Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Train Trip to Nowhere (Fort Worth)

Because others have interesting photo blogs, I thought I'd try.
I took a train trip from Austin to Fort Worth. I've done this several times. I enjoy the easy going pace, the occassional funny view, and the usually funny looking people. (God bless their hearts.)

I saw the Round Rock Express ball field just as I was leaving the Austin area.

I also saw pastoral scenes and flat lands.
And I saw dry gulches and creeks.
I saw grazing horses, and at one point the train scared a herd of cattle and all these cows started to stampede.
I saw a big wide river. NO IDEA which one it is!

But, its not all flat land in Texas. Here's some more hilly, rocky terrain. The one with white rock peeking thru the shrubberies was really an interesting ravine.

And I like the little house at the top of the hill in the second pic!

Then I arrived in ever moderninzing Fort Worth, Cowtown, The Metropolis on the Trinity... four and a half hours later.
That's only about one hour longer than it takes me to drive it.
I don't know why Marney doesn't like the train, she likes to sleep while I drive!
You can sleep good on a train.

There were a number of interesting folks on this journey. Every hour or so the speaker announced, "This is your Snack guy. YOur snack guy is about to go on break. I'll be open for 15 more minutes then I'll shut down for 15 minutes. So get your snacks and drinks real soon. Thank You...the Snack Guy."

I met some old ladies who had never ridden a train before, so I got to be the expert and answer their questions. Like why do we slow down sometimes, or why do we stop sometimes when there is no station, or what do they serve in the dining car, and where are the restrooms.
Its FUN being smart!
Smart is how you feel when you know something that ordinarily smart people don't know!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Lord's Last Supper

1 Cor 11:23-34

1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24 And giving thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remem-brance of Me."

Notice the different ways Jesus is referred to in this passage.

First He is the Lord, then Jesus, then the sacrifice offering up his own body. In v 33 we are family of whom He is the firstborn.

He is also the priest offering up the sacrifice.

He is the host of the meal.

But that’s not all of the ways Jesus reveals himself to us.

He invited these men to be at this table as His friends.

He is a prophet telling them of things to come.

He is the Passover Lamb of God’s choosing.

He is also the one who was betrayed.

If we are to sit down with Jesus at His table tonight lets think for a minute who it is who invites us.

As Jesus he is the Son of Man, he was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin, so that He can take our place on the cross.

As Lord He is Divine, God Almighty, Ruler of the Universe, Captain of the Heavenly hosts, tormentor of demons, Judge, Deliverer, and Savior.

As the Priest, he makes sacrifices for us to God, and invites us to commemorate the sacrifice with him in the New Covenant Meal.

As the Sacrifice he offers his own body, blood, and life for us, not too mention bearing the wrath of God.

As the firstborn, he invites us to the table of our Father, welcoming the prodigal sons home with rejoicing. Not to slay the fatted calf because He offered Himself for our redemption.

As the Host of the meal we are His guests. He invites us to partake of Him because of His Body and Blood. He wants us to know Him and the fellowship of His suffering.

As the Friend of Sinners, He is able to help those who are weak, because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

He is the prophet of God, telling the disciples of His coming sacrifice but telling us of His coming return.

He is the Lamb that God that God chose for us. From among every man that was ever born, none has been perfect. No one could pay for another person’s sins because they had sins of their own to pay for. So God sent His own Lamb, His perfect Son, and he welcomes us to His table.

And lastly, He is the one who was betrayed. When Paul writes this he writes is as if it’s still going on. On the night while Jesus is being betrayed. Well we know, that Judas betrayed Jesus, and that when it was done Judas went and hung himself.

So is the betrayal still going on?

Look at vs 27-29 again. 1Co 11:27 So that whoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

A story shared by Chuck Colson: "Believers dare not come to the Lord's Table except with a repentant heart. "Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner," as Paul puts it, "drinks judgment to himself." That should be a sobering warning, especially when the apostle adds that because of this offense many have fallen ill or died.

Pat Novak, pastor, discovered this when he was serving as a hospital chaplain intern near Boston. Pat was making his rounds one summer morning when he was called to visit a patient admitted with an undiagnosed ailment. John, a man in his sixties, had not responded to any treatment; medical tests showed nothing; psychological tests were inconclusive. Yet he was wasting away; he had not even been able to swallow for two weeks. The nurses tried everything. Finally they called the chaplain's office.

When Pat walked into the room, John was sitting limply in his bed, strung with IV tubes, staring listlessly at the wall. He was a tall, grandfatherly man, balding a little, but his sallow skin hung loosely on his face, neck, and arms where the weight had dropped from his frame. His eyes were hollow.

