Friday, March 26, 2010

Why did Jesus Enter Jerusalem so Publicly?

Prior to Jesus entering into Jerusalem for the last time before His crucifixion, He would tell people not to spread His name or He would remove Himself from the spotlight. J.C. Ryle tells why His last entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11) was different.
The plain truth is that our Lord knew well that the time of his earthly ministry was drawing to a close; he knew the hour was approaching when he must finish the mighty work he came to do, by dying for our sins upon the cross. He knew that his last journey had been accomplished, and that there remained nothing now in his earthly ministry except to be offered as a sacrifice on Calvary Knowing all this, he no longer, as in times past, sought secrecy; knowing all this, he thought it good to enter the place where he was to be delivered to death, with particular solemnity and publicity. It was not fitting that the Lamb of God should come to be slain on Calvary privately and silently. Before the great sacrifice for the sin of the world was offered up, it was right that every eye should be fixed on the victim. It was suitable that the crowning act of our Lord's life should be done with as much notoriety as possible. That was why he made this public entry; that was why he attracted to himself the eyes of the wondering multitude; that was why "the whole city was stirred" (verse 10). The atoning blood of the Lamb of God was about to be shed; this deed was not to be "done in a corner" (Acts 26:26).

Taken from his commentary on Matthew

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Story of Zac Smith

John Piper posted about this video on Twitter earlier today. It's a powerful testimony of faith in the goodness of God in all things.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

What Books are MUST Reads?

My friend Justin Nale has posted five books that he calls The Cream of the Crop. He gives a great list and has me wondering what books others would recommend. What books have ministered deeply to you that you would say others MUST read?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Video from Haiti

Frank Dees, owner of Youth On Mission, posted this video on Facebook from our week in Haiti. The need is still great!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Need the Gospel...Today!

It seems in many churches the need of the gospel is ONLY for unbelievers. I'm thankful that this is not true in all churches, but unfortunately it is in many. The gospel is, of course, for unbelievers, but I'm reminded this weekend why I still need the gospel more than a decade after I came to trust in Christ.

Last week I had the opportunity to preach Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The way to be poor in spirit is to place oneself before the Almighty God and see how you measure up to His expectations. During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us exactly what His expectations are. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Wow! Those are high expectations. It would have been easy to try to explain that God doesn't really expect us to be perfect, but that would not be true. God does expect perfection. And when we place ourselves open before Him we will see how miserably we have failed to keep His requirement of perfection.

This leads to Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Many Christians today, I think, jump to the second half of verse 4 before dealing with the first half. For me, I often times rest in Christ without realizing I still continually fall short of the requirements of God. But this verse says we are blessed when we mourn over our sin. I think it is very important that we see ourselves before God Almighty and realize that we still need His grace. We still need His mercy. We still need His hand to keep us because without we will fall away!

However, as Christians, we cannot stop there. The gospel is still applicable for us today. When I stand before God on my own I mourn the sin and devastation that I have brought upon myself. But I also rejoice and worship when I see that Christ took that judgment for me on the cross. Beloved, the gospel is still true. The gospel is still needed. I love the fact that I can still see the application of the gospel in my own life!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reflection on Haiti: Part 1

Now that I've been back for a few days, I thought I would take a few posts to try to reflect upon what I learned/saw in Haiti last week. As I stated in my last post, I was amazed at the number of churches I saw there. There were over 20 Baptist churches just within the network we were working with. Our primary ministry was to go to different locations where churches gathered and distribute food, clean up rubble from damage to their church buildings, play with the kids, and share the gospel. However, what I found very quickly was that these churches had heard the gospel several times. Both adults and children were able to affirm the basic beliefs of the gospel. Since we were really in each town for only a few hours, I found it best to try to encourage them while I was there. I didn't share in every town because I was not the only pastor on our team, but when I did get the chance to share I wanted to put before them the hope of eternal joy in Christ. I felt, at that point, that we were there more for strengthening the church rather than focusing primarily on sharing the gospel (although that did take place in every place as well). With that being said, the church in Haiti needs much prayer. They need to find and preach hope in Christ alone. They appear to have a joy that is clearly not of this world (since they do not have much in this world), and that was both encouraging and convicting. Not only does the church in Haiti need our prayers for the gospel to go forth, but the church in America needs prayer to make sure our lives line up with our hope being in Christ alone and not in the things of this world.

Below is a picture of us distributing food in one of those areas.

This one is of Brandon Dees, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, NC, sharing at one of the church locations.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Home from Haiti

I came home from Haiti today. I will say a couple of quick things, but plan to take some time to process it all and give a more detailed update soon.

First of all, I was amazed at the number of churches in Haiti. I pray the gospel will shine bright in the midst of darkness.

Secondly, I don't think the pictures on TV or the Internet do justice to the damage. Maybe being in the atmosphere itself brings it out, but I was shocked at how many buildings were destroyed. It seemed like we drove for miles and miles and saw building after building after building destroyed. The work needed to repair Haiti (even though many of us do not understand how the living there was before) will go for a long time. It will take many hours, days, weeks, months, and probably years to complete the task. I pray we will not forget Haiti as the months go by.

Again, I will update more later. I'm exhausted. I'm drained spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally tonight. However, God was quite gracious through our time there. I was amazed at how He used us to offer hope in the midst of tragedy. Lord, may your gospel prevail!