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Showing posts from 2009

2009 Favorite Books

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I must admit this was not a particularly heavy reading year for me. 2009 was a very heavy Hebrew year instead. I maintained my habit of reading about 1 book per week until August; which is the very moment I lost shalom. All in all, I read 23 books this year. Two other factors served to shipwreck my reading; long books and bad books. I tried to intersperse historical reading in 2009, which meant long books. I am not a history lover. Being a novice meant inevitably picking bad books. So here is my ’09 top 10, which may help you get off to a good reading 2010. 1. Rocket Men , Craig Nelson. I reviewed this one . Mr. Nelson actually wrote me back, which was my 2009 blogging highlight. 2. The Blind Side, Evolution of a Game , Michael Lewis . I reviewed the movie which is factually not quite the same as the book, but close. I must confess I am not quite finished with this one, but close enough to call it one of my favorites of this year. 3. What Would Jesus Eat , Dr. Don Colb

What Tiger Has Taught Us

Over the last few weeks we have witnessed in the life of Tiger Woods that, "whatever one sows, that will he also reap (Gal. 6:7)." All things eventually come to fruition. If one desires to have a good name, raise a family, and continue in marriage he must sow the appropriate seed. If one acts in a ways that threaten the bonds of marriage, those bonds will eventually break. Sowing and reaping, it is a natural occurrence in every aspect of life. Tiger was once a media darling. He is now fresh meat. In an image driven culture we will not stop being witnesses to this tragedy until we are bored with it or something better comes along. Until that moment comes, the talking heads will feed us all we want. So while this story is fresh I want to pose a question, "What's the message?" Is the message that our culture is infatuated with the fallen? That is probably true, even more so than my next point, but I think another message in all of this is that in human sexuality

Christmess (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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There is an incredible message of hope in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Paul teaches that if we take the time to meditate on the truth of the incarnation that it will change the way we relate to one another and it will change our worship. Listen to sermon

Mega Christmas (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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Christmas has a way of changing our tune. In late October usually one radio station in town dedicates itself to getting us in the Christmas spirit. Most of us are excited about Christmas music for about a month, but as Christmas Day approaches there are parties, family, gift lists, decorations, traffic, long lines, rude people. By the 25th of December our tune has changed from, “I’m ready for Christmas” to “I’m ready for Christmas to be over.” If you listen to our tune about this time of year we would have to say that our souls are not doing so well. The pressures of life are making our souls come apart at the seams. Christmas, instead of being a season of peace and joy, only adds to the pressure. Because our souls are so stressed, we have lost the meaning of this moment. Yet a suddenly pregnant girl in her early teens sings a song that shows her soul is large, and under pressure, able to not only hold it together, but to truly appreciate the magnificence of this holy mom

Why Brian Signed the Manhattan Declaration

After my two previous posts concerning the Manhattan Declaration I received a couple of emails alerting me to the inevitable red flags surrounding it. I suspected this would not take long. It seems the controversy is not in the statement itself, but in the idea that it includes Catholics, Evangelicals, Anglicans, and Orthodox under the same banner and definition of "the gospel." To demonstrate the point here are a couple of excerpts from an article written by Alex Crain, editor of Christianity.com : "Evangelical leader R.C. Sproul, who elected not to sign the Manhattan Declaration, sums up the controversy by his response (posted 12/8/09) on his blog , "The Manhattan Declaration confuses common grace and special grace by combining them. While I would march with the bishop of Rome and an Orthodox prelate to resist the slaughter of innocents in the womb, I could never ground that co-belligerency on the assumption that we share a common faith and a unified understandin

Why Al Mohler Signed the Manhattan Declaration

As a follow up to my post earlier this week on the Manhattan Declaration I wanted to share an article posted by Dr. Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Dr. Mohler is one of the Christian faith's foremost voices. The link provided is takes you to the full article, but I want to you to pay particular attention to the following paragraph from Dr. Mohler that expresses my fears and concerns as well. "There are several reasons, but they all come down to this -- I believe we are facing an inevitable and culture-determining decision on the three issues centrally identified in this statement. I also believe that we will experience a significant loss of Christian churches, denominations, and institutions in this process. There is every good reason to believe that the freedom to conduct Christian ministry according to Christian conviction is being subverted and denied before our eyes. I believe that the sanctity of human life, the integr

