Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Message of Hosea

It astounds me how often the Lord works most in sermons that I feel went the worst. Last night I felt really flat and as if I were not preaching with the passion that I needed to. It is amazing the power that God has in his Word. I have had a fair amount of people say that the Lord spoke to them last night and that they were really blessed. The message of the prophet Hosea is very powerful!

Here is the sermon from last night: Loving Prostitutes

Keep looking on the page to find a link to your blogs...those should be updated. Also, if you read this before tonight don't forget that you are invited to the Office Party at my house!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Enamored with the Gospel

I am awestruck. I am afraid that words are going to fail me as I begin to share with you the passion that the Lord has created in my heart for His precious gospel. For the last 3 months or so the Lord has been causing the truth of the gospel to go really deep in my heart. The question has been running through my head; "Do you really belive the gospel, Mike?"

Do I believe the gospel enough to live it? Do I believe the gospel enough to not defend myself? Do I believe the gospel enough to forsake all in my pursuit of Christ? Do I believe the gospel enough to run to Christ in the midst of my sin? Do I believe the gospel enough to stand before a group of people and preach grace boldly? Do I believe the gospel enough to preach it in such a way that you are left thinking, "well then, can't I just keep sinning"? Do I believe the gospel enough to trust and rely on grace rather than my penance and/or good works to make me acceptable to God? Do I believe the gospel enough to tithe, even when our bank account dwindles? Do I believe the gospel enough to trust God in the birth of our son? Do I believe the gospel enough to stop trying to please people and instead please the Lord? Do I believe the gospel enough to say what I mean and mean what I say? Do I believe the gospel enough to not hide behind a mask? Do I believe the gospel enough to not always have to know the answer? Do I believe the gospel enough to entrust to God's sovereign grace the lives of the sheep he has entrusted me with? DO I BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!

Sadly, quite often I do not. But I am growing. Do I believe the gospel enough to know that even if I do not believe the gospel enough it still rings true? And to that I think I can say yes. I believe the gospel, Lord help me to believe the gospel more!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sin Boldly?!?!?!

Last night we gave you an interesting challenge: to sin boldly. Ripped from it's context saying such a thing can be outright heresy. But if you really grasp what it means to sin boldly in it's context then the gospel will be magnified in your life. If you view the uncut sermon, What if I stumble?, then you will not find the illustration of the father who spanked his child (ex. our bearing the Father's indignation) and then moments later hugged the crying child (ex. our Father's picking us up in our chastisement). I also would like to point your attention to two John Piper sermon's based on Micah 7:7-9: When I Fall, I Will Rise and Piper's controversial Passion07 message on Dealing with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause.

But just in case you don't feel like reading all of can catch a glimpse of what we mean by sin boldly by reading Luther's quote:
“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly,  but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world]  we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness,  but, as Peter says,  we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.  No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.”[1]
Hopefully we will have a new Who Am Eye sometime either tonight or tomorrow, a new poll, and a new devotion on Jude. Also, do not forget to memorize the verse of the week!
[1] Did Luther really say, Be a sinner and sin boldly? Cited from an Article written by James Swan.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Don't Forget the Memory Walk--Jude 17-18

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers,following their own ungodly passions.’

Technology is not all good. What type of “technology” I am speaking of today is actually something that was invented in the mid 1400’s—the printing press. Now, by no means am I decrying the use of books or written words. Look in my library, I love books. In fact that which you are reading right now is written word. So, technology is good. But it also has a few negative consequences. The one of which I speak today is our neglect and loss of memorization. One commentator sites a statistic that says on a given Sunday the congregation will only remember 30 percent of what a pastor said only a few hours later. That retention dwindles to 5 percent by the end of next week.[1] We retain facts for immediate use and then discard them once they are no longer useful and we replace them with newer information.

