Truth is fallen in the streets

A couple years ago I preached a message about the relative nature of truth in a Post-modern culture.  The fact that truth has become whatever one thinks it to be and it is wrong to tell them that they are wrong.  If an individual thinks that 2 + 2 = 5, then that is truth to them.  That sounds ludicrous and folks snickered when I gave these type of illustrations.

This week in the NBA (National Basketball Association) a star athlete (Kyrie Irving) stated multiple times that he believed that the earth is actually flat.  Kyrie Irving comments   He was quite adamant about it.  This became a leading story throughout the sport.  The commissioner of the NBA made a public comment on it. Adam Silver comments  Several other NBA stars throughout the week defended not only his right to his opinion, but also that he may be right.  NBA comments.  Perhaps all of the images of earth from space are just trick photography one said.

Isaiah 59:14 …truth is fallen in the street…  

Topics like these are easy to defend.  We can observe and experiment on things like this.  This is true science – not speculation.

My thoughts on those that disagree with me

We live in an era where everyone is able to express their opinion. Social media has opened the door to everyone giving and getting opinions on everything.  Obviously, we are finding that many are intolerant of others’s views.  If you don’t like my presidential candidate than I will unfriend or un-follow you on Facebook.  If you don’t agree that home-schooling is the only acceptable method of educating your child than I will berate your choices and flood you with information to the contrary.  Perhaps you have found out that you have a sensitivity to gluten and you are now overwhelmed with those who accuse you of trying a “fad” diet, or that you have been misdiagnosed or you are faking it or you are just looking for attention

People can be mean and nasty – especially now that they can spew their venom from a keyboard.  Things they would have never said face to face is now much easier when they can spout an opinion and then log off.

Here is my position on those I disagree with:

  1. There are those that I NEVER agree with.  They have different opinions and different standards on everything from God to politics and virtually everything in between.  I do not expect to ever agree with these folks.  Some are my friends, former co-workers or neighbors.  We have some small aspect of our lives that unites – but overall we are worlds apart.  I cannot get upset when these folks disagree with me – I expect nothing less. They do not have my foundation of faith, they do not have my foundation of political opinion, they do not have my worldview of culture, life and education.   In fact – when there is a rare moment that I do agree with them I often find myself re-evaluating my own position.  If we actually do agree on something perhaps I have limited information or have not thoroughly studied this subject.
  2. There are then those that I usually always agree with.  When they completely disagree with me it gives me pause to re-evaluate my position.  I trust their thoughts and opinions so perhaps they know something I don’t  Perhaps I know something that they don’t. When I disagree with this person in my life I dig a little deeper to clarify  the why’s and the how’s.  I also evaluate the commonality of our relationship.  If the common ground is our faith and the disagreement is in regards to our faith than I evaluate that disagreement more earnestly.  If our common ground is our employment, but our disagreement is on politics, than I must regard that their baseline for making decisions may be completely different than mine.

Disagreeing with someone is no reason for ending relationships, becoming stressed or getting angry.  Each disagreement gives me the opportunity to evaluate, learn, research and make an educated decision.

That I may know Him (Lesson 3)

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

My prayer for my congregation, my family and myself is that we may know Jesus Christ in a personal way.  We spend much time learning ABOUT Jesus.  We learn about His life, His ministry, His teachings, His death, His resurrection, etc.  However, do we ever really get to know Him personally?  Do we have that close relationship with Him that He desires?

This was clearly Paul’s desire in the above passage.  Paul wanted to walk with Jesus and know Jesus the way that Enoch walked with God in Genesis 5.  The way that Moses was called the friend of God and the way that David was a “man after God’s own heart”.

How do we get to know Him?

  1. We spend time in prayer.  Praying to not only talk but also to listen.
  2. We stay away from sin.  Sin separates us from Him.
  3. We obey Him.  We keep His commandments.

“That I may know Him”!

Character affords the opportunity (Lesson 2)

  • In our continuing series of the Top 10 Lessons I want to share to my congregation – this is Lesson #2: Character Affords the Opportunity!

The Word of God gives us ample information and background on many of the heroes of our faith.  We can consistently see that the character of the individual opens the door to the opportunity that God has for them.  Here are three Biblical examples:

Esther.  The Bible tells us that Esther made a very positive impression on Hegai (2:9),  the one appointed to look after the young women chosen to be presented before King Ahasuerus.  She was not vain or needy by evidence of her refusal of complimentary items(2:15).  The Bible also tells us that even as Queen she  listened to Mordechai, her cousin that raised her, just as she always had (2:20).  Is it any wonder then that the King was so pleased to see her when she presented herself at his court?  Any wonder that he “hasted” to her dinner both the first night and the second?  Her character in the little things opened the door when things looked dire.

