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Friday, April 13, 2012

Running a Marathon or Walking 30 Yards?

Recently I was speaking with William Bloodworth, the camp director at Camp Anderson; William said something that has stuck with me. We were discussing that there are many good kids that come to camp and yet they have never been truly born-again. William said, “it takes 500 miles of steps to get a man lost, but then it is only a few steps for them to get saved.” Meaning, the greatest difficulty we have is to convince people that they are lost but if they finally get there (lost) it only takes a little to see them saved. Jesus said, only sick people need a physician. Until a person knows that he is sick, he does not seek medical help. Until we know our soul is sick we do not seek a Savior.

I want to share a recent testimony of one of our members, Laura Harms, that speaks to this point. Laura recently ran a marathon, which you can only imagine, is a tremendous feat but also a great strain on the body both physically and mentally. Laura is also a church member who recently came to saving faith in Christ. When a church member realizes they are lost and need to be saved, for many that is a difficult thing to admit that they need to do.

My closing illustration in my Easter message was comparing those who fly stand by vs. those who have a confirmed ticket. One is confident that they have a seat on the plane the other is nervous not knowing for sure they have a seat. When a person is uncertain of their salvation they are always nervous because they do not know for sure they have a seat and headed to Heaven. Laura shared with me a beautiful insight and testimony on this and I felt led to share it with you all, with her permission in hopes that it will help others. I love Laura and her husband Daniel, and trust that her words will be a blessing to you.

Happy Easter Pastor Mack,

I just felt compelled to communicate a few of my thoughts after this morning's sermon:

During lunch today I spoke to my family about the comparison of running a marathon and walking 30 yards to the front of the church.  After a grueling description of my marathon experience, I explained that taking the step into the aisle on February 5th and walking the 30 or so yards to the front was the harder of the journeys.  I think I believed that running a marathon would give me more self worth or an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, but as I told my family the reward I felt during the invitation this morning was without a doubt a 1000 times greater than the way I felt when I crossed the finish line during my marathon.

I've come to realize how much joy I continue to feel after being saved.  It's like you said during the sermon, that feeling just doesn't stop.  God spoke to me for many months about turning my life over to him.  I heard it loud and clear, but continued to make excuse after excuse.  I can't describe the feeling I have now knowing that I have a seat on the plane instead of flying stand by.  I know that only a few short months ago, I was the one flying stand by.

I am so grateful to you and April.  You are truly a great blessing to my life and I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

Laura Harms

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Do We Run?

At our church we recently started a new ministry called The Kingdom Runners. The following is a devotion brought by one of our members, David Strickland, before one of our recent runs. It personifies the Mission of the Kingdom Runners Ministry:

When I was asked to do a devotion for our running team I asked myself, “Why do we run?”
Exercise, Fitness/Health, Fun/Competition, Balanced Life/Stress Relief. Some of us are like chickens, we run to get to the other side of the road.
The first Marathon was run to announce a victory. Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, ran the 26 miles, 385 yards from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly and exclaimed “We have won” before collapsing and dying.
At the start of the Olympics a flame is lit to announce the opening of the ceremonies. In modern times a torch is carried throughout the world to bring the nations together.
Why do we run and whose torch do we carry?
John 1:14 For us the light of the world came when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
John 1:4-5 In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Like John the Baptist we are sent to bear witness to the light.
1 Thessalonians 5:5. We are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
Knowing that we are all sons of light, God has tasked us to be the light of men and shine like the sun.
John 8:12. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
How many people see the light of Jesus in you? Do you walk in Jesus’ light? Do you carry His torch?
Galatians 5:25. Since we live in the Spirit, let us also walk with the Spirit.
Jesus told us to shine our light.
Matthew 5:14-16. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
God wants us to carry the torch of the Lord. He wants us to deliver others from the darkness. Like Pheidippides he wants us to go that extra mile.
Ephesians 5:8-10. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
What pleases the Lord?
Philippians 2:14-16. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that you may boast on the day of Christ that you did not run or labor for nothing.
God asks us to be untiring in our efforts to share the Word of Life and he will restore us when we are in need.
Isaiah 40:31. But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
An opportunity has been given to us to do His will and minister to others. As Kingdom Runners we can touch more people than we may think. We are being noticed. People have been impressed with our church running team. We have opportunities to share our light.
Many of you may be like me and are uncomfortable with sharing the gift of eternity our Father in heaven gave us.
Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Again many of you may feel like me and be too timid or unsure of the words to say in an investment opportunity.
I pray and reflect on the following verses.
Philippians 1:20. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.
Psalm 143:10. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God, may your good spirit lead me on level ground.
As in running, sharing the gospel takes preparation. One cannot just show up and run a marathon, training and planning are required. We must prepare to share the gospel.
Some preparation steps.
1. Pray First
2. Study God’s word
3. Be committed
4. Devote yourself
5. Walk in the Light
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last. We need to do it to get the crown that will last forever. We need not run like a man running aimlessly. We need to beat our bodies in shape and make them slaves so that after we have preached the gospel to others we will not be disqualified for the prize.
Pastor Mack told us last Sunday to live in the moment with our eye on the prize.
Philippians 3:14. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.
James 1:12. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
As you prepare to run a race, you must continue to train and be committed. You must also continue to train and be committed to be a successful disciple.
1 Peter 5:8. Be self-controlled and alert.
1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray Continually.
Have Faith. God will be with you.
Hebrews 11:1. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
We need to be faithful to run his race so that we can get the prize.
Revelation 2:10b. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Hebrews 12:1. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Whose torch do you carry?
For what prize do you run?
Devote yourself in all you do to Jesus Christ.
As a footnote, when I was preparing and practicing for the devotion the Lord directed me to following verse.
Luke 17:10. When you have done everything you were told to do, say “We are ordinary servants, we have only done our duty.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