The Manhattan Declaration

This morning I heard Dr. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School here in Birmingham, talking about the Manhattan Declaration on The Rick and Bubba Show . In short this is a document stating fundamental Christian convictions in three areas, the sanctity of human life, the definition of marriage, and religious liberty. I have had an opportunity to read through the document only once at this point in the morning, but from what I have read I believe it is a good thing. However, I would not encourage you to sign it haphazardly, but thoughtfully and prayerfully as it is a formal declaration with potential consequence. Our faith is under assault. We are long overdue in standing upon our convictions and expressing the gospel clearly in word and in practice. The Manhattan Declaration - The home page has a shortened form of the declaration. Click on the tab labeled " THE DECLARATION " for a full copy.

Mega Soul

Christmas changes our tune. Early in November some radio station in town will sell its soul to Christmas. Where the voice on the dial once sang about pickup trucks, cheating boyfriends, and dogs now the voice croons Christmas. It takes some of us longer than others, but by Thanksgiving we are ready for the change. We are in the Christmas spirit. Yet by the time Christmas arrives we begin to sing another song. We are ready for Christmas to be over. Is it that Christmas is too big? Is there too much to buy, to do, to decorate? Is it to the point that by the end of it all instead of being overjoyed we are overwhelmed? If we were to sing an honest tune about the condition of our soul during the holiday season would it be more of a rant than a reflection of peace and joy? An unwed, young, pregnant girl named Mary sings a song about a season in her life that has changed everything (Luke 1:46-55). Her song is an honest reflection of her soul. The opening lyric reads

The Things Branams Do at Home

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Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Snow Days

Here in Alabama the English term "snow flurry" has only one southern fried "ainglish" equivalent, "blizzard." So with the threat of our first "blizzard" of this winter season I want to take this opportunity to formally publish my snow and inclement weather policy. If inclement weather threatens a regularly scheduled worship service time, call Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart is open, we will be open. More specifically, for the family of faith at Ridgecrest, call Wal-Mart on Chalkville Mountain Road at 661-1957. I know this sounds like a joke, and it is funny, but I'm not kidding. This has been my policy for the last 11 years and it will be until there is a hostile takeover of Wal-Mart or Jesus comes back, whichever comes first. Furthermore, this policy is funny, but it works. I adopted this policy while I was the pastor of Lantana Road Baptist Church in Crossville, TN where it snows almost every other Sunday. When it snowed people would call me

The Blind Side

I like Thanksgiving. I could overly spiritualize my position at this point, but instead of glossing pastoral I would like to gloss selfish. One reason I like Thanksgiving is babysitting. I am thankful for babysitting. We live some hours away from our families, so for Thanksgiving we are usually out of town with parents/grandparents. In my mind this translates, “You haven’t seen your grand babies in a while, Shannon and I are going to the movies.” I like Thanksgiving because it is about the only time of the year in which we get a chance to go to a movie that isn’t a cartoon. This year’s Thanksgiving kidless date movie was The Blind Side. The Blind Side is about the rise of an impoverished black teenager who is adopted by a wealthy Christian family. This unlikely adoption gives young Michael Oher opportunity. Taking full advantage of the chance he is given, Oher eventually becomes a first round draft pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Yes, this is a true story. Even before the mov

Prayer Guide

Over the past few weeks I have been sifting through Dr. Gregory R Frizzell's book, Returning to Holiness, A Personal and Churchwide Journey to Revival. Here is an outlined gleaned from pages 78 - 81 on Five Practical Steps to a Powerful Daily Prayer Life. He lists five practical steps, I managed to stretch it into six. 1) Make an absolute commitment to consistently spend significant time alone with God in uninterrupted prayer (Luke 11:1). 2) Approach your prayer time as a relationship with God rather than a required ritual (Luke 10:38-42). 3) Listen first (1 John 5:14-15). 4) Make a commitment to a balanced prayer life by regularly practicing the four different types of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1). a) Praise, thanksgiving, worship b) Confession and repentance c) Petition and supplication d) Intercession 5) In your daily petitions, focus more on issues of personal character and holiness than on temporal needs (Matthew 5, Romans 8:29, Galatians 5:22). 6) In your daily intercession, f

