Berean at Arnett Park

What a Sunday we had! I mean what a Sunday we had! God is surely good and He is awesome! We had a great attendance for a July Sunday and were blessed with a multitude of visitors. The music was perfect and the choir and orchestra deserve a hardy job well done. The media team did a great job integrating the video in the middle of my message and I appreciate Justin getting me a large sturdy wheel barrow. Those of you present understand the importance of that and those who missed may want to get the DVD. (I am afraid this might be a message that a CD doesn’t work as well).

The Holy Spirit was working during the invitation with many hands committing to getting in the wheel barrow and others spending time with their Lord in the altar. Two families presented themselves as candidates for membership after much time in prayer and confirmation that this is the right church for them. Counselors were praying with brothers and sisters in Christ and others were doing business with God were they stood.

The line at the pastor’s reception was out the door and I appreciate the members allowing me to spend extra time with our visitors each Sunday.

Then the church scattered only to reassemble about an hour later at Arnett Park where we literally took over the park. The Barbeque Hut did a great job quickly providing us with great tasting chicken, beans, potato salad, slaw and sweeeet tea! They fed 500 plus hungry mouths in no time at all. We will surely use them again. And yes I know I fed you fried chicken on the same day I talked about heart disease, but I said in the sermon I wasn’t your doctor.

After the meal, the fellowship moved into high gear as members scattered about to meet new faces and get to know each other outside of church. Lawn chairs were everywhere and in no time horse shoes and soft balls were both being tossed but not on the same field. God gave us great weather with a nice breeze for most of the day. Everyone maintained their testimony quite well during the games and in spite of the heckling by the crowd at the games. The umps did a good job for the most part except for one call, but I won’t go into that or mention that third strike, except to say some recent retiree may need glasses. And we certainly learned who can and can’t hit the ball. I couldn’t help but wonder if Berean shouldn’t have its own softball team, but I will let others tell me that. Many enjoyed walks around the park and there were trips to the lake and I think some enjoyed (but I am not sure) Frisbee golf and I thought I saw a few playing tennis.

Then as if all that fellowship and fun wasn’t enough, a member and friend asked me if I could go for some Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream? Of course I thought they were kidding but no; inside a cooler full of ice was a half gallon of some of the best …well I will not go on because there simply wasn’t enough to share. Beside that was my second dessert. Oh, I forgot to mention the first plate of…well again there wasn’t enough to share so let me just stop now.

After back to back games of softball 5pm rolled around quick and it was time to close the day out with 20 door prizes for those who stayed to the end. I hope you enjoy those gift cards.

What a day, and mere words can’t do justice to the degree to which God was glorified by His church at 517 Glensford Drive and then again at the Park.

Many, many thanks to Steve, Kim, James and everyone who played a part in making this great event happen.

Tell me if this is something we want to do again and if so what could we do to make it better and please don’t say lower the cost…I think $1 a plate is plenty reasonable don’t you?

Pam, Austin and I love our church and consider if a privilege to serve you.


So you have bought into the lie about judging...

One of the most misunderstood and misapplied scriptures spoken by our Lord and King Jesus is:

Matthew 7.1-2: Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Christians and non-Christians routinely use or quote verse 1 without any context or association with the remainder of what Christ said in verse 2 and beyond.

Judging is a part of life. One can hardly make a decision without judging. When options are weighed and a decision is made, a judgment has occurred.

We judge whether a foul took place in a basketball game; we judge who is more beautiful in a contest; we judge which place has the best fried chicken; we judge which president we think will lead the country in the right directions according to how we judge right.

Jurors meet to make a judgment; judges are paid by the state to judge.

Christians can judge and must judge; however, they must judge in a manner that they would want others to use upon themselves. Look at verse 2: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Or “and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

To judge that abortion isn’t right is not wrong or a sin; unless one wishes to judge others guilty while keeping abortion an option open for themselves in the event a pregnancy must be terminated.

