I remember one summer my family and I were at an amusement park together. I was just a teenager and I was full of excitement. I was standing in line waiting to ride the newest roller coaster that had just come out. To say I was nervous would have been an understatement. The wait of course, was incredibly long and so we seemed to be stuck in purgatory for what seemed like an eternity. Eventually we started to move closer to the front and every few moments you would hear screams and feel the thunderous roar of the coaster rushing past us who were waiting for our turn. Funny how time slips away, for in what seemed like all of a sudden, I was on the platform behind a few people ahead of me. Funny, looking back I thought it would take forever to get to the front of the line, and now it seemed way too quick. On the platform is where you start to feel it. You know the sensation that rises from your stomach to your heart. The feeling you get when you get closer to the front of the line, and then the realization that you’re next. I will never forget that feeling, which was made even more surreal after watching those in front of me get into the ride knowing my time had come. The anticipation was full blown with a mixture of paranoia and anxiety. Feeling my heart beat faster when I watched those in front of me take off down the track with only me and nothing but expectation waiting on the platform for my ride. I swear my heart stopped when that empty coaster pulled up in front of me. My hands sweating as I grabbed the bar and the last hope to bail was dashed when they locked my bar in place. Then the car moves forward; no going back now.
Anticipating something is and can be awkward and at times a very unnerving event. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “Anticipation of death is worse than death itself.” How true is this statement? Nobody wants to die who is relatively healthy and stable of mind. And for a lot of us there is times when we come face to face with our own mortality. This could come from a family member or close friend’s funeral. Some bad news from the doctor or maybe a close call with death itself. Recently I have had to officiate two young adult’s funeral and one mature adult who was in their nineties. To the oldest of the three who lived a long life I am sure at the end he thought life had gone by way too quick when all of a sudden his wait for death was over. To the younger adults, I am sure they had thought death was a long way off; living making plans for tomorrow. Then all of a sudden they found themselves at the front of the line face to face with death. Ecclesiastes 7:2 “Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart” (NKJV). The Bible teaches man to think on his own end, knowing it is coming. Let me ask a silly question, silly because no one really wants to answer it. Are ready for that ride, for death? Looking back on that day I do not remember the conversation or every little detail about my wait in line to ride. The thing I do remember is I was in line to ride, and eventually that day I was going to ride. We need to understand this about our own death we are in line to die. We do not know when we will be ahead of the line, but we do know we are going to ride, (die).
To the Christian this is a wondrous exciting reality to come. Now hear me, I am not saying we go around longing to die. No, we know we are just in line to ride, and on the other side of that ride is eternity with the one who created us and loves us with a perfect love. To the Christian, death is friend who, when God says it is time to die, will brings us home where everlasting joy, peace, love, and Jesus is. Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (NKJV). Be honest do you think of that day, the day when you come face to face with God our Father? That day we actually get to be completely free from all sin, death, pain, hurt, and begin our eternal life with our Lord Jesus face to face. Now that is a ride worth riding, and knowing the end of the ride makes even the scary parts of the ride worth every uncertainty, twist, and turn. The truth be told this life we are living now is not life at all, but judgement. Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sin.” This world is full sickness, death, hate, disease, and all things evil, because of sin and God’s judgement against that sin this world will pass away. The sad thing is there are those living in this life of sin believing this is all there is and worse yet their even expecting this life to bring them lasting joy and happiness. In a broken world that is impossible, and in reality this life is just a door way into eternity. Sad to think there are those who will travail this plain in all its brokenness only to take that ride into judgement where they will be separated for eternity from God and all that is good. The good news is it does not have to be that way. Instead they can cry out to Jesus and know Him as both Lord and Savior. We were created for God, and He is the only one who can truly give us fulfillment, joy, perfect love, and acceptance. John 6:35 “And Jesus said to them, I AM the bread of life, he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (NKJV). Jesus is life and once we understand this we will no longer live for this life of brokenness we have now. Instead we be given a new life in Christ with a desire for Him looking towards the reuniting with our heavenly Father. So are you ready for the ride, (Death)?
Here is how you answer the question, “Are you ready for the ride?” Will you enter into the joy of the Lord on your day when you die, or will you be cast out into outer darkness? God has given us a guide line to show if we are righteous, (good). To truly understand why we need a savior we need to understand who we are in relation to God. The guide line God has given us are His ten commandments. Ask your self have you broken them? Let’s go over a few and see. Have you ever lied, stolen, or used God's name in vain? Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman in lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." If you've done these things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and the Bible warns that He will punish you in a terrible place called Hell. But God is not willing that any should perish. Sinners broke God's Law and Jesus paid their fine by suffering and dying on the cross. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death. Today, repent and trust Jesus, and God will give you eternal life as a free gift. Then show your gratitude by obeying His command to be baptized. Make sure to also join a church, and read the Bible daily.
I pray you are ready to come face to face with Jesus and every now and then looking forward to our turn to enjoy the greatest thrill ride that leads us right into His arms.
