God Has Spoken

 

“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”     – the Serpent

Did God actually say? These four words preface the Serpent’s overture to Eve in the garden. Adam and Eve had received instructions from God on how to please Him and live in harmony in His creation. With these words the Serpent enticed the couple to disobey. With these words the Serpent persuaded humanity to reject His will and succumb to their own desires. With these words all of ordered creation was thrown into disarray and cursed by its Creator.

This question – Did God actually say? – is the most important question for humanity. Not just for humanity, but each one of us as individuals must grapple with this question. Churches – and even denominations – must decide the answer to this question. In fact, every other decision, mission statement, or life-plan runs its course based on one’s answer to this question. Read more…



When Herod has had enough…

We often celebrate Christmas in a kind of a sterile way. The shepherds are all clean and smell of freshly laundered linen. The angels are never frightening. Mary and Joseph know all of their lines. And, the Baby, “no crying he makes.” And, because we’ve cleaned it all up so well, we often fail to remember that Herod’s response to these “glad tidings of great joy” was to commit state-sponsored mass murder. And Rachel weeps for her sons. Read more…


Church and Inclement Weather

This blog serves me as a way to continue to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.” So, most of my posts are attempts to persuade you, dear reader, to follow Christ more closely. Sometimes I share things that I see lacking in our lives. Sometimes I share things that God is teaching me, places where I notice short-comings in my own walk with the Lord. And, sometimes, I use this blog to communicate with our church family. Read more…


Intentional Discipleship

Love God. Love Others. Make Disciples.

Thanksgiving arrived earlier than I’m used to this year. It gives us this squirrelly week that we have now; it’s after Thanksgiving but it’s still November. So, instead of turning my thoughts toward Christmas (which I’m wont to do the week after Thanksgiving), I will bring my last thoughts on discipleship for this calendar year. Read more…



Too Familiar   

 

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13-14

I grew up in a Christian home. I don’t mean that I grew up in a home where people thought they were Christians but lived like everybody else. I mean that my parents loved the Lord, and because they did, they poured Scripture into my brother and me. They ensured that our lives were spent in the fellowship of our church. They guided our lives according to biblical teaching and attempted to honor Jesus through it all.

Because of this godly legacy, I possess a rich warehouse of Bible knowledge and understanding. I trusted Christ as a young boy and have walked – however haltingly at times – with Him since I was six years old. It’s easy to consider my relationship with Christ as “successful.”

One of my greatest temptations, then, is to just coast through the rest of my walk with Jesus. In Philippians 3, Paul demonstrates his desire – strong drive – to continue his pursuit of Jesus. As I read this, I’m convicted that often I don’t have that same kind of drive to chase Christ.

Here’s why: I sometimes become lazy in my assurance of salvation. (Granted, God gives me assurance of this as I walk with Him. It is a real gift from God.) Because I know all of the doctrines concerning salvation and His keeping me, I am tempted to not “work out my salvation with fear and trembling” much anymore.

As I’ve hear the above passage preached before, I hear those preachers say that the “what lies behind” stuff is either worldliness or sin, so we must press past those things. But, if you read the whole thing in context, Paul’s “what lies behind” stuff is the things he counts as righteousness or gain. All of his religious past is forgotten so that he can press into faith in Christ. This faith, by the way, is today’s faith in Christ, not yesterday’s.

We are called to an active faith, day by day. So, instead of resting in the all too familiar place of just hanging out and waiting for the end, we ought to be pressing toward the goal…

At least I know I need to press on…because Jesus is worthy!
 
In Him,
 
 
 
 
 
Pastor Jim


Forgiveness…and the Repetition of Sin

 

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:7-11

 

I try not to exaggerate much when I communicate. I grew up in an era when many preachers were given to hyperbole and it just rubbed me the wrong way. Because of this, I take great care with my words, almost to the point of hesitation. With these thoughts in mind, I’m going to make an extreme statement: the greatest blessing of the Christian life is forgiveness of sin through the work of Christ on the cross. Read more…



So Afraid…

 

“He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’”
                                                                                                    Mark 4:40

I have spent the past couple of days learning as much as I can about hurricanes, floods, and power outages in the Carolinas. I’ve been listening to the weather channel’s coverage of Hurricane Florence regularly as I work. As a new resident of North Carolina, and one that is depended upon to make wise decisions concerning congregational gatherings, I felt it necessary to gain as much information as I can before the storm hits. One of my favorite leadership quotes: “There is safety in a multitude of counselors” (Proverbs 11:14). Read more…



Rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4).

As Paul wraps up his God-breathed letter to the church at Philippi, he gives them a list of three reminders as they continue walking with the Lord. He tells them, first, to live in peace with one another. It seems two ladies had gotten cross-ways with one another, and it was causing issues in the church. Paul addresses these two beloved women and begged them to agree in the Lord.

The third reminder was for the Philippians to set their minds on things above. “…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” So, Paul said, we ought to discipline our minds to contemplate only godliness. Read more…



Dead or Alive?

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God…” 

This passage of Scripture from Revelation 3 strikes fear deep in my heart. The Lord has given us His word for several reasons: so we can know Him, so we can know His wonderful gift of grace, so we can be instructed in His ways, and so we can be awakened from our slumber and warned of judgment to come. In this passage, God clearly warns us of being complete in Him.  Read more…



What I Am Reading…

Something awesome just happened in the practical execution of my ministry day! I was contemplating my need to publish a blog post for this week. As I was trying to develop a coherent thought for the post, I received a phone call. The caller, who was present last night during our Adult Discipleship time, asked me for the name of the book I referenced in my time of teaching. Then I thought, if she wanted to know the name of the book, perhaps others would like to know what I am currently reading, too. Then, bang! I figured, what a great topic for a blog post. The rest, as they say, is history. Read more…