I came across this as I was doing my study on the life of John the Baptist. Wow!
I came across this as I was doing my study on the life of John the Baptist. Wow!
A recent article in the Telegraph says that “Children are ‘born believers’ in God and do not simply acquire religious beliefs through indoctrination. He told the BBC:
The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose. . . . If we threw a handful on an island and they raised themselves I think they would believe in God.
He went on to note that children are more likely to believe in creationism rather than evolution, regardless of what teachers or parents may teach.
I find this rather encouraging that someone in the academic realm has been stating what Christianity has been stating for centuries. I wonder how the other academics will react? I, for one, am delighted.
By now, you may have heard of a 34-year-old Long Island Wal-Mart worker who was killed during the blackest of Black Fridays.
The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.
“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back.”
The unidentified victim was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., police said.
This breaks my heart for a number of reasons.
One, a man lost his life. The fleeting nature of our lives is one thing, but to die in this way is agonizingly brutal.
Two, a man lost his life while people were shopping for Christmas presents!! On a day when, like it or not, we honor the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, a man is trampled to death to find toys and products that will eventually wear out or burn out. On a day when we remember the selfless sacrifice of the Son of God gave up His home with His Father in glory to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), the loss of life as a result of the selfishness and callousness of consumers simply trying to get a deal is a low point. This is American consumerism at its worst.
Three, a man lost his life while people were shopping for Christmas presents, and only a few stopped to check on him. The article notes that this man was gasping for air, yet people walked over him and around him.
Four, the way the economy is right now, many toy stores and other department stores are giving Black Friday-like deals and have been for almost a month! This Black Friday business has just turned into a shopping tradition. It’s the thing to do the day after Thanksgiving. If some of these shoppers had been looking in the previous weeks, they would see that getting up at 2 A.M. and working themselves into a consumeristic, frothy frenzy would not be worth it.
Fifth, this should be a wake-up call for America. Some of you are saying, “OK, now. You’re overstating things.” Am I?
May God have mercy on us — and may His people not be caught up in the current of the times.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
I will be leading a Pastor’s Conference in January in Point Fortin, Trinidad, and would like to provide them with small but helpful book by Art Azurdia called “Spirit Empowered Preaching.”
I have set up a Wishlist at Amazon where you can go and directly purchase a book for us. The book will be sent to Boone’s Creek Baptist Church where I pastor. I’m hoping to bring down 35 to pass out to the pastors.
Can you help? You can buy them new for $12.23 (plus tax and shipping), but there are also other options where you can buy them used.
I do not know of anyone who does not want to have a blessed life, do you? And Christians know better than anyone what a blessed life entails. When you know that your life is held tightly in the hand of our Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus (John 10:27), that is blessing enough! But there is more — so much more!
King David, the author of this Psalm, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy
3:16) begins these incredible collection of Psalms by talking about the ‘blessed man.’ Then, as a father talks to his son, David talks to his children saying, “Before I tell you what a blessed man is, let me inform you as to what he is not.” And he then proceeds in a progression that often snares those who are off the path God has for them.
First, a man outside of the blessed life starts walking and may find himself in ‘the counsel of the wicked.’ Soon, he is intrigued by their company and finds himself standing ‘in the way of sinners.’ After a while, he gets so very comfortable in their presence, that he pulls up a seat among the ‘scoffers’ who scoff all things good, all things godly, all things holy. And if we are not careful and living a life of perseverance under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may find ourselves getting rather comfortable in the ways of this world and not being holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16-17).
(c) 2007, Matthew Perry.
In A.W. Tozer’s classic and life-changing work, The The Pursuit of God, he noted the role that religious leaders must place in recognizing the need for a hunger and thirst for God.
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy. …
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts (pp. 8-10).
What is interesting is that Tozer wrote this in 1948. What do you think? Is Tozer on to something here?
Gotta love the early 1980’s print on his shirt. I just thank God for Keith Green and miss him dreadfully.
I wrote this blog entry on March 29, 2006 after God convicted me and my body warned me regarding a particular addiction I have and many pastors have as well. While I have not progressed as well as I would like, reading this 2 1/2 years later helps me to see that work still needs to be done. I’d appreciate your prayers in the matter.
I praise God that He gives us the strength to overcome addictions — and he has put me on a path to overcome mine, but I have a long, long way to go. It is really an addiction that began in college and continued on through seminary — right into married life where it all came to bloom. All night study sessions getting ready for the test the next morning. Being locked up in the library. Then getting married and leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Then on top of all that, I have been in the ministry going on 15 years, which allows for an increasingly sedentary lifestyle — on top of that, I’m am in Baptist ministry, which seems to feed my particular addiction more and more because it is just part of our culture.
My particular addiction that God is helping me to overcome is that of food.
A little history. I graduated from high school weighing a whopping 135 pounds soaking wet. In high school, I actually dropped down to 117 (which was about 25 pounds below what I should have been) because my trust was in my girlfriend at the time rather than in Christ. She didn’t want to eat lunch, so I didn’t eat lunch. Very unhealthy from every angle. But by the time I graduated in 1989, I was 135 and stayed that weight pretty much all through college when I graduated in 1994.
During college, I was a music major at Palm Beach Atlantic College. Aside from the jokes that music majors really didn’t do much, nothing could have been further from the truth. One study noted that the three hardest fields of study in academia are law, medicine, and music. I didn’t go into music because of any of that — God called me into the ministry and at that time it was music ministry.
