Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"My Baccalaureate Message"

sm060114s1@cbfcbaca...Psalm 1
… “Life’s journey offers only two roads—which way are you going?”
*Baccalaureate Sunday
“Life’s Greatest Choices”
      (Decisions that Determine Our Destiny)
Opening Statement/Context:
Baccalaureate Sunday… it seems that this Sunday comes so quickly each year, but as I say each year I love this Sunday for many reasons, …as a pastor I love it because—I get to help set the life compass for many of our young people who have accomplished something great, but has an even greater task of accomplishments still before them…I see my task each year on Baccalaureate Sunday as preaching the gospel, but also inspiring our graduates while instructing the rest of us in life, living and the importance of not trying live our lives without God. And so, it is with those things as my guide I’ve been led to talk about “Life’s Greatest Choices…Decisions that Affect Our Destiny
As for as the Bible, [The Word of God] sees life as a journey that offers only two roads. It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school drop-out, a high school graduate, a college graduate with an associate’s degree or with a doctoral degree; life is a journey that offers only two roads. No matter what profession, career, business, or field that you pursue in life—you’re only going to have two roads to choose from. I’m aware that in the modern minds of many this idea sounds offensive. But in the eternal omniscient will of God, in regards to our life choices, “it is either / or, and not …both or and.” 
Many who are philosophical would have you believe something different, but life’s choices are really limited, there are only two perceptions of reality: the supernatural, and the natural, the spiritual, and the unspiritual. There are just two conflicting kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. There are just two roads: the wide one that leads to destruction and the narrow one that leads to life eternal [Matt. 7:13-14]. –And that’s what this 1st Psalm is all about, when we look at the structure of the Psalm, and the parallelism in the language of the Psalm, it alone gives grammatical expression to this “either / or” perception of reality.

When this Psalm is broken down in it we see the way of the righteous/godly [vv.1-3], and the way of the wicked/ungodly [vv.4-5], which validates that “Life’s journey offers only two roads.” With the question being—which way are you going?” That’s not a question that you ask yourself ‘one day’ ~ you must ask that question ‘everyday.’
Which way am I you going? Which road am I traveling…? Because ‘peer pressure’ as I told the remnant last month, “Although it first rears its ugly head in our lives when we enter adolescence, it is wrong to think that it ends with that period of our lives. ‘Peer pressure’ is also an adult problem. We all experience it [in one form or another] until we die.
And that pressure contributes to which road of the two we travel.
When it comes to the way of the righteous and godly, we see in [v. 1] that the blessed person doesn’t do certain things, and in [v.2] we see that the blessed person does do certain things, but in [v.3] we see that as a result of what the blessed person, does and does not do, they reap benefits both in time and in eternity.
In [v.1] we have an invitation with a promise similar to the Beatitudes… in so many words we’re told if we watch-out for worldly opinions from worldly people, if we guard ourselves from living practical like the world, and if we don’t keep company or make lasting associations with ungodly, sinful, and lost people, not only will we be good with God, we will be both happy and blessed as we walk and live for God, in front of a world waiting on us to fail. But the negative side to this positive position is—if we don’t live this way there will be a progression in our sins [a mini-exposition of progressing depravity] that will proceed from bad to worse.

