Progressive Baptist Church

After a week in Florida, yesterday we headed toward home, driving as far as Myrtle Beach, where we’ll spend a few days.  While driving, I use the GPS, but also occasionally check in with Google Maps.  I’m glad I do. Yesterday, Google told us to get off of Interstate 4 just before we reached Orlando.  It re-routed us to some toll roads because of a traffic accident.  We later heard on the radio that traffic was backed up over an hour and 15 minutes on I-4. Both the GPS and Google can get you there.  But Google Maps adapts, and the GPS does not. For 15 minutes, the GPS was so set in its ways that it kept telling is to go back to I-4!

We went to a Baptist church on Sunday in Lakeland.  They had 3 worship services. Two of them were called “progressive” worship services.  Progressive meant they had a band and sang the Chris Tomlin version of Amazing Grace instead of the standard John Newton version.  Progressive did not mean they changed the Gospel, but did change the packaging and presentation.  It did not mean they condone what the Bible teaches as sin.  It took guts to call their worship progressive because the term has been hijacked to mean (in my opinion) those things the Bible warns us about, just as the rainbow had been hijacked to tout anti-Biblical teaching.

Where the Bible says the church will err, is in belief. It warns that people will waver and believe what they want to believe. And boy howdy, is that ever happening.  The church must indeed adapt. But we have been warned not to change the content.  The Gospel does not change.  Sin does not change.   

It’s long past time for the church to adapt and get progressive.  Not progressive to be like the world, but a type of progressiveness that reaches the world – and that will look different than church looked in the 1950’s, but retain the same message of sin, repentance, and forgiveness.  

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God’s Mysterious Ways

  Diane and I are tenting at Fort DeSoto this week in St. Petersburg, FL–one of the nicest beach campgrounds in Florida.  We’ve left the tent and campground for the night, with a prediction of 1-2 inches of overnight rain, for the confines of a beautiful home near Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida.   We’re staying at the home of a friend we met on a Samaritan’s Purse trip to Haiti last summer.  

When we spent the week together in Haiti, neither she nor we had any idea that 10 months later we would be spending the night at her home seeking refuge from a storm.  But God knew.  Nothing surprises Him and nothing catches Him off guard.  There are no accidents in His plans.  He is a Master planner, perfect in timing and execution.  He is always working.  Sometimes we just don’t realize it. 

“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11-12 (MSG)

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You can’t go by feelings

This morning when we walked into the hallway in the basement of the church it felt warm.  It was 53 degrees outside and it was probably 64 inside.  Later this afternoon it will be 74 degrees outside and the hallway will feel cool, even though the hall temperature will still be about 64 degrees.  The hall feels warmer or colder, not because the hall temperature changes, but by what temperature we’ve been used to on the outside before we walk into the building.

Our American society is placing greater and greater emphasis on feelings. And as our society drifts further and further from God’s Word, it may feel like God’s Word is out of touch with our modern day lives.  And the truth is that our modern day lives are out of touch with God’s Word.

As our society continues to descend deeper into moral decay, those who hold fast to God’s Word are going to be seen even more as as haters and eventually even as threats to the American society.  The Bible tells us that this will happen.  But thank God that in the end we are not defined by how society feels about us or even by how society tries to make us feel.  We are to hold fast to God and His ways, taking comfort in how He feels about us who are His children.

(And for those who endorse the moral decay who say they are fighting for God’s marginalized children, we must realize not everyone is His child.  You are only His child through repentance and forgiveness available through Jesus, and then you follow His Word instead of your feelings and/or instead of a misguided society).

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I forgot it was election day

When the alarm went off this morning it took me a second to remember why my alarm went off and Diane’s did not.  Usually I am awakened by her alarm because of her college classes.  I quickly remembered and got up.  I was thinking about different things, but I was not thinking about the election today.  I only remembered the election when I started up the road and saw a truck traveling with a sign on the back.  I also remembered that I did not have to slow down in the school zone because there is no school today. 

People who are running for political office woke up this morning knowing today is the day they have been waiting for.  They did not have to be reminded.  The teachers and students did not have to be reminded there was no school.  Those things were on their mind as soon as they woke up.

How often do you wake up and immediately think to yourself “this is a day The Lord has made!”?  How long does it take you to remember to pray?  Even a short prayer?  What’s the first thing you are thinking about on an average morning?  Do you run right to Facebook or right to The Lord? I offer you this idea: make a vow to say at least a brief prayer and read at least a paragraph from the Bible before you go to any social media every morning.  Click on the Bible app before you click on the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram app.

