Friday, August 21, 2009

Evangelistic Dating

As a pastor I have often warned about the perils of evangelistic dating. This is the notion that a Christian should date a non-Christian in an ill-fated attempt to lead them to a relationship with Christ. It is almost often some sweet (yet immature) young Christian girl who has met a guy and fallen “in love.” It usually ends with heartache and turmoil. Primarily because such a relationship is a violation of God’s Word.

But this morning I realized there is a form of evangelistic dating that God honors.

My friends and family all know that I have taken my daughter Michaela to lunch every Thursday for over 5 years. I have taken my son Andrew to lunch every Wednesday for over 3.5 years. Today it was time to start the tradition with our youngest, Sarah.

Having run out of practical lunch times, Sarah and I headed off to breakfast together. Out of all her options she chose the Huddle House. So Huddle House it was.

Andrea got Sarah dressed while I took the older two to school. When I drove back in our driveway I felt like a school boy pulling up to his girlfriend’s house for a first date.

My theology allows for a state of grace for children Sarah’s age. But the day will come, by God’s grace, that our Heavenly Father will extend to her the gracious offer of forgiveness. I am overwhelmed with the reality that what I started today will make it easier for her to comprehend a Father’s love. Her love for me will not ensure a love for God. That’s a supernatural work wrought by the Holy Spirit. But I so desperately desire to be an earthly father who will more accurately mirror her Heavenly Father’s compassion and care.

A Father who takes the initiative…before she even realizes how desperately she needs that father’s love. (Ephesians 1:4, 2 Timothy 1:8-10)

A Father who does all the driving, all the ordering, and all the paying. She has no idea the sacrifice required in my busy schedule to make this date. She has no idea what it takes to make the money to pay the ticket. One day she will understand it more. In the meantime all she has to do is submit and enjoy the fellowship and the benefits of being her father’s child. (Romans 8:14-17)

A Father who loves her in spite of the dirty diaper, the spilled milk, and the constant need for a bib. (Romans 5:8)

So in many ways my date with Sarah this morning was an evangelistic endeavor. She has not made a personal commitment to Christ…yet. But I pray God will use the next few years of Friday morning breakfasts to begin lovingly drawing her to His Sovereign side.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Simple Post

For those who don't Facebook (is that a verb now?) let me share my latest status update. It's not the most detailed blog post I've ever written. But may its simplicity reveal a slight glimpse into the deepest part of my soul tonight. Properly understood, this statement needs no elaboration.

Mike Stone is grateful for the breath of life, a wonderful and Godly wife, 3 awesome children, and the humble privilege of pastoring one of the greatest churches in the world. God has captured my affection today. I love You, Lord, with all my heart.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Proper Clothing

"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and is proper for women making a claim to godliness." (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

As unpopular as it may seem to some, the Scriptures teach there is an attire consistent with a claim to godliness. Of course, the context of this passage deals with women and the immediate issue is modesty and sensuality. Here, the Bible teaches that there is a type of clothing that is so sexually-charged and immodest that for a woman to wear it would be incompatible with that woman's claim to be a Godly woman.

If a woman dresses consistently in a sensual and provocative way and at the same time professes to be a Godly woman, discerning followers of Christ have good reason to be scratching their heads and thinking, "Something here just isn't right." Of course we cannot judge the content of the woman's heart. God and God alone can do that. But the fact is, the dress and the declaration simply do not match.

In that vein, I am preaching tonight in a verse-by-verse series through 1st Thessalonians. Our study has brought us to chapter 4, the first 12 verses. Verse 3 in this chapter declares, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality."

Though you can hear the entire message at, I wanted to post part of the manuscript here. Because this is such a delicate and divisive issue, I took the unusual approach (for me) and typed out this portion of my sermon and read it word-for-word. I knew some people would want it, so here it is.

I want to make a very direct statement on this issue and I wish to speak with the love and grace of a pastor and not the fiery rhetoric of a “preacher.”

Ladies, you need to get into the presence of God and ask the Holy Spirit to help you in this area of modesty. You need to decide if you are going to be more interested in dressing fashionably or dressing modestly (though I do not think there is necessarily a contradiction between the two). In other words you can be both stylish and modest, as many of you regularly illustrate. But you are going to have to determine that just because Brittany Spears and Madonna make a certain fashion popular, you are not going to buy it and wear it just because everyone else is and you will not allow your wives and daughters to wear it.

With the invention of websites like SnapFish, MySpace, and FaceBook, it has become increasingly easier for the pastor to peer into the lives of his church members…and in some cases to see more than he wanted to see. I am shocked, dismayed, and frankly disappointed when I see vacation photos, prom photos, and the like from some of our best families and most faithful members. Some of these photos reveal a reckless and sinful disregard for the law of God.

The Biblical mandate for modesty has no exemption clauses if you are out of town or if it’s a “special night.” Men who live in other towns where you may vacation struggle with lust just like men in Blackshear and Waycross. And if you send your daughter out on a “special night” dressed like an immoral woman, you may discover that the night was “special” in a way you had not intended.

