Posts from October 2015

“Recipe for Revival” Nehemiah 1:1-11

In my first year as pastor of Madison Baptist Church, I asked our Church Council if we could plan a church-wide hospitality event on even-numbered years and have a church-wide revival on odd-numbered years. These emphases allow us to spend concentrated time focusing on serving others and then the following year to spend concentrated time focusing on our own spiritual growth. Our hospitality events have included adopting the City of Madison employees in 2012 and the Morgan County Fire Departments in 2014. We enjoyed the revival in 2013 with my friend Paul Baxley from First Baptist Athens preaching, and I am very excited about beginning our revival next week with my friend Jonathan Barlow preaching. While the choice of a revival preacher becomes critical, I also believe that the services should also include great music. Elsie Monk, as our Interim Minister of Music, continues to work the hours of a full-time Minister of Music. She has enlisted great choirs for the evening services, and I am hopeful that others from Calvary Baptist and Madison Presbyterian will attend on the nights when their choirs sing. I also hope to have many families to accompany the MCHS Chorus.
Some would say that the recipe for revival would be engaging preaching and meaningful music. I think there is more to that recipe.

“Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Genesis 28:10-22

I was astonished to learn that the recent tragic shooting at the community college in Oregon included the shooter asking the students, “Are you a Christian?” And then he shot them. I don’t understand that kind of evil; that represents a darkness which remains unfathomable. Those who witnessed these horrific murders certainly will be affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which has already been referenced. That memory will haunt those survivors forever.
In some areas of the world, practicing Christianity can become life-threatening. Some of our fellow Christians face dark days, and let’s face it: darkness can be scary. I speak not only of when the sun goes down, or when the electricity fails. All of us have walked through darkness, times in our lives when we couldn’t see light; times when the clouds hung lower than normal; times when living was hard. It is a proven fact that overcast, gray days add to depression. Per capita, there are more depressed people in areas where the sun doesn’t shine very often, like Alaska in the winter. Darkness can be scary. So today, I’d like to pose the question, “Are you afraid of the dark?”

“Different, Same, All Need Grace” I Corinthians 1:10-17

We are all different. We are all the same. We all need grace. That’s the message of World Communion Sunday.
We live in a great big world. This summer, when Jennifer and I were fortunate to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting in South Africa, I was reminded of how different people are. As part of the worship service on Saturday, everyone received communion which was led by the outgoing and incoming Presidents of the BWA. The outgoing president was a white Virginian John Upton; the incoming President is Paul Msiza, a black South African pastor. All around me receiving the bread and the cup were people of many nations; 80 countries were represented. Nigerian women wore their native dress. Many others from the African continent wore bright colors. Europeans, Asians, Australians, South Americans, and of course North Americans took the bread, the cup and remembered the death of our Savior. We were all reminded that Christ died for all, that we, even though we were different, were all the same, and that everyone was in need of God’s grace.
People were not sent to specific areas of the arena to receive communion. We were not separated by kingdoms, because only one kingdom mattered and that was the Kingdom of God. To my right was a lady from South Africa. Diagonally behind us were folks from South Korea. Australians were two rows in front of us; Germans and Austrians were diagonally to my right. Americans were across the aisle from us to the left. We celebrated God’s great love for us as a family. “For God so loved the WORLD, that He gave his only begotten Son.” For God so loved all nations, that He gave his only begotten Son. This Jesus was not intended to be an exclusive Savior; he came for everyone. Different, same, all need grace.