New Sermon Series Begins on Sunday, April 26

If you’ve never driven on an interstate highway in the west you don’t know about this, but if you miss an exit it could be half an hour or forty-five minutes later before you are able to get to the next exit to turn around. Just one simple miss and now you are far off the mark of where you were wanting to be.

This can happen before you know what has happened. This is how it is with sin too. You have a plan of where you want to go, you even know where you are going and then… all of the sudden you’ve missed your exit and too far down the road to quickly fix the matter. It can still be corrected, the right path can be reclaimed, but for now, the consequences of not giving attention to where you are may have a longer effect than desired.

This is the story of the book of Kings.

We will take First Kings this coming Sunday and begin examining where Israel became derailed and why. While doing so it will be of greatest interest to learn as much as can be learned about the God of Israel.

Join me this Sunday as we begin the examination of First Kings

 

the Claptrap

My Twitter account had some activity this past week from a church consulting group. (In most of the Twitter world activity is no big deal, but for a guy like me this was huge.) After having a sermon ‘favorited’ by someone/group that I don’t know anything about I decided to investigate why they would even ‘favorite’ a sermon of mine.

The investigation was both humorous and disheartening.

I appreciate that there are people interested in helping the Lord’s church but I fear it appears more like they are preying on the Lord’s desperate people. There is a lot of clatter about ‘growing’ churches; how they are growing and how your church can grow too…

I’ve known of church consulting groups for a long time. LifeWay Christian Resources even has their own church consulting groups from within the publishing house arena and independent groups.

What must Christ think of our business like approach? Are we really this lost? Has God left without knowledge and understanding on how to be the church?

What good is our busy religion if we have lost majesty, reverence, worship – and awareness of the divine?” A.W. Tozer

Entertainment, that ancient and time-honored counterfeit of worship, is neither God-centered nor a byproduct of being God-centered. It must not be employed as a tool for drawing people to worship the God of the Bible.” John Snyder


This is the kind of claptrap going on around Christendom:  Innovative Church and Worship Consulting: Coaching pastors, worship leaders and praise teams to total church health, experience, knowledge, Jesus. This is how InnovativeCWC introduces themselves.

 “Does your worship team need a worship consultant?”
1 Day on-site: $950.00
2 Day on site:$1,650.00

The best consultation a church can get is to open that Bible and see what God wants from her. Unless that church is more interested in what others are wanting from her. If that is the case then perhaps this offer from InnovativeCWC is worth doing.

Then again, if a church does not worship God, it’s really only become a social club – and a social club is powerless to help the lost.

I don’t want to appear arrogant or selfish in thinking that I or this church can’t benefit from others input. But this looks like an appeal to the innovative lie that has been hounding the Lord’s church from the beginning.

Are these offers for consultation like the advice from Job’s friends who he calls “worthless physicians”?

I would prefer to speak to the Almighty. (Job 13:3)

 

Behold

We strain the eyes to behold the things we cherish.

This is why eye contact with a loved one is important. When I participate in wedding ceremonies my favorite thing to do while the bride is walking in is to get a good look and the groom… that man’s eyes are always fixed on his bride while she’s entering and walking toward him.

Who do Christians behold? Who does your church behold?

I’m in the seventh week of a bible study with several folks in my church called “Behold Your God“. My take-away from last night’s discussion and last week’s bible study has me considering what this church beholds; what would others think we consider the most cherished person we behold?

Think about it with me…

Christians and churches know that we would answer the question of who we behold to be God Himself. (Yes, the “Sunday School” answer is correct.) But is this who we really behold?

If only we would do an honest evaluation of ourselves, this would reveal who/what we really behold. The way we talk about what we really behold reveals that we may likely be cherishing any one but God.

We may be showing other people that we don’t cherish God at all. We may only be using a form of religion to promote what we really cherish.