Nehemiah.  In chapter 2 of Nehemiah we see that this cup bearer for the King was troubled by the information he had just received concerning the tragic condition of the city of Jerusalem.  Nehemiah’s countenance was fallen because of this news.   Verse 1 of chapter 2 tells us that the King noticed his demeanor because he “had not been beforetime sad in his presence”.  Wow!  He had never shown up to work sad before.  This was so out of character for Nehemiah that the King of the largest and most powerful empire in the known world at that time stopped all of the business of King’s court to find out what was troubling him.

David.  In 1 Samuel we see the story of young David in the familiar showdown with Goliath in chapter 17.  David’s attention to detail cannot be understated.  In verse 20 we see him rise early and leave his foremost duty (tending to the sheep) in the hands of someone else.  He makes his way to the battle as his father had commanded him to do and leaves his dad’s carriage in the hand of another keeper.  He is coincidentally berated by his older brother Eliab in verse 28 for showing his interest in the events of the battle.   Eliab even questions why he abandoned his sheep to come to the battle. Of course, the Word of God had already told us that he had not abandoned his duties.  Isn’t also interesting that even though David was not watching sheep this day – he still had his sling and his pouch to carry the ammunition?

Esther, Nehemiah and David.  Why did God chose these servant for the tremendously important events for which we know them? Perhaps much can be said for their character in the little details of life which mattered so much to God.  So much so that He recorded these little details in His precious Word.

Top 10 Lessons: #1 – Understanding WHO God is!

I have just concluded twelve years of being the Pastor at Cedar Hill Baptist Church of Dillsburg, PA.  I calculated that I have preached or taught at Cedar Hill over 2500 times.  During these years there are several important lessons that have become key lessons that I want to make sure are emphasized.  These are the top 10 lessons that I want people who have sat under my teaching to remember.  (Note: these are in addition to the foundational truths of Salvation by Grace alone, the verbal inspiration of the Word of God, etc. )

#1  We are to understand WHO God is!  When things become difficult and questions arise we so often center on trying to find out Why is this happening? or When will this trial end? or What did I do to deserve this?  The Word of God teaches us that the correct question is WHO?  Who is in control?  Who knows what is going on? Who set the stars in the heavens?  Who is ruling and reigning on the throne of eternity?  Who?  Who is God?

This does not seem like a natural reaction and it is certainly not the question we want to ask.  In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, it is not necessarily even the answer we are looking for when things are bad.  However, it is the question God wants us to answer.  Let’s look at a few Biblical examples:

Job.   In the book of Job we see the incredible challenges he is up against as he loses practically everything in one day.  He loses his home, his flocks, his children and eventually his health.  Job is searching for the answer to Why?  Why is this happening?  His friends come along to help him answer this question – with their conclusion being that Job must have done something wrong. However, we will notice God’s response beginning in chapter 38.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,  Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?    

The Lord will go on to build upon the truth of WHO He is throughout chapter 38, 39, 40 and 41.  Job responds in chapter 42 and verse number 2 with I know that thou canst do everything…

 Mary’s Magnificent.  The prayer of Mary recorded in Luke 1:46-56 outlines once again that Mary’s prayer of praise is all about WHO God is!

Solomon’s prayer for the Temple dedication.  In Solomon’s prayer recorded in II Chronicles 6:12-42 he repeatedly acknowledges WHO God is.

When the struggles of life begin to rage – we ask the wrong question. The question is not when, why, or how – rather the question is WHO?  When we find the answer and acknowledge that the Who is God Almighty – the rest of the questions fade away.

Depart from me

Part 2 in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

“Depart from Me”

Matthew 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Perhaps the most horrifying words in all of Scripture: “Depart from me”.

  1. The setting here is the Great White Throne Judgement of God.  The judgement of the lost – those that did not receive Christ as their Savior.
  2. The judge is Jesus Christ and He will judge the lost from the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Only those who have put their faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone will find their names contained in this Book.
  3. The subjects here are the lost from all time.  From history past, from today, from the Tribulation period and from the Millennial Kingdom.  One final judgement of the lost.  (Revelation 20)
  4. The verdict is eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.
  5. However – there is Hope!  Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Belief and acceptance in the free gift of salvation.  Notice what the lost in Matthew 7:22 put their faith in:  Have WE not prophesied, have WE not cast out devils,  have WE not done many wonderful works?   Their faith was in their WORKS – However their fate was determined NOT by their works but by the Lambs’s Book of Life – in Christ alone!

