As Believers, Christ IS Our Culture

Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The gospel makes all the difference between whether you are merely conservative or whether you are conquering worldliness in the power of the Spirit for the glory of Christ or whether you are flowing along with the cultural tide. What does it look like when the Lord Jesus Christ governs the devices we use and the money we earn and the clothes we wear? Have you ever asked that question?

All of the things just mentioned: TV, movies, music, technology, bank accounts, and clothes, may be filed under one category: culture, which is simply a set of values broadly shared by a community. Culture is where we live. We’re surrounded by it. We move in it. As believers, we’re called to minister in it, and when it comes to culture we can take one of the following positions.

  1. Culture-fleers – This position sees culture as largely evil, and everything possible must be done to insulate one’s self from the culture. Any association with culture is viewed with skepticism, ridicule, and contempt. What’s wrong, if anything, with this position? It’s impossible to evade the culture. Try and remove yourself from culture if you want, but it will find you. Like it or not, culture is a part of our lives, from language, to clothing, to customs, and laws. There is no escape!
  2. Culture-deniers – This position sees culture as no problem. Those who hold to this position embrace the culture with little to no reservations, denying that it has any impact on their lives. What’s wrong, if anything, with this position? Many of our culture’s assumptions are in direct conflict with biblical teaching. To simply “go with the flow” of culture very often means to go against God’s word.
  3. Cultureengagers – This position sees culture as the place where the Great Commission is fulfilled and the Great Commandment practiced. The Great Commission is what and where? (Matthew 28:18-20faithful witness) The Great Commandment is what and where? (Matthew 22:36-40faithful follower)

This is the position which we should have. We must engage our culture; not run from it, hide from it or deny its influence, but we must also not over-value or imitate it. We engage the culture because we love Christ, and Christ has given us a commission and a commandment that requires us to be culture-engagers, since every single person we try to reach with the gospel is embedded in the culture; without exception. While engaging the culture with the gospel we must keep the proper perspective. Culture, every culture, has and will pass away, but our Lord is forever and He has left us in this culture for a reason: to be salt and light in a dying world.

Communicating Jesus

We must be cautious, and keep in mind the Apostle Paul’s word from Ephesians 5:15: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” In other words, be wise not unwise, and walk carefully.

The only way to be useful to this world, eternally speaking, is to speak the gospel into it, but we will never be useful to the world if we are being shaped by it. We will be shaped by the world unless we make intentional efforts not to be. Scripture sets the standard in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.”

I want that to be true of me, and I must make intentional effort, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to think on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Likewise, I have to make intentional effort, enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to not think on whatever is untrue, dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely, deplorable, inferior, and anything unworthy of praise.

We need to understand what God’s Word has to say regarding this world and our involvement in it; specifically, how we are to resist the seductions of the world and, instead, speak the gospel into it. We are to live and minister in the world but not have a look of the world or a love for the world. We know this from one long section of  Christ’s High Priestly prayer from John 17:11-19.

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are]. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

The word “world” is littered throughout that section of Christ’s prayer. Our Lord acknowledges that we are in the world, and that He has given us His Word. He says that the world hates us. Why? Because we are not of this world, just as Jesus is not of this world. He also prayed that we would not be taken out of this world, but that we would be kept from the evil of and in it. The way we are protected from the world, while not being removed from it, is by being sanctified by the truth, and God’s word is truth.

What is this “world” we are not to love? It is the system which is under the control of Satan and actively hostile to God. By “system” I simply mean an arrangement of things (i.e. the “sports” world or the “political” world), and we could also call that “culture”. The second term is “worldliness;” which being defined is: loving this fallen world – the system opposed to God – more than God. Anything that keeps us from loving God as we should, and from doing God’s will as we ought is worldliness.

Be wise about your culture, believer. We are in it, but we must not be saturated with it. We are called to minister in this culture, so let’s use what we can use, but we must never forget Ephesians 5:15. Let’s be wise, not unwise. Let’s be careful how and where and with whom we walk. Let’s be careful with how we use social media.

