Friday, November 20, 2009

The Spirit of God

Recently I have had several friends tell me about their visits to other churches (other than the church of their membership, that is). One of the recurring themes and statements has been, "They believe exactly what we believe...other than some different beliefs about the Holy Spirit." On its face, that is a very problematic statement.

The purpose of this post is not to get into the specific doctrines regarding the Holy Spirit. Those issues are numerous and include questions like:

1. Do all believers have the Holy Spirit? If so, when does He indwell them? If not, how do believers receive Him?

2. What are the outward signs (if any) of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

3. Is there a difference in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit?

4. Does the Holy Spirit speak revelation today in addition to the Holy Scriptures?

5. Have revelation gifts or sign gifts ceased or are they all operational today? (tongues, prophecy, etc.)

6. Can the Holy Spirit give new revelation so long as it does not contradict the Holy Scriptures?

Please do not post a response to these questions. That is not the point of this post. The point of this post is simple and singular.

When well-intentioned believers say, "They believe exactly what we believe...other than some different beliefs about the Holy Spirit" it reveals a profound theological and doctrinal deficiency.

The Holy Spirit is God...the so-called "3rd person of the Godhead." Therefore to say, "They believe exactly what we believe...other than some different beliefs about the Holy Spirit" is synonymous with saying, "They believe exactly what we believe...other than some different beliefs about God."

There is certainly room for honest open debate and even some disagreement among believers. Some issues of the Holy Spirit should not be points of fellowship. I am merely saying that these are issues about the very nature and person of God. These questions should not dismissed as lightly as questions about worship style or organizational structures.

Regardless of your denominational label (including the definitive label of "non-denominational") when you are discussing the doctrines of the Holy Spirit you are talking about God.

Bottom line: If two congregations do not believe the same thing about the Holy Spirit, then on some level they do not believe the same thing about God. Why not? Because the Holy Spirit is God.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Requirements to Date My Daughter

In Sunday's sermon I mentioned a top ten list for "Requirements to Date My Daughter." Several have asked for it. It is not original to me but I cannot recall where I first found it. It is shared here for your amusement and encouragement.

Requirement One
If you pull into my driveway and honk your horn, you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure not picking anything up.

Requirement Two
You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her nose. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Requirement Three
I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise:

You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Requirement Four
I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, physical activity without utilizing some sort of "barrier" can kill you. Let me elaborate... when it comes to physical activity between you and my little girl, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Requirement Five
Some people think that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is "early."

Requirement Six
I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Requirement Seven
As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like mowing my grass or changing the oil in my car?

Requirement Eight
The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there are no parents, policemen, or nuns within eyesight. Places where there is darkness. You may also not take my daughter to any place where there is dancing, holding hands, or any form of happiness.

Requirement Nine
Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway, you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car. There is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

Requirement Ten

Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me. I will bury you and tell God you died.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Congratulations to Dr. Brad Whitt

I am thankful for my friend, Dr. Brad Whitt and for his recent election as president of the pastor's conference for the state convention of South Carolina. Brother Brad is a young scholar, a gifted preacher, and one of the rising leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention. Raised in a pastor's home (Dr. Don Whitt) Brad has experience that far surpasses his age.

I know the folks at Temple Baptist in Simpsonville, SC are honored by their pastor's accomplishments. And well you should be. God has smiled on you by blessing you with one of the great pastor/preachers in America.
Congratulations Dr. Brad.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How Great is our God

God is up to some awesome things at Emmanuel. While numbers don't always "tell the tale" it is worth noting that membership applications are up, the Spirit is awesome, and the waters of baptism are regularly stirring. Budget giving is holding steady in a time of economic uncertainty. The Sunday evening services are as well-attended as anywhere in the Southern Baptist Convention. We've been blessed to see 37 baptisms from October 1-November 1.

In spite of all that, we are not a great church. We are a church with a great God. I know, I know...many people say we have a "great church" and I know what they mean. But it's good theology to put the adjective on the right noun.

As I contemplate what the Lord is doing at Emmanuel Baptist I can only say, "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised."