Judas in the Mirror – Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?

betrayed_wide_t_nvIt is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. Better to have an enemy who slaps you in the face than a friend who stabs you in the back. You don’t expect betrayal from a friend. But for there to be betrayal there must be trust. The saddest thing about betrayal is it never comes from an enemy. Because sometimes the people you’d take a bullet for are the ones behind the trigger.

Have you ever been betrayed? Maybe a friend told one of your secrets. Or a child broke a trust and your heart. Or a spouse had an affair. It hurts, real deep. You kind of know how Jesus felt when He was betrayed by one of his most trusted disciples, Judas. His betrayal is very famous. He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He betrayed Him with a kiss. His betrayal led to the most famous murder in history – the crucifixion of Jesus, God’s Son.

But what was the motivation behind Judas’ betrayal? Why did he do this? I think we can find at least 3 motivations behind his betrayal? The problem is I discover these same motivations in some of my actions. I’m sure you can too. So, can you see Judas in the mirror?

1- MONEY

The Gospel authors tell us that this was the primary reason Judas betrayed Jesus. It was for the money…

  • Matthew 26:15 – And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

Judas negotiated a deal, a business arrangement – seeking economic advantage, by getting the best price that he could manage, and so for 30 pieces of silver he sold his relationship with Jesus. It seems pretty clear, he did it for the money.

A corrupt love of money is a powerful motivator. Just think of what people driven by greed will do. Consider the impact of money on our political system. Business leaders go along with unethical decisions driven by greed. Consider how once close and caring family members will get in battles over disputed inheritances. Or as if a divorce weren’t  brutal enough, the greed when dividing the assets. People will betray country, business partners, family and friends for money. Our prisons are packed by those driven by love of money.

Greed and the love of money can bring out the very worst in people. It brought out the worst in Judas, to betray his Lord, and that ought to get our attention and it ought to concern us very much. Our material things in this life, will either help or hinder, enrich or destroy — and our attitude toward money and possessions most clearly reflects our relationship with God.

2- PRIDE

It could be that Judas thought Jesus was heading down a wrong path. If Judas had followed Jesus, expecting Him to overthrow Roman tyranny, perhaps by having Jesus arrested, he hoped to force Jesus into a rebellion against Rome.

There is nothing that tells us that this was his motivation. However, there is a hint. After the betrayal and arrest, Jesus offered no resistance. Judas returned to the Jewish leaders, brought back the 30 pieces of silver, and said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” Then, in guilt, hung himself. His plan didn’t work.

For sure, Jesus was not doing what Judas expected. Jesus could not and would not be who Judas wanted Him to be. So he did it his way. Countless people today do the same thing. How often do we try to tell God how to do things? When life doesn’t make sense, we question the overall plan of God for our life. When faced with God’s will and our will, we choose selfishly. Our pride thinks we know best, even in relation to God. That’s what Judas thought.

3- SATAN

In Luke’s account of this moment tells us Satan himself entered Judas.

  • Luke 22: 3 – Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.

Satan does not involve himself with every temptation and spiritual battle. He did tempt Eve in the garden and Jesus in the wilderness. Here he enters Judas for the purpose of betraying Jesus. So, one of the motives for betraying Jesus was Satanic.

This does not assume that Judas became the innocent victim of a Satanic takeover. Judas could have changed his mind. But he reached the point where he couldn’t turn back. Satan took over. And after he committed his betrayal, he regretted his decision. But it was too late.

Whether it is Satanic, demonic or our own sinful nature, we often go down a path we know we should exit. We know it’s not right, but often we think we can handle it. But we often regret the consequences of our actions. You can’t play with sin and not have to pay the consequences.

No is Not Enough – Thoughts on Fasting

Fasting is an exercise in self-denial and self-discipline to abstain from food. Going without food or drink for any period of time is a form of fasting. “Breakfast” means to ‘break a fast.’

Many ancient pagans believed that demons could enter the body through food. When they felt they were under demonic attack, they would fast to prevent more evil spirits from gaining access to their bodies. In modern western society, fasting has become popular for purely physical and cosmetic reasons.

Legitimate fasting always had a spiritual purpose and is never presented as having any value in and of itself. The only fast commanded in Scripture is the one connected with the Day of Atonement. They were to ‘humble their souls’ (Lev. 16:29), a Hebrew expression including forsaking food as an act of self-denial. Fasting is shown to be an entirely non-compulsory, voluntary act, not a spiritual duty to be regularly observed.

