Correcting My Mistake From This Morning

I am very thankful that I serve a forgiving God, who forgives all my sins and provides me with eternal life. I am also very thankful that I serve a forgiving congregation who forgives my many sins and deficiencies and tolerates my many mistakes and shortcomings.

For example, this morning, in the first worship service, I made a mistake. I got confused as to where I was in the Bible and attributed a quote by John the Baptist to the Lord Jesus Christ. Although I realized my error later on and corrected myself in the 2nd worship service, I still owe a significant portion of our congregation a big apology.

Here is the truth… It was John the Baptist, not Jesus Christ, who said to the self-righteous religious leaders of the day… ““You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7)

That said, I still stick by my statement that in a very real sense ALL the words of the Bible are the words of Jesus! So my mistake did not invalidate my main point in that portion of the message: the doctrine of the wrath of God is taught throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, Gospels and Epistles.

Thanks for letting me set the record straight.

Around the Horn – Jan. 23, 2012

I want to try an experiment. I want to occasionally post some links to some stories I found interesting and/or helpful and thought you might as well. Some of the other blogs I follow do this sometimes and I thought I might follow suit for a season and see if my subscribers like it. So let me know what you think!

The phrase “Around the Horn” is a baseball term we used when I was growing up to describe the infielders throwing the baseball to each other after the pitcher struck out a batter. I think it portrays the idea I have here of “throwing the ball” to someone else. I’m also sure someone else has probably come up with this idea already to list links to stories and other websites from their blog. But I like it. So until I get a cease and desist letter, here’s my first edition of “Around the Horn.”

“10 Positive Reasons to Train Your Children in Cell Phone Use” by David Murray – I see it all the time… young children with their eyes glued to a cell phone. As one Christian leader recently said, “Our children are going to grow up seeing the back of an iPhone.”

“Do Christians have a moral obligation to boycott companies that support unbiblical causes?” by R. C. Sproul, Jr. – Let’s face it, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to shop anywhere these days if we’re going to boycott everyone that doesn’t meet our approval! The younger Sproul appeals to Romans 14, which I agree is an appropriate application of that text.

“The Main Reason People Leave a Church” by Thom Rainer – Rainer, the President/CEO of LifeWay, points out that the #1 stated reason is not necessarily a good reason. This is a clear example of where the cultural mindset has hit the church in a significant way. It’s hard for us to believe that Jesus said we really only have one need (Luke 10:42, KJV).

www.abort73.com – A website devoted to exposing the truth about abortion. For example, they expose the lie that unborn babies are just “blobs of tissue.”      **Warning: some images in their videos are graphic. The truth can be painful to see.

Sharks and Beach Baptisms

One of the really exciting traditions we have established in our early history at Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville is beach baptisms. There is something truly powerful about taking baptism out of the walls of the church and bringing what we call the “public profession of faith” to a truly “public” venue. Each time we baptize at the beach we have numerous onlookers who are not affiliated with our church and perhaps not at all with Christianity. We bring along printed testimonies of the people who are being baptized that day and distribute them on the beach. These testimonies are accompanied by a simple, biblical Gospel presentation.

Yesterday I checked the local news and was intrigued by the headline story of a Great White shark named “Mary Lee”. It turns out she has been hanging out off the coast of Jacksonville Beach for the past few days. Because the 3,500 pound, 16 1/2 foot Great White is marked with a GPS tracker, one can track her movements. Two nights ago “Mary Lee” came very close to the shore. In fact, according to my calculations she was no more than 20-25 yards from where we stood in October during our latest beach baptism:

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Perhaps we should rethink our bi-annual beach baptisms. What do you think? Should we bring the baptisms back into the walls of the local church? Or should be continue “going public” with the baptisms, even if there is a slight risk we will bump into a hungry shark?

Ray Stedman on Maintaining Humility and Integrity in Preaching

Early in his preaching ministry Ray Stedman sensed God giving him three principles to help him maintain humility and integrity in preaching:

First, never be concerned with how many people you’re preaching to, whether it’s two or three, or two or three hundred, preach the message God gives you. Second, never be concerned with how much they’re going to give you when you get through. Third, never be concerned with how well you think you’ve done.

“I can’t say I’ve always followed those,” Ray admitted, “but when I’ve departed from them I’ve felt the Spirit of God depart from me as well. When I’ve been faithful to them, I’ve left it up to God and He’s done His usual wonders with some very feeble work on my part.”

– from Portrait of Integrity: the Life of Ray C. Stedman by Mark S. Mitchell (page 99)