Monthly Archives: September 2008

“Disturbing the Peace”–Sermon Introduction

In the last month, over 3,000 Christians, living in Orissa India have become homeless. Most of them have been driven out at gunpoint or because their houses were already being burned. Now thousands of Christians are living in the forest to seek protection from the Hindu radicals. They have no food or water. One Christian was burned alive when his colony was set on fire. One Catholic nun was publically gang raped and a priest was seriously beaten, and then doused with gasoline. Rain prevented the matches from being lit until the police arrived. Most recently the extremists are seizing people, forcing them into their homes to pick up their bibles and then holding them at gunpoint until they burn them. If people want to stay in their villages, they are beaten and then required to pay the equivalent of $1000 US dollars to stay (assuming they can find a new place to live after their homes have been burned). This is not Jerusalem…and this is not 2 thousand years ago…this was last month…and the attacks are continuing as we speak.

But let’s move closer to home. One out of every four abortions in the country is performed by Planned Parenthood. Last year (2007), Planned Parenthood earned over 1 billion dollars in profits and performed a record 25,000 more abortions than had every been performed in the history of the world, roughly 289,570 abortions. Abortion is big business and it is growing and in need of expansion: Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas owns a seven-story structure at 4600 Gulf Freeway (I-45 & Elgin), which they plan to convert into a late-term abortion clinic. Children will be killed in this building through all 9 months of pregnancy, according to the State of Texas. This building could be the largest freestanding abortion facility in the Western Hemisphere right here in Houston.

Wikipedia: Disturbing the peace is a crime generally defined as the unsettling of proper order in a public space through one’s actions. This can include creating loud noise by fighting or challenging to fight, disturbing others by loud and unreasonable noise (including loud music or dog barking), or using offensive words likely to incite violence. My question for you this morning is this: What is peace? Is it a routine or personal privacy? Is peace the right to do and say whatever you like? Is peace non-violence? Is peace the same as tolerance and ambivalence toward tough issues? How do we find peace? Does the gospel bring peace or the very opposite? As Christians should we be defining peace the same way the Keith Oberman does on MSNBC? How do we respond to situations in Orissa and in Houston that clearly disturb the peace in once sense or another? Is there a place for us to stand up and speak, even when we are going against the majority…even the authority? Let’s turn to our text this morning for the answer…

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“O Foolish Men and Slow of Heart to Believe….” A Forum on Christ in the Old Testament

Christ in the OT

Christ in the OT

Jesus said: “These things are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44)

When he was walking with the two disciples who were confused about the resurrection He said: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

But, how is this worked out practically in our reading and preaching of the Old Testament? To answer that question, let me encourage you to listen to a forum held recently at Southern Seminary on Christ in the Old Testament. One of the guests is my good friend and former co-pastor Jim Hamilton. I think Jim articulates his thesis well, even in a short amount of time: The Old Testament is a Messianic document, written from a Messianic perspective in order to sustain a Messianic hope. It even sounds like he’s working on a rap about Christ in the Old Testament…we are all waiting with great anticipation for that one!!

I commend the audio of the forum to you, that God might continue to enlighten us to the beauty of His Son in the Old Testament.

Listen to the Audio Here.

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The Spoons that Stir Our Souls

What is it that stirs your affections for Christ? How easy is it to forget about his beauty and holiness?

I was recently helped by a post by Matt Chandler on this topic called Inspirations. He basically made two lists: one listed all the things that caused him to neglect Jesus and the other listed those things that stirred his affections for Jesus. Here they are:

What, when I’m doing it, when I’m around it or dwelling on it creates in me a greater hunger for, passion for and worship of Christ and His mission?

1. Early mornings and hot coffee
2. The writings of John Owen (at the time it was The Mortification of Sin)
3. Listening to Lauren sing
4. Walks through graveyards (I know this is weird but it reminded me of mortality)
5. The book of Hebrews
6. Robust dialogue on ecclesiology or missiology
7. Sermons by John Piper
8. Angst-filled music

What, when I was doing it or spending time around it created in me an unhealthy love for this world?

1. Watching too much TV and spending too much time online
2. Staying up late for no reason
3. Following sports too closely
4. Being physically lazy
5. Empty conversations (talking for hours about nothing)
6. Idleness

Read the whole thing.

