Five years ago today my wife and I welcomed our three sons into our home. The whole process of adoption is amazing to me. Their birth certificates have my name on them. They are my sons. I think this is why the Apostle Paul uses the imagery of adoption when he talks about what God has done to us in his salvific work (Eph 1:5). He has chosen us and made us His sons and daughters. My wife and I chose our sons and gave them our last name. Now they are ours. When God chose us He took in someone who was not His and He gave us His name. My sons (and my daughter we adopted two years ago) are my heirs just like my two biological daughters. God has also made us joint heirs with Christ (Rm 8:17). It is a beautiful picture of what God has done and it has profoundly changed our family. Have you thought about adoption? If not, remember how grateful you are that God did.
God is a jealous God. He will not settle for second place. He is not a backup plan. Notice in Deuteronomy 34 that He does not talk about the sinful nature of these “no people.” He does not say that He is glad His people are at least a little bit better than those people. He does not give them a pass because they also give Him some time along with the other gods they have fallen after. He demands their complete attention and dedication. Though they had no qualifications to be His people, He has laid out clearly His qualifications to be their God. Friends, when we grow fat on the things of God, our natural inclination is to turn away from God. I cannot ascribe this syndrome to anything but our Fallen, sinful condition. When the Devil sees that were are experiencing the greatness of our God, his only recourse is to tempt us to give the credit to gods that we had never known, ones that had come recently. He leads up toward being unmindful of the Rock that bore us. We can quickly forget the God who gave us birth—even Christ who gave us the New Birth.
So many believers quickly abandon God when things go well. Their family grows, their bank account grows, their circle of influence grows, and those things become so important that God must get in line and take a number. Now, let tragedy strike, and they run back searching for answers and help. There is very little gratitude to God for all that He has blessed us with. Our hope is often tied to stock markets and politicians—both of which have no power to save. Only Christ deserves our faith and dedication. The old hymn reminds us that Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
I believe when we lose our focus and shift our priorities, we fall victim to those who are “no people” just like the nation of Israel. So many churches today have fallen victim to this temptation. Israel saw the gods of the nations around them. They had gods that supposedly did everything for them. They had many gods and Israel only had One. So they tried to add to their stable of deities. Churches today look around them and see that the world serves many gods—the gods of money, sexuality, prestige, and political correctness. These are tempting gods indeed. They offer worldly popularity and societal acceptance. They have found that with some tweaking of God they can worship at the altar of these other gods as well. The have forgotten that our God will not be mocked. He is a consuming fire who will not give up His place because of contemporary trends or political analysis. He has said, I the LORD do not change (Mal 3:6). What this tells me is that a condition of being blessed is faithfulness to God and His Word. When Israel forgot this they were abandoned.
This article was published by the Shelby Star:
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 (ESV)
Friday, an unspeakable tragedy struck a quite community in Connecticut. Just after students were finished pledging their allegiance to our country, a crazed gunman took from them their fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This community, I understand, is statistically one of the safest in the United States, but that did not prevent one of the worst acts of violence in our nation’s history.
As I was eating dinner with friends and family, one of my seminary classmates received a call detailing the tragedy that was unfolding hundreds of miles from our lunch table. Having six children myself, all of which were sitting with us, my heart was immediately broken. How could someone do something so terrible?
My friend’s heart was drawn to the Scriptures, as he was keenly aware that the Evil One had been at work in the mind of the troubled man who carried out this senseless act of evil. I wondered aloud how anyone could deny the existence of evil when it was put on display for all to see. Many have and will continue to ask how God allows such things to happen—why do we see these things happen with such frequency? However, it was not God, but a sinful man who forcibly entered Sandy Hook Elementary. A man whose mind was long corrupted by a Fallen world. Our culture so strongly desires to see God out of everything, we should feel blessed He doesn’t abandon us all together.
In the moment when my heart was broken by this breathtaking news, a question arose in my mind—one that enveloped my mind as I went to sleep Friday and has constantly greeted me since: What is to prevent this from happening to my children? I have children in two public schools. Three of my children are the same age as many of the children killed on Friday. I cannot imagine how those parents feel nor how my fellow clergymen in that community will begin to comfort their congregations. The more I read about this tragedy, the more it seems that there were many measures in place to provide security for those children. Sometimes, when evil overtakes someone, tragedy is unavoidable.
However, as a parent, I want to know—I have to know—that everything is being done to protect my children, their teachers, and the administrators at our schools. I hope school boards have already met to determine how we prevent this from happening. I hope they are asking the questions that are necessary to secure our schools. Our schools are not as secure as they can be and now is the time to act. This tragedy shows us that we, as a community, have to do whatever it takes to be prepared. There are no reasonable people opposed to keeping our children safe. If evil attempts to visit our schools, my prayer is that we are ready to repel it.
Dr. Micheal S. Pardue
Parent of five children in North Carolina Public Schools
Today marks five years since I began my ministry at High Shoal Baptist Church. God has blessed me and my family richly during this time our lives. I’m excited what God has ahead of us.
Many people have been guided in a prayer where they repeated words they had been given. Many of these people have come to saving faith in Christ. However, it seems reasonable to assume that there are plenty of people who have held to a formatted prayer as a type of incantation—even if only in practice. Obviously nothing should ever be pointed to as resulting in salvation other than the Gospel. In one section of a recent SBC resolution, the author wrote:
That a “sinner’s prayer” is not an incantation
that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be
manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the
Gospel (Matthew 6:7; 15:7–9)
In this section, as in most of the others in the resolution, there seems to be a clear divide between what was resolved in the resolution and what is practiced in the churches of the SBC. For example, no one would readily admit to believing in the supernatural power of a formatted prayer. It would be said that it was the heart or belief behind the words. However, on a functional level, this is exactly what is happening and the reason that so many church members can only point to the recitation of a formatted prayer as the evidence that they are believers in Christ. Many cannot articulate the Gospel or even the points of the formatted prayer that they hold as substantiation of their faith. Fellow pastors, we must vigorously fight to ensure this is not so in our churches.
Tomorrow, at high noon, I defend my dissertation. This is the culmination of 23 years of schooling. It’s so odd that so many hours of work comes down to a two hour defense. Pray for me.
Also hope you will be in prayer for the services on Sunday at Ringgold and Fairview!
Since I preached my first sermon seven years ago, I have had a passion for sharing God’s Word. I’ve had the opportunity to speak in around 25 churches and traveling to preach remain one of my favorite things to do. I’m looking forward to preaching in two of these settings next weekend, November 18.
Ringgold Baptist Church
Fairview Baptist Church
If you’re in the area, come worship with us.
One of the most surprising results from my recent study, The One Another Project, was the result that 83% of respondents have shared their faith through social media. Not only did the study reveal an overall positive view of social media’s effect on relationships but students are also using social media to share the Good News. This is an encouraging result. I wish I had asked the participants in the study if they had shared their faith in person, as this would have given me something to compare this result to. However, four out of five students sharing their faith with others is always a positive results. Christian colleges and churches should be mindful of this result and strategize how they equip their students to continue spreading the message of Christ.