Christian Living

Anticipating Our Future Because We Have Resolved Our Past

Everyone who has ever had expectations knows disappointment. Friends break their word, marriages end in divorce, our children move away and take our grandchildren with them, doctors can’t cure our ailments, people use us for their own ends, our investments go bust; but often our biggest disappointment is ourselves and what we have or have not done. We live in a world full of disappointment, and if we do not grapple with this reality, we are doomed to be unhappier tomorrow than we are today.

We have all heard the story of Alexander the Great who wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. The self-written epitaph on the gravestone of accomplished author Robert Louis Stevenson reads, “Here lies one who meant well, tried a little, and failed much.” Joe Torre, manager of the New York Yankees and broadcaster for the California Angels, mentioned that a young boy asked him before a game, “Hey, mister. Didn’t you used to be somebody?” Perhaps you’ve heard Abraham Lincoln’s reply when he was asked how it felt to lose the senate race to Stephen Douglas in 1858. His reply was cryptic: “I feel like the boy who stubbed his toe: I’m too big to cry, but it hurts too much to walk on.”

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The Greatness of God and Trials

The fall colors were at their peak when the Calvary Baptist Church family gathered at a country farm to navigate a corn maze, take a scenic hay ride, and gather around a campfire to fellowship, eat smores, sing, and hear from God’s Word. I was unable to sing and share a message at this year’s campfire because of a bad case of laryngitis. As Keith led the group in singing “How Great Thou Art,” I was struck with the beauty of the moment. The harmony sounded as good as any choir I had heard, but there were some things that were so much more beautiful than the sound of the song.

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Why Sing? | Part 2

Link to Part 1

Using Music to Mature the Emotions

If churches want to establish mature believers, then they must aim at the whole of man, including his emotions. God has given man music as a tool to help him express his emotions. Any casual reader of Scripture will recognize the clear connection between music and emotional expression. Here are just a few examples:

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Why Sing? | Part 1

Why do we have music in church?

This may seem like an odd question. Most — if not all — churches have music, don’t they? This is just how it has always been, right?

While this may seem like an odd question, I believe it is nevertheless an important issue to discuss because of the myriads of faulty answers people will give when answering the question. For instance, I have heard people say that the music of a worship service is simply prelude to the preaching. These kinds of people view music as nonessential to a worship service; we could eliminate it altogether and they wouldn’t miss it at all. Others say that music “sets the mood” for the preaching. This is still a “prelude to preaching” type of thinking, although these people would probably say that music is a good thing because it does “prepare our hearts” for the message. A third group — and this is what I’ve heard more often in our circles — will say that the reason we have music in churches is so that we can teach and affirm biblical truth. This answer may sound a bit better, but I will still insist that it is no better an answer than the other two.

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Logic in Its Place

The two latest installments of Kevin Bauder’s In the Nick of Time, “Shall We Reason Together?” parts one and two, raise interesting questions about the relationship between Scripture and logic. (I’ll refer to them as SWRT 1 and SWRT 2.) The essays are stimulating reading and provide valuable perspective in an area that has received little attention among biblical fundamentalists. But the articles represent only two views of the role of logic: Dr. Bauder’s view and the view he rejects as “alogicality.” A third option is available and might be a better choice.

The Alogicals

The essays refer to the philosophy that what we infer from Scripture is less authoritative than Scripture itself. People who believe this are not hard to find. But Kevin also describes the alogical philosophy as holding to the following beliefs:

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Disciplines of a Devoted Prayer Life, Part 4

Note: This article was originally posted December 7, 2005.

For those of you who think that I just do not get the idea of blogging, you are probably spot on. Articles on prayer will most likely never make the blogging Hall of Fame. In all sincerity, I understand that subject matter such as this is not the best “blog material.” I mean, none of us really disagrees with the fact that prayer is a necessary and an incredibly important part of our lives. Yet I continue to write on the subject for that very reason. We need prayer. While we spend our time debating some much-less-important topics, many times the most important ones (prayer and a true passion for Christ) are ignored in our schedules. Nevertheless, as a word of encouragement and comfort to all: this is the last of the four-part series on prayer.

E.M. Bounds wrote,

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Hurry Up and Wait

The other day, I was sitting at a red light, and the words came out of my mouth that have often rolled around in my head. “Oh, come on! What’s the deal with this light?” After all, this light had just extended my massive six-minute drive into a serious eight-minute intrusion into my busy life! Unfortunately, my impatience was mirrored in the reactions of the four- and six-year-old children who were in my car. Jonathan said, “Yeah. Hurry up, you slowpoke light.” Savannah made a similar comment. “That’s a stupid light.” Talk about conviction! I had just displayed to these little children that the way to solve our problems is to get impatient and frustrated with anything that stands in our way.

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Lied About, Stoned, and Left for Dead

Note: Parts of this article came from the Labor Day 2006 sermon Pastor Joel preached at Southeast Valley Baptist Church (Gilbert AZ).

A Pauline Illustration of the Modern-Day Need for Barnabas-Styled Ministries

I recently preached on a passage found in Acts 14:19-20. The title of the sermon was the same as this article: “Lied About, Stoned, and Left for Dead.” The occasion for the sermon was Labor Day, so I tried to insert a little humor by adding the following subtitle, “A Union/Non-Union ‘Sensitive’ Labor Day Sermon: A Pauline Case Study of the Biblical Procedure in Recovering from the Emotional, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Wounds Received from Those Nasty, Stinky, and Stubborn Elephants That Often Will Run You Over in Life, Work, and Ministry.”

Other than the fact that I’ve never preached a sermon with a longer subtitle, the folks of our congregation enjoyed the description. It’s funny, but several folks said the subtitle immediately set the context of how the topic intersected with them. Most of us have suffered pain in the context of trying to do the right thing at home or at the work place and even in ministry. That happened here with the apostle Paul. Notice the passage.

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