Pat was terrified; he had no idea what to do. But John seemed to brighten a bit as soon as he saw Pat's chaplain badge and invited him to sit down. As they talked, Pat sensed that God was urging him to do something specific: He knew he was to ask John if he wanted to take Communion. Chaplain interns were not encouraged to ask this type of thing in this public hospital, but Pat did.

At that John broke down. "I can't!" he cried. "I've sinned and can't be forgiven."

Pat paused a moment, knowing he was about to break policy again. Then he told John about 1 Corinthians 11 and Paul's admonition that whoever takes Communion in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself. And he asked John if he wanted to confess his sin. John nodded gratefully. To this day Pat can't remember the particular sin John confessed, nor would he say if he did, but he recalls that it did not strike him as particularly egregious. Yet it had been draining the life from this man. John wept as he confessed, and Pat laid hands on him, hugged him, and told John his sins were forgiven.

Then Pat got the second urging from the Holy Spirit: Ask him if he wants to take Communion. He did. Pat gave John a Bible and told him he would be back later. Already John was sitting up straighter, with a flicker of light in his eyes.

Pat visited a few more patients and then ate some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. When he left he wrapped an extra piece of bread in a napkin and borrowed a coffee cup from the cafeteria. He ran out to a shop a few blocks away and bought a container of grape juice. Then he returned to John's room with the elements and celebrated Communion with him, again reciting 1 Corinthians 11. John took the bread and chewed it slowly. It was the first time in weeks he had been able to take solid food in his mouth. He took the cup and swallowed. He had been set free.

Within three days John walked out of that hospital. The nurses were so amazed they called the newspaper, which later featured the story of John and Pat, appropriately, in its "LIFE" section."

Charles W. Colson, The Body,1992, Word Publishing, pp. 139-140.

Let’s don’t betray Jesus, Let’s partake of this table because He invited us. He’s Our Priest, the son of Man and Son of God, our friend and brother, our prophet, our host, and our Lamb.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Word of God in 2 Tim 3:16-17

A Baptist Distinctive: The Word of God


ill) Many years ago in a play in Moscow theater, Russian actor, Alexander Rostovzev, was supposed to read 2 verses from the Matthew 5, remove his gown, and cry out, "Give me my tuxedo and top hat!" But as he read the words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," he began to tremble. Instead of following the script, he kept reading, ignoring the coughs, and foot-stamping of his fellow actors. Finally, recalling a verse he had learned in his childhood he prayed, "Lord, remember me when You come intoYour kingdom!" Before the curtain was lowered, Alexander trusted in Jesus Christ.[1] That is the power of the gospel!

The Word of God has come under a lot of criticism in the last 150 years. It didn’t start then but it’s gotten worse. It’s not just other religions, it’s also the atheists, agnostics, communists and secular humanists. Then those “enlightened” attitudes trickle down to the church and so-called Christians start denying the truth and power of God.

Ill) A book, Reforming Fundamentalism, says 85% of the students in one of USA's largest evangelical seminaries said they do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Then, a 1987 poll of 7400. ministers in the U.S.A in reveals that when asked if they believed the Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters:

95% of Episcopalians said "No." 87% of Methodists said "No."
82% of Presbyterians said "No." 77% of American Lutherans said "No."
67% of American Baptists said "No." [2]
I don't know the percentage of Southern Baptists, but many of them deny the inerrancy of scripture, too.

1.What does that mean, inerrancy? Without error. Infallible, perfectly trustworthy. This isn’t a new issue. Back in 1963 (ancient church history to some folks) the Baptist Faith & Message said the Bible was the word of God without any mixture of error. That sounds like inerrancy!.The 2000 BF&M agrees. BUT, What does the BIBLE say?

2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God,

Do we need to say more? All of Scripture! Not some of it!

Is given how? By the breath of God. That’s what inspired means. Does God make mistakes? I mean has He ever? No. He is a rock his work is perfect! (Deut 32:4) His word is perfect. The word he delivered to the writers of scripture was perfect. God didn’t speak to them in King James English, or in Lutheran German, or in Catholic Latin. The writers spoke three languages primarily: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This is the language the scriptures were written in. And let me shock you a little bit. NO Following TRANSLATION IS PERFECT. No translation of anything is perfect.

Ill) If you translated the rules of baseball into some Polynesian language some words just wouldn’t translate. So you give it your best shot. Try translating “Lamb of God’ to people who have never heard of sheep. That’s why so many preachers study Hebrew & Greek to get at the purest meaning of the words. But, another problem. The New Testament was written 2000 years ago. Old Testament as much as 6000 years. I can only guess what their life was like and what their words meant then and today.

Now this unsettles some people. “Oh no! How can we trust it if no translation is perfect?” Well, just because English versions aren’t perfect doesn’t mean they don’t get very close, they do. Most words in the Bible translate fairly easily.

Then we have the benefit of many scholarly people who study it and give us their ideas. But most importantly, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us as we study the Bible. (Read 2Pe 1:19-21).