I wanted to take some time in this blog to talk about a familiar topic, the topic of repentance. A lot of Christians seem to struggle over this issue of repentance and all that it entails. I believe this is why there is much frustration in Christians over their sin and why we see a lack of holiness in the church. Maybe you have asked the question what is true repentance, or even now you are wrestling with the question how do I repent? To answer these two questions I want to look into God’s word at the passage of Scripture found in (Luke 7:36-50) involving the woman of shame or “sinner” (NKJV). This woman was consider a woman of ill repute by the Pharisee in the passage (A blog for another time). She was someone known for her sin. The unique perspective on this passage is she knew she was a sinner as well and sought out forgiveness through repentance by looking to Jesus. I want to give three truths to repentance I believe this passage of scripture teaches that will answer our questions above.
The first truth I would share from the passage mentioned, to truly repent we must know who we are in relation to God? In our passage in (Luke 7:37) we are introduced to a woman who was a sinner. Now we could all say I know I am a sinner, or yes, I have done wrong. In repentance there is more to it than just admitting I am wrong. Ideally we want to ask, who have I wronged, or why is what I did wrong? You see the bible tells us there is such a thing as worldly repentance and Godly repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (NKJV). Paul is teaching there is a certain sorrow we should feel for our wrong. Back to the first truth, we need to know who we are in relation to God. Yes, we done wrong, but we must understand we have sinned against God and God alone. That our sin was wrong according to God and we are guilty of breaking His law. King David of Israel said it like this when confronted about his wrong against Uriah whom he murdered, Bathsheba whom he committed adultery, and the nation Israel to whom he failed to lead as King in Battle (2 Samuel 11&12). “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight. That you may be found just when you speak, And blameless when you judge” (Psalm 51:3-4, NKJV). Did you notice where David said, “Against You, You only, have I sinned” Yes, David did those people whom he sinned against wrong, but in all his sinning his actions where against God. Why? God is the ultimate authority who is sovereign over all, and He is the one who is Holy, and Just. Those who sin are breaking the law of a sovereign God. They commit and do evil and therefore sin against God. Rebelling against Him their creator they are deserving His judgement. For God who is holy and just must punish sin. Romans 2:5-6 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds” So the first truth for repentance is to know who we are in relation to God. To see we have sin against God and are deserving of His judgement.
The Second truth we learn from this passage about true repentance is to know we need a savior. One who can save us from the wrath of God and provide forgiveness. In other words seek out Jesus. In (Luke 7:37) the woman heard Jesus was near and she went to him, she sought Him out. The truth in repentance is we turn to Jesus and in doing so turn from our sin. A heart that repents comes to the realization there is no hope in their self for they are lost and condemned by their sin. They simply look to another, Jesus who is willing to save them. The woman in the passage understood this truth for she had heard Jesus was of God and heard of the miracles He had done. She sought Him out and humbled herself before all those at the Pharisee dinner party weeping over her sin and washing our Lord’s feet with her tears (Luke7:38). She believed Jesus could forgive her and she sought Him. The bible teaches faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God (Romans 10:17). The catalyst for one to seek Jesus is to hear that good news the gospel. The apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Through hearing the gospel of Jesus we receive faith to believe which causes us to respond to the call of God. She heard of Jesus and believed He was the Savior sent by God and she could fine forgiveness.
The third and final truth we learn from this passage of Scripture is to trust in Jesus. To say it another way to commit to Him. In (Luke 7:50) Jesus told this dear woman your faith has saved you. We understand her faith came from hearing about Jesus and seeking Him out. This woman trusted in Jesus and now we see the fruit of her faith the forgiveness of her sin. Faith is a gift given by God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God blessed her with forgiveness and salvation, because she turn from her sin (repented) and trusted in Jesus after she heard and believed in Him. Paul says it like this in Ephesians 1:13 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” This dear woman took Jesus at His word and left a forgiven saint.
He is willing to do the same for you and me. We need to see who we are in relation to God. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Once we realized we have sinned against God and there is no hope in our selves we only need to look to Christ our Savior. “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Finally we trust in Jesus to save us, and forgive us committing to Him in faith. “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). Repentance is a dying of self and living for Christ. A complete abandonment of our lust and desires, and a whole new desire of loving Jesus and following Him.
So the fruit of repentance is a heart that has been changed by the Master, and everything we once were is no longer. Paul explains it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). So here the question, have you truly repented? Does your life reflect Jesus, or does it reflect you. I pray you have repented and are walking in His grace. If by chance you have not I leave you with the words of the apostle Peter “Then Peter said to them, repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of the Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
A few years ago I wrote a blog about horse-shoe pits in the side yard of a church. I happen to be driving by one day and saw them right next to the building and you can tell they were well used. The image has stuck with me and the reason that scene burned in my mind is simple. The view was one of community and fellowship. The church was in Mt Washington KY, and they have been blessed by God with a new building and location, however the old church building and horse-shoe pits left their impression on me. The church should be known for love, being warm and inviting. A church where the atmosphere is friendly and a person would feel welcomed. Like a church with horse-shoe pits.
Recently I have heard a few people mention they have been to a church, (even mine), where they did not feel welcomed, or loved. The really bad thing I was told about church here lately was, “The church is unforgiving”, ouch! A good friend of mine once said, “People do not go to church, because they have been”. The point my friend is making is clear, church hurt is real. A person who has been to church, and has been hurt by the church, due to whatever circumstance provoked that person’s hurt, that person experienced real pain from that hurt, and left the church with a bad impression of church in their mind. So the question one would ask is why? Why is there church hurt and no love? Why is there no warm inviting atmosphere? The church is supposed to be like Jesus and love others unconditionally right? I want to answer these questions along with some other issues I need to address and bring to light. First to answer the question, are we the church to love like Jesus unconditionally? The answer is yes. In the gospel of John we read these words from Jesus. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35, NKJV). As we read the words of Jesus I think we would all agree and say amen. The church should be known by their love for people. As a follower of Jesus I know every Christian does and will love others. Now hear me out, at times not always perfect, but the church will love and when they do not, they will repent. You see it is not the Christian who loves people based on their own efforts, but it is the Spirit within them that will motivate , lead, and cause the Christian to love. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (NKJV).
The Holy Spirit Himself is power source behind the effort and action of the Christians love. That is why a Christian will love, because they are loved perfectly by a Savior. John goes on to write in his epistle 1John 2:10-11 “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (NKJV). John’s point is clear here those who love Christ, love people, those who do not love Christ cannot love others. In John writing we see that it is those who are saved who loved like Christ, unconditionally.
There are two truths we can learn from the verses we have mentioned above. One, a person who has Christ will love no matter what situation or environment they are in. Maybe you have heard some people who claim to be Christian say something along these lines. “Oh, I do not like that church their unloving, no one said hi to me or came up to me, worse yet I think they were talking about me.” To which we would reply, “That’s terrible”, which should be the correct response when a church fails to love. Scripture, however, would say something else. I want to be careful here for we are to have discernment and wisdom in all things Spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:15). So with that warning, the truth we have learned from the apostle John is the Christian is the one with the love. Meaning there should never be a place where the Christian is at whether home, work, school, community, and yes church, where the love of Christ is not present. A Christian’s life cannot help but to be love, for the Spirit reaches out through us loving all. And where there is a Christian their love will draw other Christians and reach out to those around them. Once again Scripture tells us in,
1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NKJV). So for one to say they believe in God, and that they are a Christian, and then complains that the church has no love, is a contradiction in truth. The same thing can be said about a church being unforgiving. The bible is clear we are to forgive and once again it is the Spirit within us that directs leads and guides us to forgive. Matthew 6:14-15 “14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (NKJV). A true believer in Christ will forgive.
This leads us to our second truth that will help answer the question why then is there church hurt. The answer is because of sin. Sometimes people do and say things that are hurtful. When this happens with a true Christian, the believer will repent and restore the relationship. The other reason for the church hurt is truthfully not all people in a church are saved. Yes, this is sadly true; there are those people who come to church every Sunday who do not know Christ. Jesus does not give us a clear answer why he allows those who are not saved to fellowship with believers. He does how ever give us a parable that explains one reason why I believe he does. The parable is found in Matthew 13:24-30 “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' 29 But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn" (NKJV).
Jesus’ point was there are some tares that will become saved. Therefore, He leaves them in a church until the harvest time. So those who show up to church week after week, who are not saved, may in fact become saved, through the gospel, and the love of the true church. How cool is that.
So in all fairness and truth there is pain and hurt in church, because there are broken people who attend. You will find love in a church from true Christians, and yes, even in the same church find church hurt from those who sin and are Christians, but will repent. As well as from those who are not saved. The good news however Church is a place to find the love of Jesus and it is where His children gather to worship Him. There is a Savior who forgives and loves everyone with a perfect love. I believe there are true believers, Christians in every church. If that is true then there is love and forgiveness, and a warm and inviting atmosphere. The reason I believe this, because Jesus is there in those who love Him. And through them Jesus will show you His love. I pray you know Christ and seeking him. Please forgive us here at NSBC if we have ever hurt you, or caused you grief and pain. That was not our Savior, but a sinful heart in broken people needing that same love from Christ as everyone else. Know there are those who love Christ, who will love you, and who knows maybe will even play some horse-shoes.
Like some of you who by God’s grace are reading this testimony I grew up in church. They call us drug babies, meaning we were drug to church every time the doors were open. I would say my journey to faith in God started in a church like most. I felt convicted as an eleven year old and went forward one Sunday and was baptized a few weeks later on January 24th 1982. Like every eleven year old I lived my life to the fullest with friends, sports, cartoons, and bikes, however Jesus was a Sunday thing for me. Over the next few years I got convicted about my sin in youth group and once again at the age of fifth-teen I felt the need to make Jesus my savior. I went forward one Sunday Morning, and I was baptized on August 17th 1986.
Matthew 15:8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.”
