Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Harvest Day with Junior Hill

Emmanuel is just a few weeks away from our annual Harvest Day. That's a day set aside for a special evangelistic effort. Dr. Junior Hill has agreed to be with us again for this year's Harvest Day. I am so very excited about that. Brother Junior is one of the most gifted and well-loved preachers in Southern Baptist history.

Dr. Hill will be preaching simple salvation messages in each service on October 18th. The 9am, 10:30am, and 6pm services will each provide a wonderful opportunity to invite an unsaved friend or loved one. While evangelism is a lifestyle and not an event, we are still blessed at Emmanuel Baptist to have this event on our calendar.

He who goes to and fro weeping and carrying his bag of seed shall indeed come reaping with joyful shouting (Psalm 126)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

From the Editor

At this past Tuesday's meeting of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention Dr. Gerald Harris issued an incredible proclamation. Dr. Harris is a brillant man. He is a brilliant scholar, a bright theologian, a powerful preacher, and a dear friend of mine. Georgia Baptists are blessed to have him serving as editor of our state newspaper. I am grateful for his permission to share his words in this forum.

You may have noticed that in the August 27 issue of The Index that one of our letters to The Forum was critical of the editor stating that he (the writer of the letter to the Forum) did not approve of the partisan content in the paper. In fact what he wrote was: “The Index has become increasingly politicized in the last year. Not as relates to denominational politics, but national partisan politics.”

The letter continues, “If an editor of The Christian Index wants to become a spokesman for one party or the other then he should resign and seek employment with the party of his choice.”

First of all, I am somewhat perplexed that he has only noticed the political bias for the last year. I thought that was evident from the beginning of my term as editor over six years ago.

In the second place he indicated that he has not observed any bias concerning denominational politics. That too, is somewhat disconcerting, because I thought my bias has been reflected in that way as well. However, today the denominational party lines do not seem to be as clear as they were 20-30 years ago. They have been clouded by all kinds of diversity and a conservative theology that is betrayed by a liberal pragmatism. If there is anything worse than a liberal, it is a conservative whose behavior does not match his beliefs.

But if anyone needs to know, I am an inerrantist. I believe our theology should be complemented by our behavior. I am Southern Baptist born, Southern Baptist bred and when I die I will be a Southern Baptist dead. I am also a Southern Baptist by conviction; and I am not ashamed of the name.

I believe in the sovereignty of God and that no man comes to the Father except the Spirit of God draws him, but I believe we are responsible for telling every person within our scope of influence that Jesus saves. I believe there is a general call to salvation that we are responsible for extending to all creation and an effectual call that God in His sovereignty extends to the elect.

I believe that the Baptist Faith & Message is correct when it specifies that there are two spiritual offices for the church: the pastor and the deacon. But I confess that I never knew what to do with deacons who wanted to be a board of directors and were reluctant to be servants.

I like traditional worship, that is, if it is not dead and formal; and I have no argument with those who have a contemporary service if it is Biblically based and Christ-exalting. I love older pastors because most of them paid a price to get to where they are today; and I love younger pastors because they are our bright hope for the future as a denomination.

I am a registered Republican, but I am not much happier with the Republicans than the Democrats. I suppose I am a conservative in exile with regards to national politics. I am a patriot. I get goose bumps when I hear the national anthem. I loved the day when the flag was honored, the Constitution was the rule of law and God was welcome in public life. I believe in freedom of religion. I believe in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe in the separation of God from government.

I appreciate the First Amendment and believe in the freedom of speech, but I believe it has been abused and misused. I don’t believe that it was crafted to give license to profanity and pornography.

I am an advocate of the second amendment, but I don’t own a gun of any kind, never have and probably have never fired one but maybe a dozen times.

I pray for the president every day, but I hardly agree with any of his policies. I believe that he is more friendly to the Muslim faith than the Christian faith. On September 1 he hosted a dinner in the White House celebrating Ramadan. He did not attend any National Day of Prayer function; and he had the Christian symbols covered when he spoke at Georgetown University. I believe the Muslim agenda is to change our nation into a country ruled by Sharia Law . I know that in 12 days the Muslims will assemble in Washington, D. C. – a predicted 50,000 of them to pray and that they are gaining acceptance day by day in many quarters of our country.

