We live in such a misinformed world, and I see it here on a daily basis, that I am morally bound to speak to it. Natural man (unregenerated/unsaved) is made a sinner through Adam's disobedience and has no desire to seek God or to do good. He is so corrupted that he can no more will himself to salvation than a leopard can change his own spots. It requires the power of a holy God to change his understanding, his heart and his will. And when that does become a spiritual reality, by grace through faith, he is still a sinner, although justified in the sight of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace is not grace unless it is devoid of any merit whatsoever; therefore, any of us who have truly come to saving faith in Christ have done so by the power of a merciful Father. John 1:11-13 "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." We are told to pray "...for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." To credit ourselves with such a miraculous transformation as the new birth is to dishonor the Almighty and everything his word teaches. All that we are and all that we have comes from above. So, let us praise God and not ourselves.
On Monday morning, October 24, 2016, I woke up about 5 a.m. with excruciating chest pain. My wife called 9-1-1 and I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Tests were run and I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. But there was another discovery of a ping-pong ball sized tumor in my throat. Surgery was performed to removed it (which revealed no cancer) and I have mended well. The side effect is that I have lost my voice and have not been able to preach since February 12.
Our elder candidate, J.D. Warren, has been doing all of the preaching while holding down a full time job and taking care of his family. He is doing a remarkable job and I am enjoying his insight into the Word of God as well as the time off. This has given me an opportunity to pray and reflect.
Sitting in the pew and listening, watching the LORD at work, Sunday worship has become even more special to me. And I have been wondering why so many churches call for special days: "friends day" and "family day" etc. They even count "Easter" as a special day. To me, each and every Lord's Day is special because God has allowed me to enter His house with my spiritual family, remember what Christ did for me in life and in death and hear Him speak through the preaching of His precious word.
Yes, I miss being able to preach to others. But hearing is also needful. May God teach us to listen and hear with our hearts every word and to realize what an enormous privilege it is to go up to the house of God on that special day.
I AM STRONG - I AM A SURVIVOR
How many times have you heard this: "I am strong. I am a survivor." I know those who utter this phrase are well-meaning. But did you know that it smacks of evolutionary philosophy? Darwin used the term "natural selection" which was turned into the familiar "survival of the fittest." In other words, Darwin's theory of evolution is characterized by the survival of the strongest.
Not only is the theory of evolution completely contrary to holy scriptures, so is the idea of the survival of the fittest. The Apostle Paul said: "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:That no flesh should glory in his presence." 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
The Bible is filled with examples of insignificant people becoming great champions. Noah was not an experienced craftsman when God called him to build an ark. Abram's wife Sarah was not able to bear children when God called him to be the father of a great nation. Gideon was an obscure farmer. Samson was ordinary. King David's great-grandmother, Ruth, was a Moabitis and from outside the nation of Israel. David was a shepherd. The apostles were unlearned fishermen, a hated tax-collector and men of no reputation. From beginning to end, God has not chosen the strong.
For a person to have the notion that he/she is responsible for survival of any sort due to some internal strength or good thoughts is a gigantic mistake and on the edge of blasphemy. It is taking credit for gifts that only the Almighty can bestow.
David said in Psalm 103: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."
O how much we should honor the LORD with praise for all that He does for us, giving Him alone due credit for our survival and whatever strength we have.
I thought the following article was apropos for this genre:
Approximately 1 out of every 4 Christians will encounter adult onset Calvinism (commonly known as AOC) during their life, either personally or in someone close to them. It can be a scary thing to encounter, especially if you’re not familiar with the symptoms. The person you once knew and loved is suddenly a completely different person. Don’t panic. It gets better.
To help you navigate the treacherous waters of AOC, I’ve list...ed the possible symptoms you may encounter.
◾A sudden urge to correct everything and everyone all the time about every possible thing.
◾A growing conviction that every worship song you’ve ever sung is heretical and should be excised from the church catalog, including the Nicene Creed, Doxology, and most of the Psalms.
◾A strange and inexplicable ability to listen to 300 John Piper sermons in a single day.
◾A burning passion to convert everyone, especially your extremely godly parents WHO TAUGHT YOU THE BIBLE, to Calvinism.
◾A growing level of arrogance that is directly inverse to the number of blog posts you write about humility.
