believers and unbelievers – do you see the difference?

This past Sunday I preached a sermon from Exodus 33. You can listen to it here. 

My 2nd point in that sermon is that ‘the Godly are distinct from the rest of the world.’ That is the very point Moses in making when talking to God in Exodus 33:16 about the necessity of God’s presence with God’s people. That is a very real point that is clearly made in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, this point of distinction is clear as well.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul makes a very familiar statement “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”

Many people have heard this statement before being discussed in the context of marriage. To the Apostle Paul, believers and unbelievers are so drastically different at their core that he doesn’t see how they could be united (or “yoked”) together.

As Moses said – the presence of God in His people makes them distinct from the rest of the world.

To highlight this point, Paul then asks 5 questions in a row in verses 14-16. FIVE! In other words, we should all see the difference between the two. Here are the 5 questions:

  • For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? v.14
  • What fellowship has light with darkness? v.14
  • What accord has Christ with Belial (Evil)? v.15
  • What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? v.15
  • What agreement has the temple of God with idols? v.16

Those are strong questions. And they are helpful too for helping us distinguish the differences.

Do you see the difference? Once you really look into it there is quite a difference between a believer and an unbeliever.

Lets hear God’s Word and not “yoke” those together!

23

09 2014

“we are not ignorant of his designs”

I was recently caught off guard by Paul’s words to that church in Corinth when he writes in 2 Corinthians 2:11:

“so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”

Paul and the Corinthians, (and therefore all Christians), are to know that Satan is real and is working. And not only is he at work, but he is witty and strategic at the work he does!

In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” That is it! Satan is bad. He is continually working hard to ruin things. He is a thief. He is a killer. He is a destroyer. He has his sight set on us, and he is using wit and strategy to maximize his efforts. Peter says it like this “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan is against God. He does not want people to know God’s love. He doesn’t want people to love God. And he doesn’t want people to love each other. Let that sink in for a moment, you have an opponent! Satan is against you. He is against us. He wants to mess you up. He wants to mess us up. Satan wants to mess our church up.

Satan would love for our church to have some dissension and division. He would love for some of us to take our eyes off Jesus and the cross. He would love for us to forget that all of this is about forgiveness. He would love for you and I to forget the eternal perspective. He would be so happy if you and I would forget that we are forgiven of all our sins and therefore able to forgive others. He would love for us to forget that He loves us with an everlasting love. He would love for us to forget that earth is not our home. He would love for us to get so distracted that we no longer have confidence that Jesus has “overcome the world.” He would love for us to doubt that “greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.”

Satan wants our homes to be hostile instead of a place of refuge. He wants our marriages to be cold, distant, and weak instead of strong, united, and uplifting! He wants our church family to be hurting and with no healing. He wants us struggling with no community. He has evil and wrong plans to hurt us! Satan does.

But we have Jesus. “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”  (2 Cor. 5:5) He is able. He is stronger. He is greater. And we know that. We are not ignorant of what Satan is about. So, let’s love each other. Let’s forgive each other. Let’s be a real church strengthened by a real Savior!

 

04

09 2014

Ecuador Video 2014

Our church sent a team to Ecuador in July. Here is the re-cap video from our trip.

 

26

08 2014

What Trials Do

“Trials make the promise sweet;

Trials give new life to prayer;

Trials bring me to his feet,

Lay me low, and keep me there.”

I recently found this gem of a poem while reading David McIntyre’s book The Hidden Life of Prayer. 

No one likes trials, but they often prove to be so rich. God uses trials to produce growth in us!

From this sweet poem, notice these solid truths:

  • Trials make the promises of God sweet to us. Without the trials, we may neglect His promises. Let us be thankful for anything, including trials, that causes us to delight in God’s promises.
  • Trials give new life to prayer. All of us pray more when we are going though trials. And not only do our prayers increase in quantity, but they certainly increase in quality during trials. And prayer is such a blessing. Let us be thankful for anything, including trials, that gives new life to prayer.
  • Trials bring me to His feet. The true child of God who knows his sins and His need for forgiveness, finds great comfort and rest and peace at the feet of God. Let us be thankful for anything, including trials, that brings us to God’s feet.
  • Our desire is to stay close to Jesus and His cross and His forgiveness. Trials bring us there. Let us be thankful for anything, including trials, that lays us low and keeps us there at the feet of Jesus.