Jesus spoke about fasting in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:16-18.

1. False Fasting (Matthew 6:16)

Fasting had become a ritual to gain merit with God and attention before men. Many Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12), usually on Monday and Thursday. They claimed those days were chosen because they were the days Moses made the two separate trips to receive the tablets of law from God on Mt. Sinai. But those two days also happened to be the amor Jewish market days, when cities and towns were crowded with farmers, merchants, and shoppers. They were the 2 days with the largest audiences.

2. Proper Fasting (Matthew 6:17-18)

Fasting is mentioned 30 times in the New Testament, almost always favorably. Fasting is normal and acceptable in the Christian life. Jesus assumes His followers will fast on certain occasions, but He doesn’t give a command or specify a particular time, place, or method.

Jesus’ disciples did not fast while He was with them because fasting is associated primarily with mourning or other ties of con suing spiritual need or anxiety.

Fasting is never shown in Scripture to be the means to heightened spiritual experience, visions, or special insight or awareness – as many mystics, including some Christians mystics, claim. Fasting is appropriate in this age because Christ is physically absent from the earth. But it is appropriate only as a response to to special times of testing, trial, struggle.

When is fasting appropriate?

  1. Times of sorrow (2 Sam. 12:16; Ps. 35:13)
  2. Overwhelming danger (2 Chron. 20:3; Esther 4:16)
  3. Penitence (Jonah 3:5,7)
  4. Beginning of an important task or ministry (Acts 13:2,3). d.
  5. Helps us share in others in need. Share what we might have eaten (or its cost) with the undernourished.

A person who fasts should do everything to make himself normal and do nothing to attract attention to his deprivation and spiritual struggle. The one who sincerely wants to please God will avoid trying to impress men. Fasting is not to be a display for anyone, including God. We can bluff a human audience and they can be taken in by our performances. But God is not mocked. We can’t deceive Him. God hates hypocrisy but loves reality.

I hope these thoughts helps you in your Christian journey. Fasting provides an opportunity to practice self-discipline to draw closer to Jesus Christ.

You can read my other Sermon on the Mount articles: Life Redefined: Sermons from The Sermon on the Mount.

An Extravagant Act of Love for Jesus

The story of the anointing of Jesus is found in three Gospels – Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8. A recent sermon I preached about this event reminded me that Jesus deserves every opportunity to show our love to Him.

Jesus has just a few hours left to live. It’s His last week on Earth. So how does he spend His time? He goes to a party at a man’s house known as ‘Simon the leper.’ Nothing else is known about him, except that he once had leprosy. Maybe Jesus had healed him of his leprosy and in gratitude he threw a party. Along with the actions later in the evening, maybe this was a party of some of the close friends of Jesus who had been touched and changed by Him.

Neither Mark nor Matthew names the woman, but John tells us she was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. It’s interesting that Mary is mentioned only 3 times in the Bible (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:31-32; John 12:1-8). Each time she is at His feet. She had a close fellowship with the Lord and listened to Him.

She took an alabaster box of spikenard ointment, broke the box, and poured the entire contents on his head. It was customary to pour a few drops of scented oil on guests as they arrived or sat to eat, but she gave it all. She used spikenard. Spikenard was imported from the Himalayas.

The disciples criticized her. According to John, this was led by Judas. Two complaints: First, it was a waste. At the least, anointing many heads is better than only one. Second, it could have been better used. They could have sold the perfume for 300 pence and fed the poor. 300 pence is 300 daily wages. Today, this would be worth about $45,000.

But according to John, it wasn’t the poor Judas was concerned about. He held the money for the group. His concern was motivated by greed or at least control over the money. It is the ‘love of money’ that is the root of all evil. This event probably pushed him over the edge in his determination to betray Jesus.

Jesus defended Mary’s action. First, He proclaims that she did a good work and would be rewarded for it. Mary may not have set out to anoint Jesus for burial, but her ‘over the top’ act of love will always be remembered for that. Second, their concern for the poor is important, but the poor will always be around. But the opportunity to do what she did will not. It is not that Jesus is not concerned for the poor, but every opportunity must be evaluated in relation of Jesus. Today, it is important to remember that Jesus said what you have done to the ‘least of these’ you’ve done to Him (Matthew 25:40).

What can we learn from this story?

