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Posts from October 2008

So, How Should a Believer Vote?

Well, I'm going to tell you tomorrow.

 

Though many of you have taken advantage of early voting, many others have not yet voted and won't until next Tuesday.  Unless you have been living under a rock for the past six months, you are aware that a historical election is upon us.

 

There are groups lining up with the elephants and donkeys telling you through slick advertisements and now e-mail blasts for whom you should vote. 

 

Well, we've listened to the talking heads enough.  It is time to see what the Scripture says.  I believe we are given biblical instructions about whom to vote.  The Bible also gives us instructions regarding other issues we will be voting upon next week.

 

This is quick notice, but I want you to know that tomorrow evening (Wednesday, October 29) at 6:30pm I will share in our worship center how you should vote.  This is more than a voter's guide rundown (though we have those available.)  This is a straight talking, biblical instruction on how Christians should vote.

 

So, whether you are part of the 47% who have made up their mind for Candidate A, the 43% who are secure with Candidate B, or the very popular 10% that both parties are fighting for, please come Wednesday evening for a very special evening.

 

I can already hear some of you becoming "concerned" about this topic being shared in church.  No need to call me or email me about your "concern."  I got it.  Rest assured, whether you're a "yellow dog Democrat", a "Grand Old Partier" or neither, you need to be here Wednesday evening.


Impacting the World from Orange Park. . .Really?

When I first became pastor here I had a dream of seeing numerous teams of people from our church traveling all over the world serving Christ.  I'm not sure what happened to that dream, other than I became busy with other things.  Last week, God reminded me of this plan and reminded me that it wasn't my idea, but his.

I truly believe we can impact the world from Orange Park.  This can be done with our shoebox gifts through Samaritan's Purse, our annual offerings toward international missions, our support of journeyman missionaries like Nicole and others.   It can also be done by providing opportunities for people in our church to serve on the mission field.  All of you who have experienced a short-term mission project know that once you go, you're life is changed forever.

Working with our mission team and Ryan Rouse, our Student Pastor, we are looking at providing numerous options for international missions in the next few years.  We want you to answer the question "Where does God want you to go?"

Here are the potential sites for 2009:
Cuba, Great Britain, Iceland, Mexico & Mozambique.

Here are the potential sites for 2010:
China, Cuba, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico

We are also working on projects that will take place in Florida and other parts of the United States.  In today's world, we truly can impact the globe.


Reba Reincarnated? What?

Yesterday, I read in the newspaper that Reba McEntire states that she believes she used to be a man.  That quote caught my attention.  Come to find out, she believes that in a previous life, she was a man.  She goes on to say that she believes in reincarnation.

Here's the story from an article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. . .
 
Asked to reveal a secret for her fans, McEntire admits she has Annie Lennox is on her iPod: "She's a strong woman and I love her voice; I love 'Twisted.' "

Then, "I believe in reincarnation," she confesses. " I believe I've gone both ways -- that I have been here before as a man. I will get flak from Christians who will say I can't be a Christian if I believe this. That's true, and I'm sorry, but this is how I live my life, this is what I believe. I believe I have spent time with my son Shelby before. I believe I have spent time with other people in my life before. Who knows? Maybe I'm part Buddhist."

I've always liked Reba.  I think she's a good singer and her sit-com wasn't that bad.  I'm not saying I don't like her now.  I am concerned that she believes she can reconcile her beliefs with Christianity. 

There are some who cite some of ancient church father Origen's statements about reincarnation to justify this in Christendom, but even those who go there have to admit that the early church determined this belief was heretical.  There are many sites out there espousing a conspiracy of sorts to delete reincarnation from Christian teaching.   The fact is that our authority, the Word of God, the Bible teaches that Christianity and reincarnation are not compatible. 

Our Southern Baptist apologetics site (www.4truth.net) shares the following details about the reincarnation and the biblical stance:

Reincarnation-After we die we will be reborn as a baby and live another life

Then we will die and be reborn again starting the process all over. These cycles of birth, life, and death are necessary in order to lose the illusion of separateness from the All. We progress toward this Oneness by acquiring positive karma. Karma is the fruit of our life and actions that are carried by the soul to its next life. Positive karma advances us toward realizing unity with the All. Negative karma prolongs the time needed to realize this unity. In traditional Hinduism, negative karma can cause us to come back as a lower life from.

Biblical Response: The Bible denies the possibility of reincarnation. "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment . . ." (Heb. 9:27, NIV). Since people will experience only one physical death, reincarnation cannot be true.

Reincarnation is a form of works salvation. The Bible rejects salvation through works (of any kind) as impossible. Romans 11:6 (NIV) says, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." Likewise Ephesians 2:8-9 stresses that salvation from sin and its external consequences is a gift that God gives freely. Sin does not result in reincarnation but in death. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23, NIV).

The Bible teaches resurrection not reincarnation. Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live" (John 5:25, NIV).

Reba_mcentire_tickets


Governor Palin & Tina Fey Together

Last night on SNL, Governor Palin made her long-awaited debut.  Pretty funny intro to the show.  It's pretty obvious Palin is not an actress, so you know she's reading when standing by Lorne Michaels, but Alec Baldwin, who is an actor, seems even more obvious and awkward. 


Relevant Sermons

So here's what's been happening.  Over the past few weeks, actually since August, I have had numerous friends and church members come to me with strong encouragement (which I appreciate) and saying that my messages are really hitting them where they are.  They say "you're so relevant."  Wow.  I appreciate that so much.

Just so you know, I read and listen to other pastors.  Many of my messages are firmed up by the Holy Spirit through study of the Bible first (always) but also through the ministry of others.  I credit their ideas and insights when I speak.  I just know that I am always learning and I am by far not the best Bible scholar, nor the most trained in the art of preaching, so I learn from others as well. 

I love listening to Andy Stanley, Chip Ingram, Chuck Swindoll and others.  What's amazing is that as I am preparing for a sermon series that God has led me to, inevitably I hear one of these men, or others, speaking on very similar topics as I am preparing.  God never ceases to amaze me.

While Solomon had it right when he said "there's nothing new under the sun," you know that I always seek to understand three things with every Bible passage I share on Sunday.  First, what did the passage mean at the time it was written.  Second, what is the timeless principle that reaches across all time, cultures and circumstances.  Third, how can I live out this truth in my life today.

That, I believe is why people tell me the message is "relevant."

Relevant is defined as "having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand."  Good definition. 

Here's what I believe.  The Bible is always relevant.  It always has been.  God is always has been, alway will be.  The challenge for us as believers is to listen to the Holy Spirit, be filled with Him and discern the application of Scripture in our daily lives.  I think all too often we have heard Bible studies and sermons and gone away not knowing what it means to us today, or how to live it out.  It's not a relevance problem, it's an application problem.

I strive to help all to see basic biblical truths and how they are applicable to our lives today.  Sounds simple and maybe it is.  Maybe I'm just a simple guy?  I just believe that in order to be a disciple of Christ, you need to know what it means to walk in his footsteps.