Everything in my life stayed the same and in fact my moral behavior seemed to get worse. Lust, cursing, and disrespect for my parents, and authority began to rear there ugly heads in my life. The world was looking good to me and I wanted to experience everything it had to offer. Then through the intervention of some godly men in the church who took me aside and talked with me I became convicted and finally, you guessed it, at the age of seven-teen I went down front Sunday morning again under conviction of my sin and got baptized on July 17th, 1988. I wish I could tell you this was the one that stuck, or that I had given my life truly to Jesus. The sad reality is my life was mine, and my heart was wretched and growing harder towards God and His love. I was running with the devil and he convinced me at the time to be a lover of self, and the world. I dove into sin experiencing all the world had to offer. During these dark troubled teenage years I was still going to church and still proclaiming I was saved. The reality, I was not saved, and I longed for the sin I loved. One of my high school friends convinced me of atheism, and so I told my parents I was an atheist and in November 1990 I joined the Navy and for what I thought was forever I left the church, God, and religion.
Psalm 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.”
During my teenage years in church I knew of God even knew the gospel, and if you would have asked me; I would have told you I am a Christian. The sad truth is I was lost in my sins and damned before a Holy and Righteous God all the while earnestly and happily denying Him.
1 John 1:6 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
I was in the Navy and in my sin, but if you would have asked me I was saved, because I made a profession of faith and was baptized, (3times even). Yet I loved my sin and pursued it as a passionate lover. My heart was dark and my desire for sin grew stronger. I was drinking more while lusting and committing sexual sin, addicted to porn, and for two years lived a sinful life in all its depravity while in the Navy. When I return home I married my high school sweetheart and for a moment it seemed I was starting to mature. This was not the case for within a matter of months I was living like I was still in the navy, except this time I was a married man. I was living how I wanted chasing women and drinking, staying gone from home all night hanging with friends. Worse yet I was trying to justify my sin by passing it off as readjusting to civilian life. Even after the birth of my first child I still pursued sin living for just me. I had two lives the married Jimbo and the happy go lucky Jimbo. The married Jimbo managed after the birth of my second child to mature enough to hold a full time job and we bought a home, and for a moment we were happy. The happy go lucky Jimbo still loved his sin in all its fullness as an adulterer who was addicted to porn, and drinking more and more. I was so detached from my marriage that it was constant fighting and making up. I was gone all the time and basically my wife and I were just roommates. Divorce and a life of perversion and loneness seemed to be the future of my journey.
Revelation 8:3-4 “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand.”
In 2015 I did a funeral in Louisville on a Sunday afternoon. Knowing I would be getting back to late to attend my own evening service I went to evening service at Auburndale Baptist where a friend of mine pastors. After service and catching up with my friend I started to leave when in the parking lot a dear sweet godly woman who recognized me earlier in the service came up and asked my name. She then proceeded to hug me and smiled recognizing I was indeed the one she thought I was. When she heard I was a pastor she jumped for joy and told me she and my mother had been praying for me with their Sunday school class everyday for God to save me. I never knew this lady, or that my mother and her class had prayed for my salvation. God was being gracious in showing me His work through His saints. I had no idea this dear woman attended Auburndale or that she had prayed for me personally to have salvation. I was truly humbled. I share this because I want to show you my journey how God used those prayers to save me. During the course of a year God pursued me and convicted me until I surrendered to Him. Here is a brief look of how He saved me.
One morning I woke up, I believe it was a Saturday. My wife had already gotten up and I was left alone with my thoughts. I remember looking around the room and thought there has to be more to life than this. In my mind the thought came as clear as any thought before it. “You know there is.” This jarred me to the point I felt uneasy. I immediately got up and discounted the thought, but it refused to leave the back of my mind. During the next few weeks the thought seem to intensify I actually started to feel convicted for how I was living. At the time I was in an adulterous affair, drinking, and staying out all night with friends, and still hooked on porn. I had convinced myself there was love, and there was sex. I loved my wife, yet I loved and wanted sex. After being convicted of my actions I would try to justify my sin by saying things like, God knows my heart, or I am good with God, and He loves me (After all I was saved three times right). All the while denying Christ and embracing sin. The next thing to catch me off guard was one night me and my wife had a huge fight I was cussing her to my shame, and instead of cussing me back or calling me names, she just said we need Jesus. I could not speak or even think after that comment. My wife had never mention Jesus before or anything religious. The only thing related to church was my dad and mom would take my daughter Savannah to church for youth, but we never really talked about God. I was convicted and walked away thinking on those words.
Psalm 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”
The conviction had become constant and at times unbearable. The Lord in His graciousness had provided I and my family a new home in Mt Washington Ky. God had removed me from the friends who were encouraging a sinful life style. At this point the conviction of my sin was strong and I actually cried out to God yelling I need more time. Coming home from work on a December night on hwy 44 I was stopped in traffic waiting for a car to turn when I was rear ended by truck. A couple of bulging disk and a concussion but thank God nothing broken. I was laying on a gurney in emergency room alone, and a thought came into my head. You have your time now.