What follows is taken from this blog post. It’s excellent counsel.

Seven Social Media Do’s

  1. Announce events and teaching themes
  2. Link to helpful resources
  3. Encourage others
  4. Let people know a little about your life
  5. Share Scriptures and helpful quotes
  6. Ask for prayer for yourself and others
  7. Limit your time on networks

Seven Social Media Don’ts

  1. Post anything that you would fear being read at Church
  2. Engage ongoing conversations with the opposite sex
  3. Fish for affirmation or support
  4. Post ambiguous or manipulative statements
  5. Vent about Church matters or members
  6. Become combative or defensive
  7. Embarrass your family with comments or photos

So, with our recreation, our work ethic, and our style choices, with our community involvement, political activity, and with our social media habits and behavior, with our private lives and our public personas, with our thoughts, words, and actions, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, let’s do all to the glory of God, and thereby be imitators of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

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Stay with the Stuff!

At the start of the year you may have begun a daily Bible reading campaign. I encourage you to not only read your Bible daily, but to read through the scriptures in a year’s time. That is a daunting but manageable task, but life is busy. Unexpected interruptions reliably toss obstacles in the way. Here at the front end of spring, it’s easy to look at our daily Bible reading schedule and be discouraged because we are so far behind. Don’t be discouraged or dissuaded from finishing the task. Keep after it. The going may be tough but the goal is worthy of your effort. Stay with the stuff!

Why? Because we read in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The faith spoken of is saving faith. No one is able to be saved unless the Gospel is proclaimed to them, and the Good News of Jesus Christ is only found in God’s Word. The faith spoken of is also sustaining faith. God’s Word not only contains the message of how one must be saved, but it teaches us how to joyfully live for Christ once we are saved! Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” John 17:17.

The Bible is the only resource that is adequate to fuel our faith. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16. Therefore, we must learn and live God’s Word, and that will only happen if we saturate our hearts and minds with Scripture. How is that accomplished? By hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing the Word of God.

Some easy ways of hear God’s Word is by regularly attending your Sunday school class and church services. Faithfully place yourself under sound, Biblical teaching, and do not think that hearing the Word of God is merely passive listening. It is not! It is a discipline to be cultivated; a dialogue between the hearer and the Holy Spirit.

If you did not begin the year with a plan to read through the scriptures, or if you started off well but have fallen woefully behind, here are three practical suggestions for successful daily Bible reading. Just start right where you are and dig in to the treasure trove of God’s Word. He will never leave you disappointed.

  • Find the time. This is primarily a matter of discipline and motivation.
  • Find a Bible reading plan. We suggest a plan that will take you systematically through the scriptures. A good plan will include variety – daily reading from different sections of scripture. Many who want to read through the Bible become confused in Leviticus, discouraged in Numbers, and quit by Deuteronomy. It is easier to maintain momentum, and build it up, by reading in more than one place each day.
  • Meditate on a word, phrase, verse, or section of what you read. This aids application. The more you apply the truth of scripture, the more you will become like Christ.

bible-studying-pen-paper thmThe late Jerry Bridges wrote in his book The
Practice of Godliness
“Reading gives us breadth, but study gives us depth.” The basic difference between reading and studying the Bible is simply a pen and a piece of paper. Use that pen and paper to write down questions and cross-references, make observations, and to logically organize your study. Do not be preoccupied with the calendar. Be intent on knowing God through His Word, and living accordingly!

Proverbs 2:1-5 teaches us five principles of Bible study.

  • Teachability – “receive my words”
  • Intent to obey – “hide my commandments with thee”
  • Mental discipline – “apply thine heart to understanding”
  • Prayerful dependence – “criest after knowledge…understanding”
  • Diligent perseverance – “seekest as silver…searchest for as hid treasures”


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Beware of Bias

We live in a biased society. That is nothing new, but it is true. There exist all kinds and types of biases: racial biases, political biases, gender biases, sports biases, to name only a few. Surely, one of the greatest biases of all is the “bias of the current”, which is simply the predisposition to judge recent issues and people as more significant than issues and people of the past. In today’s hyper-fast-paced culture, “the past” may be as ancient as last week. While it is by no means healthy to be chained to the past, it is equally unhealthy to be ignorant of the times and people who have gone on before us. “New” does not necessarily equal meaning, just as “old” does not mean outdated or out-of-touch. Old truths are still true and therefore will always be meaningful.

Hebrews 6:11-12: And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” What follows in Hebrews 6 is the example of Abraham, and then in chapter 11 many more examples of those “who through faith and patience inherit the promises” are given so that we can imitate their faith and join them in the inheritance. If you wonder whether you should only look at Old Testament saints in this way for encouragement and imitation, Hebrews 13:7 says no, look also at those who taught you the Word and be inspired by their faith too. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.”

Of course, the ultimate example to which we look is Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, who endured the shame of and death on the Cross on our behalf. “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds,” (Hebrews 12:3).

Follow Trusting

As believers, our desire should be to endure to the end for the glory of Christ and the cause of the Gospel, and we should desire to help others do the same. God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, Cross-focused saints who have endured to the end provide guideposts for us to follow. They inspire us to press on through our own hardships. Scripture encourages us to do this.

Being a Christian in such a time as this is not easy. It is not meant to be easy, but we are not left without help. The Bible centers on a crucified, risen, and reigning Christ, and is full of promises and principles for every crisis. Plus, the history of God’s people is full of empowering and encouraging examples of those who proved that the grace of God is sufficient to enable us to endure to the end. Build upon the line of faith set before you by studying Biblical characters, and by reading biographies of Christians who have gone before us, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit within you, do likewise.

Learn from Those Before

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Good Habits for Daily Living

We are creatures of habit, and our habits reflect our true selves because we all build our daily lives around our priorities and passions. We make time for what we truly value, building habits and routines around the things that really matter to us. As believers we should lead lives that are faith-focused and cross-centered. A faith-focused, cross-centered life is made of faith-focused, cross-centered days.

How do we apply our faith in every area of life? The answer is to preach the Gospel – the unshakable faith foundation – to yourself. Here is what matters most to a believer: We’re forgiven! We have hope! Our hope is based on Jesus’ sacrifice. May today – and every day – be governed by this one defining truth.

Here are five practical ways to do that.

1. Memorize the Gospel – Store up God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Then, no matter where we are or what we’re doing, we may pull them out and be strengthened by their truth. Not good at memorization? That’s no problem. Don’t give up. Work at it. God isn’t keeping score. It may take some longer than others, but it’s worth the effort. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:20-21; Romans 3:23-26; 5:6-11; 8:31-34; Isaiah 53:3-6)

2. Pray the Gospel – The Gospel should be at the center of our prayer lives. We may boldly approach God only because we are accepted in God’s beloved Son, through His work on the cross. Thank God for saving and sustaining grace. Be thankful that because of the cross we are reconciled to God, and have been given the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, lead us, guide us, and empower us to follow after Christ.

3. Sing the Gospel – It doesn’t matter how well or how poorly we sing (some would say my best singing is done softly and tenderly on a hill far away), a Christian’s heart should be overflowing every day with songs of praise to our Lord and Savior. But not all worship songs are created equal. Many are more centered on ourselves than on Christ. Sing songs that focus more on what Jesus has already done, is doing, and will do than on what we need or want God to do. Here is an example of what I mean. It’s the hymn Cross of Jesus by Keith and Kristyn Getty:

Cross of Jesus cross of sorrow
Where our sinfulness was laid
Perfect love on you was broken
As the way to God was paved

Cross of love – the scar of heaven
Cross of love – that heals my soul
Let me not forget such mercy
Let me give the life I owe

O what language shall I borrow
As I praise You faithful friend
How for us You bore our suffering
In Your love which has no end

Died that I might be forgiven
By a power not my own
With His glory set before me
Cross of Jesus lead me home

Make the gospel the sound track of your day.

