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September 2012

Posts from August 2012

Sing Like Never Before. . . Selah!

082612-Habakkuk 5

As we completed the series on the writings of Habakkuk in the Old Testament, we were confronted with the reality of God's love, grace, sovereignty and power. While these are not characteristics that are unknown to us, I must say that yesterday's service was one that could only be described as "Spirit-filled" and anointed.

WorshipThere is a freedom in true worship. We addressed the fact that vicarious worship is sin. There is no way a redeemed follower of Christ should allow others to worship for him/her. Vicarious evangelism is sin. Vicarious discipleship is sin. As Christ-followers, we are to grow deeply in the Word and never settle for status quo or mundane religiosity.

I want to thank Shelvin Lamb and Jordan O'Brien and the respective worship teams for leading us as worshippers on this day.

There are still many talking about the experience. It was not the experience of the sermon or the music, but the experience with our Lord that was life-changing and transformative.

Our God is good. He is holy. He is worthy. He will not be mocked.

There are many reasons he is worthy of our worship. We were reminded of that yesterday as we closed with the song "10,000 Reasons." As you read this today, click the link below and spend a little private worship time. Listen to Matt Redman and band as they sing this song. Don't forget all that He has done.

Selah!

 


Are We Engaging This World for the Gospel or Just Gathering for Services?

Engagejax copyAbout five months ago, I attended a church planting conference with Vision360. It was here that I was introduced to the term "domain engagement." The term was new, but the concept was not. I have been speaking of "being the church" in the world, wherever God has placed us. The concept of domains in life is not new. Wherever an individual finds their greatest influence, be it in school or at work, is the domain where they are most heavily connected.

On Sunday evening, September 9 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm, we will be hosting here at First Baptist Church of Orange Park, the annual EngageJax Conference. This annual conference is sponsored by the network of churches in the Jacksonville Baptist Association. This year, the focus is "Domain Engagement."

I believe this concept is key to winning this city and community for Christ. I do not believe that winning a city is impossible, nor even improbable, if the church steps fully into the story which God has already put in place.

Mark your calendars and get your child-care secured (there's no child-care available at the church this evening) and plan to join up to 200 other churches this evening.

Leading us in worship this evening will be Ascension Worship. This group of worshippers from various Jacksonville-area churches, are gifted and anointed by God. The worship is fresh and worthy of the One who is our audience. Below is a clip of a recent worship experience led by Ascension at Journey Church.

 

Our guest speaker this evening will be Bob Roberts, Sr. Pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas and Chief Visionary Officer of Vision360. For a better description of how the church must embrace domain engagement, watch Bob in the video below.

 

Bob said something at the conference I attended that still rings in my mind. He said "We say we are planting churches, but I fear that we are just planting worship services." There is a difference.

The event on September 9 is three hours long. There will be breakout sessions regarding different domains. I hope the church that is First Baptist Orange Park will gather together this evening.


Five Woes We Must Not Ignore

08-19-12 - Five Woes

God gives Habakkuk five "woes" or warnings of pending discipline to the people when asked what led Him to bring judgment.

Read the entire passage here - Habakkuk 2:6:20.

The Five Woes are. . .

  1. Woe to him who is wealthy and unrighteous. (Habakkuk 2:6-8)
  2. Woe to him who has gained his wealth on the backs of others in a prideful, sinful way. (Habakkuk 2:9-11)
  3. Woe to him who ignores immorality in the community as long as profit can be made. (Habakkuk 2:12-14)
  4. Woe to him who lives a drunken lifestyle with the intent of bringing others into it as well. (Habakkuk 2:15-16)
  5. Woe to him who worships idols (Habbakuk 2:17-20)

Warning-sign-clip-art_420969Of all the woes given to the people, perhaps the fifth one - idolatry - is the one most tragic. I believe the other four build off the foundation of idolatry. Unfortunately, in our western Christian culture today, we often ignore the warnings of idoltary, believing this is something only faced in the first century.

The sad reality is that often, even Christ-followers, allow other things to become idols. It's more than saying the new car, house or money are idols. Even our children, spouses, families, church and other "good" things can become idols. The question that must be asked is "Is there anything or anyone in my life that I have placed above God?"

We live in an age of functional idolatry.

Some say that the God revealed in Habakkuk is not loving. He appears mean, in fact. The truth is that this loving, grace giving God, our Father, is loving. He always has been, always will be. The "woes" are evidence of this. These are warnings to His children. We slip. We fall. We sin.

The righteous live by faith, as stated in Habakkuk's book, but the truth is made clear in Romans 3 as it is revealed that the life-giving faith is not in an idea, a religion, or self. This faith must be in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God the Son, second person of the Trinity. For it is through Christ, we are made new.

May this messsage from Habakkuk be challenging, but also revealing. May God use the words to reveal to you His great love and holiness.

 


Good Guys & Bad Guys

01 03 - Good Guys & Bad Buys

Habakkuk cries out to God about His seeming avoidance of dealing with the sin of the people. God responsds that He will take care of the the sin by sending in the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to wipe them out.

This is not the response Habakkuk was expecting. In fact, he could not understand why God would do such a thing. How could God use such evil people in such a way.

Good guy bad guyHabakkuk goes where we often go. He compares the "good" of himself and his people with the "bad" of others.

In a world where we like to deliniate "good" and "bad" and categorize people accordingly, we most often try to find people who are worse than we are. This makes us feel better. In truth, there is no one good, except Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the ultimate "good guy" is the "God guy" and invites us into a relationship that changes everything.

If you can, listen to the attached audio file from yesterday's message to get the full picture.

 


Thank God for the ACLU

**Disclaimer** Since most people will not read the entire post, I'll state here that I disagree with the ACLU and what they stand for. Now, read the rest of the post.

