I am taking some days off to refresh and spend with my family. Check back on Monday, August 8, for a new post. Thank you for being a faithful reader and God bless.
Genesis chapter 2 accounts the creation of man and woman and God’s plan for marriage. He said it was not good for man to be alone. So He created woman. Adam spoke of Eve saying she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. And Genesis 2:24 states, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
The state of marriage is under attack today on several fronts. Among the battles:
1. Unfaithfulness: Divorce is a cultural epidemic. Men and woman leave their spouses for others. They pledged to remain faithful until death. However, they have too often found the marriage dead while both are still alive. There are countless reasons given. But marriage has taken a direct hit from unfaithfulness. I thank God for those couples staying the course.
2. Cohabitation: More and more I talk with couples who live together for long periods of time before they marry. Often there are children in these homes. Various reasons are given for the “living together” mindset. Sometimes it is financial. An individual can lose family benefits when they marry. Others watched their parents fail and want to test drive living together before making a marriage commitment. And others realize it to be disobedience but just like the convenience.
3. Same Sex: Six states have now passed laws permitting same-sex marriages. Gay, lesbian and transgender couples want the same rights as “straight” couples. Many issues boil down to money. This is a top argument. Others say all people have the right to chose and same-sex marriage is a right.
What will happen to marriage? What will happen to the home? I predict it will last. God created it and He will see it through the battles. I rejoice watching a new wave of young couples standing for right and building godly homes. Olive has an unprecedented number of young couples seeking the Lord and building covenant marriages.
Praise the Lord for the family. My parents have celebrated 60 years. Liz and I are working on 35. My kids are in years 2 and year 1 with their spouses. We are in a war, but marriage is on solid ground. Let’s fight the fight of faithfulness!
On Thursday afternoon I drove to Montclair Elementary School to visit the volunteers who were giving away food to needy families. Several Olive members have been partnering with Streets and Lanes Ministry to assist in this effort every few months. Cathy Harris started this ministry when she became burdened for the homeless and hurting. She just started doing what she knew to do. And the effort has grown as others have caught her vision and passion. She is a small lady with a big heart. She is simply getting her hands dirty doing what she has been called to do. She did not ask others to do what she wanted done. She took the power of ONE and took action. Many have been blessed in Jesus’ name.
The Power of ONE is dynamic! You can make a difference. What is it God has called you to do? Be about it.
Friendship evangelism. This is a phrase I hear often. It can mean many things. But it takes both words to work for eternal effect.
First, Christians need to make friends of lost people. These are not people we are close to on a daily basis. These are not the influencers in our life. These are individuals we know in our circle who do not follow Jesus. We must invest in their lives. This means spending some time with them. Sharing a meal, fishing, going to a game, having coffee as the kids play are ways we can connect. A friend who wants to share Christ must take time to get to know others.
Second, let’s focus on the word evangelism. Friendship alone will save no one. But Jesus can save anyone. At the right time friends tell their friends about their greatest friend-JESUS. John 15 states we are no longer called His slaves but His friends. And if He is our friend, we must introduce Him to our earthly friends. That means we will talk about Jesus. We will witness to the impact He has made in our lives. His life is good news to tell.
Last Sunday was Friend Day at Olive. Many members invited friends to hear evangelist Jay Lowder share Jesus. And he did preach with power about Jesus on the cross! It was a great day when many who came met Jesus. One young adult lady brought he friend who was also her sister. Last Sunday morning that sister met Jesus. It was a moving moment for them. The saved sister said she had been praying for her sister/friend for years. It was friendship evangelism.
Do you have lost friends? Make sure they know who your best friend is!
I had breakfast on Wednesday with a longtime friend from Texas. Rick Scarborough founded Vision America several years ago. He seeks to bring the church to repentance and the nation back to God. He has partnered with Art Ally in Florida. You can learn more about this work at www.floridafaithworks.org. They are seeking to play a significant role in restoring basic Biblical moral values to our communities, state and nation. I would encourage you to visit the website and learn more. This is one of several groups who have a burden for revival in America. It is a must.
Currently our congressional leadership in Washington is wrestling with the debt ceiling crisis. Some tough choices must be made. The August 2 deadline is quickly approaching. I am fearful this issue is not an economic one. It sounds like judgment to me. When a nation turns from the Lord as we have, then judgment is coming. America is not too big to fail. We are not too big to be taken to God’s woodshed for discipline. Let judgment begin at the house of God. I hope to see you Sunday in the altar asking God for forgiveness and revival.