John 6:37-40 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
A couple of weeks later I awoke in bed hurting from my accident and with conviction in my heart I cried out, fine, you win, I’ll go to church, but you have to pick the one. I am not going back to (The one I grew up in), because there a bunch of hypocrites there. That moment I got out of bed and walk into the kitchen. My father-in-law was there and we had breakfast and coffee. He then asks if I had an extra bible he could have. I told him I might still have the one from my youth days in church. I could not find it. I told him we could ride to the store to buy one to which he answered I do not have that much money to buy a new one. I then suggested the dollar store for they sell them cheap. He said he only had five dollars. My wife works at a hospital I called her to see if she could bring one home. He said if possible he would like a KJV so she went to look for a Gideon bible. The thought then came to me I now live within five minutes of four churches. So I asked Luke if he would like to go to the churches and ask them for a bible. He agreed so we left and I drove past a Methodist church and came to a Baptist church and decided to start there. The reason being we were both Baptist and knew nothing of the Methodist. We saw some daycare workers go in a door and we followed them in. They showed us the way to the office and the moment I put my hand on the door I knew this was the church I was supposed to attend. I cannot explain it, only to say I felt a very strong urging to attend. So strong and urge I immediately called my wife and told her we were going to attend that Sunday. The Lord confirmed this was indeed the church for they used the NIV version of the bible, but happen to have one KJV to give to my father-in-law. We gave five dollar love gift and I left feeling a peace.
Romans 2:5-6 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds."
The first Sunday we attended was great we were loved on and welcomed. I listen to the sermon and enjoyed the day. The following Sunday I and my wife went down and join the church. They accepted us on letter and voted us in right there. We said we both needed church and wanted a church home. So after a quick vote, it was official we were church members now. The only problem was we were not saved. I felt like I did the right thing, but the conviction was stronger than ever and my heart was torn. I wish I could say I heard a bone crushing, gut wrenching sermon that convicted me, but I did not. I did not see angels, or hear a voice from heaven saying repent. Instead I felt guilty and dirty. I cannot remember what night I think it was a Monday night I went into the garage to settle this once and for all. I had an old fishing chair and I collapsed in it looking up feeling, in a word, done. I just said God I give up. That moment fear came over me and a feeling of a great weight was lifted off of me. I was so startled I cried out, Lord is that you knowing it was Him. I felt alive for the first time, brand new, full of Joy, and forgiven. Over the next few days things completely changed I was no longer happy go lucky Jimbo instead I was the husband and father I should have been. I had a hunger for the word and a longing to know God and a desire to be close to Him. I stopped drinking, the porn addiction, and cussing were taken away. I no longer desired my sin and I longed to be with other believers, and talk about the things of God with them. I even wanted to go to church every time the door was open. The first time in my life I was truly born again.
Romans 10:10 “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The last thing I want to share is how God brings sins to the light. During the first weeks of being saved things were really good. I was even sharing my faith and growing in the knowledge of God. At that time I had no idea the Lord wanted me in ministry or what He was about to do. You see I had an adulterous affair and done many sexual sins against my wife. When I got saved I broke off the affair and even shared my faith with the other woman. I thought everything was good. The Lord started to convict me about sharing my sin with my wife. I refused thinking it was Satan trying to trip me up. This conviction started to weigh heavy on me all the while I am rejecting it. One Wednesday night on my way home from work I had a thought pop in my head either I would tell my wife or the Lord would. I kid you not I said out loud, brave on brave cat, I am taking those secrets to the grave. The conviction left me and I thought I had beat the devil or what I thought was the devil. After church that night a little girl came up to me while I and my wife were talking to the youth pastor and some new friends we had met at church. She interrupted the conversation we were having and said pointing to me. I know you. I said you do thinking she knew my young son from his Sunday school class at the time. Yes she said, your (Other woman’s name) friend, and then proceeded to walk off. This little girl was other woman’s neighbor’s daughter. I met her once for a minute if that. The thought came back with a deeper conviction tell Sheri or I will. The true but scary thing about this incident is that little girl never did come back to the church after that. I have never saw her again. God had made His point loud and clear. That night I confessed everything and every sin I done against my wife. My wife being hurt as one would expect packed a bag and left. I went to the bedroom and cried out to God in prayer why now, why after I get right does she leave. The Lord heard both our prayers that night, and my wife came back home. Her reason she said was that something was different about me, and she knew I had been saved. We went through marriage counseling and renewed are wedding vowels this time before God as children of God. My wife herself came to Christ through all this, but that’s her testimony.
Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
That same year God called me into ministry and now ten years later I am a pastor of a church. I am amazed at where God has brought me. I have a college education a strong marriage and I still hunger for God and desire to be closer to Him. I pray you do as well.