There are certain groups and things that when brought up in conversation with Christ-followers cause great discomfort and sometimes anger. These are things that many conservative, American, evangelical Christians deem as evil or "of the devil."

One such topic, which is the bane for Christians and even many who are far from God, but politically identify themselves as socially conservative is the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describes itself as the guardian of our nation's liberty. 

Most Christ-followers identify the ACLU as the group that fights to keep any semblance of Christianity out of public life under the guise of Constitutional freedom. It's a cultural battle, no doubt, with distinct battle lines.

SYATPOther groups, similar to the ACLU have formed throughout the years. The one uniting factor among such groups is their disdain for the teachings of Christianity, especially in a public forum.

Perhaps the greatest tool in these groups' arsenal is their threat of litigation. Just the threat keeps many organizations from pushing back.

The purpose and the majority of work done by the ACLU and like organizations is, in my opinion, wrong and bad for our nation and its citizens. Nevertheless, I say "thank God for the ACLU" for what has developed in student ministry over the years and what is still come.

Let me use the annual global day of student prayer as an example. This day, known as "See You at the Pole," was birthed by a youth group at at DiscipleNow Weekend in Burleson, Texas over twenty years ago. As the group was convicted about their lack of witness and prayer for fellow students on their school campuses, they agreed to gather for prayer at the beginning of the school year to pray on their campus for the students, administrators and employees on the campus.

They discovered that in America, the one common element on all campuses was the flagpole. So, what some have deemed as a patriotic display (because it happens at the flagpole) was simply a gathering for prayer.

It shortly grew from one youth group at one school in Burleson to students gathering throughout Texas, then eventually nationally and now globally.

The first few years were tenuous. In many instances, students were made fun of, mocked, and even bullied. I remember seeing the clip of one student standing at the pole early in the morning, praying for her campus. She was all alone. No one else showed up. She remained and prayed. It was a powerful reminder that even alone, we're not really alone.

There were legal pushbacks as well as threats and actions came from organizations such as the ACLU.

The Supreme Court eventually ruled that these were legal gatherings, if done in accordance with the Student Bill of Rights. The law is clear that if such events were student-led, they were legal. 

On the surface, it seemed the ACLU and other organizations had won a battle when adults, youth pastors, parents, teachers and administrators were barred from leading and participating in such a prayer rally on the campuses across America. I'm sure that many Christ-followers felt this was a loss. 

Apparently many, even devout Christ-followers forgot about the sovereignty of God works. Funny. 

I truly believe God used these organizations to release the church into the greatest mission field in our nation - the junior high, middle school and high school campuses. The "church released" is what some incorrectly identify as the "church of tomorrow." (I hate that designation, by the way.)

Teenage followers of Christ are not the "church of tomorrow." They are the CHURCH OF TODAY and have the same Holy Spirit within them, empowering them to impact this globe for the sake of Christ. 

Don't get me wrong, adults need to be praying for our schools. We need to be praying for a movement of God on our campuses. We need to be praying for our teachers, administrators and school employees. We need to be praying for our students. We need to be praying for those who are Christ-followers as well as those far from God.

However, with adults being "forced" to step back, it forced students to step up. No longer could students gather at the pole, then wait for their youth pastor, pastor, parent, a teacher or another adult to lead the gathering. 

This is true in other areas as well. 

So, thank God for the ACLU. Despite the many things that frustrate, anger and challenge the Christian community in America, in this case, an intentional move to remove Christian influence from public life actually spurred the church (meaning the teenage Christ-followers) to step up and lead. Students leading in prayer. Students leading Bible clubs. Students leading their friends to Christ. 

This is the church released. What an incredible, untapped power. May this be the year our campuses are teeming with missionaries (students) and God reign supreme. May we experience a move of the Spirit unlike anything we have ever seen in our lifetime.

For more information on See You at the Pole (September 26 this year) go to www.syatp.com. We encourage our students to gather 30 minutes before school on their respective campuses. No, our youth workers and pastors will not gather with them, but we will be praying. Our homeschool students will gather here at the church, at our flagpole (and yes, adults can join these students) on that day at 9am.

Click here for details on what adults can do at SYATP and scroll down on the link for details on the Students Bill of Rights on the Public School Campus.


The Unexpected Answer

080512-Habakkuk 2

In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet cries out to God, wondering why He allows the evil to reign among the people and does nothing. He asks God if He truly cares, if He has a plan, if He's hearing the prayers.

God answers and it's not what Habakkuk expected.


When It Seems God Isn't Listening

 

072912-Habakkuk 1

Even though I've read the entire Bible (including the maps) a number of times, I could not have told you two weeks ago what the real meat of the book of Habakkuk was. As I read through it in preparation for this series of messages, it became clear that God was using this Old Testament prophet to speak into my life, and I believe many in our church and community as well.

BusinessmanwithbullhornThese are trying times. 

Marriages are failing or on the rocks.

Children are rebelling.

Christians are fighting with each other.

Churches are dividing.

Churches are dying.

Wars are being fought.

Oh, and it's an election year, so the landscaps is littered with signs, accusations are flying and everyone is worked up about the "most important election in the history of our nation." (I looked up this phrase and it has been used every two years in American politics since the Civil War. I'm not saying it's not true, I'm just thought that was interesting. By the way - go vote. Don't stay home and let everyone else decide for you. 'Nuff said.)

It sems Habakkuk was where many of us are as believers today. He lived at a time when it seemed that God was ignoring prayers and just letting the world go to pot. He lamented this fact and asked God if he really cared and was listening.

To Habakkuk' surprise, God answered. What an answer.

This message is the beginning of dialog between the prophet and the Lord. Habakkuk speaks. He sounds like me.