Compare this lack of memorization to the Psalmist and to what Jude says to us this morning. David (more than likely) said in Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The sword that David wielded against sin was the sword of God’s Word hidden in His heart. Jude exhorts his beloved friends to remember the teachings of the apostles to combat the heresy of the “scoffers”. They more than likely had no written word. They had no Bible they could turn to. They couldn’t go to Romans 8:1 to tell them they were no longer condemned. All they had was a memorization of the Old Testament scriptures and remember what the apostles and Jesus himself had taught.

So, what importance does this have for us today who have the blessing of the written word? I think we can find our answer to that question by probing our hearts with another question. If all of our Bibles were destroyed in America how much of God’s Word would you still have? What if the prophecy of Amos came true in our land, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11). Now, granted Amos is talking about a famine of hearing God’s Word and we are speaking of not being able to read God’s Word, but the principle remains. If there were a famine in our land of the Word how much would you retain? If you could not find a Bible or a preacher would you remember more movie quotes or Bible verses? Brothers and sisters I will be the first to confess that my Bible memorization is weak and it is to my shame. What else do we have to do battle with the flesh and rulers of darkness than the mighty Word of God? How arrogant of us to think that we can win any battles when we are fighting the great adversary with a sword no bigger than a pencil!

Let us hear what Jude is saying and REMEMBER! Let the Word sink deep and be like David and hide the precious Word of God in our hearts. To exhort you in this we will have a bible verse to memorize every week on the sidebar of this website.

Also, you might be wondering about the strange title. As an aside I will explain but keep in mind that I mean no offense and some might think I am joking about something that is not funny. Every year our church holds a memory walk for those who have Alzheimers. It is a great thing and I think anything we can do to help this cause is wonderful and needed, Alzheimers is horrible. However, I also find humor in ways I maybe should not. Each week when it is announced when the memory walk will be I turn to my wife and say, "Don't let me forget that". And then when the event rolls around and I do not attend I tell my wife--"I can't believe I forgot about that". Not funny, I know...but that's where the weird title comes from.

[1] Hendriksen, William. Commentary on 1 & 2 Peter and Jude. Taken from
Hendriksen does not cite his source.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Does God Care?

Sorry it has taken a few days to get the latest sermon online, i have actually been quite sick. Wednesday we asked the question, "does God care?" The answer is a resounding yes! That is both a comforting and terrifying thing. It is comforting because it means God cares about all of our hurts, needs, struggles, etc. It is terrifying because it also means that God cares about our sin. I hope that you walked out of Wednesday night with the realization of how deep and wide the love of God is for us. He truly does care about you. I also hope that you have a deep burden for your own sin and are struck with a fear of the God who judges. Ultimately we know that our sin was judged and the wrath of God was poured out on the Cross. As always our only hope is Christ--let us run fervently to Him.

The sermon in a very uncut form can be found at Does God Care? The Message of the Prophet Amos

I hope to post another Jude devotion on Monday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Is God in control of evil?--The God of Amos

This is an incredibly fitting time for this sermon (the 6 year anniversary of 9/11). Wednesday night we are going to ask the question, "Does God care"? The resounding answer, of course, will be yes. But, there is something fundamental behind this that we must deal with. If you read the blog you will have a benefit over those who do not. Amos 3:6 says, "Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?"

The answer that Amos is looking for is "NO". It is in the midst of many questions of such that are obvious "NO" answers. So what Amos is saying is this, "If disaster comes to a city the Lord has done it". This flies in the face of much contemporary evangelicalism explanations for the "problem of evil", or explanations for "why do bad things happen". It is quite eye-opening to see different approaches to this. I challenge you to read this article from a theolgoy professor at Baylor University: Greg Olson and one by author and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist: John Piper. Ask yourself, "which of these offers more hope"? Piper, I believe, also does an effective job of displaying the biblical position in his Response to Rabbi Kushner.