Sports on Sunday

I love sports. I was an athlete in high school. I appreciate the discipline it takes to be successful on the field. I believe people need to have the experience of being on a team because it builds character and teaches a person many skills that will help them in life. I also believe when it comes to sports we have gone too far. Our replacement of the sacred aspects of Sunday with sports is yet another indicator that we are a secular culture. God commanded the people of Israel to keep the Sabbath day holy. [i] Their activity on the last day of the week, Saturday, identified them with their God who rested on the final day of the week. For Christians, the principles of Sabbath apply, to some extent, to the first day of the week, Sunday. Because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week the early church set a new precedent by purposefully gathering on Sunday to identify with their risen Lord. [ii] Whether it was the last day, or the first day, it was a matter of identity.

Call of Duty

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8) On Sunday nights I spend a few moments teaching a group of men, grown up boys, and then I peal away to teach a group of boys, little versions of men. This past week, in the course of our conversation we talked about video games. I bragged that I have finished every conceivable level of Mario Kart. I thought I would immediately become, in their eyes, an icon. I was wrong. For the most part several of my little men were way past Mario Kart, they were triumphant in the game Call of Duty. I could make a good case that Christian men should stay away from Call of Duty, but is there any debate that little boys should play Call of Duty? I could go a step further and ask why a Christian man would allow his little boy to play Call of D

Off the Edge

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22 One of the ways God secured the welfare of the people was to command the farmers to stay away from the edges of the field. Live off of the center. Allow the needy to reap the edge. We are living on the edge. Every penny is spent. We have no time. Life is demanding and at the end of the day, there is nothing left. Leviticus 23:22 is a call to pull back, to live off of the center. Determine what you need. Determine what is truly important. Leave the rest alone. Allow the needy to reap the edge. When life becomes hectic we grow self absorbed. We use every ounce of energy, every penny, and every moment to serve self. There is no time to serve others. There is nothing left to give. When there are no edges left on our field

Mission Poverty (Sermon Audio, Sunday A.M.)

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852 million people are living in poverty. Secular humanists, naturalists, and environmentalists say one cause of poverty is an overcrowded planet. The solution is birth limits, the redistribution of wealth, and socialism. This will be the course of action if the church does not reenter the conversation about poverty. The impoverished were Jesus’ primary audience. The church, to a large degree, has changed the channel. The gospel is good news to the poor. If the church shares the mission of Jesus it will have a strategy to engage the problem of poverty. Listen to audio

Mission Life (Sermon Audio, Sunday A.M.)

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Everyone is tribal. We all have our clusters of people with whom we share common interest. They are our people groups. Life is a mission. As we are living we should also be working to spread to the glory of God within our people groups. On a global scale we should be working to spread the gospel to all people groups. Whether at home, the ball field, or overseas life is a mission for the glory of God. Listen to audio

Christian School

Since the beginning of ’09 the Next Steps Team has been meeting, reading, and working toward discerning God’s will for the next five years in the life of RBC. In our meeting Monday night I asked the Next Steps Team to make a recommendation to the Nominating Committee for the formation of a group of three to do a feasibility study. The feasibility study is regarding the possibility of Ridgecrest Baptist Church beginning a Christian School. The recommendation reads as follows: We recommend that that nominating committee appoint a 3 person team to conduct a feasibility study concerning the establishment of a Christian school as a part of the future vision of Ridgecrest Baptist Church. We recommend this study be conducted over a three month term with a report to be given in April of 2010. In either the November or December business meeting the nominating committee will bring those nominated to the floor for a vote by the membership. The group will begin working in January and make

Legacy

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Is God doing something in you that will give life to others long after you are gone? A dead man touched Elisha’s bones and he came to life! If we return to wholly following the Word of God we can have victory. We must learn not to only seek to live for God in a few ways, but to live for Him in every way. This sermon is the final in the Elisha, Man of God series. Listen to audio