4. Review the Gospel – Always remember how the Gospel has changed you, is changing you, and will one day complete that change (2 Corinthians 1:10). Be reminded of how marvelous God’s salvation is. Remember and be encouraged that God is faithful! (Philippians 1:6)

5. Study the Gospel – To grow in our passion for what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do, we should increase our understanding of Him. The Gospel is life-changing, world-altering truth. We’ll never exhaust its depths. Let’s read the Bible with our eyes peeled for Jesus!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. A faithful life is made of faith-filled days. Keep drawing near one day at a time by memorizing, praying, singing, reviewing, studying, and living the good news of Jesus Christ.

Following Christ banner

(The above list was gleaned from the book The Cross-Centered Life.)

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Was Dead. Now Alive!

The-Empty-TombJesus Christ was dead. He had, in fact, been murdered. Betrayed by one of His close associates and brought before the rulers of His day, He should have received a fair trial and justice according to the law and customs of the Jews. Instead, He was immediately put on trial in the middle of the night and was faced with trumped up charges and bribed witnesses. The entire trial was a mockery of justice; one which was illegal and produced an unjust verdict.

Long before this immoral death sentence was announced, the religious rulers had begun to plot this very moment. After healing a man with a maimed hand in a synagogue on the Sabbath we read in Mark’s gospel: “And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him,” (3:6).

That wicked plot had intensified when, just a little over a week before His crucifixion, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. This undeniable miracle led some to naturally and rightfully believe that Jesus was the Christ; their Savior and King. This same miracle caused the willfully ignorant hearts of others to be hardened. So we read in John 11:53 that, “from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”

Put Him to death they did. Wrongfully convicted by His enemies, the Roman authorities  sentenced Him to death for the sake of political expediency. Jesus Christ was mercilessly mocked, brutally tortured and crucified by hardened Roman soldiers, and then, while He hung on the cross, was taunted by those same people who had plotted against Him. Mark’s gospel records their sadistic jeers: (15:29-32)

“And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest [it] in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.”

These men so hated Jesus, and they felt victorious because their plans had finally come together. Jesus was about to die; defeated by their cunning maneuvers and manipulations. That is what they thought. They were mistaken.

We know from sacred scripture that Jesus made seven statements from the cross during the six hours of His crucifixion. The final two statements were made in quick succession. The penultimate statement from the cross was made with a loud voice. Jesus shouted, “It is finished!”

This was no final whimper from a man tired of being tortured. This was a triumphant victory shout of the God-Man. Christ’s life was over because His work was finished. He was not the pathetic victim He appeared to be as He hung on that cruel tree. His work was accomplished. The redemption for sinners was complete. He was triumphant. Therefore, He finally uttered, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus he gave up the ghost,” Luke 23:46.

Jesus Christ was dead. He died as no other man has ever died. In one sense, He was murdered. In another sense, it was God the Father who sent God the Son to the cross. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief,” Isaiah 53:10a (c.f. Acts 2:23). In still another sense no one took Jesus’ life. He willingly offered it for those whom He loved. As He said in John 10:17b-18a:

“I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”

Mankind’s sin required a perfect, sinless, blood sacrifice. God’s eternal plan of redemption, to satisfy His righteous justice and pay the penalty for man’s sins was for Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God to be scarified. Jesus Christ, who is God the Son, was the willing sacrifice who freely offered Himself as the Substitute who made atonement for our sin. The cross is where that all took place, and the gruesome sacrifice of Jesus on the cross seemed to all who loved Him to be a supreme tragedy.

Jesus Christ was dead, but death had not conquered Him! What appeared to be a tragedy to all who loved Him was actually the greatest moment of victory in the history of redemption; a history that began when Adam and Eve were clothed – covered – by the skins of an innocent sacrifice; a history that was pictured by every blood sacrifice offered by God’s people until this moment. Christ would make that victory gloriously clear when, on the first day of the week and the third day after His substitutionary sacrifice, He burst forth triumphantly from the grave!

