Expectations & Frustrations!

 
September 8th, 2014


This past Sunday I preached on the subject of Expectations & Frustrations. I was dealing with this question: What does an Eternal God Expect from us? What does a perfect, infallible, holy God Expect from imperfect, fallible, sinful men? 


Someone anonymously said, “Frustration is the conflict between expectation and reality.” Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing what someone expects!


Dr. John Lund has said, “All Frustration Comes From Expectations.” Think about it - whenever I am feeling frustrated, it is because there was an expectation somewhere in my mind that was never met. If I have no expectations of a person or situation, I cannot be disappointed. Relationships are a great example. We continually set up expectations for how the people we love should behave - what they should say, do, and should not do. We are often disappointed because they do not live up to our ideals. But how can they live up to our ideals when we have never communicated to them what we expect? This is the trouble with expectations. We often do not have a clear view of what we expect, and even when we do, we rarely communicate it. We then blame others for our frustration, crying, “You should have known!”


We all live in a Gap - the Gap between what we Expect and what we Experience. This Expectation Gap is where our dreams die and passions fade. So often, folks lose their vision, and this loss of vision is many times the birthplace of our frustration, our disappointment, and even our discouragement and depression!


Let me dig just a little deeper - frustration is born in the space between our expectations and our actual experiences. How often have we thought or maybe even said, "This isn't what I thought marriage would be like.” Maybe we thought the job was going to be different. Have you ever thought or said, "I never imagined that Christians would act that way.” We have all been there! We are overcome with frustration and left with nothing but unmet expectations. How are we supposed to respond when our expectations turn to frustration?


1. Do We Suck It Up And Get On With Life? 

2. Do We Simply Lower Our Expectations? 

3. Or, Could Our Expectations Of Others And Of Our Circumstances Be Connected To A Misunderstanding Of God’s Expectations?

 
What happens when God is at the center of our unmet expectations? Did you pray and find He did not come through? When it seems that the God who loves you did not provide for you in the way you had hoped - what are you supposed to do? Often when this is our reality, we hear this warmed over answer: “You failed to live up to God’s expectations, and for that reason, He did not meet your expectations! It was, of course, because of your failure that God did not answer your prayer!” While this may be the opinion of the brethren, I for one am trying to figure out when He ever answered our prayers based upon our merits.


Most of our frustrations begin when our own personal experiences are not meeting our own expectations, or not meeting what we perceive to be God’s expectations! What do we do when we are the ones not living up to the expectations of God and others? How do we avoid the weight of disappointment when we do not measure up? And what should our response be to our own negative opinions in our lives? What do we do when the expectations of others get between us and who we are in Christ?


Listen to the Apostle Paul’s greatest fear spelled out to the Corinthian believers in II Corinthians 11:3. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

 
Satan always moves men away from simplicity and toward complexity! Whenever things get complicated, get Back To The Basics. Focus On The Fundamentals!


Many of the disheartened, defeated, discouraged saints of God need a simplification of their expectations to conquer their frustrations! We simply need to get Back To The Basics! We need to Focus On The Fundamentals of what it means to be a child of God. I do not need to live up to anyone else’s expectations. First and foremost, I need to figure out what God expects and make that my focus.


(O. T. EXPECTATIONS) Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (THE FOCUS IS ON OUR DUTY)


(N. T. EXPECTATIONS) Colossians 1:10 “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (THE FOCUS IS ON OUR DEVOTION)

Inside or Outside the Box?


August 7th, 2014


Several blogs ago, I spoke about Aggressive Authenticity—or the passion to pursue the lost without counting the cost. My observations of American Christianity cause me to state that this is highly uncommon. To display an Aggressive Authenticity in our faith is truly Outside the Box.


Most Christians become more cautious as they navigate through life, being ever so careful not to expose themselves to the dangers of taking too many risks. Most of us fall into the cultural trappings of wanting a bigger home, a nicer car, a more expensive vacation and an escalating standard of living. Without ever realizing it, our desires to have more and more put us into a box where most become comfortable and trapped at the same time. We shed a tear at a missionary’s slides but can do little more than throw a few dollars in an offering plate because we are trapped in our box of comfort and convenience. Hearing the clarion call of foreign missions is nearly impossible because our box has trapped us in a lifestyle that would be impossible to recreate in a third world country.