So, what about you…what about me? I think this is a very helpful topic for you to ponder for the next few days. Make your own list and update it regularly as you move on to new ways to enjoy Christ…and as you fall into new habits of neglecting him.

Hoping for a fresh stirring in my own life and in yours…

Worship With Us This Sunday at Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land

Oyster Creek Park

Oyster Creek Park

If you are in the Houston area this week, or you are displaced from the storm, or just looking for a place to worship the Living God, join us (Baptist Church of the Redeemer) this week as we worship at Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land. Here is the e-mail that I sent out to our church today:

As I type this e-mail, I know that many of you will not receive it because you are still without power. So, we are planning on making phone calls today and tomorrow to ensure that everyone gets the details about this Sunday. As many of you know, FBC Missouri City is still without power from the storm, which has postponed our clean up process to prepare for church services on Sunday. So WE WILL NOT BE MEETING AT OUR NORMAL FACILITIES (FBC MC) FOR WORSHIP THIS WEEK.

We have reserved the amphitheater at Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land for our Sunday meeting this week. Our worship service will be a little earlier than usual, beginning at 10AM, this Sunday, September 21st. We will not have Sunday School. We do want to encourage everyone to bring a picnic lunch, if you’d like to stay and fellowship after the service. Oyster Creek does have the capabilities for power, but they are currently offline, like many of you. Pray that power would be restored so we can have a microphone and perhaps some fans blowing 🙂

Here are the Details in Sum:

*We are Meeting at Oyster Creek Park, this Sunday at 10 am for worship. (Click here for a map)

*Oyster Creek Address: 4033 State Highway 6 South (77479)

*Directions from 59: Exit Highway 6 and head South toward Missouri City. Oyster Creek Park will be just past Settler’s Way on your left.

*Things to Bring:
Lawn Chairs (we will bring some from FBC if you don’t have a lawn chair)
Picnic Lunch–there are not many tables at Oyster Creek, so bring your own if you’d like or a blanket.
Bottled Water
Casual (cool) clothes
Your Bible!
A friend who is displaced from the storm
Frisbee, ball, etc…(for after the service of course)

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The Cultivation of Expositional Listening

In Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book What is A Healthy Church Member? he advocates for a cultivation of “Expositional Listening,” defined as “listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our personal and corporate lives as Christians.” I have appreciated his work in this book and hope to give many copies away.

One way that we seek to grow in this is by sending out a weekly e-mail called a “Sermon Preview.” This e-mail gives a brief overview of the upcoming text with some questions for our members to chew on as they await Sunday’s sermon. Our Associate Pastor, Billy Newhouse has been doing a fantastic job of late and I especially thought this week’s was worthy of note. Enjoy:

Travel back in time with me to the mid-1600’s. To do that we have to imagine an era without the internet, cell phones, cars, or alarm clocks. To organize a function or gather a group the primary means of communication would be word of mouth. Now see a crowd of 1,200 people gathered at 7:00am listening to a man preach after one day’s notice! Those that gathered had come to listen to a man whose trade was metalworking or that of a “tinker.” This man had only received an education of the poor to read and write. He had received no formal higher education, but he poured over the Scriptures after his conversion. This man was John Bunyan and his influence as a lay preacher extended well beyond his time on earth. Now what can cause an uneducated, ordinary man to preach and pray in a way that makes others stand and wonder? John Bunyan was used mightily by God because he radically followed Christ – empowered by the Spirit of God and committed to the Word.

As we come to Acts 4 this Sunday we see the priests, Sadducess, scribes, and rulers astonished by the boldness of “uneducated, common men.” There was nothing special about Peter and John to the religious elite of the day, yet God had filled them with the Holy Spirit and they were performing amazing signs and speaking boldly about the risen Christ. Thousands of people were trusting in the Messiah and the religious elite had to squelch this movement. So how do the uneducated, common men respond to the ruler’s threat to stop speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus? Do they back down and get out of harm’s way? Do they conform to the wisdom of the world’s elite? Absolutely not! Peter and John say they “cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” These average, uneducated men have received true Wisdom and are emboldened to proclaim the life-giving news of Jesus Christ. God’s Church cannot be stopped!