◾Constant cravings for cigars and microbrews, even though they make you incredibly sick.
◾Deep suspicion of anything that might cause the slightest bit of emotion in church, especially those awful worship songs noted above.
◾Deep-seated cynicism toward anyone who doesn’t take a hard stance on an issue, including but not limited to: free will, Calvinism, sports, coffee, the Trinity, capitalism, child schooling, and dating.
◾Being so smug you begin to panic that you won’t be able to adequately manifest all the smugness.
◾An unshakeable conviction that Tim Keller is too theologically soft.
◾The ability to bring every conversation full circle to Romans 9.
◾Frustration that guys like Piper and Sproul don’t draw more lines in the sand.
◾Inevitably arriving at the conclusion that John Calvin was not that strong of a Calvinist. At least, not as strong as you are.
◾Growing a beard, but not in a hipster way! This beard is WAY DIFFERENT from hipster beards, because it tapers to a point somewhere between the nipples, just like Calvin’s beard did.
If you or someone you know begins experiencing these symptoms, go to a pastor IMMEDIATELY. It won’t make the slightest bit of difference, because you were predestined to be a Calvinist, but still, you should probably see a pastor.
But don’t worry...these symptoms will subside and you or your loved one will return to being a mostly normal person.
My 37 years at Bethesda
I had pastored a mission church that I planted in Omaha, Nebraska, for seven winters, when I got a phone call from a man representing a church in Saginaw, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth - and Fort Worth IS NOT PART OF dallas; the Fort Worth area has about a million people and is NOT part of little d.
The man asked me if I would preach in view of a call to this church in Saginaw, Texas (not part of dallas). I said "No, I am not interested." He persisted. By the time he had talked about fifteen minutes, I was thinking it would be a good chance for me to visit my parents, so I consented.
I hopped on a plane alone, made the trip, preached, and visited my parents. To my great surprise, without meeting my family, the church voted that very Sunday night to call me as their pastor. They telephoned me at my parents' home and gave me the news. I told them I was not very interested, but they insisted: "You are the only preacher out of a dozen others that has received 100% of the vote. We think you should at least consider it." I said, "I will think about it."
By the time I got back home, I was convinced that the Lord was in it and abruptly resigned my church, loaded up my two children and drove to Fort Worth. My wife stayed in Omaha to sell our house while I bought a house in Texas. I was preaching at Bethesda Baptist Church in Saginaw the very next Sunday.
About three weeks later, I was wishing I had stayed in Omaha. The people turned hostile. Tensions were so high that I got physically sick. By that summer they were leaving in groups. To this day, I do not know why. Maybe I preached too much truth.
Baptists have historically split over odd issues. This church had virtually fired the former pastor over comments made by his own wife about his wandering eye. I think she had asked the other ladies of the church to pray for him. By the time that reached the menfolk, there was a furor taking place. I came just in time to get the brunt of all that.
We quickly regained the membership and then surpassed it. The Lord blessed with a wonderful growth over the next six
years. Then, boom! The man I had trusted, taken in and ordained to the gospel ministry split the church and set out to proselytize every member we had.
I prayed for the Lord to move me to another pastorate. I actively searched for other opportunities. My very best preacher friends forsook me. And something unexplainable happened. The past no longer mattered. I began to love my flock. I started preaching with greater compassion. The church began to grow in grace and in unity.
We had our struggles. In 2007, vandals broke into our building and set fire to the sanctuary. For five years we fought with the insurance company that had our coverage and finally completed the renovation in early 2012. Due to a lack of funds, my grandson, J.D.. and I had to do most of the work, and in the height of the struggle on December 21, 2009, my only daughter passed away. We had started her in music lessons back in Omaha and she had been our piano player here for fifteen years when the Lord took her to be with Him. I am still grieving over it.
Early this year my dad passed away and my mother is at the time of this writing recovering from a fall that broke her hip.
We are assured in the bible that everything works together for the good of those who are the called of God, but the purpose is not always known to us. We are told to believe. We are told to trust. We are told to set our affection on things above. And that is exactly what I have learned to do.
As I look back over the last thrity-five years, would I do anything differently if I could? Of course. I groan over many mistakes and regret my failures. But I trust that I am a better man and a better pastor. I can honestly say that I love the Lord and my flock more than ever before.
