Pastor Chad's Itinarary

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Be Thankful"

“Be Thankful”
            Thursday will be a day for families to enjoy visiting, eating, and watching football. It’s the annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition. It’s a time to slow down and reflect on the many blessings God has granted to us. For some we know that’s not the case in the busy world in which we live. The holidays for many means traveling, rushing here and dashing off there. It seems to be more hectic than refreshing, not to mention the anticipation of the big sales on Black Friday, which actually take place on Thursday because the stores are opening early. What a subtle way to disengage families from spending time together and truly reflecting on being a thankful people.

            However, it doesn’t have to be like this. This Thanksgiving can be one of refreshing, recharging, and rejoicing when we focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Apart from God and the Scriptures no one can know the real meaning of ‘giving thanks.’ The Scriptures reminds us that God’s people ought to be ‘thankful’ people. Here are ten verses on being thankful to meditate on.

Hebrews 12:28-29 - Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Psalm 28:7 -The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
Psalm 69:30 - I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7 - Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Psalm 34:1 - I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 100:4 - Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
Jonah 2:9 - But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay Salvation is from the LORD."
Ephesians 5:3-4 - But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 - For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

            What would our homes, churches, and nation look like if you and I began to be truly grateful? Not only on Thanksgiving week, but everyday as God’s people. We have so much to be thankful for not only materially speaking but more importantly spiritually. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians giving thanks to God for the saints at Ephesus, not because they were blessed materially, we know if we have food and clothing we are to be content, but because God had “chosen and predestined them in love, and blessed them with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph.1:3-6). What a blessing!

            In conclusion, I want to share with you 5 Blessings that I am eternally thankful for:

  1. My salvation.
When I reflect and meditate upon what God in Christ has done by choosing, calling, justifying, sanctifying, and one day glorifying me I cannot help but be thankful. God came and took on flesh in order to live a life, die a death, and pay the debt that I couldn't in order to reconcile me to Himself. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest truth we have to be thankful for as Christians. When I spend time  just meditating on who I am “in Christ” there is no room for boasting, or self-righteousness, but a heart filled gratitude toward our God. I am thankful God graced me with eternal life in Jesus Christ.

  1. My wife.
I am thankful for my precious helper in this life, Samantha. God knew from the very beginning who and what I needed by specifically choosing her for me. I could not be the Christian man, husband, father, brother, son, pastor, or student that I am today without her. Many will never know or care to understand how well she serves her Lord, family, and church. I am thankful to God for my wife, Samantha.

  1. My children.
I am thankful for my 3 sons. God in His providence saw fit to bless Samantha and I with Chance, Logan, and Dylan. Each one is uniquely made in God’s image, yet each one is so different in there own special way. As we are entering into another season of parenting with our two oldest, I realize more now than ever of my responsibility to prepare them to be godly men who will one day lead their family's in serving Christ and His church. Our responsibility is to raise and train these boys to be men who love God, Christ, family, and His church. What else really matters in life? I am thankful for my children.

  1. My church.
I am thankful for Pleasant Hill Baptist church in Orlinda, TN. I am thankful for the rich history of PHBC dating back to 1848. I think about the men and women who have gone on before us in paving the way to where we are now in 2015. However, I am grateful for each person that makes up the fellowship of believers at PHBC today. I don’t know if I could love a people more who are not my own flesh and blood, as much as I do the saints at PHBC. I am thankful for my church family.

  1. My calling.
I am taking aback when I think how blessed I am to be allowed the privilege not only to be a Christian, but to have been given the desire to preach/teach God’s Word. God knew when this church organized in 1848 that I would be a member and the pastor of this historical Southern Baptist church. I remember a pastor once saying, “I cant’ believe I get paid to do this.” I can resonate with his statement. Don’t get me wrong there are times where this calling is difficult, but it is a "joyful burden."  The call of God in my life has caused me to stay, when often in my flesh I wanted to leave (not the church, but the ministry). I have the honor of reading, studying and praying day-in and day-out. I get to do what I absolutely 100% know without a doubt that God has called me to do and I do it with great joy and gratitude to Him. I am thankful for my calling.

How about you? What are you thankful for? Let me know by leaving your comments. 

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Monday, November 16, 2015

"How Should Christians Respond To Evil?"

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming.” – Psalm 37:12-13

Mercy, grace, and peace from God our Father and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

            As I sit here praying about what I should write for the Monday Meditation, my mind goes back to the horrific acts of violence in Paris, France this past Friday evening. I know in writing this I will be tempted to swell up with anger, frustration, and revenge in my flesh. However, there is another part of me (the Spirit of God that lives in me) that is broken, humbled, and saddened for what has happened in Paris. With that said, I have been meditating on this question, especially after my prayer time with our men yesterday before Sunday School: “How should Christians respond to terrorist attacks or any acts of evil?”
            I do not claim to have all the answers, nor do I attempt to give them. However, I believe God’s Word to be true, infallible, and sufficient for all life and practice. Therefore, God has a Word for His people, as it relates to acts of evil.
So, how should we respond to evil acts? 

1.     Pray.
The first thing Christians should do when we hear of evil attacks is to seek our heavenly Father in prayer. He is our first Responder. He is the One who can heal broken hearts, calm anxieties, and minister to needs. The Apostle Paul reminds us that the Christian life should be one of “constant prayer” (1 Thess. 5:17). When evil comes our way or when we hear of evil attacks such as France, our first response should be to pray. Pray for the victims and their family, pray for the attackers, and pray that God would somehow glorify Himself through this seamlessly hopeless situation.

2.     Love.
            I get it. You say, “But, Chad how are we to love during a time of such evil deeds?” That is understandable, because we are still in this fallen world and fleshly body. You should love those who are hurting or suffering from the evil attacks. I know we are not in Paris, France physically, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be compassionate or loving when the discussion of these evil acts come up at work, school, or at home. Be reminded that as a Christian, there will be lost people around you seeking to make sense of what took place and God has placed you in their lives to help make sense of it for them; however, we are to do it in a God-honoring, loving, and biblical way.

3.     Pray for our enemies.
We should pray for those who committed these terrible acts of violence. This is where our Christianity gets real, right? Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matt. 5:47). Loving those who love you is not all that difficult, but it takes something outside of yourself to love someone you do not like.  
 Additionally, I do not believe all Muslims to be “radical ISIS Jihadists.” I say that because I have had open discussions with Muslims about their faith and not all of them want to be associated with such an extreme view of Islam. But more than that, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:43-44). How can you love people who have murdered and injured so many?

4.     Remember.
            I would submit when acts of evil take place such as Paris, France, 9/11, or the little girl in Scottsville, Kentucky being found murdered, we need to remember that God is completely sovereign. All one has to do is read the opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Job to understand that God is working even in the midst of hopeless and helpless situations. Many Christians seem to believe that Satan is running around, doing whatever he wants to do without any regards to God. However, in the opening chapters of Job, we find Satan coming to God asking permission to destroy all that Job loves. God is sovereign over Satan, his demons, and even terrorists.
            There is an ultimate purpose in what God is doing by allowing this evil to take place. You may ask, “What?” My reply is two-fold: First, I will say, “I do not know God’s mind, nor His decreed [secret] will” (Deut. 29:29). To say that I do would be highly arrogant. Secondly, I would say, “I do have God’s revealed will found in the sixty-six books of the Bible.” Everything that God makes or allows to happen is for His glory, even if we do not understand it completely, and He is reconciling the world to Himself. (Col. 3:17; Rom.8:28; 1 Cor.10:31).

            In closing, as Christians, we need to remember that our response to these and other evil acts will say a lot about our worldview as Christians; as Christians, we need to pray, love, pray for our enemies, and remember that God is sovereign. We must remember as well that without the Holy Spirit living inside us as believers, we would never respond in this way. This is why, as believers, we can respond in a way that would give honor and glory to God and not ourselves. We are helpless and hopeless without Him, which is why we seek Him in the midst of tragedy and evil—it is during this time that God conforms His people more into the image of His Son Jesus.

            It is the continual conformity into being more like Jesus that gives us our hope in God in the midst of evil. The gospel reminds us that Jesus triumphed over evil by rising from the grave on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4). When Christians see and hear of evil in the world, we can turn to our Savior. He is the only One who can cure evil by changing the hearts of men, women, boys, and girls through the proclamation of the glorious gospel. If you are a Christian today, this is exactly what happened to you and me. Therefore, as we pray for France, the family of the Scottsville girl, and other acts of evil around us, let’s remember we live in a fallen and evil world, but Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God"

You can purchase this book here by clicking this link: "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God"      

          The evangelical church has had a strain on her in understanding evangelism and the sovereignty of God for centuries. This strain has caused endless numbers of debates, as well denominational splits. However, J.I.. Packer offers biblical insights through the subjects of God’s sovereignty and evangelism. He does this by faithfully exposing and expositing Scripture to prove his argument for both topics. Packer helps his readers better understand both topics with a simple, yet balanced approach in arguing for their compatibility.
            The proper understanding of God’s sovereignty and evangelism can be understood in the fact that they complement each other. Despite popular views of the 21st century church, which believes that these two biblical subjects contradict one another, Packer offers a well-rounded and biblical argument that God's sovereignty and evangelism are friends. Packer’s understanding of these topics is that God’s sovereignty undergirds evangelism. He admits, “If we would be biblical in our outlook, we have to make room in our minds for the thoughts of divine sovereignty and of human responsibility to stand side by side” (92). Packer’s understanding is balanced in the light and truth given in Scripture.
            In addition, Packer is careful not to be a fatalist in his approach by placing more emphasis on God’s sovereignty than man’s responsibility throughout the book. Since God is sovereign over all His creation, He is also sovereign over the means of man’s salvation, namely the evangelization of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the only way that sinners will come to repentance and faith-- by the hearing of the gospel. Therefore, the gospel must be proclaimed while trusting in God’s sovereignty to bring sinners to Him.
            Packer argues his position by stating two main thoughts. First, he notes, “The sovereignty of God in grace does not affect anything that we have said about the nature and duty of evangelism” (95). God’s sovereignty does not forfeit believer’s responsibility to evangelize the lost, nor for man to repent and believe the gospel. The argument, which is offered to God’s sovereignty, is often if God is sovereign and He has His elect, then why share the gospel with anyone? Packer opposes this thought vehemently by saying, “But nobody will be saved who does not call on the name of the Lord, and certain things must happen before anyone can do this” (96). Thus, the implication is that the gospel must be proclaimed in order for one to call upon the Lord.
            Secondly, Packer states, “The sovereignty of God in grace gives us our only hope of success in evangelism” (104). The only reason why one can evangelize with the hope of sinners coming to faith is because God is sovereign over salvation. Packer points out, “The sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism pointless” (104). The truth of this statement can be summed up this way: if God does not regenerate sinners, no one will be saved. God’s sovereignty is needed in order to bring about life to dead and lifeless sinners.
            Packer offers brilliant, well-balanced, and biblical arguments for his position. Many would find God’s sovereignty and evangelism to be a paradox. However, when it comes to “man’s responsibility to the Creator, it is a reality, as much as God’s sovereignty is a reality” (28). In chapter one and two, Packer deals with God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Unlike some who argue that God cannot be 100% sovereign and that man cannot be 100% responsible, Packer shows that both exist in light of Scripture. He points out, “It is God who brings men and women under the sound of the gospel, and it is God who brings them to faith in Christ” (32).
            Moreover, Packer’s approach to these subjects are rooted and grounded in Holy Scripture. God’s Word is where he teaches his readers and proves his arguments. As he states, it is clear that God’s Word teaches both His sovereignty and his mission mindedness. Staying balanced in God’s Word is how he is free from falling over to one side or the other. Holding firm to the proper understanding of Scripture will keep one from being a hyper-Calvinist or a hyper-Arminian. Packer illustrates these truths beautifully by referring to the men of God, such as the disciples, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus, who believed in the sovereignty of God and were very evangelistic.
Packer’s position and defense of his arguments are articulated clearly throughout book. One can sense the passion that Packer has in trying to get his point across. His passion is demonstrated when he writes about God’s sovereignty in preaching/communicating the gospel. He draws readers in by showing the precision of communicating the gospel under God’s sovereignty. He describes it this way, “To teach the gospel is first responsibility; to reduce it to its simplest essentials, to analyze it point by point…to show how each part of the message links up with the rest” (51). Thus, Packer does a splendid job in outlining all of the different ways God’s sovereignty and evangelism complement each other in and through the communication of the gospel.
For some, the relationship between God’s sovereignty and evangelism can be paralyzing. This is a very serious and often sad place to find oneself. The truths of God’s Word are balanced as revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. Genesis 1:1 sets the stage of God’s sovereignty when Moses writes, “In the beginning, God… ” This truth states that in the very beginning, it was God. That is it. From there, we learn more of the attributes of who God is when we are told, “He created the heavens the earth.” What God declares to His creation in the first verse of the Bible is that He is sovereign.
At the same time, His sovereignty is proven by His creation of everything else (Gen.1:1). The psalmist confirms this by writing, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases “ (Ps.115:3). God is not only sovereign in creation, but also in salvation. He gives life, both physical and spiritual, as He wills. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome about God’s sovereignty in salvation when he wrote, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom.9:13). “And does not the potter have the right over the clay?” (Rom.9:21). If one would do a thorough study in biblical theology with the aide of the Holy Spirit, they too, would arrive at the proper understanding of God’s sovereignty found within the Bible.
Moreover, God’s sovereignty is never forced upon anyone. After the Fall in the Garden of Eden, man became spiritually separated from God. Therefore, God chose to provide a sacrifice for Adam and Eve to bring them back into a right standing before Him. Hence, the sacrifice of an animal and “the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen.3:21). Notice it was God taking the initiative to act on man’s behalf. What one sees after the Fall of man is that God is mission minded. He has a heart in pursuing and loving His creation to the point that He redeems them back to Himself through the sacrifice that He provides.
God’s sovereignty and evangelism can be clearly seen throughout the revelation of Scripture, even in the death of Jesus Christ, as Luke writes, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan [God’s sovereignty], and foreknowledge of God, you [man’s responsibility] killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). God’s divine sovereignty never overrides man’s responsibility neither in repentance, faith, nor evangelism. On the day of Pentecost, Peter  proclaims the sovereignty of God, man’s responsibility in crucifying Christ, and calls them to repent and believe the gospel. If the Apostles had a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in evangelism, so should Christians.

