Archive for category New Testament Baptist Church

A Matter of Perspective

Recently, I was halfway through a two-hour flight out of Tampa when our aircraft experienced an “incident.” I sensed our slow descent and heard the captain announce that we would be heading to Atlanta, instead of our destination, because of an indicator in the cockpit. He assured us that the issue with the hydraulic system should not concern us as plenty of backup measures were in place. Immediately the skittish family seated behind me began asking the flight attendants, “What’s wrong? What’s happening?”

During our descent, storm clouds caused us to encounter a few bumps of turbulence. Each new question from the nervous family grew in volume and pitch. Finally, the grandfather, apparently not a frequent flyer, declared to all who would listen, “I don’t care what anyone else is doing. I’m not going back up in one of these things. I’ll rent a car and drive 13 hours.”

After a short delay we were off to our original destination in a new aircraft – with four fewer passengers. I realized then that the perspective and experience of the passengers affected how each viewed that flight. The bumps that barely distracted me from my reading, likely kept one man from ever boarding another jet.

A similar truth is evident in our daily lives. When the storms of this life bring turbulence, we may look around and question what will happen next. We wonder why life has to be so jarring. Many strain against uncomfortable circumstances and nervously take matters into their own hands.

However, believers can live confidently because of our perspective. While we are limited by our human senses, we trust that an eternal God with an infinite viewpoint holds us firmly. Our salvation is secure in the hands of the One who has redeemed us. Our needs are met by a heavenly Father who loves us and is rich beyond measure. Finally, our glorious future is assured by His unfailing promises.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philip. 1:6

Experience is another wonderful tool for God’s children. The psalmist recalled that he had never seen God’s children forsaken or destitute (Psa. 37:25). We live by a faith that is reinforced by our experience. Take a few minutes and remember God’s faithfulness in your life. Follow that recollection with a prayer of thanksgiving. That healthy habit enables Christians to look at life with hope and assurance. Even when life seems unsettled, we are secure in God’s infinite care.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Recently, I heard two national news items that centered on foul language. First, Vice President Biden used particularly vulgar language in a whispered aside to the president while microphones were recording. People everywhere quickly rushed to defend and justify his words. John Dickerson at stated that Biden’s language was entirely acceptable for the occasion. In fact, he asserted that vulgar language is sometimes the most appropriate way to express your thoughts. (One might hope that a professional writer would have a vocabulary extensive enough to avoid that.)

The second incident occurred at the recent NFL scouting combine. Apparently, Tim Tebow suggested that players bow in a word of prayer before taking the Wonderlic exam. To this, a player told him to shut up using the same vulgarity as the vice president. The room filled with the laughter of other players.

We could probably agree that this type of language is far more prevalent than in years gone by. Words that at one time would never have been broadcast now find their way onto even “family-friendly” television programs. Language that was once reserved for “sailors” can now be heard in the mouths of preteen girls. As foul words grow more accepted in society, it is important for believers to remember the biblical guidance we have about our language.

Deceitful, slanderous, hypocritical, vain, idle – God’s Word warns about the dangers of these types of speech. Gossip and lying are condemned as particularly damaging. In contrast, the words of Christ are described as gracious and full of life. The book of Proverbs is rich with instruction about how our language can produce blessings or bitter consequences. The New Testament offers counsel about controlling even the most difficult tongue (James 3). We must remember that God hears all the words, even the idle ones, that slip past our lips (Matthew 12:36). Why does Scripture devote so much attention to our words? They are powerful and important.

What will my words accomplish today? A whispered exclamation when surprised or upset. Personal conversations between two friends. Public statements of my opinions or judgments. Each of this expressions reveal what lies in my heart. We don’t have to stand behind a pulpit to share the words of eternal life with another person. They should be an integral part of our daily life.  What comes out of my mouth originated in my heart.

The Psalmist reminds us that ultimately there is only one to whom we must give account. May David’s prayer be ours as well.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Wherever I Am

This weekend all types of of new technology will be unveiled at the South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.  Experts say that the most exciting trend centers on geo-location services.  For instance, Foursquare is a popular smartphone application that allows people to tag their precise location using GPS coordinates.

When some hear this, they imagine how exciting it would be to let all their online friends know where they are at any moment.  Others hear it and are equally frightened that all their online friends (or parents!) would know where they are at any moment. 
Many of us heard repeatedly as children that God was watching us all the time and everywhere we went.  We even learned the song…
Oh, be careful little feet where you go
Oh, be careful little feet where you go
For the Father up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little feet,
Where you go.
This was to encourage us to evaluate every activity in light of His presence.  Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that this truth applies to adults as well. 
The Psalmist David acknowledged God’s omnipresence and omniscience by stating, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? [8] If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. [9] If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; [10] Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10  
This is not ominous thought, but a reassuring one.  Rather than striking fear in David, he was comforted in the knowledge that God not only knew where he was, but was there with him. 

I am constantly amazed at the precision with which my GPS receiver determines my exact location.  The signals from a handful of satellites can follow my every move.  Greater still is the knowledge that the all-powerful God who created me never loses track of me.  When I step out in faith to serve Him, He is there to lead me.  When I am discouraged and believe that no one else knows or cares, He is there to console me.  When I stray from His will and follow my own path in life, He is there to draw me back.  If you are God’s child, rejoice today that wherever you are…He is there.