At Olive September 11 will be a big day. As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9-11 we are seeking God for revival. Make the schedule and do not miss Bring a Flag Sunday.
Last week Congressman Charlie Rangel asked for pastoral input on the debt crisis facing the American people. He asked, “What would Jesus do?” and said he wanted to hear from clergy on this issue. It has been suggested Jesus might tell the Congressman to promptly pay his taxes on his vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. His question did move me to think what I might tell the congressman if he really wanted to know my opinion as a pastor on this issue.
Acknowledge the issue facing America is foremost an economic issue. I know he wants to make it a moral issue, saying we should not cut entitlements and give tax breaks to owners of private jets. That kind of language will not result in a solution. Certainly we have a moral obligation to the needy. America always takes that seriously. However, we all have seen misuse in the programs designed to aid the poor. Reform is essential. Cut out the waste and fraud. Go after those who abuse the system. Both sides of the aisle agree there are big savings to be found.
Spend time in prayer together. Get on your knees and ask God to give a solution.
Enlist talented and gifted ordinary citizens to look at the problem and give real solutions. Select people who are not running for office. Just smart economists who have America on their heart. President Obama tried this with a special study group months ago. But the findings of the commission are being ignored because making the tough calls is not palatable to politicians who want to be reelected.
Just do the right thing. Forget about polls. Reelection. Agendas. Party affiliation. Go solve the problem for this generation and the ones to come.
I am not sure what Jesus would do. But the Congressman asked for an opinion.
Liz and I have been on the road a few days. Tonight I am preaching at Rick Corem’s Bible Conference. The event is at St Simons Island, Georgia. We staying at Epworth By the Sea. This is a Methodist retreat center. It is first class!
When I arrived here last night, a large group on high school students were concluding FCA camp. They were a joy to be around. I love this organization which promotes young people living for Christ on the campus of the local high school and college. Last night they were being taught on the theme of courage.
Pray for me as I speak tonight at the Bible conference. And I look forward to being home at Olive on Sunday as we study The Fruit of the Spirit in Romans 7.
Last week, after a discussion with the deacon fellowship, I had a sign placed on the new back entrance road. It reads Bob Davis Way. A young man in our office took this picture of it. He said it looked very nice and then asked, “Who is Bob Davis?” It caused me to think of the names we have on buildings at Olive. Maybe several do not know who they are. So here is a little Olive history.
Howard West Building-Some have asked if this was on the west side of the building at one time and indicated a directional position of the building. NO. Mr. West was a longtime member at Olive. This man was a faithful part of the finance team. He died one night just after leaving prayer service.
Rousseau Hall- Pastor Jeff Rousseau served Olive from 1955-1971. He was here during the first major growth expansion of Olive and later returned to live here on the campus until his death.
Passmore Hall-Dr. Jerry Passmore served Olive as pastor from 1972-1989. Like Brother Jeff, the building bearing his name is one he led the church to build. He took the church to great days of growth. He returned to Olive recently after serving as the Director of Evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention and is currently a member of the church.
Simmons Children’s Building-The Simmons family was gracious to sell the land to Olive in 1991 where the current worship center sits. Mr. Linzy Simmons was a long time deacon. His wife Margaret still lives next door to the campus. Without their willingness to sell the land to the church we would have been boxed in and limited in space to expand.
Bob Davis Way-Bob and his wife Betty were member of Olive on two occasions. And Bob was the chairman of the building committee for the new worship center. He was consistently exhorting the pastor to create a back door entrance to the property as we expand. We finally were able to make it happen and the new road bears his name.
Olive is a church filled with servants. These are just as few the church has honored with placing their name as a reminder.
As we embark on the holiday weekend and the celebration of the Fourth of July, I ask us to remember a Baptist from early days in America. As our young country was finding itself religious liberty was an explosive issue. The Mass Bay Colony was founded with democratic procedures. In that process the Quakers and others were banished. One of the dispelled was Baptist Roger Williams. He later established a separate colony in Rhode Island. Here the radical concept of religious liberty was affirmed.
We still struggle with this issue today. As a Baptist and an American I stand for the rights of other religions to exist in our country. There is a Muslim house of worship not many blocks from Olive. Remember that a commitment to religious pluralism (affording every individuals religious beliefs the equal protection of the law) is not the same as saying all beliefs are equal. Tolerating a differing opinion does not make that opinion true. Newt Gingrich has some good pages on this in his new book A Nation Like No Other.
Do not neglect church on Sunday. It is a freedom we enjoy and a responsibility we should engage in. Not every person on earth has the blessings we enjoy. God Bless America!