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Reformation Sunday

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. While the 95 Theses were originally written in Latin and designed as a challenge to debate, they were soon translated into the common German tongue and the flames of the Reformation had begun.

Surely, Martin Luther never expected the results that came from his simple act, but God chose to use it and a great work of God was done throughout the continent as people were called back to a more Biblical view of Christianity.

Reformation Sunday is a great opportunity to teach important truths. Unfortunately, many in Fundamental circles fail to use this opportunity and for many this day goes right on by without so much as a thought about what God began in Germany in 1517.

Last year for Reformation Sunday, I preached a message that dealt with the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Christos (Christ Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Dei Gloria (Glory to God Alone). The message was very well received as we looked at these important truths - examining the historical context as well as the Biblical support.

This morning, I went a little different direction for Reformation Sunday. Rather than focusing on the specifics of the Reformation, I instead used the backdrop of the Reformation to urge us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3 or Jude 1:3 depending upon your preference and the preference of your computer Bible program).

As Luther stood up and contended for the faith and against the error of his day, we are called to do the same today. It is not enough to rejoice and admire those who have fought before, we must ourselves take a stand and be willing to fight for the faith.

I dealt with the charge to contend for the faith - that it was needful and an exhortation (and that similar charges repeatedly appear throughout Scripture). I wonder if sometimes the reason we need such strong words about contending for the faith is because it is to easy to "go along to get along" and we live in a Rodney King "Why Can't We All Just Get Along World" that values tolerance as THE Supreme Virtue (unless, of course, the toleration is being asked for Biblical Christianity).

I also dealt with the characteristics of our contention for the faith - primarily focusing on the word "epiagonizomai" and its roots - "agonizomai" and "agon". It is a great study some time to think about how God tells us to contend. (It is also a challenging thought to think through the Paul's use of this concept to describe the prayer life of Epaphras for his people - see Colossians 4:12).

Lastly, we considered the content of our contention - it is to be for "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." It is important that when we are contending, we are contending for the faith, not just that we have a contentious personality or that we are always fighting over our pet peaves or hobby horses. It is also important that we are willing to fight in the arena that is currently under attack. The sale of indulgences is an issue that doesn't really affect anyone that I personally know right now, but Luther contended against that error of his day and God used that to bring about much greater Biblical change. We need to be willing to contend for the faith in the areas that are under attack today - whether that is Boyd's Open Theism, a seeker-sensitive mentality that designs church services to please the lost rathrer than to please God, or an 1-2-3 pray after me mentality that teaches a false and cheap repentance-free Gospel.

Anyway, we enjoyed our Reformation Sunday. I pray that yours went well, as well.

Just my thoughts,


I am thankful for my team and parents

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Many of my readers are aware that I am coaching my son's Youth Soccer (U-10) team (I have even been trying to maintaining a blog about the team (

I recently came across this article on ESPNabout a parent who pulled a gun on his son's youth football coach because the son was not getting enough playing time.

I have always been a big sports fan. When I was in 6th grade, my older brother made a plaque for me for my birthday that included a walnut shell and a miniature sports ball and said "Sports Nut."

When I read things like this, however, where a man pulls a gun on a coach over the playing time of a 6-7 year old football player, I am thankful that God has allowed me to understand a better priority in regards to sports.

I am also thankful, that, as a coach, the players and parents of the Green Machine have been a good and supportive group of folks. The players have listened well and the parents have been very supportive - in fact, I have been asked to keep the team together and coach an indoor soccer team this winter.

Folks, if you have children in sports, please think strongly about what you are teaching your children as you watch or coach a team.

Just my thoughts,


Great Time at Hardingville Bible Conference

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a blessing we had at the Hardingville Bible Church Bible Conference on Wednesday. It was great to be able to get up to New Jersey and to see some old friends and have a little time of fellowship with the good folks up there at Hardingville. I only wish that our schedule would have worked out so that we could have spent more time with our friends and so that we could have heard the other men preach.

In previous years, Hardingville has had a number of great men preach in their Bible Conferences. Speakers in the past have included men like Pastor John Ashbrook (long-time Pastor of Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio), Dr. Bob Jones, III (former President of Bob Jones University), Dr. Dave Burgraff (former Dean of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. Sam Horn (Vice President at Northland Baptist Bible College), Dr. Stephen Hankins (Dean of the Bob Jones Seminary), and others.

This year, Hardingville did something a little bit different with their Bible Conference. Rather than bringing in one of the more well-known preachers, Hardingville brought back six men (and their families) who have served at Hardingville Bible Church in the Church Internship Program. In addition to each man preaching, the wives were to give a testimony about life in the ministry and the men were to give an update on their current ministries and relate some things from their training at Hardingville that has impacted their current ministry.