My friend salvation is not a prayer said or a baptism. Salvation is not church membership or the belief in God, even the demons believe (James 2:19). Salvation is repentance and following Christ. Salvation is an intimate relationship with Jesus. The word intimacy means a close, togetherness, or faithfulness. Do you have that? One day all of us will pass from this life. When you die, you will face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Ask your self have you ever lied, stolen, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If you have done these things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and the Bible warns that one day God will punish you in a terrible place called Hell. But God is not willing that any should perish. Sinners broke God’s Law and Jesus paid their fine by suffering and dying on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death. Today, repent and trust Jesus, and God will give you eternal life as a free gift. Then, while these things can’t save you, honor Christ’s command to be baptized, and get involved in a good bible believing church.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I pray you been blessed, encouraged, and to some I pray convicted. Before I leave you I would like to ask one more question if I may, please. How do you know if you’re saved? You read my story and saw that I said the prayer, I was baptized, however as you read these things did not save me. I even believed in Jesus and knew He died on the cross, but I still was not saved. So I ask you, do you have that intimacy with Jesus? Is there a continue repentance in your life? Does your life show you’re walking in Holiness? Is there desire in your heart to please the Lord and do you love others. Do you have a zeal for others to know this Jesus you love? Has He truly changed you?
Paul says it like this
2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Galatians 2:20 “ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I pray you are trusting in Christ and walking with Him and not looking back saying salvation I done that I am good. Look to Christ and call out to Him and He will save you (Romans 5:8-11). Your brother in Christ…Pastor Jimbo …………Isaiah 43:7 “Soli Deo Gloria”
In this blog post I wanted to continue our discussion from last month on the Church. I recently encountered someone who believed they did not have to go to church to be a Christian. Their argument was that their faith was a private one. They could commune with God just as easily by listening to sermons at home, on television, or online; church could be them having a home bible study with the family. Praise God for the home bible study and listening to sermons we need to see this more in our homes today. The question one may ask here is, are they right? I believe the person whom I spoke with was sincere and loving in their answer concerning attending and belonging to a local Church. However, sincerity and love are not the proof to deem something is right. For as the disciples of Jesus we have an authority given by God that reveals that which is truth. I speak of course of Scripture, the very voice of God (2Timothy 3:16). So the answer to the question we first ask, “Are they right?” The answer is no.
First, I believe all Christians are part of the universal church. The word church, is from the Greek word ecclesia, which means a called out company or assembly. Those who were called out by God for salvation, who gather in His name make up His church. A believer is the church. Therefore coming together with family and other believers could be interpreted as the church gathering. For the apostle Paul makes clear we are all the church, the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are of one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many” (NKJV). Understanding this text, one could conclude that they do not need to belong to a local church. For from this passage they learn a Christian is the church.
This is indeed the case, but Scripture does not stop with the universal church. Instead the Holy Spirit, through the writers of the New Testament, establishes the need for believers to be in a local congregation. Nowhere in Scripture is this made clear than in the Pastoral Epistles. In (1 Timothy 3:1-13) Paul shares the guidelines for Elders and deacons. Those who would serve the body of Christ. Again in (Titus 1:5-9) Paul again lays out the qualifications for Elders to be placed in every city. Paul goes on to instruct Timothy concerning the church 1Timothy 3:14-15 “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly, but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth” (NKJV). Notice the house of God in the passage is the church and how should Timothy conduct himself in that house. John Gill, the Baptist theologian explains the verse, “Now the above things were written to Timothy, that he might know how to order and manage things in this house and family; what became him to do himself, in the character he was; and what persons to direct in the choice of to be officers in it.” Paul was teaching Timothy and us how to establish procedure and leadership in the local church. This was the formula taught in the New Testament that each local body would have their own pastors and deacons. So the question now should be, why should a local body of believers have their own pastors and deacons? Once again we go to Scripture for the answer. Hebrews 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (NKJV). In the book of Hebrews, the writer is instructing the church to come under the authority of their (pastors/elders); to be held accountable in their spiritual walk. Now earlier in the book, the Jews whom the letter was written to, were forsaking the assembly of the church. They were under persecution and were thinking of forsaking Christ. The writer of Hebrews encourages them to gather together to hold one another accountable and lift up and encourage one another. Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” The gathering is for the believer and God has given offices to the local body of believers to help grow and disciple pilgrims holding them accountable in their Christian walk. The gathering defined in this passage is a collective and corporate worship of believers. And it is an imperative meaning a command. We as Christians are commanded to gather for corporate worship under an elder/pastor.
Throughout the New Testament we see the church gathering together for worship and fellowship under pastors. In (Acts 2:42-47) we learn the church comes under the Apostles teaching and have all things in common. Meeting together daily to break bread, pray and praise God. And once again we see the formula for local churches in Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed and fasted, they commended them to the Lord in whom they believed” (NKJV). Once again there is the appointing of those who would teach and hold believers accountable. God designed the church to gather together for worship and discipleship. If one is a believer they will gather in a local body. An interesting fact about the bible is all the letters written in the New Testament was written to a local church. An example would be 1 Corinthians 1:2a “To the church of God which is at Corinth” (NKJV). 1Thesssalonians 1:1a “To the church of the Thessalonians” (NKJV). And of course, to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4). Believers are meant to be part of a local body of believers who are under a pastor or elders.