Life Doesn't Have to be This Way (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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What if you knew what was about to happen next? Looking back we can identify moments when our choices set off a seemingly unstoppable chain of events. We live with the consequences of our actions. Elisha is about to set off a cataclysmic chain of events. He will name Hazael the king of Syria. Hazael will reek havoc on the Hebrew people. Yet just before this happens the author of 2 Kings shares 7 verses that outline a more hopeful consequence. For those who are faithful to God, He is faithful to them. This story is an open invitation to the Hebrew people who stand on the precipice of judgment that life doesn’t have to be this way. If you are suffering the consequences of your actions you can begin a hopeful journey toward restoration. So when you look at the next several years of your life what do you see, consequence or restoration? Listen to audio

Dr. Afman

“We ought to be a people of The Book”, he would say. He would pray, “Since you are the author of The Book, you are the best teacher of The Book”, and he would ask God for divine guidance as he gave his lecture. There is another quote I will never forget. “Everywhere the Christian goes is sacred.” It was a short statement on the privilege and responsibility the born again share as the indwelt temples of the Holy Spirit of God. Dr. Fred Afman went home to be with the Lord today. He was certainly one of my heroes and one of the greatest professors I have had during my prolonged academic life. I treasured his teaching. My grandmother and Dr. Afman contributed to my love for the Old Testament. He was a godly man. He was a great teacher of the Word of God which he often referred to as “The Book.” When he taught you could tell he was a man immersed in the Word. His wisdom and application were captivating to me. It didn’t hurt that he also had a great Bible voice. It was like lis

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way (Reading 2 Kings 8)

The ability of humans to inflict pain is unimaginable. In 2 Kings 8:11 Elisha stares into the eyes of one of humanities greatest monsters, the soon to be Syrian king, Hazael. It was a long, awkward stare that led to weeping. “And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was embarrassed. And the man of God wept.” The gift of the prophet is the ability to see consequences, to come face to face fate. Elisha knew what God was about to do. God was about to allow a human to inflict unimaginable pain on His people. God was about to uncage a monster. Their sin sealed their fate. “Why does my lord weep? Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel.” (2 Kings 8:12a) Just prior to this story, Elisha is able to bring another person face to face with fate, the Shunammite woman. This is the same faithful Shunammite from 2 Kings 4. She has a living son that has once been dead. She is a walking testimony that if a person is faithful to God, God will be faithf

Hectic Holiday Traditions

Most people enjoy the holiday season, but all of us can admit that it is becoming increasingly stressful. I would be interested to get some feedback on a couple of things for an upcoming sermon series I am working on. 1) What is a unique family tradition you enjoy during the holiday season? 2) What makes the holiday season most stressful for you? 3) Have you started any new traditions with your family that have served to lessen the stress of the holidays? You can simply reply to this blog or feel free to email me at bbranam@rbconline.net . Thank you for your help. BB Gal. 2:20

It Could Happen Tomorrow (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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The popular Weather Channel show “It Could Happen Tomorrow” is about the possibility of cataclysmic weather events impacting large American cities. As its title insinuates, tomorrow could be much different than today. The show is about possibilities, things that could happen. In weather there are also predictions, educated guesses and what is most likely to happen. In the Bible there are prophecies. They are not based upon mathematical equations or physical formulas but upon a very basic theological formula, “Thus says the Lord.” In the Bible, prophecies are not about things that might happen, but about things that will happen. Elisha makes a prophecy that tomorrow will be much different than today. The same could be said for our souls and for our world. How do you respond to Biblical prophecy? Listen to audio

Preach It!

While suffering a bad case of writer's block there's nothing better than listening to some good preaching. Enjoy!