05

08 2014

our involvement with the local high school

soccer
We at FBC Fairdale love the relationship we have with the local high school in our community. We are often asked how did we get that good relationship with them. There are several factors that have built this healthy relationship (God’s grace, time, neighborhood folks, etc.).
With that said, here are some things we have done and still do to help us connect with schools and build relationships with the coaches.
  • We attend practices.
  • We attend games.
  • We linger around to congratulate them.
  • We ask if we can come by a practice.
  • We show up at practices.
  • We bring coolers of Gatorades to hand out after practice.
  • We feed them pre-game meals.
  • We support them in any fundraisers they do. (I am always happy to pay the softball team to wash my car! And my children love to attend a pancake breakfast.)
  • We offer to further support them by buying & wearing their gear! (Coaches love this! I have shirts from every sport at Fairdale.)
  • Once time has passed and relationships are established, we ask what else we can do.
  • Pick up trash.
  • Mop the gym floor.
  • Sweep the floors.
  • Line the fields.
  • We offer to give players rides. (Rare but we have done it.)
  • We stay visible to them.
  • We text the coach to congratulate him after a victory.
Our church just wants to be involved.
Overall, we genuinely just become “fans” of their programs. We want them to win. We cheer for them. We support them!
I hope this helps. Seems so simple and basic. But we think it is great! Let me know your thoughts.

29

07 2014

5 reflections from our recent Ecuador trip!

It is hard to put into words all that is in your heart and mind once returning from a trip overseas. As Christians, we are in awe of what we see God doing in the world! We are stunningly aware of the truth of God’s statement in Psalm 46:10 “Be Still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Yes, you will God! Yes, you will!
Below I list 5 observations/reflections from our recent trip to Ecuador.

  1.  God is still saving people! SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA
    Several years ago during our trip to Ecuador, we finished up our trip by having a foot-washing-service with the staff there at the camp. It was a very meaningful time together with another U.S. group as we thanked, blessed and served the Ecuadorian ministry team there. One of the interesting things that happened that night is that there was an indigenous man in the room who was observing all that we were doing. This man was not a believer in Jesus. The folks there know him well, and he is always welcome there. But he and his wife had not decided to follow Jesus yet.  Well, as we were washing feet and singing songs, one of our group members went to him and asked if he could wash his feet. The man (surely curious about what was happening) allowed our team member to wash his feet. I remind you that this indigenous Indian man wore sandals, not shoes, and his feet were more rough than any feet you would ever see in the states.
    After the service ended, nothing more was really said or done and the night ended. We traveled home to the US the next day.  A few weeks later we were informed that the man had been shocked by someone wanting to wash his feet. He asked what all that meant. And an Ecuadorian staff member was able to explain Jesus and John 13 to him. Our Lord Jesus is a servant. Not only does he serve us daily and physically, but Jesus also serves us eternally and spiritually. He died for our sins. If Jesus does not wash your sins away, you cannot be His follower. We rejoiced to know that this unbelieving man had been served by a Christian, had his feet washed, heard the truth about Jesus, and was thinking over all of that. Indeed, seeds were planted and watered that summer!
    That was 3 or 4 years ago, and I had not heard anything more about it since then. When I arrived in Ecuador this summer (2014), one of the first things I was informed of is that that man had become a follower of Jesus and was about to be baptized. I was so delighted to hear this good news! I asked questions as to how this came about. They went on to tell me that the man had continually been thinking about a God who washes feet and has people who wash feet too. And the man explains that that foot washing that night was key in him coming to faith in Christ. That real-life story along with many others is proof that God is still saving people in Ecuador!
  2. The needs are still huge!
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    While we were so encouraged by all that we were seeing that God is doing, it is still very obvious how great the needs are. Specifically, the need for teachers and trainers. Not only are the church folks eager to be taught, but the leadership of the churches are begging for someone to train them. I recently began re-reading Reaching & Teaching by David Sills. Dr. Sills speaks directly to this great need.

    I am already considering and planning how our church can take another separate trip specifically to do pastoral training.
    The world is so full of people. We often hear of 7 billion people on earth. And we know that is a large number. But it is always overwhelming to get into a crowded city and think “Wow! There are a lot of people here!” Whether we were in the capital city Quito (2 million plus) or in the small indigenous town of Apatug, we were realizing how great the need is for Christian people to be here making disciples for Jesus.

