Help My Doubt

Faith seeking reason- Mark 9:24

Baccalaureate 2010

I preached at our local High School for the first time last night. Boy was I nervous. I’ve been praying about and preparing for that night for close to a year.  God brought a blessing again.

The truth I wanted to emphasize was a truth that has been life changing in my own experience. Some call it the authority of Scripture. Some narrow the focus to the historical accuracy of Genesis 1. Some call it Creation Science. It seems to me that all the above is huge in any person’s movement towards salvation through faith in Jesus.

I am convinced by people like Ken Ham that people don’t believe in Jesus because they don’t believe the Bible is true. They don’t believe the Bible is true because Christians have more or less denied that Creation or Adam and Eve or Noah’s ark or the Tower of Babel are real history. The Bible has become a novel of Christian-fiction in most churches and, certainly, in schools.

So my message last night was about God creating us in the image of Himself and the meaning and joy that comes from knowing that truth. I highlighted the error of thinking that science can prove such a truth wrong because it is impossible for the scientific method to do so. The evolution of species is not historical fact and does not prove Creation wrong.

The bottom line is if we believe God and live accordingly we will find joy. I know I’ve never been happier and I really hope that our graduates will too.

Advertisements

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

Weekly Worship

Boy it felt good to have a week off from preaching. I sat as one of the regular worshipers while one of our men preached. It’s good for me to remember what it feels like to be on the receiving side of the pulpit from time to time.

It’s also great to see how God organizes our worship to teach us that He is still leading His church. Craig preached on forgiveness even though he had been working on a different topic for several weeks. Another divine surprise was one of our men’s confession of sin during prayer and praise time. God made us our own object lesson this week and spoke about His command to and blessing in forgiveness through the preaching of His word.

Jesus said he walks among the churches and speaks to those who have ears to hear. I love worshiping with God’s children who have their ears open.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

Lost Books of the Bible (7)- Habakkuk

Any book that has 3 “K’s” in it’s name is destined to be ignored in my mind! True, many books of the Bible are just plain strange. That is, until one does their homework and discovers the meaning there. After my study this week, I just love Habakkuk. I love the way he yelled honestly (and humbly) at God! I love the way God answered him.

Today I encouraged our people to pray aggressively to God. Especially when frustrated or angry. I also encouraged them to do something I’m sure we all do very little- listen for God’s answer. I suggested that they write out their prayer (like Habakkuk did) and then write out God’s answer to their prayer (like Habakkuk did). I have done that a few times and it is a really interesting experience. We are not entitled to the same type of revelation that Habakkuk was but God does promise to communicate with us when we approach Him with humble faith.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Sermons, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lost Books of the Bible (6): Nahum

I’m sure no one who attended worship this week had any idea who Nahum was or what his book in the Bible says. I know I didn’t, until I sat down to study it, and I’m the pastor! That’s the whole point of this sermon series. These small books we call the “minor prophets” are unpopular and unfamiliar to us.

Lately I have been preaching with a narrative style. That means I teach the history of God’s word by telling stories. I like that. I also try to include some new information and review of details such as people, places and dates, but in a novel form. I want everyone to know that these “stories” are historically accurate and true.

Nahum’s vision from God can be traced all the way back to Noah so I retold the history of the Ark, his 3 sons, one bad son and his great-grandson who build Nineveh. Nahum’s vision from God is about Nineveh about 3000 years later. It was a good reminder of the often repeated truths of Scripture- God’s incredible foreknowledge, mercy, power and justice. We need to be careful to be on the right side of his justice but, even then, it is no picnic waiting for him to deal with evil powers around us.The war is over through faith in Jesus but smaller battles rage as we show and tell the good news to those who have not heard or been yet convinced.

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Sermons, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lost Books of the Bible (5): Philemon

Paul’s letter to Philemon is not a very popular book of the Bible. I have never preached on it or quoted any verses from it. Yet it is a book of the Bible so it is God’s word and I don’t want to miss out on any of God’s words.

Personally, I had a great time studying for this message. I love discovering what was going on in normal life by studying the historical context. I also love discovering who the people were and how their short lives fit into God’s history of salvation. As far as Philemon goes, I learned, for the very first time, who he was, where he lived, who his wife and son were and what the whole drama over his run-away slave was about. When I preached this message I did my best to tell it like a historical novel involving all of these people.

I also paused to make some specific points about slavery. I thought it was important to emphasize the huge differences between Roman slavery and American slavery. There is just no comparison and those who used Paul’s teaching as an excuse for the evil practice of racist abuse were idiots.

Since this was also Mother’s Day I made a point that Paul’s letter was not just written to Philemon but also his wife, Apphia, whom God used in powerfully influential ways to save many. When we slow down and do our homework we can see so much more divine beauty and truth in God’s word.  I can’t wait to study next week’s “Lost Book of the Bible”.

