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

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