How then does Amos' statement offer us hope and answer the question, "Does God care"? If we neuter God and say things like, "maybe God is in charge but not in control" as Olson does, then we are stripped of our hope. If God is not big enough to stop a bridge collapse then what hope do I have? How can I have any security? If God is not big enough to keep a bridge up then is He big enough to keep me until the end? If God is not "in control" then who is? Does it really comfort me to know that "it's because of my sin and free will" that bad stuff happens and that God would really like to overcome it but He has limited himself? Or is it more comforting (and more importantly more biblical) to say along with Job, "though He slay me yet will I trust Him". Is it comforting to cry out to God along with Hosea, "Come let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up".

Our only hope is in a big sovereign God that is both good and in control...even of evil. I understand this might make it sound like we are saying God is evil. It is difficult to discern and understand how God can be "in control" of evil and yet not be evil. But that is what the Bible has left us with--these are the cards we have been dealth--this is who God is and what He has revealed let us rejoice that God is good and that God is powerful and in control. He is able to save, He is able to keep us!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Will You Be Saved?

I hate when I do this. One paragraph, but I wish I hadn't left it out of the sermon Wednesday night. I think that perhaps it would have made it a little more practical and inspiring. Here is the paragraph:
So what do you do, when you find yourself in the midst of despair? Repent and cry to God for mercy. Call on Him to help you in times of trouble. Repent and turn to the Lord. I love the great mercy of the Lord. Listen to 2:12-14, “Yet even now [that means in the midst of this judgment] return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him…?”

As I read this, I am wondering how long has it been since we at FBC New London have turned to God with all of our heart? How long has it been since we fasted, since we deprived ourselves of material blessings because God is sweeter than anything? How long has it been since we really mourned? How long has it been since we have been absolutely broken for our sin? How long has it been since we have actually shed a tear for our sin and lack of love for the Lord? What does it mean to rend our hearts and not our garments? It means to not just pretend like we are broken but that we are actually broken, and repentance and obedience follow!
How hungry are you for God today? The locust invasion made Joel hungry, but not just for food, it made him hungry for the living God. May the Lord have grace on us to make us hungry!
Furthermore, I also want you to think about the closing words I gave you. "What would it be like if rather than expending all of our energy on trying to be accepted by God (which we already are in Christ) we would expend all of our energies on worship?" Oh! That we might be broken and thankful today!

In case you want to read the full text of the sermon you can find it here:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Journey

I celebrated my labor day weekend with my wife's family in St. Louis. It was a tremendous time. We actually were blessed with going out to eat 4 times; Concettas, Chevy's, Talayna's, and Cracker Barrel. I think I might be about 20 pounds heavier after this weekend. We also were blessed with checking out a "new" church plant called The Journey.

The Journey has actually caused a little bit of controversy in the Missouri Baptist Convention over the past few months due to their stance on alcohol and a ministry they have called Theology at the Bottleworks. Some Missouri Baptist churches would probably tell us to steer clear of The Journey, but let me tell you that I was extremely blessed by the services there.

The message was phenomenal and it drove me to the Cross of Christ for mercy and in thanksgiving. Three things struck me.
1) The dangerous effects of living a life that is characterized by law. Living a life characterized by the law means I am constantly trying to gain approval and acceptance with God. It is so easy, yet very deadly, to slip into that way of thinking and living. I was encouraged and fell more in love with Jesus this Sunday.
2) Go deep, in love. I have no problem letting the gospel (at least intellectually) go deep into my heart. But things like "Jesus loves me" I tend to not let penetrate quite as deep. I was encouraged to listen to the Holy Spirit preach the gospel to me and allow it to go deep.
3) "Are you selling what you are smoking"? That hit me. Basically what that means is--am I living that which I am preaching. If I am preaching "run to the Cross" am I running to the Cross? If I am preaching "It's all about Jesus" is Jesus my everything? It was a great church service and I would (dare I provoke the wrath of the MBC) recommend that any time you are in the St. Louis area check out The Journey.

You can find their website at The Journey in St. Louis

P.S. If you read this before Wednesday and you want to prepare for the Joel!!


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