A life spent in selfless devotion to Jesus is not wasted, but a life spent on self is totally wasted.

Earlier Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

  • Selfless devotion is costly: It may cost you financially (stuff) …socially (pride)… criticism (reputation).
  • Selfless devotion grows from personal love and gratitude.
  • Selfish devotion flows from knowing Jesus personally.
  • Selfish devotion results in action… the fragrance of Christ surrounding your life… service for Christ…witness for Christ.

Mary’s action reveals the proper basis for evaluating our own actions: Did I do what I did because I love Jesus? She didn’t do this out of duty or pressure, but out of sheer devotion for Christ. She did it from a perception of Christ that even the apostles lacked. She knew He was worthy of extravagant love. The more she learned about Him listening to Him in His ministry, the more she loved Him. When Jesus is your treasure, you will spend your life in selfless devotion to Him.

She did what she could. Her public expression of commitment to Christ invited others to decide what they would do with Him.  Her action forced the hands of all present and moved them either to relationship or rejection of Jesus. As a result of her action she was ridiculed by others.  But as a result of her action she was honored by Jesus.

What have you done recently for Jesus that is ‘over the top’? How have you expressed your love to Him in a tangible way?

You can read my other similar article: She Did What She Could.

 

Lessons from a Famous Mom, Mary

I think beyond a doubt, the most famous mother, and probably woman, in history is Mary the mother of Jesus. I want us to look at the characteristics of the woman that God chose to raise His son. As we look at Mary we will see that she is a wonderful example of a mom, a woman, and a follower of God. We find her story in Luke 1:26-38. Twice in this Bible passage Gabriel told Mary that she was ‘highly favored’ by God. What was there about Mary that had so caught the Creator’s attention?

MARY WAS ‘HIGHLY FAVORED’ BECAUSE SHE HAD THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE

When Gabriel tapped her on the shoulders that day Mary was greatly troubled. She was no doubt a little on edge having an angel speak to her, and the message Gabriel brought her was a very troubling one. After all, she was engaged at the time to Joseph.

Therefore, as this “unique” pregnancy was presented Mary faced many troubling possibilities; rejection by Joseph, the task of raising her child alone (in a culture hostile to women), in addition she jeopardized her reputation in Nazareth should any of her neighbors find out. She even risked her very life should she be accused of unfaithfulness against Joseph. All of this no doubt troubled Mary.

Not to mention the fact that Mary could have felt insecure, unworthy and insufficient for this great task of being the mother of God the Son, the Savior of the world.

Mary could have said; “Lord I’m just a girl I’m not ready to be a mother, I’m not wealthy, I’m not educated – I’m not worthy of this maybe it would be better if you got someone else.” That’s not what Mary said is it, no she said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be as you have said…”

Mary had the right perspective; She knew who God was (The Lord Almighty) – and who she was, His servant. Mary was God’s servant and she knew that nothing was impossible for her God – if God said it, Mary knew that it would happen, and even if she didn’t really understand the hows – Mary would go along with it because she was God’s servant.

MARY WAS ‘HIGHLY FAVORED’ BECAUSE SHE HAD A SOLID FOUNDATION

Now how do we know that Mary had a solid foundation? She knew the scriptures. When she met Elizabeth, she praised God. Her words are recorded in Luke 1:46-55. This is filled with truths from the Old Testament: Exodus, Psalms & Isaiah. Mary knew “the Word” and she went beyond that and was one who enthusiastically and unashamedly praised her God.

She recognized that God is The Mighty One, that He is holy and that His mercy reaches out to those who fear Him, filling the hungry with good things. Mary’s solid foundation is an example to all of us today.

We see an example of this very thing in 2 Timothy 1:5 as Paul writes to his young disciple Timothy; “I have been reminded of you sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you also…” Timothy’s mother and grandmother had a solid foundation and they passed that on to Timothy.

How solid is your foundation? Do you understand who God is? Do you have His word hidden in your heart and mind so that it supports & guide you in your life? Do you know his word well enough to pass it on to your children? Do set a good example of one who loves to worship and praise God? Is your home life build on a solid foundation?

May God look on you with favor as He looked upon Mary. If you have the proper perspective and a solid foundation He may present to you an offer of service that goes beyond your wildest dreams. He did this for Mary. And she is not only honored by Her Son, but continues to be an inspiration to followers of God everywhere.