Another perspective that shows believers are meant to gather and be part of a local body is the Spiritual gifts given to us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (NKJV). We are to use are gifts for the edification of the body. Paul goes on to instruct the local church at Corinth saying, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel” (1 Corinthians 14:12 NKJV). Paul is teaching the Corinth church to use their gifts in love for the edification and glory of Christ.
So should you be a church member? According to Scripture, yes! The reasons stated are, we are to be held accountable and to use the gifts we have been given for the church. The truth being, we as believers are not meant to be alone in our walk with Jesus. He has called us to come together and proclaim Him. We are a family and as a family we need one another to help edify, encourage, and pray with. The purpose of the church is two –fold. One we are to carry out the great commission of (Matthew 28:18-20). Second, we are build a community that loves one another (John 13:34), and worships together as one body of believers (Hebrews 10:25). Remember the warning given in Proverbs 18:1 “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgement” (NKJV).
 Dr. John Gill (1690-1771) John Gills Exposition of the entire Bible. 1 Timothy.
From the title of this blog, you can probably guess the context of this post. For the most part you are right. Today more than ever the church community has become the “Me” community. In other words, a “what has the church done for me lately community; with a what can you do for me now attitude”. In all honesty and sincerity, I do want to add there is a need to look for certain criteria to be met when one looks for a place to worship, which I will cover later.
Let’s begin with elephant in the room shall we? Today there seems to be a mandate or cultural movement to shop for churches that fit you or your families (so called church) needs. The question that is asked by these happy consumers is always, what can your church do for me? Implying what do you offer that will make me want to attend your church? I know that sounds harsh, and some may say “Well, I do have a family and every one of them have needs that need to be met, right? We can’t really blame these individuals who think they are being smart and looking out for what’s best for them. After all, you have Mega Church Pastors telling everyone they are being selfish if they do not attend a large church for their children. Not to mention, the difference of music in churches or if they are even using technology in the service at all. (Wait; are there still hitching posts for your horses out front?) I had a couple once tell me they could not attend a church because of the style of music. Their comment was, “We just can’t get our worship on, We can’t feel the Spirit move.” True story, while others excuses cover things like décor, or carpet. Still others, did not like the preacher (This one hurts, but that’s another blog PostJ). Then there is the, “I do not feel love in this church” followed by “this church is dead or dying and nothing is being done” excuse. The one I heard last was, “There is nothing here for my child.”
I could go on and I bet you have heard a few excuses as well. I truly believe these people are being sincere in their assessments, no matter how off base or wrong they are. We can’t place all the blame on them either. After all, we live in an entertainment gathering culture that is called Church. The pastors have failed the people for they have allowed the church to cater to the whims of the human heart and not to the Saviors call. You see the problem is a heart issue. In Luke 9:23 Jesus makes it clear it’s not about us, but Him. “Then he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Jesus makes it clear that there is only one desire in a believer’s heart and that is to follow Jesus. The issue with church shoppers is they are seeking self and not Christ. A Church is a gathering of believers who have died daily to self, and seek Christ, and His glory. Who come together to worship Christ to be edified, encouraged, discipled and if need be, rebuked through the preaching and teaching of God’s word. The believer should be asking "What can I do for the church"? Instead of, “what can the church do for me”? The focus of a church should always be to glorify Christ and submit to His authority and ministry. The gospel is the agent and the cause that draws us to the church. Christ and Christ alone is why we serve alongside and worship with a local body of believers. We join a church not for worldly motives or certain programs, but because we love Christ and in loving Christ, we love the body of Christ. “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
I mentioned there are some criteria we need to consider before joining a church. Once you see what that entails I believe you will agree with me.
The first is this, Do they preach and teach the Bible? Holding to inerrancy and infallibility of scripture. That scripture alone is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. For scripture is the very word of God Himself and a church should recognize this truth. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2timothy 3:16-17).
Do they preach Christ alone as the only way for salvation? That salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any gospel that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Do they preach grace alone? That is, God owes us nothing except just punishment for our many and very willful sins. Therefore, if he does save sinners, which he does in the case of some but not all, it is only because it pleases him to do it. Indeed, apart from this grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved, since in our lost condition, human beings are not capable of winning, seeking out, or even cooperating with God’s grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Do they preach faith alone? Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice. Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God’s grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by faith alone. “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26).
Do they gather for God’s Glory alone? It is affirmed by the Bible that salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. It is denied that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.
Lastly, is the church more concerned about reaching the lost, preaching the gospel and sharing their faith, then say the next big event? Remember, church is for a body of believers who have come to worship God and hear from His word. We are there for Jesus not so that we can feel good about who we are and be entertained.
Well it is February and from the looks of things this winter seems to be a hit or miss. Today it is just under 40 degrees and all last week it was under 20. Tomorrow and this weekend we will see 60 degrees. The old adage is true about KY, “Don’t like the weather wait fifthteen minutes, and it will change.” However it is February and with that comes another old adage “Beware of grey beast of February for it will devour you.” This time of year can be depressing for a lot of people because everything is dead and the view is bleak due to winter. A lot of times the result of an environment that is bleak, void of color and looks of death can cause us to see our life as empty and without meaning. This is the beast of February better known as depression. For through winter we see the world for that which it really is dying and passing away. The apostle John wrote in (1 John 2:17A) “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it.” The issue for us is we look to this world to give us meaning, value, a purpose, or life. The problem is the world cannot give us any of these. We were not created for the world the world was created for us. We were created for God (Isaiah 43:7).