In My Tribe

I have just finished reading a recent article in Sports Illustrated by Terry McDonell about Sports in America entitled, “In My Tribe.” The article captures how sports help define who we are as a society. It is a recollection of many favorite sports memories from some of the senior editors of Sports Illustrated. There is no doubt, for the sports fan you can merely mention a name, a place, a date, an announcement and you have a defining moment in sports and perhaps even in your own outlook as a person; ie: Jordon, Magic Johnson and HIV, The Dream Team, Michael Phelps in Beijing, Thrilla in Manila, No Mas, George Bush at Yankee Stadium throwing the opening pitch out a few days after 9-11, Cal Ripken 2,130 games, McGwire and Sosa, baseball and steroids, Superbowl champion Saints after Katrina, Cal and the Stanford band, The Wide World of Sports spanning the globe… the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. All of these things conjure up images in the mind of sports fans and give context to our lives.

Some of the lessons in sports that were quoted: “I don’t care who you are, you hear those boos.”- Mickey Mantle, “Sports makes winners and conversely sports makes losers” - Unknown. “There is no feeling in life like the one you get after giving everything you have, doing all you can do, and still coming up short.” -Thomas Lake. In 1980 the underdog Florida State beat highly favored Nebraska. Nebraska fans applauded Florida State and Coach Bobby Bowden remarked, “The classiest thing I have ever experienced.” “Sometimes those moments that you spend hoping and believing and waiting for something good to happen are the best moments of your life.” -Joe Posnanski. “It is a part of my life, without those memories, part of me would be dead.” -Michael Bamberger. “The recollection and power of another era was a reminder that our sports, as a part of and a companion to history, are a way to give context to our lives and to our collective past, present and future.” -Kostya Kennedy. Writer, Gary Smith, talks about a picture from the 1957 Cotton Bowl of the TCU locker room; “The older you get, the more you realize that this is what sports are most about: the moments before… when a person takes a flashlight to his soul and inspects himself for will and courage and spirit… Who am I? And, is that going to be enough?” TCU 28-Syracuse 27.

As I read the article, I was both inspired and convicted. Sports is a major context for our lives and I would not be the first nor last preacher to point that out. The Apostle Paul used sports as a context on a few occasions. He admonished Timothy in 2 Timothy 2 to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. He then tells him there is going to be some difficult assignments and Paul then gives three illustrations to give context to how difficult it will be; a soldier, a farmer and an athlete. An athlete must train hard, prepare himself for the struggle to be a champion, he has to play within the rules to be rewarded. Something that seems to be forgotten in many places today in sports.

I am inspired to think about turning on that search light and remembering how that on a game day your preparation, practice and skills all met up with the single most important ingredient, the desire to win. Sports provides the perfect context of that most familiar feeling that all athletes share who know what it means to have spent themselves totally on a field, a court, or a track somewhere. Sports also provides the perfect context to know the thrill of victory; that achieved goal, that long awaited win, but also that bitter defeat that brings agony to the spent and drained body, mind and yes, even your soul.

