In Community

Well I hate to see this evening end, God only knows when I’ll see you again. Send a fax or send me a letter or give me a call that will even be better.”  From I’m Alright by Jo Dee Messina.

On the way in to the office this morning, I was flipping around on the radio and heard this country song from way back in the 1990s. I don’t usually listen to country, don’t know many songs, and of the songs I do know I don’t know the lyrics too well. But, this tune is pretty catchy, and so I began to listen more intently. I laughed at the “send me a fax” line; it was so last century. I’m surprised it didn’t say anything about pagers…or telegraphs.


Read more...

Not to startle you, but…

A lie has crept into our thinking and it affects churches everywhere. We hear it, believe it, repeat it, strategize for it, and fool ourselves into making it challenge number one in our strategy to expand God’s kingdom. Our business meetings seem to corroborate it, the news reports it, and preachers preach according to it. What lie is this? “We are our own worst enemy.”

We really believe that if we could just form the right mission statement, adopt the right programs, have the right music, hire the right pastor, or collect the right kind of people that there would not be anything to attack us as Christ’s church. The Bible, however, PROMISES opposition. There just is not any way around it.


Read more...

It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.

S.M. Lockridge is one of my favorite go-to preachers when I just want to get lost in the person of Jesus the Christ. He pastored for over forty years, mostly at Calvary Baptist Church in Sand Diego. The conclusion of his sermon “That’s my King” (“do you know Him?”) has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times as it lives on via the internet, and if you haven’t seen it, you ought to stop reading this blog and go watch that video. 

Each year during Holy Week as I mark off the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, my heart and mind returns to Lockridge’s sermon “It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.” As he reflected on the evils leading to Jesus’ death (“It’s Friday. The world is winning, people are sinning, evil is grinning. It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.”) Lockridge reminded his hearers that even though things look bad, Resurrection Day was just a few days from now. 


Read more...

Preparing for “Holy Week”

This week, along with my other sermons, I have turned my attention to structuring our celebration of “Holy Week”—the week bookended by Palm Sunday and Resurrection Day. I have been struggling with the order of worship for our Maundy Thursday service—attempting  to honor His death without acting as if He’s not presently alive—and seeking a passage for our Resurrection Day sunrise service and main worship hour. These spiritual struggles/studies/meditations have impacted me in some very profound ways. Here’s what I’ve been thinking… 

First, the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of every Christian. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that the bedrock of our faith was the veracity of Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-19). He wrote to the Romans that one had to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead in order to be saved (Rom. 10:9-10). He preached so much about Jesus and His resurrection that the philosophers in Athens mistook the resurrection for a foreign god (Acts 17:18).  We must believe that the Father raised His Son from the dead—physically from the dead


Read more...

A Sweet-smelling Aroma

I must preface this post by stating the obvious: I’m not from around here. I married into Cabarrus county—I married pretty well, I might add—and so I know that I bring an “outsider’s” perspective to everything I encounter. But YOU, dear reader, need to realize this perspective, because my assessment of things might not be “the accepted take” on Concord. I will now proceed… 

There are several things—unique and wonderful—that I think of when I think of my new home in Concord. While I’ve only lived here for five and a half months, I’ve maintained these thoughts over years of visiting the area. These markers distinguish Concord from any number of other places in North Carolina, the United States, and even the world.


Read more...

On Marriage

I know, I know. Lots has been written on marriage in the past couple of years. But today, I put the finishing touches on a wedding ceremony for this coming weekend, and my mind has lingered on the function of Christian marriage. So, let me share some thoughts with you.

(A little story, first: I have a friend in Clarksdale, MS who was almost completely deaf. In his struggle to hear, often he would have difficulty with sermons at church. The joke was, often, when he’d lean over to his wife in church and say, “What did he say?” his wife’s answer was always, “Husbands, love your wives.” He joked often with me about finding a new topic for my sermons. So, Gerald, this one’s for you…)


Read more...

A Prince and a Great Man

And the king said to his servants, Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? (2 Samuel 3:38, ESV) 

You may not know this story. After David was anointed King, and as he ascended in power and authority, his house and army fought against Saul’s house and army, even after Saul had died. Abner was one of Saul’s great men. He had killed Joab’s (David’s senior lieutenant) brother, Asahel. After Saul’s death, Abner was accused by one of Saul’s sons of a sin against Saul. This enraged Abner, and so he made an oath to assist David in his ascendancy of the throne. 


Read more...

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...