 
We do not just put Ourselves in a Box. We are not satisfied until we put God in a Box, too. Some have regulated God to His appropriate portion of their life—Sunday morning. They want Him to help when they are in those “between a rock and a hard place” times in their lives, but that is about it. The lives of many contemporary, evangelical Americans are sectioned off into separate areas. They have a business section, a pleasure section, a domestic section, a religious section, and whatever other section is appropriate.  They go on vacation or a business trip and never even think of attending church because their sections do not overlap. Their God is In a Box.


Because so many Christians are careful to keep control over their lives, I fear we are watering down our Christians lives to the point that there is actually very little Jesus Christ in it. Let us be very honest—do your life and my life reflect a commitment to a living Biblical Christ, or to a watered down Christ that is culturally In a Box? We have learned all too well how to go through the motions, show up for the expected church services and do the minimum to maintain religious respectability. In the lives of many contemporary believers, there is a lack of evidence of a life transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.


In the book A Quest for Godliness the author states about the early Puritans, “There was for them no distinction between the sacred and the secular; and all creation, so far as they were concerned, was sacred, and all activities, of whatever kind, must be sanctified, that is, done to the glory of God.”

 
In my office I have a three volume classic Puritan work written by William Gurnall titled, The Christian in Complete Armour. In these more than one thousand pages of peerless and priceless wisdom the author writes, “There are three ways for men to miss God’s direction, each one a precarious bypass to the power of holiness. Some walk by no rule; others by a false rule, and still others by the true rule, but only partially. The first is the rebellious harlot; the second is the superstitious zealot; and the third is the hypocrite. Stay free of all three unless you intend to lay a knife to the throat of holiness. Liberal men try to stretch their freedom by saying the law is not a rule for Christians. But Christ baptized the law and gospelized it, both by preaching it as a rule of holiness in His sermons and by walking out His life according to that rule. Any principle which takes away the standard for a righteous life may be indicted as a murderer of holiness.”


Are we living out Christ on a daily basis before God and men? I hope our answer is a bold YES. Are we guilty of murdering holiness? I trust we can answer a bold NO. If the answer to either question is wrong, then we are not displaying Aggressive Authenticity. If this is our testimony, then we are living Inside the Box and so too is our God. How boldly are you serving Christ? Inside or Outside the Box—what is your answer?

Ministry Teamwork!

July 30th, 2014

One of the most important facets of local church growth and success is the embracing of teamwork. Great churches are those where a large group of people have covenanted together to play team ball. Sometimes we could make the call without the help of others. Sometimes we could save everyone the hassle and fly solo. Sometimes however, this is not the case. Being a good leader does not necessarily make us a great team player, even when we need to be. Some of the best leaders in the church whom I know personally are somewhat difficult to work with and for, and I would include myself in that assessment sometimes.

Are you a good team player? Do you have to be the big fish in a little pond, or are you willing to be a good team member, even if it means you are a little fish in a big pond? The size of the success you and I get to be a part of is dependent upon how well we can play on a team. What could we offer the people on our team that would help us accomplish the Lord’s mission together? I truly believe that some focused attention in a few areas will result in exponential fruit. So what should our team expect from us?

CHARACTER

Character matters so much in teamwork. Our talent and our charisma will only take us so far. We cannot be all talk; our character must be rock solid. Having character does not mean we are flawless. Character means we are faithful and dependable. We do not miss church. We do not take shortcuts. We can be counted on. Pastors and ministry leaders ought to model a way of life and a level of integrity worthy of being followed. That is such a serious responsibility. Character must be a measure of our success. Without godly character, we ultimately fail to honor God.

We should fervently want our lives to be lives without concealed cracks. I do not want to paint over flaws, hoping the cracks will never be exposed. The very idea that we would try to hide character flaws and secret sins proves that we often measure success by what people think about us rather than by what God thinks about us. This should hit us all very hard! Character is a life without concealed cracks.