I am convicted in the thought that my God is worth more to me than any sport or any sports achievement. Yet it is so easy to recall and converse about Who was the greatest athlete you ever saw? Or what was the greatest sports moment? Who had the greatest comeback? What is the greatest rivalry? Which team had the most heart? Yet when that is dropped into a spiritual context we as a people, God’s people grow eerily silent. So what was your greatest spiritual moment? When was the last time if ever, you finish serving the Lord in some fashion and you were totally spent physically, emotionally and mentally because you were all in and sold out? When did you leave it all in the church after a worship service? When was the last time you were totally engaged in a spiritual matter? When, if ever, have you been so involved and fanatic that you actually cheered others on as a good team- mate or shall I say, good church member? When was the last time you gave enough to really feel spent? Are we spiritually really in the race, taking the field, or on the court? Is our adrenaline pumping and are we hopping up and down and chest bumping in anticipation of our part in this great assignment of winning the world to Christ? How do we feel when there is a loss or a low day in the church? What are we consumed with talking about? Is it Christ our King or whoever is our team? What is your dream spiritually?

Those sports quotes that I aforementioned, do they give context to spiritual matters in my life, in yours? Have we recognized what Christ has really called us to do and turned on his searchlight and wondered, do I have enough in me to do it? With Christ all things are possible. He is our strength. But don’t be fooled there is going to be some sweating and heavy lifting involved! What is that you are hoping for, believing in and waiting on, that looking back one day will be one of the greatest things you will have experienced spiritually? Waiting on the Lord is where He renews our strength. Again, you are going to need strength to win the prize He is calling you to win. If you feel like a loser, please understand that in spiritual matters, it is the last that shall be first and the first that shall be last. That is not a pass on playing hard, doing your best and giving your all. Rather it is about where you put Jesus in the line up. Please pardon the sports context. It means that when you get out of the way, put Him first, He plays through you.

Then, lest I forget to say, most all sports fans can think of those hero’s of the big game who transcended reasonable courage and hit the game winning home run in the World Series on a broken leg, pitched the final game on a broken ankle. The one who went back into the finals match with a separated shoulder, or who played the best game of his life after his father had just died. But isn’t that just it? They had an audience of millions and usually a salary of millions and it was the big game. But think of the Christians that do it week in and week out, who are hurt, physically, emotionally and there is no noticeable audience to applaud them, they just do what they do for the audience of One, Jesus. And perhaps that great cloud of heavenly witnesses. These are the hero’s of the faith. They just keep putting their helmets of salvation on, buttoning their chin straps, putting their mouth pieces in and with hearts for Jesus keep pressing toward the prize of the high calling of God.

Oh, and of course, I don’t care who you are there is going to be times you will be booed and you will hear it. It may even sound like “crucify Him”! So make up your mind right now if that is going to make you head to the dugout and sack the bats, or, if you are going to do what you should do and play through it. Play on Player, Play on!

The Church is my Tribe!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pastor Appreciation Month

I am not sure who first came up with the idea of Pastor Appreciation, or started it, though I am suspicious that it was the greeting card industry; or perhaps a very overlooked, overworked, under-appreciated pastor somewhere.

I thought I would give a few of my thoughts on the subject and perhaps I can speak for many pastors, to many church members everywhere. The office of pastor is one that, in our modern day, has in many places lost its place of respect. Often times, sadly, it is because of the conduct of a few men who have fallen morally, abused the office of Pastor or who truly were wolves in sheep’s clothing. More often than not, however, it is the result of a fallen, sinful world that men who hold this office are suddenly looked down upon and not up to. It is more of a sign of the times than anything else. Ingratitude is one of the marks of how men and women will be before the Lord’s return, or as the Scripture says “in the last days.” (See II Timothy 3:2) Sadly, this is not typical just in the world outside of church, but typical of the attitude and actions inside the church.

What most all pastors know, and most church members do not know, is this: Every pastor knows what it is to be hated by someone or often times, many people in the church. They know the sting of idle gossip, the pain or words spoken in anger, to have their families maligned, their motives questioned, and their ministry criticized. Here is the sad reality of the life of most pastors according to recent surveys:

- 1,500 Pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
- 80% of Pastors and 85% of their wives feel discouraged in their roles.
- 70% of Pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
- Over 50% of Pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
- Over 50% of Pastors wives feel that their husbands entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
-71% of Pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on weekly basis and even daily.
-1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister.