My greatest desire is for Jesus to return so that all of us here can once again be with those who have gone to be with the Lord. I think about it every day and try to live and preach as if this were my very last day here on the earth (and it could very well be).
We have His word on it and His promise cannot fail. That is why I pray continually for His coming. "Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:20Ω
The Greatest Christmas
I have been in this world for 77 Christmases. Those early years were not happy times. My parents struggled just to feed and clothe us without much left for toys. If we received anything more than clothes, it was fruit, nuts and little hard candy; sometimes it was a cheap toy. We usually went to grandma's house. If it was my paternal grandmother, we had a lot of food from her garden which she had canned earlier. She lived in town because my grandfather had died when I was only two. If we went to my maternal grandparents, who still lived on the farm, we usually had to work.
Watching my own children and grandchildren grow up has been a delight. The time we have had together is the most precious thing I know other than knowing the Lord. I have asked the Lord to allow me to see my great-grandchildren grow and then when He is ready for me, I want to come into His presence to be with Him and those I love in glory.
Some of them will be with us today. We will share more food than we can eat and give each other tokens of love and honor. But being together will be the most precious part of the day. We will miss Julie, who went to be with the Lord on December 21, 2009. We placed red roses on her grave last Sunday and we have reserved a place at the table for her as an expression our faith in the promise of Christ when he said: "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 you may be also."
I pray constantly that the Father will hasten the day of His return. I desire that homecoming more than anything in this world. Today! Now! That would be the greatest Christmas.
The same gods
My wife and took our vacation this year to Rome, Italy. After a week of visiting the tourist attractions, we visited a small Reformed Baptist Church on Sunday where I told the missionary's wife: "We have come to see your paganism both ancient and modern." That is exactly what is there. Ancient Rome is known for its many temples dedicated to its many gods and goddesses. Modern Rome is known for its relics, images and dignitaries.
We waited in line for two hours to buy tickets to see the Sistine Chapel and another hour getting to it. We were then unceremoniously rushed through without a chance to view all of its wonderful Michelangelo art work. The crowds at St. Peter's were even more dense.
What I found most disturbing were the thousands of tourists wandering around this maze of myth without a knowledge of biblical truth. The prison where the Apostle Paul was incarcerated and the execution room where he was martyred were empty of visitors. My wife and I seemed to be the only people interested in biblical events and biblical personages.
If the Apostle Paul has written the Book of Romans before he went to Rome, he would have no doubt said the same thing he said to the Athenians: "Ye men of Athens (Rome), I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious (devout without the knowledge of the true God)." Superstition remains and abounds.
Of course, that is not unique to the city of Rome. You find the same thing in most every city in America. And, I am sure, every city in the world. The gods are the same, only the names have changed.
What we need in this country
In my lifetime, the Democrats have had a president in the White House 40 years; the Republicans have had a president in the White House 36 years. It has made little difference either way. Few of those years have been peaceful, most have been tumultuous, scandalous and sometimes violent.
There have been wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom; there have been famines and pestilences and earthquakes in many places, God's people are hated, false prophets are deceiving, iniquity abounds and the love of many has grown cold. That is exactly what Jesus said would happen (Matthew 24). The nature of man is such that we can expect the same until Jesus comes.
Politicians have a way of making voters believe they are different, that they were not part of the problem but have stood above the rest in favor of morality, peace and prosperity. We believe their rhetoric and just keep sending them back to continue the failure over and over.
For the life of me, I have never understood how good Christian people can put their trust in Washington D.C. to take this country in the right direction. But that is what I hear most every election year: "This country is going in the wrong direction and needs a change!" I agree, but I do not believe any one of those running for public office has the power nor the fortitude to do it.
Back to God is the answer; not led by politicians but led by the church. If we want this nation to do the right things, the church must rise up and lead the way. Quit going to every entertainment on Saturday night that keeps you out of church on Sunday. Get out of bed on Sunday morning and go to church. Support it with your tithes and offerings. It cannot survive otherwise.
