I Believe in Christian Teens

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I believe that from within the church God is raising up an army of counter-cultural warriors for the faith. I believe that this generation of born again believers will be sold-out for Christ, not bending their intellect to the whims of cultural godlessness, but unreservedly living out a faith that is firmly grounded in biblical Christianity.

I believe that this coming generation of Christ followers will speak boldly where we have kept silent. I believe that their speech will be seasoned with salt, but unabashedly truthful in witness to the authority, inerrancy, and reliability of God’s Word. Their mouths will not only sing praises to God, but will actively tell future generations of the Gospel-grace of God that is found through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe their conduct will bear living testimony to the joy of doing life God’s way. They will walk worthy of their calling in Christ. They will put to death the cravings of the flesh, and bring to life those actions that are congruous with the holiness of God to which they have been redeemed. Their lifestyles will model the message of Christ that their lips proclaim.

I believe they will love people – all people – like we have failed to love them. Their self-sacrificing, Christlike love will not be bound either by old stereotypes or by current events. This love of theirs, fresh and deep, will be living proof of their loving God.

I believe this new generation of Christians will return to biblical purity – sexually, mentally, and relationally. I believe the curse of sinful sexual temptation, having spiraled out of control in recent generations, will be obliterated as they crawl out of the salacious cultural bed we have made for them, preferring instead to honor the marriage bed as holy unto God.

I believe in Christian Teens.

“Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, CSB)

Grace and Peace,
Tony

Revival in Grapeland, TX

When Revival Falls

If you’re in the East TX area the week of March 26-29, I’d love to see you at Grapeland Baptist Church for four nights of revival services. I’ll be preaching a series from the first 4 Chapters of Acts, “When Revival Falls.” We’ll look at the New Testament Church being missional, prayerful, evangelistic, and generous, as the Holy Spirit filled them with His presence and power. I sure hope you are able to attend one or more nights of these revival services. And I ask that you begin now to pray in expectation that the Holy Spirit would move mightily… that instead of just going to revival, we might actually experience revival, and that Jesus’s church would be edified and empowered because of it, toward a renewed gospel focus.

See you in Grapeland!

Grapeland Baptist Church
505 Spivey Rd
Grapeland, TX 75844

Grace and Peace,
Tony

Church, POTUS, & Allegiance

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Photo Credit: http://www.nytimes.com

“I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens—far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to comeAnd He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.” Ephesians 1:18-23 (HCSB, emphasis added)

It burdens me to see so many Christians (pastors, even) inciting and facilitating division among brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s get this straight. There is only One Name above every other name. There is only One Ruler who deserves our unquestioned allegiance. There is only One Lord over all, who rules and reigns at the right hand of God the Father. Every other name is only named for a fleeting moment. Every other title given is subject to the ultimate authority of the God of the Ages. Every other figure, no matter how iconic or powerful, still rules under the feet of the appointed One–Jesus Christ.

According to the Holy Spirit’s word through the Apostle Paul, if we forget this–if we fail to stake our allegiance in Christ alone–we have dulled our minds to the “hope of His calling,” the “glorious riches of His inheritance,” and “the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe” (vs.18-19 above). So I pray with Paul, that the “perception of our minds would be enlightened.”

Is Christ divided? Then why do we intentionally and rigidly divide His Body? Is such rigid allegiance really worth undermining the advancement of the gospel? “For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and living like unbelievers? . . . are you not unspiritual people?” (1 Cor. 3:3-4, HCSB). Understand this, Christian: every word spoken, every idea thought, every action taken… it all teaches the watching world something about the Christ we proclaim. How embarrassing it must be to our Lord when our open divisions and dissensions portray a divided Christ to the world He came to save.

So not in the spirit of unity for unity’s sake, but in the spirit of unity for Christ’s sake, I appeal to you, my brother or sister in Jesus. Be careful unilaterally staking your allegiance to anyone or anything other than Christ Himself. Before you type that post, make that phone call, compose that tweet, or speak your mind, be sure that every action and every word is submitted in humble allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ alone. And for the love of Jesus (literally), spend your energy, time, voice, and resources making much of Jesus instead of making much of some temporary name named.

Grace and Peace, Tony

Circumcise Your Ears

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“A horrible thing has taken place in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority. My people love it like this. But what will you do at the end of it? . . . Who can I speak to and give such a warning that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, so they cannot pay attention. See, the Word of the Lord has become contemptible to them–they find no pleasure in it.” (Jeremiah 5:30, 6:10 HCSB).

Circumcision, to the Hebrew, was an outward sign of an inward covenant. Without getting unnecessarily graphic, suffice it to say that the process involved cutting away the excess. Other places in Scripture, God insists that–figuratively, of course–the heart be circumcised. Here, in Jeremiah Chapters 5-6, God accuses His people of having uncircumcised ears.