When it comes to God’s divine sovereignty and evangelism, the essential task is to realize that they are friends. Having a proper understanding of these truths will fuel the flame of evangelism and the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For one to believe that nothing happens or does not happen outside of the will of God allows them to freely plant and water gospel seeds. The ability to do this is found in the truth that it is God and Him alone who gives the increase. This takes the pressure off of the one evangelizing by not having to perform, manipulate, or practice unbiblical tactics in trying to get someone converted. However, having a proper understanding and balance in God’s sovereignty and evangelism gives the Christian assurance that they are in the will of God by having a healthy stress between the two.

Friday, November 6, 2015

"The Worse of All Sinners"

            Growing up my immediate family were not Christians. My mother was raised in a Catholic home in the suburbs of Chicago, while my stepfather was raised in the Bible belt in north Alabama. His extended family were Freewill Baptists. After marrying, my stepfather and moving to north Alabama, my mother started attending this Freewill Baptist church. Although she attended periodically, he never did, nor was serving or worshiping God a reality in my family’s life. However, regardless if they attended or not, they made sure that I got a ride on the church bus or a family member would pick me up so that I could attend church.
            I attended church off and on for several years leading up to my youth. It was at this time that I began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. The curiosity of girls was fueled by drugs and alcohol. It seemed that the more alcohol and drugs I had, the more attractive I seemed to females. More females led to more drugs and alcohol, unitl one day, I woke up and found myself a twenty-one year old drunk, cocaine addict, who had dropped out of high school and junior college with nowhere to live. I was homeless, jobless, and hopeless. Or at least, so I thought.
            A friend who I attended high school with had come to the Lord and was serving as youth minister at the local First Baptist church. He had come to the place where I was living, and he began to share with me what Christ had done in his life. He had been where I was currently, or at least close to it. And now he was sober, had a job, and even a car. I thought if Jesus did this for him, He might do it for me. However, Michael did not talk about all the material blessings he had, but the spiritual blessings he received through Jesus Christ. He spoke about how he had broken God’s law, he deserved to be judged, but that Jesus Christ came and died for not only his sins, but also for mine. He then shared with me that I too could be forgiven of all my sins by trusting in what Jesus had done for me by faith.
            However, I was not prepared to make such a commitment. I mean, heck, I was the worst sinner of all. Little did I know that Jesus died for the worst sinners of all. As time passed by, Michael invited me to attend church with him. I declined at first, but by the end of the week, I was so discouraged and depressed that I needed something. I had tried everything under the sun for happiness, but I always came away empty. I attended church with him for two weeks. After the second Sunday, I don’t remember what the preacher preached on, but I knew that I needed Jesus.
            After service that morning, Michael and I were in the parking lot of the church where he explained the gospel further and I was overcome by my sin against God. It was there that I told Michael I needed, no, I wanted Christ to save me. As I look back at that moment, I received Christ as my Savior. I was a mere babe in Christ who needed to be discipled. The following week I was obedient in following the Lord in believer’s baptism. The only problem was that I was not discipled and failed to grow in the Lord.         However, God in His grace not only saved me, but sealed me by His Holy Spirit. The Lord brought other men in my life who sacrificially poured their lives into me. It was during this time that I began to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. I had a holy hunger for the things of God and even found myself desiring to teach God’s Word. I began to truly understand the grace of God in the salvation of sinners and God’s desire to save sinners through the proclamation of the gospel. It was during this time that God began to prepare my heart to surrender my life to Him by serving Him in vocational ministry.

            God’s amazing grace reached down in the miry pit and breathed new life into me. Whereby, I began to have desire to love and follow Him by being obedient to His Word. No matter where you are or how bad you think you are, God is able to rescue you too. Do you desire to be freed from your sin and guilt? Turn from your sin and look unto Jesus and be saved.