**Here is the audio from Sunday morning 4/10/2016

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…but I found none (Ezekiel 22:30)

Ezekiel 22:30

30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

God was looking for someone – just one – to stand in that gap. Someone willing to stand up for truth and righteousness.  Sadly – there was no one.  Not one was willing to stand up and be counted.

  1. God uses people.  That in and of itself should encourage us.  God does not need to use people – rather God chooses to use people. Often – God is just looking for one willing person.
  2. God found no one on this particular day.  No one that was willing. How very sad.
  3. The Bible though gives us a number of examples when God did find someone willing to step up:
    1. Aaron was willing to stand between the dead and the living while the plague was upon the Israelite camp (Numbers 16:48)
    2. Esther was willing to risk her life for her nation and go into the kings presence uninvited (Esther 4:14)
    3. Nehemiah was willing to tackle the job of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2)
  4. Is God looking around where you are?  Is He looking for someone to step up in your family, in your workplace, in your community or in your church?

Here is the audio from the Sunday morning message:

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

This past Sunday we began a new sermon series with the name: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

There are a number of passages in The Word of God that are extremely sad and heartbreaking passages.  These are the foundation of this sermon series.  Each week we will look at a verse and focus on the Good and the Bad and sometimes the Ugly.

These verses include:

“Depart from me, I never knew you”

     ” I searched for a man among them … but I found none”

     “but Amnon had a friend” (a very bad friend)

     ” the Spirit departed Saul”

     ” take up your cross daily and follow”

Each week during this series I will follow up with a post sharing the link to the audio and some additional notes on the subject.

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My top 5 parenting tips…

More and more in my ministry I am approached with questions from parents on how to handle or deal with their children.  Raising our children is a tremendous God given responsibility and the Word of God has much to say on this topic.  While this compact list will not cover the extent of parenting – these tend to be my top five “go-to” topics for parenting advice:

  1. You are the Parent – not your child’s friend.  God holds the parents responsible for raising children that will glorify the Lord. Parents are handed the God-given task of teaching, correcting, disciplining, encouraging, nurturing and providing for their children – not the government, not the schools and not the church.   Proverbs 22:6
  2. Follow through, follow through, follow through.  More than any other one area I witness so many parents failing at is this – they do not follow through. They know what the children should do, then communicate that to their children, but they fall short of making sure it is done.  I’ve seen parents tell their fourth grader for days on end to “clean up your room” – but the child doesn’t do it and there are no consequences for the action.
  3. Consequences – not exaggerations.  Children need consequences for their actions but so often parents make outlandish exaggerations in the form of threats that they have no intention of carrying out.  There needs to be direct, realistic consequences for wrong doing such as:  “If you don’t clean up your room you will not be playing video games tonight”, or “since you failed to turn in your homework at school today you will not be getting ice cream after the game tonight”.  Reasonable and carried out consequences.  I have heard parents at church tell their child “if you don’t get in the car right now I will leave you here”.  No they won’t and their child knows it.
  4. Don’t set a rule you cannot make them carry out. If you make a rule or a command of your child you better be able to carry it out. There will come a time when they are just too big to make them do certain things.  If you have done your work when they are young – this won’t be a problem when they are older.
  5. Pick your battles wisely.  Another thing I see all too often are parents correcting their child for frivolous things.  Sometimes boys are boys and are going to get dirty or mess things up and sometimes girls are going to cry for no apparent reason.  This is who they are.  We need to correct behavior and attitudes not be correcting things that we find annoying or loud or just don’t understand.  Parenting

…God will tell people about your Church!

Shortly after I became a Pastor I received advice from a Pastor that I respect very much.  He told me that the philosophy of his ministry and his church is very simple:  If we tell people about God; God will tell people about our church!  Bottom line:  We focus on the Great Commission.  We tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ and God directs people that are looking for a church about our church.  It’s never the same people!  Just a reminder that God’s ways are not our ways.

Each week our church visits numerous nursing home and assisted living facilities to make room visits and conduct Bible studies.  Most churches today will not take the time to focus on nursing homes because patients at nursing homes don’t tithe and don’t increase attendance numbers.   Our church continues to grow and we see visitors almost every week.  Is it because of our great marketing campaign?  No – it’s a simple principle:  When we tell people about God; God tells people about our church!

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