March 26, 2013

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Yesterday I invited a man to Olive for Easter weekend. He told me growing up he was a two-timer. I smiled and he knew I knew what he meant. When he was a kid his family went to church twice a year. Those visits came at Easter and Christmas. This man now in his 30s is a solid follower of Jesus. I am glad he was taken to church as a kid even if it was only twice a year. We never who is in the building for a worship service. This weekend there will be many two-timers. However, this may be the time our resurrected Lord makes an impact. This may be the time conviction falls on a person. This may be the Sunday someone gets serious about following Jesus. Take time this week to invite a guest. That person just may become a FULL-TIMER!      

March 19, 2013

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This spring the Supreme Court will consider whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.  President Bill Clinton signed the law in 1996.  He has recently said he no longer agrees with the law.  President Obama has also urged the Court to overturn DOMA.  The challenge comes in Windsor vs The United States, and calls for the legalization of same-sex marriages.  My conviction is that the Court should uphold the law, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman in federal law and allows states to decline to recognize marriages from other states which follow a different definition.  I base my conviction on three types of law: 1.  NATURAL LAW:  DOMA made explicit what had always been implicit.  All human experience points to marriage between a man and a woman as the core building block of society.  Male and female becoming one is how families are created and society progresses.  Marriage between a man and a woman is a natural societal good for the benefit of children.  Same-sex marriage denies a child the opportunity of having both a male and female role model in their home.  The natural potential of the marriage union is procreation.  The natural order tells us this comes no other way. 2.  LEGISLATIVE LAW:  Marriage is a contractual relationship, but is more than a mere contract.  Marriage is a form of domestic organization recognized and regulated by law.  It is municipal as it affects the public.  The state of Florida defines marriage, “In as much as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”  Society defines the parameters of marriage with codified law. To legalize a union of more than two people or other than one man and one woman will open a door to family chaos.  Recently, a Miami judge permitted a birth certificate for two women and one man.  This child now has three parents. 3.  BIBLICAL LAW:  As a Christ follower who seeks to live by Biblical revelation, what is found in Scripture is the mandate for defining marriage.  In Genesis, God records creation.  He made them male and female.  In Adam and Eve we have the institution of marriage established for the first time.  In the recorded marital teachings of Jesus, Paul, and Peter, we always find a husband and a wife.  The Biblical record never speaks of marriage in other terms except male and female. The coming Supreme Court ruling on DOMA is important to the future of the family in America.  How we define marriage will have impact for generations to come.  My prayer for and appeal to the Supreme Court is that they uphold DOMA and continue to define marriage in its historical boundaries.

March 15, 2013

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Many Jesus followers read Joel Rosenberg’s books. I love his writing. This week I was introduced to a book he co-authored. The work is several years old and did not become popular until Joel’s newer books were hot. The Invested Life is a great book about making disciples. In the work two questions are asked of the reader. Who is investing in you? Who are you investing in? God is using this book to deeply convict me. We are not making disciples as we should at Olive.  Recently I have not invested as I should, but I have a vision to do better. I have a conviction to disciple men. What if we discipled 1000 men in the next five years? What a difference that would make! This book is a manual for doing just that. Rosenberg wrote the book with DR. T. E. Koshy from India. I met his son in New York last week. These are special servants of the Lord. I look forward to sharing much more about this in days to come.

March 12, 2013

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The cardinals are locked in the Sistine Chapel. It is time to vote on a new pope. I was asked this week if popes are mentioned in the Bible. The short answer is no. The Catholic Church goes to Matthew 16:17-19 as its historical reference to the papacy. They see Peter as the first pope. Catholics see the pope as having received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Pope is a strong religious figure and leader. Because there are 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, the election is big news and important to many. As a Baptist, Jesus follower, and Bible preacher I do not hold the pope up to the level as Catholics see the position. I do hope he will be a conservative teacher and a courageous leader. He has a big task in front of him. However, I will continue to look to the Bible for guidance. I will continue to see Jesus as the High Priest. I will continue to make my confession to Him. Protestants and Catholics have long had deep theological differences. This will not change. Honest debate is a good thing.  

March 8, 2013

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Recently I read the story of a thirteen-year-old year on a soccer team. After his team lost he stated, “I don’t feel we lost.” When asked to explain he made a surprising announcement. “Well, I am a forward and we did our part by scoring three goals. The defense lost the game because they gave up five goals. They are the losers.” You may say that is ridiculous and there is only one score for a team. And you would be correct. Yet it is easy for us to fall into this trap on work teams, at church, and other places where teamwork is called for. The only way for real team unity to occur is for a collective mentality to prevail.  One that places a higher priority on the team as a whole rather than the department to which one belongs. Some have called this the silo problem. Great teams work hard to make certain all members do whatever they can to accomplish team goals. And they do this in spite of their individual responsibilities and expertise. It is called the BIG PICTURE. It is called rowing in the same direction. It is called serving one another. It admits the team is more important than my protecting my department. How is your team?    

March 5, 2013

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There are times flying can be a hassle. Weather issue, delays, and just getting through security can make traveling stressful.  But yesterday’s flight was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in years. Here’s why:
  • Sat next to a cornerback from U Conn who will be drafted by the NFL.  Fascinating talk.
  • Congressman Miller on the plane. Prayed over him and two of his congressmen friends before the next flight.
  • Three Olive Baptist members were on the flight. It was great having one-on-one conversation with each one. Reminded me of the outstanding people who are part of our church family.
My destination yesterday was Syracuse, New York.  Pastor Bruce Aubrey and Northside Baptist have a deep conviction and commitment to encouraging and equipping pastors in the Northeast. This morning I was honored to be part of their annual statewide conference. There were 275 people from churches from several states in attendance. Their stories always encourage me. These faithful churches labor in places with hard ground. Yet God is doing a work. Tomorrow is Olive’s monthly First Wednesday Prayer Time.  Join me at noon in the chapel as we intercede for our nation.

March 1, 2013

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Last night I was on the campus of UWF. Tony Olesky leads the Baptist Campus Ministry. He invited me out from time to time to speak to the students. I am always encouraged to be there. There is great passion for Jesus in the group. They take missions seriously. It is a good work. I am always reminded that a VAST mission field is just up the road from the Olive campus. The University of West Forida is a growing school. We must do a better job of impacting the people coming here for education. HOW?
  • Support the Baptist campus ministry
  • Adopt a student
  • Prayer walk the campus sometime
  • Be involved in campus activates
  • Attend a sporting event
Relationships are BIG. Get to know a student. Invest in his or her life. Ask God to show you how.