The person will go from merely walking [following the counsel of careless and ungodly folk], who forget God to becoming habituated to evil to the point where they stand with open defiant sinners who willfully violate God’s commandments; and if left alone, the person goes a step further, and they themselves become teachers and tempters of others, by sitting in the seat of scoffers judging everything and everyone from the perspective of cynicism and pride. Did you get that? A person not walking the way of the righteous is not hard to spot.
[Sbs…How do you spot them?] They aren’t hard to find, whether they are on a college campus, or if the work in a cubicle next to you, or maybe they’re the owner of a business with the corner office. [Just look for a person who has no ethics and whose moral decisions aren’t dictated by a godly morality, and someone whose counsel is always worldly and ungodly].
 Now don’t let all of that negative stuff in [v.1] make you miss all of the positive stuff in [v.2].
See, the righteous person’s delightful attitude toward the Word of God comes with some benefits.
The fact is, the right attitude [delight], will lead to the right action, meditation… As the righteous person delights themselves in The Word of God by, thinking often of it, by reading it often, by speaking of it often, and by obeying it always –God has promised some benefits both in time and eternity for them. Don’t let delighting be confusing… If we delight in a person, we always want to be around them. If we delight in a song, we always want to sing that song. If we delight in a book/movie we always want to read/see it, no matter how many times we’ve been exposed to it. So, if we delight in God’s law, we will always want to meditate, masticate, ruminate, cogitate, and deliberate on the Word of God, so we can keep on the right path and maintain a disciplined god-honoring life [wherever we are and in whatever we are doing].
[V.3] uses a simile to describe the blessed person, the righteous person as a treeplanted by the rivers of water...”
These rivers of waters are like built in sprinklers systems although they are just irrigation ditches, so as the righteous person delightfully meditates on God’s Word, the righteous person will continually to be watered by God’s Word. And the results of this nourishment will be twofold. First, there will be the bearing of fruit [in season]. Second, they will be an evergreen tree. There’s something here that needs clarity, [God’s evergreen trees don’t bring forth fruit all of the time, they only bear fruit “in their season” in other words; “in God’s time, and not ours.” This is a lesson we all must continually learn: “So, let’s not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap a harvest if we don’t grow weary [Gal.6:9].” The reason God makes righteous people to look like evergreens that never fade, because God’s testimony with the righteous is that because of Him we have true prosperity, eternal blessings and not just material and temporal blessings. Since the Word of God stands forever [Isa. 40:8], God wants the watching world who is waiting on us to fail and fad to know that we too will stand forever like His Word that fills us.

Listen at the promise for the righteous,Whatever … now this ‘whatever’ is not a license for loose living. This ‘whatever’ has some boundaries… It means; ‘whatever’ the righteous person does based on what the righteous person has learned from meditating on God’s righteous Word, as they apply those truths and principles—they will never be disappointed.”
[Vv.4-5] These verses address the way of the wicked/ungodly…
They unlike the way of the righteous, represent insecurity and not security.
These verses tell us that the wicked/ungodly have no real future, as well as they don’t have a real hopeful present. Let me say that another way. The wicked/ungodly will experience bitter hopelessness in the future [later], and before future judgment the wicked/ungodly will experience alienation from believers and their blessing [now] in the present. In other words the joy and security of community that the righteous/godly are experiencing now, will be missed as the wicked/ungodly live in the death of their own egos, keeping them separated from God and God’s people [now and later, in time and in eternity].
There’s a whole lot more I could say about the way of the wicked/ungodly, but you get the idea, their doom is doubled down. –No matter how successful sinners and scoffers may look now, things aren’t what they appear to be. They may have it all now, according to the world’s standards, but according to God’s standards the only standards that matter, the wicked/ungodly will certainly discover that their worldly success had no eternal value.
Did you get that? You can pick your profession, business, field, or career, but it won’t be successful if it keeps you from the things of God with eternal value.
So whatever you do for a living for yourself and family, don’t allow it to keep you from living for God and heaven!
The answer is in [v.6] …For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

You shouldn’t want a job, a profession, a business, a field, or a career, that restricted you from having/experiencing the assurance that the righteous/godly has been promised.
I would think a person would rather have a lower paid job on earth, that didn’t interfere with the eternal rewards of heaven, then to have a high-paying job on earth, that interfered with their eternal rewards of heaven.
Now, I’m not saying that only poor people or going to heaven, no more than I’m saying rich people are going to hell.
What I’m saying is: “Be careful which road you choose first, if you choose the road of success before you choose the road to salvation, it might be harder to change roads. But if you choose the road of salvation first, then any success you have on this road can be fully and proudly experienced without the need to change roads…
That’s the assurance we have being the righteous/godly…
The Lord knows the way we’re going.
The Lord keeps His eyes on the road that the righteous/godly travels.
The Lord has His ear open to the road that the righteous/godly travels.
The Lord’s Spirit abides with every righteous/godly traveler on His road.
While travelling on the righteous road with God, we have the peace of God because the Lord communicates with every righteous/godly traveler on His road.
Can I tell you something I discovered—about God’s road and His way?
You don’t have to know the way, on God’s road, you just need to know and trust the guide.  
 *Do you know the Guide? …He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I’m closing but I need for you to know that the very call to blessing in [v.1], however, precipitates a crisis.
[Sbs…Make it plain pastor!]
You can’t navigate God’s road alone.
You can’t avoid the counsel of the ungodly in our secular society without the presence of God.
You can’t meditate on the Word of God day and night without the Spirit/Mind of God.
You can’t be a fruitful evergreen in this dry/dark world without the constant watering of God’s Word.

