Tuesday, December 19, 2017

KENS 5 CBS affiliate out of San Antonio, Texas interviewed me today as a follow up to the bus crash on March 29, 2017. I am thankful for Reporter, James Keith, for putting the interview together and allowing me to share the hope found in Christ alone.

You can see the interview through the link below:

 http://www.kens5.com/news/local/church-bus-crash/pastor-says-first-baptist-church-new-braunfels-is-hopeful-following-tragedy-1/500727174

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Theological Thoughts

Theological Thoughts about: Singleness
Matthew 19:10-12

While preaching through the Gospel of Matthew, I occasionally leave passages unreached. I'm following up with a 'Theological Thoughts' essay from Matthew 19:10-12. 

Within the context of this passage, Jesus teaches on the biblical understanding of the marriage union. Marriage is a God-ordained union that is meant to reflect the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. Ultimately, that union between man and woman is to glorify the Father through a life-long commitment (Matt. 19:6).

The state of marriage was unhealthy at best and destructive at its worst in biblical times. Marriage had become little more than a convenience or inconvenience for Jewish men. The treatment of marriage had degraded into an avenue for a new sexual partner rather than a demonstration of God’s faithfulness. To baptize their morality, the Jews asked Jesus if it was lawful to divorce a wife on any grounds. According to some leading liberal rabbis, divorce could be granted for as little as burning a meal. At the very least, that is an emotionless approach to a decision filled with many emotions. To marry is to commit yourself to fully to another person. Approaching such a decision so lightly makes a mockery of a God-designed union. Because the teaching of Jesus came as such a shock to the disciples, they wondered if it’s better not to marry (10).

Jesus then said, ‘Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those to whom it is given’ (11). He said this in direct response to the statement, ‘it’s better not to marry.’ The statement, Better not to marry by the disciples springs from the truth that marriage is a lifetime commitment. They, like all Jews, were familiar with the customs. Marriage and divorce was easy. Jesus applied a much stricter view, obviously the biblical view, regarding the commitment of marriage.

Better not to marry, however, is not an easier choice. God has created us with a natural desire to love and be loved. The culture has developed a very twisted understanding of love, as a result, our culture, like that in biblical times, experiences high rates of divorce. Yet, people still marry and remarry. I believe that is our natural desire, to share our life within the most committed relationship in our life second only to Christ. But, not everyone marries. Is it wrong not to marry? Paul urged unmarried Christians not to marry, It is good for them if they remain as I am (1 Cor. 7:8). Paul was an incredibly focused person. He focused early in life on destroying the church. After salvation, he focused solely on building the church. All single believers do not have the same calling as Paul. But, if they do not have self-control, they should marry, since it is better to marry than to burn with desire (1 Cor. 7:9).

Pauls admonition speaks to the instruction of Jesus. Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given (Matt. 19:11). The word accept means to make room or space for something. Again, the natural thought process of the majority of people is marriage not singleness. So, not everyone can completely embrace the idea of living as a single person for all of their life. At some point, a single person must accept or make room for Gods calling for their life. Only those to whom it has been given are able to spiritually accept Gods call to singleness and be content and effective in service to the Lord. Notice here, Jesus is positing that the single person comes to the point of submitting to Gods will for their life. Should God call you to a life of celibacy and singleness, He will provide the strength and discipline to live in that state.

Jesus mentions three possibilities of celibacy and singleness. First, eunuchs who were born that way (12a). These are people who, from birth, have a physical abnormality causing the inability of normal sexual function. Second, there are you eunuchs who are made that way by men (12b). Ancient harem guards or some pagan religions, for example, utilized castration to satisfy a pagan religious ritual. Third, eunuchs who have made themselves that way because of the kingdom of heaven (12c). In this case, nothing physical has taken place. God does not call His people to mutilate our physical body. Rather, this group has accepted Gods call for their life. They have made the conscious choice, based on what they understand the will of God to be, to live in celibacy and singleness for the purpose of serving the Kingdom of God.

Every life decision, career, marriage, children and others should be followed only after prayer. Confident of Gods will, we are able to fully commit our lives to the service of the Lord. Whether married or single, our relationship with God through Jesus must be preeminent in our life.    