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I don’t own the rights to this…

prince

I do not own the rights to this photo.

I watch and listen to lots of sermons and music on YouTube.  Often, people will write something like “I don’t own the rights to this music” or “no copyright infringement intended”.  What they don’t realize is that the only way their uploading of music is permitted is that the owners of the music have a deal with YouTube.  Occasionally, the artist does not have a deal with YouTube and if you upload one of their songs, it’s immediately removed (that’s why you could not find anything from Prince when you looked for it after he died).

As a pastor, I always think of my sermons as something I don’t own.  I have dozens of sermons on my blog.  At the top of every one I have written that they are fair game.  Use them just as they are or change them and make them your own.  What makes the difference to me?  They belong to God.  To Him be the glory.  He let me speak them, but if they are only my words they are not worth repeating anyhow.

The Bible is also something that we don’t own.  It is God’s Word as compiled by those of the earliest days of the church.  The first disciples were entrusted with the Word of God and this faith and they handed it down.  And the ones who received it then handed it down, each generation having to receive it.  Each generation understood God’s Word, understood God, and understood faith through the lens of the previous generations.  After 2,000 years, I worry about what America is doing to God’s Word and to the faith that has been entrusted to us.  And I do not worry about it on God’s behalf.  He will be OK whatever America does, and His Word will endure forever.  I worry about America.

(This was not written specifically for, but is a relevant message for the United Methodist Church as the elected delegates from around the world gather to meet in Portland, Oregon over the next week and a half.  Please pray for the UMC General Conference).

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You’ve tried your way…

I saw a political meme this morning that reminded me of a coaching hire years ago in Tyler County.  The Board of Education was hiring a high school coach and they were down to two candidates.  One person had high school head coaching experience and the other did not.  I remember a BOE member telling my dad that they hired the one without the experience because the one with the experience had already proven that he could not coach high school ball.  They did not yet know if the other candidate could coach or not.  One had been tried and hadn’t been successful, so they were willing to try someone else.

Sometimes when people are willing to give Jesus a try, it is when they are exhausted from always trying things their own way and failing repeatedly.  If you’ve tried to handle life on your own and it’s wearing you out, or if you are a borderline Christian still struggling with giving things up to Him, I pray that you would realize it is more than you can handle.  I pray that you will realize that you’ve tried your way long enough.  You were never meant to go it alone.  The enemy is too strong for you.  But God, who is rich in mercy, is willing to help you fight and carry you when you are too weak to fight.  You’ve tried your way.  Try His way.  Come to Jesus.

I have two videos for you to watch.  The first one is a 5 minute testimony and the second is a song.  Please watch them.

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A sneak peek into eternity – for when you think you can’t go on

IMG_6439Occasionally when I’m in the pastor’s office here at the church, a bird will fly up to the window and hold on.  One just flew up looking in the window at me.  They peer in and often bob back and forth.  I assume they see all the plants and it looks like an inviting area for birds, perhaps a place to build a nest.  If indeed that’s what they’re checking for, it is not what they think.  I could see how they might be mistaken, though from all the plants in the window.  The plants are deceiving.  There is not enough room to fly in here and there is nothing to eat.  You and I know the birds were not meant to be indoors, even if they do not know it.  They were made for something else.  You know where I’m going with this, right?  And I know this blog is for someone today.

You and I were also made for something else.  We live in this world for a few years, some living long lives, some short lives.  Some lives might be a little too long and some are way too short.  And for as long as humans have been alive, they have wondered if this world is all there is.  Somewhere along the way, the God who created us gave us a glimpse of Himself and has given us the news that we were created for so much more.  Some people scoff at that.  Some people cling to that.

Most of you who read my blog know you were made for more.  Sometimes you and I just forget.  It’s easy to get discouraged in this life.  It’s easy to become so focused on the needs of this day or the burdens we carry that we forget that this life is just a season in what will be an eternity.  Be encouraged that the One who created you for an eternity with Him will get you through this day and the next.  When you feel like you can’t do it, get into His Word which allows us to put our face up against the glass of eternity.  Peer in knowing that He will provide you the strength to fulfill your purpose in this life until your work here is complete, and by the grace of Jesus, He welcomes you home.  You and I do not get to decide when our work is complete.  Only He does.  Until that day, cling to Him and His promises.

What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete – as complete as God’s knowledge of me.

~1 Corinthians 13:12

I know this hard rock style music won’t appeal to everyone, but a great message….

 

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