I believe in capitalism and the free enterprise system. I like the day when crime did not pay, but hard work did and people knew the difference.

I believe the president has a Socialist agenda.

I believe that the President’s Health Care Bill is another attempt at government control and it scares me. In fact, in my humble opinion the United States is becoming increasingly socialistic. South Carolina Senator Jim Demint in his book Saving Freedom says we may have reached the point of no return.

I believe in the sanctity of life and that abortion and euthanasia are dead wrong – a violation of the sixth commandment.

I believe in the sanctity of marriage and that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. I believe that same sex marriage is an abomination to a holy God.

I believe that a small minority of homosexuals often have a greater influence in America than the Christians, because they are so vocal and often militant.

I believe that groups like ACORN and the ACLU have an agenda that is foreign to everything that America has stood for in her history. And I wouldn’t give two cents for the collective wisdom of Hollywood; and I don’t care what Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Rob Reiner and Michael Moore think. They would have no real credibility but for their celebrity status.

I believe that many of our political leaders today are influenced by Saul Alinsky’s book Reveille for Radicals. This is the book that had a tremendous influence on the revolution that was taking place in our country in the 1960s when many of our current political leaders were in the colleges and universities of America. Alinsky wrote, “True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within.”

His concept is to infiltrate the existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties. His followers include Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Hilliary Clinton’s 1969 Political Science Thesis refers to Alinsky in her paper. Many of our political leaders today were influenced by Alinsky in the sixties and now they are shaping our government by the philosophies they learned from him.

I believe the church is slumping toward Laodicea. I believe we have too many church members who give no evidence of being saved and I believe a non-resident church member in a Baptist Church is equivalent to a broken ankle on an NFL running back.

I believe we need to get back to all night prayer meetings and door-to-door visitation and preaching against sin.

I am delighted that Dr. White is on the GCR Task Force. But I am concerned about two SBC agency heads being on a Task Force to evaluate the work of the SBC. To me that is like asking Bernie Madoff to determine his own fate or a student to grade his/her own test paper. I am concerned that a majority of the people on that committee may come forth with a report to develop a different plan to fund our work as a denomination. I have made a commitment to pray for the Task Force daily. I hope you will do the same.

I believe in the Cooperative Program – and think it has done more to keep us together than anything else, because it IS the COOPERATIVE program. I think most Baptists have become too materialistically minded to give sacrificially anymore.

I am sorry so many churches have given up Training Union, because I think we have not taught our present generation anything about our church history and our church polity. I even wish we had the eight point record system in Sunday School. I know times have changed, but I enjoyed two-week Vacation Bible Schools and two-week revivals.

There are times when I must share my convictions, and I can’t help it. Because I am painfully aware of what Edmund Burke said years ago: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I believe that time and again those who profess to be good clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far too often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right.

When good men do nothing, they get nothing good done. To be good one must do good. The Lord commands His people to do good. Christ, “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

In the parable of the talents, Jesus described a man who did nothing. When he received his Lord’s money, he “went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord’s money. When his Lord returned, he gave back to the Lord just what he had been given. Notice that the servant did not do any outright evil, such as stealing the money, but then neither did he do anything good. He did nothing and he got nothing good accomplished. Jesus said he was a “wicked and slothful servant.”

Jesus rebuked the church at Laodicea for doing nothing. That church nauseated Him. Too many Christians and too many churches do nothing. They are standing idly by. They are mere spectators. They sit on the sidelines instead of actively participating and working for the good. If good wins, they join in the celebration though they did nothing to produce the victory. If evil wins, they will complain long and loud though their own apathy helped produce the undesirable result.

When good men do nothing, evil triumphs. Evil, sin and sinful men must be opposed. God commands those who are good, not just to avoid evil but actively oppose it.

In Ephesians 5: 11 the Bible says that we are not only not to “have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Those who do nothing about sin and evil, help the sin and evil to prevail. One who is silent when there are those around him in sin becomes a partaker with them according to Ephesians 5: 7.