What stirs me most about this passage is the statement toward the end of 5:30, “My people love it like this.” Disregard for God’s Word over time has dulled their ears to such a degree that even if they are able to discern between what is God’s Word and what is not God’s Word, they openly and unashamedly prefer something else: “It has become contemptible to them. They find no pleasure in it.” Rather, they find pleasure in words that have not come from God… so, “they love it like this.” 

Just a quick hearing-check today: Are you attentive to the process of cutting away the excess from what you hear? There are millions of outlets on/in your social media page, newspaper, and television programming that communicate many things other than God’s Words; millions of daily words that claim authority, truth, and relevance. What do you “love?” Are you able/willing to “pay attention” to Truth? Are your ears “circumcised?”

May God stir our hearts to fall in love with His Word again.

Grace and Peace, Tony

 

Living in Babylon

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Some mornings I wake up and silently ask myself, “Where am I?” The country I knew in my childhood is, in many ways, only a shadow of a memory. Racial bigotry, moral demise, political unrest, economic upheaval, and religious syncretism have become standard. Normal. Some of this change can be attributed to a widening perspective that comes with age, I admit. But there is no doubt that the world in which I live today is much different from the world I remember of my yesterdays. What is the follower of Jesus to do, when he finds himself thrust into a culture that is so far from God–a stranger in his own land?

The prophet Jeremiah records God’s instructions to Jewish exiles deported from their homes and thrust into the godless Babylonian culture at the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar in the early 6th Century B.C. While this Word is uniquely directed to a specific group of people in a specific time period, it teaches us something about the heart of God and about His expectations toward His children who find themselves living in a godless culture.

“This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.’ For this is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘Don’t let your prophets who are among you and your diviners deceive you, and don’t listen to the dreams you elicit from them, for they are prophesying falsely to you in My name. I have not sent them.’ This is the Lord’s declaration.” (Jeremiah 29:4-9, HCSB)

How are we, God’s children, to live in Babylon?

  1. Live life among the people (vs.4-6). Don’t freak out. Don’t hunker down. Don’t isolate yourself from reality. Go about normal daily activities and trust the Lord’s design through it all. God’s people are not to be isolated from the culture in which they live; but they are to be different from the culture in which they live. When godly people reproduce godly people (evangelism & discipleship) in a godless culture, they are being light in darkness, salt in tastelessness. Do life with the people of the culture in which God has placed you. Influence them with God’s truth, for God’s glory, because this always works out for their good.
  2. Seek the welfare of your city (v.7). Pray. Work. Influence for righteousness. The presence of God’s people should influence a city for God’s glory. God holds the monopoly on justice, righteousness, economic abundance, and social welfare. When godly Christian principles and practices take root in the workplace, at the school, in the booster club meetings, and in the sports organizations of your city, the people will come to know the supremacy of life God’s way over life their own way. And as the city prospers under the blessings of God, so will you. How is your Christian presence affecting the social, spiritual, economic, and moral climate of your city?
  3. Be discerning about – and committed to – God’s revealed Word (vs.8-9). Amos prophesied that during the exile (the Intertestamental Period) there would be a “famine… [from] hearing the words of the Lord… People… will seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it,” (Amos 8:11-12, HCSB). The question would then come to those in exile, “Are the Words of God that I have enough?” Often in a wandering (or wilderness/exile) period of our lives, we ask the same question. Is God’s revealed Word trustworthy? Is it enough to get me through this? Or should I search for something more? God’s children who find themselves stranded in godless contexts should always hold fast to God’s revealed Word. No other word from God is needed. What you have is enough. When we start selling our itching ears to pseudo-spiritual gypsies, we become deceived dreamers, questioning God’s infinite goodness in light of our present wanderings. So, Christian in Babylon, know God’s revealed Word and be committed to it.

Godly people do not long to buy a condo in Babylon. But despite their best efforts, they often find themselves thrust into a Babylonian culture where conditions are not necessarily favorable for godly living. But take heart, Christian:

  • In Babylon, Hananiah’s, Mishael’s, and Azariah’s display to kings and peasants the benefits of living God’s way over man’s way.
  • In Babylon, Daniel’s prove that daily, personal intimacy with God shuts the mouths of lions and opens doors for godly influence.
  • In Babylon, Mordecai’s challenge Esthers to live with selfless abandonment to God’s plan.
  • In Babylon, Nehemiah’s, stirred with passion for God’s glory, lead the way in unprecedented spiritual awakening.
  • In Babylon, God stirs the ground in preparation for the deliverance of His people.
  • In Babylon, God’s children come to know His faithfulness and His vast strength in desperate ways.

Living in Babylon? Fear not, Christian. No matter who sits on the throne, “Your God reigns,” (Isaiah 52:7).

Grace and Peace, Tony.