The church is asleep. It has no clout. Because God's people have no courage; it has succumbed to the ways of the world and society's demands for tolerance; it does not persevere; it is not willing to pay the price; it wants someone else to do it. All of this is a recipe for the status quo
Don't depend on politicians to bring back morality. Bring it back yourself, through personal involvement in the church of Christ. Study the Bible. Know what you are talking about when you give Christian witness. And above all, pray for the church and for the country. That, my friend, is what we need in this country.
I have been wanting to rant about this subject for a long time. I live in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, supposedly the hub of patriotic Christian conservatism, filled with Tea Party participants. I have no argument with the idea of patriotic Christian conservatism and consider myself to be one but NOT a Tea Party member. The problem I have is what I see every day. I don't see patriotic Christianity nor conservatism. I see patriotic and Christian conservatism in name only (PACCINO).
In my humble opinion, it is quite liberal to violate the laws of the land. What I see constantly (not occasionally) are speeders, red light runners, stop sign violators, cell phone users in school zones and texters weaving down the street. The people who pass on the right side in a bicycle lane are particularly offensive, because those lanes in many neighborhoods are used, not only by bicycles but also by joggers and people with children.
In my humble opinion, it is quite liberal to violate the laws of God. What I see constantly (not occasionally) are Sabbath Day breakers, mowing grass, going shopping, and engaging in every kind of entertainment, not AFTER going to church but instead of going to church.
In my humble opinion, it is quite liberal to violate the Word of God. What I see constantly (not occasionally) are relationships outside of marriage. God has prohibited and denounced such conduct. His word plainly outlines His plan for sexual relationships inside marriage only. To violate that is to violate God's word and He is not going to let it go unnoticed.
In my humble opinion, it is quite liberal to violate the laws of nature. What I see constantly (not occasionally) are churches embracing people who participate in an unnatural lifestyle. The time has arrived when every church in the USA and the rest of the world will have to make a public pronouncement concerning homosexuality. I believe our government is on the brink of attempting to close all churches who do not follow its liberal agenda by revoking tax exempt status.
To me a patriot is not a flag waving motorcyclist chasing a funeral. A patriot is a God-fearing person who honors veterans AND the rule of law. A Christian is not a Sabbath breaker, but a worshipper of God in the house of God. And a conservative is one who holds to old values.
If Tarrant County, Texas, is the hub of patriotic Christian conservatism, I shudder to think what the rest of the country is like.
A Hunger for Heaven: The Foreword
The...pages are written by a father whose life has been forever changed. My emotions are tender, my soul is subdued and my spirit is needy. I am Job who sits in sackcloth. I am Jacob whose out of joint thigh causes him to lean on support, whose path is forever made difficult, yet better. I am King David when he cried in agony for his son, Absalom, wishing he could have died in his stead. I am also the man whose affection has been set on things above, no longer on things of this earth. I have learned the true meaning of love, its value and how painful it is to give up one who is greatly loved.
Since my beloved daughter, Julie, passed away, I have attempted to share my experience with sorrow and tell how life has been changed in the hope of helping someone else deal with grief. With every endeavor the pain of my loss hammered my soul until it became apparent that I would not be able to go any further. Now, almost four years later, I am still experiencing some grief but nothing like before. God has graciously answered my prayers and is helping me day by day in this struggle. I have prayed consistently, read books on coping with grief, sought comfort from others, all to inconspicuous benefit. I fully trust the Lord, have never accused Him, know what His word teaches, but, like Jacob, who for more than twenty years grieved for his child, could not be comforted.
"And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him." Genesis 37:35.
I have wept like Rachel.
"Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not." Jeremiah 31:15
"In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Matthew 2:18
I realize how differently this subject is viewed in our culture. Some people try to apply their own view of "appropriate" behavior in a time of grief to every other person's situation, which I believe is an extreme lack of consideration. While there are parts of it common to all of us, no two people mourn completely alike.
It is my prayer that something good will come out of my grief, and that is the very reason I make an agonizing effort to put my experience into words.
(For information about the book, go to the home page.)
Dr. Jack Warren was born in Floydada, Texas, in 1938, the son of a Baptist pastor. His family moved to Fort Worth when his father enrolled in the Seminary in 1949. He was in the first class graduating from L.D. Bell High School, Hurst, Texas, in 1956. He attended Arlington State College (now University of Texas at Arlington), Arlington Baptist College, Bible Baptist Seminary, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and received a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Landmark Baptist Theological Seminary.