Friday, October 27, 2006

Identified with Jesus

I think that maybe the second night of revival was my favorite. It was kid’s night and we had a bunch of them. I’m not sure what the total was, but kudos to Mike, Denise and all of their workers. The kids had hotdogs, chicken nuggets and mac & cheese for dinner, a few simple magic tricks and then the children’s choirs did a grand job in the worship service.

I began the evening message by showing pictures of some of our favorite teams helmets: Nixa Eagles, Ozark Tigers, Kansas City Chiefs, St Louis Rams, a cheese head, and of course a batting helmet from the St Louis Cardinals. Each helmet carried the identification of the team that it represented.

I then showed some pictures of some other helmets: an Egyptian warrior’s helmet from around 900 BC, a Greek helmet from 800 BC, and Assyrian and Persian helmets. Each was distinctly different from the other. I also had pictures of the familiar helmets of the Roman army. The helmets always identified the army.

When Paul wrote that we are to take the helmet of salvation, he was telling us that we are to be identified with Jesus. In the same way that one could identify what side a soldier was on, one ought to be able to tell that we are with Jesus just by looking at us. Jesus told us that they would know us as His disciples by the way we love one another. The challenge for us is to live in such a way that people know that we are followers of Jesus. It isn’t enough that we say that we are His followers. We must show that we are His followers.

Did you take your helmet with you today? We must purposefully dress with our helmet each and every day. It does so much more that protect our thoughts and attitudes (you know, the stuff in your head), it identifies us as belonging to Jesus. Tonight, before you go to bed, check out your helmet. If it’s been awhile, scrape off the rust and put a bit of a shine on it. Tomorrow morning decide that for tomorrow, you’re going to be identified as belonging to Jesus and put it on. If you don’t have your helmet, then hit the comment button and ask how you can get one. I’d be happy to tell you all about it.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Brought back to life

It's late on Monday, October 23rd, as I begin to write this post. I imagine that it will be a couple of days before it actually gets posted. Beginning on Thursday we had our fall Revival at Hopedale Baptist Church in Ozark, MO. It was a great honor and privilege to be asked to preach at my home church. My church family is simply the best. As much as I enjoy going to other churches to preach or participate in an outreach activity, I always miss being at Hopedale.

At first glance, one might not think that Hopedale is the kind of church that is in need of "revival." We are seeing people trust in Jesus as Savior. We are having people join the church. We have teams of members that visit our guests. Our Sunday School is rapidly outgrowing the available space. Sunday morning worship services are growing and people are genuinely maturing in their faith. So one may ask--Why revival? Isn't revival for churches that are dead and need to be brought back to life?

Revival isn't for churches. Revival is for individuals. And it isn't the spiritually dead that are in need of revival. The spiritually dead need to be given eternal life through faith in Jesus. It is the spiritually dormant, the spiritually sleeping that need to be "revived." I guess you could say that it's a kind of "wake-up" call.

I'm sure that we could all use a wake up call from time to time. The thoughts that I shared with my Hopedale family began at--well began at the beginning. I wanted to remind ourselves of the One in whom we have placed our faith, Jesus. I wanted to go to the gospels and look at the things that He taught us. There are so many things that Jesus taught us about how to live so I think it's best to start with these two: Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." He also told us that we are to "make disciples of all nations, teaching them what I have commanded..."

At the end of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that whoever does these things and teaches them to others will be great in the kingdom. He'll be like the wise man that built is house on the rock. I guess that means that we need to know His commands, live His commands, and teach His commands. For most of us that means it's time to hit the books--or in this case, The Book. Time to take a refresher course on the things that Jesus taught. I would encourage each of you to spend some time reading (or re-reading) through the gospels this week. It is good for us to remind ourselves often of the teachings of Jesus.

Well, it is now early morning on the 24th and I've just finished reading this post. I'm going to let you have a chance to read it now. My hope is that when you've finished it, you'll go get your Bible and read through the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5,6 and 7.

Live well,

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Family Matters

I had a wonderful weekend! I hope that you did, too.

I was in Indianapolis at Castleton Christian Church on Saturday night for a Pastor's Appreciation Dinner. Sunday morning I got to share with the kids for a few moments and then with the adults. Castleton Christian Church has a great fellowship. If you're on the northeast side of Indy, give them a visit.

The real blessing of the weekend was that Castleton is my sister's church. My brother from Maryland made the trip and my brother from Chicago came with his family. It was a mini family reunion and we had fun visiting and watching the kids--6,5,4,2,2,2,1 1/2. Hannah, my soon to be 15 came along and had a blast with the kids and kept me company on the 16+ hours on the road.

It makes me sad to hear so many stories of siblings that don't get along with each other or parents and grown kids that are at odds. I am so blessed to have a family that has managed to stay close in spite of the many miles that separate us. Mom, Dad, six siblings, five spouses, and 17 grandkids. We don't get together very often, but it is always a great time when we do.

