What Are We Singing Sunday…

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AscensionThis Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays of the year because everything that was true last week (Resurrection Sunday) is still true this week!

We will spend one more week in Matthew looking at History’s Halftime. This week we will look at Jesus’ closing words which give us the framework for how to live this side of the Resurrection. I can’t wait to look at these verses together.

Our music will include a reminder that every Sunday is really Resurrection Sunday. We will be singing…

  • Happy Day
  • In Christ Alone
  • Stronger
  • My Savior, My God
  • I Will Follow

Don’t forget to stop by and make your Mother’s Day video before you go home Sunday.

Pastor Tim

How are we doing…

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The school year is drawing to a close.

Of all the school years our family has experienced this one has been dramatic of any. Adam moved four plus hours away to begin college. Ashley announces she is no longer a child every time she asks for a turn behind the wheel whenever we leave the driveway. These new phases of life bring new phases of parenthood. While both kids continue to make their parents proud, Susan and I have wondered much about our years of parenting up to this point.

Did we emphasize the right things? Were we strict when we should have been more lenient? Were we lenient when we should have been more strict? Have we prepared them for what’s next? What would we do differently if we started over today? Is there anything we could have done that would have made them clean their rooms more than once a year?

This morning I came across a great blogpost for parents that combines both what we learned and what we wish we had learned. Give it a click and be encouraged.

What do you think? What is most important point in the post for your family?

Pastor Tim

Truth or People?

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I recently listened to an interview of Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter (and really rich guy). Stone is a fascinating character as Twitter has in a few short years become one of the most powerful global communication tools in history. He is also interesting because he used to work at Google and once discussed selling Twitter to Facebook. Few people today can match his experience in technology or social media.

In the interview, Stone described the major difference between the “orders list” at Google and Twitter. At Google technology came first, then people. At Twitter people come first then technology. If you have much experience with either, you can certainly validate the truth of that observation. What you choose to do first impacts everything else. Great success can from from getting our priorities lined up.

This made me think about my teaching on Sunday night that observed the New Testament emphasis on dealing with false teachers in the church. Should the church focus on truth first or should it focus on people first? Choose people and you have broken doctrine. Choose truth and you have cold, rigid dogmatism. What should be the “orders list” for the church?

I believe the right analogy does not come from the business world, but from the realm of chemistry. Ephesian 4:15 tells us that we are “to speak the truth in love.” We are not to choose which comes first but to recognize that truth and love are permanently bound together. An ‘orders list” that chooses love over truth or truth over love creates a dangerous, unnatural fissure.

The church must grab truth with one hand and love with the other and never let go of either.

The same is true with our kids. Truth without love crushes them, love without truth never lets them grow. In friendship, truth alone quietly revels in the shortcomings of others. Love alone lets our friend walk through a crowd with food stuck between their teeth and toilet paper dragging from their shoe.

Don’t choose between truth and people today.

Pastor Tim

Could Judas change his mind?

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thirty-pieces-of-silverThis past Sunday I preached about Judas’ regret and what that means to us.

After the service someone asked me if Judas could have changed his mind. That is a deep question. God orchestrated all the events leading to the cross. But every individual has freedom to choose. Not even Judas was born destined for inescapable judgment.

So could Judas change his mind? Yes…and no. By the time he is dealing with the chief priests, it is quite possible that he was past the point of no return. Satan had already entered into him. He may have felt he could still turn around, but he may well have already been handed over to destruction.

You see I think we completely misread the point of no return. We believe the point of no return is right at the edge…the moment Judas reaches out his hand to take for the thirty pieces. That is the moment Judas has to make his final decision. But likely the point of no return is much earlier. Our hearts are hardened more quickly than we realize.

Just today I received word that a very prominent pastor in another state, a man I held in high esteem, abruptly resigned yesterday after admitting a moral failure. Most likely he misjudged the point of no return. Whatever his moral failure was, he probably felt he could always turn around at the next intersection. Certainly he planned to, but before he knew it was too late.

This is a certified attribute of inappropriate relationships. But that is not the only realm this applies. Many a former church attender began by simply missing church a little extra during a particularly busy season of life. They planned to turn back around in just a few weeks. For others, it is stretching the truth a bit to reduce some impending pressure or gain an extra edge. Now whole sections of their life are built on deception. The examples are endless. A couple extra drinks, a peek, an accounting loophole, a bitter thought housed a little too long.