Following His passion the resurrected Jesus showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3). He appeared to the faithful women who had arrived that morning at His now empty tomb. He appeared to Peter and to the other apostles. He walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and talked with them “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). He would be seen by over 500 people at once. He was seen by his half-brother James, and by the Apostle Paul. The tomb which had been sealed and guarded by the Romans was empty. A body could not be produced because the glorified, resurrected body of Christ was busy appearing to and interacting with others for forty days. After which, in the presence of His disciples, He ascended into Heaven. Now He is at the Father’s right hand, making intercession for the saints, and awaiting the time for His second coming.

On the cross Jesus atoned for our sins. In the Resurrection He demonstrated His victory over death. As Paul put it, this victory “is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Timothy 1:10). To celebrate the Resurrection, we must first understand the crucifixion.

Jesus Christ was dead. Now He is alive! He has risen, just like He said. Death could not keep Him in the ground. The tomb could not hold Him. The weak explanations fabricated in an attempt to disprove His resurrection were proven to be false then, just as their modern formulations have been today. The blessed fact of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection confronts each of us in this life. Try to roll the stone of philosophy or science or unbelief or any other excuse in front of the tomb. No stone will keep Him away from you. He said to Martha, and says to all of us: (John 11:25-26)

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

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Go FIRST to the Cross of Christ

One of my favorite books is the classic Pilgrim’s Progress written by the Puritan John Bunyan. I’ve read the book more than once. I have read it to my children, and had them read it for themselves. References from the book regularly creep into my sermons, often extemporaneously. I recommend the book to all, but that does not mean I’m in agreement with all parts of the book. My former pastor – Darrell W. Sparks – was fond of comparing the reading of books to the eating of fish. “You have to spit out the bones,” he says. The great thing about Pilgrim’s Progress is that the bones are few and the meat is substantial. There is, however, a bone or two.

I also appreciate the ministry and legacy of C.H. Spurgeon, and he was an admirer of John Bunyan as well. He was especially fond of the Puritan’s most famous work, but he did have one qualm with the great book. Here are Spurgeon’s comments concerning one of the few bones from Pilgrim’s Progress, which are taken from his sermon “The Dumb become Singers”:

I am a great lover of John Bunyan, but I do not believe him infallible; and the other day I met with a story about him which I think a very good one.

There was a young man, in Edinburgh, who wished to be a missionary. He was a wise young man; he thought—”If I am to be a missionary, there is no need for me to transport myself far away from home; I may as well be a missionary in Edinburgh.” . . .

Well, this young man started, and determined to speak to the first person he met. He met one of those old fishwives; those of us who have seen them can never forget them, they are extraordinary women indeed. So, stepping up to her, he said, “Here you are, coming along with your burden on your back; let me ask you if you have got another burden, a spiritual burden.”

“What!” she asked; “do you mean that burden in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress? Because, if you do, young man, I got rid of that many years ago, probably before you were born. But I went a better way to work than the pilgrim did. The evangelist that John Bunyan talks about was one of your parsons that do not preach the gospel; for he said, ‘Keep that light in thine eye, and run to the wicket-gate.’ Why—man alive!—that was not the place for him to run to. He should have said, ‘Do you see that cross? Run there at once!’ But, instead of that, he sent the poor pilgrim to the wicket-gate first; and much good he got by going there! He got tumbling into the slough, and was like to have been killed by it.”

“But did not you,” the young man asked, “go through any Slough of Despond?”

“Yes, I did; but I found it a great deal easier going through with my burden off than with it on my back.”

The old woman was quite right. John Bunyan put the getting rid of the burden too far off from the commencement of the pilgrimage. If he meant to show what usually happens, he was right; but if he meant to show what ought to have happened, he was wrong.

We must not say to the sinner, “Now, sinner, if thou wilt be saved, go to the baptismal pool; go to the wicket-gate; go to the church; do this or that.”