23% of the World's Population is Muslim

from pew forum A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion. While Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60% of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20% is in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. Indeed, more than half of the 20 countries and territories 1 in that region have populations that are approximately 95% Muslim or greater. Read the entire article

Illusions (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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Illusions prey upon the limits of the mind. Your mind will only allow you to process information certain ways. This world creates an illusion that there are only certain possibilities. 2 Kings 6 exposes these illusions. There is more to life than what meets the eye. There is more possible than what you know. Be careful of losing hope in suffering. Do not allow your fears to destroy faith. We must return to the Lord our God and expose the illusions of life. Listen to audio

It Could Happen Tomorrow (Reading 2 Kings 7)

Will Memphis crumble to the ground Thursday afternoon in an earthquake? What if a hurricane hits New York City? Could the state of Florida be covered by a Tsunami? The Weather Channel thinks so. Their popular show “It Could Happen Tomorrow” speculates about the impact of natural disasters upon American cities. The premise of the show is that everything could change in an unexpected moment. In 2 Kings 7:1 Elisha tells the King of Israel that life will change tomorrow. Israel has been under siege by Syria, but God would do something so that tomorrow would be a new day. The captain who served the king thought Elisha was a fool. He quipped that God himself could not make things change so drastically overnight. As a curse to him Elisha prophesied that the captain would see the miracle with his own eyes, but he would not benefit from it. The Bible promises drastic change can take place to two of the most difficult places in the universe; the human soul and planet earth. Tomorrow

The Words You Speak in Your Bedroom (Reading 2 Kings 6:8-33)

Technology has exposed our desperate need to be known. I blog, therefore I am. Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace have either exposed our sheer boredom with life or they have each given us an outlet to say things to people that we have always wanted them to hear; like, “I’m bored”, or “I can’t wait to watch television tonight”, or “I need to do laundry.” Although we demonstrate the need to be known, we are essentially saying nothing. We are addicted to tautological chatter. As much as we expose, there is so much still hidden. We are hiding behind the chatter. Twitter is a 140 character veil, a clever diversion, a techno curtain to hide the soul. The king of Israel knew every move the king of Syria was about to make. The king of Syria thought there was a traitor in his midst. The problem was not treason, but divine knowledge. He twittered not, yet Israel knew, but how? Elisha, the man of God, the prophet, shared with the king of Israel information regarding the movements of th

No Big Deal (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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We often compartmentalize our lives thinking that God is not concerned about the small stuff. We make the mistake of desiring God’s help only in the big things. The author of 2 Kings inserts an odd little story in the most unlikely of places to remind us that when it comes to the lives of His servants, everything is a big deal to God. Whether it is a lost axe head or a bill you must pay, your life is not lost in the larger story of history. God creates legendary moments in which He intercedes in the most unexpected ways. Listen to Audio

Your Story (Sermon Audio: Wed. P.M.)

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In sharing the gospel we not only share Scripture, but also give testimony to what the gospel has done in our own lives. This is exemplified often in the New Testament. The New Testament Scriptures are not simply theological treatises, but personal letters, stories, and testimonies to how the truths of the gospel have intersected with the human soul. What is your story? Maybe you need to think about your testimony and share it with others. Listen to Audio

Does God Care About Cars, Clothes, and Cancer?

Isn’t ironic that God is omnipresent yet it is so easy to feel as if He has abandoned us? When trials enter life it feels as if God steps out and we are on our own. We need a God of immeasurable power to perform something big, but we feel isolated and disconnected. In many people suffering arouses a sudden interest in God. At the very least, in all of us suffering seems to intensify our interest in God’s involvement. Yet, are we as interested about God being involved in the little things? I should not say, are we as interested about God being involved in the little things, but are we interested about God’s involvement in all things? 1 Peter 5:16 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” All means all. When we surrender our will and become God’s servants instead of His master, we are often surprised about the things He will do. We will find that i

God of the Little Things (Reading 2 Kings 6:1-7)

Creating the universe was a big thing. A guy losing an axe head in a river, in comparison, is a little thing. Syria laying siege to Samaria is a big thing (2 Kings 6:8 – 7:20). Again, a guy losing an axe head in a river, by comparison, is a little thing. Yet through Elisha, God granted a miracle to help a guy get a borrowed axe back. The same power that called chaos into created order was used to make iron swim. The political leaders of the world are gathering this week in New York. People who want to blow us up are going to be in the Big Apple. That’s a big thing. I have a Hebrew quiz tonight. To me, I could care less about Obama shaking hands with a terrorist. I just want to make sure I have the proper pointings on the second person plural form of objective Hebrew pronouns. Tonight, for me, Hebrew is a big thing. The big and little of it all is relative to the individual. Syria is laying siege to Samaria, that’s a big thing, but to the guy who lost a borrowed axe, that