  3. Kids can go!
    20140719_035407
    Kids can gain a lot from short-term mission trips! Valeria and I were hesitant but we decided to take our 4 children on this year’s trip. That is a 6 year old, a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 17 month old in a third-world-country for 16 days. Upon our return back home, we are happy that we took them. They are learning so much from their time spent in Ecuador.20140705_174208
    1) They are learning first-hand about international mission work. Not only do they hear about missionaries from home, but now they have real relationships with these heroes! 2) Their intercultural awareness is much increased. They are more familiar with the world’s diversity. They have eaten unfamiliar foods. They have been to unfamiliar homes and churches. They are speaking Spanish better and better. They have friends now who have no idea of the American lifestyle. And 3) It was not that hard on them. Sure there were times they got worn down and fussy. But that actually happened to me more than them. Honestly, they did great. They enjoyed it. They got tougher. (Above is a picture of JJ asleep against the plane window. Eli is asleep in his lap. And Carolina is asleep on Eli.) They are better off now because of the trip. We hope to take them again regularly. Kids can do short-term missions trips!
  4. Serving can be enjoyable!
    20140705_192524Serving, helping, working can often be burdensome and not enjoyable. That is certainly the case when we are not focused on Jesus. But when we do delight ourselves in Christ and aim to be like him, serving can be a blessing. I saw that very clearly this year in Ecuador.
    Our church sent our largest  team yet. Twenty-three folks from FBC Fairdale went on this year’s trip. Everyone was so eager and willing to work hard. Hundreds of dishes were washed and dried by hand each day. Toilets were scrubbed each day. Floors were swept and mopped each day. I even saw little children walking around with bags gladly giving away their own toys to other kids.
    As our pastor, it was thrilling to witness all of this humility. Our team was so focused on living like Christ and helping others. There was no complaining. We all looked out for each other. And we were very happy because of it. Several of our team members pointed out – there is no reason we shouldn’t be serving like this back home. That is absolutely the truth. Serving can be enjoyable! As Trip Lee says “I’m nothing special, just a vessel. Service makes me happy!”
  5. Good for the church! These trips are so good for our church. They really are. They are good for us there. And they are good for us here. They are good for those who stay home and support through giving, prayer, serving in the absence of others, and observing those who go. They are good for those who go because they get to see the world, are opened to the greatness of God, the diversity of peoples and cultures and languages. They are fantastic for the church when the team returns home. The new fervor and zeal is so healthy and contagious. They are so good for individuals. Many have been called to a life of career missions through a short-term trip. Many have learned how blessed they are. Many have learned how selfish they are. Many have learned how to reach out. Many have learned how blessed they are to have a church family.
    These trips are such a blessing! As long as I am a part of the church (until I die), I want to be involved with short-term mission trips. They are so good for the church.

    As always, we were so blessed by this year’s trip. We are continually learning! May God be glorified through us as we serve Him! And may FBC Fairdale become more and more of a Great Commission Church!

24

07 2014

Thats the purpose of spiritual gifts

There is much discussion these days about the Holy Spirit and the gifts He gives to His people. A lot of the discussion is well and good and helpful. But also a lot of the discussion is unnecessary. With many discussions going on today, much of it is missing the point and not needed.

In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul spends a lot of time discussing the Holy Spirit and the gifts He gives to His church. Corinth is a city with a church, and Paul is helping them believe, understand, think and function properly  as a “Spiritual” people. Specifically, chapters 12-14 address Spiritual Gifts.

I want to highlight a few verses from chapter 14 that will bring a lot of clarity to understanding spiritual gifts. 

  • 14:3 “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”
  • 14:4 “the one who prophesies builds up the church.”
  • 14:5 “…so that the church may be built up.”
  • 14:6 “how will I benefit you unless …”
  • 14:7 “how will anyone know …”
  • 14:9 “how will anyone know …”
  • 14:12 “strive to excel in building up the church.”
  • 14:17 “but the other person is not being built up.”
  • 14:26 “Let all things be done for building up.”
  • 14:31 “so that all may learn and be encouraged.”

All of that is from one chapter. If you were to read the chapter, his emphasis is even more heavy. He is being so redundant. He is stressing the purpose and significance of spiritual gifts = the building up of the church!

God’s Spirit is in every believer in Jesus. And that Spirit has gifted every believer in different ways. All the different believers with various gifts make up the one body of Christ. And all of those gifts from the Spirit among all those believers inside the one body are for one reason to build the church up for the Glory of God.

In other words, if it is not building up the church then it is not of the Spirit. That is clear from chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians.

05

06 2014

Self-control

The more and more I read the Bible the more I am convinced that God wants the life-changing truth to actually change our lives. Or perhaps better said, the life-changing truth of God actually does change lives!

In other words, Christians are to be people who are changed by their faith in Christ. Christians are to be people who walk the walk along with talking the talk.