This was part of my Mother’s Day 2016. You can read some of my articles about Mary: An Outstanding Mother, A Few Thoughts About Mary.

How to do BIG THINGS for GOD

 

In May 1966 Jerry Falwell graduated from Baptist Bible College. 60 years later, his son, Jonathan, came for a visit. He is the 2016 commencement speaker of BBC.

Jonathan let us know of a time when he visited BBC campus with his dad. They went to his old dorm room in Berea Hall. And for an hour, he sat and recounted how he spent afternoons praying for God’s power and for God to use him. At that time, he was just a typical college student. But because of what God did to him in that college dorm, God used him to reach millions of people.

4 questions that were given to Jerry Falwell, while at BBC, set his life. Jonathan said his father would ask himself these questions every day of his life.

  • What would I try to do if I thought I might succeed?
  • What goals would I set if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  • What price am I wiling to pay?
  • What sacrifices am I willing to make?

In Genesis 6:14-18, God asked Noah to do something really big and crazy – build a big, big boat on land far from water. But Noah trusted God even when it didn’t make sense. If we’re going to do something big for God, we need to trust Him totally.

Like Noah, we have been divinely warned. Our world is running away from God and judgment is coming. What will we do? Will you do something BIG?

Principles learned from Noah’s life…

  1. It starts with your daily walk (Genesis 6:9). Noah walked with God. Before God told Noah to do a big job, Noah walked with God. Doing big things for God doesn’t start on the mountain. It starts in the private moments with God. The greatness of tomorrow begins and depends on the quietness of today. Often we are so busy doing for God we
  2. It takes an absolute trust in God (Genesis 6:17-18, 22). Noah did exactly what God’s Word told him to do. He went in the boat, even before it started to rain, because He told him to. You will never do big things for God if you question the Word of God (Bible). You cannot find God’s will until you are in God’s Word.
  3. Recognize that it takes waiting on God to have big vision for God (Genesis 7:1, 4-5, 7, 10-12). Noah was wiling to wait on God’s timing no matter how long it took.

Personal Take-aways from Noah’s life… 

  1. Don’t ever compromise your faith in God.
  2. A storm does not always mean you are out of God’s will. God had to put Noah through a storm to realize the victory.
  3. Waiting on the Lord is better than relying on our own wisdom. Following God’s way through is always better than trying to find a way out.

In Acts 17 Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica. Paul talked with the religious leaders. But they opposed him. They cried ‘these who have turned the world outside down have come here.’ His enemies recognized that Paul and the message he preached was changing the culture. We need to be like Paul and share the message of Jesus Christ so the world will publicly acknowledge that the world is changing toward God.

“God never called me to be popular. He called me to be faithful.” – Jerry Falwell

You can read about other messages/sessions at: ALL IN – 2016 BBFI Fellowship Meeting

You can also read some of my articles about having a BIG impact: Leaving a Legacy, 4 Great Coaching Questions, Crazy Commitment.

Jonathan Falwell is the Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. He served under the leadership of his father and founding pastor, Jerry Falwell, from 1995 until his father’s death in May 2007. He was called to be the Senior Pastor on June 3, 2007 by a unanimous vote of the church congregation. His responsibilities include the preaching duties of the church, the management of over 250 staff members, communication with over 20,000 church members, long-term planning for ministry outreach, as well as the planning of special outreach events that reach well over 250,000 individuals in person each year in addition to the church’s regular attendees, and millions more through the church’s television ministries. Rev. Falwell preaches at the main worship services each Sunday morning. TRBC has over 12,000 in attendance each Sunday and an additional 8,000 for its midweek services.

Baptist Bible College celebrates 66 years of ministry in 2016. As a 1982 alumnus, I am pleased to celebrate this event at my alma mater. These have been some of my thoughts of the Monday, May 2 evening session.

Please share your thoughts.

The Strength of BBFI is Missions

I love missions and missionaries! I understand, to a degree, what they do and why they do it. Before I went to BBC, I asked my pastor, Marty Lewis, what should be my major. I did not know what God wanted me to be. His advice: Take Missions. If God calls you to be a missionary, you’ll be already to go. If He doesn’t, you’ll be a missions-minded pastor.

I attended the 2016 BBFI Fellowship week. Wednesday morning was devoted to missions. There’s no way I can capture in this blog all that went on. And I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m rambling. But let me share a few thoughts I picked up while my heart was broken for a lost world and a greater admiration for those missionaries who leave family to reach them.

The Baptist Bible Fellowship, as of today, has 809 missionaries serving in 89 countries. You can read more about BBFI Missions on their website: bbfimissions.com

Though all missionaries present were recognized, a few individuals were honored. Ken & Carrie Liles (Iran) and Jim & Geri McCarty (Hong Kong & Taiwan) were honored for 30 years of mission service. Frank & Karen Auterson (Ethiopia & New Guinea) were honored for 50 years of mission service.

Some great things for missions and missionaries are going on with the BBFI. Jon Konnerup, Missions Director, highlighted several items:

World Mission Forum is a conference-type event to discuss and inform about various issues on missions. Emphasis is given to provide prospective missionaries with information to determine next steps to be a missionary. The first was held at Baptist Bible College. The next meeting will be in October 2016 in Texas. Future meetings are being planned.

Missionary Kids need assistance transitioning into U.S. culture. The BBFI is organizing help for families and sending church to understand how to help.

Creative Access Nations (CAN) need missionaries. The BBFI is providing information about creative ways to help missionaries gain access into these countries that do not accept traditional missionaries. In addition, U.S. businesses could help provide avenues of entry into those countries.

Social Media is here to stay. The Missions Office is improving in this area. The missions website will help new missionaries choose to be affiliated with the BBFI. There is a new app for the BBFI Missions that will help pastors and church members better reach the world.

Missions Trips provide a great opportunity to learn missions. Trips and camps are being planned to help people experience mission life and help young people know the next steps to take to be a missionary.

The Missionary Care Offering is received throughout the year. It strives to minister to missionaries in ways that prepare, strengthen and encourage them so they can effectively take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people whom God has called them. It provides for help in emergencies on the field, help with children, security training, an annual missionary family reunion, and small intimate retreats on the mission field.

9 new missionaries were approved. I apologize that I was not in the service when TEAM (short-term) missionaries were announced. But the full-time career missionaries approved were:

  • Christian & Shawna Hendrick to Dominican Republic of Congo
  • Jamie Newell to India
  • Richie & MIssy Orrick to Wales

The Missions Office is an important part of the BBFI. The Missions Office processes support from 4,000 churches, serving 809 missionaries in 89 countries. They process $38 million a year with 19 staff members. The Missions Office wants to improve and increase missionary training online and assist colleges with missionary training. They will be helping pastors, churches, and state fellowship with missionary promotion by providing monthly videos, Missions Conference packets (including videos, posters, sermons, power points, etc). The Missions Office is in need of financial support. It is suggested that each church send a minimum of #3.50 per month for each missionary they support. 100% of the money given to missionaries goes to missions. The Missions Office receives no support that is intended to go to missionaries.

Jon Konnerup concluded the session with a challenge from Romans 15:18-21. He emphasized that we must align with God’s mission and stay focus on the mission that is consistent with God’s purpose (all to hear and understand the Gospel), characterized by God’s power, and compelled by God’s passion. The passion of God is the story of His Son.

As best that can be counted, there are over 18,000 churches around the world that have been planted by BBFI pastors, missionaries, or other leaders. To God be the glory!

You can read about other messages/sessions at: ALL IN – 2016 BBFI Fellowship Meeting

You can also read some of my articles about missions: 3 Responses to Worldwide Missions, 8 Reasons to go on a Short-term Missions Trip, My Asia Adventure (Korea & Cambodia)

Baptist Bible College celebrates 66 years of ministry in 2016. As a 1982 alumnus, I am pleased to celebrate this event at my alma mater. These have been some of my thoughts of the Monday, May 2 evening session.

Please share your thoughts.

ALL IN – 2016 BBFI Fellowship Meeting

The theme for the week of the May 2016 Fellowship Meeting of the Baptist Bible Fellowship is ALL IN. It was held at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.

The links below are notes from some of the sessions I attended.

Monday Night Service: Rediscovering the Power of the Gospel (Tom Messer)

Tuesday Morning: Three Pastors Being REAL About Ministry (Jason Henderson, Matt Eachus, & John Houston)

Tuesday Night Service: Buy Gold (Mark Hoover)

Wednesday Morning: Missions Morning

Wednesday Night: Do BIG Things (Jonathan Falwell)

Three Pastors Being REAL About Ministry

Pastors & Preachers are a unique group of people. Be very careful when you let them tell you what ministry is really like. Mark Millioni, President of Baptist Bible College, invited three pastors to be real, honest, and encouraging to other pastors. I was in the meeting. There were laughs, tears, and cheers.