In other words, sir, you may discover that if your wife does not mind having half her breasts showing from her blouse or bathing suit in the presence of your MALE friends, she may not mind revealing the other half should the right situation present itself.

Mom and dad you may discover that if your daughter is comfortable leaving the house with her boyfriend with a large portion of her body revealed, she may not require him to use his imagination to picture the rest of her body before the prom night draws to a close.

Some who are listening tonight, or later by CD or internet may be asking, “Pastor are you talking about me?” The preacher in me wants to say, “Apparently.” The pastor in me wants to urge you to ask a much more-important question than “Pastor are you talking to me?” How about, “Lord are you talking to me?” My guess is, if you are asking the question the answer is, “yes.”

For this Biblical teaching is not limited to bikinis and formal attire, vacations and prom dresses. It is an unchanging immutable principle that applies in all times, all seasons, and all locations.

Specifically, when you leave the house with cleavage revealed, men will be staring at your body everywhere you go. If your blouse or shirt is so tight that it clings to every curve of your chest, the vast majority of men and boys over the age of 8 that you meet that day will either be lusting after you, imagining your body in various stages of undress and imagining themselves with you in any number of immoral situations or they will at least be tempted by demonic spirits to do so. If they win the spiritual victory in that moment, it will be because of God’s grace…and in spite of your careless, casual, and carnal attitude.

Since most of the men you will encounter in the marketplace of life are not even saved, more likely than not, they will fall into sin because of your immodesty…perhaps not with you…but with someone else. Or they will remain enslaved to the lust of the flesh. The day will come that they will reap a harvest of destruction in their lives. That harvest may not occur in your field or on your watch. In other words, it may not be with you. But your immodest clothing may light a fire in that man’s soul that will eventually burn down his home.

Solomon asked, “Can a man take fire into his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” You may hear of a “home” that burned to the ground…a home or family in your SS class, your church, your work-place…and you may think, “How awful that this man burned down his own house and lost his family with immorality.” And you may never realize that you are indeed an accessory to the crime. Oh, it was his candle, his carelessness, and ultimately his choice.

Yet you may not know until the judgment seat of Christ that you are the one that lit the flame. You lit a fire in his soul…a fire that he took home, could not handle, and burned down his house, destroying his wife and his kids in the process.

And just as surely as he will give an account for the lives that are destroyed by his sexual sin, so too you will give an account for the careless way you handled and exposed your body.

May God grant His women hearts of compassion and discernment to both receive and live in light of this truth.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Peril of Postponement

This weekend is going to be an incredible time at Emmanuel Baptist Church. We are hosting a Mega-Disciple-Now weekend. Hundreds and hundreds of teenagers have registered for what is sure to be an awesome time of worship, discipleship, and ministry. Our theme for this year is "Here and Now."

As I began contemplating how to connect Sunday's services to the D-Now theme, I was drawn to a familiar story in Luke 12. In this sad passage, Christ records the story of a man who lived for tomorrow and wasn't prepared to meet His Maker in the "here and now." It is a tragic example of the dangers of delay.

If the Lord wills, I intend to preach this Sunday morning on "The Peril of Postponement." I want to encourage every member of EBC to be present and to bring your lost and unchurched friends. There is a strong warning in this text for believer and unbeliever alike.

If I am going to be a student of the Bible I must do so...right here and right now.

If I am going to repent of my sin I must do so...right here and right now.

If I am going to seek restoration with a brother I must do so...right here and right now.

If I am going to be a servant of Christ and my fellow man I must do so...right here and right now.

If I am going to spend time with my children I must do so...right here and right now.

The late R.G. Lee once said, "Yesterday is in the tomb of time. Tomorrow is in the womb of time. Today is the only time we actually have."

He also said, "Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is an I.O.U. Today is the only cash we have."

Though I am planning to preach on this subject Sunday, only the Lord ultimately knows. So I intend to live today in light of this truth...right here...and right now.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fitzgerald Men's Conference

This weekend I will be preaching at an area men's conference in Fitzgerald, GA. Hosted by Arbor Baptist Church, you can find out more at

Keeping with the theme, "Preparing for Battle...Everyday" the Lord has laid 4 messages on my heart.

When Warriors Need to Retreat
A frank message on sexual sin, this is one area God does not tell us to fight but to flee. There's no shame in retreating from this battle.

A Soldier I'd Like to Meet
Based on a day in the life of King Saul, we'll examine the damage that one day of spiritual disobedience and failure can make in the life of one of God's soldiers.

Battlefield Casualties
We will spend Saturday morning examing 2 aspects of David's sin with Bathsheba. This first lesson deals with the causes that led to David's backslidden condition and his infamous sin.

War Reparations
To victor goes the spoils. To the loser goes the war reparation payments. This 2nd lesson on David and Bathsheba will investigate the price David ultimately paid for losing this skirmish.
If you are anywhere near Fitzgerald, come over and join us Friday night and Saturday morning.