The church has neglected to understand the greatest tool of a healthy church is having a pastor with a healthy soul.

Discouragement and disillusionment are epidemic among everyone I know in ministry at some time in their lives. There is cynicism and critical spirits that have been developed in many great pastors’ families, because of the ingratitude they are faced with in their ministry. All pastors know that there is a honeymoon period in their church. But should not a proper marriage between pastor and congregation grow in love, appreciation and gratitude through the years, and not diminish?

Being a pastor is the only job that I know that most people have a skewed view of the pastor’s job assignment. There can be an enormous amount of tension between a pastor and church when there exists a differing view of what it means to be a pastor. Why would we have a differing view – do we not read from the same Bible? The problems occur when different factors shape our thinking of our view of the pastor’s role. The same factors that influence our world-view on everything else, shape our view of what a pastor is and does. We are shaped by personal experience, culture, traditions, upbringing, personal preferences, personal expectations, and countless other factors.

Now realizing that we are shaped in our mental view of a pastor by all these factors, should we not make it our objective to discover the biblical portrait of a pastor? When we find that biblical portrait of a pastor, should we not also begin to allow the Scriptures to shape our thinking and adjust our opinions, lest Satan gain a stronghold in our life where we have disappointment with our pastor? The thing that causes the most carnage in church work is this issue of church members being disappointed in their expectations of their pastor.

The Pastor is not a Professional

E.M. Bounds said, “The preacher is not a professional man; his ministry is not a profession; it is a divine institution, a divine devotion.”

The aims of a pastor’s ministry are eternal and spiritual; they are not shared by any of the professions. The world sets the agenda for the professional man; God sets the agenda for the spiritual man. Any profession can become spiritual, but God’s calling cannot become professional. The pastor that does not understand this is set for destruction.

The Pastor is called by God not hired by man
II Corinthians 10:13

I am serving in my church because God called me here and placed me here. I am not here to fill the gap until someone else better can be found. I am here because my God has assigned me this place, to exercise my office as pastor. I am to lead and feed as a shepherd, the sheep are to follow.

The Pastor has a mission not a job
Matthew 28:19

Our mission is to win the world to Christ. Our vision is to be beyond the four walls of the church and to the ends of the earth. We are to make disciples and to equip the saints. That is an enormous job considering that in most churches today, at least 65% of the membership could not be found or tracked with the latest GPS and satellite equipment on any given Sunday. When they periodically return, they ask “why isn’t our church growing, pastor”?

The average church member today is more like a cat than a sheep. And have you ever tried to herd cats? In our modern day, throw away, disposable world, relationships are treated the same way. People leave the church over any myriad of excuses that usually end up in someway as the Pastor’s fault.

Because of modern technology like cell phones and social media, today’s pastor is more on call than ever before; expected to be accessible at all hours, and available to be everywhere at once, to be all things to all people at all time. They are to recognize everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries, make the birth of every baby born, attend every out-patient surgery, give half of all his weekends to performing weddings and the other half to helping those who don’t want to be married any more. Then, in his spare time give himself to prayer and the Word of God to bring to his people on Sunday. No wonder there are so many warmed-over sermons in so many churches.

No pastor walking worthy of his office and most high calling is doing what he is doing for recognition, praise and honor, or for money. A God-called pastor who surrendered to the will of God in his life, and was called by the church to be its pastor, knows full well what Jesus had to say. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14 Jesus was despised and rejected among men and who are we (as pastors) to think it will be any different in our ministry, if we are truly doing His will? I think the real problem lies in this fact, our churches are so worldly in actions and attitudes that more often than any of us would like to think, it is not the world outside the church pastors are struggling with, but the world inside the church that is causing the pain.

The truth of the matter is simply this, if you have a God-called pastor in the pulpit of your church, as a church member, you need to thank God for him daily in prayer, and thank him personally as often as you can. His family needs your love and support. Give honor to whom honor is due. Don’t worry about doing too much for him and his family, because it should be done as unto the Lord. However, perhaps a church should be concerned when there is not a spirit to do anything or what is worse, how little can we do for the pastor and it be acceptable.

Thousands of church members each week in America get up from the spiritual table that was set before them. They dined on the prepared Word of God from their pastor. They wipe their mouths, walk out of church with a full soul and never thanked the pastor for the meal.