So, I thought I’d share a few thoughts from these three message. I will just give their names, title of their talk, and a few quotes. You can go below and read a short biography. If you are a pastor, I hope this will let you feel appreciated, understood, and encouraged, If you are not a pastor, please encourage your pastor. I guarantee, he needs it.

How to get God’s Blessings

Jason Henderson, pastor of Grace Pointe Church in Apopka, Florida, spoke about receiving God’s blessings on your work from Joshua 3. If you want God to bless you, do 3 things:

(1) Purify your life (Joshua 3:5). The Jews were to wash themselves and change their clothes. We need to take a spiritual bath. God blesses holy people. When pastors fall morally, they don’t remember your sermon… they remember your last sin. Watch out for women and money. If you’re broke and have your wife, you’re doing great. We must keep our life pure.

(2) Be presence-driven (Joshua 3:4, 6). Churches can be policy-driven, past-driven, purpose-driven, pastor-driven, personality-driven. Put God where He belongs… in the front. Pastor, you’re not that great… Jesus is. We must keep our focus on Jesus.

(3) Power will follow (Joshua 3:7). Influence follows purity and Jesus’s prominence. Let God give you the influence to lead. Don’t take it. We must allow Jesus to give us influence.

Inward Life of a Believer

Matt Eachus, pastor of The Church at Newtown Road in Halfmoon, New York, spoke about the Inward Life of a Believer. We often feel like we’re all alone in our struggles and there is no hope. The heart of the leader must be nurtured, guarded and protected (1 Timothy 4:16). Three lessons about ministry:

(1) Ministry exposed me for what I was. Pastoral ministry does not build character; it reveals character or the lack of it. It often exposes our insecurities.

(2) Ministry exposed my pride. Troubles and people often help me see how arrogant I really am.

(3) Ministry acts like a pressure cooker – ready for an explosion. Family demands, daily routines, weekly responsibilities, and emergencies all come at once. There is tremendous weight of being a leader and shepherd compounded with the politics in pastoral ministry. We can justify bad behavior on our stress. But justifying wrong behavior doesn’t get you anything but deeper in sin.

So, where do we go for help?

(1) Remember the call of God (Exodus 3). When we feel like giving up, the definite call of God will get you through.

(2) Remember the humility of Jesus. Get over yourself. This is not your church. If Jesus could be humble, you need to be too.

(3) Remember the Sabbath. Find rest and release. Shut it down sometimes. Have a retreat day. Take a long walk in the woods and make sure the same guy doesn’t come out.

The struggles pastors face are not allowed by God to break, but to strengthen. Allow Jesus to walk with you and work through you.

There will be Blood

John Houston, pastor of Point Harbor Community Church, in Chesapeake, Virginia, titled his talk There will be Blood. Wow! Luke 14:25-33, 2 Timothy 3:11-12 and Jeremiah 9:2 talk about the hardships of ministry. Realistic ministry has blood. In the Garden of Eden there was blood. When Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command there was blood. The Levitical sacrifices were bloody. Jesus on the cross was bloody. If you have a bloodless ministry, you’re not fighting. If Satan can’t attack you, he will attack your spouse, your children, your friendships, and your ministry.

The Calling is the Key. Sometimes the only thing that keeps you in ministry is the call of God into ministry. In ministry, the front line is where the action is. Is it worth it? 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that it is. We might feel like what we’re doing isn’t working and is empty, but it is worth it.

You can read about other messages/sessions at: ALL IN – 2016 BBFI Fellowship Meeting

You can also read some of my articles about pastors: What your pastor really wants for Pastor Appreciation Month, Texting and Other Ways to Annoy your Pastor During Church Service, Tribute to Pastor Bill Dinoff.

Baptist Bible College celebrates 66 years of ministry in 2016. As a 1982 alumnus, I am pleased to celebrate this event at my alma mater. These have been some of my thoughts of the Monday, May 2 evening session.

Please share your thoughts.

Buy Gold – Church Growth

‘All In’ means totally committed. It’s actually a poker term and indicates all the chips are gambled on one hand. There are only two reasons to go ‘all in’. Either you have a great hand or you are desperate. We have both. Jesus left us with a powerful Word and message. That’s a ‘great hand.’ But what pastors and churches are doing doesn’t seem to be working. That’s desperation.