But don’t let those things get you down, because “In Christ” [we can do all things, because He strengthens us].
This calling in Psalm 1 is consummated by the Lord Jesus Christ. [In other words]…
*It is Jesus who executes, fulfills, effects, accomplishes, achieves, carries-out, discharges, and performs the duties [of Psalm 1]
It is He [Jesus] who lives in perfect communion with God through us.
It is He [Jesus] who delights in the Word of God through us.
It is He [Jesus] who prospers in all of God ways through us.
This is the benefit for being “In Christ” we become the blessed person of Psalm 1.
…“In Christ” Jesus fulfills the divine demands of God and incorporates us into His divine life.
…“In Christ” Jesus gives us His own righteousness.
As we live “In Christ” on God’s road, we will be that tree planted and our way will be known to God.

As we live “In Christ”, His psalms become our psalms and the road to happiness, to blessing is ours.
So ‘whatever’ you do, in regards to making your life’s choices remember your daily decisions determine your destiny!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Marketing of Evil...How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom

A minister friend of mines recommended a great book to me recently. I loved it so much that I made it a focal point of discussion with "The Remnant" at our church.

The Remnant is a diverse group of young people ranging in ages 18-30 [not all belonging to our church], that my wife and I meet with to talk about current trends, critical issues, the emerging change in church, hot topics, or whatever is on their minds, [without them feeling as if I/we are proselyt-ing them]. Our sole purpose is to help them in the everyday challenges they face to live with integrity and to have a good testimony before a watching world waiting on them to fail.
I/we want this group of young people to impact their generation, and both generations before them, and after them, by them having an understanding of what is actually happening in the world around them, and what the implications are if they do nothing, or if they continued to think and feel like the wrongful majority.
I/we are fully aware of not all, but most of the things being taught wrongly but permissively in our institutions of higher learning [from the dissembling of absolute truth to the tolerance of things you should rightly be intolerant about]. Because my/our generation ignored it, and the generation before ours avoided it, we now live in a day and time where not only does anything goes, but there has been a shift from ‘is something true’ to ‘was anyone offended by the truth?’
I have been saying for years; "The world has been spreading it lies for so long until people in church think its truth, and the church has been telling the truth so long that people in the world now perceives it as a lie."
So my wife and I meet with The Remnant to develop a remnant of young people who will not be afraid to rip the mask off of all the bad things both spiritual and non-spiritual that is invading our homes, churches, and communities, this is why I presented this book for our discussion.
Here is what we talked about during our last meeting...
To stimulate your thinking for our meeting this month I want to share this subject and book title The Marketing of Evil [by David Kupelin]

Have you ever wondered how America has been transformed so rapidly from a strong Judeo-Christian culture into a divided, confused, and contentious society increasingly hostile to its own core values? In other words, how is it that today society in general is accepting ideas and behaviors that would have horrified all previous generations?
I think the answers to those questions are found in the pervasive influence of the “marketers of evil.”  …The plain truth is that within the space of our lifetime, much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped, and sold to us as though it had great value. –By skillfully playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness, generosity, and tolerance, these marketers have persuaded us to embrace as enlightened and noble that which all previous generations since America’s founding regarded as grossly self-destructive—in a word, evil.
Things we can talk about:
·        How giant entertainment corporations use all the powerful psychological tools of modern marketing and manipulation to get America’s children not only to buy the latest products but to rebel against their parents’ values.
·        How a fraudulent scientist, widely revered as the father of the “sexual revolution,” has now been exposed as a sexual psychopath who encouraged pedophilia.
·        How the ACLU and others intent on removing every reference to God in the public square are espousing a dangerous and provably false legal theory of church-state separation.
·        How the establishment news media have conformed to a comprehensive “gay rights” marketing plan openly published by professional Harvard-trained marketers.
·        How the abortion lobby conned us with a slick public relations campaign based on lies and wild fabrications that are still widely accepted as “facts.”
·        And how the marketers of evil have tricked America’s churches out of their natural leadership role in society into a divided, confused, and contentious society—and how that vital role can and must be reclaimed. 