Appreciate God’s Man this month and thank the Lord for him.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NOW is the Time...invest, invite, involve

As we enter into our 35th Annual Mission’s Conference, I want to direct your attention to something that the entire population of the earth has in common… TIME. Planet Earth is home to over 6 billion people, 16,000 different people groups, speaking thousands of different languages, and yet with one thing in common, we are all bound by time. The earth makes its revolution in 24 hours, sunrise to sunset, each passing day is one day closer to the end of our time on this earth. Each person who is born is born with their days numbered. The Psalmist prayed, “teach us to number our days.”

Our theme this year centers around what we find in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome chapter 13:11-12, “And that, knowing the TIME, that now it is high TIME to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

Paul, in Romans 13:8, says, “owe no man anything, but to love one another.” He would say in this same letter to the church at Rome (1:14) “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” Is this a contradiction in scripture? Hardly, it is rather the thought that we are to make sure we do not owe anyone the Gospel we possess. In other words, we are not to save the Gospel or hoard it but to give it to the world as a debt we owe them. The “Greeks” would represent the educated, advanced, modern and refined peoples of the world and the Barbarians those who are perhaps not even civilized. Paul said owe no man (people group) anything.

Since God’s first covenant with Abraham, He has been declaring His heart for the nations. From the Old Testament prophets to the New Testament Apostles, God has been showing His global nature and commanding His people to be a “blessing to the nations.”

Into this reality we are called to declare God’s goodness, His glory, and His salvation. Psalm 96:1:3 “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name: shew forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.”

This is reality - “only one life to live and it soon past, only what is done for Christ will last.” With that understood, what are you going to let God do with you? Truly, there is an unlimited amount of things that you can commit your life to and in God’s design He leaves those choices up to you. He has however given us His command – The Great Commission.

The Great Commission is recorded in all four of the Gospel records and in the book of Acts. In all of these verses we learn that all power is given to us for this great assignment, and that He goes with us wherever we go. We are to make disciples of all people, baptizing them and we are to teach them to obey everything He has told us in His Word. We are given a blue print of how to do it, beginning in our Jerusalem and ending at the uttermost parts of the world.

There are hundreds of passages that show God’s global focus. He desires some from every nation, kindred and tribe to be a part of His bride, the Church. Some people, perhaps you, will discover that God desires to send you to reach our Jerusalem or maybe He desires for you to go beyond our Jerusalem, to the uttermost. The meter is running; what are you going to do? NOW IS THE TIME!

Time, the one single thing that we have in common, is coming to a close. How much time do we have left? That is uncertain but this I know, it is less today than yesterday. We have scores of ways to tell time, yet no one seems to know how late it is. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to know the time and NOW IS THE TIME! The night is far spent and the day is at hand! Let’s pray and believe for great things in this year’s conference.

Pastor Roy

Friday, May 20, 2011

I Hope He Is Right, But I Don't Think He Is...

I write this on the eve of the wide-spread prediction of the return of our Lord on May 21st, 2011 propagated by Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio. I am thankful in part that at least people are talking about the Lord returning and there are reports of many who are seeking answers and contemplating their fate, if it should be true. On the other hand, I am saddened that many will stereotype all believers together and a mockery will be made of our faith.

As I thought of all the attention that has been given to this, I felt compelled as a minister and student of the Word of God to make a few statements of Biblical clarity for anyone seeking truth:
First, the Bible tells us, Jesus is coming back! He said He would. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3

The Bible tells us… How He is coming. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." I Thessalonians 4:16-17 This event is called the rapture of the believers or rapture of the church, though the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible. “Rapture” has a dual meaning. It is a reference of Jesus returning to the earth’s atmosphere and calling His people up to Himself, meaning to “seize us up.” “Rapture” is also the emotion of both Jesus and His true followers at that moment, “pure joy and intense pleasure.”

The Bible tells us… He is not coming for everyone, but those who know and love Him. Jesus in Matthew 24:40-41 describes in part to His disciples what that event will be like. “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” The idea is that one is a true follower and the other is not. Therefore, one is taken the other is left behind. There will not be time for a non-believer to change his mind when the Lord returns. Matthew 24:27 “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

The Bible tells us… What kind of day He will return on. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37-39 In other words, it will be an ordinary day, a day that people are doing the things they always do, eating, drinking and going through their normal routines. People will be going to weddings, and other social engagements, life will just be going on. Just like in the day when it started to rain and God’s judgment came as Noah warned it would.