May 11, 2010 Posted by | Sermons, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lost Books of the Bible (4)- Lamentations

In my studies I have discovered that there are several books of the Bible that I have never mentioned while preaching in the 6 years since becoming a pastor. Last year I covered 3 of them and this month we will review 3 more. Today we began with Lamentations. What a gloomy book!

I call Lamentations, “Jeremiah’s poem of tears”. He tells, in gory detail, of God’s judgment in Jerusalem because of their persistent and wicked sins. Actually, it was a fairly easy invitation for communion because we all sin and that’s why Jesus volunteered to die on the cross.

Like with all of God’s word, there is always hope for a happy ending if we are willing to turn to Jesus and ask for help. We don’t need to continue in sin and experience the pain of God’s judgment if we are willing to accept the forgiveness and power of His Holy Spirit.

Several young people celebrated the Lord’s Supper with us for the first time this week. Many adults confessed their need for Jesus again and received renewed power to live in love. God is good.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | Sermons, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Overflow- Postlude

My delegate and I returned from a denominational conference in Florida on Saturday night and tried to share our experience with everyone during worship. For my part I continued working from God’s use of David in earlier history and James in more recent history of the church.

My conclusions were that God wants us to submit to our leadership by trusting His Spirit’s work through them. I think that was probably hard for our people to hear. I have been critical of our leadership but have confessed that as sin. There are times to criticize leadership but not the way I was doing it.

Another conclusion I think was hard to hear was my conviction that we are ready to, and must, make ministry to those outside our church a higher priority. There is a time for introspection and membership care but I have worked with our leaders to do that for 6 years and now, as James said, “it seems good to us and the Holy Spirit…that we should not make it hard for the outsiders who are turning towards God”.  God loves sinners much more than we are and I confessed my unloving attitude too.

I’m already feeling less excited as my soul returns to the daily grind but my convictions remain. In the months ahead I will be talking with our leaders to see how God can guide our worship, small groups and work teams into more inviting ministries for our neighbors without abandoning God’s family. Change takes time and it is ultimately God’s work in the heart and mind but I think we all know it is necessary. Love is patient.  God is love.

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Sermons, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Annual Conference- Prelude

Our Bishop called hundreds of our churches spanning multiple conferences on the east coast to a combined conference in Florida this year. Of course, I am excited about the idea of going to a hotel in a much warmer state but I also believe there is spiritual power in his leadership.

During worship this week I reviewed the way God used David to rebuild faithfulness and unity in Israel when he inherited the throne from Saul. I also reviewed the way God used Peter to guard and grow faithful unity in Jerusalem when there was sharp disagreement regarding the place of Old Testament law in the life of Gentile believers.  Both occasions seemed to require significant sacrifice of time and money but for good reason.

Given the sad state of the church in our country at the present time I think it could very well be God’s will to use our leaders to rebuild and grow faithful  unity in our church. We do have worldliness which needs to be corrected. We do have cultural confusion which needs guidance from God.  I am excited about our leader’s call to meet in Florida and I can’t wait to come back and share with my brothers and sisters in Christ what the Spirit is saying to our church.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

The Christian Journey (13): Secret Societies

This is a fairly strange doctrine to me because I know so little about secret societies. I have never been invited to join one and no one in my family has ever been a member. I have a few friends who belong to the Lion’s club or even Freemasonry but we have not talked about it. Nevertheless, our church leaders have found it important enough to address and have done so for hundreds of years.

Our doctrine states (in part):

“The Christian’s supreme loyalty is to Jesus Christ who is Lord. In every association Christians must keep themselves free to follow Christ and obey the will of God. Therefore, as members of the Free Methodist Church we abstain from membership in secret societies.”

The logical question is whether individual  secret societies actually challenge a Christian’s loyalty to Jesus.  I used the Masons as an example.  While they would certainly deny any competition with Christianity, their doctrine requires members to take this oath:

“I…do hereby and hereon most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that I will always hail, ever conceal and never reveal any of the arts, parts or points of the secret arts and mysteries of ancient Freemasonry which I have received, am about to receive, or may hereafter be instructed in… (always on penalty of mayhem and violent death; quoted from “The Deadly Deception: Freemasonry Exposed…By One of its Top Leaders”, by Jim Shaw and Tom McKenney, p.138)”.

There are many more examples of ungodly requirements in Freemasonry but this promise makes it clear that they expect their members to be secretly loyal even when the loyalty conflicts with their loyalty to Jesus.

God warned His children about such things many times in history. Freemasonry is an example of why God says, “14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14), and that is why we have a doctrine against secret societies in our church.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment

The Christian Journey (12): False Worship

What do witches have to do with Easter? That’s the question I tried to answer as my voice failed almost completely.

By combining God’s word given through Moses and also given through John, in his 1st letter rather than his gospel, I tried to describe our worthy object of worship. We are not to love the “world” which worships created things like nature or spirits. Rather, we should love Jesus who created the world and died to free us from the curse of sin.

It was nice to see the excitement that Easter created again this year. It feels good to be with others who understand and desire true worship.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | Sermons | Leave a comment