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August 2007

Posts from July 2007

Shark Week

It's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel again.  Last night they aired a two-hour documentary called "Ocean of Fear."  It is a story about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the great shark attack in history.  This is the story our guest on Memorial Day, Ed Harrell, shared.  Ed was one of the survivors of the sinking. 

Ocean of Fear is aired again this week, but early in the morning.  It's worth setting your TiVo for.  I'm sure it will be aired again in the future.  Here is some detail about the film:

Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, who memorably played Matt Hooper in Jaws, watch the gripping story of the USS Indianapolis, sunk by Japanese torpedoes in the Philippine Sea on the night of July 30, 1945. Of the 1,196-man crew, about 900 sailors, many maimed and burned, were plunged into the water ... and floated helplessly for four days, beset by hunger, driven mad by thirst and menaced by hundreds of sharks. Assisted by George Burgess, America's foremost investigator of shark attacks, Ocean of Fear examines why the sharks attacked the way they did, and investigates the survival strategies of the men in the water, including those who fought the sharks. Survivors recall their ordeal on camera and remarkable reconstructions, filmed with real sharks, reveal the drama from both the sharks' and humans' perspectives.

Here's a link showing when the film will air again:  http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-schedules/special.html?paid=1.445.25504.4288.0


Jonah - More than a Fish Story

We all love the story of Jonah and his encounter with the big fish.  It's been told over and over for generations, but the truth is that the story is deeper than just the fish part.  This is the story of a prophet known for his disobedience, a preacher angry at his success and a believer more concerned about his creature comforts than those separated from God.

This is a Bible hero?

Yes, and he's more like us that we'd probably want to admit.

Download 01_1_jonah_more_than_a_fish_stor.mp3


Letters From Dad

Just curious what your thoughts are about "Letters From Dad" that we are premiering here at First Baptist on August 19 with author Greg Vaughn.  If you were in the service this morning, you saw the video promo clip.  Let me know what you think.

Greg20vaughn20teaching


Sinners vs. Saints

I said it again this morning during the message.  The phrase "sinner saved by grace" is not accurate.  This upsets some folks, I know.  I've been raised hearing this phrase used to describe believers.  Hey, I've even used it.  The problem with the statement is the emphasis on the word "sinner."

Now, don't hear what I'm not saying.  According to Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  We have all sinned.  Before coming to Christ, that was our identification.  We were sinners.

I know this is just semantics, but there's value here.  You see, words mean things.  They are powerful. 

I also believe we who are Christians are "saved by grace."  This is the great rescue.  It's God's unmerited favor on us.  He loves us, though we don't deserve it.  He has invited us into Life and has given us a way - through Jesus Christ. . .and it's all through grace.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says it best "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

I think the phrase "sinner saved by grace" is accurate once.  That moment when you surrendured your life to Christ and accepted Him as your Savior - you were that sinner saved by grace.  At the moment of your salvation, you were changed.  The Bible says you were transformed and no longer identified by your separation from God (i.e. your sin) and that you are a new creature in Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6)

So, what's the big deal? 

The big deal is when those of us who have given our lives over to Christ, through a desire to seem humble or possibly to acknowledge our depravity, continue to identify ourselves as sinners.  We, true Christians, are not "sinners" by this definition.  A sinner is defined as one who is a habitual practitioner of sin, in league with the Enemy, Satan, and is an enemy of God.  The believer in Christ has traded the identity of "sinner" for the identity of "saint."  Now, we tend to think of saints as those the Catholic church as identified, but according to Scripture, a saint is anyone who is a true believer and has accepted Christ as Savior.

Do Christians sin?  Yes.  I'm a testimony of that.  We fail our Father.  This happens when we forget who we truly are and live from the old nature.  It's a dead nature, but still there.  Paul was writing the Roman believers about this and referenced it in chapter 6.  The "old man" is there.  Paul was encouraging and challenging Christians to stay focused and not let the old nature rear it's ugly head. 

Bottom line - know who you are, and whose you are.  As the singers sang this morning, those of us in Christ Jesus are God's children, and he loves us.

I used the "Daily Prayer" this morning in my message.  It was long, I know, but I believe very powerful and biblically based.  Copies are available on the church website - www.opfirst.org.  For some reason it appears upside down on the computer screen when you open it, but if you print it, you can just turn the paper around.  Isn't technology great?