Leprosy (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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Leprosy in Scripture can describe a variety of skin diseases. The most common reference is to a disease that begins with a white lesion on the surface of the skin. The lesion does not heal. In time the skin not only loses the ability to heal, but also to feel. Because of a lack of sensitivity those infected with leprosy continuously injure themselves and eventually lose their extremities. In Scripture leprosy is not only an anathema of the skin, but a metaphor of the impact of sin on the soul. Sin causes us to lose sensitivity to conviction and the teaching of Scripture. In 2 Kings 5 leprosy is not only a skin disease, but it is also this metaphor of the soul. Who is the leper? Listen to audio

The Twisted Sovereignty of God, Conclusion

Continued from part 2 Naaman is God’s pawn against Israel. Now he is God’s toy. The instructions of Elisha infuriate him. Why wash in the Jordan when there is better water in Damascus? He refused to believe there could be salvation in anything associated with Israel. He had good reason to feel this way. Ever since Solomon, Israel has been a golden calf and Baal worshipping disaster. Their kings have been nothing like their captured little girls. Yet with some coaxing, Naaman complies, he washes in the Jordan. Just as Elisha, the man of God promised, he is healed. His skin is restored like the flesh of a “little child.” He is as clean as his captured little girl. Naaman captured a little girl, but God used a little girl to capture Naaman. In order to bring salvation to the world, God sovereignly used a nasty human tragedy to bring a little girl who knew the source of salvation out of Israel, to a nasty man named Naaman. Like C.S. Lewis said, “Suffering is God’s megaphone

Know the Field (Sermon Audio: Wed. P.M.)

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Farmers know the field before they plant seed. They know the work to be done to the soil that will enable it to yield a fruitful harvest. In order to share the gospel effectively we must know people. Evangelism requires the cultivating of a relationship pre and post conversion. The information found in Thom Rainer’s The Unchurched Next Door and Will McCraney’s The Art of Personal Evanglism is helpful in understanding the relational aspects of evangelism. People are waiting to hear the gospel. We must get to know them and go tell. Listen to audio

The Twisted Sovereignty of God Part 2 of 3 (Reading 2 Kings 5)

Continued from part 1 The information Naaman needs comes from the most unlikely source, the little girl he owns. If someone captured you, separated you from your family, and forced you into their service would you tell them anything that may save their life? Most of us would want our captors dead. Yet, the little girl talks and the only thing she says in the entire story is the only thing that will save Naaman’s skin. In stark contrast to the little girl’s grace to Naaman is the King of Israel’s reaction. He is suspicious of the war monster Naaman, as he should be. When Elisha heard of the king’s rejection of Naaman he implored the king to let Naaman come for one reason, and one reason alone, “That he may know there is a prophet in Israel.” In the days of Elisha, war mongers used prophets. Reference 2 Kings 3. The only mistake Jehoram made is that he did not consult the prophet prior to his circuitous march. Naaman, most likely, used prophets. Every nation had its gods. Gods have

The Twisted Sovereignty of God Part 1 of 3 (Reading 2 Kings 5)

The story of 1 and 2 Kings is about the slow erosion of Israel’s sovereignty. She has been unfaithful. Soon she will be captured. As the borders begin to collapse there is a recurring theme of God giving victory to Israel’s enemies. God is sovereign over Israel losing its sovereignty. Humans are harsh and unforgiving. One particularly nasty human is Naaman, the commander of the armies of Syria. War is never a beautiful thing. The only apt metaphor for war is Hell. Naaman was great at war. His success is attributed to the most unlikely of sources, “By him the LORD had given victory to Syria (v. 1).” God is sovereign over Naaman's succcess. In the Hell of war there are causalities. One such casualty was a little girl from Israel who was “carried off” during a Syrian raid. Because God made Naaman good at war, a little girl lost her family. The Bible does not neglect to share this horrid detail, but neither does it elaborate on its tragedy. As a father of daughters, little girls, I c

Does God Care? (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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You have been faithful to God. Yet, resources are dwindling, hope is fading, life has become confusing and you begin to wonder if God really cares. The author of 1 and 2 Kings inserts 4 short stories into the Elisha narrative to send a clear message to the readers, God cares for His people. He is faithful to us, we must remain faithful to Him. God is able to bring life out of death, and restore hope when all seems hopeless. Listen to audio

Participating in Miracles

Most people assume that the formula for a miracle is to do nothing and expect God to do everything. Yet, in almost every miracle recorded in the Bible there is an issued command. Whether it be “go wash”, “go fill”, build a boat, lift a rod, or “wait”, there is something to be done that God uses to usher in the miraculous. If you need a miracle the question is whether or not you are willing to participate? Participating with God is not the “I’ll do anything for You, if . . .” contract. Participating with God is the attitude, “Here am I, send me.” Are you willing to work, sell, or wait as a means of participating in the miraculous? Are you obedient to God’s Word? There are no consolation prizes for disobedience. God does not honor sin. Miracles are not magic as in “poof, there it is.” Miracles are not magic, miracles are miracles. God is certainly capable of the most miraculous, creating something from nothing (Gen. 1). Yet, most often they are the manipulation of the natur

Witness (Sermon Audio: Wed. P.M.)

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For most, only slightly more frightening than swimming with sharks is sharing the gospel. How can we effectively communicate the truths of the gospel to the people in our lives? We must immerse ourselves in the story and become witnesses. A witness is someone who participates in an event and stands a proof that it is true. A witness of the gospel should be someone who participates in the gospel and lives as a witness that Christ has risen and He is saving souls. Listen to audio

The Miracle of What You Already Have

It is common for the American psyche to be more preoccupied with what one does not have rather than on what one already possesses. Our testimonies to this are in cluttered garages and an incessant need to rent mini warehouses. We have way too much stuff, yet we are always looking for more. Another testimony to our materialism is our response to the recent recession. We have responded as if buying less is a tragedy. This is a lesson for another day. In times of suffering want, because we are preoccupied with wanting what we do not have, the theme of our prayers is for God to do just that; give us what we do not have. However, in surveying the miracles of Scripture, it seems that God is more interested in working with what you’ve already got. In 2 Kings 4, Elisha asks the widow what she has in her home, and he uses it, plus some of the neighbor’s supply. At Cana (John 2), Jesus used the water jars that were already there to turn water into wine. When Jesus fed the multitudes he

Careless Kings (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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Careless behavior will render destructive consequences in a person’s life. We walk through life in circles, aimless, and without a sense of purpose. Carelessness often comes as a result of compromise. Because we do not whole heartedly follow God our lives are immoral and powerless. Elisha, on the other hand, is a man of the Word of God. He is discerning and his words are prophetic. If we give ourselves wholeheartedly to our God, the wisdom He provides us will bless our lives and will help us navigate the difficulties of life. Listen to audio

Don't Blame God

Jehoram was the son of Ahab. Ahab was the husband of Jezebel. Jezebel was nasty. When she married Ahab she introduced the Baal cult to Israel. When Ahab died Jehoram became king. The Bible says that he rejected the Baal cult, but “he clung to the sin of Jeroboam (2 Kings 3:3).” He was not a Baalist, but he was idolatrous. In 2 Kings 3:9-12 Jehoram, along with two other kings, march to war. He chose a dry, arid route on his way to Moab. The Bible says he, “made a circuitous march of seven days.” That’s Hebrew for “he didn’t have his GPS on”, he was marching in circles. As a result there was no water for the army or for the animals. They were going to die. All of the sudden, this idolatrous man who does not believe in God, is a believer. You cannot blame a God you don’t believe in. “Alas! The LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab (2 Kings 3:10).” When did your “circuitous” march begin? We tend to leave God out of life, make some bad choices