To judge that a purchase was frivolous is not wrong provided the person making the judgment is willing to accept that others may decide what they buy is also frivolous. I cannot be the type of person who judges other’s purchases and then takes offense when someone judges what I buy.

If I am the type who would say purchasing more than one TV is a waste of God’s money; I must live with one television or be prepared to be called a hypocrite when I buy a second TV. (Or admit that I was wrong in the past.)

To state that everyone outside of Christianity is wrong and bound for hell is a judgment. But it is a judgment that I am willing to have applied to myself. In other words, you may measure my eternal destiny by the same standard. In fact, I would encourage you to do so because I base my hope for heaven upon the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary and not something I obtain because of my righteous acts.

To judge that divorce is wrong means that when I divorce someone you may say that I am just as wrong as when I declared divorce to be wrong.

In verse 6, Jesus tells us not to give “that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Could someone please tell me how I can obey verse 6 and not judge between a dog and pig?

When Jesus sent the apostles out to preach the good news he told them to be wise as serpents. Why would they need wisdom if they were not going to be judging?

Psalms 2.10 tells judges of the earth to be wise. Paul chastises the church at Corinth because they were going to unregenerate judges to solve issues instead of finding someone in the church who could judge a matter (1 Corinthians 6).

Don’t buy into this lie that Christians aren’t supposed to judge. Instead, seek to honor God in the manner in which you judge when it is required.

According to John 7.24 what we need to do is avoid judging by appearance only, but we must strive to judge righteously.

I Miss You and I am NOT Alone!

The computer software the church uses to keep track of its members and prospects is powerful. At the click of a few criteria boxes the software can analyze and spit out names and percentages and such in only minutes. A few days ago I was given the list of all those involved in our adult Bible Fellowship hour, the days they were absent and present, and the associated percentages of times of present versus absent. The numbers were startling. Some people who had previously been faithful had taken the entire month of July off; others were present 25%, some 50%, a few 75% and a very, very few 100%. I presume all this is because July is a big vacation month, but I must confess I was taken back by the names of those who were absent the entire month. I will not post them.

It is impossible to fully communicate and emphasize the importance of being a part and connecting to a small group. The small groups of Berean are the very heart beat of the church. It is in small groups that relationships are formed and needs are met. In small groups, questions are asked and answered. In small groups, prayer requests are solicited and praises shared. From small groups, Friday and Saturday activities are planned and fellowship occurs beyond the one hour of Sunday. In small groups, God’s Word is studied and the believer is challenged to take it to another level. 1st C.L.A.S.S. is the first small group a potential member of the church attends. At the end of the class future members are challenged to connect and unite with a Bible Fellowship Small Group each Sunday at 9.30am. When they arrive at their first Berean BFH class, what will they find? I trust all of the above and much more. But this can’t happen if the core of the class is absent 50% of the time.

Let me encourage you to build your life around the church. Let me encourage you to show your love for your King by your service in and through His church at 517 Glensford Drive. And if by chance you are reading this blog outside the one at 517 Glensford Drive, find a Bible believing, Christ exalting, Spirit filled, evangelical, conservative, fundamental church and build your life around it. How’s that for a string of adjectives! I must articulate it that way because all churches are not equal. Every disciple of Christ needs to be connected to the body of Christ in a local visible manner. Go back and look at one of my first posts called “Membership Matters.”

The world expects Christians to be in church. The disciple of Christ who is “hit and miss” in their attendance is crushing their testimony or reputation in their neighborhood. Staying home on Sundays from church is like walking around with a beer can in your hand and witnessing. Nobody believes this guy is serious about his relationship with Christ. Let me encourage you to start vacations on Mondays and return on Saturdays to minimize the days you miss church. On the Sunday you must be gone, please assemble with other local Christians in an organized sense and worship. Let me challenge you to strive to pull into the parking lot every Sunday no later than 9.25 am. Let me ask you to make a conscious decision to plan ahead so that your morning honors and glorifies God as you prepare to go to His House.

