Celebrating Small Victories

 
When I was in the Army, we were trained for all kinds of eventualities. Some were good, some not so good. One of the not-so-good ones was in case of capture. The goal was to train soldiers how to keep up their morale in difficult conditions so that they would be ready and able to escape if the conditions were right.

One of the biggest lessons I still own is, that during your resistance while captured, celebrate little victories. In these kinds of situations, any victory is worth celebrating. So, if you could lie to your captors and get away with it, or whether you could sneak in food or weapons, or just communicate with fellow prisoners, each one was a little victory. And you were to celebrate it.


Read more...

Preparing for Resurrection Day

This year, Resurrection Day falls on Sunday, April 1st. This year will be the first time in my lifetime that Easter and April Fools’ Day will coincide. (The last time the two observances converged was in 1945.) I hate the fact that they will be together. April Fools is my least favorite “holiday” we have, and I despise practical jokes. (I know, that’s my problem.) So, I’m bracing for the onslaught of April Fools jokes made at Christ’s expense.
Concerning fools, Proverbs 12:15 states “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” Proverbs 14:1 announces, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” As we stand believing, that Jesus rose from the dead and that believing we have life in His name, we stand against the majority of the population of the world. We will be labeled “foolish,” and trouble-makers. But, according to God’s Word, we are not the foolish ones.

Read more...

Please Commit to Pray

 
 
 
 
 
 
In the early days of Christ’s church, His followers faced seemingly insurmountable odds. The whole world—and the god of this age—was against them. And yet, against all odds, the church thrived, prospered, and even “turned the world upside down.” How did that happen you ask? Because they prayed.

Throughout the book of Acts, we find the early church giving themselves to constant prayer in the face of difficulties. They had a decision to make, so they prayed (Acts 1). They did not know what next to do, so they prayed (Acts 2). They had a great harvest of converts, so they devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2). The authorities told the church to be quiet, so they prayed (Acts 4). Do you sense a pattern?


Read more...

Leaving Out Hours of Preaching

As I learned to preach – and I guess, to be honest, I’m still learning – one of my mentors told me, “Good preachers know what to put into their sermons. Great preachers know what to leave out.” In agreement to this pithy little proverb, I have always labored to streamline my sermons so that they are laser-focused on the main idea of the text. In order to do so, however, I end up leaving out mountains of thrilling, Christ-exalting, and disciple-edifying comments every. single. week.

This past week’s sermon, “Jesus Above All” from Colossians 1:15-23 was no exception. In fact, this one particular text is so rich with Christological implications, that from my vantage point, limiting the coverage to just one sermon can’t help but rob the text of its fullest tribute to our Lord Jesus. What a tremendous hymn! So, just to whet your appetite regarding this passage, I’ll give you some of the spade-work I did for this text, line by line.


Read more...

Refocus 2018

I will sing unto the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously…  (Exodus 15:1)

I am still overwhelmed by the events of last night. It was cold. The Panthers were playing the NFL Wild Card Playoff game on television. It was Sunday night. And yet, more people gathered in our Fellowship Hall than I had ever seen there before. Most of our folks showed up for the first of my annual encouragement/report/direction times that I call “Refocus.”

It was not just the size of the crowd, however, that overwhelmed me last night. I was overwhelmed at the goodness of God to First Baptist Concord. As I called our folks to celebrate what the Lord had done, the bigness of the moment moved me.


Read more...

Making Disciples

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

As a Christ-follower and a pastor, I want 2018 to be marked by my maturing and growing in Christ. I desire to lead our church to also mature and grow in grace as we walk with Him. I can’t really imagine any other reason for existing as a church or living as an individual.


Read more...

New Year’s Resolutions

“My New Years resolution is to not get tricked into a diet” — @parker_snider (12/26/17)

We are in that “dead week” in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Retailers are busy transitioning their displays from sweets and Christmas gifts to sweats and workout gear. Why? Because those of us that threw caution to the wind and ate all of the fudge in one sitting are now trying to figure out how to cut fifteen pounds by spring break. Enter the days of New Year’s resolutions.


Read more...

A Christmas Note

She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased! 

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end…. 


Read more...

Just the Right Time    

At this time of year I often am drawn to Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law….” I love that phrase “the fullness of time.” In this case, it means at “just the right time.” God had set the conditions for Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. He combined Jewish zealotry, Roman roads, and the Koine Greek to set the stage for Jesus’ acts and for the rapid spread of the Good News.

Read more...

A Pastor’s Plea

I’m a pastor. (“Gump, you’re a genius!”) No, I don’t mean that my job description says “Senior Pastor,” although it does. I mean that when God put me together—temperament, personality, life experiences, calling, and spiritual giftedness—He built a pastor. The thing about being put together as a Pastor is that I can never shut it off. Every situation in which I find myself the sheepdog in me is constantly herding the sheep. (Remind me to tell you about Kimber, my Australian Shepherd, and her constant herding instinct.)


Read more...