  • Behold our theme: Think about how we love our themes; as good as it is to have a theme for the year, a theme for a conference, a theme for Vacation Bible School, a theme for today, etc, notice what happens to us once we commit to a theme, we become promoters of our theme.
  • Behold our creativity: Go to a conference on church growth some time. Listen on purpose. Do be wooed by the creative presenter who talks about creativity and how many people his creative ways and thinking attract so many people. That idol of creativity offers no spiritually dead soul any real hope.
  • Behold our method/program: Methods come and go. A survey will be conducted soon. Thousands of dollars will be spent by churches to hire consultants to come in and show them how most everything they are doing is unattractive to the unconverted. The program 20 years ago that gathered new families then will be outdated and replaced with a new one that will offer temporary promises if you employ the strategy rightly you will get the calculated results that the marketing research shows.
  • Behold our ministry: This gets messy here, because now we’re talking about things we really love. Christians love to talk about our “ministries”. This is close to home for me as I consider how we talk about New Horizon Home. But listen, our love for our “ministries” divide churches and Christians more than the color of carpet ever will. Christians will overcome the matter of carpet color far more than the opinion of what ministry is more or most important.
  • Behold our morality: This gets even more messy. Morality is close to holiness (but not necessarily the same thing). When we are more known for our morality than our God, we may be cherishing an idol that again has the appearance of Christianity, but more represents an idol that only enslaves the covert to legalism.

What if the church cherished God?

What if the community knew nothing more about us than the fact that we cherish God? May this be such a church.

Who Cares What the Spirit Says to the Church?

Is this the most common phrase spoken at the mid-week prayer gathering of the Lord Jesus Christ tonight?

“Who cares what the Spirit says to the church, we have things to do tonight.”

It may not be said everywhere across the land. Likely nobody would say it quite like this… attendees know better, and non-attendees don’t even know what’s happening; but is it what’s being communicated by most? Is it really what’s being said while activity of the night treats prayer as an interruption?

The church is currently teaching a generation that prayer is something people used to do, but we are better now and don’t need to do that any more. Unless repentance of this happens soon, we will leave church life to a generation of people who know nothing of prayer.

This is how Jesus said it (Revelation 3:17-18) to the church at Laodicea…

“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”

Is it that only wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked people trust God? It is an amazing invitation to “buy” from God “gold refined by fire” so that we may become “rich”, but may I never forget that the invitation to do so was from my wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked [completely bankrupt] condition and that which I became “rich” in was due to Christ not me.

We have increased our appetite for what we can do and have little desire among us any longer for what only God can do.

May the church once again hear what the Spirit says to the churches. May we see once again the Holiness of God in Christ. May we once again consider our richness is not in our strength, but Christs’.

A Personal Statement Concerning My Calling

I’ve recently been reading and re-reading biographical sketches of pastors/missionaries of old. I’ve been reminded of their personal statements concerning their understanding of their duty before God. About two weeks ago I wrote a rough draft and working on fine tuning what this might look like from my vantage point. The following is a result of this exercise.


A Personal Statement Concerning My Calling…


OH LORD, on my own, I would never volunteer for such a matter as You have called me to. I have heard You and I hear You now with increasing fear.

OH LORD, I respond to You with submission. I ask for strength that I will refuse to take this calling as my own.

OH LORD, Like others, I refuse to see this calling as special because of who I am and will strive to remain humble as a messenger of Your revealed nature and have no expectation that anyone will receive me with joy.

OH LORD, my God, help me to not be a waster of Your time. This responsibility You have laid upon me, and are fitting me for, is not mine but Yours. Who am I to exercise my pride and arrogance and employ any means of men for the sovereign work of Yours?

OH LORD, help me speak a solemn vow to honor You in all my life; whether by increase or loss, life or death, liberty or imprisonment, help me resist my craving for the applause of men. Help me never to forget the craving is strong and fierce.

OH LORD, the wolf has clothed himself with wool, false sheep ignore the dangers and warnings of Your word. The pleasure of this life reigns supreme as they make light of You and Your word.

OH LORD, give me…

  • sharp eyes to see the nearness of the enemy.
  • ears to hear his deception.
  • a nose to smell the foulness of his ways.
  • a voice like yours that speaks with clarity and help that even the wandering sheep will recognize You and follow.
  • courage to give faithful reports of what I see, hear, smell, and speak.

OH LORD, save me from error. The temptation is present everywhere I turn. Give me awareness of what lies dark across the landscape of the modern church that would disqualify me of this calling from You.

OH LORD, I put my hand to the plow, forbid I should look anywhere or at anyone but You.

  • Help me resist the curse of compromise.
  • Help me resist the lure of imitation.
  • Help me avoid the trappings of professionalism.
  • Help me to remember that I am an under-shepherd not a promoter; not an event manager, but a humble under-shepherd .
  • Help me not to exchange my calling as a faithful herald for the profession of event promoter.
  • Help me be steady and true to Your word, not a manager of the ways of men.
  • Help me remain free from the bondage of popularity.

OH LORD, deliver me from the desire of things. Help me make the most of this day with Heaven in mind. With Your strength I resist the urge to waste another day in the cravings of laziness.

OH LORD, lead me to the place of prayer where I may battle for the souls of men. Teach me the benefit of discipline and the tragedy of gluttony.

OH LORD, I accept sleepless nights and no recognition in my days. Help me curb my criticism of others who don’t do as I do. Help me exercise caution as to not behaving harshly toward those who oppose me and with a quiet and gentle spirit.

OH LORD, help me to resist unnecessary expectations from Your church. Help me resist selfish ambitions for recognition and reward from my selfish, arrogant ways. Help me to respond with joy for the poor and resist pride or compromise with the generous.

OH LORD, I commit my remaining days to You, whether many or few; if asked to stand before the rich and famous or poor and lowly, I accept that this choice is not mine, nor do I desire to choose in fear that I choose wrongly. I am Your servant to do as You instruct. Your will is of my greatest desire. I want a hunger and a thirst for holiness and righteousness to direct me and constrain me. OH that I might choose the table of Heaven over the table of position, riches or fame.

OH LORD, even though elected to calling of under-shepherd to Your people, guard my heat from pride. Don’t let me forget the place from which You called me. That place in which I had to be rescued from because I was blind and had no craving for holiness.

OH LORD, fill me with the deposit of Heaven, the promise from You, the Holy Spirit. May I only speak the oracles of Heaven, ordered by the Holy Spirit, given by You, spoken by the Father.

OH LORD, I go forth in Your power to the nations to spread the gospel message of a Redeemer so long as I have breath of life and soundness of mind. Have me prepared to remain steady and true until You call me to Your heavenly residence.

Hallelujah! Amen!

 


Influenced by the writings of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Paul the Apostle, A.W. Tozer, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, Hudson Taylor, and various writing from “the Valley of Vision” (collection of puritan devotions/prayers)

The Highway of Holiness

Consider joining me at Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ashville, North Carolina this fall, October 29-31, 2015, for the “Highway of Holiness” conference.

A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 35:8-10 NASB, emphasis mine)

Conference Registration: REGISTRATION
Conference Lodging: LODGING 
Full list of speakers: SPEAKERS

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Spring Cleaning Treasure

A few weeks ago we (Eastside Baptist Church) had a much needed spring cleaning day. The church attic is a place where many things get stored after a Christmas cantata , an Easter program, VBS or anything else that we must have thought would be a good idea to keep.

Where the overwhelming majority of it was either thrown away, taken home by the helpful volunteers or donated to a local second hand store; a few treasures were discovered.

For example, a box (with several years of dust on it) containing 150+ glass communion cups. Most of the cups were in an old plastic bag that the heat from the attic had been decaying for the past few decades.

I’ve been pastoring here since June of 2001 and didn’t even know we owned glass communion cups. Some of these cups were still in original packaging from Broadman Supplies. One dozen glass communion cups for $1.25. It took me a while, but I eventually found a supplier of glass communion cups; 20 for $48.20 (or 1,000 plastic/disposable cups for $17.50).

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The newspaper that some of the communion cups were wrapped in was older than the church I pastor, so that means someone gave them to Eastside sometime in the past, likely from their church attic. The news paper was dated, September 7, 1955.

That was a fun read, too.

The paper used to wrap some of the glass communion cups was the classified section with some advertisements. The deal of the day must have been bulk soap; 20 bars of soap for $1.00.

I think for tonight, Good Friday, we will use the glass cups.

Thompson Conclave

March 30, 2015
Tonight, four Thompson households signed a copy of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

GE

Signers:
Renee Thompson (upper left)
Bianca Thompson (middle left)
Silas Thompson (lower left)
David Thompson (lower right)
Emily Thompson (middle right)
Shirley Thompson (upper right)
Paul Thompson (photographer)

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