I think the concept was a great concept for a change of pace. The Church Internship Program is a vital part of the ministry at Hardingville and, through this program, God has worked through Hardingville in the preparation of a number of men for ministry. While my situation was unique (I originally came to HBC as an Assistant with Youth Emphasis with the plans of remaining in such a capacity for as long as God allowed me and eventually went through an abbreviated form of the Church Internship Program due to the experience that God had already given me in ministry), I believe that this program - or something like it - should become a part of many more Fundamental churches. Men need to be trained for ministry and a solid, Fundamental, local church is the best place for the practical "hands-on" aspects of that training. It is my desire that one day we would be able to incorporate a similar program here at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury for young men who have finished their academic schooling (probably having at least an M.A. before starting here) and are in need of further training for ministry.

As my part of the Bible Conference, I did a PowerPoint presentation to update the folks on what God is doing in our lives and ministry and I preached from Romans 12:11 on Serving the Lord - in keeping with the Conference theme.

Missy did a great job with her testimony. She is not really used to speaking before people and it makes her very nervous, but she did great. She was clear, articulate, funny, and practical - maybe we should change rolls :).

Anyway, it was good to see a lot of friends and to be able to preach God's Word as part of the conference.

Just my thoughts,


You are INVITED!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This coming Wednesday - October 11, 2005, I will be preaching on Wednesday night at a Bible Conference at Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey. The theme for the conference is "Serving the Lord" with a theme verse of Romans 12:11.

Hardingville Bible Church is the church where I had the privilege of serving as an Assistant from 1999-2004 - first with a youth emphasis, and then in an internship role. The Pastor, Pastor Mark Franklin, is one of the best expository preachers that I have ever heard - and I have been privileged to have heard a number of good preachers through my years.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Pastor Franklin and Hardingville Bible Church have had an internship program for a number of years in which Pastor Franklin and the folks at the church have helped to prepare young men for ministry. Rather than a short three-month program that many churches have, HBC's internship program usually lasts about 2 1/2 to 3 years before the gentleman moves on into his own ministry.

For this year's Bible Conference, Hardingville is bringing back six men who have been through the HBC Internship Program and who are now pastoring churches. Each of us gets one service, and I have the last service, which is Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.

Looking forward to seeing some of you there.

Just my thoughts,


Patience and Ministry

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I recently came across these words from Dr. John Dreisbach, a long-time missionary, in an open letter to GFA missionaries. Dr. Dreisbach is a senior statesman in the area of missions and has given his life in the cause of Christ.

In the following "open letter" he reminds the younger missionaries who he has the opportunity of encouraging about the need for patience and hard work in ministry. I have thought much about similar thoughts in recent days and thought I would pass on these thoughts. (Italics are in the original - this is borrowed from a booklet on family devotions for February 1995 from Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC)

How many of us have used or heard used the following familiar passages? The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few (Matthew 9:37). Behold, I say unto you, Life up your eyes, and look on the fields: for they are white already to harvest (John 4:35).

We are often led to believe that we will find people out on the mission fields of the world with open arms to receive us, eager to respond to the Gospel messages we have come to preach. Most of the time this will not be the case. As we lift up our eyes, we will see fallow, untilled fields full of rocks and choked with weeds.

Our first task - and often a lengthy one - will be to remove the rocks, pull up the weeds, and break up the fallow ground. I quote from an old book "addressed to missionaries only" in reference to new missionaries: "There they are with a scythe in their hand, when it ought to have been a plow. A basket for their fruits instead of a bag of seed." We should remember that it was seven years before Carey baptized his first convert in India: it was seven years before Judson won his first disciple in Burma: Morrison toiled seven years before the first Chinaman was brought to Christ: and Moffat declares that he waited seven years to see the first evident moving of the Holy Spirit upon the Bechuanas of Africa. Many other missionaries have toiled for many years without evident fruit at all, and yet they faithfully carried out their ministries. There needs to be that breaking up of your fallow ground (Jeremiah 4:3).

Then follow the words of the Psalmist, They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. The lord concludes his parable of the sower and the soil with the words, bring forth fruit with patience. James instructs us to be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient.

Patience does not mean inactivity, but rather it is the faithful planting and nurturing of the seed of the Word of God and allowing the lord of the harvest to, in His time, bring the increase. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).

As a young man in ministry (I still consider myself a young man - although, now that I am over 35 some may start to dispute that), I find that this area of patience is one that is often a struggle.

The eagerness that is in me can get discouraged that I can't just look at the lives of everyone at our church and see that not all of us are spiritual giants (myself included). The eagerness in me can get discouraged when I look out before me on Sunday morning and see many chairs that are not filled. Even though we are growing (numerically and hopefully, spiritually) as a church, the eagerness in me wants to see much more growth and can easity get discouraged when that growth is not at a level which I would desire. God, however, does not promise a time table on when fruit will be ready for harvest. Instead he instructs us to plant the seed and to water that seed with our tears.

So, if you happen to be struggling with not seeing the progress you have wanted to see, remember that God's time table is not ours and that God's requirement is faithfulness not numbers.

Just my thoughts,