CARE

People do not care what you know until they know that you care. This is so true in teamwork. With so much on our plates, we often do not show our love and support for others. Our tendency is to value excellence in our project over the needs of our team. Our tendency is to use people to get ministry done. The great temptation for those of us who are highly driven is to overlook the personal lives of the people on our teams and focus only on the contribution they make to the team. In so doing, we fail to love and care for them the way they deserve. The result just might be a wake of destruction left behind us, while we forge ahead to change the world for Jesus.

The best way we can show we care is to strive for accessibility. Accessibility is one of the key ways we can communicate care to our team members. Overcrowded agendas often mean leaders stay behind closed doors or stay booked with appointments much of the time. This makes us largely inaccessible to our co-workers. People need to know they can call us, email us, or get ahold of us, and that it will not be viewed as an interruption.

CLARITY

Nothing is more important to teamwork than clarity. We do not intend to, but we often focus on our vision to the crowd and neglect to reveal that vision to our team. We wrongly assume they just “get it.” Our team deserves clarity about both our vision and our expectations. How can I hit the target if I do not know what it is? Mapping out distinct goals and setting definitive deadlines gives everyone a clear understanding of what the expectations are.

CONVICTION

Passion and authority—these are the things Jesus brought to His team. To many, Christians are complainers and do not live or lead with conviction. We must be passionate about what we do. We need to let our team members know that we love them, the Lord, our church, and the task that is before us. They need to see us sitting on the edge of our seats in meetings and planning sessions as we discuss the mission and future direction of our ministry. I love legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Either you get fired with enthusiasm or you will be fired with enthusiasm.” That will sure help our teamwork!

Ministry In A Hostile Culture!


July 16th, 2014

I Peter 2:12 “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

 
I Peter 2:15 “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”

 
Many segments of our nation’s culture are growing ever more hostile and hateful toward Bible-believing Christians, and as this transpires we must take care to be proactive, as Christ was. We must be intentional Christians in this day of postmodern influences. If we are not proactive we will be reactive, falling into defensive or oppositional positions. History has taught us that such reactions to the culture only further isolate us and minimize our influence and impact for Christ. As the United States shifts into a more and more postmodern age, we must confront the reality that this is beginning to reshape legislation, institutions and the very moral fabric of America.

 
I fear that many Christians today do not know how little influence we really have on our culture, our communities and our very own children. Last Wednesday evening in our church, I started a short Bible study series entitled, “Why Millennials Are Walking Away from Church.” This is a phenomenon that is stretching across theological borders. While we are experiencing this in fundamental churches, it is an even greater epidemic in evangelical churches. I refuse to bemoan this reality and just get nasty in my disdain for this apparent falling away, and to an even greater extent, apostasy. We must recommit ourselves to “overcome this evil with good.”

 
How does God tell us to respond when the culture turns hostile toward us? He tells us to actively live such “honest” and “good” lives among the pagan culture around us that they cannot deny our “good works.” (I Peter 2:12 and 15) I like to call this Aggressive Authenticity. Without this engaged energy shaping our lives and ministries, we will continue to be marginalized by the hostile culture in which we minister.

 
When we send a missionary to an unreached people group in the interior of the Amazon or the highlands of Papua New Guinea, we understand that there is a process that must be followed. First, the missionary must lovingly show God’s goodness and love and begin building relationships, learning the language and reaching out and investing in individuals, especially tribal leaders. These are just a few of the ideas that are involved in penetrating a hostile culture. Everything the missionary is doing is both gospel based and gospel focused. That is why he is there; but to ignore the relationship building and trust establishing steps is to almost certainly guarantee failure.

 
As crazy as it may sound, building strong Bible-believing churches in today’s American culture is nearly the identical challenge. For too long, we in the American church have expected non-believers to behave like Christians in a moral and Biblical manner. However, as we are witnessing in almost every arena of American life, our Biblical, Christian values are becoming less and less common and unfortunately, even viewed with hostility. We cannot continue to hide our light under a bushel. Let me quote the Saviour in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 
There must be a Revival of good and godly living among Christians again, as was mandated by the simple words of I Peter 2:12 and 15. Today’s shallow, libertarian believers cannot reclassify our “good works” as legalism. We must all re-evaluate the honesty and goodness of our lives among the pagan culture in which we find ourselves. The gospel still works (Romans 1:16)! Bible preaching is still the method of God’s choice to propagate our message (I Corinthians 1:21). But we must not let the Messenger hinder the Message.  While our position must be Biblical, our disposition must also be just as Biblical.