2. If the Bible is perfect then it must have Authority. I mean we believe that God wrote it and that gives it authority but if it is really tested and true then whether someone believes in God or not, the authority of scripture still stands.

Authority doesn’t mean everything in the Bible is true, the words are completely accurate, but not necessarily every statement in the story is true. Did you know there are LIES in the Bible?

Example; Genesis 3:4; Satan told Eve, "You will not surely die." Satan lied and Eve died.

BUT, Authority does mean that everything God spoke, directly or through a prophet, is true:

2 Tim 3:16 also says it ‘is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:’

Doctrine is the truths of God. Reproof tells us what we are doing wrong. Correction tells us how to do things right. And Instruction in Righteousness is God telling us how to do it right the next time.

There is a right and wrong. There is black and white. The scriptures can rebuke us and correct us and teach us.

Psa 25:8, Good and upright is the Lord therefore will He teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His ways.

Somebody once said, the reason many people don’t believe the Bible is not because it contradicts itself, but because it contradicts them! Or, to paraphrase a Seminary professor, rather than deconstruct the Bible, let the Bible deconstruct you!

The Bible, being the perfect word of God has the authority to tell us how to believe and how to behave. It will instruct us if we let it.

Ill) In the year A.D. 303, the Emperor Diocletian issued a decree to extinguish the spreading flames of Christianity. His primary objective was destroy all the bibles. When officials enforced the decree in North Africa, Felix the Bishop of Tibjuca, was ordered to hand over his Scriptures. Some judges were willing to accept scraps of parchment, but Felix refused to surrender one scrap of the Word of God to Caesar. He resisted compromise. He was finally shipped to Rome where he paid for his stubbornness with his life. On August 30, as the record puts it, "with pious obstinacy," he laid down his life rather than surrender his Bible. WHY? Because the Bible has more authority than the State. More than kings, presidents, or Emperors.[3]

3.Then 2 Tim 3:17 says: That the man of God may be perfect (or mature), thoroughly furnished unto all good works. There’s the Inerrancy, the Authority and then there is the Power of Scripture.

Remember last week when I said that the famous Evangelist Charles Finney, didn’t believe that Salvation was a miracle. Listen, it’s the greatest miracle of all! It takes Divine power to do that. Anybody can say, "Yes, I’d rather go to Heaven than Hell." Or, I’d rather be good than bad. That’s not salvation.

Salvation is the radical change I n a person’s spirit. They pass from spiritual death to life! Their spiritual eyes are opened and they begin –FOR THE FIRST TIME- to understand spiritual things.

Last week we read Rom 1:16; The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the POWER of God for salvation! Why does it take the power of God? Because, the natural man doesn’t understand the things of the Spirit.


1Co 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Then, 1Ti 4:16 Take heed to thyself, and unto doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

And, Psa 119:97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Thy commandments make me wiser than mine enemies…

The Bible is not to be read one time and laid aside. Listen to these verses:

1Ti 4:13 give attendance to reading,exhortation, & to doctrine.

2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words,

2Ti 2:2 the things thou hast heard … commit to faithful men

2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, …

2Ti 3:14 But continue in the things which thou hast learned …

15 that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures

2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; … reprove, rebuke, exhort

It’s not our job to save souls. We can’t, none of us have the power to save souls. Only the word of God can defeat the enemy! I’ve heard folks say, “back in 1953 brother Joe saved me.” Well unless he pulled you out of the river when you were drowning, he didn’t save you, Jesus did! And He did it with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Spurgeon said, I believe God can save anyone anywhere at anytime, it just so happens he does it where the gospel is being preached!

Our job is to deliver the gospel. God’s word will do the rest! It will not return void or empty handed. That doesn’t mean it will always save the one you hope it will. But it will leave them without excuse in the Day of Judgment. They will always know they heard the gospel. They may complain someday they didn’t understand what was at stake. (But the Apostle addresses that in Rom 9:20…(read 20-24))**

I’m glad to say that Southern Baptists are known as those who stopped the growing theological liberalism in their ranks and turned it around back in 1980. But we must be vigilant not to water down the Bible. It IS our only hope of salvation.


**Rom 9:20 No, but, O man, who are you who replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him who formed it, Why have you made me this way? 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor? 22 What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He had before prepared to glory; 24 whom He also called, not only us, of Jews, but also of the nations? 25 As He also says in Hosea, "I will call those not My people, My people; and those not beloved, Beloved." 26 And it shall be, in the place where it was said to them. "You are not My people; there they shall be called sons of the living God."

[1] J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 121.

[2] The Gideon, January, 1994, pp. 12-13. Book by George Marsden; poll by sociologist Jeffery Hadden

[3] Christian Theology in Plain Language, p. 41.