Thursday, July 27, 2006

He who justifies the ungodly

Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (KJV)

Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, (NASB)

This is one of those concepts that is difficult for the human heart to grasp. That's why we have so many people who are unregenerated, lost, and undone without a relationship with the Living and True God today. We (especially in the West) have an entitlement mentality. We are always pleading for the powers-that-be to "give us what we deserve." We are a people that demand our rights. I can say without reservation, that I'm glad God doesn't (and hasn't to this point) given me what I truly deserve.

The recent case with Andrea Yates and the murder of her children has caused quite a stir in the news and within Christian circles. Regardless of your opinions about this particular case, I think you would admit that it's difficult at times to see the guilty "go free." Human nature demands that justice be served. Again, I readily admit that I have the same tendencies. When I watch a drama, play, or a movie- I expect (and rejoice when it happens) the bad guy to get what he deserves.

Grace operates on another level however. A person who places their faith in Christ is justified on the basis of what Christ has done- not on the basis of what they deserve! As much as Satan surely loves it when people are in bondage to drugs, alcohol, and other perversions- I'm inclined to believe that he loves it just as much (if not more) when people believe that they are accepted by God on the basis of their good works. It is said in scripture that Saul had slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands (I Sam 18:7/21:11/29:5). Perhaps this is a poor analogy, but in the final equation- the so-called "gospel" of good works may end up slaying more in the end than all vices combined.

I'm beginning to understand more and more the heart cry of Paul the Apostle found in Philippians:

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (KJV)

So as you finish reading this blog today, why not pause for a moment and thank the Good Lord that He hasn't given us what we truly deserve!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Can't find the perfect church?

It seems that some are always in pursuit of the perfect church. Perhaps that's where you are at today as you read this blog entry. You've driven to every assembly within a 30 mile radius of your home, and yet you still are left wanting. It seems the perfect blend of preaching, congregational friendliness, music, and programs is nowhere to be found. So.... saint of God, what are you to do? strange as it may seem- take heart! A quick panoramic view of the New Testament reveals that even in Paul's day the church was filled with imperfect people. Let's briefly survey the situation:

The Galatians were dealing with rampant legalism
The Corinthians were dealing with idolatry, immorality, and a general lack of love
The Thessalonians seemed preoccupied with eschatology at the expense of daily labor
The Romans seemed to be struggling with cultural problems (Jew/Gentile relations)
The Colossians were battling heresy regarding the supremacy of Christ
The Philippians were trying to mediate a conflict between two well-known women (Philippians 4:2)

I'll stop there (I could go on...really I could :) ).

What is your point Henry? (I know that's what some of you are thinking, so I just verbalized that for you- wasn't that nice of me?) Well- my point is not that God endorsed these sinful behaviors. In fact, it's exactly the opposite- the Holy Spirit moved upon Paul (and the other writers of the New Testament) to correct and rebuke those who were in error and warn them of the dangers of sinful disobedience. The point I'm trying to make is that even the first century church with all of its zeal and power (remember many of those in the early church had been eyewitnesses of the Lord's resurrection and were eyewitnesses to the Day of Pentecost)- there were problems! If you're looking for a perfect church, then I'm afraid you're on a never-ending quest dear friend (sorry to break the news to you!).

Now some will read this post and think "Henry's telling me it's ok to go to a church that preaches false doctrine because after all...nobody's perfect." (WRONG AGAIN- don't you love how I anticipate your questions and answer them? I think that's called diatribe....but I digress). As a matter of fact I believe exactly the opposite- I think you should run (not walk) from a church preaching/teaching false doctrine or one that is tolerant/celebratory of immoral behavior from it's membership. Some folks will forever use the argument that the church is full of hypocrites- well certainly they are among us- but how many hypocrites do you work with every day? How many of them do you eat in restaurants with? Shop in grocery stores with? Jesus picked 12 disciples and one of them was a devil. Surely you won't hold it against the church if a few hypocrites sneak in and worship on Sunday mornings?

Someone forwarded an e-mail to me today and I thought I would share some of it with you today:

Don't let your worries get the
Best of you, remember, Moses started
Out as a basket case.
Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited
Until you try to sit in their pews.
Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.
It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.
People are funny; they want the
Front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of
the church.
Quit griping about your
Church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.
If the church wants a
Better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.
Some minds are like concrete
Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
I don't know why some people
Change churches; what difference does
It make which one you stay home From?
A lot of church members who
Are singing "Standing on the Promises" are just sitting on
the premises.
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.
Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.
Forbidden fruits create many jams.
God loves everyone, but probably prefers
"fruits of the spirit" over "religious nuts!"
>>>>> *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm still around...