Learn a lesson from Judas. Now is the time to back it up. This is the point of return. In this moment, while the Spirit of God convicts, repent and return.

Grace and restoration awaits. Joy awaits.

Pastor Tim

 Live Committed!

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I am committed!  But to what am I committed? We are all committed to something that holds value in our eyes. I am committed to being a good father and a worthy husband, I am committed to being a loyal and respected friend, and I am committed to seeking what is good for those around me.

We live in an age where commitment has become based on convenience. We have all experienced someone who has told us “I am going to be there” only to leave us waiting!

But God desires so much more for our lives. He declared that we are only to commit ourselves to Him. In Exodus 20:3 God says “You shall have no other gods before me.” He says should put Him first in our lives and trust that He is worthy of our commitment.

There is benefit to commitment otherwise why would we commit to anything. We pursue things because we believe it will benefit us in some way. King David knew where to place his commitment.  In Psalms 37:5 he says, “Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” The more we commit to God the more He moves in our lives. He begins to transform us and lead us.  His own son Solomon echoed similar words. In Proverbs 16:3 he said, “Commit your walk to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The funny thing is that our plans begin to look more like His plans as we become committed to His ways for our lives.

Join me in a simple challenge! Commit to giving Him one place in your life, where you have not committed to Him and let’s see what He does with our Commitment.

Mike Fontenot

Some thoughts on Noah…

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There are an abundant number of reviews available on the internet concerning the Noah movie. Here is a really optimistic one, here is a cautious one, here is an angry one, and here is a foaming at the mouth angry one. I add to these simply because I have received some questions about the movie from folks in my church and I expect to receive more questions in the coming days.

The current hubbub about this movie reminds me of one of my favorite jokes —

Q. What is brown and sticky? A. A stick.

You know what is the most biblical telling of the story of Noah (or Moses or Daniel or Jesus or Paul)? The Bible.

The moment you walk away from the Bible text you will become less biblical. Every time. That is not to say you should never make or see a Bible movie, just know that it is never going to be as good as the Book. (Biblical movies have long fallen short of mirroring the text. Look no further than The 10 Commandments and The Nativity Story.) No movie maker comes with the authority of God’s Word … not Daron Aronofsky, or Charleston Heston or Mel Gibson, or Mark Burnett or even Billy Graham. But if the movie takes you back to the text then it has done a service. If you ask the movie to do more than the text (for evangelism or for instruction) then we have messed up.

Some of my thoughts —

The story of Noah fascinates us. It is the animals, the ark, the flood, the dove, the rainbow, the earth starting over. Our curiosity runs wild. What did Noah think? What did Mrs. Noah think? What did his neighbors think? How difficult was it to get that building permit? It is no surprise that this movie has generated tons of conversation.

The story of Noah also touches on deeper issues such as the spiritual brokenness of the world, a believer’s obedience in the face of global rebellion, God’s response to sin run wild, and ultimately to God’s grace. I am grateful for how the movie took these issues seriously and helped us think them over.

The movie did a great job of painting the picture of what it would be like to live is such a broken world that God has had enough with it. We sense Noah’s isolation from the rest of the world as he stands out as the one who found favor in God’s eyes. I have always felt this statement was that Noah alone was righteous in his day. (1) The scenery is barren and hard. Every encounter with those outside his family is dangerous and wrought with violence.

The intensity of God’s judgment is powerfully displayed as the population suddenly realizes their doom and storms the ark. As the ark begins to float, Noah’s family hears the anguish and screams of a world population drowning. It could not have been an easy experience for them. (It may be one of the reasons Noah later abused the fruit of the vine.)

Unlike some, I had no problem that God was referred to as the Creator not as God. God is the Creator of all life. That is how Noah knew God at this time. Keep in mind that God is not revealed to Moses as YHWH for a few more centuries. I did not like the time lapse sequence of Creation that was completely evolutionary in nature up until the creation of man. (I am surprised I have not heard more complaints about this.)

Some of the issues in the movie come from the verses in Genesis 6.1-4 that lead up to the story of Noah. These relate to the Nephilim, who are described as the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of man. These offspring are known as the mighty men of old, the men of renown. Over the years I have read many, many different explanations of who these characters were. Some explanations are better than others, none of them perfect…some of them pretty crazy. The rock people in the movie are another attempt to address this question. They are not my choice and are highly Hollywoodized but they are responding to something in the text.