 
Do not be afraid of sinners; Jesus was not. He was “a friend of publicans and sinners.” Why is it that sinners are afraid of us, but they were not afraid of Jesus? Are we more holy and separated than He was? I think not. However, in my humble opinion, they could not resist His Aggressive Authenticity. He reached the heart before He changed the life. We too must climb down from our ivory palaces and engage the individuals we work around and live among with His grace and His goodness if we hope to have any impact on our degrading culture.

 
On the sobering morning of September 11, 2001, the world watched after two airplanes crashed into the twin towers in lower Manhattan. An army of firefighters and first responders began to enter the burning buildings as thousands were exiting. Their heroic actions brought a holy significance to the senseless tragedy. If there is any hope left for a Moral and Biblical Revival in our land, we who name the name of Christ must be the ones running into the burning building while everyone else is running out. We cannot give up on the crumbling culture all around us. We must go after the addict, the oppressed, the broken, the divorced, the abused, the derelict, the scared, the vilest of sinners, the young, the old, the confused and even the contrary without regard for ourselves. The gospel is the world’s only hope, but we must get out in the streets where sinners live if we hope to change the culture. We do not need to defend ourselves - we need to go after the lost. As our culture grows ever more hostile to Christianity, I think of how Charles Spurgeon described the controlled silence of Jesus during his crucifixion: “The anvil breaks a host of hammers by quietly bearing their blows.”

 
Jim Elliot went to a hostile culture in 1956. His blood ran into the river where his plane landed in Ecuador. Jesus Christ went into a hostile world, and His blood ran from the foot of the cross. As we go into a hostile culture with the gospel today, we too will bleed. This is the great reality from which most modern Christians shrink and begin looking for a new and an easier way to live the Christian life. There is no easier way! The Apostle Paul testified soberly in Acts 14:22: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
 
 


 


Youth MINISTRY!

May 10th, 2014


What is the goal of your Youth MINISTRY? Every ministry of the local church needs a good strong philosophy behind it or you will simply fall into the trap of mistaking Activity for Accomplishment. Let me begin by making several declarative statements: 1. A Youth Director’s job is not to be an Activities Director. 2. A well-organized youth ministry is to primarily provide for your teens a Life’s Foundation not just Lots Of Fun. 3. The Biblical youth department is the wise parent’s best friend. The youth department and the parents of teens must be on the same page or frustration and failure will be the norm.  Let me make three very important observations to help you Experience and Enjoy an Effective youth ministry:
 

UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES

The teenagers we are now dealing with are called Millennial’s. If your birth years range from the early 1980s to the year 2000 you’re a millennial. Can we reach this generation and still preach standards and stay fundamental and conservative? The answer is absolutely YES but we do need to understand the times. Today’s teens are growing up in a culture that is very different than what I faced growing up in the 60s and 70s. Culture has always been changing but the rate of change has accelerated dramatically. Morality is no longer mainstream in most parts of our country. Just telling teenagers what is right and wrong is not nearly as effective today as it was thirty or forty years ago when the whole church would shout a loud “amen” in answer to any moral dogmatic declaration.


If you go to echoespublications.com you can order a recent Preaching series I preached at our church titled “Developing A Biblical World View For Your Family.” We must do more than yell at them, we must win their hearts and minds for the cause of a Biblical Based World View. Many young people today who are hungry for substance – want a deeper argument with stronger rationale, and the ability to dialogue and intelligently lead a skeptic to Biblical truth. They want to be and should be handled with an Isaiah 1:18 approach. Gun barrel straight preaching is the foundation to a strong youth ministry, but we live in a culture that demands both relational and doctrinal depth. This generation of good and godly teenagers, want strong preaching but they also realize that a more secularized culture responds better to intelligent, rational, substantive dialogue that validates Christianity, than it does to rabid declaration of dogma with no logic. Let me say it a little bit more to the point - every day the young people growing up in our church’s face a culture that incessantly shoots holes in their Christian “beliefs.” I am convinced that they realize how desperately they need depth and solid answers WHY in order to be effective in turning hearts and minds to the Saviour and the Scriptures.