Well, many of you have been keeping up with my "saga"- some may be concerned- some could probably care less (I dare say this would be the majority group :) )- some may be wondering if I'm giving up blogging altogether.....well you can set your collective minds at ease!

I've been without internet access at home for quite some time now, but just a few days ago, our DSL modem finally arrived. After about 5 days of troubleshooting and trial and error, the modem finally works properly. I didn't realize how much I depend on the internet and e-mail until I was without it for a few days. I think I've made more phone calls in the past three weeks than I have made in years.

I think I must have a loose screw somewhere or I'm a very poor planner. Here is my itinerary for the past few months.

June 12-16th- Camp meeting in Cherokee/Whittier, NC
June 18-22nd- Vacation Bible School at our Church
June 26-30th- Sold my home and bought new one (moved more boxes via U-Haul than any human being should do in one week)
July 3rd-7th- Trying to get settled in the house but made the brilliant decision (with my wife's help of course**wink wink**) to paint the WHOLE House (most rooms to two coats of paint- thank you very much) before we totally moved in.
July 10th-14th- Moving furniture in, having refrigerator delivered, telephone/DSL hooked up, looked for lawn mower and living room furniture.
July 16-19th- Began revival services at our church

Oh and in addition to this, I'm trying to pastor at our local church, raise my family, and be the best husband a wife could ever have (boy I sure hope Pam isn't reading this- she will either fall in the floor laughing or charge me with blatant falsehood ), and working at my secular job.

Which brings me to today! I'm going to rest tonight and get in bed at a decent hour (at least that's the plan!). But ya know what?- I wouldn't trade anything for these past few weeks. Although they have been jam-packed with way too much activity, I just need to step back and praise God for what He's done.

#1- I met some wonderful friends and heard some timely messages at Camp meeting
#2- VBS provided us a wonderful opportunity to outreach to the community and teach children about the love of Jesus Christ
#3-Although moving was a real pain- I love our new home and we're only about 8 minutes from our church now (as opposed to 30 before)
#4-The repairs and work on the new house look beautiful- I can't wait till our new furniture arrives
#5- this Revival was one of the best I have ever been a part of. My dear friend Pastor Steve Morrison preached for me and God used him in a mighty way to minister to me and my church family.

Thanks for letting me rant and praise all in the same blog- this is actually quite therapeutic. I'm not sure it will have the same effect on those of you reading it as it did for me writing it....but then again- this is my blog! :)

I don't often say this in the blogosphere- but I love all of you and thanks for reading over my shoulder.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Consequences of Unthankfulness?

Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (KJV)

Romans chapter one contains some of the darkest imagery of the New Testament. It starts out with Paul talking about his eagerness to preach the gospel to those at Rome. But then it shifts gears rather quickly and begans to speak of the depravity of human behavior when left on its own course. Let me share just a little more from this passage if I may:

Romans 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 1:30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 1:32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Are you getting depressed yet? Perhaps seeing some similarities to our own society? Time and space will not allow me to dive into this passage and give talking points on each verse. That's not the intent of my blog entry today- I just want you to pay close attention to the first few words that I posted at the top of today's entry "they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful".

Now perhaps I'm reading too much into the text and bringing my own biases into the equation. But doesn't it seem ironic that the progression of evil that is described in verses 21-32 starts out with unthankfulness and a lack of praise to God? We tend to categorize sins as big ones or little ones. These seemlingly "little" sins (if I can make that distinction-I'm speaking in foolish terms here so please indulge me) appear to lead to great big sinful problems. An unthankful heart might seem like a rather mild spiritual malady, but if left unchecked, perhaps we see a glimpse of what it can "evolve" into.

Just some thoughts to muse on today- feel free to add your own opinion :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Been Moving...

I Corinthians 7: 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. (NKJV)

I have been absent from the blogosphere for quite a few days now due to my recent move. My family recently sold our house and we moved closer to our church family. I have had very limited internet access and still don't have phone service (not so sure that's a bad thing-but I digress...). I thought it might be good today to post a few random thoughts inspired by my recent move.

As I look around my new place and see all the scattered boxes, empty rooms, and unfamiliar neighbors, I realize the temporal nature of this life. For a few days (between closings on the home) we were actually "homeless"-although I feel very reluctant to use that term because of those who truly are homeless and are forced to sleep in shelters and streets- may God watch over each one of them. During those days I thought about the fact that this life is merely a temporary existance. Although we lay claim to many things and proudly boast that "we own" this or that, the truth is that we own nothing. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.

Job said it best:

Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

We are only here for a very short time and it really matters what we do with what we've been given. I need to purpose in my heart not to get too attached to this present set of circumstances- soon and very soon we are going to see the King!