Let me encourage you to be faithful….you are missed.

May I ask what you would think of me if I preached only as often as you are faithful—how long would you keep me as your preacher? What’s the difference? I do it for the Lord, don’t you?
And finally, please, don’t go down the road of “God knows my heart and He understands.” God doesn’t understand unfaithfulness. Read your Bible. Israel is continually rebuked for being unfaithful—often she is described as a harlot. Christ said lukewarm Christianity makes Him want to vomit (Rev 3.16).

The writer of Hebrews said it like this: Do not forsake getting together as a body of Christians, like others are doing, instead, challenge and encourage each other to be faithful to the body of Christ when it assembles: and as the day approaches when Christ will return be even more obnoxious in the manner in which you encourage faithfulness among other Christians [my translation]. See Hebrews 10.25.

See you Sunday!

Developing Future Tender Warriors with Markers and Paint

The time is 8pm on a Saturday night and I am cleaning orange goop out of my left ear and I don’t mind a bit. In fact the orange is kind of everywhere. It is smeared into my pants and shirts and on my marker and on my helmet, yea it is just about everywhere.

You see I have been out with the men and future men of Berean Baptist Church for a great day of pure fun—fun without any chemical enhancement from alcohol, drugs or sexual perversion. No this was just the simple but exhilarating fun of divvying up into two teams and shooting each other till the last man stands.

Men and boys, expressing their very warrior tendencies in a very appropriate, lawful and safe manner is what today’s church activity was all about. Dads and sons playing together and opposing each other on a field of war where the ammunition explodes into a bright orange liquid upon stinging contact is what today was all about.

Today was about our youngest of men learning that a gun (marker in this case) is a serious thing and weapons have triggers, safety switches and must never be pointed at someone unless you are ready to squeeze the trigger.

It was about older men razzing younger men and a true sense of camaraderie existed among all. It was about welcoming our newest members to the Berean family with a friendly shot to the head.

If you haven’t participated in a great paint ball war you can’t relate to adrenal rush of being attacked from multiple side or assaulting a bunker through a crossfire of balls exploding all around you. Men, this appeals to you—it appeals to you because God made you that way. God made us to be warrior—tender warriors—but still warriors.

God, the Bible, church, Sunday school, Christian education is not for sissies—it is for real men who love Jesus Christ as their Lord and also can enjoy a great game of simulated war.

The prize is a welt, and men and boys proudly display their bruises and welts as badges of courage. We brag about killing the preacher and getting a good headshot on so and so. We call men out and challenge the boys to become men. This is all a good thing and when it is led by the Holy Spirit, it is a godly thing.

The church has a significant role in helping families prepare young men to transition to adult leaders and servants in the local New Testament church.

Today was a great day in the life of the men of Berean—today several new members were integrated into the family. Today some older men enjoyed time with younger men. Today men testified of the goodness of God and bragged about the awesomeness of our God. Today was a good day to eat a fresh grilled steak with a group of men who love Jesus and enjoy a good game of paintball. Today was a good day to be a member of Berean and even a greater day to have the privilege of being the preacher of such a fine group of godly men.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Tender Warrior at our book table (soon to be bookstore) you need to. Tender Warrior by Stu Weber is a great book and is a must read for every male striving to live for Jesus the ultimate Warrior.

A False Accusation is Slander

Sometime ago a former member of Berean wrote a very disparaging letter about me and accused me of being a Calvinist. Now Charles Spurgeon was a Calvinist through and through so this really isn’t like being called a heretic or something. Yet I do not call myself a Calvinist and don’t call myself a Calvinist.

After hearing a few sermons he made a decision and refused to discuss the matter with me in person. As many of you know I am always available to discuss what I believe and why I believe it. I will also tell you when I don’t completely understand something.

