Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Pastor's Corner

* Article was published in the April edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”
Matthew 28:6 NASB

The first official day of Spring has come. Cool mornings and questionable weather patterns persist; nevertheless, warmer days are upon us. My allergies can certainly testify that pollen season is here. Flowers are blooming and bees are buzzing. Evidence of winter has all but vanished and new life is beginning to spring forth. 

How profoundly appropriate it is that we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of our Lord, during this life-promoting time of year. Indeed, Jesus came to promote life. He came to give us an abundant, victorious life over sin and death. The resurrection serves as a constant reminder of the life Jesus came to give. We discussed in our Great Commission series the great need for people of every tribe, tongue and nation to hear about Jesus and life-changing power of His gospel. The bottom line is that people need the Lord and the new life that only He can give them!

Early Easter morning, Scripture says that several believers made their way to properly anoint and prepare Jesus’ body for burial. However, as they approached the tomb they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. I’ve often tried to put myself in the shoes of those disciples, but it’s difficult to imagine what that moment was like for them. Their minds were probably reeling with possible explanations: why was the stone moved? Who moved the stone? Where is the body of Jesus? I’m sure panic ensued. Nevertheless, they soon heard those comforting words; “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”

Jesus had taught them repeatedly that He would die and rise again, but in that moment, they could not distinguish between the natural and the supernatural. Certainly, a resurrection was not a natural occurrence but a supernatural work that only God could accomplish. Let’s understand that the resurrection is paramount to the Christian faith; in fact, it validates our faith. The empty tomb stamps “amen” on everything Jesus ever said or did. Paul said it this way in Romans 1“he [Jesus Christ] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.” (v. 4) In other words, because the tomb is empty we can know that Jesus was who He said that He was and that He most certainly did (and will do) all He said He would do.

Church, we serve a great and mighty God. One who was sinless, but took on our sin. One who was crucified, but conquered our death. One who ascended, but is coming again for us. If He can do all of that, He can certainly take care of any need we may have. Indeed, nothing is impossible for Him. 

I encourage you to be present with us on Resurrection Sunday for morning worship at 8:30, breakfast at 9:30, and then worship at 10:30. We will be celebrating Baptism in our 10:30 service. Invite your friends and neighbors. It will be a glorious time as we celebrate the truth that He has risen!

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Pastor's Corner...

* Article was published in the March edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

On behalf of my family, I want to thank my Green Hill Church family for the love shown toward us in the recent loss of my grandma. She was a special lady who was loved by all and will be greatly missed. The last several days have been emotional. My heart rejoices knowing that she’s at home with the Lord, yet it grieves and mourns that she is no longer with us. This experience has caused me to become more aware of my own weaknesses. I’ve realized, yet again, that I’m not invincible and untouchable. I’m fully human.

Human strength often deters us from trusting in Christ. When we try to rely on our own strength, resources, and know-how, we are assuming that we can handle situations without help from God. As such, we can easily become guilty of creating two categories in our lives: problems that we can handle on our own and problems that require God’s help. Certainly, this is misguided because we are always in need of God’s help. Indeed, we are not as strong as we may think we are.

The Apostle Paul was painfully acquainted with this truth. The Bible teaches that he had spent the first half of his life trying to rely on his pedigree, education, know-how, and skills. But, this would change once He encountered the risen Christ on the Road to Damascus. You see, God has a way of getting our attention.

2 Corinthians 12:7 teaches that Paul was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh. God, in His sovereign grace, purposely chose not to disclose specific information regarding this thorn. The intent was not for us to compare our life to Paul’s, but to humbly recognize our need for leaning on the everlasting arms of God. We are human beings with very real limitations, and God has a way of using our limitations to bring us to the end of ourselves and to remind us of our constant need for Him.

Paul had performed miracles in the name of the Lord, even raised the dead; but he could not remove the thorn. God graciously used a thorn to usher Paul into His dependable arms. Paul’s perception of his own strength caused him to neglect to rely on God’s strength. It was only in his weakness that he came to fully trust in God and learn of His sufficient grace. Perhaps, God is doing a similar work in your own heart and life right now.

God’s power and grace is sufficient as we care for an aging parent. God’s grace is sufficient when we grieve the loss of a loved one. God’s grace is sufficient to face any trial or circumstance in life. What’s most important is that we allow our weakness to drive us into the sufficient grace of God. For when we are weak He is strong!

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Pastor's Corner...

*Article was published in the February edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me…” Luke 9:23

This has become a foundational verse in our Sunday evening message series entitled “Radical Together.” In this series, we’ve been discussing what it means to be totally committed followers of Christ (individually and corporately as a church). This study has involved two core truths – we are God’s people, and we exist to fulfill God’s purpose. This sounds simple, yet we are constantly tempted to live as though we don’t belong to God and that our purposes are more important than God’s purposes. I would submit that even today we’ve been confronted by these two temptations.

Jesus clearly stated that denying self is the first step to following Him. He addressed “self” first because He knew that “self” would be the greatest enemy we would face in totally committing ourselves to following Him. Rather than Jesus occupying the throne of our heart and life, there is a very real temptation to put ourselves on the throne. When this happens, Jesus is no longer ruling and reigning in our life. Instead, we are calling the shots – what we want, prefer, and desire becomes the driving force in our life. This is the antithesis of discipleship. Discipleship is all about Lordship. In other words, a disciple or follower of Christ is someone who says, “Lord, you are the Master and I am the servant. Whatever you say goes.” If we want to follow Jesus we must deny (literally die) to self. He is to be Lord of our life, and “self” is the greatest enemy to His Lordship.

So, consider what I call the “open-hand principle.Am I holding everything in my life with an open hand? This gets at the heart of Lordship. If Jesus is Lord of our life and we are seeking to follow Him, then we will be willing to hold everything with an open hand - all of our material possessions, families and relationships, money and all earthly treasures. As Lord, we allow Him to use everything in our life for His purposes and His glory. It’s no longer our money, but His. It’s no longer our family, but His. It’s no longer our church, but His. It’s no longer our ministries, but His. You get the point? As we yield to His Lordship, we allow Him to rightfully occupy the throne of our heart and life (and church).

The challenge is that we’re tempted to hold on to things with a white-knuckle grip. It might be money and possessions, people and relationships, or likes and personal preferences. A closed hand reflects and closed heart. So, right now, are we holding everything with an open hand? If not, what do we need to let go of? I’ve learned that God always knows how to pry open our hands. He knows how to de-throne whatever is taking His place in our life, but I can say this - it’s never a pleasant experience when He does the de-throning. So, let’s join together in willingly opening our hands and submitting to His Lordship.

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett