleep with comforts and complacency. He deceives, deters, and distracts the church from knowing the wonder of Christ and declaring the worth of Christ to the ends of the earth.

Meanwhile, he holds thousands of unreached people groups captive through deceptive philosophies, hollow worldviews, and false religions. These people groups are virtually untouched by the gospel of the glory of God, and this is where the adversary’s stronghold exists. Any Christian and any church that desires to proclaim the gospel among the unreached people groups of the world can expect to be met with the full force of hell in the process.”

David Platt,  from the foreword of “Spiritual Warfare and Missions” by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer

Memorial Day 2011

Memorials are a familiar concept in our society today. It is human nature to want to mark-off significant events in our lives in such a way as to remember them for a lifetime. We see physical monuments constructed at the sites of tragedy, where there is great losses of life. We also see physical monuments constructed at the sites of triumph, where there is significant human accomplishment. Upon the death of a loved one, family members may leave memorial gifts in order to remember and celebrate the causes and passions their loved one cared so much about. God’s Word reinforces this concept of remembrance. Upon the crossing of the Jordan River, a symbol of entering a new phase of God’s plan for Israel, Joshua made the following statement in Joshua 4:4-7, “Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe;  and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. It is a day set aside to remember our service men and women down through the centuries who have given their lives in the pursuit of the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy today. Today should be a day when we stop and reflect on the sacrifices of those who held our values and principles high enough to lay down their lives for. The sacrifices of our military are great. They are selfless and humble. Their lives remind us of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. He willingly gave His life for those who may never appreciate or embrace it. John 15:13 tell us, Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”. Take time today to remember and reflect on those whose lives were given for our freedom and for the Life that was given for our redemption.

On the Death of Osama bin Laden

I am troubled today. Deep down inside I am troubled and trying to find a place of balance. I am not sure how to process all that I am seeing.  The main news item over the last two days has been the death of known terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Each newscast has given more and more information, more and more detail of the military operation that led to his death. Once bin Laden was identified as the mastermind of the terrorist attacks on America in September of 2001, our military has been searching for him in order to hold him accountable for his unspeakable acts of violence. Persistence paid off, bin Laden was found, and justice was carried out on behalf of the American people. There is a great sense of relief on the minds and faces of Americans as a result. This is most clearly seen in the police, first responder, and firefighting communities, along with the families of those fallen on that September day. Television news programs have been running this news story over and over and over, each one with a different twist. There have been images of people cheering in the streets on Sunday night and early Monday morning, even in front of the White House. There have been images released of President Obama and his military leaders watching live Sunday’s raid on Bin Laden’s compound. There have been images of the actual scene released of the room in which bin Laden was killed.  The US is celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden. I believe some of this celebration is rightly placed. After all, he is believed to be responsible for the death of over 3000 American on 9/11 and other attacks around the world on Americans. The US is at war with terrorists like Osama bin Laden who would seek to do harm to Americans, and the values America holds so dearly. We go to great lengths to protect and defend those values and hold accountable anyone who would threaten them. I understand this belief and resolve very clearly. I understand that the actions taken by our government in this case were necessary to further protect American life and liberty. I am former US Marine and Gulf War veteran. I enlisted in the military to serve and protect the United States from threats just like Osama bin Laden. I understand the military side of what has happened.

Let me say a few things first. I am not a fan of Osama bin Laden. Not in the least. I am not a fan of terrorists who shed innocent blood in the name of religion. I am a proud American who would want to live nowhere else in the world. I am a Christian and believe that God is sovereign over the events and actions of His creation. I also believe that God will judge all men and women fairly according to His righteousness. Having said all of this, some questions come to mind.

1. What is the watching world seeing and thinking as we celebrate bin Laden’s death in the fashion that some are? Will the world see this as the US seeking justice, or merely wanting revenge?

2. Will our witness and ability to share the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world be hindered by our public celebrations? Is it possible that when we as Western Christians present the gospel to those in the east, they will simply, and only, remember our celebration?

3. Will our missionaries serving in predominantly Muslim regions of the world have a now tougher time in breaking down the walls of religion that place such a high value on martyrdom and death? Will the threat of physical harm be greater to our missionaries now? This is my greatest fear.

4. Is the excitement and celebration over the death of another human being, regardless of their crimes and actions against humanity, contradictory to the Christian message of love and humility?

5. How far should we push our excitement and celebration in light of what God’s Word has revealed to us?

Proverbs 24:17 reminds us Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.Justice should always be pursued in the economy of God. Judgment and revenge however, belong to God. As Christians, we celebrate life. We celebrate the life that Jesus Christ gives to us. A basic mission of all Christ-followers is to be active in showing those who are locked into darkness that there is a way out, that there is a light. That light is Jesus Christ. Ezekiel 33:11 says  “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways”.  Everyone of us are guilty before God and are condemned because of our sin. It is only because of the amazing grace of God that we have had our sin and judgment atoned for. Did bin Laden deserve death for his actions and crimes, I believe so. But so do you and I and everyone else in the world for our sin. The only difference is the grace of God. He allowed us to pass from death unto life. I believe that bin Laden is in a real place called Hell today. The reason is not because of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  It is because, as best as I can understand, he refused acknowledge the one true God and His son Jesus Christ as the only source of forgiveness and pardon from the sin that separates us from God. His death represents one more individual who died outside of the sphere of God’s grace. For me personally, that is kind of hard to celebrate.

Worth Repeating : Billy Graham

“What does it mean to be born again? It is not just a remodeling job, performed somehow by us on ourselves. Today we hear a lot about recycling, reconstruction, and reshaping. We renovate houses and add on more rooms. We tear down old buildings and build new ones in our cities, calling it urban renewal. Millions and millions of dollars are spent every year on health spas, beauty resorts, and exotic cosmetics – all by people hoping to reshape their faces or renew their bodies.

 In like manner, people frantically pursue all sorts of promised cures for the renewal of their inner lives. Some people hunt for renewal at the psychiatrist’s office. Others search for spiritual renewal in exotic oriental religions or processes of inward meditation. Still others seek for inner peace and renewal in drugs and alcohol. Whatever the path, however, they eventually come to a dead end. Why? Simply because man cannot renew himself. God created us. Only God can recreate us. Only God can give us the new birth we so desperately want and need.”

Billy Graham, How To Be Born Again, 1977

Today is the Day

 Today is the day. Today is the day that all the preparation and planning has looked forward to. Today is the day families gather together to celebrate and visit. Today is the day that children anxiously await with great anticipation. Today is the day of gifts, reflection, and carols. Today is the day for something else. Today is the day the prophets of old spoke of concerning the coming Messiah. Today is the day, as John 1:14 tell us that, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Today is necessary, and the beginning point, as far as mankind is able to see, in God’s plan for his redemption. In eternity past, God had, and still has a love for us that goes beyond our comprehension and one in which words cannot do justice. It is this love for a fallen, sinful, ad rebellious race of humans that motivated God to do something on our behalf, for He knew that we could not save or rescue ourselves. Our redemption and salvation began on this day. If there had been no birth, there could have been no earthly instruction as to who God is and what He desires from us. If there were no instruction and teaching, there would have been no rejection by those Jesus came to first reveal Himself to. If there had been no rejection, there would have been no prophecy fulfillment which solidifies our hope and assurance. If there were no rejection, then there would be no crucifixion and atoning death for the sins of mankind. If there were no crucifixion and death, there certainly would have been no resurrection. A resurrection that assures us that we worship and serve a rise and living Savior. A resurrection that is the fundamental difference between all world religions. A resurrection that testifies to the truthfulness and trustworthiness of Christ to accomplish what He said He could.

So on this day I say thank you to God for the baby in the manger. Thank you for the virgin birth, the insignificant town of Bethlehem, and for the baby in the manger being named Jesus, all of which fulfilled prophecy. God, thank you for the angels that night who proclaimed the good news of the newborn king and comforted the fearful. Thank you for the shepherds who were of the first to see Jesus. Their invitation to see, and their obedient visit, testified that Jesus truly was the Savior for all of mankind. God, thank you for the visit of the wise men who, after having their hearts stirred by you, traveled great distances bearing gifts worthy of a king. Their gifts were appropriate and unknowingly prophetic.

Today is a special day. Today is a day that should not get lost in the shuffle of the holiday season. The gospel writer Matthew wrote, “ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Today is the day of The Gift. Merry Christmas.

Proof The Unbelieving World Has No Idea Of What What Awaits Them

My heart broke yesterday. I was walking through a local gift store when I noticed these oddly-shaped novelty coffee cups. As I read what was written on one of them, my breath was taken. Here is the exact quote, “The Upside of Going to Hell: you’d probably sweat off a bunch of calories and look super hot in a string bikini”. Really?

There is no “upside” of  going to Hell. I can’t get my mind around what would lead people to believe there could be anything positive about it. Instead of joking and making fun of it, it should break our hearts that people actually go there. God’s Word paints a less-glamorous picture. The Bible describes Hell as a real place, a place of “of weeping and gnashing of teeth“. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man, upon his death, finds himself in Hell. He cried out that he was tormented by the flames and that he desired someone to tell his brothers so they did not join him.

Aside from the physical element, there is also a mental element to Hell. It is there the individual is separated from the presence of God eternally. Within God, there is hope, truth, light, and love. Being separated from Him is darkness and hopelessness. Truthfully, even the individual who does not believe in God today still enjoys His presence. He/she may not acknowledge the existence of God, but they enjoy the spirit of love and the presence of hope that comes only from a loving God. Without the presence of God, there will be no love, no hope, no peace, no light, and no second chances. There is no “upside” to being eternally separated from the presence of God.

Some may say this is no big deal. Some may defend statements like these by passing it off as a joke or harmless fun. The possibility of being separated from God is no joke and by no means harmless. The one true “upside” to life is that Jesus Christ is still saving sinners. Who, if not for Him, would be staring down an eternity without God.

Worth Repeating

“God intended the church to be alive, not dead. Romans 6:4 says, ‘We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’ A dead church is an oxymoron. In light of the resurrection, how could you have a dead body of Christ?”

Brad Powell, Change Your Church For Good

A Reminder of Christ’s Love

We will be observing the Lord’s Supper this morning at Port Royal Baptist Church. I enjoy this special time with our people. It is here that we are reminded of the price that Jesus paid for the redemption of man’s sin. We are reminded that He willingly gave up His body and spilled His blood for us. As we observe the Lord’s Supper, we come face-to-face with the reality that if there had just been one, Jesus would have still given His life. In  Sea of Faces, contemporary Christian recording artist Kultess speak, in song, to the importance of a single soul among the many.

If only my one heart
Was all you’d gain from all it cost
Well I know you would have still been a man
With a reason
To willingly offer your life

I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine

Emmanuel – ‘God With Us’

I believe that one of the greatest names for Christ found throughout scripture has to be the name Emmanuel, “God With Us”. The very thought that the God who created the universe would care for us and be near us in the person of Jesus Christ, is, to me, mind blowing. When we stop to think of what Jesus did for us on Calvary, our acts of service, sacrifice, and offering seem so very small. Although what we can do and what we can offer to Christ will never match His sacrifice, we are to still give what we have because of His mercy and grace – because of the new song He has put in our hearts. Enjoy this song by Mercy Me and give thought to what you give back to Christ.