The Remnant…”Now & Next”
Talking about what’s happening now so we can deal with what happens next.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Wanting to See Specifics in the Bible...Is a Cop Out!"

"Specifics and the Bible"

"People who want to do what they want to do, look for the Bible to speak about specific things, but God gives principles for the specifics."
I wrote that to speak to the people who always use the "cop-out"; "The Bible doesn't explicitly or specifically say [such in such--you fill in the blank]."

To that I would say the Bible was never intended to be a book of rules, with a complete list of everything that God accepts and everything that God rejects. Although we do have the Ten Commandments where there are some definite "do's and dont's," the Bible gives principles where there is no specifics.

For example, the Bible doesn't say, "Thou shall not use cocaine", yet the Bible does give clear principles concerning addictive substances, using something of our day that has been abused even as far back as Noah's day--alcohol [see Genesis 9:20-21, Proverbs 23:29-35]. When we examine all that the Bible says concerning alcohol and drunkenness, we can safely conclude what the heart of God is concerning other such mind-altering, addictive substances that have a detrimental effect on our health. And, honestly, doesn't that make more sense [and easier to read] for God to communicate to us that way? Who would be interested in reading the Bible if we saw pages and pages of this:
Thou shall not use cocaine.

Thou shall not use crack.

Thou shall not use heroin.

Thou shall not use speed.

Thou shall not use PCP.

Thou shall not use _____________. Etc...Etc...
You get the idea. God gives principles [not always specifics] in His Word that are to be applied in all matters we face in everyday living. Learn the Word of God and quit giving people "easy outs" [accepting things you know God rejects, just because the specific word or wording is not in the Bible].

"When Even The Bible Doesn't Work!"

I recently preached a sermon on the godliness of God and how we acquire it...what you have here is my closing illustration to prove just because you pack a Bible to church and repeat a mantra weekly about the Bible ~ that doesn't make the Bible work for you. You must be saved, having trusted Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior, and be living a surrendered life in obedience to Him in order for the promises, and power in the Bible to work "its work" in you.

{My Illustration}...

You remember Lawrence of Arabia [the renowned British Army officer of World War 1]?
Well, on one occasion he brought some Arabs back to London,and put them in a beautiful hotel in London and they were absolutely floored. Because, they were nomadic people who lived in the desert, the only thing they had ever lived in was a tent.
In the luxury hotel the thing that fascinated them most were the faucets, because living in a desert all their life, water was at a premium
. In this fancy hotel all they had to do was merely turn a knob and all the water they wanted was there.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

When Lawrence packed them all up to leave and they were packing their bags, he discovered that they had taken all the faucets off of all the sinks and put them in their bags...under the unbelievably ludicrous view that if they had the faucet they had the water.
Do you see where I’m going?

Now as simple and as foolish as that sounds, there are folk who claim to be believers [but they are really just fashion models wearing God's righteousness, but not filled with God's righteousness] who are under the same unbelievably ludicrous view that if they own a Bible, lift it in the air in church, repeat a mantra weekly they have the promises and the power that comes from the Bible.

To which I say [like with the nomadic Arabs] the Bible is just the faucet, unless you’re connected to the pipeline [Jesus Christ] to look for the promises of God, the power of God, and even the presence of God is foolish.
The power comes from the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only…and that's what’s being said in [Philippians 1:11].

You must realize that the fruit of righteousness comes only through Jesus Christ. He produces it in you, to the glory of God and the praise of God.