In the days of Elijah, the silence of many had allowed the evil of Ahab and Jezebel to prevail throughout the land of Israel. The Bible says, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, how long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." The silence of the people spoke volumes of their indecisiveness and inaction. Their failure to stand up, speak up and speak out permitted wicked and evil men to run rampant.

The letter in the Forum suggested that I resign and seek employment with the party of my choice. I really don’t have a party at this point in time so I would prefer to stay with my current job, but I serve at the pleasure of you, the Executive Committee, the Index Board and Dr. White and until those who have authority over me tell me otherwise I will continue to try to stir up the church and afflict the saints who are obviously at ease in Zion. Why? Because I refuse to believe we have reached to point of no return.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall Revival

I am honored and thrilled that Dr. Wayne Robertson has agreed to preach our Fall Revival this week at Emmanuel. Brother Wayne needs no introduction to the people of EBC. He has preached for us on several occasions and it has always been a blessing.

I am not given to unwarranted hyperboles. But Brother Wayne is a true mentor, hero, and friend. It is my privilege to have many pastor friends whom I love deeply. But I do not know of 2 pastors I love and respect more than Don Hattaway and Wayne Robertson. My Emmanuel family knows that is pretty "high cotton" in this pastor's book!

Pastor Wayne has been at the Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta for nearly 24 years. It will be our privilege to hear him Sunday night at 6pm and Monday-Wednesday at 7pm each night.

By the way, special music starts 10 minutes before the service each night. Our 100+ voice choir will be singing each night, too. They sang 110 at ChoirFest this week...Pastor will be looking for all of you in the choir loft each evening :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

In Remembrance of Me

When Jesus Christ established His church, He established two ordinances; the ordinance of believers’ baptism and the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Members of His church are
commanded to observe each of these ordinances. Many believers who would never be disobedient in the area of baptism are regularly and rebelliously disobedient regarding the Lord’s Supper. Most of us are familiar with the words of Christ regarding this memorial meal, “This do...in remembrance of Me.” Let us not be slothful or sinful as we consider the words of our Master. For the first two words of His admonition are "This do."

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians Dr. John MacArthur writes, This do in remembrance of Me is a command from the lips of our Lord Himself. Sharing in the Lord’s Supper is therefore not an option for believers. We must have (it) on a regular basis if we are to be faithful to the Lord who bought us through the act we are called to remember. Not to partake of the Lord’s Supper is disobedience and a sin.”

Members of Emmanuel, we will be partaking of the Lord's Supper this Sunday evening. While many will be out of town with the Labor Day weekend (and I pray you have an awesome time of worship and fellowship with your family) I want to challenge the rest of our members to be at the table of remembrance.

Since we typically take the Lord's Supper in the evening (it's called the Lord's Supper and not the Lord's breakfast)...and since some church members never attend the evening worship service...we have scores of Emmanuel members who have been disobedient to this command of the Lord Jesus for DECADES. Beloved, if I did not attend the evening worship service on a regular basis, I would at least attend the evenings we served the Lord's Supper. After all, our Sovereign Lord said, "This do."

You will notice my preferred title of "The Lord's Supper." The name "communion" has often been used to connect this church ordinance to the pagan notion of transubstantiation, a bizarre belief that the elements actually become the body and blood of the Lord. This belief is heretical in its own right because it envisions an ongoing sacrifice of Christ thereby inherently denying the sufficiency of His death on the cross (Hebrews 10). It teaches its adherents that we actually and literally "commune" with God at the Lord's Supper table. After all, they say, Christ literally is "on the table."

Don't get me wrong. I know words can change their meaning over time. I am not suggesting that it is paganism to call the Lord's Supper "communion." No doubt, I will use occasionally that title myself out of mere habit. But I do believe the term "The Lord's Supper" is a more accurate name for this meal.

There are many questions and theological debates that rage concerning the Lord's Supper. One thing, however, is crystal clear. Jesus said, "This do." Sunday night, we will observe the commandment of the Lord. I hope to see each of you there.