At that time, everything seemed to affect me negatively — though it wasn’t necessarily bad in and of itself. But in order to get through, I had to practice on my piano 1.5 to 2 hours per day, plus be involved in a number of extra classes that were required but where we obtained no credit. Plus, I had a couple of extra jobs just to get by. I was busy, busy, busy with bad sleeping habits and addicted at that point to caffeine and pizzas whose establishments delivered into the wee hours of the morning. I stayed skinny, but the pattern was set.
By the time I graduated seminary the first time and got married, I was a meatier 175. But when I graduated, I was engaged to my now wife Cindy. I had a steady job, no more ridiculous class schedules, no more late nights to study for music history and hymnology tests. No more working two jobs, plus doing my church work. I was settled with the woman God gave to me. And I was peaceful, relaxed …
… and expanding.
Bad habits would develop. Have a hard day at work? Go eat. Need to celebrate? Let’s go eat. Having a fellowship at church? GOTTA EAT! It’s almost as if gluttony is the unspoken, pardonable sin amongst us Baptists. It’s our culture. But in reality, food can be the worst addiction of all. It’s not illegal or necessarily immoral, but it numbs the pain and the hurt and any issue that can go on the in heart.
At the beginning of the year, I found myself between 40 and 50 pounds overweight (206). For those with large or even medium frames, 206 is really not bad. But the point is, I have a small frame and was 40-50 pounds overweight. And it really began to affect me. How?
(1) Walking up stairs. Walking upstairs from my office to the sanctuary is not a long walk, but I found myself winded slightly. I began to have to time and space out when I would go upstairs. If I walked upstairs and immediately had to talk to someone or preach, I would have to work and labor to catch my breath. As a pastor and preacher, that is not acceptable.
(2) Airplanes. A deacon friend and I flew to New Orleans to scope out some upcoming missions opportunities in that region. We flew a Comair flight to New Orleans. You know how you have to put your carry-on bag either in the seat underneath you or in the overhead compartment? I put mine in the seat underneath me. When we were in the air and I had to bend over to get it, I almost choked because my gut had become so big that it pushed into my diaphragm. (If you find yourself laughing at this, that’s your right. But it is a struggle and it causes more pain than just physical.)
(3) The jokes. One friend of mine who lives in another part of the state began joking to me, “You’re beginning to look like a Baptist preacher.” Others come up and pat me on the belly and make comments. And do you know what they would always do afterwards?
And it may have been funny. And for many, it certainly may not have been intended maliciously. But I now know that most folks who struggle in this area look in the mirror and begin to acquire a sort of self-loathing. And they acquire another trait which is far more harmful …
(4) I began to feel enslaved and doomed to this. Yes, I as a minister of Gospel who preaches about how we can be free from self and free in Christ, would find myself telling my wife, “You know, I really don’t think I can lose weight.” No matter what I tried, I kept gaining. And gaining.
But my wife began a program called Lose It For Life by Steven Arterburn. It’s been really good. It’s not like a lot of diet fads. Basically, it’s lots and lots and lots of water. Exercise (and they give you good tips on how to do this in the midst of a busy day), cut down on snacks, and no eating snacks after 8:00.
As of March 29, 2006, I am now 191 — I have lost 15 pounds by the grace and glory of God. My goal is 165-168. You may say, “Matt, you have 25 pounds to go!” YES! I do. But knowing that God has set me and is setting me free from my addiction to food and soft drinks now only gives me hope that I can be healthier, it’s also a time of worship that God can truly set one free from anything that enslaves.
God must be our all-in-all, but for too many of us, food is. We must preach against this as we do other sins. Stephen Arterburn noted that pastors preach against every other sin — all the while carrying 200 pounds extra weight in the pulpit. We must lay this down as well. I love food — but I love my God more and He must be my ‘comfort food’ as the Bread of Life. I will pray that you all indeed feast on Him and Him alone.
Our Sunday School classes here at church are going through 1 & 2 Samuel this quarter. We have had such a blessing getting to know God through this portion of Scripture.
One of the great challenges of pastoral ministry is convincing some Christians of their value and purpose in the Kingdom of God. They look at their weaknesses and magnify them rather than as a result they minimize God’s working in their hearts. They neglect to believe that God has gifted them, even in light of Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:28-31).
In our staff meeting last week, I shared with our staff 1 Samuel 30:16-25:
And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.  And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled.  David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives.  Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all.  David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David’s spoil.”
 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them.  Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.”  But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us.  Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.”  And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.
Some of the warriors had the strength to pursue the Amalekites after they had captured David’s wives and taken the spoil. Yet, some did not have the strength, so they stayed behind and watched the baggage. Both had a part to play, so both could share in the spoils.
Each of us who are engaged in the Christian battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15-17) have varying amounts of strength. But everyone, whether they can go or they can stay, regardless of age or gifting, is able to share in the spoils of God’s Kingdom in Christ.
A New Testament passage which parallels this understanding in Matthew 20:1-16. The master of a house had a vineyard and was in need of workers. He hired some at the beginning of the day, promising a denarius. He hired others at the third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, then the eleventh hour. At the twelfth hour, when he began paying them for their work, he paid the laborer who only worked an hour a denarius. Those who had worked all day thought they would get 12 times that amount since they worked 12 times as long — but the master gave them what they agreed upon — a denarius as well. Look at the rationale of the master:
But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’  So the last will be first, and the first last.”
The perspective is what matters. Do we look at what we feel we should receive, or do we admire the generosity of the master? By God’s grace, we have Christ, regardless of whether He chose to have us work in His vineyard for decades, or just a few months — He is generous and gracious in that regardless of the time, all Christians will have every bit of the Son and His Spirit that we need.