Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jesus had bad habits?

The title draws you in and then you get it. Actually the subtitle helps a bit in understanding what perspective from which Sweet is coming. You delve in and find that Jesus habits were not bad, but culturally unacceptable. But He has these habits in order to make a larger point. Jesus does not do anything randomly. I am a believer in Jesus who feels that all He did had purpose and meaning behind it. Sweet does try to be hip in the way he tackles his topic. I think he hits the target some of the time and misses the others. There is a familiarity that Sweet brings to the scriptures and to his relationship with Jesus that might be uncomfortable to some. I am not "all over it" but I do understand what he is trying to do. As I said, he hits and misses some, but it is a thought-provoking book that many will enjoy. I know I did.


Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The struggle.

Ephesians 6:12–13 NASB 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

I have been thinking a great deal lately about how things are in our society. As I observe the behavior of people, these verses above become more and more relevant to me. I hate to bring up Westboro Baptist Church again, but they are just the best example I can think of of Christians who are trying to fight a spiritual problem by physical means. They, like us, see the evil in our world and for some reason have decided to ignore this verse. Not only have they ignored this verse but many others in God's Word.

I see Westboro Baptist as people who are seeking to do something about that evil that they have observed, and yet, are misguided in how to go about it. In one respect, that is not horrible. Certainly if someone can do something about evil they must do something. In another respect, the manner in which one fights evil must be taken into account. One must dig into the word of God, and see exactly what God would have him to do. If God is truly seeking to make people like His Son Jesus, then He must be allowed to do that. This means one must listen to God, read His word, communicate with Him on a regular basis and be willing to be molded into the likeness of Christ.

This is just my observation but I do feel that many Christians seek to fight spiritual problems with physical weapons. Usually the weapons of choice have been the written word and the use of picketing and protesting. The struggle we face in America today is a spiritual struggle. It is a spiritual struggle against forces of darkness. May we remember that!

Friday, July 3, 2015

God, help us.

As I sit here reflecting on this past week, I shudder. I shudder because as a Christian, I have given my life to reflect the love of Jesus. There are days when this is a huge challenge. There are other days where it is a joy. I also shudder because I fear there are some Christians who will be hostile to the very people they wish to see turn their lives over to Jesus. God's love MUST be shown.

Charleston, SC
First, how would Jesus treat Dylann Roof? He took a gun and sat in a Bible Study and then shot and killed nine people. I, just me, I think Jesus would look at Dylann and offer him forgiveness. He would allow Dylann an opportunity to ask for it and Jesus would then give it to him. What Dylann did is a sin. He killed people. For no reason other than they were the "wrong color," he killed them. Jesus would give him the opportunity to get things right. Does this mean there are no consequences to his action? Certainly not. There are ALWAYS consequences to our actions. We serve a just God, but also one who forgives.

How would Jesus treat the homosexual? He would love him. He would offer forgiveness. Why? First, because He cares about every individual. Second, because sin is sin. According to the Bible, homosexual behavior is a sin. No, I do not want to debate this issue. You will not change my mind, nor will I change yours. I did not write this to start a fire. Both Christians and non Christians must realize that we are not always going to agree on everything.

The "Supreme Court"
No, I am not one of those unfeeling, non-caring Christians who has never had a friend who is homosexual. Nor am I one who has never known or spoken with a homosexual. In fact, the ones I have known and know, know themselves better than a lot of heterosexuals. I am one who seeks to love people, follow God's word and point people to Him.

I am also not one of those who uses God's word against others. The way I see it, if the person does not adhere or care about the Word of God, they are not going to be won over by it. They need to see God's love in action. They want to see the Love we say we have shared with them. THAT is what makes a difference.

Now some would say I am "judging" people by saying this. Others would say I am a hater. Disagreement is not hate. I sometimes disagree with my wife on issues, but that does not mean I hate her. My goodness, to take disagreement and elevate it to hate is a huge leap for me, but evidently not for others. The ability to respectfully disagree with another human being, and not hate them, is what I call, "living on higher ground." God wants us living on "higher ground."

"Preacher, what about the Confederate flag?" Hmmmm. That is best saved for a post of its own. I do need to point out that getting rid of anything that reminds us of the civil war is not going to change the fact that it happened. I think it is best to have reminders of the pain lest we repeat the same mistakes later.

The big question for every Christian, and it should be asked every day, is "How do I reflect the love of Jesus today?" What we do with Jesus makes a difference in our lives, in our community and in our world. If one has truly given their lives to God, then they have said to Him, "Rule over me. Guide me." In doing this, we put ourselves in subjection to Him. THAT is where we need to live. May God help us to be who He wants us to be. May we listen to Him.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pain. Hurt. Life

As I sit here on a Saturday writing this, two fathers have been buried in the past few days. One, a retired business owner, the other, a father of one of our members. Both will be sorely missed. Both families will have a very difficult Father's Day Sunday.
As a pastor I ache with the people I pastor. I also ache with families who are in pain who live in South Carolina. 


Today, and on Sunday, I will pray for:


Charleston, NC
Kirsty Wolleson and Betty Adams and their families.

Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54) – Bible study member and manager for the Charleston County Public Library system.
Susie Jackson (87) – a Bible study and church choir member.
Ethel Lee Lance (70) – the church sexton and a former employee at the Gaillard Auditorium.
Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49) – a Bible study teacher employed as a school administrator and admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University.
Clementa C. Pinckney (41) – the church pastor and a South Carolina state senator.
Tywanza Sanders (26) – a Bible study member and 2014 graduate of Allen University who was the nephew of Susie Jackson.
Daniel Simmons (74) – a reverend at the church who also served at Greater Zion A.M.E. Church in Awendaw.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45) – a reverend at the church who was also a speech therapist and track coach at Goose Creek High School.
Myra Thompson (59) – a Bible study teacher and retired high school counselor.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Youth Matter

I was so excited that Sunday as the youth helped us to worship the Lord. There is nothing better than having people help us to worship God. To be able to join together as a church family, and worship God, is probably one of the most exciting opportunities that we have as a Christian family. Many of the youth helped to paint the signs and have them ready for worship. They were preparing to worship. What do you do to help prepare your self to worship God on a given Sunday? When you gather to worship God there must be some forethought given to what you were going to do when you get there. You are not going to worship to be entertained, you are going to acknowledge God's presence and His power.

Many people approach worship as if it is a big show that they come and watch. Ah, but worship involves participants. And you and I are those participants. The one who is "on stage" is God. We are gathering to worship and praise God. Be thinking about what you can do to help others worship God. Be thinking before you walk through the doors into a time of worship.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Time

Time is a funny thing. Why? Well, it moves slowly and also quickly. Actually, it neither slows nor speeds up. Time passing slowly or quickly is all in our perception.
Worship at FBC.
As I approach August, I am reminded that it will have been 5 years since I was called to be the pastor of this great church. In that time, I have learned a great deal about the people who make up this wonderful church. I have also learned a great deal of the perception of our church. There still appears to be a, "oh, that is FIRST Baptist" type of attitude about us. I do not believe that that is deserved, nor has it been earned by us since I have been here. The time has come to reintroduce ourselves to our community. The younger generation does not know us. They do not know the love which dwells inside of our hearts during worship. They need to see that. They need to see us reaching out to them and to others in our community. What do they see when they look at us? Let us reeducate this town as to who we are. Let us let them know they matter to us and to God.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The refrigerator door



What is the one of the most special rooms in your home? I dare say it is the kitchen. In the ktichen of your home conversations take place, food is prepared and the refrigerator door is opened and shut more times than many can imagine if one has a teen in the home. What I want us to think about today is that refridgerator door. What is usually on that door? I think if I were to enter your home and look at the door of your fridge, I would probably find at least one picture of a person you love on that door. That is what we do. We put pictures of those who mean  the most to us on our refrigerator door. Why? So we can see them often and be reminded of how we love them. We are proud of them. We want to show them off to others.

Imagine with me that God has a huge refrigerator door in Heaven.  Guess what? He has your picture on His door. He loves you. Imagine someone passing by that door in Heaven. Imagine God grabbing them and saying, "See that child? That is my child. I'm so proud of them." Yes, your picture is on His door. You matter to Him. He loves you. Will you let Him love you? Will you allow Him to lead your life? 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pay Phone and Music

Once upon a time there were phones in areas around cities and stores available for use by the public for a fee. If you needed to call someone when you were out and about you stopped at a pay phone and inserted some change and were able to make a call. When the cell phone was invented, it still made calls, but you could carry it with you. The first ones were called, "bag phones." They were rather large and those who could afford them carried them in their cars. As technology advanced, the phone shrank to a size which could be carried in a pocket. As technology continued to advance the cell phone became a smartphone which allowed you to search the internet while out and about. The common factor of the phone is the fact that you can have a voice connection with another human. The original use of the phone is still relevant today. The funny thing is, I do not hear millions crying out in pain and sorrow for the loss of the pay phone. Where are the loyalists? Where are those who loved having to carry enough change with them to make a call when they were out and about? You would be hard pressed to find those who miss the pay phone. Why? Because the phone still exists, just in a different form. One may still call a loved one when out and about.

In thinking about our church, I find it puzzling that some of us still hold on to the way we have done things for over 50 years without being open to the God inspired songwriters of today. Some of the new music touches hearts and reaches people. It does not sound like the old music, but it still serves the purpose of praising God and touching people's hearts. Should we ignore something that God is using? New is not bad. Not all new is best, but not all new is bad. Not all old was great either. Some of the old was horrible and we skip those hymns when singing to God in church. The point is, music evolves. It changes. You have old country and new country. Believe it or not, the songs that reached you may not reach people today. God tells us to sing a new song. Should we be resistant to something that God, Himself, told us to do? Are we scared, fearful of new songs?

Regardless of what you have been told or believe, hymns will not disappear from FBC. They will continue to be sung and used by our congregation. They may have a different tune, be paired with a singable new song or chorus that does not repeat itself 50 or 7 times. If we are going to reach this generation we must learn to speak their language. We may not like it, but how willing are we to reach people for Christ? They matter to God. They must matter to us. If we insist on maintaining the "way things have always been" at FBC, then we will continue to decrease in number. Have you not noticed that we have been unable to replace with new members those who have passed away? Have you stopped to wonder why? We have lost families due to our unwillingness to bend in the area of music. How long can we exist if we continue on this road? We have a long time family which I am not sure about. They are hanging on, hoping we change a bit in our music. If we do not, I fear they, too, will leave. We have had people visit and tell us that they did not like the music. Sure, those who grew up with hymns liked what we do, but those who are longing for music that reaches them skip out and go elsewhere. We must be able to compromise in this area. It is vital to the continued existence of our church. 

I do not know how many times I have to say this, but here I go again, "We are not going to be a rock and roll church. The music will not be bangy clangy. It will also NOT be loud. We will not have music that dishonors God. We may have our favorites, but so does the younger generation. We have music that speaks to us and so do they. How will we reach them? The bottom line is, "do we care about those outside our church and their eternal destiny or not?" If we do, then we must learn, as Paul said, to be all things to all people in order that we might by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22 NASB)

Is church all about the music? No. Is music important and do people have music preferences? Yes. Can we meet EVERY need people have? No. Should we try? To a degree, yes. I am not asking for a complete overhaul of our music program, just a few adjustments. Can we do this? I think we can. As of yet, we have not seen a truly trained music director try. I pray we will soon. Pray for your church.