This truth is very clear in Paul’s letter to Titus when he begins addressing the different folks in the church. In Titus 2, Paul urges Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine,” and he then explains what to expect from each group. He speaks of older men, older women, younger women, and younger men.  The only characteristic that is common among all 4 of those groups is “self-control.”

  • 2:2 “Older men are to be … self-controlled”
  • 2:3-5 “older women are to …train the younger women … to be self-controlled”
  • 2:6 “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled”

We understand then that in that church on the island of Crete that Paul was concerned that the Christians there should be self-controlled.  All of them should be. The men, the women, the young, the old, all of them are expected to have self-control.

The lack of self-control is an enormous problem today. And the result is that our lives are out of control! The ripple effect then of this problem is many people claiming to be Christians who have no self-control. Christians whose lives are out of control.

Men who are gone too much. Women who worry too much. Kids who play too much. Kids who do not play enough. Parents who work too much. We sit on the couch too much. We play sports too much. We watch too much TV. We are busy too much. Our lives are out of control. We need Self-control.

But the real truth is that self-control does not come from self. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, once you get saved God empowers you to have self-control. Self-control comes from the Spirit not from self!

If you are convicted because your life lacks the life-change that comes from faith in Christ, I suggest you start with self-control. Do you have it? Is it missing? Are there areas of your life that are out of control? Turn to God. Ask Him, through the Spirit, to give you self-control.

He will. He does. According to Titus 2, God expects all people in the church to be self-controlled!

28

05 2014

How to Honor Your Mother

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I was excited for an emphasis-day on honoring my mother!

I decided to preach in a manner that I do not normally prefer. I preached a “How-To” sermon on “4 Ways to Honor Your Mother.”

You can listen to the whole sermon here.

Honor your mother is part of the 5th commandment that God gave to His people through Moses in the 10 Commandments in the book of Exodus. If Honoring your mother is one of God’s 10 great laws, then obviously it is important. Just think – if you were going to create a world and then give it 10 laws, what would be your 10 laws? Would honoring your mother be one of the 10? Obviously, God thinks moms are important!

Here were my 4 Points:

  1. Obey her.
    Ephesians 6:1 says “Children obey your parents.”
    -
    If you want to honor your mother, obey her. Few things hurt a mother more than her children failing to listen to her instruction. Rebellious & Disobedient kids are not honoring their mother. They are dishonoring her. If mom says to take out the trash, you honor her when you take out the trash. You dishonor her and shame her, when you do not take out the trash.
  2. Praise her.
    Proverbs 31:28 says “Her children rise up and call her blessed.” 
    -If you want to honor your mother, praise her. Speak well of her. Everyone likes to be spoken well of. Mothers especially love to hear their children speak highly of them. The whole basketball world has been raving over the recent MVP speech from Kevin Durant in which he praised his mother. Can you imagine how great that made her feel? I am sure his words meant more to her than his basketball skills. He honored his mother by praising her.
  3. Imitate her.
    2 Timothy 1:5 says “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure dwells in you as well.”
    -If you want to honor your mother, imitate her. Find ways to be like her. Learn from her ways and copy them. One wise man has said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Your mom will receive such honor when she sees that you are like her. You are taking to her ways.
  4. Trust in Jesus.
    Psalm 16:2 says “I have no good apart from you.”
    -
    If you want to honor your mother, trust in Jesus. All mothers desire for their children to be the best son/daughter possible. Apart from Jesus in us, we are unable to be our best. We are hardly good without Him. I have had many great influences upon my life. Coaches, teachers, friends, and neighbors have all influenced me in varying ways to honor my mom. But without a doubt the biggest and best influence upon me to honor my mother has been God. Christ alive in me causes me to desire to honor my mother.
    -On this note, lets remember that “Honor Your Mother” is one of God’s commandments. God gave us the laws to show us our need for a savior. As we hear of God’s standard to honor our mother, we should run to God for grace and strength to be able to honor our mother.
    -As Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” -John 15:5.

12

05 2014

Begg on “Laziness”

Most mornings while in the car, I listen to Alistair Begg preaching. Its on the radio at 8:00am on 94.7 FM. Lately he has been preaching from Proverbs concerning issues like friendship, honesty, procrastination and laziness.

begg

This morning he was preaching on “Laziness and Procrastination.” It was a great message. You can listen to it here.

 

Here is a quote that stuck with me:

“Laziness is a sin. God made us to work. …

As parents we have a great responsibility in this … the challenge for us is to breed children that are known for the quality of their work, for the consistency of their attendance, for the honesty of their endeavor, for the extra-mile given in the place of their employment. These simple things will increasingly be the marks of the godly as our world gives up on the standards of God’s Word.” 

07

05 2014