The Spirit in this Place

Just before last night’s church service, a friend commented, “The spirit in this morning’s service was awesome.”  I quickly agreed and added that I noticed it from the first song through the final conversation at the door.  I am sure that we were talking about the same thing – the environment or atmosphere as God’s people met together.  Because it is hard to define completely, perhaps it must be experienced firsthand to understand it fully.  Although we refer to an earthly environment, I am convinced that it is a sense of God’s presence in our midst that we feel. 
Certainly, we can experience God’s presence in a personal way, but there is something wonderful and unique about the atmosphere in a gathering of God’s children.  I am convinced that preachers are acutely aware of the congregation’s spirit every week. We often talk of the “liberty” sensed in preaching to a group where “the Spirit of the Lord is” (2 Cor. 3:17).  Without His presence, we cannot duplicate or manufacture that environment.  We can have an enjoyable or exciting time, but not a spiritually meaningful one. 
How do we experience that spirit in a worship service?  Music certainly can play a part in tuning our spirit to meet with God.  Yesterday, we were blessed with a great brass trio, a choir rejoicing in God’s great mercy and love, and a congregation singing energetically about the victory we have in Jesus.  I especially appreciated how the songs directed our minds and hearts toward the message about our possessions in Christ and how that enables us to overcome the world. 
More than just music, the hearts of those gathering must be in tune with God’s Spirit.  We must find ourselves walking in the Spirit in the days before we meet together.  Obedient living aligns our spirit with His will and allows for genuine worship. 
Finally, earnest prayer is a vital component to invite God’s presence in our midst.  Can you imagine the impact of hundreds of God’s children seeking His face in the days and hours before they gather?  “Lord, renew a right spirit in me and meet with us as we worship you this week.”  He has promised to answer. 

Psalm 145:18-19  The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. [19] He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
If you are a part of New Testament Baptist Church, I hope you were there yesterday to experience it for yourself.  If not, I invite you to come next week with a heart prepared to meet with God. 
If you read this from somewhere else in the world, I pray that you find the opportunity to worship with a Bible-believing church that is filled with God’s presence. 

The Fine Print

The beaming faces spoke about great successes.  “$1000 in one month.”  “$700 my first day!”  “$4000 and I only worked part-time.”  The infomercial featured a book and program that promised to provide make big money from the comfort of your home by advertising online.  However, below those big smiles was the fine print.
“In a poll of those who bought the book, the majority of people did not read the book or apply it.  Most did not make any money.”
Surprisingly truthful. 
As I read the disclaimer, I wondered if that also could be said about believers in Christ.  We have the book that offers eternal life.  God’s Word outlines how to gain victory over temptation and sin.  The Proverbs of Solomon overflow with practical advice for every area of life.  The New Testament epistles are rich with theological instruction.  Yet, even the Bible is of little value to someone who lets it rest undisturbed on the shelf. 
The test of our Christian walk is obedience to God’s Word.  This requires us first to become students of the book.  More than just breezing through a chapter, we should give thoughtful consideration to what we read.  The Psalmist even encourages us to meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2).  Even better is to memorize Scripture so that we can draw on it’s power at any time.  Finally, our study of the Bible should always produce practical application.  
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22  

It’s not enough simply to own a Bible.  We must live a life that accurately reflects it.  Our goal should be to maintain a testimony that doesn’t need any disclaimers.

Everyday Greatness

The legendary coach Tom Landry once said, “The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” (Perhaps that should be printed on my gym membership card!)

Great accomplishments are often achieved by tackling the simple things that we avoid because they seem too hard or unpleasant. In fact, success is often found by doing the things that other people neglect. This requires the personal discipline to respond to all of life’s challenges and demands.

The wise king Solomon offered extremely practical advice regarding our efforts:

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Proverbs 10:4

Sure, there are days when you don’t feel like doing all that is expected of you. Rather than view all of life’s demands as a huge beast ready to swallow you up, separate them into manageable tasks. Undertaking them one-by-one will give you a taste of victory.

Spiritual discipline and success follows a similar pattern. Doing great things for God is often the result of faithful obedience in the ordinary things to which He calls us. Every day presents opportunities to think, speak, and act in a way that pleases the Lord. Remember that He is always committed to rewarding the consistent obedience of His children.

1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Recognition or Reputation

The old adage from the world of entertainment says that “Any publicity is good publicity.” This morning a lot of people have discovered and are discussing CTS, a little-known company from Elkhart, Indiana, that makes electronic equipment, sensors and actuators. Oh, by the way, they also make pedal assemblies for automobiles, specifically Toyotas. A recent spate of accidents caused by out-of-control accelerators has caused Toyota to recall millions of their newest models. Even Chinese automakers have canceled future orders of CTS parts. (That’s when you know you’re in trouble.)

For years CTS executives have likely been thinking, “If only we could get the word out about our products. What can we do to let people know we exist?” This week they have all the publicity they can handle. By now, they are tired of answering the phone to answer questions about their company and products.

This incident reminded me that there are things more important than people knowing who I am. What do people know about me? What impression do my words and behavior leave with people that I meet? This involves more than simple concern with image or impressions. The world is enamored with celebrity and publicity, ignoring a person’s substance. The Christian must be concerned with character and integrity that is expressed through our conduct.

Every believer should be concerned with the witness that we impart to others. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We are called to do good so that others benefit, God is glorified, and we become more like Christ.

This type of testimony takes more than a kind word or nice gesture once in a while. Paul encourages young people to develop “a pattern of good works” as evidence of godliness (Titus 2:7). Day after day. In big and small ways. To those closest to us and those we have never met before. When that becomes our habit, the focus is rightly directed to our heavenly Father.

May the desire of our heart today be “Let them see Christ in me.”