That is the theme of the BBFI Fellowship Week: ‘ALL IN.’ Mark Hoover spoke on the topic, BUY GOLD, Tuesday night at Baptist Bible College for the 2016 Fellowship Week of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. (You can read Mark’s bio below.)

What we’re doing isn’t working. We’ve had a chance to make a difference in America, but we haven’t been totally successful. The culture has been in decline in morality and the church has done little to curb the trajectory. 85-90% of American churches are in decline.

But we’re doing a lot. Churches have programs, and staff, and busy calendars. If what we’re doing isn’t working, it’s obviously not because we aren’t trying. Because we really are.

Time to analyze what we’re doing. If what we’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing. Is it real?

Solomon made 500 gold shields – $30-60 million. Those gold shields were stolen under King Rehoboam. So, he replaced them with bronze shields (1 Kings 14:25-28). He treated the gold like it wasn’t worthwhile, and he lost them. He treated the bronze like gold, and he guarded them.

Something for younger pastors to think about… There’s a reason why some older preachers fight for things that you don’t understand. At one time, it was the independent Baptists were cutting edge. But when the 60s hit, the world went morally crazy. We had to hold tight to our doctrine because they were being threatened. But we equalled our doctrine with our methods. And guarded our methods to the point that we kept doing stuff that wasn’t working anymore.

Draw a crowd and preach the Word. This is really the simple method of reaching our community. John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, DL Moody, WA Criswell, Jerry Fallwell, Billy Graham all used this methodology. Even Jesus did this. And that is what independent Baptists did. But many are either not drawing a crowd or not preaching the Word.

Maybe we’re drawing a crowd, but not telling the truth. Or maybe we’re preaching the Word, but not drawing a crowd. What are we doing to reach our community? Sometimes we build a church culture that becomes a barrier that prevents us from reaching the people we are called to reach. How do you get people saved? Reach the lost.

Sometimes you have a crowd of people and you hear the thoughts not to preach some of the difficult subjects that might not be accepted. So you consider not talking about sexuality, morality, and the exclusivity of Jesus. But then a voice comes into your head from a Roman cross (Jesus) and says, “How dare you… when I have drawn a crowd to your church, and you won’t tell them the truth of life and eternity. TELL THEM!”

Draw a Crowd! Preach the Word! Take no comfort if you draw a crowd and don’t preach the Word. Take no comfort if you preach the Word, but don’t draw a crowd. Either way, the unconverted are unchanged.

In Revelation 2-3, we find 7 churches that Jesus sent a short message. To the Laodicea church, he said his most critical words (Rev. 3:14-18). But they thought they were doing okay. He told them to ‘Buy from me gold.’ 

Choose your Marketplace. Don’t trade gold for bronze. Buy gold from Jesus. If we draw a crowd but don’t preach the Word, it’s just bronze. If we preach the Word, but don’t draw a crowd, it’s just bronze. But if you go to Jesus for gold, this next move is going to be expensive. Buying is always more expensive than bronze. But if you ‘buy gold’ from Jesus, it will increase in value. Make strategic changes so you can reach your world with the message of Jesus.

When Branch Rickey, was bringing Jackie Robinson into baseball and break the ‘color barrier’, a reporter made the comment, “If you bring him into baseball, all Hell will break loose.” But Rickey responded, “But what if all Heaven breaks loose?” When you make changes to reach your community with the Gospel, all Hell may break loose. But what if all Heaven breaks loose? You can read my post about Branch Rickey: Beyond Baseball.

You can read about other messages/sessions at: ALL IN – 2016 BBFI Fellowship Meeting

You can also read some of my articles about the evangelism: Walk vs. Talk – Balance in Evangelism3 Things I Learned about Evangelism from a Time-Share Sales PitchThe Miraculous Chile Miners Rescue.

Mark Hoover has been leading NewSpring Church in Wichita, Kansas since 1985. God has given him a remarkable way of communicating life-changing truth on a practical level. Mark is a dynamic leader, a master communicator, and most of all, he’s a passionate God-follower.

 

Baptist Bible College celebrates 66 years of ministry in 2016. As a 1982 alumnus, I am pleased to celebrate this event at my alma mater. These have been some of my thoughts of the Monday, May 2 evening session.