 
We don’t have to dip our sails, and tone down our preaching to reach today’s teens, but we do need to do more than holler “bless God” when we are preaching. I have observed that when a preacher yells “bless God” what follows will rarely be spirit led and sadly it may even be fleshly. I love the leadership moniker that says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


UNDERUTILIZING THE TEENS

I have often said, “As goes the teenagers so goes the church.” The teen department can revolutionize the spirit of the church much easier than the church can revolutionize the spirit of the teen department. If the teenagers of a church get on fire it will change a church. The fear of many church leaders is that teens should not be put into any leadership positions. I actually believe that the very opposite is true. Teenagers certainly need to be trained and need to earn any leadership that they are given but it’s called Youth MINISTRY. The culture of our Youth MINISTRY has always been to get teenagers as involved in ministry as possible. We don’t let teenagers sing solos in our church but we have several teenage singing groups that sing regularly in our ministry. Every Sunday night for almost 19 years our 50 plus voice teen choir has performed a featured choir special in our evening service. Our teen choir is known all over the country, having made 7 CD’s and has been the inspiration for hundreds of other youth choirs all over the nation. At Grace Baptist we believe in letting teens serve. Many teens serve in our church Bus Ministry. At one point several years ago four of our bus routes had one of our teenagers as a Bus Captain. Three of those four teens are full time in the ministry today. One teenage Bus Captain was a young lady who is now a missionary’s wife. We encourage teenagers to work in our Primary I & Primary II church services and our Junior I & Junior II church services, and rest home ministries.  


Every youth department should be a MINISTRY training ground. Get your teens involved in MINISTRY. This needs to be more than talk however, it needs to the strategy of your entire Youth MINISTRY. Take your teens on mission’s trips not just to amusement parks.


Over two decades ago, I sat all the parents of our teens down and challenged them with this philosophy. I don’t mean to kick anybody’s pet dog but none of our teens are going to play in the NBA regardless of how good they can play ball for our Christian Schools. I think sports are important but they should not be as important as they are in most of our churches. It is far more important that our teens know how to sing, play an instrument, win a soul to Christ and lead a ministry than it is that they are good ball players. We have always been competitive in sports, but never has sports been as important in our ministry as I have observed in many other ministries.  But we do have one of the best youth choirs in America. Remember the important principle, “You Will Reap A Harvest Where You Place An Emphasis.”


UNDERVALUING THE TRUTH

You build a youth ministry on the same foundation you build a life, a marriage, a family, and a church. The foundation must be the Word of God. That’s why we must build youth groups around old fashioned, gun barrel straight, red hot, Holy Ghost filled, preaching. You keep people with the same methods that you reach people. If a youth ministry is built around fun then every activity has to be fun, but if you build it on the Book then you can add fun to anything you do. But if you build your youth group on fun nobody will be receptive when you expose them to good strong preaching.

I am convinced that today’s teens are absolutely looking for leaders to show them HOW. They are looking for gracious, biblical, Spirit-filled leaders who will compassionately believe in them, encourage them, influence them, and acknowledge them as leaders for the next generation. They run from those who caustically cut them off, but they run toward those who fuel their passion for Jesus and believe in their potential for the gospel.

Good Friday Or Good Wednesday?


April 9th, 2014

 
The Gospel Is The: Death Burial And Resurrection
Of Jesus Christ

Good Friday is a traditional religious holiday observed primarily by Catholics and protestant Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross of Calvary. Let’s be very clear about something – This is Traditional but it is not Scriptural. In the 28 year history of Grace Baptist Church we have never observed Good Friday. Jesus was not crucified on Friday. The day of his crucifixion was Wednesday. Unfortunately the papist tradition of a Friday crucifixion is not mathematically or scripturally possible. A Wednesday crucifixion coincides with the Jewish sacrifice of the Passover Lamb (Which Is An Old Testament Picture Of Jesus Christ). A Wednesday Crucifixion of Jesus Christ allows for Christ to be in the tomb for three days and three nights as he told the Pharisees (Matthew 12:40), rather than two night and a day if he had died on a Friday.