I want to encourage you to reconcile any differences you may have with your family members. There are too many missed blessings because of pride, unforgiveness and misunderstanding. To you, my family, I love you all. You are the best. I hope that you can all make it this summer to the get together.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Are we too legalistic?

One of the great benefits of working with other believers from various backgrounds and denominations, are the discussions that we have concerning the Word and the traditions of man. So often I wonder if conservative believers make Christianity so unattractive that nobody would want to be a part of it. While we as individuals must make decisions about our actions and how they affect our relationship with God, we really have no right to judge others for their actions. It is important that we realize that what we do may have an impact on others and we will be held accountable for that when we meet the One that has the right to Judge us. But we ourselves are not the righteous judges that we often set ourselves up as.

I often relate to people a story that fellow evangelist, Ron Mills has shared. A young man that had just become a believer asked him if this meant that he was going to have to give up drinking. Ron's response--It does now. The point is that if drinking is something that was going to be more important than his relationship with Jesus, he would have to give it up. I'm sure that there would eventually come a time when he would have decided that drinking may not be the example that he would want to set for others. Pastor Terry often says that the more responsiblity that you have in church, the more leadership that is given to you, the fewer choices you have. Often the decisions we make about our behavior has less to do with what we think may be right or wrong and more to do with how others will perceive our actions. We have a responsibilty to new believers and unbelievers to set an example of good living without being judgemental.

As a gospelmagician, I have encountered churches that have asked that I not use playing cards in my show. While I don't have any problem using cards as props, I understand that some people feel that the cards themselves hold an evil that can cause people to sin. I used to think that it was silly and shouldn't matter. Now I feel that the pastor is probably already out on a limb by having a "magician" in church and do my best to honor him and God as I present the Word.

I didn't grow up in a Southern Baptist home and don't have a problem with cards (we played card games almost every night), dancing, social drinking or in the privacy of your home, bingo, raffles and other things that raise the eyebrows of so many of my brothers. I do think that any of these can cause a problem and be sinful as we fail to keep them in moderation. I don't want you to get the idea that I'm being wishy-washy where sin is concerned--I'm not. But it is also important to me that you know that I am not your judge. Neither are you your judge, so don't base your behavior on what you think or feel is right. Look to the Bible to guide you. God once spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said, "You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from Me. Your worship is in vain and you teach the traditions of men."

Let us not hold others back by being so legalistic that honoring God appears to be hard. I want others to believe that honoring God is well worth doing whatever it takes to live for Him. No, it is not always easy. Yes, sometimes it is hard. But it is never dull or boring and the rewards along the way are the greatest treasures that life has to offer.


"How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye." Jesus, Sermon on the Mount

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Coming Events

Well it has been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. Most of it has just been with things around the house. October is shaping up to be another busy month. I haven't done much writing because of preparing for our fall revival at Hopedale Baptist Church. I also had a Sunday morning sermon for the last Sunday in September.

For those of you that are in the area, I wanted to give you a preview of what you can expect to hear at the revival. It is my hope and prayer that you will want to come and perhaps bring a friend. On Thurday evening, we will be looking at getting back to the basics of Christianity. I want us to remember that Jesus is the author of our faith and we need to study what He taught us in the gospels.

Friday night we'll look at how we identify ourselves with Jesus; how others identify us; and how Jesus identifies with us. I'm really looking forward to this message and have done a little extra research for the power point presentation to go with it. It will be a message that will challenge you in your daily life. I'm also looking forward to closing with an excerpt from Dr. Joseph Ransom's new book; The Healing City: a Cowboy Christmas Story.

I'm still working on Saturday evening's message. I've talked to our A-V man, Dan Kennedy about using the big screens to show a quick magic effect to illustate a point. It's more of a close up effect and would need to use the added visual to make it effective in the sanctuary.

In addition to the regular meeting times (7pm nightly) I'll be meeting with the senior adults Thurday evening, the children on Friday evening, and the youth on Saturday evening. Right now I'm considering publishing the message texts after the revival is over. I haven't decided about that just yet. If you have a thought on whether or not I should publish the texts, feel free to comment.

All in all, I'd have to say that I am looking forward to this revival more than any other that I've been asked to preach. I know that Pastor Terry carefully guards his pulpit (as he should) and it is a great honor to be able to speak at my own church. If you are reading as a member of Hopedale, pray for our church that this will be a life changing experience for us. There is so much work to be done and I know that it is God's desire that we be a part of it in a great way. If you are reading as a friend, coworker, or just stopped by while browsing blogs, I want to invite you to join us Oct. 19-22 at Hopedale Baptist Church in Ozark, MO. I have it on good authority that the Spirit of the Living God will be present. Don't miss it!


"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Jesus of Nazareth