Have a great week.

Oh yeah, I'd love to read your comments about this subject. 


Real Answers for Real Questions

Last night our student ministry hosted the "Real Answers for Real Questions" event for the church.  I was encouraged by the great questions our students posted.  Four of us pastors were on the panel to answer these questions and while some questions do not have easy answers, it gave us a forum desperately needed.

Warren Weirsbe said it best "We don't live our Christians lives on explanations. We live our Christian lives on promises."  Still, it is good to ask questions and allow God to lead us to the answer - Him.

We hope to have a blog up soon with Q & A info on it, as well as future Real Answer sessions.

Thanks to Ryan Rouse for making this happen.

Ryan has the online version almost ready.  You can go there for answers to questions or updates from last night.  Here's the site address:  http://realanswers2realquestions.blogspot.com/


New Lives for Old

Back when "Contemporary Christian Music" was really getting started, one of my favorite artists recorded a song titled "New Lives for Old."  The artist is Wayne Watson, who has a gift of writing and music that has always amazed me.  This particular son was very simple, but so true.  The song was about a man who used to be a carnival barker - you know, the guys who scream "Step right up, step right up."  However, he no longer barked for carnival rides or shows, but for Christ.  Here's what he said. . .

New lives for old
Warm hearts for cold
Have I got a deal for you today
C'mon, step right this way
And get your new lives for old

Sometimes the simplest thing will click.  I think we often forget that Christ is all about life - new life.  He's offering a new life in exchange for your old one.

I mentioned Sunday about how past sins can be painful and often difficult to move beyond.  I shared that though our past is real, consequences remain.  This can be and very often is very difficult to deal with.  The great news is that there is no condemnation for those in Christ.

I briefly mentioned this Sunday, so I'll expound on it here.  I mentioned the adult film star who recently became a believer.  She traded her old life, though worth millions of dollars offered no hope, love or joy, for true life.  I was skeptical at first, but as I read about her change, I began to thank God that through her testimony many will be changed and many believers will be reminded that He truly is still about changing lives and offering true life.

Her name is Chrissy and she writes an online blog about her new life and is very honest regarding her struggles as a believer.  Through her site, thousands have written words of encouragement and support.  Remembering life is a journey and that though there are consequences to sin, the refreshing thing is knowing that Christ has taken on our condemnation.  Remember, there is no condemnation for those "in Christ Jesus."  Chrissy's testimony is all about this.  Is yours?


Don't Hassle the Hoff

For the first time in a long time (excluding football games) I yelled at my television.  On last night's episode of "America's Got Talent" the esteemed panel of judges (of whom apparently only David Hasselhoff was right - can you believe that!) sent home a few great acts to keep a non-talented large man with a lisp who wears womens clothes and belly dances (badly) and a man from Indian descent who makes Napoleon Dynamite look like a good dancer.

America's Got Talent<br />

Las Vegas

WHAT????  You've got to be kidding me.

My wife said "If Boy-Shakira and the dancing man make it through, I'm not watching this show anymore!"  She was really angry.  Moreso because some legitimate talent like the Three Redneck Tenors and the tall blond singer Fallon actually had talent and they were voted off.

What's amazing is that Hasselhoff, known for believing he's the biggest talent in the world (when not intoxicated playing with a cheeseburger) actually had it right.  He wanted to send home the dancing man and Boy-Shakira but was outvoted by Piers (the obligatory Simon Cowell-like British judge) and Sharon Osbourne.

Unbelievable!

I know, I know, it's just TV and the purpose is to get you involved, even if that's by making you mad.  I just hope when America votes they'll move these two guys off the stage.

My favorite acts:

1.  The 14 year old girl with the incredible voice who previously just sang into a hairbrush in her bedroom. 

America's Got Talent<br />

Las Vegas

2.  The guitar-playing Sting sound-alike is incredible as well.

America's Got Talent<br />

Las Vegas

3.  Kevin James, one of the best magic acts, and funniest I've ever seen.  I keep saying "How'd he do that?"

America's Got Talent<br />

Las Vegas

BTW - What purpose does Jerry Springer have on this show?