      



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Healing

 Recently I visited Methodist Hospital located in the famed Houston Medical Center. The Houston Medical Center has been and is home to some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world. For example, people come from all over the world for treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital.  Famed heart surgeons Drs. Denton Cooley and Michael DeBakey called the Houston Medical Center home. The reason for my visit was to be with my mother for surgery. While checking in for pre-op, she said to the attendant, “I hear my doctor is one of the best.” His response was, “He is the best.” How comforting it is to hear those words about your doctor, “He is the best.”

As an observer of humanity, I was amazed at the thousands of people flowing through the hospital. Patients, families, doctors, nurses, interns, volunteers and others created a tidal-wave of people all pursuing one goal: healing. Physical healing consumes those who are sick. Billions of dollars are spent each year in the pursuit of physical healing. Thankfully, many people are healed. Diseases are eradicated. Lives are restored.

While watching the flow of people, I began to wonder if the pursuit of healing has overtaken the pursuit of the Healer? For all of the medical brilliance we enjoy today, physical life ends. For all of the diseases that can be treated and defeated, one remains incurable through human hands: sin. Romans 5:12 delivers a harsh reality, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).[1] Scripture is clear about the disease affecting every person. Sin invades every life, there are no exceptions.

To find healing from the disease of sin, we (all humanity) have searched diligently. We have invented new religions, developed philosophical formulas or ignored it all-together. This, too, is the pursuit of a tidal-wave of people. There is no hope of healing, however, outside of the Great Physician. Who is the “Great Physician?” He is Jesus.

We witness in Scripture the healing power of Jesus over physical disease and its ultimate affect. He restored life to Lazarus (Jn. 11). He restored sight to the blind (Matt. 11). Jesus restored the use of a deformed hand (Matt. 12). As much as we praise Jesus for healing our physical diseases, much more praise is due Him for healing our spiritual disease. Romans 5:8-10 delivers incredible news, But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, will we be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, have been reconciled, will we be saved by His life (Rom. 5:8-10).

Scripture declares the healing of sin that only God can provide. The greatest disease known to mankind, sin, which makes us an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10), is also healed by God. Reconciliation is the bringing together of two warring parties. God is at war with sin, yet, He offers reconciliation. Jesus is the reconciliation. The cross of Calvary leads to healing.

Rampant in our culture today is the downplaying of the cross. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus represents only one of many paths to God. I question, though, why people quickly run to a medical doctor or some other practitioner for physical healing but seek their own path for the forgiveness of their sin? Our common disease and its healing are both made clear in God's Word.

God's Word leads people to Jesus, to His sinless life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. I am convinced that the church must do the same, Lead People to Jesus. Jesus is the only hope for the disease of sin. Only Jesus provides salvation for the unsaved and sanctification for the saved.

The Great Physician is Jesus.




[1] All Scripture is taken from the Christian Standard Bible (B&H; Nashville) unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Listening to the Sermon


As a pastor, I always say that the first person who hears the sermon is me. Through the preparation of a sermon, God speaks, challenges, motivates and convicts. If the sermon doesn’t speak to the preacher, then it’s not going to speak.

As I preached through Matthew 18, God spoke so clearly to me. I had wronged a fellow believer by not following the instructions of Scripture. Here is a brief section of the sermon:

If your brother sins against you… Brother is pointing to a fellow Christ-follower. So, Jesus is forecasting how relationships are supposed to function within the body of Christ. Within the body of Christ, fellow believers will offend each other. Sin will be committed through words or actions. The word sin is harmartia, the basic word for sin in the New Testament that means missing the mark. One key to strong relationships in our homes and in the church, is understanding that people are not perfect. People sin, your feelings might or most likely will get hurt. When offense is not dealt with then it begins to fester in your heart and mind causing an infection of bitterness and resentment. Let me ask, is it healthier to confront the sin or to allow the offense to poison your heart and mind? We should all agree that it’s healthier to confront the sin. That is the tone of Jesus’ instruction here. Loving confrontation of sin, so that the sinner repents restoring right relationship, brings about or maintains a healthy body. The expectation here is that people sin, relationships are fractured but can be reconciled.”[1]

God convicted me in that moment. The next week I went to the person and offered my apology for not rightly handling the matter in the beginning. God had given me peace and I praise Him for that.

We must never forget that God's Word speaks to our lives. Listen! He is speaking.






[1] Dr. Brad H. McLean, "Confrontational Love" Matthew 18:15-20 (June 12, 2017)