I did find the imagery profound, related to the rock people/Nephilim/Watchers and later to Noah, that they had became “encrusted by this world”. What a powerful picture of the Image of God being buried and nearly lost beneath the grime of this world. If you were to take just one thing from this movie, this may be it.

What I did not like about the movie was the completely fabricated second half of the movie. The movie ignores the very clear narrative of the text to create a crisis that did not exist. Granted the writers needed to find something to fill the months and months of simply floating. How many hands of UNO do you think they played on the Ark? (Considering their circumstances they more likely played DOS.)(2) There were plenty of questions and issues that could have been explored in these scenes that did not invent a new story that ignores the very fact that God already answered this particular question in the text. I found this quite annoying. (Just ask Susan).

Should you see the movie? If you want to, sure. Just read Genesis 1-9 before you go and after you get back. Likely you will end up thinking more deeply about the story than you have in a long time.

Pastor Tim

(1). This maybe be slightly debatable from the text, but if Methusulah is also righteous then I would assume he would be on the boat too. Maybe he is too old, but I wouldn’t expect him to be swept away in the flood. According to the genealogies, Methuselah lives at least till the year of the flood.

(2). Two by Twos…get it? DOS.

What Are We Singing Sunday…

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worship

We have a great service planned this Sunday…

  • Baptism (scheduled)
  • Lord’s Supper
  • Easter musical preview (can’t wait!)
  • a bit of different flow to the service
  • transition point in the History’s Halftime sermon series
  • canned food drive for Eunice Food Bank

And we will be singing some great songs…

  • Jesus Saves
  • You Are My King, Amazing Love
  • Give Me Jesus
  • Amazing Grace, My Chains are Gone
  • We Will Remember

Not a Sunday you will want to miss!

Pastor Tim

World Vision Update…

Note — I have no intention of making this your headquarters for controversy. This blog is intended to have a very different tone than that.  However, since I posted about World Vision earlier this week, I felt I needed to update my blog to reflect World Vision’s reversal of policy.

Earlier this week I shared my thoughts on World Vision’s decision to no longer distinguish between same-sex marriage and what they described as biblical marriage. I am pleased to update this story to reflect that World Vision announced this afternoon that they had reversed course on this decision. This is a good outcome to a very poor decision.

I must mention that I still have concerns and reservations about investing in World Vision. Today’s press release paints the picture of an embarrassed organization that just had not thought things through enough. This is not a complicated issue. Our culture is drifting (if light-speed can still be called drifting) away from God’s clear instruction concerning marriage. One does not simply accidentally stumble on this issue, but intentionally chooses to reverse course. I highly doubt that this decision had not gone through a long vetting process.

A side note on the issue is how the church at large handles this topic. Many Christians have been upset this week about World Vision’s decision. Many other Christians have been upset that the Christians were upset. It seems that there is a pocket of Christianity that is so concerned that Christians do not come across as angry and hateful that they are willing to embrace sinful relationships that God never intended to be embraced.

Without a doubt believers are to be known by their love (and we have dropped the ball on that at times), but Christians were never intended to be known by their amnesia, forgetting the very things God revealed.

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (ESV)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.  Romans 16:17-19 (ESV)

Pastor Tim

Pastor, what is our church’s position on World Vision’s decision?

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Yesterday World Vision announced that they no longer would recognize a distinction between same sex marriage and what they termed as traditional marriage. Today a member asked me what our church’s position on the topic was.

Without trying to be too difficult, it does not matter what our church’s position is or World Vision’s position is. What matters is the Bible’s position on marriage. It is our task and presumably World Vision’s task to match the position of Scripture. That is why I did not like the term traditional marriage in the news release. There are all kinds of marriage traditions across history and cultures. Not only that, but we are seeing with our own eyes that traditions change. We stand with Biblical marriage. This definition does not change, even as the winds of popular culture reach hurricane force.

The day may come when the people of faith may be the only ones holding to biblical marriage. The state, the culture and human resource departments of the world may abandon God’s definition, but God never has put it up for a vote in the first place. We are not looking for a pat on the back from our culture, but a well done from our Father.

So our church will not be beginning any partnerships with World Vision. Now, if you are already in a sponsoring partnership through World Vision, I would encourage you to continue that partnership for the duration since the child you sponsor has not done anything to lose your support. At a point of transition, I would consider switching to a more biblically grounded alternative such as Compassion International.

In the end…”let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Pastor Tim