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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Pastor's Corner...

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

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?” 
Isaiah 43:18-19

As we move into a new year, there is a sense of old things passing away and new things coming. We make resolutions, which are well-intended commitments of things we plan to change in the coming year. For example, on the physical level, we may plan exercise more or change our eating habits. We may plan to cut back on our Krispy Kreme doughnut intake! On the spiritual level, we may plan to get more involved in the ministry of the church. That may mean joining a Sunday School class or adding Sunday and Wednesday evening services to our weekly schedule. These are well-intended actions, but if we’re not careful we can soon find ourselves defaulting to the same old routines.

A new year brings challenges of unavoidable changes. For some of us, that may mean getting used to writing 2015 on our checks rather than 2014. It may mean reprogramming ourselves to accept the changes and opportunities of a new year and new season. This is similar to the message the prophet Isaiah brought to God’s people Israel. Assyria had invaded the fortified cities of Judah, which ultimately led to the fall of Jerusalem. The Babylonians had carried Judah into exile, so chapter’s 40-55 record what happened during that exilic period.

It’s in these troubled times that Isaiah brings a word of encouragement to God’s people. He reminds them that God had not forgotten them in their time of need. Not only had God not forgotten them, but He had planned to deliver them and restore them as a people and nation. Furthermore, He would bring judgment against their enemies. God had a wonderful plan for His people, but laying hold of it would require their obedience.

Church, God has a wonderful plan for us. He has a new season of opportunities for us to enjoy, but laying hold of it will require our obedience. Let me share three simple statements that we need to consider as we move into this new year:

Let go.
God tells Israel not to call to mind the former things or ponder the things of the past. Don’t allow things in the past to hinder you from laying hold of the future. Sin often holds us back and it can come in many different forms – from past hurts and unforgiveness to addictions and strongholds. Is there anything holding us back that we need to let go?

Take hold.
God gives Israel a word of promise that He will do a new thing. God has given us His Word and it is filled with wonderful promises, but we must take hold of them. We must receive God’s Word as truth for our lives. Is there truth from God that you need to take hold of right now?

Move forward.
Unless we are letting go of sin and taking hold of God’s truth, we will not be able to move forward and enjoy the new thing that God will do. Friends, I don’t want to miss what God has planned. So, let’s let go, let’s take hold, and let’s move forward together! Happy New Year!

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Pastor's Corner...

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

Vance Havner once said, “Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts; the gift of God to man, his Son; and the gift of man to God, when we first give ourselves to God.” As we prepare our hearts and minds for Advent season, let us ponder the precious gift that God has given to us – the gift of Himself. Christmas is all about the mysterious, marvelous miracle of the Incarnation – God leaving the glories of heaven and coming to earth wrapped in human flesh. He came as Emmanuel (God with us), fully God and fully man in order that we might be rescued from our sins, and clothed in His righteousness. As we receive by faith, the wonderful gift of God’s salvation, we simultaneously give ourselves to glorifying Him and growing His kingdom on earth. What a wonderful gift He has given to us in His Son, and what a wonderful privilege we’ve been given to give the gift of ourselves!

I look forward to entering into the Advent season together as a church family. It’s a privilege to celebrate the glorious Incarnation and salvation we have in Christ, and to reflect upon the magnanimous task of “Loving God. Loving Others. Making Disciples.” The Christmas message is wrapped up in the Great Commandment and Great Commission – God, who is love, has come down to demonstrate His love to us by going to a cross (Romans 5:8). He also came down to teach us how to love others. Loving others involves verbally sharing the gospel and intentionally living out the gospel before them.

As Christmas draws near, let us be ready and willing to share the true meaning and message of Christmas. Let us also be ready and willing to give of our resources. There are several ways to give this Christmas season:
  • Tithes and Offerings – let us continue to give faithfully to the work of ministry at Green Hill. God has given so much to us, so let us be faithful in giving all that we can to furthering His kingdom on earth.
  • Lottie Moon Christmas Offering - every penny collected goes to support the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Our church-wide goal this year is $4,000.
  • Missions Tree – you simply take a stocking from the tree in the church lobby and fulfill the need it represents.
  • Finlay Park Homeless Ministry – items may be dropped off at the church office.
  • BC #1 Grammar School Backpack Ministry – weekly food bags go to meet the nutritional needs of students.

 It is an honor to serve as your pastor. It is a privilege and responsibility before the Father that I do not take lightly. I pray God’s blessings on you and your family in celebrating the birth of our Savior this year. Merry Christmas!

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett