>Isn’t it amazing how much is put out about relationships?!  So much so, it is easy to forget that we were created by our Heavenly Father to be “relational”.  While this term can be overused by many today (especially in the movements known as “Post Modernism” and the “Emergent Church”, the truth is – we were created from the beginning to be in relationship –

First, to be in relationship (or fellowship) with God the Father.  Looking back to Adam and Eve.  They had a personal relationship with God.  This could be because they didn’t know sin.  Yet after the Fall, that relationship was broken.  Although several are said to have “walked with the Lord” after that time, no-one had the direct and personal relationship with God.  Instead, walking with God represents being “in relation” or fellowship, but because of sin – mankind lost that personal and real relationship.

My firm belief is that God has created an earthly way of building relationships – and that is through His church.  We are called to first restore our relationship with God, by accepting His gift of Grace and Eternal Life through repentance and gladly submitting ourselves to His Lordship.  And then second, we are to engage with other born-again believers, to edify and to lift up each other in our relationship.

At the risk of hyper-spiritualizing things, I believe that God’s Word, when it describes the “Bride of Christ”, with the Bride being the church, is describing the restored perfect relationship with God of those who are truly His and part of the body.  In the meantime, we have a means or path to grow, to mature, and to become more Christ-like in our daily walk – and a big part of that tool is being a plugged-in and active member of the local church.  It is through the church that God receives real glory.  It is through our interaction with fellow believers that we are “sharpened” as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).

But again, back to the whole topic of relationships – Further proof that we are made for relationship is the fact that all people have, build, and foster relationships.  For some, it is a healthy engagement in church and with fellow believers.  For others their relationship revolves around things and possessions.  Some people, they build relationships around emotions and feelings, and yet others have relationships that revolve around themselves.  All of these are relationships.

So what this all boils down too – what relationships do you lean on?  First should be a restored relationship and fellowship with God, through the only path God has provided, Jesus Christ – (John 14:6).  And after we take that step of faith and repentance, we then should seek healthy relationships with other born-again believers who are also walking in faith, and who will build us, edifying through love and shared experiences.

Of course, as with any relationship – we must be vigilant to put aside our differences out of Love, to forgive (longsuffering), and to seek restoration with each other as we live in the forgiveness of The Father.

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>Blessed Day!

>What a truly blessed day today!  Good crowd at church this morning, a message that needs to be preached far and wide (The Sufficiency of Christ! -Colossians 2), 3 young people were baptized – publicly proclaiming their salvation and relationship with Christ Jesus, all started the day off great.  But we also had a long-term visitor come forward to join the church, and there may be a couple of others close to making a decision!  What a great morning!

But it didn’t stop there – I picked up my good friend and fellow pastor, Douglass Allen (Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church in Little Rock) and headed down AR Highway 165 to the sprawling metropolis of De Witt, Arkansas for a wonderful new experience for both of us – the installation of our friend Charles Hawkins as pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church.  What an incredible afternoon of great singing and praising the Lord, being encouraged by the preaching of the Dr. Harold Shirlee, pastor of Charles’ home church Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and being welcomed with open arms by his new congregation.  We left his new church encouraged, uplifed, and edified!  I thank the Lord for the honor and privilege of being there for this important day for Charles and his new church!

And I made it back just in time to speak to my own congregation (ok, I was about 15 minutes late…).  But truly enjoyed finishing off the evening, sharing just a portion of the wonderful experiences of the day!

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>Are we ashamed?

>The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”. Why did Paul find it necessary to say that he was “not ashamed of the gospel”?

Could the answer be that it was no what we would think of as “Politically Correct” to proclaim the gospel?  We know that First-Century Christians were often heavily persecuted for their faith.  Just prior to this verse, Paul makes mention of the Roman church’s reputation – their “faith” is known or preached “throughout the world”.  This would seem to imply that the Roman Christians had a reputation.  Yet again we must ask – then what is the point of Paul’s reference to not being ashamed of the gospel?

After all, we know by just following what the Bible records of his missionary journeys, his afflictions in his travels, his beatings and imprisonments, and so many other hardships and oppressions endured for the gospel’s sake – so why restate this fact here?

I submit that, much as we can see in the world today – there are people who don’t mind putting on a show, building up a massive visible church, or want to be identified as a part of/member of a church – yet how many of these “professing” Christians make it a regular part of their lives to not just “admit” they are Christians – but actually live it before the world?  How many of us make decisions that reflect a Christ-centered, God-honoring, commitment to the gospel?

Commitment to the gospel?  Yes, commitment.  Are we willing to speak of for what is right in the eyes of God, even if it means sacrifice? Are we willing to forgo certain forms of entertainment that we know openly disparages God’s name?   Are we willing to endure rejection or ridicule if it means that we can tell someone about Jesus Christ?

Paul endured lynch mobs, beatings, imprisonment, trials, shipwrecks, rejection, and much more – with a willing and glad heart (singing praises to God, even when beaten and locked up), all for the opportunity to share the reality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul didn’t “hush up” when certain people came around.  He didn’t skim over the “dirty parts” – the blood, the eternal condemnation that results from sin, or the hard subjects that we so want to skirt around (read some of Paul’s admonitions regarding divorce and sexual immorality for a real eye-opener!).

“We” like to complain, particularly around people like ourselves, about how much evil seems to be winning in this nation.  Yet this didn’t happen over night.  The unfortunately truth is – we have not done our duty to God.  Christians have far too long been willing to just sit by and say “well, they haven’t come for me yet…”  And in a relatively short time, our nation has gone from a God-fearing country that was an example to the world, to a Godless (though not lower-case “god” – because our nation is now every bit as idolatrous as Israel at her darkest hour – maybe more on that in a later post???) nation that now willingly rejects God.

We have failed for generations now to follow the Words of God to train up our children, instead the majority of even professing Christians have pawned off the responsibility off for raising up and training up their children to public schools.  And many have also shirked the responsibility for their children’s spiritual well being to the church.  While the church has a significant job, what does God have to say about the whole picture of raising and teaching our children?

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

and for even more detail:

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 – “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Sounds like God is pretty serious about parental responsibility to teach their children God’s Word – and for Christians, that should begin and focus first on the Gospel.  I don’t see anywhere in these verses, or anywhere else for that matter, that says to allow strangers to do all the educating of your children, then ship them off to church/Sunday School/Youth Group for all of their spiritual training.  It says to teach them when you get up, when you go “by the way” (wherever you go – while you are going), and when you lie down (at night) – sounds like we should use every moment we are with our children to teach them of God’s redemptive plan.  But also remember – our actions will always speak louder than our words.  If you put yourselves in your children’s place – what would you see from your life example?  Would you see an abiding faith in Christ?  Would you see an adult that places God first in his/her priority list?  Or would you see a materialistic, self-centered, worldly person that gives – at best – lip service to God?

But I digress – and this has grown into a monster… 

What I am trying to get across – if there is a hope for the future of our children, our churches, and our nation – then we will take parenting far more seriously.  And we will never again allow ourselves to appear to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

God Bless… and until next time…

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>New Blog – hope I do a better job of updating!

>I hope and pray that I do a better job of keeping the blog updated with this easier-to-use blog page.  I also pray that the Lord will use this page as a tool to shed light on darkness, share the love of Christ, and expound on God’s Word all in an effort to do my best to glorify God, who loved us so very much – that He was willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price we could not pay, to remove the barriers we could not move, and to restore us in a right relationship to Him.

My commitment to you, the reader, is to never post out of anger or malice, to always post with integrity and prayer, and most importantly, co be completely honest.

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