As Christians, we are to watch and be ready for His return.
The Bible tells us… No man can know for sure or set a date when He is coming. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” Matthew 24:42 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:13. Jesus also said when asked moments before His ascension back to Heaven about when He would set up His Kingdom (return to earth) He answers them, Acts 1:7 “…It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” I think that the Bible makes it very clear it is not for us know the date of His return, Jesus Himself does not know it, only God the Father knows it. I think it rather arrogant of anyone to set a date when they believe Jesus is coming again and proclaim it for certain.

The Bible tells us… what the world will be like when the time of His return is near. His disciples asked Him in Matthew 24:3, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" That is the question of the ages, “what is the sign of His coming and when will the end of the world come? Jesus does not set a date because He does not know the date, He only gives them the signs of what the world will be like just before He does come. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers (different and various locations) places.” Certainly all of that sounds like our news headlines on any given day. What do you think? Are you ready whenever Jesus comes is the greatest question? I don’t think it will be May 21, 2011 but it is well with me, and all that are mine, if He is.

This I know; The Bible is true, God’s promises are certain and all things are under His control. This is His universe and all that it contains is His. It was created for His good pleasure and it consists by His Word. Peter tell us about those who will in the last days mock the promise of Jesus coming again. Listen to his response; II Peter 4:3-10a “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (God created everything by His Word) Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (Days of Noah) But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night;”

Are you ready if it were to be today? Do you know Him as Saviour? If you have doubts and questions click on our website click the tab “Directions to Heaven” on the homepage. Then your heart does not have to be troubled at the thought of His coming. I would love to hear about your decision, should you accept Jesus as your Saviour and Lord.

I am watching and praying! How about you?

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20

Monday, May 2, 2011

It is Personal

Today the headlines read “Osama Bin Laden is Dead.” The news of his death set off celebrations in the streets of Washington D.C., Times Square and Ground Zero. I am thankful for the work of our military men and women, the Navy Seals, our intelligence agencies and everyone else who had a part in accomplishing this great task. Hopefully the world will be a little safer today as a result of this man’s death. The irony is that within 24 hours of the time Bin Laden was killed, 66 years ago in 1945 the headlines read, “Adolf Hitler is Dead.” This news spawned the same kind of celebratory reaction that Bin Laden’s death did here in America. Hitler was responsible directly and indirectly for millions of lives lost in his short reign as leader of the Nazi party in Germany.

I have a simple point to make today. It is hard for me to say it but it needs to be said. My God loved Osama Bin Laden. He loved him so much that He sent His Son to die for him and pay for his sins in His own body. Mr. Bin Laden, as well as Adolf Hitler is in hell today and not because they were terrorists, murderers, a Muslim or a Nazi. They are in hell today because they did not receive what would have been a gift of salvation for them. “The wages of sin is death (eternal death separated from God in hell) but the gift of God is salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:10. The thing that many people miss in this simple truth is that many morally good people are heading to the same hell that Osama Bin Laden and Hitler are suffering in today because they also have not received the gift of salvation. It is personal; if it is not a personal salvation we have received then we have not truly received His (Jesus) salvation. Salvation is not a birthright, it is a second birthright. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Ye must be born again.” John 3:3,7

We have to come to the place where we understand that in our flesh is no good thing and in our hearts we are capable of conceiving unbelievable wicked things. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he (a man) thinketh in his heart so is he.” Jesus tells us in His Sermon On the Mount, that when we are angry without cause, or desire to murder someone in our hearts or when we consider adultery in our hearts we have done the acts. With that being the case; how many murderers, thieves, rapists, terrorists, and racists have you passed by today? They by appearance may be what we would call good and moral people but we all have a sin problem.

This week thousands of people died around the world; several hundred here in the Southeast where we live, as a result of the tornadoes that tore through our area. The question was not whether or not they were sinners, they/we all are. The question is not how bad was their sin? All sin is an offence to a Holy God. The question is not, was God getting even with the people who died this week, however they died? God got even with all of us on the cross, when He put our sin on Jesus and allowed Him to suffer and die in our place. The question to consider personally and individually is, have you repented of your sins and received His gift of salvation by putting saving faith and trust in Him? If not, you stand in danger of the same judgment of hell that Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler are suffering in today. Ask Jesus to save you (personally) before it is eternally too late. Think On These Things.

Pastor Roy