Join us this week as we think on these things as Travis preaches on “Disturbing the Peace” from Acts 4:1-22. Do you feel unqualified or ill-equipped because you don’t have a seminary education or know all the answers to questions people might ask? Does it seem far fetched for God to use your ordinary life? Or do you feel qualified because you have a Bible degree or seminary education? Friends, education and studies apart from the Spirit’s power are futile. God uses many who are weak and ordinary to do great things. Just as God used (and is still using!) John Bunyan and Peter and John, let me encourage you commit to His Word and to allow the Spirit of God to work in your life and have His way.

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What Did He Mean By “Above My Paygrade?”

Obama answers that question regarding his response to Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church forum and a few others about his faith in the below “This Week” interview.

(HT: Real Clear Politics)

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Introduction to “Heed the Message,” from Acts 3:11-26

It is not a controversial thing to announce that God is Love. D.A. Carson observes, “If people believe in God at all today, the overwhelming majority hold that this God—however he, she, or it may be understood—is a loving being…nowadays if you tell people that God loves them, they are unlikely to be surprised.” But when we begin to talk about the manner in which God showed that love, the gloves tend to come off!

Many modern scholars have abandoned penal substitution (define) because it is too violent. Steve Chalke, a loud voice of opposition wrote, “The church’s inability to shake off the great distortion of God contained in the theory of penal substitution, with it’s inbuilt belief in retribution and the redemptive power of violence, has cost us dearly.” Chalke is the one who has re-defined penal substitution recently as “divine child abuse.” I think this has been fueled in part by a misunderstanding of the work of Christ on the cross and the justice of God.

In other words, can God be truly loving and unconcerned about justice? And how are justice and substitution linked? And if God is a just God, shouldn’t we be people who fight against injustice in our society? We have a responsibility to stand against injustice in society but we must never make the mistake of thinking hat such efforts are the means by which God’s creation will be restored…It is only the gospel that can transform the world in this way. God will one day put an end to injustice. Only God can recreate his crooked and decaying world.

Another reason for the reaction of modern folks to the doctrine of substitution is that we tend to compromise on our definitions and thinking about sin. The Bible does not. Biblically speaking, sin is stubborn rebellion against God’s rightful authority, flagrant transgression of his holy law and willful perversion of his good creation. Sin is filth that defiles and stains. And the Bible clearly tells us that we are guilty of it. Of course, we live in a time when right and wrong are mainly determined by feelings and comparison. The biblical teaching on sin is blurred by the overwhelming depravity we see on our TV screens every evening…I’m not that bad…I’d never do that. So, our self confidence is boosted, and the sinfulness of our heats is downplayed, ignored or forgotten. But should be by hypnotized by our wickedness and paralyzed by our depravity? Where can we find a right perspective in understanding our sin without succumbing to despair?

What if we had a picture of sin that was accurate? One that underscores the seriousness of it and reminds us that it has brought a curse upon the whole creation and that nothing short of a recreation can put it right. One that sees sin bringing God the Son down from his heavenly throne to live and die among us. One that gives the Martyrs of the past the strength to face horrific deaths with joy as they anticipate being in the loving arms of their Lord. But one that does not shy away from an unspeakable, terrible endurance of just wrath by the Son on the Cross…one that shows the horror of sin as the perfect and innocent is pummeled for rebels and murderers. If we look on sin from this perspective, the justice of God, which once aroused a fear of punishment in us, now becomes a source of joy and comfort. Only an unjust judge would demand payment for the same sin twice…once by Christ and once by us in eternal hell.

I owe this introduction to Jeffery, Ovey, Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions, Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, (Crossway: 2007).

See other sermon introductions here, here and here.

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Bus Stop Tuesdays

Bus Stop Tuesdays

Bus Stop Tuesdays

At our church we are marking the first Tuesday of every month as “Bus Stop Tuesday.” This means that we are planning to go out to bus stops around our city and share the gospel with people.

Our plan is to take a cooler of cold water and simply plan to stay as long as we have water to give out. Some will go as families and some as small groups.

But, you don’t have to be a member at Baptist Church of the Redeemer to do this! So, let me encourage you to mark off the first Tuesday of every month, find a bus stop or park or train station and share the gospel until your water (or hot chocolate in winter!) runs out. If you have any testimonies about what the Lord does on Bus Stop Tuesday, I’d love to hear about it.

The least we could all do is pray that the Lord of all would open a door to the gospel on the first Tuesday of every month! May He do it!

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