I don’t follow John Calvin I follow Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior. He has the preeminence in my life and his leadership in my every decision is my daily goal. I don’t agree with the doctrine of limited atonement. I don’t understand how a Calvinist completely reconciles that with the Biblical reality that anyone may be saved. I know what verses Calvinist use and this is a very tough subject.

I believe the Bible is very clear in teaching that man has a free choice to make and must make a choice. God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17.30). Yet I also know that no one comes to the Son unless the Father draws them. I also know the Bible is clear that God is Sovereign.

I believe the Bible—every verse—and I believe I should preach and teach everyone one of them even though I may not be able to reconcile all of them.

Be very careful of one who presents themselves as having a full or complete knowledge of all the Scriptures. This is often more pride than anything else.

To call me is a Calvinist is a misrepresentation of what I believe. As such it is slander and those who are doing such are guilty of slandering my reputation.

Calvinists are often accused of being non-evangelical. This is another reason why I must defend my reputation. One of the last things I would want to be accused of is not being concerned with the souls of man. I am very concerned about the souls of man and my obedience and the church’s obedience to the Great Commission.

A thorough review of my preaching, the decisions and direction I am leading the church and my personal actions will strip anyone of any evidence that I am a closet Calvinist who isn’t concerned about the souls of man. This is an attack against the church from the outside.

However having said all that, I would never disparage the character or reputation of man because he states he is a Calvinist. Some of the greatest preachers the world has seen associated with the views of John Calvin—Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon—are just two examples. Let us examine a man on his own merits without attempting to put an unnecessary label on them.

To sit back and listen to another person slander someone is to participate in that slander.

This New Hearing Aid is Simply Divine!

In John 8 there is a very unique dynamic that occurs between Jesus and a bunch of self-righteous Jews that can be very helpful and instructive for all who share the truth of God’s plan of salvation to an unregenerate world.

Throughout the chapter Jesus is presenting God’s plan of salvation. He begins by labeling the Jews as the slaves to sin and truth rejecters that they really are. He pulls them out of Abraham’s family tree and sticks them in Satan’s. He says that he will be lifted up and they may then recognize who he is.

He tells them that their claims of loving God are ludicrous because they do not love His Son. In verse 27, John writes that they did not understand Him.

Then in verse 43 Jesus asks and answers His own question. That makes it easy for us. He asks, “Why aren’t you getting it?” or “Why aren’t you understanding my language?” or “Why aren’t we connecting?”

Have you ever wondered that when you are presenting the gospel? Have you ever been there? You think “Man, this doesn’t get any clearer—why isn’t the person responding to the invitation to repent and believe?” Jesus answers this question in verse 43, “even because you can’t hear my words.” Now we know that Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical hearing issue. No this is far more serious—this is a spiritual hearing problem.

Do you realize that the Father had to open their ears to hear? John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” What did Jesus tell Peter when Peter declared that Jesus was the Christ? Jesus told Peter you didn’t get it on your own accord. No, God the Father revealed this to Peter.

Yet Jesus continues proclaiming the truth and encouraging these obnoxious, self-righteous, arrogant Jews to believe the truth. In the back of our Lord’s mind He knows why they aren’t getting it yet it doesn’t deter Him a bit from sharing the truth.

In fact it is only until they pick up stones to kill Him does He withdraw Himself. No one man or women knows when the Father is going to open eyes to see and ears to hear. That is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to follow our Lord’s example and proclaim the truth.

We must reject any feelings of inadequacy or in adeptness, fully recognizing that we are completely dependent on the Father to draw our potential convert to the Son.

Paul says “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2.14). When your potential convert begins to get it you can be sure God is doing His work of salvation in their heart.

I want to follow Jesus’ example in John 8—don’t you? I will interact and interact with the unbeliever, provoking and encouraging them to repent, believe and follow Christ—but in the end I am completely dependent upon God to open their ears to hear the truth. The fact that the Father had not opened ears to hear did not deter my Lord and by His grace it will not determine me. How about you? Have you been deterred lately and need to recommit to sharing the truth without regard to whether you see fruit or not?