Please share your thoughts.

Rediscovering the Power of the Gospel

One of the heartaches and tragedies of churches and Christians is the fighting among ourselves. Somehow, division has become part of the DNA of Baptists, especially independent Baptists. Yet, division tends to stunt growth. We discover in Galatians 2:1-16 that division stalled the growth of the early church.  A confrontation occurred between Paul & Peter because of the treatment a new people, Gentiles. But Paul did not want differences to slow down the Gospel.

Tom Messer spoke on this topic, Rediscovering the Power of the Gospel, Monday night at Baptist Bible College for the 2016 Fellowship Week of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International. Theme of the conference is ‘ALL IN.’ (You can read Tom’s bio below.)

Sometimes people get stuck in the past. But our past is a point of reference not a place of residence. We need to discover something that moves us forward. The only thing that will move us in that direction is a deep commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tom shared three things about the Gospel from Galatians 2:1-16.

The Nature of Gospel Power. Paul criticized the Galatians because they embraced a ‘different Gospel’ (Galatians 1:6-9). But you can’t expect a different Gospel to have the same results as the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The simple Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful.

The Gospel is the only thing that truly changes the lives and eternity of people. When a person accepts the true Gospel of Jesus Christ into their life, it plants a divine nature that changes people from the inside out. It does not just change behavior. It changes the very core of a person. It is the “power of God unto salvation.”

To add to or subtract from the Gospel diminishes the power of the Gospel. If we add or subtract from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can’t expect the same results. The power rests in its exclusivity and sufficiency. We live in a time when many preach that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the only way to Heaven. Others think it needs some help – add a few rules or restrictions. But the Gospel is enough to change lives.

The Hindrances of Gospel Power. In Galatians 2 Peter and Paul wrestle with the outworking of the Gospel with people who are culturally different. One hindrance to the gospel was theological clarity. It is important to really know what the Gospel is. We get into trouble with our methodology when we have a lack of theological clarity. We tend to be better at methods than theology. Church leaders and churches need to get back to really understanding the Gospel.

Another hindrance was insecurity of leadership. Peter was the true leader.He was good on the gospel but he allowed his cultural shadows to keep him from connecting to the people who were different, Greek Christians. It is easy to allow our past to prevent us from growing. Church leaders that don’t have gospel clarity tend to manipulate others to agree with them. Worship style, Bible versions, Music taste are things that can divide Christians. We tend to demonize what is different or idolize what we like. But not one of these has the power that the Gospel has. We need to repent, fall in love with God and go deeper in our understanding of the Gospel.

Secret to Gospel Power. Our tendency is to shrink our bandwidth. We think if we’re not totally alike, you can’t be part of us. But the more firm grasp you have of the gospel, the more flexible you become about everything else.  You stop arguing about the lesser issues. If you get the Gospel right, you broaden your bandwidth. If you don’t get the Gospel, you narrow your bandwidth.

How do you get that? Paul accused Peter that he did not “walk uprightly according to the gospel.” They were not living the Gospel. In other words, the Gospel puts out a line and you measure everything by the line of the Gospel. It’s like a bunch of people trying to measure 36 inches with our hands. We would all have a different measurement. And we would probably try to compare our measurements. But to truly see if we are right, we need to get a yardstick and measure. Instead of measuring other ministries by my own measurement, I should measure others by the Gospel.

According to Paul, when you do that you discover true freedom (“liberty”) and fellowship (“right hand of fellowship”). Don’t demonize or idolize, but fall deeply in love with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can read about other messages/sessions at: ALL IN – 2016 BBFI Fellowship Meeting

You can also read some of my articles about the Gospel: Clean Blood – Ebola & the Gospel, The Gospel in your Hand, Stevie Nicks & the Gospel.

Tom Messer has been at Trinity Baptist Ministries in Jacksonville, Florida since 1982. In 1992, he became senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church and president of Trinity Baptist College. Dr. Messer enjoys spending time with his family, studying the Bible, reading books on the Christian life or church growth, eating barbecue or seafood, and playing golf. He’s also a fan of basketball, football and baseball.

 

Baptist Bible College celebrates 66 years of ministry in 2016. As a 1982 alumnus, I am pleased to celebrate this event at my alma mater. These have been some of my thoughts of the Monday, May 2 evening session.

Please share your thoughts.