No, the cross should be right in front of the wicket-gate; and we should say to the sinner, “Throw thyself down there, and thou art safe; but thou are not safe till thou canst cast off thy burden, and lie at the foot of the cross, and find peace in Jesus.”

Spurgeon is correct. The cross must be front and center. This is a great reminder to me. Go to and point others to the cross first and foremost, because, as the Scottish lady rightly said, it’s better to wade through the slough of despond with the weight off your back than on it.

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The Cross of Jesus Christ

Branding ExpertsBranding. It’s a big deal. Experts will diligently work to brand you or your organization according to “the way you want folks to perceive you.” Hopefully, the way you want folks to perceive you is the way in which you should be perceived.

Ours is a society that likes its symbols and logos. Athletic gear with the logos of college and pro sports teams is popular and expensive. The United States has several symbols: “Old Glory,” “Uncle Sam,” and the American eagle. Through the years even the cross of Jesus Christ has become a popular and familiar icon. The cross has long been a popular symbol for the Christian community, used to decorate church facilities and Christian paraphernalia. However, in recent times the cross has become trendy and fashionable. What was once viewed as the most cruel and shameful of all punishments, meant to brutally punish offenders and vividly intimidate others, is now merely a fashion accessory for most people. Many see the cross as just another religious trinket, no different from the Star of David or a Buddha statue or the Islamic crescent. Do people have any idea what the cross represents?

In his book Cries from the Cross pastor and writer Erwin Lutzer writes about meeting a “thirty-something” lady during a flight. He noticed she was wearing a cross on her necklace so he commented,

“We really do have a wonderful Savior don’t we?” The lady rolled her eyes, and said that she “understood” the cross differently than he did. Then she showed him two other religious symbols that were dangling behind her cross. “I’m in social work.” She explained. “The people I work with find God in different ways. Christianity is just one way to the divine.”

Obviously, this lady misunderstood the cross, because it can never be united with other religions, philosophies, or human ideas. It stands alone. The message of the cross is offensive and despised by a culture that is tolerant of everything except the truth. The truth is that we are sinners, unable to reconcile ourselves to God. Our sin pays wages: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23; running up a debt only the shed blood of Christ on the cross can cover.

  • “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” – Matthew 26:28
  • “[Jesus Christ] was once offered to bear the sins of many” – Hebrews 9:28
  • “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

The central message of Christianity is the cross. The cross is the point to which all roads in the past converge and roads to the future diverge. The Old Testament writers prophesied about the cross and the New Testament Christians proclaimed the cross! The cross is evidence of God’s holiness and unfathomable love for us while also revealing our uncleanness. The message of the cross is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:17).

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” 1 Peter 1:19-21 (cf. Isaiah 53:10)

The cross is so much more than a symbol. It is how the perfect, sinless Son of God was offered up, completing the foreordained plan of redemption. Praise God for His amazing grace and love, seen most clearly on the cross and the finished work accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross.

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Death is dead. Christ has won!


“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set “the world” or eternity in the heart of every person. Something inside of every man and woman reaches out for immortality. There is no satisfaction with life on a temporary level only. The multitude of religions and philosophies throughout mankind’s history reflects this. Christ’s Resurrection is the key to that desire. Jesus said, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19), and He also said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26) The Bible is clear. Had Jesus not risen, we would have no hope. But he did, so we do! (1 Corinthians 15:17-20)

Because of the Resurrection there is not only hope for the future but power for living in the present. The Resurrection radically changed the way the disciples lived. No longer depressed and despairing of life, no longer clinging to the shadows and cowering in fear. After the Resurrection there is a joyful, radical obedience to their risen Lord. This had a powerful impact not only on their lives, but it affected the lives around them. By what power were they transformed? It was not the power of persuasion, or human eloquence and logic. It was not the power of patriotism or the effects of some narcotic. What made the difference in their lives? The reality of the Resurrection (Acts 4:13).