Winter is a part of the curse that fell upon this world after the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden. However like the garden winter is a picture of God’s judgment and His mercy. The two will never be separate for where you see God’s judgment you see His mercy. After God gave judgment towards Adam and Eve for their sin He promised salvation in (Genesis 3:15). After God gave His Judgment against the world during the flood He gave His mercy to Noah and his family (Genesis 6:6-8). On the cross God judgment fell on Jesus so His mercy can be given to us (Isaiah 53:4-6). What we can take away from this is that even though winter is a season of death there is the reality that Spring is coming and with it new life. You see God uses nature to show us there is life after death. The problem for man is that he has to realize he is dead in his sins and trespasses. Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Paul also writes in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The worst news is that God judgment is against us for our sin. Romans 2:5-6 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds"
Like winter we are dead and wanting of life. The problem is we seek life in the world which as stated earlier is dying and broken. The world cannot satisfy our longing for satisfaction and purpose so we become dishearten. The English professor and writer C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”It is only in Christ can one have life. Jesus Himself says He is the bread of Life (John 6:48) and He gives life abundantly (John 10:10). The moment we look to Jesus for life is the moment we stop looking to the world to give us value, worth, or purpose. Those only come from the Jesus who is life. Are you still in winter looking to the world to make you complete and give your life meaning and purpose? Only to be let down and never satisfied, but left wanting, and like winter become depressed asking if there is more to life than existing. My friends seek out that spring of life Jesus. Who gives satisfaction and abundant life to all who call upon Him. We were created for God and only God can fulfill our desire for meaning and purpose. Jesus said in John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:14“But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Repent and trust in Jesus and you too may escape the beast of February and the depression of winter in a dying world by finding that new life in Christ.
 C S. Lewis, Mere Christianity: A Revised and Amplified Edition, with a New Introduction, of the Three Books, Broadcast Talks, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality, harpercollins ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001).
This is a great response to why is church so important? We think today if we just read the Bible and watch are favorite Preacher via internet or T.V. that this constitutes going to church. Why should we go to a building when I can have a Bible study and remain in my own home? Pastor, teacher, and author John Mac Arthur address this very issue in His blog. So in a time of New Year resolutions maybe the best one is to get involved in a local church.
Whats so important about your church!by John MacArthur
"What’s so important about your local church? At a time when there’s more Bible teaching than you could ever consume available through radio, television, and the Internet, why should it matter where and how you’re taking in God’s truth? What’s wrong with virtual, web-based congregations for the digital-age church? Why can’t your iPod be your worship leader, your tablet be your pastor, and your friends your fellowship and accountability?
The answer is simple: that’s not the way God designed it.
The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes the importance of local assemblies. In fact, it was the pattern of Paul’s ministry to establish local congregations in the cities where he preached the gospel. Hebrews 10:24-25commands every believer to be a part of such a local body and reveals why this is necessary.
And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
It is only in the local body to which one is committed that there can be the level of intimacy that is required for carefully stimulating fellow believers “to love and good deeds.” And it is only in this setting that we can encourage one another faithfully and biblically.
The New Testament also teaches that every believer is to be under the protection and nurture of the leadership of the local church. These godly men can shepherd the believer by encouraging, admonishing, and teaching.Hebrews 13:7 and 17 help us to understand that God has graciously granted accountability to us through godly leadership.
Furthermore, when Paul gave Timothy special instructions about the public meetings, he said, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). Part of the emphasis in public worship includes these three things: hearing the Word, being called to obedience and action through exhortation, and teaching. It is only in the context of the local assembly that these things can most effectively take place.
Acts 2:42 shows us what the early church did when they met together: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They learned God’s Word and the implications of it in their lives, they joined to carry out acts of love and service to one another, they commemorated the Lord’s death and resurrection through the breaking of bread, and they prayed. Of course, we can do these things individually, but God has called us into His Body—the church is the local representation of that worldwide Body—and we should gladly minister and be ministered to among God’s people.
Active involvement in your local church is imperative to living a life without compromise. It is only through the ministry of the local church that a believer can receive the kind of teaching, accountability, and encouragement that is necessary for him to stand firm in his convictions. God has ordained that the church provide the kind of environment where an uncompromising life can thrive and His people can grow spiritually.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the fundamental institutions and functions of the church, and how they have a direct impact in your spiritual growth and your usefulness to the Lord. We’ll also look at God’s design for the church, and how that design is part of the foundation for your spiritual life.
We frequently hear from conscientious, faithful believers struggling to find solid, Bible-teaching churches in their areas. My hope is this series will help you know what to look for in a local church, and how you can be most useful within your congregation" (John MacArthur @ http://www.gty.org/blog/B130103).