There ought not to be anything that you and I believe unless it's in the Bible. What does the Bible teach? Now, I know that all over the country on the Friday before Easter, people have their Good Friday services, and many start at noon, because people say our Lord was crucified over 2000 years ago on Friday and at that time of the day.

It makes a very pretty picture, except it's not true. Our Lord was crucified on Wednesday. He gave up the Ghost at three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. He was laid in the grave somewhere about six o'clock on Wednesday evening. He was in the grave Wednesday evening, all day Thursday, Thursday evening, all day Friday, Friday evening, and all day Saturday, and He rose from the grave on Saturday after sundown, which was the beginning of Sunday and the end of the third day in the grave. It is important for you to bear in mind that a Bible day started at 6:00 PM in the evening, not at 12:00 Midnight.

No doubt someone who is reading this is thinking, "Well, my church doesn't believe this." I am not wanting to be the least bit controversial or critical but can I ask you a question, “Do you attend a Bible believing and preaching church?” What matters is what the Bible says on any matter. What does the Bible say? In the Bible, it doesn't say the morning and the evening were the first day; it says the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

The Hebrew day began at six o'clock in the evening, not as our day does with the morning. So, our Lord was in the grave three days and three nights. What days? Thursday, Friday, Saturday. What nights? Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, don't you see. He came out of the grave, about evening time on Saturday. Luke 24:1–3 says, “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus." When Mary and the other women came to the garden tomb it would have been Sunday morning, which began on Saturday night at 6:00 PM.

Someone might ask, “Pastor did not the Bible say that he had to be taken off the cross before the Sabbath?” This seems to mean, the Sabbath was the day after the crucifixion. You see, now that throws a monkey wrench into this Wednesday talk. Now, what day is the Sabbath? Saturday. And if the Sabbath is the day after the crucifixion, then what day would it normally seem that our Lord was crucified? Friday. And that's where we have the problem. All right, if you turn to (Mark 15:42) you will see the Bible says, “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” This is where we get Good Friday from, but we need to look a little deeper. There is no way in the world you can get seventy-two hours between Friday afternoon at three o'clock and Sunday morning.

Doesn’t (Mark 15:42) prove however that Jesus was crucified on Friday? Is there a contradiction? The answer is no, there is not a contradiction. There are two kinds of Sabbaths. There is the seventh day Sabbath and the High Day Sabbath. Two different kinds of Sabbaths. (Leviticus 23:23) mentions a Sabbath that was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the year. This was an annual Sabbath and it coincided with the annual “Jewish Passover”. Is this the Sabbath that coincided with the crucifixion of Jesus? Listen to (John 19:31) “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” A "High Day" Sabbath was not the seventh day Sabbath or what we know as Saturday.

Let me ask you a question. Was our Lord crucified, the day before the weekly Sabbath, or the day before a High Sabbath? John says it was a High Sabbath. Does it have to be on Friday? What does the Bible say? (John 19:14) “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! All right, now what Sabbath was it, then? The Passover Sabbath. All right, which means our Lord was crucified the day before the Passover Sabbath, and not the weekly Sabbath. So our Lord was crucified on Wednesday, and on Thursday was the Passover Sabbath. Does this have any further significance? Oh yes, the Passover is nailed to the cross. Man no longer comes to God through the Old Testament ceremonial law, but through Christ.

Does the Bible say anywhere that Jesus was crucified on Friday? In fact, it doesn’t. For centuries, many have just assumed that to be the case. In summary, if Jesus was indeed dead for a full three days before He was resurrected before dawn on Sunday morning; and if He indeed was taken off the cross the day before the Sabbath, then for all the various passages regarding the death of Jesus and His resurrection to be simultaneously true, the Sabbath following the crucifixion of Jesus must have been a special Sabbath, a high day, and not the regular Saturday Sabbath.

The only “crucifixion day” that works, therefore, and allows a full three days and three nights to pass before the two Marys found the open tomb at dawn on Sunday morning is Wednesday. So, it is good Wednesday that we should be observing, not Good Friday.