It is Christ’s Resurrection power that enables believers to defeat temptation, overcome trials, lead a holy and joyful life, and boldly proclaim the Gospel. There is hope for the future and power for today because Christ lives. May our prayer continually be that of the Apostle Paul, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Challenge your faith, not just this week leading up to “Resurrection Sunday”, but for your entire life, through the power of the Resurrection.

he is risen sign

See What a Morning (Resurrection Hymn)

by Stuart Townend

See what a morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes,
Tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce Christ is risen!
See God’s salvation plan, wrought in love, Borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, for He lives:
Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping, ‘Where is He laid?’
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope,
Bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit
Who clothes faith with certainty,
Honour and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned
With power and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won,
Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!

If you live in the Garland area, and do not have a church home, the Rodgers Baptist Church, where I am the associate pastor, would love to have you join us for our Easter services. Follow this link for more details.

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The days may be dark, but there is a Light

I love my country. That’s why, once upon a time, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic. Seems like there are as many domestic as foreign threats now. One is the current President, and the current leading candidates for both parties are just as dangerous. It’s a dark time in the USA.

But the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ has always shined brightest in dark times. That’s obvious. As much as I love the USA, I love my Lord more, and I’m more thankful for the freedom I have through His gospel than the freedom I enjoy thanks to the Constitution. While I have strong political opinions, I’m not pessimistic about the future, because the Lord God is both transcendent and immanent. He is both high and lifted up and in our midst accomplishing His will.

My desire is to be joyfully faithful to that task right where and when He has set me down, all the way to the end. God is good all the time. All the time God is good.


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New Study Beginning at Rodgers Baptist Church


In August of 2006 my family vacationed on the beaches of Hilton Head, SC. During the middle of that week we visited nearby downtown Savannah, GA; an interesting place that is perfect for a walking tour because of the many city squares and the beautiful architecture found throughout the city. I loved the unique historical stories of Savannah. I loved walking the city streets and enjoying the sights. My boys and their nieces and nephew, on the other hand, were bored stiff and hated every minute of our day trip. They did not care for architecture. They were not impressed with the city squares. They most definitely did not like walking around in the hot Georgia sun on an August afternoon, but they were good sports (for awhile) as these pictures attest:

Savannah 06 - 1

Savannah 06 - 2

“Let’s get out of here, dad, and get back to some real fun!” Is what we heard most of the afternoon, and this is what they meant…

Savannah 06 - 3

Many folks feel about the Bible the way my – at the time – young boys felt about Savannah. It does not seem real to them, and they are not interested. They think they are in a religious museum, looking at ancient artifacts that have no meaning for life in today’s modern and scientific world, but that assessment is inaccurate. No book is more relevant and meaningful for our lives than the Bible. Scripture is not and will never be out of date or out of touch.

The two Thessalonian letters were originally penned in the mid first century, but their message is just as true, just as important, and just as relevant in 2016 as it was nearly two thousand years ago. These letters were written by a real man to real people who constituted a real church which was experiencing real problems as the ministered in the real world which was real unfriendly to their Christian faith. Every believer and every church can easily identify with these people because we live in a similar world and face many of the same problems. That will become evident as we make our way through these books together.

Beginning Sunday, February 21 and continuing through Sunday, May 15 we will spend time in Thessalonica, studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Pastor David Stone of Lakeway Baptist Church in Humble, TX authored these studies, and we are thankful for his fruitful writing and preaching ministry. Click here to download these lessons in a PDF. A link to a PDF of the lessons may also be found, along with other Sunday school studies, under the “Resources” tab of the Rodgers Baptist Church website. We encourage you to download the lessons, or utilize the booklet that will be made available in every class and read through the lesson, reading all the cited scriptures, prior to the study.

Our Sunday school ministry will bless you and your family, and it is certainly not just for children. There is a small group for everyone, and our Sunday school classes are the best way to get connected to others at Rodgers Baptist Church; even if that connection begins at 9:15 am. (Don’t  worry. We have plenty of coffee and donuts too.)

We hope to see you on Sunday in Sunday school. It’s worth it!

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