You might ask: Why is this issue worth raising? Does it really matter? Here is why I believe this is at least an issue worth raising. The fact that Jesus spent three days and three nights in the belly of the earth before being resurrected is the only sign He offers to the world that His claim to be the only begotten Son of God is true. It is the sign of the prophet Jonah, and it evidences the single most important event in the history of the world, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead

Christians disagree on a lot of doctrines, but there are two fundamental things that one must believe to be counted as a believer. A Christian must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead. That is the crux of the matter. Whether He was crucified on Wednesday or on Friday, to be a Christian one must believe that God raised His Son from the dead.

Sure, Christmas is fun and like most believers I enjoy celebrating the birth of Jesus, when God became a man and walked among us. But Jesus joined the human race for two primary reasons: First, to show the world what God was like by living a perfectly sinless life; a life in which Jesus perfectly expressed both God’s anger toward sin and God’s mercy toward those who recognize their sin and acknowledge their need; and second, after living a perfect and sinless life, He came to die for the sins of the world as the spotless Passover Lamb, the one Lamb to which all those other Passover lambs only pointed.

The resurrection of Jesus is the very heart of Christianity. It is the one sign that tells us with perfect certainty that the sacrifice of Jesus was acceptable to God and that a way had been made for our sins to be forgiven, if we but believe His message.

After being dead for three days, Jesus arose, triumphant over death and hell. That’s powerful news; life changing news. And it makes me cry like Job of old, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” I hope you can say that, too.
 
 
 

Building A Church One Life At A Time

March 24th, 2014

Dr. Derek Hagland, Dr. Jon Jenkins,
US Senator Debbie Stabenow
I just got back from Washington D. C. with my friend   Dr. Hagland, our college Vice-President. Dr. Hagland was a teenager, in some trouble, when I first met him over two decades ago. He grew up in Gaylord, where God had called me 28 years ago to go and start the Grace Baptist Church. I had the personal joy of leading Bro. Hagland to Christ, when he was 15, shortly after I met him. He eventually surrendered to preach and went to Bible College. After college graduation he came back and joined our staff. He has been on my staff since 1998. He and his precious wife, Amanda have 5 great kids that have all been in Grace Baptist Church their entire lives.

Many churches, sadly, have grown largely by gaining members from other churches. This may increase a churches attendance but in my humble opinion it is not the Biblical method of building a church. The Biblical method of church building is winning people to Christ, maturing them through discipleship and then training them to reach others just like they were reached. When you look across your church auditorium I challenging you to take an honest inventory of how many faces you see that were actually reached and won to Christ by your ministry. Thank God for good folks who are already saved that God may lead to your church, but the Biblical method is still winning people to Christ, maturing them through discipleship and then training them to reach others just like they were reached.

I get asked often about the miraculous story of Grace Baptist Church, of Gaylord, Michigan. God has raised up here in a town of 3,500 people one of America’s largest rural churches. This much I can assure you of – The Blessings of God upon our church honesty have very little to do with me. But this is also true – For almost 3 decades we have been investing our energies in people like Bro. Hagland. The way a church is built is – One Life At A Time.

Make people the number one priority of your church. Jesus must be preeminent in a New Testament Church. When He is lifted up the Scriptures promise that He will draw men to Himself. Slow down and invest your time, energies and resources into people. Sometimes we get so focused on drawing a crowd that we forget the individuals. Last night our service was absolutely packed to our auditoriums capacity. The service ended at about 7:30 PM. I spent nearly 45 minutes talking and fellowshipping with folks in the lobby. Then I went to my office for 3 appointments. My wife and I pulled out of the parking lot at about 9:15 PM. I was tired, but had to go home and get packed to head out of town for two days of preaching in Jennings, Louisiana. My ride came early this morning at about 4:30 AM. My youth Pastor Jeremiah Young ran me to the airport as we had an hour long ride and meeting, making plans for our young people and the upcoming few weeks as we try to reach more people.

No matter how busy each of us may think we are, we must make time for individual people. The Biblical way to Build A Church Is One Person At A Time.